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then none of the church: but if we are not divided from Christ, we are of the church still; if part of a tree, (though the far greater part) be cut off or separated from the rest, it is that part (how small soever) that still groweth with the root that is the living tree. The Indian fig-tree, and some other trees, have branches that take root when they touch the ground: if now you ask me whether the branches springing from the second root, are members of the first tree, I answer, 1. The rest that have no new root are more undoubtedly members of it. 2. If any branches are separated from the first tree, and grow upon the new root alone, the case is out of doubt. 3. But if yet they are by continuation joined to both, that root which they receive their nutriment mostfrom, is it which they most belong to. Suppose a tyrant counterfeit a commission from the king to be vice-king in Ireland, and proclaim all them to be traitors that receive him not; the king disclaimeth him, the wisest subjects renounce him, and the rest obey him but so as to profess they do it, because they believe him to be commissioned by the king. Let the question be now, who are the dividers in Ireland? and who are the king's truest subjects? and what head it is that denominateth the kingdom? and who are the traitors? This is your case. 2. Divisions are the deformities of the church. Cutoff a nose, or pluck out an eye, or dismember either a man or a picture, and see whether you have not deformed it. Ask any compassionate Christian, ask any insulting enemy, whether our divisions be not our deformity and shame; the lamentation of friends and the scorn of enemies?3. The divisions of the church are not our own dishonour alone, but the injurious dishonour of Christ, and religion, and the Gospel. The world thinketh that Christ is an impotent king, that cannot keep his kingdom at unity in itself, when he hath himself told us, that " every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not standg. They think the Gospel tendeth to division, and is a doctrine of dissension, when they see divisions and dissensions procured by it; they impute all the faults of the subjects to the king, and think that Christ was confused in his legislation, and knew
* Matt. xii. 25.
not what to teach or command, because men are confounded in their opinions or practices, and know not what to think or do. If men misunderstand the law of Christ, and one saith, This is the sense, and another saith, That is the sense, they are ready to think that Christ spake nonsense, or understood not himself, because the ignorant understand him not: who is there that converseth with the ungodly of the world, that heareth not by their reproach and scorns how much God and religion are dishonoured by the divisions of religious people. 4. And thus also our divisions do lamentably hinder the progress of the Gospel, and the conversion and salvation of the ungodly world: they think they have small encouragement to be of your religion, while your divisions seem to tell them, that you know not what religion to be of yourselves. Whatever satan or wicked men would say against religion to discourage the ungodly from it, the same will exasperated persons in these divisions say against each other's way: and when every one of you condemneth another, how should the consciences of the ungodly persuade them to accept salvation in any of those ways, which you thus condemn? Doubtless the divisions of the Christian world, have done more to hinder the conversion of infidels, and keep the heathen and Mahometan world in their damnable ignorance and delusions, than all our power is able to undo: and have produced such desolations of the church of Christ, and such a plentiful harvest and kingdom for the devil, as every tender, Christian heart is bound to lament with tears of bitterness. If it must be that such offences shall come, yet woe to those by whom they come. 5. Divisions lay open the churches of Christ, not only to the scorn, but to the malice, will and fury of their enemies. A kingdom or house divided cannot stand: where hath the church been destroyed, or religion rooted out, in any nation of the earth, but divisions had a principal hand in the effect? O what desolations have they made among the flocks of Christ! As Seneca and others opened their own veins and bled to death, when Nero or such other tyrants, did send them their commands to die; even so have many churches done by their divisions, to the gratifying of satan, the enemy of souls.
