A Seasonable Advice TO ALL True Protestants IN ENGLAND, IN This present Posture of Affairs. DISCOVERING The present Designs of the PAPISTS, WITH Other Remarkable Things, tending to the Peace of the Church, and the Security of the Protestant Relion.

By a Sincere Lover of his King and Countrey.

LONDON: Printed for T. Fox, in Westminster-Hall. 1679.

TO THE Courteous Reader.

Courteous Reader,

I Intreat you to peruse with a mild, a moderate, and a Christian Temper, these few sheets which have been thought fit to be recommended to the publick view; as well to give a full prospect of the Jesuiti­cal Designs against us and our Religion, as to persuade our Bre­thren to that Ʋnity and Ʋniformity, which will secure us against all their Hellish Attempts. This Invitation will ap­pear so much the more seasonable, because we are yet threat­ned with strong Combinations, with mighty Conspiracies, with the Conjunction of Foreign Powers, that promise to themselves the overthrow of Christ's Gospel and Truth amongst us. Methinks that the greatness of the Common Danger in which we are all concern'd, should Alarm us into a compliance with one another, and oblige us to joyn to maintain that Pro­fession, which our Enemies joyntly strike at: Methinks their Policy should teach us, how to preserve our selves, and cause us to unite also in Affections, in Gods Worship, in our Cares and Endeavours for the Publick Safety, for the prevention of their mischievous purposes, too much encouraged by our groundless and unreasonable Divisions.

In this juncture of time, the Nations welfare and preser­vation hath such a dependency upon this Conjunction, that we can never expect it without this reconciliation. It is the [Page] Ʋnity of the people that will render us invincible, and draw down upon our heads the Blessing of Heaven: The safest De­fence of States and Kingdoms. It will establish Religion upon an unmoveable Basis, and maintain the envied Hierar­chy of our Church in the midst of all Disorders. It will pre­vent many wicked Designs of the Pope and his bloody Agents, and silence the jealousies and tumultuous fears that disturb our quiet. In a word, Ʋnity in Religion and Gods Worship, will preserve the Nations Peace from Foreign Invasion, and Intestine discords. If therefore our Brethren of the same Religion, who differ from us only in shadows, would hearken at last to this Reconciliation, and joyn with us at least in outward appearance: If they would consent to lay aside all prejudice and partiality, and banish from among us all names of dissention, innumerable advantages would from thence proceed, and this happy Conjunction would infallibly prove the most Invincible Bulwark of our Church and Nation, a­gainst the malice of Hell, and the Popes fury. In order thereunto, several particulars are here recommended to the publick view, to dispose mens minds for this blessed unity in Religion, and prepare them for a Cure.

But as there are distempers which the Patients froward­ness, and other circumstances will not suffer to be healed by every common Physitian, the grand disease of our Nation is such, that only the Wisdom of our Superiours, can compleat the cure, and close up our bleeding wounds, torn and inlarged through our Enemies subtil practices.

Several endeavours have been formerly made for the same purpose, but success hath not answered the expectations of good men, because their Judicious and Religious proceedings have been frustrate, as some imagin, through the unseasonableness and sharpness of the Remedies, or the untractableness of in­teressed [Page]persons, or rather, through the secret Plots of our busy Enemies, who lay in our bosoms, and had a finger in our actings of this nature.

But now these obstacles are partly removed, now the great­ness of our danger hath alarm'd many into a compliance with our Church, and begot in us an earnest desire of a Conjuncti­on, we only wait for an Invitation and the perfecting of that Ʋnion, which will render us and our posterity happy for ever.

I shall desire from all True Protestants a favourable ac­ceptance of, and a charitable construction to these my endea­vours, which I hope will prevail upon men of calm spirits, and unbiassed judgments, my zeal and affection for the service of my Country, and for the preservation of the true Religion, for which I have been a sufferer, hath encouraged me to this Attempt, Who knows, but that these considerations that I here offer, may prevail upon many, may satisfie their doubting Consciences, and oblige them to study for the future, Ʋnity and Peace? Who knows, but that a Person though in a mean Station, may contribute something towards that Blessed Work of Ʋniting us and our Brethren together? For it is the usual Method of Divine Providence, to make use of the unlikeliest Agents, to bring to pass the great Designs, and the noble effects of his Power and Wisdome, that the Glory might be ascribed to him alone, and that none might partake with him in that which is all his due.

I beseech the God of all Wisdom, Ʋnity and Peace, to unite us all together, to reconcile our differences, te enlighten our understandings with his Truth, sanctifie our wills and affecti­ons with his Spirit of Love. I beseech His Divine Majesty to preserve in health and prosperity, our gracious and religious King, and bless the zealous endeavours of the wise and great [Page]Council of our Nation, for his Glory and the Nations Wel­fare. This shall always be the Prayer of

M. D.

THE CONTENTS.

CHAP. I.
The Conspiracy and present Designs of the Popish Party in Europe, against the Protestant Interest discovered, with the methods observed by them to overthrow the Church of England. Pag. 1.
CHAP. II.
The danger of Division in a Nation about matters of Reli­gion, and what pernicious consequences it hath had in foreign Countries, and in this. Pag. 12
CHAP. III.
That there is no reasonable cause of dividing from our Church, and that the most scrupulous Conscience may and ought to conform according to the Laws of God as well as man. Pag. 20
CHAP. IV.
The true causes why most part of our dissenting Brethren will not joyn with us in the Worship of our God, enquired into. In what particulars our differences chiefly consist, and their grand Objection Answered. Pag. 32
CHAP. V.
Seasonable and Christian Advices for our Non-Conforming Brethren, who are possessed with such strong prejudices against the Church of England, that they cannot easily overcome them: and a Reconciliation proposed. Pag. 49
CHAP. VI.
An Exhortation to all the Learned, Pious, and Christian Teachers amongst our Non-Conforming Brethren, to pre­vent in time the Nations ruin, by an Ʋnity with us; and to lay aside all Prejudice and Partiality. Pag. 56

A SEASONABLE ADVICE TO ALL True Protestants IN ENGLAND, IN This present posture of Affairs.

CHAP. I. The Conspiracy and present Designs of the Popish Party in Eu­rope, against the Protestant Interest discovered, with the me­thods observed by them to overthrow the Church of England.

THE true Christian Faith in all Ages hath been endan­gered by the cruelties and furious persecutions of the Devil and his Hellish Agents. Since the Murther of the Divine Author of this Excellent Religion, there is no Age nor Kingdom but hath seen multitudes of his sincere Followers, sent after their Good Master. How furiously did the Pharisees rage against the Apostles! how barbarously did they handle the first Christians! how many Consultations and At­tempts to stifle this Religion in its Infancy, in the Rivers and Torrents [Page 2]of the Blood of its Professors! And when by S. Paul's Preaching the Truth was generally known and embraced all over the Roman Empire, how many Massacres and Tragedies have been acted upon Christians! As it is not possible to describe the inhumanities of Nero, Domitian, Dioclesian, and other Caesars: it is impossible to declare the number of Christ's Disciples, murdered in all parts of their Dominions, in every Town and Hamlet, and in every Province, fire and sword, misery and torments were the portions of all that were so bold as to own this sacred Name.

Afterwards when by the goodness of God, the Roman Emperors began to open their Eyes and perceive the Divinity of this Faith, when they be­gan to draw the whole World by their Religious Examples, to worship a Crucified Saviour; the Devil (whose Empire was thereby over­thrown) took other measures, and an other course to destroy Christi­anity, and hinder its progress amongst men. Instead of opposing the whole Body of it, which had gained an invincible credit in the World, he resolved to pick quarrels with some of its Doctrines, and to poyson the Hypocritical Professors, with such pernicious persuasions, as might spread to the forming of a Party for himself. No sooner did the Pri­mitive Christians come out of the Heathenish Persecutions, but this grand Enemy of all Truth and Piety advanced amongst them the Heresies of Arius, Apollinarius, Nestorius, Novatus, Pelagius, and others of his Champions, who either by subtilty or cruelty assaulted again Christ's Church afresh, and raised persecutions against her in her very bowels. But Satan's Malice was never so remarkable, nor the Suffer­ings of the Church never so many, nor the Plots and Combinations against her never so frequent, under the Governments of the Jews and Romans; as they have been since the Apostacy of the Roman Church from Christs true Faith, and its reception of the antient Heresies. The Devils Throne established in the Old Capitol, seems to be now trans­ferred to the infamous Vatican of Rome, the antient abode of the Whores,Corn. Tacit. lib. 2. in fine Vitel. Imperij. and the now Seat of the Great Whore of Babylon: for from this place it is impossible to number the Decrees and Commissions that have been sent to murder, destroy, burn, and overthrow Christ's true Church on Earth. How many Wars have been kindled! how many Massacres acted! how many Plots set on foot! how many Cruelties and Tragedies have proceeded from the Resolu­tions [Page 3]and Orders of the Vatican? In all Ages and Kingdoms of our Northern-World, the Roman Party was never wanting in any bloudy Scene to destroy Christ's Disciples. It is observable that for above seven hundred years, there hath scarce been a War in Europe, but the Pope of Rome hath been the first Contriver, and greatest Promoter of it, chiefly when Christ's Church and People were concerned. For it hath always been the Policy of the Roman Court, when the Princes of Europe were grown so Rich or Great as to give them a Jealousie, to stir them up by their Nuncios to some chargeable and dangerous War, or to raise against them their discontented Neighbours. And since the Reformation hath separated from them a part of Europe, all the Protestant Blood that hath been spilt, may be charged upon the Pope and his Agents. How many millions in France, Germany, Spain, and other parts of Europe have been slain by the Papists! How many private Massacres and publick Wars have been begun and encouraged by them! I dare assert, and offer my self to prove from a certain knowledge of the Histories of former Ages, that in this Northern World since the first Reformation, the Pope and his Papists have been so great Enemies of the Peace of Christendom, that there hath been no War kindled, nor scarce any Bloody Scene acted by any Authority, nor any noted Wickedness performed, but the Pope had there a hand, and was concerned as one of the chief Actors. This unreconcileable hatred which he bears to Christ's Church and his Gospel, inrages him and all his restless Agents, against this flourish­ing and happy Kingdom. Since the beginning of Queen Elizabeths Reign, how many hundred Plots and Conspiracies have been set on foot by the Papists against the Lives of our Kings and Princes, and the Peace of this Nation! This Land seems to have been the chiefest Thea­ter of their Cruelty and private Conspiracies. As soon as by the Good­ness of God one Plot is disappointed, another is immediately begun and advanced, to trouble this Kingdom. I shall not mention here the former Discoveries, that have been made of the Popes designs against us, of our danger in Eighty Eight, of the Gunpowder-Plot, of our late Civil Wars, of our Royal Martyrs Murder, of the Noble Blood that hath been privately spilt, and of our unreconcileable differences in Religion, known to be fomented by the Pope and Papists, and many other of their contrivances within these few years, tending to disquiet and disturb Christ's Church amongst us. I shall in this short Tract give an Account only of the present designs of the Papists against the Protestant [Page 4]Religion in Europe, from certain and well grounded Intelligence, that I have had with worthy men of the Popish Religion, and the Acquaintance that I have desired to get in the Affairs of Europe within these twenty years: I shall here give a prospect of a private Consultation and a crafty Contrivance, which hath caused already much Christian Blood to be spilt in all parts of Europe, and God knows how much more the carrying on of these designs will cost: God knows what miseries and afflictions it will bring upon us. For the prevention of the mischiefs intended against us in this Land, and our Protestant Religion; I here offer this Discovery to the Publick, or as much as is necessary to be known. I pray God that our Brethren of the same Religion would seriously consider it, so as to reunite again with us in the sincere profession of the Truth and Worship of our God, that our Enemies may not advantage them­selves by our divisions; for this purpose I shall shew what this Popish Design is, by whom commenced, and who are chiefly concerned.

Alexander the Seventh, of the Family of Chigi was looked upon as one of the greatest Politicians of his days. As soon as he was setled in his Papacy, he sent his Nuncios into France, Germany and Spain, to re­concile the Popish Princes, and to conclude between them such a League as that they might be able to suppress the Calvinists at home, and oppose together the Turk abroad. The differences between the French and the Spaniards were composed, by the Marriage of the eldest Infanta of Spain with Lewis the Fourteenth, the yongest being given to the Em­peror, the Chief of the House of Austria. This Peace gave leasure to the French Court, and an opportunity to the Pope and his Agents to Work and Solicit the Ruin of the Protestants, by pulling down their Churches, and denying them the priviledges allowed them before. Se­veral ways were then proposed in the Assembly of Cardinals, answerable to the state of every Kingdom. England was then groaning under the Tyranny of an Usurper dreadful to all Europe; but a Religion was then here professed in opposition to Popery: The Kings Majesty was in his Banishment. It was therefore resolved to get here such an Interest in the Army and in the Land, as that the Papists might be able to make a strong party, when time should serve: for that purpose, several Jesuits were sent over to set up new Religions and divide the people amongst themselves, and to joyn with the Army, into which they were admitted in Offices of Trust under their usual disguises. A proposal had been made to our Gracious Soveraign to draw him from the Truth, with [Page 5]large hopes of an universal assistance of the foreign Papists, in such a case to settle him again in his Throne: but he was not to be drawn to be the Popes Slave in hopes of a Crown, nor to be perswaded to em­brace such absurdities against his Conscience and Reason. God there­fore performed for him what his Enemies had but proposed, and resto­red to him his inheritance, as a reward of his Fidelity to Truth, con­trary to the whole Worlds expectation. When the Court of Rome saw so great a revolution in this Kingdom, and the Protestant Religion succeeding to the former Anarchy in the Church, when they saw no hopes of that Change they wished for, they sent as many Emissaries as they could to sow the seeds of division amongst us and our brethren of the same perswasion, for the carrying on of their damnable designs, the ruin of our Kingdom and Church; against which they planted all their Engins. A Consultation was regularly had in London of the most ex­perienced and wisest Jesuits, who had intelligence with most parts of the Kingdom, and knew by Letters the posture of all Affairs, and the Peoples dispositions: The result was sent over to their General at Rome, and the Assembly appointed there for English Affairs: From thence they received every month new Orders how to proceed, which Orders they had a general Commission to correct according to the unexpected acci­dents that might happen.

During the late Civil War and Usurpation, the Jesuit had got many Proselytes to his Religion by drawing them from the Truth, or causing some to cast off all respect of any other Religion, but that which their sordid Interest recommended. The Wicked and Antichristian Prin­ciple of the former, and the prophaness and licentiousness of the latter, made them both ready to embrace Popery, as soon as it should appear with any credit amongst us; but all this while the Knave lurked under the shape of an Anabaptist, of a Quaker, of a Fift-Monarchy man, and sometimes for his Interest he would appear amongst the Presbyterians and Independents. The severity of the antient Laws, and the Peoples general hatred of Popery and Jesuits, suffered him not to lift up his Mask: therefore all his proceedings were private and secret, and under such outward garbs, as hindred him from being visible to every eye.

