Vox Clamantis; OR, A CRY TO Protestant Dissenters, Calling them from some unwarrantable Ways, with which they are vulgarly, and perhaps too truly charged, viz.

From all unnecessary medling in matters of State.

From too deep engagement of themselves in this present World, and too great Conformity to it.

From thinking too highly of themselves for their Separation-sake only.

From Fanaticism, properly so called, in their Prayers, Sermons, Books, &c.

And seriously exhorting them to the minding of the great con­cerns of Heaven.

To Fruitfulness in Well-doing.

To Sobriety, and the use of Reason in all Religious matters.

By N. N. A Protestant, and declared Dissenter from the Church of England, as far as that Church, dissents from Christian Liberty, Holiness and Charity, and no further.

Rom. 12.2. Be not conformed to this World.
Rom. 18. If it be possible live in peace with all men.
1 Thess. 4.11. Study to be quiet, and to mind your Business.

London, Printed for W. H. and are to be Sold by Richard Janaway, Anno Dom. 1683.

VOX CLAMANTIS, OR, A Cry to the Professors and Dissenters of this Age, in England, London, &c.


Christian Friends and Brethren,

I Have heard, and you can't but know; that many serious minded Christians, much lament the great decay of God­liness and serious Piety, among the Professors of this Age; and those that are called Dissenters, herein England, and in this City in special: And enquiring into the Causes of it, they seem to be divers, besides that common and general one of a careless Spirit, which all are too apt to fall into, even in the most weighty things, and the things of God, and of their everlasting concern: which being matters invisible and future (though most real) we consider not, but are taken up too much with the present things of sense and outward appearance, because nearest to us, and so most affecting of us: I say, besides this in the general; there are some present special causes, reasons and occasions, that are bad, and at best scandalous, which it is the intent of this present call and advice to remind you of, and to admonish you, that they are detrimental, and hinder your progress and perseverance, in well-doing, in order to your eternal well-being. And if we do but look into the state of this Age, and the Land we live in, as to the profession practice of Religion, and the Christian Religion, it is sad, [Page 2]and to be lamented by all, who have any sense of the maine concerns of Christianity; or of mankind.

The world of professing Christians in this Nation, (to look no further) are found to be of two general sorts: The

First, Are the ungodly, openly prophane; who notwith­standing they have been born and educated in this most Holy Religion of Christ Jesus, yet carry nothing but the name of it; and who, because they have not had the hap to now another, must needs be called Christians; yet live in all manner of open sin, committing all sin with greediness, (viz.) Whoredom, Drunkenness, Swearing, Lying, Acts of Violence, Oppres­sion, and all manner of Debauchery; and these things not only in secret, but openly; yea, and that which I think few Ages have seen, (since Christianity) openly owning and avow­ing the vilest abominations, fleshly, carnal lusts and wicked­ness; and that sometimes in the most publick manner: This is, and hath too much been the guise and practice of evil men, of great men in place and power; and such evil examples pro­pagate wonderfully, and beget in their own nature and like­ness dayly, even to admiration. These seem as if they would, or had a mind industriously to propagate sin and wickedness, and to declare themselves to be the open and sworn servants of sin and the Devil. If it were in their power, and they should accordingly make Laws to promote and advance the most wicked abominations and filthy lusts, they could not that way do half so much towards it, as now by giving such pub­lick and open examples. It is the most effectual way to pro­mote Vice, and that with the greatest advantage, as to the debauching and eternally ruining of others; when persons great in power and place, give such examples. As our Lord teaches us, that the most effectual way to glorify God, is not so much to Preach and Profess, or tell the vertues of our Hea­venly Father, as to imitate and follow them; and that the light of our good and excellent works, shining before men, will tend infinitely more to the glory of God, and is a better proof of the truth of our Christianity, and of our good Con­science Godward, than any assent or subscription whatsoever, to the best System of Divinity, Articles of Faith, or Modells [Page 3]of Worship, which the evil and hypocrite may do, as well as the best, and most sincere. To be holy, upright, just, sober, and to mortify and subdue the lusts and pollutions of the flesh, that fight against the Soul and Spirit, this is the hard work, that few ingage in, though it be all in all, as to the life and salva­tion of a Christian man. But we are now speaking of a gene­ration of men, into whose hearts such things do not enter, or once come into their thoughts; or if they do, they soon shake them out, and get rid of them, being resolved rudely and madly to put all to a desperate adventure, and never to try nor make enquiry into things of this nature, into the truth of Christianity; till they feel it in their own damnation. But enough of these.

Secondly, There are another sort, professing Christianity, that are better than those, (at least not so apparently bad) that seem to have escaped the gross pollutions of the World through lusts, and cannot be charged with such open abomi­nations, but in general are Sober, Religious, and in many things Zealous; great hearers of Sermons, frequenters of Churches and Meetings: Yet it is too apparent, that they sometimes pride themselves exceedingly in those things, and are highly conceited of themselves, because they are not so bad as the worst, and will confidently speak against, and re­prove those that are openly wicked, and glory that they are not like other men; and so comparing themselves with the worst, think themselves wondrous good; but in this they take wrong measures, the right way is to look up to the best, to see how they come short of them, i. e. of the most commend­ed and approved Servants of God and Christ Jesus, the holy Apostles, the Prophets, and the life and example of Jesus him­self; and not to mind how much better they are than the worst, or the most. Notwithstanding this, that yet such the Professors and Dissenters of this Age are much wanting, and in many things out of the way, is too plain to be hid; and all take some notice of it, their enemies do it to their reproach, thereby to represent them both false and hypocritical, and also ridiculous. That they do well, that do so, I am far from [Page 4]thinking; but that you should not mind, and take warning by it, and upon this occasion look well to your selves, and into your ways, search your own hearts and works, examine your principles and practices; this I think argues great carelessness, and neglect, and shews that you have not that fear nor care, which you should have, nor a mind truly set within you, to design the honour and glory of God, nor the credit of Re­ligion.

I have divers times upon occasion told (and others have done the like) some of the Professors of this Age, what things and matters, those publick Scurrilous Libels and Pamphlets, that fly about the Streets dayly (with some other of more sober language and treatment, but as venomous) what these I say do still object, and cast in the teeth of the present Dissenters; being things and faults that they will needs have to be Cha­racteristical of them all. But when we have told some of the Professors of this Age of those matters, to warn and admonish them, and to let them know what the things are, that they proclaim as most culpable in them, they still reply; that such are enemies, a sort of loose, ungodly, and prophane men, scoffers at Religion, turning all into ridicule, and so not to be heeded or regarded in what they say. Be it so; what then? Though you will not mind it for their sake, yet you should for your own, and for the Name of God, the credit of Religion and of your own Party (for unhappily we are distinguished into Parties, &c. God forgive those who in any kind are the causers of it.)

But do you not remember the old saying (Ab hoste fas est doceri) It is lawful, yea very good and prudent to learn from an enemy. And if it were for my Life and Soul, I would in the first place hearken to my enemies when they reprove or find fault. 'Tis true, they are like to over-do, yet most like to do that which our nearest and best Friends may be loth to do for us, i. e. speak those things to us, and of us, that the Laws of Friendship and Civility, and love of our Friends and Party, will not suffer them to do.

I do acknowledge that one benefit I have received in the reading such Papers, has been; that though I saw they were ex­treamly [Page 5]out, and writ neither with a Spirit of Piety nor Cha­rity, nor the least compassion to those whom they so severely blame, but do it only to render them odious and ridiculous, and to make the looser sort of men merry, and indeed to bring them out of the way of the love of serious Piety; yet I learn much in them, which otherwise I might not so well have understood. As matters in the world now are, we better see others than our selves; and as no man can see his own face, so neither are a mans own works and actions so near unto him, at least not so open before him, as other mens: Therefore if I can't see my self so well, I am beholding to those, that shall in good will tell me, and ought to acknowledge it with grati­tude. But if they tell it to me or others, not out of love, but ill will, and to expose me; however I have the same or a greater benefit, and the worst I will do and return to them, is, to pray God, that seeing they have spoken against me evil, or what they think is so, they may also see their own, and hate all sin and evil; and this can't hurt them, neither can they for it be angry with me.


I Will at present instance in one thing, because it comes now into my mind; which they do commonly object, and there­by endeavour to expose you to scorn, especially the Ministers and Preachers of the Non-conforming Party; and them the rather, because the People have had, an honourable esteem of them for their pains and labour in Preaching, and with refe­rence to many of them, for their great Faithfulness, and doing much good by their Ministry. Now to lessen the Peoples love towards them, by means whereof they are drawn from, and make less esteem of the Conformists way; therefore have those men industriously inspected, and culled out of the Books and Sermons Preached and written by them, all they could think of, or find absurd, or seeming so; that they might thereby [Page 6]render them odious, or at least less esteemed: E. G. too vul­gar and over familiar Sayings to God in their Prayers, and the like in their Sermons and Books of Practical Divinity, all their course Phrases, their unfit, uncouth similitudes; all, as they call them, Phanatical Notions and Expressions, with such things which they will needs have tend to Sedition and Re­bellion. Many things of this nature, they cull out, publish and expose to the World, to be seen in their blackest colours: They have raked together many Books and Pamphlets of late, and of latter days they seem to ply this work more than or­dinary, and to set and imploy witty men, both of the Clergy and Laity therein. I could tell you of many Persons and Pieces, to this purpose designed and bent; one of the most sober of them, is the Author of the Friendly Debate: And one of the most often imployed this way, whose profession and business it is, is Mr. R. L. with his Associates: I wish that witty Gentleman, would use his Parts and Wits some other, and some better way: For my part, had I the Ability he hath, that quick, smart and pleasant way of Expression, that plenty of free utterance; In short, if I had such excellent rare Endowments as that Gentle­man and some others have, and are owners of, I think, I durst not use them, in such a Prophane way, and in such uncharitable work, as they and he do. But he must give account to God; let him but a little seriously consider, with what Spirit he does this; whether it be like to the Christian Spirit, or Spirit of Christ Jesus: And if indeed he really owns the truth of that Religion and Revelation of God by Christ, I can't think but that a little reflection upon himself, and of this work, will do him good.

Well, but to you my Friends, and the more so, because I know many of you to be Holy Christian men, designing God­liness: To you I say this they do, and would it be now any hurt to you to consider, whether there may not indeed be some of those Errors and Misdemeanors in some of your Books and Sermons; whether there may not be many things obnoxious in those kinds now named, and others which they will suffi­ciently inform you of: Consider of it, with free minds, do not think.

[Page 7] First, That because they are enemies, and it may be pro­phane wits that find fault; that therefore you may conclude nothing is amiss; but hearken to them (to choose) that find great faults, whether real or supposed, or any likeness or ap­pearance of such matters in your discourses or practices: You would surely have them learn from you, I am sure you would take it well if they would be taught by you, and so should you not disdain to hearken to them.

Secondly, This would shew you to be of honest, ingenuous minds, and of those that love the Truth, and would much convince the insulting adversary of your uprightness and sin­cerity. What hurt or disgrace is it, to retract, or to let them know that in some things, you may not have been so wise and wary, but that you may and will amend?

Look over seriously and see, whether some particular no­tions of yours may not betray you, and make you to speak, write, and preach, not so manly, rationally and demonstra­tively, as you might and ought; but things looking too like Phanaticism, as they think, and would be glad to find.

Certainly the Christian Religion does not unman men, but makes them more perfect; it makes good Christians, to be the wisest as well as the best of men.

You are not to think, that because your own Hearers, who out of a good opinion of your worth and Piety, may be some­what too credulous, and take all at the best, that therefore others will do so too. They that Preach and Write about Reli­gion and Divinity, should regard those that are contrary, and that may be perhaps wicked, but witty, of Parts, but little Piety, of Learning and liberal Education, but not much Charity, and so not like to take every thing by the right handle; not to take the best meaning and interpretation, the thing will­bear. And though men prophanely and scurrilously call you Phanaticks; yet give them neither just cause nor occasion for it, in speaking and preacking of the word of God and Religion. All should mind to do as the Apostle advises Timothy in 2 Tim. 2.15. Study to shew thy self approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, (i. e.) Not ashamed that men, any men, should hear him (rightly dividing the word of Truth.) For my [Page 8]part I should, and I think you ought, above all things, to dread Popularity, and to be most afraid, when you see men, many men, your People and Hearers, to take and drink all down, examining nothing; and all this only out of the good opinion they have of you their Teachers, though others in the mean time, and for the same matter deride and scorn you. Oh! how happy would it be if men, Christian men, would once come to this excellent Spirit (i. e.) To consider and judge of things, of all things, even things of Religion, as they are in themselves, in their own nature; and so receive and imbrace them, and be able, either to receive or reject, out of a free judgment: And neither to accept things for the sake of men, and that good opinion they have of them, nor to reject any thing, because they like not the men, that write or speak it, or because they are not of their Party or Opinion: Till this be, Christians will never excel, nor be wise unto Salvation, nor credit Religion. I confess the men that object this against you, to your reproach, are most unfit to do it; partly

First, For that ill temper of Spirit in which they do it; it seems to be neither out of Piety, nor Charity, nor out of an in­tent to do you any good, or in any thing to amend you; be­sides many of them are (I say not all) plainly men of an un­godly spirit, so far from taking that way of Charity, Meek­ness, Simplicity, which the Gospel of our Lord requires, that they put all their trust, of overcoming their adversaries, in their prophane Jesting, Joaking, turning Religion into ridicule, Deriding, Jeering, Scoffing at all men of a contrary Party, without making a difference, handling the matter in difference, in a Prophane, Poetical, Comical strain and drollery, and not after that serious manner, and with that deep sense, nor with that Charity, which those things require; so that their writ­ing and talk of this kind, suites more to the Play-house, than to the Church, not caring what they say, so they can either find, or create matters to disgrace their Adversaries with.

This Jocular strain of theirs, with a pleasure in handling matters, and answers in the like kind, seems to have taken too much hold on some of you, in the imitation of them, to the no little disgrace and discredit of the most holy, and pure Truth, and simplicity of Jesus.

[Page 9]Some of you, also delight too much to please the People, and tickle their Ears with such like stuff, with Jesting and Joaking at your opposites, with girds and sarcastical hints against them, telling your familiars, with too much delight their faults, and not seriously, nor charitably pitying them, nor wishing their good and betterment. Thus if we may be­lieve them; you incourage and maintain others, to draw the Saw of contention, and to carry on the Cause in difference at such a rate; which if you better consider of it, appears not to be Christian, nor will you find peace in it at last; it no way agreeing with the gravity and seriousness of a Christian, nor with the dread and weighty concerns of Religion and mens Salvation.

Secondly, Another account upon which I judge them very unfit to object against, or retort upon you: Is first, because I find some of the main matters, they make faulty, and draw particular absurdities from, in your Prayers and Preaching, in some opinions, are common to themselves with you: Such I find to be the opinions and differences about the five contro­verted points, concerning Election and Reprobation: What they will needs call Calvinism, you call the contrary Arminia­nism. The consequence and matters drawn from those, they still make matters of scorn, and wherewith to expose you, as is plain and manifest, in most of their late Writings and Books, especially those made by their Divines.

They take in the worst, and most obnoxious parts and con­sequences, of your opinions (though there be both Godly and Learned men on both sides) on purpose, thinking thereby to disgrace the Non-conforming Brethren, which is a most disin­genuous way of proceeding.

Secondly, Because those notions and opinions, (called Calvi­nianism and Contra-Remonstrant,) are the plain sense of the Ar­ticles of the Church of England, (or else we have lost all our senses, and all men else as well as we) till some few of late will needs fancy otherwise.

Thirdly, Because there are still many, and have been more in times past, of the most Learned, if not the most Pious and Zealous of the Church of England, that have imbraced, held, [Page 10]and strenuously defended those opinions: Now to screw absur­dities out of these notions and opinions, to take hold on these ungrateful things, and the consequences of them, that are most obnoxious to cavil and censure; when in the mean time the best and ablest of their own Party, are of the same mind, and have spoken the same things, and full as absurd (if they will have it so) as any; as it were easie to point to Books, and Authors of this kind: I say, to do this upon these terms, is most disingenuous, and unworthy men and Christians.

Finally, They are most disingenuous and unworthy in this their procedure, in their Cavils, and Accusations of Absur­dities, and Phanaticisms in Preaching and Praying, charged upon the Nonconformists; seeing it were an easie work to do the same by them, if any were so minded, and could not better spend their time, or could adventure to wast their Conscience, and expose Religion to scorn upon such a score. There are those that think they could do it, and some in times past that have done it, and find matters enough, and too much for it; but enough of this, &c.

Therefore, seeing they are so troublesome and offensive to you in this kind, I trust you will not be Imitators of them in the same way of working; deriding, scoffing and exposing them, for their faults, errors and miscarriages. Notwith­standing some will plead on both sides, that instance of Elias in mocking Baal's Priests, to countenance all the Mockery, Drollery and Scoffing, made use of in Religion, and about Re­ligious matters, and Religious men. To which I say,

First, Let not us Christians look upon the single practice of any, no not of the best men in Scripture Records; but accor­ding as they agree with and savour of, the Spirit of Holiness, Peace and Charity, acting in the Gospel of Christ, and will consist with the promotion of the high and holy end and de­sign of it; that is, according to the Life and example of our Lord Jesus, who hath taught us the most excellent things, and given us the worthiest examples of them, in all peace, pa­tience, meekness, goodness, charity.

Secondly, Again, if a wise man should for once be found in such a way, or do such a thing, i. e. deride, mock, &c. it [Page 11]would be enough to do it once, but to continue in it, and still to answer the adversary, as fast as he doth it; is not only un­worthy of a good Christian, but of a sober wise man.

Solomon has an excellent saying to this purpose, Answer a fool, (saith he) according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit, i. e. For once perhaps thou mayest sometime do so, and but once, as the following words imply, Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him, i. e. By continuing to answer him still according to his folly, as long as he shall per­sist therein, thou shalt be like unto him, a fool also.

