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Blessings: It establisheth Faith; It kindleth Charity; The outward Peace of the Church, Distilleth into Peace of Conscience; And it turneth the Labours, of Writing, and Reading of Controversies, into Treaties of Mortification, and Devotion.
Concerning the Bounds of Unity; The true Placing of them, importeth exceedingly. There appeare to be two extremes. For to certaine Zelants all Speech of Pacification is odious. Is it peace, lehu? What hast thou to doe with peace? turne thee behinde me. Peace is not the Matter, but Following and Party. Contrariwise, certaine Laodiceans, and Luke-warme Persons, thinke they may accommodate Points of Religion, by Middle Waies, and taking part of both; And witty Reconcilements; As if they would make an Arbitrement, betweene God and Man. Both these Extremes are to be avoyded; which will be done, if the League of Christians, penned by our Saviour himselfe, were in the two crosse Clauses thereof, soundly and plainly expounded; He that is not with us, is against us: And againe; He that is not against us, is with us: That is, if the Points Fundamentall and of Substance in Religion, were truly discerned and distinguished, from Points not meerely of Faith, but of Opinion, Order, or good Intention. This is a Thing, may seeme to many, a Matter triviall, and done already: But if it were done lesse partially, it would be embraced more generally.
Of this I may give onely this Advice, according to my small Modell. Men ought to take heede, of rending Gods Church, by two kinds of
Controversies. The one is, when the Matter of the Point controverted, is too small and light, not worth the Heat, and Strife about it, kindled. onely by Contradiction. For, as it is noted by one of the Fathers; Christs Coat, indeed, had no seame: But the Churches Vesture was of divers colours; whereupon he saith, In veste varietas sit, Scissura non sit; They be two Things, Unity, and Uniformity. The other is, when the Matter of the Point Controverted is great; but it is driven to an over-great Subtilty, and Obscurity; So that it becometh a Thing, rather Ingenious, then Substantiall. A man that is of Iudgement and understanding, shall sometimes heare Ignorant Men differ, and know well within himselfe, that those which so differ, meane one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it come so to passe, in that distance of Iudgement, which is betweene Man and Man; Shall wee not thinke, that God above, that knowes the Heart, doth not discerne, that fraile Men, in some of their Contradictions, intend the same thing; and accepteth of both? The Nature of such Controversies is excellently expressed, by S. Paul, in the Warning and Precept, that he giveth, concerning the same, Devita profanas vocum Novitates, &o Oppositiones falsi Nominis Scientiæ. Men create Oppositions, which are not; And put them into new termes, so fixed, as whereas the Meaning ought to governe the Terme, the Terme in effect governeth the Meaning. There be also two false Peaces, or Unities; The one, when the Peace is grounded, but upon an implicite ignorance; For all Colours will agree in the Darke:
The other, when it is peeced up, upon a direct Admission of Contraries, in Fundamentall Points. For Truth and Falshood, in such things, are like the Iron and Clay, in the toes of Nabucadnezars Image; They may Cleave, but they will not Incorporate.
Concerning the Meanes of procuring Unity; Men must beware, that in the Procuring, or Muniting, of Religious Unity, they doe not Dissolve and Deface the Lawes of Charity, and of humane Society. There be two Swords amongst Christians; the Spirituall, and Temporall; And both have their due Office, and place, in the maintenance of Religion. But we may not take up the Third sword, which is Mahomets Sword, or like unto it; That is, to propagate Religion, by Warrs, or by Sanguinary Persecutions, to force Consciences; except it be in cases of Overt Scandall, Blasphemy, or Intermixture of Practize, against the State; Much lesse to Nourish Seditions; To Authorize Conspiracies and Rebellions; To put the Sword into the Peoples Hands; And the like; Tending to the Subversion of all Government, which is the Ordinance of God. For this is, but to dash the first Table, against the Second; And so to consider Men as Christians, as we forget that they are Men. Lucretius the Poet, when he beheld the Act of Agamemnon, that could endure the Sacrificing of his owne Daughter, exclaimed;
Tantum Relligio potuit suadere malorum. What would he have said, if he had knowne of the Massacre in France, or the Powder Treason
of England ? He would have beene, Seven times more Epicure and Atheist, then he was. the temporall Sword, is to bee drawne, with great circumspection, in Cases of Religion; So it is a thing monstrous, to put it into the hands of the Common People. Let that bee left unto the Anabaptists, and other Furies.
It was great Blasphemy, when the Devill said; I will ascend, and be like the Highest; But it is greater Blasphemy, to personate God, and bring him in saying; I will descend, and be like the Prince of Darknesse; And what is it better, to make the cause of Religion, to descend, to the cruell and execrable Actions, of Murthering Princes, Butchery of People, and Subversion of States, and Governments? Surely, this is to bring Downe the Holy Ghost, in stead of the Liknesse of a Dove, in the Shape of a Vulture, or Raven: And to set, out of the Barke of a Christian Church, a Flagge of a Barque of Pirats, and Assassins. Therfore it is most necessary, that the Church by Doctrine and Decree; Princes by their Sword; And all Learnings, both Christian and Morall, as by their Mercury Rod; Doe Damne and send to Hell, for ever, those Facts and Opinions, tending to the Support of the same; As hath beene already in good part done. Surely in Counsels, Concerning Religion, that Counsel of the Apostle would be prefixed; Ira hominis non implet Iusticiam Dei. And it was a notable Observation, of a wise Father, And no lesse ingenuously confessed; That those, which held and perswaded, pressure of Consciences, were commonly interessed therin, themselves, for their owne ends.
REVENGE is a kinde of Wilde Iustice;
which the more Mans Nature runs to, the more ought Law to weed it out. For as for the first Wrong, it doth but offend the Law; but the Revenge of that wrong, putteth the Law out of Office. Certainly, in ing Revenge, A Man is but even with his Enemy; But in passing it over, he is Superiour: For it is a Princes part to Pardon. And Salomon, I am sure, saith, It is the glory of a Man to passe by an offence. That which is past, is gone, and Irrevocable; And wise Men have Enough to doe, with things present, and to come: Therefore, they doe but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters. There is no man, doth a wrong, for the wrongs sake; But therby to purchase himselfe, Profit, or Pleasure, or Honour, or the like. Therfore why should I be angry with a Man, for loving himselfe better then mee? And if any Man should doe wrong, meerely out of ill nature, why? yet it is but like the Thorn, or Bryar, which prick, and scratch, because they can doe no