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no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things".” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law P.” And if it fulfil the law, it wrongeth no man. When did you see a man persecute himself? imprison, banish, defame, slander, revile, or put to death himself, (if he were well in his wits)? Never fear persecution from a man that “loveth his neighbour as himself, and doth as he would be done by,” and is not selfish and uncharitable. Direct. vii. ‘Pride also must be subdued, if you would not be persecutors.” For a proud man cannot endure to have his word disobeyed, though it contradict the Word of God: nor can he endure to be reproved by the preachers of the Gospel; but will do as Herod with John the baptist, or as Asa, or Amaziah, by the prophets' Till the soul be humbled, it will not bear the sharp remedies which our Saviour hath prescribed, but will persecute him that would administer them. Direct. v1.11. “Passion must be subdued, and the mind kept calm, if you would avoid the guilt of persecution.’ Asa was in a rage when he imprisoned the prophet; (a fit work for a raging man). And Nebuchadnezzar was in a rage and fury when he commanded the punishment of the three witnesses". “The wrath of man worketh not the will of God’.” The nature of wrathfulness tendeth to hurting those you are angry with. And wrath is impatient, and unjust, and will not hear what men can say, but rashly passeth unrighteous sentence. And it blindeth reason, so that it cannot see the truth. Direct. 1x. “And hearkening to malicious backbiters and slanderers, and favouring the enemies of godliness in their calumnies, will engage men in persecutions ere they are aware.” For when the wicked are in the favor, and at the ear of rulers, they have opportunity to vent those false reports, which they never want a will to vent! And any thing may be said of men behind their backs, with an ap pearance of truth, when there is none to contradict it. If Haman may be heard, the Jews shall be destroyed, as not
being for the king's profit, nor obedient to his laws. If Sanballat and Tobiah may be heard, the building of the walls of Jerusalem shall signify no better than an intended rebellion. They are true words, though to some ungrateful, which are spoken by the Holy Ghost, “If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked”,” (for they will soon accommodate themselves to so vicious a humour). “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness'.” If the devil might be believed, Job was one that served God for gain, and might have been made to curse him to his face. And if his servants may be believed, there is nothing so vile which the best men are not guilty of. Direct. x. “Take heed of engaging yourselves in a sect or faction.” For when once you depart from catholic charity, there groweth up instead of it, a partial respect to the interest of that sect to which you join ; and you will think that whatsoever doth promote that sect, doth promote Christianity; and whatever is against that sect, is against the church or cause of God. A narrow, sectarian, separating mind, will make all the truths of God give place to the opinions of his party; and will measure the prosperity of the Gospel in the world, by the prosperity of his party, as if he had forgot that there are any more men on the face of the earth, or thought God regarded none but them. He will not stick to persecute all the rest of the church of Christ, if the interest of his sect require it. When once men incorporate themselves into a party, it possesseth them with another spirit, even with a strange uncharitableness, injustice, cruelty, and partiality What hath the Christian world suffered by one sect's persecuting another, and faction rising up in fury to maintain its own interest, as if it had been to maintain the being of all religion The blood-thirsty Papists, whose inquisition, massacres, and manifold murders, have filled the earth with the blood of innocents, is a sufficient testimony of this. And still here among us, they seem as thirsty of blood as ever, and tell us to our faces, that they would soon make an end of us, if we were in their power: as if the two hundred thousand lately murdered in so short a time in Ireland, had rather irritated than quenched their thirst. And all faction naturally tendeth to persecution. Own not therefore any dividing opinions or names; maintain the unity of the body of Christ; (not of the body of the pope') Let Christian and catholic, be all your titles, as to your religion. “Mark those that cause divisions and offences, and avoid them ".” Direct. x1. To this end, “Overvalue not any private-or singular opinions of your own or others.” For if once spiritual pride and ignorance of your own weakness, hath made you espouse some particular opinion as peculiarly your own; you will dote on the brats of your own brains, and will think your conceits to be far more illuminating and necessary than indeed they are ; as if men's sincerity lay in the embracing of them, and their salvation on the receiving of them! And then you will make a party for your opinion, and will think all that are against it deserve to be cast out, as enemies to reformation, or to the truth of God, or to the church. And perhaps twenty years after, experience may bring you to your wits, and make you see either the falsehood or the smallness of all these points, which you made so great a matter of; and then what comfort will you have in your persecutions? Direct. xii. ‘ Obey not the solicitations of selfish, passionate disputers.” Bishops and divines falling out among themselves, and then drawing princes to own their quarrels, when they find their arguments will not serve, hath been the distraction, division and ruin of the Christian world. And he that falleth in with one of the parties, to bear out that by the ruin of the other, is lost himself in their contentions. Would rulers let wrangling bishops and disputers alone, and never lend them their swords to end their differences, unless the substance of religion be endangered, they would be weary of quarrelling, and would chide themselves friends, and no such tragical consequents would follow, as do when the sword interposeth to suppress the discountenanced party, and to end their syllogisms and wranglings in blood. Direct. x 111. ‘Take heed lest an uncharitable, hurting spirit do prevail, under the name of holy zeal.” As it did
* Prov. xxix. 12. * Prov. xxv. 4, 5.