But as soon as the Kings Majesty returned to his Crown and King­dom, the Jesuits and Papists were resolved to take other measures: The services of some of their Party, and the Authority of Crowned Heads emboldned them to appear amongst us with more Courage and less [Page 6]Fear of the Law, which by the King's merciful temper was mitigated towards them, and they suffered to make profession of their Religion without fear of punishment: All that they seemed then to desire and pretend to was but the freedom to exercise their Religion, but give the Devil an Inch and he will take an Ell. Their secret aim and private con­trivances have always tended to the overthrow of Church and State, for the better carrying on of their purposes, they have endeavoured to have all the Interest they could make amongst the great ones.

There was then three obstacles to their grand Design not to be over­come on a sudden: The Kings reality in the Protestant Profession, the Nations general aversion for Popery, some out of Interest and for Fear of losing their Impropriations and Abbey-Lands; others out of a prin­ciple of Religion, and the third obstacle was the Parliaments Sincerity and Loyalty to God and their King. To attempt openly to overcome these impediments was but a madness, which could not turn but to their ruin. They found out a way to batter these invincible Bulwarks, and if not to render them assaultable, at least to prevent the danger they appre­hended from thence, the Peoples aversion they took away by degrees, by their officious and kind behaviour, civil deportment, and usual pro­fessions of fidelity to their Prince, and care of the publick safety, honour and happiness: by spreading abroad both in the Countrey and the City, Books of their Religion with moderate Disputations and Refutations of ours, which they gave to all that would hearken to them, or shew them any countenance or likelihood of embracing their ways: and by settling of Popish School-Masters in every corner of the City, who en­deavoured if not to poison the Children with their principles, at least to give them such a tincture of their Religion, as might remove the natural aversion. They dealt with every one according to his quality, disposition and place. To the Great and Noble they seemed to be true, trusty and officious, to the meaner sort they appeared with hopes and promises of advantage: and to all they discovered the Popish Religion under the disguises of pleasure and profit; as many as were not well principled they endeavoured to debauch and corrupt, chiefly if they were in any place of trust, that they might shew themselves favourable to Popery and Papists. Some they would recommend and promote to places of profit, to Offices and Employments in Noble Families, and in the State; to others they would give monies, and with all persons they endeavoured to ingratiate themselves: casting all the misery and [Page 7]troubles of our Civil War upon Presbyterians, Reformation, and Non­conformity, to render them the more odious to King and People. One thing gave them a jealousie, and they were resolved to employ all their Skill and Art to prevent it; That was a reconciliation between the Epis­copal Party and the moderate Non-Conformists, endeavoured by the Kings Majesty, and desired by the whole Nation. To hinder this conjunction, which doubtless would have proved fatal to Popery in this Land, and break the neck of all their designs, they laboured to in­terpose between both, and to incourage the one in his stifness, by buzing in the ears of the simpler sort the danger of unity, the corruption in the Church, the glory of Constancy in Religion, and their ingage­ments for the Covenant: and by upbraiding the more knowing party with the Peoples discourses of the Ministers bad Lives, unfaithfulness, unconstancy, and the danger their Souls were in, if by their too hasty compliance to that which their former Interest obliged them to exclaim against, they gave them a slender Opinion and an Atheistical impressi­on of Religion it self. To these they represented Conformity as the most intolerable burthen, and the heaviest yoke could be imposed upon them by Authority; and our Religion of the Church of England the nearest in affinity to Popery, full of Superstition, if not of Idolatry. They accused all our zealous endeavours to bring the People to Unity, to be Persecutions of the good Servants of God, and every step that we made was slandered and discredited by these men who had a design to advantage themselves by our Divisions. To the Governours in the Church and State they would exclaim against the wickedness and dan­ger of Conventicles and Non-Conformity. They represented all the Reformed Churches beyond the Seas, as incouragers of our dissensions by their Examples, and Government without Bishops; Calvin and all his Calvinists were Traitors, Schismaticks, Hereticks, Enemies of the Publick Peace, promoters of Rebellion, insufferable in a Common-Wealth, dangerous Conspirators against the Kings Person and Govern­ment; and what not. With these and such like Notions they infected the minds of many of our Clergy, with an unjust prejudice against all the Religious Churches of God beyond the Seas, and had not a very worthy Divine, [Dr. Durel,] cleared their innocency by representing to the publick, their disallowance of our frivolous discords, and their acknowledgment of us for their Brethren, and our Liturgy and Govern­ment, to be altogether agreeable with Gods Word and Will; we should [Page 8]have proceeded to a publick Excommunication. However these impressions given to the Rulers in Church and State, cast oyl into the fire, angred the minds of our zealous Governours, and drew from them those severe resolutions which have increased our discords, and caused many to imagin more in Non-Conformity than really there is, for as some sort of Wounds putrifie and increase the more they are handled, so the Divisions of our Church about quid dities, Indifferencies, Trifles and Vanities, would have vanished by degrees the less we had minded them. But as we had our Enemies on both sides acquainted with our temper and interests, they would not suffer the one to conform, nor the others to admit them upon more moderate terms, than a strict compli­ance with all the inconsiderable punctilio's which the Publick Peace and Gods Glory might easily dispense with, as well as Religion, Govern­ment and Conformity it self. In all the publick Disputations too much Gall proceeded from the Jesuits hatred of us both, and their ap­prehension of our sensibleness of our own Interest, and of an union be­tween those that differed for the most part but in shadows. However they laboured to raise such a mist between us and our Brethren, that we could not see to joyn together in one body and worship. All this while they advanced some of their own disguised fellows into Offices and Places of Trust; and when they saw any person able to serve their turn, they would befriend him with their assistance in his promotion, and discourage all other persons. When I lived near London, a Jesuit an ingenious and a good Linguist, knowing my Skill in that and other sorts of Learning, and how much I had been neglected in the Church; though I had done good Service both at home and abroad, was sent purposely to search into the Principles of my Religion, whether I would favour Popery: could I have dissembled with him, I might have had a considerable preferment by the Jesuits means, but I chose rather to abide in a mean condition, and to be confined to the remotest wilderness of the Land, to a small Vicarage of about sixty pounds per annum, there to bury my Talents, than to employ them in the Service of the Devil and the Pope.

But all these indeavours at home, tended to the promotion, encou­ragement, and increase of the Popish Religion, but amongst a few, and such as dared not to discover what they were. And though it had got so much credit, that many ingenious and good Protestants could not endure to hear the Pope or Papists spoken against, or blamed for [Page 9]superstition, or any of their practices. This could not bring to pass the grand Design without a more powerful endeavour, and stronger as­sistances; for that purpose as soon as the Court of Rome was perfectly re­conciled with the French King, and that he had consented to gratifie them, to have the Monument of their Disgrace taken away, and all remembrances of his Ambassadors affront and their weaknesses, pulled down in Rome: they resolved to make use of his Assistance, and to govern all Europe, if not all the World, by a Triumvirat. I shall not trou­ble my Reader with any part of this Plot relating to Foreign Affairs, only as it looks upon us and concerns us here in England.

It is sufficiently known that the Court of Rome pretends to an Uni­versal Monarchy, and to hold by the Power of the Keys what the same City governed heretofore by the Sword. The Jesuits likewise have the same aim, but with a pretended subordination to the Pope and his Authority; a meer pretence covered over with the Oath of blind Obe­dience, for this crafty and devilish Society, if it once get a Head will as easily forget their Allegiance to the Pope, as they do now that to their most lawful Princes under God. But neither the Jesuits nor the Pope of Rome, now that all their Cheats have been discovered to the World in these latter Ages, through the Preaching of the Gospel, can carry on or compass so great a Design without other assistance, therefore they resolved together to employ the old Policy of the antient Romans in Conquering Kingdoms, which was to subdue them with their Weapons, and by the Courage of their own Inhabitants.

Of all the Monarchs subject to the Roman See, in the end of Alexan­der's Papacy, none seemed so powerful in men and money as the French: A young Prince Lord of a flourishing Kingdom, and of a great Con­tinent, but of an Aspiring mind that would readily entertain the first proposals of larger Dominions, and other Empires. Therefore the Jesuits and the Pope, agreed to tempt him with the Glories of the World, and to make him the Universal Monarch, if he would encou­rage the Popish Religion, and declare himself an Enemy to the Prote­stant Profession in and out of his Kingdom. This same Proposal had been made to Philip the Second of Spain, when that Kingdom was in its Grandeur; and in order to its accomplishment, he gratified the Pope with the Expulsion and Banishment of the Moors out of his Kingdom, with a Bloody War in the Low-Countries, and with the Massacre of his Eldest Son and Heir Don Carlos, a young Prince who discovered his [Page 10]dislike of the Bloody Designs of the Papists of his days. But since the States of Europe have laboured to cut the Spaniards Short, and to bring down their haughty pretensions, they have scarce been able to keep their own without their Neighbours Charitable Assistance, much less to invade the other Kingdoms and Territories of Europe, in gratification of the Court of Rome. But the French Monarch esteemed the richest Prince of all Europe, raised to a Powerful and Large Kingdom, was become dreadful to all his Neighbors whiles he stood still. He seemed therefore to be the fittest Instrument to carry on the Popish Designs in Europe and in England, and able to suppress the Protestant Religion every where. This was the French aim in the last Dutch War, as may appear by the words of their Embassadors to all Popish Princes, chiefly in Germany and Spain: And in consideration of this War, the Pope was willing to gratifie the French King in all his demands, in making those men Cardinals whom he had recommended to him. And like­wise to shew his readiness to crush the Protestant Party, the French King to please the Pope, hath pulled down several hundred Churches, and op­pressed the Protestants of his Dominions contrary to his former Grants and Promises. I could instance several known proofs of this Agree­ment between the Pope, the Jesuits, and the French King, to govern the World between them, and to assist one another in the subduing Europe, and in Ruling it by this Triumvirat. The Pope was to have the Souls, and command the Consciences of men to furnish him and his minions with what moneys they would have. The French King was to Govern the Bodies and command their Estates. And the Jesuits by a compliance with them both, were to have a large share in the Con­quered Countreys and a great part in the Government of the World. The Dutch a sturdy generation and powerful by Sea stood in their way, these must be oppressed by a Nation no less valiant and strong: it was no difficult matter to blow up the Coals and kindle a War. The unci­vility of the former furnishing daily causes of discontent to the latter; but when the growing greatness of the French discovered to us our own danger, and that our Prince became the Moderator of Peace and War, stopping this furious Champion in his full Career, it is not to be imagin'd what displeasure the Popish Party conceived against our King and Na­tion: what threatning speeches, what furious expressions dropt from their mouths. The Emperor only and the Spaniard no Friend of the French Greatness, would have been willing to assist the Pope, if only [Page 11]Religion had been concerned; but when they had an inkling of the Triumvirat, and saw to what all these proceedings would abutt, they chose rather to aid the Hereticks against their Pope, than to suffer them to incrcase their Enemies Power and Greatness.

But seeing that Protestant England would not suffer the Pope and the French to triumph over all their Neighbours, but give a check to their proceedings: a Peace must be concluded with the Dutch Hereticks, that they might have more leasure to work mischief to and overthrow this strongest Bulwark of the Protestant Religion. Open War was dangerous against a Nation so Couragious, therefore private Plots and secret Conspiracies must do: They had no other way but to cast us in­to a confusion by a sudden attempt, and the Massacre of our Prince and of his Subjects; and to animate us one against another. The Father must be stirred up against the Son, the Children must rise against their Parents, Relations and Affinity, Consanguinity, and the ties of Friend­ship and Blood must be all set aside to promote the Interest of this Catho­lick Religion, and Holy Cause sanctified by the Popes Benediction.

The burning of the City of London could not destroy that Nest of He­reticks, they must there be all Massacred therefore in their famous City that is so soon risen out of its Ashes to the wonder of the World. No pitty nor compassion must be had of innocent babes, who might one day revenge the murder of their Parents, but they must all, the Mother and the Child, feel the stroaks and sharp swords of these zealous follow­ers of Jesus, of these Roman Catholicks and Jesuits. But how far did their fury intend to run? God knows. Once the name of a Pro­testant must not be left alive in all England: Blood and Rivers of Blood must be spilt to make way for a Religious Generation of Jesuits, Fran­ciscans, Jacobins and other Fryers to plant in this Land and secure it for the Pope their Sovereign. Kings and Princes, Nobles and Clergy, Gentry and Commonalty, must all be witnesses of their impartial zeal, the whole Nation must be destroyed. O Inhumanity! O Hellish Fury! O unheard of Cruelty! Blessed be thy Holy Name, O Lord our God, for the discovery of their malice and rage against us, continue thy Pro­tection to our gracious Prince, guard him by thine Almighty Power, secure his person against all present and future Conspiracies, preserve thy People and this Church, and send us all to be truly thankful, and to reunite again in the sincere worship of thee the only true God, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen. This Plot hath been working many years [Page 12]and preparations were making in all the Convents upon the Sea-Coasts of Spain and France, chiefly of the Jesuits. But that which is the end of all this Discourse is, that if we had not been divided in Religion the Papists would not have made this attempt, and we should be infallibly secure from all future mischiefs, (which they will yet endeavour to work amongst us) if we could be perswaded to set aside all Partiality and Prejudice, and joyn together all unanimously in the profession of one Religion, and in the same manner. This I shall prove in the next Chapter.

CHAP. II. The danger of Division in a Nation about matters of Religion, and what pernicious consequences it hath had in foreign Countries, and in this.

THE chief intent of all Societies of men is Union, and the Publick Security, against all invasion and disorder, foreign and domestick. For that purpose we gather together in one Body and under one Head: we bind our selves together with Laws and Relations, we entertain a mutual correspondency amongst our selves, and pretend all to promote the general good of the politick Body. Nations are to be looked upon as large Families where the Universal Father, and all the rest are mem­bers of the Family, highly concerned in one anothers good and preser­vation. All the individuals are united in one publick interest in the hap­piness of the whole or division: therefore discord is an apparent enemy to the Society, because it opposes the very intent of it, and lays open a Nation to these following mischiefs, and to their dismal conse­quences.

I. It weakens the Society and People, and renders them less able to resist their Enemies; It is not to be imagined what inconveniency a small division will cause in a City or Common-wealth. As in the natu­ral body a head-ach or a light distemper renders the man feeble and not fit for action, so the publick divisions bring great impediments to those proceedings that would tend to the Nations happiness, honour, safety and peace: and ought to be so much the more odious the more a well [Page 13]compact and setled body in good order and temper is in a thriving and prosperous condition.

II. It breeds discontents and disturbances at home, which if kept secret, occasions murmurings and complaints amongst the inferiors, and many times when they break out they raise Rebellions and Civil-Wars. for it is certain that there can be no division or faction in a place but must proceed from and cause discontent, hatred and variance, which commonly rob from us our inward and outward peace. And though the Division may be only in some particular respects, which may not hinder a correspondency in other publick relations, that correspondency can never be hearty, and those endeavours together cannot be so suc­cessful and vigorous, when they proceed from parties, that entertain mu­tual displeasures, especially in that very thing which is the greatest tye of all human Societies, Religion.

