A SERMON Preached before the SYNOD AT GLASGOW. APRIL, 5th. 1653.
The first SERMON.
1 Corinth. 1. 10.
THIS Text begins a new Purpose, so it is not necessary to speak much for clearing of the Dependance and Cohesion: Only ye would know somewhat of the State of this Church Page 236 at the time when this Epistle was written, which will help us not a little to take up the Occasion and Scope of the Words read. Paul having planted a Church at Corinth, was after driven from thence by the sury of the Jews, as appears from Acts 18. 12. In whose absence, partly through the malice of Sa∣tan, partly through the subtilty of false Apostles, the Church was rent in Factions; some taking part with one Pastor and some with another, according to the diverse estimation they held them in, for their Hu∣mane Eloquence, great Knowledge, and other parts. The Church being thus rent, the Apostle addresseth himself timously to the Cure of this so Great an Evil: But because he was almost out of request with the most part of that People; tho as he himself, Chap. 4. v. 15. declares, he had begotten them in Christ Je∣sus through the Gospel; Therefore as a skill'd Physici∣an being to administer a bitter Potion, he suggereth the brim of the Cup, by shewing, That whatever was Their respect to him, yet his Affection did re∣main the same towards them; And this he insisteth on from the beginning to the tenth Verse, wherein he falls upon the Sore he intends to Cure, to wit, Their Factions and Schism's, Obtesting them grav∣ly in the Name of Jesus Christ, That they would set about the Healing of these woeful Rents, before they should turn to worse.
In the Words there are two things, 1, A Duty to which they are exhorted. 2. Some Arguments moving them to set about this Duty. The Duty is last in order of the Words, and propounded in three Page 237 Sentences: 1. That ye all speak the same thing. 2. That there be no Divisions among you. 3. That ye be perfectly joined together in the same Mind, and in the same Judge∣ment. The Duty pressed in all these may be taken up in two. 1. An Evil they were to Eschew. 2. A Good which they were to Follow. The Evil to be E∣schewed is in the second Sentence, to wit, That there be no Divisions or (as it is in the Original) Schism's among you. I shall not enter to speak of the nature of Schism, or how it differeth from Heresy; It is suffi∣cient for the opening up of the Text, to know what Divisions or Schisms the Apostle meaneth by here: And that is know'n from the following Verse, to wit, Their Factious sidings in extolling One Minister, and debasing Another, with many fruitless Janglings and other bad consequences following thereupon, whereof doubtless this was One, The engaging of the Ministers themselves in Parties for upholding their Dependants, So Verse 12.—Every one of you saith I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas— One saith Paul is best, let us follow him: Another sayeth, Nay, but Apollos is best, we'll follow him: A third saith, Cephas is better than them both, I'le follow none of them: Now away with these fruit∣less Contests saith he.
In the next place. There is the Good to be Fol∣lowed, and that is threefold, in opposition to three sorts of Evils which usually accompany Schism in a Church.
The first Evil accompanying Schism, is, Flat Con∣tradiction, first among Ministers, and next among Page 238 People; when not only their Opinions do differ, but they are so hot upon the Business, that at all occa∣sions they proclaim their Differences▪ In opposition to this, he exhorts them To speak the same thing, that is, They would beware of Contradictions in a matter of so small importance; Wherein they agreed, they would speak to that; Wherein they differ'd, they would forbear others, spending their time and parts upon more edifying purpose.
The second Evil accompanying Schism in a Church, is, Renting of Affections, When the Mem∣bers of one Body turn cold-rife one towards another and their Affection dyeth: In opoosition to this E∣vil he exhorts them to be Joined together in the same Mind, or the same Affection. It's true, the Word here rendred Mind, is used indifferently for the whole Faculties of the Soul, as the Understanding, Will, and Affections; But the Understanding being spo∣ken to under the Word Judgement, which followeth; We think with some of the best Interpreters, That by the Mind here is meaned the Affections: So the thing he presseth in the second Place, is, That not only they would forbear others in the matter of their Publick Expressions, but also would labour to blow at the Coal of their almost dying Affections
The third Evil accompanying a Schism, is, Difference of Judgement; And in opposition to this, he exhorts them to be Perfectly joined in the same Judgement. The meaning is, They would labour to remove the Root of the Difference by coming to One Judgement: Not as if the Apostle had been careless what Judgement Page 239 they had been of, providing they had been One; No, the one part of every Contradiction is Truth, and there is no Truth which the Apostle would have deni∣ed for Peace.
This for the Duty pressed: Next there are some Arguments perswading to this Duty. As 1. There is the Apostles Insinuation, partly in his Affectionate Exhortation, I beseech you, partly in his lovely Com∣pellation, Brethren. 2. There is his Grave Obtesta∣tion—By the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ—That is to say, as the Name of Christ is dear to you, which ye profess so much respect unto, so set about the Cure of these Factions and Fractious Sidings and Schisms, by which His Name suffereth so much. There is a third Argument to enforce this Duty, in the words perfectly joined, whereby the Apostle hints at the great Evil the Church was under by the pre∣sent Schism, and the great good they should attain to by the removal of it. The word in the Original is borrowed from the Office of Chirurgeons, and that part of it which consists in the mending of broken Bones, and setting in joynt of Dislocated Members: So it imports 1. That through occasion of the Schism they were put all out of joynt: All the Members of the Church were Dislocated, and therefore unfit, so long as they remained in that case, for doing of any good Office to the Body. 2. It imports, that their following of his Advice for removing of the Schism, would set every Member of the Body in it's own place, and so enable the Body for going about acti∣ons profitable unto it self, which now (the whole Members being out of joynt) it could not do. This
Page 240 This much for opening up the meaning of the Words. Divers points of Truth, arising from the several branches of the Text, might here be hand∣led; but I intend to insist upon One arising from the scope which will comprehended the most part of the rest; It is this, Vnity in the Church, is a thing much to be laboured for and sought after; and Division and Schism in a Church, is much to be eschewed.
In prosecuting this Doctrine I shall first distinguish Vnion, That we may know what Vnion is meaned. 2. I shall confirm the point. 1. By Scripture. 2. By Reason, 3. I shall apply the Doctrine for our Vse.
First then, To know what Vnion the Text and Doctrine speaks of: It's fit you know, That there are several sorts of Union. 1. There is an Union of the Church Invisible, the tye and bond whereof is In∣ward Graces: All the Members of the Church In∣visible are United to Christ the Head by Faith, and one to another by Love. This is not the Uni∣on here meaned, The Text speaks of a Visible Uni∣on of the Church Visible, In Opposition to a Vi∣sible Rent and Schism.
