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of the last and great Day of Judgment will turn much upon this point of shewing mercy. They that have reliev'd Christ in his Members, shall be pronounc'd blessed, and enter into their Master's Joy ; they that have neglected or refus'd these Acts of Mercy, shall be denounc'd cursed, and doom'd to utter and eternal Darkness.
2. From this Discourse we may learn to be merciful in our Censures, not judging and condemning one another, bat interpreting mens Words in the best Sense, and putting tie best Construction upon all their Actions. This Charity and the Commands of God require of all Christians, whereas all uncharitabb and censorious Judging is directly opposite and contrary to both. 'Tis a piece of Injustice done to God, by taking his work out of his hand, and invading of his Prerogative: Every one of us (faith the Apostle) stjall give an account of himself to God, and therefore let us not judg one another any more; Rom. 14.12,13. Speak not evil one of another (faith St. James) he that speaketh evil of his Brother, and judgeth his Brother, speaketh evil of the Law, and judgeth the Law; he sets himself above the Rule that he is to walk by, and so is no longer a Doer of the Law, but a Judg : which is a high Presumption, for there is one Lawgiver and Judg, who is able to save and to destroy \ and who art thou that judgest? Jam.4. It, 12. Moreover, this judging another is a great piece of Injustice done to our Brother, by usurping a Power over him, that no way belongs to us ., 'tis judging another Man's Servant without any leave or authority from his Master;.'tis an Encroachment upon the Liberty of Christians in things indifferent, for why is my Liberty judged (faith the Apostle) of another Mans Conscience? for which no Man hath any Commission: 1 Cor. 10.29. Again, this *judging is a great Injury to the Censurer himself; for his Censures commonly recoil upon himself, and the Darts he aims at others Reputation, ofttimes wound his own; he frequently makes a Rod for his own back, none being more shot at and censur'd, than they who so liberally let fly these Bolts: for with what Judgment ye judg (faith our Saviour) ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it pall be meafurd to you again. Mat. 7.1,2.
Lastly, From she Rule of Reformation here set by our Saviour, let us first begin with reforming and amending our selves, and remove Beams from our own Eyes, -before we meddle with Motes in our Brother's. Let us converse
more hiiore at home, and sweep our own doors, before we look abroad and complain of the Foulness of others; In a word, let us abstain from all ram and hard Censures of others, and let us judg and condemn our selves; and thea we shall not be judg'd or condemn'd of the Lord: which God grant, &i.
The Epistle for the Fifth Sunday after
t Pet. in. 8 15;
Be ye all of one mind, having companion one 'of another: Love as Brethren) be pitiful, be courteous; not rendring Evil for Evil) or Railing for Railing) but contrariwise Blessing: knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a Blessing)
WE are taught in the Collect for this day to beseech Almighty God, that the Course of this World may be so peaceably order'd by his Governance} that the Church may joyfully serve him in all godly Quietness, To effect or bring this to pass,
The Epistle for this Day prescribes this excellent Advice to that end, Be ye all of one mind: signifying ton?, that Unity of Mind and Judgment is the best means to preserve the Peace of the Church and all godly Quietness^ and likewise that Diversity of Opinions is the main cause of all the Discord and Confusion that happens in it; And therefore St. Paul, in his last Advice to the Corinthians, joins them both together - , faying, Finally, Brethren) be of one mind, live in peace, 2 Cor. 13.11. thereby intimating, that there is a Gonnexion or mutual Dependence of these two upoa each other, that Unity will put an end to Divisions, and ItK* best way to live in peace, is to be of one mind;
M 2 But
But what is that Unity or Oneness of Mind here prescrib' d to that end? Why that respects partly Matters of Religion, or the great Affairs of the Church; and partly Matters of Practice, or the Rules of a good Life.
First, I fay, we are to be all of one mind in the weighty Matters of Religion, viz.. in the Doctrine, Discipline, and Communion of the Church ^ in all which we are commanded to think and speak the same things, and to be perfectly join'd together in the same Mind and the same Judgment. 1 Cor. x. Iq. .......
As for the Doctrine of the Church, that is contain'd and deliver'd to us in the Holy Scriptures, the Standard of all Divine Truths; and is more briefly fumm'd up for us in the Apoitles Creed, the Touchstone of sound Doctrine, or Form of found Words, which we are calPd upon to hold sast. This is that one Faith, in which all Christians are to agree or unite, Eph. 4.3,4. 'tis that Faith 'of the Gospel, in which they are to stand fast in one Spirit, and with one Mind to strive for •, Philip, i. 27.
