Imágenes de páginas

now: but what saith the Scripture ? cast out the bondwoman and her son',” &c. It is not the sacred office of the ministry, nor the profession of the same religion, that will cure the enmity of a carnal heart, against both holiness and the holy seed. The whole business of the world from age to age is but the management of that war, proclaimed at sin's first entrance into the world, between the seed of the woman and the serpent; and none of the serpent's seed are more cruel or more successful, than those of them that creep into the armies of Christ; and especially that get the conduct of his regiments m. Neither brotherhood nor unity of professed religion, would hold the hands of malignant Cain from murdering his brother Abel. The same religion, and father, and family reconciled not scoffing Ishmael to Isaac, or profane Esau to his brother Jacob. The family of Christ, and an apostle's office, did not keep Judas from being a traitor to his Lord. If carnal men invade the ministry, they take the way of ease, and honour, and worldly wealth, and strive for dominion, and who shall be the greatest, and care not how great their power and jurisdiction are, nor how little their profitable work is; and their endeavour is to fit all matters of worship and discipline to their ambitious, covetous ends; and the spiritual worshipper shall be the object of their hate; and is it any wonder if the churches of Christ be torn by schism, and betrayed to profaneness, where there are such unhappy guides ?

I Gal. iv. 29, 30.
m Poetæ nunquam perturbarunt respublicas: oratores non raro. Bucholtzer.

n Acosta, lib. vi. c. 23. p. 579. Nothing so much hurteth this church as a rabble of hirelings and self-seekers : for what can natural men, that scarce have the Spirit, do in the cause of God? A few in number that are excellent in virtue, will more promote the work of God. But they that come hither being hunible, and lovers of souls, taking Christ for their pattern, and bearing in their bodies his cross and death, shall most certainly find heavenly treasures and inestimable delights. But when will this be? When men cease to be men, and to savour the things of men; and to seek and gape after the things of men. With men this is utterly impossible, but with God all things are possible: because this is hard in the eyes of this people, shall it therefore be hard in my eyes, saith the Lord ? Zech. vüi. 6. p. 580. I may say to some ministers that cry out of the schismatical disobedience of the people, as Acosta doth to those that cried out of the Indians' dulness and wickedness : It is long of the teachers. Deal with them in all possible love and tenderness; away with covetousness, lordliness, and cruelty; give them the example of an upright life; open to them the way of truth, and teach them according to their capacity; and diligently hold on in this way, whoever thou art that art a minister of the Gospel, and

Direct. viii. 'In a special manner, take heed of pride :' suspect it and subdue it in yourselves, and do what you can to bring it into disgrace with others'. “ Only by pride cometh contention p.” I never yet saw one schism made, in which pride conjunct with ignorance was not the cause : nor ever did I know one person forward in a schism (to my remembrance), but pride was discernibly his disease. I do not here intend (as the Papists) to charge all with schism or pride, that renounce not their understandings, and choose not to give up themselves to a bestial subjection to usurpers or their pastors : he that thinks it enough that his teacher hath reason and be a man, instead of himself, and so thinketh it enough that his teacher be a Christian and religious, must be also content that his teacher alone be saved : (but then he must not be the teacher of such a damning way). But by pride I mean a plain overvaluing of his own understanding, and conceits, and reasonings, quite above all the evidences of their worth, and an undervaluing and contempt of the judgments and reasonings of far wiser men, that had evidence enough to have evinced his folly and error to a sober and impartial inan. Undoubtedly it is the pride of priests and people, that hath so lamentably in all ages torn the church. He that readeth the histories of schisms and church-confusions, and marketh the effects which this age hath shèwed, will no more doubt whether pride were the cause, than whether it was the wind that blew down trees and houses, when he seeth them one way overturned by multitudes, where the tempest came with greatest force. Therefore a bishop must be “no novice lest being lifted up with pride (íva un ruowles) he fall into the condemnation of the devil q." And if such stars fall from heaven, no wonder if they bring many down headlong with them. Humble souls dwell most at home, and think themselves unworthy of the communion of their brethren, and are most quarrelsome against their own corruptions. “ They do nothing in strife and vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, each one esteemeth other better than themselves ? ;” and “ judge not lest they be judged s.” And is it likely such should be dividers of the church? But proud men must either be great and domineer, and as Diotrephes f love to have the preeminence, and cast the brethren out of the church, and prate against their most faithful pastors with malicious words; or else must be noted for their supposed excellencies, and set up themselves, and speak perverse things, to draw away disciples after them, and think the brethren unworthy of their communion, and esteem all others below themselves; and as the church of Rome, confound communion and subjection, and think none fit for their communion that obey them not, or comply not with their opinion and will. There is no hope of concord where pride hath power to prevail.

(saith he) as ever I hope to enjoy thee, O Lord Jesu Christ, I am persuaded the harvest will be plentiful and joyful. Lib. iv, p. 433. et passim. But (saith he) we quickly cease our labours, and must presently have hasty and plenteous fruit. But the kingdom of God is not such: verily, it is not such, but as Christ hath told us, like seed cast into the earth, which groweth up by degrees we know not how. pp. 433, 434. Jeroine's case is many another's: Concivit odia perditorum: oderunt eum hæretici, quia eos impugnare non definit : oderunt clerici, quia vitam eorum insectatur et crimina. Sed plane eum boui omnes admirantur et diligunt. Posthumianus in Sulp. Severi Dialog. 1. And Dial. 2. Martinus in medio cætu et conversatione populorum, inter clericos dissidentes, inter episcopos sævientes, cum fere quotidianis scaudalis hinc atque inde premeretur, inexpugnabili tamen adversus omnia virtute fundatus stetit. Nec tamen huic crimini miscebo populares, soli illum clerici, soli nesciunt sacerdotes, nec immerito : nosse illum invidi noluerunt: quia si virtutes illius nossent, suorum vitia cognovissent.

