SOME FEW CONSIDERATIONS PROPOVNDED, As so many Scruples by Mr. Henry Robinson in a Letter to Mr. Iohn Dury upon his Epistolary Discourse: With Mr. Duryes Answer thereunto.

VVherein is observable with what overtures of spirit they endeavour to edifie each other, notwithstanding their differing Judgements and Opinions about the Independent and Presbyterian way.

Published by a Well-willer to Peace and Truth, in expectation that it may no little conduce, either to the reconciling of such Controversies, or to the debating them with lesse noise and bitternesse.

Whereunto is annexed another Epistolary Discourse, written by Mr. John Dury, to a worthy Knight, concerning the Principles of Meditation: From which Rules may be gathered to direct men to order their thoughts, so as to finde a reso­lution of all their doubts.

2 Tim. 2. 24, 25.
A servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meeknesse instructing (even) those that oppose themselves.
Gal. 6. 1, 2.
If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spirituall restore such a one in the spirit of weeknesse, considering thy self lest thou also be tempted.
Psal. 50. v. 23.
Who so offereth praise glorifieth me, and to him that ordereth his Conversa­tion aright, will I shew the salvation of God.

LONDON, Printed for Charles Green, and are to be sold at his Shop in Ivie Lane, at the signe of the Gun. 1646.

To the Reverend and much honoured, Mr. IOHN DURY.

Reverend Sir:

ACcording to that small talent of understand­ing which it pleased the eternall Dispencer, from whom all good gifts proceed, to be­stow upon me: I may safely say, and that with great joy of heart; how amongst so ma­ny as doe argue, and debate the present diffe­rences of the Churches, particularly about the Independent and Presbyteriall Govern­ment, I have not met with any who ever yet expressed so sweet, so brotherly, so Christian, and even so Apostolicall a spirit, as without any other prospective, I clearly see inhabiting in you breast, by some letters which came forth about two months agoe, entituled, An Epistolary Discourse, &c. with others, which it pleased my worthy friend Mr. Hartlib to favour me withall: your proceeding with the Apologists therein, I cannot better expresse, then, as if it were between your own right hand and your left; towards which, any other then an equall proportion of liberty and affection would bee both unnaturall and unjust.

It is now eight monthes since I was bold to enquire after you in hope you had been in England, with an intention of importuning you (which since I perceived to be needlesse through your own for­wardnesse) to engage your selfe towards the reconciling of this Clergie War; but understanding you were so farre off, and withall scarce setled, or well at leasure, I forbore purposely to give you farther trouble. However because in the beginning of your Letter to Mr. Hartlib, as also in the other to Mr. Good win and Mr. Nye: you [Page 2] seemed desirous of a further correspondency with the Apologists, or some others in their way; whereby you might have knowne the state of their case in England: and as I conceive would gladly for the common Cause sake, that some punctuall answer were made un­to the Epistolary Discourse, which I am fearfull will not succeed as yet, in that I apprehend that most men of their way, are rather to­tally possessed and taken up with an imminent danger, and daily ex­pecting some sudden sentence of absolute silence or certaine banish­ment for what is said already, through a most fierce persecution of certaine unquiet Presbyterian Spirits: the consideration whereof, as also the great desire I have of being farther knowne unto you in the high esteem of those admirble gifts which God hath given you, pre­vaile with mee to trouble you with these few generall considerati­ons, upon the reading of your Epistolary Discourse; whereby you will perceive I take not upon me neither to state the controversie (so much above my slender abilities) and yet not as one altogether without hopes, through Gods mercy (which is still most eminent when most rely'd upon) and the love you beare to truth (a greater then which I know not where to find to make an ensample unto my selfe) but that they may in some small manner, and by degrees bee conducing unto the publique good.

Pag. 20. Briesly then about the middle of your book; you please to say the Apologists are not to be tolerated unlesse they can shew their way of Non-communion to be the only way of God; and the Presbyteriall contrary &c. But I should suppose it sufficient, if they can prove their way to be one of the wayes of God, if but a possibility of salvation in their way; since they professe before God and man, and must be beleeved in charity, that they cannot comply with a good conscience in any other way: our Saviours Proclamati­on of: He that was not against him was on his part, Mark. 9. 40. seems to make not a little to this purpose; and so much the rather, they may be tolerated, whilst they insist not so much that the Pres­byteriall government should be rejected by the State, as that their own way be barely suffered among themselves: but whilst the Pres­byterian party (or such as will not permit a Civil abode but) banish or exp [...]ll all such as differing in opinon doe separate themselves from Church society; they are Authors of a more desperate separa­tion, [Page 3] far worse then non-communion, or the separatists themselves in whatsoever sense, because they take away all possibility of regain­ing them, if they were in an error by their conversation.

Pag. 21. The lesse the cause of separation is; the greater the fault is, in those that make it:

The cause of separation is great in apprehension of the Apologists, but lesse in judgement of the Presbyterians, proceeding only, as these usually alledge, about things indifferent; and therefore they ought the rather to give way unto them, since they may contrive it with a quiet conscience; all the reason they give unto the contrary, is the goodlinesse of uniformity in the outward comlinesse, which can­not be stood upon as necessary; much lesse to be pressed so far, as not to suffer such to live amongst them, who cannot comply through tendernesse of conscience; godly, reasonable, and understanding men, as they are thought to be, should not by charitable men, be deemed to separate to their so great inconveniences, if their conscience could otherwise dispence with them; whereas the Presbyterians here, which stand upon their pantofles, enjoying all accōmodations, may easier be supposed to keep their dispised brethren of the Inde­pendent way to such hard taske and measure, to gratifie their pri­vate interests.

Pag. 23. Let us remember, that the servants of God must not strive, but be gentle to all men; chiefly unto our neerest brethren. If the Apologists can be thought to strive, 'tis only in a defensive way, to keep their consciences from being ravished into a unifor­mity; whereof they finde themselves not able to give an account neither to God nor man; but they are the Presbyterians, which may be said, both properly and actually to strive, and that with car­nall civill weapons, whilest by their doctrine, instigation, or appro­bation, their poor brethren, which cannot with a good conscience comply with them, are persecuted by discountenancing, turning out of their Ministery and livelihoods, imprisoning and banishing, through grief and manifold inconveniences, even unto death.

Pag. 24. You say, if spirituall relation cannot be setled by the wisdome and loving affections of spirituall office-bearers within the Church amongst themselves, then it is just that they should forfeit their spirituall right and liberty, &c.

[Page 4]If this be so; I would gladly see it proved from evidence of Scrip­ture, or good reason; for, I conccive, that as Christ did only pur­chase for us our Christian rights and liberties: so no State or Go­vernment, no body but himself may take upon him to abridge us of them: Secondly, that no civill misdemeanors can be just cause to abridge us of our Christian liberty: Thirdly, that divisions in opini­ons about a Church-way do not necessarily conclude divisions in a State: And lastly, such as do actually disturb the civill State, the pub­like peace, both ought, and may be punished, even unto death, with­out abridging such offenders; much lesse the civilly innocent in their spirituall rights and liberties. The utmost extent and height of Chri­stians differing in opinion, which I ever heard of, was this. First, that they might have leave to search the Scriptures: Secondly, to try the spirits, examine the doctrines which were taught them, and so rejecting error, hold fast the truth; worshpping God in such a man­ner as he requires, with confirming and edifying one another in all piety and godlinesse, for discharging of a good conscience, both to­wards God and man. If it be objected, that men may not worship God after a false manner, under pretence of a true one; nor pub­lish errors in stead of truth: I answer, that nothing can be saving truth, nor any kind of worshipping God prove acceptable from any man, which is not held to be such in his own conscience and un­derstanding. I submit my self to heare, reade, or be informed in whatsoever shall be required of me; and it may on strong presump­tions be conceived, that the sundry disadvantages I lie under, in dis­senting, with the many benefits I might receive by conforming, do make me no little willing and desirous, that my very judgement and conscience could be brought about to approve and agree in what the State establisheth, so it might be with a good conscience towards God and man; but if after all this I shall professe in presence of the Lord, that I do not finde evidence by all that was alledged, for con­vincing of my conscience, I desire to see cleer grounds from Scrip­ture, on which any politick ends of State may any wayes proceed to offer violence, or any degree of compulsive means to work upon my conscience and understanding, on which such spirituall as have hi­therto been used were not able to prevail, since such only we finde warrantable and sanctified in Scripture to this effect.

[Page 5] Pag. 25. They should be so tolerated, as may be no prejudice to that Church whereof the State it self is professedly a nursing mother.

I cannot apprehend how the similitude can hold between a pri­vate Christian and a publike State in many respects; I will urge on­ly in one, viz. a publike State may at sometime, both have, and suf­fer thwarting, crosse or contrary opinions to be believed, and yet sub­sist, though (if it were granted) not so peacebly, not so secutely as is objected. But a private Christian cannot possibly, at one and the same time, believe two diametrically opposite opinions to be true in the self same respect.

I wish you would be pleased to state the course and orderly con­ference you speak of, p. 26. which doubtlesse all Independents will with you approve of.

I do not find it expressed in Scripture, that Christian Magistrates have any thing to do in setting up an outward visible worship under the Gospell; or that they can any wayes be furthering of it, except by giving good example unto others, as being members of the Church, or in protecting the Saints, whilest they apply themselves to worship God, according to the integrity of their own consciences, in spirit and in truth, for since the Magistrates weapons are coercive, teriall, camall, if they take upon them the vindication of spirituall neglect or defect, each State setting up its own, a different worship; men must from time to time take that to be the truest, and subject their consciences to that which hath the sharpest sword to fight for it, still changing Religion according to the event of warre; with the sundry alterations of States and Kingdomes. And though I am not well satisfied with the expression you use concerning the con­science of a State: I suppose you will sufficiently apprehend me, if I querie, whether the conscience of every State, can be accoun­table, and at the day of judgement excuse all such as have been cast away through false worships, which they set up in relation to their own consciences respectively, compelling the people to submit thereto? If not, I querie again, if it be not are argument of greatest indiscretion, for reasonable men and women to resigne up their own understandings, unto such as cannot bear them harmlesse for so do­ing, and of greatest presumption and tyrannie in those who assume unto themselves a spirituall dominion over others, whom they can [Page 6] neither give a spirituall assurance to at present; nor provide for them if need be a spirituall deliverance hereafter.

