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A perswasive (sic) to peace and unity a sermon preached before the Lord-Mayor and the aldermen of the city of London ; at the Church of St. Mary le-bow, on Sunday, January 16th 1697/8 / by Samuel Bradford.
Bradford, Samuel, 1652-1731.
Wing B4117; ESTC R6286
that part of the Christian Church which is establish'd in this Nation and not of that only but of the truly Catholick Church throughout the World For the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was intended by our Lord as a Badge and Symbol of such our Communion And upon this Occasion I thought I could not chuse a more proper Subject than the words I have now read to you wherein we are so expresly exhorted to regard and to promote as far as in us lyes the Unity and Peace of the Church of Christ Endeavouring to keep c. St. Paul had been in his preceding Discourse putting the Ephesians in mind of the Extraordinary Grace of God towards them in taking them within the Pale of his Church that whereas they had been Gentiles Ch. 2.11 12 13. without Christ Aliens from the Common wealth of Israel and strangers from the Covenants of Promise Nay having no hope and without God in the World they were Now brought near to God by the Blood of Christ being together with the believing Jews adopted into his Family He exceedingly magnifies this their Privilege in those Remarkable Words v. 10 2 21 22. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and Forreigners but fellow Citizens with the Saints and of the Houshold of God and are built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets Jesus Christ himself being the Chief corner-stone in whom all the building fitly Framed together groweth into an holy Temple in the Lord in whom you also are builded together for an Habitation of God through the Spirit To the same purpose he goes on throughout the Third Chapter both to extol this Favour of God towards them and to pray that they might be thorowly Sensible of it after which he begins this Fourth Chap. with a Serious Exhortation to them that they would walk worthy of this their Vocation particularly in the exercise of much Humility and Charity Ver. 1 2. I therefore the Prisoner of the Lord beseech you that ye walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith ye are call'd with all lowliness and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love and as it follows in the words of my Text Endeavouring to keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace From which Connexion of the Words we may observe by the way That the keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace whatever that means is absolutely Necessary to our walking worthy of our Christian Vocation and that in order to this we ought to have our minds well season'd with Humility and Charity two most excellent Christian Graces whereby we shall be best dispos'd to the exercise of all other Vertues which our Holy Religion Requires and for want of which it comes to pass that the Professors of Christianity are so miserably divided as they are at this day But I proceed to the words themselves in treating of which I propose this Method To Explain the Duty which the Apostle here urges upon the Ephesians shewing what it is to keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bondof Peace To consider the Obligation which all Christians are under to the Practice of this Duty To shew how we may best attain to the Practice of it To Explain the Duty it Self shewing what it is to keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace By the Vnity of the Spirit I conceive the Apostle here means such an Vnity as properly belongs to a Body which is inspired in the whole and every part of it by one and the same Spirit I know that some will have this phrase to signifie no more than an Vnion of the Spirits or minds of Christians This is indeed contain'd in it but 't is by no means the full Sense of the Expression The Vnion which is between Christians is Principally and in the first Place in their Minds or Spirits but I take the word Spirit here to relate to the Divine Spirit which as the Apostle presently after observes animates the whole Body of Christ and makes it indeed to be one For so it follows ver 4. there is one Body and one Spirit And to the same purpose 't is frequently exprest in other places Thus in the preceding part of this Epistle Chap. 2.22 In whom that is in Jesus Christ you also are builded together for an Habitation of God through the Spirit And very Remarkably in the Former Epistle to the Corinthians 1 Cor. 1â 12 13. As the Body is one and hath many Members and all the Members of that one Body being many are one Body So also is Christ For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body whether we be Jews or Gentiles whether we be bond or Free and have been all made to drink into one Spirit That is The Church of Christ may be fitly compar'd to the Body of a Man which has many Members but all of them united by one Spirit which is diffused through every part and quickens the whole Just so says he the Church consists of abundance of particular Believers but these are all admitted by Baptism to the Priviledge of being put under the Conduct of the Holy Ghost in whose Name they are baptized together with that of the Father and of the Son and whose assistance they may constantly depend upon if they do not resist and drive him away from them And they are farther constantly made to drink into the same Spirit that is by partaking of the other Sacrament that of the Lords-Supper Particularly of the wine there poured out they may