WHEREIN The Analogy between Jerusalem and the visible Church is in some Instances, briefly hinted.

The NATURE, the ORDER, the UNION, of the visible CHURCH, together with her Terms of COMMUNION, are particularly considered, and their Excellency opened.

Moreover the following important POINTS are largely explain'd.

  • 1. What is to be understood by the PEACE of Jerusalem.
  • 2. What by praying for the PEACE of Jerusalem.
  • 3. How, and why we should pray for its Peace and Prosperity.

Under the aforesaid General Heads, the following Particulars are discuss'd, viz. The Nature, Kinds, Hindrances, Means and Motives, of PEACE and UNION, together with an Answer to OBJECTIONS.

ALSO A Prefatory Address to the SYNODS of New-York & Philadelphia.


Rom. xii. 18.

If it be possible, live peaceable with all Men.

Ephes. iv. 3.

Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.

Pax una Triumphis, inumeris, melior, vis unita fortior.

PHILADELPHIA. Printed and Sold by W. BRADFORD, at the Sign of the Bible in Second-Street. MDCCXLIX.


A PREFATORY ADDRESS. TO THE Reverend, the SYNODS of New-York and Phila­delphia; and to all the Religious SOCIETIES under their respective Care and Charge.

Reverend, Honoured, and Beloved Fathers and Brethren!

THE divided State of the Presbyterian Churches, in this Part of the World, where divine Providence has cast our Lot, has opened a melancholy Prospect to my View for some considerable Space of Time! Which I did not think proper to communicate to others for a Season; not knowing what were the Sentiments of my Brethren upon either Side of the Question, because I thought, however expedient, honourable and advantageous to the Redeemer's Kingdom, a Re­union might be, yet it was not practicable, unless the Body of both SYNODS was inclin'd thereto.

BUT hearing of a Number of both SYNODS more desirous of Peace and Union of late, and being excited by some Reverend Members of the Synod of New-York, and one of the Synod of Philadelphia, to move in this Affair: I did at the last Session of the Synod of New-York, in pursuance of my own Judgement and Inclination, and in compliance with the aforesaid Excitements, to­gether with some of my Brethren, make a Motion to the Synod, for Proposals of Peace and Union, which after some Reasoning upon the Head, was comply'd with, and Messengers appointed to make Overtures of Peace and Union of both Synods into one, which was done accordingly, and are now under Consideration.

AND being inform'd, that the Proposals of Peace and Union, occasioned some Uneasiness in several Societies, I thought it my Duty, to endeavour to remove the Grounds thereof, and promote the glorious and truly evangelical Design of Peace, as well as I [Page iv] could, by committing my Thoughts on that Subject to Writing, and exposing them to publick View!

MY Motives to endeavour in earnest to promote Peace and Union are these,

NOT a Change of Sentiment, about the late Revival of Religion, No! I do now declare solemnly before the World, that I have seen no Cause to alter my Opinion in Relation to it, and therefore I do now believe its Reality, as much as formerly; and if after this open and express Declaration, any will unjustly Censure me with the Contrary, perhaps because I cannot be so narrow as them­selves, I shall take no farther Notice of it, than to pity their un­reasonable Prejudice, and appeal from their unrighteous Judge­ment, to a higher and more impartial Tribunal; to a God that knows all the Thoughts and Designs of Men!

I cannot come into a Union with any Body of Men, whereto Acknowledgements contradictory to what I have now declared, are required, as Terms of Communion: No! I would rather chuse a Prison, or any kind of Sufferings: Nor is what I have said in the following Treatise, concerning the Matters of doubtful Specu­lation, in the least Degree inconsistent herewith; because those Expressions do not respect the Nature, Necessity, or Value of a Work of Conversion in general, or its Reality and Certainty con­sidered in itself; but only the Uncertainty of the Appearances of such a Work in others, to us; or the Uncertainty of our Judge­ment concerning them.

NOW between those two Things, the Difference is as wide as between Heaven and Earth, between divine Revelation and human Conjecture; if there be any who cannot perceive the Difference, they are to be pitied as Objects of Compassion, as Non Compos [...]! And if they do perceive it, and will not acknowledge it, they dis­cover by their Want of Candour, a bad Cause, which needs such insincere sophistical Arts to support it; and deserve Reproof: Such I would accost in the Language of Job to Zophar, Will you speak wickedly for GOD, and talk deceitfully for him?

TO cry up the Certainty of our Opinion, about any Instances of Conversion, in others in our Day, so as to make it a Badge of Distinction, between, or Engine of Division among the Professors of Christianity, is (in its direct Tendency) to abuse GOD'S Work to the Dishonour of his Name, and the Injury of his Kingdom, in­stead of exalting GOD it is to exalt our selves and our Opinion, (tho' probably the Honour of GOD is seriously intended,) which is always (respecting such secret Matters) precarious and often partial.

THO' I value the late Work of GOD highly, yet in the mean Time, I think it is sinful to make my Opinion of it. a Term of Communion to others; for tho' I am as fully persuaded as ever of its Reality, yet in the mean Time, I believe that my Opinion, and the Opinion of all others about such Matters, is fallible and un­certain: Nor can I see in the sacred Scriptures, any Warrant for imposing my Opinion, or the Opinion of others, respecting the in­visible [Page v] Grace of GOD in particular Persons, as a Term of Commu­nion, either Ministerial or Christian

NOR have I been Moved to this Important Enterprize, by any Thing that concerns myself, either by Grief for any suppos'd Misconduct of Mine, in Time past, or any Expectation of Credit, Comfort or Benefit, that may result from such a Peace and Union in Time to come, so far as they Respect me!

BUT MEERLY by the Consideration, of the positive Command of GOD, to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, to pursue Peace, and to keep the Unity of the Spirit, in the Bond of Peace.

TOGETHER with a Prospect of the Honour that I conceive will redound to GOD'S Name as well as Manifold Benefits, Credit, and Comfort to the Societies of our Denomination, for a long Time to come, in Case such a Re-union be obtained, upon a Scriptural Foundation: Generations yet unborn, are like to reap valuable Advantages by it, and praise GOD, for it with joy­ful Lips! I have been likewise encourag'd in this, by consider­ing calmly, and as impartially as I could, the Nature of the Con­troversy, that has subsisted among us, which appears to me, to be only about Circumstantials!

PERMIT me, my Reverend Fathers and Brethren, in all humi­lity, and with due deference to the Judgment of others, to express my Sentiments, upon this Head, with a peaceful Intention.

It seems to me, that thro' the heat of Debate, the principal Matters Controverted, were either not so very clearly and dis­tinctly apprehended, or not so sufficiently and happily attended to, by the Parties in Controversey, as could be wished!

FOR as upon one Hand the nature and necessity of Conversion to GOD, as is represented in the Scriptures of Truth, and in our Confession of Faith according to them, was acknowledg'd, and only the Opinion of some concerning the Reality, or Number of some late instances of Conversion, (or respecting both together) disputed, and contradicted.

SO upon the other Hand, the nature and necessity of Order and Government in the Church of CHRIST, as they are represented in the Holy Scripture, and in our Confession of Faith, according to them, were also Acknowledged, and only some prudential Acts and Rules, not express'd in the sacred Scriptures, or our Directory, for Worship and Government, disputed and oppos'd.

THE Substance of the Points disputed were freely acknow­ledg'd by the Reverend Brethren upon both Sides of the Question, viz. the nature and necessity of Conversion to GOD as it is held forth in the Scriptures, and in our Confession of Faith, and the nature and necessity of Church Discipline, (in all essentials) as re­presented in the Holy Scriptures, and in our Directory; so that the Controversey in my Apprehension, turns entirely upon Circumstan­tials. And any Action that was Mutually complain'd of, was grounded upon, and issu'd from a Difference of Opinion, about [Page vi] the Circumstantials aforesaid, or as the inspir'd Apostle phrases them, Matters of doubtful Disputation!

NOW as it appears to me, that the Matters controverted were Circumstantial, so I cannot but believe, that the Reverend Brethren upon both Sides of the Question, had sincere and good designs, in the different Parts they bore in the late Controversy: While some were earnestly contending, for the Credit of the late extraordinary Religious appearances, with design that they might spread far and wide! Others were streneously Contending, for the Order and Go­vernment of CHRIST'S Kingdom, least they should Suffer, and be quite unhing'd, in that uncommon situation of, and ferment that obtain'd among the Churches!

BUT tho' the Things controverted, consider'd calmly and in a true distinct Light, were small; yet the Heat of Debate about them, run very high; this together with evil Surmisings, severe Censurings, and rash Judgings of each other, encourag'd and en­flam'd, by Misrepresentations, carried to and fro, by the unwearied Industry of Tale-bearers and Tatlers, who are generally busy on such Occasions, encreas'd mutual Prejudices and Suspicions, to a Melancholy Crisis, and so occasioned the unhappy Rupture of the Churches Union, which has subsisted among Us for some Years!

REVEREND Fathers, and Dear Brethren, the earnest desire of my Heart after Peac [...], and Union of the Churches in this Part of the World, has induced me to Compose the following Sheets, (festinante calamo) somewhat hastily, and humbly to offer them to your Consideration, as well as to submit them to your Correction.

I can honestly declare, that I Design to offend no one, of either Side of the Question; but to Essay the compromising of the Matters of Difference, and promote Peace and Union in the best Manner I can!

I trust my Brethren, that you will candidly interpret, and kind­ly accept, this humble Attempt, for the Peace of Jerusalem!

IF there be any Pass [...]ges in the following Performance, not suitably express'd, I hope your Candour will suggest this in my excuse, that the Province, which I have thro' a Zeal for GOD, and not any Notion of my own Capacity, ventur'd upon, is ex­ceeding Difficult: It is hard to say any Thing, closely upon a Point in Controversey, without giving Offence to Persons of one, or both Sides of the Question!

SO far as I know, I have not been influenced in the least Degree, by any regard to my own Reputation, or any partial Byass what­soever, in the following Composure, and if I am mistaken in any Sentiment there express'd I am willing to be convinced of it by Arguments but not by the persecuting Methods of Threatnings, and upon Conviction, to alter my Opinion, and acknowledge my Mistake!

THE following Essay, after its Composure, I have not had the Opportunity to consult with any of my Brethren, (in the Ministry) upon; and therefore if any fault be found with it, it should not [Page vii] in Justice be charg'd upon them, no I am freely willing to bear all the Blame myself, in so good, so important a Cause, as that of the Peace of CHRIST'S Kingdom, I have said nothing of myself, or of others, in the following Pages, but what appear'd to me necessary, to promote the valuable Design in View.

WHATEVER may be the issue of this Essay, which I chearfully commit to the Disposal of the GOD of Peace and Love, yet this I must declare in the mean Time, that I greatly rejoyce in this Opportunity, I have before I Die, of expressing the very Senti­ments of my Heart, upon so Amiable and Important an Occasion▪ Were I to go before the great Judge of all the Earth To-morrow, I should be glad to finish this immediately before it!

NOTHING appears to me, more Beautiful and Glorious, then Peace and Love, and Union among the Professors of the RELIGI­ON, of the Meek and Humble JESUS.

AND therefore I am griev'd in my Heart, for the narrow Notions, of some Pious, and in other respects valuable Men; who are fondly desiring, or vainly attempting, to promote the good of the Church of CHRIST, either by multiplying, or continuing her unhappy, dishonourable, and dangerous Divisions!

THO' I trust their Zeal is Sincere, and their designs Pious, for which they deserve Esteem, and Commendation; yet as to their Divisive contracted Measures, I would say as Jacob of Simon and Levi, Instruments of Cruelty (instead of Kindness which they in­intend) are in their Habitation to the poor wounded broken Church of GOD: O my Soul! come not into their Secret! min [...] Honour be not thou United!

NO on the contrary! thro' GOD'S assistance, I will pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, and say, Peace be within thy Walls, and Prosperity be within thy Palaces for my Brethren and Companion's Sake, I will say Peace be within thee; because of the House of the LORD our GOD, I will seek thy Good. I am resolved whatever others say, or do, to Labour for the Peace and Prosperity of Zion, and Jerusalem, while I Live, and to Sigh for it, with my dying Breath!

TWO Things I would desire of Readers in General, viz. That they would divest themselves of Prejudice, if they have any; and give what I offer for Peace, in the Name of my Master, the Prince of Peace, a fair hearing, weighing candidly and impar­tially, with a humble Mind, the Grounds thereof, for GOD'S sake, the Churches sake, and their own: And that they would Remember me, before the Throne of Grace, who am the greatest of Sinners, and far less than the least of all Saints, and not worthy of the Character of an Ambassador of CHRIST that I may obtain Mercy of GOD to be faithful to the Death.

AND of you particularly my Reverend Fathers, and Dear Brethren, I earnestly beg a Remembrance in your Prayers; you know Sirs, better than I can express, how becoming and glorious it is, for the Ambassadors of the Prince of Peace, to seek Peace [Page viii] and ensue it, with unshaken Magnimity, unbroken Patience, and unwearied Industry, notwithstanding any Difficulties, that may be cast in their Way, by devout Men of narrow Souls and hot Ima­ginations. But I must conclude this Address with respectful Sa­lutations, to all of you, and Cordial wishes that every one of you, thro' the rich pure blessing of GOD, may be of eminent Service, in promoting the precious Interests, of the Kingdom of our Dear Lord JESUS CHRIST, in your Day and Generation: And may obtain all needful Good in this Life, and that which is to come, and to all the People of your respective Charges, I wish from my Heart, Grace, Mercy, and PEACE, from GOD the Father, and from our Lord JESUS CHRIST.

Reverend, Honoured and beloved Fathers and Brethren;
I remain, your affectionate Friend, unworthy Brother, Son, and Servant. G. TENNENT
PSALMS cxxii. 6, 7, 8, 9.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: They shall Prosper that Love thee. Peace be within thy Walls, and Prosperity be within thy Palaces. For my Brethrens and Companions sake, I will now say Peace be within thee. Because of the House of the Lord our GOD, I will seek thy good.

THE Weal of the visible Church, or Kingdom of God among Men, must needs be very dear to every gracious Heart. What the Prophet Isaiah and the Psalm [...] say of themselves, is com­mon to them all. For Jerusalems sake I will not hold my Peace, and for Zion's sake I will not be silent, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a Lamp that burneth. If I forget the O Jerusa­lem, let my right Hand forget her cunning: Let my Tongue cleave to the Roof of my Mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem to my chief Joy.

BUT tho' the People of God are agreed about the Object of their chief Care and Regard, about the End they aim at; yet they are sometimes of very different Sentiments as to some of the Mea­sures they concert and pursue to obtain that valuable End.

THIS Diversity perhaps is owing to their different natural Tem­pers, different Capacities, different Methods of Education, different Opportunities of Conversation, different advances in divine Know­ledge and Grace; and it may be in some Instances owing to the insensible corrupt Byass of Prejudice.

NOW among the different Measures which good Men propose for promoting the aforesaid End, namely, the Weal of God's visible Church and Kingdom on Earth, methinks those are most likely to be serviceable, which have the express stamp of divine Authority, and agree with all the other Parts of divine Revelation, for God's Wisdom is infinitely superior to Mans, and what comes from him, must needs agree with itself, seeing it proceeds from the same Cause, and has the same Design.

OF this Kind is the Duty which I am now to discourse upon, namely, seeking the Peace of Jerusalem. When we only seek a Peace bottom'd upon the express acknowledgment of all essential and necessary Articles, in Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline, con­tain'd in the sacred Scriptures, and in our excellent Westmins [...]er Confession of Faith, Catechisms, and Directory for Worship and Go­vernment [Page 2] agreeable to them, and no sinful Acknowledgments are required. I say such a Peace is agreeable to the whole System of Truth and Duty which we are required to believe and perform by the KING of the Church, our Lord JESUS CHRIST, in his sacred Word, whose peculiar Royality it is alone to appoint Terms of Communion, both Christian and Ministerial; and entirely con­sistent with that Liberty wherewith he has made us free: A Plan which is a noble medium between the two extreams of anti-scrip­tural rigour upon the one Hand, and anti-scriptural laxness upon the other; such a Peace being consistent with Truth and Righteous­ness, must needs be excellent and important. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, &c.

THIS Psalm, as almost all interpreters conclude, * was wrote by the Psalmist, when the Ark of GOD was bro't by David to Jerusalem, and plac'd in the Tabernacle, to be publickly Sung there by the People of Israel, at the Seasons of their Annual and Solemn Festivals; that so the People might be induced to fall in Love with Jerusalem, and especially with the Solemnities of Religious Worship there celebrated!

HENCE the People are here introduced, as Congratulating each other▪ on occasion of the Opportunity that presented of going to the House of GOD; I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the House of the Lord; our Feet shall stand within thy Gates O Jerusalem, one is here represented as comforting himself and his fellow Travellers upon the Road, during the fatigues of their Journey to Jerusalem, with the Expectation of their Arrival there, and their being present at the Solemnities of publick Worship, (in which they stood) which would more than compensate all their Pains! The Israelites were wont to sing this Verse upon the Road, while during the Feast of Pentecost, they brought the first Fruits to the Temple, as Vatabulus, Muis, Gejerus and Selden a­sure us.

GRACIOUS Persons can't but love the Place where Gods Ho­nour dwells, and his Tabernacles are amiable to them: One Thing they especially desire with great Intensness, namely, to see the Beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his Temple. And agreeable to the estimate and precedent of GOD himself, they cannot but love the GATES of ZION more than all the dwellings of Jacob, i. e. pre­fer publick Worship to private, because God is thereby more glo­rified, and, for the general, more peculiarly and eminently present. The dear Imanuel walks in the midst of the golden Candlesticks, clad with awful and s [...]rene Majesty, and cloath'd with unparrellel'd, inimitable and inexpressible Beauty and Lustre! Enrob'd with a Garment down to the Foot, and girt about the Paps with a golden Girdle; his Head and his Hair are white like Wool, as white as Snow; and his Eyes are as a Flame of Fire, and his Feet like unto fine Brass, as if they burned in a Furnace; and his Voice [Page 3] as the Sound of many Waters; he has in his right Hand seven STARS; out of his Mouth goes a sharp two-edged Sword, and his Countenance is as the Sun shining in his Strength. In the Assem­blies of the Church are the Olive Branches, as the Prophet Ze­chary represents it, which thro the golden Pipes empty the golden Oyl out of themselves. From the boundless unexhausted fullness of CHRIST the anointed, we receive Grace for Grace, from CHRIST the Olive Tree, by the Spirit the Olive Branch, all the golden Oyl of Grace is communicated to Believers, which keeps their Lamps burning by continued supplies of divine Influence, with­out which they would soon languish and expire!

FARTHER, the People are introduced in this Psalm, as celebrat­ing the Praises of Jerusalem, and wishing her Peace and Prosperity. Jerusalem is a City that is compact together, not only in respect of the beautiful Order and Connection of the Houses, which were not scattered here and there as in Vilages, but closely joined to­gether; but especially upon the account of the well constituted ORDER and UNITY, of its Inhabitants, and therefore like to be permanent * compact together, partly in its Buildings saith Pool in his Anotation [...], which are not dispers'd as they are in villages, nor divided into two Cities, as it was before, but united and enlarg'd: (1 Chron. xi. 7.8.) and principly in its Government and Religion, which was distinct and opposite, before David took the Fort of Zion from the Jebusites. It was a Type of the Gospel Church saith Henry, which is compact together in Holy Love and Christian Com­munion, so that it is all one City.

THITHER the Tribes go up to the Testimony of Isreal, to give Thanks to the Name of the LORD; for there are set Thrones of Judgment, the Thrones of the House of David; Jerusalem was the Place of general Rendevous or Concourse, for all the scattered Tribes of Israel to meet in, to receive Instructions from GOD, and ascribe Glory to him.

THERE was the Testimony of Israel, i. e. by a metonimy the ARK which is called the Testimony of Israel, because of the Tables of the Covenant kept in it, which are called the Testi­mony (Exod. xxv. 16.) and very reasonably the Testimony of Israel, because it was given by GOD, to Israel for their good.

THERE was the Thrones of Judgment, the Supream Courts of Justice for Ecclesiastical and Civil Affairs, the great Sanhedrim or Senate of the Nation, consisting of 72, the Royal Seat allotted to David and his Descendants.

AFTER the aforesaid Commendation of Jerusalem, he proceeds to the Words of our Text, pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, &c. which contains a positive command, together with the Manner how it should be perform'd, prescrib'd, and an Excitement thereto anex'd. And 2d. the Psalmists Resolution in reference thereto, with the grounds thereof. And

[Page 4]1st. WE have a COMMAND, pray for the Peace of Jerusalem pray, beg, intreat, plead for, beseech, namely from God, say Grotius, Pagnine, Mariana, upon the Place, i. e. use the utmost Importunity and unwearied Vehemence, Peace so the Syriack and Arabick Versions and also the Versions of Piscator and Arias Mon­tanous, says Pool in his Synopsis. For Peace, so Munster and Chem­nitius, seek its Peace and Felicity, because upon that hangs the Peace of the whole Kingdom, saith Munster.

PEACE doubtless includes the Union of her Inhabitants, their Protection from Dangers and Enemies, their universal Wellfare, and Enjoyment of all the Good they need. We should earnestly pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, and that therein we may have Peace. Peace is the Gift of God, and for it he will be enquired of. Such as can do nothing else for the Peace of Jerusalem, can pray for it, which is something more than shewing their good­will, for it's the appointed way of obtaining Mercy: The Peace and Wellfare of the Gospel Church in our Land, is to be ear­nestly desired and pray'd for by every one of us.

NOW the Manner of praying for Jerusalem, is prescrib'd thus, Peace be within thy Walls, i. e. to all the Inhabitants within thy Walls, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free: Peace be in all thy Dwellings, Peace be in all thy Fortifications and Armies, let them never be attack'd, or if they are, let them never be taken; so Musculus, Pagnine, Hieron.

AND Prosperity within thy Palaces, i. e. let abundance of Peace and Felicity be in the Houses, Courts and Towers of the Great, both of a civil and sacred Character: He makes particular mention of these, not for the Sake of Ostentation, but because their Safety eminently extended to inferiors, as many learned Interpreters justly observe. * In a Word we are directed to pray for all Good to the Inhabitants in general, and for the Princes and Rulers in particular, who manage the Helm of the Church and State, and conduct the Affairs of the Publick, both religious and civil.

NOW we are encouraged to pray in the Manner aforesaid, for the Peace of Jerusalem, by a promise of Prosperity, they shall Prosper that love thee: Those that sincerely love, and heartily pray and strive for the Peace and Weal of Jerusalem, shall prosper; that God whom they hereby glorify, will bless them, and make at least their Souls prosper; however Men may censure them. God will approve of their conduct, and favour them with his gracious Presence; to this effect Arias Montanus, and Gegerus in­terpret the Words.

This Encouragement is exactly agreeable to that which the Prince of Peace vouchsafes, Mat. v. 9. Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the Children of God. The World blesseth the boisterous and unquiet, who blow up the Coals of [Page 5] War, Sedition and Division, but they are blessed indeed, in the Judgment of our Saviour, and by his Royal Authority, who study to be quiet, seeking Peace and pursuing it, and are so far from sowing the Seeds of Discord, or blowing the Coals of Contention, that it is their great Study, their earnest Desire, and unwearied Labour, to make Peace between God and Man, between Man and himself, and between Man and his Neighbour, doing this in obedience to God, and from a principle of love to him and his Kingdom; for those that do so shall approve themselves to God as his Children, who is the God of Peace, and shall hereby evidence the same to themselves and others, they shall be called the Chil­dren of God. To be a Peace-maker, is to have a peaceable Dis­position and Practice; as to make a lye, is to be adicted to lying; so to make Peace, is to have a strong and hearty Affection to Peace; to love, desire, and delight in Peace, to be in it as our Element, and to study to be quiet; to endeavour to preserve the Peace where it is, that it be not broken, and to recover it where it is broken, both by making and hearkning to proposals of Peace; where there are debates and divisions among Brethren and Neighbours, doing all we can, consistent with Truth and Holiness, to accom­modate them and repair Breaches: Such Persons are blessed of God however they may be censured by Men, pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee. Here observe that a peaceable Temper and Behaviour is an Evidence of sincere love to Jerusalem, or to the Church of GOD. But,

2d. WE have the Psalmist's religious Resolution, with the Grounds thereof, for my Brethren and Companions sake, I will now say Peace be within thee, i. e. whatever others speak or do, I am determined to shew myself the real Friend of Jerusalem, by pray­ing and striving for her Peace and Wellfare, I will now say Peace be within thee; I will pray for thy Peace, I will consult thy Peace, I will plead for thy Peace. * I will seek thy Good, I will do all within the compass of my Power to promote thy Wellfare, I will second my Prayers by earnest and incessant endeavours: Here observe, my Brethren, that the Peace and Wellfare of Je­rusalem, have a near and dear Relation to each other, a close and inseparable Connection: so that he who truly and consistently seeks one, must also seek the other, and he that opposes the one does virtually and consequentially (tho' in a misguided Zeal not de­signedly) oppose the other: They are beautiful and inseparable Companions, I will say Peace be within thee, I will seek thy Good; Truth, Peace, Holiness, and Zion's increase should be sought in Harmony, in their mutual Dependance and Conection: It may here farther be observed, that wishing Peace was a com­mon Salutation among the Hebrews, importing all good and prosperity.

BUT, Sirs, it is a dreadful Thing to separate what God has [Page 6] joined, and to set up one part of Religion in Opposition to the other, or oppose the Means to the End. And is it not a lament­able Contradiction to pretend to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, and in the mean Time to labour with all our might by unreasonable complaints, by indecent tumultuous Threats and Reflections, to hinder the Answer of our own Prayers? Would it not be more self-consistent not to pretend to pray at all for the Peace or Prospe­rity of Jerusalem, and so strike that Command altogether out of our Bibles, least it should cross our peevish, tho' well meant, humours and murmurs?

NOW the Grounds of the aforesaid Resolution of the Psalmist are these two, viz. 1st The real Regard he had to all his fellow Citizens, to all the Israelites, whom, tho' his Subjects and In­feriors, he owns as his Brethren and Companions in the principal Privileges enjoyed at Jerusalem, for my Brethren and Companions sake, I will now say Peace be within thee, i. e. its the BENEFIT, the COMMUNION, and EDIFICATION of the SAINTS of GOD, whom I Love and Esteem as my Brethren; and who have fre­quently been endear'd to me, as Companions in Religious Wor­ship; that is my CHIEF MOTIVE, in seeking the Peace of Jeru­salem, and no INTEREST or CREDIT of my OWN, nothing that concerns me personally. And 2d. Another Ground of his pious Resolution, was the Regard he had to the publick Ordinances of the divine Worship, which are celebrated with greatest Beauty when the Sons and Daughters of Zion maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace, and dwell in Harmony. Because of the House of the Lord our God, I will seek thy Good.

I intend not to speak distinctly upon all that is contained in these Verses, which I have chose for the Subject of our present Meditations; I would therefore only observe this Proposition from them all, viz.

That it is a very important Duty, enjoined upon all by di­vine Authority, to pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Jeru­salem. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, Peace be within thy Walls, and Prosperity within thy Palaces; for my Brethren and Companions Sake I will now say Peace be within thee.

IN discoursing upon which, let us enquire,

  • I. What is to be understood by Jerusalem.
  • II. What by the Peace of it.
  • III. What by praying for the Peace of Jerusalem.
  • IV. How we should pray for the Peace and Prosperity there­of, and why.

NOW by JERUSALEM we are to understand the visible Church. This Title is given to it in several Passages of the Old Testament, some of which have been already mentioned in the Introduction to this Discourse: And in the New-Testament it is called the Je­rusalem that is from above, which is free and the Mother of us all. [Page 7] This Jerusalem may be said to be from above, because the Char­ter of Privileges whereby she is enrich'd, and Laws whereby she should be govern'd are from above, from Heaven. This Gospel Church is free from the Yoke of the Ceremonial Law, and much more from the Bondage of human Inventions, in Doctrine, Wor­ship or Discipline, impos'd as Terms of Communion. She is instrumentally the Mother of Believers, in respect of Conversion, Growth and Nourishment, by the Word faithfully preach'd, the Sacraments duly dispens'd, and Discipline prudently and faithfully administer'd, thro' the blessing of God upon them. The visible Church is also called the heavenly Jerusalem, (Heb. xii. 22) But ye are come unto mount Zion, and to the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; now it is so term'd, be­cause its original, nature and design are all heavenly.

THE visible Church i [...] call'd Jerusalem, because of the ORDER, UNION, and Strength of that City, and because of the Temple of GOD therein, to which as a Centre of Unity, the far distant and dispers'd Tribes of Israel resorted to Worship God. And are not ORDER and UNION necessary to the Well-Being of the vi­sible Kingdom of CHRIST? Yes surely. And hence is that di­vine Injunction▪ (1 Cor xiv. 40) Let all Things be done decently and in order. And hence the Apostles Joy and Gladness, in ob­serving the Order of the Church at Coloss, (Colos. ii. 5.) Joying and beholding your Order, and the Steadfastness of your Faith in CHRIST, i. e. your good Constitution and regular Behaviour agreeable to the Discipline appointed by Jesus Christ, which has direct tendency to, and happy Influence upon your Perseverance in Truth and Holiness.

THE Original Word for Order (TAXIN,) i. e. good Order (Eutaxian) saith Menochius, signifies that all Things were done among them Right and in Order agreeable to Church Dis­cipline well concerted; Moreover that the Manner and Behaviour of every one were regular and orderly, (2 Thes. iii. 6.) now we Command you Brethren, in the Name of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, that ye withdraw your selves, from every Brother that walks Dis­orderly, and not after the Tradition ye receiv'd of Us; * agreeable [Page 8] to which, is the solemn Exhortation of the same Apostle, in his first Epistle to the Thesselonians, 4th Chap. and 1st Verse; Farthermore we Beseech you Brethren, and Exhort you by the Lord JESUS, that as ye have receiv'd of us how ye ought to walk, and to please GOD, so ye wou'd abound more and more.

MOREOVER it signifies, their Consent to, and Concord in the Foundation Doctrines, and Duties of Religion; for it alludes to a Band or Company of Soldiers, well instructed in the Art of War, and in good Order, gather'd together into a close compact Body; agreeable to that beautiful and memorable Expression in our Context, of JERUSALEM'S being a CITY compacted together. As many as walk according to this Rule, Peace be on them and Mercy, and on the Israel of GOD, (Gala. vi. 16.) The Word Rule CANOON, signifies a Way made according to Rule, evidently right▪ and strictly exact, says B [...]za, and the original Word Soichein, signifies to go on in a certain Order, and not to trans­gress the right Line prescrib'd by Divine authority; says the same learned Author: The Word Be is not in the Original, which rus thus, Peace upon them, and Mercy; these Blessings are repre­sented as present, because certainly future, according to the Usage of the Holy Scripture, which sometimes represents Things that will surely come to pass, either as present or past already; thus because CHRIST will certainly come to judge the World, he is therefore represented as upon his way, (Rev. i. 7.) Behold he cometh with the Clouds. And because CHRIST was certainly to be slain in the fulness of Time for the Sins of Men, he is therefore spoke of as the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World, to signify that he should be as certainly slain in the appointed Time, as if he were already slain; as many as walk according to this Rule, Peace shall surely be upon them and all God's spiritual Israel, whether Jews or Gentiles. PEACE, i. e. all Good and Happiness, thus Grace and Peace are join'd. (1 Cor. i. 3.) Grace unto you, and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus [Page 9] Christ. The same form of Salutation is repeated elsewhere, (2 Cor. i. 2. Ephes. i. 2. Rom. i. 2.) In 2 Tim. i 2. Grace Mercy and Peace are joined. I would add only one Scripture more to illustrate this Point, which is (Mat. x. 13.) And if the House be worthy let your Peace come upon it, i. e. that safety and felicity you wish for in your Salutation; for the Greeks in Imitation of the Hebrews, designed to express by the Word Peace, all that was good and desirable, as Grotius, Piscator, and Castalio justly observe.

TO what has been said, I may add these Scriptures following, (1 Cor. xvi. 1.) as I have given Order to the Churches of Galatia. (Tit. i. 5) For this Cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the Things that are wanting. (1 Cor. xi. 34.) And the rest I will set in Order when I come. (1 Cor. xv. 23.) But every Man in his own Order. A cloud of learned Witnesses ex­plain the Word ORDER for Substance as I have done. *

JOYING and beholding your Order, and the Steadfastness of your Faith in Christ. The original Word, (Steroma) has great Emphasis in it, it imports firmness, solidity, encrease of Strength, and Confirmation. There is a beautiful hebraism in the original (Steroma tes pisteos, pro ten sterian pistin) a stable, immoveable and firm Faith. Faith when of the right Kind, in the obser­vance of that ecclesiastical Order which Jehovah has instituted, is firm as the Firmament itself, and stable as the Heavens: There seems to be an Allusion in the Word to the heavenly Bodies, which keep their constant Stations, and observe their regular Courses thro' imeasurable Tracts of Ether, for a long Succession of Ages inviolably, without the least swerving or suspension of Motion, except in some extraordinary Instances, when Omnipo­tence interpos'd, then indeed the great Lights of Heaven forgot to run their wonted Courses!

AMAZING was the believing boldness of Joshua, in his Prayer upon this Occasion! Who in the Sight of Israel, with an air of Majesty, Authority and Empire, arested the Eye of Heaven in his Race, and held the falling Day: And in like Manner en­join'd the lesser Luminary to stop its swift career, and by a febler Light assist his Victory and Triumph! Sun stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the Valey of Ajalon. Gibeon was the Place of Action, the Seat of War, the Scene of Battle, and the Valey of Ajalon was near to it.

AND as amazing was the Success of this eminent Instance, of fiducial Recumbence upon the Divine Power and Promise, for the Sun stood still, and the Moon stay'd, until he had aveng'd [Page 10] himself upon their Enemies. (Jos. 10.) O the Stupenduous pre­vailence of believing Prayer! that thus in a Moment can controul, the establish'd Laws of Nature! and stop the Motions of the heavenly Bodies! This may bring to our wellcome Remembrance, that famous Scripture, (Isa. xlv. 11.) Concerning the Work of my Hands command ye me. Herein the Almighty, by a Conde­scention truly astonishing and inexpressible, puts equal Honour upon, and gives equal encouragement to believing Prayer! Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, they shall Prosper that love thee.

BUT JERUSALEM had not only excellent ORDER, but like­wise a firm UNION among its Inhabitants, both which stand and fall together. And thus the visible Church is under Regulations of a divine Original, for God is a God of Order, he is not the Au­thor of Confusion, but of Peace, in all the Churches of the Saints, (1 Cor. xiv. 33.) The Word Confusion, (acatastasi [...]s) signifies dissention, tumult, turbulent, faction, vexing, disturbance, or a confus'd state, wherein Order is unhing'd and overthrown. But God is not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace, and therefore of Order, which is the Contrary of Confusion, and the cause and antecedent of Peace; to this purpose speak many learned Wri­ters, * God himself is Order and Harmony, both in his Nature and in his Laws, which are but a Representation of his Nature, so far as it is imitable by intelligent Beings. Now vital and practical Religion is but a Conformity to both, the Copy and Original or Prototype, and therefore it is of Necessity in its Nature and Genius, the very reverse or contrary to discord, con­fusion and division.

AND as the Church is united to CHRIST as ITS Head by Faith, so by Love to each other, like the natural B [...]dy, to which it is compared in Scripture, which is not only united to the Head, but each Member thereof to the other; which Union is the Foundation of their Sympathy with, and Care for each o­ther, as well as of their mutual Nourishment, Growth, Strength, Comfort and Beauty, every of which is injured, if not quite destroy'd, by a Breach of Union. Just so it is with the visible Church or Kingdom of Christ. But on the Contrary, a firm Union makes it comfortable to itself, profitable to its Friends, and terrible to its Enemies, as an Army with Banners; so that we may say of it as Balam, under a divine Impulse, said of Israel, when he saw the several Tribes, who were united in one great Body, regularly encamp'd under their respective Standards, with their Colours flying, how [...]o [...]dly are thy Tents O Jacob, and thy Tabernacles O Israel? (Num. xxiv, 5.) In this glorious si­tuation the visible Church strikes a dread, a panick, into the Hearts of all her Foes, like an Army with Bann [...]rs, like regular veteran Troops, kept under good Discipline, marshal'd in good [Page 11] Order, and drawn up in Battalia, with their proper military Ensigns, Arms and Officers, ready to repel with Valour, Conduct, and Success any Assailants.

PRAY observe, my Brethren, that the great God positively Commands us to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace, (Ephes. iv, 3) Every Word of this blessed Precept is big with Emphasis, (Spudazontes terein, ten enoteta tou pneumatos, en to sun­desmo tes eirenes) The Word translated keep, (spudazontes) sig­nifies our earnest endeavour to preserve a Thing with great study, solicitude and labour. This Precept is truly Evangelical; the Law requires absolute Perfection upon pain of Death, but CHRIST urges our intense and diligent Endeavour after O­bedience.

BUT what is it that we should keep with so great Care and Pains? Why the UNITY of the Spirit, (ten enoteta tou pneumatos) the Oneness of the Spirit; it is that Oneness which he had spoken of in the second and third Chapters of this Book, viz. of the Body of Christ, compos'd of different sorts of People, united to one Head, Christ Jesus, at least in Appearance and Profession.

THE Apostle calls the UNITY of the visible Church, the Unity of the Spirit, not only because there is a real spiritual and saving Union, between some of the visible Church to CHRIST form'd by the Holy Spirit, from which the rest are (Synecdochically) denominated; but also because the external Union of the whole Church, is not Bodily, but Spiritual, namely of Minds agreeing among themselves.

MOREOVER as the visible Church is not the natural Body of CHRIST, and yet has a religious Relation to him, it may therefore be call'd his spiritual or mystical Body visible, or in Profession at least; therefore the Union must be spiritual also, of the same Kind with the Body to which it belongs.

BESIDES God, who is a Spirit, is the Author of this external Union of professing Christians into Church Fellowship, or of their being outwardly in Covenant with him, which has a spi­ritual and noble tendency to engage them to be the Lords; to affect their Spirits and turn them from Sin to God; in which re­spect this external religious Relation to the Father of Spirits, may be truly called the Unity of the Spirit: So that here a two-fold Unity of the Spirit is enjoyn'd, viz. internal, of the Mind, in Sentiment and of the Will in Affection; and external in a joint partaking of outward, but spiritual, Ordinances of Worship.

The Word Bond (sundesmos) signifies, that which connects one Thing with another, or that which joins one Thing to another.

NOW the Bond here enjoined is Peace. (eirene para to eis en eiren, a conectendo in unum, says Pasor) The etymology of the Word Peace signifies to connect or join different Things into one; and this truly is the tendency of Peace; it removes Prejudices, asswages Resentments, conciliates and unites Mens Minds, and [Page 12] thus it preserves the Unity of the Church of God, which is broken by angry Contentions and Debates.

PEACE cannot be kept without mutual forbearance in lesser Things, which Mankind are apt to entertain very different Sen­timents of: But forbearance has no Place among the fierce and furious, but only among the humble and meek. Unity cannot be preserved where Pride and Envy reign which are its irreconcila­ble Enemies

NOW if the Command of GOD obliges us to prevent as much as in us lyes, in the Use of all lawful Means, a Breach of the exter­nal Union of the Church of GOD, then by a necessary Conse­quence, the same Command of GOD, obliges us to use all lawful Means to recover this Union, when it is broke: These two Things have an inseparable Connection, he therefore that denies one, denies both consequentially, and so opposes the commanding Authority of Almighty GOD.

THE Apostle urges the aforesaid UNITY, enjoin'd in the Verses immediately following, by these ARGUMENTS, viz.

THAT there is but one Body mystical, the visible Church, the Type whereof was the Jewish Tabernacle, and in the room there­of afterwards one Temple. We are one Body, says Tertullian, from a consciencious Regard to the Unity of Religion and Discipline, and Hope of the Covenant. * Seeing the Church is but one Body, because of it's external, visible and stated Conjunction in religious Offices, it is therefore the Duty of those who are Members of it, to endeavour to preserve it's Unity; to this effect speak Zanchy, Estius, Camero and Grotius.

AND one divine Spirit, which governs and quickens the Church, and unites it into one Body, which cannot disagree with itself, (1 Cor. xii. 4.) so Zanchy and Grotius: Or the Word Spirit, as Beza thinks, may be taken for the human Mind, those that join in Church-fellowship, agree in Mind, and Spirit among themselves, as if they were but one Spirit, which cannot disagree with itself. What is more monstrous than for a Man to rise up against himself, as Tirinus and Zanchy observe.

ONE Hope of your Calling, we expect one and the same eternal Salvation, the Object of Hope; the Apostle by a Metonimy calls Hope, because of their Relation to each other; now seeing we all expect the same eternal Felicity, why should we disagree and di­vide in our way to it? The Hope to which we are called can­not be divided; thus Menochius, Zanchy, Symachus.

ONE Lord of the Church by the Father's Appointment, viz. JESUS CHRIST, who is the Redeemer, Saviour, Head and Go­vernor of the Church; who neither will nor can be divided, whom nevertheless such Labour (virtually) to divide and tear, who [Page 13] promote Schisms Contentions and Confusions in the visible Church, so Zanchy, Grotius, Vorstius, Erasmus▪ Menochius.

ONE Faith, one Rule of Faith, contained in the Scriptures, which we all follow, or one Doctrine of Salvation, which we all believe, which was always one, and therefore the Faith of the whole Church visible; to this Effect, Erasmus, Zanchy, Grotius, Menochius, Tirinus.

ONE Baptism, one Mode of professing this Faith, viz. by Bap­tism, as Alting observes; as all have the same Faith, so all have the same Symbol of Faith, Baptism, which was always one, even before CHRIST'S coming in the Flesh, it was the same as to the Thing signified, and now one also not only in that Respect, but likewise as to the external Sign, so Grotius and Zanchy, and I think justly.

ONE GOD and Father of all, who is above all, in respect of absolute and universal Empire, essential and transcendent Excellen­cy, and thro' all, who by his Providence permeats, upholds, and rules all, and more especially the Members of his visible Kingdom, and in you all, uniting you to himself at least visibly, as one Fa­ther of all by JESUS CHRIST; this last Clause respects GOD the Father personally, the other two Persons being before-mentioned, thus Erasmus, Hieronimus, Grotius, Pool, and others.

OBSERVE how the blessed Apostle labours this important and momentuous Point, viz. the external UNION of the Church visible; he is not satisfied with mentioning the express Command of God enjoining all to labour for it, by the highest Authority, No! but knowing the strong natural Aversion of Mankind against it, he urges our Compliance, by a beautiful Train of pertinent and ner­vous Reasonings, sumarily represented, with amiable Elegance, and Energy of Address, to gain our naturally reluctant Consent, to our Honour, our Duty, and our Interest!

GOD knows there is great Need of the aforesaid Precept, and all the poignant Arguments whereby it is enforc'd, and of our attending thereto with all our Powers; for the Breaches of Union among the visible Members of CHRIST'S Body, are as common as they are dishonourable and fatal! The Ignorance, the Pride, the Humour and Prejudice of Men's Hearts, dispose them strongly to run into inumerable Sects, Parties, and Factions; and that under religious Pretexts of greater Purity, &c. and doubtless in divers Instances with pious Intentions, as if CHRIST must be divided, as if his Kingdom was like to be strengthened by crumbling it into little Parties, and setting them by the Ears to tear one another to Pieces about Circumstantials, while thro' the unhappy Influence of angry Debate, the chief Things of Religion, are for a Time, too much neglected, and the common Enemy laughs in his Sleeve at both!