with James and John, when they would have fire from heaven to have revenged the contempt of their ministry: to whom Christ saith, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” The difference between a Christian zeal, and an envious, contentious, censorious, hurtful zeal, is excellently described by the apostle James, chap. iii. throughout. “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good works, without partiality and hypocrisy.” Direct. xiv. ‘The catholic church, and particular churches, and our communion with each, must be distinguished ; and a man must not be cast out of our catholic communion, because by some tolerable difference he is incapable of communion with some particular church.' If a man be impenitent in any heresy or sin, which is contrary to the common nature of Christianity or godliness, and so unfit for catholic communion, he is to be cast out of Christian communion : but if some particular church do impose any unnecessary doctrine or practice, and he dare not approve it, or join in it, (be it right or wrong;) yea, or if he withdraw himself from one church, through the badness of the minister, or through any falling out between them, and join to another that hath a minister more suitable to his case ; these are not crimes to be punished with ejection from catholic communion. He that is not fit for communion with some one particular church, may be fit for communion with many others, that give him no such occasion of difference or distaste. Without catholic principles persecution will not be avoided. Direct. xv. ‘Let church union and communion be laid upon none but catholic terms, which are possible and fit for all to be agreed in *.’ Common reason will tell any impartial man, that there can be no more effectual engine to divide the churches, and raise contentions and persecutions, than to make laws for church communion, requiring such conditions as it is certain the members cannot consent to. If any man knew that my opinion is against the doctrine of transubstantiation, or of the Dominican's predetermination, and he would make a law, that no man shall have commu
* See my “Treatise of a True Catholic, and Catholic Church.”
nion with that church who subscribeth not to these, he unavoidably excludeth me, (unless I be such a beast, as to believe nothing soundly, and therefore to say any thing). If ever the churches agree, and Christians be reconciled, it must be by leaving out all dividing impositions, and requiring nothing as necessary to communion, which all may not rationally be expected to consent in. Now these catholic principles of communion must be such as these. 1. Such points of faith only as constitute Christianity, and which every upright Christian holdeth ; and therefore only such as are contained in our baptismal covenant or profession, which maketh us Christians; and not those other which only some stronger Christians believe or understand; because the weak are not to be cast out of the family of Christ. 2. Such points as the primitive churches did agree in, and not innovations, which they never practised or agreed in : for they are our pattern, and were better than we ; and no more can be necessary to our concord and communion, than was to theirs 9. 3. Such points as all the church hath sometime or other at least agreed in : for what reason can we have to think that the churches should now agree in that, which they neverhitherto agreed in. 4. Such points as all the true Christians in the world are now agreed in: for otherwise we shall exclude some true Christians from our Christian communion. 5. No points of worship, much less of modes and circumstances, which are not necessary, and more necessary to the church's good, than is the communion of those persons, who by dissenting are like to be separated or cast out, and whose omission would not do more hurt, than this separation and division is like to do. 6. Especially no such things must be made necessary to communion, as the most conscientious are ordinarily fearful of and averse to, and may be forborn without any great detriment to godliness. Object. “But,’ it will be said, ‘that catholic communion indeed requireth no more than you say; but particular churches may require more of their members, for that may
y See Vincent. Lirinens.