Secondly, There is an Union of the Church Visi∣ble, and of it's Members among themselves. This again is twofold; The first is That Vnion, which is necessary to the Being of a Church, and the Being of a Member: So that a Church cannot be a Church, nor a Man a Member of the Visible Church without it: Wherein this Vnion consists, is Controverted be∣twixt Us and the Independants. But the Doctrine meaneth not of This Vnion either; So we insist not Page 241 on it. The Vnion pressed in the Text, is such, that the Church at Corinth for the time did want, and yet remained a Church. The Union therefore here mean∣ed is, A second sort of Union belonging to the Vi∣sible Church: To wit, That which is necessary to the Well-being of a Church; without the which tho a Church remain a Church, yet she losseth much of her outward Beauty, her Authority is much weak∣ned, her great work, which is the edification of her self in Love (Eph. 4. 13.) is much retarded: She re∣mains a Church, but not such a Church as is descri∣bed, Cant. 6. 10. Who is she that looketh forth as the Morning, fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun, and terri∣ble as an Army with Banners? A divided Church is not such a Church.
But for further understanding of the Vnion here pressed, ye would know that this Union which is ne∣cessary to the Well-being of a Church is Threefold. 1. There is an Union in Judgement, when there is no considerable Difference among the Members of the Church, in the matter of Opinion; When all Think the same thing. And this is here pressed, Be prefectly joined in one Judgement. 2. There is an Union in Heart and Affections spoken of Act. 4. 32. The multitude of them that believed were of one Heart, and of one Soul. And this Union is also here pressed,—Be perfectly join'd together in the same Mind, or in Love and Affection, as we shew'd in the opening up of the Words. 3. There is an Union in Practice, and that is, when whatever Difference there is in Judgement, yet it's not openly proclaim'd: Publick Contradictions and Eristick De∣bates Page 242 are eschewed, and an unanimous joint practice in these things, wherein there is Agreement, is fol∣lowed. And this Union is also pressed in the Text, I beseech you—that ye all speak the same thing. So it's clear the Text means all these three sorts of Union, the Doctrine intends them All, and as might be made e∣vident, other Scriptures press them All. Only this, we would know, the Order wherein they are pres∣sed, to wit, So as every Breach in the Former, is not to make a Breach in the Latter; Every Difference in Judgement, is not to make a Rent in Heart or Af∣fection; Nor, tho a Rent be in both, doth it infer necessarly a Divided Practice, at least in these things wherein there is Agreement: And for that, the Scrip∣ture is clear, especially Philipp. 3. 15, 16 where v. 15 the Apostle supposeth difference of Judgement a∣mong the Philippians, as to the point he is there speak∣ing of▪ and subjoineth for matter of Practice, v. 16. Nevertheless, whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same Rule, That is to say, Tho we cannot agree in all things, yet let us eschew the prolaiming of Our Differences, by Our contrary Practices.
This much for the first thing, to wit, What U∣nion the Doctrine presseth. It is an Union necessary to the Well-being of the Visible Church, particular∣ly, an Union in Judgement, an Union in Affection, an Union in Practice: An Union all these wayes is to be sought for and laboured after, yet so as, if we can∣not attain to Union in the Former, we are yet still to endeavour it in the Latter.
For Confirmation of this Truth we might cite Page 243 several Scriptures. 1. These wherein this Union is promised to the Church, and that as a rich Cove∣nant Blessing, such as Jer. 32. 39.—I will give them one Heart, and one way that they may fear Me for ever—The like is in Ezek. 37. 22. 2. These Scriptures wherein this Vnion is highly commended: Espe∣cially Ps. 133. 1. Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for Brethren to dwell together in Vnity—and so through the whole. 3. These Scriptures which hold out the Mediator's Prayer to the Father for this Union, Joh. 17. 21. That they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Vs—and so v. 23. 4. Those Scriptures where this Union is expresly enjoyned and pressed whereof there are many; Such as Philipp. 2. 1, 2, 3. If there be—any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of Love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any Bowels and Mercies; Fulfil ye My Joy, that ye be like minded, hav∣ing the same Love, being of one accord, of one mind. And 2 Cor. 13. 11. Finally Brethren, farewel—be of one mind, live in peace—. And lastly, these Scriptures where Division contrary to Unity is condemned, as Rom. 16. 17.—I beseech you, Brethren, mark them which cause Divisions and Offences, and avoid them.
But for further Confirmation of this Truth, we shall in the next place, bring foreward some Rea∣sons, concluding the equity and necessity, of seek∣ing after, and entertaining of Unity in the Church, which shall also serve as motives to the Duty.
Reason 1. Union furthers Edification: So Eph. 4. 3. Union is pressed; And One Fruit among many to Page 244 be reaped hereby, is (v. 12.) the edifying of the Body of Christ. And as Unity furthers Edification, so Divi∣sion marreth it; Divisions in a Church, tho about small things, yet if stiffly mantain'd, prove a great stumbling Block to the Weak; they are put to doubt all Truths, because Men gracious and learned doubt of some: So Division not only marreth progress in the building, but striketh at the very foundation of what is already built.
Reas. 2. Divisions in a Church make the Mini∣sters contemptible: Of all Men Ministers suffer most this way, because usually they are most active in be∣ginning and upholding the Division; and usually even these who have Truth for them, suffer much (if not most) this way: Paul, tho an Apostle, and a Man for Truth, yet he lost much of the former e∣steem he had amongst the Corinthians, though once they would have pluck'd out their Eyes for him, yet through the Division, their Distemper grew to such an hight, that he was look'd on as Contemptible—rude in speech—yea A Fool, and what not? as ap∣pears from 2 Cor: 10. 10. Ch. 11. 6, 16.
Reas. 3. The Essential Unity of the Church, and the many things wherein a Church agreeth that way, should enforce this Union. The Apostle Paul, Eph. 4. draweth a strong Argument for Unity and Peace in the Church, from this Ground. The Duty is pro∣pounded v. 3. Endeavouring to keep the Vnity of the Spi∣rit in the Bond of Peace. And v. 4, 5, 6. it is pressed by this Argument, There is on Body, and one Spirit,—One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father Page 245 of all▪—Here are many Ones together in two or three lines, as if he had said, What a shame is it for you who are so many wayes One, to rent in pieces for a thing of so small moment.
