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is, there is confusion and every evil work;" James iii. 14, 15, 16. (Read but the story of the Jewish zealots in Josephus, and the heretical zealots in all ages of the church, and you will perceive the truth of this.) When such quarrelsome spirits are filling the church with contentions, or vexations about their meats and drinks, and days, &c. the Christian indeed understandeth that the kingdom of God consisteth' not of such things as these, but in right eousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;' and he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approveth of (wise and sober) men. Therefore he followeth after things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another and will not for meats, &c. destroy the work of God;" Rom. xiv. 17-20. He stayeth not till peace be offered him, or brought home to him, but he followeth peace with all men, as well as holiness;" Heb. xii. 14. If it fly from him, he pursueth it; if it be denied him he seeketh it, and will not refuse to stoop to the poorest for it, and to beg it of his inferiors, if it were upon his knees, rather than be denied it, and live an unpeaceable, disquiet life; Psalm xxxiv. 14. For he believeth that "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God;” Matt. v. 9.
2. And the weak Christian hath the same spirit, and therefore the love of peace is most predominant in him. But, alas, he is too easily tempted into religious passions, discontents, contentious disputations, quarrelsome and opprobrious words; and his judgment lamentably darkened and perverted, whenever contentious zeal prevaileth, and passions do perturb the quiet and orderly operations of the soul. He wanteth both the knowledge and the experience, and the mellowness of spirit, which riper Christians have attained; he hath a less degree of charity, and is less acquainted with the mischiefs of unpeaceableness; and therefore it is the common course of young professors, to be easily tempted into unpeaceable ways; and when they have long tried them (if they prove not hypocrites) to come off at last upon experience of the evils of them; and so the young Christians, conjunct with some hypocrites, make up the rigorous, fierce, contentious and vexatious party; and the aged, ripe Christians make up the holy, moderate, healing party, that groan and pray for the church's peace, and
mourn in secret both for the ungodliness and violence which they cannot heal. Yea, the difference is much apparent, in the books and sermons which each of them is best pleased with. The ripe, experienced Christian loveth those sermons that kindle love, and tend to peace; and love such healing books as do narrow differences and tend to reconcile and heal; such as Bishop Hall's Peace-maker, and "Pax terris," and all his writings; and Bishop Davenant's, Bishop Morton's, and Bishop Hall's "Pacificatory Epistles to Duræus," and "Mr. Burroughs' Irenicon," Ludov. Crotius, Amyraldus, Junius, Paræus's and many other Irenicons written by foreign divines, to say nothing that are upon single controversies. But the younger, sour, uncharitable Christians are better pleased with such books and sermons, as call them aloud to be very zealous for this or that contested point of doctrine, or for or against some circumstance of worship or church discipline, or about some fashions, or customs, or indifferent things, as if the kingdom of God were in them : Rom. xiv. 1, 2. 15, 16.
3. But the seeming Christian, is either a mere temporizer, that will be of that religion, whatever it be, that is most in fashion, or which the higher powers are of, or which will cost him least or else he will run into the other extreme, and lift up himself by affected singularities, and by making a bustle and stir in the world, about some small and controverted point and careth not to sacrifice the peace and safety of the church, to the honour of his own opinions. And as small as the Christian church is, he must be of a smaller society than it, that he may be sure to be amongst the best; while indeed he hath no sincerity at all, but placeth his hopes in being of the right church, or party, or opinion: and for his party or church, he burneth with a feverish kind of zeal, and is ready to call for fire from heaven; and to deceive him, the devil sendeth him some from hell, to consume them that are not of his mind: yet doth he bring it as an angel of light, to defend the truth and church of Christ. And indeed, when the devil will be the defender of truth, or of the church, or of peace, or order, or piety, he doth it with the most burning zeal you may know him by the means he useth. He defendeth the church, by forbidding the people to read the Scriptures in a known tongue, and by imprisoning and burning the soundest and holiest members of it, and
abusing the most learned faithful pastors; and defendeth the flock by casting out the shepherds, and such like means, as the murders of the Waldenses, and the massacres of France and Ireland, and the Spanish Inquisition, and queen Mary's bonfires, and the powder-plot; yea, and the Munster, and the English rage and phrenzies, may give you fuller notice of. He that hath no holiness, nor charity to be zealous for, will be zealous for his church, or sect, or customs, or opinions; and then this zeal must be the evidence of his piety. And so the inquisitors have thought they have religiously served God, by murdering his servants; and it is the badge of their honour to be the devil's hangmen, to execute his malice on the members of Christ; and all this is done in zeal for religion by irreligious hypocrites. There is no standing before the malicious zeal of a graceless Pharisee, when it riseth up for his carnal interest, or the honour, and traditions, and customs of his sect; (Luke vi. 7.) "And they were filled with madness, and communed with one another what they might do to Jesus;" Luke iv. 28. Acts v. 17. xiii. 45. John xvi. 2. Rom. x. 2. Phil. iii. 6. Acts xxvi. 10, 11. The zeal of a true Christian consumeth himself with grief to see the madness of the wicked; but the zeal of the hypocrite consumeth others, that by the light of the fire his religiousness may be seen. You may see the Christian's fervent love to God, by the fervent flames which he can suffer for his sake: and you may see the fervent love of the hypocrite, by the flames which he kindleth for others. By these he crieth with Jehu, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord;" 2 Kings x. 16. 2 Sam. xxi. 2.
