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who were both unhappily slain in arms: here is no place to argue. Sure I am, that, as their embassy is the Gospel of Peace; Rom. x. 15. Eph. vi. 15: so their main employment should be the making of peace betwixt God and men, betwixt men and men, both in spiritual and civil occasions; and, if there be any, who, instead of lifting up their voice like a trumpet, to shew God's people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins, Is. lviii. 1. shall make themselves on either part the trumpets of war and bloodshed, let them see, as the prophet Gad said, what answer they will return to him that sent them; 2 Sam. xxiv. 13.
Doubtless, our main errand to the world is peace; and woe be to us, if we do it not! but, in vain shall we pretend to carry that, which we have not; to carry peace unto others, when we have none amongst ourselves; to make that abroad, which we want at home. It was the charge of our Saviour to his disciples, but especially to the Twelve, who had a little before quarrelled for precedency, Have peace one with another; Mark ix. 50: as well knowing their, either peace or enmity, to be a leading case.
Woe is me for the divisions of Reuben! but more, for the great thoughts of heart, that follow them; Judges v. 15. For may we not too truly say, as Chrysostom said of all evils in general, that all our miseries have begun from the Sanctuary? While the captains fight, how can the common soldiers stand still? Hold your hands, for God's sake, and for the Church's sake, O all ye who are the spiritual leaders of God's people. Give me leave to say to you, as Luther to the Helvetians, in the Sacramentary quarrel; Satis jam altercatum et clamatum est; "We have had altercation and clamour enough: if any good might have been done by clamour and altercation, we have suffered on both parts more than enough *." Oh, that we could at last now entertain that gracious and obsecratory charge of the blessed Apostle of the Gentiles, Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing; and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment; 1 Cor. i. 10.
But, if it cannot be hoped for in this distraction of opinion, that we should meet in the same mind and judgment; yet let us endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; Eph. iv. 3. Let not the differences of opinion beget alienation of affections. Let not the heat of boisterous affections break forth into public and mortal concertations. For, as Nazianzen + wisely presseth to the Synod of Constantinople, what can be more absurd, than that we, declining the darts of our enemies, should fall into mutual incursions, one upon another; and thereby waste our own forces, and make sport to our adversaries?
* Satis jam altercatum et clamatum est: si quid modò altercando et clamando potuit profici. Luth. Resp. ad Confess. Basil, ab Helvet. declaratum, Jo. Jeslerus de Belli Eucharistici Diutur.
↑ Quid enim absurdius, &c. Greg. Naz. ad Synod, Constantinop. apud Theod. 1. v. c. 8.
Is it not to us, that the Apostle speaks, under the name of his Galatians, If ye bite and devour one another, take heed lest ye be consumed one of another? Gal. v. 15. What Christians were ever more palpably guilty of this cruelty? How are we come, from snarling to biting, from biting to worrying each other! What means this deadly rage, amongst those, that profess the dear name of one Saviour; and that call one Church, Mother? Let us look upon brute beasts, and blush. Parcit cognatis maculis*: Who ever saw a lion or a tiger fall upon one of his own kind? Even savage bears agree well together: yea, which is the observation of our Bromyard †, where a whole legion of evil spirits lodged in one man, yet they fell not out. And why will we, who are brethren, do the work of enemies?
I know every one of us will plead a defence of truth: but, is it such a truth, as is worth bleeding for? I have learned from good authority, that, of old, by the common law of England, it was felony of death to kill a man, se defendendo; however the rigour of that law is since mitigated: and, even still, it is required that our heels, if possible, should prevent the use of our hands. The rule of our Casuists upon assaults, is still, Cum moderamine inculpate tutela; "With the management of a harmless defence." Were this duly observed both for our tongues and pens, how quiet, how happy were the, now distracted, Church of God!
Certainly, God abides none but charitable dissensions: those, that are well grounded and well governed, grounded upon just causes and governed with Christian charity and wise moderation; those, whose beginning is equity, and whose end is peace. If we must differ, let these be the conditions. Let every of God's ministers be ambitious of that praise, which Gregory Nazianzen gives to Athanasius §, to be an adamant to them that strike him, and a loadstone to those that dissent from him: the one, not to be moved with wrongs; the other, to draw those hearts which disagree. So, the fruit of righteousness shall be sown in peace of them that make peace; James iii. 18. So, the God of Peace shall have glory, the Church of God rest, and our souls unspeakable consolation and joy in the day of the appearing of our Lord Jesus. To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, one Infinite and Incomprehensible God, be all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
*Parcit cognatis maculis similis fera: quando
Juven. Sat. xvi.
+ Brom. V. Discordia.
Dalton p. 244.
§ Greg. Naz, Orat. 21.
BALM OF GILEAD:
COMFORTS FOR THE DISTRESSED;
BOTH MORAL AND DIVINE.
BY JOSEPH, BISHOP OF NORWICH.