Baxter - BX5207 B3 A2 1696

92 The L IFE of the i I B. I. days in the Church ; but he went on in his Drunkennefs Rill : At loft I declared him unfitfor the Churches Communion, and requiredthem to avoid him accord- ingly ( for this was all we did, whether you will call it Excommunication or not ) endeavouring to convince himof his Mifery, and of the neceffity of true Repen- tance and Reformation. if any shall here ask me, Whywe took this Courfe,' and did not take all the Parifh for Members without putting the Queftion to them ; and what Benefits we found by loch a Courfeof Difcipline ? 1 anfwer hilt to the laft Queflion r. We performed a plain Commandof Chrift t and we took Obedience to be bettter thanSacrifice, and be our belt kind ofWorfhip, and the pleafingof God to be the greaten benefit. 2. As is faid before, we kept the Church from irregular Separations, which elfe could never have been done. 3. We helpt to Cure that dangerous Difeafe among the People, of imagining that Chriftianityisbuta matterof Opinion and dead Belief, and to convince them howmuch of it confifteth inHolinefe, and how far it is inconfiftent with reigning Sin ; and fo did vindicate theHonour of Chrift and the ChriflianFaith. 4. We greatly fu preffed the practiceofSin, and caufed People to walk more watchfully than elfe they would have done. Theft and many other great Benefits accrewed by it to the Church. But if you ask what good the Offenders themfelves received by it, I fltall tell you the truth according to my Experince. All fober, godly, well minded Per - fons, if they once fell into any fcandalous A&ion (as fcarce two of themever did) .yea the very Civil andYounger fort that were tradeable, did humbly confefs their Sin, and walk more watchfully. But thofe that werecolt out of our Communion were enraged, and mademuch more Enemies to.Godlinefs than before, though we exercifed as much Patience and Tendernefs towards them, as Reafon could delire. TheDrunkard before -mentioned, after his Eje&ion, when he was drunk would Eland at the Market-place, and like a Quaker, Cry out against the Town, and take on him toprophefie God'sJudgments agalnft them, and would rage at my Door , and rail and curie. And once he followed me as I went to Church, and laid hands on me in theChurch-yard, with a purpofeto have killed me ; but it fell out that he had hold only of my Cloak, which I unbottoned and left with him ; andbefore his Fury could do anymore, (it being the Fair-day) there were fome Strangers by in the Church-yard, who drag'd him to theMagiftrate and the Stocks. And thus he continued raging against me about ayear, and thendied of a Fever in borrow ofConfcience. Three or four more we were forced to calf out, one for flandering, and all the re(' for dunkennee ; and though their wit , and the honeffy of their Neighbours and Relations made them live quietly, yet their Enmity was much en- creafed, and they themfelves fo much the worfe, as convinced the ftriftelt Religi- ous fort, thatExcommunication is not to be ufed but upon great Neceflìty. And indeed, howcan you expedl that hewho willRand it out toanExcommunication, fhould be bettered by any ordinarymeans? Whenprivate Intreaties and vehement Exhortations, and Warnings before others, and at laft before the Church, and ear- neft Prayers for them, and all that we could fayor do for many Weeks or Months together, would not make molt of them fomuch as fay, We are forry for our fin ; nor any of them leave their common Drunkennefs; how should Excommunication do them good ? If you fay, Whythen did you ufe it? I anfwer, For the fake of the tell more than for them: for all the Reafons before-mentioned, and many more which I have laid down in the Preface to my UniverfalConcord. We knew it to bean Or- dinance of Chrift, and greatly conducing to the Honour of the Church; which is not a common prophane Society, nor a Sty of Swine, but muff be cleaner than the Societies of Infidels and Heathens: And I biefs God that ever I made trial of Difcipline; formy Expedtations were not fruftrate though the ejedled Sinners were hardened The Churches Good muff be firft regarded. As to the other Queffion,Why we dealt not thus by all the Parifh,and took them not all for Members without queftion ? We knew forne Papifts and Infidels that were no Members : We knew that the People would have thought themfelves wronged more to be thus brought under Difcipline without and again(' their own Confent, than to fuller them towithdraw. And we thought it not a Bulinefs fit for the unwilling, efpecially at fach a time as that: But efpecially, I knew that it was liketo be their utter undoing, by hardening them into utter Enmity againft the means that fhould recover them : And I never yet taw any figns of hope in any