LV. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that most highly esteemeth and regardeth the interest of God and men's salvation in the world, and taketh all things else to be inconsiderable in comparison of these. The interest of great men, and nobles, and commanders; yea, and his own in corporal respects, as riches, honour, health and life, he taketh to be things unworthy to be named, in competition with the interest of Christ and souls. The thing that his heart is most set upon in the world is, that God be glorified, and that the world acknowledge him their King, and that his laws be obeyed, and that darkness, infidelity and ungodliness may be cast out; and that pride and worldliness, and fleshly lusts, may not hurry the miserable world unto perdition. It
is one of the saddest and most amazing thoughts that ever entereth into his heart, to consider how much of the world is overwhelmed in ignorance and wickedness, and how great the kingdom of the devil is, in comparison with the kingdom of Christ; that God should forsake so much of his creation; that Christianity should not be owned in above the sixth part of the world; and popish pride and ignorance, with the corruptions of many other sects, and the worldly, carnal minds of hypocrites, should rob Christ of so much of this little part, and leave him so small a flock of holy ones, that must possess the kingdom. His soul consenteth to the method of the Lord's prayer, as prescribing us the order of our desires. And in his prayers he seeketh first, (in order of estimation and intention,) the hallowing of God's name, and the coming of his kingdom, and the doing of his will on earth as it is done in heaven; before his daily bread, or the pardon of his sins, or the deliverance of his soul from temptations and the evil one. Mark him in his prayers, and you 'shall find that he is above other men, taken up in earnest petitions for the conversion of the heathen and infidel world, and the undeceiving of Mahometans, Jews, and heretics, and the clearing of the church from those papal tyrannies, and fopperies and corruptions, which make Christianity hateful or contemptihle, in the eyes of the heathen and Mahometan world, and hinder their conversion. No man so much lamenteth the pride and covetousness, and laziness and unfaithfulness of the pastors of the church: because of the doleful consequents to the Gospel and the souls of men, and yet with all possible honour to the sacred office, which they thus profane. No man so heartily lamenteth the contentions and divisions among Christians, and the doleful destruction of charity thereby. It grieveth him to see how much selfishness, pride, and malice, prevail with them that should shine as lights in a benighted world, and how obstinate and incurable they seem to be, against the plainest means, and humblest motions, for the church's edification and peace; Psal. cxx. 6, 7. cxxii. 6. Phil. ii. 1-4. Psal. cxix. 136. Zeph. iii. 18. Ezek. ix. 4. Psal. lxix. 9. John ii. 17. He envieth not kings and great men their dominions, wealth or pleasure; nor is he at all ambitious in their tremendous exaltation. "that the kingBut the thing that his heart is set upon is,
doms of this world may all become the kingdoms of the Lord; Rev. xi. 15; and that the Gospel may every where "have free course and be glorified," and the preachers of it be encouraged, or at least" be delivered from unreasonable, wicked men ;" 2 Thess. iii. 1, 2. Little careth he who is uppermost or conquereth in the world, or who goeth away with the preferments or riches of the earth (supposing that he fail not of his duty to his rulers) so that it may go well with the affairs of the Gospel, and souls be but helped in the way to heaven. Let God be honoured, and souls converted and edified, and he is satisfied. This is it that maketh the times good in his account; he thinketh not as the proud and carnal church of Rome, that the times are best when the clergy are richest and greatest in the world, and overtop princes, and claim the secular power, and live in worldly pomp and pleasures; but when holiness most aboundeth, and the members of Christ are likest to their head, and when multitudes of sincere believers are daily added to the church, and when the mercy and holiness of God shine forth in the numbers and purity of the saints. It is no riches or honour that can be heaped upon himself, or any others, that make the times seem good to him, if knowledge and godliness are discountenanced and hindered, and the way to heaven is made more difficult; if atheism, infidelity, ungodliness, pride and malignity do prevail, and truth and sincerity are driven into the dark; and when he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." Psal. lix. 15. When "the godly man ceaseth and the faithful fail from among the children of men; when every man speaketh vanity to his neighbour, and the poor are oppressed, and the needy sigh, and the wicked walk on every side when the vilest men are exalted." Psal. xii. 1, 2. 5. 8. The times are good when the men are good; and evil when the men are evil, be they never so great or prosperous. As Nehemiah, when he was cup-bearer to the king himself, yet wept and mourned for the desolations of Jerusalem; Nehem. i. 3, 4. ii. 2, 3. Whoever prospereth, the times are ill when there is a " famine of the word of the Lord, and when the chief of the priests and people do transgress and mock God's messengers, and despise his word, and misuse his prophets; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. 16. Amos viii. 11, 12. When the apostles are "charged to speak no more in the name of