III. It lays us open to all the attempts, contrivances and malicious de­signs of our Enemies. How easie is it to ruin a divided party! to set and incourage one faction against another! And though the division may observe some bounds, and not proceed to that extremity to which it naturally tends, it cannot be denied but that a crafty Enemy may easily advantage himself thereby, and work the mischief if not the total overthrow of a divided People, for there are alwaies opportunities given for such wicked purposes by the discovery of this weakness. In short, that Nation is in no small danger, and the mischiefs into which it is likely to fall are innumerable, that is divided in such a manner, that there is no hopes of union. Our Blessed Saviour foretells the fate of that Society or House, that it cannot stand, but must needs of its own accord fall into ruin.

But of all divisions, those about Religion seem to be the most unna­tural, unreasonable and ominous: factions and parties in the State may be tolerated when they aim not directly at the dissolution of Govern­ment, nor the discredit or opposition of Authority; in such a case they are not so dangerous nor of that ill consequence as to give us an hot Alarm. And though they may diminish of that Love and Respect that is due to our Sovereign, by obliging us to prefer an interest not agreeable with his and the Common-wealths, they are not so criminal but they may correspond with our Allegiance to our Prince.

But divisions and factions in Religion in the same Nation, threaten us with those unavoidable dangers, that make Governours take heed how they tolerate that which is against all policy: chiefly in those King­doms as are surrounded with watchful Enemies, that wait for such an opportunity to insinuate themselves and undermine us. They tend to the dissolution of the Government, the overthrow of the Laws, the in­troducing of all disorder in the State as well as in the Church. They tend first to the contempt of Authority, and next to the ruin of mens Bodies and Souls, leaving us naked to the first attempts of all our spiri­tual and temporal Enemies, chiefly when that division which is envied and aimed at, is so twisted with the Government of the Common-wealth, that there is no dissolution of the one without the danger of the other; when all the other divisions rise in opposition to it, and will admit of no compliance with it, when openly and secretly they labor to discredit it and its lawful proceedings, incouraging the Factious part to exclaim against it and its injunctions, and to endeavour to draw away the people from their respect to it and its way of worship: what rational Soul can tolerate so palpable an opposition? What Governours in the State can suffer Religion to be contemned and trodden under foot with a publick allowance? Is it reasonable that such dangerous factions should have the liberty to increase and act with the sufferance of the Laws and of the publick Authority? When all the actings and distasts of these factions are not justifiable amongst men of reason, by the Laws of God or the Laws of men, and all are grounded upon prejudices, mistakes and misapprehensions, and such frivolous causes, as they will be one day ashamed to own, when all masks and vizards shall be pulled off. Is it just that the Rulers of the State in such a case should coun­tenance such pernicious proceedings, and give the stamp of Authority to Actions either ridiculous in themselves, or dangerous to the People committed to their charge. The danger may seem less when they are weak and inconsiderable, but little evils are to be shunned and avoided as well as great, though they have not increased to an head, they de­serve no allowance, because they are not able to prevail upon the sound part, but should be cured as speedily as may be; in the mean while for the publick peace and quiet, the execution of the Laws is suspended, and by the wisdom of the Governours they are winked at, but all Facti­ons are not to be esteemed by what they can do, but by what they would do. Let the Principles of those that are divided from us be enquired [Page 15]into, let the designs of their party be examined, let their tempers and dispositions be tried by an impartial scrutiny, and they themselves will discover so much danger to the Nation, and find the Government and Kingdom threatned with such mischiefs, as that they will have no rea­son to incourage such divisions, whereby their own peace and safety is threatned as well as that of their Posterity. I know Conscience is the grand Plea of all our dissenting Brethren; the Papist, he pleads Consci­ence for the murther of Kings and Princes, and the advancing his Re­ligion by Hellish Plots and Contrivances. The Heathen he pleads Con­science in the worship of his Idols. The Jew and the Mahumetan saith he observes the Rules and Dictates of his Conscience: and our Brethren have the same pretence in their mouths, for their opposition of Lawful Authority, and their incouragement in their division from us. But this plea that is so commonly used in the justifying of the greatest villanies, causeth us with good reason to suspect it in less matters. Re­member, O my Christian Brother and Sister, when thou shalt appear before the Impartial Tribunal of the Lord Jesus, this pretence of thy Conscience will not be able to sanctifie thee, and cause him to approve of Actions and Proceedings directly opposite to his Word and Holy-Laws. Though it may blind thine own eyes and cause thee to be more excusable before men, than if thou didst act against the sollicitations of thy Conscience: it will never be able to oblige him to allow of that which is evil in it self, to justifie the guilty and condemn the innocent. Take heed I beseech thee that what thou sayest is Conscience be not invincible prejudice and hatred, or humor and groundless fancy, or it may be something worse, that strong spirit of delusion unto which God delivers such as will not be lovers of the Truth. For the better dis­covery of the mistakes of thy Conscience in this particular, I beseech you my Christian Brethren, to examin what mischiefs such division about Religion have caused already in Foreign Nations and in this: the Hi­stories of former Ages are full of sad accidents, murthers and wars, de­structions and calamities of Countries caused by the disputes about Religion.

The Kingdom of the Jews flourished and grew invincible under the Government of David and his Posterity; so that all the Nations round about paid them Tribute. They might have still continued in that happy condition, and been able to set bounds to the spreading Empire of Babylon, had not Jeroboam under a pretence of Religion divided the [Page 16]Kingdom and Nation of Israel, and to save the People the trouble and expence of going up to Jerusalem, set up the Golden Calves in Dan and Bethel. But how many evils did this division in Religion and Govern­ment cause in that Land! They were subject to the affronts of every petty King and contemptible Nation, and at last were overthrown by their Neighbours, and themselves carried away into Captivity, with their Wives and Children.

After the Jews return from Babylon they grew numerous and strong in the Romans time, and were able through their numbers and the re­solation and courage which the principle of Religion put into them, to command the East part of the World. But what and how much woe and misery did their Factions and Sects draw upon them! what sad De­structions not to be paralel'd in any other Nation! It was openly con­fessed by Titus and their Roman Conquerors, that as their divisions be­tween their Princes gave Pompey footing in their Countrey, their divi­sions had brought them to utter ruin, and unheard of miseries; for by this means they became instrumental in their own overthrow, and did more mischief to themselves than all the Armies of their Enemies. So that by Division in Religion, this People of Israel, who were assisted by Gods Power and Protection, and favoured above all other Nations, brought themselves to be the scum of the World and lost their Land, being dispersed into all parts and Kingdoms.

The fall of the Roman Empire was brought to pass by division; for that let in the Huns, the Longobards, the Goths, Vandals, and Visigoths, and all the Northern People into its fruitful borders. The Grecian Em­pire might have stood upon its legs to this very day, had it not been for their senseless divisions in Church and State. The Sects and Here­sies of Arrius, Eunomius, Novatus, Samosatenus and other busy-bodies, let in the Turk and his Mahomet, and in the days of the Emperor Hera­clius when men were so divided and had so disputed all Religion and Truth out of doors, that the simpler and more ignorant sort knew not which to chuse, these wicked divisions gave an occasion to that Arabian Impostor to set up a Religion of his own, which he recommended to them with the inviting and pleasing Charms of pleasure and profit: Read but over the divisions and disputes about Religion, in the Cities of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and in many other places of the East Countries, and examin how many thousands have been destroy­ed! how many cruelties acted! how many calamities brought upon [Page 17]the Inhabitants, through their endless discords in Religion, and you will have cause to wonder at their madness, to strive for that which for­bids them to strive; and to fight for a Religion which disallows all variance: You will have cause to wonder at their inhumanities and extravagancies, they torment themselves for nothing, and shed their own blood contrary to Reason and that Religion, for which they did so unadvisedly contend. What is become of the Grecian Empire now! where are the flourishing Churches of Christ of Asia and Africa! In what condition are the Christians of those parts of the World! under how much misery, and under what cruel Tyranny do they groan! The contemptible remains of all those Antient Professors of our Religion, are oppressed with the Turkish and Moorish Bondage. They have lost all their honour and glory, their wealth, their priviledges, their Coun­trey and all their present happiness in this life, their Estates and their Children are at their Conquerors pleasure. And though there are some yet professing Christianity in those parts of the World, they differ in all respects so much from what their Forefathers were in former Ages, that they are able to draw tears from the most insensible Souls, when com­pared with them: as the building of the second Temple did from the Jews returned from Babylon, when they saw how differing it was from the Glory and Magnificence of the first Structure. And all this hath proceeded from this Wicked and Venemous Root, Division in Religion.

Look into the latter Ages of the World, and see into what confu­sion these divisions about Religion have cast Kingdoms and Cities. The Cities of Florence, of Naples and Millain in Italy, have often been wa­tered with the Blood of their Noblest Inhabitants, which the divisions about Religion caused to be shed. The grand disputes about the Guelfs and Gibbelins troubled all Europe, and murthered more men than the cruelest Wars. In Germany what inhumanities have been committed! In the Low-Countries, how many Rivers of Christian Blood have been spilt under the pretence of Religion! The Spanish Massacres, the Duke D' Alva's Butcheries, are sufficiently known to all the World.

In Africa amongst the Moors and Arabians, the disputes about their Prophets Impieties and their False Religion, hath caused one of their own Writers to say,Hali Ben-Hamet. a MS. That there is nothing exasperares more the minds of men one against another, than the differing perswasions in [Page 18]Religion. Another of their Authors complains in this manner, O how furiously men are set against one another for such matters as concern not the Prophets honour, nor the essential part of our Religion! for in the late revolution of the Empire of Morocco, Religion was pretended to deceive the People. In France the Factions of the Albi and Nigri, and the furious transports of the Papists against the Reformed Pro­fessors, have often exhausted the Blood and Treasure of that King­dom. In Switzerland, how many troubles arose from small divisions in Religion! In the Ʋnited Provinces in our late days, the refined Noti­ons of Arminius, and the extravagancies of the Anabaptists, had almost cast them into a Civil War. In France the hot disputes between Amy­raldus and Du Moulin had cantoned those poor Churches in the midst of their Enemies, if moderate and wise men had not imposed a silence and obliged them to be quiet. In Bohemia and Poland, what stirs and disturbances have the Socinians raised! In Germany, and the Bishoprick of Munster, what wickednesses have not the Anabaptists committed! I should be endless, if I reckon'd up all the Mischiefs, Blood, Tumults, War and Calamities, which small and inconsiderable disputes about Re­ligion have brought upon men in the Primitive Church, and in these latter days. Look only into our own Nation, and consider the late Trage­dies acted by our own Countreymen upon the Person of their King and Nobles. Look into the cause of their unreasonable fury, and you shall find nothing but their mistakes about Religion to have thus transported and carried them to that excess of cruelty and rage. In Queen Eliza­beths days the Separatists began to quarrel with our Discipline and Go­vernment, and laid a foundation for the Brownists, the Familists, and their Successors, to build their confused Babel. Their bold Pamphlets in the Queens Reign, and in King James's time, threatned the Nation with the following disturbances in the State. The restless Puritans were always bawling in the Peoples ears against our Church and its Rulers, and what troubles did they not breed! but all former disputes were but sports and plays to the late disputes about Religion in our Royal Martyrs days; for it is observable that when men have wearied them­selves in disputing about trifles, they try the cause and decide the dif­ference a nearer way, with the dint of their sharp swords. This was the end of our unhappy divisions, we remember yet the late Civil War, the Calamity under which the Land groaned, the Disorders and Mise­ries that we and our Families suffered. This my Brethren, proceeded from [Page 19]the same cause which yet you are unadvisedly fond of, and embrace with an invincible tenacity. They were at first discontented at our Church and Religious Worship, they exclaimed continually against our for­malities and practices; and differed from us in the same punctilio's as some of you do. They were at first as mo­dest in all their behaviour towards us,See the Kings Portraiture. de­siring nothing but liberty and freedom for themselves and their way of worship, but when they had gathered in­to a head, their pretensions were so high that they would oblige all men to conform and subscribe to all their irregularities and extravagancies. I cannot call to mind the sad condition of our Church of England in those unhappy days without Tears, when our Governours were de­posed, our Clergy banished with their Prince, our Nobility and Gentry sequestred, our Laws obliged to submit to the power of the Sword, our Kingdom and Government in the hands of lawless Tyrants; Sects and Divisions in Religion multiplying every day, and rising out of the filthy spawn of the Jesuits, the wicked principles which they spread a­mongst us to disturb us, and puzle the weaker sort in the Notions of Religion. All these Evils with innumerable others, which we can better remember than speak of, sprung from your Forefathers Non-Conformity: And will not their Chidren be better advised! will they wittingly draw again the same danger upon their heads! will they not be persuaded to prevent such mischiefs for the time to come! The burnt Child dreads the fire. We have been already burnt and almost consu­med in the hot fire of a Civil-War. Shall we cast our selves again into it! or entertain the same causes that brought forth that sad calamity! Our Enemies took occasion to blow up the coals into a grievous flame, who knows but they are busily employed about the same wicked pur­poses, and will cast us headlong into the same misery! why shall we be so foolish, so mad, and such Enemies of the publick and of our selves and posterity, as to assist the Jesuits and Romanists in their grand design to ruin us and our Nation! This proceeding of yours may seem very strange my Brethren, and may cause a greater wonder when we have seriously considered and proved it to you.

CHAP. III. That there is no reasonable cause of dividing from our Church, and that the most scrupulous Conscience may and ought to conform according to the Laws of God as well as man.

