To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken.—Jer. 6.10

[Peaceable Plea for Paul's Presbytery in Scotland, by Samuel Rutherford: Chapter 17.]
A modest and Brotherly Dispute of
the government of the Church of
Our Discipline is demonstrated to be
the true Apostolick way of divine Truth, and
the Arguments on the contrary are friendly dis-
solved, the grounds of Separation and the Indepen-
dencie of particular Congregations, in defence of
Ecclesiastical Presbyteries, Synods and
Assemblies, are examined and tryed.

By Samuell Rutherfurd Professor of Divinity at Saint Andrews.

 PSAL. 48.12. Walk about Zion, and goe round about her, tell the 
     Towers thereof.
 VER. 13. Marke yee well her Bulwarks, consider her Palaces,
     that yee may tell (it) to the generations following.

Printed for Iohn Bartlet at the guilt-Cup neare St. Austins-gate. 1642.

Whether or no some do warrantably teach that a Pastor hath no pastoral power to preach and administrate the Sacraments, without the bounds of his own Congregation? and from whence essentially is the calling of a Pastor?
OUR brethren who teach that the ordination of Pastors is only from that power of the keys that they imagine to be in the body of believers must needs, holding such an humane ministerial Church, fall in divers errors; as (1.) that he cannot officiate pastorally without that number of believers, from whence essentially he hath his pastoral calling. (2.) When the Church's necessity shall call him to remove to another independent flock: He is no Pastor while [until] he be ordained and chosen of new by that flock. So the English Puritanisme, and M. Best.

We hold that a Pastor may officiate, as a Pastor without his own congregation.

1. Argument. That which the brotherhood and communion of Sister-Churches requireth to be done, that Pastors may lawfully do; but this the brotherhood of Sister-Churches requireth to be done, Ergo, &c. the assumption is proved, (1.) Because death, or necessary absence of Pastors, necessity of keeping the flock. (2.) Necessity of convincing the gainsayers if the present Pastor be weak in learning, yet able to cut the word aright (saith M. Paget) requireth this. M. Best answereth, Officers of Churches may be helpful to other Churches, as Christians, but not as Ministers.1

Answer. This Argument presupposeth that Pastors not as Pastors, but as Christians either may administer the Sacraments lawfully, and so any Christian may administer the Sacraments, which is both Popish and absurd, or that it is not lawful for Pastors to administer the Sacrament out of their own congregation, or to any other of another congregation than their own, and so yet communion of Sister-Churches, in these acts, is clean taken away (2.) Our Argument is from Church-communion not in Christian acts as Christian, but in ministerial acts as ministerial.

2. Argument. If Ministers (as M. Paget argueth) may labour to convert unbelieving strangers, and to add them to their flock, that they may enlarge Christ's kingdom, then they may exercise Pastoral acts over, and above others than these of their own charge; but the former is true, Ergo, so is the latter. The assumption is clear, because Prov. 9.3, Wisdom sendeth out her maids to call in these that are without; and 1 Cor. 14.24, the Prophets as Prophets were pastorally to convince, and so to convert Infidels, who were not of their charge. M. Best answereth, These acts are not acts of a Minister as a Minister, a man and a wife, a father and a child, a Pastor and a flock are relatives, as I am a Father, I exercise not proper acts as a Father, but towards my own children, what good I do to others cannot be said to be the acts of a Father, but rather of a friend, a neighbour, a Christian &c.

Answer. He presumeth that a Pastor may preach and exercise pastoral acts, as a Christian, but so all Christians may pastorally preach though not called of God, contrary to the Scripture: so women and private persons may invade the Pastor's chair.2

