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hitherto hath the Lord helped us : my flesh and my heart failed, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.'
But have all these deliverances brought us to our rest ? No; we are as far yet from it as we are from heaven. You are yet under oppression and troubles, and I am yet under consuming sickness; and feeling that I am likely to be among you but a little while, and that my pained body is hastening to the dust, I shall here leave you my best advice for your immortal souls, and bequeath you this counsel as the legacy of a dying man, that you may here read it and practise it when I am taken from you; and, I beseech you, receive it as from one that you know doth unfeignedly love you, and that regardeth no honours or happiness in this world in comparison with the welfare and salvation of your souls; yea, receive it from me as if I offered it you upon my knees, beseeching you, for your souls' sake, that you would not reject it, and beseeching the Lord to bless it to you; yea, as one that hath received authority from Christ to command you, I charge you in his name, as ever you will answer it, when we shall meet at judgment, and as you would not have me there be a witness against you, nor all my labours be charged against you to your condemnation, and the Lord Jesus, your Judge, to sentence you as rebellious, that you faithfully and constantly practise these ten directions :
1. Labour to be men of knowledge and sound understandings. A sound judgment is a most precious mercy, and much conduceth to the soundness of heart and life. A weak judgment is easily corrupted; and if it be once corrupt, the will and conversation will quickly follow. Your understandings are the inlet or entrance to the whole soul; and if you be weak there, your souls are like a garrison that hath open or ill-guarded gates; and if the enemy be once let in there, the whole city will quickly be his own. Ignorance is virtually every error, therefore let the bible be much in your hands and hearts : remember what I taught you on Deut. vi. 6, 7. Read much the writings of our old, solid divines, such as Perkins, Bolton, Dodd, Sibbs, especially Doctor Preston. You may read an able divine when you cannot hear one: especially, be sure you learn well the principles of religion. Begin with the Assemblies' Lesser Catechism,' and then read the greater; and, next, Master Balls', with the
c Male autem vivitur, si de Deo non bene creditur.- August. de Civit. l. v. c. 10.
Exposition,' and then Doctor Ames' 'Marrow of Divinity,' now Englished, or Usher's. If you see men fall on controversies before they understand these, never wonder if they are drowned in errors. I know your poverty and labours will not give you leave to read so much as others may do; but yet a willing mind will find some time, if it be when they should sleep, and, especially, it will spend the Lord's day wholly in these things. O be not ignorant of God in the midst of such light! as if the matters of your salvation were less worth your study than your trading in the world.
2. Do the utmost you can to get a faithful minister when I am taken from you, and be sure you acknowledge him your teacher, overseer, and ruler ; (1 Thess. v. 12, 13; Acts xx. 28; Heb. xiii. 7, 17;) and learn of him, obey him, and submit to his doctrine, except he teach you any singular points, and then take the advice of other ministers in trying it. Expect not that he should humour you, and please your fancies, and say and do as you would have him ; that is not the way of God, for the people to rule themselves and their rulers. If he be unable to teach and guide you, do not choose him at first ; if he be able, be ruled by him, even in things that to you are doubtful, except it be clear that he would turn you from the truth; if you know more than he, become preachers yourselves; if you do not, then quarrel not when you should learn : especially, submit to his private over-sight, as well as public teaching. It is but the least part of a minister's work which is done in the pulpit: Paul taught them, also, from house to house, day and night, with tears. (Acts xx. 20, 31.) To go daily from one house to another, and see how you live, and examine how you profit, and direct you in the duties of your families, and in your preparations for death, is the great work. Had not weakness confined me, and public labours forbidden me, I should judge myself heinously guilty in neglecting this. In the primitive times, every church of so many souls as this parish had many ministers, whereof the ablest speakers did preach most in public, and the rest did the more of the less public work, which some mistake for mere ruling elders. But now, sacrilege and covetousness will scarcely leave
d Which since I have dealt in with comfortable success. See my · Reformned Pastor.
e Clemens Alexand. saith, “ In all bodies there are two ranks; those that better them by superiority and governing, and those that serve, as parents and children, magistrates and subjects, &c. Aud go in the church, that part which bet tereth it belongeth to the presbyters, and that which serveth to the deacous.” Here is no mention of any other office.-Stromat. lib. vii. initio.
maintenance for one in a church; which is it that hath brought us to a loss in the nature of government.
3. Let all your knowledge turn into affection and practice ; keep open the passage between your heads and your hearts, that every truth may go to the quick. Spare not, for any pains, in working out your salvation ; take heed of loitering, when your souls lie at the stake; favour not yourselves in any slothful distemper : laziness is the damnation of most that perish among us, God forbid you should be of the mad opinion of the world, that like not serving God so much, nor making so much ado to be saved: all these men will shortly be of another mind. Live now as you would wish you had done at death and judgment. Let no scorns dishearten you, no differences of opinion be an offence to you: God, and Scripture, and heaven, and the way thither, are still the same. It will do you no good to be of the right religion, if you be not zealous in the exercise of the duties of that religion. Read often the fifth and sixth chapters of the third part of this book. · 4, Be sure you make conscience of the great duties that you are to perform in your families. Teach your children and servants the knowledge and fear of God; do it early and late, in season and out of season, Pray with them daily and fervently; remember Daniel's example, (Dan. vi.,) and the command. (1 Thess. v. 17.) Read the Scripture, and good books to them ; restrain them from sin; keep not a servant that will not learn, and be ruled. Neighbours, I charge you, as you will shortly answer the contrary before the Lord your Judge, that there be never a family among you that shall neglect these great duties. If you cannot do what you should, yet do what you can; especie ally, see that the Lord's day be wholly spent in these exercises. To spend it in idleness or sports, is to consecrate it to your flesh, and not to God, and far worse than to spend it in your trades.