Pag. 28. You say the Civill Magistrate may not meddle with what is spirituall, nor the Spirituall office bearer with what is Ci­vill, which I grant: and yet p. 29. you say the Civill Magistrate must have the cognizance of the just and orderly behaviour of those which doe administer Spirituall ordinances: wherein I beseech you, consider whether this be not a direct way of setting the Civill and Spirituall office bearers at odds amongst themselves; as put the case the Civill Magistrate tells the Spirituall, that he hath not well & orderly administred the Ordinances, admonishes him to reforme; and upon resusall proceeds to punish him: on the contrary, the Spi­rituall Magistrate justifies himselfe; flyes to his Spirituall weapons in his owne defence, and if they prevail not, in likelihood endeavours to stir up the people against the Civill Magistrate; and how you can avoid this great disturbance upon these grounds I cannot possibly imagine, but much desire to be informed thereof, if your leasure may permit, and that upon further thoughts you continue of the same opinion. You make it likewise within the sphere of the Civill Ma­gistrate to keep people from choosing Teachers according to their owne humours, their owne understandings, and Teachers from drawing people after them: how is this I beseech you, consistent with the liberty? nay the charge which is imposed upon Christians for trying of the spirits, and holding fast that which is good: if they may not heare such as they apprehend to be sent from Christ, and imbrace such doctrines as they take to be saving truths, and neces­sary to their salvation according to that light of reason and under­standing in the Scriptures, which God hath given them for this very purpose.

Pag. 36. ‘If those you call common principles (whilst you say the Apologists insisting on generalities, cannot be brought to tri­all) were demonstrative, as you alleadge the Scriptures may bee demonstratively analized. P. 4. I should thinke it the worke of some Angell to have it once effected; and as well the Apologists as all others who now differ in opinion, would quickly grow toge­ther into an unity of faith:’ But till then I shall expect, that accor­ding to the Scriptures, there will be heresies, and in the mean time [Page 7] conceive that nothing, except this demonstrative analizing sacred truth, will sooner vanquish them, then the suffering them, to bee with all possible freedome examined and debated, which must ne­cessarily infer the most acknowledged truths themselves, to be sub­ject to the same proceeding, in that what one man, Church or Nati­on takes to be truth, another perhaps accounts no lesse then heresie: And if Paul told the Galathians, that if a good Angell, an Angell from heaven, should preach any other Gospell to them then what the Apostles had done before, he should be accursed: I conceive we may much more try the spirits of mortall men, of like passions and infirmities with our selves, consequently holding fast what wee finde sound, and rejecting what appeares to bee erronious by the touchstone of holy Writ, according to our owne reason, understand­ing and faith: since we neither may or can judge truly of them (no more then see with the eyes of other men) by the reason, under­standing and faith of others: neither can I apprehend a third or any meane betwixt these two conditions.

To Pag. 30. I consesse a dissolved government, may often times prove dangerous and fatail to any State, both Civill and Ecclesiasti­call; and yet not so dangerous not fatall as a dominiering, over rigid, tyrannicall government, especially in the spirituall state; and both of them are therefore to be regulated according to their bounds and rules: If Church discipline and censures will not prevaile on Church members, I finde no warrant to flye to Civill, but conceive it highly condemned even by that place of Paul, where he blames the Corin­thians for going to law with one another, and that before unbelee­vers; besides all Civill states account themselves in a manner perfect for their civill condition and constitution: As first, they are com­pleat in Lawes, they have as many as they will themselves, they pre­tend to understand them fully, even to the least jot, and every man is bound to know them exactly, and keep them in the letter. But for spirituall matters we know but in part; and therefore ought to reach forth to what is wanting, not refusing to lend an eare unto it, though tendered by a stammering illiterate tongue of some other­wise despised soule: As all truth for the most part, even from the beginning hath been discountenanced, and rejected upon the first discovery, and so much the rather in that the Primitive Christians [Page 8] however weak and ignorant in faith and knowledge, the Apostles found them; yet had they such amongst them in both respects, as far exceeded all others ever since; neither have we such infallible teachers like theirs, to confirm unto us what we have for truth, or adde unto us what is wanting.

To pag. 31. I must needs confesse, the opinion of a greater light is no little deceitfull; but doth not God require that we should walk according to such appearing light, whether true or false, I must be guided by it, as it appears unto my selfe? and how can God be an­gry with me for serving him to my power? or how can man con­demne me for differing from him, when I have used all such rationall common principles which he could prescribe to bring me to be of this opinion, without prevailing upon my conscience? You say well with the Apostle, that if any man thinketh he knoweth any thing he knoweth nothing, yet as he ought to know, 1 Cor. 8. 2. and yet a man must be ruled by that which he thus but thinks to know: so, much lesse ground hath any man to impose what he knowes not, (for even his knowledge neither is no better) upon ano­ther who knowing nothing, yet knowes as much as himself: Nay, a Synod, Councel, or State, have so little preemimence in this respect, as that we must not look upon them with respect of persons, unlesse we will justifie the Church of Rome in their implicit faith.

Pag. 32. You approve the casting off subjection and absolute obe­dience unto Episcopacy, but would not have dissolved the brotherly corresponcie in a Presbyterie; and certainly it should not be, but it must then continue brotherly; we must run hand in hand like bro­thers, so long as we can keep a good conscience both towards God and man; and if afterwards upon just grounds in our opinions, for some respects, we are forced to separate from them, we shall be yet desirous to rest among them, that if possibly they may be won by a godly conversation; but if like a curst father, or imperious Master, they endeavour with rods and staves to drive us from our Father and Master, which is in heaven; or from our native countrey, friends and livelihoods, they do not only cease to be brotherly, but cast away all hopes or possibility of reclaiming us if we were in an error.

Pap. 34. You make duties of practice no lesse fundamentall in the profession of Christianity, then the knowledge of necessary [Page 9] truths, according unto which principle, I suppose the Apologists ought to be permitted, both to practise such duties as they appre­hend requisite, and not to joyn with such as they esteem superfluous, erroneous, since both may be no lesse of faith, then for one that eateth, and another that eateth not, whilest both give thanks to God, as Paul sayes of them, Rom. 14. 6.

To pag. 37. As they will not refuse subjection to their own Pastor, that hath the charge of their souls, so much lesse when what he requires of them be confirmed by the approbation of a Presbyterie, other Churches, or Brethren; but this must be in such things as they may yeeld unto with a good conscience; and in case they finde reason for dissenting, they are liable only to be censured by their own Church, which hath power over them, not by any others, who have no jurisdiction, much lesse authoritative o [...] com­pulsative: Synods and Assemblies may well be convocated, and take counsel, debate, and seek to vanquish such difficulties as arise without a Majesteriall jurisdiction, which neither our Saviour or his Apostles did ever make use of, or give command to others to practise it in after ages; Christs kingdome was not of this world, his body is mysticall; and such means only are capable to build us up therein.

Thus have I presumed in as weak as cursory a manner to weigh the foregoing passages of your Epistolary discourse, in the unequall ballance, like enough, of my own understanding, but proceeding in­tirely from a desire of being better informed in what I am at a losse: I doubt not but your singular candidnesse of mind will make a good interpretation of it.

The setling of an Ecclesiasticall Peace, I apprehend to be of such eminent weight and consideration, as that without it Christians will never in any comparative degree be brought to unity in discipline and doctrine; and that more souls are kept from knowledge of the truth, and miscarry through persecuting one another, for cause [...] conscience, then by reason of all other such great differences be­twixt them, whether for discipline or doctrine.

If you have puplished any of your other thoughts, concerning this subject besides your Consultatio Theologie [...], &c. Letter to the L. Forbes, and your Informati [...] Ecclesiis Reformatis oblata, &c. I [Page 10] should excedingly rejoyce to have a sight thereof; ‘and espe­cially touching the demonstrative analizing the Scriptures, which I conceive would be a greater Jewell, then all that ever Solo­mon wrote of, from the Cedar to the shrub:’ Wherefore I most humbly beseech you, for the publike good, that you would not suffer the least dram of your Meditations in this behalfe, any longer to lie waste or dormant, which, though it were not yet per­fect and compleat, might by degrees, and contemplations of others well-affected, be further improved, to the eternall honour of the Almighty, to whose gracious protection, I cordially recommend your most pious endeavous, and to them most earnestly desiring to become any wayes subservient, do in all humble manner remain

Your most devoted Friend and Servant in the Lord, Henry Robinson.

To his much respected and loving friend in Christ, Mr. Henry Robinson.

Worthy Sir

ALthough your Letter did miscarry, and never came in the Originall to my hand; nor the Copy there­of till I was resolving to goe from Rotterdam to­wards England, yet I thought my selfe obliged to answer your love; which then I did beginne to do, but was interrupted in the prosecution hither­to: neverthelesse lest either mine owne purpose or your equitable desires should be frustrate; or I seem carelesse to give you some satis­faction to your scruples; I shall now endeavour to perfect the thoughts which once were in my minde, beseeching the Lord to assist us both with the encrease of his Grace; that in this and all other services his Glory may be advanced by us.

But before I enter upon the matter, I must truly tell you, That as I cannot acknowledge any of these things in my selfe which you at­tribute unto me beyond my measure; so I must needs take notice of the large expression of your affections which I am bound to requite and entertaine; not only because you have moderate and sober thoughts of your self, and because your way seems to me very inge­nuous, and your whole strain conscionable in the doubts which you make; all which deserves respect: but chiefly because the duty of Christian love (even towards those that deserve it not) is the only meanes of edification towards them: For it doth make the testi­mony of divine Truth in the [...] thereof without offence: and therefore fit to be received through Gods blessing with profit by them to whom it is offered. For as God is moved, and is powerfull [Page 12] only by his love to reveale himselfe to us, offering himselfe as a Fa­ther of spirits to his children, which are our soules; so we as chil­dren of such a Father are bound to doe all things in his love; for so we are commanded by the Apostle, Ephes. 5. 1, 2. and towards our Brethren we should as members of each other advance that know­ledge which we have of him and his truth in love only and not o­therwise: For what we doe with any other affection is done in our ownestrength, and will be found either ineffectuall, or hurtfull to edification. Therefore as I make no doubt but you have spoken the truth from your heart: so I shall assure you that I shall without partiality lay open unto you my thoughts, and hold out the light which I have received; not only in these things which you have pro­posed, but in all other matters wherein I shall finde my selfe obli­ged to beare witnesse to the Truth.

Now then beseeching him againe to direct our thoughts, and guide our spirits in all truth by his holy Spirit of promise in Jesus Christ, to be able to doe all things unblameably to the glory of his Grace and our mutuall comfort, I shall endeavour to resolve the doubts which you propose, and give you as briefly as may bee the best satisfaction I can.