SATAN has more Sense than that comes to, he knows by long Experience, that the Way for him to command, is to divide, and therefore he encourages Division, with all his Might, he secretly [Page 14] blows up People's Pride, Prejudice and Resentment, against each other, that so he may bring them to open Ruptures, as well as fix them in that unhappy State, if possible beyond a Retrieve: Then the Name of GOD is dishonoured, his People rendered contempti­ble, and Brethren by Profession and Principle in Fundamentals, as sinfully as miserably engaged to vex and hurt one another instead of promoting their own, each others, and the publick good, and all this under religious Pretexts of Zeal for GOD, which makes such Conduct sit the easier on Men's Minds; O Sirs! Is not the Christian Church divided enough already, without any new Addi­tions? Consider how the Jews, Turks, Pagans▪ and Deists are strengthened in their Prejudices against Christianity altogether, by the scandalous Contentions and Divisions of the Professors of it! And yet more and more new Sects are starting up now and then! thro' the Agency of Men of hot Tempers, and narrow Minds, Lord have Mercy upon us! What shall be the End of these Things? It is shocking to think of the Divisions that are now in Scotland! O! the needless sinful Schisms of the visible Church, de­serve to be bewailed if possible with Tears of Blood! It would look more like the Spirit of Christianity, to endeavour by peaceable, calm and condescending Methods, to unite if possible, the main Bodies of the Protestants (who hold the same Foundation Princi­ples) into one, than to tear afresh the seamless Coat of CHRIST into more Pieces and Shreds.

BUT on the contrary, how pleasant is it for Brethren to dwell together in Unity? As the Psalmist informs us, Ps. cxxxiiii. 1. Here observe, that this Psalm was compos'd upon the happy Occa­sion of the Conclusion of the Civil Wars, between the two Houses of Saul and David, in which having felt the sad Effects of Discord and Division, both the King and People were more sensible of the Blessing of Peace and Union.

BEHOLD how good, and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in Unity. It is like the precious Ointment upon the Head, that ran down upon the Beard, even Aaron's Beard, that went down to the Shirts of his Garments, as the Dew of Hermon, and as the Dew that defended upon the Mountains of Zyon, for there the Lord commanded the Blessing even Life for­evermore.

THE Concord and Unity of Brethren, who profess the same essential Principles, in mutual Love and Endearment, and in the social united Observance of all the Ordinances of religious Wor­ship, is good, pleasant and profitable.

IT is good in itself, because agreeable to the positive Command of GOD, and the Dictates of right Reason, yea it is very good, it is more excellent, amiable, noble, and ornamental, than we can conceive or express, and indeed it is not only good in itself, but it is good to us. For,

IT is pleasant like the holy aromatick anointing Oyl, which was pour'd on Aaron's Head, when he was consecrated to his [Page 15] high and honourable Office of Priesthood, and that with such a liberal Effusion, that it ran down his Beard, and even to the Skirts of his Garment, filling the House with a balsamick Odour, a dif­fusive delightful Fragrancy; this costly precious Unguent and Perfume which rejoice the Heart, was not conceal'd in, or con­fin'd to a Box, but pour'd forth with a generous Profusion, and rich Abundance. So nothing can be more agreeable to a truly pious Mind, than Union and Harmony, in Truth, in Purity, in Love! Moreover,

IT is profitable, as the Dew to the Earth, it is as the Dew of Hermon, and the Dew that descended upon the Mountains of Zyon, i. e. profitable both to Civil and Religious Societies, as the Dew is from Heaven, so is religious Concord and Unity. As Dew is mild and gentle in its Descent, not like the Rain which is some­times impetuous stormy and violent; so is Love, Concord and Uni­ty all Harmony, Gentleness and Sweetness; whereas Contention, and Division are harsh, discordant, furious!

MOREOVER, the Dew cools the sultry Air, refreshes the parch'd Glebe, and promotes its fruitfulness. So Peace and Unity cool our angry Resentments, gently refresh our labouring Bosoms, and open a field of Usefulness before us.

AS the Dew makes the face of Nature Smile, and put on a verdent Vestment, so Concord and Unity difuse a universal Sweet­ness, evangelical Gaiety, and generous Beneficence; and under its Protection and Influence the smallest Things grow great and are established; whereas by Discord and Disunion, together with the fatal Fruits thereof, their Springs of Solace and Sweetness are deeply ting'd with Mara's Waters, their beauty stain'd, and their Strength broken.

FARTHER, Concord, Brotherly Love and Unity, are profita­ble, because of the Blessing of God. Such as dwell together in Unity and live in Love, the Lord commands upon them the Blessing, even Life for evermore, i. e. the Almighty Wills that they be happy, who so live. Where there is true Concord, there is the Blessing of God, a happy affluence of all good, it shall be well with them here and forever hereafter; for God will give them all the Mercies they need in this Life, together with the Re­mission of their Sins, and everlasting Blessedness in a future World. There, there the Lord commands the Blessing, even Life forevermore, they that dwell in Love, dwell in God, and God in them, for God is Love. As the Perfection of Love is the Blessedness of Heaven, so the Truth and Exercise of Love, is the foretaste and earnest of that Blessedness upon the Earth: And as it is said of [...]he Dew, that it tarrieth not for Man, nor waiteth for the Sons of Men, (Mica. v. 7.) so neither should our Love to our poor Brethren, tarry for their love to us, but generously prevent and incite theirs.

I Have dwelt the longer upon the Order and Unity of the visible Church, in which it resembles the earthly Jerusalem, not [Page 16] only because of the great Moment and Importance of these Points, but also because I fear, that they are either not fully un­derstood, or not duly considered and suitably esteemed by divers that profess Christianity. But to proceed,

JERUSALEM was a strong City; it had not only Order and Unity, but what is the consequence of both, Strength; for ac­cording to the common but just Proverb, unita vis fortior, Forces united are stronger. But besides Unity and Order, Jerusalem had impregnable Fortresses for Defence against her Enemies. And is not the visible Church built upon a Rock, against which the Gates of Hell shall not prevail; the Munition of Rocks is her Defence, and under the Wing of Jehovah she may safely trust.

JERUSALEM was exceeding Beautiful in respect of its a­greeable Situation and magnificent Structures, particularly the Temple, which was the Wonder of the World, beautiful for Situation, the Joy of the whole Earth is Mount Zion, on the Sides of the North, the City of the great King. (Ps xlviii. 2.) and hence she was call'd even by Strangers, the perfection of Beauty, (Lam. ii. 5.) And is not the visible Church upon this Account, compar'd to her. (Cant. vi. 4) Thou art Beautiful O my Love as Tirza, comely as Jerusalem.

THE Church because of its superiour Meekness and amiableness, is likewise compar'd to a Lilly and a Dove, as a Lilly among Thorns, so is my Love among the Daughters; O my Dove, that art in the Clefts of the Rock, in the secret Places of the Stairs, let me see thy Countenance, let me hear thy Voice, for sweet is thy Voice and thy Countenance is comley; the Dove when attack'd by Birds of prey, has no Refuge but its Wings, by which it hastens to the Clefts of the Rock for security, nor does the Lilly when it is shaded and scrach'd by obstinate, unrelenting Thorns, dare to scratch again!

AND for the same Reason, the visible Church is compared to an Olive-Tree, (Ho [...]. xiv. 7.) His Branches shall spread, and his Beauty shall be as the Olive Tree, and his smell as Lebanon. She is likewise said to look forth as the Morning, fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun. Amiable as the fresh rosy Blushes of the open­ing Morn, the rising Day, beautiful as the Moon, the Queen of Heaven, when uneclipsed by envious Clouds, she ascends the sum­mit of the Horizon, banishes its gloom and darkness by her Silver Beams, and turns the Night into Day; or like the Sun, that glorious Orb of Light and Lamp of Heaven, when he appears in his meridian Splendor and Majesty! And hence every sincere Member of the visible Church is said to be all glorious within, for the Beauty of Heaven, the Wonder of Angels, the Brightness of his Fathers Glory, makes them comely with his comeliness which he puts upon them.

IN Jerusalem was likewise the Temple, the KING'S Palace, or chief Place of Residence, which made it renown'd above other Cities. And is not the visible Church the Habitation of the [Page 17] blessed God, the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS, the Lord dwelleth in Zion, in Salem is his Tabernacle, saith the Psalmist, he hath chosen Zion for his Habitation; this is my rest forever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it; I will abundantly bless her Provision and satisfy her Poor with Bread. I will also clothe her Priests with Salvation, and her Saints shall shout aloud for Joy, Ps. ix. 11. And cxxxii.

HERE let it be observed, that the CHURCH of CHRIST is ei­their invisible or visible.

THE invisible Church consists only of those that are sincerely pious, whether in Heaven or upon Earth, sattered up and down in many Places, and Nations, and under a variety of Professions; this is the Catholick or universal Church which we profess to be­lieve, in that excellent Sumary of Christian Principles, the Apo­stles Creed, they are called the invisible Church, because we are not able certainly to determine who they are in particular, their Principles of Action not being open to human Observance.

SUCH of this invisible Church as are on Earth, considered com­plexly, are called the Church militant, or Church-waring, because in this Life they have many Miseries to endure, and many Ene­mies to conflict with, viz. the Devil, the World, and the Flesh; which afford constant Cause for Watchfulness and Humility; and frequent Occasions for Mourning and Combat; for in many Things we offend all; on this Account the blessed Apostle Paul affection­ately bewails his indwelling Corruption, the bitter Root of all ac­tual Disorders, O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death? Now the blessed GOD has furnished his People for the Combat, with compleat Spiritual Armour, he provides a Helmet, Breast-plate, Sword, Shoe, and Shield; and urges them to put on this Armour, to stand to their Arms, to fight, to quit themselves like Men, and be strong.

SUCH of the invisible Church as are in Heaven, are call'd the Church triumphant, because having fought the good Fight of Faith, finish'd their Course and [...]ained compleat Victory over all their Enemies, they do in Heaven celebrate perpetually, the Triumphs of the Victory they have obtained, through di­vine Grace and Power, over every of their fatal Foes; and are there fully and finally deliver'd from the Reach of their Rage, as well as compleatly conform'd to the Purity of the divine Na­ture, and made Partakers of the divine Love, in a Degree to us at present inconceivable, and inexpressible!

BUT the visible Church consists of all those that are baptiz'd, and profess Faith in the fundamental, or essential and necessary Truths of the Gospel, which have most direct Influence upon the Heart and Life.

THIS is a mixed Body of Good and Bad, which none can se­parate from each other in this Life, nor should any attempt such an impracticable Task. Our Lord, so far as I can yet learn, has not given Authority to any Ministers, or Churches, to suspend [Page 18] from, or cast out of their Communion, any who have a compe­tent Measure of divine Knowledge, profess Faith in the Funda­mentals of the Christian Religion, Subjection to the Government of the Church of CHRIST, and live a regular Life. The follow­ing Similitudes, to which CHRIST compares the visible Church, sufficiently confirm this.

THE first Similitude that I would mention is related by the Evangelist, Matthew xiii. from the 24th, to the 30th Verse, and runs thus, The Kingdom of Heaven is likned unto a Man that sowed good Seed in his Field, but while Men slept, his Enemy came and sowed Tares among the Wheat, and went away, but when the Blade was sprung up, and brought forth Fruit, then appeared the Tares also, so the Servants of the Housholder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good Seed in thy Field, from whence then hath it Tares? He said unto them, an Enemy hath done this, the Servants then said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up, but he said [...]ay; least while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them; let them both grow together until the Harvest, and in the Time of the Harvest, I will say to the Reapers, gather ye together first the Tares, and bind them in Bundles to burn them, but gather the Wheat into my Barn.

THE Explication our Saviour gives of the Parable now men­tioned is this, He that soweth the good Seed, is the Son of Man, the Field is the World, the good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom, but the Tares are the Children of the wicked One; the Enemy that sow'd them is the Devil, the Harvest is the End of the World, and the Reapers are the Angels.

NOTHING can be more plain and express to the Point in Hand, than this Parable of our Saviour, together with his own Explication of it; if it be considered,

1. THAT by the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the Subject-Matter of this Discourse, the visible Church is to be understood, which is compared in the Verses immediately following, on ac­count of its speedy Growth and Progress, in the early Times of Christianity, to a Grain of Mustard-Seed, soon becoming a Tree, and to Leaven hid in three Measures of Meal, till the whole was leavened.

IT is called a Kingdom, because in it as in temporal Kingdoms, there is a King to rule over it, namely JESUS CHRIST, Persons to be ruled over, Laws of Government, as well as a Necessity of Obe­dience to them, and Subjection to the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

IT is called the Kingdom of Heaven, because the Original of the Constitution of the visible Church, was from Heaven and the Ten­dency thereof is Heavenly, and the final Issue to all that sincerely and believingly obey the Laws of this Kingdom, is Heaven or Salvation: And hence the King of it is said to be the Author of eternal Salvation to all that obey him. GOD the Father [Page 19] has set his beloved Son upon his holy Hill of Zion, (Ps. ii. 6.) i. e. constituted him King over the visible Church, of which Zyon is the Beginning, Foundation and Mother, as is evident from the Character given it, Holy Hill, it was called Holy, because of the Temple built there, which was a Figure of the Church of CHRIST. (Isa. lx. 14. Heb. xii. 22. Rev. xiv. 1.) GOD is said to send the Rod of his Strength out of Zyon, (Ps. cx. 2.) i. e. his ever­lasting Gospel and the Power of his Spirit working with it; of the same Tendency is that notable Saying of the Prophet Isaiah (ii. 3.) For out of Zyon shall go forth a Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem: The Mountain of Zyon had two Hills, upon one of which was placed the Castle of David, and upon the other the Temple, under a twofold Magistracy, viz. Political and Ecclesiastical, the Church lives and is protected; which is called GOD'S holy Mountain, or Mountain of his Holiness in many Places of Scripture, or Sanctuary, elsewhere we read of the Mountain of Holiness. (Jer. xxxi 20.) and People of Holiness, (Dan. ix. 24.) This Mountain was call'd holy, not inherently but relatively, be­cause of the Ark translated there, and on Account of the Temple's being built there. (2 Sam. vi. 17. 1 Chron. xvi. 1.) What I have offered by way Explication upon Ps. ii. 6. is agreeable to the Sentiments of many learned Interpreters.*

THE visible Church is justly called the Kingdom of Heaven in Scripture, tho' there are many Hypocrites in it; because CHRIST governs it as a KING, and there is a remnant in it, that are willingly subject to his governing Authority, who is the Lord from Heaven, from whom as the better part it is deno­minated, this Church is the Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.

2. THE Design of this Parable is twofold, 1st. To shew that the State of the visible Church is a mix'd State in this World; it consists, as our Lord informs us, of Wheat and Tares, the Chil­dren of the Kingdom, and the Children of the wicked one, good and bad. And 2d. That the Servants of the Church, the Ministers and other Church Officers, must not attempt to separate the bad from the good, who are in the visible Church, who have such a resemblance of Wheat, of Piety in their outward Appearance, that they cannot be rooted out, without the Hazard of a mistake, and in consequence of it, rooting up the Wheat with them, as Mr. Pool observes.

The Case is here fairly stated, and an explicit Answer given thereto by our Lord Jesus Christ. The zealous Servants who were very desirous and forward to have a perfect Church upon Earth, and to this purpose to have the Tares rooted out of it, enquire of their Master, what was his Will and Pleasure in this Case? Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up; observe it was not the openly Prophane or avowed Hereticks, that divulge their Sentiments, for these may be known, and according to the [Page 20] express Order of God elsewhere related, are to be cast out of the Church, or out of Communion with it, No! But it was the close Hypocrites, who were Doctrinally sound in main Points of Truth, and outwardly regular in Conduct, that the Servants wanted to be tampering with, and cast out; and it seems they imagined that they were sufficiently qualified for that awful Province of search­ing the Hearts of others, and juding of their invisible Grace! O lamentable Vanity! But Christ was not of their Opinion, their Master was not of their Mind, he stop'd their well meant but dangerous Career, by a plain, authoritative and well grounded NEGATIVE to their Question, NAY, least while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them, i. e. you are not qua­lified for, you are not equal to that task you are so ready to engage in, and so fond to undertake, viz. of judging and de­termining about the States of Mens Souls, from their inward, spiritual and invisible Experiences, and making your Sentiments about them Terms of Communion; and therefore let them grow to­gether until the Harvest, that is, to the End of the World, as our Lord himself explains it, i. e. let the good and bad continue in the Bosom and Fellowship of the visible Church till the End of Time, the General Judgment, the Consumation of all Things, and then the Angels shall make a full and final Separation between them in that Day, namely, of the general Judgment, when the Lord of Hosts makes up his Jewels, then, and not before, ye shall certainly dis­cern between the Righteous and the wicked, betw [...] him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. (Mal. iii. 17, 18.)

OBSERVE, my Brethren, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Wis­dom of the Father, and the King of the Church, who knows best how to promote the good thereof, and who only is vested with rightful Authority to prescribe Laws thereto, whatever some good Men fondly imagine, or whatever pious Purposes they have of purifying the Church by Methods of their own devising notwithstanding; positively commands his Servants to let the Tares and Wheat grow together until the Harvest. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, who art thou that judgest another? (Jam. iv, 12.) Upon which the reverend and learned Mr. Pool glosseth thus, ‘One absolute, supream, uni­versal and spiritual Lawgiver, who can simply and directly bind Mens Consciences, and make Laws for their Souls, (Pro. viii. 15, 16. Isa. xxxiii, 22. Act. iv. 19.) By this he intimates, that they did invade God's Right, who took upon them a legislative power in prescribing to other Mens Con­sciences, and making their own Will the Rule of the others Duty. Who is able to save and destroy both temporally and eter­nally, (Deut. xxxii, 39. 1 Sam. ii. 6. and Isa. xliii. 13.) whereas other Law-givers cannot save or destroy Mens Souls, nor so much as their Lives, without God's concurrence. Who art thou that judgest another, what a sorry Creature, a Man, a Worm, that thou shouldst lift up thy self into God's Place, [Page 21] and make thyself a Judge of one not subject to thee, the Ser­vant of another Master. (Rom. xiv. 4.) It is a fond Thing for thee to take upon thee the Power of a Judge, when thou hast no Power of saving or destroying, rewarding or punishing.’ Thus Mr. Pool.

AND shall we, Sirs, under pious pretexts of purifying the Church, in our own way, openly rebel against the Authority of our King and Sovereign, prefer our Wisdom, I might justly say folly, to his infinite Understanding, and reflect upon his Fidelity and Care for his Churches good, as if he had not given a suffici­ent System of Laws for its good Government and Advantage, without our Additions▪ God forbid!

SIRS, all Methods of purifying the Church of Christ, by mea­sures of human Contrivance, notwithstanding of their fair Face, and the good design of their zealous formers, are mischeivous to it; they rob us of the Liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, puff up foolish Mortals with Pride of Attainments they have not; set them in chase of the Knowledge of other Peoples Hearts, which they cannot attain, to the neglect of their own, which they may in some Degree attain, and rend the Body of Christ in pieces, by debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, wisperings, swellings, tumults, (2 Cor. xii. 20.) And therefore let us inviolably observe the express command of our Master, let them grow together till the Harvest.

I shall beg leave to cite a Paragraph of Mr. Henry's Annota­tions on the Parable I have mentioned, which I think is very excellent. Note. It is not possible for any Man infallibly to distinguish between Tares and Wheat, but he may be mistaken, and therefore such is the Wisdom and Grace of Christ, that he will rather permit the Tares, than any way endanger the Wheat. 'Tis certain scandalous Offenders are to be censured, and we are to withdraw from them: Those that are openly the Children of the wicked one, are not to be admitted to special Ordinances; yet 'tis possible there may be a Discipline either so mistaken in its Rules, or so over nice in the Application of them, as may prove vexatious to many that are truly godly and conscientious: Great Caution must be used in inflicting and continuing Church censures, least the Wheat be troden down if not pluck'd up; the Wisdom from above, as it is pure so it is peaceable; and those that oppose themselves, must not be cut of, but instructed and with MEEKN [...]SS. (2 Tim. ii. 25.) The Tares if continued under the Means of Grace, may become good Corn, therefore have Patience with them.’

Note, The overhasty and inconsiderate Zeal of Christ's Ser­vants, before they have consulted with their Master, is some­times ready, with the Hazard of the Church, to root out all that they presume to be Tares, wilt thou then that we go and ga [...]er them up.

[Page 22]Of the same Sentiments are many other learned Interpreters. *

IF it be said that CHRHST in his Explication of the aforesaid Parable, signifies that the Field is the World.

I Answer, with Mr. Henry, that the Word World there signifies the visible Church, scattered all the World over, not confin'd to one Nation: In the Parable it's called Christ's Field, for all Things are delivered to him of the Father, and to imagine that the World in this Passage of Scripture, is not to be taken in the aforesaid limited Sense, is to suppose that Christ himself speaks besides the Point he had undertaken to speak upon, which is ab­surd, and therefore that cannot be true which it flows from.

IF it again be suggested, that the gathering up of the Tares mentioned in the aforesaid Parable, intends, a putting of them to Death, and so is not applicable to confirm that for which it is aduc'd.

I Answer, that to charge such a Blood thirsty Disposition upon the Servants of CHRIST in general, without clear Ground and Necessity from the Text, is very uncharitable, and therefore sin­ful. Now there is no Necessity to take the Words so, for there are other Ways of putting People out of the visible Church with­out killing of them: And as such a gloss is uncharitable, so it is irrational and absurd, because it supposes a Disposition in the Ser­vants of CHRIST to put Members of the visible Church to Death meerly for their want of Grace unexpressed by Speech and Action; for the Parable treats of Tares that do so nearly resemble the Wheat, that they cannot be certainly distinguished from it by the most pious and intelligent: Now to kill People meerly for the want of saving Grace, unevidenced by any Instance of criminal Conduct prejudicial to Society, is such a monster of Barbarity and Nonsense, that the very worst Persecutors that have ever appeared upon the Stage of the World, since the Foundations of it were laid, have not (so far as I know) been guilty of it; and to sup­pose the Ministers of Christ's Religion, in general, to be more [Page 23] cruel and nonsensical then all the rest of Mankind, is no great Compliment either to it or them.

BESIDHS such a gloss is contrary to the Words of the Parable; it is not living absolutely in the World that Christ speaks of, but living respectively in a State of external Union in the visible Church, let them both grow together till the Harvest: And it is contrary to the Design and Explication of the Parable.

THH Design of the Parable is to shew that the visible Church or Kingdom of CHRIST, which is joined together by an exter­nal Bond of Union, is compos'd of good and bad, and will remain mixed till the End of Time; and that we ought to let it remain so, ought to let them grow together, because we are not capable to make a judicial actual Distinction between Saints and Hypocrites▪ without doing Injury to the former. The Thing in view is the unlawfulness of breaking the Churches outward Union, because of our Judgment about internals; which is contradicted by the aforesaid gloss; for tho' it acknowledges the sinfulness of killing People meerly because we judge they want invisible Grace; yet it allows of a Breach of the Churches Union upon that slender Foundation, which opposes CHRIST'S Sentiment and the Reason of it, which is this, the Danger of doing wrong thro' our incapacity, which does not only conclude against the highest Degrees of wrong, but every Degree of it, and all Methods of Management tending thereto; because all wrong is of the same general Kind, all unreasonable and contrary to the Law of Nature. As Church fellowship is a valuable Priviledge, so of consequence to be de­prived of it, without just Cause, is unjust, as really as to be un­justly deprived of Life, tho' not in so great a Degree; and therefore all Attempts that are like to involve us in either of these Evils, should be carefully avoided.

NOR is the aforesaid gloss agreeable to our Lords Interpretation of the Parable, which informs us, that the Angels shall gather out of his Kingdom all Things that Offend, and them which do Iniquity, and shall cast them into a Furnace of Fire, i. e. the An­gels, as Instruments of divine Justice, shall separate the wicked from the good, with whom in this Life some of them have asso­ciated in Church Fellowship, and cast them into a Place of Mi­sery. But will they destroy the Life they have, or anihilate their Existence? No. Our Saviour assures us, that there shall be weep­ing and gnashing of Teeth, But to proceed; The

2d. SIMILITUDE which I would discourse of, is that men­tioned by John the Baptist, (Mat. iii. 12.) whereby the visible Church of CHRIST is compared to a FLOOR, upon which is Chaff and Wheat, whose Fan is in his Hand, and he will thoroughly purge his Floor, and gather his Wheat into the Garner, but he will burn up the Chaff with unquenchable Fire.

Here observe the following Particulars.

1 THAT the visible Church is Christ's Floor, (Isa. xxi. 10.) the Temple, a Type of it was built upon a threshing Floor.

[Page 24]2. THAT in this Floor there is a mixture of Chaff and Wheat, good and bad, in the same outward Communion.

3. THAT there is a Day coming, when there shall be a full and final Separation made between the Chaff and Wheat, viz. the Day of Judgment, then there will be a visible Distinction be­tween the Good and Bad, in respect of their Doctrines, their Works, their Persons, (1 Cor. iii. 13—15. Matt. xxv. 32.) Before him shall be gathered all Nations, and he shall SEPARATE them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his Sheep from the Goats.

4. THAT the Lord JESUS CHRIST is only capable, to make a true a just and final Separation, or Distinction among Men uni­versally according to their States and Actions; being the Wisdom of his Father, and all Eye, and that he alone has Authority to occupy this important Province, and execute this difficult Trust; seeing all Judgment is committed to him, and to him only, by his Father; and hence we are told, that his FAN in his Hand, which is threefold, says Brugensis, viz. a FAN of Doctrone, of the Cross, and of Judgment.

A FAN of Doctrine, whereby some internal Distinction is made between good and bad, while the Nature and Characters of true Christianity, are scripturally and cautiously open'd, while the Pro­mises and Threatnings are distinctly and pertinently propos'd and pronounc'd.

A FAN of the Cross, or of Sufferings upon a religious Account, whereby sometimes much Chaff is blown away from the Wheat.

A FAN of Judgment, whereby CHRIST searches the Heart and Reins of all the Children of Men, and distinguishes the most subtle Hypocrite from the truly Pious, and will openly separate them all from each other, in the great Day of his coming, in vertue of a supreme judicial Authority, assign'd him by his Father, as a Re­ward of his Abasement; this is his peculiar Prerogative and in­communicable Royalty, which it is great Sacriledge for any to assume. This FAN of Judgment, which is principally intended in the aforesaid Words, for till the Time of the last Judgment the Floor of the visible Church shall not be thoroughly purg'd, I say, this Fan of Judgment is in CHRIST'S Hand alone, exclusive of all Competitors to his Crown and Dignity!

As this Similitude plainly represents the mixed State of the vi­sible Church of CHRIST, namely, that it consists of real Saints and close Hypocrites, so it shews with equal Evidence, that it is CHRIST alone that is qualified with competent Capacity, and vest­ed with rightful Authority, to make a judicial universal Separa­tion between them: And of Consequence, that it is an unjust Pre­sumption and criminal Invasion of his royal Prerogative, for any of the Children of Adam to assume and attempt it, what­ever be their civil or religious Character or their superior En­dowments notwithstanding. But to proceed; a

3d. SIMILITUDE, which is very remarkable and instructive, concerning the Nature and State of the visible Church of CHRIST [Page 25] on Earth, we have in the 13th Chapter of Matthew, the 47th, 48th, and 49th Verses, Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a Net, that was cast into the Sea, and gathered of every Kind, which when it was full, they drew to Shore, and set down and gathered the good into Vessels, and cast the Bad away; so shall it be in the End of the World, the Angels shall come forth, and sever the Wicked from among the Just, and shall cast them into the Furnace of Fire.

THE Kingdom of Heaven, or the Church visible, (say Malvenda, Burgensis, Grotius, Beza, Gegerus, Piscator, and others) is com­par'd to a Net, (Sagine) a DRAG-NET, as Ulpian and Varro explain the Word, the Nature of which is to draw along with it what­ever it meets with, and this is indeed confirm'd by the following Words of the Parable, and gathered of every Kind, i. e. of Fishes, because the Parable treats of fishing, yet no doubt other Things are apt to come into a Drag-net, it is apt to sweep along with it, not a little Trash and Rubbish. By this Similitude our Lord in­forms his Disciples,

1st. THAT there will be a Mixture of good and bad, in the visible Church, in this World; a Mixture of Saints and Hypocrites, least they should be troubled when they saw not that Purity in the Church which they desired. And,

2d. THAT this Mixture should continue to the End of Time, till the Mystery of GOD is finished, till the Net that is now cast into the Sea, be full, till the Church the Kingdom of CHRIST, that is now in the World be compleated, and the Gospel there­of has fulfilled, has answered the End for which it was sent.

3d. THAT during the Space of the Net's filling, and be­fore it be drawn to shore; the Fishermen themselves know not what is in it, nor do those of them that are discreet, and well informed, attempt to make any Separation of the bad Fish from the good, while the Net is in the Sea, or while it is a drawing to the Shore; No! For the sake of the good Fish that they hope are in it; they draw it in with hard Labour, great Care, Tenderness and Caution; least the F [...] should be frightned, and either vio­lently break thro' the Net, or wantonly jump over it, and so run wild again in the Ocean.

4th. THAT at the End of the World, when the Net is drawn ashore, then and indeed not till then, there will be a certain Dis­covery of the Distinction between the Good and Bad, and a visi­ble Separation made between them, the Good will be gathered in­to Vessels, and the Bad cast away.

AT the End of the World, says our Lord, the Angels shall come forth, and SEVER the Wicked from among the Just; ay, the Angels of Heaven having Authority and Instructions from him, to whom all Things are naked and open, who knows all Men, and with Complacence those that are his; shall effect thorough­ly what some pious, well-meaning tho' misguided Angels of the Churches, have attempted in vain, without either Commission or [Page 26] Capacity; for such a tremenduous Province! as that of making a Separation between Saints and Hypocrites; to this Purpose, Tertullian excellently observes, in his Apology, that ‘He who has once appointed the eternal Judgment, at the End of the World, does not precipitate or hasten that Distinction or Sepa­ration, which is to be the Condition of the Judgment, before the End of the World.*

HAVING endeavoured to represent the mixed State of the Church visible, by considering three Scriptural Similitudes, that treat of it; I would now proceed to Discourse a little upon the Terms of Admission into it, and Exclusion from it

BAPTISM is certainly the Door of Entrance into the visible Church, or Kingdom of CHRIST, and hence those that were bap­tized were said to be added to the Church, (Acts ii)

NOW this initiatory Ordinance, is, according to the Judgment of the main Body of the Protestant Churches, (agreeable to the holy Scriptures) and particularly of our OWN, to be dispens'd not upon the Foundation of Persons having Grace, or upon the Church's Judgment, concerning their inward gracious Experiences, No! But upon the Profession of their Faith, and outward Cove­nant-Relation to GOD. The Words of our Confession of Faith are these, ‘Not only those that do actually profess Faith in, and Obe­dience unto CHRIST, but also the Infants of one or both be­lieving Parents, are to be baptiz'd, (See Mark xvi. 15.16. Acts viii. 37, 38. Acts ii. 41. Gen. xvii. 7, 9. Gal. iii. 9.14. Col. ii. 11, 12.)’ and upon this Head it is farther added,

THAT by the right Use of this Ordinance, the Grace pro­mised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred by the Holy Ghost to such, (whether of Age or Infants) that Grace belongeth unto, according to the Council of GOD'S Will, in his appointed Time (Gal. iii. 27.) For as many of you as have been baptized unto CHRIST have put on CHRIST, Tit. iii. 5. He saved us by the Washing of Regeneration, and re­newing of the Holy Ghost. Ephes. v. 25, 26. As CHRIST loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of Water by the Word. Acts ii. 38. Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized every one of you, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Con. chap. 28. Sct. 4, 6.

AS all the aforesaid Places of Scripture, speak of the Efficacy of Baptism, when accompanied by the Holy Spirit, so some of them of the Mode of Administration by Washing, hence they term it Lutron Lavacrum a Laver, in Allusion to these Places of Scrip­ture, the ancient Fathers of the three first Centuries, generally if not universally call'd Baptism-Regeneration, Renovation, the La­ver, &c.

[Page 27]NOR does our Church pretend to any Right or Authority, of excluding any from the Lord's Supper, upon the precarious Foun­dation of their Judgment, concerning Men's inward Experiences of a Work of invisible Grace, No; the Compilers of our Con­fession had more Judgment, than to advance such an indefensible Notion; see the Answer to the 173d Question, in the Larger Ca­techism, ‘May any who profess the Faith, and desire to come to the Lord's Supper, be kept from it?’

‘ANSWER, Such as are found to be ignorant, or scandalous, notwithstanding their Profession of Faith, and Desire to come to the Lord's Supper, may and ought to be kept from that Sa­crament by the Power that CHRIST hath left in his Church, untill they receive Instruction, and manifest Reformation.’

IT is pleasant to see, the amiable Modesty, the necessary Caution, and good Judgment of our Church, in declining to assume the BENCH, and make her uncertain Opinion of Men's spiritual Ex­periences, the Term of their Admission either to the initiatory or con­firming Seals of the New Covenant, No; She well understood and remembered, that antient scriptural, rational and equitable Max­im, that (Ecclesia non judicat de internis) the Church has no bu­siness to judge of Internals, or make her Opinion of Men's spiri­tual Experiences, the Ground of her judicial Proceedings towards them.

I may add to what has been said, that our Church declares, ‘that Grace is exhibited, in or by the Sacraments, rightly used, 1 Pet. iii 21. The like Figure whereunto even Baptism doth also now save us. Conf. chap. 27. Sect. 3.*

AS to the Terms of a total Exclusion from Church-Fellowship, viz. Excommunication, they are Heresy in Doctrine, and Immorality in Life. Tit. iii. 10. A Man that is a Heretick after the first and second Admonition, reject. Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17. More­over if thy Brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his Fault, between thee and him alone, if he shall hear thee, thou hast gain'd thy Brother, but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses every Word may be established, and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the Church, i. e. to the Church-Representative, [Page 28] the Officers of the Church, but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen Man and a Pub­lican 2 Cor. vi. 7. The Apostle speaking of the incestuous Co­rinthian, says, sufficient to such a Man, is the Punishment which was inflicted of many, so that contrary wise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, least perhaps, such a one should be swallowed up vith over much Sorrow.

HOW excellent and rational is this Order, this Command of our dear Lord Jesus Christ? How much does a conscientious obser­vance of it tend to preserve the Peace and Unity of Christ's King­dom, or Church visible? But when the very reverse hereof takes Place, when instead of going to our Brother, who is supposed to Trespass and telling him privately of it, from a due respect to his Credit and Character, we go among our acquaintances and blaze it abroad, and set it perhaps in no advantageous light: Does not such ungenerous backbitting and tattling, tend to disturb the Peace of the Church of CHRIST, break its Union and turn all into a Flame? What can be the Cause of such unkind, unjust Proceed­ing, so directly contrary to the express and positive command of the KING of the Church? Is it Ignorance or is it forgetfulness of this Command and Institution, or is it Pride and Stuborness, that will not suffer us to stoop, to submit to the Kingly Authority of the great REDEEMER? And do we by such a kind of Conduct, con­form to the Law of Nature and Nations, which requires that Per­sons be heard before they be condemned, or do by others as we would have them do by us? The Resolution of these Questions, let our own Consciences determine.

BUT as to the Notion of excommunicating Persons, either by separating from them at first, or by continuing contentedly in a State of Separation, without the Use of Means to get it remov'd, when there is any probability of Success, (which are indeed sub­stantially the same) on the account of different Opinions in Cir­cumstantials in Doctrine, and acting accordingly; or on account of our Judgment or Perswasion of their being graceless or with­out Christian Experience; altho' there are scandalous Presidents for the former of these, in the violent Ferments and Animosities [Page 29] that arose even in the early Times of Christianity, between the Eastern and Western Churches, which came to that pitch, that they excommunicated one another, and that for no greater Matter than the Observation of Easter upon different Days! Much like this was the Perment and Prejudices that arose between the Jewish and Gentile Christians, and their uncharitable Conduct towards each other, which were still of an earlier Date. Presidents that demand our pity and caution, but deserve not our Imitation! but of the latter I know no Example in Scripture or History; and far less is there any Foundation in the Holy Scriptures, or in our excellent Confession of Faith, for such unaccountable Proceedings! No! Our CHURCH is so far from such an unreasonable, uncharita­ble and Church dividing Principle, that she does not make her Opinion of Peoples secret spiritual Experiences the Ground of a far less censure, viz. of suspending them from the Lords Supper for a Time: Nor does she make a Difference in circumstantial Points, (so far as I know) a sufficient Ground for any Censure at all.

YOU know, my Reverend and Beloved Fathers and Brethren, it is our bounden Duty to beware of all superstitious human Inventions, in Doctrine, Worship and Discipline, however piously they are de­sign'd and zealously they are defended notwithstanding. We are commanded by supream Authority to stand fast in the Liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, least we be entangled in a Yoke of Bondage. The Lord Jesus is the only KING and Head of his Church; he alone is her Law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy; he only has Authority to make Terms of Communion for his visible Kingdom, and to those we must ad­here inviolably.

He has given us a perfect self-consistent System of Laws, which need no Addition of new ones of our Contrivance to com­pleat their Number, No. A faithful observance of those which Christ has given us, will fully answer the valuable End propos'd.

OUR dear Redeemer is faithful in all his House, as Moses, for he is Wisdom, Goodness and Love itself; he has never freed his Churches from the Ceremonial Institutions of a divine Original, to gall the Necks of his Disciples with a heavier Yoke of human Inventions, No. his Yoke is peculiarly easy, and his Burden light in the present Evangelick Day.

NOW Sirs, as we should disdain to couch like Issachar under the Burden of unreasonable impositions of others in Matters of LIBERTY; so common Justice requires, that we should equally abhor imposing our Notions about Circumstantials upon them; let us ever Remember and observe, the golden Rule of Righteous­ness, which Our Lord has given Us, viz. to do by others as we would have them do by us. But I proceed to the,

Second, General Head propos'd which was to enquire; What is to be understood by the PEACE of JERUSALEM.

TO this End observe, that Peace is threefold, viz. with God, with ourselves, and with our Neighbour.

[Page 30] Peace with God, consists in actual Reconciliation to him, thro' a sincere and unreserved Acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Peace-maker, in all his Offices and Relations, fully, freely and forever; as well as thro' an intire Dependance upon his Merit, as the only deserving Cause of our Acceptance with God: Which is preceeded in the Adult, with a distressing Sense of our awful na­tural Enmity against God, our extream undoness thereby, and our utter Impotency, either to make Satisfaction to divine Justice for our Offences, or cure the moral Maladies of our Minds.

AND is follow'd with an implacable hatred against Sin, the great make bate between God and us *; a high Veneration for Jesus Christ, the Peace-maker; an honourable esteem of, and cor­dial complacence in the Gospel PLAN of Peace, together with a friendly Disposition and Behaviour habitually towards the Author of Peace, the blessed God, his Honour and Kingdom, and towards all such whom we conceive to be his People, (when freed from the Power of unreasonable Prejudices and violent Temptations) whatever Denomination they bear, and tho' they differ from us in lesser Things.

THIS Peace, as well as that with ourselves, and our Neigh­bour, proceeds from GOD the Father, as the Projector of it, in the Depths of his unsearchable Wisdom; and hence the Author to the Hebrews speaks of him in this endearing strain, Now the God of Peace that brought from the Dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, thro' the Blood of the everlasting Covenant.

THIS Peace proceeds also from God the Son, as the Purchaser of it, by the invaluable Treasures of his precious Blood; and hence in the Epistle of Paul to the Colosians, he is said to have made Peace thro' the Blood of his Cross.

THIS Peace proceeds likewise from God the Holy Ghost, as the applyer of it, by the efficacious influence of his Operations, with­out which we would not accept the Mediator, nor could our na­tural Enmity be broke.

PEACE with ourselves, consists in a calmness, sweetness and holy security of Mind, following after Reconciliation to God by Faith, and flowing from Communion with him in Love, at­tended with a habitual, unreluctant, unreserved, undisguis'd, uni­form Subjection to his Government, both by his Precepts and Providences; and neither shuns the Tryal of God's Word, nor is, for the general, puffed up. This Peace is an invaluable Jewel, the blessed Legacy which the blessed Jesus left to his Disciples; the agreeable rest of the Soul, and the Life of Life; hereby we are sweetly supported under every present pressure, and sufficiently [Page 31] fortify'd against every uneasy fear of future Misery and Danger. This makes the Soul serene under the most gloomy and for­midable aspects of Providence; stable and unshaken amidst all the Revolutions of Nature, and shifting Scenes of Time.

PEACE with our Neighbour is threefold, viz. Oeconomical, Political, Eeclesiastical.

PEACE Oeconomical, or quiet in the Family, is a comforta­ble Privilege, (Psal. cvii. 41.) He setteth the Poor on high from Affliction, and maketh him Families like a Flock; the Righteous shall see it and rejoyce, and all Iniquity shall stop her Mouth. Among the surprizing Changes which a sovereign Providence brings to pass sometimes among the Affairs of the Children of Men, this that the Psalmist mentions in this Psalm, is very remarkable. That while the Almighty abases the Great and Honourable, pours Contempt on Princes that abuse their Authority, and slight his Mercy, while he dethrones them from their Grandeur and Dignity, reduces them to distressing straits, and Causes them to wander in the Wilderness where there is no Way; baffles their Councils, and breaks their Pride and Pomp. He in the mean Time exalts the Humble, he setteth the Poor on high, he raises them from the Dust of meaness and obscurity, to Places of Trust and Honour. And that which adds equal Security, Beauty and Ease to their Elevation, is the number and quietness of their Children and Families, he makes their Families like a Flock; a Flock of Sheep [...] numerous indeed; but meek, peaceful, useful, sociable, in this resembling the true and living Members of the Church of Christ, who are cloathed with this instructive amiable Character. (John x) When ones Family is quiet and calm, it is a noble Asylum, a little Sanctuary to retreat to from Tempests abroad, a great Satisfaction and Support in Life, that sooths all our Sorrows, sweetens all our Labours and Anxieties, and lulls every Grief to rest. But the Contrary is no little Addition to our other Calamities; it storms us from our proper Place of Refuge and Retreat; puts Vinegar and Nitre into our Wounds, and adds double weight to all our Woes!

PEACE Political, or quiet in the State, (of the right Kind) is a freedom from War, with National Enemies, upon a safe and honourable Foundation, and a Union and Harmony among our­selves, respecting Matters of a civil Nature.

THEN we no more hear the confus'd noise of the Warrior, or see Garments roll'd in Blood, a rueful, pitious spectacle, that can­not but excite, in generous Bosoms, the softest Sympathy's of Sor­row, the tenderest Sentiments of Humanity!

HOW amiable, desirable and valuable a Benefit must political Peace (of the right Kind) be; it opens a pleasing scene of Plenty before us, and frees us from innumerable Anxieties, (Psal. clxvii. 14.) He maketh Peace in thy Borders and filleth thee with the finest of the Wheat.

IT must needs be an entertaining Prospect to devout Noah, [Page 32] after he had been so long expos'd to a constant Scene of ex­traordinary Terror, by a more shocking Inundation then any of the Sons of Men had ever seen before; so long immur'd in a float­ing Castle of immense and unweildly bulk, which had neither Helm nor Compass to check its random Motions, amidst a vast abyss of Waters, upon the foaming angry Main, together with so prodigious and troublesome a Family, no less than a World of Animals in its capacious Bosom; Creatures of every Kind and Form, amiable and hideous, mild and malignant: I say it must needs be agreeable to him to feel this vast Machine rest from its wild wandrings, upon the lofty summit of Ararat! To hear no more grating noisy Murmurs of descending Torrents, or awful Shrieks of expiring Mortals, abandon'd to the depths of Woe, frightned at the dismal Symptoms of Natures Catastrophe, and their own approaching Fate; upon his opening of the Ark to behold the asswaging Waters, and the mild, returning, faithful Dove, returning not on a lingering Wing, but with a rapid Flight, carrying the amiable Emblem of Peace, an Olive Leaf in her Mouth, an agreeable Symptom of the Resurrection of entomed Nature, a sure Sign of her emerging above her watry Pressures, into her original Form, Beauty and Use. (at least in some Degree) Give me leave, my dear Brethren, to make this brief Reflection, en passant, O happy, thrice happy, are all those who finding no more rest in this weary World, this mazy Labyrinth of Labour and of Woe, do fly with an eager wing by F [...]h to CHRIST, the Sanctuary, the Ark of the oppressed, the Rest of the weary, the Balsom of the wounded: This glorious God-Man, our venera­ble Imanuel, will save those that Trust in him, from the awful torrents of divine Resentment, and from sinking in the Sea of Jehovah's anger. He is, as the Prophet Isaiah expresses it. a hiding Place from the Wind, and a covert from the Tempest, as Rivers of Water in a dry Place, and as the Shadow of a great Rock in a weary Land. But I proceed,

PEACE Ecclesiastical, or Peace in the Church, is opposed both to Schism from within, in its own Body, and Persecution from without, from open Enemies. This Peace, with Truth and Righte­ousness, is one of the most important Mercies upon Earth. Now the Peace of Jerusalem, which we should pray for, includes all the Kinds of Peace I have mentioned: When we use this Petition in our Prayers, we beg or supplicate that the Members of the visible Church may have Peace with GOD, Peace in their own Consciences; Peace in their private Families; Peace be within thy Walls; and likewise that there may be Peace in the State, Pros­perity in her Palaces; and particularly that their may be Peace in the Church, Peace in Jerusalem, that she may be as a City compact together.

