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means save some. St. Paul wisely knew, that, by a SERM. prudent compliance with men's customs, and con
XXIX. descension to their capacities, he engaged to him, or Vid. Acts at least did not alienate from him, their affections ; and thereby became more capable of infusing good doctrine into their minds, and promoting their spiritual good. And the same course was generally taken by the primitive Christians, who in all things (not inconsistent with the rules and principles of their religion) did industriously conform their conversation to the usual practices of men ; thereby shunning those scandalous imputations of pride and perverseness, which then rendered the Jews so odious to the world, as appears by divers passages in the ancient apologists for Christian religion : particularly Justin Martyr (in his Epistle to Diognetus) hath these words : Χριστιανοί γαρ ούτε γη, ούτε φωνή, ούτε έθεσι διακεκριμένοι των λοιπών εισιν ανθρώπων ούτε γαρ που πόλεις ιδίας κατοικουσιν, ούτε διαλέκτω τινι παραλλαγμένη χρώνται, ούτε βίον παράσημον ασκούσιν-κατοικούντες δε πόλεις Ελληνικάς τε. και βαρβάρους, ως έκαστος έκληρώθη, έν τοϊς εγχωρίοις έθεσιν åkohubotutes, &c. The Christians neither in dwelling, language, or customs differ from the rest of men; they neither inhabit towns proper to themselves, nor use any peculiar dialect, nor exercise an uncouth manner of living; but, as by chance it is allotted to them, inhabiting cities belonging both to Greeks and Barbarians, comply with the customs of the country. And much more hath he there; and much Tertullian likewise in his Apologetic, to the same purpose. Neither do we find in the life of our Saviour, that exact pattern of wisdom and goodness, that in any thing he did affect to differ from the received customs of his time and country, except such as were
SERM. grounded upon vain conceits, extremely prejudicial s. to piety, or directly repugnant thereto.
And I cannot except from this rule the compliance with religious customs used in the worship and service of God: since a wilful discrepancy from them doth much more destroy peace, and kindle the flame of contention, inasmuch as men are apt to apprehend themselves much more slighted and more condemned by a disagreement in those, than in matters of lesser concernment. And it cannot reasonably be imagined, that the God of love and peace, who questionless de
lights to see men converse in peace and amity, and Rom. xiv. who therefore in general terms enjoins us to pursue 19.
the things that make for peace, (whereof certainly in reason and to experience, following indifferent and harmless customs, not expressly repugnant to his law, nor to the dictates of natural reason, is one thing, and not the least,) in our addresses to himself (partly designed and mainly serving more strictly to unite, not to dissociate men in affection) should dislike or disapprove the use of this course so expedient and conducible to peace : especially since he infinitely more regards the substance of the duty, and the devotion of the heart therein, than the manner, or any circumstantial appendages thereof: it is certain however, that St. Paul intimates a wilful departure from
ordinary practice in such cases, to proceed from a 1 Cor. xi. contentious disposition : But if any man, saith he,
have a mind to be contentious, (so dokei Dinóveikos Elvas imports,) we have no such custom, nor the churches of God.
But yet much more is peaceable conversation impeached by disobedience to established laws, those great bulwarks of society, fences of order, and sup
ports of peace : which he that refuses to obey, is so SERM.
XXIX. far from living peaceably with all men, that he may. reasonably be presumed unwilling to have peace with any man ; since in a manner he defies all mankind, vilifies its most solemn judgments, endeavours to dissolve those sacred bands by which its union is contained, and to subvert the only foundations of public tranquillity. He declares himself either to affect an universal tyranny over, or an abhorrency from society with, other men, to be unwilling to live with them upon equal terms, or to submit to any fair arbitration, to desire that strifes should be endless, and controversies never decided, who declines the verdict of law, the most solemn issue of deliberate advice, proceeding from the most honourable, most wise, most worthy and select persons, and involving in it the consent of the whole commonwealth. St. Paul, directing that prayers should be made for princes and those in authority, assigns the reason, that we may 1 Tim. ii. 2. lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty : and certainly if we are to pray for, we are also obliged to obey them in order to the same end, which to do is absolutely in our power, and more immediately requisite to that purpose. For as no peace can be preserved without the influence of authority; so no aụthority can subsist without obedience to its sanctions. He that is desirous to enjoy the privileges of this happy. estate of peace, must in reason be content to perform the duties enjoined, and bear the common burdens imposed by those who are the protectors of it.
Thus, as plainly as I could, have I described what it is to live peaceably, and what the means are that principally conduce thereto: I should now proceed
SERM. to consider the object of the duty, and the reasons
· why it respects all men; as also whence it comes,
that sometimes we may fail in our endeavour of attaining this desirable condition : and lastly, to propound some inducements persuasive of its practice. But I must not further encroach on your patience, and shall therefore reserve these things to the next opportunity.
Now the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
OF A PEACEABLE TEMPER AND CARRIAGE.
Rom. xii. 18.
with all men. I HAVE very lately considered what it is to live SERM. peaceably, and what are the duties included therein; XXX. and what means conduce thereto.
II. I proceed now to consider the object thereof, and why the duty of living peaceably extends to all men, that is, why we are bound to bear good-will, and do good offices, and shew civil respects to all men; and to endeavour that all men reciprocally be well-affected toward us. For it might with some colour of reason be objected, and said, Why should I be obliged heartily to love those, that desperately hate me; to treat them kindly, that use me despitefully ; to help them, that would hinder me; to relieve them, that would plunge me into utter distress; to comfort them, that delight in my affliction; to be respective to, and tender of, their reputation, who despise, defame, and reproach me; to be indulgent and favourable to them, who are harsh and rigorous in their dealings with me; to spare and pardon them, who with implacable malice persecute me? Why should I seek their friendship, who disdainfully reject