• How the Jesuits have hereby distracted the church, read Mariana, et Archiepisc. Pragensis Censur. de Bull. Jesuit. et Dan. Hospital. ad Reges, &c. Aug. Ardinghelli Paradoxa Jesuitica. Galindus, Giraldus, &c. Arcana Jesuit.

p Prov. xiii. 10.

Direct. ix. · Take heed of singularity, and narrowness of mind, and unacquaintedness with the former and present state of the church and world. Men that are bred up in a corner, and never read nor heard of the common condition of the church or world, are easily misled into schism, through ignorance of those matters of fact that would preserve them. Abundance of this sort of honest people that I have known, have known so little beyond the town or country where they lived, that they have thought they were very Catholic in their communion, because they had one or two congregations, and divided not among themselves. But for the avoiding of schism, 1. Look (with pity) on the unbelieving world, and consider that Christians of all sorts, are but a sixth part of the whole earth. And then 2. Consider of this sixth part how small a part the reformed churches are.

91 Tim. iii. 6.
* Matt. vi, 1.

r Phil, ji. 2,3.
1 3 John ix. 10.

[ocr errors]

And if you be willing to leave Christ any church at all, per-
haps you will be loath to separate yet into a narrower party, .
which is no more to all the world, than one of your cottages
is to the whole kingdom. And is this all the kingdom on
earth that you will ascribe to Christ? Is the king of the
church, the king only of your little party? Though his
flock be but a little flock, make it not next to none : as if
he came into the world on so low a design as the gathering
of your sect only. The less his flock is, the more sinful it is
to rob him of it, and make it less than it is. It is a little
flock, if it contained all the Christians, Protestants, Greeks,
Armenians, Abassines, and Papists on the earth. Be sin-
gular and separate from the unbelieving world, and spare
not: and be singular in holiness from profane and nominal
hypocritical Christians. But affect not to be singular in
opinion or practice, or separated in communion, from the
universal church, or generality of sound believers : or if
you forsake some common error, yet hold still the common
love and communion with all the faithful, according to your
opportunities. 3. And it will be very useful when you are
tempted to separate from any church for the defectiveness
of its manner of worship, to inquire how God is worshipped
in all the churches on earth, and then consider, whether if
you lived among them you would forsake communion with
them all, for such defects, (while you are not forced to jus-
tify or approve them“). 4. And it is very useful to read
church history, and to understand what heresies have been
in times past, and what havoc schisms have caused among
Christians : for if this much had been known by well mean-
ing persons in our days, we should not have seen those
same opinions applauded as new light, which were long ago
exploded as, old heresies : nor should we have seen many
honest people, taking that same course to reform the church
now, and advance the Gospel, which in so many ages and
nations hath heretofore destroyed the church, and cast out
the Gospel. A narrow soul, that taketh all Christ's interest
in the world, to lie in a few of their separated meetings, and
shutteth up all the church in a nutshell, must needs be

u That God above that knoweth the heart, doti discern that frail men in some of their contradictions intenci the same thing, and accepteth both. Lord Bacon. Essay iï. p. 15.

VOL. v.

guilty of the foulest schisms. It is a Catholic spirit and Catholic principles, loving a Christian as a Christian, abhorring the very names of sects and parties as the church's wounds, that must make a Catholic indeed.

Direct. x. Understand well the true difference between the visible church, and the world, lest you should think that you are bound to separate as much from a corrupted church, as from the world. It is not true faith, but the profession of true faith, that maketh a man fit to be acknowledged a member of the visible church. If this profession be unsound, and accompanied with a vicious life, it is the sin and misery of such an hypocrite; but it doth not presently put him as far unrelated to you, as if he were an infidel without the church. If you ask, what advantage have such unsound church members ? I answer with the apostle, " Much every way, chiefly because unto them are committed the oracles of God x.” “To them pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises y.” Till the church find cause to cast them out, they have the external privileges of its communion. It hath made abundance to incur the guilt of sinful separation, to misunderstand those texts of Scripture that call Christians to separate from heathens, infidels, and idolaters : as 2 Cor. vi. 17.“ Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord, &c.” The text speaketh only of separating from the world who are infidels and idolaters, and no members of the church, and ignorant people ordinarily expound it, as if it were meant of separating from the church because of the ungodly that are members of it: but that God that knew why he called his people to separate from the world, doth never call them to separate from the church universal, nor from any particular church by a mental separation so as to unchurch them. We read of many loathsome corruptions in the churches of Corinth, Galatia, Laodicea, &c., but yet no command to separate from them. So many abuse Rev. xviii. 4. “ Come out of her my people :” as if God commanded them to come out of a true church because of its corruptions or imperfections, because he calleth them out of Babylon. It is true, you must partake with no church in their sins, but you may x Rom, iji. 1, 2.

y Rom. ix. 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »