THE CAUSE and CURE OF Strife and Divisions.

Being the Substance of Two SERMONS, PREACH'D In London, March the 12th and 26th, 1695.

By RICHARD MAYO, Minister of God's Word.

Blessed are the Peace-makers,

Matth. 5.9.

LONDON: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns, near Mercers Chappel, at the lower-end of Cheap-side, 1695.


THE following Sermons were Compos'd (as some very well know) under the disadvantage of a great hurry of Affairs, wherein I was unavoidably en­gag'd. I had not the least thought of Printing them, when I Preach'd them: But some that heard them, (being in­duc'd more, as I suppose, by the seasonableness of the Subject, than any thing else) importun'd me so to do; and when Entreaties could not prevail, they threatned me into an unwilling compliance, by declaring their fixed Resolutions of doing it for me: Hereupon I was loth that these Sermons should be thrust forth into the World by their hands, and so have their Errata's, as well as my own Imperfections, to answer for.

I am not so vain as to think, that others will receive them as favourably altogether as some heard them; but yet, I hope, they will be entertain'd with somewhat of that charity: The recommending of which, is the design of them, and of

R. M.

BOOKS Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns near Mercers Chappel, at the lower-end of Cheap-side.

1. THE Life and Death of Edmund Staunton, D. D. To which is added, First, His Treatise of Christian Conference. Secondly, His Dialogue betwixt a Minister and a Stranger.

2. A Plain Answer to this Practical Question, What course may a Christian take to have his Heart quickned and enlarged in Secret Prayer?

3. Two Conferences: One, Betwixt a Papist and a Jew. The other, Betwixt a Protestant and a Jew. In two Letters. These three published by Mr. Richard Mayo.

4. Free Justification by Christ. Written in Latin, by John Fox, Author of the Book of Martyrs. Translated into English for the be­nefit of those who love their Souls, and would not mistake in so great a Point.

5. The Carnality of Religious Contention. In two Sermons.

6. Charity, in Reference to other Mens Sins. Both by Mr. John How, Minister of the Gospel.

7. A Discourse: The Design of which is, To revive Love a­mong Protestants of all Perswasions. By Nathaniel Vincent, Mini­ster of the Gospel.

8. The Little Peace-maker, discovering Foolish Pride, the Make-bate. By Charles Morton, Minister of the Gospel.

9. The Kingdom of God among Men. A Tract of the Sound State of Religion, or that Christianity which is described in the Holy Scriptures. By John Corbet, late Minister of the Gospel.

10. Church Concord: Containing, First, Disswasives from un­necessary Divisions, and the real Concord of Moderate Independents with Presbyterians. Secondly, The Terms necessary for Con­cords among all true Churches and Christians. By Mr. Richard Baxter.


1 COR. III. v.

For whereas there is among you Envying, and Strife and Divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as Men?

THE Apostle Paul, as he travelled from place to place, preaching the Kingdom of God, he came to the ancient City of Corinth, the Metropolis of Achaia, now call'd Morea, and there he tarried a Year and six Months. The reason (it may be) of his long stay in that City was this, God had told him in a Vision, that he had much people in that place, and that he would be with him there. Here he planted a famous Church, which was afterwards water'd by Apollo. A Church that came behind no other in Spiritual Gifts, they were enrich'd in all utterance and all knowledge. Nevertheless, in this fair Garden there [Page 2] sprang up many noxious Weeds, such as Paul never planted and Apollo never water'd, and to be sure God never bless'd.

Particularly, the Text tells us, there were envying, strife and divisions amongst them; they were broken and crum­bled into Parties and Factions, some said they were of Paul, and others said they were of Apollo: and hereby they made it appear, that they were carnal, and walk'd as Men. So much shall serve for the contexture of these words.

In the Text it self, you may take notice of a Crimina­tion and of an Interrogation. The Crimination is in the former part of the Verse, there are amongst you envying, strife and divisions. The Interrogation is in the latter part, seeing it is so with you, are ye not carnal, and walk as Men?

He lays three things to the charge of these Corinthians.

The first is envying, or envy, ( [...],) the word is some­times us'd in a good sence, but here it is to be taken in a bad sence. So it is also in the 13th Chapter of this Epistle, v. 4. and in 2 Cor. 12.20. and in many other places. In the Epistle of James, the Epithet [...] is added to it, which we render bitter envying.

The second Evil that he chargeth these Corinthians with is strife, ( [...],) the word is rendred contention in 1 Cor. 1.11 there he says, that it had been declared to him, that there were contentions among them. It seems, there was not only envying in their Hearts, but that brake out into con­tentious words and actions.

The third Evil is divisions, ( [...],) the word is ren­dred seditions, in Gal. 5.20. and in the Margent of your Bibles there 'tis rendred factions. These are the three evil Distempers that did rage, if they did not reign, amongst the Corinthans.

Hereupon the Apostle doth sharply interrogate and re­prehend [Page 3] them: Seeing these Evils are found among you, Are ye not carnal and walk as Men? Let me speak a little to each of these Phrases. Are ye not carnal? are not these things works of the flesh? and don't they argue you to be carnal and fleshly? his way of speaking hath a quickness in it. Thrice he puts this Question to them in the compass of two Verses: But how is it to be understood? In the first Chapter he calls them Saints, and says they were sancti­fy'd in Christ Jesus; how is it then, that he tells them here they were carnal? To this, I answer, They were so compa­ratively. If they were compar'd with more spiritual Chri­stians, then they were but carnal: As one of competent knowledge, if he be compar'd to a great Scholar, he is but ignorant; there is Flesh in those that are regenerate, as well as Spirit, the one lusts, or wars against the other. And so far as the Flesh prevails in God's own Children, they may be said to be carnal.

It follows, Do ye not walk as Men? Why, how would the Apostle have them walk? Not as meer Men, but as Christians and as Saints. It is as if he had said, It doth not become you, who are Saints, and call'd out of the World, to walk as the Men of the World walk, and to do as they do. If they be envious, you must not be envious; if they are contentious and quarrelsom, you must not be conten­tious and quarrelsom. They that are Saints and would be so accounted, they must behave themselves as more than meer Men.

Thus I have a little discanted upon the Terms in the Text. There are three Observations that are obvious to every Eye.

  • Obs. 1. That Envy, or Envying, is the Cause and Com­panion of Strife and Divisions.
  • Obs. 2. That Strife and Divisions are often found in [Page 4] the Churches of Christ, and among particular Chri­stians.
  • Obs. 3. That so far as these prevail in any, they are car­nal and walk as Men.

'Tis the second of these Observations that I shall insist upon, and in the handling thereof I shall touch a little upon the first and the third. This then is the Point before us,

That Strife and Divisions are often found in the Churches of Christ, and among particular Christians. This is a Doctrine that you should Hear, and we should Preach, with weep­ing Eyes, and with broken Hearts.