Thirdly, As 'tis not fit for Christians to return Railing for Railing, so neither Scoffing nor Joaking, for any thing of the same kind.

Yet this has been done, if they say true, not without the Knowledge, Agency, Incouragement of some of your way, who have sate too much in the seat of scorners, (viz.) in smart Sarcasms, prophane Poetry, and in Pictures, Draughts, &c. to render the contrary party ridiculous and absurd as much as they can, all which falls under the divine prohibition against prophane jesting, scoffing, reproaching, and villifying, and breeds very ill consequents and effects, (viz.) anger, malice, hatred, revenge, making of Parties, divisions, destroying of Christian Peace and Charity.

We should consider, every man hath some honour and vene­ration for himself, for his Friend, and for his Party; and few can bear to have this Crown spoiled, to be degraded from their honour, or have their name and reputation laid wast; but will above all things, be stirred and provoked by such dealing and detraction. Consider with your selves, if it be not so with you; Sure I am, this way of proceeding is most Unchristian, and agrees not at all with that good Spirit which is peaceable, full of love, tenderness, fear, humility, and which becomes and recommends the Christian Gospel of our Lord and Saviour: Neither is it agreeable to the Royal Rule, of doing to others, as we would be done unto our selves.

Finally, some good and godly men, I have known, that have somewhat transgressed this way; and though upon the great­est provocation given, and that repeated and publick; yet those [Page 12]humble and holy men have repented of it, and publickly, and in Print, retracted it. In a word, you as Christians ought not to follow any in this kind, but to give examples to the con­trary.


FUrther, There is one thing, and the principal thing, you are charged with, (which I doubt is to too true, at least hath more of truth than I could wish) and that is a too much busying your selves about publick and State-matters, and things relating to Government; and consequently too much, and too great a busying your selves, in hearing and telling News, spending much time about it in Publick-houses and elsewhere; and that too much of your Hearts and Spirits are drunk up about such matters, &c. This is offensive and hateful to the contrary Party, scandalous to your Profession; and doubtless a great hindrance, to other more serious and necessary work; and in some even to the forgetting and neglecting the weighty con­cerns of their own Souls, and eternal happiness; if not to the neglect of their Places and Callings, their Time, the order of their Families, and duties in their Relations; I condemn none in particular, but in the general. A cry and noise there is abroad of spending time this way, and good Christians have observed, that they have never known any overmuch given to hear, or take up and tell News and Stories of all kinds, and about State-matters in special; but they have observed a great decay in their Spirits, and found them growing to a great degree unsavoury, losing much of that good savour and vi­gour, that they had in time past. And so becoming much the worse in the temper of their Spirits, and it is to be feared in their usefulness in their Places.

Object. But you will say; What may we not concern our selves in the affairs and passages of the Times we live in? Must [Page 13]we not serve our Generation the best we can? And if so, how can this be without observing and speaking about the matters and transactions herein? Besides, are we not Parts and Mem­bers of the Nation and Kingdom we are born in; and have a right, yea a Birthright to all the legal Rights and Priviledges of it; and when we see these invaded, may we not mind it and speak of it? Must we see Popery, Arbitrary Government, coming on apace upon us; and not take notice of it, nor observe and speak of it? Are not our Lives, Liberties and Posterities concerned in these things? and have not there been Hellish Popish Plots set on foot, and continued against us? To be sure we shall suffer with the first and the deepest, and sure all this is enough to stir us and concern us, &c.

I Answer, (First) No doubt but Christians may concern themselves in the State, and Affairs of the places where they live; but this is to be done in fitting ways, without scandal, or being over-busie, or justly suspected of any undue design and practice.

(And I who know something of the Dissenting Party) do believe they have none to carry on: Nay, I find them every day more and more, (so far as I know them) inclining to Peace, Patient, ready to bear all that comes, or is threatned to be laid upon them: Though it has not been without cause of jealousy, that some were willing enough to provoke, and would have been glad to see them provoked, to some undue courses and disturbances; that so they might have had occasion to have perfected and crowned their Plot! But thanks be to God they were deceived!

But I was saying, that doubtless you and all Christians may concern themselves in ways Christian, and proper to them in the Afairs of Government and State, in the place where they live. And that,

First, In their Prayers, for the good of it, directing them to God, suitable to the occasions or workings of the designs on foot, in the present State, and Kingdom, and Government they live under.

We are commanded to make Prayers, Supplications, In­tercessions, giving of Thanks for all men; for Kings, and for [Page 14]all men in Authority; for this end, that under them we may live a quiet, peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty, &c.

And of old the People of God were commanded to seek and to Pray for the good and peace of the place where they lived, though it were in Captivity: For in it they should have Peace, Jerem. 29.7, 8.

And so we may and should observe, what motions and matters are carrying on in the Land and Government; that we may direct our Prayers accordingly, with fit and suitable argu­ments unto God, for the good and the peace of it: That is the first thing, they may and ought to do.

Secondly, If need be, and matters go against us, and con­trary to our minds, (and as we think) not as they should; we may certainly with humility, petition and pray unto men and those in Power; and express our sense and fears about things, pray for what we desire in a peaceable way. None sure can be against this.

Thirdly, But if the motions and designs we fear, and like not, be not our concern, as we are of such a Party, distinct from the rest; but do concern the whole body of the Nation as well as us. There is no reason we should seem more afraid, than the rest; but be able (surely) to bear as long as the rest of the Nation doth, so long as such designs are not evidently destructive to the whole: Neighbours fare here, if it be not the best; yet it may at present satisfie us, to take our share in com­mon. If they will bear it, or not mind it, shall we only, or first, or most, concern our selves more than others.

Fourthly, Much less should we be the forwardest in matters of this nature; and it is worst of all, and altogether unex­cusable to be querulous, still thinking and censuring the worst of things; to be discontented and find fault, to be found more forward to take exceptions, &c. We ought, having ob­served how things are, let them appear never so ill; yet to do in this, as in other things, we are commanded; in nothing to be careful, but to commit our selves and requests to God by supplication, and to receive the good we have with Thanks­giving; and the God of peace, and the peace of God, will keep and guard your minds in peace.

[Page 15] Fifthly, For you to meddle and concern your selves over­busily, will be worst taken of any; it will be scandalous, and of ill resentment above all others. You are at some difference with them on the account of Religion, and are Dissenters from the National established Worship, and therefore should meddle the less, and the least of any, in publick State-matters and differences, unless called to it.

I wonder, but cannot tell how it came to pass, that in our late Differences and Controversies, in State and Civil matters, you should then be, or how now you come to be reckoned as a Party in the present Difference as well as the other; sure I am it should not be so. What! because we are Dissenters in some matters relating to Religion and Worship; must we needs be so too in other matters of State and Government? As I said before, we should be so much the less in these, and indeed scarce seen in them: It is most unhappy to be thus involved; and if it be the ill design of any to have it so, or to represent you as such, we should still so much the more decline it.

You should remember how apt the World has been in all Ages to cast the crime or suspition, at least of Sedition and Re­bellion upon the Dissenting Party; so it was objected against the Christians, when the world was Pagan, &c. So when it was Popish; and so it hath always been, and is like to be. And at this present, common Fame, the common Pamphlets, and Prints will needs proclaim; that ye are Dissenters from, and opposite to the Civil as well as Religious establishment. Though it may not be uncharitably suspected and conjectured, that they which charge you most with Sedition and Rebellion, would be most glad, if they could have the opportunity to see you so, and find you actually ingaged therein; and that it would both please them, and advance their design for the total suppression of you; but I trust that they shall for ever lose their longing. However, still the reason and argument of per­swasion to take you off, from minding and meddling too much in those concerns, is so much the more forceable and perswa­sive upon this supposition.

Sixthly, When ever any have (through the force and pro­vocation of violence, persecution, hard and cruel usage) been [Page 16]forced out of their patience, into passion and discontent, and so into Insurrection, Rebellion, &c. for their defence: The ad­versary has improved this, either to the utter destruction and extirpation of them in those places where it has been, or at least to make their States and Cases, much worse than they were before.

Seventhly, Indeed it has seldom, or scarce ever been seen, that God has bless'd this way of Christians going about to better and amend themselves, i. e. The way of force, &c. Nei­ther could it be expected, it being quite out of Gods way, con­trary to the Spirit and way of Christ Jesus; and to that pa­tience, meekness, bearing of Injuries, Oppressions, Persecu­tion, with a patient continuance in well doing and well-suf­fering, according to the example of our dear Lord: Trusting in the living God, committing our ways unto him, waiting patiently upon him, till he in his own due time (which is the best time) help and deliver; which if he should not do in this World, is not the hope of that to come, sufficient to enable Christian men to bear and suffer here for a little season? Cer­tainly if Christianity be true, and truly believed; it is enough that it promises so great a good to those, who continue in so good and approved a way.

However, upon the whole you may see 'tis not safe med­dling, yea scarce safe speaking of State and publick matters and differences, except ye speak on the prevailing side, which if you can't do, it is best, most prudent, and safest, not to speak at all, others may do it better than you; and you should be the last, if at all concerned in those matters; especially as you are private men, and Christians, not called to any place of Councel, or advice in these matters. And if it be not, scarce at any time safe, and seldom Christian, and right to meddle in publick affairs in a way of opposition; how ill then and unjustifiable are they that make such things the matter of, or at least bring them into their Prayers, Sermons, &c. and by that means both sin against God, their Neighbours, their Rulers, and expose themselves, and all that are reckoned of the Dissen­ting Party to hatred, if not to destruction.

[Page 17] Secondly, Further consider, that as the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, so neither are you, that are his subjects, to be much concerned about it; nor to reckon, or account, of any great matter for your selves in it. The Saints of God of old did, as we are now commanded to do, and have greater rea­son for it than they, (viz.) To be as strangers and pilgrims in this present World: And to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear.

We have work enough to do, and time little enough to do it in; to work out our salvation, to discharge the work and duty we have to do as men and Christians, in our Places, Standings and Relations, to give a good account to God of our coming in, and continuing for a while in this World; to mind the great design and purpose of Christ, and his coming into the World, which all that would be accounted his Servants and Subjects in his Kingdom, are bound to mind, i. e. How to save our selves and others, and by all good example and other­wise, to draw men from off their sins, unto God, unto righte­ousness, and holy living, that they may escape the condem­nation, that is hasting apace against all sinners unrepentant; and to endeavour this way to encrease the number of Christs subjects and followers; this blessed design will find us and you all work enough. I wonder much, that among all your talk­ing about News and Stories, Matters and Affairs that are work­ing; that you do not mind those things more, and why they are not the subject matter of your Discourse, as often as you can, that all may see to whom you do belong, and according to whose Spirit and Principle you are led; and may see, that in­deed you have been with Jesus, and learned somewhat of his Spirit.

I know no concerns we have to busy our selves meerly as Christians, and meddle in matters of State-affairs now, more than the Christians of old had, that lived under the Heathen Emperors, or they who now live under other Princes, that are of a different Religion; the Ancient Christians were right glad if they could be but quiet in their Religion and Profession, being in that Dissenters from the State they lived in; and could they enjoy peace and liberty this way, they seemed to be pleased [Page 18]well enough. For indeed surely the Christian Religion was never much favoured, where it was professed in the purity, simplicity, and excellent liberty of it; nor for ought we can know, ever will be by the power and greatness of this World; and when ever they have gone about to help it, by the addition of their Power and Authority, and with the assistance of State Interest and Policy, it hath scarce ever, or seldom thrived, or been encreased thereby.

We know, and 'tis upon record, how excellently this holy Religion and Profession of Christ Jesus did thrive and grow, when the greatness and powers of this World; yea, of all the World, were against it, when it stood upon its own Legs; went forth conquering and to conquer, in its own power, and having no carnal, but spiritual weapons, to assist it and fight for it, even such as it had in it self, and in its own nature: The Divine power, (secretly) but most effectually wrought in it. Oh! the excellency of the Divine Power of this excel­lent Religion, called Christian, if it were left to its self, and to the conduct of the great Author of it, by his Spirit that is promised to attend it, both in its progress in the World, and in the hearts of men. Since the Powers of this World, would needs extend their favours to it, and exert their force in be­half of it, and not letting it proceed, upon its own Principles, but adding to it the Interest and Policy of State: Oh! how feeble is it grown, it can make no such progress in the World as it did; but hath lost much ground, of what it had, as is plain in many, and especially in the Eastern Parts of the World and elsewhere.

So my Christian Friends and Brethren, should it be as to your way or profession; if it be of God, and of the same Spi­rit with the Doctrine of Christ, to which it pretends, it will be enough to live of it self, without any dependance on the State where you live, and make profession of it; and it would encrease and enlarge too, if men lived up to it, and managed it according to that Spirit of holiness and heavenly vertue, that it teaches; so that you need not concern your selves, lest you should lose your Liberty, your Religion, your Posterity be over-run with Popery and Tyranny; and great fears [Page 19]in this kind are sometimes more than there is cause for. How many have sadly and foolishly troubled themselves, lived in fear of Popery, Plots, Massacres all their days, spoiled their own peace, and have died a thousand deaths, before they needed? It is sufficient to die once, and not to live in a constant fear of it, which is worse than death.

(In a word) If you and all such had minded their own bu­siness, been earnest to work out their salvations, had let their light shine before men, in all peace and patience, goodness and beneficialness to all doing all good, and bearing all evil, ye would have found, that your own, and the publick good and welfare, had been better provided for, and you had done more to promote the Kingdom and Glory of Christ in the World, and better secured the peace, liberty and quiet, both of your selves and posterity, than now by all your strivings, motions and concerns in State Affairs and matters relating thereunto. This is the wisdom that is from above, that is first pure, then peaceable; that by patient continuing in well doing, obtains all good, overcomes all evil, secures the main of all unto us, both in this World and in the World to come, (Godliness hath the promise of both.) To which the Lord Jesus conduct us all in safety, granting to us to walk in this way unto happiness, and in no other, to think to find it. O Lord let thy Kingdom thus come, &c.

Fourthly, Whereas it is confidently pleaded that you have a right, and Birthright to all Priviledges of the Nation, and the Kingdom you live in, and in which you were born; and that therefore you should concern your selves as you do. I Answer,

First, And Pray you, however (as hath been said) that if you do it, it may be according to your Places and Callings, peace­ably without scandal, so as not to be justly accounted busy or pragmatical, nor to contradict any of those holy Christian Rules, that are superior to all Civil rights whatsoever.

Secondly, I Answer, If the Laws be hard against you, how can that be help'd, or how can you struggle against it, seeing it is your own principle; that the English Laws do secure the English Rights: And that the people are to be both governed [Page 20]and judged, according to the declared Laws of the Land. So that still ye ought to be quiet and silent.

But you say your Civil Rights are invaded; whether you say true in this, or whether they on the contrary, must be left to be judged of by the general judgment of the Nation in the great Councel of it; but for private persons to contend much about these things, seems to make matters but the worse, and to prejudice others the more, because you do so much, and speak so much about them.

Thirdly, (And lastly) you are to consider, that according to the Christian Doctrine and Principles, you are sometimes to forego, and not reckon of, nor regard, neither your Natu­ral nor Civil Rights and Priviledges; you may insist upon, and plead them when they may do you good and service, as Paul did his Roman Freedom: But to make matter of needless quar­rel and contest, and great concern, and so to cause disturbance, or unquietness, or scandal about them, I know no warrant you have; but that for the Gospel-sake, and for peace-sake, and the healing of prejudice, you ought to let them alone, as if they were not.

For consider, are not the peace and enjoyment of our Lives, Goods, Estates your Natural and Civil Rights? yet are Chri­stians upon occasion to part with all of them? to loose and say down their Lives, to suffer joyfully the spoiling of their Goods, where they can't save them without sin, and scandal, or breach of their Faith as it is in Jesus?

Again, it is so far from being a Truth at all times, and justi­fiable, that Christian men should stand so stiff upon their Rights, Birth-rights, &c. or whatever else is due to them, that not only to avoid scandal they are to wave and suspend them.

But further, (though there be no reason from without forcing them) They should and must sometimes voluntarily forego their Rights, and lay all aside for the Truths sake, and other good Christian purposes, when they can by so doing promote peace and godliness in the World, and encrease the honour and credit of the Gospel thereby. Thus the Apostle, though it was his right to take Money, or reward for his [Page 21]Preaching, and he proved it by many Arguments so to be; yet he wholly waved it when he saw that the taking of it would prejudice, and the waving of it would promote the Truth, &c.

Some will conceit, that to forego these things for Christ sake, i. e. for his Honour and Interest in the World, is not suffering for Christ, except we bear a Testimony to his Truth in the way of Martyrdom, or suffer Persecution for the Pro­fession of the Truth. But they should consider, that there is a suffering for Christ and the Gospel, though it be not in the way of Persecution nor under tryals of that kind; when for his sake and Interest, and carrying on the Affairs of his King­dom in the World, we deny our selves of any of our profits, rights and priviledges, and do not insist upon them, nor stand to maintain them, when and though they are due unto us E. G. all just debts are our right and property, and so may we seek and sue for them (as 'tis generally supposed and presumed) in a legal way; yet when this by some intervening circumstance, may become scandalous, or not falling in with the main de­sign; we may not in such a way, seek our own, and so in many other things, and in this thing now in question.

Finally, some will plead, that though we may give away our own Right, yet we can't anothers, nor the Right of our Posterity. But to this I say,

First, That I am not about to perswade you to give them away, but not always to insist upon them, at least not so much, and before things of greater moment to you than they.

Secondly, You need not to forego the Right of them, nor yet be so busy, and concern your selves so much about them. A mans Estate, and Life is and may be his Posterities, yet may he lawfully if need be, sell the one, and lay down the other, and part with both for the Gospels sake.