Reas. 4. Divisions in a Church turn away every Man's Eye from his main Task; I mean from the joint opposing of Satan's main Design, to be wrang∣ling one with another: It's Satans Policy when he intends to bear down Truth in a Church, to set those who should oppose him most, by the Ears about smaller things, that so he may carry his point with less difficulty; herein making use of Matchiavils (or rather his own) Principle divide & impera, Divide and Carry. It's often seen that the nearer those who differ come to one another, they drive on their point against others with the greater Animosity and Eager∣ness; the Jews and Samaritans were at greater va∣riance than Jews and Heathens: And the Reason is this, The less the Difference is, they have the more hopes to bring others to their mind, hence their mu∣tual On-setts are more furious, and their Disappoint∣ments the more bitter, the higher they were in their hopes; and in the mean time while they mind no∣thing so much as to bear down one another, Satan cometh good speed in bearing down of Truth and Them and All.
Reas. 5. Union when once lost in a Church, is hardly ever again attained: We read Act. 15. 39. that Paul and Barnabas parted, but we hear nothing of their meeting again. And Church History sheweth us,
Reas. 6. When a Rent is made in a Church, as it is hardly curable, so it still groweth wider: It is ea∣sier to know whereabout a Rent begins, than where∣at it will end. The greatest of Church Divisions (some of them at least) have been observed to have had but small Beginnings, hence is that commonly received Maxim Omne Schisma desinit in haresin. The Faction of the Donatists at first made but a Schism separating from the Communion of the Church, u∣pon pretence of some faulty Officers and mixed Communions, but it was not long until they fell in∣to several Heresies.
The Doctrine being thus Explained and Confir∣med, from Scripture▪ and Reason, I shall now apply it to Use. Our first Use is for Refutation. The Doct∣rine refutes, at least layeth a just odium upon; the Doctrine of Separation, and that Way which is called Independant or Congregational, in so far as it is made up of such Principles, as lay a Foundation for the per∣petual Renting of the Church: Of which Principles I shall reckon Four.
The First is, That Principle, whereby They main∣tain the Lawfulness of gathering Churches, out of Churches, acknowledged by themselves to be True Churches. A most dividing Principle, in so far as it gives way for every Man to Separate from his Own, and to join himself with another Church Page 247 supposed Purer, with contempt of the former Con∣gregation. To gather Churches out of Churches, is the way to destroy, but not to heal diseased Church∣es; It is to destroy many Churches for making up of One, as if one going about the Cure of a Natural Body should cut off and take out all the sound Mem∣bers, and leave the rotten and diseased Members, either to Cure one another or to perish. A strange and desperate way of Cure.
A Second Dividing Principle in that Way, is, The Rule according to which they will have Ecclesiastick Judgement pass'd upon their Church Members, to wit, Conviction of their Inward good Estate, which Rule being variable and uncertain, some will judge one way, some another, according as they are more or less enclined to Charity; yea the same Man at se∣veral times, will have a various Judgement of the Inward State of another, according as the Pre∣sumptions and Probabilities, (by which only he is led to judge of what is within,) are more fully or spa∣ringly represented: Hence there is a Seed of Breach upon Breach: But God hath not left his Church in the matter of Authoritative judging to walk by such uncertain Rules.
A Third Dividing Principle in the Independant Way is this, That all Church Power is solely in a Particular Congregation. Hence if a Particular Con∣gregation go wrong, tho but made up of seven Per∣sons (which is a competent number with them) there is no Authoritative Mean in all the Churches of the World to reclaim them. This must needs open a Page 248 Door to as many Divisions as there are Churches.
A Fourth Dividing Principle is, That there is not a Catholick Visible Church, yea no Church Visible, but a Particular Congregation; and another Prin∣ciple they hold which followeth upon this, to wit, That a Minister can exerce no Acts as a Minister, to any but those of his own Flock. Hence 1. There can be no Communion of Churches as Churches, there remaine•h only a Communion of Members: There can be no Church Act from one Church, or many towards another. The Results and Determinations of the most Famous Synods, made up of never so many Churches, are to be look'd upon but as the Actings of so many private Christians. Yea, 2. Hence it will follow that there can be no Communion a∣mongst Members of several Congregations, in pub∣lick Church Ordinances, as in hearing the Word jointly from a sent Minister, in Receiving the Seals together; For according to this Principle a Minister cannot Authoritatively Preach, nor in any respect Administer Baptism or the Lords Supper unto any, though never so Gracious, except to those of his own Flock; no not tho they be occasionally present when he is dispensing these Ordinances unto his Own: Which Consequence is expresly granted by some of the chief of that Perswasion. So it is a Principle which destroyeth all Communion of Churches and Members; and therefore inconsistent with Union.
Several such like Principles in That Way might be reckoned out, Concerning which the Doctrine warrandeth us to say this much; If Unity be so ne∣cessary, Page 249 and so much to be sought after, then such Di∣viding Principles cannot be of God.
Our Second Use is for Direction: If Unity be so necessary, and so much to be laboured for, then we are to bewail that we our selves are so far, and eve∣ry day a step further from it: Our Divisions grow I fear all the three wayes, and in all ranks; Our Heads are divided, our Tongues divided, yea and our Hearts divided, Synods are divided, Presbyte∣ries are divided, Congregations divided: Ministers divided, People divided; yea, and in some places Families divided: Husband and Wife, Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Master and Servant, yea and all divided. We are as Mad-men, every one eating the flesh of his own Arm. Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim Manasseh: And they together against Ju∣dah—An Evil never enough lamented, and the more to be lamented that there is no appearance how it shall be helped. There are many things may make us look upon the present Division as our saddest Af∣fliction and greatest Weight: I shall reckon Six things.
1. The many particular Evils which upon an exact search, it will be found Our Divisions have brought upon Peoples own Spirits. How much of our pre∣cious time is spent in vain jangling, by which our Heart cannot but •e made worse? Many, I fear too too many so taken up with their Heads that they for∣get their Hearts; the sweetness and profit of mutual converse and fellowship is much marred; Our mu∣tual freedom and benefit that way much impaired: Page 250 Our Peace with God by our hot Debates▪ untender Expressions, and bitter and unnecessary Reflections of times brangled and shaken.
A Second Thing that may make Us look on our Present Divisions as our great Weight, is, The name of Praise which this Church hath had for Unity in times by-past amongst the Reformed Churches. In the Harmony of Confessions, the Preface to the Con∣fession of Faith of the Church of Scotland, makes men∣tion of this as a rare Priviledge of This Church be∣yond many, and that which makes Her very Name Famous among Churches abroad, That for the space almost of Sixty Years She had keep'd Unity with Pu∣rity without either Schism or Heresy. Now if U∣nity hath been formerly this Church's Praise, how sad and weighty is it, and how woeful men are we, that this Breach should be under our Hand?
A Third Thing to make our present Division weighty is, That it is the greatest Weight which Gods People up and down the Land lyeth under, it's a Weight beyond all other Weights and Sufferings: And if it be their Weight, it ought for many Rea∣sons to be much more ours.
