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Faith abridges all. But what is that One Faith? What, but the main fundamental doctrine of religion necessary to be known, to be believed unto salvation? It is a golden and useful distinction, that we must take with us, betwixt Christian Articles and Theological Conclusions. Christian Articles are the principles of religion necessary to a believer; Theological Conclusions are school points, fit for the discourse of a divine. Those Articles are few and essential : these Conclusions are many, and unimporting (upon necessity) to salvation either way. That Church then, which holds those Christian Articles both in terms and necessary consequences, as every visible Church of Christ doth, however it vary in these Theological Conclusions, is Columba una. Were there not much latitude in this Faith, how should we fetch in the antient Jewish Church to the unity of the Christian? Theirs and ours is but one Dove; though the feathers, according to the colour of that fowl, be changeable. It is a fearful account then, that shall once be given before the dreadful tribunal of the Son of God, the only Husband of this one Church, by those men, who, not like the children of faithful Abraham, divide the Dove; multiplying Articles of Faith according to their own fancies; and casting out of the bosom of the Church those Christians, that differ from their either false or unnecessary conclusions. Thus have our great Lords of the Seven Hills dared to do, whose faction hath both devoured their charity and scorned ours; to the great prejudice of the Christian world; to the irreparable damage of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus. The God of Heaven judge in this great case, betwixt them and us: us, who, firmly holding the foundation of Christian Religion in all things according to the Ancient, Catholic, Apostolic Faith, are rejected, censured, condemned, accursed, killed, for refusing their gainful novelties. In the mean time, we can but lament their fury no less than their errors; and send out our hopeless wishes, that the seamless coat might be darned up by their hands that tore it. From them, to speak to ourselves, who have happily reformed those errors of theirs, which either their ambition or profit would not suffer them to part with ; since we are one, why are we sundered ? One says, “I am Luther's for Consubstantiation :” another, “I am Calvin's for Discipline:” another, “I am Arminius's for Predestination:" another, “ I am Barrow's or Brown's for Separation.” What frenzy possesses the brains of Christians, thus to squander themselves into factions? It is indeed an envious cayil of our common adversaries, to make these so many religious. No; every branch of different opinion doth not constitute a several religion: were this true, I durst boldly say, old Rome had not more deities than the modern Rome hath religions. These things, though they do not vary Religions and Churches, yet they trouble the quiet Unity of the Church. Brethren, since our religion is one, why are not our tongues one ? Why do we not bite in our singular conceits, and bind our tongues to the common peace?
But if, from particular visible Churches, (which perhaps you VOL. V.
may construe to be the threescore Queens here spoken of,) you shall turn your eyes to the true, inward, universal company of God's Elect and Secret Ones, there shall you more perfectly find Columbam unam, one Dove ; for, what the other is in profession, this is in truth: that one Baptism is here the true Laver of Regeneration; that one Faith is a saving reposal upon Christ; that one Lord is the Saviour of his Body. No natural body is more one, than this mystical: one Head rules it; one Spirit animates it ; one set of joints moves it; one food nourishes it; one robe covers it. So it is one in itself, so one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father: That they may
one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me; John xvii. 22. O blessed Unity of the Saints of God, which none of the make-bates of hell can ever be able to dissolve!
And now, since we are thus and every other way one, why are we not united in love? Why do we, in our ordinary conversation, suffer slight weaknesses to set off our charity ? Mephibosheth was a cripple; yet the perfect love of Jonathan either cures or covers his impotency. We can no more want infirmities, than not be men: we cannot stick at infirmities, if we be Christians. It is but a poor love, that cannot pass over small faults; even quotidianæ incursionis, as that Father speaks. It is an injurious niceness, to condemn a good face in each other for a little mole. Brethren, let us not aggravate, but pity each others' weaknesses; and, since we are but one body, let us have but one heart, one way: and, if we be the Dove of Christ, and his Dove is one, oh let us be so one with each other as he is one with us.
And, as the Church and Commonwealth are twins, so should this be no less one with itself and with her temporal head. Divisum est cor eorum, Their heart is divided, was the judgment upon Israel; Hos. x. 2. Oh, how is every good heart divided in sunder, with the grief for the late divisions of our Reuben ! We do not mourn, we bleed inwardly, for this distraction. But I do willingly smother these thoughts; yea, my just sorrow chokes them in my bosom, that they cannot come forth but in sighs and groans. Othou, that art the God of Peace, unite all hearts in love to each other, in loyal subjection to their Sovereign Head. Amen.
(2.) As the Church is one, in not being divided; so she is but one, in not being Multiplied. Here is unus, uni, unam ; as the old word is. He, the true Husband of the Church, who made and gave but one Eve to the First Adam, will take but one wife to himself
, the Second Adam. There are many particular Churches : all these make up but one universal; as many distinct limbs make up but one entire body, many grains one batch, many drops and streams one ocean.
So many regions as there are under heaven, that do truly profess the Christian Name, so many National Churches there are: in all those nations, there are many Provincial; in all those provinces, many Diocesan; in all those dioceses, many Parochial Churches; in all those parishes, many Christian Families; in all
those families, many Christian Souls: Now, all those Souls, Families, Parishes, Dioceses, Provinces, Nations make up but one Catholic Church of Christ
earth. The God of the Church cannot abide either conventicles of separation, or pluralities of professions, or appropriations of catholicism. Catholic Roman is an absurd Donatian solecism. This is to seek Orbem in urbe, as that Council said well. Happy were it for that Church, if it were a sound limb, though but the little toe, · of that mighty and precious body, wherein no believing Jew or Indian may not challenge to be jointed.
