« НазадПродовжити »
but when his end drew near, was very calm and serene. Having a mortification in his leg, his son, a physician, with a kind design, took the liberty to lance it without his leave; upon
which Mr. Howe cried out, “ What are you doing? I am not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of pain." He seemed indeed sometimes to be got to heaven even be
differences on both parts, among themselves incomparably greater than these, by which the one surt differs from the other. There are differences in doctrinal sentiments that are much greater. How inconceivably 'greater is the difference between good men and bad ! between being a lover of the blessed God, the Lord of heaven and earth, and an enemy! a real subject of Christ and of the devil! Have we not reason to appre. hend there are of both these on each side? Let us take heed of bar. ing our minds tinctured with a wrong notion of this matter, as if this indulgence divided England into two christendoms, or distinguished ra. ther between Christians and Mahometans, as some mens Cyclope fancies have an unlucky art to represent things; creating ordinary men and things into monsters and prodigious shapes, at their own pleasure. It has been an usual sayivg on both sides, that they were (in comparison) but little things we ditlered about, or circumstantial things. Let us not unsay it, or suffer an habit of mind to slide into us, that consists not with it. Though we must not go against a judgment of conscience in the least thing, yet let us not confound the true differences of things; but what are really lesser things, let them go for such.
“ 2. Let us hereupon carefully abstain from judging each other's state Godward upon these differences; for hereby we shall both contradict our common rule, and ourselves. When men make conscience of small and doubtful things on the one hand and the other, about which they differ; blessed Gov), how little conscience is made of the plainest and most important rule, not to judge one another for such differences ! Roni. xiv. 3. 13. Why of all the parts of that holy book is this chapter only thought no part of God's word ! or this precept so variously enforced in this chapter, and so awfully, ver. 10, 11. but why dost thou judge thy brolker? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ? We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall cone fess to me! Is it a light matter to usurp the throne of Christ, the judgment-seat of God? Yet how common has it been to say, such
one conforms, he hath nothing of God in him? such an one conforms not; it is not conscience but humour ? God forgive both. Have they blotted Rom. xiv. out of their Bibles ? It is plain by the whole series of discourse, that it is the judging of men's states, and that by such small matters of difference, that is the thing here forbidden. Some few things contained in this chapter, as to receive one another, (as Christians, or such whom God receives) notwithstanding remaining doubts about small matters, and not determining such doubted things in bar to the doubter, ver. 1, 2, 3; and not to lay stumbling blocks in each other's way, ver. 13; nol to do the doubted thing with a mind still unsatisfied, ver. 5, 23; not to censure, either him that does or forbears; not admitting an hard thought of him, or less favourable, than that what such an one does, he does to the Lord, and what the other forbears, he forbears to the Lord, ver. 6: These few things, I say, put in practico, had taken away all differences
fore he had laid aside mortality. He was once, during his decline, in a most affecting, heavenly frame at the communion, and carried out into such a transporting celebration of the love of Christ, that both he and the communicants were apprehensive be would have died in the service. He was sometimes very pleasant in his last sickness, and
(that we are now considering) or the inconvenience of them long ago And we shall still need them as much as ever.
“ 3. Let us not value ourselves upon being this or that side of the severing line. It is jewish, yea pharisaival, to be conceited, and boast ourselves upon externals, and small matters, especially if arbitrarily taken up: and is itself an argument of a light mind, and inci mprehensive of true worth. Though I cannot be sincerely of this or that way, but I must think myself in the right, and others in the wrong, that differ from me, yet I ought to consider this is but a small minute thing, a point compared with the vast orb of knowables, and of things needful, and that ought be known. Perhaps divers that differ from me are men of greater and more comprehensive minds, and have been more employed about greater matters; and many, in things of more importance, bave much more of valuable and useful koorledige than 1. Yea, and since these are not matters of salvation we diller about, so that any on either side dare considerately say, he cannot be saved, that is not in these respects of my mind and way; he may have more of sanctifying savoury knowledge, more of solid goodness, more of grace and real sanctity than 1; the course of his thoughts and studies having been by converse and other accidents led more off from these things, and perhaps by a good principle been more deeplı engaged about higher matters: For no man's mind is able equally to consider all things fit to be considered ; and greater things are of themselves more apt to beget holy and good impressions upon our spirits,' than the minuter and more circumstantial things, though relating to religion, can be,
