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SERM. persons all the rest of the body must be obliged to comply; LVII. otherwise all such determinations will be vain and ineffectual. Such order reason doth recommend in every proceeding; such order especially becometh the grandeur and importance of sacred things; such order God hath declared himself to approve, and love, especially in his own house, among his 1 Cor. xiv. people, in matters relating to his service; for, He is not, as St. Paul saith, arguing to this purpose, the God of confusion, but of peace, in all churches of the saints.
4. Again; It is requisite that all Christian brethren
1 Cor. i. 10. and that there be no divisions among them, but that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same Acts iv. 32. judgment; (like those in the Acts, of whom it is said, The 1 Cor. xii. multitude of believers had one heart and one soul;) that there
25. xi. 18.
i. 11. iii. 3. should be no schisms (divisions, or factions) in the body; 2 Cor. xii. that all dissensions, all murmurings, all emulations should
Phil. ii. 14. be discarded from the Church: the which precepts, secluding an obligation to obedience, would be impossible, and vain; for (without continual miracle, and transforming human nature, things not to be expected from God, who apparently designeth to manage religion by ordinary ways of human prudence, his gracious assistance concurring) no durable concord in any society can ever effectually be maintained otherwise than by one public reason, will, and sentence, which may represent, connect, and comprise all; in defect of that every one will be of a several opinion about what is best, each will be earnest for the prevalence of his mode and way; there will be so many lawgivers as persons, so many differences as matters incident; nothing will pass
smoothly and quietly, without bickering and jangling, and SERM. consequently without animosities and feuds: whenc n unanimity, no concord, scarce any charity or good-will can subsist.
5. Farther; in consequence of these things, common edification requireth such obedience; it is the duty of governors to order all things to this end, that is, to the maintenance, encouragement, and improvement of piety; for this purpose their authority was given them, as St. Paul 2 Cor. xiii. saith, and therefore it must be deemed thereto conducible; it is indeed very necessary to edification, which, without discipline guiding the simple and ignorant, reclaiming the erroneous and presumptuous, cherishing the regular, and correcting the refractory, can nowise be promoted.
10. x. 8.
2 Tim. ii.
Excluding it, there can be no means of checking or redressing scandals, which to the reproach of religion, to the disgrace of the Church, to the corrupting the minds, 1 Tim. i. and infecting the manners of men, will spring up, and 19. vi. 5. spread. Neither can there be any way to prevent the 16, 17, 18. rise and growth of pernicious errors, or heresies; the which assuredly in a state of unrestrained liberty the wanton and wicked minds of men will breed, their licentious practice will foster and propagate, to the increase of all 2 Tim. ii. impiety: their mouths must be stopped, otherwise they will 16. subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not 2 Tim. ii. for filthy lucre's sake; the word of naughty seducers will 17. spread like a gangrene, if there be no corrosive or corrective remedy to stay its progress.
Tit. i. 11.
Where things are not managed in a stable, quiet, orderly way, no good practice can flourish, or thrive; dissension will choke all good affections, confusion will obstruct all good proceedings; from anarchy, emulation and strife will certainly grow, and from them all sorts of wickedness; for where, saith St. James, there is emulation and Jam. iii.17. strife, there is confusion and every evil thing.
All those benefits, which arise from hòly communion in offices of piety and charity, (from common prayers and praises to God, from participation in all sacred ordinances,
SERM. from mutual advice, admonition, encouragement, consolaLVII. tion, good example,) will together vanish with discipline; these depend upon the friendly union and correspondence of the members; and no such union can abide without the ligament of discipline, no such correspondence can be upheld without unanimous compliance to public order. The cement of discipline wanting, the Church will not be like a 1 Pet. ii. 5. spiritual house, compacted of lively stones into one goodly pile; but like a company of scattered pebbles, or a heap of rubbish.
So considering the reason of things, this obedience will appear needful to enforce the practice thereof, we may adjoin several weighty considerations.
Consider obedience, what it is, whence it springs, what it produceth; each of those respects will engage us to it.
It is in itself a thing very good and acceptable to God, very just and equal, very wise, very comely and pleasant.
