Robert Barclay.

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The substance, then, of what is asserted and proved in this Treatise, resolves in these following particulars:
First, That in the church of Christ, when it consists of a visible people (for I speak not here of the church in the dark night of apostasy, that consisted not of any society visibly united) gathered into the belief of certain principles, and united in the joint performance of the worship of God, as meeting together, praying, preaching, &c., there is and still must be a certain order and government.
Secondly, That this government, as to the outward form of it, consists of certain meetings, appointed principally for that end; yet not so, as to exclude acts of worship, if the Spirit move thereunto.
Thirdly, The object of this government is two-fold, outwards and inwards. The outwards relate mainly to the care of the poor, of widows and fatherless; where may be also included marriages, and the removing of all scandals in things undeniably wrong: the inwards respect an apostasy either in principles or practices, that have a pretence of conscience, and that either in denying some truths already received and believed; or asserting new doctrines, that ought not to be received. Which again, (to subdivide) may either be in things fundamental, and of great moment; or in things of less weight in themselves, yet proceeding from a wrong spirit, and which in the natural and certain consequence of them tend to make schisms, divisions, animosities, and in sum, to break that bond of love and unity, that is so needful to be upheld and established in the Church of Christ. And here come also under this considcration all emulations, strifes, back-bitings and surmisings.
Fourthly, That in the true Church of Christ, (according to the definition above given of it) there will in such cases of differences and controversies still be an infallible judgment from the Spirit of God, either in one or other, few or more.
Fifthly, That this infallible judgment is and unalterably annexed and seated in the Spirit and power of God; not to any particular perpersons, meeting or assembly, by virtue of settled ordination, office, place or station, that such may have or have had in the church; no man, nor meeting, standing or being invested in any authority in the Church of Christ upon other terms, than so long as he or they abide in the living sense and unity of the life in their own particulars; which whosoever one or more inwardly departs from, ipso facto loses all authority, office, or certain discerning, he or they formerly have had; though retaining the true principles and sound form, and (may be)not fallen into any gross practices, as may declare them generally to be thus withered and decayed.
Sixthly, That Jesus Christ under the gospel hath ordinarily revealed his will in such cases through the elders, and ministers of the church, or a general meeting; whose testimony is neither to be despised or rejected without good cause. Neither is their taking upon them really to decide, any just ground to charge them with imposition, or to quarrel with their judgment; unless it can be proved, that they are decayed, and have lost their discerning, as above.
Seventhly, That to submit and obey in such cases, is no detracting from the common privilege of Christians to be inwardly led by the Spirit, seeing the Spirit has led some heretofore so to do, and yet may. And that every pretence of unclearness is not a sufficient excuse for disobedience, seeing that may proceed from obstinacy, or a mind prepossessed with prejudice: yet say I not, any ought to do it, before they be clear; and who are every way right, will not want clearness, in what they ought to do.
And lastly, That these principles are no ways tainted with imposition, or contrary to true liberty of conscience: and that they fundamentally differ from the usurpations both of Popery, Prelacy and Presbytery, or any other of that nature.