" 4. Let us not despise one another for our differing in these lesser matters. This is too common, and most natural to that temper that offends against the foregoing caution. Little spirited creatures, valuing themselves for small matters, must consequently have those in contempt that want what they count their own only excellency. He that hath nothing wherein he places worth belonging to him, besides a flanting peruke and a laced suit, must at all adventures think very meanly of one in a plain garb. Where we are taught not to judge, we are forbidden to despise or set at nought one another upon these little differences,
“ 5. Nor let us wonder that we differ. Unto this we are too apt, i. e. to think it strange, (especially upon some arguing of the difference) that such a man should conform, or such an one not confirm. There is some fault in this, but which proceeds from more faulty causes : Pride too often, and an opinion that we understand so well, that a wrong is done us, if our judgment be not made a standard and
to another man's. And again, ignorance of human nature, or inconsiderateness rather, how inysterious it is, and how little ca: be known of it; how secret and latent little springs there are that more this engine to our own mind this way or that; and what bars (which perhaps he discerns not himself) may obstruct and shut up towards us
conversed freely with the many persons of all ranks who came to see him, and talked like one of another world, with the most elevated hopes of that blessedness there, on which his heart had long been set; and once declared, after an unexpected revival, that were it put to his choice, whether he should die that moment or live seven years, he
another man's. Have we not frequent instances in other common cases, how difficult it is to speak to another man's understanding! Speech is too penurious, not expressive enough. Frequently between men of sense, much more time is taken up in explaining each otber's potions, than in proving or disproving them. Nature and our present staie have in some respects left us open to God only, and made us inaccessible to one another. Why then should it be strange to me, that I cannot convey my thought into another's mind ? It is unchristian to censure, as before, and say, such an one has not my conscience, therefore he has no conscience at all. And it is also unreasonable and rude to say, such a one sees not with my eyes, therefore he is stark blivd. Besides, the real obscurity of the matter is not enough considered. I am very contident, an impartial and competent judge, upon the view of books, later and more ancient, upon such subjects, would say, there are few metaphysical questions disputed with more subtlety', than the controversies about conformity and non-conformity. Blessed be God, that things necessary to the salvation of souls, and that are of true necessity even to the peace and order of the Christian church, are in comparison so very plain.
“ Moreover, there is besides understanding and judgment, and diverse from that heavenly gift, which in the Scriptures is called grace, such a thing as gust and relish belonging to the mind of man, and I doubt not to all men, if they observe themselves; and this is as unaccountable and as various as the relishes and disgusts of sense. This they only wonder at, that either understand not themselves, or will consider pobody but themselves. To bring it down to the present case: As to those parts of worship which are of most frequent use in our asseinblies, (whether conforming or pon-conforming) prayer, and preaching, and hearing God's word, our differences about them cannot but in part arise from the diversity of this principle, both on the one band and the other. One sort do more savour prayer by a foreknown form ; apother that which hath more of surprize, by a grateful variety of unexpected expressions. And it can neither be universally said, it is a better judgment, or more grace, that determines men the one way or the otber; but somewhat in the temper of their minds distinct from both, which i know not better how to express than by mental taste, the acts whereof (as the objects are suitable or unsuitable) are relishing or disrelishing, Jiking or disliking : And this hath no more of mystery in it, than that there is such a thing belonging to our natures, as complacency or displacency in reference to the objects of the mind. And this, in the kind of it, is as common to inen as human vature, but as much diver. sified in individuals, as men's other inclinations are, that are most fixed and least apt to admit of change. Now in the mentioned case, men cannot be universally determined either way by their having better judgment; for no sober man can be so little modest, as not to ackoowjedge, that there are some of each sentiment that are less judicious, ihan some that are of the contrary sentiment in this thing. And to say,
would prefer the former. His hope of heaven was, however, accompanied with great humility, which led him to say, “ I expect my salvation not as a profitable servant, but as a pardoned sinner.” Being at last worn out, he finished his course with joy, April 2, 1705, and his body was buried in the parish church of St. Allhallows, Bread Street. His funeral sermon was preached by his fellowlabourer, Mr. John Spademan, on 2 Tim. ii. 14. on the 8th of the same month.