More might be said, but I wish that those things were better minded and understood, that we might have just knowledge, and true notions of the true Gospel Principles, and the excel­lencies of them.


Thirdly, ANother matter, many of you are much suspected of by your Friends, and sometimes possibly charged with by your Enemies, is a formal profession in Reli­gion; boasting, or at least judging your selves Saints, the spe­cial peculiar People of God, his elect and chosen, over-valuing your selves, and over-looking and despising others (especial­ly if not of your own way and Party) and this only for your profession and separation-sake: And that though you pretend more in this kind, and greater purity than others; yet you shew forth no more of real vertue, nor of the unquestionable fruits of well-doing than others, that pretend not so much; and they think, because they can't see more, that there is no more goodness or betterness in you, than in others; but only that you pretend to be more separate, and worship after ano­ther manner, than they do: All which they think is but hu­mour, and fancy, and that as every one will have their way, so you will have yours. They think that it is now, as it was in Christs time, and that this generation is but like that, (viz.) That one sort or part of the Nation (which you call pro­phane, carnal and wicked) are as the Publicans, open sinners and harlots. The other, as the Scribes and Pharisees, who be­ing Hypocrites, though they pretended more, and seemed better, indeed were worse and harder to be convinced and amended than the others.

Now consider Christian Friends and Brethren, whether you or some of you, if not many of you, have not given too much occasion for this judgment and sence of you, (among the vul­gar) by your manner of walking, and the temper of your Spi­rits; whilst as to real goodness, and righteousness, and better­ness, above and beyond others, they can see no difference, or but little: This you should consider, and mind to convince you what you ought to be, whatsoever they think of you.

[Page 23]Consider first, That the Christian Religion according to the mind of the great Author of it, and his intent and design in it, hath this main and principal purpose to be carried on.

First, The amendment, and betterment of men, in their Souls and Spirits, that they may be regenerate, inwardly and really changed from evil, or a state and condition of evil unto good; have the Divine Nature wrought in them, which is diversly described and set forth in the Scriptures of the New Testament. You may take it in Paul's Commission, in which he gives account of what he was to do, by vertue of it, Acts 26. v. 18. i. e. To turn men from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins; and Inheritance among them that are sanctified, by the Faith of Christ.

Or we may take it in short, as our Lord expresses it, (viz.) To make the tree good, i. e. The man, the Christian man, to have a Divine living principle of goodness in himself.

The next part of this blessed design follows upon the other, i. e. the bringing forth good fruits, that the goodness or sound­ness of the Tree, (or Christian man signified by it) may be known to himself and others, by his fruits. Now the fruits by which alone, we or others, can rightly judge, are not of that sort of duties that consist in outward profession, and performance of outward Ordinances, Praying, Hearing, Preaching, or doing such kind of works, but in the doing of others, better than those, and demonstrating our true Faith in Christ. So Christ our great Prophet teaches, Mat. 7. v. 21. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, i. e. That calls on the Name of Christ, and makes Profession of him; yea, that doth this with great zeal, for that's the meaning, as appears in the doubling of his Title, (Lord, Lord.) All that do thus, seem they, or be they never so zealous in it, shall not therefore en­ter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But saith our Lord, He that doth the will of my Father which is in Heaven, i. e. He that actu­ally and really does it, in the most substantial parts of it; which is not done by only calling upon his Name, but in other more excellent works and fruits, beyond this, of a Profession of, and calling upon him.

[Page 24]And in the 22. v. To enforce this, he tells us of a sort of men owning this way and Religion, and doing many great and wonderful works, upon the account of it, who were confident in themselves of being right and accepted. Yea, it seems, they lived and died, and rose again in this confidence, because they had Prayed, Prophesied, Preached, in the Name of Christ, were great doers in, and frequenters of Religious exercises; and moreover wrought great works, cast out Devils in Christs Name, &c.

Yet all this would not do. In the 29. v. They must depart into everlasting fire. Mat: 25. Christ knows them not, they were workers of Iniquity, and it is not likely that they were open sinners, openly prophane, or like the Publicans, &c. For then they could not have had such confidence.

But thus it was, they either had reserved to themselves some secret sin, indulged themselves in some corruption or particular evil; or else they had not done that good, nor brought forth those fruits, which they ought to have done for the glory of God, and to answer those great obligations of holiness, righte­ousness and Divine purity and rectitude which the Gospel and blessed Religion of Christ Jesus had laid upon them. And now this matter being weighty and considerable, and seeing men are like to deceive themselves by a zealous Profession, without real goodness and good fruits, to demonstrate it; Therefore our Lord further presseth and enforceth this matter, from v. 24. to the end, by a Parable of two men that built Houses upon diffe­rent foundations; one upon the Rock and the other upon the Sand; the one was wise, the other foolish: The application shews, that let men pretend what they will, nothing else but the doing of the real indisputable will of God will stand them in stead, and make them able to stand and weather it out to the last. Read the place and consider it well.

Now according to this blessed design of the holy Gospel of Christ Jesus, which is we see to make men good. And next to manifest this by good works, and abounding in them, in such good works and fruits, that both good and bad men can judge of, which they can't do by all your great professions, and outward Religious performances.

[Page 25]According to this, I say, consider and judge of your selves.

First, As to the temper of your Spirits, to see if the Tree be good. You seperate from common sins, and corrupt worship; then ye ought in all things else to be uniform in your Lives and Spirits.

First, Are ye more patient, meek, humble than others?

Secondly, Are ye more mortified to this present World, or do ye make it evident that ye are more moderate in the things of it than others; and doth your moderation in this appear unto all men, &c.

Thirdly, Have you mortified your corruptions and inordinate affections, such as anger, wrath, pride, hatred, malice, evil-speaking?

Fourthly, Are ye more courteous, condescentious, kind, affable, gentle, &c. Read that of the Apostle, Gal. 5. ver. 22. what the true fruits of the Spirit are, you shall find them there specified, (viz.) Long-suffering, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance. And if you mind the place, you shall find the fruits, called the fruits of the Spirit, here mentioned, to be such that are shewed towards, and made manifest to others, And for the good and benefit of others E. G. the Love, there spoken of, is not love to our selves, but to others, or the loving of others: So Joy there mentioned, is joy or rejoycing in the good of others; for it is no great vertue to joy in our selves, or to rejoyce because of our own happiness, &c. So Peace, another fruit, is to be peaceable with all men, long-suffering, i. e. suffering long, or bearing with other men, though never so great enemies to us; or long-suffering, in bearing all the injuries men can heap upon us: And also long-suffering, in bearing with, and waiting long upon men, with much patience, for their good, and to do them good, and to take them off from their evil ways.

To this is added Gentlenenss; and to all Goodness, i. e. Be­neficialness, or a being beneficial, and profitable to men. The Apostle Rom. 5. will give us a full account of a good man, what he is, and how distinguished from a righteous or a just man, by which we may know, what goodness is here, and what he means there.

[Page 26]Another fruit is Faith, i. e. Fidelity or faithfulness, for so sometimes the word is used, and must be here so taken: We are to be true and trusty in all things, faithful to our words and promises, and in things committed to our charge, &c. Then fol­lows, meekness, temperance and vertues of that kind, against which there is no Law, nor exception, but they are approved, commended by all, both good and bad. These fruits thus ex­pressed, are the most proper fruits of the Spirit, and are of the true Spirit, and temper of our Lord Jesus who shewed himself thus towards all men. These will make us most like our Hea­venly Father, and are most evidently demonstrative of the truth and reality of our faith in Christ, by these we glorify God; such a temper of Spirit as this we must design, and must be growing in it; for we are not like to be compleat at first. And so it is v. 24. They that are Christ's, have crucified, or mor­tified, the Deeds of the flesh, with the affections, lusts, or pas­sions, of it, i. e. They have done it, or at least, must be in a way of doing it, growing in it and getting the victory over those lusts: This is to be so done and proceeded in, that the power of Christs death may be seen in the death of our sins and carnal affections: And the power and force of his resurrection in our rising daily to newness of life, and works suitable.

And ver. 25. If we live, i. e. If we profess and pretend to live in the Spirit, or according to the power of the Divine life. Then let us also walk in, or according to the Spirit, as it is here described in the fruits of it: And let us judge our selves, and let others judge of us, no otherwise, but according as they see us thus walk, &c.

But on the contrary; are ye not often charged, and do ye not give too much occasion for it, with divers things contra­ry to this E. G. with anger and wrath, with being subject too much to humour and fancy, rather then led by the sober prin­ciples of Reason and Religion, &c. according to the most ex­cellent, calm, and meek Spirit of Christ Jesus?

Secondly, With being too much guilty of Covetousness, Earthly-mindedness, and of too much following of this pre­sent World; and so not shewing forth such freeness, such a liberal Spirit as the Christian Gospel teaches, and gives ex­ample [Page 27]of: This being in the nature of it, most opposite to a narrow contracted stingy mind and spirit; this teaches to be free, liberal, bountiful, all which much grace Religion, and the profession of it. Consider how greatly this excellent spi­rit and bountiful temper, in all ways of Charitable dealing and Hospitality credits all Religion, even a false one: And it is so natural to the Spirit and Principles of the Christian Religion, that if the practice of it were more, it would infinitely pro­mote and propogate it.

Thirdly, You are suspected and charged with being too much conformed to this World; and some of you, as much as any, (viz.) In pride, vanity, gallantry, in your Selves, Clothes, Habits, and in the Education and bringing up of your Chil­dren in scandalous ways and breeding, according to the Pride, Pomps and Vanities of this World. Some that have looked into your Ways and Garbs, yea into your Meetings, Congre­gations, have seen as much of this as any where else. And if they have a mind to see more, they may go from thence to the Dancing Schools, to the most pompous and vicious parts of them, your Balls, Masques, &c. By occasion of all which, some scoff, others take offence, others are grieved, and some take occasion to go into the contrary extreams, seeing so much pride and vanity, in and among Professors.

Fourthly, That you are often found Oppressors, Hard, if not sometimes Cruel; will take the utmost advantage you can, will not relieve when need and equity requires; but will (like other men, or the worst of men) tye up all to their Bargains, Contracts, though there be never so great reason to consider them: You as well as others, have been cryed out upon, on this account; one instance was in the Letting of Houses and Leases, at, and since the late Dreadful Fire, and Rebuilding of the City. Some have wrought upon mens Necessities, taken advantage of their weakness, want of skill and cunning to look well to themselves; and when any have found it, and complained of it, not the least help and relief in it. This dealing hath been charged upon some great Professors, and pretenders to Religion, and seemingly devout. You would do well to mind and consider, how far you may have been guilty [Page 28]of this, and take the judgment of others, and of indifferent persons in the Case. Some are complained of, as being of an Oppressive Spirit, in Trading, Dealings, Bargains, Payments, especially by the poor Tradesmen, and the Labourers that Work and Sell to you, and perhaps dare not complain to you, nor contradict you, for fear of offending you; you never learned this of Christianity, nor of Christ Jesus the Author of it.

Fifthly, That when you are Injured and Angered, you can't freely forgive, nor bear much; but are too apt to envy, hate, take the rigour of the Law; these and such like matters are objected against you, or divers of you, and none can deny, but many have given too much occasion for it. The truth is, that an excellent Bountiful, Charitable Religion, together with the great work of Self denyal, and of Patience, Humi­lity, and the Mortifying of the lusts, passions, and evil affecti­ons of the flesh, is a Religion quite out of fashion, and by many disgraced and disparaged, as only a piece of dull mora­lity: Christian men make no work, nor design, to excel in these Vertues, though it be the only excellent way, to glorify God our Heavenly Father, as our Lord teaches, Let your Light (saith he) i. e. your good works, so shine before men, that they may see them, and thereby glorify God, your Heavenly Father. No other way without this, no other way but this, will do it. Nothing but the doing and abounding in such works, and in such an excellent temper of Spirit, as we learn from Christ Jesus; and a principle in our selves from which such works flow. Such fruits and works by which we can glorify God, are those, and of that kind, which the most Loose, Carnal, Atheistical men can judge of, as well as others; they can tell, as well as any, who is most Meek, Humble, Patient, Innocent, Harmless; who is most Charitable, Bountiful, Beneficial; who most Courteous, Affable, Gentle, Condescentious; who is most Faithful, Careful, Dili­gent, useful in the Places, Callings, Relations, God hath set them in: They can tell, who most abounds in Pity, Mercy, Compassion and Clemency, and who are most free from Pride, and Passion; who are Ill-natur'd, Ill-humour'd; who most Sweet and Obliging: In word, who it is that carryes on a [Page 29]design of Religion and Godliness. These things, they are (at least, to some good degree) capable to discern, distinguish and judge of. But for mens Opinions, Sects and Parties, differen­ces in Religion, and things of that kind; these they under­stand not, neither do they value nor esteem them, nor think any great matter, of the zeal of men, of different Parties, about such things. They understand them not, and think that all is but Humour, Fancy, Superstition or Hypocrisy; and that as all men will have their way, and humour in some things or other, so in Religion too. But they can tell who doth the most good, and who can, and will bear the most and the greatest evil, with patience, without seeking Revenge, or re­turning like for like. It is this and these unquestionable, un­disputable works of righteousness and goodness, that will draw men to the love of God, and Religion, and the ways of God, when they shall see men shew forth the vertues of God. These works will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; these alone will (if any thing will) work upon men, for to bring them, to the love, and obedience of the Gospel of Christ. The Scriptures of the New Teflament, and that lately cited Mat. the 5th. and others do teach us, that this way of well doing, is the last and the most powerful Argument, and of greatest force, to win men over to Christ Jesus. So that a great trust is left and committed to all the owners and professors of Christianity, that they see to the propogating of the Gospel, and the com­pleating of the will and purpose of God in it by well doing. The design and purpose of this holy Religion, is the salvation of a sinful World; the Word of God, is indeed, open and plain before the evil World; they may look into it, their conscience can't but sometimes smite them, for the neglect of their duty: But this they search not into, it is not so open and plain to them, does not make such impressions upon them, as when a draught of Religion is drawn, in the holy Lives and ways of Christian men, and so presented unto them: 'Till this be done, no great matter will be done in the World, &c.

Let the 5th. of Matt. especially from verse the 38. to the end, be heedfully and carefully read and considered to this pur­pose. And add to this the 6th. of Luke from the 7th. to the 36 verse.


THere are some other things, taken notice of in you, though not so much as in some others; yet too much, and too much cause there is for it; one instance, and the main one is in a matter which it is confess'd many others are guilty of besides you: And that is, that you (many of you) make the condition of your Christian and Church-Communion, so narrow, that none can be admitted into it but just your selves, and those of your own Party, or particular Opinion, who in every thing are just of your mind to a tittle; so that if other Christians differ never so little from you, either in Doctrine or way of Worship, nay perhaps sometimes but in a Ceremony, (though otherwise good Christians and Holy men, giving good proof, shewing forth good fruits, of the truth of their Faith in Christ Jesus) yet are, notwithstanding, for the want of, or defect in, some small matter, ipso facto, rejected as much as the veriest Heathens and Publicans; ye will have no fel­lowship or communion with them.

First, To instance in (a thing that concerns some of you) the subject of Baptism (which though of all things least deser­ving) hath made more noise and trouble in the Christian World, than a thousand more weighty matters: There are also many other things of like nature, or not much differing, that are made as much a bar and partition Wall, as the Jewish Ceremonies were of old; what they were between Jews and Heathens, these are made to be between Christians and Chri­stians, which is a matter most sad and deplorable.

Secondly, I confess, you have had examples and presidents, without number, for this uncharitable practice; but it hath been from such, ye have no cause to boast of, that they were your teachers and exemplars, in that you have rejected and se­perated from them upon this account; I mean the Romish Church, to go no further. They indeed, in all Ages since [Page 31]they began to be triumphant in the World, have not only ex­cluded all other Christians in the World, from their Commu­nion, because of some differences and dissentings from them, but as much as lay in their power used them worse than Pa­gans, accusing them for Hereticks, and denying the possibility of Salvation unto them. And those that through imposition and cruel usage, they had thrust out of their Communion, and forced to separate, because enjoyn'd to believe and practise, as the condition of their Communion, things which were plainly against their Light and Conscience, and which they judged most contrary to the Word of God; they then followed with all manner of uncharitableness, and cruelty, and perse­cutions, as the vilest and worst of men, branding them, as He­reticks and Schismaticks; which if indeed they had been, yet they had no warrant, or a justifiable cause, to prosecute and persecute them as they did; seeing neither they nor any else have more power, right or authority, over others to compel them to their way, than others have to compel them, if they had power in their hands, &c.

Thirdly, Now those are the men, this is the Church that you have seperated from, for those kind of practices; as you and a great many imitate and follow too much. Some of you, were you in a condition, and had power, would destroy all those that differ from you; for if you exclude and shut out all from your Communion, because of some difference in judgment, or opinion and some practices, &c. it is no great unchari­tableness, to think you would do more, if you had more power in your hands; and we not only suspect it, but many of the more rigid sort do not deny it, &c. But not to charge you too deep, nor all for some, I do believe that many, and great numbers of you, mean no such thing, as to hurt any dissenting or differing Christian, farther than to exclude and deny him your Church Communion, and so to let him shift as he can. But

First, What warrant have you to reject any that professeth Faith in Jesus Christ, and lives at least as good and sober a Life as those that are actually of your Communion (his diffe­ring or dissenting in some matters only excepted?) Either he must be rejected by you for every difference, or any dissent [Page 32]whatsoever, which I think none will say, except Papists: And they, though they say it, yet do not, cannot practise it; 'tis well known that they do tolerate great differences among themselves, and that considerable Parties, and potent Orders of men, among them are at variance one with another in the same Church, E. G. about Predestination, the Immaculate Con­ception, and other things; nay, they are not well agreed about stating of their great Fundamental of the Churches In­fallibility: The union that is among them, is rather politick than real; so that I may presume some difference will be, some must be allowed, in the same Church.

