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then we all enter into the Church by the fame G,ate, and walk to Heaven the fame way, let us not scatter or divide, but keep together for the mutual Aid and Comfort of-each other ; and being join'd together by the Holy Sacraments, the Seals of the Holy Spirit, let us endeavour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. To which end, Lastly, We are here told, that there is but one God and Father of all, who is above all, by his Power, and thro all, by his Providence, and in all, by his Presence: and having but one Object of Divine Worship, viz.. the Omnipotent Maker and Master of us all, we are to unite and agree in his Service, and adore him with one Heart and one Consent. This is the highest Motive and Example of Unity, taken from the Unity of the Godhead, which our Saviour's Prayer sets as a Pattern of Union among Believers, That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee9 so they also may be one in us ; John 17. 20, 21. The Heathens indeed had Lords many and Gods many, and it could be no wonder if they were divided in serving of them; but to us there is but one Lord and one God, to whom therefore we should all pay our joint and unanimous Devotions.
Thus I have briefly consider'd the Portion of Scripture appointed for the Epistle for this Day, which contains many weighty and cogent Arguments for Unity of Heart and Mind among Christians: yea, it shews all our Religion to be founded upon Unity, and is only promoted by it ., for we are all united in one mystical Body of Christ's Church. And this Body is acted and animated by one Holy Spirit; there is one Door of Entrance into it, *'. e. by one Baptism ; there is but one Faith profess'd in it -, and in a word, there is but one Object of all Divine Worship, viz., the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and thro all, and in us all. From all which we learn,
i. The Nature and Sinfulness of Schism, which is the dividing of the Body of Christ, and making it not one Body, but many. Is Christ divided? faith the Apostle to the Corinthians, upon their breaking into Schisms and Factions j implying, that these things not only divide Christians, but Christ himself, by tearing in pieces his Body the Church: and therefore the fame Apostle advises, that there be no Schism in the Body, nor any Divisions among Christians ~y 1 Cor. 1. 10. We being many (faith he) are one Bread and me Bodyr and are all Partakers of one Bread- signifying, i:. Bb 4 that that by breaking Communion, and setting up Altar against Altar, we break the Unity of Christ's Church, and make a Schism in his Body j for thereby one Member is rent and torn from another: and as a Member cut off is no longer a Part of the Body from which'tis sever'd, so they who cut themselves off from the Communion of the Church by a wilful and causeless Separation, are no longer Members of Christ's Body.
Indeed there may and must be a local Separation, because all the Members of the Catholick Church being dispers'd into several parts of the World, cannot meet together ia one Place, and in a National Church. The Members, by reason of their distance from one another, require distinct Places or Parishes for their meeting or assembling together: but there must be no Separation in point of Worship, no opposite Communion or Discipline, no Conventicles or House-Worship in opposition to the establish'd Worship of the Temple or House of God ^ for these are plain Divisions, and unwarrantable Separations from the Church of Christ. f°foi** ,tne severing-..pr. dividing one Limb from another makes a Schism in the natural Body, by destroying the Union, and cutting off the Communication of the several Parts j even so the dividing of the Members of the Church by different Communions from one another, makes a Schism in the mystical Body of Christ: in which cafe the divided Parts are cut off from the Head, and hinder'd from receiving, Grace or spiritual Strength from him. Which shews the Danger as well as the Sin of SchiCu, a Lesion to be learnt from the Unity of the Body. . .'From the Unity of the Spirit and the Fruits of it, we may learn what Spirit we are of, and how far we are acted by it ., for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Love, Peace, Lowliness, Meekness, Patience, and the like: these tend to promote Unity of Heart and Mind among Men, and dispose them to agree and join together in the Worship of God. But the evil Spirit lusteth to Envy, Strife, Variance and' Contention^ and these kindle a bitter Zeal and Emulation among Christians, which lead them into Division and Separation. Try your selves then by this Touchstone, and you may see whether the Spirit of God dwelseth in you. H you are meek, humble, and modest, willing to learn of y0ur Teachers, to obey your Superiors, to unite and agree with your Neighbours ^ you are then acted by the good Spirit of God, which is known by these Fruits: but if you
ars are proud, arrogant and untractabie, unwilling to submit er be taught by your Betters, if you ate censorious, false, and unjust to one another, be not deceiv'd, you are not mov'd to these things by the Holy Spirit of God, but by the evil Spirit that rules in the Hearts of the Children of Disobedience. In short, the good Spirit is but one,, tho the evil Spirits are many ., the former guides into the Ways of Truth and Peace, the latter into the Paths of Error and Dissension.