that to be more determined this way or that, is the certain sign or effect of a greater measure of grace and sanctity, were a great violation both of modesty and charity. I have not met with any that have appeared to live in more entire communion with God, in higher admir. ation of him, iu a pleasanter sepse of his love, or in a more joyful expectation of eternal life, than some that have been wont with great deJigbt publicly to worship God in the use of our Common Prayer : And others 1 bave known, as highly excelling in the same respects, that could by no means relish it, but have always counted it insipid and nauseous. The like may be said of relishing or disrelishing sermons preached in a digested set of words, or with a more flowing freedom of speech. It were endless and odious to vie either better judgments, or more pious inclinations, that should universally determine men either the one way or the other in these matters. And we are no more to wonder at these peculiarities in the temper of men's minds, than at their different tastes of meats and drinks, much less to fall out with them, that their minds and notions are not justly formed, as ours are: For we should remember, they do more differ from us than we do from them; and if we think we have the clearer light, it is likely they also think they have clearer. And it is in vain to say, who shall be judge?. for every man will at length judge of bis own notions for himself, and cannot help it; for no man's judgment (or relish of things, which iudirences his judgment, though he know it not) is at the command of his will, and much less of another man's. And, therefore,
“ 6. Let us not be offended mutually with one another, for our different choice of this or that way, wherein we find most of real advantage and edification. Our greatest concern in this world, and which is common to us all, is the bettering of our spirits, and preparing them for a better world. Let no man be displeased, (especially of those who agree in all the substantials of the same boly religion) that another uses the same liberty in choosing the way most conducing in his experience to his great end, that he himself also uses, expecting to do it without another man's offence.
“ 7. But, above all, let us with sincere minds more earnestly endeavour the promoting the interest of religion itself, of true reformned Christianity, tban of this or that party. Let us long to see the religion of Christians become simple, primitive, agreeable to it's lovely original state, and again itself; and each in our own stations contribute thereto all that we are able, labouring that the internal principle of it may live and flourish in our own souls, and be to our utmost diffused and spread unto other men's: And for its externals, as the ducture of our rule will guide us, so gradually bend towards one common cause, that there may at length cease to be any divided parties at all.
“ In the mean time, while there are, let it be remembered, that the difference lies among Christians and protestants, not between such and pagans. Let us therefore carry it accordingly towards each other, and consider our assemblies are all Christian and protestant assemblies, dif.
A more particular account of him might have been presented to the world, had he not, a little before his death, ordered his son to burn a large parcel of MSS. which re
fering in their administrations, for the most part, not in the things pray. ed for, or deprecated, or taught, but in certain modes of expression : And differing really, and in the substance of things, less by niere conformity or non-conformity to the public rule of the law, than many of then that are under it do from one another, and than divers that are not under it. For instance, go into one congregation that is a conforming one, and you have the public prayers read in the desk, and afterwards a form of prayer perhaps used by the preacher in the pulpit, of his own coinposure, before he begins his sermon. Go into another
congregation, and prayer is performed without either sort of form; and perhaps the difference in this is not so great. It may be the conformist uses no pre-conceived form of his own, and the non-conformist may. Both instruct the people out of the same holy book of God's Word. But now suppose one of the foriner sort reads the public prayers gravely, with the appearance of great reverence, fervency, and pious devotion; and one of the latter sort that uses them not, does, however, pray for the same things with judgment, and with like gravity and atiection, and they both instruct their hearers fitly and profitably; nothing is more evident than that the worship in these two assemblies doth much less considerably differ to a pious and judicious mind, than if in the latter the prayers were also read, but carelessly, sleepily, or scenically, fiauptingly, and with manifest irreverence, and the sermon like the rest; or, than if in the former all the performance were inept, rude, or very offensively drowsy or sluggish.
« Now let us shew ourselves men, and manly Christians, not swayed by trifles and little things, as children by this or that dress or mode, or form of our religion, which may perhaps please some the more for its real indecency: But know, that if we continue bickering about forms, the life be lost, and we come to bear the character of that church, thout hast a name tha! thou livest, and art dead, we may ere long (after all the wonders God hath wrought for us) expect to hear of our candlestick's being removed, and that our sun shall go down at noonday.
• The true serious spirit and power of religion and godliness will act no man against his conscience, or his rule understood, but will oblige hini in-all acts of worship (as well as of his whole conversation) to keep close to gospel-prescription, so far as (he can discern it. And that, he will find, requires, that in subordination to the divine glory, he se. riously design the working out of the salvation of his own soul, and take that course order thereto, put himself under such a ministry, and such a way of using God's ordinances, as he fods most profitable and conducing to that great end, and that doth his soul most real good. If you are religious, or of this or that mode or way of religion, to serve a carnal design for yourself or your party, not to save your soul, you commit the most detestable sacrilege, and alienate the most sacred thing in the world, Religion, from its true end; which will not only lose that end, but jufer an heavy vengeance. Yea, and it is too possible to