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misfortune or a reason to believe of every one in particular, that she errs in some article or other, either he cannot communicate with any, or else he may communicate with all that do not make a sin, or the profession of any error, to be the condition of their communion. And therefore, as every particular church is bound to tolerate disagreeing persons in the senses and for the reasons above explicated; so every partilar person is bound to tolerate her, that is, not to refuse her communion, when he may have it upon innocent conditions. For what is it to me if the Greek church denies procession of the third person from the second, so she will give me the right hand of fellowship (though I affirm it), therefore, because I profess the religion of Jesus Christ, and retain all matters of faith and necessity? But this thing will scarce be reduced to practice; for few churches that have framed bodies of confession and articles, will endure any person that is not of the same confession : which is a plain demonstration, that such bodies of confession and articles do much hurt, by becoming instruments of separating and dividing communions, and making unnecessary or uncertain propositions a certain means of schism and disunion. But then men would do well to consider whether or no such proceedings do not derive the guilt of schism upon them who least think it; and whether of the two is the schismatic, he that makes unnecessary and (supposing the state of things) inconvenient impositions, he that disobeys them, because he cannot, without doing violence to his conscience, believe them; he that parts communion because without sin he could not entertain it, or they that have not made it necessary for him to separate by requiring such conditions, which to no man are simply necessary, and to his particular are either sinful or impossible.
2. The sum of all is this: there is no security in any thing or to any person but in the pious and hearty endeavours of a good life, and neither sin nor error does impede it from producing its proportionate and intended effect; because it is a direct deletery to sin and an excuse to errors, by making them innocent, and therefore harmless. And, indeed, this is the intendment and design of faith. For (that we may join both ends of this discourse together, therefore certain arti, cles are prescribed to us, and propounded to our understanding, that so we might be supplied with instructions, with mo,
tives and engagements to incline and determine our wills to the obedience of Christ. So that obedience is just so consequent to faith, as the acts of will are to the dictates of the understanding. Faith therefore being in order to obedience, and so far excellent as itself is a part of obedience, or the promoter of it, or an engagement to it; it is evident, that if obedience and a good life be secured upon the most reasonable and proper grounds of Christianity, that is, upon the Apostles' Creed, then faith also is secured. Since whatsoever is beside the duties, the order of a good life, cannot be a part of faith, because upon faith a good life is built: all other articles, by not being necessary, are no otherwise to be required but as they are to be obtained and found out, that is, morally, and fallibly, and humanly. It is fit all truths be promoted fairly and properly, and yet but few articles prescribed magisterially, nor framed into symbols and bodies of confession; least of all, after such composures, should men proceed so furiously as to say, all disagreeing after such declarations to be damnable for the future, and capital for the present. But this very thing is reason enough to make men more limited in their prescriptions, because it is more charitable in such suppositions so to do.
3. But in the thing itself, because few kinds of errors are damnable, it is reasonable as few should be capital. And because every thing that is damnable in itself and before God's judgment-seat is not discernible before men (and questions disputable are of this condition), it is also very reasonable that fewer be capital than what are damnable, and that such questions should be permitted to men to believe, because they must be left to God to judge. It concerns all persons to see that they do the best to find out truth; and if they do, it is certain that, let the error be ever so damnable, they shall escape the error, or the misery, of being damned for it. And if God will not be angry at men for being invincibly deceived, why should men be angry one at another? For he that is most displeased at another man's error, may also be tempted in his own will, and as much deceived in his understanding : for if he may fail in what he can choose, he may also fail in what he cannot choose : his understanding is no more secured than his will, nor his faith more than his obedience. It is his own fault if he offends God in either: but whatsoever is not
to be avoided, as errors, which are incident oftentimes even to the best and most inquisitive of men, are not offences against God, and therefore not to be punished or restrained by men : but all such opinions, in which the public interests of the commonwealth, and the foundation of faith and a good life, are not concerned, are to be permitted freely. “Quisque abundet in sensu suo," was the doctrine of St. Paul; and that is argument and conclusion too: and they were excellent words which St. Ambrose said in attestation of this great truth, “Nec imperiale est, libertatem dicendi negare; nec sacerdotale, quod sentias non dicere.” I end with a story which I find in the Jews' books. “When Abraham sat at his tent-door, according to his custom, waiting to entertain strangers; he espied an old man stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and travail, coming towards him who was a hundred years of age: he received him kindly, washed his feet, provided supper, caused him to sit down : but, observing that the old man eat and prayed not, nor begged for a blessing on his meat, he asked him why he did not worship the God of heaven. The old man told him that he worshipped the fire only, and acknowledged no other god. At which answer Abraham grew so zealously angry, that he thrust the old man out of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the night, and an unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and asked him where the stranger was: he replied, I thrust him away because he did not worship thee. God answered him, I have suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonoured me; and couldst not thou endure him one night, when he gave thee no trouble? Upon this, saith the story, Abraham fetched him back again, and gave him hospitable entertainment and wise instruction.” Go thou, and do likewise, and thy charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham.
THE DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE
THE NECESSITIES AND MEASURES OF A STRICT, A HOLY, AND
A CHRISTIAN LIFE.
RESCUED FROM POPULAR ERRORS.
The following treatise is, in itself, and with reference to its immediate subject, less controversial tlian devotional. As, however, it gave occasion to several of Taylor's writings which are strictly polemical, and from which it could hardly be separated without inconvenience to the reader; as it contains, moreover, some controverted positions, and as the author himself professes, at least incidentally, to assail some of the opinions usual among Christians on the subject of Repentance, it has been thought advisable to give it a place in the present volume, rather than among those works wbich exclusively refer to practice or devotion.