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am in Charity bound to think that, what they do, they do with a good Conscience. If so, it will puzzle any man of an upright heart and moderate Capacity, to Comprehend how Communion with, and Separation from our Church (both Church and Persons continuing still the fame) can consist with a good Conscience. I believe most Divines abroad do think this very little short of a Contradidion: and when they hear that there are Men, who sometimes plead Conscience for Disobedience to that Law, which at other times they can with a good Conscience Comply with, they will be apt to think that there is more of . Humour and Design in this than Conscience. In this case I would ask,
I. What is it which makes our Communion in it self and to them Lawful for this day, and if needs be this year, become for ever after Unlawful? all that can be said is, that there are some accidental alterations in this case, that there are some Conveniencies or Inconveniencies which renders our Communion to day Lawful, and this day Twelvemonth Unlawful: These must not be outward or temporal, for these cannot vary the Nature of Church Communion, unless a
Man will vilely prostitute his Conscience; it remains therefore, that there must be some inward and Spiritual inconvenieocy that makes constant Communion Unlawfull, what this can be besides that pretence of Better Edification, cannot I think, be as much as fansied. And then Observe,
1. Into what a narrow point our Controversy.is Reduced, mark how all the pretences for separation are vanished: Our Church Government, the Doctrine, the Liturgy, the Rites and Ceremonies are all acknowledged by them Lawful, for I desire to know, do they by this occasional Communion with us declare their Approbation of all these particulars in our Church? If they do not, then it is apparent that they do not Judge them- . selves involv'd in the guilt of any thing they dislike in our Church by Communicating with us, and consequently they do publickly own that nothing they find fault with in it can be a just ground for Separation; if they do, then it is apparent that all controversies about any thing of this kind are at an end, and must ever be so. For all these which they approve in their Occasional Communion will be no other, if they hold constant
Communion with us. All therefore that is left for justification of these dreadful Di visions is only pretence of better Edifica tion.
2. Observe that this pretence will at any time serve the turn to justifie a Separation, not only from ours, but from any Church in Christendom, and can never be admitted to be of
Weight or Force, till it be made appear that Unity or Schism, Obedience or Disobedience are things indifferent, and that it is not a pin matter, whether a Man be of the Establish'd Church, or Presbyterian, or Independent, or Anabaptist, or Socinian, or Quaker, for this pretence of better Edification, considering the different Dispositions of People, and the different Abilities of the Ministers, will be laid claim to with as much heat by each of them as by any of the rest.
3. Observe that though this may have somethingof a face of a Plea for the Communion of one Day, yet it has none for the Communion of a Year; for to Live destitute of the Publick Means of Edification for a Year together, seems to be a kind of Compliance not over-Christian, nor very safe. But if in this time they hold Communion with both Chur:
ches without prejudice to Edification, I cannot possibly conceivewhy they should at any time afterwards break off their Communion with us, since the least they are bound to do for the sake of Unity and Peace, is certainly what they find by Eperience they can do, not only Lawfully, but without any Prejudice to their Souls. Thus empty is this Pretence, if true; but what if it be not true? It were very strange if all the Preachers of distinct and separate Congregations should be Edifying Men, and none of ours. so: Blesled be God, we may say, it without Vanity, that we can behold in our Church as manifest Proofs of the Power of God in his Ordinances, as in any other whatsoever; those of our Church who give a Regular and Conscientious Attendance to the Word, the Prayers, and Sacraments of the Church, being generally as Eminent Examples of Substantial Goodnels and Religion truly Christian, as are any where to be found. Nor indeed can any Reason be Imagined, why the Spirit of God should be judged to have forlaken our Assemblies, since we Preach the same Gospel, Press the fame Truths, Adminifter the same Sacraments, and Offer up the same Petitions and Praises to
God, and that I hope with integrity of Heart, to which Christ has promised the Aids and Afliftances of his Spirit. And therefore 'tis to be fear'd that the Edification which cannot be promoted in such a Communion is not derived from the Spirit and Gospel of Christ, but depends upon some Personal abilities, acquired forms, or the Inventions and Pafsions of Men.
2. I desire to know, if they cannot Communicate with us constantly, why do they not as frequently as they can? And how shall we be able to determine, how frequent this their Occasional Communion may be? Or what limits they will in this point prescribe to the frequency of their Occasional Communion.
3. Since they can hold Commanion with us on Occasion, I would beg them to declare, what the Kind and Nature of these Occasions are which justifie this Communion. For then I should not question but I should be able to thew that these Occasions or some as Urgent and Weighty, do so frequently occur, that if they would Act consonant to their own Principle, they would soon turn their Oc