« السابقةمتابعة »
is next us. If therefore, by hafty refolution, you lose this only proper and advantageous feafon of deliberation, you are not like to find fuch another,
Remedy 4. Truft not to the clearness of your own unaffisted eyes, nor to the strength of your fingle reafon; but confult, in fuch cafes, with others that are pious and judicious, especially your godly and faithful ministers; and hearken to the counfels they give you. Paul juftly wondered that the Galatians were fo foon removed: and well he might; for, had they not a Paul to confult with, before they gave their confent ta falfe teachers? or, if he was at a distance from them, about the work of the Lord, in remote places, had they no godly and judicious friends near them, whofe prayers and affistances they might call in, as Daniel did, Dan. ii. 17. Woe unto him that is alone in a time of temptation, except the Lord be with him by extraordinary affistance and direction.
Remedy 5. Lafly, Sufpect that opinion (as juftly you may) for erroneous, that is too importunate, and preffing upon you, and will not allow you due time of confideration, and means of information: That which is a truth to-day, will be a truth to morrow; but that which looks like a truth to-day, may be detected, and look like itself, an odious error, to-morrow: And this is the reason of that post hafte that Satan and his factors make to gain our prefent confent, left a fpeedy detection fruftrate the fuit, and fpoil the defign. The ufes follow in fix confectaries.
Confectary 1. From all that hath been faid about errors, we fee, in the first place, the great usefulness and plain neceffity of an able, faithful, ftanding miniftry in the church.
One special end of the miniftry, is the establishment of the people's fouls against the errors of the times, Eph. iv. 11,14. "He gave fome apofties, &c. that we henceforth be no more children, "toffed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, "by the flight of men," &c. Minifters are fhepherds; and without a fhepherd how foon will the flock go aftray? Mofes was abfent but a few days from the Ifraelites, and at his return found them all run into fnares of idolatry. A sheep is animal fequax, a creature that follows a leader. One ftraggler may mislead a whole flock. A minifter's work is not only to feed, but defend the flock, "I am fet (faith Paul) for the defence of the gofpel," Phil. i. 17. An orthodox and faithful minifter, is a double blessing
*Perit omne judicium, cum res tranfit in affectum, ie. When the affections are biaffed, judgment is loft.
to the people; but woe to that people, whose minifters, instead of fecuring them against errors, do cause them to err, Ifa. ix. 16. they are the dogs of the flock: Some in Scripture are called dumb dogs, who, instead of barking at the thief, bite the children; but faithful minifters give warning of fpiritual dangers. So did the worthy minifters of London, Worcestershire, Devon, &c. in their teftimonies againft errors.
Confectary 2, This difcourfe fhews us alfo how little quietnefs and peace the church may expect, till a greater degree of light and unity be poured out upon it; what by perfecutions from without it, and troubles from within, little tranquillity is to be expected. 'Tis a note of St. Bernard's, that the church hath fometimes had pacem a Paganis, fed raro aut nunquam a filiis, peace fometimes from Pagan perfecutors, but seldom or never any peace from her own children.
We read, Zech. xiv. 7. the whole ftate of the Chriftian church, from the primitive days to the end of the world, fet forth under the notion of one day, and that a strange day too, the light of it shall neither be clear nor dark, nor day nor night, but at evening-time it fball be light; i. e. a day full of interchangeable and alternate providences; fometimes perfecutions, herefies, and errors prevail, and thefe make that part of the day dark and gloomy; and then truth and peace break forth again, and clear up the day. Thus it hath been, and thus it will be, until the evening of it, and at evening time it fhall be light; then light and love fhall get the afcendant of error and divifions. Most of our fcuffles and contentions are for want of greater measures of both these.
Confectary 3. From the manifold caufes and mischiefs of errors before mentioned, we may also see what a choice mercy it is to be kept found in judgment, stedfaft and unmoveable in the truths and ways of Chrift. A found and stedfast Christian is a bleffing in his generation, and a glory to his profeffion. It was an high encomium of Athanafius, Sedem maluit mutare, quam fyllabam i. e. He would rather lofe his feat, than a fyllable of God's truth. Soundness of judgment muft needs be a choice bleffing; because the understanding is the Tovov, that leading faculty which directs the will and confcience of man, and they his whole life and practice. How often, and how earnestly doth Chrift pray for his people, that they may be kept in the truth? 'Tis true, orthodoxy in itfelf is not fufficient to any man's falvation; but the conjunction of an orthodox head, with an honeft fincere heart, does always conftitute an excellent
Christian, Phil. i. 10. Happy is the man that hath an head fo hearted, and an heart fo headed.
Confectary 4. By this difcourfe, we may further discover one great and fpecial cause and reafon of the lamentable decay of the fpirit and power of religion, amongst the professors of the prefent age.
'Tis a complaint more just than common, that we do all fade as a leaf. And, what may be the caufe? Nothing more probable, than the wafting of our time and fpirits in vain janglings, and fruitless controverfies, which the apoftle tells us, Heb. xiii. 9. have not profited, i. e. they have greatly damnified and injured them that have been occupied therein. Many controverfies of thefe times grow up about religion, as fuckers from the root and limbs of a fruit-tree, which spend the vital fap that fhould make it fruitful.