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6. Divisions among Christians do greatly hinder the edification of the members of the church; while they are possessed with envyings and distaste of one another, they lose all the benefit of each other's gifts, and of that holy communion which they should have with one another. And they are possessed with that zeal and wisdom, which James calleth earthly, sensual and devilish, which corrupteth all their affections, and turneth their food to the nourishment of their disease, and maketh their very worshipping of God to become the increase of their sin. Where divisions and contentions are, the members that should grow up in humility, meekness, self-denial, holiness and love, do grow in pride, and perverse disputings, and passionate strivings, and envious wranglings: the Spirit of God departeth from them, and an evil spirit of malice and vexation taketh place; though in their passion, they know not what spirit they are of: whereas if they be of one mind, and live in peace, the God of love and peace will be with them. What lamentable instances of this calamity have we in many of the sectaries of this present time; especially in the people called Quakers, that while they pretend to the greatest austerities, do grow up to such a measure of sour pride, and uncharitable contempt of others, and especially of all superiors, and hellish railing against the holiest ministers and people, as we have scarce known, or ever read of. 7. These divisions fill the church with sin: even with sins of a most odious nature. They introduce a swarm of errors, while it becomes the mode for every one to have a doctrine of his own, and to have something to say in religion which may make him notable. "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themg." They cherish pride, and malice, and belying others (the three great sins of the devil) as naturally as dead flesh breedeth worms; they destroy impartial, Christian love, as naturally as bleeding doth consume our vital heat and moisture. What wickedness is it that they will not cherish? In a word, the Scripture telleth us that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work." (And is not this a lamentable way of reformation of some imaginary or lesser evils ?)
K Ads xx. 30.
8. These divisions are the grief of honest spectators, and cause the sorrows of those that are guilty of them. They make all their duties uneasy to them, and turn their religion into a bitter, unpleasant, wrangling toil: like oxen in the yoke that strive against each other, when they should draw in order and equality. What a grievous life is it to husband and wife, or any in the family, if they live in discord? So is it to the members of the church. When once men take the kingdom of God to consist of meats, or drinks, or ceremonies, which consisteth in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and turn to strive about unedifying questions, they turn from all the sweetness of religion. 9. Sects and divisions lead directly to apostacy from the faith. Nothing is more in the design of satan, than to confound men so with variety of religions, that they may think there is no certainty in any; that so both the ignorant spectators may think all religion is but fancy and deceit, and the contenders themselves wheel about from sect to sect, till they come to the point where they first set out, and to be at last deliberately of no religion, who at first were of none for want of deliberation. And it is no small success that satan hath had by this temptation. 10. The divisions of Christians do oft proceed to shake states and kingdoms, having a lamentable influence upon the civil peace; and this stirreth up princes' jealousies against them, and to the use of those severities, which the suffering party takes for persecution; yea, and Turks, and all princes that are enemies to reformation and holiness, do justify themselves in their most cruel persecutions, when they see the divisions of Christians, and the troubles of states that have followed thereupon. If Christians, and Protestants in special, did live in that unity, peace and order as their Lord and ruler requireth them to do, the consciences of persecutors would even worry and torment them, and make their lives a hell on earth, for their cruelty against so excellent a sort of men; but now when they see them all in confusions, and see the troubles that follow hereupon, and hear them reviling one another, they think they may destroy them as the troublers of the earth, and their consciences scarce accuse them for it. IV. It is necessary also for your true understanding the malignity of this sin, that you take notice of the aggravations of it, especially as to us. 1. It is a sin against so many, and clear, and vehement words of the Holy Ghost, (which I have partly before recited) that it is therefore utterly without excuse: whoredoms, and treasons, and perjury are not oftener forbidden in the Gospel than this. 2. It is contrary to the very design of Christ in our redemption; which was to reconcile us all to God, and unite and centre us all in him: "To gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroadg." 'To gather together in one all things in Christh." "To make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace'." And shall we join with satan the divider and destroyer, against Christ the reconciler, in the very design of his redemption? 3. It is contrary to the design of the Spirit of grace, and contrary to the very nature of Christianity itself. "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body and have all been made to drink into one Spirit V "As there is one body and one spirit, so it is our charge to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace1." The new nature of Christians doth consist in love, and desireth the communion of saints as such; and therefore the command of this special love is called the New Commandment, John xvii. 21. xiii. 34. xv. 12. 17. And they are said to be taught of God to love one another, 1 Thess. iv. 9. As self-preservation is the chief principle in the natural body, which causeth it to abhor the wounding, or amputation of its members, and to avoid division as destruction, except when a gangrened member must be cut off, for the saving of the body; so it is also with the mystical body of Christ. He is senseless and graceless that abhorreth not church-wounds. 4. These divisions are sins against the nearest bonds of our high relations to each other: "We are brethren, and should there be any strife among us"'?" "We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesusu." We are the fellow-members of the body of Christ; and should we tear his body, and separate his members, and cut his flesh, and break his bones °?" For as the body is one, and hath many