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are ministers of peace; "Intok whatsoever house ye enter, say peace be to that house." His subjects, they are the subjects of peace; "If the children of peace be in it, let your peace rest upon it:" so that the one, his ministers, they are the preachers of peace; the other, his subjects, they are the children of peace: and in Ephesians, chap. IV. ver. 3. they are both joined together: "keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
The subjects of Christ are joined together in order and peace; for he who is the God of peace, and the author of peace, knits all his children together in the bond of peace.
k Luke, chap. 10. ver. 5. m Mark, chap. 9. ver. 50. James, chap. 3. ver. 17.
But how are they knit together? How doth the Lord knit these together? What cords are they, of which this bond may be said to be twisted?
I answer, God doth make men the children of peace by infusing certain heavenly graces into them, whereby they are disposed to a peaceable temper: for there must be something within to keep a man quiet, before he can keep a good correspondency with those that are without him; "Havem salt in yourselves, and peace one with another;" The neglect of this makes unquietness; a man must have a spirit well seasoned within, he must have this salt, this seasoning virtue within himself, else it is impossible he should ever hold good quarter with them without. Now there are three principal grains of this spiritual salt that must season a man; wisdom, love, and humility; these are those spiritual graces whereof this spiritual salt is composed, whereby a man is disposed for the maintenance of the peace of the Church. First, wisdom; this is the ground of it, "Who" is a wise man, and endued with wisdom? let him show, out of an unblameable conversation, his works in meekness of wisdom :" because wisdom is always joined with a meek and gentle spirit; "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and
1 Ibid. ver. 6.
n James, chap. 3. ver. 13.
easy to be entreated." The quality of the wisdom that is from above is first to be pure, then peaceable: it is the nature of wisdom not to take things hand over head, but to be able by the use of discretion, to discern betwixt pure and impure; it is a point of wisdom to sever the precious from the vile; and to try all things, and choose that which is good. But as wisdom is first pure, so in the second place it is always peaceable. Suppose that another hath as much wisdom and strength of judgment as I have, and hath made choice of what I did not; it may be an impure thing pleaseth him best; then the next thing is, it must be peaceable. If you say, But what if the party have made the worst choice? what if he oppose the truth? what shall I do then? what shall wisdom teach me in this case? Answer, Do not break the bond of peace by any means: "TheP servant of God must not strive, but be gentle to all men, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." Here is the property of God's servant, he that is the true minister of God: "If a man lust to be contentious, we have no such custom:" the servants of God are not the ministers of contention: what if men oppose themselves, instruct them with meekness; we must not fret and rush against them as an enemy, but we must instruct them with meekness: but what are the grounds? why, "if peradventure," saith the apostle, "the Lord will give them repentance, to the acknowledgment of the truth." But if any should say, Do you think it is an easy matter to discern betwixt good and bad, truth and error? I answer, no; it is the gift of God, that one is able to discern more than another; therefore, it coming from God, why shouldst thou be so far against him to whom God hath not revealed so much as to thee. This is the first grace that seasoneth and fitteth for this peace, spiritual wisdom. There remaineth love and humility, which the apostle joineth together in Ephesians, chap. IV. ver. 2. "With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering;
P 2 Tim. chap. 2. ver. 24, 25.
4 1 Cor. chap. 13.
Philipp. chap. 2. ver. 29.
"Matt. chap. 5. ver. 9.
forbearing one another in love." If any ask, how shall I endeavour to keep peace? the answer is, love and longsuffering knits this bond fast. What the properties of love are, the apostle tells us: "It is not suspicious, it covers all things, believes all things," &c. "Fulfil ye my joy," says the apostle," that you be like minded, having the same love." If there be an heart full of love, it will be easy to be entreated: the means to keep peace is to have love; and these two go together hand in hand, lowliness of mind, and a peaceable heart. Let nothing be done in high mindedness, but have a lowly heart; it is pride and want of love from whence this doth spring; "Let the same mind be in you," says the apostle, "that was in Christ," who saith, " learnt of me, for I am lowly in mind." Now by these means God enableth his children to be peaceable.
