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is next us*. If therefore, by hasty resolution, yon lose this only proper and advantageous season of deliberation, you are not like to find snch another,
Remedy 4. Trust not to the clearness of your own unassisted eyes, nor to the strength of your single reason; but consult, in such cases, with others that are pious and judicious, especially your godly and faithful ministers; and hearken to the counsels they give you. Paul justly wondered that the Galatians were so soon removed: and well he might; for, had they not a Paul to consult with, before they gave their consent to false teachers? or, if he was at a distance from them, about the work of the Lord, in remote places, had they no godly and judicious friends near them, whose prayers and assistances they might.call in, as Daniel did, Dan. ii. 17. Woe unto him that is alone in a time of temptation, except the Lord be with him by extraordinary assistance and direction.
Remedy 5. Lastly, Suspect that opinion (as justly you may) for erroneous, that is too importunate, and pressing upon you, and will not allow you due time of consideration, and means; of information: That which is a truth to-day, will be a truth to morrow; but that which looks like a truth to-day, may be detected, and look like itself, an odious error, to-morrow: And this is the reason of that post haste that Satan and his factors make to gain our present consent, lest a speedy detection, frustrate the suit, and spoil the design. The uses follow in iix conscctaries.
ConseStary 1. From all that hath been faid about errors, wo fee, in the first place, the great usefulness and plain necessity of an able, faithful, standing ministry in the church.
One special end of the ministry, is the establishment of the people's souls against the errors of the times, Eph. iv. 11, 14." He "gave some apostles, 6c. that we henceforth be no more children, *' tofsi-d to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, <" by the slight of men," isc. Ministers are shepherds; and without a shepherd how sooa will the flock go astray? Moses was absent but a few days from the Israelites, and at his return found them all run into fhares of idolatry. A fbeep is animal fequax, a creature that follows a leader. One straggler may mislead a whole 41ock. A minister's work is not only to feed, but defend the flock, '* I am set (faith Paul) for the defence of the gospel," Phil. i. 17. An orthodox and faithful minister, is a double blessing
* Perit emne judlcium, cym ret transit in affedum, u e. When, the asfections are biassed, judgment is lost.
to the people; but woe to that people, whose ministers, instead of securing them against errors, do cause them to err, Isa. ix. 16. they are the dogs of the flock -. Some in Scripture are called dumb dogs, who, instead of barking at the thief, bite the children; but faithful ministers give warning of spiritual daDgers. So did the worthy ministers ot London, Worcestershire, Devon, be. in their testimonies against errors.
Cmsetlary 1, This diiicourle shews us also how little quietness and peace the church may expect, till a greater degree of light and unity be poured out upon it; what by persecutions from without it, and troubles from within, little tranquillity is to be expected. 'Tis a note of St. Bernard's, that the church hath sometimes had pacem a Paganis, fed raro out nunquam a filiis, peace sometimes from Pagan persecutors, but seldom or never any peace from her own children.
We read, Zech. xiv. 7. the whole state of the Christian church, from the primitive days to the end of the world, set forth under the notion of one day, and that a strange day too, the light of it shall neither be clear ner dark, nor day nor night, but at evening-time it Jhall be light; i. e. a day full of interchangeable and alternate providences; sometimes persecutions, heresies, and errors prevail, and these make that part of the day dark and gloomy; and then truth and peace break forth again, and clear up the day. Thus it hath been, and thus it will be, until the evening of it, and at evening time it shall be light; then light and love shall get the ascendant of error and divisions. Most of our scuffles and contentions are for want of greater measures of both these.
Consetlary 3. From the manifold causes and mischiess of errors before mentioned, we may also see what a choice mercy it is to be kept sound in judgment, stedfast and unmoveable in the truths and ways of Christ. A sound and stedfast Christian is a blessing in his generation, and a glory to his professioa It Was an high encomium of Athanafius, Sedem maluit mutare, ouam/yllabam; i. e. He wonld rather lose his scat, than a syllable of God's truth. Soundness of judgment must needs be a choice blessing; because the understanding is the re jynpuni*, •hat leading faculty which directs the will and conscience of man, and they his whole life and practice. How often, and how earnestly doth Christ piayfor his people, that they may be kept in the truth? 'Tis true, orthodoxy in itself is not sufficient to any man's salvation; but the conjunction of an orthodox head, with an honest sincere heart, does always constitute an excellent Christian, Phil. i. 10. Happy is the man that hath an head so hearted, and aa heart so headed.
Consetlary 4. By this discourse, we may further discover one great and special cause and reason of the lamentable decay of the spirit and power of religion, amongst the professors of the present age.
'Tis a complaint more just than common, that vie do all fade as a leaf. And, what may be the cause? Nothing more probable, than the wasting of our time and spirits in vain janglings, and fruitless controversies, which the apostle tells us, Heb. xiii. 9. have not profited, *. e. they have greatly damnified and injured them that have been occupied therein. Many controversies of these times grow up about religion, as suckers from the root and limbs of a fruit-tree, which speed the vital fap that should make it fruitful.
