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PRESERVATIVE

AGAINST

INFIDELITY & UNCHARITABLENESS.

Home and reasonable Christians would be of the fame religion, if they were thoroughly underfood by one another-if they did but talk enough together every day, and had nothing to do together but to ferve God, and live in peace with their neighbour.

POPE'S LETTERS TO BISHOP ATTERBURY.

PART I.

TESTIMONIES

IN BEHALF OF CANDOUR & UNANIMITY. BY MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

EDWARD STILLINGFLEET, D.D. BISHOP OF WORCESTER*.

ERE this an age wherein any thing might

WER be wondered at, it would be matter of

deferved admiration, that we are ftill fo far from being cemented together in the unity of the Spirit

*The above extract I have made the introductory testimony, because it beft expreffes the design of the fubfequent quotations, which are chronologically arranged. This is my reafon for placing Stillingfleet at the head of them, though he did not die till the year 1699.

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and the bond of peace. Muft the fire of our uncharitable animofities be like that of the temple, which was never to be extinguished? However, I am fure it is fuch an one as was never kindled from Heaven, nor blown up with any breathings of the holy and divine Spirit.

May we be happily delivered from the plague of our divifions and animofities! Than which there hath been no greater fcandal to the Jews, nor opprobium of our religion among Heathens and Mahometans, nor more common objection among the Papifts, nor any thing which hath been more made a pretence even for ATHEISM and INFIDELITY. For our controverfies about religion have brought, at laft, even religion itfelf into a controverfy among fuch whose weaker judgments have not been able to difcern where the plain and unquestionable way to heaven hath lain, in so great a mist as our disputes have raised among us. Weaker heads, when they once fee the battlements shake, are apt to fufpect that the foundation itself is not firm enough; and to conclude, if any thing be called in question, that there is nothing certain.

Religion hath been fo much rarified into airy notions and fpeculations, by the diftempered heat of men's fpirits, that its inward ftrength, and the vitals of it, have been much abated and confumed by it. Men, being very loth to put themselves to the trouble of a holy life, are very ready to em

brace any thing which may but difpenfe with that; and, if but lifting themselves under such a party may but shelter them, under a disguise of religion, none are more ready than fuch to be known by diftinguishing names; none more zealous in the defence of every tittle and punctilio that lies most remote from those effential duties, wherein the kingdom of God confifts-righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

It will require both time and skill to purge out thefe noxious humours. I know of no prefcription fo likely to effect this happy end, as an infufion of the true Spirit of religion; thereby to take men off from their eager purfuit after ways and parties, notions and opinions, and to bring them back to a right understanding of the nature, defign, and principles of CHRISTIANITY.

CHRISTIANITY is a religion which it is next to a miracle men fhould ever quarrel or fall out about, much less that it should be the occafion, or at leaft the pretence, of all that ftrife and bitterness of fpirit, of all those contentions and animofities which are, at this day, in the Christian world. But our only comfort is, that, whatever our fpirits are, our God is the God of peace, our Saviour is the Prince of peace; and that wisdom which this religion teacheth, is both pure and peaceable. Christians were once known by the benignity and sweetness of their difpofition-by the candour and ingenuity of their spirit-by their mutual

love, forbearance, and condefcenfion towards one another. But either this is not the practice of Christianity, or it was never calculated for our meridian, wherein men's fpirits are of too high an elevation. If pride and uncharitableness, if divifions and ftrifes, if wrath and envy, if animofities and contentions were but the marks of true Chriftians, Diogenes never need light his lamp at noon to find out fuch among us. But if a fpirit of meekness, gentleness, and condescension, if a stooping to the weakness and infirmities of others, if a pursuit after peace, even when it flies from us, be the indifpenfible duties and characteristical notes of those who have more than the name of Christians, it may poffibly prove a difficult inqueft to find out fuch for the crowds of those who shelter themselves under that glorious name.

The very commands of our SAVIOUR fhewed his meekness; his laws were fweet and gentle laws, not like Draco's, that were writ in blood, unless it were his own blood that gave them.

Preface to his Irenicum.

WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH, A. M. CHANCELLOR OF SALISBURY, AND PREBEND OF BRIXWORTH, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.-DIED 1644*.

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HIS is moft certain, that, to reduce Chriftians to unity of communion, there are but two ways that may be conceived probable; the one by taking away diverfity of opinions, touching matters of religion; the other by fhewing, that the diversity of opinions, which is among the several fects of Chriftians, ought to be no hindrance to

*Though CHILLINGWORTH was not one of the reformers, yet he was the first writer who ably and completely vindicated the reformation against the Papifts in his immortal work-The Religion of the Proteftants a safe Way to Salvation. The famous paffage, which has been fo often quoted with applaufe-The Bible is the Religion of Proteftants, &c. would have been here introduced, had it not been already inferted under the article Proteftantism, in "The Sketch of the Denominations of the Chriftian World." Proteftant, as well as Popish Divines, charged this great and good man with pulling down old buildings in a better manner than he could raife new ones, only because he pulled down and confuted the infallibility of the church of Rome. To this curious objection Chillingworth made this memorable reply: "You impute to me," (fays he)" that “the way I take is deftrućtive only, and that I build nothing. Which first is not a fault, for the Chriftian Re"ligion is not now to be built; but only I defire to have

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the rubbish and impertinent lumber taken off, which you "have laid upon it, and which hides the glorious fimplicity "of it from thofe who otherwife would embrace it."

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