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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 evils, 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 so too. As in the Apostolic times, it is said, the church had peace, and increased erceedingly. We ought also to wish for ecclesiastical peace to the church, that she may be free from dissensions and divisions.
These readily arise more or less, (as we see in all times) and haunt religion, and the reformation of it, as a malus genius. St. Paul had this to say to his Corinthians", though he had given them this testimony, that they were enriched in all utterance and knowledge, and were wanting in no gift; yet presently after*, I hear that there are divisions and contentions among you. The enemy had done this, as our Saviour speaks ; and this enemy is no fool, for, by divine permission, he works to his own end very wisely : for there is not one thing that doth on all hands choak the seed of religion so much, as thorny debates and differences about itself. So in succeeding ages, and at the breaking forth of the light in Germany in Luther's time, multitudes of sects arose.
Profane men do not only stumble, but fall and break their necks upon these divisions. (think they, and some of them possibly say it out) that they who mind religion most, cannot agree upon it, our easiest way is, not to embroil ourselves, not at all to be troubled with the business. Many are of Gallio's temper, they will care for none of those things. Thus these offences prove a mischief to the profane world, as our Saviour says, Woe to the world because of offences. Then the erring side, that is taken with new
Acts ix, 31. * Chap. I. v. 5.
opinions and fancies, are altogether taken up with them, their main thoughts spent upon them; and thus the sap is drawn from that which should nourish and prosper in their hearts, sanctified useful knowledge, and saving grace. The other are as weeds, that divert the nourishment in gardens from the plants and flowers : and certainly these weeds, viz. men's own conceits, cannot but grow more with them, when they give way to them, than solid religion doth; for their hearts (as one said of the earth) are mother to those, and but step-mother to this.
It is also a loss even to those that oppose errors and divisions, that they are forced to be busied that way: for the wisest and godliest of them find (and such are sensible of it) that disputes in religion are no friends to that which is far sweeter in it; but hinders and abates it, viz. these pious and devout thoughts, that are both the more useful, and truly delightful.
As peace is a choice blessing, so this is the choicest peace, and is the peculiar inseparable effect of this grace, with which it is here jointly wished, grace and peace; the flower of peace growing upon the root of grace.
This spiritual peace hath two things in it. 1. Reconciliation with God. 2. Tranquillity of Spirit. The quarrel and matter of enmity you know, betwixt God and man is the rebellion, the sin of man; and he being naturally altogether sinful, there can proceed nothing from him, but what foments and increases the hostility. It is grace alone, the most free grace of God, that contrives, and offers, and makes the peace, else it had never been; we had universally perished without it. Now in this is the wonder of divine grace, that the Almighty God seeks agreement, and entreats for it, with sinful clay, which he could wholly destroy in a moment.
Jesus Christ the Mediator and purchaser of this peace, bought it with his blood, killed the enmity by his own death'. And therefore the tenor of it in the gospel runs still in his name?, We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord; and St. Paul expresses it in his salutations, that are the same with this, Grace and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
As the free love, and grace of God appointed this means and way of our peace, and offered it; so the same grace applies it, and makes it ours, and gives us faith to apprehend it.
And from our sense of this peace, or reconcilement with God, arises that which is our inward peace, a calm and quiet temper of mind. This peace that we have with God in Christ, is inviolable: but because the sense and persuasion of it may be interrupted, the soul that is truly at peace with God, may for a time be disquieted in itself, through weakness of faith, or the strength of temptation, or the darkness of desertion, losing sight of that grace, that love and light of God's countenance, on which its tranquillity and joy depends, Thou hidest thy face, saith David, and I was troubled. But when these eclipses are over, the soul is revived with new consolation, as the face of the earth is renewed, and made to smile with the return of the sun in the spring; and this ought always to uphold christians in the saddest times, viz. that the grace, and love of God towards them, depends not on their sense, nor upon any thing in them, but is still in itself incapable of the smallest alteration.
It is natural to men to desire their own peace, the quietness and contentment of their minds: but most, men miss the way to it; and therefore find it not; for there is no way to it indeed, but this one, wherein few seek it, viz. reconcilement and peace with God. The persuasion of that alone makes the mind clear and serene, like your fairest summer days, My peace I give you, saith Christ, not as the world. Let not your hearts be troubled. All y Eph. ii. 15.
2 Rom. v. 1.
the peace and favour of the world cannot calm a troubled heart; but where this peace is that Christ gives, all the trouble and disquiet of the world cannot disturb it, When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble ? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him ? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only. See also for this. All outward distress to a mind thus at peace, is but as the rattling of the hail upon the tiles, to him that sits within the house at a sumptuous feast. A good conscience is called so, and with an advantage that no other feast can have, nor could men endure it. A few hours of feasting will weary the most profest epicure; but a conscience thus at peace is a continual feast, with continual unwearied delight. What makes the world take up such a prejudice against religion, as a sour unpleasant thing? They see the afflictions and griefs of christians ; but they do not see their joys, the inward pleasure of mind that they can possess in a very bard estate. Have you not tried other ways enough? Hath not he tried them that had more ability and skill for it than you, and found them not only vanity, but vexation of Spirit? If you
belief of holy truth, put but this once upon the trial, seek peace in the way
of grace. This inward peace is too precious a liquor to be poured into a filthy vessel. A holy heart, that gladly entertains grace, shall find, that it and peace cannot dwell asunder.
An ungodly man may sleep to death in the lethargy of carnal presumption and impenitency; but a true lively solid peace he cannot have. There is no peace to the wicked, saith my Godb. And if he say there is none; speak peace who will
, if all the world with one voice would speak it, it shall prove none.
2dly. Consider the measure of the Apostle's desire for his scattered brethren, that this grace and peace may be multiplied. This the Apostle wishes for them, knowing the imperfection of the graces, and a Psal. xlvi. cxxiji.
b Isa. Ivii. 21,
peace of the Saints while they are here below; and
Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, hạth begot-
Christ from the dead. Ver. 4. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away; i