Let this be premis'd, That I shall not meddle with Ci­vil Contentions, such as are in Kingdoms and Common­wealths: But with Religious (or, rather, Irreligious) Con­tentions and Divisions, such as are in Churches and a­mongst particular Christians: And these are of two sorts, either when Christians differ in Doctrine and Opinion, or else when, though they agree pretty well in Opinion, yet they break the Bonds of Love and Peace, they fall into Factions and Parties, and live in Malice and Uncharitable­ness; having (as one expresseth it) Rancour in their Hearts, Revilings in their Mouths, Rage and Rudeness in their Carriage, one towards another. Thus it was in the Church of Corinth, and amongst these Corinthians. The A­postle tells them, 1 Cor. 11.18. that he heard there were Divisions amongst them, ( [...]) Schisms and Rents. And then again, in 1 Cor. 1.11. he tells them it was declar'd to him by them of the House of Chloe, (You see he tells them from whom he had this Relation, he quotes his Authors.) that there were contentions among them, ( [...]) strifes and quarrels. And then again, in the Text he tells them, that there were not only strifes and contentions, but divisions [Page 5] and factions among them. And in the next Verse he doth particularize and instance in some of these Divisions and Factions; some of them said they were of Paul, and o­thers they were of Apollo. He doth not here find fault with their respecting one Minister more than another: it can't be otherwise, but Christians must needs esteem them most by whom they receive most good, by whose Mini­stry they have been converted and brought home to God. How could these Corinthians but honour Paul, when Paul himself saith in the next Chapter, that he had begotten them through the Gospel, and if they had never so many instructers, yet he was their Father. Again, It is not possible but Chri­stians should respect some Ministers more than others, be­cause of their relation to them, and because of their excel­ling Gifts and Graces, and the like.

You'l say then, Where lay the fault of these Corinthians, when some of them said they were of Paul, and others of them they were of Apollo? Why their fault seems to lye in this, that they cry'd up Paul and Apollo in a factious siding way. They had (it may be) their persons in admiration; they made them Heads of Parties, and were ready to call themselves after their Names; 'tis as if some had said, they were Paul's Disciples; and others had said, they were Apollo's Disciples and Followers. Though here they are brought in saying no more than we are of Paul, and we are of Apollo, yet doubtless there were divers of them that upon occasion did enlarge themselves upon this sub­ject. Methinks I hear a factious Corinthian speaking in this wise.

Oh, what an incomparable Person or Preacher is Paul! How am I ravish'd with the gracious words that come out of his mouth! Next to the seeing of Christ in the flesh, there is nothing more to be desir'd than to hear Paul from the Pulpit: He speaks as if he had a Window into the [Page 6] Hearts of his Hearers, as if he were within a Man, and supply'd the place of Conscience: He is a true Gospel-Preacher; how sweetly doth he display the Grace, the free Grace of God, and the unsearchable Riches of Christ.

As for Apollo, he's a meer Flash, a tinkling Cymbal; and let me tell you withal, that he is an Arminian, a legal Preacher, one that preacheth nothing but Works. Well, for my part, I am of Paul, I am his Disciple. Apollo is not worthy to be nam'd the same day with him.

Another says, when he has done: Well, commend me to Apollo; for my part, I am of Apollo. He is ( [...],) an eloquent Person, a most rhetorical and golden-mouth'd Preacher; he charms his Hearers, and chains their Ears to his Lips; by the fluency and variety of his Expressions, he doth captivate their Hearts and Affections. Moreover, he is ( [...]) fervent in spirit; he hath not such a drowsie, dreaming way of Preaching, as some Men have. Sometimes he is a Boanerges, a Son of Thunder, and some­times he is a Barnabas, a Son of Consolation. As for Paul, though he be call'd an Apostle, he is but a dull Preacher in comparison; though his Writings are weighty, yet his Speech is contemptible.

And besides this, I must tell you, he is an Antinomean; he cries down the righteousness of the Law, and makes light of personal and inherent Righteousness. Well, let who will be of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am one of his Disciples. I don't say, that such as this is the Language of any of the Citizens of London; but this or such like was the Lan­guage of the Citizens of Corinth.

The factiousness of these Corinthians is farther exempli­fy'd by that parallel place in 1 Cor. 1.12. there you read how every one of them said, I am of Paul, and I of Apollo, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. By every one of them, he means many or several of them. Here are two more men­tion'd [Page 7] than were before, and they are Cephas and Christ. By Cephas, is meant Peter. We don't read, that he was ever at Corinth; how then came he to be in such request among the Corinthians? To this it is said, that some of the Corinthians, who believ'd in Jesus Christ, were Jews, and because Peter was the Apostle of the Circumcision, therefore they magnify'd him, and said they were his Dis­ciples. But what did they mean, who said they were of Christ? This is commendable in persons, to call them­selves after his Name, to own themselves to be his Disci­ples; 'tis no fault in a Man to call Christ Master, and to profess himself a Christian. Therefore some of the An­cients did put a good sence upon this Clause: Chrysostom thinks this was Paul's own saying, I am of Christ.

But all our modern Expositors, with good reason, do censure them also who said they were of Christ, because they spoke it factiously and schismatically; they said they were of, or for Christ, in opposition to his Ministers; they pretended to the immediate teachings of Christ, and had no need of the Ministry of such as Paul, Apollo, or Cephas. This is the manner of some in our days, and it might be the way and manner of some in those days to despise the Ministry and Ordinances of Christ, under a pretext of the immediate enjoyment of Christ, and inspira­tions of his Spirit.

I meet with some Expositors that give this farther ac­count of those who said they were of Christ, and so came under the Apostle's reprehension: they were such as did appropriate Christ to themselves, and those of their own perswasion; so the Donatists of old are said to do. But whither have I been carried with tracing the footsteps of these factious Corinthians? Let me return to what I was upon, that is, to shew you the commonness of Contentions and Divisions in Churches, and among particular Christians. [Page 8] It was much after the same manner at Rome, as it was at Corinth: the believing Romans had their Quarrels and Con­tentions about observing of Days, and eating of Meats: See the whole Fourteenth Chapter of the Epistle to the Ro­mans; the differences amongst them did grow to a very great heighth, the stronger sort did despise the weaker, and the weaker sort did judge and censure the stronger. The like Divisions and Differences there were amongst the Gala­thians. The Mosaical Ceremonies were a Bone of Con­tention among them; about these and other things they snarled so long, till they were ready to bite and devour one another, and were in danger to be consumed one of another, V. Gal. 5.15. The Ephesians also were not free from these Contentions and Factions: Of their own selves did Men arise, speaking perverse things, and drawing away Disciples after them, Acts 20.30. In other Churches matters were much at the same pass, as I might shew you; and this happened (as one observes) whil'st the Blood of Christ was yet warm, and several of the Apostles were yet alive. And as there were these Janglings and Contentions in Churches, so also they were not wanting amongst particular Chri­stians: What a falling out was there betwixt Paul and and Barnabas? There was such a Paroxism, so sharp a Con­tention betwixt them, that they could not keep company together, but they departed asunder one from another. In the primitive times, the Christians were no sooner deli­ver'd from the bloody Persecution of their Enemies, but they fell a persecuting one another. Socrates tells us, in his Ecclesiastical History, how, when Constantine came to the Nicene Council, the Members of that Council were qua­relling together and libelling one another, to the great grief of that good Emperor. Chrysostom and Epiphanius were so angry one with another, that Epiphanius wish'd, that Chrysostom might never die a Bishop; and Chrysostom [Page 9] wish'd, that Epiphanius might never go home alive: And it fell out to both accordingly. Jerom and Ruffinus, who were once very intimate and great Friends, by and by they fell out, and were at Daggers draw; they rail'd and wrote one against another. Austin writing to Je­rom about this matter, he bewails it with very pathetical Expressions: Wo is me, (saith he) that I can't meet you two together; I would fall down at your feet, and beg of you, for your own sakes, for Christ and his Churches sake, that you would be reconcil'd one to another.