HAD you as good and allowable causes to alledge for your separa­tion from us, as we and our Forefathers had to depart out of the Idolatrous Church of Rome, your zeal would deserve a commendation, and none could charge you with the Crime of Schism or Faction. For in such a case you would have, in Conformity to the Examples and Com­mand of Christ and his holy Apostles, forsaken those who had first for­saken him, and divided your selves from those abominations, whereof the belief and practice can never consist with the Salvation of your im­mortal Souls. But though we and our Church are falsely aspersed with Popery and Popish Superstition, the Accusation is false, and so ill grounded, that it would not deserve a refutation, were it not that this strange conceit is greedily entertained by many of our Non-Con­forming Brethren. The accusation is commonly delivered in gross, be­cause there is none can justifie this charge by any particular instance. It is the common Practice and Art of Impostors and of abusive Tongues, when they cannot make good the objected crime, to bring their accu­sation in this manner, that their malice might be less discoverable, and their charge more weighty. But why should we be declared to be Po­pishly affected against our wills; we disown this charge as a grievous calumny, that hath no other foundation but the pride and unreconcile­able hatred of our Enemies. Did ever any Church write more smartly against the Pope and Papists, than the Learned Divines of the Church of England? read over the thirty nine Articles, and Bishop Jewel, and the Archbishop Laud against Fisher, and in these our days read but the writings of these Learned Divines, of the present Bishop of Lincoln, of Dr. Stilling fleet, and Dr. Pierce, and you shall find that none professes to be greater enemies of Popery than we do. But methinks that this late Popish Plot and all the Papists endeavours against the Church of England, should justifie us in the eyes of all the World better than any Arguments can, that we are not Papists nor Popishly affected: can we think the Papists, [Page 21]and Jesuits who are not so easily mistaken in their judgments of us, would have laid a Train to blow us up, had we been on their side! can we think them so blind that they cannot see their friends from their foes! would they offer to burn, destroy and kill us, and our Children, were we so inclinable to Popery, as our mistaken Brethren falsely con­ceive! what mad men are you Priests and Jesuits, Popes and Cardinals of Rome, thus to conspire and spend so much Treasure to destroy your own Brethren! Did you not understand all this while that we were all agreed! and that we are so near related, that we may shake hands! Why will you needs murder us and our Families for our Religion sake, when we are as much or within a small matter as much Papists as you? I am afraid I shall never be able to persuade neither the Pope, nor his Jesuits, that we of the Church of England are such Friends of Popery, as you my Non-Conforming Brethren would have us to be. I shall be rather able to make them take us for Turks and Jews, than Roman Catholicks. Wherefore then will you needs accuse us so falsely against all equity and probability? What do you find of Popery in us and our Church? Is it the Government by Bishops and their Suffragans? It is possible that this Order established in our Church may give occasion to the weaker sort to look upon us near a kin in this respect, because they are mistaken in the Notion of Popery, and in the chief and essential pro­perties of that Religion. God forbid that all Monarchical Government in Gods Church on Earth, should be Popish and Antichristian. Then we must include the Primitive Churches setled by the Apostles in Asia, and the East, under the Government of Bishops, to be Popish also. Then the Grecian Church under the Patriarch of Constantinople, The Egyptian under the Arch-Bishop of Alexandria, and the Antiochian, and Jerusalem Churches, and generally all the Churches of Christ in Constan­tine's days and since, were Popish. Nay, all the Fathers, St. Cyprian, St. Austin, St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, were Papists as well as we and our Bishops,Hier. ad Macceb. & Aug. in Psalm 45. by that reason. For all their Churches were gover­ned by Bishops, and a Monarchical Authority. The Calvinists also whom you say are your nearest Brethren, are also Papists, if this reason were good, for they wish that they might have Bishops to govern them in their reformed Churches, and that it could consist with their safety in the midst of their Enemies, to have the same form of Government, as we have here in this Land. Examin but their [Page 22]Letters mentioned by Dr. Durel, and a Letter of Peter Martyr to Beza, at the end of his Common-places at his return from the Assembly of Poissy concerning the Bishop of Troye in France, who embraced the Protestant Religion,Peter Martyr, pag. 801. and was universally received and acknowledged by all the Calvinists in his Diocess, Ministers and others, as their Lord and Bishop. And you will have no cause to think them to be Enemies of Episcopacy, as the Papists and you would persuade us, for divers ends. But there is a vast difference in the point of Church-Government, be­tween the Papists and us. They render Homage to the Pope as the Supream Lord of the Church on Earth, we acknowledge none but Christ, and under him our Lawful Sovereign. They differ from us much in their Episcopal Laws which savour of Tyranny, and are not so conducing to the Reformation of mens manners, and the good of Christianity as ours. The Name, Prerogatives and Honours of the Po­pish Bishops, are for the most part yet continued to our Protestant Pre­lates, by the liberality of our Religious Kings. And is this the cause that you accuse them of Popery? Do their Honors and Riches grieve you? Are you displeased to see the Rulers of our Church appear with decency, splendor, and the respect of their Country. I am perswaded that if the Kings Majesty would take from them their Lordships, their Estates and Dignities, and send our Bishops amongst you to beg their bread, as the Mendicant Fryers of Rome: though then they would be much more like the Papists, than they are at present; you would scarce take the pains to accuse them for being Popishly affected. But I have this Charitable opinion of you my Non-Conforming Brethren, that you would never have thought to accuse our Bishops and their Church Government of Popery, had not the Jesuitical Party, that insinuate amongst you, minded you of it for their own ends; and out of a displeasure to see the excellent Order, Decency and Splendor of our Church free from the abominations of Idolatry, and their Monkish absurdities.

But that you may not be so soon mistaken, my Brethren, in a matter of so great a moment as Popery and Superstition is: I beseech you to un­derstand what Popery is, and what not, that you may not be so easily cosened and imposed upon by your Enemies and ours in this Nation. Popery comprehends all those Heresies and grievous Errors, which the Pope and the Court of Rome, have delivered as Articles of Faith: by [Page 23]which the Popes Authority, or rather Tyranny is established in the World, contrary to Gods Word and Glory, and the Salvation of mens Souls. According to this definition, if our first Reformers had retained the abuses of Popery, the Transubstantiaton, Purgatory, Images, the Merits of Saints, Indulgences, Pardons, and such like follies, not war­ranted but contrary to Christ's Doctrines and Christianity: you might then accuse us with reason, of being guilty of Popery. But shall we for our Conformity to Christs Commands, and the Primitive Church in Discipline and Government, be accused by you of Popery, and Anti­christianism. What is there in our Government or Church, that tends to promote the Popes Interest? or to draw men away from Christ, and our dependency upon him and his merits? If something of the Civil Power be intrusted in the hands of our Bishops, I hope none of you will presume to appoint our Wise Princes, and Parliaments, whom they are to settle in Authority under them. That proceeds from our Princes Will, who is Gods Vicegerent amongst us.

For our Articles, our Catechism, our Rubrick and way of Worship, is as free from Popery as our Government, and Ecclesiastical Laws, For how can that be Popish, which opposeth all the Errors and Mistakes of the Papists, which Teacheth to implore Gods assistance and directi­on, against the Heresies and Designs of the Pope; which was used in the Christian Church before ever the Pope claimed an universal su­perintendency? How can that be Popish which agrees with Gods Word, and the Doctrines and Practices of all the Reformed Churches, Enemies of Popery? and which their most Judicious Divines embrace as most consonant with Faith and Piety. Search into every thing Au­thorized in the Church of England, and let the most refined Soul and quickest Eye, tell us under what Ceremony, or in what Article of our Faith, or in what corner of our Rubrick, or in what part of our Devo­tions, they perceive any Colour of Popish Superstition. I dare affirm, and willl engage to prove, that most of our Non-Conformists are far more Superstitious and Popish in their Belief and Practice, than any in the Church of England. In those particulars in which your Confor­mity is required, What is there of Popery, of Superstition, or contrary to Reason or good manners? For if there be nothing to be excepted against; Why will you not joyn with us your Brethren? You cannot be angry with Set Forms in general, because Christ our Saviour re­commended one to us, as an Excellent Pattern to draw ours by. You [Page 24]may be displeased at the reading of our Prayers, but if you will shut your Eyes they may seem to you as good, as if they had been pronounced memoriter. Grieve not to hear the same requests offered up, and loath not the same Prayers which you hear so often, because you are pinched with the same necessities every day, and stand in need of the same God, and the same Blessings: and therefore may we offer up the same Prayer. In the matter of our Prayers, if any of you will shew us any thing con­trary to Gods Will or Word, we will correct and dash it out. Be not offended at the Cross in Baptism, this was practised in Christs Church before ever Popery was known in the World, and is a significant sign used by the Primitive Christians, to embolden and encourage us be­times to wear and receive the marks in our bodies, of Christs Holy Re­ligion. Be not offended at our outward Reverence, which we express at the mentioning of the Name of Jesus: as we will not condemn you that omit this respect, judge not us that observe it, nor any other outward Action of the Assistants, will not be laid to your charge in the Publick Service of God, if you intend only Gods Honour. I know that meer Formality too visible in many of our Conformists, and their appa­rent Contempt of the outward Devotions, discovered in their Actions and Behaviour, is a discredit to our Worshipping of God, and a discou­ragement of our dissenting Brethren. As therefore they should take heed how they lay such stumbling-blocks in their way, the others should remember not to interpret every thing at the worst sence, and not to be distasted at the excellent Prayers of our Church, because of the pro­phaness of some persons that assist at, or ought to be patterns of our Devotion and Piety. Likewise in the renounding of the Covenant, why wilt thou be so scrupulous, or rather headstrong, to maintain obsti­nately the lawfulness of that which the Kings Majesty, and the Wise Council of our Nation, have pronounced to have been an unlawful Oath, imposed upon the Subjects against the known Laws of the Land. Have not we sufficiently seen the wicked sequels of this Engagement, or Combination? The Fruits that this Tree hath born, declare sufficiently the Nature of it. We need not the Verdict of our Religious Governors, to understand it to have been an unjust Action, contrary to our Laws and Liberties: for we have seen our selves deprived thereby of both, by those very persons who required it from us. Why must we yet continue in our mistakes? Neither are the words of the renunciation so strict, but that any good Christian, who intends but to demean himself [Page 25]quietly in the Government, may abjure the Covenant in the manner appointed, for we do but say that there lies no obligation upon us, or any other, to cause any stirs, rebellion or tumult, in Church or State. Did you therefore understand what is desired from you, I cannot think but that every one of you, that is a good Christian, would rea­dily comply with so moderate a reconciliation.

But this Abjuration concerns only those persons of you, that enter into Offices and Employments in the Kingdom. And it is all the reason in the world, that such as are intrusted with any publick Charge, should promise, not to cause any disturbance in that Government, in which they are employed, and by which they are secured and their Estates from Invasion. Why must we be so fond of a Scotch contri­vance, put into their heads by Richelieu and the Jesuits, whom he sent over purposely to overthrow the Glory of the Protestant Religion in Europe, the Episcopacy of the Church of England, and to cast us into a confusion, in revenge of our assisting them of Rochel against their Prince.

It may be the whiteness of the Surplice offends thy weak Stomach, or Conscience; and keeps thee at a distance from our way of Worship. But consider, my Brother or Sister, that Religion consists not in colours, and wearing of Apparel: It concerns not thy Soul, if thou wearest in Gods Service, White, Black, Green, Yellow or Red. If thou hadst not a prejudice against this Garment, it would please thee as well as Black Gowns, and Cloaks with Capes. But is it not a sad sign that such a trivial matter shall cause thee to cast off all respect to thy God, and the Authority of thy Governours; and because of a decent colour and habit, which thou dost but fancy to be unbeseeming, thou shalt refuse all Communion and Correspondency with thy Brethren on Earth, and I am afraid in Heaven too: For they shall be all cloathed in white Garments as Priests and Prophets, to offer up continually,Rev. ix. 14. Chap. iii. 4, 5. Chap. vi. 11. the Sacrifices of their Praises to God.

In short, for I am ashamed to mention and mind you, my Non-Conforming Brethren, of the usual Objections against us and our Conformity, and the Childish causes alledged by some of you for your standing at a distance from us, and refusing all Religious correspon­dency with us. I beseech you weigh them all in equal Scales, without [Page 26]partiality or prejudice, and you will find no reason to refuse Confor­mity with us. I desire you to consider, that if your Children and Ser­vants in your Families, did breed a disturbance amongst themselves upon such weak grounds, and for such slight causes, did entertain quarrels and disputes, to the disquieting of your Houses; would not you seek a remedy with a Rod, to make them more peaceable, and would not you dismiss such unruly Servants, and take in others of a quieter disposition? Would you not endeavor to silence their baw­ling, and when they canton in your Families, and divide it into parties in Contempt of your Authority and Commands, would you not seek to bring them together, and oblige them by some way, to reunite in One? This is the case of Christs Church among us in England; I look upon the Presbyterian and Independents chiefly with some other of the more moderate Non-Conformists, to be our Brethren, belonging to the same Family, Christ our Lord. for our Faith and Religion is the same in effect, most part of our differences are but trivial, childish and unreasonable, about such things which concern not the honor of the Lord of the Family, nor the publick interest, good, and preservation of it; when considered in themselves, And if there be any difference in our Religion between them and us, it is in such matters as may be casily reconciled when well sifted out, and are not of an absolute necessity to the Salvation of mens Souls. Our happiness depends not upon postures, gestures, garments, co­lours, forms, crosses, surplices, and other such like things which are indifferent in themselves, and were they not enjoyned, might as well be omitted as observed. It is therefore a shame for you to quarrel and break the Peace of Christ's Family, I mean his Church, about such Trifles. No doubt but our wise Saviour will take some course speedily, to discover to us our error, and chastise us for such unrea­sonable dissensions in such matters, as we may easily comply with one another. I know your common Objection against us is, that in regard such Observances, Customs, and Ceremonies, that breed a difference between us, are but trivial in themselves, they should not be imposed upon you with that strictness. In Answer to this, I in­treat thee, my Brother, to consider three things: first, that a Con­formity to one way, one rule and manner in this Church is absolutely necessary, for how unbeseeming a thing it is, that one Congrega­tion [Page 27]should practise one thing, another act in another manner; one Minister wear green, another yellow, another black, another gray, another white. If in one place were all singing, in another all preaching, in another all praying. How ridiculous would our Church appear to all the foreign Nations, if these things were al­lowed by Authority? It is therefore most certain that one way and one worshipping our God, is absolutely needful and becoming the wisdom of our Nation. Secondly, consider that the way and method established by the Governours in Church and State, is not to be re­ferred to the humor of every fancy, or of every dissatisfied and private person: and that it is very reasonable in such cases, as all acknow­ledge indifferent in themselves, when one way is to be chosen, and others rejected, to take that which the publick Authority approves of, and agrees with their Judgment and Piety, whom God hath established over us, and whose office it is to appoint such things for us to observe and obey. Thirdly, consider that trivial and indif­ferent things when stamped by the Authority of the Nation, cease to be so, and become necessary to be observed. That which is indif­ferent in it self, and but a trifle, is a greater invitation to you to practise it, and renders your stifness more inexcusable, but in regard it is commanded by Authority, I am bound to obey. The indif­ferency ceaseth, and I should think it a crime, and a breach of Gods Law, Of Obeying the Magistrate for Conscience sake, If in things in­different I preferred mine own partial humor, to the Commands of my Prince and Governors. And wonder not if they require so strictly thine obedience and mine to these orders, because in this licen­tious Age, men of corrupt designs take any liberty to dispute against Authority, and contemn its injunctions, under the pretence of Reli­gion and Conscience. And because this way and method seems to them the wisest, whom God hath appointed over us to prescribe it, in the worshiping of God and most agreeable with Gods Glory, and the Nations Honor, Credit, and Advantage: Therefore there can be no Superstition in them, to require our exact obedience to all the Rules which they judge to be just and best befitting our Piety, and in us to yield it in things indifferent in themselves, as some foolishly imagin.

