« AnteriorContinuar »
nefs, and be thou pleased to give to the other repentance, to the acknowledgment of the truth. To this end do thou, O Lord, mollify all exafperated minds; take off all animofities and prejudices, contempt and heart-burnings; and, by uniting their hearts, prepare for the reconciling their opinions. And that nothing may intercept the clear fight of thy truth, Lord let all private and fecular defigns be totally laid aside, that gain may no longer be the measure of our godliness, but that the one great and common concernment of truth and peace may be unanimoufly and vigoroufly pursued. And do thou fo guide and prosper all pacific endeavours, that those happy primitive days may, at length, revert, wherein VICE was the only herefy.
JEREMY TAYLOR, D. D.
BISHOP OF DOWN AND CONNOR.-DIED 1667 *.
'EW men confider, that so long as men have fuch variety of principles, such several conftitutions, educations, tempers, and diftempers, hopes, interefts, and weaknesses, degrees of light,
*The following high encomium was paid to the character of Bishop Taylor, by Dr. Ruft, who preached his funeral fermon: "He had the good-humour of a gentleman, the "eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness "of a fchoolman, the profoundnefs of a philofopher, the "wifdom of a chancellor, the fagacity of a prophet, the
and degrees of understanding, it is impoffible all fhould be of one mind. And what is impoffible to be done is not neceffary to be done. And, therefore, although variety of opinions was impoffible to be cured, and they who attempted it did like him who claps his fhoulder to the ground to ftop an earthquake; yet the inconveniences arifing from it might poffibly be cured; not by uniting their beliefs, that was to be defpaired of; but by curing that which caufed these mischiefs and accidental inconveniences of their disagreeings. Since, then, if men are quiet and charitable, in fome difagreeings, then and there the inconvenience ceases; if they were fo in all others, where lawfully they might (and they may in most) Christendom would be no longer rent in pieces, but would be re-inftated in a new Pentecoft. And, although the Spirit of God did reft upon us, in divided tongues, yet fo long as those tongues were of fire not to kindle ftrife, but to warm our affections, and inflame our charities, we fhould find that this variety of opinions, in feveral perfons,
"reafon of an angel, and the piety of a faint. He had de"votion enough for a cloifter, learning enough for an univerfity, and wit enough for a college of virtuofi;' and "had his parts and endowments been parcelled out among "his clergy that he left behind him, it would, perhaps,. "have made one of the beft diocefes in the world." This panegyric on Bishop Taylor may be fomewhat exaggerated; but I believe, among the Divines of the laft age, he had few equals, and no fuperiors.
would be looked upon as an argument only of diverfity of operations, while the spirit is the fame; and that another man believes not fo well as I, is only an argument, that I have a better and clearer illumination than he; that I have a better gift than he, received a special grace and favour, and excel him in this; and am, perhaps, excelled by him in many more. And, if we all impartially endeavour to find a truth, fince this endeavour, and fearch only is in our power, that we shall find it to be a gift, and an affiftance extrinsical, I can fee no reafon why this pious endeavour to find out truth fhall not be of more force to unite. us in the bonds of charity, than the misery in miffing it fhall be to difunite us. So that, fince an union of perfuafion is impoffible to be attained, if we would attempt the cure, by fuch remedies as are apt to enkindle and increase charity, I am confident we might fee a blessed peace would be the reward and crown of fuch endeavours.
But men are now a-days, and indeed always have been, fince the expiration of the first bleffed ages of Christianity, fo in love with their own fancies and opinions, as to think faith, and all Christendom, is concerned in their fupport and maintenance; and whoever is not fo fond, and does not dandle them, like themfelves, it grows up to a quarrel; which, because it is in Divinity, is made a quarrel in religion, and God is entitled to it; and then, if you are once thought an enemy
to God, it is our duty to perfecute you even to death; we do God good fervice in it. When, if we should examine the matter rightly, the question either is not revealed, or not fo clearly, but that wife and honeft men may be of different minds, or else it is not of the foundation of faith, but a ́ remote fuperftructure, or else of mere speculation;' or, perhaps, when all comes to all, it is a falfe opinion, or a matter of human interest, that we have fo zealously contended for; for to one of these heads moft of the difputes of Chriftendom inay be reduced; fo that I believe the prefent fractions (for the most) are from the fame cause which St. Paul obferved in the Corinthian fchifm, when there are divifions among you, are ye not carnal? It is not the differing opinions that is the caufe of the prefent ruptures, but want of charity; it is not the variety of understandings, but the difunion of wills and affections; it is not the feveral principles, but the feveral ends that cause our miferies; our opinions commence, and are upheld, according as our turns are ferved, and our interests are preserved; and there is no cure for us but piety and charity. A holy life will make our belief holy, if we confult not humanity, and its imperfections, in the choice of our religion; but search for truth without defigns, fave only of acquiring heaven, and then be as careful to preferve charity as we were to get a point of faith ; I am much perfuaded we shall find out more
truths, by this means; or, however (which is the main of all) we fhall be fecured, though we miss theim, and then we are well enough.
I end with a story, which I find in the Jews books: "When Abraham fat at his tent door, according to his cuftom, waiting to entertain ftrangers, he efpied an old man, stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and travail, coming towards him, who was an hundred. "years of age. He received him kindly, wafhed "his feet, provided fupper, caufed him to fit "down; but obferving that the old man eat, and prayed not, nor begged for a bleffing on his meat, he asked him why he did not worship "the God of heaven. The old man told him, "that he worshipped the fire only, and acknowledged no other God. At which answer "Abraham grew fo zealously angry, that he "thrust the old man out of his tent, and expofed "him to all the evils of the night, and an unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and afked him "where the stranger was? He replied, I thrust "him away, because he did not worship thee. "God answered him, I have fuffered him these "hundred years, although he dishonoured me; "and couldft not thou endure him one night, "when he gave thee no trouble? Upon this, "faith the story, Abraham fetched him back "again, and gave him hofpitable entertainment,