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3ut unto every one of us is given grace according to the
ueasure of the gift of Christ. And he gave some,
ipostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by every joint of supply, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love." See here how the church's unity is necessary to its life and increase, and to the due nutrition of all the parts. 2. The unity of the church and the concord of believers, are necessary to its strength and safety; for Christ also strengthened as well as quickeneth them by suitable means. Woe to him that is alone: but in the army of the Lord of hosts we may safely march on, when stragglers are catched up or killed by the weakest enemy. A threefold cord is not easily broken. Enemies both spiritual and corporal are deterred from assaulting the church or any of its members, while they see us walk in our military unity and order. In this posture every man is a blessing and defence unto his neighbour. As every soldier hath the benefit of all the conduct, wisdom, and valour of the whole army, while he keepeth in his place; so every weak Christian hath the use and benefit of all the learning, the wisdom, and gifts of the church, while he keepeth his station, and walketh orderly in the church. The hand, the eye, the ear, the foot, and every member of the body, is as ready to help or serve the whole, and every other particular member as itself; but if it be cut off, it is neither helpful, nor to be helped. O what a mercy is it for every Christian, that is unable to help himself, to have the help of all the church of God! Their directipns, their exhortations, their love, their prayers, their libe rality and compassion, according to their several abilities and opportunities! As infants and sick persons have the help of all the rest of the family that are in health. 3. Unity and concord, as they proceed from love, so they greatly cherish and increase love: even as the laying of the wood or coals together is necessary to the making of the fire, which separating of them will put outb. Holy concord cherisheth holy converse and communion; and holy communion powerfully kindled holy love. When the servants of Christ do see in each other the lustre of his graces, and hear from each other the heavenly language which floweth from a divine and heavenly mind, this potently kindleth their affections to each other, and maketh them close with those as the sons of God, in whom they find so much of God; yea, it causeth them to love God himself in others, with a reverent, admiring, and transcendant love, when others at the best, can love them but as men. Concord is the womb and soil of love, although it be first its progeny. In quietness and peace the voice of peace is most regarded. 4. Unity and concord is the church's beauty: it maketh us amiable even to the eye of nature, and venerable and terrible even to the eye of malice. A concord in sin is no more honour, than it is for conquered men to go together in multitudes to prison or captivity; or for beasts to go by droves unto the slaughter. But to see the churches of Christ with one heart and soul acknowledging their Maker and Redeemer, and singing his praise as with one voice, and living together in love and concord, as those that have one principle, one rule, one nature, one work, one interest, and hope, and end, this is the truly beauteous symmetry, and delectable harmony. Psal. cxxxiii. " Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went b Peace containetli infinite blessings; it strengthened faith: it kindleth charity. The outward peace of the church distilleth into peace of conscience: and it turnrth the writing and reading of controversies, into treatises of mortification and devotion. Against procuring unity by sanguinary persecutions, see Lord Bacon, Essay 3. Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses, to compound the smaller differences, to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions, and rather to take off the principal authors by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness. Lord Bacon in his Essay 58. 'Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei.' And it was a notable observation of a wise father, that those which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein themselves for their own ends. Id. Essay 3. p. 19. down to the skirts of his garment. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." The translators well put this as the contents of this Psalm, " The benefit of the communion of saints." 5. The concord of believers doth greatly conduce to the successes of the ministry, and propagation of the Gospel, and the conviction of unbelievers, and the conversion and salvation of ungodly souls.' When Christ prayeth for the unity of his disciples, he redoubleth this argument from the effect or end, " that the world may believe that thou hast sent me:" and " that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved themc." Would this make the world believe that Christ was sent of God? Yes, undoubtedly if all Christians were reduced to a holy concord, it would do more to win the heathen world, than all other means can do without it. It is the divisions and the wickedness of professed Christians, that maketh Christianity so contemned by the Mahometans, and other infidels of the world: and it is the holy concord of Christians that would convince and draw them home to Christ. Love, and peace, and concord are such virtues, as all the world is forced to applaud, notwithstanding nature's enmity to good. When the first Christian church "were all with one accord in one place, and continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house partook of food with gladness and singleness of heart, and when the multitude of believers were of one heart and of one sould; then did God send upon them the Holy Ghost, and then were three thousand converted at a sermon; and with "great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all"."