NOW seing that the Peace of the Church, is especially intended, let us fix our Meditations upon this momentuous Subject, for a little while, and enquire▪ what is intended by the PEACE of JE­RUSALEM?

[Page 33]IN answer to this Enquiry, let it be observ'd, that Peace gene­rally supposes Debate and Contention preceeding, which alas, to the great Scandal of Christianity, is too natural and common among the Professors of it; the principal Causes of which, are unkind treatment of one another, different Sentiments in smaller Matters, of curious Speculation, which have little Influence up­on Practice; the remainders of Corruption in all Men, which the grand Enemy of the Churches Peace inflames, by raising false Reports, and especially when they keep at a Distance from each other, and aggravating true; and by ascribing every Thing said and done, to a bad Design; as well as by working upon the Ignorance and Narrowness of some Mens Minds, the peculiar heat of their Tempers, and warmth of their Imaginations.

NOW as Peace generally supposes Contention and Debate, and sometimes in consequence thereof, an open Breach of Union, so under this View, it implies these Things following, viz,

1. A Cessation of Arms, a laying aside for a Time hostile attacks, (tending to the Prejudice of each others Characters) which is the first step to Peace▪ this gives room to think and reflect; this gives leasure to parley and deliberate cooley upon the tendencies and issues of Things.

2. PEACE after Contention and Debates, implies▪ Proposals of Accommodation, which among contending Parties that seriously desire Peace should be mutual, condescending and Scriptural;

1. THEY should be mutual, because in Controversies that rise to a high Degree of Warmth, and continue for a considerable space of Time there is generally faults on both Sides, those that are most in the right, are in some Things in the wrong, at least in their corrupt way of Managing, what is materially right; but alas it is as Difficult for us to be convinced of our Mistakes, as it is easy and natural to Mistake!

THE Causes hereof, are our native Ignorance, Pride, Prejudice, and immoderate Self-Love▪ hence we have the Eyes of Arg [...]s, are quick sighted to discern others faults, but as to our own, we are as blind as M [...]les, and as deaf as Adders, unwilling to see them, (naturally) unwilling to hear of them, unwilling to own them, how plain soever they are pointed ou [...] to us, we can more easily dis­cern a Mote in our Brothers Eye, than a Beam in our own.

And tho' we all in Words disclaim the Doctrines of Infalibility in Judgment, and Perfection in Practice; yet it would seem that many hold both practically; for they look upon it to be a very great disgrace to be convinced of any Mistake in Opinion, even in lesser Things, and any misconduct in Practice conseque [...] there­upon; and therefore to prevent that false Disgrace, they will hold fast their pretended Or [...]hodoxy in every punctilio with the stoutest obstinacy!

AS they have swallow'd perhaps not a few Things by the lump thro' an implicite Faith, without impartially examining the Grounds of their Perswasion, so it would seem they are resolved to hold [Page 34] the whole of it fast and firm to the Death, against all Opposition, altho' it be of Scripture, Reason, Antiquity, yea and common Sense, and thus they go thro' thick and thin with undaunted Courage, so that one had as good almost take a Bear by the Tooth, or talk to a Block, as to such rigid fierce Bigots; for while they are spoken to, they are not modestly concluding they may be mistaken as well as other People, and so endeavouring to weigh impartially what is spoken, no, not at all; they constantly take it for granted, that they are certainly Right in all their Sentiments, and therefore instead of weighing what is spoken, they are contriving to find out some plausible pretext, some shadow to screne and help them to hold fast their favourite infalible Notions.

THO' it is generally acknowledged that we should grow in Knowledge, yet some are scar'd at more enlarged Views of the same Things, which they had some dark and confus'd Notions of before, and much more at the Discovery of any Point of Truth even in Circumstantials, which they did not know before, as if it was a Duty to bind ourselves forever in the sordid shackles of that ignorance and narrowness of Soul which is common to People in younger Years, when they begin to profess Religion, and to be frightned at the Answer of our own Prayers for Wisdom and Knowledge, as well as shun the granting of our Requests with as much Care as possible, in order to keep our Credit with those of our own Cast and Stature: For if it happen that we are by a larger View of Things, constrained to differ, tho' upon the firmest Foundation of Reason and Revelation, the Breadth of a Hair in after Years, from our first raw and indigested Notions of Things, it is an unpardonable Iniquity and Scandal, not to be wiped away. And if that be the Case, that we must hold every No­tion we have had, right or wrong, it is certainly best to avoid close thinking upon Things altogether, and examining of them, least thereby we be forc'd to quit some Notion we have held before, or in other Words, we must maintain, with the Papists, that ignorance is the Mother of Devotion! Farther.

2. THE Proposals of Peace should be Condescending; for it is such only that have a tendency to remove Prejudices, and con­ciliate mutual Love and Respect; every Thing should be given up for Peace, but Truth and Holiness. The more we give up our Humours, our Pride our Prejudices, yea our Credit among the Ignorant of Mankind, if the Case require it, and we do no In­justice to ourselves therein, the more we obey the Precepts and An­swer the Design of the Gospel of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which enjoins us to deny ourselves, to take up the Cross of our Master, to mortify our Corruptions, and let not our RIGOUR and Stiffness [...] small Things) but our MODERATION be known to all Men.

3. THE Proposals of Peace and Union should be Scriptural, such as the KING of the Church has appointed, and no other; [...] [...]uch as some Devout Men, of narrow Minds and hot Tempers, have [...], with a pious Purpose to maintain Truth and promote [Page 35] the Purity of the Church: Let their Piety and Learning be never so great, and their Designs never so good, they have no Autho­rity to impose their Notions, about Circumstantials, as Terms of Communion.

IN general I may observe, that the Terms that should be pro­pos'd, are such as tend to preserve and transmit, pure and uncor­rupted, [...] the latest Posterity, the essential and necessary Truths of CHRIST on the one Hand, and yet to maintain inviolable the LIBERTY wherewith Christ has made us free, upon the other, and not entangle ourselves again with a new Yoke of Bondage of human Invention, and thereby open awful Occasion for a con­tinued series of Schisms, Convulsions and Confusions in the Church of God.

NOW the scriptural Terms of Ecclesiastical Peace and Union, are either Doctrinal or Practical.

THE Doctrinal Term of Peace and Union which our LORD has appointed, is a Confession of essential and necessary Articles, in Doctrine, Worship and Discipline, contained in the holy Scriptures, agreeable to which are our excellent Westminster Confession of Faith, Catechisms and Directory for Worship and Government.

THESE Terms are truly Scriptural, inasmuch as we are enjoin'd in the sacred Oracles, by the same supream Authority, to reject Hereticks, or those that obstinately hold fundamental Errors, after the first and second Admonition, and in the mean Time to receive the Weak, who hold circumstantial Errors, being in other Things sound. We are of Consequence, plainly directed to make essen­tial and necessary Articles only, Terms of Communion.

And indeed these terms are rational, Catholick, and peaceable, they may be defended by Argument, and no other that I know of, they are a noble Medium between two dangerous Extreams of unjustifyable severity upon the one Hand, and Criminal laxness, on the other, the former of which encroaches upon our Liberty, and the latter is Prejudicial to Truth, both which ought to be ever Dear to us! If any other Method besides what is before men­tioned be taken, either fundamental Truths will be betray'd, or good Men rejected, whom we are commanded to receive, and who when receiv'd, are like to be of service to CHRIST'S Kingdom.

NOR should it be lightly passed over, that we shou'd not receive the Weak, to doubtful disputations, i. e. we shou'd not distress and ensnare them, with Debates about Things of small Moment, which are comparatively doubtful and uncertain, not only obscure in their own Nature, but such as there is no absolute promise of the Holy Unction to lead all good Men to the Know­ledge of; and seeing the Case is so it is no Argument either of good Judgment or great Humility, to be very peremptory and confident about such Things, because the confidence is dispr [...] portion'd to its foundation, the foundation is obscure and un­certain what good and great Men differ about, and the [...] [Page 36] is so peremptory and certain as if they were not liable to Mistake, but were exempted peculiarly from the common Frailties and Weaknesses of human Nature; will a discreet Man raise a Super­structure larger then its Basis, or will our Passions and Prejudices alter the Nature of Things? *

THE abuse of these Terms cannot take away the regular Use of them, no more than the abuse of other good Things can reasonably deprive us of the comfort of them.

AND tho' the Number of essential and necessary Articles has not hitherto been determined, by any Church that I know of, yet every Person, and of Consequence every Church, as such, must certainly have a right to determine for themselves, what they reckon to be such. But to proceed,

THE Practical Term of Peace and Union in Churches where there are complaints of Misconduct, are either an Express verbal acknowledgement of them in Things of a Moral nature, or a Reformation from them.

NO doubt in Churches form'd and united, an explicit open ver­bal Acknowledgment, should be required, especially for gross In­stances of immoral Conduct, which the Light of Nature teaches the Sinfulness of.

BUT when the Church is either in its Infancy not fully form'd, or in a broken and divided State, and when there is a Reformation from the Evils complain'd of, and urging a verbal Acknowledgement tends to open wider the bleeding Wounds of the Church, to tear her in pieces; and consequently to destroy her; it should not be insisted on even in respect of gross Immorality; because the Design of Discipline is answered by Reformation in such Cases, and much less should it be even proposed at all, in Matters which are (com­paratively speaking) of a doubtful Nature, and have long since happened; to say that there should be no Moderation us'd in the Discipline of the Church, (no epeceia juris) no Variation of it's Exer­cise, under different Circumstances and Aspect, in such a Manner as tends to preserve the Church from Ruin, is to say in effect that it is unreasonable and indefensible, and consequently to impute to JESUS CHRIST the Author of it, either want of Wisdom, or want of Love, in forming the Plan or Model of it's Institution, both which are false, and blasphemous, and of Consequence that from which such Consequences naturally and easily flow; to apply the same Medicine to the Body in all the Variety of it's Maladies in the same Manner, and in the same Degre, would tend to kill instead of a Cure, and thus it is in Ecclesiastical Matters. But

3. PEACE does not only imply a Cessation of Arms, and Pro­posals of Accommodation, but likewise our sincere Acceptance of them, after due Deliberation upon their Nature and Importance, and with full Resolution thro' divine Grace to adhere thereto,

[Page 37]4. IT implies real Reconciliation upon this Acceptance; when the Terms of Peace proposed are mutually come into, we should then bury in perpetual Oblivion past Offences, as tho' they had never been, and return to a State of sincere Friendship, with the same Readiness, as tho' there never had been any Breach; if our Brother offends us, as our Lord observes, not only seven times, but seventy times seven; we should forgive him, and Sirs, the greater the Offences have been, the more noble and Godlike is the For­giveness!

5. PEACE implies a Union by Love (at least) to those we are reconciled to Love is the Band of Souls, (gluten animari [...]n) the Cement of Societies, without which they cannot continue or subsist comfortably, or profitably in a State of Union.

LOVE is the Substance of the Law, the Scope of the Gospel, the Glory of Christianity; by this we imitate the blessed GOD, in one of his most amiable Attributes, which he himself reckons his Glo­ry (Ex 34.) By this we promote the Religion of the meek and peceable Jesus, more effectually than by all our angry Contentions and Debates, about lesser Things; by this we adorn our Profession and Character, in the Eyes of all Mankind, who are not blinded and byass'd by the Force of Passion and Prejudice; and the more numerous, and as we suppose heinous, the Offences have been that we pass over, the more eminent, the more noble, the more Christ-like is our Love; because it is the more free and im­merited, the more strong and efficacious.

6. PEACE implies the Performance of friendly Offices, to each other, after Reconciliation to and Union with our Brethren. O how stately and glorious does it look, not only to pass by Offences, and love with our Hearts, those who have done us Injury, but to delight to do them all the kind Offices in our Power, and contend with them who shall love most, and exceed each other in Courtesy and Gentleness, in Acts of Benignity and Endearment! This! this! my dear, reverend, honoured and beloved Brethren! is the Reli­gion of the holy JESUS, it breathes Sweetness and Mercy, it smells of the fragrant Spices of Heaven: O it imitates the gra­cious Dealings of the blessed GOD, with his poor sinful froward Creatures, in which, are stupenduous Stoops of condescending hum­ble Majesty, mixed with astonishing, incomprehensible, inexpressible, and unparallel'd Displays of the strongest, purest Affection, the richest Benignity, and tenderest Mercy and Love! O, the breadth, the length, the depth, the height of the Love of CHRIST which passeth Knowledge! Let us imitate it, dear Sirs! that we may be filled with the Fulness of GOD; let us walk in Love as Christ also has loved us and hath given himself for us, an Offering, and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour. I proceed to the

THIRD general Head propos'd, which was to shew, What is in­cluded in praying for the Peace of Jerusalem? And

[Page 38]1. It includes our high esteem of Peace, as a very important Mercy. This will appear by considering that Peace is more excel­lent in itself, then all the Triumphs of the most lawful War, * because it contains a more necessary difficult and noble Victory, namely, over ourselves: It is true undaunted Valour, and Heroick (martial) Bravery, in the high Places of the Field, in defence of our King and Country, and all that is naturally dear to us, when conducted with good Judgment, executed with intrepid Magnani­mity, and crown'd with desirable Success, is truly amiable, com­mendable and rewardable; it merits the lawrels of Honour and distinguish'd Recompence, yet this Self-conquest is still more difficult, because of the strong Propensity in our degenerate Nature to re­sentment, and more necessary for a peaceful Temper is one Branch of that Change, without which we cannot see GOD, so as to enjoy him hereafter; and therefore it is more Noble.

FARTHER Peace is a help to the quiet Enjoyment of ourselves, a great Comfort in Life.

THIS assists our Progress in Religion, which is not a little kindred by angry Contentions, for by these the blessed Spirit the peaceful heavenly Dove is drove Reluctant from our Bosoms!

NOR does Peace tend less to promote our servicableness to others; certainly those that are Angry with us, are like to get little good by us.

By Peace and Condescension God is Honoured, our Profession a­dorn'd, and the Unity of the Church preserved. Whereas the Con­trary, tends to bring Reproah upon the Name, the Ways and People of God, and manifold Mischiefs into religious Societies, as well as into our own Souls, and Injury upon our Characters, Persons Estates and Families; for hereby others are exasperated against us, and therefore will try to do us all the hurt they can. But

2. PRAYING for the Peace of Jerusalem, includes our earnest Desire after Peace: And this is indeed the natural and necessary Consequent of the former. Desire flows from Esteem, and is ex­actly proportioned to the Degree of it: Moreover Prayer is but Desire expressed and offered to God in the Mediators Name. To suppose that God Commands us to pray for the Peace of Je­rusalem, and yet not desire it, is to imagine that he commands us to flatter him with our Lips, while our Hearts are far from him, and consequently approves of Hypocrisy, the worst of Evils, and [Page 39] the Mockery of himself, which is the most audacious and malig­nant of Crimes; both which are absurd and blasphemous! ab­solutely inconsistent with the divine Wisdom and Purity! and yet they are the natural Consequences of the aforesaid Supposition, and therefore demonstrate the falseness and impiety of it. What are Words without desire in intelligent Beings, better than Mockry?

3. PRAYING for the Peace of Jerusalem includes affectionate mourning for the want of Peace. The Church in general, and every Believer in particular, because of their mournful Disposition and Practice in this Valey of Tears, are compared to a Dove, a Turtle-Dove, (Psal. lxxiv. 19.) which is remarkable for its dolorous, solitary, warbling Accents, in the shady silent retreats. * And surely the bad State of the Church is not the least among the Sorrows of those mourning Doves,

IN the Book of Lamentations, the Prophet Jeremiah bewails the melancholy State of the Jewish Church and Nation, with the most moving strains of mournful Eloquence; he paints Zions piti­ous Calamities, and his own painful Passion upon this Occasion, with the softest touches, and strongest Images! and adorns them (but with ease and negligence) with all the Pomp of Grief and Woe, reduc'd to the most deplorable Extremity! A few Passages of which allow me to mention.

Zyon spreadeth forth her Hands, and hath none to comfort her. How hath the Lord covered the Daughter of Zion with a Cloud in his Anger, and cast down from Heaven to Earth the Beauty of Israel. In the Tabernacle of the Daughter of Zion, he poured out his fury like fire. How is the Gold become dim, the most fine Gold changed. The Anger of the Lord hath divided them, he will no more Regard them. Thou hast made us as the Refuse in the midst of the People. Mine Eyes do fail, my Bowels are troubled for these Things, I weep, mine Eye, mine Eye, runneth down with Water!

AND elsewhere the same Prophet taking a view of the melan­cholly Circumstances of the People of Israel, and of the crimson Evils that too much prevail'd among them, such as slander, false­hood, debate, &c. indulges the most passionate Lamentation! wish­ing that his Head was Waters, and his Eyes a fountain of Tears, that he might weep Night and Day! And likewise wishing, that he had in the Wilderness a lodging Place of way fareing Men, some humble Cottage fitted for lonely Retirement, that he might be at rest from the strife of Tongues, and no more behold the melancholy Scenes that had been presented before him. (Jer. ix.)

NOR was the sweet Singer of Israel les [...] affected, with a view of the violence and strife, that were in the City of Jerusalem, this occasion'd his wishing for the Wings of a Dove, that he might Fly away and be at rest, that he might hasten far off into the Wil­derness, and escape the Windy Storm and Tempest; as the Dove [Page 40] when pursu'd by Birds of prey, flies Swiftly, and into far distant Places of Solitude, and hides herself in the Holes of the Rock. (Ps. 55.) The Wings of a Dove best became him, who was of a Dove like Disposition, now it is said of the Dove, that it exceeds all Birds in the Swiftness of its flight. *

AND in the 120 Psalm 5, 6, 7. verses: The Psalmist bewails the want of Peace in the following Languagè: Wo is me that I Sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the Tents of Kedar. My Soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth Peace: I am for Peace but when I speak, they are for War. Upon which Words Mr. Henry glosseth thus.

THOSE that David dwelt with, were such as not only hated him, but hated Peace, and proclaim'd War with it, who might write upon their Weapons of War, Non sic Sequimur pacem, but sic Prosequimur, perhaps Saul's Court was the Mesech, and Kedar in which David dwelt, and Saul was the Man he Means that hated Peace.

See here 1st. The Character of every good Man in David, who cou'd truly say, tho' he was a Man of War, I am for Peace, for living peaceably with all Men, and unpeaceably with none, I Peace, so it is in the Original, I love Peace, and pur­sue Peace, my Disposition is to Peace, and my delight is in it, I pray for Peace, and strive for Peace, will do any Thing, Submit to any Thing, part with any Thing in reason for Peace; I am for Peace, I have made it appear that I am so, the Wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable.

2. The Character, of the worst of bad Men in David's Enemies, who wou'd pick a Quarrel with those that were most peaceably dispos'd, When I speak they are for War, and the more forward for War, the more they find me inclin'd to Peace; he spoke with all the Respect and Kindness that could be, pro­pos'd Methods of Accommodation, spoke Reason, spoke Love, but they wou'd not so much as hear him patiently but cry'd out to Arms to Arms, so fierce and implacaple were they, and bent to Mischief. Such were CHRIST'S Enemies, for his Love they were his Adversaries, and for his good Words and Works they stoned him: And if we meet with such Enemies, we must not think it strange, or love Peace the less for our seeking it in vain, be not overcome of Evil; no not of such Evil as this, even when thus tryed, still try to overcome Evil with good.

4. PRAYING for the Peace of Jerusalem, includes delight in the Prospect and Approach of Peace. As desire of Peace is equal to our Esteem of it, so is our Sorrow in its absence, equal to the Degree of our Desire after it; and consequently our Delight and Joy must arise on Occasion of any encouraging Appearance of its access to us, just in Proportion to the Measure of our Sorrow in want of it. If we heartily Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, [Page 41] it must needs gladen our Hearts (if rightly informed) to see any Symptoms of the Answer of our Prayers.

WHEN the Prophet delivered a threatning message to King He­sekiah, he comforted himself with the hopes of Peace in his Time. Is. xxxix. 8. Then said Hesekiah to Isaiah, good is the Word of the Lord which thou hast spoken, for there shall be Peace and Truth in my Days. (Pro. xii. 20.) But to the Counsellors of Peace is Joy; especially when any agreeable Prospect opens of a good issue to their Councils. Those that study the Things that make for Peace, and to this End concert healing Methods, and promote healing Attempts, will not only have the Credit, but the Comfort of it: To them there is Joy and Success, perhaps be­yond Expectation. (Prov. xiii. 12.) Hope deferr'd maketh the Heart Sick, but when the desire cometh; it is a Tree of Life.

5. PRAYING for the Peace of Jerusalem, includes unwearied Labour, to obtain and preserve it; and this as naturally flows from desire, when sincere and strong, as desire from Esteem, or as Eating when one is Hungry, and as our endeavours result from our desires, so they are exactly proportion'd to the Measure and Degree of them. The Spouse having an earnest desire after her LORD'S Presence, sought him on her Bed, but not finding him there, went about the Streets of the City in quest of him, and was restless till she found him, (Cant. iii.)

NOW Endeavours after Peace are twofold, viz. Negative and Positive, or in other Words, our careful avoiding the Hindrances of Peace, and our serious Use of the Means and Helps that have a Tendency to acquire and preserve it.

BUT what are the Hindrances of Peace in general, which should be carefully avoided?

I Answer, They are these following, viz. unkind Thoughts, Speeches and Actions.

1. UNKIND hard Thoughts of others, which spring not from su­perior Penetration, but from Pride, Envy, narrowness of Mind, or a misguided Zeal. These, these are the fatal, fertile, formida­ble Sources of all our severe Sentiments of, and unkindness to our poor Brethren. Unkind Thoughts, Sirs, are directly contrary to the Nature of that amiable, evangelick Charity, which the blessed Apostle Paul so highly extols, with the most honourable En­comiums, preferring it to Faith and Hope, and so earnestly rec [...]m­mends to our Imitation and Observance: He assures us, that the true Genius of this God-like glorious Grace, is to think no Evil, and to hope all Things. Charity, saith he, suffereth long, and is kind. Charity envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, * seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, rejoiceth not in Iniquity, (in bad Reports of our Brethren) but rejoiceth in the Truth, (in their just Vindication) beareth all Things, believeth all Things, endureth all Things. Now tho' we have the Gift of Prophesy, and understand all Mysteries, and all Knowledge, [Page 42] and tho' we have all Faith so that we could remove Mountains, and have no Charity, we are nothing; yea tho' we bestow all our Goods to feed the poor, and give our Bodies to be burned, and have not Charity, it profiteth us nothing (1 Cor. xiii.) And elsewhere the same A­postle observes, that Knowledge puffeth up, but Charity edifyeth, (1 Cor viii 1.)

FROM the aforesaid beautiful Description, we may learn, that Charity consists in Candor and Kindness, in Sweetness and Ge­nerosity, in Mercy and in Forbearance, in Forgiveness and Disin­terestedness in our Conversation towards all Men; it inclines the Person possessed of it, to be a common Good. It does not consist in Sourness, Suspicion and Severity, but in Courtisy, easiness of ac­cess, Gentleness and Humanity; it is hard to be provok'd, and easy to forgive; does not want to establish its own Reputation upon the ruin of anothers; is not suspicious, or easily suspicious of Evil in others without evident Reason, but puts a favourable In­terpretation upon even the doubtful Speeches and Actions of our Brother; to this Effect speak the following great Divines, Dr. Hammond, Erasmus, Vatabulus, Camero, Grotius, Pareus, Calvin, Symachus, Hescius, Pool, and others.

BUT is Charity blind?

I Answer, No, not quite, But yet it hopes the best of others, as long as it can, with any Reason; and when it is constrained by glaring Evidence, to see Evil in others, its View is attend­ed with Reluctance and Sorrow; and in the mean Time it makes all the Apology it can for them: Thus we do for ourselves, and are we not commanded to love others as we do ourselves? Charity is glad when others are vindicated from false Charges.

BUT tho' Charity be not quite blind, yet it has not the sharp Sight of the Lynx, in spying others Faults, while it is blind to its own; but inclines the possessor of it, to be most inquisitive into his own Conduct, and most severe against the Faults of it. The Nature of Charity, or Love, as Solomon observes, is to cover a mul­titude of Sins of our Brother. (Pro. x. 12.) To the same Purpose speaks the inspired Apostle Peter, (1 Epistle iv. 8.) And above all Things, have fervent Charity among yourselves; see that ye take Care of this in the first Place, and in the highest Degree: Why? for Charity covers a multitude of Sins, i. e. it conceals, bears, excuses, and forgives many Offences and Injuries of our Brethren, composes and calms Debates, which cause hatred, (1 Cor. xiii. 7. Pro. x. 12.) So Estius, Gerhardus, Symachus, Menochius and Beza justly interpre [...] the Words.

SO that from the whole you may see, my Brethren, that that Charity that is easily suspicious, severe, moross, envious, puffed up, censorious against others, rejoycing secretly in hearing of bad Re­ports of those whom we dislike, is easily provok'd, and hard to forgive, is not the Charity the Apostle speaks of, No. But the very Contrary. It is real hatred (at least in a great Degree) against our Brother, blended with Pride and ill-nature; and there­fore [Page 43] to grow in this, is to grow backwards; I mean, more unlike the Law of God, which is fullfil'd by Love; more contrary to the Spirit and Scope of the Gospel of CHRIST, which also is Love.

WELL but I have a good Intention in those Suspicions, and pur­pose good by them.

I Answer, It's very like you have; and this indeed lessens the malignity of your cruel Suspicion, but it does not take it away quite; the blessed God does not need your Wickedness to promote his Cause and Kingdom; you must not do Evil that good may come. Your unreasonable Suspicions and evil Surmisings of your Brother, are Instances of hatred against him: And do you think that an infinitely wise God can command Contradictions, namely, that you should love your Brother and hate him at the same Time. To suspect him without evident Cause, is unrea­sonable and cruel, and every cruelty and unkindness is a Degree of hatred; it is such Treatment as you would not like to be shewn to yourselves. Is not that which is without Reason, unrea­sonable, and that Treatment which you would not have shewn to yourselves, unjust for you to express to others? And do you think that a good and holy God can approve of such a Compli­cation of Perverseness? And is it reasonable to suppose, that he will make it a mean to promote his Kingdom, which is Righteous­ness and Peace? Surely No! Such Methods serve only to promote Pride, Prejudice, Division, Confusion, and every evil Work!

2. ANOTHER hindrance of Peace that ought to be with equal Care avoided, is evil Speaking. This is contrary to the positive Command of God, which obliges us, to speak Evil of no Man, (Tit. iii. 2.) It is represented as the Character of the wicked, that they whet their Tongues like a Sword, and bend their bows to shoot their Arrows, even bitter Words, (Psal. lxiv. 3.) But the Words of the Pure, are pleasant Words, (Pro. xv. 26.) And the Law of Kindness is in their Lips, (Pro. xxxi. 26.) Our Lord in­forms us, (Mat. v. 22.) That whosoever shall say to his Brother Raca, i. e. vain Man, shall be in danger of the Council, but whoso­ever shall say thou Fool, shall be in Danger of Hell-Fire. *

[Page 44]NOW there are various kinds of evil Speaking, which are pernicious to the Peace of Society, the chief of which are these two, viz. Slander and rash judging.

THE first of these, viz. Slander, is manifold and exceeding malignant, (Prov. x. 18.) He that hideth hatred with lying Lips, and he thut uttereth Slander, is a Fool. All Malice is folly and wickedness; it is so when concealed by Flattery and Dissimula­tion: Lying Lips are bad enough of themselves, but have a pe­culiar Perverseness in them when made a cloak of Maliciousness; and cannot be hid from God, who is Omniscient, to him the Darkness is as the Light, and the Midnight as the Morning.

NOR is it any better when vented in spiteful and mischeivous [Page 45] Language, he that uttereth Slander is a Fool, for God will sooner or later bring forth that Righteousness as the Light, which is hereby clouded and eclipsed, and will find an expedient to roll the unjust Reproach away.

NOW the general Nature of the Sin of Slander, consists in a false Accusation of our Neighbour, which is forbidden by the ninth Command, and is a great Wickedness, considered in every shape and form

IF it is publickly and upon Oath before civil Courts of Judi­cature, it is called, bearing false Witness against our Neighbour, or Perjury, which is forbidden by the ninth Command, and is an Evil of horible malignity! When we call God to Witness what we know to be false, it is one of the basest Blasphemies, the rudest Insults that can be offered to the Deity, and one of the greatest Injuries to Men that can be committed. He that invokes the Al­mighty to attest a Lye, either imagines that he knows not the Truth, and so imputes Ignorance to him; or that he is not dis­pleased with it, and so denies his Purity, or that he is not able to avenge it, and so contemns his Power and Almightiness. Now is there much difference between denying these Perfections of Jehovah, without which he cannot exist, and the Atheistical denial of his Being altogether? No surely.

AND as to Men, Perjury is not only a wrong to particular Persons, but it is Treason against human Society in general; it saps the very Foundations of publick Peace and Justice, and the private Security of every Mans Property, Honour, Life, and Fortune; yea and cruelly turns the equitable Laws, which were design'd for the Defence of the Inocent, and Punishment of the Guilty, into an Engine of Ruin to the former, and Promotion to the latter! What can be more horrible than this? Justly therefore does Solomon observe, that a false Witness against his Neighbour, is a Maul, and a Sword, and a sharp Arrow. (Prov. xxv. 18) This Iniquity entails a Curse upon the Person guilty of it, and his Posterity, (Zec. v. 4.) I will bring the Curse forth, saith the Lord of Hosts, and it shall enter into the House of the Thief, and of him that sweareth falsely by my Name, and it shall remain in the midst of his House, and consume it, with the Timber thereof, and the Stones thereof.

BUT when Slander is out of Court, and before a Persons Face, and accompanied with harsh Words, it is term'd railing, (Jude 9.) We are told, that when Michael the Archangel, con­tended with the Devil about the Body of Moses, he did not bring against him a railing Accusation, he knew he was no match for Satan at that, which is the Business of his proper Province; it is his constant Practice to accuse the Brethren, (Rev. xii. 10.) the good Angel only mildly said, the Lord Rebuke thee. And as Railers and false Accusers are faithful followers of their Father the Devil, who was a lyar and a murderer from the Beginning, and abode not in the Truth; so the Apostle Peter assures us, that [Page 46] they are as natural Brute Beasts, made to be taken and destroy'd, that they speak Evil of the Things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own Corruption, (2 Pet. ii. 10—12.)

MOREOVER, Flattery in Peoples Presence, or unjust Commen­dation, the Evil contrary to the former, ought with great Care to be avoided. It is a mean sordid Iniquity, as contrary to good Manners as it is to Religion, tho' it pleases ignorant proud Pe­dants, it puts modest and virtuous Persons to the blush, in Company, and is a kind of Persecution. The Psalmist represents it to be the Character of the wicked, (Psal. v. 9.) There is no faithfulness in their Mouth, their Throat is an open Sepulchre; how so, why? they Flatter with their Tongue; and elsewhere he assures us, that God will cut off all flattering Lips, (Psal. xii. 3.) Does not the wise Man justly advise us, not to meddle with him that flattereth with his Lips, (Pro xx. 19.) Because a Flatterer, as he elsewhere observes, spreadeth a Net for our Feet, as artfully as disingenously lays a Trap for us, by soothing our Vanity, working on our weak Side, and so effects our ruin. (Pro. xxix. 5. & xxvi. 28.) But

SLANDR behind ones back is called in Scripture whispering, backbiting, supplanting, tatling, all which are cowardly, sneaking and pernicious Iniquities; Prov. xviii. 8. The Words of a Tale­bearer as Wounds go into the inermost Parts of the Belly. (Prov. xxvi. 20.) Where there is no Wood the Fire goeth out, so where there is no Talebearer, the Strife ceaseth (Pro. xvi. 28.) A fro­ward Man soweth Strife, and a whisperer separateth chief Friends. But on the contrary we are told, (Ps. xv. 3.) That the good Man Backbiteth not with his Tongue, nor taketh up Reproach against his Neighbour: He does not readily receive or greedily believe, bad Stories of them: No! The charitable and generous Temper of his Soul, disposes him to the Contrary. The Apostle ranks backbiters and haters of God in the same Class, and declares that they are worthy of Death, (Rom. i. 30—32.)

THE Prophet Jeremiah complains with keen and poignant Lan­guage, of the Supplanters, the artful, invidious, underminers of others Characters in his Time, (Jer. ix. 4.) Take heed every Man of his Neighbour, and trust ye not in any Brother, for every Bro­ther will utterly supplant, and every Neighbour will walk with Slanderers. Supplanters are the most dangerous and successful E­nemies, by their sly, smooth, soft, but slanderous Insinuations; they maliciously stab their Neighbours Reputation, and give, un­der a Cloak of Friendship, the deepest Wounds; and hereby these Enemies of Society, as ungenerously as unjustly lay an Embargo upon others Usefulness, and cramp the Sinews of their Endeavours to do good to Mankind.

THE Supplanter, or Detractor, looks with an envious Eye up­on the just respect that is paid to anothers Endowments and Ac­tions, as if it was so much taken from his own Reputation; and therefore he endeavours by all the low Arts of malevolent Subtilty, and sly, selfish Insinuation, to lessen the Value of what an­other [Page 47] says or does; he either has not the Capacity to reach the height of others Attainments, or likes not to be at the Pains to this Purpose, and therefore like the Tyrant Procrustes, he cruelly cuts of their Legs, to a length with his own; he equally hates either to comply with the Dictates of Justice, in rendering Ho­nour to whom Honour is due, or with the Sentiments of Charity, in believing every Thing that is good of his Neighbour. O! let such consider what God speaks to them by the Prophet, (Isa. v. 22—24.) Wo unto them that justify the wicked for Reward: and take away the Righteousness of the Righteous from him; there­fore as the Fire devoureth the Stuble, and the Flame consumeth the Chaff, so their Root shall be as Rotteness; and their Blossom shall go up as Dust. And notwithstanding of all their dispicable invidious Arts and Efforts, the gracious God shall bring forth the Righteousness of those that fear him, as the Light, and their Judg­ment as the Noon-Day.

BUSY-BODIES and Tattlers, are also very prejudicial to the Peace of Society. Hear how awfully the Apostle speaks of them, (1 Tim. v. 12, 13.) having Damnation, because they have cast of their first Faith, and withal they learn to be idle, wander­ing about from House to House, and not only idle but Tattlers also, and Busy-Bodies, (pragmatical medlers with Business that does not belong to them) speaking Evil of the Things they ought not. * [Page 48] The same Apostle Cautions the Corinthians against those Evils, (2 Cor. xii. 20.) I fear least when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, least there be among you Debates; Envying, Strifes, Swellings, Tumults. *

[Page 49]OF all Incendaries to Mischief, Supplanters, Tattlers, Busy-Bodies and Backbiters are the worst; they are the Bane of Company, the Pests of Society, the lumber and burthen of the Creation, under which it groans and travails even until now; some of the most contemptible, but pestilent Animals, whose Business it is to ac­cuse the Brethren, to sow the Seeds of [...]ontention, and inflame Debate, with ignoble Pleasure and unwearied Industry; and like the Salamander to dwell with Delight in the Flames they have kindled. The slanderous Invectives of such, should be rejected with abhorrence, as the North Wind drives away Rain, so does an angry Countenance a back-biting Tongue. Almighty God ex­presly prohibits this Practice, (Lev. xix. 16.) Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among my People. Upon which Mr. [Page 50] Henry glosseth thus, ‘'Tis as ill an Office as a Man can put himself into To be a publisher of others Mens faults, divulg­ing what was secret, aggravating Crimes, and making the worst of every Thing that was amiss, with design to blast and ruin Mens Reputation, and to sow discord among Neighbours. The Word us'd for a Talebearer, signifies a Pedlar, or petty Chapman, the Interlopers of Trade, for Tale-bearers pick up ill natur'd Stories, at one House, and utter them at another, and commonly barter Slanders by way of exchange.’ This evil is condem'd in Pro. xi. 13. A tale-bearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithful Spirit concealeth the Matter. (Pro. xx. 19.) He that goeth about as a tale-bearer, revealeth Secrets, therefore medale not with him that flattereth with his Lips. Slanderers, of every Kind, are Madmen who cast about Firebrands Arrows, and Death, and yet say they are in Sport.

The Psalmist compares Doeg's malicious Tongue to a sharp Razor. And certainly slanderers Tongues are like Razors, that not only wound Mens Characters, but even sometimes cut their Throats. It is an Evil that disparages human Nature, and tends to disband civil Society altogether. It is directly contrary to the Apostles Exhortation, (Ephes. iv. 31, 32.) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all Malice, and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. The Psalmist gives this Character of a wicked Man, (Psal. l. 19, 20.) Thou givest thy Mouth to Evil, and thy Tongue frameth Deceit. Thou fittest and speakest against thy Brother, thou slanderest thy own Mothers Son. The Name Diabolos, Devil, signifies a Slanderer: And in­deed the Slanderer has not only the Devils Name, but his Na­ture and Practice; for the principal ingredient in the Nature of the Devil is Malice; and Satan, in pursuance thereof, is the ac­cuser of the Brethren. Both these the Slanderer is no stranger to, and therefore it is evident, he does not bear Satan's Name in vain.

WHATEVER we may pretend, if we bridle not our Tongue, that unruly Member, that World of Iniquity, our Religion is in vain. And whatever sordid Delight any one may take in doing mis­chief to others, yet let him remember, that in due Time it will recoil upon himself. A Fools Mouth, says Solomon, is his De­struction, his Lips are the Snare of his Soul. The Lip of Truth shall be established forever; but a lying Lip is but for a Moment. He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely; but he that perverteth his Ways shall be known. And when the Slanderer is known, he is contemned as a publick Enemy to Society, be­cause others know not how soon they may be injured by him. All noble generous Minds detest this Practice, and cannot enter­tain it with Complacence. A righteous Man hateth lying, says Solomon. (Pro. xiii. 5.) It is only ill natur'd People that en­courageth [Page 51] such, (Pro. xvii. 4.) a wicked doer giveth heed to false Lips; and a lyar giveth heed to a naughty Tongue.

BUT because LYING is included in Slander, and of dreadful Tendency to Society, I shall speak a little of its Nature and Malignity.

AUGUSTINE gives this Description of its Nature, viz. That it is a voluntary speaking of an untruth, with design to deceive.

IT is a speaking of an untruth, yea what we know to be such; for to lye is to go against the Mind. *

FARTHER, it is uttered with an Intention to deceive the Per­son to whom it is spoken; and therefore Parables are no lyes, tho' they be not litterally true, because not uttered with a de­sign to deceive, and their Scope is true; thus our Lord is called, parabolically a Door, a Rock, a Fountain. Nor are Hyperboles lyes, for the same Reason, tho they be not litterally and strictly true; hence the Spies asserted, in their return from Canaan, that the Walls were up to Heaven; their meaning was, that the Walls were very high. In like manner it is said, that if all our Lord had done was written, the World itself would not contain the Books; this was not expressed with a Design to deceive, but to convince of Error; the meaning was no more than that many Things CHRIST did were not Recorded.

NOR are Ironies lies, tho' they be not litterally true, (1 King xviii. 27.) He mocked them and said, cry aloud for he is a God. This was not uttered with a design to deceive, but to convince of Error, and reprove upon the Account of it.

I may add, that a Persons acting contrary to what he before said, is not lying, if the Circumstances of a Thing be altered, (Gen. xix. 2.) The Angels told Lot that they would not come into his House, but abide in the Street all Night; yet upon his importunity they went in with him: And so Peter with some Vehemency refused that CHRIST should wash his Feet, but when he was instructed in the Significancy of this Condescension of our SAVIOUR, he intreated him to do it. But in the mean Time this Caution must be observed, that the Actions be not such as we are bound to by divine Precept, or such as we have bound our­selves to, by some Vow to God, or such that our neglect of them will be prejudicial to others; for if we have promised to another what is beneficial to him, however we have changed our Opinion, we must not change our Purpose, unless he release us, or hath fail'd in the Condition of the Promise.

DIVINES do generally distinguish Lyes into three Kinds, viz. Jocose, Officious and Malicious,

JOCOSE Lyes are told to divert the Company; but it is too ex­pensive a Method to divert others by, for such as lye in Jest must expect to go to Hell in Earnest, except they repent; besides it prepares Persons for that which is of a more malignant Kind.

[Page 52]OFFICIOUS Lyes are told with design to do some kind Office to others; but we must not do Evil that Good may come. Bishop Saunderson justly observes upon this Head, ‘That we know not a greater Good than the Glory of God; that we know not a lesser Sin, if any Sin may be called little, than a Jocose lye, yet may not this be done for that, wilt thou speak wick­edly for God, or talk deceitfully for him, says Zophar to Job, and surely if we may not speak deceitfully for God, much less for Man.’ But

MALICIOUS Lyes are when Persons endeavour to fix false Charges designedly, upon the Inocent for their Hurt.

NOW lying of every Kind, especially of the last, is a Viola­tion of God's Precept, which enjoins us, not to lye one to another, (Col. iii. 9.) and that we should put away lying and speaking guile, (Ephes. iv. 25.)

LYING is also odious to the God of Truth: A lying Tongue is one of the seven Things that are an abomination to him. (Pro vi.)

LYING tends to the Destruction of human Society, and con­tradicts the Use and End of Speech, which is to promote Com­munion and Commerce, and therefore it's implicitly agreed to by all Men to speak Truth to one another. But if lying be in­dulged, how can Society be promoted, when mutual Confidence and Love are broken? Seeing that Truth is a Debt we owe to all that we converse with, lying must needs be unjust and lead to every Injury, Violence, and Rapine. These Evils naturally follow Mens making no Conscience of performing their Pro­mises and Contracts.

LYING is base and ignoble; it justly brings a blot upon the Character of him who is guilty of i [...], when it is found out, as it generally is at the long r [...]n, because of their Inconsistencies: It shews a base, cowardly Disposition not to dare to tell the Truth. This Evil is not only hated by God, but by good Men. I hate and abhor lying, saith the Psalmist, he that tells Lies shall not tarry in my House, (Psal. ci. 7.)

LYING is an Imitation of the Devil, who when he speaketh a Lye, speaketh of his own, i. e. agreeable to his natural Inclination and Genius, for he is a lyar and the Father of it, he was a Mur­derer from the Beginning, and abode not in the Truth. (Joh. viii. 44) Observe Malice is joined with lying, in the Character of Satan; he is a Murderer as well as a Lyar, to shew that malicious lying is the first born of the Devil, the Beginning of his Strength, for by Lyes he prevailed over Mankind at first, and therefore this is his darling Sin. When Persons lye, they but repeat what Satan dictates; hence is that saying of Peter's, (Act v. 3.) Why hath Satan fill'd thine Heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?

