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III. Of Unity in Religion.
ELIGION being the chief Band of human Society, it is a happy thing, when itself is well contained, within the true
Band of Unity. The Quarrels and Divisions about Religion, were Evils unknown to the Heathen. The Reason was, because the Religion of the Heathen consisted rather in Rites and Ceremonies, than in any constant Belief. For you may imagine what kind of Faith theirs was, when the chief Doctors and Fathers of their Church were the Poets. But the true God hath this Attribute, that he is a Jealous God: And therefore his worship and Religion will endure no Mixture, nor Partner. We shall therefore speak a few words concerning the Unity of the Church : What are the Fruits thereof; what the Bounds ; and what the Means?
The Fruits of Unity (next unto the well Pleasing of God, which is all in all) are two; The One, towards those that are without the Church; The Other, towards those that are within. For the Former, it is certain, that Herefies and Schisms are, of all others, the greatest Scandals; yea more than Corruption of Manners. For as in the Natural Body, a Wound or Solution of Continuity, is worse than a corrupt Humour ; So in the Spiritual. So that nothing doth so much keep M-
out of the Church, and drive Men out of the Church, as Breach of Unity. And therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one faith, Ecce in Deserto; Another faith, Ecce in penetralibus ; That is, when some Men seek Christ in the Conventicles of Heretics, and others in an Outward Face of a Church, that Voice had need continually to found in Men's Ears, Nolite exire, Go not out. The Doctor of the Gentiles (the Propriety of whose Vocation drew him to have a special care of those without) faith, If an Heathen come in, and hear you speak with several Tongues, will he not say that you are mad? And certainly, it is little better, when Atheists and profane Persons do hear of so many Discordant and Contrary Opinions in Religion : It doth avert them from the Church, and maketh them to sit down in the Chair of the Scorners. It is but a light thing to be vouched in fo Serious a Matter, but yet it expreffeth well the Deformity. There is a Master of Scoffing, that in his Catalogue of Books, of a feigned Library, sets down this Title of a Book ; The Morris-dance of Heretics. For indeed, every Sect of them hath a divers Posture, or cringe by themselves, which cannot but move Derision in Worldlings and depraved Politicians, who are apt to contemn Holy Things.
As for the Fruit towards those that are within, it is Peace; which containeth infinite Blessings : It establisheth Faith ; it kindleth Charity ; the outward Peace of the Church distilleth into Peace of Conscience; and it turneth the Labours of Writing
and Reading of Controversies, into Treatises of Mortification and Devotion.
Concerning the Bounds of Unity; the true Placing of them importeth exceedingly. There appear to be two Extremes. For to certain Zelots all speech of Pacification is odious. Is it peace, Jehu? What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. Peace is not the Matter, but Following and Party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans and Luke-warm Persons, think they may accommodate Points of Religion by Middle Ways, and taking part of both; and witty Reconcilements; as if they would make an Arbitrement between God and Man. Both these Extremes are to be avoided; which will be done, if the League of Christians, penned by our Saviour himself, were in the two cross Clauses thereof, soundly and plainly expounded; He that is not with us, is against us : and again; He that is not against us, is with us. That is, if the Points Fundamental and of Substance in Religion, were truly discerned and distinguished from Points not merely of Faith, but of Opinion, Order, or good Intention. This is a Thing, may seem to many, a Matter trivial and done already : But if it were done less partially, it would be embraced more generally.
Of this I may give only this Advice, according to my small Model. Men ought to take heed of rending God's Church, by two kinds of Controversies. The one is, when the Matter of the Point controverted is too small and light, not worth the Heat and Strife about it, kindled only by Contradiction. For, as it is noted by one of the Fathers; Christ's Coat, indeed, had no seam: but the Church's Vesture was of divers colours. Whereupon he faith, In veste varietas sit, Scisura non fit. They be two Things, Unity and Uniformity. The Other is, when the Matter of the Point controverted is great, but it is driven to an over-great Subtilty, and Obscurity; so that it becometh a Thing rather Ingenious than Substantial. A Man, that is of Judgement and Understanding, shall fometimes hear Ignorant Men differ, and know well within himself, that those which so differ mean one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it come so to pass, in that distance of Judgement, which is between Man and Man ; Shall we not think, that God above, that knows the Heart, doth not discern that frail Men, in some of their Contradictions, intend the same thing; and accepteth of both? The Nature of such Controversies is excellently expressed by St. Paul, in the Warning and Precept that he giveth concerning the same; Devita profanas vocum Novitates, et Oppositiones fals Nominis Scientiæ. Men create Oppositions, which are not; and put them into new Terms, so fixed, as whereas the Meaning ought to govern the Term, the Term in effect governeth the Meaning. There be also two false Peaces, or Unities; The One, when the Peace is grounded but upon an implicit ignorance ; for all Colours will agree in the Dark: The Other, when it is pieced up, upon a direct Admission of Contraries, in Fundamental Points. For Truth and Falsehood, in such things, are like the Iron and Clay, in the Toes of Nebuchadnezzar's Image; They may cleave, but they will not incorporate.
Concerning the Means of procuring Unity; Men must beware, that in the Procuring, or Muniting, of Religious Unity, they do not dissolve and deface the Laws of Charity, and of human Society. There be two Swords amongst Christians, the Spiritual, and Temporal: And both have their due Office, and Place, in the maintenance of Religion. But we may not take up the third Sword, which is Mahomet's Sword, or like unto it; That is, to propagate Religion by Wars, or by fanguinary Persecutions, to force Consciences; except it be in Cases of overt Scandal, Blasphemy, or Intermixture of Practice, against the State : Much less to nourish Seditions; to authorize Conspiracies and Rebellions ; to put the Sword into the People's Hands; and the like; tending to the Subversion of all Government, which is the Ordinance of God. For this is but to dash the first Table against the Second; and so to consider Men as Christians, as we forget that they are Men. Lucretius the Poet, when he beheld the Act of Agamemnon, that could endure the Sacrificing of his own Daughter, exclaimed ;
Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum. What would he have said, if he had known of the Massacre in France, or the Powder Treason of England ? He would have been seven times more Epicure and Atheist than he was. For as the tem