Neither difference of time, nor distance of place, nor rigour of unjust censure, nor any unessential error, can bar our interest in this Blessed Unity. As this fourishing Church of Great Britain, after all the spiteful calumniations of malicious men, is one of the most conspicuous members of the Catholic upon earth; so we, in her Communion, do make up one body with the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors and faithful Christians of all ages and times. We succeed in their faith, we glory in their succession, we triumph in this glory.
Whither go ye then, ye weak, ignorant, seduced souls, that run to seek this Dove in a foreign cote? She is here, if she have any nest under heaven. Let me never have part in her or in heaven, if any Church in the world have more part in the Universal. Why do we wrong ourselves, with the contradistinction of Protestant and Catholic? We do only protest this, that we are perfect Catholics. Let the pretenced look to themselves : we are sure we are as Catholic as True Faith can make us; as much one, as the same Catholic Faith can make us : and, in this undoubted right, we claim and enjoy the sweet and inseparable communion with all the blessed members of that mystical body, both in earth and heaven; and, by virtue thereof, with the Glorious Head of that dear and happy body, Jesus Christ the Righteous, the Husband to this one Wife, the Mate to this one Dove: To whom, with the Father ana the Holy Spirit, three persons and one God, be given all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
THE FASHIONS OF THE WORLD:
LAID FORTH IN A SERMON AT GRAY'S INN, ON ÇANDLEMAS-DAY.
ROMANS xii. 2.
Fashion not yourselves like to this World. That, which was wont to be upbraided as a scorn to the English, may be here conceived the Emblem of a Man: whom ye may imagine standing naked before you, with a pair of shears in his hand, ready to cut out his own fashion. In this deliberation, the World offers itself to him, with many a gay, misshapen, fantastical dress: God offers himself to him, with one only fashion; but a new one, but a good one. The Apostle, like a friendly monitor, adviseth him where to pitch his choice: Fashion not yourselves like to this world; but be ye changed by the renewing of your mind.
How much Christianity crosses Nature, we need no other proof than my Text. There is nothing that nature-affects, so much as the fashion; and no fashion, so much as the world's: for our usual word is, “ Do as the most.” And, behold, that is it, which is here forbidden us; Fashion not yourselves like to this world.
All fashions are either in device, or imitation. There are vain heads, that think it an honour to be the founders of fashions: there are servile fools, that seek only to follow the fashion once devised. In the first rank is the World, which is nothing but a mint of fashions; yet, which is strange, all as old as mis-beseeming. We are forbidden to be in the second: if the World will be so vain as to mis-shape itself, we may not be so foolish as to follow it.
I. Let us look a little, if you please, at the pattern here damned in my Text, THE WORLD.
As in extent, so in expression, the World hath a large scope; yea, there are more worlds than one. There is a world of creatures; and, within that, there is a world of men; and yet, within that, a world of believers; and, yet within all these, a world of corruptions. More plainly, there is a Good world, an Evil world, an Indifferent.
A Good World, as of the creatures in regard of their first birth, 50 of men in regard of their second; a world of renewed souls: in the first act of their renovation, believing; John xvij. 20: upon their belief, reconciled; 2 Cor. v. 19: upon their reconcilement, saved; John iii. 16.
An Evil World, yea set in evil; 1 John v. 19: a world of corrupt unregeneration, that hates Christ and his; John xv. 18: that is hated of Christ; James iv. 1.
An Indifferent World, that is good or evil as it is used: whereof St. Paul, Let those, that use the world, be as not abusing it; 1 Cor. vii. 31.
This Indifferent world is a world of commodities, affections, improvement of the creature; which, if we will be wise Christians, we must fashion to us, framing it to our own bent, whether in want or abundance.
The Good World is a world of saints, whose Souls are purified in obeying the truth through the Spirit; 1 Peter i. 22. To this world we may be fashioned.
The Evil World is a world of mere men and their vicious conditions. God hath made us the lords of the indifferent world; himself is the Lord of the good; Satan is lord of the evil, Princeps hujus Seculi
. And that is most properly the world, because it contains the most; as it is but a chaff-heap, wherein some grains of wheat are scattered. To this evil world then, we may not fashion ourselves, in those things, which are proper to it as such. In natural, in civil actions, we may, we must follow the world: singularity in these things is justly odious: herein the World is the true Master of Ceremonies, whom not to follow is no better than a cynical irregularity. In things positively or morally evil, we may not.
There is no material thing, that hath not his form. The outward form is the fashion: the fashion of outward things is variable with the times; su as every external thing, clothes, building, plate, stuif, gesture is now in, now out of fashion: but the fashions of Morality, whether in good or evil, are fixed and perpetual. The world passeth and the fashion of it; but the evil of the fashions of the world is too constant and permanent, and must be ever the matter of our detestation : Fashion not yourselves like to this world.
II. But, because evils are infinite, as wise Solomon hath observed; it will be requisite to call them to their heads, and to reduce these FORBIDDEN FASHIONS to the several parts, whereto they belong. I cannot dream with Tertullian, that the soul hath a body; but I may well say, that the soul follows the body: and, as it bath parts ascribed to it according to the outward proportion, so are these parts suited with several fashions. Let your patient attention follow me through them all.
1. Begin with the HEAD; a part, not more eminent in place, than in power. What is the head-tire of the world? Surely, as outwardly we see in this castle of the body the flag of vanity hanged out most conspicuously in feathers, perukes, wires, locks, frizzles, powders, and such other trash; so the inward disguise of this part is no less certain, no less obvious to wise and holy eyes. And what is that but fancies, mis-opinions, mis-judgment? all, whether vain thoughts; Psalm xciv. 11; or evil thoughts; Isaiah lix. 7. To this head refer novelties of device, heresies, capricious, superstitious conceits, whereof the instances would have no end, And these