Now, what will follow from hence by way of application? Certainly, thus much; that all those, whose hearts can testify to themselves, that they are the children of peace, and are inclinable to peace; it is an argument to them that God is with them, and that they are the children of God, and then they are blessed; for so saith Christ himself; "Blessed" are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God." If God be the author of peace, he then that followeth peace is God's child, and God will be with him. "Livex in peace," says the apostle," and the God of peace shall be with you." So then, unless we will banish God out of our hearts, let us receive this apostolica! injunction; "Be of one mind, live in peace, and then the God of love and peace shall be with us." And farther, you have also blessings promised unto such for "blessed are the peace-makers." But what blessings are these? Why, in Psalm CXXXIII. we have them set down; it is a short, but yet it is a sweet Psalm: "Behold, how good and how pleasant a thing it is, for breth
r Philipp. chap. 2. ver. 2, 3.
x 2 Cor. chap. 13. ver. 11.
ren to dwell together in unity:" how good and pleasant it is, the Psalmist speaks fully: "It is like," says he, "the precious ointment that was poured upon the head of Aaron, and did run down to his beard, and to the skirts of his garments:" no perfume so pleasant and good; "it is as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion." And St. James tells us: "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." And in the last words of that Psalm, says the psalmist; "The Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." What, are such as these blessed? Wonder not at it, for the Lord hath commanded: he that is the Lord of hosts, and hath blessings in store at his command; where he seeth brethren to live together in unity, there he commandeth the blessing. And of what nature are these blessings? Even life for evermore. So that the exhortation here comes in right and just; "Ifa any man love life, and desire to see good days, let him eschew evil, and do good; let him follow peace, and ensue it:" the one is grounded upon the other. God commandeth the blessing, even life for evermore. Dost thou look for life and good days? as it is necessary to eschew evil and do good, so necessary is it to follow peace. But what if I cannot overtake it? Why, ensue it. But what if when we seek peace, others prepare themselves for war? Then it implies that it is such a thing, as that when it is flying away, we must pursue it. This is the first thing.
Secondly, is God the author of peace, he will not then own confusions, that is, tumultuousness and unquietness, this is not from God. "If there be bitter envyings and strife amongst you, boast not, neither lie against the truth, this wisdom cometh not from above, but it is earthly, sensual and devilish." God will not own it, this is not from above peradventure it may be counted a great part of wisdom and policy, to set persons together by the ears; but
z James, chap. 3. ver. 18.
a 1 Peter, chap. 3. ver. 10, 11.
Rom. chap. 16. ver. 17, 18.
what kind of wisdom is? it it is not from above, it is not heavenly wisdom; whence is it then, it is earthly says the apostle, there is the world; it is sensual, there is the flesh; it is devilish, there is the Devil. God is not the author of it, who then? why the world the flesh and the Devil, the apostle joins them together, this wisdom is not from above, but it is earthly, sensual and devilish. This wisdom is counted zeal now adays, but says the apostle, if there be envyings and bitterness, believe it, this wisdom is not from above, this zeal is bitter and it argues bitterness of spirit, it is a counterfeit zeal, it is not that which comes from above. If we do truly derive the pedigree of this disorder, it is a sufficient confutation of it. It is therefore first earthly; if a man examine it well, it is grounded upon worldly respects, and though pretence be made of religion, yet thou shalt find there be strange ends lie under it. "I beseech you, brethren, mark those that cause dissensions and divisions amongst you contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them, for they that are such serve not the Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly." It is worldliness, notwithstanding they pretend religion and the maintenance of the truths of the Gospel. So the apostle, "supposing that gain is godliness," that is the root, thence it proceeds, there is their godliness; that they may have gain and preferment. Those that have raised seditions in the Church, it is for worldly respects; there are some that hold men's persons in admiration for advantage, therefore what side. they are of, others will be, be it what it will be. Cast your eyes to the Netherlands, whence came those disputes, was it a matter only in the schools that the scholars only had a hand in it, were there not politic respects in it? And the schism in Israel was a pretence of religion not to go so far as Jerusalem to worship, therefore they set up two calves, one at Dan and another at Bethel. This is one father of this evil brat, the world, this contentious wisdom is earthly.
d 1 Tim. chap. 6. ver. 4, 5.