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THE RIGHT WAY OF PEACE,
MATTERS OF RELIGION.
BY JOSEPH, BISHOP OF NORWICH.
I HAVE perused this Discourse, entitled “ The Peace Maker :" and, observing it to be, in respect of the subject matter, pious, profitable, and very seasonable in these Distracted and Distempered Times; and, in the manner of handling it, sober, learned, and impartially judicious ; I allow it to be printed and published.
MY REVEREND BRETHREN
DIOCESE OF NORWICH.
YE cannot but have taken notice of the silence, that hath lately possessed my tongue, which was wont to be vocal enough. Besides some external reasons, it is my care and zeal of peace, that stops my mouth for the time ; and bids me refrain, even from good words. In the mean while, the same dear respect to peace employs my hand; and bids it supply the place of my tongue, as that, which shall speak louder, and to more eyes, than my tongue could to ears : both of them are heartily devoted to peace, and strive whether shall more era press it.
It was ever the desire of my soul, even from my first entrance upon the public service of the Church, according to my known Signa. ture, with Noah's Dove, to have brought an Olive-branch to the tossed Ark; and God knows how sincerely I have endeavoured it: but, if my wings have been too short, and the wind too high for me, to carry it home, I must content myself with the conscience of my faithful devotions. Some little hint whereof, notwithstanding, I have thought fit to give to the world, in this present Discourse, lest I should seem to be, like itself, all pretence ; and that I might, by this Essay of mine, open the way to some more able undertakers.
Now, therefore, let me recommend this subject to your seriousest thoughts ; and bescech you all, in the bowels of our common Saviour, to join with me, in the zealous prosecution of what I here treat of, Peace.
It is an useful rule of our Romish Casuists, that he, who will have benefit of their large Indulgences, must porrigere manus adjutrices. Surely, it holds much better, in the present case. Whoever will hope to reap the comfort of this incomparable blessing of Peace, must put forth his helping hand, towards the procuring of it. Oh, let not our Studies, nor Prayers, nor Tears, nor Counsels, nor Solicitations, nor Engagements, nor Endeavours be wanting to it : no; nor, if need were, our Blood. What the price of it is, since the fruition of it did not teach us, we have too well learnt in the want.
Alas, my Brethren, we cannot help one another sufficiently to con. dole the uniseries under which we, yea this wl.ole Church, yea this whole bleeding Monarchy, yea the whole Christian World, at this time groaneth, by reason of that woeful and deadly debate, that rageth every where. All the whole earth is on fire: the flame reacheth up to heaven, and calls for more thence. Woe is me! our very punishment is our sin. What should we do, but pour out floods of tears, towards the quenching of it; and say, with the lamenting Prophet, Oh, that my head were waters, and inine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep, day and night, for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jer. ix. 1.
But, as Chrysostom said long ago in the like case to Innocentius, It is not wailing will serve the turn, if we do not bestir ourselves, what we may, for redress. When we see our house on fire, do we stand still and cry? do we not ring bells, and call neighbours, and bring ladders, and fetch buckets, and pour on water, and pull down reeds and rafters, and whatever may feed that flame? And why should we not do so, in this common conflagration? Oh, let every man of us put his hand to the work; and labour to withdraw that hellish fuel, which nourisheth and encreaseth this fearful combustion : and, if each man can but pull away one stick, it shall be his comfort and joy in that great day. But far, far be it from us, that any of us should mis-employ himself as an Incendiary.
It is felony, by our municipal laws *, for a man to burn but the frame of a building intended for a house : how heinously flagitious shall the God of Heaven account it, to set on fire his complete spiritual house the Church, whereof every believer is a living stone +! Doubtless, how slight account soever the world makes of these spiritual distempers, it shall be easier in the Day of Judgment for thieves, and whoremongers, and adulterers, than for the breakers of public peace. Never was there any so fearful vengeance inflicted upon any malefactors, as upon Korah and his combination. Surely, if we consider the sin in itself, other offences had been far more heinous; but, in that it was a presumptuous mutiny, tending to the affront of allowed authority, to the violation of peace, and to the destruction of community, the earth could not stand under it: hell only is fit to receive it.
I speak not this to intimate the least suspicion, much less accusation, of any of you, my Dear Brethren ; but, by way of a tender precaution and loving cohortation, to excite you and myself to the improvement of all the powers of our souls, for the recovery and perpetuation of the Church's Peace : a duty, which both our Blessed Saviour, and his holy Apostles, hath so vehemently urged, as if there were no life of Christianity without it; Matt. x. 13. Mark ix. 50. Luke 8. 6. Jobn xiv. 27. Rom. ii. 17. xiv. 19. 1 Cor. vii. 17.
* 37 Hen. VIII. 6.
+ Inexpiabilis et gravis culpı discordia, nec passione purgatur. Cypr, de Simplicit. Prælatorum. Possidere non potest indimentum Christi, qui sciridit et dividit Ecclesiam Christi. Ibid. Cypr.