Secondly, Therefore when Communion will not be allowed upon the account of different apprehensions in opinion and practices, it must be for some opinions and practices in special, such as some men will call great and fundamental Errors, or as others call them, intolerable (for it seems they will make a difference between tolerable and intolerable) but it is manifest every Party of men, be there never so many, will have some­thing they call fundamental, proper to themselves, and to their Party; and any that hold any thing in opposition to them there­in, must be accounted intolerable, not to be born and suffered in the Church; though otherwise never so good and useful. E. G. The Papists will account the Churches Infallibility, and some peculiar Doctrines, as Transubstantiation, &c. Funda­mentals. And so again among the Protestants, some called Lutherans will (it's probable) account their Consubstantiati­on a Fundamental: And those called Calvinists will account the decree of absolute Election and Reprobation, a Fundamental; And on the contrary part, some Remonstrants or Arminians of the more rigid perswasion, may make their Opinion so funda­mental, that they will not have Communion, nor such Charity to those differing from them, as Christian men should have one to another, though erring, and perhaps sometimes great­ly, but yet as is to be hoped, meaning well. The rigid Nor­thern Presbyters will reckon their Model of Classical Church Government, by Presbytery, as good as a Fundamental, and all that will not submit to it, are by them accounted persons in­tolerable; nay, perhaps they will (for some such like thing [Page 33]has been) rise in Arms, kill and destroy, for the sake and main­tenance of their Model of Government, presuming it of Divine right, and therefore not suffering any other Form or Model, to stand with it or by it.

Once more, Those called Anabaptists, have not much come short of making the Baptism they practise a Fundamental. For, First, They have asserted and maintained it as of necessity to Church Communion; and to be sure whoever were not Bap­tized according to their way and mode, were not accounted capable of Christian and Church Communion; and so by a near-hand inference, not of salvation; which some of the more rigid sort have not been afraid to assert. All those, and a thousand more, may thuspretend, to make fundamentals, and the errors contrary to them intolerable: And surely many of them, have absolutely denyed Christian Communion to all that could not come up to their way. But thanks be to God, many of those are commendably enlarged, as to this matter, and will now allow a Latitude, that before they would not; I pray God to enlarge them, and all good Christians besides, still more and more.

But you see here are many fundamentals; and none knows how many more men may make, according to the humour ignorance or Interest of their Party; and what one sort calls fundamental Verities, another will be as forward to call funda­mental Errors, Heresies and Wickednesses. What course can we now take, but to love and receive all Christians as such, as Christians that believe in, and love Christ Jesus, and do not contradict this by any wicked works, or ill living, contrary to it?

But you will say, What is there nothing fundamental, in the Christian Religion; no rule to proceed by in judging who is fit, for Christian and Church Communion, and who not? must any one that calls himself a Christian be allowed to be so, and admitted to all Christian Communion and Church Priviledges, &c. I answer:

First, There is no Sect or Party of Christians, can assign a rule to judge by, as they are such a Sect and Party; nor can tell us of any Fundamental which another Party or Sect, will not contradict, and assign some other perhaps contrary to it, and hold that for fundamental, or a matter of necessity; ac­cording [Page 34]to which only, they will take and receive men into their Communion. So in the first place, we must not look to any one Sect, or Party, for a Fundamental, or fundamental rule to judge, of the capacity of persons, for Christian and Church Communion.

Secondly, There is a Fundamental, proper to Christianity as such, that all Christians do acknowledge: And what is this? but the owning and professing of this one thing (which is both a fundamental and first principle in Christianity) that Je­sus is the Christ, or the Christ of God; take it in the words of the Apostle, Rom. 10. where he faith, The word is nigh thee verse the 8th. what word? even this; That Jesus, is the Christ, owned of God, approved by him, and that in spe­cial manner testified by the Resurrection from the Dead; whom God would never have raised, if he had not been the Lord Christ; the place runs thus, The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, i. e. The word which we preach, which is, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

In short, the confession and open owning of Christ Jesus is a Fundamental, and necessary to salvation; and whoever doth this, shall be saved; and therefore should be received and accepted as a Disciple of Christ, being thereby made capable of Church Communion, and Priviledges of that kind. This is the Fundamental, no other foundation can any man lay, or make, but this, 1 Cor. 3.11. ver. And as it is a great funda­mental verity, that whosoever believes shall be saved; so that he that confesses or professes this, ought to be by all accepted and received as a Christian, and treated accordingly; is so plainly laid down in the Scriptures, that it is a wonder, that either Ignorance, Interest, Partiality, or Uncharitableness, should ever have the confidence to rise up against it.

Thirdly, The Scriptures are many, and so plain, and perspi­cuous, that they are every where to be found; so many that it is a tedious labour to cite them all; see but a few.

First, When Christ himself and his Apostles first Preached, there was no more required to make a Disciple than this Faith; when the Apostles Preached, after his resurrection, it [Page 35]was the same, and no more was required but to believe, and profess or confess, that Jesus was the Christ; and then, in those first times, as a present sign that this was their Faith; and to oblige themselves to this Jesus, and his Doctrine and Laws, they were Baptized, and so admitted into the nearest and closest fellowship, Acts 2.38. and verse 41, 42. Then they that gladly received his word, were Baptized. And the same day there were added, about three thousand souls. And they continued sted­fastly in the Apostles Doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayers. Nothing more was required of them, to instate them into all the Christian Rights and Priviledges; and being admitted into the Church, they were to be further educated and instructed by the converse and society they had there; that they might grow up to perfect men in Christ Je­sus, and be made fit for every good work.

Secondly, Those three thousand converted to Christ, in so short a time, could know little of Christianity, or the Laws and designs thereof; they did only acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ, whom they received and accepted of, for their Lord and Saviour. Yet this was a sure way, to put all, (not only) into a savable state, but into all the rights and privi­ledges, belonging thereunto. So moreover, when Peter, Mat. 16. made such a frank Confession of his Faith, this very Faith we speak of, That Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God; Immediately a blessing, or a blessed priviledge was con­ferred upon him; (as it follows there) and accordingly all Christians are indued with the same, upon their believing, and open confession, and profession of the Name of Jesus. Therefore, all those little conditions, and qualifications, that men now make, and require of Christians before they will ad­mit them, into the Christian Church, and Fellowship or Com­munion of Saints; are Conditions and Orders their of own de­vising, and serve only to form a Party for their own purpose, (as all Sects have commonly somewhat peculiar;) more than to ad­vance Religion or Godliness; and of this kind are all other Im­positions laid upon men, as the condition of their admission into the Church. Some have of late days devised, and practised, that men must make a confession of their Faith, in a great [Page 36]many Articles, or according to such and such Creeds, that be in fashion among them, and must believe just as they do; which a man may do, or however, may profess to do, and yet be as bad, as unregenerate, carnal, and hypocritical as the worst. Some others, before they will admit any into their Church and Communion, will exact a Formal Narration, or Declaration, not only of their Faith, but of their Conversion, and the work of Grace upon them, with the manner of their Conversion and Conviction, at their first turning from their sins to God; but there's no certainty in this.

First, For oftentimes, those that are most consident, and bold, can do this, when others of better Spirits, and better in the main, can't; nay, it is to be feared, many may strain here to say more than is true, or more than they have had the ex­perience of.

Secondly, Others, sometimes have related such passages, and circumstances in reference to this matter, which were but tri­vial, absurd, if not ridiculous.

Thirdly, Suppose some to have had real Convictions, and trouble of mind at such a time: Have not many had Convicti­ons, that yet have not proceeded to a real and through Conver­sion, and a change of heart, and spirit? And have not some been changed or converted, rather from one sin to another, from sins more carnal, to sins more spiritual, than from sin it self, wholly unto righteousness? I say not of any, that they are so, but 'tis possible in such a way, men may deceive them­selves and others, so no certainty of knowledge, by such a Confession.

Fourthly, But however it is, they to whom this Confession, or Declaration is made, are as wise as they were before; and can pass but little better judgment, than they could at first; because proceeding by no certain rules, but those of fancy and conceit, and the opinion they have of the present capacity, and honesty of the person, speaking or declaring; if he be either ignorant, strongly conceited or hypocritical, he may deceive them all.

Much more might be said against this new way, and these new devised conditions and qualifications; and to shew that all [Page 37]are to be received, who profess Faith in Christ, and promise to walk holily and obediently, according to his Laws, to the best of their knowledge and ability; if afterwards they appear to be, or walk otherwise, they are to be looked unto, watch'd over, admonished, reproved, and in case of non-repentance, or not amendment, to be separated, cut off, and withdrawn from.

Fifthly, And finally, (as to this) to add this word more. The case may be, that many that are of upright hearts, and truly fearing God, who have from the heart turned unto him, and hate all sin, as such, and are truly humbled for it; yet are able to tell neither time, nor circumstances in particular, when or how this change was made and wrought in them.

Such a work may grow by degrees by vertuous Education or otherwise: The beginning of the power of the Kingdom of God in the heart, may be like that (as to its progress) which our Lord speaks of, of the Kingdom of God. The good seed of the word, (according to the similitude of the Corn sown in the earth) the blade first appears, then the ear, then the full Corn in the ear: no man presently perceives himself, much less another, to grow; yet he may see that he hath grown, and is growing in the power of the Divine Life, and in good time, it may become manifest in him, by the fruits of it, both within and without: He may be born of the Spirit, that knows not the time, nor particular way how this did operate in him. But to conclude, what if it be real, that such persons do de­clare and acknowledge, and that they were really changed from evil to good; yet there is no reason, necessarily to con­clude, that therefore they must be so still.

Secondly, Another Argument as to this, is taken from the nature of the Christian Religion, which being the last, and so the most liberal and extensive of all the revelations and di­spensations of the counsels of God, unto the World, for the better progress, and propogation of it; it is in the nature of it made fit for the whole World, and the state of all mankind. And therefore, according to the nature of it, and intendment of God in it, must needs allow a great Latitude, to the several ways, customs, usages, of men in their several Nations, and States: Every Nation and People, has somewhat peculiar, and [Page 38]particular, and differing one from another, according to which the Christian Law and Gospel of Christ Jesus, will suit, in a good degree; so they be not sinful in themselves, nor contrary to the main holy end and purposes of this Religion; yea so free and large is this Christian dispensation, in the nature and in­tent of it, that as it will yield much to the several ways, so to the weaknesses, radicated opinions, customs, humours of seve­ral particular persons, at least for a time, until they have learned, or grown to better knowledge and maturity: Thus it is in its self, and thus it was at first, when first preached to men, and propagated, &c. Insomuch that, that excellent ge­nerous spirited person, the Apostle Paul, in conformity to the free nature of the Gospel, did become all things to all men, in the 1 Cor. 9.19, 20, 23. verses, Ʋnto the Jews, saith he, I became as a Jew, i. e. In many things complyed with the Jews, in their Laws, Customs, Ceremonies, the better to win them off from those things; again, As without Law to them that are without the Law, i. e. Without the Mosaical Law, (or perhaps any positive Law) for he speaks of the converted Gentiles, who though under the Law of Christ, did yet re­tain many of those Ways and Customs, unto which they had been accustomed, whilst Gentiles; that he might gain them that were without the Law, i. e. gain them by degrees quite over to the compleat true Gospel, Liberty and Sanctity, which at first, and all at once could not be done; so ver. 22. He com­plyed with the weaknesses and humours of some men, not yet well grown, i. e. (as himself saith) He became all things to all men, that by all means (such means of complyance) he might gain some, which he could not possibly, nor lawfully do, if the Gospel, or Christian Religion, were not of so large and liberal a nature, as to allow it: Therefore it is, that this Gospel is much celebrated for its great liberty, and men are warned and cautioned they should not abuse it.

Secondly, Thus it was not under the Law, that would not bow, nor bend it self, no not in little things; they were strict­ly enjoyned according to the letter of them, and so it might better be then, considering that, that Dispensation and Law, in the nature of it, was suited, fitted, and mostly limited to [Page 39]that People (Isra l) and the state of things, as then they were: The Worship was limited to one place, the Priesthood to one Family; all that were admitted to officiate in Sacred things, to one Tribe; with many other Restrictionis, Limi­tations, Commands, Promises, Threatnings, which made it peculiar to them, and to that time, for it was but for a time being so confin'd, and made so narrow in the Laws and Terms of its Union and Communion, that Proselytes could never be admitted to the full of the Rights and Priviledges of it, with the natural Israelites.

But this Law was removed, for the comparative unuseful­ness and unprofitableness of it, seeing it would not fit all man­kind, or men as such; Therefore seeing God intends to reveal his Name, and Mind, unto all, and to bring all into one com­mon fellowship, both Jews and Gentiles; this former Dispen­sation and Law must needs be removed, and another more liberal yielding, and extensive, come in the room of it; espe­cially as to things, that some call indifferent, things not evil in themselves, but less necessary; that way might be made to come at all, if they agreed in the Main, i. e. in the Belief, and Acknowledgment of Jesus the Christ of God.

Thirdly, It is not here to be understood, that the Christian Gospel doth yield in any of its essential Principles, or that it doth prostitute it self to any of the sinful ways and lusts of men, or comply with them in the lea [...]: But only that it doth not command nor injoyn any thing, as necessary in its self, or unto Salvation, but what in its own nature is so; and if men be made holy, and are sanctified in their spirits and inward man, fruitful in their Lives in all well-doing to the glory of God; e­specially if abounding in Love and Charity unto men, it will make them allowance otherwise, as to the ways and customs of Men and Nations. This then being the Nature and divine Constitution thereof, nothing is more unreasonable, and more contrary to it, to the design and spirit of it; than imposition of the Customs and Ceremonies of one Nation, or of one Church upon another, or of any number of Christians upon other Chri­stians; and (that which is the main Matter I now mind) the denial of Christian fellowship and Communion in the Church, [Page 40]or in any the Ecclesiastical Priviledges of it, upon any account of difference in Opinion and Practice on this side the Founda­tion. Nothing that I know can debar any, except the Name of Jesus and Christianity be denyed, or not acknowledged; or that they live unworthy of their Profession. They that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness, Ungodliness, Uncharitableness, though they do not deny Christ and his Gospel in words, yet in works they do, which is worse, and a great disgrace unto it; from such we are bid to separate our selves. Tit. 1.16. 2 Tim. 2. v 5. but we must not separate for things, wherein good and sober Christians may differ; as some particular Opi­nions, and Practices, or Modes of Worship; unless those things be imposed, as necessary to Salvation, or made the Condition of Communion; or that we are not suffered to enter our dis­sent, in matters wherein we do dissent; which liberty ought always to be allowed, that it being known how far we do agree, we may so far walk together. And for Differences in particu­lar points, and some Ordinances, and Practices, if in these we be otherwise minded, as we may be, God in the way of Peace, and of a sincere Enquiry, will in due time reveal it unto us, Phil. 3. v. 15.

Fourthly, For further Proof, at least, for our further serious Consideration of the Divine Nature, and liberty of this blessed Religion, called Christian, that it does give such a Latitude, supposing we hold to the Main: See a few Scriptures to this purpose, from that blessed and industrious Apostle, who best knew and understood, the nature and extent of this gracious Dispensation of God in Christ, for the uniting and bringing all together in one. i. e. in Christ Jesus, notwithstanding many and various differences otherwise. Rom. chap. 2. he disputes at large against those that trusted and had confidence they should be accepted, and please God, because they were strict in the observation of the Law, as to Ceremonies, and the ritual parts of it, though failing in more weighty things; and proves, That God will not accept any, but upon the account of that real in­herent Righteousness, which consists in the real fruits of well­doing, v. 25. For Circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the Law; but if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy Circumcision is made Ʋncir­cumcision, [Page 41]or nothing. He tells them, that there may be some pro­fit in Circumcision (Circumcision is here put (as part for the whole) for the Law-service) this may profit you if ye keep the Law.

The Law is taken here emphatically, for the most substan­tial part, or great things of the Law, which the Scripture and right Reason still distinguish, by way of dignity and excellen­cy from the Ceremonious part, and Church Priviledges, and performance of outward Ordinances.

The Apostle here speaks of real Godliness, Mercy, Chari­ty, and Purity, &c. which being in us, there may be some profit in the other to us, but not without these.

Therefore verse 26. If the Ʋncircumcision, i. e. an uncircum­cised Person, keep the righteousness of the Law, i. e. in the essen­tial and necessary parts of it, Shall not his Ʋncircumcision, be ac­counted for Circumcision? i. e. he shall be as well accepted of, as if he were actually circumcised, or had really kept the whole Law, in the ritual and Ceremonious parts of it, i. e. the Law of Ordinances, &c. Though he have kept and observed none of these at all, yet keeping the other which is the Main, he shall be accounted of, as well as the Circumcised.

See more to the same purpose in verse 27. he roundly con­cludes: And shall not the Ʋncircumcision, i. e. the Person uncir­cumcised; if it fulfil the Law, judge thee, who by the Letter and Circumcision dost transgress the Law? And verse 28, 29. But he is a Jew. So we may say (upon the same principle of reason­ing) he is a Christian, not which is one outwardly, or is bap­tized only outwardly, but he is a Christian indeed, that is one inwardly, and Baptism, is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not so much in the Letter, or in literal Baptism, whose praise on this account, is not of men, but of God. So the conclusion, for our purpose is fair, (viz) that though a man should not be baptized at all, with outward, or water Baptism, but should scruple that, or the time of it, or the subject of it, yet if he be, and can be judged to be, a true Christian by his acknow­ledgment of Christ, and purposing, or promising, to walk in his way, it is enough, as to God's acceptance; (and it is strange it should not be so to men) and consequently, the Christian [Page 42]Religion doth allow a free Communion to all, differing in all such like things. I would have all that read this, to mind it, and to look upon the Scriptures before them, to see what a little matter they make of those differences about Ordinances and Ceremonies, which may, or may not be used and practi­sed, without scruple or trouble among Christians; and learn to estimate men, not for such things as these, but for their real worth and usefulness.