Fourthly, Our Divisions, and Courses taken for carrying them on, hath given a deeper Inward Wound, to the Government of Christ's House than all the Outward Power of the World could have done The leading of us by pairs to a Stake for our adhering to the Government and Constitution of our Mother Church, our Imprisonment, Banishment, the laying of Congregations desolate for that Cause, Page 251 could not have shaken the minds of many, in rela∣tion to these Truths, so much as our own Divisions and Practices following thereupon have done. An Inward Disease is more dangerous, and weakeneth more than Outward Blows.
Fifthly, Our Division may and ought to be the more weighty, the more of Judgement is in it: And certainly there is much of Wrath and Judgement in it. It is a judicial stroak; For all see it's Evil, the most part are weary of it, and yet cannot fall upon the right way for putting an end to it: Yea, no course hitherto essayed for Union, but it hath proved an hightning of our Division; And so it will until it come to that hight which God in His just Judge∣ment will have it at; However it's clear that Wrath is in it, much of Judgement is in it, and that should make it weighty: We side one against another, and God is siding against us both.
Sixthly, This should make our Division have a particular Weight with us in this Synod, That we drink most of its bitter Fruits: We are the Stage whereon this cruel Dividing Spirit acts its Game most: None in time past so United as We, but none now so Divided; And even this may give Us sad thoughts of our Accession to the beginning and Fo∣menting of this woeful Rent.
Our Third Use is of Direction also following upon the former, If Union be such a good; if Di∣vision such an evil; And if our Divisions be so much to be bewailed; Then we ought to have some thoughts towards the making up of our breach▪ Page 252 there ought to be some guardings against these evils which may follow upon it, until it be made up.
The Prosecuting of this Use, as it is the most part of our Work, so it is the most difficult; and I fear also, considering our present Distempers, and deep Engagements lying on every one almost to his Own Way, that for the time it shall be but Fruit∣less: Yet being led to it by the word of Truth, and not knowing when the Lord may make it have it's own Fruits, whether now or afterwards, I shall with the Lords help adventure on it. And there∣fore in pressing this Use, I shall speak to three things. 1. I shall show what things I conceive as necessary to be eyed by us while we aim at Union, if so we would have Our aim's effectual. 2. Because a Compleat Union is not soon to be expected, I shall give some Directi∣ons for the Management of Our Differences, so as the Church of Christ may have the less hurt by them at least. Lastly, I shall propound some Considerati∣ons to People, for preventing of stumbling, and making Shipwrack upon our Divisions.
As to the First, I shall mention Six things we should carry alongs with us while we aim at Union. Unto all which I premit One General, as tending to give Life to all the rest, without which all our Endea∣vours for Union, though otherwise never so regular, though guided with never so much Prudence, though prosecuted with never so much zeal, will prove ineffectual; and it's this: That both Mini∣sters and People should be more in seeking after God's Face: So long as we remain at a distance Page 253 from him, no wonder we grope as Blind-men in the dark, and cannot come nigh one to another: It's grant∣ed by all, That Jesus Christ hath much withdrawn from the Spirits of his People: There is not so much of Life conveyed by Preaching, not such ac∣cess granted in Prayer; no such delight in Means; no such joy in his presence; This is granted by all and in a manner regrated by all, but lamented by few; And fewer yet make it their work to have the Lord returning and shewing himself as sometimes he hath done: And until this be, we can look for the less success of any attempts made for the removal of this our sore stroak: But if God would return, It were then easy work: One glimpse of him, filling the House with his Glory, would scatter the Clouds of mutual Jealousies, make us, as men ashamed, steal from all our Dividing Principles; would put to si∣lence all our turbulent Distempers; and make us blush at our proud and selfish Animosities: O! for more of God, then would all be well. But I come to the particulars to be eyed by us while we aim at Union.
First, It is not to be expected that Our Union will begin at our Uniting in Judgment, In that Que∣stion about which our unhappy Differences began. It was the Judgment of some from the beginning, that the standing at a distance in other things, until we should be united in That, should put Us at a further distance, even in That. Our Union in Practice first, will be the shortest cut to bring us unto Union of Judgement about that Question, if ever we shall Page 254 come to it at all. Hence publick Debatings before the People, and such as tend to make others odious who are not of our Way, is not the way for Union. Such work irritateth, but convinceth not. It's true no Truth may be quit for Union, No, not the least, Quisquil•a veritat•• praetiosissima, The very refuse of Truth is most precious: Yet that the positive asser∣ting of some Truths may be forborn for Peace's sake, I believe is granted by All, and there is good reason for it: Only there is one exception here ne∣cessary, to wit, when Truth is impugned, then there is a necessity to speak for it, at least till there be such a Testimony given to that Opposed Truth, as may •e rested upon. And in this Case some may be made unwillingly to speak, as the Apostle Paul was once in defence of his own Estimation, 2 Cor. 12. 11. I am become a fool in glorying, ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you:—As if he should say, God knows, I have no more delight to speak of this subject, than ye have to hear me, but your Indiscretion forceth me to it.
A Second thing to be carried along with us, while we aim at Union, is, no union of this kind of which the Doctrine speaks, can be expected in the Church, except there be an Union in one Supreme Representative; land that such an one whose Authori∣ty we may stand under for the present. As it is in the Civil State, so is it in the Church as to this purpose, No Union can be there, as of one actually incorporate Body, except it be under one and the same Supreme Rulers: So is it in the Church, So long as there is no Page 255 agreement about One and the same Supreme Repre∣sentative, under whose Authority we may stand for the present, But one part standeth for it's Authority, another is contrary unto it, or setting up another against it, In this case the matter is clear, there is no compleat Union but a fixed Schism, or at the best a strong tendency unto it.
A Third thing to be eyed is, If so Our Union must be under one Supreme Representative, then such ways of Union will do no good as carry not a∣longs the Body: An Union if not with the Body, instead of healing, doth widen the Rent. A resolu∣tion or desire to unite with a few not caring for the rest, will not produce an union, I mean of the Church, altho it may be of a stronger Party in the Church. These few would possibly as gladly unite as others would have them, if it were not evidently a strengthening of the Breach.
Fourthly, Yet a Part ought to labour with the Bo∣dy for condescending, as low as warrantably can be, for Peace's sake: Only a Caveat must be here, They are so to deal with the Body to condescend for Vni∣on, as to beware of making a new Rupture in the Body upon their not granting: For that were in a desperate way to make a new Rent, because others will not take Our way for removing of the Old.
