« FöregåendeFortsätt »
By proving the Law at Sinai, and the Covenant of Circumcie fion with Abraham, were the very fame with Adam's Covenant of Works, and that because the Gospel-covenant is absolute.
A friendly PREFACE to the AUTHOR of the Solemn Call, and
the more discreet and charitable of the Party concerned with him in this Controversy.
HEN we open our Bibles, and read that text, i Cor.
i. 10. we have cause to deal with it as Origen once did by another scripture, even close the book and weep over it, in confideration of the weak and feeble influences such melting words, delivered with such a pathos, have upon the hearts of profeffors this day. “Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that
ye be perfectly joined together in the fame mind, and in the « fame judgment.”
1 befeech you] He dips the nail in oil, that it may drive the easier. I beseech you, brethren] A compellation breathing sweetness and affection, and should drop from our lips into each others ears with the same effect that word once did upon the ears of Benhadad's servants, My brother Benhadad. Sirs, (said Moses to the striving Ifraelites) ye are brethren. 'O when ihall the church become a true Philadelphia !
I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Chrift] or as you love Jesus Christ, ut quantum ipfum amant, tantum ftudeat concordiae, faith Calvin : Be as studious of concord as you are free in professing love to Christ.
That there be no divisions] or rents among you : a Exlopedy schism, or rent in the church, is much the same, and altogether as dangerous as a ræcis, or sedition in the commonwealth, and harder to be cured. For as the Lord Verulam truly obferves, Differences amongst persecuting enemies and the church, are like the strivings of the Egyptian with the Israelite, which Moses quickly ended, by knocking down the Egyptian ; but diffentions in the church are like the striving ofone Ifraelite with another; and all that Mofes can do to quiet and part these, is only by fair and gentle words, and reminding them that they are brethren.
Great is the mischief of divisions among Christians'; and the less the grounds and causes are, the greater always is the fin and mischief of them. In the primitive church contentions grow fervent about meats lawful and unlawful, which did not profit, the meaning is, it greatly damnified them that were occupied therein, Heb. xiii. 9. Practical religion among them grew cold, as disputations about these trifles grew fervent.
The readiest way to cool such heats is, by discovering the trivial nature of the matter contended about ; as Demosthenes appeased the tumult among the people raised by a small occafion, by relating to them the story of a man that hired an ass to carry him a journey, but the sun shining fervent, he was forced to quit her back, and betake himself to her shadow; the owner withstood him, alledging, that he had hired the body of the ass, but her fhadow, was not in the bargain ; and so the contention between them grew as hot as the sun. Many fuch trifles have raised great contentions in the world, witness the great contention betwixt the Eastern and Western church about keeping of Easter.
Other points there are of greater moment, about which good men contend, and yet these oftentimes' are magnified much above their true intrinsical value. So I am sure it is in the controversy before us. Mr. Cary tells us, that these things will be found at length to be of highest concernment unto us, and must therefore be our most serious practice, p. 243. It fo, then the proper subject of baptifin must be one of thofe
that is of greatest weight, and the profeffion thereof the very Schibboleth to distinguish one person from another in matters of religion. No wonder therefore the fires of contention are blown up to such a vehement heat, even in such an improper season; much like the contentions among the English fugitives at Frankfort, when their brethren were frying in the flames at Smithfield. Just so muft we be scuffling, whilst thousands of our brethren are bleeding in Ireland. Had we a true fenfe of the quality of the subjects, or the unseasonableness of the time, it should certainly allay these heats among us. Did we fee who stand by, and look with pleasure upon our follies, it would quickly allay our heats. Tertullian tells the Christians of his time, that they were like the Funambulones, or men that walk upon ropes, the least tread awry might be their ruin, so narrowly did their enemies watch them.
Sirs, the peace, safety and honour of the diffenting interest are things of too great value to be hazarded amongft the hands of our common enemies. You may fancy they will neglect the advantage you give them; but if they do, the devil will call them fools for it. Mr. Herle tells us of a king's fool, who wrote down the king himself in his table among his brother fools, because he had trusted an African ftranger with four thousand pounds to buy Barbary horses. The king asked him how he would make him amends, if the stranger thould come again? Why then (faid he) I'll blot your name out of my table of fools, and write down the African in your stead. Think not our enemies are such fools to neglect the advantage we cast into their hands. It is a weighty note of Livy, Confiliæ non dant homines rebus, fed res hominibus ; Men do not counfel things, but time and things counsel men. Methinks the postures of times and affairs give us better counsels than we seem to be governed by in such work as this. Divisions of forty years standing and more, about infants baptisin, have eaten up the time, wasted the spirits, and alienated the hearts of Ene glish professors, divided them both in society and love; by reason whereof God's pleasant plant in this resembles the bramble, which taking root at both ends, by reason of the ren. counters of the fap, commonly withers in the middle. Your brethren, in their Narrative from their General-Affembly, make a fad and sensible complaint of withering in the power of godliness. And truly we as well as they may complain with the church, We do all fade as a leaf: The Lord help us to discern the true cause, whether it be not the misplacing of our Zeal, our bcing cold where we should be fervent, and fervent hot where it should be cold, and whether the eating up of so much time and study about baptizing of infants, have not kept us these forty years in the infancy of our graces ??