In later times, Christians were no sooner crept out of Popish Darkness and Superstition, but they fell together by the ears amongst themselves: What bitter Strife and Contentions were there betwixt Luther and Zwinglius, and many others of the eminent Reformers. So that Unity is no infallible Mark of a true Church: There may (as one says well) be Unity out of the Church of Christ; and, on the other hand, Contention and Division may be in it.

Give me leave a little to enquire into the Causes of Con­tentions and Divisions, that are in Churches and among particular Christians.

1. The first great cause hereof is the Devil; you may plainly see his cloven foot in them; he is that envious one that sows the Seeds of Discord in the Field of the Church; he labours to keep his own Kingdom in Peace, and to cause Commotions and Divisions in the Kingdom of Christ: like a Salamander, he likes to live in the Fire of Conten­tion. Though we use to speak of the Devil in the Singular Number, yet there is a Plurality of Devils, an innumerable company of those wicked Spirits, whose main province it is to promote Contentions amongst God's People. I doubt not but there be Legions of them in London, who attend at this day upon this very Service. They put Enmity be­twixt Christians and Christians, they fill them with Envy­ing, [Page 10] Strife and Divisions. Some say, the Devils cause Storms and Tempests in the Air: Sure I am, these blustering Storms of Contention, that are in the Christian World at this day, and particularly in England and London, are rais'd by these Evil Spirits.

As the Devil hath his Angels, so he hath his Agents also among the Children of Men, who push forward these Contentions and Divisions: All Places are full of such Boute-feus. The Scripture calls them ( [...]) Devils, who by their Lies and Slanders, and such like means, do sow Discord among Brethren.

2. Christians themselves are the causes of their Conten­tions; as the Lord said of the Israelites, that their destru­ction was of themselves: So I may say of Christians, their Divisions are of and from themselves. I might here shew you how their different Education, their different In­terests, their different Tempers and Constitutions, do oc­casion Divisions amongst themselves and one another: but let me rather shew you how their unmortify'd Cor­ruptions are the main causes hereof. These divide Men from God, and from one another also. James 4.1. There the Apostle asks a Question, and resolves it himself: From whence come Wars and Fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your Lusts, that war in your Members? The Interrogation hath the force of an Affirmation; it is as if he had said they do certainly come from thence. This is true, not only of those Wars and Fightings that are in Kingdoms and amongst Princes, but of those Janglings and Contentions that are in Churches and amongst parti­cular Christians.

Let me instance in some particular Lusts and Cor­ruptions, that are the great Make-bates in the World and in the Church.

[Page 11]1. The first is Envying, or Envy. This, as I hinted be­fore, is the Parent of Strife and Division. Hence 'tis, that Envy and Strife are so often coupled together in Scripture, it is because the one is the companion and cause of the other. The first strife and contention we read of in the World was betwixt Cain and Abel; and what occasion'd it, but Envy? 'Tis said of Joseph's Brethren, that they envy'd him, and therefore they could not speak peaceably unto him. Most of those Debates and Contentions that are in Men and Christians, do spring from this bitter Root. The Churches of Christ are cut in pieces, (like the Levite's Wife) by the envy of those that are the Members thereof. There is a Spirit in good Men themselves that lusteth unto Envy; and, where this is predominant, there is nothing that can stand before it.

2. A second Lust is Pride. These two, Envy and Pride, are Worms that breed in the sweetest Roses. The later of these is as productive of Divisions as the former. Solomon says, Prov. 13.10. That only by Pride comes Contention. By only, is meant chiefly. If there be no cause of conten­tion, yet Pride will occasion it: Proud persons are always quarrelsom, like gouty and swollen Legs, they keep at a distance one from another.

3. A third is Passion. Anger and Strife are near a kin. Prov. 29.22. Solomon there says, An angry Man stirreth up strife. You had the same before, in Prov. 15.18. Passionate persons disturb the Peace of the places where they live, and the Societies to which they do belong.

4. A fourth is Covetousness. This is the root of all Evil, and more particularly of Strife and Division. One says, that Meum & Tuum, make all the stir that is in the World. The sweetness of Lucre amongst Men, and Christians too, is likened by another to Hony that is set before Bears, they will fight and tear one anothers Throats out to come at it.

[Page 12]5. A fifth is Self-seeking. This is the great Incendiary in Church and State, it sets Men and Christians together by the ears; they that seek and love themselves, are ready upon all occasions to fall out with others.

6. A sixth is Tale-bearing. This is grown an Epidemical Evil, and it is the cause of much contention; it separates very Friends. Solomon says, Prov. 26.20. Where no Wood is, there Fire goeth out; so where there is no Tale-bearer, the Strife ceaseth.

7. The seventh is Evil Surmising. You read of this in 1 Tim. 6.4. and there 'tis coupled with Strife and Railing, and 'tis one great occasion of it. By Evil Surmising, is meant groundless Jealousie and Suspicion. This is contrary to Christian Charity, which thinks no evil, which believes and hopes all things, and takes every thing by the best handle.

3. What if I should add, in the third place, That God hath a hand in those Divisions that are amongst his People. 'Tis very plain, that his hand was in that Division which was between the two, and the ten Tribes of Israel: Read 1 Kings 12.24. There the Lord tells Rehoboam and the House of Judah and Benjamin, Ye shall not go up, nor sight against your Brethren, the Children of Israel, for this thing is from me. Compare this with the 15th Verse of the same Chapter. Our Saviour tells his Hearers, there must be Scan­dals or Offences; and the Apostle Paul tells the Corin­thians, there must be Heresies; and it may as well be said, there must be Divisions. God doth not only permit, but, for wise Reasons, he doth appoint and ordain them; he doth it that the approv'd may be made manifest, that the Graces of his People may be try'd and exercis'd. He or­ders it thus in judgment to wicked Men. Divisions amongst the godly, are a stone of stumbling unto the ungodly. God said in the Old Testament, and 'tis cited in the New: Behold, I lay, in Zion, a Stumbling-stone. Wicked sinners [Page 13] rejoyce at the division of God's People; 'tis Nuts to them to see these quarelling and contending with one ano­ther. But this (it may be) will cost them dear, it may occasion their stumbling, and falling, and the breaking of their Necks.

Thus you have seen the Cause, but what is the Cure of these Contentions and Divisions in the Churches of Christ and among particular Christians? Let me speak a little to this, and I think it may be a word in season. The Chri­stians in Corinth were not more divided and shatter'd, than the Christians in London are at this day. What Jeremy saith of the Israelites, that may be said of us: Our Wounds are grievous, our Bruises are incurable, and we have no heal­ing Medicines; there is no Balm in our Giliad, nor Physi­cian in our Climate. I have heard of a Disease, that is call'd Opprobrium Medicorum, The Disgrace of Physicians; because they do not know what to say or do to it. I may say of this evil Disease, call'd Contention and Division, it is Op­probrium Theologorum, The Disgrace of Divines; they know not what to say or do, in order to the healing of it. Once a Year there is commonly a Disease in London which is epi­demical and raging, but Division is a Distemper that ra­geth and is rampant among us all the Year long, and there is no stopping of it. Nevertheless, I shall prescribe some­thing that may have a tendency to the Cure hereof. Pro­sper me, O Lord, I pray thee at this time, and let my Words be acceptable to these thy Servants; may they profit by them themselves, and may they, as there is occasion, com­municate them unto others.