To this add chap. 14. of this Epistle, where we find Christi­ans differing about keeping of Days, and about Meats; some making Conscience of keeping some Days more than others, so of Meats, making a difference and Conscience of eating some, not others. verse 2, 5. One esteems one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike. What does the Apostle now? does he perswade the one to come over to the other? No such matter, but what does he do to end the Controversie? Even this, exhorts that one should bear with, and not judge and cen­sure another. See the whole Chap. for this, and consider it well, with the Apostles manner of reasoning in it; he accounts that every one of them may mean well, and serve God in his way.

Verse 6. He that regards a day, regardeth it unto the Lord. He that regards not a day, to the Lord he doth not regard it, i. e. 'tis for the Lord's sake, he hath no regard to it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, and he gives God thanks. And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and he giveth God thanks; both give God thanks, both think they serve and please him, and therefore in the mean time, should live at peace one with ano­ther, and all others with them.

But further, What are now the common Principles, where­upon they should agree, and keep and maintain Love, and Charity, and Christian Communion together? Not at all these things in Question among them, but the Apostle lays them down in verse 17. For the Kingdom of God is not, stands not in meats and drinks, days and times, or in the observation of things of this nature, wherein men are at liberty; but it con­sists in Righteousness; we are to understand, that Righ­teousness before described, that is distinguished from those [Page 43]things in difference, Righteousness in the most excellent sence, &c.

He adds, and in peace, i. e. peace and quietness one with ano­ther, notwithstanding such differences; and joy in the Holy Ghost, or joy in the Holy Spirit, i. e. rejoycing in that common Interest, and Spirit they all have that are in Christ Jesus, be­ing made like unto him, of the same Spirit and heavenly Na­ture with him, which is wrought in them, by the holy Spirit; they should rejoyce and love one another, because they all par­take of the same blessed divine Nature and Spirit; And up­on this account also, (and upon no other) have their Names written in the Book of Life.

It follows, verse 18. For he that in these things serveth Christ, i. e. (to make the Apostles Argument compleat and pertinent) though he wants or differs in other things: yet is acceptable to God, and approved of men, i. e. He ought to be approved of men, and is approved by all wise men, and understanding Christians, as to all Christian purposes and services other­wise. He proceeds in his Argument, and the use of it, ver. 19. Let us therefore follow after the things, which make for peace, i. e. better things than those, about which you contend, and which may edifie, or things wherewith one builds (as the word signi­fies) another in all Christian Faith and Vertue.

In 1 Cor. 7.19. Circumcision is nothing, and Ʋncircumcision is nothing; (what then?) but the keeping the Commandments of God, &c. But were not Circumcision, and other Ordinances which are signified, under, or by this, the Commandments of God? They were so; but in comparison of, and coming in competition with the great things of the Law, they were in such comparison no Commandments, &c. and as to the occa­sion of this saying and assertion; Christian men are here by the Apostle commanded to keep their Places, fulfil their Co­venants and Contracts, doing service to them, with whom they have covenanted, to be Servants; all which was of grea­ter use and necessity, and of more honour to the Gospel, than to stand upon such kind of things, as Circumcision, &c. his drift may be seen from the 17th, to the 24th, verse.

[Page 44]Another Scripture is Col. 2. v. 11. In whom also ye are circum­cised, with the Circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the Flesh, &c. The Apostle here to take them off from admiring and making too much of outward Circumcision, (and there is the same Reason of outward Bap­tism) tells them, there was no great need of it, so they had the inward Circumcision, the inward Baptism. v. 12. They are buried with him in Baptism, i. e. Spiritually, but really bapti­zed into his death, according to the sence and meaning of Rom. 6. v. 4. Therefore we are buried with him, in, or by Bap­tism, into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of Life.

The burying here, is of the same nature and kind with the rising again, as is more plain, v. 13. And you being dead in your sins, and Ʋncircumcision of your Flesh, hath he quickened together with him, &c. And though this place, and some others are not brought absolutely to exclude a Literal, or Water-bap­tism to them that think themselves under the Obligation of it; yet it is the Spiritual and Mystical Baptism, that is princi­pally meant, and doth principally, if not only, suit and ac­commodate the Apostles Intent and Argument here, which is to take men off from putting too much trust in, and laying too much stress upon the outward Circumcision or Baptism, or other things of like nature. Gal. 5, 6. For in Christ Jesus, i. e. in the Religion and way of Christ Jesus, or of the Gospel of Jesus, &c. Neither Circumcision availeth any thing, i. e. no out­ward performance or Ordinances of the Law; for Circumcisi­on, as was noted, is put for the whole of the service of that kind, neither Ʋncircumcision, that availeth not neither, i. e. ei­ther to be circumcised, or to observe the literal Ordinances of Christianity, availeth not much; what then does? but, saith he, Faith, Faith in Christ Jesus, that works, operates by Love, or Charity, Christian Charity.

Add to this once more, chap. 6. v. 15. For in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Ʋncircumcision, but, (what does avail?) a new Creature, a new regenerate state, of which we may see more in 2 Cor. chap. 5. from v. 14. to v. 18. [Page 45]So that nothing avails according to the Apostle here, and to right Reason it self, but that which is substantially good; a real change of the Heart and the Soul of a Christian, from sin unto God. And at v. 16. And as many as walk according to this Rule, or if any man walk according to this Rule, i. e. stand not much upon such outward Rites and Ceremonies, but mind the Main, the new Creature-state, the divine Nature, and estimate and value themselves, and others only, upon this ac­count, Peace be on them, and Mercy, and upon the Israel of God, i. e. For or because, such are indeed the true Israel of God, and none else, and are to be treated accordingly, Rom. 2. the last the whole verse stands thus, And as many as walk according to this Rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

5. And take notice, that the Apostles purpose here, upon the occasion there given, was to convince the Judaizing Chri­stians, of the no necessity of their strict adherence to those Ri­tual and Ceremonious things; and that it was a fault so to do, and upon the same Reason; and to make his Argument con­cluding, we must take in the Christian Rites and Ordinances, that are of an external and ritual nature, such as Baptism, the Lord's Supper, &c. not that the doing or performing of those things is to be condemned; no, they may be used, and ac­cording to the practice of almost all Christians are used, and some special Reasons may be given for their use, but we ought to estimate, perform, and use them with Subordination and Subserviency to Peace, Charity, Edification, Godliness, and not otherwise; and if these should (as 'tis possible they may) interfere with, and lye cross to those great and undisputable things, they are rather to be left undone, than to make a breach upon those other. The Apostles argument is built up­on this general Principle, that things of an inferior nature, as all external Ordinances are, should give way to greater things when they come in competition; such as Christian Charity, Peace, Edification, Growth and Encrease in Christian Ver­tue. His Argument reaches the one, as well as the other, and 'tis rational, so to understand it, and to make such a differ­ence between things and things of this Nature.

[Page 46]6. Finally, once more consider, That the whole Epistle of this Apostle to the Ephisians, is written to this purpose, to praise, admire, and magnify the grace of God, in procuring, and bringing about by Jesus Christ, that there should be a Coalition, or gathering together into one, of all People, Tongues, and Nations, both Jews and Gentiles, into one, i. e. into Christ Jesus, into the interest and way of Christ Jesus; see chap. 1. v. 9, 10. Having made known to us the Mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he had purposed in him­self, that in the Dispensation of the fulness of times, he might ga­ther together in one, all things in Christ; both which are in Hea­ven, and which are on Earth, even in him. And after he had magnified and admired this blessed divine Projection and De­sign, in that Chap. and prayed heartily, that they might un­derstand it, and their Interest in it, being themselves Gentiles to whom he wrote; thankful he is for this high grace of God, in Christ at large; and in special, minds them of the benefit by it, the exceeding good received by means of it, consider­ing what they had been; in chap. 2. v. 11. Wherefore remem­ber, that ye being in time past Gentiles, at v. 12. That at that time ye were without Christ, being Aliens and Strangers, having no hope without God in the World. So at v. 13. But now in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometimes far of, are made nigh by the Blood of Christ, and so he proceeds to the end; and further amply­fies this great grace, and their great honour in it, at v. 16. (viz.) That he might reconcile both unto God. i. e. Jews and Gen­tiles, all mankind, which the Law could never do. This was the design. (Which though not known in other ages) yet now was manifest, as he thus expresseth it, chap. 3. v. 6. That the Gentiles should be Fellow-Heirs, and of the same Body, partakers of his Promise in Christ by the Gospel. And further, he shews, that it was a great Honour to himself, that he was made a Minister, and Preacher of this Grace. v. 7.8. Whereof I was made a Minister, according to the gift of the grace of God. v. 8. Ʋnto me who am less than the least of all Saints is this grace given, that I should preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable Riches of Christ, with much more to the same purpose, in v. 9. To make all men see, what is the Fellowship of the Mystery, which from the [Page 47]beginning of the World, hath been hid in God. And chap. 2. He in particular describes the way, how Christ did this, to bring them all into one Fellowship and Communion, v. 13, 14, 15. verse 13. But now in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometimes far of, are made nigh, by the Blood of Christ. v. 14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in his Flesh, the enmity, even the Law of Commandments contained in Ordinances, for to make in himself of twain, one new man; so making peace, and that he might reconcile both to God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

Here we plainly see, all this was done, this Reconciliation between men and men was made, by the breaking down the partition Wall, that stood between Jews and Gentiles, which was the Law of Commandments, consisting in divers Rites and Ordinances, which whilst they stood in force, this gene­ral peace and good will among men could not be. The same matter does this Apostle teach in 2 Col. 14. compared with the 16th, and 17th, verses, to which we refer you.

Why now shall we our selves make partition Walls, between Christians and Christians, to keep them asunder, and make them too of Rites and Ordinances, which Christ pulled down, took out of the way? Do we not see, that according to the design and intent of God, this blessed Gospel is so constituted, that it might accommodate all, let them differ never so much, at least, in those kind of things, yea, and greater than those, &c. Our business then is, to unite in Love, in Good-will, in Charity, in common Edification, and growth in Grace, and every Divine Vertue, and to take the joynt help and assistance of all, to carry on the great Gospel work in the World.

For want of this, these excellent purposes are spoiled, and we are in bad case, and the insisting too much upon these little things (for so they are even the best of them in com­parison) will naturally create a narrow contracted Spirit, and cause us to love and like none but our selves, and our own Party, not to take the help or benefit of any, but of our own Way and Opinion, and so every Party will stand for, and by themselves; and mind only their own particular Sect or Church, [Page 48]not the common good of the whole, or the Church Catho­lick.

O! Our God, amend this, and bring us all back from that Spirit, which is the Spirit of Anti-Christ, and most opposite unto the Spirit and Way of Jesus Christ. To conclude,

1. Consider, That the Gospel is so conditioned, as to take in all, without the exclusion of any, upon any account, ex­cept that of denying the Christian Name, either in words, or manifestly in works, as hath been said.

And this the Apostle speaks, Col. 3. v. 10, 11. Gal. 3.26, 27, 28. For ye are all the Children of God, by Faith in Christ Je­sus, for as many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ, There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither Bond nor Free; there is neither Male not Female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, &c. The Gospel takes in all states and conditions, into equal Pri­viledg, which the Law did not, and according to its Constitu­tion, could not do. And touching differences in Judgment and Opinion, and some Practices, when all the Apostles, El­ders, and Brethren were gathered together, in the 15th. of Acts. Did they force or compel any? No, not so much as per­swade, one side to come over to the other, but only at pre­sent to agree, leaving every one to their way, till time and growth in Knowledg, should draw them nearer. And in the mean time, they were to keep peace and charity, and not be troublesome one to another, &c.

And 'tis worth the while, to see the ground and reason, upon which they built that Union; none were to be com­pelled, or imposed upon, though, or notwithstanding, they did differ, but all be taken, and received into the bond of Cha­rity and Communion, as Christians on this account, v. 8. That they had the Holy-ghost. i. e. many of them had, as well as the Apostles, and the elder Christians at Jerusalem, v. 9. v. 8. And God which knoweth the Hearts, bare them Witness, meaning, that they were accepted of him, and that he had testified it, by giving the Holy ghost unto them, even as he did unto the Apostles, and other Christians. And v. 9. That is given for the principle Reason, upon which they were to be received, and nothing to be imposed upon them (viz.) because [Page 49]God had done the same for them; as he had for the rest; which was, had purified their Hearts by Faith, and so no difference was to be put between the one and the other. This pleased all, reconciled all, nothing else would do it but this, and this will always do it, when Testimony may be had, that any are Christians in good earnest, imbracing the Name of Christ, walking according to the Law of Christ, in all the undisputa­ble ways of Holiness and Righteousness, against which there is no Law, and about which there can be no Dispute, whe­ther they be good works, yea or no. To conclude,

The sum and substance of that Epistle sent by the Apostles, and Elders, and the Brethren, set down, v. 29. that they, i. e. the new converted Gentiles, should abstain from some things there mentioned, was not imposed or forced upon them; but those things were recommended to them, and were things, not necessary (to be sure) not all of them in themselves, but for the present occasion; and finally, if against all reason, it should be supposed, that the Apostles, Elders, and Brethren, did here impose or command those things, yet can no other, now or since, upon any reasonable account, claim any such Power, as is supposed, they made use of; and to be sure, all the former Scriptures lately argued, are plain and preguant against any such claim, &c.


THere are some other things, that I will but lightly touch, though others of contrary sentiment to you, will lay on load. One is, (at which I am not a little abash'd, as being un­able to defend, or so much as to excuse it; notwithstanding, I have heard what is commonly pleaded;) that though you, according to your declared Principles and ordinary Practice, are Non-conformists, and Dissenters; yet upon occasion, and to get into Place and Office of Honour or Profit, you will, and can Swear, Renounce, take all or any manner of Oaths, and [Page 50]Tests, that have of late been injoyned and imposed; also, that you can, on such occasions, take the Sacrament according to the form and way of the Church of England, though you ne­ver did before, nor (perhaps) will ever do the same again; ex­cept on the like occasion; and although the making and first forming of these Oaths and Tests, and the taking of the Sacra­ment, were intended, and done on purpose to keep you, and such as you, out of Office and Place, (whch how well done, and how according to Christian Charity, I will not now dis­pute) yet by these ways, they have not been able to exclude you, and they think, and sometimes some of them will not for­bear to swear, that they believe nothing, though never so con­trary unto you, and to your Principles, can be devised and made to keep you out, and consequently, cannot hold you in, but that you will break all Bounds, leap over all Hedges, so that they are at a loss what to do with you, &c.

2. But, O! The horrible scandal that comes from hence, upon Religion in general, and to the Party you would seem to own, and especially to your selves. This opens the Mouths, fills many Books and Pulpits, with matter against you; they stick not flatly to say, that you are as bad, and make use of the same Artifices as the Jesuits do in such cases; and though it may vex them, to see you thus too hard for them, yet it a­gain relieves them by administring to them, and occasion of venting their anger, and disgusts against you; and withal, sometimes it makes them merry and pleasant, to see that they can find as bad (so they think) and as deceitful doings and practices among you, as among those of the illest Name and Character: Persons of those Principles, which your selves use most to exclaim against, that is, the Jesuits, and men of their Spirits and Designs.

I protest, I cannot tell how to answer them, as to this mat­ter, i. e. To do it with truth and honesty; I know what is pleaded and pretended to justifie it; who knows not? Let things be never so foul when men have done them, and stand declared for them, they will say something; and in this case they pretend it is lawful, and they will prove it so, &c. But at present not to enter into that Controversie, whether it be [Page 51]lawful yea or nay; but suppose it, and that this thing could be said with some colour, or some satisfaction to themselves yet.

First, I always thought that Christians should and ought to have regard to others, how they take and resent things, ways and actions, and how far a thing may be of use, to the ho­nour of the Christian Religion and Gospel, and how far other­wise dishonourable to it; and that this had been a most ex­cellent rational, (as well as a most Evangelical) Rule in it self, &c.

And that every man should not look altogether on things as they appear to himself, but also, how his ways and actions appear to other men, what aspect they have upon them, and how they stand in their eye; otherwise I do not see how men can intend to adorn the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, which every man stands bound to do.

Secondly, Suppose you could prove, what you have done in this matter to be Lawful (which I cannot yet see, and there­fore not believe:) What is this to the purpose among Chri­stians, or wise and good men? Though this Principle reigns much in the World, and among the men of the World, yet I think the matter is plain among Christians, that it ought not to be so; yea, I am sure they are to be led by Principles of a more excellent kind, than to do things meerly because Lawful; or to think to justifie themselves, when they have done them, because they can prove them meerly Lawful. One would think, the Apostles Rule were near at hand, and to be heed­ed, not only because Apostolical, but for the reasonableness, goodness, and worthiness of the Principle it self. In 1 Cor. chap. 6. v. 12: All things are Lawful, i. e. many or most things are so, few things in comparison are absolutely in their own Nature Unlawful. But all things, though Lawful, are not expe­dient, or profitable, or useful, and (besides Lawful) conducing to some good end and purpose, for the promotion of Goodness, of Peace, of Piety, and the Gospel designs in general; and chap. 10. v. 23. He saith, All things are Lawful for me, but all things are not expedient or convenient, again, All things are Law­ful for me, but all things edifie not, and I am sure, scandalous [Page 52]things, and of ill Fame and Report cannot edifie, i. e. cannot build up men in Holyness, in Purity, in the Love of the Truth; but on the contrary, stumble them, and cast them down. Now it is the edification of others, and not the stumbling or scan­dalizing of them, thereby to hinder them in their love and be­lief of, and commuance in the truth, which is here pressed, as is manifest in the whole scope of the Chapter, and the Apo­stles Argumentation in it; and is without dispute, the mean­ing of the next words immediately following, v. 24. Let no man seek his own, i. e. Only his own, or his own, apart from others good; but so do, and so mind his own ways, as to pre­vent Counsel, why hath not the Christian World, and men that will be called Christians learned this? Christ the great Lord of Christianity taught it, and was himself, both in Life and Spirit, most exemplary in it.

