Page images

pleased to appear in the form of a falcon, or eagle, or any other bird of prey, but of a dove, the meeknefs and innocence whereof our Saviour recommended for a pattern to all his followers. Above all things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.

It was a worthy and juft intimation that Saint Gregory Nazianzen gives, to this purpose, unto the Synod of Constantinople. What can be more abfurd, faith he, than, while we decline the enemy's fight, to betake ourselves to mutual affaults of each other; and, by this means, to wafte and weaken our own forces? Or what can be a greater pleafure to adverfaries than to fee us thus bickering with ourfelves? But, if neither the respect to the glory of the God of peace, nor to the peace and welfare of the dear church and fpoufe of Chrift, nor of themselves, can prevail any thing, what remains but to mourn, in filence,. for the irreparable breaches of the facred walls of Jerufalem; and, together with our zealous prayers for the oppofed peace of Zion, to appeal to the justice of that holy and righteous Lord God of Ifrael, with

Increpa Domine beftias calami,

Rebuke, O Lord, the beasts of the reed, and fcatter the people that delight in war. Amen. Treatife on Chriftian Moderation.





T hath been the common disease of Chriftians, from the beginning, not to content themselves with that measure of faith which God, and the Scriptures, have expressly afforded us; but, out of a vain defire to know more than is revealed, they have attempted to discuss things, of which we can have no light, neither from reafon nor revelation: neither have they refted here; but, upon pretence of church authority, which is none, or tradition, which, for the most part, is but figment, they have peremptorily concluded, and confidently impofed upon others, a neceffity of entertaining conclufions of that nature; and, to ftrengthen themfelves, have broken out into divifions and factions, oppofing man to man, fynod to fynod, till the peace of the church vanifhed, without all poffibility of recal. I do not yet fee, that men of

* This eminent Divine, living in the troublesome times of Charles the First and Oliver Cromwell, fuffered more than many martyrs have fuffered. All writers and parties have agreed in giving him the character of one of the greateft, as well as best of men, that any age has produced. A few months before his death, he took an intimate friend into the Church Yard, near his houfe, and defired to be buried in a certain place, pointing to the spot, uttering, at the fame time, these memorable words :-" I hope my death is not far off; for I am tired of this uncharitable world!"

different opinions in Chriftian religion may not hold communion, and both go to one church. Why may I not go, if occafion require, to an Arian church, fo there be no Arianifm expreffed in their liturgy? And were liturgies, and public forms of service, fo framed as that they admitted not of particular and private fancies, but contained only fuch things as in which all Chriftians do agree, fchifms on opinion were utterly vanished. For, confider, of all the liturgies that are, or ever have been, and remove from them whatsoever is fcandalous to any party, and leave nothing but what all agree on, and the event shall be, that the public fervice and honour of God fhall no ways fuffer; whereas, to load our public forms with the private fancies upon which we differ, is the most fovereign way to perpetuate fchifm unto the world's end. Prayer, confeffion, thanksgiving, reading of fcriptures, expofition of fcripture, administration of facraments, in the plaineft and fimpleft manner, were matter enough to furnish out a fufficient liturgy, though nothing, either of private opinion, or of church pomp, of garments, of prescribed gestures, of imagery, of mufic, of matter concerning the dead, of many fuperfluities which creep into the churches under the name of order and decency, did interpofe itself. For to charge churches and liturgies with things unneceffary, was the first beginning of all fuperftition; and when fcruples of confcience began

to be made, or pretended, then fchifms began to break in. If the spiritual guides and fathers of the church would be a little fparing of incumbering churches with fuperfluities, and not over rigid, either in reviving obfolete customs, or impofing new, there were far lefs danger of fchifm or fuperftition; and all the inconvenience likely to enfue would be but this, they fhould, in fo doing, yield a little to the imbecillities of inferiors; a thing which St. Paul would never have refufed to do.

Look down, O Lord, upon thy poor dismembered church, rent and torn with difcords, and even ready to fink. Why fhould the neutral, or Atheist, any longer confirm himself in his irreligion, by reafons drawn from our diffenfions? Or why should any greedy-minded worldling prophecy unto himself the ruins of thy fanctuary, or hope one day to dip his foot in the blood of thy church? We will hope, O Lord, in thee (for what hinders ?) that, notwithstanding all fupposed impoffibilities, thou wilt one day in mercy look down upon thy Sion, and grant a gracious interview of friends, fo long divided. Thou that wroughteft that great reconciliation between God and man, is thine arm waxen fhorter? Was it poffible to reconcile God to man? To reconcile man to man is it impoffible? Be with thofe, we beseech thee, to whom the profecution of church controverfies is committed; and, like a good

Lazarus, drop one cooling drop into their tongues and pens, too, too much exasperated against each other. And, if it be thy determinate will and counsel that this abomination of defolation, ftanding where it ought not, continue unto the end, accomplish thou, with fpeed, the number of thine elect, and haften the coming of thy fon, our Saviour, that he may himself, in perfon, fit and judge, and give an end to our controverfies, fince it ftands not with any human poffibility. Direct thy church, O Lord, in all her petitions for peace; teach her wherein her peace confifts, and warn her from the world, and bring her home to thee; that all thofe that love thy peace may, at laft, have the reward of the fons of peace, and reign with thee, in thy kingdom of peace, for


Hale's Works.



ORD! let no unreasonable stiffness of those who are in the right, no perverse obstinacy of thofe that are in the wrong, hinder the clofing of our wounds; but let the one inftruct in meek

*This great man is principally known by his Practical Catechifm, and his Annotations on the New Testament. He died at the very time when Charles the Second was about to raise him to the Bishoprick of Worcester,

« PreviousContinue »