All that I shall say (at least for the present) upon this Subject shall be reduc'd to two general Heads.

1. Be you throughly perswaded and convinced of the great. Evil that is in Strife and Division. This one Perswa­sion [Page 14] and Conviction is enough to keep a Child of God, a godly Man or Woman, from being concern'd therein. I observe the generality of Professors are ready to think, that there is no evil in Contention and Division; but, as Jonah said, he did well to be angry: so they are apt to say, they do well to contend and divide; they behave them­selves so, as if they thought it to be their Duty and not their Sin. When they are exhorted to mortifie and put a­way Strife and Division, they are ready to say, as Pilate in another case, Why, what evil hath it done? or what evil can it do? Lying and Swearing, Drunkenness and Un­cleanness, these and such like, are Evils and gross Evils, but what evil is there in Contention and Division? Now, for the conviction of such, I shall endeavour to shew you the great evil that is therein: And the Lord set it home upon our Hearts.

1. Contentions and Divisions they are from the Flesh that dwelleth in us; that is the bitter root from whence they spring. Hence 'tis that the Corinthians, so far as these prevail'd in them, are said to be carnal or fleshly, to have more Flesh than Spirit in them. Hence 'tis also, that they are call'd Works of the Flesh, Gal. 5.20. There the Apo­stle reckons up many manifest Works of the Flesh, and a­mong them he rangeth Variance, Strife, Emulations, and Seditions, which is the very word that is rendred Divisions here in my Text. This one thing were enough to shew the great evil that is in Strife and Division, that they are Works of the Flesh, and reckon'd among the most noto­rious Sins; such as Fornication, Adultery, Witchcraft, Ido­latry, Drunkenness, Revellings, and the like.

2. Contentions and Divisions (especially such as are in Churches and amongst Christians) are expresly forbidden in the Holy Scriptures: Read what the Apostle says to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 1.10. I beseech, or I exhort you, Bre­thren, [Page 15] by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no Divisions among you. There are many Precepts and Commands in Scripture for Peace, Love, and Union, and in all these there are Prohibitions of Strife and Divisions. The Apostle Paul requires the believing Romans and Thes­salonians, to be of one mind, and to live in peace: he ex­horts the Colossians, that the peace of God may rule in their hearts, to the which they are call'd in one body. Our Saviour himself hath told his Disciples, Mark 9. ult. that he would have them to have salt in themselves, and to be at peace one with another: that is, he would have them savoury and peace­able Christians.

What a solemn Charge doth he give them as to this par­ticular, John 13.34. A New Commandment (says he) do I give to you, that ye love one another. 'Tis as if he had said, I will have this Command, though it be as old as any other, to be accounted new, to be call'd my Command, and to go under my Name, that when ever any Strife should begin to kindle among you, the remembrance of this particular Charge or Command of mine may be the more apt to quench it: And 'tis worth your marking, that he doth not only give them this Commandment, but to make it the more effectual, he annexeth a powerful Argu­ment to it, and that is his loving them, I charge you, that as I have loved you, so also that you love one another. Oh, what will not the love of Christ constrain Christians to do! It will prevail with them (as there is occasion) to lay down their Lives: Surely then it will prevail with them to lay down their Contentions and Divisions. One thing more I would observe, That our Saviour, in this last Sermon of his to his Disciples, doth again and again mind them of this very thing, you have much the same words, John 15.12. This is my Commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. And again, Verse 17. These things I command you, [Page 16] that ye love one another. This is no tautology in our Savi­our; it did not arise from want of Matter, but from the weightiness of the Subject; he laid a great stress upon this Commandment, therefore he so often repeats it. Now this shews the greatness of this Sin of Contention and Di­vision, that is is so directly contrary to such express and renewed Precepts.

3. Contentions and Divisions are contrary to the Prayer of Christ; yea, to that Prayer which he made so publick­ly and solemnly in the hearing of his Disciples. What he insisted on so much in Preaching, he enlargeth on in Prayer likewise. Peace was the Legacy he left his Disciples, and Peace was the Blessing he desires the Father to bestow up­on them. He says, John 17.11. Holy Father, keep, through thine own Name, those whom thou hast given me. Keep them; Why, and for what? See what follows, That they may be one, as we are. As if he had said, Father, there is a per­fect agreement betwixt us, we never had any difference; let there therefore be the like concord and agreement be­twixt my Followers, as there is betwixt me and thee; let them be one, as we are. And as he pray'd thus for his more immediate Disciples, so he requested the same for and in behalf of them who in after-times should believe in him through their Word. So you'l find a little lower, in the 21st and the 23d Verse of that 17th of John. It is as if he had said, I know, that my Followers in future times will meet with great Temptations, to divide them one from another; therefore I pray thee, Father, that they may be strongly united together, that there may be as firm an Union as is possible betwixt them. This is enough, if I should say no more, to shew the evil that is in Divisions, that Christ did put up so many Petitions to prevent them. He doth not pray so much, that his Followers may be pre­serv'd from the cruel Persecutions of their Enemies, as [Page 17] that they may be kept from uncharitable Contentions a­mongst themselves. Surely that Blessing is worth their utmost Care, as Christ counted worthy of his redoubled Prayer. Oh, let this serve to aggravate this Sin of Con­tention, that it is directly contrary, not only to the Com­mand, but to the Solemn Prayer of our Lord. I might shew you, how Strife and Division is against your own Prayers: You often pray, and pray hard for the Peace and Union of Christians; but this is a powerful Consideration indeed, that it is against the Desire and Prayer of Jesus Christ himself.

4. Contentions and Divisions do greatly dishonour Christ; his Name and Doctrine is hereby blasphem'd; it makes our Hearts to bleed within us, to hear Christ re­proach'd by the black Mouths of his Enemies, and nothing more opens them, than the Divisions of his Friends and Followers.

'Tis worth your observation, that when Christ pray'd for the Union of his Followers, he back'd it with this Ar­gument, that the World might believe and know, that he was sent of the Father. So he says, John 17.21. Let them be one, that the World may believe, that thou hast sent me. And again, Verse 23. Let them be perfect in one, that the World may know, that thou hast sent me. As if he had said, the Divisions and Contentions of my Disciples, will tempt the Men of the World to think, that I did not come out from thee; that I, who am their Lord and Master, am but an Impostor; that my Gospel is but a Fable, and the Reli­gion they have received from me, is but a Romance. If those that believe in me are contentious, then standers by will be Atheists. If there be no Love in the Church, there will be no Faith in the World. This one thing is sufficient to proclaim the great evil of Strife and Divisions, that they are so dishonourable to Christ and to his Name. Who doth [Page 18] not tremble, to have his hand in that which brings an ap­parent Reproach upon Christ and the Christian Religion! 'Tis storied of Alexander Severus, That seeing two Chri­stians at variance one with the other, he forbad them any longer to assume the Name of Christians; because that by their strife and contention, they dishonour'd their Lord and Master. Oh, how many in the midst of us, and round about us, might be interdicted the Christian Name, for the same reason!