In all other matters which give you a distast, I know none but may be comprehended under this notion, and be looked upon as trivial and indifferent in themselves. The designed compendious­ness of this Seasonable Advice suffers me not to examin them all, nor to weigh all the objections that you are wont to make in justification of your Non-Conformity. But for those that relate to our Prayers and publick Liturgy: I refer you my Christian Brethren to a small trea­tise now in the Press called the Christians Devotions and Directory in these dangerous times, wherein I have laboured to clear and blow away all those mists that hide the truth from your discovery, and to give you satisfying reasons for our practice, and for your benefit, with directions how you shall be able to prevail upon your averseness, and bring your selves to receive a real and an inward comfort from our way of worshipping. Unto the perusal of that Treatise, I refer all those that would receive better satisfaction in matters disputed a­mongst us.

Conformity, according to the Laws of the Land, is plainly requi­red from every person. To set up therefore Meeting Places in oppo­sition to Authority, and the Established Service of God; is an appa­rent breach of these Laws. To haunt and frequent them under a pretence of receiving many Soul-comforts from the Learned and Godly Sermons, and Exercises of Piety, in those prohibited Assem­blies: is not warrantable in the Minister nor his Auditory, accor­ding to the Laws of the Nation. To withdraw from the Service of God under Episcopacy, and to leave off the Assembling with our Neighbours in our ordinary Churches: To forbear from Prayers, the Sermons of our Common Teachers, and the receiving of the Lords Supper, and the other Acts of Non-Conformity are likewise breaches of these Laws of men, established by the Lawful Authority of the Nation, by the King and Parliament, and are so well known to be so, that I shall not offer to prove it.

The greatest Question is, Whether these proceedings of the Non-Conformists, be against Gods known Laws? I doubt not but they will all acknowledge that the false Accusations, the wicked Sur­mises, the slanderous Reports, and the pretended Crimes of Super­stition, Idolatry, and their other uncharitable Censures of us and our Worship, by which we are discredited, Gods Holy Name abused, [Page 29]and the sincerity and integrity of our Christian Governours and practices, misrepresented, are contrary to Gods Law. Thou shalt not hear false witness against thy Neighbour. It is a great injustice for them in hopes of ad­vancing the interest of their Sects,Exod. xx Psal. xxxiv. 13. 140. 11. Psal. x. 18. to miscon­strue our actions, to fasten upon us Crimes, to endeavour to discredit us and our Profession; for besides the wrong done to us their brethren, they blind the eyes, and lead into error and mistakes, many poor ignorant and well meaning Souls, where­by true Religion is slighted, and Faction and Schism kept up, to the destruction of many persons, and the dishonour of our Reformation and Church.

But their other practices though never so well coloured in the eyes of men with pious pretences, are contrary to Gods Laws as well as mans Decrees. That this may better appear to you: consider these following and undeniable Truths, gathered out of Holy Scri­pture.

I. That it is the duty of every Christian, to seek as well as to pray for the Peace of Gods Church. Psalm cxxii. 6. To endeavor to be at peace with all that profess Christianity in Truth. 1 Thess. v. 13. That peace is a precious Jewel, which we ought carefully to seek and to preserve. 1 Pet. iii. 11. That we should abstain from all those practices that disturb our Brethrens Peace. Mark v. 50. That we should follow after the things that make for Peace. Rom. xiv. 19. That it is the property of heavenly wisdom, to be peaceable, gentle, easie to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisie. James iii. 17. And many other passages, call us to mind in all our actions, the peace and publick quiet of the Church and People where we live. Now that Non-Conformity hath been the sad occasion of much disturbance in this Nation, of Tumults and War, and that it continues to dissociate our minds and interests one from another, to the general unquietness of this poor Church, is that which none can well deny.

II. That all unnecessary and avoidable actions and proceedings, whereby strife, debates, envy, hatred, malice and variance, are en­tertained amongst men, are contrary to Gods Laws, and the Blessed Rules of the Gospel. That teacheth to be like minded one towards [Page 30]another, chiefly in matters of Religion, Rom. xv. 5. To consult in all our Actions, Love, Mercy and Charity, one towards another. John xiii. 34. Which teaches us to suppress all distasts, and to study to advance the universal unity of the Christians, amongst whom we live. 1 John iii. 1. and to abstain from all actions whereby differ­ences are maintained. 1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5, 6.

III. That we are to comply with all Rules, Rites and Ceremo­nies established in the Church, if they be not directly against Gods Glory, or the Salvation of Mens Souls: or, if they be not expresly forbidden in Gods Holy Word, or contrary to it. This is confirmed to us by Christs own Example, who conformed to the harmless and indifferent Injunctions of Men, to avoid all singularity; for in the Celebrating of the Paschal Lamb, he eat it not standing as Moses commanded, but lying down upon a Couch, Matth. xxvi. 20. Mark xiv. 18. He caused a Hymn to be sung, which was a Jewish Ordi­nance. Christ also conformed himself to the Synagogue-Worship established amongst the Jews by an Human Authority, which our Blessed and peaceable Saviour was so far from disapproving, that he expresly tells his Disciples, that they who had made that Ordinance sit in Moses Seat, all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do. Matth. xxiii. 2, 3. And in many other particulars of as high an importance as those which cause you, my Non-Conforming Brethren, to separate from us, this Divine Saviour teacheth you by his good Example, to avoid singularity, to observe the Rules and Orders appointed in the place where you live; and not for such mat­ters as endanger not in themselves your Salvation, to cause that di­sturbance that will infallibly indanger the Churches Peace and Unity, and beget in your Souls those passions, vices and distempers, which are not agreeable with our Christian Religion, and present interest, or our future hopes of Salvation.

IV. That all disobedience to the Magistrate in things not con­trary to Gods Word and Will, is unlawful and forbidden by S. Paul, Rom. xiii. 1, 2. Let every Soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation. A passive obedi­ence is not sufficient where an active is required, and may and ought [Page 31]to be yielded. And though you do not actually resist at present the Civil Magistrate, all Non-Conformity is a kind of resistance; take heed therefore that by this opposition, you render not your selves liable to the Curse, and so deserving the Damnation that is so severely threatned. In the third Chapter to Titus, verse the first, he desires him to put his people in mind to be subject to Principalities and Pow­ers, to obey Magistrates, and to be ready to every good work. And to the Hebrews St. Paul speaketh more pertinently to our purpose, Obey them that have rule over you, and submit your selves, for they watch for your Souls, as they that may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you. And St. Peter, 1 Epist. Chap. ii. vers. 13. calls upon you, to submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man without the exception or distinction of Civil or Ecclesiastical matters, and that for the Lords sake, whether to the King as Supream, or unto Governors, for so is the Will of God. Are these Commands of any force or Authority with you my Brethren? Are you not there­by required to Conform to the Laws, Rules, and Constitutions of Gods Church amongst us, enjoyned by Authority? are not these Ordinances of Men which you ought to submit to? Therefore none of you can refuse an obedience to them, without violating Gods Laws, and breaking the Sacred Rules of the Gospel. I could instance many other Examples, Precepts, Commands and Entrea­ties, out of Gods Holy-Word directed to you, to wish, require, and desire you to be at Unity and Conformity with us your Brethren, especially in the Publick Worship of God; and to set aside all preju­dice and partiality, whereby you are hindered from seeing and em­bracing the Truth. What is it therefore that keeps us at such a di­stance? Is it your Consciences? How can your Consciences oppose Gods Word and Will? Is it Conscience that obliges you to be irre­gular in your practices, and reject us as Prophane and Idolatrous, who labor in all respects, to be conformable to the Holy Precepts of the Gospel? Is that Conscience in a word that teacheth you to be diso­bedient to the Laws of God and Man? And to breed a disturbance in a Church and Kingdom for such frivolous and idle matters, to the encouraging of our Enemies against us, to conspire the ruin of our King and Countrey? For Gods sake as well as for your own sakes, and for Religions sake, and the happiness of your Posterity, deceive [Page 32]not your selves, and think not to deceive God and man with this childish and empty excuse. Let me tell you what I conceive to be the true causes of your obstinate Non-Conformity to the Church of England, for the reasons commonly alledged of Conscience, of Po­pery, Superstition, and the unjustifiableness of our Government and Liturgy by Gods Word, are but meer pretences and empty excuses, to cozen the weaker sort, and to colour these following causes of our unreasonable Non-Conformity, in the Eyes of the World.

CHAP. IV. The true causes why most part of our dissenting Brethren will not joyn with us in the Worship of our God, enquired into. In what particulars our differences chiefly consist, and their grand Objection, Answered.

IT is the usual custom of all malecontents, to pretend one thing and to intend another, and to veil over the foulest Actions with the most glorious covering, in imitation of the grand Impostor who ap­pears to us commonly in the garb of an Angel of Light. Thus Korah and his rebellious Confederates, who separated themselves from Moses and his Congregation, pretended the Peoples Holiness and Privi­ledge, and the Rulers Tyranny, for their dividing from them. Thus Absalom's Ambition was veiled over with a desire of doing justice more carefully to Gods People, and freeing them from a tedious At­tendance at David's Court. Thus Jeroboam the wicked Son of Ne­bat pretended the ease of the People for his Idolatrous Worship. Thus the Quakers, Fifth-Monarchy, Anabaptists, and many of the worser sort of Separatists, whose Souls and Understandings God hath given over to a strong spirit of delusion, to believe Lies and to work Abominations, have their excuses for their own follies and errors, and to justifie their leaving of us. But these I judge for the most part to be in so desperate a case, that without a Miracle of Grace, it is not possible to snatch them out of the claws of that commanding [Page 33]Spirit that governs them. This advice is designed for the perusal of a more moderate sort, and of more reasonable Souls, more tractable and sociable, who embrace the same Faith with us, and expect the same Salvation by the same means, the Merits of Christ and good Works. These also have their pleas and excuses to hide that which is not justifiable by Gods Word and right Reason, Their not Conform­ing with us in the service of God and Duties of Religion. But whatever be their pretence, these are the true causes of their obstinacy, and our unhappiness.

The first and chiefest are Prejudice and Partiality, proceeding from Education, a long custom in, and an acquaintance with that irregular way, which they are so fond of. These are wont strangely to prepossess mens minds, and blind their judgments against the most apparent discoveries of Truth. The late Usurpation and Anarchy in the Church, let in another Government, and other Orders, unto which many that are accustomed, cannot so readily prevail upon themselves to embrace, what they fancy to be contrary, chiefly in so delicate a business as Religion, in which their sincerity makes them constant and faithful to the meanest circumstance. But I would entreat you my Brethren to rectifie your mistakes by a diligent enquiry, for we desire you not to forsake your Religion, but to profess the same ac­cording to that most excellent manner, that the Wisest and most Religious Governours of our Kingdom, have thought fitting to prescribe to us. Search into our Belief and Practices, and see that we agree as well as you with the Holy Records of Gods Word, we have the same Faith, the same Sacraments the same God and Saviour, the same initiation, and we are designed for the same End and Glo­ry, what a pitty it is that we should be divided in the way! Besides, all the occasions of your prejudices proceed from mistakes, and mis­apprehensions of us. Therefore for the prevention of this evil, take not things too much upon trust, but give your selves the satisfaction to examin our way, and the reasons we give for that which you ob­ject against us; converse with us in our Devotions, and think not that you shall be defiled to pray with us to the same God. If your tender Consciences will suffer you to hearken to reason, and to associ­ate your selves with us in our Public Worship: I am persuaded that all prejudice and partiality will soon vanish at the clear Sun-shine of the [Page 34]Gospel preached, and sincerely taught amongst us. You ought therefore to be jealous of that which seems to be your Conscience, which is for the most part nothing but Humor, strengthned by a long continuance. And if your Conscience hath been wrought upon to act against truth, good manners, the glory of God, and interest of Christian Religion, you must labor by Prayer, and the assistance of others of your more en­lightned Brethren, to find out the mistakes of your deceived Consci­ence. For I cannot conceive but that many of the well meaning peo­ple amongst you, are governed by their Consciences, and frighted with secret remorses from the justest actions agreeable to Gods will and word. For when an inveterate prejudice hath possessed the Souls of men, it blinds their judgments, it hardens their hearts, it streng­thens their resolutions, and causeth Conscience it self to sooth them up in their Error. So that they are not easily reconciled to the most apparent Truths. An Example we have in the Pharisees of old, whose obstinacy in opposing Christ and his Gospel is most remark­able; as therefore this plea is not allowed by Gods word in such cases, I would advise every good Christian to have some other rea­son ready for his Actions, than bare and naked Conscience, which is so apt to deceive our selves and others in this corrupt Age.

II. Others of the simpler and more hypocritical sort, are kept in their Non-Conformity, by an inclination to singularity, and a desire to gain the reputation of being more precise and more religious than their other Neighbours; as if that were the only way to seem religi­ous to men, to cast off all respects to the Religion of the Countrey; as if they had no other means to purchase this esteem, but by their con­tempt of the ordinary Acts of Devotion, and of the Society in Gods worship, of the common people. This folly is entertained by too many of those, who have more regard to the outward garb, than to the inward reality, and are more afraid of defiling themselves with other mens sins than their own. These pretend the wickedness of the times, the viciousness of such as assist at Prayers, and publick Acts of Piety: and it may be the Ministers weakness in manners and abilities, as just causes of their separation from us, however they think thereby to answer their end, to oblige others to look upon them as more Holy and Angelical than those, whom they despise, whiles their hearts are full of hatred, malice, envy, pride, vanity, and [Page 35]many times you may perceive in them the Devil of Hypocrisie, that hath a worldly interest to manage by this fond conceit of preciseness, with which the poor Soul endeavors to deceive it self and others, for that intent as the boasting Pharisee of the Gospel. To cure this kind of Lunaticism in Religion. I would advise the distempered to seek but into their own Souls, and understand themselves better, and it may be they would find there more cause to lament at their own corruption, than to exclaim against the viciousness of others; I would advise them to take heed of being more severe against their sinful Brethren than God, and to consider that by partaking with the vilest of men in Holy Duties, thou art not partakers of their negli­gence, prophaness, and other Crimes, unless thou followest their vicious Examples: That thy Piety and Humility will be so much the more acceptable to thy God, and pleasing to men in a publick Congregation, the more it excels the rest of the Assistants: That other mens unworthiness should be so far from scaring thee from performing thine obligations to God and his Church, that it should animate thee the more with an inclination to promote Gods glory, and keep up his worship in the eyes of the world, with that due respect and reverence, which other men neglect in their constant attendance upon this Holy Ordinance: And that it is a most ridi­culous persuasion, to fancy thy self able to obtain the esteem of Holy­ness, by the omission of the duties of Religion, and by a scornful neglect of the incouragements of Holyness and Piety.

