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on of that gallant moralist, Plutarch: • If Epicurus (faith he) * should but grant a God in his full perfections, he must change - his life prefently, he must be a swine no longer.' ! The Lord purge out this crying abomination also, with Atheism and drunkenness, the inlets of it, which darken our glosy, and threaten to make us defolate.
Wherein reason and conscience are once more consulted, about that . bitter and implacable enmity found in thousands this day
gainst all serious piety, and the strict profesors thereof, wha
foip; and their determinations, upon that case, impartial. ly reported.
1. M A N is naturally a fociable creature, delighting
V i in company and converse. He that affects to live by, and to himself, must be (faith the philosopher) , Typlov, # fios ; either a God that is felf-sufficient, and stands in need of none; or a wild beast, so savage and fierce, that it can endure nothing but itself.
This natural quality of fociableness is diverfly, improved, Sometimes sinfully, in wicked combinations to do mischief; like the herding together of wolves and tygers : such was the confederation of Simeon and Levi, brethren in iniquity; Gen. xlix. 56. Sometimes it is improved civilly, for the more orderly and prosperous management of human affairs. Thus all civilized countries have improved it, for the common fecurity and be, nefit. And fometimes religiously, for the better promoting of each other's fpiritual and eternal good. · Now the more firmly any civil or religious focieties are knit together by love, and coalesce in unity, by so much the better they are secured against their common enemies and dangers, and become still the more prosperous and flourishing within and among themselves. For when every man finds his particular interest involved in the public safety and security, (as every private cabbin and passenger is in the safety of the Phip), every particular person will then stand ready to contribute bis uttermoft assistance, for the public intereft, both in peace and war. United force, we all know, is more than Ingle; and, • Vol. VIII.
is hormos tively, place
394 The reasonableness of Personal Reformation. . :in this sense, we say, Unus homo, nullus homo ; one man, is ng mản, that is, considered disjunctively, and alone; when yet that single person, standing in a proper place of service in the body, may, by his prudence and courage, fignify very much to the public weal of his country; as Fabius did to the Roman ftate, of whom the poet truly observed,
Unis homo nobis cunctando restituit rem ; That one man, by his prudent delay and conduct, hath saved the whole commonwealth.'
§ 2. It is therefore the undoubted interest of Christian states and churches, to make every individual person as useful as may be to the whole, and to enjoy the services of all their subjects and members, one way or other, according to their different capacities; that it may be faid of them, (as the historian fpeaks of the land of Canaan) that there was in it, Nihil infructrofum, nibil fterile ; not a fhrab but bare fome fruit.
No prudent kingdom, or church, will deprive themselves of the benefits they may enjoy by the services of any considerable number of men, (especially if they be able and good men') without a plain, inevitable neceflity. No man, without such a necessity, will part with the use and service of the least finger or toe, much less with a leg or arm : but would reckon him. felf half undone, if a paralytic diseate should strike one half of the body, and render it utterly useless to defend and succour the other part in time of danger. ..3Much so stands the case with churches and kingdoms; when the causekess and cruel enmity of one part prevails so far against the other,' as to deprive that state, or church, of the use and service of multitudes of good and faithful members.
It is folly, in its highest exaltation, for one part of a nation, out of bitter enmity to the other, not only to seek all ways and means to suppress and ruin it, whilft a common danger hangs over the whole; but to rejoice in the miseries of their brethren, as the principal thing which they fancy would eontribute to the great advantage of their cause. What but a ge. neral punishment, (if that will do it) can work mens hearts into a more general compassion ? .
The histories of those times sufficiently inform us, that the great feuds and factions in the western church, not only immediately preceded, but opened the way to the terrible inun. dations of the Goths and Vandals. Whilst the suffering part cries out, cruelty, cruelty ; those that inflict it, cry as loud, justice, justice. Whatever rational apologies, or methods of peace, come from the oppressed party, are censured by the on
ther as murmur and mutiny. All men commend unity, and affert it to be the interest of kingdoms and churches. They wish all men were of one mind; but what mind must that be?
To be sure, none but their own. : The more cool, prudent, and moderate fpirits of each party, may strive to the uttermost, to allay these unnatural feuds and animofities. The wisdom of the governing part, may take the instruments of cruelty out of their hand ; but it is God alone, that can pluck up the roots of enmity out of them hearts. :' And what is the matter, when all is fifted and examined ? Why the matter is this : fome will be more serious, strict, and conscientious, than others think fit or necessary for them to be. They dare not curse, swear, whore, and be drunk, as others do. They fcruple to comply with what God hath not commanded, and the very imposers confess to be indifferent, antecedently to their command. They reverently mention the name of God, without an oath, and the folemn matters of religion, without a jeft in their company. They will assume as much liberty to reprove fin, as others do to commit it. They take more pleasure in heavenly duties, and holy conferences, than in ranting and roaring in taverns and ale-houses. That is, in a word, they live up to the principles of religion, which all pretend to-; and this is their unpardonable crime, a fault never to be expiated by any less punithment than their destruction. · And are not people (think you) come to a fine pass; when the strictest obedience to the laws of God, shall be accounted more criminal, than the most open and profane violation of them? Nay, though they reprove the other party's sin no other way, but by their most serious and religious lives; yet this alone shall be sufficient to make them culpable and obnoxious.