5. Which follows upon the former, Contentions and Divisions do stumble and harden the ungodly; they keep some from entering into the good Ways of God, and they make others, that began to enter into them, to turn back. Two things in God's People become great Stumbling-blocks to the wicked; one is, their Scandalous Sins and Miscarriages; the other is, their Foolish Strife and Divi­sions. These make wicked and ungodly Men shy of Reli­gion, and of closing with the good Ways of God: They say, Look what Quarrels and Divisions there are among these Professors of Religion: God bless us from such a Religion as this; if this be their Religion, thus to fall out and contend one with another, we will have nothing to do with it or them. God is a God of Peace and Love, and therefore such contentious Persons as these, can be none of his People. We complain sometimes, that Conversion is a rare Work; that very few are converted and brought home to Christ in our days; whenas it is a wonder, consi­dering our divisions, that any at all are converted, that all don't keep at the greatest distance from the Ways and People of God.

6. Contentions and Divisions do grieve the Spirit of God, and the Spirits of those that are truly godly. They grieve the Spirit of God; that peaceful Dove can't away with those that are full of Gall and Bitterness. When the [Page 19] Apostle had dehorted the Ephesians from grieving the Ho­ly Spirit, Ephes. 4.30. he immediately subjoyns this Ex­hortation, Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. Again, These Di­visions do grieve and sadden the Spirits of those that are truly godly; nothing lieth nearer the Hearts of some good and godly Men, than the uncharitable Contentions of their Brethren; these Breaches do break their very Hearts; they are weary of their Lives, upon the account thereof, and are ready to wish, with that German Divine, That they were out of the World, that so they might be deli­ver'd from the implacable Enmities and Contentions of Ministers and Christians.

7. Contentions and Divisions do stir up much corrup­tion in Christians, and they open a wide door to many o­ther Sins: Solomon says, Prov. 17.19. He loveth trans­gression, that loveth strife; he occasions abundance of it in himself and in others also. There is a world of anger, en­vy, malice, and revenge in the hearts of Men, and conten­tion gives them vent and draws them forth. The Apostle James says, James 3.14. If ye have bitter envyings and strife, glory not. Don't think or boast of your selves, to be such good Christians; these will stain all your other Excellen­cies, and will stir up all your other Corruptions. So it fol­lows, Verse 16. Where envying and strife is, there is confu­sion and every evil work. Strife and Contention is the De­vil's Forge, and if he can give a Christian a heat or two therein, he will quickly be softned and made malleable for the Hammer of his Temptations. Meek Moses, when he was a little heated, he spake unadvisedly with his Lips. Oh, the Lies and Slanders, the Whisperings and Back­bitings, the Censures and Detractions, that come out of [Page 20] this Mint! From hence it is, that Christians, instead of re­proving, they fall a reproaching one another; instead of comforting, they fall a censuring one another; instead of provoking one another to love and good works, they provoke one another to anger and wrath and to other evil works.

2. The second Direction is, To pursue those things that promote Peace and Union. The Scripture in some places calls upon us to pursue and follow Peace; though it runs or flys from us, yet we must pursue and follow it. This Ad­vice is given in Heb. 12.14. 1 Pet. 3.11. In both these places the Greek word doth signifie, to pursue or follow a thing eagerly, as Hunters do their Prey. And in one place we are requir'd not only to follow peace, but to follow after the things that make for peace. Where's that? Why, 'tis in Rom. 14.19. There it is said, Let us follow after the things that make for peace: ( [...]) the things of peace; such things are meant as are conducible and subservient thereunto. The Lord help us to take out this Lesson: Ma­ny pretend to be followers of peace, that decline the things that make for it. Let me descend unto particu­lars:

1. Make out after those Graces that have an uniting property: Let these be in you, and abound. I told you before, that there are sundry Lusts and Corruptions which occasion Strife and Division: And now I will shew you, that there are sundry Graces and gracious Qualifications, which conduce to Peace and Union.

1. There is the Grace of Love: I mean, Brotherly Love. This is of an uniting and knitting nature. We are said, Col. 2.2. to be knit together in love. This Grace obligeth Chri­stians to all acts of mutual kindness one to another; it ex­pelleth Prejudices and Jealousies; it extinguisheth the unhallowed Fire of Anger and Wrath towards one ano­ther. [Page 21] The excellent Properties of Love are laid down at large, 1 Cor 13. There it is said, That charity or love suf­fereth long, and is kind; it envieth not, it doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoyceth not in iniquity, but rejoyceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Where is the Love to be found in our days, that is endu'd with these Properties? It is because there is so little love, that there is so much strife and divi­sion among us: Because love is waxed cold, therefore Christians are so sick of the burning Feaver of Contention.

2. There is the Grace of Self-denial. Self is the great Make-bate, and Self-denial is the great Peace-maker. If Christians could learn to deny themselves, they would be at peace one with another. The Apostle exhorts the Phi­lippians, in Phil. 2.3. to let nothing be done through strife. But how should this be prevented? See what he adds in the next Verse, Look not every Man on his own things, but every Man also on the things of others. Oh, what peaceable Times should we have, if Christians would love others as they love themselves! There would be another World, if that Rule were but observ'd which you find in 1 Cor. 10.24. Let no Man seek his own, but every one another's wealth.

3. There is the Grace of Humility. As Pride causeth, so Humility cureth Contentions and Division. Solomon says, Prov. 28.25. He that is of a proud heart, stirreth up strife. But he that is of an humble and lowly Spirit, doth quench or extinguish it. We may say to Humility, what Tertullus said to Faelix, By thee we enjoy much quietness. But where are Christians that now adays are cloathed with Humility? There would be an end of Strife, if we would put on this Garment, If in lowliness of mind, each would esteem others better than themselves. Vid. Phil. 2.3.

[Page 22]4. There is the Grace of Meekness. This hath a peace­making Property. It is mention'd in Scripture, as that which contributes greatly to Peace and Unity. Ephes. 4.2. There we are enjoyn'd to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace: And in order thereunto, we must abound in all lowliness and meekness. And to these we must add long­suffering and forbearance; so it follows in that Text. Ay, these are the Graces we must exercise our selves unto, and in, if we would keep the Peace amongst Brethren. These are uniting and adorning Graces; but these Ornaments are laid aside, and quite out of fashion in our times.

2. You must imbibe such Principles as have an uniting property. Let me mention some few of these, and I will but mention them.

1. The first is, That Christians should be one in Affe­ction, though they are of different Opinions in the lesser Matters of Religion: If they have not altogether the same Mind, yet they should have the same Love. That is the A­postle's Phrase in Phil. 2.2.

2. A second is, That Peace is such a precious Commodi­ty, that we must purchase it whatsoever we pay for it. Whatsoever it costs us, (provided we don't part with apparent Truth and true Holiness) we have a good Bar­gain of it.

3. A third is, That in many cases it is more honourable to yield, than to overcome: 'Tis a greater thing to have power over our selves, than to have power over others. The Story of two Philosophers, Aristippus and Aeschines, is very memorable: When they were at variance, Aristip­pus came to Aeschines, and said, Come, shall we be Friends? Yes, says Aeschines, with all my heart. Now remember, says Aristippus, that though I am your Senior, yet I first sought Peace. True, says Aeschines; and for this, I shall always ac­knowledge you the more worthy person; for I began the Strife, and you the Peace.