1. To the first Scruple then out of pag. 20. concerning the tolera­tion of the Apologists: I finde that you take not up rightly my meaning; I will therefore explaine it first more fully, and then come to the particulars of your exception. Consider therefore that in the whole first part of my Discourse, and consequently in that place which you alleadge, I speake not of a Toleration of Forbea­rance whereby one Christian is bound with all long suffering to support another in meeknesse: nor of a Toleration of Connivence in a Civill state, whereby the Magistrate may winke at things which he cannot mend, when they are not setled according to his judge­ment: but I doe speake of that Toleration which I supposed the Apologists did sue for; which I must call a Toleration of Approba­tion, which the Magistrate as the publicke Minister of God, in the visible society of men should setle therein for the welfare thereof. My Question then in the first part of the Discourse is not, what in State Policie (I should have said humane Prudencie) a Magistrate may doe lawfully, if his inclination leads him thereunto: or what [Page 13] in charity as a Christian he should intend to doe privately: but what in state wisdome as it is subordinate unto Gods will in the professi­on of Christianity is most expedient for him to doe in his publicke place. And in this respect I say, that I thinke it no wisdome in a state seeking a Reformation of Religion, to tolerate by way of Ap­probation (that is in effect to authorise and setle for a time) a pub­licke profession, which they cannot finde to bee the true and only way which God alloweth. This is the meaning of my assertion in the whole first part of my Discourse: and in this sense only I dis­swade the state to grant the Apologists their Petition: but if for other more important reasons it cannot be denyed, then I thought it would be wisdome in the state, so to limitate the Toleration which they should grant for time and manner; that thereby a full agree­ment and unity might be brought to passe between the Apologists and their Brethren, which is the subject of the two following heads of my Discourse: and I am still in the same minde which then I was in.

But if you or any make a doubt of the first Position, take notice of the grounds whereupon I raise it; and if you or any, can shew me that they are not sound, I shall quit them with their conse­quence.

I conceive then the Magistrate to be Gods Vicegerent, over the society of men, as it is a Civill Body; and that his charge is to looke to the Naturall constitution and visible face of that society, to keep it in a frame subordinate unto the glory of God; that it may appeare that God by him ruleth in the world in the Kingdome of men. Hee then is bound as a Vicegerent of the most High to authorize (that is to set up in the name of his Sovereign) nothing but that which his best understanding tells him, is the will of his Sovereigne: Now he cannot be ignorant of this; that his true worship should only be au­thorised in his name, because that is only according to his will. Therefore I conclude that it will be no wisdome in him to authorise the practise of any Religion in the state, committed by God unto his inspection, but that which he knoweth to be the true worship of God; and if he knoweth it not to be the true way of Gods wor­ship, He hath no warrant to authorise it. He may (if he cannot avoid the Toleration) doe, as God doth with us; winke at it, untill the [Page 14] time of reformation, which is in his eye; and in the mean time, direct all unto the best ends he can, in hope of redresse, but may not autho­rise and settle what his Soveraign doth not allow in his worship: This is my ground for the duty of the Magistrate: as for that which I call the only way of God, which the Magistrate is to look to, I conceive it to be nothing else but the true way, which God doth intend should be observed for his glory: For I conceive that his true way is but one only way, for God is but one only God, and his name is one: The way of his glory must be therefore as his name is one only way, because his glory is nothing else but the manifestation of his name, from all which, I suppose, I may lawfully inferre thus much, except the Apologists can shew that their way of non-com­munion is the only way of God; that it will be no wisdome in the state to authorize it joyntly with the way which they have setled, and acknoleged to be the true way; for this were to make the name of God, which he in his Vicegerency is to uphold, which is but one in glory, manifold, against the intention of God in Christ, and the du­ty of his Vicegerency: For if God doth manifestly declare that all Christians are called in Christ to partake of his glory, by being oneEphes. 4. body and one spirit in him, as partaking of one Baptisme, of one faith, and of one hope of their calling throuhg him, then it is also manifest that his Vicegerent on earth amongst men, should advance by all lawfull means which belong outwardly to the sphere of his charge, tho setlement of this unity, to be as visible as may be amongst those who make profession to answer the calling of God in Chri­stianity.

From all which I suppose you may gather an answer to your sup­posals: For when you say, to obtain a toleration, it is sufficient, if they can prove their way to be one of the wayes of God, if but a possibility of salvation therein: I answer that I see not how Gods wayes to salvation can be said to be many, Christ Jesus is but one yesterday, to day and for ever the same, Heb. 13. 8. and without him there is no salvation. Now his way to save, is but one, which is by faith; and the means to beget faith is but one: this is the word, and the way to bring the faithfull by this means to the Father is but one: namely, the government and leading of the Spirit, which directeth the children of God in all truth answerable to, and [Page 15] discernable by the tenor of his covenant with them in the Word. If then the Word be but one, the covenant in it one, the truth in the Spirit but one; and the government of souls to enjoy God it that truth through the Spirit be also but one; I know not what you mean by the many wayes of God, and those having a possibility of salva­tion; except you mean the manifold degrees of the revelation to, and of the apprehension of that one way, in severall persons, which is ve­ry improperly called the way of God. So then, when you say one of the wayes of God, wherein is a possibility of salvation: If I should take your words in the best sense that I can give them, I must understand them to be spoken of any one degree of the knowledge of Gods wayes which may be effectuall to work salvation by Gods blessing, and in this sense I agree with you, that all such as are come to any degree of saving knowledge, ought to be permitted to walk in that light which they have, and ought not to be constrained against their conscience, to follow a practice wherein they see no light: But although from hence it followeth, that they ought to be born withall, as professors of Christiany in such or such a growth, yet it doth not follow, that it would be wisdome in a State to au­thorize their way by an act of publike toleration, whereby they should be stinted to that degree of growth in the profession of the Gospel, when the State doth not know that to be the true Way which God doth intend and allow, to bring all to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, answerable to the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ. For, seeing God hath revealed, that the gifts which he hath given by his Spirit unto his Ministers, are given for the perfecting of the Saints, and the edifying of the body of Christ, till they be brought unto this degree of growth, in a manly stature, that they may not alwayes be in a childish condition of doubtfulnesse and [...] tainty, to be tossed too and fro, and carryed about with every [...] blast of doctrine, which cunning men, for their own ends, willEph. 4. 12. 17. craftily insinuate, lying in wait to deceive unstable souls: seeing (I say) God hath revealed this to be his intention, and hath shewed to his Saints the way by which it will be brought to passe: namely, by this only way that they should deal truly, without deceit, by word or deed, one with another in love, by which they should be able to [Page 16] grow up in all things into him, which is the head even Christ Jesus: and to the end that this their true dealing may work out this growth in them effectually, and prevent the cunning craftinesse of men who lye in wait to deceive, seeing hee hath shewed them that they ought all to be setled together in one body under their only head: and bee fitly joyned together, and compacted in one society; that by the spi­rituall joynts and ligatures which his Spirit through love in the mu­tuall care of each other doth frame amongst them, they may make the increase of the body, in the measure of every part, by that which every joynt supplyeth unto the edifying of themselves in their du­ties of love: seeing (I say againe) all this is thus by God declared, therefore it followeth; that not only the whole body of Beleevers in a Nation, may by a right from God compact themselves together, by their joynts and ligatures for their mutuall strengthning in spiri­tuall duties, to doe all things as one man in Christ; but they ought to depend in this relation only from Christ as their head, and act to­wards each other only by the ability which he giveth: And Christs Vicegerent on earth, appointed for the inspection of Civill and out­ward matters, must not presume either to hinder them in the use of these meanes of their spirituall growth unto the stature of a perfect man within themselves; or injoyne them to act only, as from and under his Authority that which is to be done in this kinde. For this cause we say, that the Magistrates sanction in spirituall matters of edification for the execution of duties and compacting of the Body; is but de bene esse, & cumulativè requisite for outward protection, and not at all necessary for to give a being unto the worke it selfe: nor is it from his Civill sanction, that the whole Body of Beleevers in a Nation is made one; but they are bound for their owne growth and preservation to make themselves one, unto the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ: nor may the Vicegerent of Christ on earth (if he will not incurre the high displeasure of his sovereign) abstruct this growth of Christs spirituall Body, but is bound to fur­ther it by all the assistance that he can contribute thereunto, and ought to take away the lets which may hinder it, wherof this would be a maine one, to authorise severall wayes, and allow them as waies of God, to constitute the Body of Christ, and manifest the truth of his worship; when hee cannot be ignorant that there is but one [Page 17] way agreeable to the will of God in doing this.

As touching the place Mark. 9. 20. which you alleadge, He that is not against us is on our part: doth inferre to me thus much only; that private men̄ ought not to be prohibited to make use of the name of Christ, or to walke in a way not opposite to Christ, although they joyne not themselves to follow Christ with his true Disciples. For the question is there, of hindring some (who followed not Christ as the Apostles did) to make use of his name to doe miracles; Christ forbids his Disciples to hinder such, from doing what they did, by a rule of Prudencie, that such could not lightly speake evill of him. This case doth hold well amongst private Christians in the way of mutuall edification: but it doth not reach the point which I insist upon in respect of the duty of a state. For there is a vast distance between the duty of a Disciple of Christ in not hindring particular mens practises, which hurt not their wayes in Christianity, and the granting of a Toleration by a Magistrate to an Assembly or many Assemblies of men to practice publickly in the state that which hee doth not finde to be the true way of God. This difference is great many wayes, but particularly in this, that such a granting of a To­leration, is an act of publicke Approbation, which to declare is not alwayes wisdome in a private Christian, far lesse in a state. There­fore not to hinder in that case is one thing, and to give a Toleration in this, is quite another matter.

As for the charge laid upon the Presbyteriall Brethren in the end of this Paragraphe, that they will not suffer any Civill abode to any, that differ in opinion, separate from Church society from them; I know not how you can make it good; nor will I beleeve it, without sufficient proof; nor ought you to alleadge it without a sure and un­doubted warrant; therefore as a thing spoken in haste and out of too much jealousie, I will leave it till God let you see the contrary in their unblameable wayes of conversation to gaine all men, by lo­ving forbearance with all long suffering and doctrine.

2. Pag. 21. Upon the words, The lesse the cause of separation is, the greater the fault is in those that make it, you make no exception: but you apply the Assertion against the Presbyterian Brethren, for the advantage of the Apologists, contrary to the application that I made thereof. The ground that I had to apply the assertion to the [Page 18] Apologists is taken from their owne words in the close of their Apologie; where to my best understanding they say plainly of their owne way, that is differs but a little from their Presbyterian Bre­thren; which seemes to contradict the speech of your observation, when you say that in the apprehension of the Apologists, the cause of separation is great, and little in the judgement of the Presbyte­rians. But if you marke the argument which they use to the Parlia­ment it will be found this: That which differs but a little from the way which you allow, you may safely tolerate. But the way which we desire to follow differs but a little from that which you allow. Therefore you may safely tolerate it and grant our suit. But if you make the argument thus: Because the way which we desire to fol­low is greatly different from that which you allow; therefore you should grant us a Toleration; I suppose this would bee no strong perswasion, and no part of the Apologists meaning.

But to speake of the thing in it selfe, as you apprehend and de­liver it: I confesse that nothing which doth relate conscience, as to conscience, can justly be counted small; yet the difference of things in respect of each other may be small when you compare them to­gether: but if a mans conscience be troubled at that small difference, it is to him no small matter to digest it; if he makes truly conscience of his wayes: but if his owne conscience be not sound, nothing will be of great moment to it, or else every thing of too great: for it will alwayes be in the one or other extream.