'Tis a great and fad obfervation made upon the state of England, by fome judicious perfons, That after the greatest increafe of religion, both intenfively in the power of it, and extenfively in the number of converts, what a remarkable decay it fuffered both ways, when, about the year forty-four, controverfies and disputations grew fervent among profeffors. Since that time, our ftrength and glory have very much abated.
Confectary 5. From this difcourfe we may alfo gather, the true grounds and reafon of thofe frequent perfecutions which God lets in upon his churches and people: These rank weeds call for fnowy and frosty weather, to fubdue and kill them.
I know the enemies of God's people aim at fomething elfe; they ftrike at profeffion, yea, at religion itself; and according to their wicked intention, without timely repentance, will their reward be: But, whatever the intention of the agents be, the iffues of perfecution are, upon this account, greatly beneficial to the church; the wisdom of God makes them excellently úfeful, both to prevent and cure the mischiefs and dangers of errors. If enemies were not, friends and brethren would be injurious to each other. Perfecution, if it kills not, yet, at least, it gives check to the rife and growth of errors: And, if it do not perfectly redintegrate and unite the hearts of Christians, yet, to be fure, it cools and allays their finful heats; and that two ways: (1.) By cutting out for them far better and more
* England in four years became a fink, and puddle of all errors and fects; no province, fince the beginning of the world, in fo short a time produced fo many Herefies as this. Honor. Reg. de Statu Ecclef. Britan, p. 1.
neceffary work. Now, inftead of racking their brains about unneceffary controverfies, they find it high time to be fearching, their hearts, and examining the foundations of their faith and hope, with respect to the other world. (2.) Moreover, fuch times and ftraits, difcover the fincerity, zeal, and conftancy of them we were jealous of, or prejudiced against before, because they followed pot us.
Confectary 6. Laftly, Let us learn hence, both the duty and neceffity of charity and mutual forbearance: we have all our mistakes and errors one way or other; and therefore must maintain mutual charity under diffents in judgment.
I do not fay, but an erring brother must be reduced, if poffible, and that by fharp rebukes too, if gentler effays be inef fectual, Tit. i. 13. and the wounds of a friend have more faithful love to them, than the kisses of an enemy; and if God make us inftrumental by that, or any other method, to recover a brother from the error of his way, he will have great cause, both to blefs God, and thank the inftrument, who thereby faves a foul from death, and hides a multitude of fins, James v. 20. 'Tis our duty, if we meet an enemy's ox or afs going aftray, to bring him back again, Exod. xxiii. 4. much more the foul of a friend. Indeed, we must not make those errors that are none; nor ftretch every innocent expreffion to that purpose; nor yet be too hafty in meddling with contention, till we cannot be filent and innocent; and then, whatever the expence be, truth will repay it.
An APPENDIX: Containing a full, and modeft Reply to Mr. Philip Cary's Rejoinder to my Vindiciae Legis et Foederis.
Manifefting the badness of his Caufe, in the feebleness, and impertinency of his Defence; and adding farther Light, and Strength to the Arguments formerly produced in Defence of God's graci cus Covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. and the Right of Be lievers Infants to Baptism, grounded thereupon.
N EXT to the not deferving a reproof, is the due recep tion and improvement of it. You deserve a sharper reprehenfion for your temerity, and obftinacy, than I am willing
to give you from the prefs; yet, in love to the truth, and your own foul, reprove you I muft, and I hope God will enable me to be both mild in the manner, and convincingly clear in the matter, and caufe thereof: 'Tis better to lofe the fmiles, than the fouls of men. I dare not neglect the duty of a friend, for fear of incurring the fufpicion of an enemy. Several learned, and eminent divines, who have feen what hath publicly paffed betwixt you and me, have returned me their thanks, and think you ought to thank me too, for the pains I have taken to fet you right, hoping you will evidence your felf-denial and repentance, by an ingenuous retraction of your errors.
But how will you deceive their expectations, and unbecome the character given you by your friends, when they shall find the true measure, both of your ability, and humility, drawn by your own pen, in the following rejoinder!
I have thoroughly confidered your reply, in the manufcript you fent me, which, I hear, is now in the prefs; and in the following theets have given a full, and (I think) a final answer to whatsoever is material therein: And, it fo falling out, that my discourse of Errors was just going under the press, whilst you rejoinder was there alfo, I thought it not convenient to delay my reply any longer, but to have my antidote in as great readiness as might be, to meet it.
One inconvenience I eafily forefee, that the pages of your manufcript, which I follow, may not throughout exactly answer to the print; but every intelligent reader will easily discern, and rectify that, if my bookseller fave him not that trouble, as I have defired him to do.
As to the controverfy about the right of believers infant-feed to Baptifm, you have altogether adventured it, the second time, with the confent of your partizans, upon the three hypotheses, which (if I mistake not) I have fully confuted and baffled in my firft answer: but, if my brevity occafioned any obfcurity in that, I hope you fhall find it fufficiently done here. Mean time you have given, and I accordingly take it for granted, that our arguments for Infant's Baptifm, stand in their full strength against you, till you can better discharge, and free your dan gerous affertions from the errors and abfurdities in which they are now more involved and intricated than before.
The weaker any thing is, the more querulous it is. If fcripture argument and clear reafon will not fupport the cause I undertake, I am refolved never to call in paffionate invectives and weak evasions for my auxiliaries, as you have here done. The Lord give us all clearer light, tenderer confciences, exemplary humility, and ingenuity.