2. It is vain to press similitudes while they blood, for Christ properly is the bridegroom and husband of his Church, Eph. 5.26,27; John 3.29; Rev. 19.9; Rev. 21.9; Isa. 54.5. Pastors are but the varanumfoi under-suitors for the bridegroom, John 3.29. This is Popish doctrine to make such a relation betwixt a mortal man and an independent Church. Pope Enaristus and Calixtus saith, while the Bishop liveth, the Church can no more be given to another, without his consent, nor [than] the wife can be given to another then to her own husband, without his consent. And so said Innocentius the third therefore at the consecration, after imposition of hands (saith Vasquez) and anointing of the Bishop, and delivering to him a staff, a consecrated and blessed ring is put on his ring-finger in token he is married to this Church; but what have we to do with such trash as this? For in a word, the comparison of a marriage in this point is either Popish or unreasonable, or both; because the mutual consent betwixt A.B. and his wife, being essentially marriage, as the Canon Law, Divines, and sound Casuists acknowledge, it maketh A.B. a husband, and also the husband of such a wife during their life-time; but election of the people that A.B. be their Pastor, and A.B. his acceptation of the Church as his charge, maketh him not both a Pastor, and also the Pastor of that Church; because the ordination of the Presbytery maketh A.B. formally and essentially a Pastor, I mean a called Pastor under Christ; but the election of the people and his consent doth not make him a Minister, but doth only appropriate him after he is made a Minister to be the Minister of such a Church, and so the comparison halteth in the main point for which it is alleged; therefore A.B. is made indefinitely a Pastor for the Church, and is obliged to labour the conversion of all, within and without the bounds of his Church, in as far as he is a Pastor: But forasmuch as the Church thinketh good to appropriate his Ministry to this particular congregation, for the more commodious congregating and gathering of the sheep of Christ, he is not so their Pastor, as he cannot exercise Pastoral acts towards others also, neither doth the place, Acts 20.28, and 1 Pet. 5.2, insinuate any such marriage-relation betwixt Pastor and Parish, as that he is a Pastor to none but his own Parish, for as he is to feed specially, these over which the Holy-Ghost hath made him overseer, and amongst whom he is principally by the Church's special appropriation and application of his ministry to them: So also hath the Holy-Ghost made him an over-seer to feed indefinitely, and as God's providence shall offer occasion, as many as God hath purchased by his blood, Acts 20.28, and as many as are the Lord's heritage, 1 Pet. 5.3, whether they be of his own congregation or no, as the words clearly import, and he is a Pastor to them as they are the Lord's heritage conquered with his blood, and not because he is appointed Pastor over them, and no more.

3. Argument. Believers of divers congregations are members of a visible politick body, and are to keep Church-communion together in exhorting, rebuking, and comforting one another, and so may eat bread at the Lord's Table, and be made one body, 1 Cor. 10.27, but by this doctrine they may not eat at one Table of the Lord; For if the Pastor may not administer the Sacrament lawfully to persons of divers congregations, neither may they receive the Lord's Supper from him; for if it be unlawful for the Pastor to administer the Sacrament to these of other congregations, seeing he is to them as a Non-Pastor, and as a Christian only, they cannot lawfully receive the Supper of the Lord from a Non-Pastor: Yea, and Pastors baptizing Infants of other congregations do sin, and these Infants thus baptized are Infidels and non-baptized, because they are baptized by one who is a Non-Minister to the baptized.

4. Argument. That opinion must be reasonless and without ground, the special reason and ground whereof is false. But the special ground and reason of this opinion is false, Ergo, &c. I prove the assumption: The special ground thereof is, that ordination and election of Pastors are all one, and that Pastors have essentially their calling from the election of the people; but there be wide differences betwixt ordination of a Pastor which essentially maketh him a Pastor, and the peoples' choosing him to be their Pastor; as (1.) that all Divines according to God's Word make them different things,3 as do Theophylact, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Chrysostome, Hyperius, Aretius, Professors of Leyden, Morneus, Plessæus, Zanchius, Willet, Gers. Bucer, Zipperus. (2.) The word of God restraineth ordination of officers to Pastors, 1 Tim. 4.14; 1 Tim. 5.22; 2 Tim. 2.2; Titus 1.5; Acts 6.6; Acts 13.1-3; and ascribeth election of officers to the people, Acts 6.5. (3.) Ordination is an act of authority and supreme jurisdiction conjoined with fasting, praying, and laying on of the hands of the Elders; but publick praying and dedicating the Pastor to Christ's service with imposition of hands is given to Pastor's, Acts 6.6; 1 Tim. 4.14; Acts 13.1-3, but never to the multitude of believers: Give an instance in all the Scripture of the ordination of Pastors and officers of the New Testament that way. No man ever alleged any; one place in Numbers they bring, where the children of Israel are said to lay on hands on the Levites; but judge how six hundred thousand fighting men could all lay their hands on the Levites? and these were not all Israel, but certainly these must be the heads and Princes of Tribes, who put hands on the Levites, as the word is often taken, as I observed before. Now ordination is an act of jurisdiction, such as is to send an Embassador; but that an Embassador consent to go (such as is election) is no act of jurisdiction: For a father to give his daughter in marriage to one is an authoritative act of a father; but for the daughter to consent to the choice, is no act of authority, but an act of her private choice. (2.) Ordination is that which formally makes the man a Pastor: The people's election doth only appropriate the man's ministry to such and such a people: It is one thing to make a gold ring, this is an act of art, and another thing to propine and gift the ring to such a person. M. Jacob saith, the people hath power to reject a Minister who is unworthy; True, they have power to reject him from being their Minister; but their power of election or rejection hath no influence in either ordaining him to be a Pastor, or rejecting him from being no Pastor.

