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trine and Fellowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayer; is a plain Confutation of this Objection: for this fhews fuch a Unity to be both poffible and practicable, and that there was a time when this Union was found, and Diffenfions unknown among Chriftians. Which Example is recorded for our Direction and Encouragement, to let us know, that if we will do as they did, we may be as they were. Befide,
The frequent and earnest Exhortations to this Unity in Holy Scripture, plainly fhew it to be attainable by all that will ufe the means, and have a mind to it; for the Holy Ghoft never calls or puts any upon impoffible or impracticable Tasks.
Moreover, the many fharp and fevere Checks given by the Apostles to the Authors and Abettors of Divifions, farther fhew this Unity to be both poffible and neceffary: for as they would not advise to any thing that was impoffible, fo neither would they blame any for what was unavoidable.
But there are others who tell us, that if fuch an Unity were poffible, yet it is not neceffary, no more than 'tis for all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion; and that different Opinions and Practices may as well be allow'd in the Church, as different Trades and Callings are in the World. In anfwer to this, I fay,
Ift, For all Men to be of the fame Stature and Complexion, is neither in their power, nor is it under any command, and fo can be in no wife neceffary; whereas to be all of one mind is frequently commanded in God's Word, and fo must be a neceffary Duty. And,
2dly, Tho there may be many particular Callings and Profeffions in the World, to employ Mens different Gifts and Abilities for the publick Good; yet there is but one general Calling as Chriftians, in which they are all to agree and go hand in hand together. So the Apostle tells us, we are all called into one Calling, and have all but one Hope of this Calling, even the Salvation of our Souls; which we are therefore all to aim at, without varying from, or dividing in it,
Thus we fee wherein we are all to be of one mind; namely, in all the Acts and Duties of Religion, that we owe to God and to one another; together with the Weaknefs of those Exceptions that are commonly brought against it.
It remains then, that we be all Followers of this Unanimity, and jointly agree in all the Parts and Duties of it; going to the House of God together as Friends, and to each other's Houfes as Neighbours, abounding in all Acts of Piety and Devotion to the one, and of Juftice, Kindness, and Compaflion to the other. This is to dwell together in Unity, which the Pfalmift makes the goodlieft and pleasantest of all Profpects, Pfal. 133. 1. 'Tis to live the Life of Saints here, and of Angels hereafter; yea, 'tis to do the Will of God on Earth, as 'tis done in Heaven: for there is a perfect Harmony, Confent and Unity among the bleffed 'Spirits above, who all join in one Confort, and with united Hearts and Minds do the Will, and fing the Praifes of their Maker; and to fit us for thofe heavenly Manfions, we must labour for the fame Concord and Unanimity here. Discord and Diffenfions are the Difpofitions of Hell, and lead to those infernal Regions; 'tis Love, Peace, and Unity, that maft prepare us for the Habitations above, and qualify us for the Happiness and bleffed Society of Heaven.
But how may we come to be thus of one mind in ferving of God and one another? Why, that must be done,
1. By removing all the Obftacles of this godly Love and Unity; fuch as turbulent and unruly Paffions, which are apt to difcompofe and divide mens Minds, Pride, and a vain Conceit of our own Wisdom, which makes Men refractory to their Superiours, and peremptory in their own ways; inordinate Self-Love and worldly Intereft, which draw too ftrongly from the ways of Truth and Peace, and lead into all manner of Errors and Divifions: which occafion'd St. Paul's Advice, that all Bitterness, Wrath, Clamour, and Evil-fpeaking be put away, with all Malice; Eph.4. 31. And St. Peter's to the fame purpofe, to lay afide all Guile, and Hypocrify, and Envy, and Evil-speaking; 1 Pet. 2. 1. Thefe are the main Hindrances of Unity, and are therefore to be carefully watch'd against and avoided by all that would promote or pray for it.
2. That we may be all of one mind in these desirable Matters, we muft labour for thofe gracious Qualities and Difpofitions, that can alone fit us for it; fuch as Meeknefs, Humility, Submiffion to Superiours, and the like: which excellent Graces and Vertues will mightily conduce to this Union of Heart and Mind, and 'tis the lack of them that creates all the Discord and Diffenfion that is among ns.
If you obferve it, you fhall find moft Men commending Peace, and speaking up for Unity: but the mischief is, they muft all have it in their own way, tho ever fo different and contrary one to the other; they are willing enough that all Men fhould be of one mind, but then every Man must be of theirs, or else they cannot agree with them. 'Tis this puts all the difficulty into this Duty, and renders it in a great meafure unpracticable.