[Page 23]4. A fourth is, That 'tis better to be too mild and gen­tle, than to be too severe and rigorous: If lenity be at any time an error, 'tis an error on the right hand; 'tis by much the more eligible extream. Oh, how great a Vertue is Mo­deration!

5. A fifth is, That 'tis better to suffer the greatest evil, than to do the least. By the former, I may be mischief'd by others; but by the latter, I mischief my self.

6. A sixth is, The Weal of the Publick is to be preferr'd to our Personal Welfare. The Contentions and Divisions that are amongst Christians, proceed from the narrowness of their Spirits; Men of Publick Spirits, are Men of Peace­able Spirits. Oh, what Halcion Days should we see, if Christians were possess'd of these and such like Prin­ciples!

3. You must exercise and inure your selves to those Pra­ctices, that have an uniting property. Let me touch also upon some of these.

1. Endeavour to take or make up Breaches betimes. Contentions, that are but sparkles at first, if let alone, they will quickly grow into a great flame. How much have I seen a little Fire kindle? When Christians fall out, one Person or Patty, it may be, is faulty at first; but, by and by, such as were faultless, are involv'd in the same guilt. Solomon says, Prov. 17.14. That the beginning of strife, is as when one lets out water. If it be not presently stopt, it will bear down all before it. Oh, nip Conten­tions in the bud, or you know not to what they will grow, or how far they will spread!

2. Remember that good old Rule of our Saviour's, To do to others, what you would have others to do to you. This practice would set us all to rights. Would not you have others bear with you? Then do you bear with others. Would not you have others put the best Sence upon your [Page 24] Words and Actions? Why then do you put the best Sence upon others Words and Actions. Would not you have o­thers to reproach and back-bite you? Then don't you re­proach and back bite others. Do but walk by this Rule, and, as one says, your own Will, in a justifiable sence, will be your Law.

3. Count all them your Brethren, in whom you see any thing of the image and likeness of your Father. Be of a catholick temper, and not wedded to a Party. Receive any that are serious in Religion, though they would reject you; and labour to pull those to you, that thrust you from them. Speak well of those, that speak evil of you. Let Luther call me Devil, (says Calvin) yet I will acknow­ledge him for an eminent Servant of God.

4. Accommodate your selves to others, as far as law­fully you may. Take the Apostle Paul for your Pattern; read what he said and did, 1 Cor. 9.19, 20, 21, 22. Though I be free from all Men, yet have I made my self a servant unto all, that I might gain the more. Ʋnto the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without the law, as without law, (being not without the law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law; to the weak, I became as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all Men, that I might by all means save some. All this while the Apostle was not guilty of neutrality and carnal compliance with others. Blessed Paul! if thou had'st liv'd in our days, thou would'st have been counted a Man of a trimming and temporizing Temper. Under this Head, let me commend one Practice to you, and that is, to submit and yield to those that are contentious, so far as you can do it with a safe Conscience. The Apostle Peter's counsel should be fol­low'd, 1 Pet. 5.5. Let the younger submit themselves to the [Page 25] elder, yea, all of you be subject one to another. Many live as if there were no such Text in their Bibles.

5. Learn the holy Art of bridling your Tongues: That little Member causeth much contention in the World and in the Church. What peaceable Times should we see, if Christians had the Grace to govern their Passions and re­frain from passionate Expressions; if they did debate the things wherein they differ with hard Arguments and soft Words! Solomon saith, Prov. 15.1. That a soft answer turn­eth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. We have a Proverb, That hard to hard, never do well. How much Strife would be prevented and cur'd, if a Law of Kind­ness did command all our Mouths. Sometimes a boisterous Wind is allay'd by a gentle Rain. Soft Words are as cheap as hard; gentle and courteous Language is as easie, as that which is sowre or bitter.

6. Never contend about those things which you do not fully understand. I might have mention'd Ignorance a­mongst the Make-bates: This is certain, That most of our Peace-breakers are persons that are very ignorant, that know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. This may be truly said, That most of our Contentions are meer Logomachies; the Strife among us, for the most part, is about Words, and not Things. There was a great strife of old between the Eastern and Western Churches. The Eastern Churches and Christians said, there were three Subsistences in the Trinity, but not three Persons. The Western said, there were three Persons, but not three Subsistences. Athanasius steps in and reconciles them both. The Contentions that were amongst the Nestorians and Eutychians, were only verbal, so that we may wonder, and ask, with the Apo­stle, If there was not a wise Man among them? And what shall I say of the Strife and Division that is among the more religious People of this Island, at this day? It is unac­countable. [Page 26] A thinking Christian is ready to wonder and say, Are there no wise Men, and indu'd with knowledge, that can with meekness of wisdom compose these Differen­ces that are among us? Are they all such Fools as Solomon describes? He says, Prov. 18.6. A Fool's lips enter into contention. I can't say, that all the Debates in England and London, about Matters of Religion, are meerly verbal; but I dare affirm this of many, if not the most of them, nay, the greater part by far, of our litigant and conten­tious Christians, can give no account of those Points about which they contend, nor do they know the Hinges upon which the things in controversie turn.

Here let me insert a Story of modern date: Two Per­sons lately met together, at a Friend's House, where they had a great deal of warm Discourse about those that go under the denomination of Presbyterians and Independents: One standing by, interpos'd, and desir'd them to inform him, What was the real difference betwixt those two Sorts or Parties. For a while there was deep silence, till anon he urg'd them to answer him, telling them, It was a most unseemly thing, for persons to contend about what they did not know or understand. At length one of them answer'd, The Inde­pendents were stricter in their admission of Members into their particular Congregations than the others were. Here­upon the other reply'd, That, to his knowledge, that was false; forasmuch as some, that had been rejected for scan­dalous Conversations by Presbyterians, had been receiv'd into Independent Congregations. This threw Oyl into the the Fire, and increas'd their warmth; till by and by this third person began sharply to reprove them both, telling them, he expected to have heard of some difference in the Principles of these Parties, which might have made for his information; but all that he could hear, did amount to no more, than that there was a difference in the Pra­ctice [Page 27] of some particular Congregations, which would be in the most reformed Churches to the World's end. There­fore he desir'd them to lay aside those unchristian Heats that were betwixt them, and not inveigh one against ano­ther, for they knew not what themselves. And his Ad­monition was not ineffectual, for they parted good Friends, and in a better Temper.

7. Take out three Lessons, that are taught us by the Apostle Paul: He gives us, in his Epistles, a Trinity of Pre­cepts, that would cause Unity among Christians, if they were but observ'd and learn'd.

The first is in 1 Thess. 4.11. Study to be quiet, and do your own business, &c. Many study how they may be trouble­som, and neglecting their own affairs at home, they wan­der about from House to House; though they are idle, yet they are pragmatical and busie-bodies too; they are tatlers also, their tongues never lie still, but are speaking things which they ought not, they sit and speak against their brethren, and slander their own mothers children. This was the fault of some Women in the Apostles times, but now Men are as faulty herein as Women. This Practice doth greatly contribute to the heightning and increasing the Differences that are amongst Christians, and there is no better Remedy, than for all to follow the Apostle's Ad­vice, That every Man study to be quiet, and to do his own business.

