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pising the weak, nor rejecting them that God receiveth ;" Rom. xv. 143. 7. xiv. 1–4. 17, 18. And thus you may see how
easy matter it were to unite and reconcile all the Christian world, if the principles of the judicious, confirmed Christian might be received and prevail; and that it is not be that is the cause of the abundance of sin and calamity which divisions have caused, and continued in the church. But that which now seemeth an impossible thing, may quickly and easily be accomplished if all were such as he. And that the difficulty of reconciling and uniting Christians, lieth not first in finding out the terms, but in making men fit to receive and practice the terms from the beginning received by the churches. This is Lirinensis's "Quod semper, ubique, et ab omnibus receptum est;' supposing still that the magistrate be submitted to by every soul, even as he is the keeper of both tables; Rom. xiii. 1-3.
2. But the weak Christian is too easily tempted to be the divider of the church, by expecting that it be united upon his impossible or unrighteous terms. Sometimes he will be orthodox overmuch, or rather wise in his own conceit, (Rom. xii. 16.) and then none are judged fit for his communion that be not of his opinion, in controverted doctrinals, (e. g. predestination, the manner of the work of grace, freewill, perseverance, and abundance such.) Sometimes he will be righteous overmuch, or (to speak more properly) superstitious; and then none are fit for his communion that worship not God in that method and manner for circumstantials, which he esteemed best. And his charity is so weak, that it freeth him not from thinking evil (1 Cor. xiii.), and so narrow, that it covereth not either many or great infirmities. The more need he hath of the forbearance and charity of others, the less can he bear or forbear others himself. The strong Christian must bear the infirmities of the weak; but the weak Christian can scarce bear the weak or strong. Nay, he is oft too impatient with some of their virtues and duties, as well as with their infirmities. He is of too private a spirit, and too insensible of the public interest of the church of Christ. And therefore he must have all the world come over to him, and be conformed to his opinion and party, and unite upon his mistaken, narrow terms, if they will have communion with him. I mean, it is thus with him,
when the temptation on that side prevaileth. And sometimes he is overcome with the temptation of domination, to make his judgment a rule to others; and then he quite overvalueth bis own understanding, and will needs be judge of all the controversies in the church; and taketh it as unsufferable, if wiser and better men do not take him as infallible, and in every thing observe his will. And when bis brethren give him the reason of their dissent, as his judgment is not clear enough to understand them, so his passion and partiality are too strong to suffer his judgment to do its part. And thus oftentimes he is a greater hindrance to the church's unity, than the enemies of the church themselves. For he hath not judgment enough to guide him the right way, and yet he hath so much zeal as will not suffer him to keep his errors to him.
3. And all these distempers that are but in a lower degree in the weak Christian, are predominant in the hypocrite. The church shall have no concord or peace if he can hinder it, but what is consistent with his carnal interest, his honor, or wealth, or dignity in the world. The pride and covetousness which rule himself, he would have to make the terms of concord, and to rule all others. It is hypocrites in the church that are the greatest cause of discord and divisions, having selfish spirits, principles, and ends, and having always a work of their own to do, which suits not well with the work of Christ; and yet Christ's work must be subjected to it, and ordered, and overruled by it. And while they pretend to go to the Scriptures, or to councils or fathers for their reasons, indeed they go first for them to their worldly interest ; and then would fain hire or press the Scripture, church, or fathers to serve their turn, and come in as witnesses on their side. And thus the church, as well as Christ, is betrayed by the covetous Judases of his own family. And the servants of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that take up the livery of Christ, and usurp the name and honor of Christian, do more effectually hinder the concord and prosperity of the church, than any open enemies do. And those that are indeed no Christians, do cause Christianity to be reproached; even as spies and traitors that are hired by the enemy to take up arms in the army which they fight against, that they may betray it by their fraud, and do more harm to it by raising mutinies, and by false conduct, than a multitude of professed enemies could have done. It is proud, and worldly, carnal hypocrites, that binder most the concord of believers.