Thirdly, Besides, it is common among your selves, to con­demn it in others, that they impose things upon you, meerly because they are, or may be, in their own Nature Lawful. The truth is, there are a thousand things. Lawful, that world be most absurd, under some Circumstances, to do, or put them in practice, and many things, or most things are Lawful in the general Nature of them, and as divested of Circumstances, that yet when they come to be done, or put in practice, will be so inconvenient and unfit, that it may be as bad, and as absurd to do them, as if they were utterly unlawful.

The conclusion is, in short, that a good Christian neither will, nor should do any thing in it self unlawful, nor any thing, meerly and only because it is Lawful: but will mind still, the fitness, the profit, the usefulness of them, as to those Circum­stances they fall under, when reduced to practice.

Fourthly, I do not speak all this, because I think such Swear­ing and Communicating, for a present advantage is Lawful; but supposing that it were so, yet is that alone no good Reason nor Argument for the doing of it. Neither a­gain do I meddle or concern my self with the Law and Au­thority, that injoyns these things, nor with those Persons, that ordinarily hold and practice them, being in the Commu­nion [Page 53]of that Church, for whose sake and interest they are in­joyned and imposed; but I speak to them who pretending Non­conformity as their ordinary way, and choice to walk in, that look upon the Oaths and Renunciations, either as unlawful, or oppressive, and uncharitable; and yet on the occasion, and meerly on the account, of a place of Honour and Profit for once, and to serve a turn, will swear, renounce, take the Sa­crament, do any thing rather than miss it, or for fear of lose­ing it, or that they may save themselves, or Party by it. If this be not scandalous, offensive, and to Religion and true Piety destructive, I know nothing that is so. I know nothing that will more render you in the eyes of all, as men of flexible and profligate Consciences, that can do any thing, and make you seem more like to such, that are justly esteemed the worst of men. It occasions men to hate both you, and all Religon, at least that which you profess, for your sakes; however, you and men in your Circumstances, may turn and wind, move every stone, break their Brains, and their Wits, to find out distincti­ons and evasions to salve their Consciences and Reputations, yet the vulgar running sence, will judge otherwise of you and them.

Fifthly, But the common Plea for thus doing and grand Ob­jection against what is here said, will be this. O! but if we should not do thus; then no honest men would be in Place, none but loose, prophane, wicked, Atheistical, Popish, or Torish men, would get in; and so we should, or might lose our Rights, our Liberties, our All; yea, perhaps our Lives too: But to this I answer.

First, Suppose this, yea, and the worst that can be supposed, yet must we needs do evil, that good may come of it? If it be not evil to do so in it self, nor occasions any evil, nor scandal, for you to swear, renounce, receive, why do you then not or­dinarily practice it, and so make no breach nor division on that account? Yea, why do you do it so secretly, clandestinely, that it should not be publickly known, if it be well and law­fully done? But if you think it evil, and so evil, that you can­not well, and upon other accounts joyn with it, nor with them with whom you differ in these things, it is to be wondered [Page 54]at, how you can do it, on the account you now do. Certain­ly, I see not, but upon this account you may comply with any thing.

Secondly, Why cannot you trust God, the Living God, in his own way, but take such unhallowed Courses and Practi­ces as these, to the great danger and disgrace of Religion, and of your selves? Sure I am, if you have not Faith to trust in God, going in plain honest ways, ye have no reason to expect his Favour in dishonest and suspicious ways and doings.

Thirdly, If this Procedure be according to Law, and the Law made to keep you out, why cannot ye be quiet, and sub­mit to it, seeing there is no penalty for refusing to serve or swear! And for being shut out of Offices and Places (as to some of them) a man would think it should be a conveniency to be excluded and rendered uncapable. And it is apparent enough, that many, if not the most of you, would in some such way exclude others, if the Power were in your hands, as Papists, and perhaps some other, whose Opinion and Practices in some things you like not. They do not compel you to take Office or Place, and then make you Swear and take the Test, but put those Bars and Blocks in your way, that ye might not come into them, supposing that when they made them, they had laid them so directly contrary to your former declared Prin­ciples and Practices, that they should certainly exclude and keep you out.

Fourthly, There is great Cause and Reason to believe, that God will sooner help and vindicate you, if there be damage and dishonour in being shut out.

I say, there is according to the Divine Procedure abundant more reason to believe, and ye may rather expect, that God will do for you in this plain honest way of proceeding without sin and scandal, and in the declining of all sinful and suspici­ous ways, &c. Then think to find his help and blessing in ways of your own devising, not so plain and honest as they should be, but at best doubtful and suspicious; and therefore dan­gerous.

[Page 55]And God sometimes will have men to trust him with all, and he tryes them in some way or other, whether they will trust him, yea or no, and whether they will walk in the plain path of Truth and Sincerity, or whether for advantage they will step out of this Path, and leap over the Hedge: He doth this to prove them, and when they are proved, and found faithful, he sooner helps and vindicates them in a way of patient suf­fering, and constant continuing in well doing, than in any o­ther way, wherein they think to amend themselves, in Me­thods and proceedings scandalous and dangerous. Surely, a good honest tender Mind and Conscience that fears Sin and Of­fences, would not thus adventure to walk so near the Pits brink, but be rather studious, how he may walk farthest from it, &c.

Fifthly, Moreover I cannot see, but that as it appears to be scandalous, and of ill Fame and Report, and very hurtful to Religion and Godliness, for men to enter into Places of Profit upon these Terms: So they also, who are active in the choos­ing such men, who they know beforehand, must thus debauch their Consciences, and do that, which at other times they would by no means do; I say, such Choosers or Electors must in some kind and degree, at least, be guilty of the same evils or scandals with the other. For how can I put another upon the doing that, which I know is his standing Judgment and Practice not to do? Or why should I be any ways accessary or assistant to any man, to put him upon the doing that, which I my self would not do, and think that he should not? And certainly, upon the whole, all the good that is pretended to be aimed at, in seeking thus unwarrantably to come into Place and Power, is much overballanc'd with the evil attending it.

To Conclude, I say, as before, men will stingle, and wrig­gle, make use of all their Wits and Strength, appear with all their Evasions and Distinctions, to salve up such a Practice; but if they would take half so much pains to consider the Mat­ter on the other side, and lay aside themselves, and their own Interest, and follow that which is common, open, and plain, and appears so to all, to the vulgar, and to impartial men, and to enemies too, they whould do better, and appear honester, than now they do, and honour Religion, and the Gospel of [Page 56]our Lord Jesus our Saviour, better than they do: in 1 Cor. 10. chap. 31. verse 32. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatso­ever ye do, do all to the glory of God, give none Offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.


I Note only one thing more, wherewith you are not only charged, but stigmatized, and publickly disgraced, (viz.) with Folly and Phanaticism; as if you were a sort of People above all others, of crazy Minds, Phanatick, and irrational Principles and Practices, as to matters of Religion; particular­ly, in the Matter of your Dissent and Separation from the Esta­blished Church, Government, Laws and Worship. Doubtless, Folly, Enthusiasm, and Phanaticism in Religion, are as disho­nourable and prejudicial to it on the one hand, as Prophaneness and Immorality on the other: And meeting with some witty wicked Minds and Persons, unacquainted with the Principles of Religion, and Power of Godliness, doth more scandalize them than the other, and occasion them to think, that no man can be seriously Religious, but Fools; and that to be devout, is a sign of ignorance. I do believe, that you are much wronged in this Matter, by such who care not what they say, or may say, what they list, having all the publick Favour and Coun­tenance; and their publick approved Teachers, do not seem at all to discountenance, but rather themselves use and encourage those that do use such opprobrious Names and Characters; (how they will answer it to God, and how they can make it agree to that Christian Love, Meekness, Charity, and Mode­ration, they as Christians would pretend unto, I know not by ill Names worse than Racha) to revile, rail upon, expose, to the most ignorant and prophane, not only some few, but so great a Number and Party of men, and their Fellow Christi­ans, and doubtless a Party; to say no more than plain truth, not inferior to themselves, either for Number, Piety, Learn­ing [Page 57]or useful Living in their Place and Generation: I say, to do this doth too certainly shew a Spirit not at all agreeing with a Christian Spirit, and makes them look too like men unacquaint­ed with the Divine Nature and Temper of our Lord Christ, whose Example, they and we should always set before us, be imitators of, that so being in this, and in all Vertue, as we ought like unto him, when he appears, we may appear with him, because we are like him.

Secondly, Therefore my only business and request is, that you would do nothing that may occasion this, but cut off Occasion from them that seek it, and would be glad to find any thing whereby they might disgrace and disparage you, either in Prin­ciple or Practice.

Thridly, I know, and am aware, That in all Ages from the beginning of the World, and more from the beginning of Christianity to this day, beside divers other ways of Envy, Vexation, and Persecution, used against the better part of man­kind, evil men have still devised, and given them Names of Reproach, Scorn, and Derision, cruel Mockings, as the Au­thor to the Hebrems calls them, Heb. 11. John Baptist was e­steemed, as one having a Devil, Mad, or Phanatick; our Lord went not without this Livery; and the first Christians were called by way of Contempt, Galileans, and quite through all the Ages of the first ten Persecutions, there were still devi­sed some hideous or ridiculous Names and Characters, to note them by, and render them odious; and so all along through the Reign of Popery, and the Romish Church, they were cal­led Hereticks, Lollards, &c. to make them both odious and ridiculous; the same Spirit hath not failed in our days, since the Reformation, one while calling them Puritans, Precisians, and now at last Phanaticks or Mad-men. But I say, I would not you should give any Cause or Occasion for it: Neither do I know any thing, on account whereof they should so esteem you, but that upon the same, were we to retaliate and ren­der evil for evil, we might stigmatize them in the same kind; yet if any do follow or imitate them in this, their Way and Practice however provoked to it, they shall not be justified by me, nor, I believe, by him, who is appointed the great Judge of us all, &c.

[Page 58]Considering with my self, what it may be, that may give any colour to them, thus to stile you Phauaticks, Fools, or Mad men, or how you come to be reputed either Phanaticks, or Enthusiasticks; as far as I can conjecture, the occasions are such as these, &c.

First, That some of you are taken notice of, to deny the use of Reason, in matters of Religion; or to deny that we should judge of the ways and procedures of God, about our Salvation, and in matters of Divine Revelation, by our Rea­sons and Understanding, or according to them, or according to such Principles, that men, as men, are capable to judge by, &c.

First, To this, I say, that I find none or very few, that thus speak, and hold; and if any have been so inconsiderate, or let fall in the heat of Discourse and Argument, such inconsiderate sayings in their Books or Sermons, &c. against the use of Rea­son, in matters of Religion, such are but few, and I judge fewer than have been, and I hope fewer will be, &c.

But on the contrary, divers of the Nonformists have writ, and spoken, and preached rationally on the behalf, and in the defence of the use of Reason in Religion, many might be men­tioned. I have seen one piece intituled, the Interest of Reason in Religion; and that most pious (whatever Enemies may say) and most industrious, indefatigable Servant of Christ Mr. R. B. hath complain'd of some, for this very thing that they have done much wrong to Religion, to make men think that no Protestants speak Reason, but Socinians, &c. And if any be found so weak, thus to declaim against Reason, they may possibly be betrayed thereunto through their adherence to some particular Opinions that they take for Truth, and conceive they cannot be maintained upon common rational Principles, and so extravagantly exclaim against Reason it self. But of this sort of men, whether they be few or many, I am sure they are as well Conformists, as Non conformists. The truth is, you shall hardly see any Party of men, that hold together upon the account of any particular Opinion, Interest or Pra­ctice in Religion, and not uniting upon Christian Principles, as such, but that they will in some one kind or other, be some­what [Page 59]Phanatick, and for the sake of their Party, Way, and Interest, deny men the free use of their Reason, as to the things they make the Principle Marks and Characters of their Party or Sect. (E. G.) The Popish Religion if you will be of it, you must in many things deny your Reason and Senses too (E. G.) in the infallibility of their Church, and in the great and senceless Heresie of Transubstantiation, with many others: so to be admitted into some other Churches, you must in some kind believe, as the Church believes, practice as they do, say as they say, though it be never so plain against your own Rea­son and Understanding (E. G.) You must submit to the Church or Ecclesiastick Power and Authority to such Laws and Cere­monies, because, or for the sake of the Authority commanding them, though the things in themselves seem never so contrary to your own understanding, and to the best Judgment you can make of things; this I say, you must submit to, though ne­ver so unsatisfied; which seems contrary to all reason, to the Gospel of Christ, and in it self is most uncharitable and injuri­ous to Christian men. Take almost any other Sect, Party or Division of men, that separate from these, they will have a Noli me tangere, something that must not be touch'd, that must not be throughly Anatomized and Dissected, nor put upon the tryal of free Reason, and rational manly Principles, but must be taken for granted, as an unquestionable Principle in their way, as being the uniting Principle and Character of their Sect and Party.

Secondly, But because I would come as near as I can, to the true meaning of those that deny the use of Reason in Reli­gion, &c.

I do grant, That there are some things, yea, many things, that through the infinite Grace of God, are revealed in the Scriptures and Gospel of Christ: Indeed the whole Frame of it is such, with the most excellent Methods and Counsels of it, that all the Wit of men, and Reason in the World, and all the Wisdom, Sagacity of men and Angels could never have found out, or thought of; but now being revealed and made known to us, we can by our Reasons and understandings conceive of them, are able to understand and judge of them, and though [Page 60]they were once, yet now they are no longer Mysteries, save so far as all things are Mysteries, till men will be at the pains to know and understand them, when all that Study, Care, and Prayer, which ought to be used, and to which the Promises are made, that according to such endeavours, the Counsels of God in the Gospel of Christ, shall be understood have been used; and especially, if we live holily, close with God, and walk up to that which we already know, God will in due time reveal all the rest unto us, so far as we need know; and this not against, nor without the use of our Reasons, but through the humble Exercise and Improvement of them.

If any shall still object, That there are yet some things, that cannot with all our Reason and improved Understandings be known, &c. I grant it may be so, especially, to some, and at some times: But then as I cannot understand them, so it is no part of my Faith to believe them, but, I am to leave them as they are. I am not obliged to speak about them, nor to practice them; and that which otherwise might be a Duty for me to do, did I know it, not knowing of it, now is not; and indeed, it is a piece of honesty and ingenuity in a man, not to pretend to be knowing in more than he is, but to hold things for certain, that are so to him, and to live and practice them ac­cordingly; and things that are but probable, so to hold and profess them, and for no other, and things doubtful, to pro­fess them as such, that we do bout of, and to suspend the Practice of them till better assurance and information be had. If this were done, men would be, and appear more honest and peaceable, and Disputes and Contests about such Points and Opinions, would be fewer and more moderate, and so need not hurt Peace, and hinder Charity, as now they too much do.

In a word, happy were it, if men would be so free and inge­nuous, and the dogmatical and interrested part of mankind would bear it, that every man would walk openly and honest­ly, declare and profess, what he is, and what he thinks and believes, let it be something or nothing, good or bad, he would the sooner come to Information, and so be rectified, and in the mean time, would do less hurt, whereas while men keep such [Page 61]things secret, they become hot and burning in their minds, they make more of them than they are, and when they have an opportunity to vent them, they are the more earnest in it, do the more hurt by them if they be not good. &c.

3. Whatever men think, and talk against the use of reason in matters of Religion, and of Salvation, yet certainly it is of so necessary a use, that they which talk against it, must use the best they have and can against it. It is said of Justice, it is so necessary a virtue in humane life and affairs, that Thieves themselves that live by injustice, Rapine and Wrong, yet are forced to make use of it, if it be but in distribution of what they have unjustly gotten: so men make use of their Reason whilst they dispute against it.

I have heard of a witty Poem made against Wit and Reason, and in the praise of Folly; indeed the use of Reason can no ways be disparaged and disputed against, but by such a Poetical liberty, or in the way of stark folly, if that could be supposed to do it.

Again, Surely that must needs be most necessary, which a man, as such, hath, and is essential to him, and without which he could not be a man, but some other Creature. Why a man should be praised because he is wise and rational, making use of his reason and understanding in all things else, onely laying it aside in matters of Religion, which are his greatest concern, and wherein above all things he had need use the most and the best of it, is wonderful strange, &c.

And further, most certain it is, that the ever blessed graci­ous God, when he gives his Laws, and makes known his Coun­sels unto men, that he doth fit and suit them to the reasonable minds and souls of men; that so men, as men, may conceive and iudge of them, and understand them. As he hath made all Creatures in their divers kinds, with several faculties of sensation and perception answerable to his dealings with them, and drawings of them; and his methods and instruments must be suited to them, that they be stirred and moved to their se­veral works and ends; so Man above all other Creatures being made most free in his actions, and enabled to know and under­stand what is said to him, being also accountable to God his [Page 62]Creator for what he doth, and why he doth, musts needs in his way and in a manner, proper to his kind, understand and con­ceive of divine things, which can be in no other way, than by his reason, whereby he is able to judge of the ways of God when made known to him, as well as other things; and therefore it is that God doth often appeal to men, and to their Reason and Judgment even, whether his ways be not equal, and their ways unequal; he makes them the Judges, which cer­tainly he would not do, if they as men (only unbiassed and im­partial) were not competent for it.

4. Whereas some, to strengthen themselves in this conceit against the use of reason in Religion and divine things, do plead with all the reason they can allow themselves some Scrip­ture passages; and in especial that place in 1 Cor. 2.14. But the Natural man perceives not the things of God, for they are fool­ishness to him. The reason is given, because they are spiritually to be discerned, &c.

