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men, who have been appointed by him to deal with others in his name, have constantly disclaimed all thoughts of power or rule over the consciences or faith of the meanest of his subjects. How many ways this may be done we are filled with experiences; for no way whereby it may be so hath been left unattempted. And the evil of it hath invaded both churches and particular persons: some whereof who have been active in casting off the dominion of others, seemed to have designed a possession of it in themselves. And it is well if where one pope is rejected, many do not rise in his place who want nothing but his power and interest to do his work. The indignation of some, that others do not in all things comply with their sentiments, and subject themselves unto their apprehensions and dictates, ariseth from this presumption: and the persecutions wherein others engage, do all grow out of the same bitter root. For men can no otherwise satisfy their consciences herein, but by a supposition that they are warranted to give measures unto the minds and practices of others, that is, their faith and consciences in sacred things. And whilst this presumptuous supposition under any pretence or colour possesseth the minds of men, it will variously act itself unto the destruction of that gospel unity which it is our duty to preserve. For when they are persuaded that others ought to give up themselves absolutely to their guidance in the things of religion, either because of their office and dignity, or because they are wiser than they, or it may be are only able to dispute more than they, if they do not immediately so do, especially seeing they cannot but judge themselves in the right in all things, they are ready to charge their refusal on all the corrupt affections, principles, and practices, which they can surmise, or their supposed just indignation suggest unto them. That they are proud, ignorant, self-conceited, wilful, factions, is immediately concluded; and a semblance unto such charges shall be diligently sought out and improved. Nothing but a deceiving apprehension that they are some way or other meet to have a dominion over the faith of their brethren and fellow-servants, would prevail with men otherwise sober and learned, so to deal with all that dissent from them, as they are pleased to do.

d 2 Cor. i. 24. 1 Pet. v. 3.

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Fourthly, All these evils mentioned are much increased in the minds of men, when they are puffed up with a conceit of their own knowledge and wisdom. This therefore we are warned to avoid, that the edification of the church may be promoted, and love preserved. For hence are very many apt to take false measures of things, especially of themselves, and thereon to cast themselves into many mischievous mistakes. And this is apt to befall them, who for ends best known unto themselves, have with any ordinary diligence attended to the study of learning. For on a supposal of some competent furniture with natural abilities, they cannot but attain some skill and knowledge that the common sort of unstudied persons are unacquainted withal. Ofttimes, indeed, their pre-eminence in this kind consists in matters of very small consequence or importance. But whatever it be, it is ready to make them think strange of the apostle's advice, If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise:'s apt it is to puff them up, to influence their minds with a good conceit of themselves, and a contempt of others. Hence may we see some when they have got a little skill in languages, and through custom advantaged by the reading of some books, are able readily to express some thoughts, perhaps not originally their own, presently conceit themselves to be so much wiser than the multitude of unlettered persons, that they are altogether impatient that in any thing they should dissent from them; and this is a common frame with them whose learning and wit being their all, do yet but reach half way towards the useful ends of such things. Others also there are, and of them not a few, who having been in the ways wherein the skill and knowledge mentioned are usually attained, yet through their incapacity or negligence, or some depraved habit of mind or course of life, have not really at all improved in them. And yet these also, having once attained the countenance of elccesiastical offices or preferments, are as forward as any to declaim against, and pretend a contempt of, that ignorance in others, which they are not so stupid as not to know that the guilt of it may be reflected on themselves. However, these things at best, and in their highest improvement, are far enough from solid wisdom; especially

Rom. xii. 3. 1 Cor. viii. 1.

1 2 Cor. x. 12.