Now a good and sound conscience is that which is enlightned by a rule to determine all that it doth: For in matters of Religion, if I leave my conscience at large without a rule, I make mine own will and reason a rule, and serve God, not as he requireth, but as I think good: then which nothing is more destructive to the glory of Gods name, whereby he is acknowledged the Father of Spirits. There­fore I must tell you, that I know no Presbyterian understanding himselfe, who will alleadge, that which you say as you alleadge it; namely thus, that the things wherein the difference is betweene them and their dissenting Brethren are matters of indifferency in respect of Church-constitution and government: nay I know, that many make the difference wholly fundamentall and utterly destru­ctive to the constitution of Churches in the communion of Saints. I [Page 19] wish they would explain themselves, so as to take off the jealousies and constructions which are made of their Way to their prejudice. The plea of conscience which is pretended, must not be slighted, or unconscionably entertained, but examined and weighed; and I hope that if the cases which trouble their consciences were distinctly sta­ted and cleerly shewed what the point of trouble is, that rules might be found in the Word, and by the tenor of the new Covenant might be so applied unto the tender conscience, that it should find ease; but whiles matters are caried in a cloud, and a generall plea for liberty of conscience is stood upon, without respect to such duties, as can­not stand with a good conscience to be neglected amongst brethren, there is great cause to fear, that there may be much deceit in such a plea: For where the liberty, which with a pretence to conscience is pleaded for, is abused unconscionably, and is without respect, to the end wherfore it is obtained, made an occasion to the flesh: there may be a strong presumption of deceit in such a pretence. There­fore the prudencie of the righteous, will in due time make discove­ries of that which is unsound. For we know by experience, that the conscience may be deceived many wayes, for want of knowledge, to discern the rules by which it should walk; and of watchfulnesse to apply known rules unto the wayes wherein a man doth walk. All the deceits which proceed from these two causes, are in defectu; but many of these that plead for a liberty of conscience, erre in excessu; either by mistaking the rule, and misapplying of it consequently, or by a misapprehension of the matter of which the difficulty is made, which is the case of many that make every thing most odious which differs from their Way, or by a kinde of habituall scrupulositie, which makes them fearfull of every thing, so that they can rest no where at first; and then being wearyed out of that frame of spirit, they take sometimes up such large principles, that they cast off all fear, and doubting of nothing, do whatsoever they please at last. There be some that pretend conscience unconscionably; that is, un­advisedly, without judgement and consideration of the reason why they make a scruple; these mens will, rules their conscience, and the liberty which they affect only to please themselves, is pleaded for, under the name of conscience; and I am much afraid, that since the raising of these controversies, about matters of conscience amongst [Page 20] brethren, which have been agitated with some heat, and with re­spect to some outward priviledges in the state; that the plea of con­science may be corpupted with humane passions, and worldly ends in many: For, when mens affections are raised with zeale for a par­ticular cause, relating to conscience, if then they do not in humility reflect upon themselves, to look to the rule of charity, that they may consider other therein, to interpret their actions in the best sense, to behave themselves unblameably, in affections in word and deed to­wards them: if (I say) they do not this on the one side, but on the other side, looking upon these that are of a different Way, with an eye of jealousie, to compare themselves with others, and their own freedome with the freedome of other; if then their zeal for their own interest heat their passions, it is no wonder; and where hu­mane passions are once set awork, there the conscience will be pas­sive, and led into error, and the plea thereof will arise more from the will, then from the judgement. Now, in all these, and many more respects, the plea of conscience should be examined, in respect of all the causes and circumstances thereof, that it may be rightly stated; not that any may take upon him to be a Judge over another mans conscience, but that by an unpartiall disquirie of matters, belonging to the mystery of goldlinesse & of iniquity in the consciences of men; rules may be proposed according to the Word, and by the indictment of the Spirit, which will discover to the heart of man within him­self, and to others also that judiciously weigh matters, what truth or falshood is in the plea and pretence of conscience, and the consci­ence of every one within it self, being helped by the Word, which is a discerner of the thoughts of the heart, Heb. 4. 12. will be laid open to it self, and made a judge of its one pretences, from what grounds they arise, whether sound or unsound. And to help you in this disquirie of your self, let me offer you a Principle or two of truth, which I suppose are appliable to all mens cases and consci­ences, which are these:

1. That nothing may or, ought to trouble the conscience, which doth not tend to a breach of the new Covenant, by which it stands in the favour of God.

2. That nothing can tend to a breach of the new Covenant be­tween God and us, which is a means to increase his love in our [Page 21] hearts towards others, and may engage us to do service unto others, as Christ did to us.

3. That if any have a scruple of conscience, concerning any mat­ter of duty, or behaviour towards God or man, that by a right dis­quirie of the nature of it, compared with the tenor of the new Co­venant, and the purpose of Gods love towards us therein, he shall be able to finde a resolution of his scruple.

4. That in case any upon pretence of conscience doth refuse that which another upon the like pretence, doth challenge as a duty of love from him, and doth offer reciprocally to perform towards him, then he that is the refuser, is bound to shew from the tenor of the covenant the cause of his scruple, how in his judgement, that which is required of him, cannot stand with the purpose of Gods love to mankinde in Christ Jesus and ought by all means to satisfie the other in what he shall require of him to that effect. Consider these rules, and if you have any doubt concerning them, I shall be willing as God shall inable me with grace to cleere them to you.

Sir, in the close of this your second Observation, you have some unsavory and uncharitable expressions, which if you will take into your second consideration, and reslect upon them, to see from what Principle they proceeded in you when you wrote them, I make no doubt, but that you will discover somewhat of passion, of humane jealousie, and want of Christian charity in them; and so I leave them to be rectified in you by the Apostles rule, Gal. Chap. 6. 1. till vers. 4.

3. The third observation upon that which I say, pag. 23. of the duty of gentlenesse in Gods servants to abstain from strife, is an en­largement of the former complaint, and accusation whereof I doubt you will hardly give good proof: As to the generall, I am sure the way doth not lead to such a practice; what particular faults may be in some, none can answer for: It is wisdome and charity to deal with particulars in a particular way to recover them, and not to im­pute their faults to all.

4. The fourth observation is upon pag. 24. concerning the for­f [...]iture of spirituall rights and liberties, where to prevent mistakes, I will now open my self more fully then that discourse did require. I say then thus: If men, who pretend to be brethren in Christ, can­not [Page 22] settle their mutuall relation of Brotherhood in a friendly way amongst themselves without such debates and quarrels as tend to the scandall of Christianity, and disturbance of the publike peace, that then God doth allow others, (namely, his publike Vicegerents in the State) to look to their ways, and to take authority over them, so as to order their publike courses for the prevention of such inconvenien­ces. But in case they can agree amongst themselves according to the Will of God, for their mutuall edification in love, then he hath no such power to prescribe any such course unto them. If you under­stand the case rightly, as I make it, I suppose you will not at all scruple; for my full meaning is this. That brethren in Christ, have a right and priviledge from Christ to settle the wayes of their bro­therly profession of Christianity amongst themselves; that is, of edifying each other, and of preventing offensive carriages, both to­wards one another, and towards forrainers: nor can any man on earth deprive them of this right and priviledge, so long as they use it in spirituall matters for the true end; but if they abuse it to any o­ther end, or make no use at all of it, but fall to quarrelling about it, or about other matters, and with their quarrels dishonour their profes­sion, and disturb the peace of others, then Christ hath set one to look unto them, to prevent and rectifie the inconveniencies which arise from their unrulinesse.

Now, if I understand your scruple rightly, you say nothing to my apprehension against this case, because I grant fully that Christ hath purchased for us our Christian rights and priviledges, and given power to use them for edification, and not for destruction of one an­other. I grant also, that if we use them so, then no state, government, or body in this world, may abridge us of them; but I deny that no misdemeanors can be a just cause to abridge us of such rights and pri­viledges as serve to order our own wayes in the publike profession: For, if our misdemeanor be such as may disturb the quiet of others, then, I say, that the Magistrate, as Christs Vicegerent, over the publike society, wherein and the outward human relations under which, ac­cording to the lawes of nature, we live together, with these, others hath a right to order these courses which are hurtfull to others, to make them harmlesse, and free from offences. I may confesse, that dif­ferent opinions and Church-ways, do not necessarily infer a division [Page 23] in the state; because it is possible that men may be peaceable and or­derly in publike courses, not withstanding their private differences: but yet we see by experience that ordinarily in all ages and places, the difference of mens wayes in spirituall matters doth inferre a di­vision in Affections, and the division of Affections, a division in outward carriages and relations; and this a division in state matters: because naturally private men aspire to make their differences publike; and by gaining Adherents, they come at last to fasten an interest of state upon themselves, and so disturbe the state so farre as their interest doth reach. If you acknowledge that the disturbers of a state may be punished with death; you cannot deny to the Magi­strate the right of inspection over the causes of disturbance; and the power to use prevention, lest the effects of evill causes breake forth into inconveniencies.

As for the priviledges of searching the Scriptures, of trying the spi­rits of men, and examining doctrins, & such like: God forbid that they should be abridged: but to have a priviledge of practising at large and in publick whatsoever any shal pretend to be his conscience, and Religion, and that the Magistrate may not have any thing to say to mens publicke wayes in such a kinde, is a thing which I doe not con­ceive: yet I would not have you thinke, that I allow of all manner of compulsion and coercive power over the Consciences of men, which is practised among such as endeavour to blinde the weake and vulgar sort, that they may rule over them according to their owne will by an implicit faith: But how farre the coercive power of the Magistrate doth goe, in taking away the causes of offences, I suppose may be gathered from Psal. 101. and now it is not fit for me to enlarge my selfe upon that subject.

5. The fifth Observation upon pag. 25. is a doubt how the simi­litude doth hold between a private Christian and a publicke State. I answer: 1. It doth hold in that for which I alleadge it. 2. It doth hold proportionally each being taken in his sphere, and according to his principles. 3. It doth not hold in all imaginable circumstan­ces as one and the same thing, Nullum simile est idem, nothing that is like is the very same, and your exception is no difficulty: For as a publicke State may suffer, thwart, crosse and contradictory opini­ons to be beleeved, by its subjects and yet subsist: So a private Chri­stian [Page 24] may suffer the trouble of crosse and contradictory thoughts, and doubtfull opinions, and yet remaine a good and conscionable Chri­stian, till God cleer his judgement.