Our concord in religion hath all these advantages for the converting of unbelievers and ungodly men. 1. It is a sign that there is a constraining evidence of truth in that Gospel which doth convince so many; a concurrent satisfaction and yielding to the truth, is a powerful testimony for it. 2. They see then that religion is not a matter of worldly policy and design, when so many men of contrary interests do embrace it. 3. And they see it is not the fruit of melancholy
« John xrii. fl. 23. d Acts ii. 1. 46. iv. 3?- « Acts ii. 41. iv. 33. constitutions, when so many men of various temperatures entertain it. 4. They may see that the Gospel hath power to conquer that self-love and self-interest which is the most potent thing in vitiated nature: otherwise it could never make so many unite in God as their common interest and end. 5. They may see that the Gospel and Spirit of Christ, are stronger than the devil and all the allurements of the flesh and world, when they can make so many agree in the renouncing of all earthly vanities, for the hopes of everlasting life. 6. They will see that the design and doctrine of Christianity are good and excellent, beseeming God, and desirable to man; when they see that they produce so good effects, as the love, and unity, and concord of mankind. 7. And it is an exceeding great and powerful help to the conversion of the world in this respect, because it is a thing so conspicuous in their sight, and so intelligible to them, and so approved by them. They are little wrought on by the doctrine of Christ alone, because it is visible or audible but to few, and understood by fewer, and containeth many things which nature doth distaste: but the holy concord of believers is a thing that they are more able to discern and judge of, and do more generally approve. The holy concord of Christians, must be the conversion of the unbelieving world, if God have so great a mercy for the world: which is a consideration that should not only deter us from divisions, but make us zealously study and labour with all our interest and might, for the healing of the lamentable divisions among Christians, if we have the hearts of Christians, and any sense of the interest of Christ. 6. The concord of Christians doth greatly conduce to the ease and peace of particular believers. The very exercise of love to one another doth sweeten all our lives and duties: we sail towards heaven in a pleasant calm, with wind and tide, when we live in love and peace together; how easy doth it make the work of godliness! How light a a burden doth religion seem, when we are all as of one heart and soul!7. Lastly, consider whether this be not the likest state to heaven, and therefore have not in it the most of Christian excellency and perfection? In heaven there is no discord, but a perfect consort of glorified spirits, harmoniously oving and praising their Creator. And if heaven be desirable, holy concord on earth is next desirable. III. On the contrary, consider well of the mischiefs of divisions. 1. It is the killing of the church (as much as lieth in the dividers) or the wounding it at least. Christ's body is one, and it is sensible; and therefore dividing it tendeth directly to the destroying it, and at least will cause its smart and pain. To reform the church by dividing it, is no wiser than to cut out the liver, or spleen, or gall, to cleanse them from the filth that doth obstruct them, and hinder them in their office: you may indeed thus cleanse them, but it will be a mortal cure. As he that should divide the kingdom into two kingdoms dissolveth the old kingdom, or part of it at least, to erect two new ones; so he that would divide the Catholic church into two, must thereby destroy it, if he could succeed; or destroy that part which divideth itself from the rest. Can a member live that is cut off from the body, or a branch that is separated from the tree?Quest. 'O but,' say the Romanists, 'why then do you cut off yourselves from us: the division is made by you, and we are the church, and you are dead till you return to us? How will you know which part is the church, when a division is once made?' Atisv). Are you the church? Are you the only Christians in the world? The church is,'all Christians united in Christ their head.' You traitorously set up a new usurping head; and proclaim yourselves to be the whole church, and condemn all that are not subjects to your new head; we keep our station, and disclaim his usurpation, and deny subjection to you, and tell you that as you are the subjects of the pope, you are none of the church of Christ at all: from this treasonable conspiracy we withdraw ourselves; but as you are the subjects of Christ we never divided from you, nor denied you our communionf. Let reason judge now who are the dividers. And is it not easy to know which is the church in the division? It is all those that are still united unto Christ; if you or we be divided from Christ, and from Christians that are his body, we are
'Concil. Tolet. iv. c. 16. 28. q. 1. Ca. Judaei qui—allow separation from a Jew»h husband, if after admonition he will not be a Christian: and so do Acosta and his Coucil. Limens. lib. vi c. 21. and other Jesuits, and allow the marrying of another: and sure the conjugal bond is faster than that of a pastor and his flock: may iwt aman then change his pastor when hissoul is in apparent hazard»