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be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." And again; "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." Unto which I shall subjoin the same apostle's pathetical prayer; "The Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. And, The God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may, with one mind, and with one mouth, glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Before I leave this seasonable and necessary argument, let us, in a few words, consider, what is to be done in differences of judgement and divisions of mind, to heal the breaches, and to recover the peace of a disjointed and dilacerated church.
And here it cannot be denied, but that in all ages of the church, there have been, and still are like to be, varieties of judgement among the members thereof. For
1. The best proficients know but in part, and prophesy but in part. *
2. There are many things very abstruse and difficult in the disquisition of divine truth. Religion hath its durvonta things hard to be understood, as well as other sciences.
3. There is in many men much weakness of judgement, to make search and enquiry into these things, or to discover ' veritatem in puteo latentem.'
4. There is much carelessness of heart in many men to try the spirits, and to prove all things; they sleep, while the enemy soweth tares.
5. There is in many men a levity, lubricity, and discomposedness of mind, whereby they are apt to be carried away with every wind of doctrine; and, out of simplicity and credulity, to be wrought upon by the cunning of those who are skilful to deceive.
6. Some have itching ears, hearkening always after new
things, whom manna will not please without quails; who have some particular men's persons in admiration, and give up themselves, by a blind obedience and implicit faith, into their hands, to be led by them into novel and singular opinions.
7. Prevailing of lust and domestical interest, doth, in many men, darken their minds, and entangle their judgements, and betray them into that sad condition of being given over to strong delusions, to believe lies. Upon these and such like reasons, there have been always differences in the church. We find a contention between Paul and Barnabas ", and between Paul and Peter. We find some for Paul, others for Apollos; and some for Cephas; and others for none of them all, but for Christ without them. We find some building upon the foundation, silver and gold"; and others, hay and stubble. We read of great differences between the eastern and western churches, touching the observation of Easter,and between the Roman and African churches in the matter of rebaptization; of many sharp dissensions between sundry great and famous bishops and pastors of the ancient churches. To say nothing of the present sad experience which we may, every where, observe of the same truth,-the scripture hath foretold it, (and it cannot be otherwise) that there "must be heresies and offences." Nevertheless, we must not hereby be discouraged from using all pious and prudent endeavours for pacification of the persons so dissenting; concerning which accommodation we are to distinguish,
1. Of opinions: whereof some are in the foundation P, in those primitive articles of faith, and essentials of religion, on which the house of God is built; the errors contrary whereunto are subversive, pernicious, and damnable. Some are only in the superstruction, which are not 'fidei,' but 'quæstionum '; which do not overturn the edifice, nor endanger the vitals of religion. Such were in the apostle's time, disputes touching meats, and drinks, and days, and things indifferent: wherein though men abound in their own sense, yet it must ever be with meekness, and with
1 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11. 1 Tim. vi. 10.
1 Cor. i. 12, 13.
n 1 Cor. iii. 12.
m Acts xv. 39. Gal. ii. 11, 13. • Matth. xviii. 17. 1 Cor. P Matth. vii. 24. 1 Cor. iii. 9, 10. Heb. vi. 1. q 2 Pet. ii. 1. Aug. de Peccat. Orig. cap. 23. Rom. xiv. 5, 6. 1 Cor. viii. 8, 9.
humble submission to the spirits of the prophets, and to the judgement, order, and peace of the church.
2. Of persons: some are seducers, who, out of pride, enmity against the doctrine which is according unto godliness, carnal ends, desire of advantage and domination, do sow tares in the church, and cause rents and divisions therein. Such were Hymeneus, Philetus, Diotrephes, and others. -Others are seduced people ", who, through ignorance, credulity, simplicity, facility, and flexibleness of spirit, are led away captive by the cunning craftiness of them, who lie in wait to deceive.
Again; some are men of meek, humble, peaceable, and quiet spirits, amongst whom though there be differences of judgement, yet they do, upon the common principles of faith and holiness, agree in love, and join in pursuing the same common salvation; neither monopolizing the privileges of saints; neither judging or despising the other; neither holding any error supinely, pertinaciously, uncharitably, or factiously. Others are men of turbulent, seditious, and tumultuating dispositions, who love to kindle flames, to foment divisions, to make sides and factions, that they may fish in troubled waters
These things being premised, we may, touching accommodations, thus conclude:
1. There can be no syncretism, or accommodation, where the differences are in points destructive to the foundations of religion, and against the very essentials of faith, worship, and obedience. There can be no reconciliation betwixt Christ and Belial; between damnable heresies, and the doctrine which is according unto godliness. Hereticks are to be admonished, and, in case of pertinacy, to be rejected: therefore there may be no brotherly communion with them. But seduced persons are, in the spirit of meekness, to be instructed; and if possible, to be restored, and won unto the truth, and delivered from the snare of the devil.