Fifthly, If we desire an hearty cordial Vnion, it would be endeavoured without rubbing upon the Credit. 1. Of Persons. 2. Of Parties. 3. Of Or∣dinances. If the Credit of all can be held up, it's well. He is no friend to Vnion that would endea∣vour Page 246 the contrair: But if some must suffer, Love to the Publick and Zeal for God, will teach That the former is to yeild to the latter, viz. Persons to Par∣ties, and the Credit both of Persons and Parties, yea, and of both Parties themselves, if need be, are to stoop for upholding the Authority of Divine Ordinances. A litle of this Self-denial would do much good: But how litle of it is there to be found?
Sixthly, Dividing Principles and such as tend of their own nature to obstruct Union, should be aban∣doned: There is One Principle often spoken of by some, and now made more publick, which if main∣tained, in Our judgment will close the door upon Union in hast, to wit, That it is unlawful to sit in an Assembly with those, who have enacted persecution against the Godly. And this in the sence of the Propounders, & as it is expresly, tho injuriously, applyed by them, is as much as to say, It is unlawful to joyn in any Assembly made up for the most part of those who acted in and approved of Our late Controverted Assemblies: Now if it be unlawful to joyn in an Assembly made up for the most part of such, why not also unlawful to join in a Synod or in a Presbytry likewise made up of such, yea and to join at a Communion Table where the most part are such. And indeed some (of the People chiefly) draw out their Principle to this full length. A Principle which (to say no worse of it) striketh at the very throat of Peace; and, if stood to, makes it desperat; and so I hope is, and will be disowned by all who cordially pretend to Peace and Union in the Church.
Page 267 These I conceive and many moe should be eyed by Us in Our aiming at Union, if we would have Our endeavours effectual: But because a Compleat Uni∣on in an ordinary way is not to be so soon expected, I shall in the next place give Two Directions for ma∣naging our Differences; So as the Church of Christ may have less hurt by them at least.
The first Direction is, That we ought to guard a∣gainst these Tentations, which Our Standing Divisi∣on may readily make way for, Whereof I shall men∣tion Three.
The First Tentation is this, An oversight of every other fault almost, whether in Ministers or Profes∣sors, providing they be true to the Party. A Par∣ty is a dangerous thing, and in nothing more dan∣gerous than in this, That it driveth men, if not all the more tender, to take fidelity unto the Party to be the prime, if not the only 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and badge of honesty, and enclines them to look on all other things, whe∣ther Corrupt Principles, or loose Practices, as ex∣cusable Infirmities. A woeful Tentation! and de∣structive both to Truth and Piety; And therefore ought so much the more to be guarded against on both hands,
A Second Tentation is, The secret wishing after, and rejoycing in the Slips one of another. An Evil so woeful that David complains to God of it even in his avowed Enemies, Ps. 38. 16.—When my Foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. And Jeremiah complaineth of it in his false Friends, Ch. 20. v. 10. They—watched for my halting. And Page 268 yet an Evil that even Good men, if once engaged in Parties, will have a Battel with,
A Third Tentation upon Our standing Divided, and which is also to be guarded against, is, A bending of Our selves to the outmost of Light, and possibly beyond it, for strengthning of our selves, to the do∣ing of these things, in relation to these who now Rule, which not long since we would have abhorred both in our selves and others. It is very possible that as Gifts blind the Eyes of the Wise, Exod. 23. So the seeming advantage unto that which we conceive Truth, may draw out somewhat like an Approba∣tion to such like Work, from those of our own Judgement, and if these do approve, it is the less matter (think we) that others do disapprove: But we ought to remember there are others to sift our Actions: Forreign Churches abroad, our own Con∣science, being sober and settled, and above all God the Judge of All.
A Second Direction for managing our Differences, is, That we ought not to be so taken up with others as to take our Eye off from guarding against that which is Satan's main design against the Church of Christ at this time. Satan does as a subtile Warri∣our labour to raise a Mutiny among the Forces which should oppose him, that while they are wrangling one with another, he may carry his Point, without stroke of Sword.
Being to insist a little on this Direction, I shall first speak to what I conceive to be Satan's main de∣sign against the Church at this time. 2, I shall give Page 269 some Directions to manage our Differences, So, as not to further this his main design, nor yet to be short-coming in our Duty against it.
And First, For taking up what is Satan's great De∣sign, we shall in a word or two lay before you a wonderful Contexture, as it were of God's Wisdom and Satan's Malice, since the first beginnings of the Christian Church even untill now. There is no Truth almost but Satan's Malice hath set it self in some one Age of the Church or other, to bear it down; And God's Wisdom hath still overshot Satan, making use of his Malice in opposing Truth, for the further clearing of that Truth, which he intendeth most to obscure and darken. Satan's first design in the first Ages of the Christian Church was to beat down that great Fundamental Truth of Christs Di∣vinity: But after long debate this Truth was fully cleared by the means of several Worthies, whose Spirits the Lord stirred up in these Ages to mantain That so much opposed Truth: Satan therefore be∣ing beat off this strong Fort of Christianity retired a little, and laboured next to bear down the Truth of Christs Humanity: But the Tru•h hereof, the more it was opposed, growing the brighter, The Lord making Light break up convincingly in the midst of Hot Debates; Satan retired a little further yet, and bent his whole force in the following Ages against the Vnity of Christs Person: And next a∣gainst the Distinction of his Natures.
But Satan not prevailing this Way either, he set himself to undermine Christ Jesus in all His Offices. Page 270 1. By setting up the Infallibility of Popes and Coun∣cils against His Prophetical Office. 2. The Doctrine of Merit in the matter of Justification against His Priestly Office. 3. The Doctrine of Free-will and power of it in Man's Conversion to God, against the Inward part of His Kingly Office. And for the Out∣ward part of it, he set himself to wrest the Scepter of Christ's Government from His own Office-bea∣rers, and put it in the Hands of Popes, Cardinals, Arch-bishops and Bishops. But after long Contest, Truth is now aboundantly cleared and confirmed in all these. Thus, as One saith, the Lord Jesus hath been content to dispute His Ground by Inches with the Devil, until almost He hath beat him out of all; only Satan hath no will to quit it so, it seems to us he is now giving his last and sorest On-set; on which in a desperate way he is to venture all; where∣in his design is evident, to cast all in a Confusion. First, By trampling under foot the Outward Court of God's House, I mean the Constitution of His Church Visible, by the Doctrine of Renting and Se∣paration; And next to deprive the Catholick Church Visible, and all Her considerable Members, of all Go∣vernment, by the Doctrine of Independancy, which confineth the whole Power of the Keys within the narrow circuit of a Particular Congregation; where∣by all the Particular Churches are left as so many small Boats in a storm, to dash one against another, having no Intrinsical authoritative Mean to make them steer an even Course without rushing one upon another. Thus Satan aimeth to cast all in confusion, Page 271 that he may undo all. What in former Ages he could not do in destroying Gospel Truths by Piece-meal and one by one, he intends now to do it by whole sale, and all at once; For if once the bottom of the Ship be split, and the Rudder broken, the precious Ware contain'd in it, can hardly be preserved. Now that Satan's main design is to deface these Truths which are about the Constitution and Government of the Visible Church, that thereby all may be cove∣red with Confusion, appeareth, In that not only the method God hath hitherto keeped, doth point at it; There being few other Points of Truth to clear, but also the thing speaketh for it self, the main speat of the Errors of the time running directly contrary to these; So that certainly, as God intends to clear Truth in these, so it's not the least part of Satan's main design against the Church of Christ at this time to obscure Truth in these.
