Of Church-members their removall from one Church to another, & of letters to recomendation & dismission.
CHurch-members may not remove or
depart from the Church, & so one from another as they
please, nor without just & weighty cause but ought to live &
dwell together: (1) for as much as they
are comanded, not to forsake the assembling of themselves
together. Such departure tends to the dissolution & ruine
of the body: as the pulling of stones, & peeces of timber from
the building, & of members from the naturall body, tend to the
destruction of the whole.
2 It is therfore the duty of Church-members, in such times & places when counsell as may be had, to consult with the Church wherof the are members, (2) about their removall, that accordingly they have their approbation, may be incouraged, or otherwise desist. They who are joyned with consent, should not depart without consent, except forced therunto.
3 If a members departure be manifestly unsafe, and sinfull, the church may not consent therunto: for in so doing, they should not act in faith: (3) & should pertake with him in his sinn. If the case be doubtfull & the person not to be so perswaded, it seemth best to leave the matter unto God, & not forcibly to detayn him.
4 Just reasos for a mebers removal of himselfe for the church are, I If a man canot continue without partakig in sinn. II In case of personall persecution (4), when all are scattered. III In case of real, & not only pretended, want (5) of competent subsistence, a door being opened for a better supply in another place, together with the means of spirituall edification. In these, or like cases, a member may lawfully remove, & the church cannot lawfully detayne him.
5 To seperate from a Church, eyther out of contempt of their holy fellowship, or out of covetousness, (6), or for greater inlargements with just greife to the church; or out of schisme, or want of love; & out of a spirit of contention (7) in respect of some unkindness, or some evill only conceived, (8)  or indeed, in the Church (9) which might & should be tolerated & healed with a spirit of meekness, (10) & of which evill the church is not yet covinced, (though perhaps himselfe bee) nor admonished: for these or the like reasons to withdraw from publick comunion, in word, or seales, or censures, is unlawfull & sinfull.
6 Such members as have orderly removed (11) their habitation ought to joyn themselves unto the church in order, where they doe inhabit if it may bee: otherwise, they can meyther perform the dutyes, not receive the priviledges of members; such an example tolerated in some, is apt to corrupt others; which if many should follow, would threaten the dissolution & confusion of churches, (12) contrary to the Scriptures.
7 Order requires, (13) that a member thus removing, have letters testimonial; & of dismission from the church whereof he yet is, unto the church wherunto he desireth to be joyned, lest the church should be deluded; that the church may not receive him in faith; & not be corrupted by receiving deceivers, & false brethren. Untill the person dismissed be received into another church, he ceaseth not by his letters of dismission to be a member of the church wherof he was. The church canot make a member no member but y excomunication.
8 If a member be called to remove (14) only for a time, where a Church is, letters of Recommendation are requisite, (15) & sufficient for comunion with that church, in the ordinances, & in their watch: as Phoebe, a servat of the church at Cenchrea, had letters writte for her to the church of Rome, that shee might be received, as becometh saints.
9 Such letters of Recommendation & dismission were written for Apollos: For Marcus to the Colosias; for Phoebe to the Romaes; (16) for sudry others to other churches, & the Apostle telleth us, that some persons, not sufficiently known otherwise, have special need of such letters ,though he for his part had no need therof. (17) The use of them is to be a benefit, & to help to the party, for whom they are writte; and for the furthering of his receiving amongst the Saints in the place wherto he goeth; & the due satisfaction of them in their receiving of him.
1. Hebr. 10 25
2. Prov. 11. 16.
3. Rom 14. 23. I Rom 5. 22. Acts 21.14.
4. Ephe. 5. 11. Acts 9. 25. & ver 29. 30 chap 8. 1
5. Nehe. 13 20
6. 2 Tim 4. 10
7. Rom 17. 17
8. Jude. 19.
9. Esh [Eph] 4. 2. 3
10. Coll 3. 13. Gala 6. 1, 2
11. Isay 56. 8 Acts 9. 26
12. I Cor 14. 33
13. Acts 18. 27
14. Rom 16. 1, 2
15. 2 Cor. 3. 1
16. Acts. 18. 27 Coll. 4. 10 Rom. 16. 1
17. 2 Cor. 3. 1