Of the Form of A Visible Church & of Church Covenant.

      Saints by Calling, must have a Visible-Political-Union amongst themselves, (1) or else they are not yet a particularchurch: as those similitudes hold forth, which Scripture makesuse [5] of, to shew the nature of particular Churches: As aBody, A building, or House, Hands, Eyes, Feet, &other members must be united, or else, remaining seperate are nota body. Stones, Timber, though squared, hewen & pollished,are not an house, untill they are compacted & united: so Saintsor believers in judgment of charity, are not a church, unlessOrderly knit together.
      2 Particular churches cannot be distinguished one fromanother but by their formes. Ephesus is not Smyrna,& Pergamus Thyatira, (2) but each one a distinct society of itself, having officers of their owne, which had not the charge ofothers: Vertues of their own, for which others are not praysed:Corruptions of their owne, for which others are not blamed.
      3 This Form is the Visible Covenant, (3)Agreement, or consent wherby they give up themselves unto theLord, to the observing of the ordinances of Christ together inthe same society, which is usually called the Church-Covenant; For wee see not otherwise how members can haveChurch-power one over another mutually.
      The comparing of each particular church unto a Citty& unto a Spouse, seemeth to conclude not only a Formbut that that Form, is by way of a Covenant. (4)
      The Covenant, (5) as it was that which made the Family ofAbraham and children of Israel to be a church and people untoGod, so it is that which now makes the severall societyes ofGentil believers to be churches in these dayes.
      4 This Voluntary Agreement, Consent or Covenant;(for all these are here taken for the same): Although the moreexpress & plain it is, the more fully it puts us in mindof our mutuall duty, & stirreth us up to it, & leavethlesse room for the questioning of the Truth of theChurch-estate of a Company of professors, & theTruth of membership of particular persons: [6]yet wee conceive, the substance of it is kept, where thereis a real Agreement & consent (6) of a company of faithful persons tomeet constantly together in one Congregation, for the publickworship of God, & their mutuall edification: which real agreement& consent they doe express by their constant practice in commingtogether for the publick worship of God, & by their religioussubjection unto the ordinances of God there: the rather, if weedoe consider how Scripture covenants have been entred into, notonly expressly by mouth, but by sacrifice; by hand writing, &seal; & also somtimes by silent consent, without any writing orexpression of words at all.
      5 This forme then being by mutuall covenant, itfolloweth, it is not faith in the heart, nor the profession ofthat faith, nor cohabitation, nor Baptisme; I Not faithin the heart? becaus that is invisible: 2 not a bareprofession; because that declareth them no more to bemembers of one church then of another: 3 not Cohabitation;Atheists or Infidels may dwell together withbeleivers: 4 not Baptism; because it presupposeth a churchestate, as circumcision in the old Testament, which gave no beingunto the church, the church being before it, & in the wilderneswithout it. seals presuppose a covenant already in being, oneperson is a compleat subiect of Baptism: but one person isuncapable of being a church.
     6 All believers ought, as God giveth them opportunity thereunto, to endeavour to joyn themselves unto a particular church &that in respect of the honour of Jesus Christ, (7) in his example, &Institution, by the proffessed acknowledgment of, & subiectionunto the order & ordinances of the Gospel: as also in respect oftheir good of communion, founded upon their visible union, &containd in the promises of Christs special presence in thechurch: whence they have fellowship with him, & in him one withan other: also, for the keeping of them in the way of Godscommandments, (8) & recovering of them in case of wandring, (whichall Christs sheep are subiect to in this life), being unable toreturne of themselves; together with the benefit of their mutualedification, and of their posterity, that they may not be cut offfrom the priviledges of the covenant. otherwis, if a believeroffends, he remaines destitute of the remedy provided in thatbehalf. & should all believers neglect this duty of joyning toall particular congregations: it might follow thereupon, thatChrist should have no visible political churches upon earth,[7]


1. I Cor 12 27. I Tim 3 15. Ephe 2 22 I Cor 1 15, 16 17
2. Rev 1
3. Exod 19 5 ver 8, Deu 29 12 13, Zach 11 14. cap 9 11
4. Ephe 2, 19 2 Cdr [Cor] 11 2
5. Gen 17 7. Deu 29 12 13. Ephe 2, 12 19
6. Exod 19 5 to 8 & 24 3 17. Iosh 24 18 to 24 Psal 50 5 Neh 9 38 c 10 1. gen 17. Deu 29.
7. Acts 2 47. & 9 26. Matt 3 13 14 15. & 28 19 20. Psal 133,, 2 3 & 87 7 Matt 18 20 I Iohn 1 3.
8. Psal 119 last I Pet 2. 25 Ioh 22 24 25. Matt 18 15 16 17.

To chapter three |To the MACCC Main Page |To chapter five