Neither is it much that M. Best saith, that in this an Apostle differeth from the Pastor, that the Apostle is a Pastor through the whole Christian world, but the Pastor is tied to a certain congregation out of which he is not a Pastor.

Answer. We allow of no Pastors ordained Pastors without a certain flock: but this hindereth not, but ordination of a Pastor is one thing, and tying of a Pastor to be a Pastor of such a flock is another thing, and that these two come from divers causes and grounds. An Apostle was a Pastor to all the world, yet might he exercise pastoral acts of preaching and praying towards these people who would not receive his ministry, and against whom he was to shake off the dust of his feet, as a witness [Matt. 10.], and a Pastor is only the Pastor of that flock over the which the Holy-Ghost by the Church's authority hath set him as their Pastor; but yet so, as when he preacheth in another congregation, he ceaseth not to be a Pastor, howbeit he be not the Pastor of that flock.

2. They object, The essence of a Pastor is from something, but it can be from nothing but from the consent of the people. So M. Jacob.

Answer. The pastoral calling is essentially from something, but it is not from the consent of the people; because a man may exercise pastoral acts of preaching toward these who are most unwilling to receive his ministry, Ergo, the pastoral calling must be essentially from the ordination of Elders, 1 Tim. 4.14.

3. They object, Whatsoever is essential at some times and places for the making of a Minister, is essential for ever; but the people's consent at some times and places is for the making of a Minister essential, and no other thing at that time can be essential: For example, when Christians came first out of Antichristian tyranny, when there are no lawful Pastors, and in the first conversion of the Indies, where there are no Pastors. So Separatists and M. Jacob.

Answer. I borrow this Argument, what is essential at some time and places for the making of a Pastor is evermore essential; but ordination of Pastors by Pastors, and sending them to preach to the Indies, who are unwilling to receive their ministry is [the] only [thing] essential to make a man sent thither a Pastor; for people's consent in that case cannot be essential, where they will not give their consent at all, and non ens cannot be essential to the making of a Pastor.

2. What is essential for making a Minister who is extraordinarily called of God, is not evermore essential to the making of a Minister ordinarily called of God; in an Island where the Gospel is, if all the Pastors should die, the people might choose Pastors to themselves, but they could not then make Pastors, God only without the ministry of other Pastors in that case should make Pastors; but it followeth not hence that Pastors ordinarily have not their calling to be Pastors from the ordination of Pastors.

4. They object, When the Church electeth her Pastor, she saith, We give thee A.B. power to administer the word, seals and censures, and the Minister doth possess and assume. Ergo, the people's election is the essence of a Minister's calling. So John Smith.

Answer. It is presupposed by order of nature, that A.B. is first called and ordained a Pastor by Christ, and the laying on the hands of the Elders, 1 Tim. 4.14, before the people can elect him for their Pastor: For if A.B. be no Pastor, people cannot choose him to be their Pastor, neither doth the people's election give any such power to A.B. That power is given by the Presbytery's act of ordination, by order of nature, before the people's formal act of election: As the husband who in a Lapidary's shop chooseth a gold ring for his wife, and putteth it on her finger, presupposeth it was a gold ring before his choosing thereof, neither doth his choosing thereof make it a gold-ring, but only make it his wife's gold-ring by application to her: Just so, people's election appropriateth such a man who is already a Pastor to such a church, but doth not make the Pastor a Pastor, but chooseth him only to be their Pastor.

