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Unity and Peace Preserv'd
by Communion with
Ephes. 4. Ver. 2, 3.
with Long-suffering, forbearing
one another in Love. Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.
HEN Ihasten'd last day
to a Conclusion of my
it with Design to Treat
all Sober and well-affected Men, our present Divisions. You are not ignorant, I suppose, what Presentment the Church-wardens have been Oblig'd to make, and
you know as well as I, what the Method of the Law is towards those who shall continue in their Separation from this Church. This, I know will raise a great Cry against the Government, but especially, the greatest share of Popular Odium and Invidious Reflectiion will light upon the Clergy. What are we to do in this Cale? Shall we difobey the Lawful Commands of our Lawful Governours, to Humour a Discontented Party of the People ? And to Humour them in that which we in our Consciences are perswaded is both hurtful to themselves, and Destructive to the Peace and Prosperity of the Government: This cannot be expected from us, because we cannot do it with a good Conscience towards God, or towards Man. All that I can possibly imagine to be in our Power, is both by Private and Publick Admonition to inform such of the error and danger of their ways, to exhort them to return to their Duty, and as much as lies in us, to perswade them to keep the Unity of the Spirit in
the bond of Peace : This I am willing to do as far as I am able in Private, and am now about to do in publick, though it is highly probable, that those whose good I chiefly design in it, may by their absenting themselves, make themselves incapable of this part of my Charity.
By the Unity of the Spirit here is meant that which we are wont to call the Unity of Charity and Affection; By the Bond of Peace, is meant Unity and Agreement in our external Societies, whether more publick, or more private, whether Ecclesiastical or Civil, but especially Ecclesiastical, as appears by the Context; for by this Peace, Preserved by Meekness and Long-suffering, God is Glorified in the Church, which is that St. Paul passionately desires, Chap. 3. ver. ult. And the enforcements of this Duty, ver. 4, 5,6. of this Chapter, (a)(a) ClariFor there is one Body, &c. do immedi- us expriately relate to Ecclesiastical Union. You perfe&ta Observe here,
ere debeat 1. That the Unity of the Spirit cannot be preserved but in the bond of ChristiaPeace; that all Divisions in Externals,do nempe que Naturally tend to diffolve the Unity of omni ex valeat ut in unum Corpus & unam animam coalescamus. Calvin, in hunc locum,
Charity and Affection: and I think, were there no other Proof for Uniformity of a National Church in the New Testament, this were enough.
2. You may observe that it is the indispensible Duty of all the Members of the Church of Christ, to endeavour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.
How great the Importance of this Duty, how necessary and indispensible its obligation, no Man (I think) can be ignorant ; unless he be a perfect Stranger to Christianity. Both may sufficiently appear from the verses fol. lowing my Text. There is one Body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, "One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all; who is above all, and through all, and in
all. In which words St. Paul does necessarily insinuate, that whoever, does not endeavour to keep the Unity of the Spirit, in the Bord of Peace, does Act repugnant to the very nature of ChriNianity, and cuts himself off from that glorious and necessary Unity which he here explicates. This should make us amazed to think, that Men should set to light a Value upon our Peace and U
nity ; and upon such slight, trifling, dark and disputable pretences, throw off all obligations to this Duty ; tho so clear, so important, so indispensible. I am Astonished to think that any Man professing Christianity, should be tender and scrupulous in things of an indifferent Nature, and yet Confident and Careless in the Violation of a Duty necessary and eflential to the life and being of Christianity, and a Christian Church.
But it is not my Design at present to insist upon either of thele two Observations, though of so great moment in themselves, and so fairly and naturally deducible from the Text, I have only brought you on thus far, that from hence, as from a riling ground, you may with more ease and advantage survey each part of my following Difcourse, and I may more securely make my entrance into it, the main Design of which is this. To consider the Method by which we ought to preserve the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace, and to apply it to the present State of things.
The Method is laid down, ver. 2. With all Lowliness and Meekneß, with