III. Another cause of many of our Brethrens refusing a Confor­mity with us in our worshipping of God, is a too zealous affection for a Party, or for the Name of a Party unto which they have devoted themselves. This factious humor proceeds out of some displeasure conceived against us, our persons or our way, or out of a propensity for that Party which they embrace in opposition to us. And many times they are so fond and blind, that they give not themselves the trouble to examin the differences between us, but resolutely embrace Presbytery or Independency, and addict themselves to these empty names for no other cause nor reason, but because they have an incli­nation for the Sect, or only for the Name of the Sect. I dare appeal to the judgment and inquiry of the more reasonable persons amongst them, whether this be not the cause of the separation of many from [Page 36]us? I am persuaded that most of them know no real difference be­tween us and them, but only in the outward form and garb; they understand not what Presbytery and Independency are, and yet they are in appearance such rigid Presbyterians and Independents in their outward behaviour, that by no means will they be persuaded to comply with us in the least punctilio. These are commonly the greatest Enemies of Unity, who are thus led on by blindness and ignorance. They are the most unreconcileable slanderers of our Worship and Government; upbraiding us with the Ministers vici­ousness, the Peoples formality, and other trivial matters, which dis­cover more hatred than reason, in their carriage to us. To this kind of Non-Conforming Brethren, whom St. Paul checks for their carnality, I recommend that Christian moderation, which the same Apostle wishes to the Corinthians and his other Disciples, and to re­member that their furious Devotion for their several parties, agrees not with that Devotion, which they should have for Peace, for Reli­gion, for their Christ and his Interest. That their espousing of a Factior, divorces them from this good Saviour, and renders their Souls unfit for a Communion with him here, or hereafter. And that they shew themselves to be the greatest Enemies of Truth and Concord, when they thus engage themselves desperately in the en­couraging of a Party, without understanding the depth and designs of it. No doubt but if these men had but as sincere an inclination for Truth, and the Publick Peace, they would be as averse to their Sects, as they are now forward to promote the interest of them.

IV. Another sort are preingaged by a worldly interest, and kept from a compliance with us, for fear of crossing or losing that ad­vantage which they reap from a Non-Conformity, or from their Acquaintance with the Non-Conformists. Too many I understand are kept from hearkening to their Reason and Knowledge, of the Lawfulness of our Worship, and their Duty to God and Man; by that bewitching thing Seeming Interest. But such men value more their present profit than their future hopes, and prefer the vanities of the Earth, to the unspeakable advantages of Heaven, which they might reasonably expect from an obedience to Gods Laws. Their condition I reckon to be very desperate; for however they may look upon this Sin with contempt, or think their refusal of joyning with [Page 37]us deserves less blame, because they side with our Brethren of the same Religion, yet in regard that they stand in opposition to us, and division is thereby encouraged in Christs Church. This their sin of Non-Conformity is so much the more hainous, because they know their Duty, and refuse to practise it, for fear of parting with an advantage which they might probably lose, did they forsake their Faction and Party. I would intreat these men to weigh the words of our Saviour, directed to such Idolaters of worldly interest: He that denies me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in Heaven. And to remember that Christ is seemingly denied, when we refuse Communion with such, whom we know to be real Christians, and a compliance with that Lawful Worship, which is agreeable with his Word and Will.

V. Another hinderance to the Non-Conformity of some of the more Learned and Wiser sort, are those who either think themselves so or desire to be so esteemed, is Shame. The shame and reproach of the world, which they justly deserve for complying too much with the irregularities of former times, causeth them to continue constant in their Errors, for fear of confessing their guiltiness by a change, though for the better. I conceive that their judgments were then over-ruled by the Authority and Currant of the times, and perswaded to condemn that Government and Worship, which Rebellion was resolved to pull down, being insensibly drawn in to side with that Enemy of our Laws and Liberties. Now therefore, that this same Government and Worship is by Gods good providence reestablished; they are ashamed to confess their former weakness, to discover any unsetledness in their minds; they choose for this purpose rather to persist in their mistakes, than to acknowledge them by a recantation. Such men consider not that obstinacy in Errors is a great aggravation of a Crime, and that to confirm now wilfully and resolutely, in op­position to Law, and the dictates of their Conscience, what the ne­cessity of the times forced them to subscribe to, is a most hainous sin, near related to that of the Holy Ghost. However our Saviour Christ highly condemns such men, in the Gospel according to S. John, Ch. xii. vers. 43. For loving more the praise of men, than the praise of God. For having a greater regard to the approbation of their former disciples, than to be approved of by God, for their ready compliance with [Page 38]their duty and his Divine Laws. Truth is to be always acknow­ledged by all the Disciples of Truth, and may be denied in little matters as well as in great; but in matters of Religion, of the publick Peace, of the Service of God, and the Unity of Christs Church, every Truth is of a great importance; to stand stifly in the denyal of it, to refuse a compliance with it, to oppose it obstinately, and con­tinue in that opposition till death, is a wickedness that I judge to be unpardonable before God, as it is inexcusable before men. Such persons to save their credit, care not how they damn their Souls: and for fear of the reproach of men, run themselves into the danger of forfeiting their God and happiness, together with their interest in his Church by a wilful separation. I intreat these my Brethren to take heed how they deny, or oppose that which they know to be Just or True, for the God of Truth is a revenger of all opposition to it. A small liberty that men give themselves in an error or a vice, hardens them in it, and draws them insensibly into greater and more hainous, and the longer men continue in them, the less able they are to repent and amend.

VI. Some of the wiser sort were first persuaded to oppose the Church of Englaad, and to refuse Conformity to its late establish­ment, because they had been fierce and unadvised disputers and contemners of it, during the late Usurpation. And now they would not comply, not so much for fear of reproach as the for­mer, but for fear of endangering the Faith of their disciples, or for fear of prejudicing their esteem of Religion, by shewing so great a readiness to comply with the times; for they imagin that their peoplewill be apt to suspect the truth of Christianity, when they who are the chief Teachers of it, discover any unconstancy in the most visible part of it, which is Gods Publick Worship. The appre­hension therefore of doing that which might bring an open scandal to Religion, prevailed upon some of the more conscientious Teach­ers, of the Presbyterian and Independent parties, to refuse Confor­mity to the reestablishment of the Church of England. These seem to be more excusable than any of the rest, because their care of Re­ligion obliged them to refuse a compliance, together with the mistakes of their Congregations, for though they found nothing in the Go­vernment of the Church by Bishops, and in the things enjoyned, [Page 39]but what they could readily embrace, as agreeing with Piety and good manners, and the exactest Rules of Gods Holy Word: yet because those whose Souls and Consciences, they were to have a re­gard to in all their actions, were prepossessed by the wickedness of former times, with such invincible mistakes against this Church, that they could not be persuaded out of them upon a sudden; if all their Teachers had forsaken them at the alteration of the Govern­ment, they might have indangered the interest of Religion in their Souls, and given them strange prejudices against the Holiness and Purity of Christianity, especially in these prophane days, in which men are too apt to imagin it only a Politick Contrivance: and the rather they would have entertained this wicked conceit of Gods Re­ligion and Truth, if their Teachers, whom they looked upon as their Examples of Piety, and men of great Learning for the most part, should have entertained without any demur, those very things which they or others, but a few years before exclaimed against as impious and idolatrous, and were generally believed to be so. The People who commonly take things upon trust, without giving themselves the time to examin their mistakes, would have wondered to see men so unconstant in their behaviour, so changeable for the present advantages of life, to embrace such seeming impicties, repugnant to their blinded Consciences. Therefore they thought they could do no less than comply with their Peoples weakness, rather than with the Authority of the Nation; and chiefly because their People ex­pressed a willingness to supply their necessities by their liberal con­tributions. The Holy Apostles of our Saviour Christ, seemed to have been in the same case after the preaching of the Gospel, the Con­verted Jews were willing to embrace Christ and his Doctrine, but the Laws of Moses they were not willing to forsake, because they and their whole Nation had so great a Devotion for those Ceremonies, which they looked upon, to be perpetual and obligatory to their Na­tion, in regard of Gods Covenant: that they could not be induced to neglect them, though Christ and his Apostles had shewed them the intent of them all, which was but to keep them in expectation of their Saviours coming, and the Revelation of the Gospel Mysteries. But when the Apostles saw no possibility of drawing the Jews from their Mosaical Observances, they connived at them, who embraced [Page 40]Christianity, and took that course which might further their accep­tance of Christs Religion. So far were they from dissuading them from it, that they themselves yielded to all such observances, that they might not seandalize the rest, though they were fully acquainted with their insignificancy. By this compliance with the Nations mistakes and the Peoples weakness, which they were resolved to continue till Christianity had gained a sufficient credit amongst them: they minded two things, First, The avoiding of all Contro­versies and dissensions, which might have risen to disturb the Pub­lick Welfare, from the Pharisees extraordinary Devotion for their Law. Secondly, The taking away of that, which would have proved the greatest obstacle amongst the Jews to the progress of Christs Religion, if its first reception had commanded them to forsake Moses and his Ordinances, by which the Priestly Order was main­tained in its splendor. But for the better encouragement of Chri­stians, they suffered Moses to usher in Christ, and the People to pro­fess Judaism and Christianity together, before they would venture, to call them away from those carnal Ceremonies, which ended at Christs Death and Passion. In process of time, St. Paul to the He­brews shews them their emptiness and insignificancy, and advises them at last, to leave the shadows, seeing they enjoyed the Substance and the Body.

I could heartily wish, that as many of the Learned and Conscien­tious Teachers as amongst our Non-Conforming Brethren, have imi­tated the Apostles in their compliance with the peoples weakness, for the avoiding of Scandal and Religions sake: would now at last imitate them in their second endeavors, to undeceive their people, now that they are all so well acquainted with us and our worship by several Disputations; that none but those whose Eyes are wilfully shut, can conceive any such uncharitable opinion of us; That we are Popish and Superstitious in the Service of God. Now that they all see that the Pope creeps not in amongst them under our white Sur­plices, and is not hidden under our supposed Altars, nor that our Religious Prayers usher not in the Antichristian Mass. Now that the Holiness of our Religion, the significancy of our Ceremonies, the Integrity of our Laws: In a word the Excellency of our Church Order and Worship, are visible to all the Nation: It would become [Page 41]the Wisdom and Christianity of those Learned and Wise Teachers of the Presbyterian and Independent parties, to perfect what is al­ready begun, and to encourage an union with us. The same care of Religion which obliged them first to comply with their Peoples mistakes, calls them now to persuade them out of them, lest these mistakes should gangrene in their Souls through their encourage­ment, and turn to the subversion of our Church, and the Protestant Religion in this Nation. I am certain that now Christianity and the Souls of these men, are in greater danger through your compli­ance with them, my reverend Brethren, than they would be if you did gently deal with them, to shew them the lawfulness of our practi­ces and worship, and persuade them by word and deed to joyn with the approved forms and established Service of God in this Nation. For now their obstinacy is no longer weakness but wilfulness, no longer Conscience but Resolution and Aversion. You know suffici­ently how dangerous it is to nourish them up in an abhorrency of Truth, and to encourage them in a displeasure against the Professors of it. You know how contrary to the blessed disposition of Christs Disciples, their temper is, who are not to be reconciled with us and their own duty, by all the Reasons and Commands of God and Man. You know, and may easily discover in your usual hearers, if you please to give your selves the trouble, several wicked vices, as pride, selfconceitedness, hypocrisie, hatred, malice, envy, &c. which their Non-Conformity alone hath bred and nourished in their Souls. You know that the blessed rules of the Gospel, and the sweet temper of Christs Religion, requires from you another disposition, and other carriage than many of you, and most of your followers exprest to us your Brethren, and your Christian Governors. If you have a sincere regard to Religion, and a desire to advance Gods Glory on Earth; you will at last endeavour a reconciliation, for fear of the mischiefs which our separation from one another is like to bring upon us all. Remember that a compliance with your Peoples Non-Conformity, is no longer seasonable, in regard of the obstinacy of those that con­tinue in it against all Law and Reason. You have sufficiently com­plied with their humors, do you now comply with your obligations to God, and Man: you have had a care of the salvation of their Souls, now look to the preservation of your own, and run not your [Page 42]selves into the remediless sin of a wilful denial and opposition of God truth to the last. The Apostles in their yielding to the Jewish mistakes, laboured always to make them sensible of their Error, by minding them still that Moses Ceremonies were not needful to be observed, and at last told them plainly, That they were a denyal of Christs coming in the Flesh.Galat. It would become your Learning and Integrity, my reverend Brethren, to deal thus plainly with your Con­gregations; if you would be true followers of the Holy Apostles. Tell them that Conformity to the Church of England is no such a Crime as they have imagined, that they are bound to obey Mans Laws when they are not contrary to the Commands of the Gospel; That they should be reconciled with our Worship and Church, and strive to Conform as near as they can to what is required from them; Tell them that Schism and Separation from the approved way, is a grievous sin. That their Souls are in danger of Damnation by re­sisting and disobeying the lawful Commands of their Superiors un­der God. That they should take heed of not persisting obstinately in their errors, and not to refuse obedience to the least Command of the Gospel when discovered to them. Tell them to be more in love with Truth than with Faction, more desirous of meeting with the rest of their Brethren in Gods Worship, than fond of their private and unlawful meetings, where the Gospel may be Preached, it is true, because it is in opposition to their other Brethren, and to the Authority of the Nation, they are not warrantable by Gods Word. Tell them in short, that the Blessed Gospel of our Saviour as well as his Interest and our Glory, requires us all to joyn and unite toge­ther in all Acts of Piety on Earth, that we may avoid the Devils temptations and be more fit to unite together in Heaven, to sing oraises to our great God and Redeemer. Our Blessed Saviour, who is dead for you as well as for us, and is gone to prepare a place for us in the glorious Mansions of Eternity; intends not to receive you by your selves, and appoint your aboads distinct from the rest of Chri­stians: why are you so serupulous or so superstitious, as for trivial matters now to divide from us in that Worship which is to prepare us for Gods presence. O my Brethren, did we but consider how ridiculous our Nation appear; to our Neighbours, and to the Blessed [Page 43]Angels above, and how pleasing our Divisions are to our Enemies of Rome, we should doubtless blush for shame to have hitherto encoura­ged a separation so childish and ill grounded, for no other cause but the humor and mistakes of the vulgar sort, seeing that it renders us lia­ble to the reproach of Men and Angels, and causeth us all to be in dan­ger of the ruin of our worldly interest, and what mischiefs it causeth to the Souls of men do you judge. If the respect to Religion be pre­tended, examin whether this pretence can avail against an apparent Duty, or excuse you from a submission to the Laws of God and Man, examin whether at present you draw not more evil upon the heads of your Followers, and Religion it self, by an opposition to Conformity, than you would by yielding to Reason and Law, and to your Christian obligations.