receive and if they are sincere Christians they do so farther communications of the same Spirit Now this gives a clear account of the Expression in the Text the Vnity of the Spirit that is such an Unity as becomes a Body thus animated by the same Spirit viz. an Unity in Judgment and an Unity in Affection or in other words an Unity in Truth and in Charity together with all that External and Visible Unity which is Naturally consequent upon the Former For so it follows in the bond of Peace by which is meant a Peaceable Conversation with each other as in all other respects so especially in Spiritual Affairs the avoiding all Dissension and Division with respect to External Communion the Living and Conversing together and especially the Communcating with each other in all the Ordinances and Institutions of Religion as one Body This peaceable demeanor is the Bond of Unity amongst Christians not only shewing them to be one but preserving them in that state So that you may take my Explication of this Duty in the Four Following Particulars To keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace implys the maintaining as much as may be an Unity in Judgment especially as to the main and Principal Doctrines of the Christian Faith It implys also the preserving and cherishing of Love and Affection amongst Christians It farther implys a quiet and Peaceable
Nay a kind and amicable demeanor towards each other in our whole Conversation It implys yet more particularly a preserving entire as far as in us lyes the External Communion of the Christian Church To keep the Vnity c implys the maintaining as much as may be an Unity in Judgment especially as to the main and Principal Doctrines of the Christian Faith 1 Cor. â 10 This is what St. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to 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 joyn'd together in the same Mind and in the same Judgment 'T is true Christians as well as all other Men may be suppos'd and fairly allow'd to differ in some matters which are of no great consequence but there are certain Truths deliver'd down to us in the Scriptures from our blessed Saviour and his Apostles which are to be faithfully adher'd to by all Christians even such as wherein Christianity it self is concern'd and which cannot be denyed without Subverting or at least shaking and endangering the Foundation as there as likewise many others which are necessary to be understood and believ'd if we will form any true Scheme of our Religion or arrive at any competent Knowledge and Understanding in it Why else should St. Paul require Timothy to hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard of him 2. Tim. 1.13 14. And again to keep by the Holy Ghost that good thing which was committed to him Why did he order him to abide at Ephesus on purpose as himself sayes 1. Tim. 1.1.3 Tit. 2.1.2 that he might charge some that they should teach no other Doctrine Why does he command Titus to speak the things that become sound Doctrine And to teach those under his charge to be sound in the Faith And why again does he in the same Epistle set it down as a Qualification of those Bishops whom Titus should ordain that they should hold fast the faithful word as they had been taught Tit. 1.9 10 11. that they might be able by sound Doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gain-sayers and to stop the Mouths of unruly and vain talkers and deceivers And lastly what else can St. Jude mean Jude v. 3. by his exhorting those to whom he writes Earnestly to contend for the Faith which was once deliver'd unto the Saints Now as all the Truths of Christianity which are propos'd to our belief are contain'd in the Holy Scriptures which we Protestants assert to be the compleat Rule of our Faith as well as our Minners So the main and Fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith were at first contain'd in that short Formulary of Confession which was made by Christians at their Baptism This form of sound words was according to the Apostles Expression committed to or deposited with those whom they ordain'd to Officiate in the Church to be by them delivered unto the Saints that is to all Christians at their Baptism And accordingly the profession then made is by the antient Christian Writers commonly call'd the Rule of Faith the Summ of which was that the Person baptized did acknowledge God the Father as the Creator of all together with his only begotten Son as appearing in our Nature and dying for our Redemption rising again and ascending into Heaven and sitting on the right hand of the Father from whence he is expected to come again and judge the World and also the Holy Ghost the Sanctifier the Guide and the Comforter of all True Christians with the Resurrection of the dead and the Life of the World to come This was afterwards drawn up into that Form which we have in the Apostles Creed which as occasion was given came to be farther explain'd in those which we call the Nieene or Constantinopolitan and Athanasian Forms Farther explain'd I say For these last mentioned Forms do contain no more in substance than that which we call the Apostles Creed as that likewise contains the very same in Substance with the antient Forms of Profession made at Baptism So that there are no New Articles contain'd in any of these Creeds but only an explication of the ancient Baptismal Profession according to the Tenor of the Holy Scriptures and agreeable to the declar'd Judgment of the First and best Christian writers extant So that it is in truth the want of a due acquaintance with the holy Scriptures at least the true sence and meaning