Now there is but one Expedient to cure this Evil, and that is, for Men to think modeftly and foberly of themfelves, to allow their Teachers and Governours to know more, and to be wifer than they; and fo to fubmit their private Judgment to the publick Wifdom. By thus hearkning and yielding to thofe whom God hath appointed to teach and direct us, we may foon come to be of one mind, but without it never. Which made the Apoftle exhort all Christians, not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think, but to think foberly, according as God hath given to every one the Measure of Faith; Rom. 12. 3. In a word then, let me befpeak you in the words of the fame Apoftle; If there be any Confolation in Chrift, if any Comfort of Love, if any Fellowship of the Spirit, if any Bowels of Mercies, fulfil ye my Joy, that ye be like-minded, having the fame Love, being of one accord, and of one mind: Phil, 2. 1,2. So fhall we become one Flock and one Fold, underone great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls: which God grant, &c.
The GOSPEL for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, St. Luke v. 1-12.
It came to pass, that as the People prefs'd upon him to hear the Word of God, he stood by the Lake of Gennefareth, and saw two Ships ftanding by the Lake; but the Filbermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets: And he entred into one of the Ships, which was Simon's, &c.
HE People, mov'd by the Divine Difcourfes and miraculous Cures of our bleffed Saviour, flock'd in great Multitudes to him from all Parts: and being a Teacher come from Heaven to fhew the Way thither, they prefs'd hard through Crouds and Throngs to hear him; as he that comes with glad Tidings fhall be fure to have many Followers.
Some of thofe that thus prefs'd upon him, had been the Difciples of the Scribes and Pharifees, who having (as they were inform'd) corrupted and falfify'd the Law, they defir'd to hear the pure Word of God out of Christ's Mouth, and therefore ftrove hard to come near him to that end.
The Place where he food, when they came to him, was by the Lake of Gennefareth; call'd fometimes the Sea of Galilee, Mat. 4. 18. fometimes the Lake or Sea of Tiberias, Mat. 14. 34. and here the Lake of Gennefareth. At our Saviour's ftanding there, He saw two Ships ftanding by the Lake; but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets. Thefe two Ships or Boats belong'd, the one to Andrew and Peter, the other to James and John, the Sons of Zebedee: And these were the Fishermen here mention'd. But there feems to be fome fmall diffe
rence between the Evangelifts, St. Matthew and St. Luke, in the relating of this Story of Chrift's coming to thefe two Ships or Boats: St. Matthew tells us, that Peter and Andrew were cafting their Nets into the Sea or Lake, as if they were actually fifhing; Mat. 4. 18. and that James and John were in their Boats mending their Nets; ver. 21. St. Luke here fpeaks indifferently of them, that they left their Boats, and were washing or fcouring their Nets, as if they had left off fishing for that time, though they might meet together again a little after about the fame Bulinefs, and fo both may very well be thought to confift together. Again, St. Matthew fpeaks of calling Peter and Andrew, who straightway left their Nets and follow'd him; Mat. 4. 20. and that he went his way, and feeing James and John, the two Sons of Zebedee, he call'd them fometime after: But St. Luke takes no notice of two different Calls, but mentions them as done together. Now these fall Differences may be eafily fuppos'd between the one that fpeaks briefly and concifely of the Matter, and the other that speaks more largely of the Manner and Circumstances of the whole Action. But to proceed to what is more material,
'Tis faid in the next Verfe, that Chrift enter'd into one of the Ships, which was Simon's, and pray'd him that he' would thrust out a little from the Land: And he fat down, and taught the People out of the Ship. The Multitude following our Saviour to the Shore, he confider'd how he might inftruct them in the beft manner, that the Place where they they were would admit of: and to that end he went into St. Peter's Ship, which was then ready to receive him; and having plac'd the People to the beft advantage of hearing him, he difcours'd before them of things that were of the greatest Use and Benefit to them.
What the particular Matter or Subject of this Difcourfe was, is not here fet down, but no doubt related to the Affairs of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the great Concerns of their Souls; and perhaps was the Heads of his Divine Sermon on the Mount, which he preach'd to them foon after. By this we learn the great Willingness of our Saviour to teach and to do good to all Mankind, for he embrac'd all Opportunities of imparting to them his Father's Mind, and improving them in all Divine and Heavenly Wisdom; and thereby hath given us an example of counselling,