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.Confusions in the whole Course of Man's Life; it sets Kingdoms, Families, and Societies in a combustion, and for that purpose it is set on work by the Devil, and inflam'd by a Fire that comes from HelL
Now he that would live a quiet and happy Life, must watch and restrain this unruly Member, keeping it.to the good Behaviour, and confining it to the Rules of Truth and Decency. David resolv'd to keep his Mouth as it were with a Bridle, whilst theUngodly was in his fight; to prevent its Extravagance, and to avoid the Evil and Mischief that too often proceeds from it. He that useth his Tongue to Falshood and Deceit, stirreth up much Strife, and occasions sometimes very fatal and bloody Contentions, to the shortning many times of Mens Lives, and the ruin of their Relations •, for bloody and deceitful Persons shall not live out half their days. But he that useth and keepeth his Tongue jo Truth and Honesty, will prevent many a Brawl, and
Freserve the Lives, the Peace and Quietness of Mankind. . n short then, to escape the Dangers, and obtain the Blessings of this Life, we must keep our Tongue from all atheistical and blasphemous Speeches against God, from all evil and reviling Speeches against our Prince, and from all detracting, lying, and backbiting Speeches against our Neighbour and so guide our Words with Discretion, that they may administer Good to our selves, and Grace to the Hearers. Herein likewise St, Peter would have all Christians to be like-minded, agreeing together in eschewing Evil and doing Good; by all means seeking Peace, and if it seem to flee from them, to follow and pursue it.
Now to preserve this Oneness of Mind, or mutual Agree, ment in these things, the Apostle in the next Verse presses it by a double Argument, the one taken from the Safety of so doing, the other from the Danger of the contrary. The first is in these words, For the Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and his Ears are open to their prayers: that is, there is a watchful Providence over the humble and peaceable Christians, that will promote their Good, and preserve them from Evil the Eyes of the Lord are still looking about for their Security, his Ears are always open to hear their Prayers, and his Hands are ever ready to supply their Wants and Necessities. Sa that there can be nothing wanting, that may tend to. their present or future Happiness, Whereas secondly, ". A
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The next words tells us, that the Face of the Lord is agair& them that do Evil. He is so for from countenancing the Wicked and Contentious, that he sets his face against them, and is no Friend, but a profess'd Enemy to them. To lift vp the Light of the Countenance, is in Scripture-Phrase a token of Favour or Kindness; but to set the Face against any, is to bid defiance to him, first to frown, and then to sight him. Accordingly, God's setting his Face here against such Evil-doers, is either to humble them for their good, or to bring greater Evils upon them, to punish their Pride and Presumption.
But farther to comfort and encourage the Obedient, he asks the Question in the following Verse, Who is he that xvi/l harm you, if ye are Followers of that which is good? Being guarded by the Protection of Divine Providence, and the Integrity of your own Actions, few or none will in-r cline or venture to do you any mischief. But if any should be so wicked as tp molest and trouble you for adhering to the ways of Unity and Vertue, be not discourag'd at such Sufferings •, For if ye suffer for Righteousness sake, happy are ye, and be not afraid of their Terror, neither be troubled. Be not dismay'd or disturb'd at these things, but rejoice in such Tribulations, for great is your Reward in Heaven, Rather count them as Bleflings, than sink under them as Burdens; for if you bear up manfully a while, they will tend to the Increase of Grace here, and of Glory hereafter. Only santlify the Lord God in your Hearts; be thankful to him for all his Dispenfations, set him up in your Hearts as your Lord God, and make him your Fear and your Dread \ and then he will be both your Patron and your Portion for
This is in short the Substance of the Epistle for this Day ; the whole Design whereof is to persuade us to be all of one mind in the Principles and Practices of true Religion, to unite in the Worship and Service of God, and to join together in the Practice of all Christian Vertues, tending to our own Good, and the Welfare of one another.
But here some may be apt to tell us, that 'tis not possible for all Men to be of one mind in these matters, and that such an Unity never was or can be in the Christian ChurchIn answer to this, the Example 9s the primitive Christians, of whom we read that they were of one heart and one wind, and that they continu'd stedfust in the apostles &oc
trine and Fellowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayer; is a plain Confutation of this Objection: for this shews such a Unity to be both possible and practicable, and that there was a time when this Union was found, and Dissensions unknown among Christians, Which Example is recorded for our Direction and Encouragement, to let us know, that if we will do as they did, we may be as they were. Beside,
The frequent and earnest Exhortations to this Unity in Holy Scripture, plainly shew it to be attainable by all that will use the means, and have a mind to it •, for the Holy Ghost never calls or puts any upon impossible or impracticable Tasks. m
Moreover, the many sharp and severe Checks given by the Apostles to the Authors and Abettors of Divisions, farther shew this Unity to be both possible and necessary: for as they would not advise to any thing that was impossible, so neither would they blame any for what was unavoidable.
