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with a sentence, “Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani,” holding forth his neck: Septimus Severus in despatch, “Adeste, si quid mihi restat agendum," and the like. Certainly the Stoics bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations made it appear more fearful. Better, saith he, “qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera, ponat naturæ.” It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert the dolours of death : but, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, “ Nunc dimittis," when a man hath obtained worthy ends and expectations. Death hath this also, that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy: “Extinctus amabitur idem."
OF UNITY IN RELIGION.
RELIGION being the chief bond of human society, it is a happy thing when itself is well contained within the true bond of unity. The quarrels and divisions about religion were evils unknown to the heathen. The reason was, because the religion of the heathen consisted rather in rites and ceremonies than in any constant belief; for you may imagine what
kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors and fathers of their church were the poets. But the true God hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore his worship and religion will endure no mixture nor partner. We shall therefore speak a few words concerning the unity of the church; what are the fruits thereof; what the bonds; and what the means.
The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing of God, which is all in all) are two, the one towards those that are without the church, the other towards those that are within. For the former, it is certain, that heresies and schisms are of all others the greatest scandals; yea, more than corruption of manners; for as in the natural body a wound or solution of continuity is worse than a corrupt humour, so in the spiritual : so that nothing doth so much keep men out of the church, and drive men out of the church, as breach of unity; and, therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass that one saith, in deserto,” another saith, “ecce in penetralibus;" that is, when some men seek Christ in the conventicles of heretics, and others in an outward face of a church, that voice had need continually to sound in men's
" nolite exire,”— go not out.” The doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whogo vocation drew him to have a special care of those without) saith, “ If an heathen come in, and hear you speak with several tongues, will he not say that you
are mad?” and, certainly, it is little better: when atheists and profane persons do hear of so many discordant and contrary opinions in religion, it doth avert them from the church, and maketh them" to sit down in the chair of the scorners." It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the deformity. There is a master of scoffing, that, in his catalogue of books of a feigned library, sets down this title of a book, “The Morris-Dance of Heretics :" for, indeed, every sect of them hath a diverse posture, or cringe, by themselves, which cannot but move derision in worldlings and depraved politics, who are apt to contemn holy things.
As for the fruit towards those that are within, it is peace which containeth infinite 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 controversies into treatises of mortification and devotion.
Concerning the bonds of unity, the true placing of them importeth exceedingly. There appear to be two extremes : for to certain zealots all speech of pacification is odious. “Is it peace, Jehu ? _“What hast thou to do with peace? turn thea behind me.” Peace is not the matter, but following and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans and lukewarm persons think they may accommodate points of religion by middle ways, and taking part of
both, and witty reconcilements, as if they would make an arbitrement between God and man. Both these extremes are to be avoided; which will be done if the league of Christians, penned by our Saviour himself, were in the two cross clauses thereof soundly and plainly expounded : “He that is not with us is against us;” and again, "He that is not against us is with us;" that is, if the points fundamental, and of substance in religion, were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing may seem to many a matter trivial, and done already; but if it were done less partially, it would be embraced more generally.
Of this I may give only this advice, according to my small model. Men ought to take heed of rending God's 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 only by contradiction; for, as it is noted by one of the fathers, Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture was of divers colours; whereupon he saith, “in veste vari etas 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 overgreat subtilty and obscurity, 80 that it becometh a thing rather ingenious than substantial. A man that is of judgment and understanding shall sometimes hear igno
rant men differ, and know well within himself, that those which so differ mean one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree: and if it come so to pass in that distance of judgment, which is between mar, and man, shall we not think that God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend the same thing, and accepteth of both? The nature of such controversies is excellently expressed by St. Paul, in the warning and precept that he giveth concerning the same, "devita profanas vocum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiæ.” Men create oppositions which are not, and put them into new terms so fixed, as wbereas the meaning ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning. There be also two false
peaces or unities : the one, when the peace is grounded but upon an inplicit ignorance; for all colours will agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct admission of contraries in fundamental points; for truth aud falsehood, in such things, are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.
Concerning the means of procuring unity, men must beware, that, in the procuring or muniting of religious unity, they do not dissolve and deface the laws of charity and of human society. There be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual and temporal; and both have their due office and place in the