4. Single congregations, joined in vicinity and neighborhood to one another, should avoid divisions, (which are destructive to all societies, as well ecclesiastical as civil,) and maintain peace and unity among themselves, (which is conservative to all societies;) neither of which, without associated presbyteries, can be firmly and durably effected. Both which ought with all diligence to be endeavored. For, 1. Peace and unity in the Church are in themselves amiable, and ought to be promoted, Psal. cxxxiii. 1, &c.; Eph. iv. 3, 13; 1 Cor. i. 10. 2. Schisms and divisions are simply evil, and all appearance, cause, and occasion thereof, ought carefully to be avoided, 1 Cor. xii. 25; Rom. xvi. 17; 1 Thes. iv. 22. 3. All congregations are but as so many branches, members, parts of that one church, one body, one family, one commonwealth, one kingdom, whereof Christ is Head, Lord, and King; and therefore they should communicate together, and harmoniously incorporate and associate with one another, (so far as may be,) for the common good, peace, unity, and edification of all. See 1 Cor. xii. 12-29; Eph. ii. 12-16, and iv. 12-14, and v. 23-25.
II. The light of Scripture will hold forth the divine warrant of greater presbyteries and their power for church government, far more clearly than the light of nature. Forasmuch as we find in the Scriptures a pattern of these greater presbyteries, and of their presbyterial government over divers single congregations in common in the primitive apostolical churches. For the greater evidence and perspicuity hereof, take this proposition:
Jesus Christ our Mediator hath laid down in his word a pattern of presbyterial government in common over divers single congregations in one Church, for a rule to his Church in all after ages. For confirmation hereof, there are chiefly these three positions to make good, which are comprised in this proposition, viz: 1. That there is in the word a pattern of divers single congregations in one church. 2. That there is in the word a pattern of one presbyterial government in common over divers single congregations in one church. 3. Finally, that the pattern of the said presbyterial government, is for a rule to the churches of Christ in all after ages.
That there is in the word a pattern of divers single congregations in one church, may be plentifully evinced by four instances of churches, (to mention no more,) viz. the churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth. Touching which four these two things are clear in the Scripture, viz: 1. That every of them was one church. 2. That in every one of these churches there were more congregations than one. Both which will fully evince a pattern of divers single congregations in one church held forth in the word.