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church "ad peace, and encreased exceedingly; we ought also to wish for ecclesiastical peace to the church, that she may be free from diffenfions and divisions.
These readily arise, more or less (as we see in all times) and haunt religion, and the reformation of it, as an evil genius. St. Paul had this to say to his Corinthians, though he had given them this testimony, that they were enriched in all utterance and knowledge, and were wanting in no gift ; yet presently after, I hear that there are divisions and contentions amongst you. The enemy had done this, as our Saviour speaks ; and this enemy is no fool, for by divine permission he works to his own end very wisely: for there is not one thing that doth on all hands choak the seed of religion so much, as thorny debates and differences about itself. So in succeeding ages, and at the breaking forth of the light in Germany, in Luther's time, multitudes of fects arose.
Profane men do not only stumble, but fall and break their necks upon these divisions; we see (think they, and some of them possibly say it out) that they who mind religion most cannot agree upon it; our
easiest way is not to embroil ourfelves, nor at all to be troubled with the business. Many are of Gallio's temper, they will care for none of these things. Thus these offences prove a mischief to the profane world, as our Saviour says, Woe to the world because of offences.
The wifeít and godliest find (and such are sensible of it) that disputes in religion are no friends to that which is far sweeter in it, but hinder and abate these pious and devout thoughts that are both the more useful and truly delightful. As peace is a choice blessing, so this is the choicest peace, and is the peculiar inseparable effect of this grace, with which it is jointly wilhed, grace. and peace.—The flower of peace growing upon the root of grace.
But, brethren, receiving of the same spirit from their head, Christ, are most strongly bent to the good one of another. If there be but a thorn in the foot, the back boweth, the head ftoopeth down, the eyes look, the hands reach to it, and endeavour its help and ease. In a word, all the members partake of the good and evil, one of another. Now, by how much this body is more spiritual and lively, so much the stronger must be the union and love of the parts of it to each other.
You are brethren by the fame new birth, and born to the same inheritance; and such an one shall not be an apple of strife amongst you beget debates and contentions. No, it is enough for all, and none shall prejudge another; but you shall have joy in the happiness one of another, seeing you shall then be perfect in love, all harmony, no difference in judgment or affection, all your harps tuned to the same new song which you
fhall sing for ever. Let that love begin here which shall never end.
Commentary on Peter.
EZEKIEL HOPKINS, D. D.
derer of others, addict not thyself violently to any one party or persuasion of men. taking will beget prejudice, and prejudice is the jaundice of the soul, which represents other men, and their actions, in the colour which our own disease puts upon them. And, indeed, we have all, generally, such a good conceit of ourselves, that it is a very hard and difficult matter to have a good esteem for others, who are not of our judgment and of our way.
And this makes us first very willing to hear some evil of them: for, because we think that what we do is good, we cannot, cordially, think them good who do not judge and act as we ourselves do ; and so our minds are prepared to entertain reports against them from others, and then to spread them abroad ourselves. And I cannot but impute to this the great uncharitableness of our days, wherein love, and brotherly kindness, lie murdered under the violence of different persuasions and different
modes, and divers 'ways of worshipping one and the same God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence all those lying rumours and lying wonders, that one party invents to beat down the other. One party reports the other to be all profane and superstitious; and the other reports its oppofite to be all hypocritical and feditious, and both suffer from each other's envenomed tongues ; and, between both, truth suffers, and charity. perisheth, and is utterly lost. For shame, O Christians! is this the way to promote God's cause, or Christ's kingdom? Doth he or it stand in need of your lies? Will you speak wickedly for od, and talk deceitfully for him? Shall his honour be maintained by the devil's inventions ? I shall not speak partially, but wheresoever the fault lies, there let this censure fall,—that it is, certainly, a very strong presumption of a very weak and bad cause, when the refuge and support of it are lies.
Now, notwithstanding that this sin of slander and detraction is so great and henious, yet may it not be justly feared, that many place their whole religion in it, and think themselves fo much the better, by how much the worse they think and report of other men ? Do they not think it a piece of zeal, and warınth for the worship and service of God, to cry down all as superstitious that do not worship him in their way? Do they not make it, if not a part, yet a
sign of holiness, to be still finding faults, and crying out against others, to be censorious and clamorous ? Such a sort of men are all lewd and profane ; and such a fort are all rebellious and hypocrites : and then, to justify their censures, instance, poffibly, in two or three, of whom, perhaps, they know no more than the bare names. And what tends all this to but mutual exasperation? Those who do not believe them, are exasperated against the reporters; and those who do believe them, are exasperated against the flandered : and as it tends to exasperation, so, likewise, it encourageth and hardeneth many in their fins; for when they hear so much evil blazed abroad in the world, and few or none escape without having some foul blot rubbed upon him, and infamous crime reported of him, whether truly or falsely, they think that fin and wickedness is no such strange thing; and so embolden themselves to commit that which they hear is fo common.
1 beseech you, therefore, O Christians, ! for the peace of the church, which else will continue fadly rent and divided; for the sake of Christianity, which else will be discredited and reviled; for your
brethren's fake, who else will be discouraged or exafperated : be very cautious what reports you either receive or make of others. Their good name is very precious; precious to God, when their blameless conversation deserves it;