Page images







WHEN interest divides the church, and the calentures of men breathe out in problems and unactive discourses, each part, in pursuance of its own portion, follows that proposition, which complies with and bends in all the flexures of its temporal ends; and while all strive for truth, they hug their own opinions dressed up in her imagery, and they dispute for ever; and either the question is indeterminable, or, which is worse, men will never be convinced. For such is the nature of disputings, that they begin commonly in mistakes, they proceed with zeal and fancy, and end not at all but in schisms and uncharitable names, and too often dip their feet in blood. In the mean time, he that gets the better of his adversary, oftentimes gets no good to himself; because, although he hath fast

[blocks in formation]

hold upon the right side of the problem, he may be an ill man in the midst of his triumphant disputations. And therefore it was not here, that God would have man's felicity to grow: for our condition had been extremely miserable, if our final state had been placed upon an uncertain hill, and the way to it had been upon the waters, upon which no spirit but that of contradiction and discord did ever move: for the man should have tended to an end of an uncertain dwelling, and walked to it by ways not discernible, and arrived thither by chance; which, because it is irregular, would have discomposed the pleasures of a Christian hope, as the very disputing hath already destroyed charity, and disunited the continuity of faith; and in the consequent there would be no virtue, and no felicity. But God, who never loved that man should be too ambitiously busy in imitating his wisdom, (and man lost paradise for it,) is most desirous we should imitate his goodness, and transcribe copies of those excellent emanations from his holiness, whereby as he communicates himself to us in mercies, so he propounds himself imitable by us in graces. And in order to this, God hath described our way plain, certain, and determined : and although he was pleased to leave us undetermined in the questions of exterior communion, yet he put it past all question, that we are bound to be charitable. He hath placed the question of the

« PreviousContinue »