LYING is not only very Criminal but very Dangerous, it cracks the Credit of the Guilty Person, when found out; those that are accustom'd to lye, will not be believ'd when they speak the [Page 53] Truth; and its generally found out pretty soon; its generally and justly esteem'd to be one of the basest evils, because it bewrays a cowardly fear of Man, and most daring Contempt of GOD! whoever lyes does it out of some sordid fear, least some Incon­venience should come upon them if they told the Truth: And this Montaign in his Essays, gives as the Reason why the Charge of lying is the most reproachful Ignominy, which can be cast upon any, and therefore excites Men to the most warm resent­ments: Indeed lying unfits Persons for common Converse, and for all Business. Besides,

LYING, exposes to the Vengeance of GOD forever, (Rev. xxi. ult.) Without are Dogs and Sorcerers, and every one who loveth, and maketh a lye. (Rev. xxi 8.) And all lyars shall have their Part in the Lake, which burns with Fire and Brimstone. Again,

LYING is an awful Evidence of a bad State: A course of lying proves Persons to be the genuine Children of the Devil, who is the Father of Lyes. On the contrary Truth in Speech, is the Character of GOD'S People, (Is. lxiii. 8.) Surely they are my People, Children that will not lye. Unless we make Conscience of avoiding all those Kinds of evil Speaking, that I have mentioned, we cannot consistently or successfully, Endeavour after Peace. But the

2d. KIND of evil-speaking beforementioned, is RASH JUDO­ING. To prevent Mistakes, I think it necessary to be distinct and particular here, and to observe, that that which I oppose as rash Judging, consists in these Particulars following, viz.

1. WHEN we take upon us, to judge and condemn Men's secret Designs, in acting not made evident. And

2. WHEN we judge our Brother's different Opinion from ours in Circumstantials, and different or contrary Conduct to ours, grounded thereupon, to be a sufficient Foundation, for concluding the State of his Soul to be bad. And

3. WHEN we make our Judgement of Men's State towards GOD, founded upon their spiritual Experience, separate from Prin­ciples and Practice, the Ground of our publick Conduct towards them.

THE first of these is a manifest assuming of the divine Preroga­tive of searching the Heart; and has a direct Tendency to over­throw all Goodness of human Action entirely; for the very best of them, may by this Claim of Power, be unjustly ascribed to a mean a bad Cause; thus CHRIST was treated by the Pharisees, who gave bad Names to all his vertuous Actions, and ascribed his mi­raculous Works to the Devil, his easiness of Access, and kind Treatment of the looser Sort of Mankind, as a Physician, in or­der to their Cure, they term'd a criminal familiarity with them, as a Companion: His innocent Openness and freedom of Behavio [...] as to Meats and Drinks, they ascribed to an inordinate Appetite: His miraculous Works which they could not deny, they ascribed to [Page 54] a bad Cause, the Power of Belzebub. Behold a gluttonous Person [...] a Wine-bibber; and a Friend of Publicans and Sinners.

PAUL's faithful Endeavour to do extensive Good by preaching, was ascrib'd to a seditious Design. And also Job's exemplary and unblemish'd Integrity, was assign'd by Satan to a (sinfully) selfish Cause, Doth Job fear GOD for nought?

AS this Method of Proceeding, implies in it, a sacreligious In­vasion of the Rights of Heaven, and a criminal Imitation of the worst of Men, yea, of the Devil himself, so it is directly contrary to Charity, which obliges and inclines us to hope the best, until there be Evidence of the contrary; and therefore in one Word, it tends utterly to eradicate all mutual Confidence from among Men, all Peace and Quiet, all Union, Order, and Harmony, from Church & State; and to turn every Thing into the utmost Confusion.

THE second Instance of rash Judging, is directly contrary to the entire Series of the Apostle's Reasonings, in the 14th Chapter to the Romans, for he declares that Persons, upon both Sides of the circumstantial Controversy then subsisting, were sincere and ac­cepted of GOD; and informs us, that the condemning of Persons upon the Account of such smaller Matters, was in effect to con­demn the Law itself, as an insufficient Rule of Action, without our after Additions thereto, and an Encroachment upon our Chri­stian Liberty; He that judgeth his Brother, speaketh Evil of the Law, and judgeth the Law; because the Law gives no such Power, (Jam. iv. 11.) but assigns all Judgment of secret Things to GOD only (1 Cor. iv. 3, 4, 5.) But with me it is a very small Thing, that I should be judged of you, or of Man's Judgment, but he that judgeth me is the Lord, therefore judge nothing be­fore the Time, until the Lord come, who will bring to Light the hidden Things of Darkness, and will make manifest the Councils of the Heart, and then shall every Man, every good Man, have Praise of GOD.

SOME there were in those early Times, who were of Apollos and Cephas's Party or Faction, that slighted Paul, judged him with rashness, censured him with indecency, and preferred Apollo's and Cephas before him: Those that blessed Man informs, that he esteemed very lightly of their Censure or Judgment, so far as it concerned him (Emoi de eis elachiston estin ina up humoon ana­critho) The Word Elachiston (para to elo to ephairo ab auferendo) signifies a very inconsiderable Thing, I esteem it as the very least of Things, whether you judge me better or worse than others, sincere or unsincere; I neither value nor fear the Judgment of Men; the Judgment of my value does not belong to you, nor to any of the Children of Men, nor to my self; yea, I judge not my own self; I pronounce no Sentence for my self, I leave my self to the Judgement of GOD: I may be mistaken in my Judge­ment concerning my self, and therefore I will affirm nothing as to myself, and yet I am better known to myself than to you; I will [Page 55] not boast of myself, nor be confident of my own fallible Judgment of myself; nor offended with your Censures!

THO' I am not conscious of any willful Unfaithfulness, in the Course of my Ministry, yet I cannot from thence certainly conclude, that I am free from Blame, because I do not perfectly know my self; perhaps the Almighty sees Blemishes in me, that I see not myself, perhaps I have thro' Ignorance, omitted something, that was right and necessary, and committed something that was wrong and hurtful, or forgotten some things wherein I did offend; we often fall into Sins we know not, says Chrysostom, sepe incidmus, in peccata que neshimus; in many Things we offend all.

THEREFORE judge nothing before the Time, until the Lord come, i. e. seeing that secret Things belong to God, Deut. xxiii. 23. leave the Judgment of them to him, and do not judge any secret Thing, till CHRIST comes in the Clouds to judge the World: He only can, and he certainly will, in the Day of his Appearance, bring to light the hidden Things of Darkness, and make manifest the Councils of the Hearts, remove all disguises, and make cer­tainly and fully known, all the Thoughts and Designs of Men. Here you may observe a positive COMMAND of GOD, against JUDGING of SECRET THINGS. To the aforesaid Purpose upon the Place, speak the following Divines, Mr. Pool, in his Annotat. Gro­tius, Castallio, Menochius, Tirinus, Erasmus, Estius, Simachus, Justinian, Scultetus, Calvin, Piscator, Beza, Cameron.

AND in 1 Cor. x. 22. the Apostle speaks thus, For why is my Liberty judged of another Man's Conscience? i. e. saith Pool, ‘Why should my Practice in a Thing wherein I have liberty, be censured or condemned by the Conscience of another, he being persuaded that what I do, and judge that I have liberty to do, and may do lawfully, is done by me sinfully; and I by him accounted a Transgressor for it.’ As to the

3d. INSTANCE of rash Judging, I desire to know, where Al­mighty GOD has given any of the Children of Men, Authority to inspect into the spiritual Experiences of others, so as to make our Judgment of them, abstract from their Doctrines and Life, the Ground of our Opinion concerning the State of their Souls, and of our publick Conduct towards them? If any suppose that there is a divine Warrant for such Conduct, they would do well to dis­cover it, for others Instruction; for my part I must freely confess my Ignorance of the Matter, I know of no Places of Scripture, that give such a Power to any of the Sons of Men, and much less to every Man.

PERHAPS some gracious and well meaning Persons, of the present Day, do not thoroughly understand, or have not sufficient­ly considered the evil Nature and awful Consequences of rash judg­ing; it appears to me to be an Evil pregnant with Pride, Malice and Mischief, tho' perhaps not perceiv'd or intended: An Evil which under a Cloak of misguided ill-temper'd Zeal for GOD, Christian Liberty, and superior Attainments in Knowledge and [Page 56] Religion; rebelliously opposes the clearest Dictates of Reason and Humanity, the plainest Laws of revealed Religion; an Evil that under a Pretext of Kindness and Piety, cruelly rends our Neigh­bour's Character, saps the Foundations of the Church's Peace, and turns it's Union, Order and Harmony into the wildest Confusion, of ungoverned Anarchy, Schism, Prejudice and Hate!

AN Evil that sometimes rages the more under corrosive Reme­dies, proper and necessary for it's Cure, and expresses its unrea­sonable Resentment, in the very Language of impiety; our Tongues are our own and who is Lord over us, not considering that when Man's Tongue is abus'd to uncharitable and ignoble Purposes, his Glory is turned into Shame, and that those shall have Judgment without Mercy, who shew no Mercy.

AN Evil that scorns Controul, either by human or divine Autho­rity, and spurns at Restraint, either from GOD or Man! which in Opposition hereto, is wont to express its haughty Senti­ments, in the following Strains of Rebellion and Faction, Let us break their Bands asunder and cast their Cords from us.

BUT if any after all that has been said, are still enclined to execute the Office of spiritual Judges, let me [...]eg of such, to answer in their own Minds, these two Questions, viz. Pray, Sirs, how are you qualify'd for your Office? And how do you discharge it?

YOU know that the Office of a temporal JUDGE, is a very im­portant and difficult Business, to manage well, and yet much de­pends upon their good Management; wherefore it is necessary, that they be Men of superior acumen or Genius, and Men of dis­tinguished Eminence, in acquir'd Endowments: This being the Dictate of Reason, and common Sentiment of all Nations, they endeavour to make Provision accordingly.

AND likewise it is acknowledged by all Mankind, that Judges should be no Accusers, in respect of the Affairs, that they judge of, for if they are either ignorant or byass'd, just Judgement cannot reasonably be expected from them.

BESIDES it is highly necessary, to have a Commission for this grave and important Function from a proper Authority, otherwise what we do in it is assuming and unjust.

NOW my Friends, pray examine, whether you are qualify'd as I have now represented, to take the BENCH?

IN the mean Time let this be premis'd, as a self-evident Maxim, that there is vastly more Difficulty attending our judging aright of some spiritual Cases, than any temporal; because of the variety of the Operations of a Sovereign GOD, upon the Souls of Men; the plausible Advances that some make towards Religion, who have not a right Principle of Action, and the melancholy Decays of some, that have it; and especially, because the Soul is a Pro­vince hid from human Observance, so that there is vastly more Difficulty in being a spiritual Judge, than in being a Lord Chan­cellor of England. The Words of CHRIST to Nicodemus, con­cerning [Page 57] the Nature of Regeneration, John. iii. 8. deserve to be thought of under this Head, The Wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the Sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit. ‘Tho' the Spirit, as Mr. Henery observes, works powerfully in Regeneration, you hear the Sound thereof, tho' its Causes are hidden, its Effects are manifest; yet he works arbitrarily, and as a free Agent; the Wind blows where it listeth for us, and doth not attend our Order, nor is subject to our Command: The Spirit dispenseth his Influences where, and when, [...]n whom and in what Measure he pleaseth; and as he works arbitrarily, so mysteriously, and in secret hidden ways; the Manner and Method of the Spirit's Workings is a Mystery!’

MR. Pool observes in his Annotations, ‘That the Original of the Winds Motion, is to us imperceptible, we can speak some­thing philosophically to the Cause of it, and can tell whether it bloweth from the East, West, North or South, but we cannot tell the particular Place, where or from whence it ariseth; so is every one who is regenerated, by the Working of the Spirit of GOD, changed and renewed so as we can give ourselves or others no Account of it, in all Points as to the inward Opera­tion, tho' in the Effects it be discernable.’

BECAUSE he had began to speak of the Spirit, he takes an Ex­ample from the Wind, which is also wont to be call'd a Spirit, (Gen viii 1.) and often elsewhere.

Minutus Octavio observes, that tho' all Things are impell'd, shaken and tossed by the Wind, and Blast, yet we cannot see them, with our Eyes; Vento et flatibus, omnia impelluntur, vibrantur, agitantur, at sub oculis tamen non venit ventus, et flatus.

THE Wind moves itself, now here, now there, with a free and unconstant impetus; it is a Metaphor taken from Men, like that Rom. ix. 19. to 22. a Will is ascribed to the Wind, by the Fi­gure Prosop [...]y, as in the Writing of the Apostle Paul, the Law, Sin, and Death are introduced in the same Manner.

YOU hear the Sound thereof, but know not whence it comes, or whither it goeth, its Original is not perceiv'd, some imagine it to be a natural Flux of the Air, others Exhalations from the Earth, there is such a Diversity of Conjectures concerning it, even in the same Places, that its Nature cannot be fully known, its Original is sought but not beheld.

NOR is it known, where it goes, or known where it ceases, its Exit is no better perceiv'd than its Original.

AND so it is with every one, that is born of the Spirit; ad­mirable Actions of one regenerated by the Spirit are beheld, but the Original from which they spring, and the End to which they tend, are quite hid from the View of all Mortals in this Life; the certain Discovery of them is reserved for a future World; the End indeed is eternal Life, and our Life is hid with CHRIST in GOD, (Rom. vi. 22. Col. iii. 3.) Regeneration can neither be beheld [Page 58] with our Eyes, nor the Mode or Manner of it comprehended by our Reason.

THE Similitude which our Lord uses plainly shews these three Things, viz. 1 That the Work of the holy Spirit in Regenera­tion, is something real; this its Fruits and Effects point forth, as the Sound indicates the Wind. 2. That the holy Spirit acts freely and sovereignly in this Matter, according to his own Pleasure; and not according to any Dignity or Me [...]s of Creatures, or Li­mits prescrib'd by them; he breathes upon whom, and when and how he pleases. And 3. The Similitude shews, that the Work of Regeneration is unsearchable to human Reason, from whence the afflatus comes, and to what Event the Spirit operates upon, even the Regenerate themselves do not know. To the aforesaid Gloss that I have given of the Words of CHRIST, agree the following Interpreters, viz. Beza, Grotius, Simachus, Chemnitus, Burgensis, and Dr. Lightfoot.

SURELY Sirs, your Reason must inform you, that Persons cannot judge well what they do not understand, and that it is not probable, they will judge impartially, of a Case in which they are Parties and Accusers, and that it is unjust for them to judge what does not belong to them, or what they have no Commission or Authority for.

WHETHER you have all of you, such peculiar Poignance of natural Genius and uncommon Eminence in acquired Knowledge, as well as Freedom from corrupt partial byass, in these Times of Division and Debate, as to qualify you for the high Office of spiritual JUDGES, are too tender Points for me to touch; I there­fore leave them to the Decision of your own Consciences, and humbly beg you would produce your Commission to judge Men's secret Thoughts and Designs, or the States of Mens Souls, upon the Foundation of circumstantial Differences in Opinion, and Practice consequent thereupon: Where is your Authority? What Part of the Bible contains your Commission? Methinks, it is but reasonable, that you should either produce it, or quit your Office? Who art thou that judgest another Man's Servant?

BUT after you have assumed the Judge's Office, pray how do you manage in that Business? Do you therein conform to the common and rational Course of judicial Proceedings, and Exam­ple of good Judges? Do you hear with Patience the Defendant's Apology for his Conduct, and examine it thoroughly, before you pass Sentence? And are you of Council to him? Do you examine all Parts of his Apology with Candour, putting a favourable Con­struction on Things that appear doubtful, as far as Reason will ad­mit, being loth to find your fellow-Creature guilty of what is criminal and dishonourable to human Nature? Farther, do you lay the Stress of your Sentence only upon Things that are plainly prov'd? (allegatis et probatis) And do you pass your Sentence of Condemnation with Grief and Reluctance, from a Principle of Justice attended with Humanity? Being willing that several guilty [Page 59] Persons should escape with Impunity, rather than that one innocent Person should suffer? For the former is only inconvenient, but the latter unjust.

ARE not every of these Particulars now mentioned, agreeable to the clearest Dictates of Reason, and plainest Maxims of Equity? And if the Conduct of any of us has been, or is disagreeable thereto, is it not condemned by both? Pray let us consider seri­ously, these few Passages of Scripture following; (Prov. xviii. 13.) He that answereth a Matter before he heareth it, it is a Folly and Shame unto him, (Ps. cxxxi. 1.) Lord my Heart is not haughty, nor mine Eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great Matters, or in things too high for me. (Jer. xvii. 9.10.) The Heart is deceitful and desparately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the Heart, I try the Reins.

IT is true, upon conversing with Mankind about divine Things, we cannot well help thinking something about the States of those with whom we converse; as to some there will be a sweet Satis­faction in our Minds, and of some others there will be Fears and Doubts: Now as there is a sinful Jealousy, which is quite with [...]ut Foundation, springs from the Corruption of our own Nature, and is contrary to the Nature of that blessed Grace of Charity, or Love which thinks no Evil; so there is a Godly Jealousy, which has some ground of Fear, at least in our Apprehension: Of this the Apostle Paul speaks, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. For I am jealous over you, with a godly Jealousy; I fear, and in the Fourth Chap­ter of his Epistle to the Galations, and Twentieth Verse we have these very remarkable Words, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my Voice, for I stand in doubt of you. I do not know what to think of you. The original Word for standing in doubt * is very emphatical and instructive; it is de­riv'd from a Particle and a Word, which signify to be in a Laby­rinth, thro' which there is no Passage; it properly relates to Bodies, but is by a Metaphor transferred to the Mind; and signifies one's being perplex'd, or in anxious suspence, doubtful, poor, wanting Council, from which he cannot extricate himself. The same Word is used Luke xxi. 25. and translated Perplexity, and upon the Earth distress of Nations, with Perplexity, the Sea and the Waves roaring. And Acts xxv. 20. it is translated doubting, And because I doubted of such Manner of Questions. Many learned Men ex­plain the Word, as I have mentioned.

HERE you may observe, the vast Difficulty that attends our Thoughts about the States of others, (some especially) and the humble Modesty and great Caution which the great Doctor [Page 60] of the Gentiles used, in expressing his: There is a vast difference between this godly Jealousy, this rational Fear, and unreasonable doubting of the Case of others, or rash Judging.

NO doubt the Reasons of this pious fear and doubting, may be either expressed publickly and generally, especially by Gospel Ministers, in the discharge of their important Trust, in the man­ner the Apostle did his; or privately and particularly to the Per­sons we are afraid of, in Case there is a rational probability of Success in so doing.

AND in Case this personal Application, is conducted with Discretion, Humility, and Meekness, and attended with that defference and respect, which the God of Order requires should be express [...] to the different Stations, Characters and Conditions of Me [...] and in Case our private fears be kept private, and not divulg [...] to the disgrace of the Characters of particular Persons, and bre [...] of the publick Peace and Union; and in Case our private fe [...] are not made the Foundation of any publick Process, or of [...] Behaviour towards them. With such Limitations, I believe i [...] our Duty to express our fears, and that it may be of Serv [...] so to do: But otherwise I believe it is sinful and dangerous [...] the Honour of God, the Peace of Society, and to the Souls of M [...]

BUT perhaps some may object, against what has been offer [...] that Passage of Scripture, (1 Cor. ii. 15.) But be that is spirits [...] judgeth all Things, yet he himself is judged of no Man.

I Answer, That the Place, rightly understood, confirms wh [...] I have said against rash-Judging.

NOW to the right Understanding of it, it is proper to observ [...] that the Apostles Scope in this Chapter, is to extol the Wisdom of God, in the mysterious Method of Man's Salvation by Chris [...] crucified, as far superior to the natural Wisdom of Man, how­beit, says he, we speak the Wisdom of God in a mystery; tho' it is wont to be esteem'd foolishness by such who are strangers to its Power and Influence, by such who have nothing but Nature and Reason to direct them, which is owing partly to the Weakness, Darkness, and Pride of the human Mind, which can­not find out this Way to Heaven by a Mediator, without Super­natural Revelation, nor esteem it when revealed outwardly, with­out divine Influence. The Mind is vainly puffed up with a con­ceit of self-sufficiency, and strongly prejudiced against Justifica­tion by the Righteousness of a MEDIATOR, by our being born under a Covenant of Works, of which disorders we are never cured until we are convinced by the Holy-Spirit, of Sin, of Righteous­ness, and of Judgment. *

[Page 61]FARTHER, Persons in a State of Nature are inclined to esteem the Mysteries of the Gospel, foolishness, partly because of the Cor­ruption of their Wills, which will not, cannot cordially comply therewith, until renew'd by the Holy-Spirit. (Joh. v. 40. Joh vi. 44.)

BUT after the Mind is illuminated, and the Will changed, it discerns great Beauty in the Gospel of the Grace of God, and great Value in the Blessings therein contain'd; highly esteems the Device therein opened; greatly admires the Wisdom of God therein display'd; heartily consents to the Terms therein required, and is pleased with the whole Plan so far as discovered to it; thus the spiritual Man judgeth, or rather as the Word should be rendered, discerneth all Things.

MOREOVER the Antithesis between the natural and spiritual Man, in the Verse I am considering, and that immediately preceeding, gives light to the labouring Point.

THE natural or animal Man, (psuchicos) one that depends wholly upon human Reason, such as were many of the Philo­sophers of the Greeks, and many of the Jews, says Grotius. The Word animal being oppos'd to spiritual, is undoubtedly the same with carnal, says Alting, Calvin, Symachus; one that follows the Conduct of the Flesh, a meer natural Man, who has nothing noble in him but a rational Soul, much degenerated, by the In­clinations of which he is governed, and not by the Spirit; one who is not regenerated. (to this Effect Piscator.)

DOES not receive or approve of the Things of God, i. e. those divine and spiritual Mysteries which exceed the Reach of human Reason, and are not known without the Revelation of the Spirit; such as the Method of Salvation by CHRIST'S Suf­ferings, and the Happiness prepared for those that love God.

THERE is, sayeth Pareus, ‘a natural Impotency in Man to know spiritual Things, partly thro' want of Light in the Mind, and partly thro' the Corruption of the Will, because spiritual Things are discerned, apprehended, and distinguished spiritually, i. e. by a spiritual Understanding and Light of Faith, or by the Influence of the Holy Spirit.’ To this pur­pose speak Beza, Piscator, Erasmus, and Arias Montanus.

BUT the spiritual Man, or regenerated Person, who is led by the Spirit, (so Piscator, Calvin, Sclaterus) judgeth all Things. The original Word (anacri [...]ei) here translated judgeth, prima­rily [Page 62] and properly signifies, to discern, apprehend, or distinguish, and so it is translated in the Verse immediately preceeding, and in many other Places of Scripture, (see Mat. xvi. 3) O ye Hypocrites ye can discern the Face of the Sky, but can ye not discern the Signs of the Times. (1 Cor. xi. 29.) Not discerning the Lord's Body. (Act. xv. 9.) and put no difference between us and them. (1 Cor. xii. 10.) to another discerning of Spirits. (Heb. v. 14) who by Reason of use have their Senses exercised to discern be­tween good and evil.

ALL THINGS. Observe it is not Persons that are represented as discerned by the spiritual Man, but Things; and the Word ALL, must be understood with that Restriction the Context leads us to, viz. All the peculiar and important Mysteries of Christianity, which are absolutely necessary to Salvation or the Method of Sal­vation by Jesus Christ, which the Apostle had been discoursing of, thro' the series of this Chapter. To understand the Word ALL in an absolute unlimited Sense, charges falsehood upon the Apostle; for we are sure that every spiritual Man, nay not one of them in this Life, understands all Things, both natural, civil and religious; and if the Word be restricted to religious Matters, yet without limitation, it is not true: Every spiritual Man understands not the whole System or Analogy of Faith, in all its Branches, and their mutual Re­lations and Dependencies. Nor do many of them understand the Chronological Difficulties of the Scriptures, or perceive the great variety of their Rethorical Charms, and Elegancies, &c. So that the true meaning of the Words, is no more than this, that the regenerated Person discerns, apprehends and distinguishes the grand peculiars of the Gospel Method of Salvation, by the Death of the SON of GOD, discerns Things that are absolutely necessary to his own Salvation, in some Measure.

BUT he himself, in the mean Time, is discerned or known cer­tainly, by none, by no Man; and hence God's People are called his hidden ones, (Psa. lxxxiii. 3.) And special Grace in them, is called the hidden Man of the Heart. (1. Pet. iii. 4.) and their Life is said to be hid with Christ in God, (Col. iii. 3.) and that the World knoweth them not. They are not only unknown to the World, who generally esteem those that are pious as Fools, wicked or miserable Persons, but even in part to themselves, because many of them feel the divine Life in them weak and doubtful, because of their inward Corruptions, because of Temptations, of the World, the Devil and the Flesh.

IT is farther observable, that pious People are sealed, (Ephes. iv. 30.) And grieve not the holy Spirit whereby ye are sealed to the Day of Redemption. (2 Cor. i. 22.) Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our Hearts. And in divers other Places God's People are represented as the sealed ones. Now e­very one knows that the Design of a Seal is not only Security and Confirmation, but Secresy also; and hence Letters are sealed up to this Purpose. And are not the pious Corinthians called the Epistle [Page 63] of CHRIST, written not with Ink, but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not in Tables of Stone, but in the fleshly Tables of their Hearts. (2 Cor. iii. 3.) not only to signify the reality and per­manency * of the good Impressions made upon them by the Apostles Ministry, thro the divine Concurrence therewith; but also the Secresy of those Impressions. The springs of Action in good Men are hid from all Men, and therefore the State of their Souls, which may said in some Sense, to be built thereupon, is certainly discerned by no Man.

But do we not read of that Gift of discerning of Spirits being given?

I Answer, Yes, we read of it in 1 Cor. xii. 10. To another the working of Miracles, to another Prophesy, to another discerning of Spirits, to another divers Kinds of Tongues. ‘This was a Power, says Pool, wherein God for the farther Authority and Credit of his Gospel, in the Primitive Times, communicated to some Men something of his own Prerogative, to discern Mens inward Thoughts and Hearts, and to make up a Judg­ment of their Truth and Sincerity; or contrawise of their Falsehood and Hypocrisy.’ This was an extraordinary and admirable faculty given even to private Men, to discover and re­prove fanatical Spirits, and false and develish Prophets, of which there were many at that Time. (1 Joh. iv. 1) And hence the false Pretender is said to be convinced of all, and judged of all, (1 Cor. xiv. 24.) or as the original Word signifies, discerned of all. But this Gift seems to have been especially given to such as pre­sided (pro tempore) among the Presbiters, who often met to judge of this Matter. (1 Cor. xiv. 29—33.) .

THIS was a miraculous Gift as well as the rest joined with it in the same Verse; so that for any to pretend to it now, when miraculous Gifts are ceased, is the vainest Vanity! Nor have we any Reason to believe their Pretences, unless they can speak with Tongues they have never learned, or unless they can speak the sick whole, and the Dead alive in an Instant, without the Use of Means.

I THINK it his highly probable, that it was by this Method of Miraculous discerning, that the Church of Ephesus try'd those, which said they were Apostles, and were not, and upon Tryal found them to be Lyars; because it was the easiest, speediest Me­thod, and did at that Time obtain in the Church.

BUT if it was not so, they doubtless try'd them by their fruits, that is by their Doctrines and Lives, say Piscator, and Beza; the Pretenders falsely said they were Apostles, immediately sent in an extraordinary Manner as Paul was: Now an excellent Method of knowing such, says Grotius, was if they privately sought after [Page 64] Money, which they pretended to contemn; then it appeared that they were such who are discrib'd, (2 Cor. xi. 13.) And found them to be Lyars, i. e. discover'd their deceits. Many false Pro­phets had gone forth, of which they had sufficient warning, (1 Tim. i. 3. Acts xx. 29, 30.) Among which were the Heritical Ebion and Cerinthus and his followers, who feign'd they had their Revelations from an Apostle of the first Rank; so Cluverus, Brightman, Pareus, and Hammond.

NOW neither of these Methods, give the least Handle for Rash-Judging. The first being Miraculous, has long since expir'd; and the last being external only, does not in the least Countenance making our Opinion, of spiritual Experience (in Particulars) a Term of Communion.

BUT does not our LORD assure us, that we may judge the Tree, by the Fruits.

I ANSWER our LORD informs us, that we may know the Tree by the Fruits, (Mat xii. 33.) Our Saviour does not propose a cer­tain, but only a probable Sign, he speaks of Things as they hap­pen generally, as Maldonate justly observes; he does not say that a bad Tree cannot become good, but that while it is bad, it cannot bring forth good Fruit. (i. e. spiritually good) a bad Tree cannot bring forth good Fruits, unless it be engrafted, and a good Tree will bring forth bad, if it be not cultivated; says Tertullian. * The Fruits CHRIST speaks of, are the Doctrines and Lives of Men, so Simachus Maldonate, Hammond

CHRIST'S memorable Negative Precept, mention'd (Mat. vii. 1, 2, 3.) strongly confirms what has been now said, Judge not that ye be not judg'd, for with what Judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and why beholdest thou the Mote, that is in thy Brothers Eye, but considerest not the Beam that is in thy own Eye.

THAT which is here forbidden, saith Pool in his Annotations, ‘is either, 1st. Rash-Judgment of his State, or a judging him for doing his Duty, such was Simons or the Disciples Judgment respecting the Woman, (Mat. xxvi. 6, 7.) Or, 2d. A Judge­ing of others, for Things, which they judge to be indifferent, forbidden. (Rom. xiv. 1, 2, 3.) Or, 3d. a Judging of them for secret Things, such as inward Habits of Grace, when no apparent Fruits to the contrary are seen, or a condemning others for single Acts, or a Publick censuring others for private failings.’

FOR with what Judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; that is, ‘the ordinary Temper of Men and Judgment of GOD, will not leave such a Practice unrewarded,’ they are generally paid in this World in their own Coin, good Measure, pressed down and runing over.

THE same worthy Author farther observes from that saying of our Saviour, And why beholdest thou the Mote that is in thy [Page 65] Brothers Eye, but considerest not the Beam that is in thine own, these Things following. ‘1. That those who are most censo­rious of others, are usually more notorious themselves, if not for the same Sins; yet for others of equal if not greater Magnitude. 2d. That it is notorious Hypocricy, to spy smaller faults in others, and not to see greater in ourselves. 3d. that is notorious Impudence, to pretend to Censure and Judge others, for Sins in which we live ourselves. 4th. That there is no such Way to teach us Charity, in not hastily, rashly, or too severely judging others, as to look first into our own Hearts and Ways, and seeing if we have not the same, or greater fail­ings. Our Charity in this Kind should begin at home.’

GIVE me leave to consider one Objection more, which is this, viz. That the denial of our Judgment about, or certain Know­ledge of Mens spiritual Experiences and gracious State by them, renders our exercising a special love towards them, impracticable, which is nevertheless a commanded Duty, and otherthrows the Communion of Saints, which we profess our belief of in the Apostles Creed.

I Answer, That the aforesaid Consequencies do not fairly and necessarily follow, because our charitable Hope concerning the good State of others, grounded on their Doctrines and Lives, is sufficient to excite our special Respect to them as Brethren, and Communion with them as such; and our conferring special Kind­ness upon them, as being of the Houshold of Faith.

WHAT our Lord asserts, (Mat. x. 41, 42.) sufficiently con­firms this; the Words are these, He that receiveth a Prophet in the Name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward; and he that receiveth a righteous Man, in the Name of a righteous Man, shall receive a righteous Man's reward: And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of those little ones, a Cup of cold Water only, in the Name of a Disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise loose his Reward.

NOW to receive them in the Name of a Prophet, Righteous Man, or Disciple, is to receive them in quality of such, or as such; not because they are rich, powerful, learned, eloquent, or re­lated to us, but because they bear the Character of Ministers of CHRIST, or religious Persons, and appear so to us, by Reason of their regular Admission into the Ministry, Doctrines and Lives; or if of a private Station, by their Principles and Practice only. Now our Lord informs us, that if we be mistaken in our charita­ble Opinion of them, and Kindness towards them, yet if we have been sincere in our Designs therein, we shall not miss a gracious and liberal Reward, even for the most minute Instances of our Generosity, if proportioned to our ability: The Lord will look upon such Kindnesses as done to himself. Thus Grotius, Mead, and Pool, interpret the aforesaid memorable Scripture.

IF it had been the Will of God, that we should have farther Grounds than I have mentioned, for the performance of the afore­said [Page 66] Duties, he would have expressed it somewhere in his Word, and enjoined us to seek after it, as well as directed us how to ma­nage so difficult and important an Affair, and given us a Capa­city equal to it, as well as some Examples (in all probability) of some pious Men that had attempted to perform this arduous Bu­siness of searching the Heart; but of these Things the Scriptures of Truth, which ought to be the Rule of all our Sentiments and Conduct in religious Matters, are entirely silent, so far as I know, excepting the Case of miraculous discerning, which I have spoke of before, and does not concern the ordinary Times and State of the Christian Church in Point of Practice. But

3. NOT only unkind Thoughts and hard Speeches should be a­voided, in order to obtain Peace of every Kind, but likewise un­just and unkind Actions.

FRAUD and Injustice, breaking of our Words, over-reaching in our Bargains, taking advantage of the Necessities of the Poor to oppress them, and grind their Faces, and all other Methods of Circumvention, the whole Mystery of Deceit, are exceeding Per­verse, but if any or all of these Things are done under a Cloak of Religion, they are much more heinous: This makes the Pro­fessors of Religion stink in the Nostrils of others, and strengthens their natural Prejudices against all Religion, O therefore let us not go beyond and defraud one another, seeing God if the avenger of all such. Some of the Pharisees were of this Stamp; for a Pretence they made long Prayers, that they might devour Widows Houses: Such accursed Practices have doubtless occasion'd that infamous Proverb, viz. That in the Name of God every Evil begins. *

BESIDES a proud, disdainful, distant Behavïour and Neglect of returning Offices of Humanity, Civility and Respect, as they be­wray unmannerliness and ill-nature, so they are prejudicial to Peace, and should therefore be avoided by all those that are desirous of it. But,

2. POSITIVELY, The following Means tending to Peace, should be carefully observed, viz.

1. KIND Thoughts of our Brothers Speeches and Actions, for Charity Thinks no Evil, and hopes all Things that are good.

2. COURTEOUS Speech, let the Law of love be in our Hearts, and the Law of Kindness in our Lips; soft Words asswage Wrath: The Wisdom that is from above, is peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated; full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality and without Hypocrisy. But bitter Envying and Strife, is a Wis­dom that descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, de­vilish.

3. IN our Actions and Behaviour, we should not only be strict­ly just to all, but charitable to the indigent, and express that Respect to every Man which his Place and Station require, hereby obeying the Command of God, in giving Honour to whom Honour [Page 67] is due. As a levelling Principle and Carriage, is contrary to all Order and Government, as well as good Manners, so its far from being a humble, self-denying Principle in People of lower Life, as is pretended by some. Clownishness is a wild freak of Enthu­siasm, Nonsense and Arrogance, but no part of the Religion of JESUS.

IT is likewise necessary to bear with Patience hard Treatment, not insisting on our Right in small Things, forgiving Offences free­ly, as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us: To this End we should consider him who endured the Contradiction of Sinners against himself, least we be weary and faint in our Minds.

BUT how should we pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Jerusalem? I Answer,

1st. HUMBLY, being sensible of GOD'S Glory and Greatness, our own Meanness and Vileness, behold I have taken upon me to speak to the Lord of Hosts, who am but Dust and Ashes, O let not the LORD be Angry: A constant Reverence of GOD'S Majesty, be­cause of his Infinite Distance from us in respect of Dignity should inspire our Minds, when we bow before his gracious Throne, to im­plore, any benefit from him for ourselves or others!

2d. SINCERELY, with a right View that GOD may be hereby glorify'd, ye ask and receive not, says the Apostle James, because ye ask amiss. As all Things are from GOD, as a creating Cause, and thro' him as a preserving and governing Cause, so all Things should be to him as a final Cause. If we have not upright Views in our Petitions, we are not like to speed; Sincerity is the Benjamin, without which our Supplications will not meet with favourable access. If even in Eating and Drinking and in every other natural, yea in all the civil Actions of our Lives, we should aim at the Glory of God, much more ought this to be in all our sacred Service. Happy, and only happy are those who are Isra­elites indeed, in whom there is no governing guile.

3. FERVENTLY. We should pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Jerusalem, with the utmost engagedness of Soul; we must be fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord, not Lukewarm and Indifferent, for such who are neither cold nor hot, the Lord Jesus will spue out of his Mouth. i. e. reject with great Abhorrence!

4. FREQUENTLY and perseveringly. O Sirs, we should often send up Sighs to GOD for Jerusalem, and plead with him to make her a Praise on the Earth; plead that Jehovah's Arm might a­wake in her behalf, as in the Days of Old; that he would Com­mand Deliverances for Jacob and speak Salvation to Israel; that he would make her Peace as a River, and her Glory as a flowing Stream; that the Time may be hastned when the Children of Juda and Israel, Brethren, unhappily disunited, shall be reunited in one Band of Affection, and external Union; shall join together in seeking the Lord their God, shall ask the Way to Zion, with their Races thither ward, and weep as they go; that the Time may be hastned, when Juda and Ephraim, being re-united in brotherly [Page 68] love, may join together in social Serviceableness, to promote the common and valuable Interests of Religion and Vertue, and thus become as one Stick in the Hand of the Lord.

AGAIN, we should pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Je­rusalem,

5. BELIVINGLY. (Mat. xxi. 22) And all Things whatsoever ye shall ask in Prayer believing, ye shall receive. O! how sweet and Soul supporting are these Words of our dear Lord! But what is it to pray beleivingly?

I ANSWER, it contains these following Particulars, viz,

1. OUR full Perswasion that what we ask is lawful, agreeable to God's revealed Will of Precept and Promise, which are the Guides of our Petitions, the Measures of our Devotion. And

2. That God is able to grant what we ask, yea able to do exceeding abundanly above what we can ask or think * We can ask a great deal, and yet our Thoughts exceed our Words: But God's Power exceeds both; for they are but finite and limit­ted; but this is infinite, incomprehensible, immense! As the Hea­vens are high above the Earth, so are God's Thoughts and Ways a­bove ours. Seeing Jehovah JESUS is Almighty in Power, and in­finite in Merit, he is able to save to the uttermost all that come to the Father by him; seeing he ever lives to make Intercession for them. (Heb. vii. 25) O! the Power of GOD is a glorious support and stay to Faith in Prayer; in all extremities; in the most dif­ficult [Page 69] arduous and gloomy Conjunctures, when all human Helps fail, and there is no Way open for escape, Omnipotence, who has an absolute Sovereignity over all Nature, and Grace, Heaven and Earth, who holds the Springs and Rule of both in his Hand, and carries the KEYS of the invisible World at his Girdle; can easily turn in a moment our deepest Darkness into the light of the Morning; the most doleful Captivity of Zion into the most agree­able Liberty, and make us like those that Dream, (compass our Deliverance so suddainly, that we can hardly for a Time think it real) yea fill our Mouth with Laughter and our Tongue with Singing upon this Occasion. (Isa. cxxvi.)

WHEN the State of the Church is reduc'd to the most deplora­ble and hopeless Extremity, like dry Bones in the open Valey, without Life, without moisture, without Motion, without Beauty, Strength, yea without Connection and Defence, open to all the Artillery of the North, and all the inclemencies of the Seasons, a pieteous gassful Spectacle indeed! Well but even in this ex­tremity, Omnipotence can easily interpose, and Cause the Dead to leap into Life, and the Bone return to his Bone, (Ezek. xxxvii.) But to proceed, praying believingly, includes our Perswasion,

3. THAT GOD is gracious and merciful, yea, Love itself, and consequently inclined to confer, yea, and that he will confer all those Benefits that are for his own Glory, and his People's Ad­vantage, in case they make their humble Suit to him in their Dis­tresses, (Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7.) And the Lord passed by before him and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in Goodness and Truth; keeping Mercy for Thousands, forgiving Iniquity, Transgression and Sin. (Is. lxiii. 15.) Look down from Heaven and behold, from the Habitation of thy Holiness, and of thy Glory, where is thy Zeal and thy Strength, the sounding of thy Bowels, and of thy Mercies towards me, are they restraind? (Hos. xi. 8.) How shall I give thee up Ephraim, how shall I deliver thee Israel, how shall I make thee as Ad­mah, how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine Heart is turn'd within me, my Repenting are kindled together. (Ps. ciii. 13.) Like as a Father pitieth his Children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. (Is. xlix. 15. 16.) Can a Woman forget her sucking Child, that she should not have Compassion on the Son of her Womb, yea, they may forget, but I will not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the Palms of my Hands, thy Walls are continually before me, mine Eye and Heart is constantly upon thee. There is an Allusion in the Words to the common Practice of Men, who put Memorials or Signets of what they tenderly regard, and would remember, upon their Hands: Thy Walls are continually before me; thy broken down ruin'd Walls, tho' not a pleasing Prospect, No! but a sorrowful Spectacle, a sable Scene, are constantly in my Thoughts, how to repair and rebuild them; the Model, the Plan of this is immova­bly fixed in my Purpose, which Providence goes Pregnant with, [Page 70] and will certainly bring to the Birth in the appointed Season, Do Zyon's Friends favour her very Dust, so doth her gracious GOD much more; her Walls are constantly under his Eye and Care: O! the tenderest Compassions of the most indulgent earthly Relations, are but as savage Cruelty, as obstinate Iron and impene­trable Adamant, compared with the BOWELS of a GOD, in CHRIST! in Covenant! For the Lord GOD is a Sun and Shield, the Lord will give Grace and Glory, and no good Thing will be withold from them that walk uprightly. (Ps. cxlv. 18.) The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in Truth. (Ps. l, 15.) Call upon me in the Day of Trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me, (Is. lxv. 24) And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will an­swer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear: Jehovah is so much inclined to Pity and Benignity, that he sometimes gives Mercies unask'd, he sometimes prevents the Prayers of his Church and People, with the Blessings of his Goodness. When David did but say, I will confess, a gracious GOD forgave! The Father of the Prodigal ran to meet him, and embraced him with open Arms, with the utmost Tenderness and Endearment, without so much as the least Mention of his former unhappy Conduct! While they are yet speaking I will hear; before they conclude their Prayer, the Blessings they implore shall b [...] [...]onferred!

AN eminent Instance of this we have in Daniel, while that pi­ous generous Prophet was passionately bewailing the desolate and melancholy Circumstances of the City and Temple of Jerusalem, whose Buildings were demolished, and whose Altars were laid waste, to the great Reproach of the Professors of Religion in that Day, as well as lamenting their Sins, as the procuring Causes of so great and general Calamities, and earnestly interceding with GOD for his favourable Smiles upon his Sanctuary, in such striking Lan­guage as this! O Lord I beseech thee, let thine Anger and thy Fury be turned away from this City Jerusalem, thy holy Moun­tain, because for our Sins; Jerusalem and thy People are become a Reproach to all that are about us: Now therefore, O, our GOD, hear the Prayer of thy Servant, and cause thy Face to shine upon thy Sanctuary, that is desolate, for the Lord's Sake, i e. rebuild it upon its antient Foundation, and repair its unhappy and perilous Breaches!

