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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

We may have yet a stricter congregational communion


heresy; nor declining from

their own reformation, by defection or schism. And consequently, it is lawful to own communion with the churches of the united provinces, and take ordination from them, though they have some forms not allowable, from which they were never reformed, because they are sound in the protestant testimony. But with the sectarians, or schismatics, or apostates among them, we cannot own that special communion. 3. We may have a more particular communion upon yet stricter conditions with all our covenanted brethren, ministers and members of the churches of Britain and Ireland, considered as such: providing they hold, not only the universal, not only the more special, protestant testimony against the greater and lesser antichrists, but the covenanted testimony for the reformation in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, and profaneness, according to the covenant; though differing from us in those controversial points, never reformed, and which were never the word of Christ's patience, and do not overturn the covenanted testimony. But with those that contradict and counteract that, we own that particular communion. 4. We may have yet a nearer organical communion, upon stricter conditions still with all the ministers and members of the national church of Scotland constitute and confederate under one reformed government, according to the rule of Christ: providing they hold, not only all the former testimonies under the foresaid
considerations, but the presbyterian testimony as stated in the ecclesiastical constitution, and sworn to in the national covenants and engagements of that church, founded upon the word of God, against popery, prelacy, erastianism, sectarianism, toleration, schism and defection; though differing in some things from us, never reformed, never considered in ecclesiastical judicatories, never engaged against in our covenants, never stated as the word of patience and matter of testimony. But with those that oppose, suppress, reproach, and abandon this testimony, we cannot own this organical communion, in this broken state of the church. We may have yet a stricter congregational communion, upon stricter conditions, in and with the ordinary or extraordinary meetings or societies of the Lord's people for gospel ordinances, with any minister or ministers, duly and truly admitted to that function, according to Christ's appointment, and the call of the people, whether in a fixed or unfixed relation; providing he holds the testimony of Christ, under all the considerations, and owns and adheres unto the true received principles of the church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, founded upon the written word of God, and whatsoever declarations or testimonies, former or latter, particular or more general, are agreeable thereunto; though differing from us in some of the integral and not essential parts of our testimony against the enemies of our covenanted reformation. But with such as deny or decline from it, by schism or defection, or compliance with the enemies thereof, we cannot own this congregational communion, in this broken state of the church.

III. Though there be many things in a church, to brangle and lessen the comfort of our communion with it, and the ministry thereof; yet we may keep fellowship with a true church, though in many things faulty and corrupt, as all churches are, in some measure, in this militant state. As the church of Corinth had many corruptions in their practice, yet no separation is enjoined from it. And the Lord did not require separation from the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira; though they had many corruptions and deficiences in discipline, in a toleration of heretics; and would lay no other burden upon them, but to hold fast what they had: as Mr. Durham shews in his Commentary on the Revelation, chap. 2. lect. 6. page 148, 149. as also


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