And to that which you require upon pag. 26. concerning the course of an orderly Conference; that I should state it: I say, that that might easily be done, if men could be obliged to follow it. In all Conferences men shew themselves men, and have an Art of fen­cing: from which (till God teach them fully to deny themselves) they cannot be brought, chiefly when they have set their Aime, they will have their owne way to prosecute it, and then when they can goe no further and lose their Aime, they fall a complaining and tel­ling stories of each other, to their prejudice and reproach. In the following part of this Observation you speake of the Magistrates Power: where againe, I see you mistake my meaning; therefore to informe you aright, I must tell you, 1. That Christian Magistrates are not appointed by God, to set up an outward and visible wor­ship: but their duty is to authorise, protect and maintaine that which God in his word requireth. 2. They are Custodes utrius (que) tabulae, to oversee the wayes of the Churches as they relate the pub­like, and of the Ministers thereof, to use meanes towards them that the duties which Christ requires may be performed: and in case of neglect to presse them by authority to the performance thereof. 3. I give them no such inspection over the Churches which is Ec­clesiasticall, to vindicate and punish faults in fore interiori; but only to hinder misdemeanours which are publikely observable. 4. The Mi­nisters are bound if it be required of them to give them an account of all their proceedings with all due respect, that they may know the order of their wayes in all things, because nothing ought to bee done in the darke, or concealed from his cognizance. As for that which I say of a States conscience, that it ought to be like unto the conscience of a good Christian, my meaning is; that as a Christian in his private sphere must rule himselfe and those that are under him conscionably to Gods glory: so the Councell of State is bound in its sphere to doe the like: and though this ought to be so, yet your inference is not good, that therefore any man must resigne his under­standing to anothers mans will and conceptions: for all this is ob­jected upon a mistake. In a word, I allow of no dominion over any [Page 25] mans faith or conscience; but only as a Ministeriall service according to the Word, wherein both the Magistrate and the Church-officer is to learn his duty, and thereby Christ is to rule over the State and Church visibly and invisibly, in the outward and inward, bodily and spirituall relations.

6. The sixth observation upon pag. 28, 29. is answered already, if the case be rightly understood, and you will finde your mistake to lie in the civill and spirituall spheres, in which the Magistracy and Ministery ought to walk: For, if they keep each within their own spheres, there will never be cause of contest; for the spirituall hath no power over the civill government, nor the civill over the spiritu­all as such, but only in cases of misdemeanor. And in this case only, I say, that the Magistrate hath power to hinder a people in the choosing of a Teacher, when they do it not orderly, but tumultuous­ly; or when a Minister in a factious and violent manner, or otherwise disorderly thrusts himself upon a people, he may, and ought to take cognizance of the matter, and see good order & peace kept according to the rules of Ecclesiasticall government. Therefore let every Chri­stian in Gods name, have his full liberty to try the spirits, and to hear all, and hold fast that which is good; but let him use his liberty or­derly, and give no just cause of complaint, or grievance unto others.

7. In your seventh observation upon p. 36. you plead again for the freedome of disputes, and to follow that which is best; which I ne­ver intended to restrain; only let it be regular, and for the end of edifi­cation, without vain jangling and confusednesse of strife and passion.

8. The eight observation upon p. 30. concerning the power of the Magistrate in Church-matters, I will admit, if taken in the sense which I have formerly delivered.

9. To the ninth observation upon pag. 31. I say, that God doth not require that we should walk after any light, but that which is the true light, which enlightneth every man that cometh into this world; therefore all are bound to seek that light, and never rest till they finde it. It is true, that no man can follow any other light, but that which seemeth to him to be true according to his mea­sure; but thence it doth not follow that wee may strive and contest without end for every thing that to us appeares to be truth: the weight of matters is to be considered with discretion; [Page 26] and because no man will presume to be infallible, the way of propo­sing our sense of truths, ought to be such, as may declare that we can bear diffenters, and are not unwilling to admit of further light, if offered unto us from the Word. And although a Synod, or Gene­rall Councell hath no infallibility annexed to the Decrees thereof; yet there is some difference to be made between the private opinion of one, and the consent of many, whose praises are in the Churches. This consent of many attesting the same matter as a truth, doth ob­lige men that are of an humble Spirit, and love not to be wise in themselves, to consider things more exactly, wherein their judge­ment differs, then otherwise they would do. And if they cannot finde light enough to assent unto them, yet discretion will require a moderation in dissenting; excepting some invincible and demon­stratively convincing reasons can be alledged, why it is necessary both to dissent and to professe a disagreement; and yet in this case the professed disagreement of judgement should be without breach of brotherly love, and with the preservation of the unity of the Spi­rit in matters of undoubted practice for mutuall edification; at least so far as in us lieth: For the Apostolicall rule, Phil. 3. 16. So far a [...] we are come, let us walk by one rule, and let us mind the same thing: is never to be refused on our part, if offered by others▪ nor neglected, if it may be obtained, how far soever we differ in judge­ment from others in matters extra­fundamentall.

10. To the tenth observation upon pag. 32. concerning a bro­therly correspondency in a Presbyterie, which you allow of, so long as it doth continue brotherly: I have this to say; that I am con­fident your feares of being driven by rods and staves from your fa­ther in heaven will be needlesse: For the Presbyterian way doth cease to be Presbyterian if it be not sociall as between confederates, who in all things are equall one to another; so that all alike judge and all are alike judged, and every thing is done by common consent and counsel; nor are any rights taken from private Churches, but rather confirmed and strengthered to them: As for the separation which you call in your opinion just, to which, for some respects you think your selves forced unto; I know not what else to say, but that I can­not see how it may be just or lawfull, for any to separate from a true Church, for causes not laid open to them; and for matters extra­fundamentall. [Page 27] For although I finde things in my Brethren [...], which are very offensive to me, and might perhaps amount in my opinion, to a just cause of separating from them: yet before it is lawfull for me actually to separate, I am bound in all meeknesse, first to beare witnesse of those things unto them, and seek redresse there­of, letting them see the grievance which they bring unto my consci­ence; and then if they will neither redresse the causes of my grie­vance, nor satisfie my judgement in an orderly way; but cast me out from them, not at all taking notice of my complaints: if (I say) in dealing thus, I be thus dealt withall, then I may, and not till then be separate. So that I am so farre from thinking it lawfull for some respects grounded upon mine owne opinion to intend a separation from Brethren in the faith; that except they cast me out, and will not suffer me to be of their society any longer, I may not breake off from them.

11. Your eleventh Observation upon pag. 34. concerning Fun­damentalls in practise and knowledge, tends to justifie the desire of the Apologists, to be permitted to doe or not to doe what they thinke requisite; but you mention nothing in particular, which may be counted Fundamentall in their profession; for which only a separation is justifiable when duly attested; and not only not recei­ved, but rejected together with the witnesse bearers. Now the case between them and their Brethren is quite contrary at this present▪ for they have been and are desired to hold forth the Truth of their way, but they doe decline it, and yet will be separate although they acknowledge the Churches to be true Churches from which they depart: and although those Brethren from whom they depart, in­tend to offer them all equitable forbearance and redresse of their grievances, so farre as can stand with the Fundamentall constitution of their owne Churches and the peace of their consciences.

12. Your twelfth and last Observation upon pag. 37. wherein you speake, of the subjection which members owe to their Pastor, and consequently to the Presbytery of Pastors joyned with him, is somewhat dark to me. For first, you seem to yeeld the Point; name­ly, that such a subjection is due, and then you make a restriction thereof in respect of certaine things, and in respect of the manner of censuring them in case of not submitting. You say then (if I take [Page 28] you right) that they are bound to submit to a Presbytery, in things only, unto which they may yeeld with a good conscience. This can­not be denyed, but is needlesse to be alleadged, because it is to be sup­posed that a Pastor joyned with a Presbytery will require no sub­jection but in things which may be yeelded unto with a good con­science. For their proper worke is to deale with the consciences of those that are under their charge, to informe them of Gods will, that they may understandingly submit unto it. That which is offered by them to others is not offered. Authoritatively as a thing which they will have done; because they so have determined it (this is the language of worldly States unto their subjects:) but they offer it as servants of God, to declare, as his messengers, by the word, his will; for they watch in all cases of common concernment over the soules of men; and in this respect obedience and submission is commanded by the Apostle to be yeelded unto them, Heb. 13. 17. But you will put the case that he who is directed in matters of conscience by a Pres­bytery, findeth reason to dissent, because he is not convicted in con­science that the direction is according to the word of God: in this Case you say that the Presbytery hath no power to deale with him, but that he is lyable to be censured only by his own Church, under whose jurisdiction he standeth. Here I suppose you speake of the point of jurisdiction in a humane sense, and suppose in all this Dis­course that which is destructive to the true communion of Saints and to the relation which Christ hath setled in the parts of his Church fitly compacted together and baptized into one body by his Spirit. For you suppose your Pastor and his Congregation under whose censure alone you would stand, to be alone a Body by it selfe and separate from the other Pastors and Congregations: I will con­fesse it to be a Body by it selfe: but if you suppose a Presbytery rightly constituted with it, then it is not to be considered as sepa­rate, but as compacted and a part of the rest of that which is the whole; and as you stand in relation to that Congregation whereof you are an immediate member; so it doth stand proportionally in re­lation to that Body to which it is combined as a part. As then you are under the jurisdiction of your owne Pastor and Congregation by your own confession immediately; so you must be mediatly by their means under the jurisdiction of that Body whereof they are a part, [Page 29] and whereunto they are associated. But if you will not grant any such associating & compacting of Churches together into one Body, for their mutuall edification (which is certainly Christs clear intenti­on from Eph. 4. 1. till 17.) but will suppose that all Churches and their Pastors must stand single and separate by themselves; then it is to be granted that you are under the jurisdiction of none but your owne Pastor and Eldership. But supposing that which cannot bee denyed (if you grant it lawfull to combine Pastors and Elderships into a Presbytery, which I suppose I have fully proved) that your Pastor and his Eldership is accountable in his proceedings to his con­federate Brethren, as they are accountable unto him for mutuall edi­fication: and that he finding you a refractory and unruly member of his flocke, disturbing the peace thereof; and having dealt with you as much as he could, and yet hath not been able to bring you to the obedience and submission which you owe to the will of God, sup­posing this to be so, if then he to strengthen himselfe and his Elder­ship by counsell first doth bring the matter to the Presbytery; and having received counsell and put it in execution, doth finde it with­out effect: you remaining still disobedient, and disturbing the quiet of his owne, and perhaps of some neighbour Churches; may not he then in the second place desire the assistance of his confederates in the judgement of the matter? and may not he call you before them to be censured by himselfe and them joyntly? and his and their juris­diction being in this case but one in Christ: and the authority of the same Presbyteriall office being put forth by all at once through the same spirit in the name of Christ; doe not you thinke that the sen­tence of judgement against you will bee ratified in heaven if it be rightly pronounced? or doe you thinke that Christ will allow of this plea, that you are exempted from their jurisdiction, because they are not your immediate Pastors? hath not Christ given to the combined society of Church officers a power to judge of matters according to the word, when they are in an orderly way brought unto their arbitration? and where there is a power to judge by ver­tue of an office, there also a power to pronounce a sentence cannot be denyed: and if the sentence be a censure, the same Authority which doth pronounce it, hath power to see it executed. Suppose againe on the other side that a Pastor doth some injury to his flocke, [Page 30] or to some one of them; and that they or he cannot finde redresse at the hands of the Eldership; if there be no Association of Elderships, they or he have no remedy but to make a trouble, and perhaps a rent in the Congregation; but if there be a Presbytery under which this Pastor doth stand as a member; the matter may be brought unto them, and he who is the Pastor in that case will be censurable, if hee be in a fault; all that in these cases can be pretended is, that the mat­ter is first to be judged and considered by the immediate Eldership, and then by the Presbytery; and when the censure is to be pronoun­ced, it is to be given out, by his owne Pastor, in his owne name and in the name of all: These matters of outward order, if they can take away the scruples of such as stand upon pointilloes of Right and Jurisdiction after the manner of men; and if they can prevent and heale our dangerous breaches and divisions, should by all meanes be yeelded unto. But if men wil be content with nothing but with such a Church-constitution wherein they can upon the matter doe what they will; and make lawes and breake them as they thinke good, and rule by the sense of the multitude, (whom they can possesse with jealousies and sway for ends and interests) their officers, by whom they ought to be ruled; and to this purpose stand separate, and hin­der all Association of Church Elderships, lest they should bee strengthned by their mutuall consent, counsell, and joynt Authority: if I say, men will be content with nothing but this, and if they can­not get this undue liberty, will possesse themselves and others with jealousies, and trouble thereby their owne and other weake consci­ences with feares and scruples, it is a sad condition and a dolefull presage that the Candlesticke will be removed from this Nation; if God in mercy doth not direct the outward Authority to strengthen effectually the hands of these that seeke a settlement of themselves according to the rule; but if they also refuse to countenance and pro­tect them in the settlement of their union, except they will come wholly under their secular power to depend upon them, as upon their head in spiritual Judicatures, which only tend▪ to the reforming and purging of their Congregations from scandales dishonourable to the profession of the Gospell: If I say, the former sort of men may hinder the settlement, and these latter will not grant a furthe­rance to it but upon this condition; we are in a sad case, and for [Page 31] ought that I can see, remedilesse without some speciall work of hea­venly providence; whereunto I shall heartily recommend you with all that walk in your way of truth and simplicity, as being