. j, From the Unity of Faith, and the one Hope of our Christian Calling, we may-learn to unite and go hand in hand together in it, without differing or falling out about inferiour matters: for whilst we adhere and hold to the fame Faith, and expect the fame End of it, even the Salvation of our Souls, no lessor things can justify a Contention, or much left warrant a Separation. We ar$ bid to contend earnestly for the Faith, and to continue stedfast in the Profession ©f it ^ but for the lester Matters of Order and Decency, we are bid to submit, and shew all lawful Compliance, which is absolutely necessary to preserve Unity.'
4. From the one Lord, or the Unity of the Head, we may easily learn this Compliancefor the Head is the Seat of Wisdom and Power, to direct and command the other Members: and this may in the most eminent manner be affirm'd of this mystical Head, in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledg, and who hath the sole Right to guide and' govern' his whole Body. Beside, as the Head conveys down animal Spirits, Heat, arid'Vigour to the other Members, by which they live, move, and nave their being ^ so Christ, the mystical Head of the Church, sends down the kindly Influences of his Grace and Holy Spirit upon his Members, to quicken and excite all theic OpefationS: which may teach us to live, t6.;jtimfe, and jp abide in his Body; for as the Branches cannof tfve or brirtg forth any Fruit, except they abide in the Vine, so neither can we, except we are united to and abide' in him.
5. From the-Unity of the Sacraments, let us learn to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace; for these.are as the Ligaments and Arteries to hold all the FVts together. 'Tis by one Baptism that we are all initiated into Christ's Church, and by one Communion that we are all confkm'd and continu'd in it: so vain and foolish are they who think they belong to Christ without the initiating Ordinance of Baptism, and so profane and presumptuous are all such as expect any Benefit from him, without the confirming Ordinance of the holy Communion. These are the Seals of the new Covenant, without which we can lay no claim to the Title or Privileges of Christians.
Lastly, From the one God and Father of all, let us be persuaded with one Mind and one Mouth to glorify our great Creator; so shall we, by preserving Peace and Unity on Earth, arrive at last to the Unity of the Church in Heaven, and come to the measure of the Stature of the Fulness of Christ: to which, God of his infinite Mercy bring us all, for the Merits of his Son, and our ever?blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
The Gospel for the Seventeenth Sunday aster
St. Luke xiv. i 11.
Jf tame to pass as Jesus went into the House of one cf the chief Pharisees, to eat Bread on the Sabbath-day, that they watched him. And behold there was a certain Man before him that had the Dross., &c
IN this Gospel for the Day, there are four observable things to be consider'd and spoken to: And they are,
First, Our Saviour's Freedom of Converfation, He went into the House of one of the chies Pharisees to eat Bread: together with the Circumstance of Time, when it was ., 'twas on the Sabbath Day.
Secondly, The insidious Falshood and Treachery of the Tharifees in entertaining him instead of welcoming, they only watched him, to find some Occasion to traduce and accuse him.
Thirdly, Our Saviour's great Wisdom in putting them to
filence, and thereby preventing and frustrating their Wicked Purpose.
Fourthly, Our Saviour's checking their Pride and Vanity, in affecting Precedence and Preheminence above others. These things contain the Substance of this Gospel, and must therefore be the Subject of the following Discourse.
And, First., Of the Freedom of his Converfation, He pent into the House of one of the Pharisees to eat Bread. Whether he went in upon an Invitation, or only made an. accidental or occasional Visit, is not here express'd, nor is it much material to enquire: we find him, as Opportunity offer'd, ready enough to do both. When St. Matthew a Publican invited him to a Feast, he freely went, and entertain'd the Company with Discourse that fer exceeded all the other Entertainment. In his passing through Jericho he faw Zacheus, another Publican, climbing a Sicamore Tree, with a Desire to see him: Jesus looking up and seeing him, said unto him, &icheus make haste and come down, for to* day J must abide at thy House; who immediately hasten'd and came down, and receiitdhim joyfully; and well he might, for he brought Salvation with him; Luke 19. 5,6,0.
The Pharisees indeed blam'd this Freedom, saying to his Disciples, Why eateth anddrinketh thy Mast er with Publicans and Sinners? They thought it unbecoming so Divine and Holy a Person as Jesus appear'd to he, to converse so familiarly with the worst of Men •, for so they took the Publicans to be. But Christ knowing their Hearts, reply'd to them, The whole have no need of a Physicians but they that art sick: meaning, that they who were sound and holy in their own opinion, had not so much need of his Company, as they that found themselves sick, and labour'd under their Infirmities: for he came not to call the Righteous* that is, such as were so in their own eyes, but Sinners to Repentance; that is, such as were sensible of their Sins, and felt the Burden of their Iniquities. This was the Design of his coming and conversing in the World, to take Men off from the Love and Practice of Sin, and to reduce them to a better State and Course of Life. And this is more easily done upon modest and humble Sinners, than upon those that are proudly conceited, of their own Righteousness. And therefore the Pharisees might as well blame the Physician of the Body, for vinting Hospitals and sick Patients., as. the great Physician of the Soul, fox visiting such