§ 4. If the party thus generally hated and maligned, be (for the generality of them) serious and godly Christians; or if the îtrictness and holiness of their lives, and tenderness of their confciences, be the true ground and reason of our hatred of them; such an hatred, when it becomes general, is a direful presage of some common calamity and misery bastening upon such a people : Hof. ix. 7. “ The days of visitation are come; 66 the days of recompence are come ; Israel shall know it. The 66 prophet is a fool; the spiritual man is mad; for the mul
titude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.” · And our own reason will give us this conclusion, as well as
. 1. i. Didd2 ..
scripture : for whatsoever brings fin to its full maturity, must needs haften judgments. And what can heighten and accent the sins of a people, more than such a cruel hatred of good men, upon the score and account before given? All hatred of godliness hath a tang of devilishness. It is a desperate flying in the very face of God, whose image holiness is. * Sin can scarce be graduated a peg higher.
Reason tells the husbandman, it is time to mow and reap his corn, when it is full ripe. And it may convince you, that God's time of reaping down a sinful people is near, when their fins are grown to such full maturity as this : « Put ye in the « fickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get ye down, for the « press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great," Joel ji. I se
$ 5: The true cause and rise of this great and fixed hatred amongst professed Christians, (whatever may be pretended to salve reputation) is the contrariety and repugnancy of the natures, and principles, by which the godly and ungodly are goyerned. There is an enmity betwixt the two feeds, Gen. iii. 25. And this enmity runs down in a blood, more or less, in all ages, and places ; Gal. iv. 29. “ As then, he that was “ born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the « Spirit ; even so it is now.” So it was, and so it is, and fo it will be, till conversion changeth the heart and principle. This enmity cannot die, whilft Satan lives, and rules in the hearts of children of disobedience.
And the enmity is mutual : “ An unjuft man is an abominas 56 tion to the juft; and he that is upright in the way, is an a* bomination to the wicked,” Prov. xxix. 27. Only with this difference; the good man hates, non virum, fed vitium ; not the person, but his sin. The wicked man hates both the per. fon of the godly, and his godliness too; yea, the person for his godliness fake,
This hatred of the godly, secretly and habitually lurks in the nature of a wicked man; as rapaciousness doth in a young wolf, that never saw a lamb. It extends itself universally to the whole kind, and reaches those, whose lives are most obliging. ly sweet : yea, those that are bound to them in the stricteft bonds of nature : as we may fee, in that most unnatural in. stance of Cain's murdering his own brother Abel. It discovers itself, in seeking the destruction of them they hate upon a religious account, and in rejoicing at any evil that befals them. Nothing is more grateful to them, than any occasion to dif. grace, and expose them with contempt to the world,
6. But though the stri&ness and holiness of good men, causing the consciences of wicked, men privately to condemn, and inwardly to gaul and grate them for their looseness, and profaneness, be the true and real ground and cause of the grudge and hatred; yet they think it fit, for reputation-fake, that this be wholly suppressed anıl filenced, and something else pretended for the cause and reason of it, else it would look too like the devil himself. And therefore, amongst other plausible pretensions, for their malignity to those that are better than themselves, these three are principally insisted on, and pleaded
1. That it is not their piety, but their hypocrisy, which they hate : not because they have indeed more piety than others, but because they make more vain thew and oftentation of it than themselves do ; who, setting aside their ridiculous grimaces, and affected fantastic words and actions, are every whit as good as themselves.
2. Because, under a pretence of greater strictness in religi. on, they do but hatch and carry on fedition and rebellion; and that the world will never be quiet, whilst such vipers are suffered in the bowels of it.
3. That both the former have been made sufficiently evident and apparent, in several former, and more recent instances, of the hypocrisy and seditious designs of as high pretenders to religion and reformation, as those are, whom they truly hate, and would not suffer them to live, if their power were answerable to their hatred..
As to this first plea, viz. their hypocrisy; it will quickly be found to be too thin and weak to endure the teit of your own reason and consciences. For how will you answer them, when they shall thus argue and expoftulate the matter with you ? :
You that thus censure, and those that are cenfured for hypocrisy by you, do both profess one and the same religion. . « Your profane lives are notoriously contrary to all the prin
ciples of this religion. You swear, drink, whore, revile, and perfecute the others, only because you fancy their tones, gestures, &c. to be some way or other indecent. You cannot deny, but they live soberly and godly: they attend upon all the duties of religion strictly and conscientiously. Your malice against them can find nothing to carp at, but some 6 little trifles, with which the efsence of religion is not con'cerned. Did they run into the same excess of riot with you, greater matters than these would be overlooked, yea, and applauded too,' . . '