of them as understood by those who were nearest to the time of their being written and best able to judge in the case that makes some in our days whilst they profess themselves Christians yet so openly and vehemently to inveigh against these Forms in which our Christian Faith is exprest Which I the rather take notice of because there have appear'd of late divers writers who have in a bold and insolent nay rude and Scurrilous manner attackt those Doctrines which have so constantly from the beginning of Christianity been own'd as some of the first Principles of the Christian Religion Nay it is too apparent that under the pretence of opposing the Doctrine of the blessed Trinity all Religion especially that which hath been reveal'd hath been Struck at So that we may in this Age repeat St. Judes complaint that there are certain men crept in ungodly Men Jude ver 4. denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ upon which account we ought to exhort one another as he did those to whom he wrote earnestly to contend for the Faith ver 3. which was once delivered unto the Saints and that not only against Socinianism and Arianism but even against gross Scepticism and downright Infidelity Now if we would keep the Vnity of the Spirit in this first sense which I am speaking of we ought strictly to adhere to the Doctrine which we receiv'd when we were baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost and thereby dedicated to our great Creator Redeemer and Sanctifier we should seriously consider and endeavour fully to understand the Profession of Faith we were then baptized into settling our Judgments in all the great Articles of our Religion by the careful study of the Holy Scriptures which were indited by men indued with a divine Spirit and which are therefore able to make us wise unto Salvation We should by the daily use of these endeavour to improve our minds not only in the absolutely necessary but in all the other Doctrines of Christianity such as will help us to understand the true Scheme and consequently the great worth and excellency of that Religion which we profess still growing and increasing in all that useful Knowledge which these Books are able to furnish us with To which purpose as we should read them with seriousness and humility so we should make use of all those Methods which
A Perswasive to Peace and Vnity A SERMON preached before the Right Honourable the Lord-Mayor AND THE ALDERMEN OF THE CITY of LONDON At the Church of St. Mary Le-Bow On Sunday January 16th 1697 1698. By SAMVEL BRADFORD Rector of the said Church LONDON Printed for Brab Aylmer at the Three Pigeons near the Royal Exchange in Cornhil 1698. To the Right Honourable Sir Humphry Edwin K nt Lord Mayor of the City of London AND THE Court of Aldermen Right Honourable THE Publishing this Discourse is purely an act of Obedience to Your Order it being design'd to have gone no farther than the Place in which it was Preach'd When You were pleas'd to come in a Body to my Church upon so solemn an Occasion as that of partaking of the Holy Communion in compliance with a Law which makes the doing so a Test to all who are admitted to Publick Offices and Employments I thought it became me to lay hold on the Opportunity to exhort You earnestly to promote the Good of that Church whereof by this Practice You own Your selves to be Members What I have urg'd for our being as far as is possible united not only in Judgment and Affection but in Communion too is upon such Reasons as will hold equally where there is an Indulgence granted by Law and where there is not namely The Precepts of the Holy Scriptures and the Nature of the Christian Body by both which every Christian is certainly oblig'd to promote the Peace and Unity of the Church of Christ not only for Wrath but also for Conscience sake out of regard to Christ and his Church even where he is lyable to no Civil Mulcts or Penalties for doing otherwise And to prevent all jealousie as if I had the least Intention hereby to express my dislike of Indulgence towards tender Consciences I take this Occasion to declare That I heartily approve it as being thorowly perswaded that for one Christian to persecute another who Conscientiously differs from him meerly for his so doing is a gross violation not only of the Law of Christianity but even of Nature it self Nay farther I believe it the Duty of Church-Governours to insist upon no narrower Terms of Communion than such as to the best of their Judgments regulated by Scripture have a plain and evident tendency to maintain Truth promote Piety and Vertue and preserve good Order in the Churches under their Care Which I mention with the greater freedom because I am well satisfied that this was the Principle upon which those who settled the Reformation amongst us in the Reign of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth acted and because I doubt not but that it is the Principle also of our present Governours both in Church and State But after this the Duty of every private Christian is as plain namely to comply with the Terms establish'd as far as he Lawfully may valuing the Peace of the Church much beyond the gratification of himself and being ready to do every thing for the maintaining its Unity which he thinks Lawful to be done upon any other account whatsoever How the Christians of this Nation came to divide themselves into so many distinct and separate Communions I will not now inquire but till we can attain to this Disposition I can foresee nothing else but that our Divisions must be propagated without Reason and without End from one Generation to another which