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of whose Communion, (as has been undeniably prov'd and maintain'd) are not only Lawful, but highly reasonable, and of an excellent Constitution,
I need not here, nor is it my Design to set my felf professedly to make out the Charge of Schism against the Diflenters and Separatists from the Church of England. It has been done over and over, to the utmost Degree of Evidence, and the whole Circle of the Reformed Churches cry out upon them for their unreasonable Separation. Only I would desire them to try themselves and their Cause by that one plain Apostolical Canon before-mentioned, and see whether they can juftifie themselves by that single Measure. It is this, If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all Men, Rom. 12. 18. If with all Men, then certainly much more with Bodies and Societies of Men ; much more with our Governors and Superiors ; much more yet with the Church, the most Sacred and most Eminent of all Societies. And if as far as is possible, then certainly as far as is lawful.
But now I would ask our Dissenters and Séparatists this one Question, and appeal to their Consciences as well as to their Practices for an Answer. Do they live peaceably with the Church of England as by lawful Authority establish'd, as far as is possible, and as much as in them lies? So far from this, that I might say, (were I minded to aggravate things) that they do the quite contrary, and Divide from us as far as possible, and
as much as in them lies, it being very notorious that they run from us as far as they can, measure their Purity and Sanctity by their distance from us; and condemn and disuse many things meerly because we approve and use them.
But I need not take advantage of this, tho' it be too notorious to be denied, as well as too scandalous to be defended. I only demand, Do they live peaceably with the Church as far as is possible, and as much as in them lies? They cannot with any Modesty say that they do. For if they did, not to say that they might come much nearer to us than they do, they must of necessity conform with us. Since as they were never able to shew any thing unlawful in our Communion; so they now generally allow it to be lawful, and accordingly will afford us their Company now and then upon occasion, as often as they think fit to do us that Honour. Well then, if our Communion be lawful, then 'tis Possible for them to communicate with us, and if they do not, then ʼtis plain that they do not live peaceably with us as far as is Possible, and as much as in them lies, and consequently by virtue of this plain Apostolical Canon stand fully convicted of Schism, and let them bring themselves off if they can. I am satisfied they will be able to answer it but ill here, and am afraid worse hereafter.
I have now in general pointed out the Disturbers of the Christian Peace, and I wish I could now as easily make these Troublers of our Israel
fensible of this their Crime, as prove them guilty of it. In order to which not to infift upon the Heinousness of the Sin of Schism which is as expresly forbidden in Scripture as Murder or Adultery, and tlie great Obligation that lies upon all Christians to preserve the Unity and Peace of the Church, which the Scripture every where so earnestly presses and inculcates, and which the Example of the Primitive Christians so strongly recommends; and for which both our Reason and our Interest (especially at this time) would suggest to us a Thousand Arguments ; I say not to insist upon these and such like Considerations (for a Combination of which I refer to an excellent Discourse of Dr. Barrow's concerning the Unity of the Church) I would only desire the Persons concerned to consider how much by their Schisms and Divisions they prejudice the Christian Religion. I do not mean as to the Life and Power of Godlinefs, (tho that be very true, and worthy to be seriously considered) but as to the Propagation of the Christian Faith. And that with respect to the Three great Enemies of it, the Heathen, the Jew, and the Mahumetan.
FIRST, With respe&t to the Heathen, to whom as the Unity and Agreement of the First Christians was a great Indearment, and a very prevalent Invitation, so as to occasion that common Speech among them, See how the Christians love one another! So the Schisms and Divisions of the Present Christians must needs be a great Scandal and
Objection. For indeed how can any considering Heathen be perswaded to think such a broken and divided Religion to be of Divine Revelation, when that which he takes to by the Light of Nature has more of Unity and Consent !
SECONDLY, With respect to the Jerv, who may certainly number the Diffentions of Christians among the greatest Hindrances of his conversion. For when in the Prophetick Writings among other Characters of the Times of the Messias he shall find this to be one, and one of the chiefest, that it shall be a Reign of Charity and Peace, Isa. 2. 4. That they Jhall beat their Swords into Plowshares, and their Spears into Pruning-hooks; That Nation shall not lift up Sword 4gainst Nation, neither shall they learn War any more. That the Wolf Jall allo dwell
Lamb, and the Leopard saall lie down with the Kid, &c. I say the Jew finding this to be one of the Characteristics of the Messias his Reign, and observing withal nothing like it in the Christian State, but rather a perfect Reverse of all this, and not being able to distinguish with some between the Delign and Natural Genius of the Christian Religion, and the accidental Event of Things; or with others, to have recourse to the other more glorious Reign of Christ in the Millennial State of the Church, wherein these great and strong Figures Iball have a proportionable Accomplishment he must needs be shrewdly tempted to think that the Time of the promised Messias is not yet come, L 4
and that the Religion which now goes for his, is as false as its Professors are evil and wicked.
THIRDLY and Lastly, with respect to the Mahumet an, who indeed allows Christ to have been a true Prophet, and his Religion to have been once a true Religion, only he says it has had its Time as well as that of the Jews, and is now, as fuperannuated, to give place to a more perfect Institution, that is, to Mahumet's, who as he came after Christ, so was he to fill up his Defects, and to deliver the last and standing Will of God. And will he not find pretence to be confirmed in this his Opinion, and to prefer his Master Mahumet as much before Christ as we do Christ before Moses; when he shall perceive (as quickly he may) that there is not half so much Unity and Agreement among Christians, even concerning their very Religion which is to be the Bond of their Unity, as there is among Mahumetans? Certainly he will, and tho? he perish in his Error, yet I fear his Blood will be upon those who adminifter the Occasion of it. These are great Scandals and Objections both to the Heathen, Jew and Mahumetan, and Woe be to them by whom this great Offence
Our Saviour pronounces a fevere Woe against them that shall offend even one of his little ones, Mat. 18. 6. and what then shall be the Doom of those that scandalize so great a part of the World! I heartily wish that the present Disturbers and Dividers of the Christian State and Church would seriously consider these