NOW while that gracious Man was yet praying, in the Manner before observed, for the Repair of the Breaches of Zyon, the re­moval of her Desolations, and the propitious Influxes of her GOD; which lay nearer to his zealous Heart, than all the civil Interests of the Nation: A gracious Grant was made of the im­portant Mercies he ask'd, and an Angel sent in haste (being cau­sed to fly swiftly) to inform him of it, before he concluded his Devotion: Which noble Messenger address'd the Prophet in this re­spectful Manner; O, Daniel, I am now come forth, to give thee Skill and Understanding; at the Beginning of thy Supplication the [Page 71] Commandment came forth; and I am come to shew thee, for thou art greatly belov'd. Hence we may note, that the ready Way to be greatly belov'd by GOD, is to be much concerned for, and laborious after Zyon's Prosperity, and the REPARING of her BREACHES, or in other Words, to pray for the Peace of Jeru­salem. But

4. PRAYING believingly, includes our relying upon GOD in CHRIST, for what we ask, our relying upon the Attributes of the divine Nature, and Promises of the divine Word, (Is. l. 10.) Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the Voice of his Servant, that walketh in Darkness, and hath no Light, let him trust in the Name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his GOD. (1 Pet. v. 7) Casting all your Care upon him, for he careth for you. (Ps. xxii. 4. 5.) Our Fathers trusted in thee, they trusted and thou didst deliver them, they cried unto thee and were delivered, they trusted in thee and were not confounded [...] (Ps. xxxi. 19.) O how great is thy Goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee, before the Sons of Men. (P. cxxv. 1.) They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zyon, which cannot be removed. (Ps. xviii. 30.) As for God his Way is perfect, the Word of the Lord is try'd, he is a Buckler to all that trust in him. (Ps. xxxiv. 21.) None of them that trust in him shall be desolate. (Ps. xxxvii. 40.) And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them and save them because they trust in him. Tho' he slay me, saith Job, yet will I trust in him. Again,

5. PRAYING beleivingly, imports our patient Expectation, in the WAY of Duty, of a gracious Answer to our Requests, and hence it is said, that he that beleiveth shall not make haste, (Is. xxviii. 16.) that is, sinful haste, to obtain his Desires, by going out of GOD'S Way. (P. xxxvii. 5, 7, 8, 9) Commit thy Way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Fr [...]t not thy self in any Ways to do Evil. (Ps. xl. 1.) I waited patiently for the Lord, and he enclined unto me, and heard my cry. The Prophet Isaiah informs us, that the Church of old, us'd this as an Argument to obtain Favour and Deliverance. (Is. xxxiii 2.) O Lord be gra­cious unto us, we have waited for thee, be thou their Arm every Morning, our Salvation also in the Time of Trouble. (Is. xxx. 18, 19.) Blessed are all they that wait for him, for the People shall dwell in Zyon, at Jerusalem, thou shalt weep no more, he will be gracious unto thee, at the Voice of thy Cry, when he shall hear it he will answer thee. (Is. viii. 17.) I will wait upon the Lord, that bideth his Face from the House of Jacob, and I will look for him. (Mic. vii. 7.) Therefore I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my Salvation, my God will hear me. (Heb. vi 19.) Which Hope we have as the Anchor of the Soul, both sure and stedfast: As the Anchor by fastening under [Page 72] Water, upon a Rock, or firm Ground, stays the Ship in a Storm, and keeps her from running upon Rocks, Sandbanks, or into the foaming Main; so Hope by fastening upon an invisible Saviour, who is the Rock of Ages, the Rock of our Salvation, stays our Souls and keeps them from running adrift into Presumption; or from being entirely overwhelmed by Despair; amidst the inume­rable Temptations and Pressures, to which we are here exposed, Hope of the right Kind, is not only firm and stable objectively, by Reason of the Foundations it is built upon, viz. the Promises of GOD, confirmed by his Oath, the compleat Satisfaction and continual prevalent Intercession of the dear Redeemer, which are impregnable, immoveable and eternal; and hence it is said to enter within the Vail: But it is also firm instrumentally, for under GOD it makes us so; this Similitude opens before us, the Difficulty Danger, and Uncertainty, of our State in this World. We are like a Ship upon the instable Element, the open Ocean tossed with Tempests, (Is. liv. 11.) subject to a variety of Vicissitudes, of Winds and Weathers, in which we need some stay and support; which the Hope or Expectation of promised (spiritual and) future Benefits affords us, yea, better in some Instances than the Anchor to the Ship, for that may be broke [...] and is some remora to the Ship's Motion, but Hope is an immortal Seed which shall never make us ashamed; this instead of obstructing quickens and animates our Course, to the P [...]rt of the heavenly Paradise; by setting the Glory thereof before us, it makes us diligent in religious Labours, in­trepid in Dangers, patient, yea, chearful in the darkest Glooms and greatest Depths of Adversity; by this we rejoice, tho' under the humblest Circumstances, and are glad tho' involv'd in the most inextricable Labyrinths, and expos'd to the greatest Calamties, Pains and Pressures▪ I say, notwithstanding of all of them, we rejoice in the Expectation of the Glory of GOD, in comparison of which exceeding great and eternal Weight of blessedness, the Sufferings of this World, which are light and but for a Moment, are not worthy to be once compared. In this calm Haven is our Hope fixed and fastened; where no Tempest can reach or Sea roll: There Beleivers after all their tossings upon this tempestuous Ocean, shall soon enjoy a calm serene, a secure Retreat from every Wind and Tempest, a sweet and eternal Rest from every Labour, which shall as far exceed all our Thoughts, Expressions and Hopes, as it does our Deserts. * The next Particular under the

[Page 73]FOURTH General Head of Discourse, comes now to be consi­dered, which was to shew why we should pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Jerusalem? Now the Reasons are these follow­ing, viz.

1. BECAUSE it is the Command of GOD, as our Text imforms us, Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee. And in the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, chap. xii. ver. 14. We are commanded to follow * Peace with all Men, and Holi­ness, and assur'd that without these we cannot see the Lord. And in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, (chap xii. ver. 17. 18.) this important Duty is again enjoyn'd, in these Words; recompence to no Man Evil, for Evil:—If it be possible, as much as lyeth in you, live peaceably with all Men. Of the same tendency are these Words of GOD, by the Apostle Peter, (1 Epistle, chap. iii. ver. 11.) Let him eschew Evil and do Good, let him seek Peace and ensue it. * And elsewhere another Apostle speaks thus, let us therefore follow after * the Things which make for Peace, and Things wherewith we may edify one another, and for Meat destroy not the Work of God.

2. TO pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, is the Spirit and Genius of true Religion, as appears from the following Places of Scripture, (Rom. viii. 6.) To be spiritually minded is Peace, i e. spiritual mindedness it not only accompanied with Peace with GOD, but disposes to Peace with Men. (Rom. xiv. 17) The Kingdom of GOD is not Meat and Drink, but Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost, i. e. the Power and Life of true Religion, consist not in circumstantial Points of Truth, and Practices dependant on them, but in real Holiness of Heart and Life, in a peaceable DISPOSITION of Soul, towards every Man, and in a cordial COMPLACENCE in the Perfections of GOD'S Na­ture, the Works of Creation, the Conduct of divine Providence, the Methods of divine Grace, and in the Good and Wellfare of all Men, whether Friends or Enemies.

THE Gospel of this Kingdom, is a Gospel of Peace, (Rom. x 15.) How beautiful are the Feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace. The Author of the Gospel is the GOD of Peace, the Ministers of the Gospel are Messengers of Peace; the Design and Tendency of the Gospel is Peace, with GOD and Man. (1 Cor. vii. 15) But GOD hath called us to Peace. (1 Cor. xiv. 33) But GOD is not the Au­thor of Confusion, but of Peace in all the Churches of the Saints, [Page 74] (Gal. v. 22.) The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace, Love, Long-suffer­ing, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, but the Works of the Flesh, are Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Envyings. (Jam. iii. 17.) The Wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of Mercy. (Jam. iii. 14, 15, 16.) But if ye have bitter Envying and Strife in your Hearts, glory not; don't boast of your Wickedness; and lie not against the Truth, this Wisdom de­scendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where Envying and Strife is, there is Confusion, and every evil Work. (1 Cor. iii. 3.) For whereas there is Envying among you, and Strife and DIVISIONS, are ye not CARNAL, and walk as Men? What is sickly and infirm, is wont to be full of Uneasiness and Complaint!* (Rom. xiii 13.) Let us walk honestly as in the Day, how; not in Strife and Envying. Has not CHRIST given us a new Command­ment, a Commandment newly inculcated, and enforced with new Arguments, and Incentives; to LOVE ONE ANTOHER; a Com­mandment which contains the Sum and Source of all the Duties required by the second Table of the Law; and is not the natu­ral and necessary Consequence of this, Love, Peace, at least in Disposition and Endeavour?

TO oppose Peace when it may be had with Safety, to the Fun­damentals in Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline, of the Religion of JESUS, is to set ourselves virtually and really, (tho' I believe not designedly) against the Authority, Spirit, and Intention of the Gospel; as well as the Example of the Author of it, and to rise up in Rebellion against the commanding Authority, of the King of the Church, which expressly and positively enjoyns all his Subjects to receive one another, as he receives them to the Glory of GOD.

3. THIS Peace and Union our dear Lord pray'd for (Joh. xvii. 11.) Holy Father keep, thro' thine own Name, those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are: i. e. that they may continue to be one among themselves, in Mind, Spirit, Agreement, Faith and Love, As we are ONE in Essence and Will. The Particle as, is not a Note of Equality, but of Simili­tude. This Prayer of our Saviour, saith Mr. Pool, in his Anno­tations, on the Place, ‘doth oblige all those who, in any Sin­cerity own Christ, to study UNION, both in Opinion and Affec­tion, and also give us Ground of Hopes, that there is a Time coming, when there shall be a greater Measure of it than we have seen in those miserably divided Times, wherein we have lived, and do yet live.’

IN Sum tne Unity here pray'd for, consists especially in these Things, viz. Design, Affection and main Principles, (which the holy Unction is promis'd to direct unto) together with an external joining into one Body mystical and visible, by one Spirit, saith the Apostle, we are all Baptiz'd into one Body, and drink into one Spirit. [Page 75] (1 Cor. xii. 13.) But speaking the Truth in Love, may grow up unto him in all Things, which is the Head even CHRIST, from whom the whole Body fitly join'd together and compacted, maketh Increase, to the edifying of itself in Love, (Eph. iv. 15, 16.) As the Church is united to CHRIST their Head, by the Spirit and Faith; so among themselves, by the Profession of fundamental Truths, and unfeign'd Love. Jerusalem is a City that is compact together.

THIS Passage of Scripture (Eph. iv. 15.16.) is so very remarka­ble, and applicable to the Subject I am discoursing upon, that I shall beg leave to consider it a little particularly,

FITLY join'd together, (sunarmologemenon, a sun con, et aro apto.) to fit the Joints of Things exactly together, to build with agreeable Proportion.

AND compacted, (sumbibaz omenon, proprie facio ut aliquis [...]at mecum, a sun cum et baino incedo, per metaphoram doceo, as­sentire cogo, ut aliquis mecum in eandem sententiam desce [...]dat,) Acts ix. 22. compelling them by force of Argument to assent, that JESUS was the CHRIST. And hence it sometimes signifies In­struction, so it is translated (1 Cor. ii. 16.) and sometimes a Union in Love, which is often the Fruit of an Agreement in Sentiment. (Col. ii. 2.)

THIS Word, saith Hammond and Grotius, seems to signify a closer Band than the former, that denotes a suitable fitting of the Parts, but this a Connecting of them together, as with Cement, or with a Peg, so firmly and straitly, that they cannot be well pull'd asunder; the Words plainly import an exact Order, suita­ble Disposition, and close Connection of the Parts, or Members among themselves, and in Consequence thereof a social Perform­ance of religious Offices.

EVERY Joint supplieth, (Pases aples tes epichregias, aple ab aptein tangere) The Word Joint is derived from a Verb that signifies to touch, and points to the Ligaments, Veins, and Nerves of the Body, by which the Members of it are join'd to the Head, and among each other, says Zanchy.

IN a Word, the visible Church, in the Verse referred to, and some preceding, is compared to a natural Body, and to a House, in which we may observe these Things.

1. THAT the Head of this mystical Body, the Foundation of this mystical Building, is JESUS CHRIST.

2. THAT the several Members of this Body, the several Parts of this Building are united to the Head, to the Foundation, and among themselves, by certain Ligaments, Joints, and Junctures.

3. THAT upon this Union depends, and by the Joints or Bands thereof are convey'd, the Church's Edification and Growth.

4. THAT the Band or Ligament of a visible Union to the Head or Foundation, is a Profession of Faith, (in Subjects ca­pable of it) and of a vital Union the Grace of Faith (Heb. x. 23.) Let us hold fast the Profession of our Faith without waver­ing, [Page 76] for he is faithful that promised. (Eph. iii. 17.) That CHRIST may dwell in your Hearts by Faith.

MOREOVER that the Bands and Ligaments of Union among themselves, are especially these,

1. TRUTH, Agreement in essential and necessary Truths, Now we beseech you Brethren by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same Things, and that there be no Divisions among you (or Schisms as it is in the Original, Chismata) but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same Mind, and in the same Judgement, (1 Cor. i. 10.)

BY Schisms, the Apostle means new Factions, Sects and Parties within the Church, whereby it is torn, Ferments promoted in its Bowels, the Affections of the People uncharitably and unreasona­bly alienated from each other, not upon the Account of Diffe­rences in Essentials of Doctrine, Worship, or Discipline, but cir­cumstantial Matters; while some gloried in this, and some in the other Patron; some carnally crying up Paul, and some Apollos, and some Cephas, to the Disparagement of each other, and the Prejudice of the Church's Peace and Union; so Calvin, Beza, Pareus, Grotius, and Symachus.

THE Conduct of the Apostle Paul upon this critical Occasion, was truly amiable, and worthy of a Minister of JESUS CHRIST, he refused their immoderate Respect, and spake DIMINUTIVELY of HIMSELF, with Design to stop the perilous CAREER of the Peo­ple, in making new Parties, Sects, and Factions, and setting him­self at the Head of one of them, he would by no Means accept of such a false Honour, to the Prejudice of CHRIST'S Kingdom, No! He abhorr'd it! He would rather be condemned and despis'd by the Corinthians, than condemned by GOD, and his own Mind; for being the Instrument of uncharitahle Schisms and Factions!

HE therefore nobly ventures his Character in the Cause of GOD, the Cause of the Church's Peace and Union, and fearlessly exposes himself to all the Fury of their Reflections, for his Fidelity to his Master: Reflections which were as unreasonable as they were well intended.

THAT blessed Man, endeavoured to stop the violent Torrent of Faction, by addressing the Corinthians in this humble Language,

BUT is CHRIST divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptiz'd in the Name of Paul? 1 Cor. i. 13. How came these Parties? There is but one CHRIRT. Did I enlist any that I baptiz'd, under my own Banner? Seeing the Head is but one, why should the Body be divided?

NOW compare the aforesaid Scriptures with what the same Apostle says Phil. iii. 15, 16. and you may easily perceive, that he urges Forbearance in lesser Things, and only proposes Essentials as Terms of Communion, the Words are these, Let us therefore as many as be perfect (i. e. sincere and grown Christians) be thus minded, and if in any Thing ye be otherwise minded, GOD shall reveal even this unto you, nevertheless whereto we have already [Page 77] attained, let us walk by the same Rule, let us mind the same Thing. But

2. ANOTHER Bond or Ligament of Union among ourselves, is Love, Ephes. iv. 15. But speaking the Truth in Love, may grow up into him in all Things, which is the Head even CHRIST. The Words are beautiful in the Original, Aletheuontes en agape, which either signifies the Sincerity or Truth of our Love, or our con­tending for Truth, in a Consistency with Love, viz. our speaking for Truth with a loving Frame of Mind, without Anger or Bit­terness, seeing the Wrath of Man works not the Righteousness of GOD. And likewise our forbearing from Love, those that differ from us in lesser Things. Truth and Love agree sweetly, in the harmonious System of the Religion of JESUS, and should they not do so in our Sentiments, Temper of Mind, and out­ward Behaviour? But to proceed, a

3d. LIGAMENT of Union with our Brethren, is Peace, and hence we are commanded to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of PEACE. Without a peaceable Temper and Behaviour, Union can neither be obtained, or long preserv'd.

TO these I may add the Observance of the Order CHRIST has instituted, and the joint or social Performance of religious Duties, which the Words joined together and compacted import, as was observed before, which Duties are of noble Tendency to promote and preserve Union among ourselves.

FROM all which I would observe, that when any of these Du­ties are neglected, the Edification and Increase of CHRIST'S Body mystical is oppos'd and marr'd.

4. THIS Peace CHRIST laid down his Life to purchase, as well as Peace with GOD, which is signified by the Commemoration of his Death, in the Ordinance of his Supper, designed to promote Love and Fellowship among the Members of his visible Church: and hence we are exhorted, to walk in Love, as CHRIST also has loved us, and given himself for us, an Offering and Sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour to GOD.

5. Are not Christian Churches agreeing in Fundamentals, the Children of the Kingdom, the visible Children of GOD, and so related to each other as Brethren; and should such quarrel together in their Way to Heaven? Does this become their Profession, their Relation, their Character, their Hopes? O do not the Enemies of Religion warm their Hands at the fire of their contentions? Do they not deride their scandalous Debates, about Matters (compa­ratively speaking) of small Moment; and are not their Prejudices against Religion altogether, hereby fatally strengthened and confirm'd?

6. Quarelling about lesser Things, much obstructs our religi­gious Progress, for it diverts our Minds from more important, de­lightful and Soul nourishing Subjects, breaks the pleasing calm of our Souls, and stirs up sinful Anger. This is so self evident a truth, that even a Belarmine acknowledg'd it, and signify'd his being [Page 78] weary of Thorny Controversies of small Moment, and his choosing to dwell upon practical Subjects, that tend to improve and de­light the Mind, and reform the Life.

7. Angry Debates, and Divisions about little Things, are aw­ful Presages of impending Judgments and Calamities. When the Sea roars and swells, it looks like an approaching Storm! The lamentable Desolation of the Protestant Churches of France, by the unparellel'd Treachery and Barbarity of the Papists, was pre­fac'd by sinful and scandalous Divisions among themselves!

Angry Debates and Divisions about Circumstantial Matters in Religion, dishonour GOD, render the Church Contemptible, make the several Members of it terrible to each other, instead of being desirable and amiable, engines of mutual Sorrow and Mischief, instead of Comfort and Benefit; and likewise Marr the publick Good, which every generous Mind has a principal regard to. For Zyon's sake says the Zealous Prophet, I will not hold my Peace, and for Jerusalems sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as Brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a Lamp that burneth; and the Gentiles shall see thy Righteousness, and all the Kings thy Glory. Alas the Conversion of Strangers from the Error of their Ways to the Wisdom of the just, is hereby un­happily prevented, for nothing Hardens and Stumbles such more, then the unchristian Contentions and Animosities of Professors; it is on this Account that our Saviour pronounceth a w [...] to the World because of Offences.

YEA my Brethren such Divisions and Contentions, tend to and wou'd certainly issue in, did not Almighty Power interpose, the utter Destruction of the visible Kingdom of Christ, upon the Earth; for as he himself who is the Wisdom of the Father, justly and ex­cellently observes; how can a House that is divided against itself stand.

BUT by Peace and Union, on the Terms before observ'd, GOD is glorify'd, in our obedience to his Precepts, and Conformity to his attributes, Religion is honoured, by a real, a visible and amiable Representation, of its peaceful, kind and beneficent Nature.

THE visible Church is strengthened, and made awful to its inveterate Enemies, its implacable opposers: Our own Minds are delighted with the most agreeable prospect and sweet Sensations; and others Benefit is thereby promoted, for being at Peace with them they are the more ready to receive our Council and Re­proofs!

BUT shou'd we join with those who we fear are Graceless?

I Answer the Terms of Church fellowship, that GOD has fix'd are soundness in the Main Doctrines of Religion, and a regular Life; a Heritick saith the Apostle after the first and second Admonition reject; him that is weak in Faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputation: Receive one another, as CHRIST has received you, to the Glory of GOD.

WHEN Persons are sound in the Fundamental Truths of Religion, [Page 79] and regular in Life, we ought to hope well of them, till they prove the contrary by their Practice; and receive them to Commu­nion, Charity thinks no Evil, and hopes all Things, that are good; whatever jealousies we may have and perhaps sinful ones, they should be kept Secret, and not divulg'd to our Neighbours Preju­dice, and far less made Terms of Communion.

THE standard of our King and Master we must buckle to, and not follow our own fickle and often partial and byass'd Fancies and Humours. The aforesaid Terms that CHRIST has fix'd are invariable and perpetual, nor can we add to them, without reflecting upon his Wisdom and Fidelity, and invading his incom­municable Royalty, without rebelliously attempting to commense Kings in his Kingdom, contrary to his Order, and robbing his Sub­jects of the Liberty, wherewith he has made them Free.

THE aforesaid Terms that Christ has fix'd may be certainly known, and therefore they are rational. But some of the novel and superstitious Terms, which some good Men have invented, tho' with a pious design, are irrational, because they cannot be cer­tainly known, unless it be suppos'd that Churches are infallible in their Determinations; a claim which the Protestants, (some Enthu­siasts excepted) have not pretended to, at least in Words; but the Bible is a stranger to such Terms of Communion. I know not one Passage in it, that proves converting Grace, or the Churches Judgment of it, to be a Term of Christian Communion of divine Appointment. If any think otherwise, let them prove it, and I will give an attentive Ear, and readily submit to their Instruction and Correction: But I humbly conceive, they will find it a hard task, without producing another Bible. *

BUT must not we adhere to our former Testimony to Conver­sion?

I Answer, Yes, and we do so by declaring our assent to the Holy Scriptures, and by maintaining our excellent Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, which open the Nature, and assert the Necessity of Conversion agreeable to the sacred Oracles.

AND as to our fallible Opinion concerning the late religious Appearances, which is a distinct Thing from the Doctrine of Conversion in general; we may and ought to maintain it, but in a consistency with Peace, Love and Charity.

THERE is a vast difference between our holding our uncertain Opinion concerning the reality of this or that Instance of Conver­sion, and our imposing it upon others as a Term of Communion, either Ministerial or Christian. Such as are for imposing their private Opinion about Matters of Liberty, which they cannot cer­tainly [Page 80] know, of which Kind particular Instances of a Work of Conversion in any (in our Times) undoubtedly are, as a Term of Church Fellowship, refusing to join with them in Communion, until they be of their Sentiment; should either produce their Charter from the Holy-Scriptures, for such an extraordinary claim of Power, for such an unprecedented kind of Proceeding, or at least be silent, if they are not free to do what perhaps they urge upon others, viz. to confess their Error in Principle, and Indiscretion in Practice.

IF they can't prove a Difference of Opinion from theirs, respect­ing some Instances of a Work of Coversion (for more or less don't alter the Kind) in others of our Times, and since the first Ages of Christianity, to be a fundamental Article of Religion, their Cause is entirely lost: And if they can, Fundamentals are built upon a very precarious Bottom indeed; and how to distin­guish between such Fundamentals and Circumstantials, is I confess vastly beyond the Reach of my Understanding: At this rate of Proceeding, the Number of fundamental Articles, will encrease or change every Age; for every Man's Conversion, with all its Circumstances, makes one of the Number: If this Method be followed, shall we not have a goodly Multitude of Fundamentals? Our Confession of Faith will swell to a bulk much superior to the late Universal History, twenty Volumns of which have been al­ready printed, and a great Part left yet undone.

IN short, such a Sentiment seems to me to be equally contrary to Scripture, Reason, Antiquity, and the Peace and Union of the Churches of CHRIST.

INASMUCH as good Men may and do differ in Opinion about such uncertain Things. Witness the Messrs. the Erskines and their followers, with others that might be mentioned. To make them Terms of Communion, will oblige us to cast out of Church Fellowship, those that are sound in the main Doctrines of Reli­gion, and regular in Life, whom CHRIST commands us to re­ceive; and therefore it directly opposes his Authority. Besides as it is an Addition to the Terms which the KING of the Church has fix'd, it is an Invasion of his Royalty, and an Infringement upon our Brothers Liberty.

IS it not unreasonable to make that a Term of Communion which we cannot certainly know, for hereby such as should be re­ceived are in Danger of being rejected, as CHRIST himself ob­serves in his Parable of the Tares.

WHAT Church from the Foundation of the World to the pre­sent Times, ever made the open acknowledgment of some Mens Judgments, concerning the reality of some Instances of Conver­sion, carried on in their Times, without the Testimony of Mira­cles, a Term of Ministerial Communion. I confess I know of no Instance of this kind, in Scripture, or History.

AND seeing in a Case of such uncertainty, as Mens Judgment of gracious Experiences of others, good Men are apt to be of [Page 81] contrary Sentiments, because of their different Degrees of Know­ledge, different Experiences in some Things, different Tryals, By­asses, and natural Tempers, it has a direct Tendency to alienate their Affections from each other, and so disturb the Churches Peace, weaken her mutual Love, and break her social Union, and con­sequently tear the seemless Coat of CHRIIT into an infinite Num­ [...]er of Parts; Yea and prevent a desirable re-union, after un­happy Breaches, it is a schismatical Evil, pregnant with danger­ous Divisions, and manifold Mischiefs of hideous forms and ma­ [...]ignant Influence. The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, [...]ounsels with great Seriousness, Christians to shun the Abettors of [...]uch Evils, in the following Language, Now I beseech you Brethren, mark them which cause Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doc­trine which ye have learned, and avoid them, for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ. And in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he writes thus, for ye are yet Carnal, whereas there is among you Envying and Strife, and Divisions; are ye not carnal and walk as Men? Against this Evil he observes, that there should be no Schism in the Body, but the Members should have the same Care one for another. Now ye are the Body of Christ and Members in particular. Union is the Strength, the Beauty and Glory of the visible Church, unita viz fortior; but Division covers it with Scandal, and renders it weak and contemptible.

IF it be a commanded Duty to pray for the Peace of Je­rusalem, to long for it, to pursue after it, with Vehe­mence, rejoice in its Approaches, and to bewail its Absence; it must needs be a great Iniquity to fly from it, as if it were a Buck-bear, to reject the Offers of it upon reasonable Terms, to be grieved for and frightned at its approaches, as if it were an Enemy, and pleased with its Distance: This shews a distorted Judgment and distemper'd Heart: This Religion, or rather mis­guided and ill-temper'd Zeal, and severe narrowness of Soul, is directly contrary to right Reason and to the Christian Revela­tion; Contrary to all social Offices, and every valuable Interest of Society. Alas its pitty that any who are sincere in Heart, should have such contracted, gloomy, and irregular Views of Things! May it please the GOD of Mercy, Love and Peace, to in­struct, enlighten and reclaim them, and soften their well meant Rigours, and untam'd Fierceness into Gentleness and Love!

But how can those who have offended be receiv'd to Commu­nion, without a confession of their fault? I Answer Confession is two-fold, eitheir virtual or express, a virtual Confession of Sin is a Reformation from Sin, this necessarily supposes a sight of Sin and Sorrow for it, in Cases of a moral Nature. But express and publick Acknowledgment in Words is not always necessary; it is enough in some Circumstances of the Church, to have Re­formation, which is the End thereof: We have this Power, (viz. of Government) to Edification and not to Destruction, says the Apostle. Discipline is designed for the good, and building up of [Page 82] the visible Church, and therefore it must be administred in such a way as tends to promote it, in such a Way as is suited to its or­dinary and extraordinary Circumstances. Reformation implies a real Confession, which is much better than a verbal one, for it cannot be reasonably suppos'd, that one will of his own accord reform from an Evil which he sees not the Danger of.

TO imagine that our Lord by the Discipline he has instituted, always requires an open and explicit Confession of Faults, even of a moral Nature, not only in a Church formed and established, but even in a Church forming, or in its Infancy, or in a broken and divided State; prejudiced against each other by mutual Conten­tions and angry Debates, even after there is a Reformation and Disposition to be at Peace upon equitable and honourable Terms, seems to make Discipline an Enemy to Christ's Kingdom, a mis­chievous Engine to destroy what it was designed to promote: I cannot be easily induced to imagine, that the [...]l-wise and gra­cious Redeemer, would ever communicate to his Churches such an irrational and pernicious plan of Government, which they had better be without altogether, O! No. There is an amiable Harmony in all divine Truths, in all divine Institutions, a noble moral Tendency to answer their Design, the Glory of GOD and good of Mankind.

EXCELLENT Mr. Durham, one of the most pious, judicious and calm Divines of the Scotish Nation, fully confirms what I have been now observing, in his truly valuable Treatise of Scandal, a Book well worthy of our serious perusal.

BUT as to Offences in Conduct, occasioned by different Senti­ments in Circumstantials, the Case is still more plain, that urging of acknowledgments, when Controversies between the contending Parties are dropt, is unreasonable and unjust, not only in an Infant and broken State of the Church, but even in a Church united and form'd; the Reason is, because it implies our imposing upon o­thers our Sentiments in Matters comparitively doubtful, contrary to the Command of GOD, which obliges us to receive the Weak, or those that err in Circumstantials only, but not to doubtful Dis­putations; what Christ has left free, we should leave so too.

AND it is also contrary to the Apostles Practice, in Relation to the Jewish and Gentile Christians, who contended about Days and Meats to that degree of ungoverned, unchristian fierceness, that they condemned one another, and were inclined to unchurch each other. Now did the Apostle encourage their rashness and severity, and advise them to insist upon mutual open Acknowledgments of their faults, in order to Love and Union; No, by no means▪ He understood the Nature and Design of Church Government better than by unreasonable rigour and harshness, to blow up the Churches Peace, Beauty and Strength.

OR did he desire the Gentiles, who were in the Right as to the Points in Debate, to insist upon the Jews acknowledgment, or wait till the Jewish Christians came and made Proposals of Peace; [Page 83] No. Instead hereof, he expresly enjoins them to receive the weak. He was so far from the Severity mentioned, that he did not say explicitly which Party was in the Right, or which was in the wrong, as to the Matters they contended about; but made charitable Apologies for both, as to their States towards God, and their pious Designs in contrary Practices, respecting the Mat­ters then controverted among them, He that regardeth the Day, regardeth it unto the Lord; he that regardeth not the Day to the Lord, he doth not regard it.

IN the mean Time he reproved them smartly for their sinful judging of each other, and well he might: for that God pro­voking, Church rending Iniquity, was unspeakably worse than a m [...]stake in Opinion about the Points controverted among them. Let not him that eateth, saith he, despise him that eateth not; who art thou that judgeth another Man's Servant? Why dost thou judge thy Brother? and why dost thou set at nought thy Brother? for we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ: Let us not therefore Judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no Man put a stumbling [...]lock, or occasion to fall, in his Bro­thers Way. O blessed Advise, well worthy of an Apostle, well becoming the genius of Christianity and Dictates of right Reason.

PEOPLE must be plainly told the evil and danger of this hor­rible impiety of rash-judging, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear; even tho a necessary corosive should, thro' their unrelenting obstinacy, aggravate the Disease to appearance, and make it rage for a time with more fury and fierceness against the friendly Hands who run the risk of their Reputation in of­fering a Medicine for its Cure.

RASH-JUDING, Sirs, of Mens States and Designs in general, and more especially about Things of a circumstantial Nature, is like a train of Gun-powder, which tends to blow up the Churches Peace, Unity, Beauty, Comfort, Order, and Usefulness, at one dismal blast.

TO divert the aforesaid contending Parties herefrom, the A­postle informs them, that the Nature and Power of true Religion, did not consist in any Sentiments and Controversies about Matters of small Moment. The Kingdom of God is not Meat and Drink, sayeth he, but Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost. He that in these Things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and ap­proved of Men. (see Rom. xiv) i. e. If we are agreed in main Points of Doctrine, Worship and Discipline, and are Holy in Heart and Life, peaceable in Disposition and Behaviour, and have spiri­tual Complacence in GOD thro' a Mediator, Jehovah will justify our Persons and Conduct, and Men of Piety, Judgment, Can [...]or and good Temper, who are not under the sinful byass of Tempta­tion and Party-Zeal, will have charity for our Pers [...]n, and be pleased with our honest Attempts for God, and the [...] of his visible Kingdom.

[Page 84]BUT to proceed, That the noble designs of Peace and Union might he carried on among them, he advises them to beware of hurting their Brethren in their best Interests, thro' want of Forbearance and Condescension in smaller Matters, for Meat de­stroy not the Work of God: And likewise counsels them, especi­ally in Times of Temptation and Debate, (which was the Case of those he spoke to) to keep their Opinion about Circumstantials to themselves, and be satisfied with the Liberty of enjoying their own Judgment; hast thou Faith, have it to thyself before God; let every Man be fully perswaded in his own Mind. O! how far was this blessed Apostle from a quarelsom, imposing Temper, in respect of Circumstantials, or lesser Matters in Religion. *

BUT perhaps it will be objected, that what has been now said is not pertinent to the Controversy of the Times.

I Answer, Why so? What is it that is disputed? Is it the ne­cessity of Conversion to God, in order to Salvation? No. That is freely acknowledged upon both sides of the Question.

IS it the Nature of Conversion propos'd in the Scriptures of Truth, and in our excellent Confession of Faith agreeable thereto? No! For that is likewise acknowledged by both the contending Parties.

IS it the Marks and Signs of Conversion mentioned in the Scrip­tures? No! For these are also confessed by Persons of both Sides.

IS it the reality of those Instances of Conversion contained in the Bible? No! The divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, is equally asserted by both the Parties in Controversy.

IS it whither some have not been converted, in the successive Ages of the Christian Church, from the Apostle's Times to the present Day, and whether some have not been converted in this Age, and in this Part of the World, and whether Good has not been done, and some effectually changed to all Appearance during the late Revival of Religion? No! For these Things are also acknowledged.

WHAT is it then that is controverted? Why our Opinion res­pecting the religious Experiences of some in the late Times, and con­cerning the Number of such; it has been disputed, whether those Experiences were of a saving Kind, and whether the Number was so great, as is concluded by some.

AND is our OPINION concerning what we cannot certainly know, a great Matter think ye? Or are we infallible in our Judgment my Brethren, about these Things that are hid from the View of all Mortals? If not, why is all [...] Heat and Flame [Page 85] about Uncertainties? But if we were infallible, a Claim which be­longs to none of the Sons of Adam, and which none of us has the Vanity to pretend to in WORDS: Yet unless we could give that Gift to others, that differ from us in some Circumstantials; I see no Reason for severe Censure upon them, for indecent and un­governable Heats against them!

DON'T let big Words, my Brethren, unexplained and undistin­guish'd, frighten you into a Panick of groundless Fear, or raise you into a Ferment of sinful Anger; for Passion is a blind Guide, DECEIT lurks in Generals, nor does our Anger work the Righte­ousness of GOD. Remember the just Rebuke, which the Meek and loving JESUS gave to his Disciples James and John, for their fiery furious Zeal against the Samaritans, for treating their Master ill, ye know not, saith CHRIST, what manner of Spirit ye are of, as if he had said, you are not sensible what Wickedness is in your Dis­position and Temper, how much Pride, Peevishness, Passion, Preju­dice, and personal Revenge is covered under and mixed with your real honest Zeal for your Master's Honour! The Son of Man is not come to destroy Men's Lives, but to save them; my Religion is to be propagated by Love and Condescension, by Gentleness and Sweet­ness, and all the amiable Methods of Endearment, not by Force and Bitterness, by Fire, Fury, and Blood; I came to slay all En­mities of every Kind and Form, not to animate and encrease them, under any Pretext whatsoever. Now Sirs, examine the Matter calmly, and let sober Reason touch the Point in Debate, and that which appears like a huge Mount [...]in, when beheld at a Distance transiently and confusedly, will shrink exceedingly; I had almost said into a Mole-hill, but I forbear.—It does certainly shrink into a Circumstantial, and that is enough.

BE it supposed and asserted, that the late Revival of Religion had in divers Instances I mean of Individuals, all the external Signs of a divine Original; yet can it be safely said, that these Signs are certain and infallible, or equally evident to all that are pious? And can no charitable Apology be reasonably made concern­ing the Mistakes of good Men. Are not even such liable in Times of great Temptation, to the corrupt but insensible Byass's of Pre­judice and Passion? Pray was there nothing of the carnal Corin­thian Disease among us, in the late Times? Were not some too highly extoll'd, and others depressed too low?

NO doubt different Degrees of Love, may and ought to be en­tertained towards Men, according to the different Degrees of their Knowledge, apparent Goodness and Usefulness; but in the mean Time none ought to be IDOLIZ'D upon the one H [...]nd, nor should any be SLIGHTED and dis [...]uraged on the other: For Extreams both ways are dangerous, and of f [...]al the Peace of the Church, and to [...] Souls o [...] Men. Respect [...]ou [...]d be shewn to the ministerial Character in all [...]se [...] ha [...] been regularly introduced [...]to the Min [...]y. Such wh [...] [...] so [...]nd in the main Pr [...]nciples of Religion, and [...] in Life, [...] be ho­noured [Page 86] for their Work's sake, their Office sake, nor should any be condemned positively as to the State of their Souls, who have the aforesaid Fruits or Evidences of Religion, which are the only cer­tain Scriptural Standards of our fixed Sentiments concerning Men, and publick Proceedings towards them.

WAS there no rash Judging in the late Times on both Sides the Question? None that had religious Impressions and lost them, and turn'd to open Prophaness, or dangerous Errors and Delusions? Was there nothing extraordinary in the bodily Commotions of some which give some Occasion of Prejudice? Were there no Irregularities and Indiscretions in no Part of the Country? No false Reports spread of Persons and Things? Well, if there was any Truth in any or all of these Particulars, why may it not be supposed, that some good Men might be led insensibly thro' a secret wrong Byass of Prejudice, to mistake in Opinion concerning the aforesaid In­stances of Conversion, and of Consequence to speak and act agree­able to that Mistake?

IN a Word, Sirs, the controverted POINT is either fundamental or circumstantial, I know of no Medium, now chuse which ye will, if you say that it is a fundamental, you consequently say that the holy Scriptures are imperfect, for they want this Fundamental, there's not a Word of it in the Bible: The Scriptures declare of themselves that they are perfect, and able to make the Man of GOD so, but how can they be perfect if they want a fundamen­tal Article? Can a House be said to be perfect that wants a Part of its Foundation, or an impo [...]nt Piece of the Building very near to it? And does not this Opinion bear hard upon our excellent Westminster Confession of Faith, as if it was deficient in Fundamen­tals, for it has nothing of this in it.

IF you say it is a circumstantial Point, you have no Right to im­pose it upon others, no Reason for your irregular Ferments of Party-Zeal, Prejudice and Censure!

DOES it not agree with that Pride, Resentment, and immoderate Self-love which we are all by Nature deeply tainted with? To cry out with much Heat, against others Mistakes and Faults in lesser Matters, and vehemently urge their being brought to the Stool of Repentance for them, as if it was a Fundamental in Christianity, while in the mean Time we are either ignorant of our own, or very hard to be convinced of them, and unwilling to acknowledge them? Is this right, is it commendable? On the contrary, does not the Word of GOD recommend Mercy, and Charity towards others, and a whole­some Severity towards ourselves? and does not the true Spirit of the Gospel, the real Temper of sincere Christianity as far as we are possess'd of it, incline us proportionally hereto? O, it's pity that the Eye that sees others should not see itself!

MOREOVER, I must in Justice add to what has been offered, that the Reverend Brethren, who cast us out of Synodical Com­munion, do deny the Charge of ‘endeavouring to prejudice People against the Work of GOD'S Power and Grace, in the [Page 87] Conversion of Sinners, wherever there were any hopeful Ap­pearances of it.’ Mr. John Thomson, in their Name, observes upon this Head as follows,

‘IT is true, there are some Things in our Brethren's Conduct, which we cannot but condemn; and have condemned and spoken against both in private and publick; and some Things also which are the frequent Effects of their Preaching on many of their Hearers, which we cannot so highly esteem of, as both they and their Admirers do.’ Among which he mentions crying out aloud in the midst of the Congregation, in the Time of pub­lick Worship; and others falling down half dead, or working like Persons in Convulsion Fits. And in another Paragraph, he speaks in the following candid charitable Strain, to the Honour of the late Revival of Religion, as well as the Honour of the Mini­sters he opposed, ‘It is true, since our Brethren have thus intine­rated, there are, as I am informed and partly know, a great many who are stirred up to have more serious Thoughts about their Soul's Concerns than ever they had before; which is a Thing truly to be rejoiced in; and many, it's said, are much re­formed, in several Particulars of moral Practice, which also is just Matter of Satisfaction; may the Lord grant that it may be more and more so.’ And elsewhere he speaks in the following Christian-like humble Strain, ‘As to the general Complaint which Mr. Blair in his Introduction makes, concerning the low State of Religion, and experimental Godliness, and the Influence which the Negligence and Remisness, of Ministers in the Du­ties of their Office and Station, have upon the same, I acknow­ledge that I believe there is too much Ground for it; and that it is just Matter of Mourning and Lamentation, to all who have the Welfare of Zyon, and Prosperity of Souls at their Heart; yea, I am firmly persuaded, that our Barrenness and Fuitlessness under the Means of Grace, the Decay of vital Godliness in both Ministers and People, our too great Ease and Contented­ness with a lifeless, lukewarm Orthodoxy of Profession, is one principal Evil whereby our GOD hath been provoked against us, to suffer us to fall into such Divisions and Confusions, as we are now visibly involv'd in. And O, that the Lord, by his holy Spirit, would send a Reviving to his own Work in the Hearts and Lives of both Ministers and People. In another Part of the same Book he speaks thus, ‘However, we rejoice that the great GOD, who over rules all Events for his own Glory, and the Good of his Church, doth make the Gospel preach'd by these Brethren, effectual in many, to stir them up to a more serious Consideration of their Soul-Concerns, than ever before. I also hope that our gracious Lord will give us, who are in the Mini­stry, Grace to observe and obey his Voice by his Providence to us, to search and try our Ways, and turn again unto the Lord; to search out our own real Faults and short comings, in our Christian and Ministerial Capacity, and to study Repentance [Page 88] and Reformation, as there is great Need we should; the gene­ral Lifelesness and Lukewarmness of the present Age, no doubt hath had too much Place with us, and Influence upon us, may the Lord teach us now to hear the rod, and who hath appointed it, and without delay to obey his Call to us thereby.* And in Page 119. he saith, 'Whatever be the instrumental or inferior Cause of this our confus'd di­vided, melancholy Condition; we may be sure the Lord is pleading a Controversy with us; we certainly have offended and provok'd him to anger against us, and so to suffer a Spirit of DIVISION and DISCORD to get footing among us.’ And having made mention of several prevailing Evils, he says, ‘Nei­ther is it to be doubted, but that we who are in the Ministry, are in no small Degree justly chargeable with the Guilt of these Evils, on various Accounts; by our personal Guilt of those a­bounding Sins; by our not bearing Testimony against them with that Zeal the Case requires, both doctrinarily and in a disciplinary Way; by our not mourning over them, and la­menting with due sorrow of Heart before the Lord; by our too lax and untender walk in our own private Conversation; by our being too Carnal in our conversing with our People and one another.—And farther I think it not unlikely that God in his infinite Wisdom, hath permitted our Brethren, who appear to be so MUCH MORE ZEALOUS then WE for carrying on a WORK of CONVERSION—which they apprehend is wholly ne­glected by us, as it is indeed too much, to be Instruments in the Lord's Hands to chastise us for our neglects and short comings.’

NOW seeing the Reverend Mr. John Thomson appeared as the Appologist of the present SYNOD of Philadelphia, it may be rea­sonably presum'd, that he speaks the Mind of at least the gene­rality of that Body; and therefore it is evident from the afore­said Passages, that they were far from opposing (with Design) the late REVIVAL of RELIGION; that on the contrary they expresly ACKNOWLEDGED it, REJOYC'D in it, and PRAY'D for its INCREASE; yea and in several Instances as HUMBLY as PUB­LICKLY ACKNOWLEDG'D their own Imperfections in Rela­tion to the present Debate. Do not the aforesaid Passages, breath the candid and humble Spirit of sincere Christianity? Why therefore is this string of Acknowledgment so much har­ped upon? Pray have we done in this as much as our Bre­thren? Or are we forsooth absolutely Perfect and Infallible even in a Time of Temptation and Debate? For my own Part, I must declare my utter abhorrence of inflexible Stifness in our own Justification in every Thing in so perplexing a Contro­versy, of so long Continuance, as well as of unrelenting Ri­gours and Severities against our Brethren.

O that the God of Peace and Love would in Mercy give us all [Page 89] such a pacifick Temper, as the very Reverend Dr. Bates ascribes to excellent Mr. Baxter in his Funeral Sermon, in the following Words, ‘His pacifick Spirit was a clear Character of his being a Child of God. How ardently he endeavour'd to cement the Breaches among us, which others widen and keep open, is pub­lickly known. He said to a Friend, I can as willingly be a Martyr for LOVE as for any Article of the Creed. 'Tis strange to astonishment, saith the Doctor, that those who agree in the substantial and great Points of the reform'd Religion, and are of differing Sentiments only in Things not so clear, nor of that moment as these wherein they consent, should still be oppo­site Parties. Methinks the Remembrance how our Divisions lately expos'd us to our watchful Adversary, and were almost fatal to the Interest of Religion, should conciliate our Affections. Our common Danger and common Deliverance should prepare our Spirits for a sincere and firm Union. Integrity, with Charity, would remove those Things that have so long disunited us.’ What Dr. Bates observes, is agreable to that excellent Maxim, in necessariis unitas, in non necessariis Libertas, in omnibus charitas. In fundamentals Unity, in circumstantials Liberty, and in all Things Charity. O its pity that this does not universally obtain among the Children of Men!

BUT are we not enjoined to turn away from those that have Form of Godliness, but deny the Power thereof, (2 Tim. iii. 5.)

I answer, those whom the Apostle advises Timothy to turn away from, were both prophane in Practice, and heretical in Sentiment: for thus he describes them in the Context, covetouus, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to Parents, unthankful, unholy, with­out natural Affection, (aspondei make bates) such as will be held by no Bonds, or rather as the Word is translated, Rom. i. 31. im­placable, Men so full of Malice, that they will admit of no Terms of Peace. False Accusers, (Diaboloi DEVILS, for so the Word signifies) incontinent, FIERCE, and despisers of them that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of Pleasure, more than lovers of GOD: Men of corrupt Minds, roprobate concerning the Faith.

BUT, why then are they said to have a Form of Godliness? (Morphosin) a Mask or Visor.

I answer, they had in it Speech in Pretence, but not in Practice or Power; they pretended to a right Way of worshipping GOD, and to be the only true Church; and this was all: And therefore ac­cording to the Rules of the Gospel, they were not fit Per­sons to associate with.

BUT was not the Prophet enjoined to take forth the Precious from the Vile?

ANSWER, Yes: That is, saith Pool, ‘He was to separate the precious Truths of GOD, from the vile Conceits of Men; or rather to preach so, as to distinguish good and bad Men from one another.’ To the same Purpose speaks Mr. Henry, in his Anno­tations, ‘That the Good and Bad should be distinguished in our [Page 90] Preaching, not by their Names, but by their Characters, and each have his proper Portion given him.’ To the like Effect speak Piscator and Calvin.

WHEN there is a Breach of Union in a Society, should not that Party that is most in the right, tarry, till the other sue for Peace?

I answer with Mr. Durham, No: The more they are in the Right, and the less Need they have of Peace upon their own ac­count, the more self-denying and noble are their innocent humble Condescentions, their early and earnest Suits for Peace and Union for GOD'S sake, and for his Kingdom's sake, and not for their own! The Religion of JESUS, is not a business of Pride, of State, or Stoutness, (that hangs on haughty Ceremony) but of Humility and Self-denial; the more of these Graces we have, and exercise, the more we imitate the blessed IMANUEL, and the more we partake of, and express the Spirit of his Religion, and conform to its important aad truly noble Design. Surely as Solomon observes, It is a Glory to pass over a Transgression, but for Men to search their own Glory, it not Glory. He that hath no Rule over his own Spirit, is like a City that is broken down, and without Walls, but he that is stow to Anger is better than the Mighty; and he that ruleth his Spirit, than he that taketh a City.

IF it be said, that there is no Necessity of this Peace and Union, we are well enough as we are.

I answer, that there is always a Necessity of Obedience to GOD'S commanding Authority, nor are we ever well, but while we endea­vour to comply therewith. Now is it not the Command of GOD, that we should pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, and keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace? If we should keep Unity when we have it, should not we labour to recover it when it is lost?

BUT perhaps some may object, to this Purpose, that to join with a Company of dead Men, is the ready way to make us deader than we are.

ANSWER, It is cruel and censorious Judging, to condemn the States of those we know not; and to condemn positively and openly the spiritual States of such as are sound in fundamental Doctrines, and regular in Life. The Way to obtain quickning Grace, is the Path of Duty, and not the scandalous Practice of that God-provoking and Church-rendring Iniquity RASH-JUDGING, this may quicken indeed, but not to any Thing that is good: but to Back-biting, Slandering, Wrath, Malignity, and all Manner of Mischief! O! that a gracious GOD would open the Eyes of the Children of Men, to see the inexpressible Baseness and Horrors of this detestable IMPIETY, that is pregnant with inumerable Evils!

AGAIN, it may be objected, that we are enjoined in divers Places of Scripture, to beware of Wolves in Sheep's cloathing, of Dogs, of Foxes, &c.

I answer, these Places, and others of like tendency, if they are strictly examined, together with the Context, where they are [Page 91] they will be found to respect in my OPINION, primarily, princi­pally and directly erroneous and heretical Teachers, such may be known, and such should be with Care avoided; but to separate from such as are sound in essential and necessary Articles, of Faith, regular in Life, and edifying in their Ministry, meerly or only be­cause they differ from us in some circumstantial Points which they do not impose, or are judg'd by us to be unregenerate, is uncha­ritable, unscriptural, and of dangerous Tendency! As this Prac­tice wants a divine Warrant, so it puts the Peace and Union of the visible Church of CHRIST, upon a very uncertain and pre­carious Bottom, and opens a Door to inumerable mischevious and scandalous Rents and Divisions! And if it be sinful to make a Breach on such a Foundation, (which has been ever my Opinion, tho' now I confess, thro' GOD'S Mercy, I have a more distinct and enlarged View of the Case than formerly,) it must needs be so to keep up the Breach, to neglect or refuse reasonable Over­tures of Peace, upon such a Foundation.

IF it be farther said, that the Church is now in a cold declining State, and that when there was more Liveliness, and more Good done, no Proposals of Peace or Union were made, nor was there any Prospect of it.

I answer, the Church is now in its ordinary State, in which Men being calm, can best examine and judge concerning the Doctrines of Religion, altho' not so many are alarmed out of their Security, as some Time since, yet thro' divine Goodness, some are awakened and to Appearance converted; and the Body of CHRIST is edify'd, for which there is great Cause of Thankfulness. We are not wont to think it a bad Year, in temporal Respects, because we have not such an extraordinary Harvest, as in the seven plenteous Years in Egypt, when the Earth brought forth by Handfuls, or as the Jews had every sixth Year in Canaan, when thro' the sur­prizing Blessing of GOD, the Earth brought forth Fruit sufficient for three Years.

SOME Years past, the Church in this American Wilderness, was in an extraordinary Situation, by Reason of a very uncommon Effusion of divine Influence, in the Conviction, and Conversion of Sinners, (to all Appearance) in much greater Numbers than what is usual, but the Ignorance of some, and corru [...]t Passions of others, mixing therewith, cast a Cloud over the blessed Work of GOD, and were at least the Occasion of Offence and Stumbling to some (which if they had more PATIENTLY ENDURED, for a Time, would probably have prevented unhappy Consequences,) These Things together with some difference of Sentiment about lesser Matters and warm Disputes pro and con respecting them, raised the Fer­ment so high, that it was to no Purpose, to make Proposals of Peace, speedily after the Rupture, till the Minds of the contend­ing Parties, became more calm, and took more Time to reflect upon, and examine Matters with more Impartiality and Exactness.

FARTHER, there was as hopeful Appearances, of ministerial [Page 92] Success before the Breach, as after, and this is certain, that Breaches of Communion, being carnal, have no Tendency to Success or any Good.

IF the Objection could be prov'd, which I believe cannot, yet it would conclude nothing: The variable Frames of Men's Minds, and Successes of their Labours, which a Sovereign GOD dispenses with infinite variety, can be no Rule of Action to us, to the Law and to the Testimony.—Duty is ours, but Events are GOD'S.

SUCCESS in a great degree, will not prove those that have it to be right in all their Sentiments, and Conduct respecting lesser Things. No! a gra [...]ious GOD often overlooks, as it were Mis­takes in Opinion in such Matters, and many Imperfections in his poor Servants, who are in the Main upright before him, and blesses their Labours notwithstanding; to deny this is to ascribe Success to one Sect or Party only, which is exceeding uncharitable: This enthusiastical Argument which I am now opposing, shews a want of better, and therefore manifests the Badness of the Cause for which it is produc'd.

IF there is not so much Appearance of Zeal among Professors at present, as formerly, yet I trust it has this valuable superior advantage, viz. that it is more [...]ing, at least in some and better tempered with Humility, Meek [...]ss and Love. Is [...] a lit [...]le grain of solid Gold preferable to a great lump of Brass, that has some mixture of Gold in it, notwithstanding its superior bulk and showy Appearance! Much Ignorance and wild-fire, much un­merciful rashness and severity sometimes attend the Zeal of young Converts, who are Ignorant and of a passionate Temper, which it is a favour to be delivered from, thro' farther acquaintance with ourselves, by a variety of Tryals, outward and inward. Nor is it any Argument of coldness or decays in Religion, to have that fiery, furious fierceness against others, softned and qualified with Charity, Meekness and Mercy; but of the Contrary, namely, of real advances in true Holiness, whatever its misguided vo­taries pretend to the Contrary notwithstanding.

BUT if we are in any Measure grown cold, the best way to obtain quickning, is to obey the blessed GOD in praying and striv­ing, as much as in us lies, for the Peace of Jerusalem. The Path of Peace and Love, so far as is consistent with essential and necessary Truths, is certainly the Way which God himself has chaulk'd out, to obtain that quickning which is of the right Kind.

BUT does not our joining with those that hold circumstantial Errors, imply our Approbation of them?

I Answer, No, by no means! No more than our joining with imperfect People, infers our approving all their Imperfections. For if the Case was so, it would be altogether sinful to unite into a Church State, because all are imperfect, there is no Man that liveth and sineth not, but that God who cannot look upon Sin but with abhorrence has appointed a Union in Churches and therefore the other is false.

[Page 93]BESIDES the Almighty commands us to receive the Weak, as I have before observed, or such as Err only in Circumstantials. Now if our joining with them in Church fellowship, necessarily included, our Approbation of their Errors, then it would follow, that the GOD of Truth commanded us to approve of Error, which is impossible and blasphemous. No our joining with them only shews, our mutual Agreement in essential and necessary Ar­ticles, and our Charity for them, as Children of the Kingdom, or rightful Members of the visible Church.

IT may be again objected, that Paul being beaten publickly by the Magistrates, uncondemn'd declined to go out of the Prison privately, till they came and fetched him, (Act. xvi. 37.)

I Answer, That in Order to understand this Scripture aright, it should be observed, that by the Porcian and Sempronian Laws, it was utterly unlawful to beat a Roman Citizen unless the Sentence of Death had been pronounced upon him; and still more so when the beating was publick, and the Cause unheard; so Cicero, Hesiod, Appuleius, and Tertulian Witness, with many others.

ACCORDING to the Constitution of said Laws, when a Roman Citizen was wronged, the Majesty of the Roman People was reckon'd to be wronged or les'd, says Grotius.

NOW the Pagan Magistrates of Philippi, a Roman Colony, being stirred up by the Clamours of the People, broke the afore­said Laws in ordering Paul and Silas to be beaten publickly and imprison'd, who were not condemn'd to Death, being ignorant they were Roman Citizens: The Apostle knowing that when the Magistrates came to understand this, they would be terrified with the Apprehension of incurring the Displeasure of the Roman Empire for so manifest a Violation of their Laws, (Act. xxii. 29) and therefore ready to come into some Condescentions to prevent it; prudently declined going out of Prison directly, in a private manner as they were desired, and insisted on the Magistrates com­ing themselves and bringing them out, alledging that they were Romans. This the Apostle probably did to prevent future Seve­rities of the like Kind; and partly to vindicate their Characters from the Imputation of Crimes that demerited such scandalous corporal Punishment.

GROTIUS observes justly, that Paul knew how to use the Ro­man Laws for the Defence of Inocence and a good Cause.

BUT can any Body think, that the Apostle wou'd have stay'd some Years in Prison, when he had Liberty to go out in Case the Magistrates had delayed their coming so long. No! Surely.

IN a Word, we are to learn from this Instance, the necessity of human Prudence, especially in Affairs of a civil Nature, and therefore it is foreign to the Point in Debate: The cases are not parallel, which appears thus, in the one, the Persons Offending were Pagan Magistrates, the Offence was upon one side only, the Offence was of a civil Nature, depriving the Apostle of the right of a Roman Citizen: The Offence was committed against the [Page 94] civil Laws of the Land, as well as against the Law of Nature di­rectly. But in the other Case, the Persons offending are Brethren, of the sacred Character, professing the same fundamental Princi­ples of the Christian Religion; the Offences are not against the civil Laws of the Land, nor against the Law of Nature, (directly) but have been occasioned by difference in Opinion about Circum­stantials in Religion; the Offences have been mutual in a greater or lesser degree, in Matter or Manner of management; the Offences are not properly of a civil Nature.

NOW seeing the Cases are not parallel, no just inference can be drawn from the one to the other, of deffering Endeavours after Peace and Union, until the Party that is most in the fault, come first into some Condescensions in order to it; and indeed as it is in itself unjust to draw the same Conclusion from different Premises, so it likewise makes the Apostle contradict himself, for in the 14th Chap. of his Epistle to the Romans, he exhorts Parties contending about Circumstantials, to come into a Peace and Union without such Preliminaries; nor is it reasonable that any one should ne­glect his Duty because another neglects his; for if so, he may possibly neglect it during Life, and thus make void the Law and yet be guiltless. But supposing the Cases were parallel, the afore­said Instance would not conclude, for there has been a delay al­ready of several Years, and we do not know that the Apostle delay'd so much as one Day

BUT don't mistake me, I am for Peace and Union, tho' I insist upon Acknowledgment.

I Answer, It may be so in Words and Intention, but not in Deed. Is it not very inconsistent in a Case of Debate of a long Conti­nuance, wherein are mutual complaints of Misconduct, flowing from a difference of Sentiment in lesser Things, for one of the Par­ties to urge Acknowledgment, and yet pretend Peace, seeing it di­rectly tends to renew the War? For the Right of Self-Vindication is equal upon both Sides; and if one has a right to require Ac­knowledgment, so has the other, and doubtless will in such a Case; for self-love is common to all, and a due Degree of it is but reasonable. This severe Method therefore of course brings upon the Carpet all the dormant Controversies that have been between the contending Parties, and loudly summons them to War and Arms, both offensive and defensive: This excites them respectively to defend their own Conduct, and to charge and re­criminate upon the others; and hence the Churches Wounds are like to bleed afresh, and the Breach instead of being healed will be widen'd: For how can Men, with a good Conscience, acknow­ledge that to be wrong which they don't see to be wrong? And where has God obliged us upon pain of Exclusion from Church fellowship, to be of one Opinion in every little Thing? And thus in this Way, the Churches Peace and Union are like to be perpetually prevented. Now can we suppose reasonably that the All-wise God in order to promote Peace and Union (in a Case [Page 95] of this Nature) enjoins us to take a Meth [...] [...]at is but an alarm to War, and tends to increase the Debate. Will not some be tempted to say, that while Acknowledgment is insisted on, by any of the Parties in Controversy, as a Term of Communion, and in the mean Time they do not bewail the want of Peace and Union, nor Use any Method to remove Uneasinesses, (but on the Contrary perhaps such as tend to inflame the Debate) I say will not some be tempted to think, that all their talk of Peace is a meer sham and pretence, Words and no more, empty Words and Flourishes, with­out a meaning, unless it be to screne themselves, but in vain, from the dint of numerous Passages of holy Scripture, which en­join Peace and Union among those that profess the same Founda­tion P [...]ciples of Religion, and forbid the contrary, which it would [...]e a shame explicitly and formally to oppose; this would look like an abandoning of the Bible, and commencing open War against the Christian Religion. Here it may be queried, whether it would not be more candid and consistent, to say in plain Words, that unless others come to be of our Minds in all Circumstantials, we will have nothing to do with Peace; but on the Contrary, are determined for War, Debate Schisms and Confusions during Life! For by the same Rule that one circumstantial of human Invention is made a Term of Communion, a Thousand may be made; and then what will become of the Churches Peace and Union?

BUT do not we by coming into a Union without Acknowledg­ment, give up the Work of GOD?

I Answer, No. We do and may retain our Opinion concern­ing it till Death, only we do not make it a Term of Communion to others, for which we have no Authority in the Scriptures. Did the inspir'd Apostle Paul advise the Gentile Christians to give up the Truths respecting Liberty, for which they contended, when he exhorted them to receive the Jews to Communion, that deny'd them? If yea, then the Bible is wrong! For the aforesaid Ad­vice is of the same Original with the rest of the Scriptures. If nay, the Objection vanishes! If every Thing we believe must be made a Term of Communion, or it is given up, there can be no Church on Earth, because there can scarce be found any that are agreed in every Thing.

IF it be said, that opposing the late revival of Religion, is worse than open Immorality.

I Answer, It is a great mistake, which appears thus, all must acknowledge that Sins against light, are worse then those that flow from Ignorance or Mistake; because there is a greater con­tempt of God's Authority in them, than in the other. If I had not come and told them, they would not have had Sin, but now their Sin remains; now they have no Cloak for their Sins. This ge­neral self evident Maxim easily applies itself thus, gross Iniquities against the Moral Law, are against the light of Conscience, which is common to all, and hard, if possible, to be quite extinguish'd, [Page 96] and therefore they are heinious, and admit of no Apology. But Opposition to the late revival of Religion, might, and we have Reason in Charity to believe, it flow'd from Mistake, about a Matter, comparitively, doubtful, not discoverable by the meer Light of Nature, namely, the inward Experiences of some of a work of Conversion; which the best of Men may, and generally are at least in some Instances, mistaken about, and more especially when they are under any Temptation by hard Usuage, and other Incidents. It is true, if they did it against clear Light and Con­viction to the Contrary, it would be a dreadful Evil; but none can say this in the present Case, except they take upon them the peculiar Province of GOD, to judge the secret Thoughts of the Heart, and break the Law of Charity, both which heinous Evils, we should with equal Care avoid.

AND if they did it from Mistake, it's vastly less faulty than im­moral Conduct. Now to require an acknowledgment of them upon this account includes one or other of these two Things, viz. either 1st. Our imposing our Opinion upon them, or obliging them to be­lieve as we believe, upon pain of exclusion, in a Matter compa­ritively doubtful, without a divine Warrant, yea contrary to a divine Precept, which enjoins to receive the Weak. Or else 2d. It includes our obliging them to act contrary to their Consci­ences, viz. in acknowledging that to be wrong, which they think to be Right. Now seeing, as the Apostle informs us, he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of Faith, i. e. if one does what he doubts is unlawful to be done, he commits a damnable Sin, or a Sin that deserves Damnation; and therefore to urge Acknowledgment in this Situation of Things, is in effect to desire a Man to offend God and damn his Soul; or to do that which wounds and ensnares the Soul, and merits ever­lasting Ruin! I believe indeed that those that urge Acknowledg­ments, have no such Design, have no such view of the Case, but this is the real Language of the Principle, the true State of the Matter. Now judge calmly and impartially in your own Minds, if both the aforesaid Particulars be not exceeding unreasonable and sinful?

NOR can I see any possible Medium between the aforesaid dan­gerous extreams, but mutual forbearance: For if there is any Right to urge Circumstantials, and acting agreeable to them, as Terms of Communion; the Right is equal upon both Sides of the Question, and then there must be contrary Acknowledgments, re­specting the same Thing: Which every Eye may see are absurd and rediculous!

THE Apostle has directed us to the aforesaid Medium in a Case of the same Nature, (Rom. xiv. 22.) Hast thou faith have it to thy self before GOD, happy is he that Condemneth not himself, in that Thing, which he alloweth.

UPON which Mr. Pool in his Annotations speaks as follows, ‘He does not speak of Faith in the fundamentals of Religion, [Page 97] this must be profess'd, and acknowledg'd, let who will be of­fended, but of Faith in indifferent Things, (which are the subject Matter he is treating of) our believing or perswasion therein, is not to be unseasonably utter'd, or declar'd, so as to occasion Scandal or Contention,; an excellent Aphorism respecting all, especially the Stronger and more knowing Christian; the Sense is, he is a happy Man that when he know­eth a Thing to be lawful, he doth so manage the Practice of it, that he hath no Reason to accuse or condemn himself, or else that inwardly doth not condemn himself for doing that against his Conscience, which he openly alloweth or practiceth: Such a one is happy in this respect, because he is free from those Terrors that torment those who act against their Consciences.’ And ver. 20 of the same Chapter, for Meat destroy not the work of God; all Things indeed are pure, but it is evil for that Man who eateth with Offence, i. e. by sharp Contentions about circumstantial Things. Do not destroy the work of God. What is that?

Answer, Peace and Union, which GOD worketh among believers, says Pool in his Annot. And indeed of this the Apostle speaks in the Verse immediately preceeding. Love, say Toletus, Beza, Meno­chius, and this is the same for Substance with the former; for Love is the Source of Peace and Union, or beginning Piety in your weak Brother, says Estius. Or your Neighbour, whom God has made religious, so Menochius. All these Glosses are very con­sistent; the Sum of the whole is, do not disturb the publick Peace, or break the Union of Societies, or weaken brotherly Love, or injure your Brothers Soul, by angry Debates about Circum­stantials; all which unhappy Effects, such needless Contentions do frequently produce. Here is advice worthy of an Apostle, Coun­sel, or rather a positive Command, of great weight and moment, well would it be for the Churches if it was better understood and observed by the bulk of Mankind.

I may add, that it should be seriously examined, and consider'd, whether none were accessary to the Opposition which others made to the late Revival of Religion, by treating them hardly, and condemning their States, upon an insufficient Foundation, and so guilty in some Degree of what they themselves so warmly oppose; and whether they are as ready and zealous to make ac­knowledgments of this themselves as to require it of others?

IN the mean Time, it should be also seriously enquired, whe­ther Persons not being convinced by sufficient Evidence, was not unreasonable, and their expressing their private Sentiments in such a Manner as had a tendency to offend their Brethren, sinful, tho' I will not dare to encroach upon my Brothers Liberty, or judge his Conscience; Yet this I may say, that Liberty may be so us'd as to give Cause of Offence, and occasion stumbling and prejudice.

IF any upon either Side of the Question should object against [Page 98] a re-union, that there is Corruption in Principle, or Evil in Practice, in any one of either of the Bodies.

I Answer, That I hope there is no such Cause of Complaint, upon either Side, as some perhaps have suppos'd. Party-Zeal is apt to create Prejudice, as well as heighten Matters, and set them in too strong a Light, partly thro' its o [...]n Byass, and partly thro' Misinformation, which very much abounds in Times of Contention. But if the Case was really so, I think with judicious, pious and peaceable Mr. Durham, that it is an Argument for, and not against a Union; because in a State of Union these Things may be much better remedied, than in a divided State.

NOR should Reports, of an ungenerous Use, made by some, of the Conference for Accommodation, obstruct or discourage our ho­nest and earnest Endeavours for Peace and Union, upon Scriptural Terms. I hope Things are not quite so as they are represented. When People are divided and prejudiced against each other, they are apt, thro' the force of their Passions, to misapprehend one anothers meaning, which of Consequence they mis-relate; besides after long Debates, Persons are under strong Temptations in order to make themselves appear Consistent, or support what they call their Credit, to speak of Things that should be buried in silence, in an undue Manner, which has a very bad tendency.

IT is certainly a very lamentable Evil, to prefer what we are apt to reckon our Credit, to the Peace of the Church of GOD. On the Contrary, it is our real Credit, in the Account of an All­wise GOD, and of all such as are judicious and free from the Byass of Prejudice, to deny ourselves, and condescend, as far as we can with Inocence, for Peace. Solomon truly observes, that it is an Honour to cease from Strife,

BUT the very Appearance of Prejudice in some, shews the Ne­cessity of a Union to remove it. Nor can this, after a wide Breach and long Debate, be ordinarily obtained without Difficulty and Uneasiness; but it is better to bear a medicinal Pain in order to a Cure, than to let the Distemper grow desparate, thro' a total neglect of proper Means. The advantages of a Union to the Kingdom of CHRIST, obtain'd upon an equitable Foundation, would much preponderate such temporary Disquietudes.

IF any should say, that it is wrong and dangerous to re-unite to a set of disorderly Men.

I Answer, It is true; it is unreasonable to unite to such as op­pose the Essentials of that Order and Government which CHRIST has appointed in his Word.

BUT perhaps the true State of this Case has, thro' the heat of Debate, either not been thoroughly understood by some, or not sufficiently attended to.

HERE if it be enquired, what Order and Government was op­pos'd in the late Time of Contention among us.

WAS it the Necessity of Order and Government in the Church of CHRIST in general? No.

[Page 99]WAS it the Nature of that Government which the Scripture ex­presses? No.

WAS it that Plan of Government which is expressed in our Directory, agreeable to the Scriptures? No.

WAS it what was reckon'd fundamental in our Constitution, by the Majority? No.

WHAT then was the Core of the Controversy? Why some Cir­cumstantials in Government; or in other Words, some Rules or Acts of Discipline, form'd by the Majority, and reckon'd pruden­tial and expedient by them; but on the Contrary, prejudicial and sinful by the Minor Party.

NOW it may be considered, whether it be not at least as un­reasonable to make Circumstantials in Discipline, Terms of Commu­nion, as Circumstantials in Doctrine? And if so, whether what has been before said against such Things, as Terms of Communion, does not conclude here with equal Evidence?

NO doubt a smaller Number ought freely to submit to the Conclusions of the Majority, in Matters relating to Government, which they (the Majority) judge essential to the well-being of the Church: For without this, there can be no Government at all: Without this the Minor Party would have Power to impose upon the Major, in Things which they reckon of the last Conse­ [...]uence to the good of the Society; which is absurd.

IT is true, the Major Party may be mistaken as well as the Minor, and consequently abuse their Power, for which there is no help in the present imperfect State of Things, but humble Remonstrating by Reason and Argument: Yet consider'd as a Society, the Majority have a right to judge for themselves, (upon the Plan of private Judgment) what they reckon essential to their Constitution, or to the well-being of the Church under their Care, and consequently to exclude from their Society such as do not comply therewith.

MOREOVER, even in Matters that are reckon'd Circumstantial by the Majority, the Minor Party ought, for Peace sake, to com­ply, if they be not Conscience bound in the Matter; but if so they cannot; and whether Forbearance should not be exercis'd to­wards them, in this, as well as other parallel Cases, I leave to o­thers to determine.

IT will not do for any to say, that we are surely Right, we are certainly Right.

I answer, The great Degree of our Confidence will not prove us to be so; for then two Contraries would be Right; seeing that Confidence is generally equal in Degree upon both Sides of the Question, and never stronger than in doubtful Matters.

EITHER there is an absolute Promise, that all good Men shall be set right in every small circumstantial Matter in this Life, or there is not. If there is, then one of these two Things will follow necessarily, viz. Either that the Promise is not fullfil'd, which charges unfaithfulness upon GOD, or that all true Christians [Page 100] are reduc'd to one Party, and to a small Number of that Party, which is as uncharitable as the other is blasphemous: For there are perhaps scarcely Ten of a Thousand of religious People, even of the same Denomination, that exactly agree in every minute Point of Religion. Well if there be no absolute Promise in Rela­tion to Circumstantials; then it unavoidably follows, that we have no firm Foundation for such a great degree of Confidence; and therefore seeing it is either without Foundation altogether, or dis­proportioned in Measure to its Foundation, it is as foolish as it is pernicious.

BUT the Matter of Difference is of great Moment.

I answer, It is easy and natural to think so in Matters that we are engaged in, because in such Cases, our Honour and Humour are apt to be affected; which thro' our dreadful Degeneracy, our Ignorance and Corruption, we are apt to prefer at least for a Time, to the most important Things, viz. the Peace and Union of Christ's visible Kingdom among Men.

OUR Affections, are apt to give a secret wrong Byass to our Minds, which we ourselves discern not so that while we are criti­cally and warmly Spying and Censuring others suppos'd or real Mistakes and Blunders, we over look our own: Our Affections incline us to look upon both what we like and dislike, in a mag­nifying Glass, which soons turns, to our heated Imaginations, Musketoes into Mountains, and so unhappily, but equally, misleads us in our judgment, both as to the Objects of our desire and a­version.

LET our warmest Zeal and our best Actions, be but quite stript of all sinful selfish Respects, and they will be found notwithstand­ing of all their gay Appearances, to be very lean and Jejune; we sometimes contend for our Honours and Humours, more than for GOD, (tho we know it not) and that under a Cloak of Zeal for him; this is a doleful dreadful Truth, which may justly humble the Pride of Man, and reasonably excite us to be as suspicious of ourselves, as cautious and moderate in our Censures of others: The Heart of Man is deceitful and desparately wicked, who can know it?

NO doubt those great Bodies of religious People, that so fiercely contended in the primitive Times, about Easter-Day; look'd upon it to be a Point of the last Moment, for they were so violent and furious upon the Matter, that they were deaf to Scripture and Ar­gument, they would not regard all the sober Reasonings of pious peaceful Irenius and others for Accommodation, but with obstinate and unrelenting Fury, proceeded to the dreadful Sentence of Excommunication against each other.

IN like Manner the Jewish and Gentile Christians were all by the Ears, about Days and Meats, they imagined their different O­pinions about these doubtful Points in Dispute, to be as clear and evident as mathematical Demonstration, and of such vast Importance and Moment, as to give Ground to determine the States of Men's [Page 101] Souls to be bad, on both Sides the Question, and to deserve a to­t [...] Exclusion of their Persons from Communion; and in Consequence hereof, they indulged the keenest Resentment, and were all in Fire and Flames, full of mutual Prejudice, severe Censure and Rash-judging against, and of one another; and no doubt imagined they were doing great Service to Religion thereby; but the Apostle Paul was of a very different Opinion!

BUT perhaps some may object in this Manner; say what you will upon this Head, I won't believe you.

ANSWER, I do not desire you to believe me, or take for grant­ed what I say, without Enquiry; nay, on the contrary, I desire you not to believe me, or any other Man in that Sense, Call no Man Master upon Earth: I only desire your unprejudiced serious Attention, to what appears to me upon sober Enquiry to be scriptural and rational, and your Assent to it, if upon an impar­tial Tryal, it appears so to you; and if you will not, it will be your own greatest Loss; I cannot pretend to debate the Matter with Men's Preposessions and Prejudices, for I know Scripture and Reason will stand no Chance in such a Contest; being both con­demned before they are heard, so far as they relate to the Matter in dispute!

WE think it a bad Sign of you, to speak in the Manner you do!

ANSWER: As to your Censures upon me, tho' I hope you mean well in them, yet I must tell you, that they do not affect me; because I know you, and all other Men are incompetent Judges of such secret Matters: I may assure you, tha [...] it is a little Thing to me, to be judged by you, or by Man's Judgement.

BUT were my Case so, as you apprehend, it would not con­clude the Point it is brought for: Doctrinal Sentiments may be right, even where the State and Frame are bad; and Truth should be received with readiness, respect and candour, for GOD'S sake, as well as its own, whatever he be that delivers it. Solomon tells us, that it is not good to have Respect of Persons in Judgment. And the Apostle James, in like Manner assures us, that if we have respect of Persons we sin, and are convinced of the Law as Trans­gressors.

YOU know you are liable to Mistakes as well as I am. Well, seeing the Case is so, we should retain a constant Sense of our Weakness and fallability, upon our Minds; and thence be enduc'd to re-examine Matters with a Disposition to be confirm'd in what is right, and convinc'd of what is wrong; for without this, if we are so unhappy as to be in Mistakes, we are like to hold them to our own, and other's Prejudice, without any Probability of a Re­trieve.

AND now my Reverend Fathers and Brethren, should we not be excited to comply with the Command of GOD in praying and striving for the Peace of Jerusalem.

[Page 102]THE Religion of the peaceful JESUS tempers the Minds of all that sincerely embrace it, to Benignity, Love, and Peace, and to all the kind and condescending O [...]ices of mutual Charity and En­d [...]rment; notwithstanding of the great Variety of their civil Characters, natural Complections, and acquired Endowments; as well as different Sentiments in religious Matters of a circumstan­tial Nature.

THIS represents all that truly embrace it, as Servants of the same Lord, as Children of the same Father, and therefore Bre­thren; as Members of the same Body mystical, as Objects of the same divine Affection, as Partakers of the same important Pri­viledges, as Soldiers enlisted in the same spiritual Warfare, as Pro­fessors of the same essential and necessary Truths, and Expectants of the same immortal Blessedness, and thence as united by the strongest Bands and dearest Relations.

THIS opens the narrowest Minds, by beholding the transcendant Glories of the Deity, and tends when rightly understood, to free us from the Shackles of sordid Bigottry, and Party-Zeal. When we see the serene Majesty, and unspotted Purity of GOD, and com­pare therewith our moral Deformity, native Meanness and Depend­ance, we are justly incited to humble and adoring Reverence, which is the Source of Peace.

THIS sweetens the unsocial sourness, and softens the pharasai­cal Fierceness and Rigour of our Spirits, by communicating to us, a Sense of the divine Love, and by setting the Example thereof before us.

THIS truly informs us, that he who has no Rule over his own Spirit, is like a City that is broken down, and without Walls, defenceless in the midst of Danger, and so liable to be seduc'd and taken, as an easy Prey, by every Temptation to Envy and Re­venge; which sour Men's Tempers, marr the Comfort of their Liv [...], and are as hurtful to the Health and firmness of our Bo­dies, as to the Purity and Safety of our Souls!

BUT that on the contrary, he who has a just government over his Affections, is like a City whose Walls are so well finished, and fortified, that they despise the rudest Assaults of the most formida­ble Foe. He is like a Rock immoveable amidst all the Fury and Violence, which the angry Surges discharge upon it, with unwea­ried Industry, and unrelenting Resentment.

WHEN our Passions are reduced to their original Order, under the Government of right Reason, they render all the Enjoyments of Life agreeable and especially the Duties of Religion; they flow silently and smoothly on, in amiable Harmony, and instead of ob­structing, they serve as a strong Tide to assist and accelerate our pious Progress, and waft us to the Embraces of the Deity, as our last End, our chief Excellency, our supream Good, and Center of Rest.

WE are obliged to be peaceful, charitable, and merciful, my Brethren, not only by the positive Command of GOD, but by the [Page 103] original Constitution of our Nature, which is so form'd as to need Sympathy and Succour from others. What kindness we desire and expect should be shewn to us, in our Distresses, let Equity and Humanity incline us to render to others in our turn!

IT has pleased the All-wise good GOD, to implant a Propensity in our Natures to compassionate the Calamities of others, which is no small Argument that we should exercise it, upon proper Occasions; our Bowels yern towards the Miserable, with a natural Sympathy, and we cannot prevent, on our viewing their Maladies, Sentiments of Pity, without doing Violence to ourselves! Hence Solomon justly observes, that the merciful Man doth Good to his Soul, but he that is cruel troubleth his own Flesh.

AND as there is, notwithstanding our Apostacy, some remaining Tendencies in our Nature to Peace and Pity, so a peaceful Temper of Mind is a Part of the gracious Change, which the blessed Spirit effects in those that are sincerely Good: A Star and not the least illustrious in that amiable Train, or Constellation of Graces which takes Possession of pious Bosoms, when they are renewed after the divine Image; for this Reason the KINGDOM of GOD is said to be PEACE, and the FRUIT of the SPIRIT PEACE, Love, Joy, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith: Surely, as the Apostle observes, the Fruit of Righteousness is sown in Peace, of them that love Peace.

NOR do the Laws of Society, both civil and religious, less o­blige to peaceful Sentiments, Dispositions and Practice; we need the Assistance of Society for Instruction, Comfort and Defence, and hence the Almighty has form'd a natural Inclination in us, thereto: Now the aforesaid valuable Ends of Society, are entirely frustrated, and consequently the Foundations thereof overthrown, by a quarelsome hostile Temper and Behaviour, for hereby we are prejudiced against the Councils and Reproofs of our Brethren, who instead of a Comfort become a Terror to us, in such an un­happy Situation; and we are in constant Fear of falling a Prey to their Resentments: This makes a social State much more uncom­fortable and dangerous than an independant one!

BUT on the contrary, when Peace, Harmony, and mutual Con­fidence subsist in religious Societies, they exceedingly promote not only our Comfort, but our Benefit, many Ways; and hence it is said, that the Churches had Peace, throughout all Judea, and were EDIFIED; walking in the Fear of the Lord, and in the Comfort of the Holy Ghost.

THIS God-like temper of Mind, and beautiful Behaviour, gives a Man the true Possession of himself, hereby our Bosoms become like the Pacifick Ocean, smooth and serene, while such as ignobly indulge a criminal Resentment, are like the raging Sea, vex'd with the Winds, which constantly casts forth Mire and Dirt; this calme the painful Tumults of Passion, into Gentleness and Benignity, and sweetens their uneasy Rigours and Severities by Love! The more holy and heavenly any one is, the more peaceful and composed he [Page 104] is; like the higher Heavens, which as Seneca observes, are not discomposed by Clouds and Tempests, but possess an invariable Brightness, a stable Serene!

BLESSED says our great Master, the Prince of Peace, are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the Children of God. Such as are desirous of the Peace of Jerusalem, disposed to it, and la­borious to promote it in themselves and others, by the earnest Use of all proper Means, either to prevent or heal her Breaches, which, alas for it, in many Places are wide as the Sea, tho' they often meet with severe Censures from Men on both Sides the Question in De­bate, yet they will get the Blessing of God, and Evidence them­selves to be his genuine Children, who is essentially, exemplarily, declaratively and efficiently LOVE and PEACE.

WHEN Peace prevails, it gives us great advantage to perform the Office of a Friend by Instruction, Reproof and Council, with the probability of Success. Love and Gentleness disarm the most obstinate Prejudice, and command Attention to what is spoken; they easily open the obstructed avenues of the Mind, and effica­ciously unlock the Springs of Affection: By this, our simple but friendly Addresses softly insinuate themselves into the Heart, and consequently become more powerful and prevalent, than all the force of Argument and Charms of Rethorick from the Mouth of an Opponent. We are therefore commanded, to let our Moderation be known to all Men; to be long suffering towards all, and as we have Opportunity to do good unto all; not rendering Evil for Evil; not being Contentious, but Gentle, shewing all Meekness to all Men. The Ministers of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all Men, Patient, in Meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves.

THE Cloud of Witnesses with which we are encompassed, should incite us to run with Patience the Race that it set before us, look­ing to JESUS the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who endured the Cross, despising the shame, who endured the Contradiction of Sin­ners against himself, least we be weary and faint in our Minds.

IN particular, how amiable is the Example of the Apostle Paul, who gave no Offence to the Jews or Gentiles, or to the Church of God, who pleased all Men in all Things, that they might be saved; who tho' free from all, yet made himself a Servant to all, that he might gain the more to CHRIST; and for the same noble Purpose, became all Things to all Men.

AND still the Example of our dearest LORD, the meek and lov­ing Lamb of GOD, shone with superior and distinguished Lustre. He who was GOD over all blessed forever, stoop'd from the highest Glory to the deepest Abasement, and laid down his Life, his Blood, for the sake of his inveterate Enemies, who neither desir'd no [...] deserved his divine Respect. Ye know the Grace of our Lord JESUS, that [...]ho' he was rich, y [...] for our Sakes he became Poor, that we thro' his Poverty might [...]e made rich. He was a friend to Publicans and Sinners; he went about unweariedly doing good to the Souls and Bodies of Men, constantly diffusing, like the [Page 105] SUN the obscure Emblem of his Brightness and Benificence, salutary Light and healing Influences all around [...]!

THIS compassionate REDEEMER seeing the Multitu [...] fainting and scatter'd abroad like Sheep wanting a Shepherd, was moved with Compassion on them, (esplanchnisthe) his tender Bowels yearned; he was led as a Lamb to the Slaughter, [...] he opened not his Mouth. When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered he threatned not. And tho' free yet for the sake of Peace, he paid the Tribute Money at the Expence of a Miracle. His whole Life was full of Love, of Peace and Sweetness. Now should not such who say they abide in him, walk even as he walked? Should not the same humble, peaceable Mind, which was in him, be in them?

NOR should we overlook the glorious Example of the blessed GOD, who is Kind to the Evil and unthankful, who devised the Plan of Peace by a MEDIATOR, sent his SON out of his Bosom to purchase it; sends his Messengers to proclaim it, and his Holy Spirit to apply it. Is not his tender Mercy over all his Works? How unlimited is his Benificence to the sinful Children of Men? He causes his Sun to shine, and his Rain to descend upon the Fields of the Evil and the Good. O! how immense is his Cle­mency, and how unwearied his long-suffering and tender Mercy towards such as bid defiance to his Power and Authority, and ungratefully contemn the amazing Riches and Condescentions of his Grace and Love?

NOW methinks my Fathers and Brethren, we should be ex­cited to pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Jerusalem in the Manner before represented, not only by the Divine Precept enjoin­ing it, (Is. lxii. 6, 7.) I have set Watchmen upon thy Walls O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their Peace, Day nor Night, and give him no rest, till he shall establish, and till he make Jerusa­lem, a Praise in the Earth,

BUT likewise by the Examples of good Men who have gone before us, who were under no greater Obligations, nor had any greater Encouragements thereto than we. (Psa. li. 18) Do good in thy good Pleasure unto Zion, build thou the Walls of Jerusa­lem. Agreeable to which are the Words I have been discoursing upon, Peace be within thy Walls and Prosperity within thy Palaces: For my Brethren and Companions Sake I will say Peace be within thee, because of the House of the Lord our God, I will seek thy Good.

MOREOVER the kind Things that GOD has said of Zyon and Jeru­salem, and gracious Promises he has made of good Things to her, may encourage and animate us, in our Prayers for her Peace & Prosperity.

HERE observe, that Zion and Jerusalem are synonimous Terms, frequently signifying the same Thing, because a great Part of Jeru­salem was built upon Mount Zion; or rather Zion is (synecdochicaly) put for Jerusalem, because it was an eminent part thereof, and both put for the People of Israel and Church of God.

THE Almighty has told us, that he hath chosen Jerusalem, that his Name might be there. (2 Chron. vi. 6) and that he has con­ferred [Page 106] Mercies for Jerusalems Sake, that he has chosen. (1. King xi. 13. and Psa. cxxxii. 13—16.)

The following Promises deserve to be thought upon, (Psa. cii.) Thou shalt [...]rise and have Mercy upon Zion, for thy Servants take Pleasure in her Stones, and favour the Dust thereof. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his Glory; he will regard the Prayer of the Destitute, and not despise their Prayer. (Psa. cxxviii. 5, 6.) The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion, and thou shalt see the Good of Jerusalem, yea thou shalt see PEACE upon Israel. (Psa. cxxv. 5.) As for such as turn aside into their crooked Ways, the Lord shall lead them forth, but Peace shall be upon Israel.

Isa. lxvi. 10, 12. For thus sayeth the Lord, behold I will extend PEACE to her as a River, and the Glory of the Gentiles like a flowing Stream.

Isa: liv. 11. And all thy Children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the Peace of thy Children.

Isa. lx. 17. I will also make thy Officers Peace, and thy Exactors Righteousness, i. e. loving, meek and peaceable; the abstract is put for the concrete as usual.

AND it shall come to pass in the last Days, that the Mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the Top of the Mountains, and shall he exalted above the Hills, and all Nations shall flow unto it; for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Zec. i. 17. The Lord shall yet Comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

Isa. li. 3—16. For the Lord shall Comfort Zion, he will Com­fort all her waste Places; he will make her Wilderness like Eden, and her Desart like the Garden of GOD, Joy and Gladness shall be found therein, Thanksgiving and the Voice of Melody; that I may plant the Heavens and lay the Foundations of the Earth, and say unto Zion thou art my People.

Isa. iv. The Lord will create upon every dwelling Place of mount Zion, and upon her Assemblies, a Cloud, for upon all the Glory shall be a defence.

Isa. xxxi, 5. As Birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it, and passing over, he will preserve it.

Zec. viii, 15. [...]o again I have thought in these Days to do well unto Jerusalem, fear ye not.

Isa. xxiv. 23. Then the Moon shall be confounded, and the Sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his Ancients gloriously; that is, all the Splendor of earthly Potentates, shall be obscured by the supe­rior brightness of the MESIAH'S Advent, who is KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS, when he shall be Incarnate and set up his Kingdom in Jerusalem, and afterwards in other Nations, in the Presence of his Ministers and People, and more especially, [Page 107] when this great REDEEMER being clad with Light as a Garment, enrob'd with all the State of Heaven, array'd with all the Ma­jesty and Grandeur of the DEITY, and attended with a train of innumerable Seraphims, shall come to judge the World, and shine forth in all the unparallel'd Brightness and inexpressible eflulgence of his own and his Fathers Glory! This magnificent Appearance of the great GOD our Saviour, to judge the Universe, will, by the force of its superior Lustre, eclipse the Lights of Heaven, turn the Sun into Darkness, and the Moon into Blood.

NOR should the following memorable Promises be lightly passed over. Jer l. 4. 5. In those Days, and that Time, saith the Lord, the Children of Israel shall come, they and the Children of Judah together, going and weeping they shall go, and seek the Lord their God; they shall ask the Way to Zion, with their Faces thither ward, saying, come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpe­tual Covenant that shall not be forgotten.

This Promise it is true, more immediately respects the return of some of the two Tribes, and some of the Ten, from their Babilonish Captivity, (which happened in the Time of Cyrus, Emperor of the Meeds) to their native Country, and their uniting cordially and humbly into one Body, in performing the Duties of publick Worship, notwithstanding of their former Differences. They shall come, they and the Children of Judah together, going and [...]weeping they shall seek the Lord their God, saying, come and let us join ourselves to the Lord. All these Expressions plainly shew, a Union, Harmony and Concord between the Remains of the ten Tribes and of the two, so that there was to be no more angry Debate and Division among them, as Calvin, Symachus, and Marian [...] observe.

They are represented as very desirous to see Zion, which they had been long separated from by their Captivity; they could not rest till they saw it; and tho the Difficulties of finding the Road and travelling in it, were not small, yet they were not discouraged, No! They were fully fix'd and bent upon it, they set their Faces towards Zion, and enquired the Way thither, which they had forgot by their long a [...]sence, while a in State of Captivity.

THOSE different Tribes, went in Company, and wept as they went, towards Zyon; either on Account of their former Sins, the Causes of all the Calamities they endur'd, as Calvin, Sy­machus and Lyra conclude; and not improbably; or with joy, at the thoughts of their unexpected Release, from a melancholy Capti­vity and Return to their native Soil their na [...]ive Country; and espe­cially to the Temple Service, in UNION with their Brethren! Or, with Grief, because of the Ruins or Desolate State of the Temple and City of Jerusalem, as Erasmus thinks. For my Part I see no inconsistency in admiting a Concurrence of all the aforesaid Causes, in exciting a mix'd P [...]ssion of Sorrow and Joy in the pious Israelites, upon so extraordinary an Occasion. There is some­thing very devout and [...]harming in the aforesaid Representation, [Page 108] which is indeed a well drawn Picture of the Temper and Prac­tice of convinced Sinners, in their seeking Rest to their wounded weary Souls, from JESUS CHRIST, in the way of his appoint­ment.

THAT the Promise aforesaid does extend to Gospel Times, appears, as I apprehend, from the following Considerations. viz.

1st. BECAUSE the Completion it had among the Jews was but small; there were but few that return'd from the Babilonish Captivity, in the Time of Cyrus saith Junius.

2d. IT is a spiritual Promise, of a spiritual Union, among Brethren, that profess'd the same Substantials of Religion, and likewise of a spiritual Concern for their own Souls, and Zeal for the publick Worship of GOD! Now what can be more proper and rational than to extend such a Promise to a Dispensation peculiarly, and eminently Spiritual, in which a greater Effusion of divine Influences was promised? And particularly such as greatly encline to a peace­able Temper and Behaviour, as appears from several Pr [...]mises be­fore quoted, to which I would only add these followi [...]g, viz.

ISAIAH xxxiv. ‘And I will pour Water upon [...]m that is thirsty, and Floods upon the dry Ground; I will pour out my Spirit upon his Seed, and my Blessing upon his Offspring, and they shall spring up as the Grass, as Willows by the Wa­ter-Courses.’

ZECHA. xii. 10. ‘And I will pour upon the House of David and upon the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and Supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn, as one mourneth for his only Son, and be in Bitterness for him, as one that is in Bitterness for his First-born.’

JOEL ii. 28. ‘And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all Flesh.’ i. e. upon Persons of all Nations, the Partition Wall between Jew and Gentile being removed.

ISAIAH xxxv. ‘The Wilderness and the solitary Place, shall be glad for them, and the Desart shall rejoice and blossom as the Rose, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with Joy and Singing, the Glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the Excellency of Carmel and Sharon, in the Wilderness shall Waters break out, and Streams in the Desart, and the parched Ground shall become a Pool, and the thirsty Land Springs of Water.’ And,

3d. IF it be farther considered, that a flourishing State of the Gospel-Church is promis'd, before the End of the World; a Time when the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel shall be saved. i. e. when the Infidel Tribes shall flock to the REDEEMER'S Standard, and the Generality of the Jewish Nation, be converted to Christianity to promote which the Union of Brethren into one Body, who hold the same Foundation-Prin­ciples, is an excellent Mean; and as such pray'd for by our dear [Page 109] Lord JESUS CHRIST. John xvii. 21. That all may be one, that they also may be ONE in us, that the World may believe that thou hast sent me, that is, that Strangers to Christianity by behold­ing the Love of those that profess it, to each other, and UNION AMONG THEMSELVES, which is the proper Consequent of it; may be convinced of my divine Mission, and induced to receive the Declarations I have made to Men, in pursuance of it; or in other Words, that they may receive my Gospel.

AND indeed Sirs, as nothing is more amiable, than to see Bre­thren, who have been broken from one another by Division, and prejudiced against one another by angry Debate, seeking the Lord in UNION and Harmony, with sincere Sorrow, strong Desires, humble Enquiries, and unfainting Diligence.

SO nothing is more efficacious, to excite Mankind to admire and embrace the Gospel, than the mutual Love and Unity of the Professors of it, by this they know that they are CHRIST'S Disci­ples by this, they see a divine Excellency in his Religion; by this Christianity spread so far and so fast, in the first Ages of it, this made the Heathens admiring say (in the Time of Tertullian) how do the Christians love one another. This as easily as speedily with a gentle Violence triumph'd over the unreasonable Prejudices of the most obstinate Infidels of every Nation, Age, Order, Sex, and Character, and conquered Kingdoms to the Faith of CHRIST.

BUT the contrary is a dreadful Stumbling-block, that Prejudices the Jews, Turks, and Pagans, against the Religion of JESUS; and makes divers even in Christian Countries question its divine Ori­ginal.

NOR can its ablest Advocates, by all their learned Apologies, do it so much Service as this does Injury! For every new Schism in the Body of Christ, weakens it, and is used as a new Argu­ment against the whole of Christianity, and tho' unjustly, yet really pours Contempt upon it. O, if zealous Men of narrow Minds, would but consider this, they would tremble at the Thoughts of Breaches and Schisms in the Church of Christ, and on the contrary, pray and strive, in the earnest Use of all appointed Means, that as there is but one Shepherd, so there may be but one Sheep-fold, (John x. 16.) (Mia poimne eis poimen) there is an Elegancy in the Original, the copulative And is not in it, as in our Version; the Words are these, one Sheepfold, one Shepherd, viz. Jesus Christ, one Church of all Christians, gathered under and united to Christ, as their Head; one People of Jews and Gentiles, the Partition-Wall being removed, (Ephes. ii. 14.) the Meaning is, to one Shep­herd one Flock belongs; as I am therefore one Pastor, so my SHEEP-FOLD shall be ONE.*

I say, when all these Things are considered complexly, toge­ther with the broken divided State of the Christian Church at present, they plainly shew that the aforesaid Scripture, Jer. l. 4, 5. [Page 110] extends to the Gospel-Church, (so Calvin, Pool, and Henery un­derstand it.) and that as yet it has not had a full Accomplishment, and therefore it is a great Encouragement, to pray and strive for the Blessing contained in it.

ANOTHER remarkable Promise, we have in Ezek. xxxvii 19. Thus saith the Lord God, behold I will take the Stick of Joseph, which is in the Hand of Ephraim, and the Tribes of Israel his Fellows, and will put them with him even with the Stick of Judah, and make them one Stick, and they shall become one in my Hand.

THERE had been a Breach of Union, and unhappy Animosities consequent thereupon, between the two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, who were Bretbren, and but one Kingdom before the fatal Breach, after which upon all Occasions, Ephraim envied Judah, and on the other Hand Judah vexed Ephraim: But here it is promised, that that divided State, which was so uncomfortable to, and unsafe for both, should continue no longer, but that there should be a happy, a comfortable Coalition between them, disposing them to bury former Offences, and angry Contentions in the Grave of per­petual Oblivion, and for the future only contend who should love one another most, and excel in the humble but amiable Offices of mutual Kindness and Endearment!

THEY had been two STICKS opposing and hurting one another but now they shall become ONE, supporting and strengthening each other, and unitedly under GOD, promoting the same good Cause and Design.

NOW altho' this Promise, has a primary and direct Referrence to the Jews, yet undoubtedly it extends farther, even to the Union of Jews and Gentiles into one Church, under the Gospel-Oeconomy; professing one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and is very applicable to a re-union of Brethren, of the same Sentiments into one Body or religious Community.

UNCHARITAPLE Divisions and Separations on account of Cir­cumstantials, or lesser Things (not impos'd) among those that pro­fess the same fundamentals of Religion is a crimson Iniquity, at­tended with most awful Aggravations!

THEY are exceeding contrary to the very Nature of GOD, who is Love, as has been before observed: Love is the Perfection of all Grace, the End of all Duties, the most excellent Way, the Work of Heaven, the new Commandment, the Imitation of the best of Beings, and a principal mean to obtain and maintain a Communion with him. He that loves, dwells in God, and God in him, for God is Love.

UNCHARITABLE Divisions are exceeding contrary to the whole Law and Word of GOD, which is fufill'd by Love, and especi­ally to that express Precept which enjoins us to keep the Unity of the Spirit, in the Bond of Peace.

NOR are they less contrary to the whole Gospel of GOD, which is a most astonishing Display of the divine Love and Good­ness, in all it's Glory, Riches, Charms, and Condescensions, and [Page 111] therefore contains the strongest Incentives to Love and Unity, all which are thereby oppos'd. But

UNCHARITABLE Divisions are not only contrary to the Na­ture of GOD, the Law of God, and the Gospel of God, but like­wise to the Christ of God, they stain his Honour, and oppose his Design in our Redemption; making many Bodies, looks like a Disposition to have have many Heads, and so either to renounce CHRIST, or divide him (1 Cor. i. 13.) it is an Attempt to make CHRIST himself a Sectarian, or a Ringleader of a Sect; which is a vile Affront; CHRIST is the common Head of Christians, but he is not, he cannot be the Head of Parties and Factions, as such: Besides such Divisions represent the dear Redeemer as an impotent Prince that cannot keep his Kingdom in Unity, or communicate, a suitable and sufficient System of Doctrines and Laws of this Ten­dency; the scandalous Behaviour of his Subjects is cast upon Zy­on's King, his Laws, and the Constitution of his Government: For the Design of the holy JESUS in our Redemption, was to reconcile all that believe, to GOD, to unite and center them all in him, to gather together in one, the Children of GOD, that are scattered abroad, to make in himself of twain, one new Man, so making Peace. (See John xi. 52. Ephes. ii. 15.) Farther,

UNCHARITABLE Divisions are exceeding contrary to the Spirit and Work of GOD. They oppose the Work of God the Holy Ghost in our own Souls, and in the Souls of others, in its Nature, Design, and Tendency. By one Spirit, saith the Apostle, we are all baptized into one Body, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. xii. 13.) The Nature and Tendency of the Work of the blessed Spirit of God, in our own and others Souls, is Love, Peace, Unity: And hence the two former are called the Fruits of the Spi­rit, (Gal. v. 22.) and the latter is called the Unity of the Spirit, (Ephes. iv. 24) And the Thessalonians are said to be taught of God to love one another, (1 Thess. iv. 9.) Hence you may see, that those who promote uncharitable Divisions, oppose (tho' not with Design) not only the Word of GOD, but likewise the Work of GOD in their own Souls, and in the Souls of others: By pro­voking their angry Resentments sinfully, they fight against the Nature, Spirit and Genius of Conversion to God, and real Christianity. Again,

UNCHARITABLE Divisions are exceeding contrary to the Or­dinances of GOD, viz. Baptism, the Word preach'd, and the LORD'S Supper, the Design of which is to procure and preserve the Unity of his Church, and Kingdom.

BY Baptism Persons are added to the Church (Acts ii. and 1 Cor, xii. 12, 13.) For as the Body is one and hath many Members, and all the Members of that one Body; so also is CHTIST; that is, Christ Mistical, or the visible Church which is his Body: The Reason of which Union in the Church of CHRIST, or mean to procure it is Baptism; for saith the Apostle, by one Spirit we are all Baptized [Page 112] into one Body; i. e. The design of Baptism is not only as a Sign to represent, a mean to obtain the aforesaid Union; but likewise as a solemn Bond of Engagement upon us to promote and preserve it, by all proper Endeavours, without which we are not like to have the Answer of a good Conscience, in performing the Vows and answering the End of that gracious Institution.

AND does not faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of GOD? Which we cant hear, saith the Apostle, without a Preacher; even that faith which unites to CHRIST our Head, and works by Love to his Members our Brethren. Moreover,

BY the Lord's Supper as the inspired writer observes, we are one Bread, and one Body, tho' we be many, for we are all partakers of that one Bread, (1 Cor. x. 17.) i. e. We declare that we are but one Body Mistical, by our joynt Communicating at the LORD'S Supper, of one Bread, or one Loaf, which is made up of many Grains, and as we declare the aforesaid Unity, so by partaking of this confirming Seal of the Covenant, we renew and confirm, our solemn Obligations entered into by Baptism, to do all that in us lies, to procure and preserve that Unity: Which repeated En­gagements if it be not a great Evil to violate, I know not what is.

NOR are the aforesaid Divisions less contrary, to the Design of the Ministry of GOD, the Dispensers of the Word and Ordinan­ces; which is the edifying of the Body of CHRIST; not tearing into Parts the one Body of Jesus, and making many of it, No! but building of it up, as the Word signifies, by bringing new Members to it, and strengthening those that are brought in al­rea [...] in Knowledge, Faith and Holiness: And likewise bring­ing Persons to the Unity of the SON of GOD, and to Growth and Establishment therein, that they may be no more tossed to and fro as Children by every Wind of Doctrine (Ephes. iv. 13.) Now how shall Unity in Sentiment, and steadfastness therein be pre­served, against all the shocks of Seducers, without Unity to our Brethren? Is not the Flock more likely to be ensnared when it is broken and scatter'd? Beza justly observes, that the Apostle speaks of the Church as one Man, that he may declare its Unity, which it is the great Business of CHRIST'S Ministers to pro­mote. Farther,

SUCH Divisions are likewise exceeding contrary to the Credit, Comfort, Prosperity and Safety of the Church of GOD.

AS cutting of a Member of the Body deforms it, so does ren­ding and tearing the Church of CHRIST: If you pluck out an Eye, or cut of [...]n Arm, or slit the Nose, how gashful and con­temptible does [...] make the Person look! And is it not so in Rela­tion to the Church of CHRIST, when broken by Divisions? These cruel Methods, marr its Beauty, and make it as much the Grief of its Friends, as the Scorn of its Enemies.

AND what comfort can be expected, in the midst of Wranglings, Tumults and Confusions, which obstruct every Duty, embitter [Page 113] every Sweet of Life, and open before us, the sable Scene of our own Corruptions, as well as of the Blunders of our Brethren, and present at the same Time to our View, gloomy Ideas of im­pending Calamities?

NOR is the Church's Prosperity and Progress, less obstructed by uncharitable Divisions; for while the Members of the Church are possess'd with Prejudices and Envyings against each other, they loose the Benefits of one another's Gifts, and of [...]hat religious Communion, which is equally the amiable Ornament of Christiani­ty, and the agreeable Entertainment of the sincere Profe [...]sors of it; While their Minds and Hearts are possess'd with that Wisdom, that descendeth not from above, and bitter Zeal, (Zelon picron) which the inspired Apostle Terms, earthly, sensual, devilish, (Jam. iv) their Understandings are darkened, their Affections corrupted, and their Food turn'd to the Nourishment of their Disease: Instead of growing up in Humility, Meekness, and Love, they grow in Pride, Peevishness and severe Censure; more and more unlike the blessed Jesus, and the true Genius of his Religion; and yet know not what Spirit they are of! Whereas, if they were of one Mind, and liv'd in Peace, the God of Love and Peace would be with them.

BUT uncharitable Divisions, like a Trojan Horse, pregnant with concealed Enemies, tend to introduce into the Church of Christ, a dismal Train of Errors and Delusions, as well as excite and en­courage Ambition, Ill-nature, and Falshood; the awful Iniquities of the grand Enemy: Hence it is, that Men are sometimes induced, thro' desire of Popularity, and with design of Fame for their sin­gular Conduct, (as it would seem) to arise as the Heads of Fac­tions, and speak perverse Things, that they may draw Disciples after them. (Acts xx. 30.) In a Word uncharitable Divisions, tend not only to obstruct all good Dispositions in our own Souls, but to promote evil Affections, corrupt Principles, and all Manner of Wickedness in Life, for where Envying (or Zeal, Zelos) and Strife are, i. e. envying Zeal, there is Confusion and every evil Work. (Jam. iii. 16.) Again,

UNCHARITABLE Divisions do also hinder the Progress of the Gospel of Jesus in the World, and obstruct the Conversion of poor Sinners to the blessed GOD, and thereby their eternal Salvation: For what Encouragement have they to be religious, while the Church is torn by Divisions, into so great a Number of Parts and Parties, (divers of whom do cruelly condemn all but those of their own way) that they do not know what Religion or Profession to be of? O! this is a melancholy Case, which deserves to be la­mented, if it were possible, with Tears of Blood.

BESIDES Schisms and Divisions, directly lead to a total Aposta­cy from the Faith of Christ, it is doubtless the Master-PLOT of the DEVIL, to confound Men with such a Multitude of Reli­gions, that they may be brought to think that there is nothing in them all, and so reject the Gospel either as a Fancy or Imposture, [Page 114] (a cunningly devis'd Fable) and oppose Jesus Christ as an insignifi­cant Person, or grand Deceiver.

SCHISMS and Divisions, my Brethren, do not only expose the Church to Contempt and Scorn, but likewise to a total Dissolution, to entire Ruin, and Destruction; either more directly by the Hands of her professed, yea, real Friends, thro' misguided and ill-tem­per'd Zeal, destroying each others Characters, while they should be better employ'd, in promoting her Edification, and Defence; or by the Hands of Enemies, who have hereby an Opportunity to attack her unarm'd; and also the Assistance of her Friends, con­trary to their Design, to compass her Ruin, to forward her final overthrow!

THE Words of our dear Redeemer to this Purpose, should not be lightly passed over, Mat. xii. 25. Every Kingdom divided against itself, is brought to Desolation, and ever City, or House, divided against itself, shall not stand, that is, every Kingdom tho' large and strong, yet if divided into various Factions, is like to be over­thrown. (thus Beza, Camero,) It was a common Saying among the Hebrews, like that of Salust, Concordia res parve crescunt, discordia maxime dilabuntur, i. e. by Concord small Things encrease, but by Discord great are destroy'd. Or of Cicero, Que domus, tam stabilis, que tam firma civitas est, que non odiis, atque disi­diis, funditus, possit everti, i. e. what House is so stable, what City so strong and impregnable, as cannot be entirely overthrown, by Hatred and Discord?

OUR Lord insinuates, by applying the aforesaid Proverb to the Occasion, upon which it was spoken, that Satan had more Saga­city, than to attempt to promote his Kingdom by Division; and may we not learn Prudence from an Enemy, Certe fas est et, ab hoste doceri.

SCALIGER'S Observation is truly applicable to Man's degenerate State; Quickquid ad Multitudinem vergit, Antipathiam continet, et quicquid vero ad Unitatem tendit; Simpathiam habet, i. e. whatever verges to Multitude, (of Rivals) promotes Antipathy, but whatever tends to Unity, contains Sympathy. Opening the Veins of the Body and letting it bleed incessantly, (as poor Seneca was treated) does not more directly tend to its Destruction than uncharitable Divisions to the Church's Ruin! Any who will de­liberately read the History of the Church, may easily see what dismal Havock, Divisions have made in it, for these Seventeen Hun­dred Years! In many Countries where Churches once flourished, Divisions have turned all into Desolation, and delivered them up to Mahometan Delusion, the Contentions between Con­stantinople and Rome, the Eastern and Western Churches, have shaken the Christian Interest upon the Earth, and delivered up much of the Christian World to Papal Blindness and Tyranny! yea, such have been the Effects of this detestable Iniquity, that it would long ago have rooted the Christian Name from off the Earth, if Almightiness had not frequently and marvelously inter­posed, [Page 115] to prevent it; any Body that wants to promote the Dis­grace and Destruction of CHRIST'S Kingdom on Earth, cannot take a more direct and effectual Method, to that Purpose, than by earnest and unwearied Endeavours to divide it, either by making new Rents, or continuing those already made.

IN Confirmation of which the Words of the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians chap v. ver. 15. are remarkable, but if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not con­sumed one of another, i. e. beware that you do not wound or tear one another, by Words pointed with Envy and Calumny, and by injurious Deeds; least the Issue thereof should terminate in your mutual Overthrow, and final Ruin! least that GOD who is a consuming Fire, should be provoked by your Impiety to send desolating Calamities and [...]wift Destruction. There is doubtless an Allusion in the Words, bite and devour to the ill-natur'd Snarl­ing and furious Biteing of DOGS, for these Things are indeed more becoming such brutish savage Animals than Men & Christians.

AND hence the Apostle observes, in the 14th, 16th, 17th, and 20th Verses of the same Chapter, that the whole Will of GOD, containing our Duty towards Men, is reducible to this one thing LOVE; for whatever the Almighty requires towards them, is but a Branch from this Root, a Stream from this Fountain; The End of the Commandment, is Charity out of a pure Heart, and Faith un­feigned: The contrary to which, viz. Wrath, Strife, SEDITIONS, Heresies, he expressly calls the manifest Works of the Flesh, the Lustings of the Flesh against the Spirit, Things contrary to the Spirit, which if we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfill.

AND observe that one of those Works of the Flesh is SEDITION, (dichostasiai, a distemi disto, sejungo, dissention dissidium) Dissention, Discord; the same that is elsewhere called Division, and SCHISM, consisting in an uncharitable Alienation of Mind, among those that profess the same Fundamentals of Religion, on Account of Circum­stantial Differences of Opinion; often breaking the external Unity of the Church of CHRIST, and dividing it into Parties, which fol­low different Leaders, whose Persons they have in Admiration: One saying he is of Paul; another he is of Apollos; another of Cephas; and another of CHRIST. (Rom. xvi. 17. 1 Cor. i. 10. And iii. 3. xi. 18. xii. 25.) What is called Sedition in the State, is generally term'd Schism in the Church, but the latter so much resembles the former, in its Rise, Progress, and Issue, that it has sometimes the same Name assign'd it.

AND yet that which makes this horrible Iniquity the more pe­rilous and fatal, is that it is seldom repented of, nay, it is com­monly justified by those that commit it, and contended for, as an Instance of Spirituality, an important Duty, and a proper Mean to promote CHRIST'S Kingdom. It's true it may be Spiritual, but then it is not from the Spirit of GOD, but as the Apostle James observes, the Spirit of the Devil; and to try to promote CHRIST'S Kingdom thereby, is just as prudent, as to cut off our Legs in [Page 116] order to quicken our Motion; or pluck out our Heart or Bowels to promote our Health! It is easy to convince People of the Sin­fulness of Swearing, or Drunkenness, but it is difficult to convince them of this, which is perhaps as much spoken against by the blessed GOD, as any Sin in the Bible; nay, some, instead of seeing Evil in it, father the Abomination upon GOD himself, which is horrible Blasphemy tho' undesign'd!

AND that which tends to confirm Persons in this unhappy Mis­take, is the Piety of some that are guilty of it, but we should learn to distinguish between Persons and their Actions; and to love the one, while we sometimes reasonably hate the other: The Goodness of none can either justify, or protect our Imitation of them in what is bad; all Men are V [...]ity, nor should the Interest of Truth be sacrific'd to their Credit, and far less to their Hu­mour! Whatever good or bad Men may say in favour of envious bitter Zeal, and pretend to derive its Original from Heaven, the Apostle James assures us, that it does not descend from above, but from beneath, from an infernal Source; and that those who say otherwise, do lie against the Truth: How unreasonable then is it for any to be offended, that others can't join with them in call­ing Evil Good, and Good Evil! And to speak Evil of such as cannot run with them to the same Excess of Rïot!

BUT the aforesaid uncharitable Divisions, are not only exceed­ing contrary to the Credit, Comfort, Prosperity and Safety of the Church of GOD, but likewise to all the dear and honourable Re­lations we sustain to GOD, and one another: We are all (pro­fessedly) the Children of GOD, by Faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal. iii. 26.) Members of his mystical Body. (Rom. xii. 5.) We are also GOD's building, fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the Houshold of GOD. (1 Cor. iii. 9. Ephes. ii. 19.) Now are civil Wars comfortable in a Kingdom? Or angry Contentions decent in a Family among Brethren? May I not speak to such in the Language of Abrahom to Lot, (Gen. xiii. 8.) Let there be no Strife I pray thee, between me and thee, for we are Brethren? Is it a friendly Part, to wound or maim our Bodies? Or can that be the Safety of this Kingdom which is the Ruin of all others?

AND dear Sirs, are not such Divisions, exceeding contrary the to Heavenly State, where perfect Love, entire Harmony, and delightful Union reign, without any envious Motion, or discor­dant Jar forever! How then can angry Resentments, sinful Di­visions, and ungovernable Tumults, lead to that Kingdom of Peace, of Unity and Love?

Nay, my Brehren, is not such a wretched State of Things, in some respects, worse than the Kingdom of Satan? who has a greater Regard to his Interest than to destroy it, by dividing it. (Mat. xii. 26)

But are not we commanded, to come out from among them, and to be seperate and not to touch the unclean Thing, and told that the Lord will receive us. (2 Cor. vi. 17.

[Page 117]I answer, These Words are taken from Isaiah lii. 11. to which are joined some Words from Levt. xxvi. 12. What the Prophet says concerning leaving the Babilonians, the Apostle ap­plies, by a Parity of Reason, to other gross Idolaters, which likewise must be forsaken, as Grotius observes.

And touch not the Unclean Thing. By unclean Animals, and unclean Things, the Hebrews mean Idolaters, (Act. x. 14.) be­cause abstinence from Meats, pronounc'd unclean by the cere­monial Law, was one principal Stone in the Wall of Separation, between the Jews who called themselves clean, and the Idola­trous Gentiles, whom they reckon'd unclean; so that this Text does not reach the Point at all, that it is brought for, it only speaks of leaving Infidels and gross Idolaters, that are out of the Communion of the visible Church; but it speaks not of breaking Communion with the Church at all.

THIS Interpretation, the Verses immediately Preceeding confirm, which speak in this Manner, what Concord hath CHRIST with Be­lial? Or what Part hath he that believeth with an Infidel? And what agreement hath the Temple of GOD with Idols? With Belial, that is, either 1st. with the Devil who is so called by way of emphasis, as elsewhere the wicked one; for Belial signifies a Knave, or out Law, so the Seventy interpret the Original Word. Or 2d. with his Laques, Men notoriously Wicked and Scandalous, who are called Children of Belial, (See Deut. xiii. 13. Judg. xix. 22. 1 Sam. i. 16. and 2 Chron. xiii. 7.) i. e. what Portion, Com­munion or Society hath Christ with the Devil, or profane Idolaters? This was a common Phrase among the Hebrews, See Jos. xxii. 24. What have you to do with the LORD GOD of Israel? What agree­ment hath the Temple of GOD with Idols? i. e. What religious Confederacy or Communion can we who are Members of the Church of GOD and Temples of GOD, have with Infidels, or the Worshipers of Idols; who are the Temples of Idols, that is of the Devil worship'd in them; to this Purpose speak many learned Interpreters.*

TO suppose that it intends a seperation from the visible Church, upon the Account of Circumstantials not impos'd, is in effect to say, that Almighty God commands positive Contradictions, be­cause he elsewhere enjoins such to receive each other and there­fore that Gloss must needs be false from which such a Con­tradiction flows.

IT is true if any Church imposes Circumstantials upon us, a­gainst our Consciences, as Terms of Communion, we must obey God rather than Man, in forbearing to communicate with them: and if divine Providence offers an Opportunity of enjoying re­ligious Privileges, without such Impositions, no doubt we may peaceably and charitably withdraw and embrace it: This is far [Page 118] from Schism, which chiefly consists in an uncharitable Allienation of Mind from our Brethren: And hence the Apostle speaks of Schisms among the Corinthians, who met at the same Sacramental Table. Chillingworth, Hales, and Dr. H. More have justly asser­ted, ‘That if the Pope had imposed but one lye to be subscribed, or one Sin to be done, and said all Nations and Persons that do not this, are no Christians, or shall have no Communion with the Church: The Man that refuseth that imposed Lye or Sin, is guiltless of the Schism, and doth but obey God and save his Soul; and the Usurperer that imposeth them will be found the henious schismatick before God, and the Cause of all these Divisions of the Church.’

SOME draw an Objection against Union from these Words of GOD to the Prophet Jeremiah, (chap. xv. 19, 20.) Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them, and I will make thee unto this People a fenced brazen Wall, and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee.

ANSWER, I think Mr. Pool gives us the true meaning of the aforesaid Place of Scripture, in these Words, ‘He chargeth the Prophet to keep his ground and not to go over unto wicked Men, but to use his endeavour to reduce them to that Obedience he yielded to him,’ Do not flatter them or con­form to their Evil Practice, but labour to reclaim them and bring them under the Yoke of God, declare faithfully what I have commanded thee; to this Effect speak Calvin, Junius and Gro­tius. So that what is forbidden, is a criminal Neglect of Duty, a criminal Compliance with, or conformity to what is Evil; but to seek Peace with, and Union to our Brethren, who hold the same Foundation Principles, and are regular in Life, is so far from being Evil, that it is positively commanded: Hence it appears, that the Text aforesaid, is foreign to the Point for which it is aduced. To take the aforesaid Scripture in any o­ther Sense than I have given of it, makes it contradict many positive divine Precepts, which enjoin us to ensue Peace, to leave our Gift at the Altar, and go first and be reconciled to our Bro­ther; and therefore any other Sense of the Text cannot be true, for GOD cannot command Contradictions.

IN reading the late Christian History, composed by Mr. Prince of Boston, I could not but observe in the Accounts he gives of many Reverend Ministers of New-England, who favour'd the late revival of Religion, that notwithstanding of their Zeal for that blessed Work of the most high God, they still retained charitable Sentiments of their Brethren, who differed from them in Opinion upon that Head, and spoke honourably of them: This is an Example well worthy of our Imitation, which may it please the God of Peace and Love, to encline and enable us all to conform to.

OBJECTION, But we must not partake of other Men's Sins, (1 Tim. v. 22.)

I Answer, It is very true, we must not partake of them by [Page 119] Consent, either negatively, by neglecting any Duty incumbent on us for the Prevention or Cure thereof; or positively encouraging it by our Council or Example, but when you have done all that is your Part to oppose and prevent it, the Sin is not yours.

TO suppose that your Presence or joining in publick Ordinances, makes you Guilty without your Consent, is ridiculous Nonsense: For at this Rate, as was hinted before, all social Worship must be destroy'd. For if by joining in Communion with them in out­ward Ordinances, we are, contrary to our Consent, made parta­kers of one Sin of our Brother, why not of all his Sins, by the same Rule? And if of his, why not of every other Man's that we join in Worship with? It is absurd to imagine with some Ignorant, tho' well meaning People, that we partake of this Guilt at the Sacrament only, for we join in religious Worship with them in other Parts of it, such as Prayer and Praises, as really as there; and therefore the aforesaid Gloss will make us guilty of all the Sins of every one that we join with in Worship, either in our Families or publick Assemblies. And if the Case be so, Reason will teach us, to avoid with great Care, all private and publick Worship, for the sake of our Safety, to prevent our Ruin and Damnation; and yet the Almighty enjoins both, to promote our Benefit and Salvation.

Now how can these Things consist together? Can it be rea­sonably suppos'd, that an all-wise and gracious GOD would, in order to promote our good, enjoin us to use any Method which would bring upon us the Guilt of inumerable Transgressions? By the aforesaid Objection, considered in its just and natural Conse­quences, all private and publick Worship are entirely overthrown; because all Men that we do, or can associate with in this World, are imperfect Creatures, guilty of Multitudes of Sins, which ac­cording to it becomes ours, on our worshiping Jehovah with them, according to his Command; and therefore it does not only destroy private and publick Worship altogether, but casts base Blasphemy upon the blessed GOD, as if he was an Enemy to his Creatures as such, and enjoined a Religion upon them that tend­ed directly to promote their eternal Damnation, and that under the Pretext of Kindness and Love! But where is the Sense of our being Guilty of the Sins that we never consented to either vir­tually or actually?

BUT pray observe, that God is not only blasphemed by the aforesaid Objection, and all private and publick Worship overthrown but likewise all Church Government is entirely unhing'd; for un­under the ubrage of it, every one that is Ignorant enough, and inclin'd to be a proud Separatist, (the Character of the Pharisees of old) may according to their humour pretend Dissatisfaction with some circumstantials in Principle, or fault in Practice, either in the Minister or some of the Communicants, where they were wont to join, and so pack of abruptly as the fit takes them, agreeable to the wild flights of their ungovernable Fancy: According to this [Page 120] Plan every Member of the Body takes upon himself, without any Authority, the Government of the whole, the Rule of which is humour and caprice.

SURELY if People were more watchful over their own Hearts and Ways, they would have less of the leaven of the Pharisees, that is, of their proud separating Disposition from others, less of their Sowerness and Severity in censuring of others, for not Tything Mint and Annis and Cummin, for not being so good as they are forsooth, or even fit to converse with them. Hear how the Almighty speaks of such, (Isa. lxv. 2, 3, 5.) I have spread out my Hands all the Day, unto a rebellious People, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own Thoughts; a People that provoketh me to anger continually to my Face; which say stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou: Those are a smoke in my Nose, a fire that burneth all the Day.

UPON which Mr. Henry glosseth justly as follows, ‘The most provoking Iniquity of the Jews, in our Saviour's Time, was their Pride and Hypocrisy, that Sin of the Scribes and Pharisees, against which CHRIST denounceth so many Woes. They say, stand by thy self, keep off, get thee to thine, so the original is, keep to thine own Companions, but come not near to me, least thou pollute me; touch me not, I will not allow thee any familiarity with me, for I am holier than thou, and there­fore thou art not good enough to converse with me, I am not at other Men, nor even as this Publican. They thought themselves holier than any, better than any of their Neighbours. These are a Smoke in my Nose saith GOD, such a Smoke as comes not from a quick Fire which soon becomes glowing and pleasant, but from a Fire of wet Wood, that burns all the Day, and is nothing but Smoke. Note, nothing in Men is more Odious, and Offensive to GOD, then a Proud Conceit of themselves, and Contempt of others, for commonly those are mos [...] [...]nholy of all, that think themselves Holier than any.’

THERE were many Corruptions in the Churches at Corinth, Galatia and Laodocea, but we read of no Command to separate from them on account thereof.

GIVE me leave to consider one Objection more, which is this, viz. That our Brethren of the present Synod of Philadelphia, have oppos'd the whole of the late Work of God in this Land, and ascribed it to the Devil; in support of which, these Things follow­ing are alledg'd, viz.

A Satyrical Lampoon, entitled, the Wandering Spirit. But see­ing that Peice was Anonymous, (had no Name affix'd to it) and was never own'd by our Brethren, as a Body, it cannot, without manifest Injustice, be ascrib'd to them, as such; nor is there any certain or sufficient Proof, that ever it was own'd and approv'd of (in all its Parts) by any one of them, so far as I know: And if there was, it can't affect the whole, unless the like Proof can be offered against them.

[Page 121]AGAIN, The Querists are produc'd as another Proof, in Con­firmation of the Charge; to which it may be reply'd, That not­withstanding of some slighty Representations of the late religious Commotions, interspers'd in some Passages of those Writings; yet I know not that they assign any of them, and much less all of them, to the Devil: Moreover it should be considered, that these Books were Anonymus, and never approv'd by the Synod of Philadelphia, by any authoritative judicial Act, nor, so far as I know, by any of their inferior Judicatures, as such, and therefore cannot be justly charged upon that Body as their Act and Deed.

BUT the following Paragraph of the Protest, page 11. is tho't by some to be a sufficient Evidence of the Charge. The Words are these ‘6. Their preaching the Terrors of the Law in such Manner and Dialect as has no precedent in the Word of God, but rather appears to be borrow'd from a worse Dialect, and so industriously working on the Passions and Affections of weak Minds, so as to cause them to cry out in a hideous Manner, and fall down in Convulsion-like Fits, to the marring of the profiting both of themselves and others, who are so taken up in seeing and hearing these odd Symptoms, that they cannot attend to, or hear what the Preacher says; and then after all, boasting of these Things as the Work of God, which we are per­swaded do proceed from an inferior or worse Cause.’

The insufficiency of this Evidence, may be plainly perceived by considering, that it is only some exceptionable particulars that are oppos'd in the preceeding Paragraph, viz. an unscriptural Mode of preaching the Terrors of the Law, an industrious work­ing on the Passions of weak Minds, causing hideous out cries, and falling down in Convulsion-like Fits, and boasting of these Things as the Work of God. Now are any of these Things a Part, or all of them together, the Work of God we have been contending for, or any Part of it, any necessary Apendage of it, or any Evi­dence of it? If we say Yea, we ourselves brand the Work of God with Scandal and Ridicule, if nay, then these Things come from an inferior or worse Cause. Pray is not Nature, a Cause inferior to GOD, and worse then him? And does not Charity oblige us, to put the most mild Construction upon others Words, that they can in Reason bear? The Sense I have given of the Words, is easy and natural, but the other is a Force upon them; pray does it not look more like the strength of Prejudice then Argument, to turn Particulars into Generals or Universals, and put the har­dest Interpretation upon Words, that they can possibly bear. The Words of the Paragragph are particular and limited, boasting of THESE THINGS, as the work of GOD, if any were Guilty hereof, (as doubtless our Brethren were so inform'd) they were to be pitied for their Weakness, and if any of the younger Ministers, im­prudently aggravated to an excessive pitch, the Passions of the disress'd, by an unscriptural or unseasonable Inculcation of Terrors, (at any Time) it was certainly very wrong; but whether there was [Page 122] any Foundation for this Charge, in any Degree, it is not my Busi­ness at present to Inquire?

IN a Word, whatever unadvised Expressions, in private Con­versation, might possibly drop from the Lips of some of our Bre­thren in a heat of Passion, or ferment of Dispute, (in disparage­ment of the Work of GOD) many Years agone, which Methinks it is now high Time to forget, yet upon Enquiry I cannot find any UNITED TESTIMONY of their BODY upon Record against the late REVIVAL of RELIGION, (truly so called) not one by which they deny the Reality of it, and far less ascribe it to the Devil. Now whither it is Reasonable or Charitable, for any to suffer their Minds to be inflamed with prejudice against their Brethren, by unprov'd reports, judge ye? It never was, nor I believe ever can or will be prov'd, against the present Synod of Philadelphia, That they have generally, universally, or as a Body ascrib'd the late revival of Religion (truly and properly so call'd) to the Devil, and therefore however Pious our Designs are, it is no Act of Friendship to Truth, to Justice, to Charity, or to the Peace and Weal of CHRIST'S visible Kingdom, to receive or spread such Charges, as directly tend to create, encrease, and confirm Pre­judices, and enflame resentments against our Brethren, widen the Breaches of Zyon as the Sea, and make her Wounds Bleed a fresh, and reject a Remedy: May GOD in Mercy to his poor Church, Pardon and Reform such unaccountable Conduct!

PRAY may not an Acknowledgement be as reasonably desir'd of us, for LICENCING and ORDAINING contrary to the Act of the Synod, as we can desire an Acknowledgement, upon the Account of the PROTEST? But can we make such an Acknowledgment? No! for whither we did right or wrong in Licencing &c. we did it in the integrity of our Hearts, as believing it to be our Duty; & if we wou'd exercise the same Charity towards our Brethren, as we desire to­wards ourselves, in this Case, wou'd no [...] we believe that they pro­tested against us with the like Integrity, from an Apprehension ‘that the Church was in no small Danger of expiring out right, and that quickly as to the Form, Order and Constitution of an Organiz'd Church’ (As they themselves express it in the 5th Page of the Protest) and if so whither their view of Things was right or wrong, if they remain of the same Judgment how can they acknowledge without Sinning against Conscience? And thus by insisting on Acknowledgments, the way to Union is as effectually, as uncharitably, unscripturally, and unreasonably shut up, without any probability of an Alteration; and is not this a la­mentable Case? Surely it is!

NOW in order to avoid uncharitable Divisions, and Tumults; it is necessary to beware of Pride; for as Solomon observes, It is only by Pride that Contention comes, (Prov. xiii. 10.) And else­where he declareth, that a proud Spirit stirreth up Strife; this makes Men easy to be provok'd, and hard to be reconciled, the proud Man is always aiming at some higher Mark of Honour: [Page 123] and if Peace and Union won't answer that, War and Division shall; what else but Ambition made War in Heaven itself? Pride inclines us to obtrude with Violence our Opinion even in lesser Things upon others, and unjustly deny them the Liberty we desire for our­selves. And therefore we are told, that the Overseer or Pastor of a particular Flock, or Bishop should be no Novice, least being lifted up, or puffed up with Pride, he fall into the Condemna­tion of the Devil. (1 Tim. iii. 6.) it was doubtless upon the Ac­count of Pride, that the Apostle John complains of Diotrep [...] who thro' Love to Preheminence, refused to receive the Brethren, [...] forbid them that would, yea, and cast them out of the Church; prating against them with malicious Words, (3 John 9, 10.) But on the contrary Humility will incline us to dwell at home, and think ourselves unworthy of the Communion of our Brethren, and to be most quarrelsome against our own Corruptions; it will encline us to do nothing in Strife and Vain-glory, but in lowliness of Mind, each to esteem the other, better than himself. It will in­cline us to reckon ourselves, the Chief of Sinners, and far less than the least of all Saints.

O, how precious and amiable is this Grace, in the esteem of GOD and good Men! This should be our constant Garb, our constant Ornament, with which we should be cloathed, and without which we are indeed naked, and deform'd; He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, (but Pride goes before a Fall, and a high Mind before Destruction.) In such, GOD dwells; to such he gives In­crease of Grace, and such he guides in his Way, but the Proud he looks on afar off: And hence the Apostle cautions us against being wise in our own Conceits, and minding high Things, (Rom. xii. 16.) i. e. Things above our Capacities and Callings, and that we should not think over highly of ourselves, but soberly as we ought to think, (Rom. xii. 3.) alla phronein, eis to sopronein; which was the Psalmist's Sentiment and Practice. (Ps. cxxxi. 1.) *

NOR is it less necessary, to beware of narrowness of Soul; which not only the Warmth of some Men's Tempers, disposes them to, as well as their conversing with such only who are of their turn of Mind, and small Stature in respect of Knowledge; but especially their Unacquaintedness with the History of the Church of CHRIST in past Ages, as well as with its present State through­out the World. If religious People did but know the great Mischief that Divisions have done in former Times, to the Church of CHRIST, they would not pretend to reform her, by that which has almost proved her Ruin: Or uncharitably confine the Church of CHRIST within the narrow Compass of a Nut-shell. I mean a few Societies of their own superfine Cast or Party; and so rob the Redeemer, of his visible Kingdom on Earth almost altogether.