It cannot but be grateful unto God, who is the God of love, of order, of peace, and therefore cannot but like the means furthering them; he cannot but be pleased to see men do their duty, especially that which regardeth his own ministers; in the respect performed to whom he is himself indeed avowed, and honoured, and obeyed a.
It is a just and equal thing, that every member of society should submit to the laws and orders of it; for every man is supposed upon those terms to enter into, and to abide in it; every man is deemed to owe such obedience, in answer to his enjoyment of privileges and partaking of advantages thereby; so therefore whoever pretendeth a title to those excellent immunities, benefits, and comforts, which communion with the Church affordeth, it is most equal, that he should contribute to its support and welfare, its honour, its peace; that consequently
Tempus est, ut de submissione provocent in se Dei clementiam, et de honore debito in Dei sacerdotem eliciant in se divinam misericordiam. Cypr. Ep. 30.
he should yield obedience to the orders appointed for those SERM. ends. Peculiarly equal it is in regard to our spiritual goLVII. vernors, who are obliged to be very solicitous and laborious in furthering our best good; who stand deeply engaged, and are responsible for the welfare of our souls: they must be contented to spend, and be spent; to undergo any pains, any hardships, any dangers and crosses occurring in pursuance of those designs: and is it not then plainly equal (is it not indeed more than equal, doth not all ingenuity and gratitude require?) that we should encourage and comfort them in bearing those burdens, and in discharging those incumbencies, by a fair and cheerful compliance? it is the Apostle's enforcement of the duty in our text: Obey them, saith he, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as those who are to render an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief, (or groaning.)
Is it not indeed extreme iniquity and ingratitude, when they with anxious care and earnest toil are endeavouring our happiness, that we should vex and trouble them by our perverse and cross behaviour?
Nay, is it not palpable folly to do thus, seeing thereby we do indispose and hinder them from effectually discharging their duty to our advantage? ἀλυσιτελὲς γὰρ ὑμῖν Touro, for this, addeth the Apostle, farther pressing the duty, is unprofitable to you, or it tendeth to your disadvantage and damage; not only as involving guilt, but as inferring loss; the loss of all those spiritual benefits, which ministers being encouraged, and thence performing their office with alacrity and sprightful diligence, would procure to you: it is, therefore, our wisdom to be obedient, because obedience is so advantageous and profitable to
The same is also a comely and amiable thing, yielding much grace, procuring great honour to the Church, highly adorning and crediting religion: it is a goodly sight to behold things proceeding orderly; to see every person quietly resting in his post, or moving evenly in his rank; to observe superiors calmly leading, inferiors gladly
SERM. following, and equals lovingly accompanying each other: LVII. this is the Psalmist's, Ecce quam bonum! Behold, how (adPs. cxxxix. mirably) good, and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! such a state of things argueth the good temper and wisdom of persons so demeaning themselves, the excellency of the principles which do guide and act them, the goodness of the constitution which they observe; so it crediteth the Church, and graceth religion; a thing which, as St. Tit. ii. 10. Paul teacheth, in all things we should endeavour.
It is also a very pleasant and comfortable thing to live in obedience; by it we enjoy tranquillity of mind and satisfaction of conscience, we taste all the sweets of amity and peace, we are freed from the stings of inward remorse, we escape the grievances of discord and strife.
The causes also and principles from which obedience springeth do much commend it: it ariseth from the dispositions of soul which are most Christian and most humane; from charity, humility, meekness, sobriety of mind, and calmness of passion; the which always dispose men to submiss, complaisant, peaceable demeanour toward all men, especially toward those whose relation to them claimeth such demeanour: these a genuine, free, cordial, and constant obedience do signify to live in the soul; together with a general honesty of intention, and exemption from base designs.
In fine, innumerable and inestimable are the benefits and good fruits accruing from this practice; beside the support it manifestly yieldeth to the Church the gracefulness of order, the conveniencies and pleasures of peace, it hath also a notable influence upon the common manners of men, which hardly can ever prove very bad, where the governors of the Church do retain their due respect and authority; nothing more powerfully doth instigate to virtue, than the countenance of authority; nothing more effectually can restrain from exorbitancy of vice, than the bridle of discipline: this obvious experience demonstrateth, and we shall plainly see, if we reflect upon those times when piety and virtue have most flou