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Prince of Peace. But when Religion puts on Armour, and God is not acknowledged by his New-Testament titles, Religion may have in it the Power of the Sword, but not the power of Godliness; and we may complain of this to God, and amongst them that are afflicted, but we have șio remedy, but what we must expect from the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, and the returns of the God of Peace. In the mean time, and now that Religion pretends to stranger actions upon new principles, and Men are apt to prefer a prosperous errour before an afflicted truth, and some will think they are religious enough, if their worshippings have in them the prevailing ingredient, and the Ministers of Religion are so scattered that they cannot unite to stop the inundation, and from Chairs, or Pulpits, from their Synods, or Tribunals, chastise the iniquity of the errour, and the ambition of evil Gèides, and the infidelity of the willingly-seduced multitude, and that those few good People who have no other Plot in their Religion but to serve God, and save their Souls, do want fuch assistances of ghostly council as may serve their emergent needs and allift their endeavours in the acquist of vertues, and relieve their dangers when they are tempted to sin and death; I thought I had reasons enough inviting me to draw into one body those advices which the several necessities of many Men must use at some time or other, and many of them daily: that by a collection of holy Precepts they might less feel the want of personal and attending Guides, and that she Rules for conduct of Souls might be comınitted to a Book which they might always have, since they could not always have a profit at their needs, nor be suffered to go up to the House of the Lord to enquire of the appointed Oracles
...! I know, my Lord, that there are some interested Persons who add fcorn to the afflictions of the Church of England, and because the is afflicted by Men, call her
forsaken of the Lord; and, because her solemn Allemblies are scattered, think that the Religion is loft, and the Church divorc'd from God, supposing
Christ (who was a Man of forrows) to be angry with his Spouse when she is like him, [for that's the true state of the Errour] and that he who promised his Spirit to allift his Servants in their troubles, will, because they are in trouble, take away the Comforter from them, who cannot be a Comforter but while he cures our fadnesses, and relieves our forrows,and turns our Persecutions into Joys,and Crowns, and Scepters. But concerning the present state of the Church of England, I consider, that because we now want the blessings of external Communion in many degrees, and the circumstances of a prosperous and unafflicted People, we are to take estimate of our selves with single judgments, and every Man is to give sentence concerning the state of his own Soul by the Precepts and Rules of our Law-giver; not by the after-decrees and usages of the Church; that is, by the essential parts of Religion, rather than by the uncertain fignifications of any exteriour adherences. For though it be uncertain when a Man is a Member of the Church, whether he be a Member to Christ or no, because in the Church's Net there are Fishes good and bad : yet we may be sure that if we be Members of Christ, we are of a Church to all Purposes of spiritual Religion and Salvation. And, in order to this, give me leave to speak this great Truth.
That Man does certainly belong to God, who, 1. Believes and is Baptized into all the Articles of the Christian Faith, and studies to improve his knowledge in the matters of God, so as may best make him to live a holy life. 2. He that in obedience to Christ worships God diligently, frequently and constantly, with natural Religion, that is, of Prayer, Praises and Thanksgiving. 3. He that takes all opportunities to remember Christ's Death by a frequent Sacrament (as it can be hąd ;) or else by inward
acts of understanding, will and mentory (which is the fpiritual Communion) fupplies the want of external Rite. 4. He that lives chastly, 5. And is merciful, 16. And deSpises the World, using it as a Man but never suffering it to rifle a duty; 7. And is jaft in his dealing, and diligent in his calling. 8. He that is humble in his fpirit, 9. And obedient to Government, 1o. And content in his fortune and employment. 11. He that does his duty, because he loves God. 12. And especially, if after all this he be afflicted and patient, or prepared to suffer affliction for the Cause of God. The Man that hath these twelve
grace and predestination, does as certainly belong to God and is his Son, as furely as he is his Creature.