* 'Tis a great and fad observation made upon the state of England, by some judicious persons, That after the greatest increase of religion, both intensively in the power of it, and extensively in the number of converts, what a remarkable decay it suffered both ways, when, about the year forty-four, controversies and disputations grew fervent among professors. Since that time, our strength and glory have very much abated.
ConjeRary 5. From this discourse we may also gather, the true grounds and reason of those frequent persecutions which God lets in upon his churches and people: These rank weeds call for snowy and frosty weather, to subdue and kill them.
I know the enemies of God's people aim at something else; they strike at profession, yea, at religion itself; and according to their wicked intention, without timely repentance, will their reward be: But, whatever the intention of the agents be, the issues of persecution are, upon this account, greatly beneficial to the church; the wisdom of God makes them excellently useful, both to prevent and cure the mischiefs and dangers of er« rors. If enemies were not, friends and brethren would be injurious to each other. Persecution, if it kills not, yet, at least, it gives check to the rife and growth of errors: And, if it do npt perfectly redintegrate and unite the hearts of Christians, yet, to be sure, it cools and allays their sinful hsats; and that two ways: (i.) By cutting out for them far better and more
* England in four years became a sink, and puddle of all errors and sects; no province, since the beginning of the world, in so short a time produced so many Heresies as this. Honor. Rtg. de Stattt
Ecclef. Brit an > p, 1.
necessary work. Now, instead of racking their brains about unnecessary controversies, they find it high time to be searching' their hearts, and examining the foundations of their faith and hope, with respect to the other world. (2.) Moreover, such times and straits, discover the sincerity, zeal, and constancy of them we were jealous of, or prejudiced against before, because they followed not us.
ConsetJary 6. Lastly, Let us learn hence, both the duty and necessity of charity and mutual forbearance: we have all our mistakes and errors one way or other; and therefore must maintain mutual charity under dissents in judgment.
I do not fay, but an erring brother must be reduced, if possible, and that by sharp rebukes too, if gentler essays be ineffectual, Tit. i. 13. and the wounds of a friend have more faithful love to them, than the k'isles of an enemy; and if God make us instrumental by that, or any other method, to recover a brother from the error of his way, he will have great cause, both to bless God, and thank the instrument, who thereby faves a foul from death, and hides a multitude of sins, James v. 20. 'Tis our duty, if we meet an enemy's ox or ass going astray, to bring him back again, Exod. xxiii. 4. much more the soul of a friend. Indeed, we must not make those errors that are none; nor stretch every innocent expression to that purpose; nor yet be too hasty in meddling with contention, till we cannot be silent and innocent; and then, whatever the expence be, truth will repay it.
An APPENDIX: Containing a full, and modest Reply to Mr. Philip Cary's Rejoinder to my Vindiciae Legis et Focderis.
Manisesting the badness of bis Cause, in the feebleness, and impertinency of his Defence; and adding farther Light, and Strength to the Arguments formerly produced in Defence of God's graci* cus Covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. and the Right of Be-lievers Infants to Baptism, grounded thereupon.
NEXT to the not deserving a reproof, is the due recep* tion and improvement of it. You deserve a sharper reprehension for your temerity, and obstinacy, than I am willing to give you from the press; yet, in love to the truth, and yow own foul, rtprove you I must, and I hope God will enable me to be both mild in the manner, and convincingly clear in the matter, and cause thereof: 'Tis better to lose the smiles, thaa the souls of men. I dare not neglect the duty of a friend, for fear of incurring the suspicion of an enemy. Several learned, and eminent divines, who have seen what hath publicly passed betwixt you and me, have returned me their thanks, and think you ought to thank me too, for the pains I have taken to set you right, hoping you will evidence your self-denial and repentance, by an ingenuous retraction of your errors.
But how will you deceive their expectations, and unbecome the character given you by your friends, when they shall find the true measure, both of your ability, and humility, drawn by your own pen, in the follewing rejoinder 1
I have thoroughly considered your reply, in the manuscript you sent me, which, I hear, is now in the press; and in the following sheets have given a full, and (I think) a final answer to whatsoever is material therein: And, it so falling out, that my discourse of Errors was just going under the press, whilst you rejoinder was there also, 1 thought it not convenient to delay my reply any longer, but to have my antidote in as great readiness as might be, to meet it.
One inconvenience I easily foresee, that the pages of your manuscript, which I follow^ may not throughout exactly answer to the print; but every intelligent reader will easily discern, and rectify that, if my bookseller seve him not that trouble, as I have desired him to do.
As to the controversy about the right of believers infant-seed to Baptism, you have altogether adventured it, the second time, with the consent of your partizans, upon the three hypotheses, which (if I mistake not) 1 have fully confuted and baffled in my first answer: but, if my brevity occasioned any obscurity in that, I hope you shall find it sufficiently done here. Mean time you have given, and I accordingly take it for granted, that our arguments for Infant's Baptism, stand in their full strength against you, till you can better discharge, and free yonr dangerous assertions from the errors and absurdities in which they are now more involved and intricated than before.
The weaker any thing is, the more querulous it is. If scripture argument and clear reason will not support the cause I undertake, I am resolved never to call in passionate invectives and weak evasions for my auxiliaries, as you have here done. The Lord give us all clearer light, tenderer consciences, exemplary humility, and ingenuity. . .