Page images
[ocr errors]

*c and wife instruction.' Go thou, and do likewise, and thy charity shall be rewarded by the God of Abraham.

Liberty of Prophesying.


BISHOP OF CHESTER.-DIED 1672. THERE are several truths which are not of


great consequence as peace, and unity, and charity. And therefore, in such things, there ought to be a mutual forbearance towards one another; and men should endeavour, by all means of amity and kindness, to join together for the promoting of those more substantial truths and duties wherein they agree, according to that rule of the apostle: And if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God Mall reveal even this unto you : nevertheless whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule ; let us mind the same thing. To thut up all in a word; it would exceedingly conduce to our common peace and settlement, in times of differences and controversy, if those rules of Christianity, so often inculcated in fcripture, were more regarded and observed amongst the profeffors of it ; that men would be wise unto fobriety, and not above what is written. Not thinking more highly of themselves, and their abilities, than they ought, but be ready to condescend to men of lower parts, and to demean


ourselves towards every one, according to the different measure of gifts which God hath been pleased to dispense to them, Speaking the truth in love. Endeavouring to heal differences in the most placid, gentle manner, without envyings, strifes, backbitings, whisperings. Doing nothing through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind, every one esteeming others better than himself. They that exceed others in knowledge should exceed them likewise in the study of peace. The best of us do know but in part, darkly; that time is to come when all these differences shall be cleared up, and we shall have a full vision of the true state of things. In the mean space it concerns us to forbear one another, in those lesser things about which we differ; and to be very zealous about those great matters in which we agree; namely, righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghoft.




DIED 1677.


Malt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; this is the first and great commandment, -The second is like unto it; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This is, indeed, the highest

commendation whereof any law is capable ; for as to be like God is the highest praise that can be given to a person, so to resemble the divinest law of love to God, is the fairest character that can be assigned of a law ; the which, indeed, representeth it to be as St. James calls it, a royal and sovereign law, exalted above all others, and bearing a sway on them. St. Paul telleth us, that the end of the commandment (or the main scope of the evangelical doctrine) is charity out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; that charity is the fum and substance of all other duties, and that he that loveth another hath fulfilled the whole law; that charity is the chief of the theological virtues, and the prime fruit of the divine Spirit, and the bond of perfection, which combineth and consumeth all other graces, and the general principle of all our doings. St. Peter enjoineth us, that to all other virtues we add charity as the top and cream of them; and above all things (says he) have fervent charity among yourselve St. John calleth this law, by way of excellence, the commandment of God; and our Lord himself, claimeth it as his peculiar precept. This (faith he) is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another; and maketh the observance of it the special cognizance of his followers : By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another. These, indeed, are lofty commendations thereof, yet all of them may worthily yield to this ; all of them seem verified in virtue of this, because God hath vouchsafed to place this command in so near adjacency to the first great law, conjoining the two tables, making charity contiguous, and, as it were, commensurate to piety.

It is true, that in many respects charity doth resemble piety, for it is the most genuine daughter of piety; thence in complexion, in features, in humour, much favouring its sweet mother. It doth consist in like dispositions and motions of soul. It doth grow from the same roots and principles of benignity, ingenuity, equity, gratitude, planted in our original constitution by the breath of God, and improved in our hearts by the divine Spirit of love. It produceth the like fruits of benificence towards others, and of comfort in ourselves. It, in like manner, doth affimilate us to God, rendering us conformable to his nature, followers of his practice, and partakers of his felicity. It is of like use and consequence towards the regulation of our practice, and due management of our whole life. In such respects, I say, this law is like to the other, but it is, however, chiefly so, for that God hath pleased to lay so great stress thereon, as to make it the other half of our religion and duty; or because, as St. John faith, this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God loveth his brother also; which is


to his praise, a most pregnant demonstration of his immense goodness to us.

The best, most excellent, and most happy of beings delights to be styled, and accordingly to express himself, the God of love, mercy, and peace ; and his blessed Son to be called the Prince of Peace ; and who is also said, from on high to have visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the fradow of death, and to guide our feet in the ways of peace.




GRACE unto you, and peace be multiplied.

We may and ought to wish to the church of God outward blessings, and particularly outward peace, as one of the greatest, so one of the most valuable favours of God. Thus prayed the Pfalmist-fieace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces ! But that wisdom that doth what he will, by what means he will, and works one contrariety out of another, brings light out of darkness, good out of evil, can and doth turn tears and troubles to the advantage of his church ; but certainly in itself, peace is more suitable to its increase, and, if not abused, proves

As in the apostolic time it is said, the

fo too.

« PreviousContinue »