As for the Discipline of the Church, that likewise was instituted by Christ for the Unity and Edification of all its Members. There is but one Lord (faith the Apostle) that is, Christ himself, the sole Head and Governour of his Church; who gave first Apostles, secondarily Pastors, and then Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the Work of the Ministry, and for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Eph. 4.11,12. Whepe first signifies a Primacy of Order and Jurisdiction •, for the Apostles were appointed to preside over the rest, to ordain Elders in every City, and to set in order the things that were wanting: Tit. 1.5. And as they died away, others of the inferiour Order succeeded, and were advanc'd to their Office, as Matthias was in the room of Judas. Herein our Saviour continu'd the antient Government of the Jewish Church, which was in the High* Priests, Priests, and Levites: he only chang'd the Names, ordaining first Apostles, and under them Pastors andTtachers; which holy Discipline is still handed down and continu'd to us in a Succession of Bistops, Priests, and Deacons: which God long preserve. This is the Discipline of the Church, in which we are all to be of one mind, without swerving from it, or setting up new Models in. opposition to it. Then,
Lastly, For the Worship and Communion of the Church, that is the Bond of Peace, mention'd by the Apostle, that helps to make it one Body, by tying all the Members together, and uniting them in one Christian Fellowship for toe being many (faith the fame Apostle) are one Bread, and one Body, by joining together in one Communion: by this 'we serve God, as we should, with one Heart and one Content, and with one Mind and one Mouth glorify our great Creator.
These are the great and weighty Mattecs of Religion, in which we are requir'd to be all of one mind; for being all prescrib'd by Divine Authority, and so made necessary and essential to the Being and Continuance of the Christian Church, we are all to agree and unite in them, and not to differ or divide about them.
But, Secondly, the Oneness of Mind here directed to, relates not only to the great Affairs of Religion and the Church, but likewise to Matters of Practice and the Rules of a holy Life j as will appear by the following part of this Day's Epistle: where we are bid to be of one mind,
1st, In all Acts of Compassion and Courtesy to one another. So the next words direct; Having compassion one of another, love as Brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. The Sense whereof is, that we should agree together in all the mutual Offices of Love and Kindness ., sympathizing with our Brethren in their Afflictions, and bearing one another's Burdens, thereby easing and comforting each other as much as possible ; having a Fellow-feeling of their Afflictions, which will encourage them to bear up, and not sink under the Weight of any Trouble that may happen to them: imitating the good Samaritan, who pour'd in Wine and Oil into the Wounds of the distress'd Traveller, which our Saviour there stiles a friendly and neighbourly Act, willing US to go and do likewise. This is to have compassion one of smother, and to love as Brethren. To which we are to add all Acts of Courtesy and Kindness, relating to a prosperous as well as adverse Condition sharing in the one, and sympathizing in the other. This is to be kindly affeftion'd one to another, rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them that weep; being affected with the Good or Evil that happens to any, and partaking in the Joys and Sorrows of one another: and in this we are bid to be all ot one mind. And as a Consequent of this, the Apostle wills us to be cr one mind, M 3 zdly,
zdly, In avoiding all manner of Revenge and Retaliation •, faying in the next Verse, Not rendring Evil for Evil, or Railing for Railing, but contrariwise Blessing j knowing that ye are ihereunto ca/l'd, that ye should inherit a Blessing. The meaning whereof is, that we should never permit our selves in any degree to act or meditate Revenge in cafe of any Injury done to us: which how great soever it may be, we must not think of returning the fame or the like again. If the Injury done be by Acts of Violence, to do the like . again, is the Revenge of the Hand •, if it be by railing Words and Accufations, to return Railing for Railing is the Revenge of the Tongue: both which are carefully to be avoided by all the Followers of Christ, who hath given us both his Precepts and Example to that purpose for he hath commanded us to love our Enemies, and to do good to them that hate us, himself doing the fame to his greatest Adverfaries. So that instead of recompensing Evil for Evil, we are to return Good for Evil, and Blessing for Curling ^ for hereunto we are call'd by the Precepts and Profession of Christianity. This mind the Apostle would have us all to be of j and by thus doing good and blessing of Others, we shall receive a Blessing from God, not only in the Life that now is, but in that which is to come.
And here the Apostle speaking against Railing and the Revenge of the Tongue, adds a seasonable Caution against it, back d with a strong Motive or Reason to enforce it, in the next words: For he that will love Life, and see good days, let him refrain his Tongue from Evil, and his Lips that they speak no Guile. Which words are quoted out of the 34th Pfalm, 12th and following Verses; where the Pfalmist • gives the fame Advice, and urges it upon the fame Consiaerations. There is none but desires to live long, and to fe; many and happy Days•, 'tis the Voice of Nature, Who will fijew Hs any Good, and promote the Comfort and Prosperity of qur Lives? Why, here is a piece of whoiefom Counsel given to that end, to wit, to keep the Tongue from EviL-ipeaking, Lying, and Slandering, and the Lips from uttering any Deceit pr Guile : both which will prevent many Troubles that are apt to shorten and imbitter our Lives. The Tongue, when let loose, is by St. James stiled a Fire, a World of Iniquity, that fetteih on fire the Course of Nature, and is set on fire of HeU; James 3.6. meaning, that 'tis frequently a means of kindling Divisions, , Strife and Contention? and is the cause, of infinite Evils and