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God, we have so stood these Trials, that we have no Reason to be ashamed, nor have they any great Reason to boast of their Victory. We are now, by the good Providence of God, in such a Posture, that we hope we shall not need to have much Apprehension of that sort of Trial for the future. But still there is another sort of Trial of this Nature that we remain exposed to; viz. the Differences and Dissentions among ourselves ; and oh would to God fome Balm could be found for the healing of these Wounds! Is it not a Pity that we who are all of one Religion, and do equally profess an Aversion to the Tyranny, and Corruptions, and Superstitions of the Church of Rome, should yet be at such a Diftance from one another that we cannot worship God together? It is true (as I have faid) that this is no just Exception against our Reformation, but yet it must needs be owned that it is a great Blemish to it. It is true that there will always be Heresies and Schisms in the Church, and there would be, tho' all Protestants were united : But yet for all that, it is a great Reproach to us that they are not better united. I grant that as to Unity of Opinion in all Points of Religion, the Thing is impracticable; for when all is done, Men, according to the Variety of their Parts, and Tempers, and Educations, must of Necessity think several Ways, and
consequently they will always differ in their Notions of Things ; and there can no more one fix'd Measure or Standard be set for Mens Apprehensions and Judgments, than there can be for their Statures and Complexions.
But it may be thought, notwithstanding our little Differences in Opinion, it is hard we cannot all agree in the common Terms of worshipping God, and partaking of his Sacraments, especially since we do all acknowledge that we do agree in more Things than are precisely needful for the carrying us to Heaven. Certain it is, nothing is more recommended, nothing is more pressed in the New Testament than this Unity and Communion among Chriftians. Nay, this very Apostle who hath told us that there must be always Heresies and Divisions in the Church, yet is so far from countenancing them, that he of all the other facred Writers is the most earnest and passionate in his Exhortations to Unity, and the most severe against those who cause Dissentions, and break the Peace of the Church. Oh! that God would be pleased to affect all those who profess his Religion in the Truth and Purity of it, with a deep and lively Sense of these Things; that they would heartily apply themselves to follow after the Things which make for Peace, (as our Apostle speaks ) that they would be like-minded, be of one
accord, of one Soul, so that the God of Peace might be with them! Inestimable indeed are the Benefits that would accrue hereby both to the Church and State, and to every one of us in particular. By this Means we might the more assuredly expect the Blessing of God upon the whole Community ; because hereby we should give the best Evidence that we are the true Disciples of his Son, in that we love one another, and have Peace one with another. By this Means we fhould remove the Scandals that our Divisions give to the Enemies of our Religion; and should disappoint them of the most considerable Advantages they have against us for the making Profelytes to their Party. And lastly, by this Means it is to be hoped that our fierce Disputes and Contentions about 1maller Things being laid alide, our Zeal and Feryour would be employed in Things far more momentous ; in Things wherein the Honour of God and the Sal. vation of our own Souls is truly concerned; that is to say, in seriously studying to live well, to be pious, and juft, and fober in our Conversation ; in adorning the Doctrine which we profess by all the heavenly Qualities and good Fruit that fo excellent a Religion as ours doth natuTally tend to produce in all the Believers of it.
SERMON II. Some remarkable and important Obfero
vations upon the History of Cornelius bis Conversion to the Faith. Preach'd before Q. Mary, Aug. 30, 1691.
ACTS X. 4. Thy Prayers and thine Alms are come up for
a Memorial before God.
O put this Text and what I
have to say upon it, into a due TENI Light, it will be necessary I I
should give some Account of the
History that is related in this Chapter. It is the History of Cornelius his Conversion to the Christian Faith; and a very remarkable one it is.
This Cornelius was Captain in the Garison which the Romans kept at Cæfarea for the better bridling and securing the Jews whom they had conquered. As for his Birth, he was not an Israelite, but a Roman. As for his Religion, he was not a Jew, but a Gentile or Heathen. But yet such an Heathen, as had renounced the Pagan Idolatry, and owned the one supreme God, and worshipped that God in the way that natural Religion taught, tho' not in the Way of the Jews. Such Men as these were by the Žews ftiled Profelytes of the Gate, and many such there were among them.
The Character which is here given of him is, that he was a devout Man, and fearedver. 2. God with all his House, and gave much Alms to the People, and prayed to God continually. Here was a worthy Heathen Soldier indeed, and fit to be a pattern not only to all those of his Profession amongst Christians, but also to all Christians of what Profession foever. He did not only fear God himself, but he took care to possess all his Family with the fame Sense of Religion; and tho he did not know the particular way in which God had declared he would be served, yet he did all that he could to recommend himself to his Favour; and natural Reason taught him, (as well as the Law of the Jews, among whom he might converse) that if any thing in the World could procure the Divine Acceptance, it must be fervent Devotion towards God, and hearty Charity towards Men; and therefore he laid himself out in these Duties to the utmost of his Power. And he was not mistaken in his Belief; for such a Man as this God would not suffer to perish, but rather than he should want VOL. VI.