is but a melancholy Thought to any one who remembers how much stress both our Saviour and his Apostles have laid upon Peace and Unity The Prayer which our Lord offer'd up a little before his Suffering for all who should believe in him was in these words That they all may be one as thou Father art in me and I in thee that they also may be one in us and that for this Reason That the World may believe that thou hast sent me And St. Paul in a set Discourse occasion'd by Contentions in the Church of Corinth concerning the Gifts with which some were endued to a greater degree than others prefers Charity meaning that Charity whereby the Peace and Unity of the Church is maintain'd much before the best of Gifts the strongest Faith the most profuse Liberality and even Martyrdom it self Our Blessed Saviour as an Example to his Followers constantly joyn'd in the Publick Exercises of God's Worship both in the Temple and in the Synagogue notwithstanding the many and gross Corruptions which were at that time crept into the Jewish Church The Apostles in like manner and the other Christians who dwelt at Jerusalem though as they were oblig'd by the Christian Institution they assembled apart from the Jews for the performing that Worship which was peculiarly Christian yet we never find that they deserted either the Temple or the Synagogues till the final desolation of their Country And St. Paul himself who so often and so vehemently upon just occasions asserted and pleaded for the Liberty of Christians as being set free from the Jewish Yoke yet did not at all scruple the making use of those Ceremonies which himself had declar'd to be abrogated when ever it might serve to the benefit of the Church After which Considerations 't is very strange that any Christian should entertain such slight apprehensions of the Evil and Danger of dividing the Christian Church as abundance amongst us have done Pardon me if I seem to press this matter with Zeal upon You who under His Majesty have the Government of this great City committed to You and whose Examples are like to have much greater Influence than the Examples of private Men. Whatsoever others do it certainly becomes those who are in Publick Stations to fulfil all Righteousness and I think I may be allow'd to say without Offence that a Magistrate should be one who needs no Indulgence but that which is by common consent given to Humane Nature in general That whatsoever is truly and justly propos'd in the following Discourse may be of Use to the Publick and that we may all in our respective Stations zealously and constantly promote the Honour of Almighty God the Good of his Church and the Welfare of the Kingdom is the hearty Prayer of Right Honourable Your most Faithful and Obedient Servant Samuel Bradford A SERMON Preached before the Lord-Mayor Perswading to PEACE and UNITY EPHESIANS 4.3 Endeavouring to keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace WE are assembled at this time not only to hear the Word of God read and preached and to offer up our daily Prayers and Praises to the Divine Majesty but also to Celebrate the most peculiar and Solemn Office of our Christian Religion Namely the Commemoration of our Saviours Death according to his own Institution By doing of which we openly profess to the World First our Communion with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ by that Spirit which proceedeth from both and in the next Place our fellowship one with another We declare hereby that we are Members of
unworthy of our Heavenly Calling All that farther remains is in the Last place to shew how we may best attain to the Practice of this Duty I have been from the Apostle urging upon you As to this I shall lay down but three plain and easy Directions and so conclude In order to this End we should get our minds thorowly possessed with the grace of Humility This I mention first because 't is that which the Apostle himself adviseth to as a good disposition towards Vnity and Peace ver 1. I beseech you sayes he that you would walk worthy of your Vocation ver 2. How with all lowliness and meekness keeping the Vnity of the Spirit c. Contention of all sorts and particularly in matters of Religion generally flows from pride an over-weening Opinion of our selves and our own Judgments whereas Humility disposeth us to consider impartially our selves and to hear and receive whatsoever good reason can be offer'd by another who differs from us and which is more it disposeth us heartily to seek and to obtain the Direction and Assistance of Almighty God in all our inquiries after Truth who taketh pleasure in resisting the Proud but giveth grace to the Humble We shall do well likewise to take into consideration and lay to heart seriously the many and great mischiefs which contention and division have brought upon the Church of Christ I need not mention the ill effects that have proceeded from this Cause in Foreign Churches of old Experience has taught us enough with respect to our own in which our differences about matters of Religion and the Divisions that have follow'd upon them have produced very deplorable consequences throughout this last Age. Not to mention the civil discord which hath at least been exceedingly heighten'd hereby I fear much of that Scepticism and Infidelity as well as the Profaneness and looseness of manners that have brought a scandal upon our times must be ascribed to this cause I am sure that want of Discipline for the amending our manners which all good men amongst us complain of must necessarily follow upon our being divided into so many several Communions and Partys in Religion 'T