This then being Satan's design, I shall in the next place give some Directions how to manage our Dif∣ferences so, as not to further this main design, nor yet be short coming in our Duty against it; Of which Directions I shall reckon Three.
First, We ought to examine Opinions and Pra∣ctices, even tho by us conceived just and lawful, How far they may contribute for furtherance of that Design; and in that respect should be more circumspect and sparing at least in medling with them. Thus the Apostle Paul Gal. 2. 3. would not Circumcise Titus, tho Circumcision at that time was a thing Lawful, as appears from his Circumcising Page 272 of Timothy, Act. 16. 3. much about the same time, and yet he would not Circumcise Titus: The rea∣son is v. 4. There were False Brethren present; who would have taken advantage of That his Practice, to confirm themselves in their opposition to that Truth, which Satan intended most to bear down at that time; to wit, The freedom of the Christian Church from the yoke of Mosaical Ceremonies: there∣fore he thinks himself bound to abstain from that pra∣ctice, tho in it self Lawful, and which in some o∣ther cases would have been necessary: And that lest by That his Practice he should have been advanta∣geous to Satan's main design against the Church of Christ at that time.
It's true Truth remains still Truth, however Sa∣tan abuse it, yet seing all grant that the venting of some Truths at sometimes is unseasonable, and so for that time may be forborn; And seing it would seem that nothing makes a Truth more unseasonable, than when it is known that Satan will make bad use of it, for bearing down that Truth which God in∣tends mainly to clear; It will follow that the venting of such a Truth ought to be at least with great modesty, and much holy Circumspection, if not altogether forborn for that time.
For Application of this Direction, I will not say much: Only I shall propose it to your serious thoughts, Whether or not the late Proceedings in opposition to the Supreme Judicatories of the Church, together with the Tenets whereupon they are groun∣ded (which for Peace's cause, and from unwilling∣ness Page 273 to give the least occasion of Irritation, I forbear to name) whether or not, I say, These (even suppo∣sing the Lawfulness of the Practices, and Truth of the Opinions) seem not to have been unseasonable for the time; as being apt to be abused for leading People upon the Errors of the time: Such as the Contempt of Ecclesiastical Judicatories; Quarrelling the Constitution, and Separating from the Fellow∣ship of our Church. I fear much it will be hard for People (not acquainted with subtile Distinctions) to conceive, that any Corruption amongst those with whom we converse, can make Civil Fellowship with them Unlawful, but it must make Church Fellow∣ship, especially Communion-table Fellowship, with the same Persons, to be as much, if not much more, Unlawful. But I forbear, not being without hopes but that Brethren Gracious and Wise will ponder what they hold, and what they practise, when they see bad use made of it, beyond their own Intention and Purpose.
There is one thing further I shall say for applica∣tion chiefly upon the other hand, and it is this, Such Practices ought to be eschewed, as may prove unjust, and unnecessary Irritations unto People, to cast them∣selves head-long upon the Errors of the time. I do not love that any thing should be done of purpose, to make People (as we say) kyth or appear in their colours, I mean, to bring out these Practices, the Seed whereof thou conceives to be already within; which at the best is to cast a stumbling Block before the Blind. I might reckon several Practices which Page 274 are not only Irritating, but also in themselves Sin∣ful; such as, Promiscuous admissions of Clean and Unclean to the Lord's Table; Little pains taking by Ministers to Instruct People with Knowledge; Shew∣ing much of Passion, but little of Reason, against Errors. There be many whose Zeal is honestly fer∣vent against Error and Confusion, who yet by these, and such as these, are not a little indirectly instru∣mental to the furtherance of it.
Our Second Direction how to manage our Diffe∣rences so as not to further Satan's main design, is, That all, especially Ministers, would beware of such things as of their own Nature do prove, and by con∣stant observation have proven, Fore-runners of Error and Confusion: Of which I shall reckon Three.
The First thing to be eschewed, is, Unscriptural Expressions while speaking of things Religious, as, Cases of Conscience, Exercises of Mind, and Scrip∣ture Truths: An affected way of bringing forth old Truths in new and uncouth Phrases, high soaring Notions, serving more to astonish than inform the Hearers, Paul 2 Tim. 1. 13. bids, Hold fast the form of sound words, and not only of sound Doctrine: It was Calvin's Observation in his time, and severalls since, that those who coin new Words and strange Expressions, tending only to amuse the Hearers, are in hazard to be carried away themselves, and to carry others with them, unto some New and Dan∣gerous Opinions.
2. Ye must beware lest a disgust of old Truths spread amongst the People, together with an itching Page 275 after new Things, new Opinions, new Cases, new Fellowships, new Teachers. Ye'll find 2 Tim. 4. 3, 4. That itching Ears in People go before the turn∣ing the Ear from the Truth. For preventing where∣of Ministers should be much in the inculcating of old Soul-saving and Soul-humbling Truths; And for keeping these still fresh and savory, much of the need of Christ should be pressed; to a Soul-hun∣gring for Christ, every bitter thing is sweet, but a Soul full of Conceit loatheth the Hony-comb.
A Third Thing predisposing to Error, and so to be guarded against, is, The undervaluing of the Mi∣nistry. It hath been Satan's method in drawing on People towards Error at all times, and in no time more than these of late. First, To make them despise their Faithful Ministers; that once getting the Ear stopped by prejudice against thes• he might get the more ready access for his Emissaries to infect them with Damnable Errors. It is the Observation of a Reverend Writer of late, speaking to the same pur∣pose, That the Galatians were easily seduced, so soon as they were made to disgust Paul their Faithful Teacher.
This much for the Second Direction for managing of our Differences so, as not to come short in defence of these Truths, which Satan is labouring most to deface.
