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ence of our churchmen being but a livelihood, and not a treaIn a word, we preach Christ and him crucified, and all the rules of his gospel, for ordering the conversation aright, without adding or taking from it: and thus our conformity to the third branch of Christianity appears.

We teach also, according to the fourth branch of Christianity, the doctrines of charity: neither do we condemn any who hold the foundation, though in some lesser matters they differ from us, but hope they may be saved as well as we. We abhor the doctrine of cruel persecuting of any for their consciences: the utmost we allow of, or desire of that nature, being the preservation of our own societies pure from the contagion of other traffickers, and the driving from us those who do so disturb us. All the authority we give the church is paternal, and not tyrannical; our churchmen we hold to be the pastors, but not the lords of the flock, who are obliged to feed them sincerely, both by their doctrine, labours, and whole conversation: but we pretend to no blind obedience due to their directions; and count them noble Christians, who search and try all they say by that test of the scriptures: we send the people to confess their sins to God, from whom only we teach them to expect their pardon; and pretend to no other keys, but ministerial ones, over public and known scandals. In our worship, as all do understand it, so every one may join in it. And in the number, use, and simplicity of our sacraments, we have religiously adhered to the rules of the gospel, we holding them to be solemn federal rites of our stipulation with God; in which, if we do worthily partake of them, we are assured of the presence of the Divine Spirit and grace, for uniting our souls more entirely to God, and advancing us in all the ways of the Spirit of life; and if the institution of them in the gospel be compared with our administration of them, it will appear how close we have kept to our rule.

And thus we see how exactly conformable the doctrine of our church is to the whole branches of the Christian design; upon which it is not to be doubted but the characters of the Christian religion will also fit ours. We found our faith only on the scriptures; and though we pay a great deal of venerable esteem to the churches of God during their purity, which continued above four centuries, and so be very willing to be

determined in rituals and matters that are external and indifferent, by their opinions and practices; yet our faith settles only on the word of God, and not on the traditions of men: neither do we believe every spirit that pretends to raptures and visions, but try the spirits, whether they be of God or not; and though an angel should preach to us another gospel, we should hold him accursed. The miracles we trust to, as the proofs of the truth of that revelation which we believe, are only those contained in the scriptures; and though we believe there was a wonder-working power continued for some time in the church, yet we make a great difference betwixt what we historically • credit, and what we religiously believe: neither will we, for supporting our interest or authority, have recourse to that base trade of forging lying wonders; but we rest satisfied with the miracles Christ and his apostles wrought for the proof of the religion we own, since what we believe is no other than what they taught; and therefore we leave the trade of forging new miracles to them who have forged a new religion.

And for the plain genuineness of the gospel, we have not departed a step from it, since we call upon our people by all the motives we can devise, and with all the earnestness we are masters of, to receive full and clear instruction in all the matters of our religion, which we distinctly lay open to them. And nothing of interest or design can be charged on us, who pretend to nothing but to be the stewards of the mysteries of God; nor have we offered to sophisticate the simplicity of our worship by any additions to it; for the determining about some particular forms is no addition to worship, but only the following forth of these precepts, of doing all things to edification, peace, and order: but an addition to worship is, when any new piece of Divine service is invented, with a pretence of our being more acceptable to God thereby, or of our receiving grace by that conveyance; and therefore any rites we have, as they are not without some hints from scripture, so we pretend not to become any way acceptable to God by them.

Further, we teach no irrational nor unconceivable doctrine. It is true, there are mysteries in our faith, and even reason itself teacheth that these must be unconceivable; but for all our other persuasions, they are such as may be well made out to the rational faculties of man; therefore we do not betake our

selves to that sanctuary, that we must be believed, assert what we please; but we assert nothing but what we offer to evince by the clearest proofs. And in fine, we add nothing to the burdensomeness of the laws of Christ, but teach and propose them as we have them from his gospel, without adding, changing, or altering a tittle from the first institution.

And so far have I considered the doctrine and worship of our church; wherein, if I could justify all our practices, as well as I can do our principles, there were no grounds to fear hurt from all the cavils of mortals. But for bad practices, whatsoever matter of regret they may furnish us with, they afford none for separation: therefore there is no ground that can justify a separation from our church, much less warrant the turning over from us to the communion of Rome. And thus far have I pursued my designed inquiry; which was, if with a safe conscience any might adjoin themselves to the popish religion, or if communion with our church was to be kept and continued in; and have found great grounds to assert the evident hazards of the former, so that no man to whom his salvation and welfare is dear, can or ought to join himself to that church: on the other hand, without renting the body of Christ, none can or ought to depart from our churches. But I leave the perusal and considering of these things to the serious reader, to whom I hope they may give some satisfaction, if he bring with him to the inquiry an attentive, serious, and unbiassed mind. And I leave the success of this, and every other attempt of this nature, for the clearing of Divine truth, with Him, who is the only fountain of blessings, who is over all, God blessed for evermore. Amen.










IT is is certainly one of the greatest commendations that can be given of any church, or body of Christians, that a man can with truth affirm of it, that the doctrines which they profess, the rules and orders under which they live, that the frame and constitution of the church tendeth directly to make men more pious and devout, more penitent and mortified, more heavenlyminded, and every way of better lives than the way and profession of other Christians; for to work men up to this holy frame and disposition was one of the main designs of the gospel of Christ, which intends to govern men's actions, and reform their temper, as well as to inform their understandings, and direct their belief. And in this particular it differs much from all the ethics of the learned heathen: for whereas they designed especially to exalt the passions, and to raise up the mind above itself, by commending the high and pompous virtues, thereby to stir men up to great designs, and to appear bold and braving in the affairs of this life; the gospel is most frequent in commendation of the humble, lowly, and morti

fying virtues, which would reduce the mind to itself, and keep men within due bounds, and teach them how to behave themselves towards God, and to live in a due regard to another life.

Now there is scarcely any thing which the church of Rome doth more often urge for herself, or with greater confidence pretend to excel the church of England in, than by endeavouring to persuade, that the frame of their church is more fitted for the exciting of devotion and a good life than ours is. And so they will boast of their severe rules and orders; the austerities of their fasts and penances; the strict and mortified lives; the constancy and incessancy of devotions used among them; and would thence infer, that that must needs be the best religion, or way of serving God, in which these practices are enjoined and observed: that the tree must needs be good by such excellent fruits; and that if all other arguments fail, yet they say they have this to shew for themselves, that in their communion there is at least somewhat more like that great selfdenial and mortification, so often made necessary under the gospel, than is to be found in the reformed churches, or particularly in the church of England. Now laying aside all disputes concerning points of doctrine in controversy between them and us, in which it hath been abundantly shewn that they err in matters of faith, and that in what they differ from us they differ also from the scripture, and the true church of Christ in all the best ages, I will confine myself to examine their pretence to devotion, where I doubt not but it will sufficiently appear that they are as much deficient also in regularity of practice; that there is not that true foundation laid for such devotion as God accepts, nor that strict provision made for it, nor that real practice of it which they would make us believe; but that even the best which they pretend to, is such as doth by no means befit a truly Christian spirit.

I will discourse in this method :

1. I will instance in the several expressions of devotion, the motives to it, or assistances of it, which the church of Rome pretends to, and on which she is used to magnify herself.

2. I will allege the just exceptions which we have against such their pretences.

3. And then shew that they are so far from encouraging

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