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casional into a constant Communion. Mark what I say, I would fain know what those Occasions are that do justifie Occasional Communion with us: and if I do not prove as Necessary, nay more Important Occasions always standing and in Force, I'll be content to be of their Communion. Thread of my Discourse doth now Naturally lead me to enquire, 3.
Whether our Brethren have observed this Rule of St. Paul in forming, propagating and defending their Separation, upon supposal that the grounds of it were both just and necessary ? But being well assured that an Historical accompt of the Rise and Progress of Separation amongst us would look like an Invective. I have upon second thoughts purposely declind it, being unwilling to Exasperate those minds which I travail only to inform.
From this discourse it appears, what our brethren may do for peace : How far they may go ( if they please ) towards the healing of those wounds which endanger both our Church and State. If they please, Blessed God! How can it but please Christians to restore as much as lies in them Unity to thy Church, and
Peace to that Government under which thou haft placed them? How can Dilientions, Distractions, Ruins please any soul that is inspir'd by thy meek, peaceful and gentle Spirit ? O my brethren, will ye call your selves Christians, whose Livery or Distinguishing Character is Love? And will ye do nothing for peace and Unity? If you are the Disciples of Chrift you ought to Sacrifice your Estates, your Worldly reputations, nay your lives themselves, all but a good Conscience for Unity and Peace; O be but Content to Sacrifice your humours for it! O be but persaaded to do what you can for Peace without any prejudice to your Credit or Fortune or Conscience, nay with infinite advantage to Each! What would
have us do, when you your selves are thus wanting to your selves? We desire, we travail, we pray for your Peace, and as becomes brethren, we fuffer in your affli&ions when ever you force it upon your felves: 'Tis our grief and trouble when ever we are obliged to be the Instruments of any thing that causes yours: but what would you have us do? How unreasonable were it for you to expect (and impossible for us to comply with such an expe&ation) that
we should break the Laws, falsify our trust, and desert that Duty we owe to God and Man, in compliance to your fancies! When you your selves in the mean time refuse to do, what 'tis manifestly apparent you Lawfully may do in compliance with the Laws, and for the fake of Peace and Unity in Church and State.
And now I must call God and my own Conscience to Witness, that I have discharged my self with all imaginable Integrity, Ilie not under any Provocations on one hand, or Obligation on the other, which might pervert my Judgment, and in this condition you will easily judge me exempt from the Temptation of Interest or Ambition ; I have delivered the truth with plainness, and I have watched over my self that I might not mix any frailties with it which might render it Diftaftful, tho I think the Charity which (I am not ashamed to own) I have for my mistaken Brethren, would of it self have kept me eafily from any Bitterness or sharp reflections. I Pray God, those that are concern'd may lay to Heart these truths with the same Calmnes and Integrity, I have delivered them; I should not
then question, but that they would contribute something to our Peace and Unity, which is the Earnest Prayer and Desire of my Soul, and shall be the Tra. vail of my Life. Now to God be Glory and Honour and Dominion for Ever. Amen.
When I had proceeded thus far in the two preceeding discourses, I was obliged by the Approach of the Christmas So lemnity to quit this Subject ; and indeed I could not conceive it necessary for me to spend much time on the Consideration of this Rule of St. Paul with respect to the Government which was the second general proposed ; since, if what I have said before was clear and convictive as I hoped it was, nothing could better justifie the present procedure of the Government : For if this Séparation be utterly groundless, the Government cannot reasonably be taxed for endeavouring the suppressing of it by legal methods.
As to the Method of Excommunication, there is nothing in it which may not appear consonant to the Light of Nature, as well as Scripture, nothing being more reasonable than to exclude thofe Men from the advantages of our
Society whose principles and actions are repugnant not only to the prosperity but the very Being of this Society. As to those Civil Effects which in our Law attend Excommunication, they are no other than what may be sufficiently warranted by the Judgment and Practice of those Churches to which our brethren have declared themselves much devoted. So then there is nothing in this point of our Church discipline blameable in its Constitution, and I do not question but that the Execution of it will be carried on with that temper which is almost peculiar to the Church of England, and thews it as remote from the Spirit of Persecution as from that of Disloyalty ; a temper of which they themselves who most aecuse her are the most pregnant proof, the Numbers and Wealth of those of the Separation to which I must take leave to add their Confidence, being the most undeniable argument of the Indulgence, and Kindness of that Government under which they have grown up to this height.
It remains only that I put you in mind here of practising this Rule of St. Paul in your Privare Conversation. And