Your affectionate servant in Christ Jesus▪ J. Dury.

To Mr. H.

Loving Friend:

YOu tell me that Mr. Robinson did expect that I should have answered somewhat to his demands, concerning the demonstrative Analysis of Holy Scripture, which with much earnestnesse in his Letter to me he requi­red I should put forth, at least so farre as the matter is ripened in my thoughts; and that he doth not a little wonder, that in my whole Letter to him, wherein otherthings are so distinctly an­swered, and largely handled; this main thing whereunto chiefly he would have ingag'd me, is not so much as mentioned with one word. To give you satisfaction concerning this, that he by you may know the reasons hereof; I would have you to take notice unto him, that what I upon occasion have written, or spoken of a demonstrative way, of analysing the Scripture, hath rather been a declaration of my opinion, that such a thing may be found out and held forth unto the world, and by Gods blessing, of great use to compose our disorderly notions in Scripturall matters, then any brag of mine, that I should have found out such a way; for although I have endeavoured to sa­tisfie my self in this thing, and thank God that my minde is at rest in it, for my ordinary course of meditation; yet I presume not to boast of any thing, extraordinary beyond others, or to make the measure of my rule, a Rule to others; (for this were to measure my self by my self) but I desire simply to hold forth the truth, whereof I am convinced; to give others occasion to think of it with me for [Page 32] our mutuall settlement in peace and truth; that when it may be sea­sonable and expedient, and God shall call me forth to propose mat­ters of this nature I may be heard, and judged by such as are able, without partiality to discern the nature of the thing which may be proposed in this kinde: You know that I love not such commenda­tions as he doth give to me in respect of this matter; and if I should appear to entertain his motion in flattering my self with them, would it not be vanity? And might not God justly blast the small beginnings of light which I have received in this kinde; if I should be lifted up to conceit any thing of my self in regard of it? There­fore I thought it fit not to speak so much as one word of that matter to him, upon such high expressions as he doth use, lest I might seem to accept of undeserved praises, and attribute something to my self which is beyond my line. My silence then is no effect of any un­willingnesse in me, to impart any thing to others, of that which God hath bestowed upon me for the increase of knowledge, but it is ne­cessitated by reason of the want, both of time, to elaborate what is further requisit for the manifestation of my sense in this matter? and of opportunity to propose seasonably that which is in some measure already elaborated, that it may be taken into consideration, and exa­mined by such as are able to judge thereof. You know, that when I have bin discreetly & seriously called upon in a private way, by men known to your self, to impart my thoughts unto them of this matter, that I have never refused to lay open the principles of my Generall or Particular wayes of meditating in this or any other kinde; and that the maxime by which I walk is quite contrary to reservednesse, therfore I hope you do not take any offence at my silence at this time, seeing you know how I am otherwise strained, and what freedome of spirit is requisite to intend such weighty thoughts, and propose matters of so universall concernment to the view of the world: And if these considerations which necessitate me to lay these thoughts aside till a sit season, do not give satisfaction for the grand silence wherein this matter is involved in my answer to Mr. Robinson; you may, if you please, adde as a supplement to his Letter, some of the Tracts which in former times I have written to some others about▪ this subject, whereof I scarce have any copies (for you know how they drop from me) but you have kept the transcript, I suppose, of▪ [Page 33] all, therefore, if any thing written to Sir Cheny, or to any other [...] may be seasonable to supply this seeming neglect of his deman [...] I shall not be against the use which you may m [...] of it for this end▪ I am loth to leave either in you or him any scruple concerning any in­tentions, which shall always be harmlesse unto all▪ but truly [...] and faithfull to do you service in Jesus Christ, in w [...] I [...]

His and your affectionate servant, John Dury.

To Sir Cheny Culpeper Knight.


I Am very desirous to gratifie you in the vertuous desire which you have expressed unto me, concern­ing the method of Meditation: For, I think my self a debter more to you therein, then unto others, because your zeal doth lead you to more universall conception, then others are capable of: if there­fore it we [...] Gods will to open a door of utterance unto me, towards you at this time, at least so far, as to initiate you fully in the way of future conference with the about this matter, I would be exceeding glad; not only for your sake, but even for mine own sake, that I might have a fit object to work upon, and to bring forth the particulars which lie in my minde, and which without some good and sit op­portunity, I cannot be drawn to elaborate and put to paper.

I am willing then at this time, to shew you my conceptions, con­cerning the first principles of the Method which I think everyone should follow that will walk by a rule in ordering his thoughts for Meditation and Consultation: Here you have the aim of my present discourse with you, wherein you may observe distinctly, that I pre­suppose: First, that a man is able to order his [...] thoughts: Se­condly, that the means to order them is a certain rule, by which [...] should walk: Thirdly, that this rule hath certain principle [...] [...] which now I am chiefly to speak: Fourthly, and that the ends, or [...]ther the [Page 34] objects towards which the thoughts are to be ordered, are the acts of meditating and consulting. If any body make these presupposalls disputable; or, if you should make a doubt of them, I cannot pro­ceed cleerly with you, except I know where his or your scruple doth lie, that some principle wherein we can agree, may be taken up to ro­solve it. But supposing that things are not so much scrupled and made disputable, as not well and fully understood, then before I pro­ceed, I must open the same unto you. I say then, concerning the first, that my meaning is not, that a man hath any such command over himself, that all the risings of thoughts in his minde should be under his power, either to prevent thoughts which he would not have to come in his minde, or to lay down thoughts risen, or to reduce at all times into good order the thoughts that cannot be laid down; This is not my meaning: For, I know that the preparations of the heart in man and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord, Prov. 16. 1. and that mans goings are of the Lord, and that therefore he cannot understand his own way in respect of the first motions thereof ibid. Chap. 20. 24▪ to which that place of Jerem. 10. 23. is parallel: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself, and it is not in man that walketh, to direct his steps, viz. the first motions are not from a man, nor can a man by any humane instruction, or habituall practise and premeditation attain to any such perfection, that he shall be able to direct and over-rule all his thoughts, and the actions which proceed from thence unto his own preconceived aims and ends: For, although a mans heart doth deceive his way, and laieth plots unto it self, and maketh many resolutions, yet the Lord is he who directeth a mans steps, towards the event thereof; so that nei­ther [...]. [...]6. 9. the first motions of the mind, nor the constant & absolute pro­gresse thereof is in our power; but this I mean, when I say that we are able to order our thoughts, viz. that the understanding of a man hath received from God a reflexive faculty to consider of it self and its own actions, and of all things belonging unto the motions there­of; to the end that they may be brought into some regular frame, and freed from confusion and unsettlednesse for the prosecution of matters whereupon the Spirit is fully bent, and ought to be fixed. This reflexive faculty is given to the nature of all mens understand­ing, but it is not in the power of every one to make use of it, or to [...] use of it; For, neither can every one reflect upon him­selfe [Page 35] and his owne motions when it is most expedient; not when he doth reflect upon himselfe, and upon the acts of his understanding can he doe it at all times as he ought to doe it: but this ability to make use and to make right use of the reflexive faculty is a peculiar gift of God, and he doth bestow it upon whomsoever he pleaseth. For as Elihu saith to Job, There is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding: so it is certaine that although the faculty of ordering our wayes be in the soule, yet ex­cept God breath upon it and make it alive, it cannot either act or act any thing aright, but it lyeth there as a dead thing without motion whilest a man doth walke at randome in a vaine shew not knowing himselfe what he is doing; or if perhaps hee doth take notice of himselfe what he is doing; or if perhaps hee doth take notice of himselfe (as naturally men use to doe) it is rather to flatter himself in idle conceits and imaginations or to follow eagerly some parti­cular plots, then to order and regulate his wayes unto true felicity, and subordinate his motions unto the lawfull ends for which they should be undertaken.

Thus I must be understood in the first presupposall aright lest I should seem to attribute too much unto our owne abilities in na­ture, and exempt the motions of our heart from Gods immediate working upon it as if he did leave it wholly to a mans selfe; or as if by any art, method, instruction and direction which wee can give, any man should be made able to rule all his thoughts, so that they should be composed at all times to attaine to any object which hee should propose unto himselfe. This must not be thought, but my meaning is to be conceived of the ordinary faoulty of reflecting up­on our selves how to make use of it in the fear of God when we find our selves moved to intend good and lawfull matters for our owne and others edificution: how then we should frame and compose our Meditations and Consultation to attaine by rule unto the end for which they are undertaken, and not to proceed as fooles and children doe at a randome, in the acts wherein reason and wisdome should take place, is the true object of this Discourse, and the sense of the first supposall.