5. Beware of extremes in the controverted points of religion, When you avoid one error, take heed you run not into another, especially if you be in the heat of disputation or passion. As I have showed you, I think, the true mean in the doctrine of justification and redemption, so I had intended to have writ a peculiar treatise with three columns, showing both extremes, and the truth in the middle, through the body of divinity, but God takes me off. Especially beware of these times : antinomianism comes from gross ignorance, and leads to gross wickedness. Socinians are scarce Christians : Arminianism is quite above your reach, and, therefore, not fit for your study in most points. The middle way which Camero, Ludov. Crocius, Martinus, Amyraldus, Davenant, with all the divines of Britain and Breme, in the synod of Dort, go, I think is nearest the truth of any that I know who have written on those points of redemption and universal grace, And for the points of predestination, and the nature of the divine influx on the will in the working of grace, which are most hotly agitated, and where the heart of the controversy seems to lie ; I think I had never yet the happiness to read, or speak with the man that himself understood them; and those, least, that are usually most confident. As for separation, the mischief of it lies not in the bare error of judgment, but in the unchristian and church-dissolving division and alienation which thence followeth; contrary to that humility and love which is the visible character of Christians, and to that oneness which is still in Scripture ascribed to the visible church. Alas, that pride and ignorance should have such power among believers, that men cannot be of several judgments in lesser points, but they must needs be also of several churches ! God will make us value peace and union a little more, before we shall taste of the perfect everlasting peace and union : yea, before we shall see the blessing of union in the church. Wounding is a dividing; healing is a re-uniting. A building is of many stones or pieces orderly conjoined; a church is an aggregation of individuals ; an association of believers. What then, is it to demolish, but to separate and disjoin? And what is it to dissolve churches, but to break their association; to reduce them to individuals; to cut them into shreds ?f As for the differences, in way of govern
* Doubtless, in Cyprian's time, every particular, completed church was guided and ruled by a society of presbyters, baving all authority to teach ; the chief of whom was chosen constant moderator and president, and called the bishop; and under these were the deacons : and both presbyters and president ordained by others of the same office, and chosen or accepted by the peon ple. So that then there was no bishop over many churches, but only the president to many ministers in one church; nor did they once claim a power over the officers of another church : por was there such a thing as a presbyter that was no church governor, but merely a teacher: nor such a thing, I think, as a presbyter that had do authority to teach : nor such a thing as a church ruled by the vote of the people. “Salvo inter collegas pacis et con. cordiæ vinculo (there is the chief use of synods) quædam propria quæ apud se semel suut usurpata, quidam, retinent. Qua in re, nec nos vim cuiquam facimus, aut legem damus; cum habeat in ecclesiæ administratione voluntatis suæ arbitrium liberum unusquique præpositas, rationem actus sui Domino redditurus.” This was written to the Bishop of Rome-an undoubted testi, mony against his usurped power, by blessed Cyprian, in Epist. Ixxii. p. 217,
ment between the moderate presbyterians, independents, episcopal, and erastian, I make no doubt but if men's spirits stood not at a greater distance than their principles, they would quickly be united. But of all the four sorts, there are some that run so high in their principles, that they run out of the hearing of peace or truth. Will God never put it into the hearts of rulers, to call together some of the most godly, learned, moderate, and peaceable of all four opinions (not too many), to agree upon a way of union and accommodation, and not to cease till they have brought it to this issue? To come as near together as they can possibly in their principles : and where they cannot, yet to unite as far as may be, in their practice, though on different principles ; and where that cannot be, yet to agree on the most loving, peaceable course in the way of carrying on our different practices; that so, as Rup. Meldenius saith, we may have unity in things necessary, liberty in things unnecessary, and charity in all. The Lord persuade those who have power to this pacificatory enterprise without delay.
For anabaptism and antinomianism, I have written against them in two other books (8 and more shall do against the latter, if
(edit. Goulartii.) By the consent of a synod, yea, in the ordination of their church guides, though the people cannot call them alone, without the election and ordination of other church guides, who are fittest to judge of their abilities; yea, are the people also to judge of their lives, and no officer ordinarily to be put on them without their consent; if the same Cyprian, with a whole synod, were not mistaken. “ Plebs ipsa maxime habet potestatem vel eligendi dignos sacerdotes, vel indignos recusandi.”—Epist. Ixviji. Read the rest; which testimony I add, to show I am far from running into extremes against independency: and if they will read Goulartius' notes, they shall see that they are more beholden to Geneva presbyterians than they are aware of: yea, Pamelius himself confesseth as much as I say. But let the people remember that they choose not ministers whom they must rule, but church guides and rulers, whom God hath frequently charged them to obey, as corporations choose magistrates to govern them, and not to be governed by them. Yet more plainly, Cyprian in initio Concil, Carthage to 87 :Bishops, he saith—“Superest ut de hac re singuli quid sentiamus proferamus neminem judicantes, aut à jure communionis aliquem si diversum sincerit amoventes. Neque enim quisquam nostrum episcopum se esse episcoporum constituit, aut tyrannico terrore collegas ad obsequendi necessitatem adigit, cum habeat omnis episcopus pro licentia libertatis et potestatis suæ arbitrium proprium, tamque judicari ab alio non possit, quam nec ipse potest alterum judicare. Sed expectemus universi judiciuin Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui unus et solus habet potestatem et proponendi nos in ecclesiæ suæ gubernatione, et de actu nostro judicandi.” Can more be said against the pope, or any bishop of many churches, or any that claim a decisive judgment of doctrinal controversies? In Oper. Cypriani,' (edit. Pamel. et Goulart,) pp 443, 444.
8 Since done in my. Confession and Apology.'