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then we all enter into the Church by the fame Gate, and walk to Heaven the same way, let us not scatter or divide, but keep together for the mutual Aid and Comfort of each other; and being join'd together by the Holy Sacraments, the Seals of the Holy Spirit, let us endeavour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. To which end,
Lastly, We are here told, that there is but one God and Father of all, who is above all, by his Power, and thro all, by his Providence, and in all, by his Presence : and having but one Object of Divine Worship, vizi the Onnipotent Maker and Master of us all, we are to unite and agree in his Service, and adore him with one Heart and one Consent, This is the highest Motive and Example of Unity, taken from the Unity of the Godhead, which our Saviour's Prayer sets as a Pattern of Union among Believers, That they all
be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, so they also may be one in us ; John 17. 20, 21. The Heathens indeed had Lords many and Gods many, and it could be no wonder if they were divided in serving of them
j but to us there is but one Lord and one God, to whom therefore we should all pay our joint and unanimous Devotions.
Thus I have briefly consider'd the Portion of Scripture appointed for the Epistle for this Day, which contains many weighty and cogent Argaments for Unity of Heart and Mind among Christians : yea, it shews all our Religion to be founded upon Unity, and is only promoted by it; for we are all united in one mytical Body of Christ's Church. And this Body is acted and animated by one Holy Spirit; there is one Door of Entrance into it, i.e. by one Baptism; there is but one Faith profess’d in it; and in a word, there is but one Object of all Divine Worship, viz. the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and thro all, and in us all. From all which we learn,
1. The Nature and Sinfulness of Schisn, which is the dividing of the Body of Christ, and making it not one Body, but many. Is Christ divided? faith the Apostle to the Corinthians, upon their breaking into Schisms and Factions; implying, that these things not only divide Christians, but Christ himself, by tearing in pieces his Body the Church : and therefore the fame Apostle advises, that there be no Schism in the Body, nor any Divisions among Chriftians ģ 1 Cor. 1. 10. We being many (faith he) are one Bread and anc Body, and are all Partakers of oné Bread: signifying,
that by breaking Communion,
and setting up Altar against Altar, we break the Unity of Christ's Church, and make a Schism in his Body, for thereby one Member is rent and torn from another and as a Member cut off is no longer a Part of the Body from which 'tis fever'd, so they who cut themselves off from the Communion of the Church by a wilful and causeless Separation, are no longer Members of Christ's Body.
Indeed there may and must be a local Separation, because all the Members of the Catholick. Church being dispers'd into several parts of the World, cannot meet together in one Place, and in a National Church. The Members, by reason of their distance from one another, require distinct Places or Parishes for their meeting or assembling together : but there must be no Separation in point of Worship, no opposite Communion or Discipline, no Conventicles or House-Worhip in opposition to the establish'd Worship of the Temple or House of God; for these are plain Divisions, and unwarrantable Separations from the Church of Christ. For as the severing or dividing one Linib from another makes a Schism in the natural Body, by destroying the Union, and cutting off the Communication of the several Parts, even so the dividing of the Members of the Church by different Communions from one another, makes a Schism in the mystical Body of Christ : in which case the divided Parts are cut off from the Head, and hinder'd from receiving Grace or spiritual Strength from him. Which shews the Danger as well as the Sin of Schifu, a Leffon to be learnt from the Unity of the Body. ;,'
2. From the Unity of the Spirit and the Fruits of it, we may learn what Spirit we are of, and how far we are acted by it; for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Love, Peace, Lowliness, Meekness, Patience, and the like : these tend to pronote Unity of Heart and Mind among Men, and dispose them to agree and join together in the Worship of God. But the evil Spirit lufteth to Envy, Strife, Variance and Contention; and these kindle a bitter Zeal and Enulation among Christians, which lead them into Division and Separation. Try your felves then by this Touchstone, and you may see whether the Spirit of God dwelleth in' you. If you are nieek, humble, and modest, willing to learn of your Teachers, to obey your Superiors, to unite and agree with your Neighbours ; you are then acted by the good Spirit of God, which is known by these Fruits : but if you
are proud, arrogant and untractable, unwilling to fabnit or be taught by your Betters, if you are cenforious, false, and unjust to one another, be not deceiv’d; you are not mov'd to these things by the Holy Spirit of God, but by the evil Spirit that rules in the Hearts of the Children of Difa obedience. In short, the good Spirit' is but one, tho the evil Spirits are many ; the former guides into the Ways of Truth and Peace, the latter into the Paths of Error and Diffenfion,
3. From the Unity of Faith, and the one Hope of our Christian Calling, we may learn to unite and go hand in hand together in it, without differing or falling out about inferiour matters : for whilst we adhere and hold to the fame Faith, and expect the fame End of it, even the Salvation of our Souls, no leffer things can justify a Contention, or much less warrant a Separation. We are bid to contend earnestly for the Faith, and to continue stedfast in the Profession of it; but for the leiffer Matters of Order and Decency, we are bid to submit, and shew all lawful Compliance, which is absolutely necessary to preserve Unity
4. From the one Lord, or the Unity of the Head, we may easily learn this Compliance for the Head is the Seat of Wisdom and Power, to direct and command the other Members : and this may in the most eminent manner be affirm’d of this mystical Head, in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledg, and who hath the sole Right to guide and govern his whole Body. Beside, as the Head conveys down animal Spirits, Heat, and Vigour to the other members, by which they live, move, and have their being; fo Christ, the mystical Head of the Church, sends down the kindly Influences of his Grace and Holy Spirit upon his Members, to quicken and excite all their Operations : which may teach us to live, to unite, and to abide in his Body; for as the Branches cannot live or bring forth any Fruit, except they abide in the Vine, fo neither can we, except we are united to and abide in him.