I would not make any stay to open the Scripture at large, it needs not if men would be impartial, and it hath been done by others fully; and I would only desire all such that plead it, to mind these things, in the place, and about it, &c.

1. That what is spoken here of the natural, is meant not of the unregenerate man, but of the weak Christian and under­grown, or Babe in Christ, chap. 3. vers. 1. And called carnal, that is, too much so.

2. That the things of God here spoken of, which these could not receive, were not the common and most necessary things that were of absolute necessity to salvation, but the high or deep things of God, which only the spiritual man or well-grown Christian could well understand and comprehend: and by spiritual, according to the Apostles phrase, is still meant, such as are well grown in Christian knowledge, in opposition to weak men, and narrow-spirited Christians: See these places in this Chapter, ver. 15. Chap. 3. v. 1. Chap. 14. v. 37. Gal. 6. v. 1.

3. That it is not here denyed, that such a man could never know or understand these things, or that he was in an utter incapacity to understand them, but only this, that at present he was so; but this denies not, but that afterwards in a conti­nuance [Page 63]of diligent endeavours he may know. As we say of one. That at present is not Book learned, he cannot read, nor understand Greek nor Latin, i. e. is in no present capacity for it; yet this hinders not, but that he may by diligence and study, applying himself to it; and by suitable instruction for it, learn and understand to do, what he cannot now do. These things are plain in this Scripture, and in the Context about it; and if men will impartially consider, and lay aside all prejudice and prepossessions, they will find it to be so; and if not, they will never find any thing, nor the truth at all.

5. It is, and will be pleaded (viz.) That it is the Spirit of God that enlightens and gives instruction in Divine things, and that man cannot do, or know any thing without his assi­stance and illumination, &c.

To which I answer (1.) It is true, he doth so, and as the Apostle saith, No man knows the things of God but the Spirit of God. But (2.) besides that he hath made known these already in that Revelation which he hath made of the mind of Christ at the beginning, so now he makes men to know and under­stand the things of God, and helps every man that is willing to understand, and in sincerity desires it: but still this is done not without (much less against) the use of their reasons and understandings, but through them, and by them, he deals with men, as men, as reasonable; so that they may understand and conceive of these in the same way they do of other things, though these be the most excellent.

Again, it appears more plainly, to be thus, in that men are commanded and injoyned to seek, to try, to study, enquire, and labour after, the knowledge of Divine things, as well as, yea more than after other things, the which cannot be done but by the use of their reasonable faculties as they are men, and thus they are helped, strengthened, remembred, and every way assisted by the Spirit of God, and more than they are in other things. And they want and stand in great need of this, partly because of the excellent and invisible nature, the dignity and soveraign concern of these things to men; partly also be­cause of that backwardness, darkness, and weakness that cleaves to us, by means whereof we stand in greater need of care, di­ligence, [Page 64]and humble Prayer to God, the Father of Lights, and the giver of such good and perfect gifts. (3.) It is manifest, that the more we do in this kind, the more we receive; to him that thus improves, more shall be given; and the more care­less, or idle, or otherwise diverted by the things of this pre­sent World, &c. the less we receive at the hand of God, ac­cording as we find by experience. In agreement to this, there are many precepts, injoyning us to labour, to seek, in order to the receiving this Grace; and many Promises and Encouragements thereunto, and consequently our not doing of it, not thus ap­plying of our selves to the work with all humble supplication, in all sincerity, is the reason why we want it, and want the Divine Grace, which else would be more plentiful in it.

6. If we do not thus imploy our reasons and understandings, in enquiring into the things of God, we are like to be deceived, and some other Spirit will get into us, that is not of God; and and so we are like to be misled, turn'd indeed into the way of Enthusiasm and Phanaticism, as we see dayly it is with some. Yea, so clear and manifest it is, that what we receive of God, and the Gospel of Christ, must be by and through the use of our rational faculties, that by them we are bid to try the Spi­rits, whether they be of God or of men, or of a worse inspira­tion, by which those are generally misled, that think to find the Truth otherwise than in this most proper and necessary way. So that take the matter, and consider it, how we will, it is manifest; the ordinary work and operation of God, and the Spi­rit of God upon us in the making his will known, making of us to understand, and to be impressed with the knowledge and sence of Divine things, or things of God, must be by and through the use and exercise of our reason judgments and understandings.

7. And finally, if any plead and contend that according to these proceedings, men may and do deceive themselves; we daily see them run into great errors, heresies, mistakes, not­withstanding otherwise Rational and Learned, and pleading much for the use of Reason too. Suppose that those be errors and heresies, that you think are so, (for you may be mistaken) but I say, supposing it to be so, is it any Argument because [Page 65]men may abuse and wrong imploy their noble Faculties of rea­son and understanding, that therefore there is no use of them in any case? surely then we must all unman our selves. But that men may use and imploy all the powers of their Souls, and members of their Bodies to sin and ungodly purposes, is no doubt, as neither is it, but that they may use them to good and useful purposes, ends and designs; which if they do not, seeing they may do it, they shall give a most severe account to God in this matter above all other. And the Truth is, the principal reason and account, of the just and severe judg­ment and condemnation of God against men, that will be con­demned at last, will be resolved into this; that they have not improved nor made a right and honest use of those natural and most excellent Faculties, which they have as men (viz.) that reason and understanding which God hath given them; and consequently on the account of those Talents, and Seasons, and Opportunities of Grace, which they having received from God, for the doing good to themselves and others, have neglected.

Some against all reason object, that we are not to compare Heavenly things with Earthly, and Divine things with Carnal, which men will and are like to do, if they judge of the one by the other, according to their reasons, and humane under­standings, &c.

But, to this I say in short, that it is a wonder, that men can say and object this, when they see the constant way and reasoning of our blessed Lord himself in his Parables and com­parisons; and how he doth still compare Heavenly things to Earthly, and illustrate them by these; still saying, the King­dom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God, (which is the King­dom of the Gospel) is like unto this, or like unto that, accor­ding to the way, reason, method, comparison, and procedure of men, in earthly and natural things, and in the things of this life, as in the Parable of the Sower, and many other, which are too many here to set down, and plainer than that there should be need to argue them.

Only this, the Heavenly and Spiritual, or Divine things, differ by way of excellency, and of their soveraign use to men; but this hinders not, but that in their general nature and me­thod [Page 66]of proceeding, they hold a proportion with them in the reason, evidence, proof, and demonstration of them.

To conclude, when I speak so much (because there is so much need) of the use and exercise of mens judgments and un­derstandings in matters of God and of Religion, as well as in other things: I hope none will think, that I suppose men In­fallible, or that they may not either willingly, or ignorantly err, and do amiss, and use them otherwise than they ought, &c. But only thus,

1. That an honest exercise and use of them, is the way wherein we are most certain to find, and may expect a blessing from God, in our enquiry and study, and good success in the matter, and things enquired after; and this though it be not infallible, is the nearest to Infallibility, and (we may be sure) of the greatest certainty, whereby to come to a right under­standing; and be surely led in the things of God, and of our everlasting concerns.

2. That men may be dishonest, and suffer their hearts and minds to be byassed and wrong influenced, and darkned; they may not love the Truth, for Truths sake, they may have their Interest and their Lust to gratify, and so they may err and do ill, and the Spirit of God may be grieved and kept at a distance, and not help them, nor ioyn with them: But if they are of honest sincere minds, which all may and must have, even the weakest as well as the strongest, they will find they may be surely led; and no other but such, have the promise for it, and so far they are kept out of the way of the evil Spirit as well as from the per­version of their own Spirits, and from the subtilty and deceiving of Evil and Interessed men.

2. Some of you are charged with Phanaticism, sometimes in your Prayers and Sermons, i. e. with divers odd, and too course, blunt, and over-familiar, and unbecoming words and Phraises, Comparisons and Similitudes, which seem nauseous to some, Ridiculous to others; and however passable among the People, out of their respects to you, yet offensive and gra­ting to the Ears of the more Judicious, and give occasion more than you think for (but ought to consider) to others to scoff, deride, and thereby countenance and confirm themselves in [Page 67]what they are willing enough to believe. (viz.) That you are, as they call you Phanatical, and men of absurd Speeches, and sometimes of Behaviours in your Religious Exercises: And though this may as well be charged upon others, and some of your Accusers as well as any; yet they having the advantage of you in State-Favour, and being otherwise more in the Fashion than you are, they can make that use of it against you, which you cannot against them, neither ought if you could; and this should make you the more careful, with the greater Piety and Prudence, to manage all things of a Religious nature, with such a comeliness and decorum, that you may disparage neither Religion, nor your selves. And though such kind of runnings out may not displease, but sometimes rather please, delight, some of the more Raw and Ignorant sort of People, yet to the Judicious, even among your selves, they are offensive, trouble­some, and make them somewhat abashed: Certainly men may speak so as to avoid all affectation, quaintness, pedantique Jing­ling on the one hand; and also all absurd, unhandsome, un­comely utterance and expressions on the other; and what is spoken on such occasions, may be sober, serious, rational, and manly. But of this I shall take no further notice, having done it before.

Only I cannot choose but wonder, that you having heard and seen so much of this nature objected against you, both in Speeches, Discourse, and in Printed Books (which will inform, and word it to you, better than I can) should not now be more careful in it, &c.

3. Something of this nature is noted of you in and about the performance of Religious Duties, and about the taking up some private Opinions, Notions and Practices in Religion, upon the account of a new pretended Revelation, or new impulse, strong and extraordinary motions upon your Spirits.

For the first, as to Religious Duties and Services, This is charged on you (and by some, too much occasion is given for it:) That you will not pray, (to give that as an instance for the whole) or go about any such Religious Service, till you are first strongly and inwardly moved to it, or as some speak, have an impulse upon their minds, or be moved by the Spi­rit; [Page 68]and when such a forcible touch or strong motion is upon their minds, right or wrong, they account it a moving of the Spirit of God, meerly, because they are strongly moved and perswaded. And if such a Motion be not, they reckon and do account, they are not obliged at all to the performance of any Duty; in answer to this, consider,

First, I grant, That Christians may at sometimes be stirred and moved in their Spirits, to some religious Work and Ser­vice, more than at another time, and that he that is so, doth well, to take and not to omit such an Opportunity, &c. But

That he should not set upon the performance of Prayer, or any Christian Service till he is so stirred and inwardly and strongly moved; this is a Doctrine and Perswasion, than which nothing is more foolish, and pernicious, or Phanatick (if you will have it so:) very dangerous to the Souls of men, and no­thing more contrary to sound Reason, nor the holy Scriptures. And this is so plain, that it is a wonder any considering man should be perswaded to it, or led by it. For in how many places doth the Holy Ghost, speaking in the Scriptures, call upon men to stir up themselves to their Duties, to gird up the Loyns of their Minds, to be sober, to consider, and to watch and pray, &c. yea, to provoke themselves, and to provoke one another unto good Works, as they see Cause and Reason for it; how often are we called upon, to strive, to run, to wre­stle, and that against our selves? how often, and how vehe­mently are we called upon to pray? (to speak to that Duty; particularly, as an instance of all the rest,) abundance of Ar­guments are used, to provoke and inforce men to be constant, diligent in it, &c.

What need all this; and abundance more that's said, to en­gage us to bestir our selves if this need not be done, till we are inwardly stirred and moved, and must wait for some im­pulse and inflation of a mighty Spirit, to raise our minds unto it; nay further, do not these earnest Charges and Exhortations plainly suppose and prove, that men may by the serious thoughts of their Duties, the Reasons, and Necessity thereof, stir and raise in themselves such a strong Motion, to the Duty they speak of? Again,

[Page 69] Thirdly, Do not the Scriptures speak much, and give men to understand, and make them aware of their own dulness, and backwardness to this, and all good Works and Duties? and doth it not admonish them, and put them in fear, lest a cold, flat, indisposed Spirit grow upon them; so that at last they may come to be hardened and deceived, that in seeing, they may think they see, but not indeed perceive? In hearing, they may think they hear, but not understand, and that their eyes may come to be closed, that they cannot see. And is not this a most dangerous and dreadful state, which men come unto by neglect, and by not being diligent, earnest, constant and servent, in stirring up themselves in, and to all holy Ways and Services? And it matters not, as to the danger and dreadful effects coming thereby, whether these come by minding other things, and by their being ingaged in this pre­sent World, or whether they come through a vain Phanatick, Enthusiastick perswasion, that they are not to act in religious Duties, except extraordinarily moved to it; for still a neglect there is, from what cause soever it comes, the danger and ill effects are the same. That this ill and insensible Spirit, is the effect of such Enthusiastick Notions or Apprehensions, is most manifest in our days; and to that pass, by these means some come, that they neither pray by themselves, nor pray or wor­ship God in their Families; they neither pray with them, nor for them, nor for any, except some extraordinary motion puts them upon it, and so at last they Worship, not God at all, neither in publick, nor as far as any can understand in private; and in fine, do hardly profess, or give any account of their be­lief in Christ Jesus, nor whether they be of the Christian Re­ligion, or of any Religion, or whether they be only Civil Pa­gans; you shall seldom hear them mention the Name of Christ Jesus, with any reverence or expressions of any tolerable Love and Affections to him.

Fourthly, Because these kind of men, before they come to be so bad, do seem to rest much upon the motions of the Spirit of God, as they pretend. (For indeed) to speak the truth, there are extreams on both sides; for as these will do nothing without such motions and impulses, others, on the other hand [Page 70]rest too much in their forms of Devotions, or in their natu­ral Parts and Abilities, and so do not look for, nor seriously attend unto, nor pray for the Divine Illumination, and Com­munication of the holy Spirit, who certainly, to humble sin­cere minds, waiting on him, and asking his help, will never be wanting.

But I say, seeing such extreams and mistakes there are, let us see, what the Scriptures teach us, and what we may rea­sonably expect of Grace and Assistance in this kind, to help us in all holy Christian Works and Services; and we find the Holy Ghost is often spoken of in the Scripture, especially in the New Testament, as an helper and assistant to us, in the things of God, and of Christ Jesus, as, E. G. for the under­standing of them, and our Illumination in them, for the re­membrance and bringing of them, and all fit things unto our minds, for the helping of us in the performance of them; and because our weakness, ignorance, and indisposedness is great, and our infirmities many, still accompanying us in all Religious Services, and especially, in the Work and Duty of Prayer (which is that we gave for an instance for all the rest,) I say, it is plain and manifest enough, that the Holy Spirit of God is promised to us, and doth concern himself in us about these things, but we are no where taught, that ordinarily his Moti­ons are of such a hot and strong Nature, that we cannot resist them; but on the contrary, that men do resist him, and that his Operations may be resisted, and as to the Effect frustrated; he may be grieved and depart from us, not being entertained by us as he ought: And that his Motions are ordinarily soft and still, not coming in a Storm, not in Thunder, or with a Tor­rent, but such, that by men, careless, earthly, lovers of, and busie in this present World, or otherwise indisposed, or ill­disposed, may not be felt or understood, because not attended unto, &c.

Fifthly, That his Motions and Workings in us, are, and al­ways must be, in and by our Reasons and Understandings, as we are men; because, by the faculties, we as men, are indued with, and according to them, we must judge, whether such Motions are good or not, whether the things and works we are [Page 71]put upon, and moved to, are good, fit, seasonable, and pre­sently useful, orderly and comely, whether for edification to our selves, or profit to others; we are to know, consider, and judge of the quality of those Motions, and to understand our selves, lest we follow an ill Spirit, as well as the good and holy Spi­rit of God. Finally, consider, we serve the infinitely Wise God, that takes no pleasure in Fools, nor in inconsiderate Works, Ways, and Worships, unless we know what we do and why. A meer Motion, therefore or Impulse, or strong Inflation and Work upon the mind, is not to be followed without further Tryal and Judgment pass upon it.

Sixthly, And in particular, when we speak of the help and quickning of the Spirit of God, especially, in our Prayers, it is not needful, nor have we any good Reason, to expect that he should dictate to us, the very words and expressions we are to use in them; but the things and matters we are to pray for, with necessary and fit Arguments, by which our Prayers are pressed and inforced, &c. So when we come to consider our state and condition, and what things we have to pray for, it is then proper for the holy Spirit to bring those fit and apt things to our minds, especially, to do this upon great and weighty occasions, and in times of great necessity and trou­bles, which that place, Rom. 8. seems to have a special respect unto. And again, we have great need of this Divine help, to raise and to bear up our hearts, and to maintain a Spirit in us, both constant and fervent, and to keep us from deadness, and formality, and to mind us what we have prayed for, and what we have in design, that we may pursue it to the utmost, till we have obtained what we desire; and further, by his bles­sed Motions and Assistance, to help us against the flatness and dulness of our hearts, and to stir us up, to a continuance and incessantness in it, with many other needful helps, as occasion is and requires, both in this of prayer, and in all other things respecting the perseverance and safe conduct of a Christian Life, in order to Eternal Life.

Seventhly, It is not to be denyed, but that at some times, there may be occasion, (but very rarely) to work upon, to move and act some men at a more than ordinary rate, as the [Page 72]Prophets and Apostles were at some times, when they had some extraordinary Work to do; but this, I say, if it be at all, must needs be rare, extraordinary, and seldom done. Considering,

First, That there needs now no new Revelation of the mind and will of God, what he would have us to do, and to believe, seeing that all this is fully made known by Christ Jesus in his Gospel, who was sent on purpose to make known the most per­fect will of God, and did at the first in a most plentiful man­ner, send down his Gifts and Endowments upon men, to fitthem for the same Work which himself had laid the Foundation of. So that there can be no frequent need and occasion for extra­ordinary Revelations and Motions. If there be any thing yet remaining of an extraordinary Nature, there may be expected extraordinary Assistance, but for our ordinary Duties, belong­ing to a Christian Life, and to the keeping of the Commands of God, to the glorifying of God our Heavenly Father, and for the walking worthy of such a Calling, as we are called unto; we are to learn from the Scripture, and to give our selves to the study of them, with understanding and judgment, learn­ing and drawing our duty from them, together with the Spi­ritual Nature, Excellency, and Dignity of the things we are to understand, the things of God, and of Eternal happiness, and herein we have the Promise, and may expect to receive the help of the Divine Spirit, in and by the means of our Study and Enquiry, only it is necessary we be sincere, sober, and considerate about such matters.