FARTHER it is likewise exceeding necessary, in order to pre­serve the UNION of the visible Church, to AVOID ALTERING the TERMS of COMMUNION which CHRIST has FIX'D; we should [Page 124] let Matters stand as our Lord has left them, and not pretend to make any new Terms of Communion, or make any thing necessary to the UNION of the Church, which CHRIST has not made ne­cessary.* Ministers are but Servants, as their Name signifies, and therefore should not Lord is over their Brethren, and usurp the Legislator's Place, or attempt to be Masters of our Faith, No! CHRIST, and none but CHRIST, is our KING, in Matters purely religious; tho' the Church it is true, has an executive, yet she has no legislative Authority, nor is there any Need of it, the holy Scriptures are a compleat Rule, able to make the Man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnished to every good Work. And if there was Need, the Church has no Capacity equal to that Province; her Business is to obey the Precepts already issued forth, by the royal Authority of Zyon's King, and not to obtrude new ones of her own Invention, which serve only to enslave the Consciences of Men to a human Authority, to divide the Mediator's Kingdom into numberless Parts, and draw his Subjects from their Allegiance, to their rightful Lord and Sovereign.

IT is also necessary, Sirs, to beware of enslaving ourselves, to any Party of Men, by confining all our Respect to them, to the Neglect of others; and making them Masters of our Consciences, because of their Piety; so as to take for granted what they say, by an implicit Faith, without examining it; or so as to be sla­vishly afraid to contradict them: No! my Brethren, we must not judge of Doctrines by the Persons that hold them; tho' this is, alas, almost as common, as it is perverse and fatal; but by the Word of GOD, which is our only Rule; sometimes it happens that a bad Man is in the Right, and a good Man in the Wrong.

NEVERTHELESS the Judgment of the aged and experienced, in whom the fierce Fires of Youth are abated, (which some call Zeal, but falsely) not only by the Influence of Years, but by far­ther Acquaintance with themselves, (in a great Variety of Vicissi­tudes, and Tossings upon this turbulent Ocean) as well as with the rest of Mankind, and by more deep and calm Searches, into the Meaning of the Scriptures, and History of past Ages: I say the Judgment of such, is more to be valu'd, and especially in Mat­ters that concern the Peace of the Church of GOD, than the in­digested Notions of rash-headed, fiery and unexperienced Youth: Yet the Judgment of none should be taken without Tryal, as the great Apostle Paul humbly acknowledges concerning himself, that when he was a Child, he spake as a Child; so had others his Hu­mility they would acknowledge the same Thing; but it seems, as if many imagined themselves Men in Knowledge, without ever passing thro' the Infant Age; contrary to the Order of Nature, and of GOD; and consequently conceit that their Knowledge is miraculous, in an Age long after Miracles have ceased; but can give no Proof of this extraordinary Attainment, excepting vain [Page 125] and strong Confidence in their own Opinion, (respecting little Things) and a Contempt of the Opinion of others, who had the Misfortune not to know so much at first as afterwards; both which are insufficient Vouchers; but when the Apostle grew to the Stature of a Man, he was not ashamed to put away Childish Things; nor should others, to follow his Example, how much soever they may suffer for it, by such, who would seem to have it understood, that they are infallible, and that Wisdom must die with them.

FARTHER any that desire, to promote the Peace and Union of CHRIST'S Kingdom, shou'd beware of medling with the Faults of the Ministers of it, in such a Way as tends to Disparage them and Obstruct their usefulness; no doubt they may and ought to be reprov'd, when there is need of it, but this ought to be in their presence, with Humility, Meekness and Love, so as tends to promote their Cure; (and hence we are di­rected to entreat an Elder as a Father.) Not by Backbiting and Slandering of them in their absence, or threatning and reviling them in their presence, which has no other Tendency but to ex­press our sinful Resentments, inflame theirs, and render both Contemptible!

NOR should we forget, what the sacred Scriptures inform us, of the Mutiny of Corah and his numerous Companions, who gather'd themselves together, against Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you, seeing all the Congregation are Holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them, wherefore then, lift ye up yourselves, above the Congregation of the LORD? The issue of which Mutiny was exceeding dreadful! (See Num. xvi.) My Brethren saith the Apostle James, be not many Masters, (Didascaloi, teachers) knowing that ye shall receive the greater Con­demnation, (Jam. iii.)

AND shou'd not such as are desirous of Peace, and Union be­ware of looking with an envious Eye, upon the Conduct of others, only to carp and accuse? Yes Surely, we shou'd be more ready to observe, what is good and commend it; let us imitate the Bee, that feeds on fragrant Flowers, and not the Crow, that passes over them with a sordid neglect, and feeds only on Carrion. And when we observe any Corruption in the Church, we ought to take notice of the contrary extream, least while we shun one Evil, we run into another, which is as natural as it is fatal.

ENVY my Brethren, basely Spites every Thing that is Excellent and truly Noble: But is the most direct and sworn Enemy to Peace and Union: 'Twas the Envy of the Devil, that first disturb'd the Peace and Order of the World; that set Men in Battle Array against GOD, and one another: And it is the same that foments all the Jars Confusions and Divisions of the Church and State, so that Satan may be justly call'd the Father of Discords and Divisions, as well as of Lies; indeed the envious Man is a Uni­versal Enemy.

[Page 126]NOR should we keep at a Distance from those we differ with▪ Hearing of their Reasons calmly, has an excellent tendency to remove Prejudices, and unite Mens Minds and Affections, but the contrary Method, which too much obtains among Parties gene­rally, viz. keeping at a great distance from each other and conversing only with those of their own Sentiments; together with a ready Reception of bad Reports of one another, and spreading them about with speed and diligence, and perhaps with the Addition of some aggravating Circumstance, or stronger Point of Light, the Omissiion of some favourable one and ascribing the whole Charge to a secret bad Design; without hearing the accused Per­sons Apology, or having any certain Proof of the Accusation, or making any kind Interpretations in his favour, is most unjust and barbarous, and tends to turn all into Flame and Uproar!

AGAIN my Brethren, it is no more prejudicial to Peace and Unity, then it is base and degenerous in itself, for Persons of either Side of the Question in Debate, to make a sordid Triumph over, to lampoon, redicule, and burlesque, suppos'd or real Condescen­tions, in order to Peace and Union, without which they are not like to be attain'd; such who thus sit in the scorners Chair, and labour to oppress with Scandal and Contempt, what is truly vertuous and commendable, do thereby declare themselves to be Enemies to the Peace of Christ's Kingdom; and that they preferr their Party-Passions, and Prejudices before it; nor do they less manifest their own inconsistency, for if they suppose that any have chang'd their Sentiments for the better, in any Instance, why do they reproach it? If for the worse, why did they not approve their former Sentiments? It is inglorious to Deride, or Triumph over the suppos'd or real Mistake, or Distress, even of an Enemy, how much more then of a Friend? In a Word, such Men if they may be call'd so; (seeing they bid defiance to the Sentiments of Humanity,) like brute Beasts speak Evil of what they understand not, publish their own shame, and instead of exposing others, do contrary to their Design, (in Effect) pronounce a Panegyrick upon them, and a just Satire upon themselves!

ON the Contrary, dear Sirs, let us with sincerity, speed and steadfastness, comply with the positive Means of Peace and Union before hinted. O! let us entertain kind Thoughts of the Speech and Actions of our Brethren. Dr. H. More observes justly, ‘That it would do much more good in the World, if all Parties instead of severe Censure, were ready to find out and commend what is good in the Doctrine and Worship of those that differ from them; that this would encline them to listen to advice for Reformation, and keep up the Credit of the common Truths and Duties of Religion; when this envious snarling at all that o­thers do, tends to bring Mankind to Atheism, and banish all re­verence of Religion, together with Christian Charity, from the Earth.’

[Page 127]DID not our LORD use this Method when he reproved the Churches of Ephesus, Pergamos and Thyatyra? to soften their na­tive Obstinacy and Reluctance against Reproof, and to make it efficacious to answer its Design: The blessed JESUS introduced it with a Commendation of what was Praise worthy in them, (Rev. ii.) This is an Example truly rational, and well worthy of Imita­tion.

O! let us not believe every bad Story we hear of our Bre­thren. Scultetus (from Tossanus) relates this Passage of Prince Frederick of Montpelgard, who had been prejudiced against the Protestants by a Papal Tuition, that when he was at Geneva and Helvetia, he was wont to say, ‘Geneve et in Helvetia, vidi mul­ta, de quibus, nihil, pauca eorum de quibus sepe audivi.’ i. e. At Geneva and Helvetia, I have seen many Things of which I heard nothing before, and few of those Things which I have often heard of. It was likewise a just and generous saying of Lord Verulam, in his Essays, worthy of a good Mind, ‘That the GOD above, who knoweth the Heart, doth discern, that frail Men in some of their Contradictions, intend the same Thing, and accepteth both.’ This is in Substance the same with the Apostles truly Catholick Sentiments expressed in the fourteenth Chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, a Chap­ter exceeding necessary to be well understood, and seriously con­sidered at this Juncture.

IF we would but defend an accused Brother in his absence, as far as Reason directs, as far as we would desire him to defend us in the like Circumstances, and be hardly induced to believe what is bad of them; and even when we are constrained to it by sufficient and credible Evidence, to yield an unwilling assent; and in the mean time to impute the faulty Sentiment, the criminal Conduct to good Design, or to Ignorance, Oversight and Incon­sideration, rather than Malignity, as far as we reasonably can, it would probably have a happy Influence to promote Peace and Union. And

FARTHER, if to kind Thoughts, we add candid courteous Speech, and friendly Behaviour and Action, it will crown the Scene, soften their Prejudices, invite mutual Respect, from all that are not entirely lost to a Sense of Ingenuity and Gratitude, and so pre­serve Peace and Union where they are, and at least prepare the Way for them where they are not. If such a Conduct is like to have Influence upon an Enemy, surely much more upon a dis­pleased Friend and Brother. But that is the Case, and hence we are advised to it by the Apostle, (Rom. xii. 20.) Therefore if thy Enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst give him drink; for in so doing, thou shalt heap Coals of Fire on his Head, i. e. in­stead of returning Evil for Evil to thine Adversary, do him kind Offices, which have a noble Tendency to make him relent; this will heap Coals of Fire upon his Head, not of wrath, but love, not to burn him, but to soften his obstinate Resentments: This [Page 128] will excite him to reciprocal Respect, say Augustine and Erasmus. The Apostle probably alludes to some hard Metals, which are softened by Fire, not only put under, but sometimes cast on the Top of the Cruciple. ‘To love Friends (or those that are kind to us) is common to all, saith Tertulian, but to love Enemies, is peculiar to Christians.’ * And therefore we should not be overcome of Evil, but overcome Evil with good. He that revenges himself (i. e. privately) is overcome by the Evil of his Enemy, and the Passion of his own Mind; but he that shews Kindness for Cruelty, carries the Lawrels of Victory and Triumph! Not to re­compence Evil for Evil, or retaliate Injuries by private Resent­ment, which is as natural to us as it is prejudicial to Society, as it is truly excellent in itself, so it is often beneficial to those that observe it: For, as Valerius Maximus nobly observes, ‘Injuries are more beautifully conquer'd with Kindnesses, than requited by the obstinacy of mutual hatred’

WITHOUT Beneficence, our in-offencive Carriage will be look'd up­on as a suspicious Strangeness, rather than a peaceable Demeanour, especially if when pressed with Necessity, we do not relieve them, they will look upon themselves to be slighted and wronged; for Need, in the Opinion of those that feel it, begets a title to com­petent relief, which if they be deny'd, they think they are in­jur'd.

DEARLY beloved avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto Wrath, for Vengeance is the Lords, and he will repay it. Because this Duty of abstaining from private Revenge is so dif­ficult to Flesh and Blood, the Apostle repeats it with a friendly Compelation, that his intreaty might prevail the more, he counsels the believing Romans to restrain their Anger from Re­sistance, and to leave the Part of Judgment and Punishment to GOD, and commit their Cause to him, who judgeth righteously, and will in due Time vindicate the Inocent.

BE of the same Mind one towards another, in respect of Con­cord and Affection in your Councils and Actions. Let not Mercy and Truth forsake thee, bind them about thy neck, write them upon the Table of thine Heart, so shalt thou find favour in the fight of God and Man. (Pro. iii. 3.4.) If it be possible, as much as lyeth in you, live peaceably with all Men. The Apostle here supposeth, that it may so happen, by Reason of the frowardness of some Mens Tempers, and the unreasonableness of the Condi­tions of Peace they propose, that it will be impracticable to live in Peace with them, it may be inconsistent with Truth and Holi­ness to comply with their Demands; nevertheless as much as lyeth in us, we should carefully avoid offering Occasion of Disturbance, [Page 129] and Endeavour (Provirili) Studiously, with all our Might, those Things that tend to procure Peace, where it is not, and preserve it where it is, by a peaceable Temper and Behaviour, by peaceable Desires, Designs, Councils, Proposals, Pleadings, Condescensions; to this Purpose speak Camero, Gomarus, Pareus, Toletus, Erasmus, Grotius.

LET us do Justice and love Mercy, we should be just in our Dealings to all Men, punctually observing our Contracts, impartially deciding Controversies, equally distributing Rewards. JUSTICE in its own Nature, and by the common Agreement of Men, is design'd to be the Guardian of Peace and Union, and sovereign Remedy of Contentions.

NOR is it less necessary, to remit our right in nice, rigorous and doubtful Points, to avoid as much as we can, hard Measures, and Extremities, especially in smaller Matters; for such Severities shew little kindness to our Neighbours, or Regard to their Good; which tends to exasperate them, and make them believe we are their Enemies, and so excite them to be ours; but on the contrary some rebatement of Right, will enduce them to have an honourable Opinion of us, and a sincere Affection to us.

AS Money is the Sinew of War, so is Peace of Society; with­out which it is so far from obtaining any of its just and valuable Ends, that perfect Solitude is preferrable to it, for in that we only want the Help of Friends, but in this we receive Injury from them; it is Peace that makes Society a Defence, and distin­guishes the Congresses of Men from the Herds of Beasts: As Union strengthens every Thing, so Peace cements Union and holds all together; this gives Beauty, Order, Proportion, Decency and Agreeableness to Society; this inclines every Man to keep within his proper Sphere, and not to aspire after another's Business; the Hand does not affect the Place of the Eye, nor the Foot of the Head; the Result of which must be the most consumate Beauty, and perfect Harmony: This derives an innocent and great De­light to the whole Body, for who can express the noble Pleasures of sincere Affection? The Sweetnesses that issue from mutual Kindness, entire Confidence, and a firm Union of Minds?

SEEING we are here in a State of Imperfection, where the most Intelligent know but in Part, and consequently where difference of Sentiment about Circumstantials, or Matters of lesser Moment, wherein the Interest of vital and practical Christianity is little con­cerned; it is unreasonable to suffer the Vigour of our mutual Af­fections to abate, and much more so when we indulge an Aliena­tion of them!

THE great Things of Religion wherein we are happily agreed, should suffice to maintain mutual Respect, and be an enduring Bond of Affection and Union among us.

FORASMUCH as we have no Reason to believe that lesser Diffe­rences of Sentiment, do exclude Persons from the Love of our common Lord, they should not from ours; and doubtless it is on [Page 130] this Account, that our dear Saviour and his Apostles, have so frequently inculcated the great Duties of mutual Forbearance, Pa­tience and Love; which we would be more ready inviolably to observe, if we had a just and humble Sense of the Weakness of our Understandings, and great Deficiency of our Knowledge, in this mutable, mortal, miserable and imperfect State? We need the Mantle of other's Charity, to vail our Mistakes and Failures in Sentiment and Practice, and can we consistently deny the same to others? Our great Master and compassionate Redeemer overlooks many Mistakes and Imperfections in his sincere Servants, and why should not we do so likewise? Should not the some Mind that was in him be in us? Should not we in imitation of his glorious Ex­ample, Receive others as he hath received us, (Rom. xv. 7.) Should not such as are strong, bear with the Infirmities of the Weak? And not please themselves, but their Neighbour for his Good and Edification, even as CHRIST pleased not himself? (Rom. xv. 3, 12.)

DEAR Sirs! Why should not we make such due Allowances, and charitable Apologies for our Brethren's Misapprehension in Opinion, and Indiscretions in Practise, and for their unhappy By­asses of Prejudice and Passion, the true Source of the former, as we are or should be conscious, we need for our own? And be ready to exercise the same Forbearance towards them, that we desire and expect? If not, how can we love our Neighbour as ourselves? The Observance of which Precept, you know, Sirs, as it is highly rational in itself, so it is of the last Importance in all Societies, both civil and religious; why therefore should we not stoop to the humblest Offices of Kindness towards them? And if any of them are overtaken with a Fault, to restore such with the Spirit of Meekness, considering ourselves, least we also should be tempted.

THE Vindication of Misdemeanours committed against us, does not belong to us, for indeed we are not competent Judges of them; it being (our own Cause) nor rightful Executors of the Punishment due for them; and therefore GOD has reasonably reserved this difficult Province to himself, Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.

INSTEAD of exciting Revenge, to which we have naturally such a wild, fierce and ungovernable Proness, we are obliged by the Religion of JESUS, to interpret our Neighbour's Offences in the mildest Sense they are capable of, as flowing from Infirmity or Mistake, and to forgive them, in imitation of the blessed GOD, who is gracious and merciful, and slow to anger.

WE ourselves being subject to the same, or greater Faults, do need Pardon from others; and therefore should extend the same to them: And if GOD has forgiven us a Thousand Talents shall we take our Brother by the Throat for a few Pence? And indeed the Almighty has made our forgiving others, a necessary Condi­tion of our obtaining Pardon ourselves. (Matt. vi.) If ye forgive Men their Trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not Men their Trespasses, neither will your heavenly [Page 131] Father forgive your Trespasses. Nor does private Revenge do any Service, but on the contrary, provoke to greater Injuries.

BUT the Example of our LORD, should especially enduce us to Meekness and Patience; and hence we are commanded to learn of him, who is meek and lowly in Heart, (and assured that in this way) we shall find rest to our Souls. And elsewhere we are enjoin'd, to consider him who endured the Contradiction of Sinners against himself, least we be weary and faint in our Minds.

THE Example of our LORD, my Brethren, was the most per­fect, amiable and glorious of this Kind that ever was presented to human View; he was above all Expression, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with Grief; his whole Life was a continued train of Miseries; and therein shone forth with unclouded and inex­pressible Brightness, the unstain'd, uninterrupted exercise of Meek­ness and Patience, in all their amiable Oriency, Charms and A­tractives.

HIS Parentage was, to appearance, obscure and mean. His Life was spent not only in continual Labour and hard Travel, but in extreme Poverty; and hence it is said of him, that the Foxes have Holes, and the Birds of the Air have Nests, but that the Son of Man hath no where to lay his Head. Sometimes he fed upon course fare, and sometimes was destitute of ordinary Food, and sometimes was indebted for it, even to Strangers of the humblest Order and Character; yet we find no shaddow of mur­mur by our LORD'S Conduct in that humble situation, or any En­deavour after a change of it.

NOR was he only in a low and poor Estate, but environ'd round with the most formidable Dangers, and expos'd to all the Darts of Envy in their utmost virulence and malignity, the World hated him because he was not of it, and sought to slay him; and this in return for the most important unparallel'd and condescend­ing Kindness and Mercy that ever was or can be expressed to the Sons of Men! Yet he was grievously asperss'd and inhumanly persecuted, without committing the least Offence; these Things our LORD bore with an undisturb'd calm of Mind, and instead of Revenge, pour'd down Blessings on his Enemies: He instructed their Minds, forgave their Offences, sympathiz'd with them in their Straits, their Sorrows, healed their Diseases and supplicated his Father in their favour, Father forgive them!

WHEN his Countrymen and Kindred shew'd him ungrateful dis­respect, instead of complaining, he excus'd their Rudeness, by ob­serving, that a Prophet was not without Honour save in his own Country, and in his own House. And when the Samaritan Stran­gers treated him with indecency and contempt, and his forward Disciples were fir'd with unhallow'd Indignation, for the Indignity and Affront that was shewn to their Master, he gently labour'd to soften their Severity, and calm their Resentment, by observing, that they knew not what Spirit they were of, and that he came not into the World to destroy Mens lives, but to save them.

[Page 132]WHEN the Disciples indulg'd an unreasonable incredulity in the midst of the most powerful Arguments to the Contrary, the blessed JESUS only gave a gentle Admonition, why are ye fearful, O ye of little Faith?

WHEN Judas in the most ungrateful and treacherous Manner betray'd him, he saluted him with gentleness and courtesy, Friend wherefore art thou come?

WHEN his Disciples, in the Juncture of his extreme Distress, were sleepy and slothful, notwithstanding of his affectionate warn­ings and moving entreaties to the Contrary; yet the meek JESUS only gave them a gentle Rebuke, and immediately added to it, a charitable Apology in their favour, least the Reproof should make too deep Impression upon their Minds, could ye not watch with me one Hour? The Spirit indeed is willing, but the Flesh is weak. Blessed Lord JESUS, how dear and amiable, and yet how amazing are thy Meekness and Patience! O send down thy holy Dove-like Spirit into this wretched World, from which Meekness and Pa­tience have almost taken their final flight, and make, O make thy People like thyself.

WHEN his zealous overconfident Apostle (Peter) deny'd him, in a very scandalous and dreadful Manner, with Oaths and Curses, did our LORD storm at him, and reject him? No! but look'd him into CONTRITION by his LOVE, and ordered the first TYD­INGS of his RESURECTION to be told to him in particular, go and tell the Disciples, and tell Peter; poor Peter that has de­ny'd me, yet I know him, I remember him, I love him still; tell him this for his Comfort, that his Friend and Saviour has risen from the Dead. O! the amazing Meekness! O the inex­pressible incomparable Tenderness of the Mercy and Love of our dear, dear Lord JESUS CHRIST! The Heavens and the Earth may be astonished at it! Surely our blessed High Priest is ten­derly touch'd with the feeling of our Infirmities! His Bowels sound seasonable Succour to the Distressed and Indigent, his Bowels bleed over them in their Calamities.

WHEN the High Priests Officers did injuriously strike him, he only return'd a mild Expostulation, If I have spoken Evil, bear Witness of the Evil, if well, why smitest thou me?

OUR LORD protected from harm the very Instruments of his Sufferings, as appears in the Cure of the High-Priest's Servant, whose Ear Peter had rashly struck off. Suffer me thus far, said the meek JESUS, i. e. suffer me to do this Thing, (says Ludovi­cus de diu) unbind my Hands for a little moment, that I may heal this poor Man. Our LORD was more zealous for the safety of his Enemies than his own! All his Behaviour at the Time of his Tryal and last Sufferings, was a perfect calm; he was led as a Lamb to the Slaughter, so he opened not his Mouth. All the load of Calumny that was cast upon him, and cruel Treatment he endur'd, did not extort one angry Word, No! Instead thereof, he pray'd his Father to forgive their Offences, and labour'd to [Page 133] extenuate them, to apologize for them on the Account of their Ignorance and Mistake: They know not what they do! O the kind­ness of CHRIST! O glorious Example! It was a just Observation of Elipha [...], that A [...]ction comes not out of the Dust. The Almighty has a right to dispose of our Condition, and manages the Go­vernment of the Universe with infinite Wisdom, and inflexible Righteousness; with irresistable Power and unexhausted Goodness: There is the exactest Harmony, the noblest Tendency, the firmest Union and strictest Adjustment, in and among all the Parts of the grand Sy [...] of Providence, which shall be made fully manifest, to the whole intelligent Creation, at the End of Time: When the Deep and at present impenetrable Plot of this surprising Drama, shall be opened▪ Then shall every one be satisfy'd with its Beauty, Conduct and Design, tho' now to us who sit in a dark Corner of this vast Theatre, some of its Parte seem cloudy and perplex'd, GOD's ways are (often) in the great Deep, and his footsteps are not known; he covers with Darkness his Pavilion, and hides the Face of his Throne: He gives no account of his Matters, does not open the Springs, Connection, and particular Scope of the several Parts of Providence, to the Sons of Men; No! there is a wheel, within a wheel; which makes good Men think, that many Things are against them, and against the Church, which really tend to and shall issue in the good of both, as in the Advancement of Joseph in Egypt, which was compass'd by a series of seemingly contrary Events, each of which was so necessary to carry on the Design, that the removal of it would have effectually marr'd the whole; or like the misty veil of the Morning, which tho' for a while by an unfriendly Aspect, it clouds the grateful Light, yet soon ushers in a brighter Day; hence the great Doctor of the Gentiles, exclaims upon this stupenduous Subject of Providence, with humble Rapturous, but just Astonishment, in the following no­ble Language, O the Depth of the Riches, both of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his Judgments, and his Ways [...] finding out?

BUT to Forebearance, Meekness and Patience, let us add the glo­rious Grace and Vertue of Love: This is essential to the Nature of true Christianity; this is the grand Characteristick of its sincere Professors; this is their great Preparative for its promised Re­wards.

LOVE, Dear Sirs, is essential to the Nature of Christianity; and hence it's called by our Lord himself, the first and great Com­mand, (Mat. xxii. 37, 38, 39.) and truly so it is, in respect of its Object, its Order, its Obligation, its Extent, its Excellency, its End.

THE Supreme Object of Love, is the highest and best of Be­ings, the blessed GOD, who is the Supreme Excellency and the chief Good. Augustine esteemed it as an inestimable Privilege, that he had Liberty to Love. ‘Who am I, saith he, that thou [Page 134] commandest me to love, and threatnest me with Misery if I do not love thee.’

THE order and dignity of Love, is such, that we must place it before all other Graces and Duties, as the Foundation of Piety: Whatsoever is taught in the Law, and the Prophets, flows from this as a Fountain, and grows upon this as a Root, and hence we are commanded to be rooted and grounded in Love.

THE Obligation of Love, is indispensable, and perpetual. As Jehovah first bestows his Love upon us, and then whatever he conferrs afterwards, he gives in Love, so the blessed GOD requires, that we first give him our Love, and then do all from that Prin­ciple. No Duty can warrant the Intermission of our Love one Moment; divers other Duties may be dispens'd with for a Time, but the Almighty can no more dispense with this then deny himself!

THE extent of Love, is exceeding large, in respect of its Object, Subject, Duration; it regards its supreme Object the blessed GOD, with a supreme respect, in the Unity of his Essence, and Trinity of Persons, in all his atributes, both incommunicable and com­municable, and in all the Discoveries he has given of them in his Word and Works of Creation, Redemption and Providence: It is likewise carry'd out to its inferior OBJECT the whole Human race, with Benignity and Benevolence, and towards the visible Children of the Kingdom, or Saints of GOD (according to the Sentiment of Charity) with peculiar Complacence! As to its SUBJECT, it re­quires the harmonius Concurrence of all our Powers, the whole Man, the whole Heart and Soul, the whole Mind, the whole Strength, as the great Prophet of the Church informs us. As to its DURATION it is Everlasting. Most of the other Commands shall expire with this World, but this endures forever, when Repentance and Mortification which do or ought to employ, a considerable Part of our Time expire, when Faith turns into vision, and Hope into fruition, Love will live, and burn in all its Beauty and Brightness, with an unmix'd, undeminish'd, uninterrupted and eternal Flame. Here it is weakned and diverted by a variety of sensible Objects, and strong Temptations, but there it will run in one continu'd Current towards its glorious Object and Center, without fear or jealousy forever: Charity saith the Apostle, never faileth; but whether there [...] Prophesies, they shall fail; whether there be Knowledge it shall vanish away, for we know in part, and Prophesy in part: But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

THE Excellency of Love is transcendent, in regard of its Matter. Love to GOD, and consequently Love to Man, (which in the Judgment of our Saviour is like to it) is the most ex­cellent of all Graces. Love among the Graces, is like the Sun among the Stars, which not only enlightens the lower World, but illuminates the Stars themselves: Love does not only do its own Office but it enlivens the other Graces, and gives fresh springs [Page 135] to all the Offices of Devotion, to all the Duties of Obedience; both active and passive, it makes us ready to run, in the Path of the one, and glad to endure the Yoke of the other: When our Hearts are enlarg'd by Love, with the devout Psalmist, we run in the Way of GOD's Commandments: When our Bosoms beat with Love, we will not with blessed Paul, count our Lives Dear, that we may finish our course with Joy; but on the contrary, with the primitive Christians, rejoyce that we are counted worthy to suffer Reproach for CHRIST's Name sake. Love does not behave itself unseemly but beareth all Things, beliveth all Things. Love is a conformity to the Nature of the blessed GOD, who is not only loving, but Love. Love is as it were a grateful requital of GOD, with some­thing like the Kindness he Vouchsafes: Jehovah may require many Things of us, but he requires nothing like this of Love; because this is the only thing by which we can answer GOD in kind; in other Things we cannot render alike for alike. The Al­mighty created us, preserves us, and confers many benefits upon us, but we can do nothing like these Things for GOD, he is in­finitely above our returns, but by Love, we render something like his Love to us. Love contains all the Divine Precepts of the Law and Gospel in its Bosom; partly because no Endeavour to obey any of them without it will be accepted, but every honest Endeavour will be accepted with it; and partly because it realy inclines us to obey them all, and therefore virtually contains in it obedience to them all: And thus it may be truly call'd the Full­fillment of the Law: For it is realy so in the sight of GOD, in Design, Disposition and Principle. Tho' David did not actually build the Temple, yet because he sincerely intended it and was strongly inclined to it, it is therefore said by GOD himself, to be done. Farther, Love appears to be the first and great Command, if it be consider'd as an End, all the Commands are refer'd to it, as their last Subordinate End and Scope: Upon the Account of which, or to promote which is the End of the Commandment; or rather Promise, as the Word Epangelias generally signifies, that is the Gospel which includes, and recommends the Law; (See 1 Tim. i. 5.) The End of the Commandment is Charity: As if the Apostle had said the Design and Perfection of the whole Christian Institu­tion, is not Strife and Contention, which curious Questions create, but love to God and Man, and godly Edification, the proper Fruit thereof. Our Doctrine tends to love, but their's to Con­tention: *

I may add, that as LOVE is the End of the Law and Gospel, so it is of all the Christian Graces, e. g. spiritual Knowledge tends to it, terminates in it, and is vain without it; the more we know of God, and divine Things, the more we are induced to love [Page 136] them, because of their Excellency, and of Consequence to love our Brethren, and in the next Life, our Knowledge in Part, will be done away. (1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10.) Indeed without LOVE Knowledge is but a sounding Brass, and a tinkling Cymbal.

FARTHER, as Love is the End of Knowledge, so it is of Faith and Hope; Faith leads to it by giving us a realizing view of the most excellent Objects, which naturally, when beheld in proper Points of Light, command Veneration, and excite Desire: And as Faith leads to love as a principle of Action, so it works by it as a Mean or Instrument of Action, and excites to earnest and universal Obedience from that principle, and by that mean, (Gal. v. 6.) for in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision availeth any Thing, nor uncircumsion (i. e. to Salvation) but Faith that work­eth by love.

THUS love is the End of Hope; we rejoice, saith the Apostle, in the Hope of the Glory of God, with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory. Now what is rejoicing, but a love of Delight in the Object of Desire, either apprehended or possessed? This Hope promotes, and therefore is referred to it as its End. The A­postle farther confirms what I have been observing, by these Words, (1 Cor. xiii. 13.) And now abideth Faith, Hope, Charity, but the greatest of these is Charity. Grotius observes, ‘That the Apostle enumerates these three Graces, according to the Order of their Generation, first Faith, by which we believe God. 2d. Hope by which we expect the Promises from him. 3d. Charity by which we love God as our chief Good.’ ‘The Beginning of Life is Faith, and the End of Life is Charity, saith Ignatius. * The Apostle prefers Charity to Faith, say Sclaterus, Beza, Erasmus, because of its Utility, it profits more, it expands itself far and wide in its Fruits to our Neighbour, when Faith and Hope are confin'd to our own Bosoms; and because Faith and Hope lead to love, unite us to God, and make us like him, without which Faith and Hope would be unfruitful, (1 John iv. 8. Gal. v. 6. Jam. ii. 14.)

AND thus we may say, that LOVE is the subordinate End of all the Parts, which each Person of the sacred Trinity bore in the Business of Redemption. Hence the Apostle John makes mention of the LOVE of GOD the FATHER therein to us, that ours may be thereby excited to our Brethren. (1 John iv. 10, 11.) Herein is Love, not that we loved GOD, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins, beloved if GOD so loved us, we ought also to Love one another.

MOREOVER the SON of GOD declares of himself, that when he is lifted up, he will draw all Men after him. i. e. by the Magnet of his Dying Love for them, allure their Love to him; for GOD commendeth his Love towards us, in that while we were yet Sinners [Page 137] CHRIST dyed for us: And hence we are exhorted to walk in Love, as CHRIST also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a Sacrifice to GOD, for a sweet smelling Savour. (Rom. v. 8. Ephes. v. 2.)

NOW as the procuring and promoting of the Love of Men to GOD, and one another, was the Design of GOD the Father in projecting the Plan of Man's Redemption, and giving his Son out of his Bosom to a State of the greatest Abasement and Suffer­ing, to purchase it, as well as of the Son of GOD in the whole of his mediatorial Office and Character; so likewise it is of the blessed SPIRIT, in his Function of COMFORTER; for according to the Order of the divine Oeconomy, he produc [...] by his omnipo­tent Influence, all Grace in the redeemed, and this of Love a­mong the rest, which is a principal Part of the new Creation; and hence it is said to be the Fruit of the Spirit, and has the Prece­dence given it, to all the other Fruits thereof; to all the Train of Graces, which constitute the new Man, (Gal. v. 22.) to pro­mote which is doubtless the Design of all his convincing, convert­ing, sanctifying, comforting and sealing Instances, for to this they all have a direct Tendency.

BUT Love, my Brethren, is not only essential to the Nature of true Christianity, but it is the grand Characteristick of its sincere Pro­fessors, it is indeed a satisfying Evidence to ourselves of our Integrity when it is sincere, chiefly for the sake of other's Piety, proportioned to the Degrees of it, that is, if we love those most that we appre­hend to be the most holy, whether of our Sentiments or not in lesser Things; and if it be universal to all that we have Reason to think are really religious, and effectual, shewing itself in Deed and in Truth as Occasion requires, and we are capable; for we know, saith the Apostle John, that we have passed from Death to Life, because we love the Brethren, (1 John iii. 14.) Beloved, let us love one another, for Love is of GOD, and every one that loveth is born of GOD, and knoweth GOD, (1 John iv. 7.) He that loveth his Brother, abideth in the Light, and there is no Oc­casion of stumbling in him, (1 John ii. 10.)

BUT on the contrary, the Apostle John in his first Epistle, assures us, that he that saith he is in the Light, and hateth his Brother, is in Darkness, even until now. That he that hateth his Brother is in Darkness, and walketh in Darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth; because Darkness has blinded his Eyes; and that in this the Children of GOD are manifest, and the Children of the Devil, whosoever doth no [...] Righteousness is not of God, neither be that loveth not his Brother: He that loveth not his Brother, abideth in Death; whosoever hateth his Brother is a Murderer; and ye know that no Murderer hath eternal Life abiding in him. He that loveth not, knoweth not GOD, for GOD is Love. If any Man say, I love GOD, and hateth his Brother, he is a Liar; for he that loveth not his Brother whom he hath seen, how can he love GOD whom he hath not seen.

[Page 138]BUT Love is not only a satisfactory Evidence to ourselves, of our Sincerity in Religion, but it is made by our great Redeemer, the Badge and Cognizance of our DISCILLESHIP the visible Mark of Distinction, between those that profess Christianity, and those that do not, By this shall all Men know, that ye are my Disciples, if ye love one another. LOVE, my Brethren, is the LIVERY, which the King of the Church has appointed his Sub­jects and Servants to wear, that thereby they may manifest to others, who they belong to, who is their Prince and Master; and indeed when this blessed Grace is exercis'd, in all its amiable Extent of Patience, Meekness, Kindness, Sympathy, Beneficence, and that at Times in the midst of Temptations to the contrary, when we bear with the Weaknesses of our Brethren, which we must expect to meet with in a World of Imperfection; (for Grace in the Heart, in this Life is like Gold in the Oar,) when we readily forgive their Offences against us, and really befriend their Characters in their Absence, as well as all their Interests civil and religious; when we sympathize with them in their Sor­rows; are pleased with, and commend the Gifts that GOD has graciously given them, and their other desirable Qualities; when we answer their angry Speeches with Meekness and Gentleness, and relieve them in their Wants and Necessities, as we have Opportu­nity, doing Good to all Men, but especially to the Houshold of Faith; and not suffering our Love to consist altogether in Word and in Tongue, but in Deed and in Truth, herein imitating the blessed JESUS, who went about doing Good; it is a convincing Proof, to the World about us, that the Religion we profess is from GOD, and that we are sincere in the Profession of it, and is like to have a powerful Influence upon them, in alluring them to embrace so excellent, so amiable, so useful an Institution; by this good Temper and Conversation, many are like to be won to Christianity, and therefore as the Apostle exhorts us, let our Adorning not consist in gay Dress, but let it be the hidden Man of the Heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the Orna­ment of a meek and quiet Spirit, which is, in the Sight of GOD, of great Price, (1 Pet. iii.)

NOW if LOVE, as has been observed, be essential to true Christianity, the most eminent of all the Graces, and the grand Characteristick of our Profession, then these Things do necessa­rily follow, viz.,

THAT our Profession of, and Stature in Christianity, is to be measured by our Love; the Reality of the former by the Since­rity of it; and the Progress of the latter by the Degree of it; while Persons have but little love for those that differ from them in smaller Things, and are inclined to fierce Controversies, strong Prejudices, Schisms and Factions, about circumstantial Matters, it is Sign they have learned but little of the Gospel of CHRIST, and are of small Stature in Christianity; see 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4. And I, Brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but [Page 139] as unto carnal, even as unto Babes in CHRIST. I have fed you with Milk, and not with Meat; For hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: For whereas there is among you Env [...]ing and Strife, and Divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as Men. For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not Carnal.

THE Apostle Means, that they were not so Spiritual as others, but BABES or INFANTS in Spiritual STATURE, tho' they were realy pious, yet it was but in a small Degree, they were rude in Faith and divine Knowledge, such whom he elsewhere calls NO­VICES, (1 Tim. iii. 6.) Homer and Hesiod term Men of little Knowledge and Conduct, Nepious, Infants; agreeable to the Lan­guage of this Epistle, and the Hebrews, were wont to term them generally Children at School: They were in a great Degree fleshly, governed much by their Passions and Prejudices, yea often Times were more rul'd by their Affections, than by sober Reason and sound Judgment, and therefore were prone to uncharitable Fer­ments and Factions, which are hateful to GOD, and contrary to his Spirit and Religion; they walk'd as Men, i. e. in those Divi­sions, agreeable to the Dictates and Byass of human and carnal Affections, not according to the divine Prescription, but as Men behave, who are destitute of the Spirit of GOD, and there­fore the Apostle could not speak unto them as unto Spiritual, i. e. as to adult and grown Christians, the sublimer Truths of the Re­ligion of Jesus (Heb. v. 11.) but was constrained to feed them as a Nurse does Children with Milk, which is of easy Digestion, soft, nourishing and Pleasant, our first food: That is, to preach to them the first Principles or Elements of Religion, in a sim­ple way. ‘We prefer, says Origen, the profounder Truths of Religion, when we have intelligent and skillful Hearers, otherwise we are silent about them.’ * But such sublime Truths the Corinthians could not bear; to this Effect speak many learn­ed Interpreters upon the Place.

FARTHER, as we may judge of our Stature in Christianity, by the Degree of our LOVE, so we may conclude that all CON­TROVERSIES in RELIGION, manag'd with a bitter Zeal, are pre­judicial to our religious PROGRESS, but especially fierce Conten­tions, cruel Judgings, and needless schismatical Separations, either made (or contentedly continued in, which are substantially the very same) on Account of smaller Matters in Religion, oppose the very Life of Christianity, and are like to bring People under spiritual decays, and leaness of Souls; they directly tend to bring the Mind into a Hectick Fever, which is an awful Symptom.

[Page 140]IT is true, Zeal is excellent and advantageous, when directed by Knowledge and Discretion, temper'd with Humility, Meekness and Mercy, and proportioned in Degree to the Importance of Things: But when it springs from Ignorance, is attended with un­charitableness and bitterness, and disproportioned to the Importance of Things, runs out in a high Degree, and with great Flame, upon small and doubtful Matters, it is exceeding pernicious to the Peace and Weal of CHRIST'S Kingdom in general, and the Souls of Men in particular. Hot and violent Zeal in an ig­norant Man, especially about Circumstantials, is like a drawn Sword in a blind or a Madman's Hand, exceeding dangerous to himself and others. Knowledge without Love, is cold and in­effectual, like the light of the Moon: And Zeal without Love is like a fierce Flame, which scorches and devours all before it. But Knowlege and Zeal, with Love, are like the Light of the Sun which yields a gentle, warming, refreshing and fruitful Influence. O! how lovely is this Disposition and Conduct! This puts Ho­nour upon Christianity: This enlarges and establishes the Kingdom of CHRIST upon Earth, and makes it firm, beautiful and illustri­ous! But what an indelible Scandal and Reproach, what compli­cated, pregnant, permanent and unspeakable Injury does the Contrary hereto produce and Occasion?

IT was justly observed by Alphonso Turretine, in his Speech to the Council of Geneva, ‘That in Things indifferent there ought to be no restraint. 'Tis not an indifferent Thing to burden Consciences, in Things as to which God has not bur­den'd them. It is not an Indifferent Thing to impose a Yoke which Jesus Christ hath not imposed. 'Tis no Indifferent Mat­ter, to put a Wall of Separation, between Protestants at a Time, when it is so much their Interest to Unite.’

‘IT is extreamly hard, we must be allow'd to affirm it, that a Society that doth its Duty, and that speaks what in conscience it believes to be for the good of the Church, should thus see itself torn to pieces by calumny, and for what? Be­cause they are for Moderation as to those Points that are in­different, for in short, this is all their Crime —One must be blind not to see, that there is a growing Moderation on all Sides as to these Matters, (in Germany, England and Switzerland, of which he had spoken before,) and that this Moderation is infinitely for our Advantage, for the Honour of our Churches, and the Union of Protestants.’

ONCE more Dear Sirs! Love is the most suitable Prelude to, and Preparative for the Heavenly State before us; we are ex­pectants of a glorious Immortality, in which there will be no dis­cordant Sentiments, no jar in Affection: Perfect Light will pre­vent the former, and perfect Purity the latter. Indeed a view of the melancholy Contentions of the Church militant, may reason­ably incite our longing to be with the Church Triumphant; where we shall enjoy a compleat and eternal Rest from Sin, Strife [Page 141] and Sorrow, which may God of his infinite Mercy for CHRIST [...] sake, grant to us all in due Time. I shall add no more at pre­sent, but the Advice of the Apostle Paul to the Philipians and Corinthians (Philp. ii. 1—6. 2 Cor. xiii. 11.) If there be there­fore any Consolation in Christ, if any Comfort of love, if any fel­lowship of the Spirit, if any Bowels and Mercies, fullfil ye my Joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one Mind. Let nothing be done thro' Strife or vain Glory. Let each esteem other better than themselves. Look [...] every Man on his own Things, but every Man also on the Things of others. Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Finally, Brethren, farewel: Be Perfect, be of good Com­fort, be of one Mind, live in Peace, and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you. Amen and Amen.



PREFATORY Address, page 5. line 29. for as is, read as it is. p. 8, [...] 2, for Thesselonians r. Thessalonians. p. [...]. l. 16. for Fan [...] Fan is in. p. 29. l. 37, for inventions r. invention. p. 44. l. 21. for proceeds r. proceed p. 51. l. 1. for encourageth r. encourage. [...] p 55. l. 10. for incidmus r. incidimus. p. 66. l. last, for domeni r. domini. p. 72. l. 31. for enpectation r. expectation. p. 75. l. 15. for sumbibaz omenon r. sumbibazo­menon. p. 86. l. 10. for give r. gave. p. 116. l. 38. for the to r. to the.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.