And if iny brethren in persecution, and in the bonds of the Lord Jesus, can truly shew these Marks, they shall not need be troubled that others can shew a prosperous Outside, great Revenues, publick Assemblies, uninterrupted Succeffions of Bishops, prevailing Armies, or any Arin of flesh, or less certain Circumstance. These are the Marks of the Lord Jesus, and the characters of a Chriftian: this is a good Religion: and these things God's grace hath put into our powers 3.
and Gods Laws have made to be our duty, and the nature of Men and the needs of Commonwealths have made to be necessary. The other accidents and pomps of a Church are things without our Power,and are not in our choice: they are good to be used when they may be had, and they do illustrate or advantage it, but if any of them constitute' a Church in the being of a Society and a Government, yet they are not of its constitution as it is Christian, and hopes to be saved." !
And now the cafe is fo with us that we are reduced to that Religion which 'no man can forbid, which we can keep in the midst of a persecution, by which the Martyrs in the days of our Fathers went to Heaven; that by which we can be servants of God, and receive the Spirit of Christ, and make use of his comforts, and live
in his love and in charity with all men: and they that do fo cannot perih.
My Lord, I have now described fome general lines and features of that Religion which I have more particularly, set down in the following pages : in which I have
neither served nor diserved the interest of any party of S Christians as they are divided by uncharitable names e from the rest of their brethren, and no Man will have reais son to be angry with me for refusing to mingle in his unn n necessary or vitious quarrels especially while I study to edo hiin good by conducting him in the narrow way to
Heaven, without intricating him in the Labyrinths and wild turnings of Questions and uncertain Talkings. I have told what Men ought to do, and by what means they may be aflıfted ; and, in most cases, I have also told them why, and yet'with as much quickness as I could
think necessary to establish a Rule, and not to engage in y Homily or Discourse. In the use of which Rules (although
they are plain, ufeful and fitted for the best and worft understandings, and for the needs of all men, yet) I shall defire the reader to proceed with the following advices.
1. They that will with profit make use of the proper f instruments of vertue, must fo live as they were always
under the Physician's hand. For the Counsels of Reli
gion are not to be applied to the Distempers of the Soul 2 as Men use to take Hellebore ; but they must dwell toge
ther with the Spirit of a Man, and be twisted about his understanding for ever: They must be used like nourishment, that is, by a daily care and meditation: not like a single medicine, and upon the actual pressure of a prefent neceffity. For counsèls and wise discourses applied to an actual distemper, at the best are but like strong sinells to an Epileptick person, sometimes they may raise him, but they never cure him. The following Rules, if they be made familiar to our natures, and the thoughts of every day may inake Vertue and Religion become
easie and habitual: but when the temptation is present, and hath already seized upon some portions of our consent, we are not fo apt to be counsellid, and we find no gust or relish in the Precept; the Lessons are the same, but the Instrument is unstrung, or out of tune.
2. In using the Instruments of vertue we must be curious to distinguish instruments from duties, and prudent advices from necessary injunctions ; and if by any other means the duty can be secured, let there be no fcruples stirred concerning any other helps; only if they can in that case strengthen and secure the duty, or help towards perseverance, let them serve in that station in which they can be placed. For there are some persons in whom the Spirit of God hath breathed so bright a flame of love, that they do all their acts of vertue by perfect choice and without objection, and their zeal is wariner than that it will be allayed by temptation; and to such perfons mortification by Philofophical instruments, as fafting, fackcloth, and other rudenesses to the body, is wholly useless; it is always a more uncertain means to acquire any vertue, or secure any duty; and jf Love hath filled all the Corners of our Soul, it alone is able to do all the work of God.
3. Be not nice in stating the obligations of Religion; but where the duty is necessary, and the means very reasonable in it felf, dispute not too busily whether in all circumstances it can fit thy particular ; but Super totam memoriam, upon the whole, make use of it. For it is a good sign of a great Religion, and no Imprudence, when we have fufficiently confider'd the substance of affairs, then to be easie, humble, obedient, apt and credulous in the circumstances which are appointed to us in particular by our spiritual Guides, or in general by all wise Men in cases not unlike. He that gives Alms does best, not always to consider the minutes and strict measures of his Ability, but to give freely, incu