Lastly, Supposing that which is not, (viz.) that such strong motions and impulses should be vouchsafed and allowed, for the stirring of us up to our ordinary daily Works and Duties, such as Prayer, Meditation, Devotion, &c. Suppose, I say, that we needed not go about them, till such motions were strong upon us; though this were true, as it is not, yet this were not the best, nor the most excellent way of Obedience, nor of the performance of any Duties, or good Works, but a kind of weak, low, and childish Obedience, in them that would not, could not stir until they were forcibly led, and that could not upon the appearance of the reason, necessity, and occasion of the Duty, set themselves about it, or know [Page 73]when to do it. Out of doubt it must be judged the most free, most generous, and excellent kind of Obedience, to do and set about our Duty that we know to be so, though we feel no such powerful motions, nor strong inclinations to it, as long as our Reasons and Consciences are convinced of it that it is to be done. Knowing our Duty in the general, we should (according to that common light and wisdom, and the ordinary vouchsafe­ment of God unto us) be willing sometimes to stir up, and to compel our selves to our Duty, or any good work we have to do, and what in our knowledge and Conscience we ought to do, though we should find our selves unwilling, or, as we say, going against the hair, i. e. the present disposition, inclination, and temper of our spirits.

But if we must still wait for extraordinary Motions, and not many times go against our Minds, when they are contrarily bent and indisposed, as too often they are, what mean, (be­sides our own experience) all those great Charges and Injun­ctions-prest upon us, to stir up our selves, to gird up the loins of our Minds, to shake off sloth, or not to be slothful, but vigorous Followers of them, and of that which is good; to be intent and earnest in it, though we have aversation and indisposition to it, &c. Now may not all see, that this is the most free, the most excellent, generous, reasonable, and consequently the most acceptable, and well-pleasing way of obedience, in which not following our natural, or ill dispositions, or indispositions, we pursue, what, according to the Divine Law, and our Duty, we are bound to do, whether it go with us, or against us. And the more we deny our selves, and go against our selves, the more we shew of Reason, and of Resolution, and of entire Devotion, Resignation of our selves unto God, and to his service: Is not this, I say, the most excellent, and therefore the most acceptable way of obedience and performance of all Religious, and Holy Services?

I might add to what hath been said, something about the spirit of Phanaticism, as to Opinions and Tenets in Religion and matters of Faith and Doctrine. Some sometimes take up new and strange Doctrines, meerly upon the account of some pre­sent [Page 74]strong motion and perswasion that is upon their minds. They think they are Divinely inspired, because a thing is set home upon their hearts; and this conceit as wild as it is, hath produced many strange Notions and Opinions that have been born and brought forth into the world by it. The Heat of the Brain, and the Strength of Fancy have been the Parents: and though upon no better a foundation many Disciples have been made, and the Authors have had many followers.

Such was the beginning of many Sects among us, such was the first rise and beginning of several of the Orders of the Ro­mish Church; for the same Spirit works both in them, and sometimes in those that would seem most opposite to them; and whosoever will be at the pains to read Histories both Civil and Ecclesiastical, may find not a few of this kind; and if you will but be at the labour to read some pieces written purposely on this Subject; as Dr. Merrick, Causabon of Enthusiasm; and Dr. Stillingfleet of the Phanaticism of the Church of Rome, and others of this Nature, you may have enough, &c. This wild Spirit hath seemed to shew it self most at the beginning, or soon after the Reformation, or some change in Religion, as it was when Men began, in great Numbers, to fall off from the Church of Rome, and Popery, and at some other time since amongst Protestants, &c.

When Men are newly come out of Darkness and Ignorance, and begin to see the Light, which not having been used unto, they seem to be for a while in a maze, not well knowing where they are, nor how to six themselves, and so run out into extrava­gancies of Opinions and Fancies, without Reason, without End; or else, when they new come out of their former Bondage and Slavery, wherein they have been tyed as to Religion, and their Consciences, and begin to taste Liberty, and the sweet of it, they often grow wild and extravagant, so that no sober bounds of Reason and Religion can hold them. And feeling the Reins now upon their Necks, with which they have been pinched, and too straitly held in, they now run on, while they are quite out of breath: They devise new Opinions, and spawn new Sects at no Aim.

[Page 75]Which thing considered, might be a good Caution and Ad­monition to them who have, or pretend to have the Reins of Ecclesiastick Power in their hands; and such who take upon them to guide and rule others in matters of Religion and Con­science. This, I say, might be an Admonition to them, while they are in Power, to deal gently with those under them, to draw them and drive them, as they are able and willing to go: For though some through Fear and Force, and sometimes for Interest, will go on, and swim with the stream, and go in the Crowd, yet secretly in their minds, they hate and distaste, if not detest it. And though for their present either Ease or In­terest, they comply and submit to the yoke of their hard Ma­sters; yet this somewhat galling their Necks, perhaps their Consciences, as soon as ever they can get loose, and be at liber­ty from under this Bondage, remembring their late forced Com­pliance, they commonly become the greatest Enemies to their old Masters, and above all others, are most fierce against them. Yea, those who never complied, but were clear Dissenters from them, commonly are not so great Haters, fierce and implacable Opposers as these: For they having not only stoopt against their Wills, but against their Consciences too, in some kind, they now know not how sufficiently to revenge themselves against their Drivers. The experience of our former Troubles, besides the reason of the thing it self, is a sufficient Proof of this: But from what Cause soever it is, this is certain, when Men break loose from under the hands of tyrannous and super­stitious Men, few of them can keep in temperate Bounds; for being rid of the common Enemy to them all, every one of them are ready to set up for themselves, some into one way, some in­to another; some devise new Opinions, whereby to make a new Sect or Party, &c.

And among the many Occasions and Temptations this way, this is frequently found to be one, they either are persuaded themselves, or pretend to it, and endeavor to make other Men believe, that they have some new Revelation, and what they do is by Divine Inspiration; which thing, for the supposed ex­cellency, honour and singularity of it, invites and tempts great [Page 76]Numbers after them, to which this doth not a little contribute, in that they now see, what little or no reason their old Masters had to claim such a Power and Authority as they used and ex­ercised over them. And they cannot also, but easily and quick­ly see this, that they have full as much Authority to guide and govern themselves to take their own course, in chusing of their own Religion, Sect, or Opinion; yea, and more than their for­mer Lords could justly pretend, and lay claim unto, for the Rule and direction of those they had under their Power. Therefore certainly it would well become all that are in Place and Power either in Church or State, when they intermeddle, and concern themselves in Religion, and go about to direct and guide Con­sciences in it, that they would make this most evident to them, that the Power they exercise, and the Things they command and enjoin, are most clear and evident, upon the most undoubted Principles of Reason and Religion, such as are either really, or upon the matter self evident, &c.

Finally, This still seems to have been the Method and Policy of the Devil and evil Angels, proceeding from that great ma­lice and envy they have unto Men, because of the great mercy of God shew'd unto them, viz. That in the first place they en­deavour to debauch the Souls and Consciences of Men, and to turn them quite off from God, and to draw them (if possible) through the vile Sinks and Channels of all Filthiness, Pollution, and Prophaneness; unto all abominable Sin and Wickedness, both of flesh and spirit, &c.

But if this be not so feasible always, but that some Men will be sober, serious, and perhaps Religiously inclined, yea, devout and zealous, then they lay the train of their Temptations an­other way, and in another vein, more suitable to their Nature and Tempers, and find out for them, and fill them with some fine Notions, and curious Speculations, with strange Doctrines, and some new devised, or new revived Opinions and Heresies, and make them believe that these matters newly revealed, and brought to their minds, set home upon their spirits, are from and by the Spirit of God, and that God hath in a special manner revealed and honoured them to be the Authors or Preachers of [Page 77]them, and so they increase and propagate, and being carried on with great heat and confidence, and in the Name of God, and being Novelties, which the Vulgar are not acquainted with, they are much affected therewith; they take them up both eagerly and hastily, and will by no means have the pa­tience, nor the prudence, to have any thing seriously tryed by plain Scripture and Reason; or however will not hearken with calmness, and without prejudice, what may be said to it, and against it, but run away with it, being loth to lose the honour of a new-discovery, and of being the first promoters of it, &c.


THus Christian Friends I have taken a liberty (but no other than the common concern of every Christian will allow) to mind you of some things wherein you may be blame­worthy, or thought so to be: I neither have, nor dare take upon me so much Authority or Confidence to reprove, judge or condemn you for the matters here taxed; but only I take my observations from others, and from not so much private as publick reproofs, nay from the scorn and derision some make at those things they think reprovable in you, publickly exposing you on those accounts: Your Friends being in the mean time heartily sorry that you take no more notice thereof, but be­cause they are your reputed enemies, and such you account loose and prophane (though you cannot think they are all so) that have publickly, and in Print thus exposed you; you have not endeavoured seriously to look into your ways, and to consider whether something thus noted, may not stick to you. Remember that we all considered, both as men, and as particular Sects and Parties, are better seen by others than by our selves, and should not hastily and out of prejudice and ill opinion reject the reproofs and admonitions, no not those that [Page 78]are done out of malice and hatred, and perhaps with scorn, con­tempt and revenge, knowing that though such may overdo, yet are like enough to light upon what is true as well as false, because they will take all that is to be found or suspected: But I assure you, some of your Friends, and such who agree with you in the same cause of Nonconformity, have with grief and regret observed some of these faults and defects, especially those about too much Formality amongst Professors and Dissen­ters, thinking so well of themselves for, if not glorifying in their Party, and way of Dissent and Separation, without those real Fruits, holy Dispositions, and such Christian temper of Spirit, in all Peace, Meekness, Humility and Sanctity, and such good works that should grace the Christian Profession, and cannot be reproved, but may be understood and approved of all, even the worst of men: And they are not a little troubled at the folly, Fanaticism and Enthusiasm of some of you, (though others of all Parties may be guilty as well as you) and the lack of that manly wisdom in managing your Chri­stian Profession, and those rational both Principles and Practices that might adorn it, the want whereof disgraces it altogether.

It hath been before noted, that folly or Fanaticism is as dis­graceful (and in some respects worse) to the Honour and Beauty of the Christian Profession, as Prophaneness and Irreligion; both of them and in the same point, have the same ill effects upon the Prophane and Negligent part of mankind, especially men that are Wittily wicked; the Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, caution as well against the one as the other, and against the Former of Folly and Fancy, in all those places where we are cau­tioned not to be Fools, but to be wise; not weak, nor Children in understanding; so not in practice, but to be wise and walk wisely, to be knowing and understanding, what that good, most perfect, most acceptable will of God is, that we may do it; and we are bid to have Salt in our selves, and to be sober and serious, wise and prudent, with abundance of this kind, and especially to take care of this in our publick Worship, and Be­haviour of a Religious nature. You would do well to look se­tiously into your Principles and Opinions, and the conceptions you have of God, and of the things of Religion, that there be [Page 79]not any error or mistake about them, that may betray you into these ways of Fancy and Enthusiasm.

2. I confess it is sometime since these Papers, and the Address to you was first drawn up, that there may have been some Al­terations in some Matters and Affairs relating to you (as every day will alter somewhat;) and that you may think some Seve­rities have been used towards you since; but I hope this shall not make you to lose any part of your Patience, Prudence, or Charity, but by such exercise to improve in them, and to let patience have her perfect work, James 1. v. 4. that you may be entire, wanting nothing; and if any want either wisdom or patience, let him ask of God who giveth liberally to all; but be well and throughly resolved that what you ask you are re­solved to follow and practice, and not wavering, nor unresol­ved whether you had best have it or not, for then you shall re­ceive nothing, ver. 6, 7, 8, &c. Further, 'tis my desire that you would be more compassionate to them you think hurt and molest you, then concerned for your selves; not to be angry or offend­ed with them, but to learn what Spirit you are to be of towards your enemies, and to learn of him who is the great pattern and exemplar in this and all Divine vertues, even our dear and to be adored Lord and Saviour in his Precepts commanding us to love our enemies, and to pray for them that despightfully use us and persecute us; not to return evil for evil, no not in words re­viling for reviling; with abundance more to this purpose: And himself was the excellent example in this, yea when he was upon the Cross in the midst of his Torments, and surrounded with his Tormentors, with scornful revilings, cruel mockings, and the highest provocations (and I think under the most cru­el hard circumstances, all things considered that ever any was) yet in the midst of all did not so much mind himself as them, his Charity and Compassion was greater for them than himself, and most heartily praying for forgiveness of them: And that we may not think this only proper for him, and that no other could do the like, or imitate him in it, consider that besides his Example, that we are to follow his Command (and surely he would not command it if we were not by his Grace in a capa­city to do it.) We have also an instance of one of his Servants, [Page 80]a man with like passions with our selves, Stephen the first Mar­tyr, who when he was in the throng of his violent Executio­ners actually stoning of him, yet then was most mindful of them, and prayed heartily for them, having well learned of his Lord and Master. You have not yet suffered much; 'tis good for Christians, and their duty, to be prepared for the worst, which the Christian spirit will most excellently fit them for: And be sure in all your Prayers to God, there be not the least tincture of hatred against your enemies, or uncharitableness or ill will against any, for this will spoil all, and the good success of them.

Secondly, Neither is it well done, (though too many are faul­ty in it) to trouble your selves with fears and jealousies, of what Evils will come, what Alterations, Changes, and Revoluti­ons may be in the World, or amongst our selves, the fears of Popery, and the great Troubles that must needs follow there­upon. Not to be ever careful in any of these things, but in these, and in all, to commit your care, and the care of all, and the publick, as well as your own private, unto God by Prayer and Supplication, and leave it with him, trust him with it, and the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Hinder not your selves in the enjoyment of your present peace, nor by a diversion of your mind, and trou­bling your selves about these supposed and feared Events. Your present great work and care of working out your Salvation, re­quires the greatest care and fear above all, and in this, as well as other things, let your moderation be known unto all men, and whatever may by the Providence of God, or evil of men, fall out, that may displease and trouble you in matter of State­changes, be you not disturbed nor provoked to any Displeasure, Discontent, much less, Tumultuousness, and Violent Motions: but be as Christ Jesus, whose Kingdom not being of this World, was not, would not be concerned in the Affairs of it, much less, to disturb the Publick, and State Affairs in it; so should his Servants, they have other work to mind, and enough to do, to carry on the Affairs of his Spiritual Kingdom in their own hearts, and to promote it in the World, in all his ways of Goodness and Charity, in Meekness and Piety, in Perseve­rance, [Page 81]in Well-doing, and patient Forbearance and Suffering. Finally, what I have writ here, and said, I have done it in the Fear of God, and in Love and Charity to all, being desi­rous to do what I can to honour the Gospel of our Lord and Sa­viour, and to my Power to warn you against the things that are dishonourable to it: And I consider, that the designe of God in the Gospel of Christ, is, that after the Revealing, Preach­ing, and Publishing of it, it should be next carryed on, by the holy Lives, and worthy Walking of those that profess it, and commended to the World that way, and that the Light of your good Works and holy Living should shine before men, that you should so manage your Christian Profession, both in your private Capacities, and as Members of the Christian Church; and that by this means you may prevail, and do more good than with all Professions, Preaching, or any other Services otherwise you can do; yea, so powerful is holy Living, that they that will not be perswaded by the World, may be won by the excellent Conversation of Christian Men and Women. I might here cite abundance to this Purpose, even the whole new Te­stament-writings, but this is plain, and well known: Happy are we if we do it: To conclude, all should look more at god­liness and worthy walking, and for the promotion of Piety in the World, than to any particular part of Religion, Opinion, or Party of their own; but this is not yet well learnt nor taught as is too evident among the several Sects, Parties, and divisi­ons of Christians among our selves, and elsewhere; for most are more intent upon their own way, than upon the main de­sire of the Christian Religion, and so are still looking about for such particular Passages, and Texts of Scripture, some par­ticular Precept, Command, or Example, that may favour their own Way, Opinion, or Party, and hack and hew at these, cut­ting them off from their main body, and grand designe of Re­ligion, whereas being taken, as they are, and ought to be, in Conjunction with it, and interpreted according to, the main principle Duties of Godliness, Peace and Charity, and the advancement of real Righteousness and Goodness, the sence and meaning of all such particular Parts and Passages, would become easie, and be better understood, and that aspect [Page 82]and influence they have upon the whole, would be better per­ceived, and the minding the great Intent and purpose of Reli­gion, would enlighten them, and so Contentions about them would cease; Love, Charity, and Goodness, would be joynt­ly promoted and carryed on by all, and the common good and Salvation of men, furthered for the most part, the contests in Religion are but about the lesser things, viz. outward Ordi­nances and Rites, some smaller and less considerable Opinions and Practices, all which would be soon ended, if Christians of all Sects and Divisions, would but mind the main; if their Passions. Lusts; and evil Affections were mortified, and their Love and Charity to all were more warm, and if they would still mind what is best to be done, and wherein they may best approve themselves to God, and to men; herein also would they find the greatest Peace and Satisfaction in themselves, and acceptation with God, and the righteous Judge of all, Jesus Christ our Lord at the last. I end all with the excellent Rule, laid down in General, comprehensive, Terms, Phil. 4.8. Final­ly, Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest (decent or seemly,) whatsoever things are just (or Righ­teous,) whatsoever things are pare, whatsoever things are lovely, (or Friendly,) whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any Vertue, if there be any Praise, think upon these things.


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