5. Smith laboureth to prove that the ministry cometh not by succession from Ministers: For then (saith he) the ministry should be before there were any Church; but the Church is before the ministry, and calleth the Ministers to office.

Answer. The Church ministerial, the governing Church, whereof we now speak, cannot be before there be a ministry; for then there should be Ministers before there be Ministers, which is against common sense: The Church mystical is before the Church ministerial, I grant; but a Church mystical, or a Church of believers may choose Pastors before they can ordinarily be their Pastors, but they cannot make Pastors: Yea, and God at some times supplieth the want of popular election, while he calleth one to preach to a people, never consenting he shall be their Pastor, and so neither can the objector maintain a succession of believers always calling Ministers, nor do we hold a constant ordination of Pastors in a continual line of succession from the Apostles made by Pastors, the succession may be interrupted, but then God himself supplieth the want of ordinary ordination appointed by himself, 1 Tim. 4.14; Titus 1.5; 1 Tim. 5.21,22; Acts 6.6.

6. They object, If a Ministerial power come (saith M. Smith), by succession from Presbyteries, then are Presbyters Lords of the Church's faith, in respect that the Church cannot enjoy the holy things of God, howbeit she be of herself the body and Spouse of Christ, without the Presbyters' consent.

Answer. Any may here see right down Anabaptism, because the Church cannot enjoy pastoral preaching, and the Sacraments without Pastor's appointed of Christ for that effect, Matt. 28.18,19; John 20.21-23; Mark 16.15, therefore Pastors are Lords of the people's faith, so they may have Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, because they are Christ's Spouse and body, without Pastors.

2. By this goodly Argument, private believers preaching and baptizing are Lords of the faith of other private believers, who are their hearers, because notwithstanding that private believers be the body and Spouse of Christ of themselves; yet can they not, by M. Smith's reasoning, enjoy the holy things of God, without the ministry of private Christians preaching and administrating to them the Sacraments.

7. Smith objecteth, If ministerial power come by succession from Ministers, then Ministers may excommunicate the whole Church of Christ.

Answer. This is most weak. Illud tantum possumus quod de iure possumus. And by this reason the believers may excommunicate the whole ministry also, which is no less absurd.

8. Smith addeth, If the Elders and Deacons die, the succession faileth, and a ministerial power of Christ being once lost can never be recovered again, and so there shall be no Ministers in the World.

Answer. Suppose in this or that Church all the Ministers should die, yet it followeth not that a Ministry can utterly fail in the Church: It is contrary to Eph. 4.11, and to the perpetuity of Christ's kingly government and Throne, which shall endure as the days of heaven [Psalm 89.36-37; 72.4-6]: And what if God extraordinarily supply the want of ordination in this or that particular Church? A ministerial power is conferred in that case immediately upon some, in a Church removed from any Church-consociation from other Churches, and so Christ's ministerial power dieth not.

9. Smith reasoneth thus, to prove that believers may ordain their own officers, That which is given by Christ to the Church is in the power and possession of the Church, but officers and offices are given to the Church.

Answer. What is given to the Church finaliter & obiectivè, that is for the behoof and good of the Church, for their edification and salvation as God's proposed end, such as preaching and baptizing, that is in the Church's power and possession, is most false, and so I deny the major proposition; for preaching and baptizing is given by Christ for the good and salvation of women and private Christians; yet women and private Christians may not preach, baptize, and ordain Ministers. Whatsoever is given to the Church, subiectivè, as to the proper subject, Mistress and Spouse, to dispose and carve upon at her pleasure, is in the Church's power and possession: It is true, but now the assumption is false, because officers and offices are not so given to the Church of believers as to the subject. Christ ascending on high gave Pastors and teachers for the Church of believers, for their gathering and perfecting, but not to the Church of believers.