The second is in Rom. 14.22. Hast thou faith? have it to thy self. He doth not speak of Faith here in the Fun­damentals of Religion, but in indifferent things (which are the Subject-matter he is treating of.) Our belief or per­swasion therein is not unseasonably to be utter'd, so as to occasion scandal or contention. All Doctrins of Faith are not of that necessity, that they should be urg'd at all times and upon all persons. Though no truth must be deny'd, [Page 28] yet many truths may be forborn. They that are zealous for truth, must remember that direction in Ephes. 4.15. To speak the truth in love; or, as the words signifie, they must truth it in love.

The third is in Phil. 3.15, 16. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded, and if in any thing ye be other­wise minded, God shall reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attain'd, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. I won't stay to open this Text, it is done to our hands, by several that have wrote pur­posely upon it: I will only add, that if these three Apo­stolical Rules were conscientiously and strictly observ'd, most of the Breaches among us would be heal'd, and fu­ture Ruptures in Churches and amongst Christians would be prevented.

8. Be humbled for Strife and Division, and supplicate Heaven for Peace and Union.

1. Be humbled for Strife and Division. Many rejoyce, but do you mourn by reason hereof: Whil'st others bring Fewel to increase, do you bring Tears to quench the Fire that is kindled amongst Christians. If you have no hand in Divisions, yet let your Hearts be broken for them. I will allude to that place in the Book of Judges, For the Di­visions of Reuben, let there be great Sorrow of Heart.

2. Supplicate Heaven, the God of Heaven, for Peace and Union. Beseech the God of Love and Peace, to pour down the Spirit of Love and Peace upon his Church and People. To this you are exhorted, Psal. 122.6. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Say, Peace be within thy Walls, and Prosperity within thy Palaces. For your Brethren and Companions sake, say now, Peace be within thee. Pray for the Churches and Christians in our days, as the Apostle Paul doth for the Thessalonians, 2 Thess. 3.16. The Lord of Peace give them Peace always, [Page 29] by all means. This is a Service that every one may and ought to have a hand in. This is a Blessing that God can easily bestow upon his People; nothing is hard, much less impossible unto him, he can make Men to be of one Mind in a House; and he can make his Children to be of one Mind in his House. He brake down the middle Wall of Par­tition betwixt Jews and Gentiles, and of twain made one: He can do the like among dissenting and contending Christians. This is that which he hath promis'd. He hath said, That in the later days his People shall dwell in peaceable Habitations, Isai. 32.18. That the Wolf shall dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard shall lye down with the Kid: The Cow and the Bear shall feed, their young ones shall lye down toge­ther, and the Lion shall eat Straw like the Ox; and the suck­ing Child shall play on the hole of the Asp, and the weaned Child shall put his Hand on the Cockatrice-den; and that they shall not hurt, nor destroy in all his Holy Mountain, Isai. 11.7, 8, 9. He hath said, Verse 13. That the Envy of Ephraim shall de­part, and the Adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; that E­phraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim. He hath said, That Judah and Ephraim (though two Sticks) shall be joyn'd one to another into one Stick, and they shall be­come one in his hand, Ezek. 37.16, 17. And he hath far­ther promis'd, That he will turn to his People a pure Lan­guage, and they shall serve him with one consent, or shoulder. Zeph. 3.9. That he will give them one Heart and one Way. These and divers other Promises God hath made of this sort, which he likes his People should plead, and put him in remembrance of. I wish I could say, that this Gene­ration shall not pass away, till these things come to pass: But considering the improbability of such a Blessing for the present, I fear I may take up Balaam's words, and say, Who shall live, when God will do this? In mean time, what reason have we to besiege Heaven, and apply to God by [Page 30] Fasting and Prayer, (to do this together, and to do this apart) that God would cause these Janglings and Conten­tions, that are among his People, to cease? If some Plague or Drought came upon us, we should reckon it high time to Fast and Pray. Yet these (as one observes) are in them­selves but Miseries; when our Contentions are so our Mi­series, that they are also our Sins. It may be, these Devils of Strife and Division, will be driven out no other way, but by Fasting and Prayer.

Let me conclude all with a double Exhortation.

The first is to those that are Ministers. They are the Am­bassadors of Peace; they are sent by him who is the Prince of Peace; therefore they should use their utmost Endeavours to prevent and remove all Strife and Divisions. Yet, how it comes to pass I know not, they are many times the greatest promoters thereof. One hath observ'd, That there are few Rents and Contentions in Churches in which Ministers have not the chief hand. Jerome hath a remarkable Note upon Hosea 9.8. He saith (Veteres scru­tans Historias, nullos invenire possum scidisse ecclesiam praeter eos qui Sacerdotes a Deo positi fuerunt.) searching the an­cient Histories, I can find none, that have rent the Church like those that sustain the Office of Ministers. This is a sad Charge, and it is too justly laid upon many of that Order. Luther pray'd, that the Church might be deliver'd from sundry Evils, and among the rest, (a pastore contentioso) from contentious Preachers or Pastors. It touch'd me to the quick the other day, to hear one tell me, That we, who are Ministers, are the cause of all the Contentions that are in City and Country at this day. I thought with my self, there was too much of truth in what he said. If we would unite and agree, our Hearers would unite and agree likewise; generally it is, like Pastors, like People: They are (tuba instata) a sounding Trumpet; they sound according to [Page 31] the Breath we breath into them, either a Retreat or an Onset, a Parly or an Alarum. Oh, how inexcusable are we that teach others, should be peaceable, and be our selves turbulent! We are like Physicians, that prescribe such Rules to their Patients, as they never observe them­selves. It will never be well with us, till we give our Hea­rers a large and fair Copy of Peace and Unity in our own Practices.

2. I would exhort private Christians to this Duty, to follow after Peace, and the things that make for it. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, have peace with all Men, and especially one with another. Let me exhort you, as the Apostle Paul doth these Corinthians: Hear what he says to them, in his first Epistle, Chap. 1.10. I beseech you, Bre­thren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joyn'd together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Hear what he says to them in his second Epistle, Chap. 13.11. Finally, Brethren, farewel: Be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Oh, that this Exhortation could reach all the Chri­stians in England and in London! Oh, that every Pulpit in this Kingdom and City did ring with this Message! Peace and Union is that which all seem to desire. (Pacem te poscimus omnes.) Ask every Man in this Congregation, or in this City, Have you any hand in the Strife and Divi­sions that are among us? and he will answer, No, not I. Again, ask any one, Don't you desire Peace and Love and Union among your Brethren and Neighbours? and he will answer, Yes, I do. But though all seem to desire it, how few be they that do really endeavour it? or that will be at any cost or pains to accomplish it? all exclaim against Strife and Division, but though every one cries out of the Thief, who will be at the trouble to stop him?

[Page 32]Give me leave now, in the close of all, to commend to you some moving Considerations.

1. Consider what God is. He is (as was said before) the God of Love and Peace; he's call'd, 1 Thess. 5.23. the very God of Peace. And in 2 Thess. 3.16. the Lord of Peace himself. The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, he is the Prince of Peace. He is King of Salem; which is, by in­terpretation, King of Peace. His entering into this World was solemniz'd with a Song of Peace; whil'st he staid in this World, he preach'd and made Peace. When he departed out of this World, he bequeath'd unto his Followers the precious Legacy of Peace. The holy Spirit of God, is the great worker of Peace; Peace is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. There is a cluster of these Fruits in Gal. 5.22. there's Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness. What sweet Fruits are here? Many Christians live as if they had never tasted any of them. Well, but what an Argu­ment is here to provoke us to peaceableness? This is to make us like unto God, to resemble Father, Son and Spi­rit. Oh, how contrary do they walk to God, who walk in Strife and Contention!