Eph. iv. 14. Jsai. iii. 12. Jer. xxiii. 16, 26, 32. xxix. 8. Matth. vii. 15, Acts xx. 29, 30. 2 Tim. iii. 13. Tit. i. 10. 2 Pet. ii. 1. 2 John v. 7. Mark xiii. 22. 2 Tim. ii. 14, 18. Gal. ii. 4. u 2 Cor. xi. 20. 2 Tim. iii. 6. Col. ii. 8. Eph. iv. 14. * Bish. Laud. Confer. sect. 36. p. 315, 316. x. 21. 2 Cor. vi. 14, 17. Gal. i. 8, 9. Tit. iii. 10. Euseb. c. 13. a 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26.
y 1 Cor. Hist. 1. 4.
2. Though the differences, at first view, be not so pernicious and dangerous, yet if it be evident that they be purposely sowed by men of turbulent and ungracious spirits, merely to kindle flames, to foment seditions, to lay the foundations of perpetual divisions or commotions in church or state, to gratify the common enemy, and to be subservient to such ends and designs, as wherein truth and holiness is endangered; in this case the apostle hath taught us, both by his example, not to give place by subjection for an hour unto such men ; and, by his doctrine, to mark and to beware of them.
3. Where a syncretism and agreement is allowable, yet we must love peace and truth, follow peace and holiness"; not adulterate, or in any case betray, or play the hucksters with the word; as it is said of the Samaritans, that "they feared the Lord, and served their own Gods." We must not temper or reduce divine truth to the rules or dictates of our own lusts, nor captivate our conscience to our carnal desires. Jeroboam and Ahaz acted inordinately, when they erected a worship dissonant to God's will, and subservient to their own. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth" buy it we may; but sell it we must not for any other gain.i
4. Where the fundamentals of religion are safe, and on all sides unanimously embraced, and the differences purely problematical, and such as do not at all endanger the vitals and essentials of religion, mutual meekness, tenderness and forbearance are to be used, as amongst brethren and fellowmembers. Disputes are to be managed with all calmness of spirit; without passion, animosity, exasperation, invidious consequences, or any thing tending to the violation of brotherly love. Hereby we preserve the communion of saints, when we own one another as brethren, and not as strangers. We credit the gospel of peace, and adorn our mutual profession of the same common faith. We make way to the more clear discovery of truth, when no passion
b Gal. ii. 4, 5.
e Rom. xvi. 17.
d Zec. viii. 19. Heb. xii. 14.
• 2 Cor. iv. 2. Basil in Psalm xiv. 1. edit. Græco-Lat. Paris. p. 153. et Greg. Naz. Orat. 1. p. 20. B.
2 Kings xvi. 10.
f 2 Kings xvii. 33.
h 2 Cor. xiii. 8.
g 1 Kings xii. 27, 28, 33. i Prov. xxiii. 23. Rom.
xv. 1. Gal. vi. 1. Eph. iv. 2, 3.
or prejudice doth dazzle our eyes, or overcloud our judgement. We stop the mouths, prevent the insultations, and take away the advantages, which the common adversary promiseth to himself by our differences and dissensions.
The means to be used to such an evangelical accommodation, are, 1. Out of a sincere love of all truth, to wait with humble, docile, and tractable hearts upon God, in the use of such means as he hath appointed, for the revealing of his mind unto us touching those things about which we differ; and for that purpose, with single hearts, to study the scriptures, and to weigh every opinion in the balance of the sanctuary. "This," the apostle saith, "is profitable for doctrine and reproof" to this he referreth the church against all danger of wolves: out of this, our Lord revealeth to his disciples the things which concerneth himself; by this, the ancients desired to have the controversies in their times stated and decided." And when any of them teach us to try doctrines by ecclesiastical tradition, and the witness of the church, they speak of apostolical churches, which Tertullian caileth matrices et originales,' and not barely of the peremptory decision of some one or other present or particular church": for they were able to draw down from the apostles, traducem fidei,' as Tertullian calls it, a doctrinal succession; to assign the time, the authors, and the posteriority of those heresies, which they gainsaid; as he saith, "solemus hæreticis compendii causa de posterioritate præscribere."P Now because we cannot understand the things of God but by the Spirit of God, (for he it is who openeth the heart, and draweth away the veil, and gives us understanding :) and because the scripture hath told us, that God's people shall be taught of him '; therefore we must, in our studying thereof, pray unto God with Job, "That which I see not, teach thou me ;" and with David,
1 2 Tim. iii. 16. Acts xx. 32. Luke xxiv. 27.
m Optatus cont. Parmen.
1. 5.-Aug. Epist. 19. c. 1. ep. 48. et 112. cont. ep. Parmen. 1. 1. c. 2. cont. Lit. Petil. 1. 2. c. 85. de Unitat. Eccles. c. 3. 6, 17, 18, 19. in Psalm. 23. Exposit. 2. n Tertul. cont. Hermog. c. 22. Dr. Field, Appendix, part 3. c. 7. p. 42. • Tertul. de præscript. cap. 20, 21. P Advers. Hermog. c. 1. cont. Marcion. 1. 5.
c. 19. cont. Praxeam, c. 2. v. 20.
torum, cap. 8.
q Acts xvi. 14. 2 Cor. iii. 16, 17. 1 John
r John vi. 45. Aug. de Grat. Christi. c. 13. et de prædestinat. sanc
Job xxxiv. 32.