10. If two or three (saith M. Smith) faithful ones have power to make a Church, then have they power to make the Ministers of the Church, but two or three have power to make a Church, Ergo, two or three faithful ones have power to make the Ministers of the Church. He proveth the major. They who can do the greater can do the less, to make a Church is greater; for the Church is the Body, Spouse, and Wife; the Ministers are but an ornament of the body, and so the less: The assumption he proveth, two or three faithful ones have Christ, the holy things of David, the promises. Ergo, two or three have power to make a Church.

Answer. These who can make a Church mystical have power to make a Church ministerial, or Ministers of a Church: that I deny: As for the probation, this proposition (These who can do the greater can do the less) must be right taken: It is true, in these same kind of works, and in the same kind of power. Christ can forgive sins, Ergo, he can do less, he can say to a sick man, take up thy bed and walk: So if by prayer Jacob obtain a blessing from God, which is greater, than by prayer he will obtain deliverance out of the hands of Esau, which is less: but in powers of divers kinds it holdeth not true: A believer by prayer may obtain grace and deliverance, which is greater, but it followeth not, Ergo, he can open the eyes of the blind, and work miracles, which is less; and therefore howbeit three can make a mystical Church, which is greater, by a power of saving grace (which is gratia gratum faciens) It followeth not, that therefore they have a ministerial and pastoral power of the keys (which is gratia gratis data) to preach and make Ministers: For then, because Mary Magdalen hath power to believe that Christ buried shall rise again from the death, which is greater; therefore she hath power to preach and baptize, which is a lesser power: He who hath power to make a ship, hath not for that power to make a cup.

11. Smith reasoneth thus: These who have the true matter and form, have the property which ariseth from the matter and form, that is Christ's ministerial power to assume all the means of their edification to salvation; but two or three faithful ones are the true matter of the Church of the New Testament, and therefore have the true form or covenant of the New Testament, and so have a ministerial power arising from these two.

Answer. These who have the true matter and form of a mystical Church of believers, these have the union and property of a mystical Church resulting from matter and form, is most true; but they have not for that the true property of a ministerial Church; faith, and the covenant written in the heart is not the form of a ministerial Church, but of a mystical Church of believers. Six born Scottish men dwelling in Paris, make a body of Scottish men; but they are not for that a politick body of Scottish men living according to the Laws of Scotland: Four believers are a mystical Church born over again by the Spirit of Christ; but if they be no more but single believers, they are not for that a ministerial Church, which is necessarily a politick body governed by Christ's Laws, consisting of shepherd and flock: But this man will have three believers, because they are believers, to be Ministers, and so taketh away all vocation and ordination of Church-officers by the Church's authority, which is flat Anabaptism.


1. Pagets answer to Davenport, p. 235. M. Best Church Plea, p. 30,31.

2. Heb. 5.4,5; Rom. 10.14,15; 1 Tim. 5.21,22; Acts 1.23; 6.5; 13.2; 14.23; 2 Tim. 2.2; 1 Tim. 3.1,2; Titus 1.5; Enarist ep. 2; Calixtus ep. 2 ad Episc. Gal. c. 3.; Innocen. 3. translat Episc. Vasquez in 3 Tho. Tom. 2. de sacr. disp. 240. c.1. n.2. [The diligent student of the Reformation will find that, although Dr. Luther's views on this matter were far from orthodox, especially as expressed in his Sermon on John 10.1-10 (The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 12, p. 372-382,) yet his errors in this point were never maintained amongst the Protestant Churches, either Lutheran (see Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, Loci 17, Chapter 4,) or Reformed (as throughout this chapter of Rutherford and elsewhere:—compare Bannerman's The Church of Christ anent Dr. Luther's errors.)]

3. Theoph. in 1 Tim. 4.14. Cypr. ep. 33. Athan. ep. ad Orth. Ambros. com. in 1 Tim 5. Chrys. hom. 13. in 1 Tim. Hyper. in 1 Tim. 4. Aret. in 1 Tim. 4. Profess Leyd. disp. 42. Th. 32. Ecc. M Plesseus de p. 30. Zanch. in præcep. Willet Synop. pap. p. 2. cont. 5, q. 3. Gers Bucer de gub. Eccl. sect 86. p. 335. Zippor. de Pol. Ecc. l.a. c.12. n.8-10.