I well remember that blelfed time, when ours and your's were terms almost anknown amongst professors in England. When their affections and prayers melted and mingled together fweetlý in days of humiliation, and other duties of edifying and heavenly communion ; and then churches began to flourishi, and the graces of Christians every where flourished, and became fruitful: but no sooner did the saints divide in fociety and affection, but these pleasant blossoms were nipt by it, as by å frosty morning the church formed itself as įt were, into two armies, fet in battalia against each other. It was now with us much like as it is said of the umphisbena, that hath an head at either end; of which neither can well move without the consent of both; but, if each move a contrary way, the body tears in the middle. I doubt not but many that differed from us belonged to Christ, the fame head with us; and yet it is past doubt, that many who seemed to be of us were headed by Satan; and quickly discovered themselves to be to, by running farther than we first
, or you next, imagined, eveți into Quakerism, Socinianism, Ranterifin, and the fouleft pud. dle and fink of complicated errors, of which an impartial ltranger, under the name of Honorius Reggius, avaypalpatinas, Georgius Hornius having heard the report in his own country, came over on purpose into England for his particular and per fect information, and hath given the foreign churches a full and fad account thereof in a Latin narrative, which I have by me; whereby I find, that, if the Lord in mercy to us had not let in a third party with the common calamity upon us all, we ourselves must in all probability have mutually ruined each other. But God saw other hands' fitter for such dirty work than ours; and now it was time to reflect upon former follies, and tenew our ancient acquaintance in the common goals. And; through the goodness of God; this did somewhat allay the heats of good men, and gave us fresh hopes of an hearty and lasting redintegration. We hoped the furnace might have purged our dross, and melted our hearts into unity, both by discovering the evils for which the Lord afflicked us, and the fincerity of the sufferers hearts under those trials. Christians, (faith Mr. Jenkins) if we must die, let us dic like men', by an unanimous holy contention against the common enemy; not like fools Vol. VIII:
* by giving him our sword, and destroying one another by 6. schisins in our own bowels.'
But alas ! alas! no sooner is the rod off our backs, and respite from sufferings given us, but we are prefently founding an alarm to the battle again, and, to my sorrow, myself una'voidably engaged therein.
Friends, I have a witness in many of your bofoms, how peaceably and respectfully I have always carried it towards you, even to such a degree as began to bring me under the sufpicion of some of your party, that I was inclining to their opinion, though I did not openly profess it. But the true reasons of my moderation in this point were, (1.) That I ever did, and still do look upon many of you as Christians, found in the other great doctrines of the gospel. (2.) That there are difficulties in this controversy which may puzzle the minds of well-meaning Christians. (3.) I highly valued the peace of the church, and durft do nothing that tended to keep open the breaches upon a controversy of this nature, you being for purity in doctrine and worship in most other controverted points, as well as we. (4.) I observed how rare a thing it is for engaged parties to give ground.
Qui velit ingenio cedere, rarus erit.
• Mad difputants to reason feldom yield.' (5.) My head, heart, and hands have been filled with better employments, from which I am extremely loth to be diverted. If Bellarmine turned with loathing from school-divinity, becaufe it wanted the sweet juice of piety, much more may I turn from such perverse disputes as these: Sure I may find as fair expositions of scripture, and as accurate and legiti mate distinctions among the school-men, as in Mr. Tombes's Examen and Apology; or (which for the most part is but a transcript of both) in Mr. Cary's Solemn Call. But I fee I must not be my own chuser; I cannot now be both filent and innocent; for in this Solemn Call I find the
great doctrines of God's covenants abused by my neighbonr; the books dispersed into many families related to me in this place, one of them delivered to me by the Author's own hands, with a pressing defire to give my judgment upon it : Several objections which I privately and seasonably sent him, to prevent the fin and folly of his attempt, pretended to be answered from p. 164. ad p. 183. Thus am I neceffarily brought into the field of controversy: whither I come not a volunteer, but a preljed man; not out of choice, but neceflity. And now I am here, I resolve to be.ondy Adverfarius litis, non perfona, an adverfary in the contro,