I know that some prophane and vicious persons refuse to be con­formable for other reasons, because they have cast off all respects for their God and Religion. I know the Jesuits and the disguised Pa­pists amongst you, will not Conform to our Church, but exclaim against our Religious Worship, because they have a wicked design to manage the ruin of the Nation: But I intend not these lines for their benefit and perusal, but only for such of our Non-Conforming Brethren, whose hearts God may at last move with a sence of their duty to joyn with us in Gods Service. They that hereafter shall re­fuse, and continue in an obstinate refusal, and in their usual clamors against us may justly be suspected for Papists, or some hired to pro­mote the Jesuitical design, the overthrow of Church and State. Were the differences in Religion between us in the Fundamentals, a Se­paration would be well grounded. But we all agree in the chief Articles of our Faith, we embrace together the same Religion and Belief, we worship the same one God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and expect Salvation through the Merits of a Crucified Christ, we subscribe to the same Covenant of Grace, and acknowledge but two Sacraments as Seals, we look upon the Holy Scriptures, as the only infallible Rule of our Faith and Practice; In a word we agree in all the essential parts of the Christian Religion, many of the cir­cumstances in which we disagree are so inconsiderable, that if we had not an earnest desire to contend, they would not be able to cause any dispute, much less to disturb the publick peace.

The chief differences are about Church Government, and Gods Publick Worship, for the latter they are so frivolous, idle and im­pertinent, that I shall say no more in vindication of our practices, than hath been already said, but for the Government we agree in the chief Principles and Maxims, though we differ in the conclu­sion. For we all say that in all Church Governments amongst Chri­stians, that there is a regard to be had to the Models allowed of and appointed by the Holy Apostles and Primitive Fathers, That the Rules of the Gospel ought not to be opposed but obeyed in the pre­scribing of Laws for the preservation of Christian Societies. That in all Church Government there is a special regard to be had to the end of all Government, which is the safety of the whole to keep it from the attempts of all Enemies and dangers. That this may cause a variety in Kingdoms and Nations, agreeable to the Government in the State, to the nature and inclinations of the people and several other circumstances which are to be weighed in this Case. That a Government established in a Nation by the publick Authority, if not contrary to Gods Word and Will, ought not to be resisted by Christian Subjects. That every individual Believer must not pre­sume to censure and murmur against the appointed Order in Church or State, or meddle with the Princes Office and Power. That the Government in the Church belongs to the Sovereign Prince under God, as well as in the State: and that it is a dangerous presumption for every private person to venture to contradict the Laws, which such Lawful Princes think convenient in their wisdom to settle in a Church: in these and such like truths, I suppose most of our Non-Conforming Brethren will agree with us. But nevertheless, the Presbyterian will be governed by his Presbytery and Lay-Elders, in a subordination to Assemblies and Synods. The Independent will acknowledge no Orders in the Church but what are appointed in his Congregation, and both refuse Obedience to Episcopal Autho­rity, though suitable to the former Rules and Maxims: Episcopacy recommends to us in Gods Church a Monarchical Authority, Presby­tery would have an Aristocratical mixed with Democracy, the Inde­pendent pleads for a Democratical. To what purpose is this adoe about Government? it concerns not our Salvation in case we behave our selves justly, righteously, and soberly, in this present world: in [Page 45]case we can but lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. As this is the chief duty of every individual Christian, it should be our endeavour and purpose in all our actions. The Pres­byterian forsook Episcopacy, and thought to mend his condition under that Government, he gave an Example to the Independent to forsake Presbytery with hopes of living with more ease in a new Go­vernment, never heard of in the Primitive Church, unless it be a­mongst Hereticks and Enemies of Gods Truth, for the establishing of this strange Order in this Church, they lay down most dangerous Doctrines, contrary to Gods Word and all Reason; for instance, That every Christian upon the account of being so, a real Christian, a good man,Separation no Schism, in opposition to an excel­lent Sermon of that Worthy Divine, Mr. Sharp. and a Believer, may be no member of Christs visi­ble Church, and is not bound to joyn in ex­ternal Communion with it where it may be had. That a suspicion or a bare persuasion of sin in the publick pra­ctices commanded by Authority, is sufficient to free both Minister and People from their Obedience, and License them to Act con­trary to the same. That Christians are not subject to Ecclesiastical Laws, unless they be contained in the Holy Scripture. That men may be Christians without any subjection to Authority, or depen­dency upon Christs Church. And such like Doctrines directly con­trary to Christs great design in mans Re­demption, which S. Paul tells us was Union,Ephesians ii. 16. That he might reconcile all unto God in one Body by the Cross. I would have these my Brethren know, that as man was created in respect to a Society, he is also redeemed with the same relation, for we cannot think that this good Saviour hath freed him from sin and the Devils power, to live by himself for ever as a wild Anchoret in the Desart, and Mountains; he hath enlightned his followers with that spirit, and given them those principles that tend to Union and Communion. Therefore St. Paul saith, in 1 Cor. xiv. 33. That God is not the Author of Confusion but of Peace, as in all the Churches of the Saints, What means the Apostle by Peace? is it that every individual Christian should be scattered upon the face of the Earth, and upon the least suspicion or ill grounded prejudice abominate all correspondency in the Publick Worship of God, that [Page 46]he should look upon his brethren redeemed by the same bloud, go­verned by the same spirit, and animated with the same hopes, with a supercilious countenance, and fly from them as from a Wolf or a Devil. Yet these are the consequences of some of the Independent principles. But I suppose it no difficult matter to reclaim most of them from such pernicious opinions, which have proved as destru­ctive to their private Congregations, as they have to the Church of England, for they tend to encourage disorder, and to license men to cast off all respects to all Governours and Government of what sort soever. But methinks if we had that honour for our Nation as becomes us, and as other people have for theirs, we should not be more fond of the new modes in Government and Gods Worship re­commended to us by our Neighbours, and imposed upon us by a Scotch Frolick, than of the antient and wise method and Govern­ment established amongst us by our Forefathers. Why must the new fangles and fashions of strangers affect us more than the discreet constructions of our own Christian Rulers? Though the people of our Nation alter often their habits, methinks in so serious a business as Religion, Government and Gods Worship, we should not be so changeable as we are in our apparel.

I know the rigid Independents are accused for denying the appoin­ted maintenance to Ministers, Tythes, the encouragement of Learn­ing and Gods Service; they are accused for not allowing any set forms of Prayer, not so much as the Lords Prayer, for not admitting any to the Ordinances but such as are of their own fraternity, for denying the Magistrates Power over the Godly,See Mr. Baily's Dissua­sive from the Errors of the times. for allowing the killing of all oppo­sers. But these wicked Doctrines I suppose are not maintained by the most moderate Independents, who differ from us chiefly in the Government of the Church: in all other things it is likely that they may be brought to comply with us, though at present they give themselves the liberty to abuse and carp at many other innocent circumstances of the Reli­gion and Worship of the Church of England.

I find my self engaged in this place to give a Reply to a grand Objection against this Advice, and call to Conformity which seems to be allowed by St. Paul, in his Fourteenth Chapter of his Epistle [Page 47]to the Romans, and which is commonly pleaded as an excuse by our Non Conforming Brethren. That they extreamly suspect our practices and worship to be sinful, and therefore they are not bound to act against a doubting Conscience, by joyning with us in that which they conceive to be unlawful. Agreeable to S. Paul's words in another occasion and case, He that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

This passage is but a weak Plea for Non-Conformity in England, for the Romans case and ours differ in these particulars. Their Con­troversies were concerning the abolished Ceremonies of the Jews, or the prophane practices of the Heathen Idolaters, ours are about the Lawful, Decent, and Religious Ceremonies of Christians. Their Controversies were about such matter, as were in themselves scan­dalous, as eating of things sacrificed to Idols, partaking with the Ido­laters in a Heathen Temple, or observing the Fasti and Nefasti, days of good or ill luck, according to the Roman persuasion: but our Disputes are for such things as all acknowledge to be harmless and innocent. The Romans were newly Converted to Christianity, and therefore many weak in Faith were not to be discouraged by the liberty other men allowed themselves, we in England methinks, should be well grounded and setled in the Christian Religion, and not to be discouraged from its Profession by every trifle. The things in Controversie were never enjoyned, or looked upon by the Rulers of that Church as sit to be practised, and of any decency in Gods Worship, our matters in dispute are approved by the Authority of the Nation, and every true hearted English Soul, is bound by the un­deniable Laws of God as well as by Mans Laws, and for the credit of the Nation, as well as for the preserving of publick Peace and Unity, to Submit and Conform. Do you think in Conscience, that in our case if S. Paul did live amongst us, that he would bid you not Con­form, Because you are damned if you Conform doubting. He that tells you in the former Chapter, vers. 16. Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. And in the fifteenth Chapter, vers. 5. Be ye like minded one towards another, that ye way with one mind and with one mouth glorifie God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Think ye that he would have opened so wide a gap to Non-Con­formity, [Page 48]and to the sinister designs of Apostats and Hereticks. Think ye that he would have given this liberty to disturb the Churches Peace, to these Sons of Tumult and Division, to tell them that a groundless suspition of sin in the practices of the Church, or the bare pretence is sufficient to justifie their irregularities, disorders, schisms, separation and disobedience to the Commands of their Superiors, He that tells you that ye must needs be subject for Conscience sake, would he have said that a naked excuse, or a meer immagination of sin in the things enjoyned, frees you from all subjection, and gives you liberty to disobey the Magistrate in indifferent mattres. Are you to prefer your wilful suspitions or groundless fancies, to the declarations of your Brethren and Christian Rulers, to imagin sin in that which they think not only lawful, but also needful to be practised. This General Rule Whatsoever is not of Faith is Sin, vers. 23. is misapplied to our case, and is not to be allowed as a lawful excuse for the omis­sion of an apparent duty, for there are none of our Non-Conformists but might easily attain to that Knowledge and Faith, which might justifie their Unity with us. Were they living amongst the Canibals or in the darkness of Popery, or Heathenish Idolatry, where none were able to remove their doubts, to satisfie their minds, and inform their Consciences, this plea might be so long allowable till they were able to gain more knowledg.Calig. aut in Sole, Quin­ctil. But for them to shut their eyes to all the beams of light, and their ears to all the Reasons, Arguments, and Persuasions, of the Doctors of the Church of England, and to say we are blind, we don't believe, we are not persuaded, and therefore our Conformity without Faith would be a sin, is a most ridiculous pretence, unto which meer ne­cessity drives them who are obstinately resolved to the contrary. Sup­pose a Heathen or a Papist should have had the same advantages as you have to understand the Truth, and as strong invitations to make profession of the Gospel, would you allow them this pretence to excuse themselves from embracing the Gospel? Why did not the Presbyterians and Independents approve of this Plea in those whom they cast out of their Assemblies for Religions sake, and would not admit them to communion? Men must take heed in this corrupt Age, of such general Rules which the Devil is wont to wrest, to promote [Page 49]his own wicked purpose. But in this case you will say what shall we do? what course shall we take? for our Consciences have gotten such a command over us and our judgments through such like per­suasions, that we can enjoy no peace within our breasts, if we com­ply with you, in things so contrary to our principles. We are as much afraid to hear your prayers, as to worship before an Idol of Stone or Timber, to see a white Surplice, as to assist at Mass, to have a Cross upon our Childrens foreheads as to receive the marks of the Beast: In a word, we are as much afraid to submit our selves to your Wor­ship and the Government of Bishops, as to Apostatize from Christ, and forsake Christianity. This fear and these persuasions cannot easily be overcome, what advice therefore would you give us that we in this case, might take that Course, which may agree in some respects with our obligations to our Superiors, and favour us a little in our weakness, that we may not do any thing to disturb the peace of our Consciences, which you say are mis-led.

CHAP. V. Seasonable and Christian Advices for our Non-Conforming Brethren, who are possessed with such strong prejudices against the Church of England, that they cannot easily overcome them: and a Reconciliation proposed.

I Will freely grant what you would have us believe, that you are afraid by a compliance with our Church to wound your Consci­ences, or to act contrary to your persuasion, which you think to be well grounded: and that by such a proceeding you should disturb the quiet of your Souls, as when Conscientious men commit a sin a­gainst Gods Laws. Yet my Brethren in this case your resolved Non-Conformity is not warrantable, nor agreeing with Christian prudence, because your Superiors to whose Judgments, Reason and Duty, teaches you to yield a little, condemns it as prejudicial to the publick: and because it is so apparently destructive to Peace and all [Page 50]Christian vertues which Unity and Uniformity in Religion are wont to nourish in a Society. Therefore in this case for your own quiet and the publick Peace, I advise you my Brethren to observe a medium between a strict Conformity and a Non-Conformity, until such time as you can be better informed, and to practise these follow­ing Rules, which will infallibly give your Souls and Consciences sa­tisfaction, and answer in some respects your obligations to your Superiors under God, as well as secure the publick peace of the Church. However I am certain you are bound by Gods Holy Word to observe these Rules; that though the case were as you suspect, I am certain, that if you will govern your selves by them, your Non-Con­formity, will be less dangerous to your Souls, more excusable before God, and less hurtful to the Nation.

I. Abstain from all disrespectful words, slanderous reports, base aspersions, and railing accusations, and unworthy imputations of our Government, Worship and Orders of the Church. Suffer not your suspicions of sin to break out into an open injustice and filthy language. If your judgments be infected, defile not your tongues with the same pollution. Let a Christian moderation bridle in that liberty, which men commonly give themselves, of speaking any thing against that which they cannot phancy, and let not your mistakes appear far­ther than your own Souls. This restraint is most just, reasonable, and agreeing with the passages of Gods Blessed Word, for it is but just that you should abstain from abusing that Church and Government, which secures your Lives and Estates, from which your Forefathers and many of you, have received the advantage of being Christians; It was a great ingratitude in one of the Sons of Noah, to reveal and sport himself with the sight of his Fathers Nakedness. It is as great an ingratitude in the English Subjects, and deserves as severe a Curse, to blaze abroad and delight to publish in every Company the sus­pected nakedness of their Mother the Church of Eagland, from whose Breasts they have sucked many benefits. It is very remarkable that when the Children of Israel were going into the Land of Canaan, to live amongst the Heathens, God gave them this Commandment for the preservation of the publick Peace of his People, which would have been broken, if they had by their unhandsom Language, stirred up the Heathens jealousie for the Honour of their Gods. Thou shalt not [Page 51]revile the Gods, nor curse the Rulers of they People. Exod. xxii. 28. They differed in essential matters of Religion, yet God would not suffer his People to rail against those false Divinities, lest that might dis­quiet and disturb the publick tranquillity. And for that very cause when the Jews were in Captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah sent them a Letter by Gods Command, To seek the peace of the City whither they were carried away Captives, and pray unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace, Jerem. xxix. 7. The Jews were Gods People, the Babylonians were Idolaters, yet God would not suffer them to defame or speak any thing, which might hinder the peace of that Kingdom. Likewise it was observed by the Town-Clerk of Ephesus, in his harangue to the People in their uproar, That the Christians were neither Robbers of Churches, nor yet Blasphemers of the Goddess Diana. Acts xix. 37. And the Heathens could commend the Christians for their moderation, and dis­cretion in this respect. And is it just,Justin Martyr. that you my Brethren, should be continually reviling and blaspheming that Worship and Religion, whereof the establish­ment renders ye quiet in the possession of your Estates: That Reli­gion and Worship, against which you have nothing but Suspicions, and not such Allegations as the Jews had against the Babylonish, and as the Christians had against the Heathenish Religion. Our Peace I confess is not disturbed in that manner as theirs had been, had they treated the Heathens as many of you do us, for you have to deal with those Christians, that look upon you as Brethren, and can suffer affronts and disgraces with patience, but our moderation excuses not the violent and uncharitable expressions and blasphemies too much in use amongst the indiscreetest of our dissenting Brethren. Whatever therefore be your thoughts and suspicions of us, let your words be modest, and let them favour of that Christian Charity which we should entertain for one another.