The second presupposall thinke hath no difficulty: For if a man doth grant that there is a reflexive faculty in the understanding, and that this faculty can act upon the thoughts, and that those thoughts can be ordered and freed from confusion, I doe not see how hee can [Page 36] make a doubt of this, viz. That the meanes to order our thoughts should be some rule or other, according to which the understanding should proceed in working upon it selfe. And then concerning the third in like manner, if it be granted that where order is to be obser­ved, there a rule may be used, it cannot be denyed but that in orde­ring things by rules, principles must be observed whence the Rules are to bee taken: For seeing by ordering is implyed a setting of things in a precedencie and consecution one to another; and by a Rule is meant either the forme and frame, or the reason why the precedencie and consecution ought to be so, and not otherwise. And seeing all formes and frames which are rationally composed have a ground in the being and nature of the thing, whence they arise▪ therefore it cannot be denyed but that the Rules by which humane thoughts are to be ordered, must have certain principles; which principles we will now speake of (God willing) in briefe, that you may have an overture made unto you, either to proceed by your self upon the grounds that shall be afforded unto you, or to call upon me hereafter, and give me cause to open my selfe further in due time for your better satisfaction.

You have now already understood that by principles, I mean the grounds of rules by which a man is to walke in his thoughts of me­ditation and consultation; the end then to which we drive is to me­ditate and consult aright: by meditating I conceive the act of the minde reflecting upon the nature of any thing to dive into the true properties and uses thereof. By consulting, I understand the act of the minde reflecting upon the actions which are to bee undertaken or left off, or not undertaken about any thing; to gaine some good end whereunto they should be directed according as it may be con­ceived to be or not to be possible or usefull. From whence you may gather that the acts of the minde which are to be regulated (which we call meditation and consultation) are not now to be considered in respect of the subjects whereupon they are to reflect (which wee have called the natures of things and the actions which may be in­tended by us for some good end) but in respect of the reflection it selfe, that whether we meditate or consult, we may have a rule to order the reflection of our minde upon any subject whatsoever. The rule then which we seeke at this time is to be gathered from the na­ture of the acts of the minde to set them in their right frame one to­wards another, and not from the relation which they may have to [Page 37] w [...]rds the discovery of any thing in respect of outward objects: you see then that the acts of the minde, [...] they have a twofold Rela­tion, so they admit of a twofold Rule; for as they relate other ob­jects besides themselves, they must be made proportionate unto the ends which the understanding [...]th [...]t in these objects but as they relate one another they must be ruled and ordered according to their owne inward properties, and made answerable unto the end where­fore they ought to reflect one upon another. Where I observe, that to finde the principles whereby these acts are to be regulated is to discover three things: 1. What the acts of the mind of man are, and how they are distinguished? 2. How they stand in relation one to a­nother in their severall inward properties? 3. What the end of this relation is? and how it must be gained? for this relation is the ground of this reflection; and the end of this relation is the first inward prin­ciple of goodnesse, and of that well being whereupon the nature of the soul of man hath been [...] and constituted; and from which all the well ordered acts thereof must naturally flow: and whatsoe­ver is not answerable thereunto in the agitation of thoughts & mo­tion of the mind is to be judged irrationall & void of understanding.

Now then to lay open the Acts of a mans minde, it is not possible except we know what a man and what his minde is. By a m [...] conceive this creature which we [...] our selves to be [...]s we [...] di­stinguished from all other living and ani [...]ll things by the frame of our body and of our soule, which the Scripture saith, was made af­ter the image of God, which image of God (since we have lost it) is now unknowne unto nature; and there fore by the use of naturall reason no man can know himselfe truly what he is, because he hath lost the Idea of the image after which he was made. But the Scrip­ture having told us that our body was made of the substance of the earth, and that by the breath of the [...]d into our nostrills we are become a livi [...] s [...]le; and [...]at God made us thus after his owne image that we should under [...] as his substitutes bearing his image and likenesse in this world, have Dominion over all the rest of the creatures which are therein. I say the Scripture having taught us this much; wee have by this doctrines new principle of knowledge whereby to discer [...]e our selves [...] are, and what our minde is, and what the end is wherefore it was put in our earthly b [...]y, of which things I will no [...] now sp [...] at large [...] but in a wo [...]d I will [Page 38] tell you what according to this Scripturall truth, I conceive man and his minde to be; viz. a spirit, a soule, and a body joyned together in the powers of an eternall rationall and sensuall life whereof the acts should be answerable one to another according to their predo­minant or subordinate properties, wherein they are all to be answe­rable unto the life of God. The acts then of the life of man are threefold; some are sensuall some are rationall, and some are spiri­tuall. The sensuall arise from the body and its outward or inward senses: the rationall arise from the faculties of the naturall soule in the imagination of the minde, in the memory, in the discerning and judging faculties, and in the will. The spirituall arise from the con­science bearing witnesse of the will of God, and of our agreement or disagreement with the same. By which you see what is called the minde of man, whose acts we should regulate, viz. The living faculty of the spirit dwelling in the conscience, and of the rationall soule dwelling in the will and understanding. As concerning the sensuall life wherein we differ not from beasts, we make it no part of the minde of man, although wee hold not that man hath more soules then one, or that these Acts of the sensuall life are to be neg­lected, and no way brought under a Rule: but we affirme both, that the soule is but one, and also that these Acts may and must be regu­lated although we conceive that they belong not properly unto the life of the minde. Thus then we see what the Acts of the minde of man are, and how they are distinguished; namely, into the Acts of the spirit dwelling in the conscience, and into the acts of the ratio­nall soule dwelling in the memorative understanding and willing faculties, to which the whole sensuall life and all the acts of the in­ward and outward senses are subordinate. The relation wherein these acts stand one to another in respect of the properties of these faculties whence they proceed is this, that the faculty of the spirit in the acts and enditements of the conscience is supreme and predo­minant above all the rest: to which the rationall faculty of the soule in the acts of memory, understanding and willing is immediately subordinate; and to these the acts of the imaginations and sensuall passions are subservient and submitted. And if this relation and subordination be altered, so that the sensuall should be predominant above the rationall, or the rationall above the spirituall acts, then all is out of order, and a mans life is either beastly or divellish.

[Page 39]The [...]nd wherefore this relation and subordination of the facul­ties of man was thus appointed and ordered by God, is, that in the right use of these faculties he should expresse the Image and life of God, wherein he should be able to rule over the rest of the creatures, to bring them to the state of happinesse, that Gods glory might ap­pear as in himself: so also in every one of them according to the de­gree of their perfection. So that to gain this end for which God hath thus framed the minde of man, the rule is none other, but to ob­serve the true relation wherein God hath set us, which is, that our spirits should be in our conscience wholly subjected unto his Spirit, and dependant from him, (who is the Father of spirits) in all things. So that without his leave and the knowledge of his will, by reflect­ing upon his Word ingrafted in our hearts, we should not presume to think, say, or do any thing: Secondly, that our reason should in all things be a servant unto the [...]ndictment of the spirituall Word made manifest unto our conscience to obey it, and to make the truth and goodnesse thereof plain and evident to our selves and others: Third­ly, that our sensuall motion should bee servant unto the prescripts of reason to help our rationall faculties to expresse the will of God, and apply it unto those with whom we have to deal outwardly.

From all which you may gather, (for these are the principles which I did intend to speak of) much more then I am able at this time to utter: For here you have a fountain of rules, f [...]m whence many directions may be taken, how to order the acts of the minde in respect of their mutuall relation one to another: For, consider that in all things whereof we do think, except they be mearly spirituall and divine; so that they are no wayes subject unto sense, there ought to concur the act of conscience of reason, and of the imagina­tive faculty, which is the inward sense, and the head of all the other sensuall faculties; and seeing these acts should continually concurre in all the minding of outward matters, the rule is, that they must not be confounded▪ nor preposterously brought forth; but that we should first order the acts of our minde within it self before we proceed to meditate upon any particular object▪ For, except the conscience be cleer and at rest in respect of God, the understanding will not perform the duty aright and if the understanding faculty be out of order, the senses will not be well imployed administer and seek out evidences, or to represent them orderly unto [...] ratio­nall [Page 40] abilities: So that to lay the first ground work of meditation and consultation aright, a man of judgement should look to himself, that these three great wheels of the mind, be well composed and ser in order one towards another; the conscience, the [...] abi­lity, and the sensitive faculty, lest the conscience being under guilt and desilements, be separate from God, who is the author of all good gifts, and from whose mouth alone wisdome doth proceed, [...]am. 1. 17. Prov. 2. 6. for God doth not give true wisdome and understanding, but unto such as come to him to seek it: Now, to come to him or to seek wisdome from him without faith, it is neither possible nor [...] any thing be received at his hand; for without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11. 6. And he that is of a doubting and waver­ing mind, must not think that he can receive any thing of the Lord, Jam. 1. 6, 7. But when the conscience is not cleansed [...] from dead works, there must needs be a doubting, and wavering in it, when it cometh before God▪ and so it will be found unfit to re­ceive wisdome or direction from him.

For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdome and knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner he giveth travell, Eccles. 2. 26. nor can wisdome enter or find place into an unclean soul, because it is prepossessed with sin, which maketh a separation betwixt GodIsai. 59. 8. and it. Besides all which, it is to be considered, that as the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdome, so the spirit that hath not a dependency upon the Word of the Lord, can have no wisdome, be­cause Jeremiah saith: That seeing they have rejected the Word of [...]erem. 8. 9. the Lord, what wisdome is in them? There can be no wisdome where the Word of the Lord is not regarded; and this Word cannot be regarded, except the heart he possessed with his fear▪ and this cannot be except the conscience be sanctified and cleansed from dead works: So that we see the first principl [...] and preparative unto me­ditation, must be the composing of the heart towards God, to set our selves to think of that which is to be thought God, to set our selves to think of that which is to be thought upon▪ as in his presence, through his fear depending upon his Word, and de [...]ing his direction; that not only with his leave and [...]ion but by his order, and according to his will, we may do all things and think all our thoughts. This predisposing of the mind towards God, to re­flect first upon him in all our meditations, is like unto the tuning of an Instrument, before a man doth begin to play a piece of good Mu­sick: [Page 41] so, by drawing neer to God with a good conscience, in clean­sing it from all superfluity of naughtinsse, and calling upon him by faith for grace and direction, the strings of the soul are tuned and set in a good harmony, that the Spirit of wisdome which proceedeth from him may play some harmonious melodicall piece upon the same, which without this tuning of the soul, cannot be done: And this tuning cannot be performed, except the conscience be brought neer unto God, and be able to look upon him, that it may be en­lightned: For, by looking to him, and comparing it self to his will and living Word, it receiveth light; First, to see and judge it self in what estate it is, and then to judge other things also; for then it re­flecteth upon all things, (and chiefly upon the inferiour faculties, which are subordinate unto the motions of the Spirit) with a com­manding power; so that they all stoop and yeeld to it, to become answerable unto the intentions of the Spirit, which are conceived by a good conscience to be aimed at in the work of meditation and con­sultation: And let every man, who desireth to go safe in any businesse of consequence, be sure that he never fall to work without this pre­parative; for without it, he may run himself into errors, and those very dangerous, and he cannot possibly walk by true light and rules, as long as the great Master rule, and principle of light is not made use of, which is the subordination of the intents and purposes of the heart unto God, to set it in frame, which may be answerable unto his will. This then is the first main Principle of true order, to be settled in the thoughts to bring the conscience to reflect upon God, and settle it self towards him in the businesse which is to be minded.