1 Cor. iii. 18.

that which is from above, and which alone will promote the peace and edification of the church. Some have no advantage by them, but that they can declare and speak out their own weakness; others that they can rail, and lie, and falsely accuse, in words and language wherewith they hope to please the vilest of men. And certain it is, that science, which whatever it be without the grace of God, is but falsely so called, and oftentimes falsely pretended unto, for this evil end of it alone is apt to lift up the minds above others, who perhaps come not behind them in any useful understanding. Yea, suppose men to have really attained a singular degree in useful knowledge and wisdom, and that either in things spiritual and divine, or in learning and sciences, or in political prudence; yet experience shews us, that a hurtful elation of mind is apt to arise from them, if the souls of men be not well balanced with humility, and this evil particularly watched against. Hence ariseth that impatience of contradiction, that jealousy and tenderness of men's own names and reputations, those sharp revenges. they are ready to take of any supposed inroads upon them, or disrespects towards them, that contempt and undervaluation of other men's judgments, those magisterial impositions and censures which proceed from men under a reputation of these endowments. The cautions given us in the Scripture against this frame of spirit, the examples that are proposed unto us to the contrary, even that of Christ himself, the commands that are multiplied for lowliness of mind, jealousy over ourselves, the sovereignty of God in choosing whom he pleaseth to reveal his mind and truth unto and by, may in the consideration of them be useful to prevent such reprisals with pride, self-conceit, and contempt of others, as supposed or abused knowledge are apt to cast men into, whereby divisions are greatly fomented and increased among

us.

But it may be these things will not much prevail with them, who pretending a zeal and principle above others in preaching and urging the examples of Christ, do in most of their ways and actings, and in some of their writings, give us an unparalleled representation of the devil.

Lastly, It is confessed by all, that false teachers, seducers, broachers of novel, corrupt, and heretical doctrines, have caused many breaches and divisions among such as once

agreed in the profession of the same truths and points of faith by means of such persons, whether within the present church-state or without, there is scarce any sacred truth, which had formerly secured its station and possession in the minds of the generality of Christians in this nation, but what hath been solicited or opposed. Some make their errors the principal foundation, rule, and measure, in communion; whoever complies with them therein, is of them; and whoso doth not, they avoid; so at once they shut up themselves from having any thing to do with them that love truth and peace. And where these consequents do not ensue, men's zeal for their errors being overbalanced by their love of, and concern in, their secular interest, and their minds influenced by the novel prevailing opinion of a great indifferency in all things appertaining unto outward worship; yet the advancing and fomenting of opinions contrary unto that sound doctrine which hath been generally owned and taught by the learned and godly pastors, and received by the people themselves, cannot but occasion strife, contentions, and divisions among professors. And it may be, there are very few of those articles or heads of religion, which in the beginning of the reformation, and a long time after, were looked on as the most useful, important, and necessary parts of our profession, that have not been among us variously opposed and corrupted. And in these differences about doctrine, lie the hidden causes of the animosities whereby those about worship and discipline are managed. For those who have the advantage of law and power on their side in these lesser things, are not so unwise as to deal openly with their adversaries about those things wherein the reputation of established and commonly received doctrines lie against them. But under the pretence and shelter of contending for legal appointments, not a few do exercise an enmity against those who profess the truth, which they think it not meet as yet openly to oppose.

Such are the causes, and such are the occasions of the differences and divisions in and about religious concerns, that are among us; by which means they have been fomented and increased: heightened they have been by the

personal faults and miscarriages of many of all sorts and parties. And as the reproof of their sinful failings is in its proper season a necessary duty; so no reformation or amendment of persons will give a full relief, nor free us from the evil of our divisions, until the principles and ways which occasion them be taken out of the way.

CHAP. V.

Grounds and reasons of nonconformity.

HAVING briefly declared our sense concerning the general causes and occasions of our differences, and that present want of Christian love which is complained of by many; we shall now return to give some more particular account concerning our inconformity unto, and non-compliance with, the observances and constitutions of the church of England. It is acknowledged, that we do in sundry things dissent from them; that we do not, that we cannot, come up unto a joint practice with others in them. It is also confessed, that hereon there doth ensue an appearance of schism between them and us, according as the common notion of it is received in the world. And because in this distance and difference, the dissent unto compliance is on our parts; there is a semblance of a voluntary relinquishment of their communion. And this we know exposeth us, in vulgar judgments and apprehensions, unto the charge of schism, and necessitateth us unto self-defence; as though the only matter in question were, whether we are guilty of this evil or no. For that advantage have all churches which have had an opportunity to fix terms of communion, right or wrong, just or unequal; the differences which ensue thereon, they will try out on no other terms, but only whether those that dissent from them, are schismatics or not. Thus they make themselves actors ofttimes in this cause, who ought in the first place to be charged with injury; and a trial is made merely at the hazard of the reputation of those, who are causelessly put upon their purgation and defence. Yea, with many, a kind of possession and multitude, do render dissenters un

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