« AnteriorContinuar »
of whofe Communion, (as has been undeniably prov'd and maintain'd) are not only Lawful, but highly reasonable, and of an excellent Confti
I need not here, nor is it my Design to set my felf profeffedly to make out the Charge of Schifm against the Diffenters and Separatifts from the Church of England. It has been done over and over, to the utmoft Degree of Evidence, and the whole Circle of the Reformed Churches cry out upon them for their unreasonable Separation. Only I would defire them to try themselves and their Cause by that one plain Apoftolical Canon before-mentioned, and fee whether they can ju ftifie themselves by that fingle Measure. It is this, If it be poffible, 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 moft Sacred and moft Eminent of all Societies. And if as far as is possible, then certainly as far as is lawful.
But now I would ask our Diffenters and Separatifts this one Queftion, and appeal to their Confciences as well as to their Practices for an Anfwer. Do they live peaceably with the Church of England as by lawful Authority establish'd, as far as is poffible, and as much as in them lies? So far from this, that I might fay, (were I minded to aggravate things) that they do the quite contrary, and Divide from us as far as poffible, 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 difufe 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 fcandalous to be defended. I only demand, Do they live peaceably with the Church as far as is poffible, and as much as in them lies? They cannot with any Modesty say that they do. For if they did, not to fay that they might come much nearer to us than they do, they must of neceffity conform with us. Since as they were never able to fhew any thing unlawful in our Communion; fo they now generally allow it to be lawful, and accordingly will afford us their Company now and then upon occafion, as often as they think fit to do us that Honour. Well then, if our Communion be lawful, then 'tis Poffible for them to communicate with us, and if they do not, then 'tis plain that they do not live peaceably with us as far as is Poffible, and as much as in them lies, and confequently by virtue of this plain Apoftolical Canon ftand fully convicted of Schifm, and let them bring themselves off if they can. I am fatisfied they will be able to anfwer it but ill here, and am afraid worse hereafter.
I have now in general pointed out the Disturbers of the Chriftian Peace, and I wish I could now as easily make these Troublers of our Ifrael L 3
fenfible of this their Crime, as prove them guilty of it. In order to which not to infift upon the Heinoufnefs of the Sin of Schifm which is as exprefly forbidden in Scripture as Murder or Adultery, and the great Obligation that lies upon all Chriftians to preferve the Unity and Peace of the Church, which the Scripture every where fo earnestly preffes and inculcates, and which the Example of the Primitive Chriftians fo ftrongly recommends; and for which both our Reafon and our Intereft (efpecially at this time) would fuggeft to us a Thousand Arguments; I fay not to infift upon these and fuch like Confiderations (for a Combination of which I refer to an excellent Difcourfe of Dr. Barrow's concerning the Unity of the Church) I would only defire the Perfons concerned to confider how much by their Schifms and Divifions they prejudice the Chriftian Religion. I do not mean as to the Life and Power of Godliness, (tho' that be very true, and worthy to be seriously confidered) but as to the Propagation of the Chriftian Faith. And that with refpect to the Three great Enemies of it, the Heathen, the few, and the Mahumetan.
FIRST, With refpect to the Heathen, to whom as the Unity and Agreement of the First Chriftians was a great Indearment, and a very prevalent Invitation, fo as to occafion that common Speech among them, See how the Chriftians love one another! So the Schifms and Divifions of the Prefent Christians must needs be a great Scandal and Objection.
Objection. For indeed how can any confidering Heathen be perfwaded to think fuch 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 Confent!
SECONDLY, With refpect to the Jew, who may certainly number the Diffentions of Chriftians among the greatest Hindrances of his Converfion. For when in the Prophetick Writings among other Characters of the Times of the Meffias he fhall find this to be one, and one of the chiefeft, that it fhall be a Reign of Charity and Peace, Ifa. 2. 4. That they shall beat their Swords into Plombares, and their Spears into Pruning-books; That Nation fball not lift up Sword against Nation, neither ball they learn War any more. That the Wolf ball alfo dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard fball lie down with the Kid, &c. I fay the Jew finding this to be one of the Characteristics of the Meffias his Reign, and obferving withal nothing like it in the Chriftian State, but rather a perfect Reverse of all this, and not being able to diftinguish with fome between the Design and Natural Genius of the Chriftian Religion, and the accidental Event of Things; or with others, to have recourfe to the other more glorious Reign of Chrift in the Millennial State of the Church, wherein these great and ftrong Figures fhall have a proportionable Accomplishment, he must needs be fhrewdly tempted to think that the Time of the promised Meffias is not yet come, L 4
and that the Religion which now goes for his, is as falfe as its Profeffors are evil and wicked.
THIRDLY and Laftly, with respect to the Mahumetan, who indeed allows Chrift to have been a true Prophet, and his Religion to have been once a true Religion, only he fays 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 Chrift, fo was he to fill up his Defects, and to deliver the laft and standing Will of God. And will he not find pretence to be confirmed in this his Opinion, and to prefer his Mafter Mahumet as much before Christ as we do Chrift before Mofes; when he fhall perceive (as quickly he may) that there is not half fo much Unity and Agreement among Chriftians, 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 perifh in his Error, yet I fear his Blood will be upon those who adminifter the Occafion 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 comes. Our Saviour pronounces a fevere Woe against them that fhall offend even one of his little ones, Mat. 18. 6. and what then fhall be the Doom of thofe that fcandalize fo great a part of the World! I heartily wish that the prefent Disturbers and Dividers of the Christian State and Church would feriously confider these things,