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400

DISCOURSE

ON

THE UNITY

OF

THE CHURCH.

this authority

seated?

How

then

did

the

political

unity

of

the

church

subsist?

Was

the

seat of

the

sovereign

authority

first resi-

dent

at

Jerusalem, when

St Peter

preached there?

Did

it

walk

thence

to Antioch, fixing

itself there

for seven years?

Was

it

thence

translated to

Rome,

and settled there

ever

since?

Did this

roving

and

inconstancy become

it?

5.

The primitive state

of

the

church did

not

well comport

with

such

an unity.

For

Christian churches were founded

in distant

places, as

the

apostles

found opportunity, or received direction

to

found

them;

which, therefore, could not,

without extreme

inconvenience,

have

resort

or

reference

to

one

authority

anywhere

fixed.

Each

church, therefore, separately ordered

its

own

affairs,

without

recourse

to

others,

except for charitable

advice or

relief

in

cases

of

extraordinary

difficulty or

urgent

need.

Each church

was endowed

with

a perfect

liberty and

a

full au-

thority,

without dependence

or

subordination

to

others, to govern

its

own

members, to manage

its

own affairs,

to

decide controversies

and

causes

incident

among themselves,

without

allowing appeals or

rendering accounts

to

others.

This appears by

the

apostolical writings of

St

Paul and

St John

to

single churches,

wherein

they

are

supposed

able to

exercise spi-

ritual

power

for

establishing

decency,

removing

disorders,

correcting

offences,

deciding

causes,

&c.

Rev.

ii.

iii.;

1

Cor. xiv.

40;

1

Thess.

v.

14;

1

Cor.

v.

12,

vi. 1.

6.

This

aúzovoµFa,

and liberty

of churches, appears

to have

long

continued

in practice

inviolate, although

tempered and

modelled

in

accommodation

to

the

circumstances

of place

and

time.

It

is

true,

that if

any church notoriously

forsook

the truth,

or

committed disorder in any kind,

other

churches sometimes

took upon

them,

as

the

case

moved,

to

warn,

advise,

reprove it,

and

to declare

against its proceedings, as prejudicial

not

only

to the

welfare of

that

church,

but

to

the

common

interests

of

truth

and peace;

but

this

was

not

in

way

of commanding

authority,

but

of

fraternal

solicitude,

or of

that

liberty

which equity

and prudence

allow

to

equals in re-

gard to

common

good.

So

the

Roman church interposed in

reclaim-

ing

the church

of

Corinth

from

its

disorders

and

seditious (Iren.

iii.

cap.

2);

so

St

Cyprian

and

St

Denis

of

Alexandria meddled in the

affairs

of

the

Roman church, exhorting Novatian

and his adherents

to return to

the

peace of

their

church.

It

is also

true,

that

the

bishops of several

adjacent

churches used

to

meet upon

emergencies (concerning

the

maintenance

of

truth,

order,

and peace;

concerning

settlement

and

approbation of

pastors,

&c.),

to

consult and conclude

upon expedients

for

attaining

such

4