5. From the Unity of the Sacraments, let us learn to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace ;
for thefe are as the Ligaments and Arteries to hold all the Parts together. 'Tis by one Baptism that we are all initiated into Chrift's Church, and by one Communion that we are all confirı'd and continu'd in it: fo vain and foolish are they who think they belong to Christ without the initiating Or. dinance of Baptism, and fo profåne and presumptuous are
all such as expect any Benefit from him, without the confirming Ordinance of the holy Communion. These are the Seals of the new Covenant, without which we can lay no claim to the Title or Privileges of Christians.
Lastly, From the one God and Father of all, let us be persuaded with one Mind and one Mouth to glorify our great Creator; so shall we, by preserving Peace and Unity on Earth, arrive at laft to the Unity of the Church in Heaven, and come to the measure of the Stature of the Fulness of Chrif: to which, God of his infinite Mercy bring us all, for the Merits of his Son, and our ever-blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
The Gospel for the Seventeenth Sunday after
St. Luke xiv. I-II. It came to pass as Jesus went into the House of one
the chief Pharisees, to eat Bread on the Sabbath-day, that they watch'd him. And behold there was a certain Man before him that had the Drops, &c.
N this Gospel for the Day, there are four observable
things to be consider'd and spoken to : And they are, First, Our Saviour's Freedom of Conversation, He went into the House of one of the chief Pharisees to eat Bread: together with the Circumstance of Time, when it was ; 'twas on the Sabbath Day.
Secondly, The insidious Falshood and Treachery of the Pharisees in entertaining him ; instead of welcoming, they only watched him, to find some Occasion to traduce
and accuse him.
Thirdly, Our Saviour's great Wisdom in putting them to
filence, and thereby preventing and frustrating their wicked Purpose.
Fourthly, Our Saviour's checking their Pride and Vanity, in affecting Precedence and Preheminence above others. These things contain the Substance of this Gospel, and must therefore be the Subject of the following Discourse.
And, Firft, Of the Freedom of his Conversation, He pent into the House of one of the Pharisees to eat Bread. Whether he went in upon an Invitation, or only made an accidental or accasional Visit, is not here express’d, nor is it much material to enquire : we find him, as Opportunity offer'd, ready enough to do both. When St. Matthew 2 Publican invited him to a Feaft, he freely went, and entertain'd the Company with Discourse that far exceeded all the other Entertainment. In his passing through Fericho he saw Zacheus, another Publican, climbing a Sicamore Tree, with a Desire to see him: Jesus looking up and seeing him, said unto him, Zacheus make hafte and come down, for so day I must abide at thy House ; who immediately hasten'd and came down, and receiv'd him joyfully; and well he might, for he brought Salvation with him; Luke 19. 5,6,9.
The Pharisees indeed blam'd this Freedom, saying to his Disciples, Why eateth and drinketh thy Mafter with Publicans and Sinners? They thought it unbecoming so Divine and Holy a Person as Jesus appeard to be, to converse fo fa miliarly with the worst of Men; for so they took the Publicans to be. But Christ knowing their Hearts, reply'd to them, The whole have no need of a Physicians but they that are fick : meaning, that they who were found and hóly in their own opinion, had not so much need of his Company, as they that found themselves sick, and labour'd under their Infirmities : for he came not to call the Righteous, that is, such as were so in their own eyes, but Sinners to Rea pentance; that is, such as were sensible of their Sins, and felt the Burden of their Iniquities. This was the Defign of his coming and conversing in the World, to take Men off from the Love and Practice of Sin, and to reduce them to a better State and Course of Life. And this is more easily done upon naodest and humble Sinners, than upon those that are proudly conceited, of their own Righteouf ness. And therefore the Pharisees might as well blame the Physician of the Body, for visiting Hospitals and fick Patients, as the great Physician of the Soul, for visiting fuck