Our Third Direction, is, To be watchful over the first Buddings of Error That way: There are some lesser Errors whereby Satan scoureth the Field, and maketh way for these great Ones which he mainly intends: Whereof as to the present case I shall men∣tion Page 274〈1 page duplicate〉Page 275〈1 page duplicate〉Page 576 some. Concerning which, whatever we might speak from our own knowledge of the propensity of severals towards some of them; yet I shall rather choise to speak of them in the abstract, as such, That if People should be taken with them, will make way for that Confusion which Satan mainly aimeth at.
Error 1. The first whereof is, That no Man tru∣ly Godly, ought to be Censured for Opinion or Pra∣ctice, which we conceive he owneth or practiseth from grounds of Conscience, tho his Opinion or Practice tend never so evidently to the Renting of the Church.
Error 2. Secondly, That the presence of Scanda∣lous Persons at the Lords Table, defileth the Ordi∣nance unto all who Communicate, knowing such to be there.
Error 3. Thirdly, That a Minister Scandalous, tho not Judicially proved such, ceaseth to be a Minister, so that it is unlawful to receive either Word or Sa∣crament at his hand, or to join in Discipline with him.
Error 4. Fourthly, That there is no special tye upon People to countenance the Ordinance, in that Congregation whereof they are Members: But a liberty left to go constantly where they may be most edified, tho with the discouragement of those whose hands they are bound to strengthen.
I have only mentioned these Tenets without Re∣futation, being confident that none of Christs Mini∣sters, to whom herein I mainly speak, will own them: Only I shall point at three things Ministers Page 277 should make conscience of as their Duty, in relation to these or such like.
First, As it is our Duty to watch against propha∣nity and Scandal upon the one hand, so to be learning where any thing of this kind vents it self either in Practice or Contentious Reasoning.
Secondly, We should not think lightly of such, when they do appear; and that Because, 1. They do evidently make way for Satans great design in these times, which is to cover the Church of Christ with Confusion. 2. Because that however possibly such do not reflect so much upon our own Ministry as upon others, who we may conceive have justly procured their own grief, yet a year or two may lay them down at the door of him who thinks him∣self for the time at greatest distance from them, and that with so much the more weight, as that he did not resent these evils sooner. 3. Such would not be thought of lightly, Because Experience sheweth, That the simple overseeing of such, is not the way to root them out, but rather to make them take strength.
And therefore the Third thing that Ministers should make Conscience of in relation to such, is, To set about the Curing of them, wherein ye are to eye two Caveats. 1. As ye would thrive so set about the Cure of One evil as not to neglect Another; They are not to be approven, if any such be, who in their Reproofs bend themselves wholly against Er∣ror, but little against Prophanity and Vice; neither are they to be approven, if there be any such, who Page 278 pass over the reproof of Error wholly, because the Person to be reproved will hardly take with it; or that prophane men will take occasion to mock at Pie∣ty because of it: These things require indeed that the Duty be wisely and tenderly done, but not that it be left altogether undone. A second Caveat to be eyed is, your Cure should be more in Convincing Arguments, than in Bitter Reproofs: Else it will be taken but for the venting of Passion, and that ye have nothing to say in Reason; which will make the Disease worse.
This much for the second branch of our last Use. The Third shall be some Considerations to the People, especially, for preventing their stumbling and making Shipwrack upon the present Divisions.
The First Consideration is this: The Church in all Ages hath been afflicted with Divisions from the Apostles time even till now: yea, in the very time when the Apostles were alive themselves, We read Act. 15. 39. That two great Apostles Paul and Bar∣nabas were so divided, that they parted one from another: The Word made use of in the Original, to express their Contention, signifieth, The high fit of a Fever (a Paroxism) It is the very word; The Spi∣rit of the Lord thereby insinuating, That their Con∣tention cast them, as it were, in the rage of a Fe∣ver; and yet the matter whereabout the contest fell out was not very great: Much like That, which was the Fountain of our woful Rent, to wit, whe∣ther Mark who had before deserted the Work, should be again employed in it, The one would have Page 279 him, the other would not; hence they part Company. And what Divisions fell out amongst the primitive Churches almost presently after they were planted by the Apostles, The Epistles of Paul to the Ro∣mans, Corinthians, Galatians, &c. make it very clear. And for the times following the History of the Church doth abundantly testify, That from the Apostles Death to this very Age, the Church hath still been shaken with Rents and Schisms, in some one place or other; and these sometimes even a∣mongst the most Gracious Men of those times, as Augustine, Hierom, Zuinglius, Luther, and Calvin, Together with several others, whose Names, if it were pertinent I might recite. So that ye are not to stumble at the present Divisions: There is no new or strange thing befallen Us: The Church of Christ in all Ages hath been tryed with the like.
A Second Consideration to prevent stumbling at our present Divisions is, That God hath foretold Church Divisions should be, 1 Cor. 11. 19. There must be also Heresies among you— And he hath not only foretold that simply they must be, but so a• he should have an holy hand in them, Matth. 10. 35. I am come to set a man at variance against his Father, and the Daughter against her Mother— So that he hath an Holy hand in Church Divisions, he permits them to be, and for wise Reasons, whereof I shall reckon Three. 1. He permits Divisions to be, That Men's Spirits may be thereby tryed. So 1 Cor. 11. 19. There must be Heresies among you, And wherefore?—That they which are approved may be Page 280 made manifest. There is a great deal of evil lurk∣ing in Peoples Spirits, Unsound Principles in some, Seeds of loose practices in others, Pride, Conceit, and other unmortified Distempers, in a third sort; and Divisions in a Church decipher those. 2. Divi∣sions are sent for the clearing of Truths: This, as we shewed before, has been Gods method from the beginning, when he had a point of Truth to clear, he hath suffered men to contradict it, and the more it hath been contradicted, it hath still grown the brighter. 3. He permits Divisions to be, that in his Holy Justice they may be a stumbling block to the wicked; If thou think there are so many Opi∣nions, and so many Religions, that thou'l care for no Religion, until wiser People than thou agree a∣mong themselves; Then Church Divisions and dif∣ference of Opinions in Gods just judgment are thy Destruction.
A third Consideration to prevent stumbling at our present Divisions is, That some good use may be made of them in the mean time; I shall first speak to some Bad Uses of them which ye are to eschew: And then to speak to some Good Uses of them which ye are to seek after.
1. The First bad Use of the present Divisions is, From them to take occasion of Rejoycing, that Mi∣nisters are set together by the Ears: A woeful Use! Thou rejoycest in that which is the Gospels shame, the Godly's weight, and God's dishonour; and God shall rejoyce in thy shame and ruin another day for it.
