Of Admission of members into the Church

      THe doors of the Churches of Christ upon earth, (1) doe not by Gods appointment shand so wide open, that all sorts of people good or bad, may freely enter therein at their pleasure; but such as are admitted therto, as memers ought to be examined & tryed first; whther they be fit & meet to be received into church- society or not. The Evnuch of Ęthiopia, (2) before his admission was examined by Philip, whther he did beleive on Jesus Christ with all his heart the Angel of the church at Ephesus (3) is commended, for trying such as said they were Apostles & were not. There is like reason for trying them that profess themsleves to be beleivers.
      The officers are charged with the keeping of the doors of the Church, (4) & therfore are in a special manor to make tryall of the fitnes of such who enter. Twelve Angels are set at the gates of the Temple, lest such as were Ceremonially unclean should enter therinto.
      2 The things which are reqisite to be found in all church members, (5) are Repentance from sin, & faith in Jesus Christ. [17] And therfore these are the things wherof men are to be examined, at their admission into the church & which then they must profess & hold forth in such sort, as may satisfie rationall charity that the things are there indeed. Iohn Baptist (6) admitted men to Baptism, confessing & bewayling their sinns: & of other it is said, that they came, & confessed, & shewed their deeds.
      3 The weakest measure of faith is to be accepted in those that desire to be admitted into the church: becaus weak christians if sincere, (7) have the substance of faith, repentance & holiness which is required in church members: & such have most need of the ordinances for their confirmation and growth in grace. (8) The Lord Jesus would not quench the smoaking flax, nor breake the bruised reed, but gather the tender lambes in his armes, & carry them gently in his bosome. Such charity & tenderness is to be used, as the weakest christian if sincere, may not be excluded, nor discouraged. Severity of examination is to be avoyded.
      4 In case any through excessive fear, or other infirmity, be unable to make their personal relation of their spirituall estate in publick, it is sufficient that the Elders having received private satisfaction, make relation therof in publick before the church, they testifying their assents therunto; this being the way that tendeth most to edification. But wheras persons are of better abilityes, & confessions personally with their own mouth, as David (9) professeth of himselfe.
      5 A personall & publick confession, & declaring of Gods manner of working upon the soul, is both lawfull, expedient, & usefull, in sundry respects, & upon sundry grounds. Those three thousands. Acts. 2. 37. 41. Before they are admitted by the Apostles, did manifest that they were pricked in their hearts at Peters sermon, together with earnest desire to be delivered from their sinns, which now wounded their consciences, & their ready receiving of the word of promise and exhortation. Wee are to be ready to render a reason of the hope that is in us, to every one that asketh us: (10) therfore wee must be able and ready upon any occasion to declare & shew our repentance for sinn, faith unfagned; & effectually calling, because these are the reason of a well grounded hope. (11) I have not hidden thy righteousness from the great congregation. Psal: 40. 10.
      [18] 6 This profession of faith & repentance, as it must be made by such at their admission, that were never in Church-society before; so nothing hindreth but the same way also be performed by such as have formerly been members of some other church, & the church to which they now joyn themselves as members, may lawfully require the same. Those three thousand. Acts. 2. which made their confession, were mebers of the church of the Jews before, so were they that were baptised by John. Churches may err in their admission: & persons regularly admitted, may fall into offence. (12) Otherwise, if Churches might obtrude their members, or if church- members might obtrude themselves upon other churches, without due tryall, the matter so requiring, both the liberty of church would hereby be infringed, in that they might not examine those, concering whose fitnss for communion, they were unsatisfied: (13) & besides the infringing of their liberty, the churches themselves would uavoidably be corrupted, & the ordinances defiled, whilst they might not refuse, but must receive the unworthy: which is contrary unto the Scripture, teaching that all churches are sisters, and therfore equall.
      7 The like tryall is to be required from such members of the church, as were born in the same, or received their membership, & were baptized in their infancy, or minority, by vertue of the covenat of their parents, when being grown nnto years of discretion, they shall desire to be made partakers of the Lords supper: (14) unto which, because holy things must not be given to the unworthy, therfore it is requisit, that these as well as others, sould come to their tryall & examiation, & manifest their faith & repentence by an open profession therof, before they are received to the Lords supper, & otherwise not to be be (e) admitted there unto.
      Yet these church-members that were so born, or received in their childhood, before they are capable of being partakers of full comunion, have many privileges which others (not church members) have not; they are in covenant with God, have the seal thereof upon them, vie: baptism; and so, if not regenerated, yet are in a more hopeful way of attaining regenerating grace, and all the spiritual blessings, both of the covenant and seal; they are also under church-watch, and consequently subject to the reprehensions, admonitions and censures thereof, for their healing and amendment, as need shall require.

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