But there are others who tell us, that if such an Unity were possible, yet it is not necessary, no more than'tis for all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion; and that different Opinions and Practices may as well beallow'd in the Church, as different Trades and Callings are in the World. In answer to this, I fay,
ist, For all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion, is neither in their power, nor is it under any command, and so can be in no wise necessarywhereas to be all of one mind is frequently commanded in God's Word, and so must be a necessary Duty. And,
2dly, Tho there may be many particular Callings and Professions in the World, to employ Mens different Gifts and Abilities for the publick Good; yet there is but one general Calling as Christians, in which they are all to agree and go hand in hand together. So the Apostle tells us, we are all called into one Calling, and have all but one Hope of this Calling, even the Salvation of our Souls •, which we are therefore all to aim at, without varying from, or dividing in it.
Thus we fee wherein we are all to be of one mind; namely, in all the Acts and Duties of Religion, that we owe to God and to one another •, together with the Weakness of those Exceptions that are commonly brought against it.
It remains then, that we be all Followers of this Unanfmity, and jointly agree in all the Parts and Duties of it i going to the House of God together as Friends, and to each other's Houses as Neighbours, abounding in all Acts of Piety and Devotion to the one, and of Justice, Kindness, and CompalHon to the other. This is to dwell together in XJnity, which the Pfalmist makes the goodliest and pleafantest of all Prospects, Psal. 13 3.1. 'Tis to live the Life of Saints here, and of Angels hereafter; yea, 'tis to do the Will of God on Earth, as 'tis done in Heaven: for there is a perfect: Harmony, Consent and Unity among the blessed Spirits above, who all join in one Consort, and with united Hearts and Minds do the Will, and sing the Praises of their Maker •, and to fit us for those heavenly Mansions, we must labour for the fame Concord and Unanimity here. Discord and Dissensions are the Dispositions of Hell, and lead to those infernal Regions; 'tis Love, Peace, and Unity, that most prepare us for the Habitations above, and qualify us for the Happiness and blessed Society of Heaven.
But now may we come to be thus of one mind in serving of God and one another? Why, that must be done,
1. By removing all the Obstacles of this godly Love and Unity ; such as turbulent and unruly Passions, which are apt to discompose and divide mens Minds Pride, and a vain Conceit of our own Wisdom, which makes Men refractory to their Superiours, and peremptory in their own ways; inordinate Self-Love and worldly Interest, which draw too strongly from the ways of Truth and Peace, and lead into, all manner of Errors and Divisions: which occasion'd St. Paul's Advice, that all Bitterness, Wrath, Clamour, and Evil-speaking be put away, with all Malice; Eph.4.31. And St. Peter's to the fame purpose, to lay aside all Guile, and Hypocrisy, and Envy, and Evil-speaking; 1 Pet. 2. 1. These are the main Hindrances of Unity, and are therefore to be carefully watch'd against and avoided by all that would promote or pray for it.
2. That we may be all of one mind in these desirable Matters, we must labour for those gracious Qualities and Dispositions, that can alone fit us for it; such as Meekneft,i Humility, Submission to Superioui^ and the like: which, excellent Graces and Vertues will mightily conduce to this Union of Heart and Mind, and 'tis the lack of them that creates all the Discord and Dissension that is among ns.
If you observe it, you shall find most Men commending Peace, and speaking up for Unity: but the mischief is, they must all have it in their own way, tho ever so disferent and contrary one to the other •, they are willing enough that all Men should be of one mind, but then every Man must be of theirs, or else they cannot agree with them. Tis this puts all the difficulty into this Duty, and renders it in a great measure unpracticable.
Now there is but one Expedient to cure this Evil, and that is, for Men to think modestly and soberly of them,selves, to allow their Teachers and Governours to know more, and to be wiser than they and so to submit their private Judgment to the publick Wisdom. By thus hearkning and yielding to those whom God hath appointed to teach and direct us, we may soon come to be of one mind, but without it never. Which made the Apostle exhort all Christians, not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to thinks but to think soberly, according as God hath given to every one the Measure os Faith; Rom. 12. ?. In a word then, let me bespeak you in the words of the (ame Apostle; Is there be any Consolation in Christ, is any Comfort of Love, is any Fellovpship of the Spirit, if any Bowels of Mercies, fulfil ye my'soy, that ye be (ike-minded, having the same Love, being of one accord, and of one mind: Phil, 2. 1,2. So (hall we become one Flock and one Fold, underone great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls: which God grant, &c. 'f