Page 281 2. Another bad Use is, Because of them to wish That the work of Reformation had never been be∣gun; as having such ills following upon it: An use which the carnal Israelites did often make of their present strait, Would God (say they) we had never come out of Egypt. An Use which speaks, That for all thy professed adherence to the work of God and Cove∣nant, yet thou hast never thought upon it as His work; else a blast of Affliction could not have put thee so soon out of love with it.
3. The giving over of your selves to a Spirit of Loosness, it being a lawless time: Some Ministers may possibly make this Use of the present Division, but it is a woeful Use, and such as will deceive: God may of purpose have sent such a time that thou may without fear fill up thy Cup, and so be taken course with afterwards for all together.
4. It is a bad Use of them, to observe only which of the wayes do afford most advantage, where the Sun of Prosperity is most like to shine, that ye may strike in there, but with a resolution, if the Wind change ye will change also: A bad Use and unworthy of a Man, much more of a Christian Man, whose Pro∣fession is to be ruled by Conscience, Scripture and Reason; and not by self-interest and advantage.
5. The last bad Use of the present Division is, To blow at the Coal; making it your work what ye can search out and scrape together, from the carriage of these who differ, that ye may vent it, and make them odious by it. A base uncharitable and unchri∣stian Use. A thing so woeful that David complains Page 282 of it in his very Enemies. Ps. 56. 5, 6. Every day they wrest my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide them∣selves, they mark my steps when they wait for my Soul. This is a thing I may say, which hath had it's own hand in the hightning and continuance of our Differences, if that which Solomon saith, Prov. 26. 20. be true, as it is most true,—Where there is no tale∣bearer the strife ceaseth.
These now are bad Uses which ye are to eschew, but out of the Eater cometh meat, there is some good Use may be made of our present Divisions, and that ye should seek after.
The first good Use is, That from these separating stirs ye would labour to be convinced of abused V∣nion. Our Division speaketh that Union hath not been improven aright, neither amongst Ministers nor Professors, there hath been much of carnal Joy, triffling over of time, but little and too too little of God in our Fellowship: And therefore in His just Judgement He hath given us some other thing to set our Teeth on edge with, ye should be convinced of this, and be humbled for it.
A Second good use of our present Division is, Ye should press so much the more after Peace with God, If strife with men be so wasting and wearisome, what will Gods feud be? If peace with men be so hard to get, seek the more of peace with God: Seek the more of his smileings, the more thou meets with of men's frownings: seek the more warmness in him, the more of Coldness thou meets with Page 283 from men; seek the more of Counsel and Direction from God, the more Reservedness thou finds in o∣thers from whom thou was wont to get sweet Coun∣sel. This were a sweet use of our present Divisions; An Exposition of Sampsons Riddle indeed; For thus Out of the eater should come meat, and out of the bitter should come sweet.
Thirdly, By these Divisions ye may discover much evil in your spirit that was before undiscovered, what a deal of Pride, not enduring to be opposed? What Carnal Emulation at the good of others? What rejoying at their slips? What eagerness of spi∣rit in the pursuit of things of little worth, when more excellent are neglected? What violent Eruptions of unmortified nature, bending after courses unwar∣rantable for making of our Point good, except Grace did bear them down? Ye find such a disco∣very of some things, such as may make you abase your selves before God.
Fourthly, Our present Divisions may confirm us in the Main, and settle us more than ever in the belief of those so much opposed Truths concerning the Govern∣ment of Christ's House, and Constitution of Visible Churches: and that because those who are divi∣vided and oppose one another much, yet for the most part do agree in these. If a mans house stand after the shaking of many strong winds, he concluds the foundation is good, This is a strong Argument for Truth, that our Divisions Factions and opposi∣tions, one against another, do not shake our minds in relation to it.
Page 284 Fifthly, Our present Divisions may be a spur to more diligence in dealing with God for helping foreward of his so much retarded Work. He is an unhappy man who, when the Ship of the Church is at the point of shipwrak, will not use violence against his own Laziness, and improve his interest with God, that he would help his tossed Church at a dead lift. Oh! that there were more of this Use; The Generation of those that seek God are fallen asleep: many are the means that God hath used to rouze us up; We have had the Calm Voice of the Word; and that hath not done it; We have had the Thun∣der-claps of Sad sufferings from without, and that hath not done it: And now the Earth-quakes of heart Divisions within, have shaken All: And, if God prevent not, will overturn All. And if this awake us not, Oh! Lord what will thou do next!
I shall now shut up all with the words of my Text, Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of Our Lord Iesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joyned together in the same mind, and in the same Iudg∣ment. I know, as matters now stand, This, and all we have spoken from it, may prove but thresh∣ing on the water, as to the thing by us intended: Yea, and very like it may be made use of for the hightning of prejudices, and further increase of Our strife; and if so be, I am at a point what to Answer: That even this will confirm unto me the Truth of what I have said, to wit, That Our Divisions are an Evil much to be lamented; It is a Judicial stroak, in so Page 285 far as nothing can be said for the removal of it, but thereby one way or other it taketh strength; It is a strong fire, that when water is poured upon it, blaz∣eth up the higher; It is a dangerous Disease in the natural body, which is so prev•lent, as to turn the very medicine applyed, unto the nature of that vici∣ous Humour, whereby the disease is further fed and nourished. And yet tho all this should be (which God avert) I have another thing to say, and it is the ground of my comfort as to Our present sad stroke; That Jesus Christ who hath found out the way to make God and man One, when they were at vari∣ance, hath ways enough to reconcile us one to another, tho Our Divisions were at a greater hight than yet they're come to: And if he hath pleasure in us he will make us One, tho it should be on our own Expenses: He may possibly do it by sending us to one Common Goal, or some such like thing; For our adhering to the Cause of God, Covenant and precious Liberties of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, That precious Trust committed unto us by him, and transmitted unto us by our Zealous and Faithful Predecessors, who in the obtaining and pre∣servation of them, loved not their lives unto the death. If He have pleasure in us he will make us unite, and if no other thing will do it, he will make such like work as this do it: And it's very like such like work may be ere long: For shall we look on our mother Church oppressed and bereaved of these Priviledges which are left unto her by her Lord and husband, in his Latter Will and Testament, and Page 286 shall we not so much as in ways competent for us, upon all hazards resent it? Shall stronger Powers usurp upon the Church's Right and in the mean time, shall we by our mutual janglings, encourage them to go on in this woful Work? Or shall we resent these wrongs the less, or secretly approve of them, be∣casue possibly that which is our own design for weak∣ning one another is thereby promoved? God forbid. Now the God of Peace establish our Peace with him∣self, and give us Peace one with another in himself.