II. Seek not to propagate your displeasures against our Church and Worship, nor to gain Proselytes to your Sects. You have but sus­picions of sin to lay to our Charge, no real Accusations, no open Idola­try, nor plain Superstition to fasten upon our Church and Worship: though this suspicion as you pretend, is sufficient to excuse your Non-Conformity, it may not have the same effect upon others; that [Page 52]which is but a suspicion in you, shall assuredly be an Article of Faith in a Disciple, for Error like the Snow-balls increaseth the farther it goes. Education and Custom will cause your Children to abomi­nate, what you look upon to be tolerable, if you bring them up in an aversion for it. It is observed concerning hereticks and mistakes in Religion, that their Disciples were far more the Children of Hell than their Masters,Matt. xxxiii. 15. and more violent and more extravagant in their deviations from the Truth. It is therefore very dangerous to draw into the same groundless suspicions unexperienced Souls, who are apt to improve mistakes to the disturbance of the publick and their own damnation: If therefore you will not be in love with your prejudices, take heed how you bring up your Children in such per­suasions, as may hasten their ruin and the Nations calamities. And if you cannot prevail upon your selves to forsake your opinions, be not so fond of your distemper to communicate it to others, but en­courage them in the performance of their duties.

III. Give not credit too unadvisedly to the ill reports that concern the Church and its Government, for there is nothing that increaseth so much the displeasure against it, as that wicked policy of our Ad­versaries. They misrepresent us to the people, and deal with us as the Jesuits in Spain do with the Protestants condemned to the fire, they cloath them with Paper Coats and Caps, all covered over with shapes of Devils and strange chimera's to render them more frightful to the vulgar sort: thus do our subtil enemies cover us over with the figures of Devils, Idolatry, Superstition and Crimes, which when well examined will appear to be only the effects of their malice ra­ther than expressions of our deservings.

IV. Search with diligence into the differences between us, take the assistance of Gods Holy Word, inquire into our Practices and Belief, and by Prayer endeavour to understand the Truth, that you may learn to practise it. We dare appeal to the Judgments of the most moderate of you, we are no such Idolaters as some would have. There is nothing of Superstition enjoyned in our Church: will be tried by Gods Word, and the sound interpretation of the Holy Fathers, Read over Mr. Hooker's Ecclesiastical Policy, commended by our Royal Martyr. Read his Opinion of our Church Worship and [Page 53]Government in his incomparable Book. His judgment is worthy to be looked upon. I have ever esteemed, saith he, the Church of England the best Profession of Religion, In a Letter to the Prince of Wales. because it comes nearest to Gods Word for Doctrine, and to the Primitive Examples for Government. Read Bishop Bancroft, Downham, Hall, Bilson, and Dr. Taylor against Presbytery, in Vindication of the Church of England, Read our later Disputations about the matters in question between us, &c.

V. Draw as near to us in your Religious Worship, as your Con­sciences will suffer you, endeavour to assist at Prayers, and if you can have no Devotion inwardly, however express outwardly that respect, that is due to your God whom we adore. Whatever you pre­tend, I cannot think any of you so extraordinary mistaken as to think that a Crime, which we reckon a Duty, and so Superstitious as to scruple at an attendance with us in our Service of God. If therefore you be willing to attain to a freedom from all those niceties, and fears, be frequent at the publick Prayers of the Church. If you cannot at first have any Devotion, this frequentation will soon bring you to a right relish of those Petitions, and that way of Worship, and the sooner, if you will observe the motions of the Body enjoyned in the Common-Prayer; for this submission and this custom will have a speedy influence upon your minds, and cause your Souls to joyn in the same respects to God. Certain it is that the nearness of relation between the Soul and the Body, will beget a mutual compliance between the Actions of the one and the Affections of the other; so that the often practising of things must needs reconcile us to those performances, and remove the strongest prejudices which are not grounded in reason, nor strengthned by Divine Revelation, nor any worldly interest, which in this cause ought to have no hand. If therefore any weak Brother cannot at present comply with the Devo­tions of the Church of England, if he finds an inward repugnancy for our publick Prayers, which hinders him from receiving that be­nefit and comfort thereby intended: Let him follow and try my advice but a few months, let him force his Body to observe all the motions of respect commanded in the Rubrick: let him stand up when we give glory to God and sing forth his praises; let him kneel [Page 54]in Prayer, and outwardly observe a due Reverence, and he shall find that his former aversion will insensibly wear away, and by degrees he will bring his Soul to a hearty and Religious compliance with our godly Forms of Prayer, which before he could never use with any satisfaction to his mind: He shall find his unhappy humor of dis­content evaporate it self, and his Body draw after the Soul and its faculties to a sincere worshipping of our good God, in the manner that is practised amongst us. This and many other directions to this same purpose I recommend to your perusal, my Brethren, who are willing to be cured of all prejudice against our Church and Wor­ship, you shall find them in my Christians Devotions and Directory, now in the Press.

However I would advise you, for your own and the Churches Peace, to draw as near as you can to us, and be frequent in the offering up of the Prayers of the Church, for this propinquity will both ac­quaint you with the innocency of our practices, and free you from all those idle and needless apprehensions of sin, which a distance from us begets and nourishes in your minds.

Many other Seasonable Advices I could give you to the same pur­pose, but the compendiousness of this Tract suffers me not to en­large.

If you were desirous of a reconciliation, there are ways to be found out to bring us all together: And though we stand at such a distance, and entertain such unreasonable animosities against one anothers persons and practices, I dare engage to offer to you my Brethren, such proposals as may agree with most of your Conscriences, and with the honour of our Church, and the Majesty of our Laws, with a little mitigation. Our Governors no doubt will be willing to embrace such amongst you as lead a good Life, and to encourage your Conformity by all possible means. Neglect not this motion but answer it with a Christian compliance. You shall find us all both Clergy and People, ready to receive you, for we have in this Nation such Worthy, Wise, Learned, and Christian Rulers in the Church, as no Nation can shew the like: nor was ever our Church better furnished with able Divines, skill'd in all kind of Learning, nor more remarkable for their Wisdom, Piety, and Moderation. You shall find our Bishops for the Publick Peace of the Church, ready to [Page 55]condescend to your weakness in all such things, as shall agree with their Consciences, the honour and good of the Church, and the preservation of his Majesties Authority.

This Nation was never blessed with a more merciful, mild and more gracious Prince, more willing to be govern'd by Law and Rea­son, an Enemy of blood and violence. You see that he bears with your infirmities, suffers you to take that liberty in matters of Religi­on, which the severity of the Law condemns. His goodness and ex­cellent disposition is an invitation to you: Abuse not his Royal Fa­vors to your own prejudice and the publick wrong; Let his Reign be Blessed with an accommodation of those differences, which have involved us already in unspeakable Miseries and woful Tragedies.

Some of our Governors need not be advised to a Christian modera­tion, and a kind reception of the weak Brethren. This Noble and Sea­sonable Vertue hath gained the greatest part of considerable Towns to Conformity, and won them the esteem of all their people.The present Bishop of Bath and Wells, by a kind and generous behaviour, hath done much good in Taun­ton, amongst the Noncon­formists. For though it is not safe to com­ply with Schism and Faction, by falling away from our Duty, and the observance of the Laws, there is a wise behaviour in requiring obedience with meekness and Christian com­placency, which prevails more upon the minds of men, than that furious zeal which would have fire to come down from Heaven upon all opposers.

I dare ingage to you, my Non-Conforming Brethren, if you will discover the least forwardness to this blessed Union: All the Bishops, Clergy, and good People of the Land will rejoyce, and that such conditions shall be granted to you, which Reason, Conscience, and your own Interest will require you to accept. O that you would therefore all desire and seek for this Union with us in Gods Holy Worship, and thereby secure the publick Peace of the Church, the prosperity of your King and Country, from all wicked attempts of Barbarous Enemies. O that you would but prefer this your interest of your Soul and Body, and the indispensable obligations to the Laws, to your own unadvised phancies or the jealousies of blinded and deluded Consciences.

I shall therefore conclude this Seasonable Advice, with an Address, to you the Chief Leaders and Teachers of these our Brethren.

CHAP. VI. An Exhortation to all the Learned, Pious, and Christian Teachers amongst our Non-Conforming Brethren, to pre­vent in time the Nations ruin, by an Ʋnity with us; and to lay aside all Prejudice and Partiality.

WE look upon many of you to be men of great Learning, and Exemplary Piety, some of you by your Religious Works, have gained an esteem amongst all the Reformed Churches: your Lives are said to be answerable to your Do­ctrines. Many are enlightned,Mr. Baxter's Works. instructed, and persuaded from sin by your Teaching: as therefore a Roman said of a good man on the contrary side, Ʋtinam, I could repeat the word a thousand times, Ʋtinam noster esses, would to God that you and we were but one, would to God that you would joyn with us, and be persuaded to unite in one Religion and Wor­ship.

The multitudes that throng at your Assemblies, look upon you also to be men that make Conscience of your ways. By your Preach­ing they see that you are not ignorant of the Holy Scriptures, and of the Revealed Will of God. What can they conclude from hence, and your abhorrency of us, but that you must be more quick-sighted than they are, to spy an Error in our Worship and Prayers, some­thing of Idolatry, and unlawful to practise, which causes you to separate from us for fear of a defilement. I know several persons that this consideration alone hath prejudiced so far against us, that they have told me and cannot be persuaded to the contrary, that there must needs be something of Superstition in our Church, for otherwise so many Learned men would never stand at such a distance from us, others have cast all the fault upon your Consciences, as if your Consci­ences [Page 57]my Reverend Brethren, were to be blinded and mistaken in so plain and clear a business; What is free for me to practise, some have said to me, it may be other mens Consciences cannot allow. Your pious behaviour, and good lives in the eyes of the world, strengthens them in this charitable opinion of you, and sinister opinion of us and of our Church, so that they look upon us as formalists, temporisers, men-pleasers, worldlings, and our Rulers as Persecutors, to Enact those just Laws, which tend to the preservation of the Nations Peace, and Honour. For Gods sake begin now to undeceive them, suffer not your people to continue for ever in their dangerous mistakes, which nourishes envy, hatred, malice, displeasure, and keeps them in that hainous and crying Sin before God Schism, which caused once the Earth to open her infernal jaws to devour the first Authors of it alive.Numbers xvi.

Your Danger I conceive is greater than theirs; for all the sins that they are guilty of by their separation, and the vices nourished in them by this division, will be charged upon you by our great Judge at the last Tribunal. And why will you load your selves with other mens Crimes? Have you not mis­carriages enough of your own to Answer for? Were it not for you and your Religious Carriage, all your people would be easily per­suaded to listen to Reason and their Duty to the Church. But as you have hitherto kept up the Faction for Reasons that we may chance to be ignorant of; Now let me tell you, that you indanger both the Bodies and the Souls, the present and the future interest of your Congregations: If you will yet stifly refuse a Compliance and an Union with us your Brethren. You see the condition of this Nati­on, the malice and designs of our Enemies, the danger that hangs over our heads; you see what advantage our divisions in Religion are likely to give them, how they endeavour to keep us asunder, and laugh at our follies and needless dissensions: why will you befriend the Pope and his Papists? why will you yield them your assistance, and employ your Gifts and Talents, to advance Popery amongst us, and ruin your People and their Posterity? Don't you think, that these quarrels between Protestants, have increased the number of Atheists and Papists? It hath been the usual reason employed by their Jesuits to delude poor Souls into their Damnable Religion, to [Page 58]tell them, that we amongst our selves were not well agreed, what Re­ligion to chuse; and that those of the Reformed Religion were al­ways jangling about Fundamentals. And how many prophane and loose persons have been glad to catch at this occasion, to excuse them­selves from observing the Laws of God.

Besides, consider what danger those poor Souls are in that are your auditors, whom though their conversation is plausible before men, the Devil holds fast by those stroug bands of iniquity, prejudice, pride, singularity, hatred, envy, schism, &c. and drags to Eternal damna­tion without Repentance and the Merits of a good Saviour. Open your Eyes therefore my Beloved Brethren, look to your own, your Congregations, the Nations, and the publick danger: and the Lord of his Mercy open your Hearts to have some compassion of them and your selves, that you may bring a speedy remedy to these distempers in the Church, which will never be cured withou you.

I commend the Jesuits in China, for their wisdom and discretion in complying and joyning with the Protestant Merchants in all Du­ties of Religion, and they with the Jesuits in the parts of Gods Wor­ship which are lawful, however they abstain from all Disputes, and Quarrels about Christian Religion, before the Brahmans and the Hea­thens, lest that the differences in Religion might not appear to them and hinder their embracing Christianity. Cannot we observe the same policy? we have much more reason than they, our differences are not considerable. Cease therefore to canton your selves, and keep up your Factions. Why will you for worldly interest or any carnal end, bring Christs Church in England to utter ruin? If you cannot be sensible of the Nations danger, by that which I have already repre­sented, Consider that in the late hurly burly in the West, upon a false Alarm of the French being landed upon the Coast of Dorset-shire, some of the fiercest Presbyterians and Independents, or such at least as pretended that Religion to excuse themselves from an attendance upon the Publick Ordinance, had combined together to plunder the Houses of Rich Ministers, Gentlemen and Wealthy Farmers, if there had been any Truth in the Invasion.

My Reverend Brethren, I beseech you for the Lords sake, con­sider seriously this particular, that will discover to you the present dispositions of our dissenting Brethren, and the future dangers of [Page 59]their Dividing from our Church. Animosity is increased to that height in their Souls, that the Blessed Rules of the Gospel are not re­garded, that the Laws Human and Divine will be trampled under foot, that Plunder, Robberies, and Massacres, will be the end of your teaching many of them not to joyn with us. I cannot think that any of you will approve of such wickednesses as these, yet these you may see to be the fruits of our Divisions in frivolous matters of Religion. I know your zealous Teaching hath had better effects upon more Conscientious Souls: but under the Skirts of your Sects, you know many Hypocrits and Villains shroud themselves, to act their evil purposes under a more plausible Covert. Harbor not such Enemies as these, encourage them not in their dissenting from us, but lead them by your Examples and Teaching, at least to an Obe­dience to our Laws and Government in the Church and State, and to an outward Conformity to the Worship of our God amongst us, according to St. Pauls Exhortation to you, in the Second of his Epi­stle to the Philippians: 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, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

THE END.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.