is time for us now to lay these things to heart when that which we all know hindered our Union is taken out of the way I mean a design in those who had the management of publick affairs amongst us first to divide us and by that means to prepare us for a change of Religion 'T is certainly the Duty as well as the Interest of all amongst us who have any regard for the Protestant Religion being now so happily and Peaceably settled under another Influence to forget our past contentions whether with respect to the Affairs of Church or State and to do what in us lyes towards the becoming entirely one Body in both We may do well in the last place to lay down this as a certain and undoubted Principle that the Peace and Edification of the Church of Christ and particularly of that part of it to which we belong is infinitely to be prefer'd before all those little things with respect to which we usually contend and divide The main consideration which prevails with a great part of those who divide from the Communion established amongst us is as far as I can perceive that although they allow our publick Service and Communion to be lawful and occasionally declare that they do so by their Practice yet there is something in the other way which they like better and which they say is to themselves more Edifying Now waving all other Answers to this I shall only recite and leave to your Serious Consideration two plain Texts of Scripture rather chusing to speak to you in Gods words than in my own that they may leave the deeper impression on your minds in both which we are taught to prefer the Peace of the Church and the Edification of our Christian Brethren before our own Satisfaction or the meer pleasing and gratifying our selves nay even before all other considerations whatsoever in matters which are in their own Nature indifferent One is that of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans where having discours'd of some differences which were arisen amongst the Christians of that Church about the use of things indifferent namely Eating some kinds of Meats Rom. 14 1â and observing some sort of days he concludes First with this Excellent saying the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness and Peace and joy in the Holy Ghost that is Christianity consists not in the Former but in the latter The Former are indifferent and may be used or not used as they conduce to the Peace of the Church and the Edification of our Brethren but the latter are absolutely necessary ver 18. For as it follows he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men And then he adds that Divine Exhortation Let us therefore follow after the things which make for Peace and things wherewith one may Edisie another Not the things which would most gratifie our selves But the things which make for Peace Nay not the things which we may Imagine our selves might be most edisyed by But the things wherewith one may Edifie another The other Text is of the same Apostle who had a truly large Soul and every where expresses a generous Charity in his Epistle to the Colossians He had in the Former Chapter taken notice of the Differences between the Judaizing Christians and others upon which after other Advice he concludes Col. 3.14 15. Above all these things put on Charity which is the bond of Perfectness And let the Peace of God rule in your hearts to the which also ye are called in one Body Charity it seems was in his Judgment to Bind and Tye them as it were perfectly together in Spite of all their smaller differences and a Peaceable Temper of Spirit to over-rule all their little controversies ãâã ãâã ãâã ãâã ãâã about indifferent things The word we translate Rule is Remarkable alluding to the Vmpire in their Games who was to determine all controversies that should arise and particularly to whom the prize did belong as if he had said If there Happen any differences amongst you concerning matters of Religion not necessary but in their own Nature indifferent nay if you it may be could your selves prefer one way before another yet judging neither of them unlawful Let the Peace of God rule in your hearts in all such cases let that determine all such controversies let Judgment or arbitration be always given on the side of Peace and Concord and Vnity for to these things ye are called in one Body After this I shall need to add no more but only to remind you that the Holy Sacrament which we are now going to partake of is the Symbol and Badge of this Vnity I am pleading for 't is that whereby we profess to the World as I observ'd at the first our Communion with God and our Saviour and with all good Christians 't is that whereby upon this Occasion we own our selves Members of the Established Church not as divided from the rest of the Christian Church but as one sound-part of that great Body and 't is consequently that which strictly obligeth us to be henceforward the obedient Servants of God the faithful Disciples of our Lord Peaceable Charitable and Useful Members of his Body Designing and promoting as far as in us lyes the Welfare both of this Church and of the Catholick Church of Christ throughout the World Now to that one God and Father of all who hath call'd us to be Members of his Sons Body to that one Lord who is the Head of this Body and to that one Etâânal and Invisible Spirit who animates and Influences every genuine part and Member of it be ascribed all honour Praise and Glory now and for ever Amen FINIS A Sermon Preach'd at the Church of St. Mary le Bow To the Societies for Reformation of Manners October the 4th 1697. By Samuel Bradford Rector of the said Church