LIV. 1. A confirmed Christian is of a peaceable spirit. He is not masterly, domineering, turbulent, hurtful, cruel, seditious, factious, or contentious. He is like ripened fruits that are mellow and sweet, when the younger, greener fruits are sour and harsh. He is not wise in his own conceit, (Rom. xii. 16.), and therefore not overurgent in obtruding his conceits on others, not quarrelsome with all that cannot entertain them, nor will he easily lay men's salvation or damnation, no, nor the church's peace upon them. He is “kindly affectioned to others with brotherly love, yea, loveth his neighhor as himself;" ver. 10. xiii. 9, 10. And therefore he doth to others as
. he would they should do to him; and uses them as he would be used
1 by them. And then how far they are like to suffer by him, you may easily judge. For “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor;" ver. 10. He is above the portion of the worlding, and a contemner of that vanity which carnal men account their felicity; and therefore he preferreth love and quietness before it, and can lose his right when the interest of love and peace requireth it. He is become as a little
a child in his conversion (Matt. xviii. 3.), and is low and little in his own eyes, and therefore contendeth not for superiority or preeminence, either in place or power, or reputation of his learning, wisdom, or piety; but “in honor preferreth others” before himself;" Rom. xii. 10. “He mindeth not high things, but condescendeth to men of low estate ;" Rom. xii. 16. and therefore will not contend for estimation and precedency, nor scramble to be highest, though he rise by the ruins of men's bodies and souls. “If it be possible as much as lieth in him, he will live peaceably with all men ;" ver. 18. For he is not one that by word or deed will avenge himself; but when the wrath of others is up like a blustering storm, he giveth place to it, he boweth before it, or goeth out of the way. “If his enemy hunger, he feedeth him; if he thirst, he giveth him drink;" ver. 19. when oppressors would deprive not only an enemy, but the righteous of their meat and drink; and thus he melteth his hardened
enemies by heaping kindness upon them when they are wrathful, and proud, and contentious, and do him wrong, or use provoking words against him, he is not overcome of their evil to imitate them, but he overcometh their evil with his good; ver. 20, 21. If God hath given him more knowledge and abilities than others, he doth not presently set up himself to be admired for it, nor speak disdainfully or contemptuously of those that are not of his mind. But he sheweth the eminency of his wisdom, “with meekness by the works of a good conversation,” and by doing better than the unwiser do; James iïi. 1-13. He is endued with the “wisdom from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality" (or wavering in persecution, as Hammond renders it), and without hypocrisy. And thus the “ fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace; James ji. 17, 18. As he is “taught of God to love his brother;" 1 Thess. iv. 9. so that same teaching with experience of the effects assureth him, that they that pretend to be wiser and better than others, when “they have bitter, envious zeal and strife in their hearts, they vainly glory and lie against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish. For where envying and strise is, there is confusion and every evil work;" James iïi. 14, 15, 16. (Read but the story of the Jewish zealots in Josephus, and the heretical zealots in all ages of the church, and you will perceive the truth of this.) When such quarrelsome spirits are filling the church with contentions, or vexations about their meats and drinks, and days, &c. the Christian indeed understandeth that the kingdom of God consisteth' not of such things as these, but in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ;” and he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of (wise and sober) men. Therefore he followeth after things, which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another : and will not for
. meats, &c. destroy the work of God;" Rom. xiv. 17-20. He stayeth not till peace be offered him, or brought home to him, but he followeth peace with all men, as well as holiness ;" Heb. xii. 14. If it fly from him, he pursueth it; if it be denied him he seeketh it, and will not refuse to stoop to the poorest for it, and to beg it of his Vol. II.
inferiors, if it were upon his knees, rather than be denied it, and live an unpeaceable, disquiet life; Psalm xxxiv. 14. For he believeth that "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God ;” Matt. v. 9.
2. And the weak Christian hath the same spirit, and therefore the love of peace is most predominant in him. But, alas, he is too easily tempted into religious passions, discontents, contentious disputations, quarrelsome and opprobrious words; and bis judgment lamentably darkened and perverted, whenever contentious zeal prevaileth, and passions do perturb the quiet and orderly operations of the soul. He wanteth both the knowledge and the experience, and the mellowness of spirit, which riper Christians have attained; he hath a less degree of charity, and is less acquainted with the mischiefs of unpeaceableness; and therefore it is the common course of young professors, to be easily tempted into unpeaceable ways; and when they have long tried them (if they prove not hypocrites) to come off at last upon experience of the evils of them; and so the young Christians, conjunct with some hypocrites, make up the rigorous, fierce, contentious and vexatious party; and the aged, ripe Christians make up the holy, moderate, healing party, that groan and pray for the Church's peace, and mourn in secret both for the ungodliness and violence which they cannot heal. Yea, the difference is much apparent, in the books and sermons which each of them is best pleased with. The ripe, experienced Christian loveth those sermons that kindle love, and tend to peace; and love such healing books as do parrow differences and tend to reconcile and heal; such as Bishop Hall's Peace-maker, and “Pax terris," and all his writings; and Bishop Davenant's, Bishop Morton's, and Bishop Hall's “ Pacifica. tory Epistles to Duræus,” and “Mr. Burroughs' Irenicon,” Ludov. Crocius, Amyraldus, Junius, Paræus's and many other Irenicons written by foreign divines, to say nothing that are upon single controversies. But the younger, sour, uncharitable Christians are better pleased with such books and sermons, as call them aloud to be very zealous for this or that contested point of doctrine, or for or against some circumstance of worship or church discipline, or about some fashions, or customs, or indifferent things, as if the kingdom of God were in them : Rom. xiv. 1, 2. 15, 16.