The second main principle is, to have a care to cleer the naturall understanding, from prejudices and forestalled opinions, which are like filmes over the eyes of the minde, through which it cannot look so, as to discern the right shape of things, otherwise in them­selves sufficiently apparent.

These prejudices arise from a narrownesse and stinting of the thoughts unto things too particular; therefore, before we begin to meditate or consult, we should abstract from particulars, and state the question whereof we are to think in generall termes, which should comprehend the true nature of particulars, which being done, the terms of the question are to be considered and examined, that the properties thereof may be discovered. To which effect the acts [Page 42] of ratiocination should be observed and rightly ordered, which are:

  • 1. To discern distinctly the differences of matters belonging to the terms of the question.
  • 2. To compare those distinct matters together with the thing in­quired after; that from their agreement or disagreement, the judge­ment may gather the resolution of the question.
  • 3. To apply the question generally resolved, unto the Particular matter in hand; where the circumstances of the particular are to be lookt into, to sinde how far they answer, or answer not unto the ge­nerall determination of the question.

Thus then the acts of Ratiocination should proceed by degrees: For, the main Principle, whereby they are to be regulated, is this, that the understanding must proceed always from things foreknown to that which is unknown, by single notions, to proceed unto com­ponuds, which may be done, either from generalls, foreknowne, to determine particulars unknown: or, from particulars foreknown, to gather the generall notion wherein they all agree; for both wayes the reasoning faculty should proceed.

First, to state the question which is to be made the subject of Me­ditation, by summing up the particulars foreknown, into one gene­rall head and property of their agreement.

Secondly, to resolve that question into its distinct matters, to dis­cern the properties thereof.

Thirdly, to compare those properties with the thing sought after to see what they will discover of it in generall. And,

Lastly, to apply that which shall be discovered in generall, to the particular, as it standeth under its circumstances. And to this last act of reasoning, which concerneth the circunstances of particular matters, the use of sense doth concurre to enquire, observe, discern, and help to compare things together, by their out wardly perceptible qualities, which lead the understanding to the apprehension of more inward properties.

Now, the Principle by which the acts of sense are to be regulated, is this, that they should be kept from confused wanderings, and be made to reslect upon the observation of circumstances, according to the suggestion of reason in the order by which matters are to be compared one with another; for except circumstances be taken in their right places, the application will not be cleer, nor rightly made. [Page 43] The imagination then, and the memory (which have received the Ideas of circumstances observed by outward sense) must be com­manded; to make report of the same in that order, and for such in­tents, which reason subordinate unto conscience shall require to bee done; for the decision of that which is enquired after by way of Meditation and Consultation. And if these principles of order in the acts of the minde within it selfe be carefully observed, I suppose no man can doubt but that the progresse will be effectuall towards the discovery of Truth in the objects of Meditation, and of goodnesse in the objects of Consultation. For all the worke the minde of man is set upon, is nothing else but Truth and Goodnesse, to finde the same in Matters and Actions. And because Truth and Goodnesse are complicated together, so that the one is never without the other, therefore they are sought joyntly, and never found but together. But the instinct of nature leadeth men more to desire goodnesse then truth; is sought because it is knowne to be good but the notion of goodnesse is different in the capacities of men, and there­fore is sought differently according to the apprehensions which men have of it: For some apprehend nothing to be good, but what is answerable unto the delight which they take in sensuall objects: others apprehend the goodnesse of rationall objects; and some are exalted unto spirituall objects. Whence we finde three sorts of men in the world: some (but few are such) seek before all things and in all things, the goodnesse which proceedeth immediatly from God in the life of the Spirit. Others, who live in a rationall and morall way, content themselves with the fruits of naturall knowledge, in the workes of their understanding.

And lastly, some live in their sensuall appetites as beasts doe. The first sort of men are Citizens of heaven. The second are Rulers of this world; the third are slaves of the world. These different pro­perties of men, are to be found more or lesse in all the Meditations and Consultations of men about particular objects. For when the minds of men runne chiefly upon temporall matters to seek bodily case and contentment unto themselves in all things whereof they meditate and consult; they debase the use of their reason, and per­vert it to become a slave unto lust. And if they rest in a temporall content of things not meerly bodily, but somewhat also rationall: To have power and honour, and preheminence, to rule over others [Page 44] by their understanding, they are in some degree better then others, but yet not truly set upon that which is good. And therefore none but such as in the Acts of Meditation and Consultation, raise their thoughts, first to spirituall good, which is permanent unto life eter­nall: And then comprehend under it as subordinate matters there unto, the objects of reason and sense. Now (Isay) but such order their thoughts aright, and whosoever walketh by this Rule, hee may expect, that in seeking the Kingdome of God, other things shall be added unto him, according to the promise of Christ, Mat. 6. 33. Now because I labour in the wayes of my calling, and in all the Meditations which I use to propose unto others, to draw mens thoughts unto this rule, therefore although none doth contradict the proposalls which I make; yet I finde that they are not much relished; because most men, even of this Calling wherein I live, seek not tru­ly that which is spirituall, but rather that which is temporall, either in a rationall or sensuall way: for except they can perceive a parti­cular present advantage of honour and credit, or of profit to them­selves, they never care for that which is spirituall: And this is the cause why I cannot sinde a Patron for my worke, because I doe not set my minde, to serve ends and particular interests, unto which all parties now adayes are wedded; and can relish nothing but what is lubordinate thereunto.

This then is the combate which I have to fight with the spirits of men; namely, to bring them from their private Aimes, to a true ge­nerall good, wherein the glory of God, and the salvation of soules, without any other respects may be advanced.

I have added this Digression to let you see, that I neither can nor will expect promotion for my endeavours, but from such as can and will follow with me these principles of Meditation, and Consulta­tion to joyne with me therein to further the publike good, whereat I aime. For except mens aime concur, there can be no reall conjun­ction of endeavours And it is not lawfull for me to leave my aime and way of meditation to serve inferiour ends; and seeing they can­not raise their thoughts, to walke with me by these rules, I am like to be as I am, continually deserted, yet I am not discouraged; for I know that my reward is with him, whom I serve, and he in due time is able to open mens eyes, to see that they weary themselves for va­nity; and wander in the foolishnesse of troublesome councels, so long [Page 45] as they follow not these grounds of meditation. For all the plots and purposes of men, meerly rationall, though never so plausibly and strong­ly laid, will vanish when the Kingdome of God draweth neer, which is now at hand, and then nothing but what is truly universall and spirituall shall remain. If then we do not intend to lose our labour, and be frustrate of our reward, we should sow to the Spirit, by a sound way of spirituall meditation and consultation in all matters which we take in hand: That every purpose wherein we desire to walk rationally amongst men, and to apply our senses in a right course, may be first considered, as in the presence of God conscionably.

These generall Principles of meditation, by the grace of God, may be usefull for the ordering of our thoughts in particular objects, if accor­ding to the nature of these grounds, rules be delivered to direct the acts of the mind in the disquirie of doubtfull matters as well rationall and humane, as spirituall and divine; so far as these can be brought under a rule: For we cannot presume to prescribe any rules to the Spirit in his motions, because, as it is in the work of regeneration, so is it in the disco­very of mysteries, the Spirit bloweth where, and when it pleaseth; yet some rules may be given to the rationall faculty, which is subservient unto the Spirit, by which, deceits may be prevented, and mistakes dis­covered; that a spirituall man may be able to walk in the light, both by proposing cautions to himself, and calling his thoughts unto an account, that he may discern his own spirit, and regulate his course so far as rea­son doth go, lest he be led by some false light, and a deceived spirit bring him out of the way: For, when the Apostle, Rom. 1. 2. 3. doth warn every man not to think above that which he ought to think, but to think ac­cording to sobriety; as God hath distributed unto every one the mea­sure of faith, he doth cleerly give us a rule, by which we are to reflect up­on our selves in spirituall matters, to discern our own thoughts by a dis­covery of the proportion which they have, with the Principle from which they flow: And as in this, so in all other acts of meditation, the rule will be found in the same kind of proportion.

Now, the objects of meditation, concerning which doubts may arise, and wherein mistakes may be incident, which by the regulating of our thoughts, may be prevented, or resolved, are chiefly these:

First, concerning the sense of the Holy Scriptures, which are the dictates of the Holy Ghost: we finde that many doubts do arise in the minds of Interpreters, which without a certain rule, cannot be resolved. [Page 46] Therefore concerning Scripturall Interpretation, I conceive that the way of analysing the Text literally, materially, and mystically, may be delivered, so, as to discover the grounds of demonstrating the true sense thereof; so far as the proportion of faith doth lead us, and further we are not warranted to proceed.

Secondly, concerning all other matters wherein the minde may be more free, and needs not be bound up (as in Scripturall meditation) to the dictates of anothers meaning; the rules are of two sorts, some for Theoreticall, some for practicall meditations; and both these are either in humane or divine objects.

The Theory of humane objects, may have rules to direct the mind to sinde out hidden truths in naturall things.

The Practicall meditations of humane matters require rules, discover­ing the wayes of prudency, by which the best course of doing lawfull businesses may be found out and followed.

The Theory of divine objects, must wholly be Scripturall; therefore all the rules which can be delivered to direct the mind to sind out hidden truths of this kind, must be consequences of that analyticall doctrine, which doth relate to the matters and mysteries of the Text.

Lastly, the practicall meditations of the spirituall objects concern ei­ther the doubts of conscience, which Christians may have within them­selves, or the works of edification to be intended towards others. Of the first rules may be given, how the conscience should resolve it self of its doubts; of the second, how the works should be prosecuted and proposed toward others.

Of all which, much is to be said of very great concemment to the building up of our souls in truth and peace; but many outward lets and distractions, and some inward infirmities of mine own, take me off from the attention and intentivenesse which is requisite in the elaborating of so weighty matters, time and leasure is then requisite; which I hope the Lord will grant, with other necessary graces: and this I am willing to assure you of; that you shall never be more willing to put me upon these tasks, then I shall be found (according to the ability which it hath plea­sed God to grant unto me) ready and desirous to apply my self thereun­to for your edisication, as being in truth

Your most affectionate and faithfull servant in Christ, J. Dury.

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