2. Consider what you are, and profess to be. You are the Children, the Sons and Daughters of Peace. You are call'd to Peace, 1 Cor. 7.15. You have Peace with God, and therefore you should have Peace one with another; you are going to one Home, and therefore you should not fall out by the Way: Why should there be Strife betwixt Abraham and Lot, seeing they were Brethren? Oh consi­der, Christians, you are Children of the same Father, Mem­bers of the same Body, Professors of the same Faith, Par­takers of the same Spirit, Retainers to the same Lord, you have the same Baptism and hope of your Calling, and if you fall out, who shall agree? You should be looped to­gether, as the Curtains of the Tabernacles were; you should be all of a piece. Vid. Mal. 2.10.

[Page 33]3. Consider where you are, and among whom you live. They are not all your Friends that stand by and look upon you, whil'st you discover your shame and nakedness; no, they are many of them your Enemies, and though they carry it fair outwardly, yet they inwardly hate you: And whil'st you contend and quarrel one with another, they laugh in their sleeves, and are ready to say, Aha! so would we have it. It was an aggravation of the folly of Abraham and Lot's Herdsmen and Servants, that they should strive together, and one with another, when the Canaanite and the Perizite dwelt in the Land. You know how to apply it.

4. Consider what the end of these things is like to be. Our Contentions are sad Prognosticks of some impending Judgment. One says well, That a lowring Sky, shews foul Weather to be at hand. So the lowring Countenances and contentious Carriages of Christians towards one another, do indicate a Storm to be near us. When the Vail of the Temple was rent in twain, it was a fore-runner of the de­struction of the Temple. Cambden observes, that the Di­visions of the English was the Scaling-ladder by which the Romans came into England. If the Romanists come among us again, they'll part the fray, and end the strife among us. If we should see again the Marian Days, or have a Po­pish Prince, I am confident the Episcopal and Erastian would agree together and the Presbyterian and Indepen­dent would embrace one another. If Christians bite and de­vour one another, God will be provok'd to give them up to be devour'd of others. Vid. Mal. 4.6. If God turn not the Heart of the Fathers to the Children, and the Heart of the Chil­dren to the Fathers, and the Heart of Christians one to ano­ther, he will come and smite the Earth with a Curse.

5. Consider what Rebukes you have been lately under, for your former Contentions and Divisions: How great were your felt and feared Troubles? You are as Brands [Page 34] just now pluck'd out of the burning; the smell of the Fire is yet upon you: And will you, as soon as the Rod is off your Backs, return to your old work again? Remem­ber the Resolutions you had, and the Promises you made, if ever God again should turn back your captivity. Read, when you have leasure, Ezra 9. from Verse 5. to the end.

6. Consider what Harmony and Agreement there is a­mong others. Gebal and Ammon and Amalek can confede­rate and joyn together with one consent. Thieves and Mur­derers can cast in their Lot together, and have all one Purse. The very Devils have concord among themselves, Satan is not divided against Satan. Yea, Lions and Tygers, the fiercest and wildest Beasts, will live peaceably one with a­nother. (Saevis inter se convenit ursis.) This Considera­tion may help to lay our Animosities and Contentions. But,

7. Consider what Harmony and sweet Accord all the Saints have and shall have in Heaven. There are no Storms and Tempests in that upper Region: There Luther and Zwinglius are perfectly reconcil'd.

8. Consider what a lame Account we shall be able to give to Christ at his coming, of these our Contentions and Divisions. We can't give any rational account of them now, but how speechless shall we be then? Read Matth. 24.48, 49, 50, 51.

9. Consider the good and benefit of Peace and Union. It is pleasing to God; it is a credit to the Gospel; it is a powerful Load-stone to draw the World to Christ, like Cummin-seed, it makes the Doves to flock the Windows; it promotes Edification among Christians; the Church edifies it self in love.

10. Consider the evil and harm of Strife and Division. Much hath been said of this already: See the first general Direction: Let me only add, That it greatly gratifies the [Page 35] Devil; he is pleas'd to see them, who are reconcil'd to God, to be at variance among themselves; How glad is he, when he can perswade Christ's Followers to do more than his Crucifiers did; that is, to rend his seamless Coat? This Contention and Division amongst Christians, hinders their growth in Grace: The Body and the Members there­of do never thrive and grow in a Feaver; it cuts off all their entercourse with Heaven; hereby Prayers are hin­dred; they will be little in Prayer to God, who are much in squabling one with another; yea, it hinders all mutual Edification; it spoils all Christian Entercourse and Con­verse: One says well, It is as baneful to Christian Com­munion, as a great Plague or Pestilence is to a Market­town.

Let me then resume my Exhortation: Christians, I do, in Christ's Name and Words, beseech you, To have Peace one with another. Oh, beware of Strife and Division! Mark and avoid them (whoever they be) that are the causes thereof.

Let me end with that pathetical Obtestation of the A­postle Paul, Phil. 2.1, 2. 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 and of one mind. To which let me add that Prayer of the same Apostle, Rom. 15.5, 6. Now the God of patience and consolation, grant you to be like-minded one towards another, according to Christ Je­sus, that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorifie God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Reader may take notice,

1. THat more is printed than was preach'd, especially towards the latter end.

2. Tho' I have spoken much of the Causes and Divisions in ge­neral, yet I have spoken little of the Causes of our Strife and Di­visions in particular, that is a Noli me tangere. No near, says the Sailer.

3. I expect to be censur'd by some, for what I have said; 'tis a thankless Office to attempt the reconciling of persons at va­riance; 'tis to take a Dog by the Ears; 'tis to interpose between angry Duellers. [...], Nazianz. 'Tis to put ones Hand into a Nest of Hornets.

4. I almost despair of seeing the hurt of the Daughter of my People heal'd, and their Divisions cur'd, while I live. And when I medled with this Argument, I thought of the Saying of one to Luther, when he first set about the Work of Reformation, What dost thou mean? thou wilt but beat the Air. Abi in cellam tuam, & dic miserere Deus nostri.

5. There are several useful Discourses extant upon this Subject, in our own Language; from some of which, I have borrowed some Notions, if not Expressions, viz. Mr. Burrows's Irenicum, Mr. Bax­ter's Cure of Church-Divisions, Mr. Steele against Uncharitable Contentions in the Church of God, Mr. How's Carnality of Reli­gious Contention, and his Attempt to allay Animosities among Protestants, Mr. Flavel's Gospel-Unity, Mr. Culverwel's Schism, Mr. Gurnal's Compleat Armour, from Page 149, to 159. Mr. Vin­cent's design to revive Love, &c.

6. Let none be offended at what is said, Page 12. about God's having a hand in the Divisions of his People: This is consistent with his Holiness and hatred of Sin, it doth not make him the Au­thor of it. Vid. Acts 2.23. and 4.27, 28. and Mr. Strong's Trea­tise, shewing the Subordination of the Will of Man to the Will of God; from Page 202, to 214.

7. There are some Literal Errors of the Press, which may ea­sily be corrected or overlook'd; e. g. In p. 3. for discanted, r. de­scanted, p. 6. for Antinomean, r. Antinomian. p. 8. for heighth, r. heigth: p. 19. for them, r. these. p. 21. for others, r. other.


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