Images de page
PDF
ePub

the Lord to scatter here, that they may gather into the unity of the life : and they are blessed that, in this respect, even for righteousness sake, are scattered and separated from their brethren; that they may come to know the brotherhood and fellowship, which is in the light; from which none ought to scatter, nor to be scattered, but be more and more gathered thereunto. And this leads me to what I proposed in the third place, under this head, of the true churches power in matters spiritual, or purely conscientious ; which may be thus objected :

If thou plead so much for an oneness in the smallest matters, wherein consisteth the freedom and liberty of the conscience, which may be exercised by the members of the true church diversely, without judging one another?

In answer to this proposition, I affirm, first in general ; that whatsoever things may be supposed to proceed from the same spirit, though diverse in its appearance, tending to the same end of edification, and which in the tendency of it, layeth not a real ground for division, or dissention of spirit, fellow-members ought not only to bear one another, but strengthen one another in them.

Now the respects wherein this may be, I can describe no better than the apostle Paul doth principally in two places, which therefore will be fit to consider at length for the opening of this matter ; this being one of the weightiest points pertaining to this subject. Because, as on the

, one hand due forbearance ought to be exercised in its right place ; so on the other, the many devices and false pretences of the enemy creeping in here, ought to be guarded against.

The first is, 1 Cor. 12. from verse 4. to. 31. thus :

4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.

9. To another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.

10. To another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally, as he will.

12. For 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.

13. For by one Spirit are we all baptised 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.

14. For the body is not one member, but many.

15. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body ; is it therefore not of the body ?

16. And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body ?

17. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling ?

18. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19. And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20. But now are they many members, yet but one body

21. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you?

22. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.

23. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour, and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24. For our comely parts have no need, but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

25. That there should be no schism in the bo. dy; but that the members should have the same care one of another.

26. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29. Are all apostles ? Are all prophets ? Are all teachers ? Are all workers of miracles ?

30. Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret ?

Which I would not have set down at large, but that there be some so careless, (especially in matters they like not) that they will scarce be at the pains seriously to read over a citation only named; and that also this being presented before the reader, in the current of the discourse, will fix the nature of my application the more in his understanding. For the apostle shews here the variety of the operations of the divers members of the body of Christ, working to one and the same end; as the divers members of a man's body towards the maintaining and upholding of the whole.

Now these are not placed in contrary workings, for so they would destroy one another; and so the apostle in the ordering of them in three several kinds proves this. First, diversities of gifts. Secondly, differences of administrations. Third. ly, diversities of operations: and that which is the bond that keeps the oneness, here he also mentions, to wit, The same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God; the apostle names nothing of contrariety or opposition. But lest any should be so critical, as to bring in here the school-dis. tinction of contrarium oppositum, and contradic. torium, I shall not deny, but contrariety or oppo.

sition, in the sense it is sometimes taken, may be found in the body without schism : as the comely parts may be said to be opposite or contrary to the uncomely, or the left-hand contrary to the right, or the foot opposite to the head, as the uppermost part to the undermost; or the doing a thing is contrary to the forbearing of it; but as for that which is acknowledged to be propositions, or termini contradictorii, that is, contra. dictory propositions, which are in the selves irreconcileable, whereof one must be still wrong, and that still destroy one another, and work contrary effects, they are not at all admitted, nor supposed to be in the body of Christ; as I shall give in one instance, verse 8. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit. First, here are two different gifts, but not contrary. Secondly, There may something like contrariety, in the sense aforementioned, be here supposed; as, some may want this gift of wisdom and knowledge, and so to have is contrary to want, (though as to these two, none may be absolutely said to want them; yet all have them not in the same degree, as a special gift; though as to some gifts there may be an absolute want, as that of mira. cles, and interpretation of tongues.) But should I suppose such a contrariety, or more properly a contradiction, as to wisdom, to oppose folly, and to knowledge, utter ignorance; this were an opposition not to be admitted of in the body, because it were false to suppose that to proceed from the same spirit. And such contrarieties or diversities, as cannot justly be supposed to pro

« PrécédentContinuer »