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them, as God himself, without Question, will ; than by stickling for every unnecessary Truth, destroy that Peace, and Love, and Amity, that ought to be among Christians.
The Second Thing I would recommend, is, a great Simplicity and Purity of Intention in the Pursuit of Truth; and at no hand to let Passion, or Interest, or any Self-end, be ingredient into our Religion.
The Practice of this would not more conduce to the Discovery of Truth, than it would to the promoting of Peace : For it is easie to observe, that it is not always a pure Concernment for the Truth, in the Points in Controversy, that makes us so zealous, fo fierce, and so obftinate in our Disputes for or against them;" but something, of which that is only the Mask and Pretence, fome By-ends that must be ferved, fome Secular Interest that we have espoused, which must be carried on.
We have either engaged ourselves to some Party, and so its Interests, right or wrong, must be promoted : Or we have taken up an Opinion inconsiderately at the first, and appeared in the Favour of it, and afterward our own Credit doth oblige us to defend it: Or we have received some Slight or Disappointment from the Men of one Way, and so in pure Pet and Revenge, we pass over to their Adversaries: Or it is for our Gain and Advantage, that the Differences among us be still kept on foot : Or we desire to get ourselves a Name by some great Atchievements in the Noble Science of Controversies: Or we are possessed with
the Spirit of Contradi&tion: Or we delight in Novelties : Or we love to be singular.
These are the Things that too often both give birth to our Controversies, and also nourish and foment them.
If we would but cast these Beams out of our Eyes, we should both see more clearly, and certainly live more peaceably. But whilst we pursue base and fordid Ends, under the Pretence of maintaining Truth, we shall always be in Error, and always in Contention.
Let us therefore quit ourselves of all our Prepossessions; let us mortify all our Pride and Vain-glory, our Passion and Emulation, our Covetousness and Revenge, and bring nothing in the World to our Debates about Religion, but only the pure Love of Truth; and then our Controversies will not be so long, and they will be more calmly and peaceably managed, and they will redound to the greater Good of all Parties,
And this I dare say farther, to encourage you to labour after this Temper of Mind, That he that comes thus qualified to the Study of Religion, though he may not have the Luck always to light on the Truth, yet with all his Errors, be they what they will, he is more acceptable to God, than the Man that hath Truth on his side, yet takes it up or maintains it to serve a Turn. He that believes a Falfhood, after he hath used his fincere Endeavours to find the Truth, is not half so much a Heretick, as he that professeth a Truth out of evil Principles, and prostituteth it to unworthy Ends.
The Third Rule is, Never to quarrel about Words and Phrases; but so long as other Men mean much-what the same that we do, let us be content, though they have not the Luck to express themselves so well.
I do not know how it comes to pass, whether through too much Heat and Eagerness of disputing, that we do not mind one another's Sense, or whether through too much Love to our own manner of Thinking or Speaking, that we will not endure any Thing but what is conveyed to us in our own Method: But, really, it often happens, that most bitter Quarrels do commence, not so much from the different Sense of the contending Parties concerning the Things they contend about, as from the different Terms they use to express the fame Sense, and the different Grounds they proceed upon, or Arguments they make use of for the Proof of it.
For my Part, I verily believe, that this is the Case of several of those Disputes, in which we Proteftants do often engage at this Day. I do not think, in many Points, our Differences are near so wide as they are sometimes représented, but that they might easily be made up
with a little Allowance to Mens Words and Phrases, and the different Methods of deducing their Notions.
It would be, perhaps, no hard Matter to make this appear in those Controversies that are so much agitated among us concerning Faith and Justification, and the Necessity of good Works, to Salvation; and Imputed Righteousness, and
the Difference between Vertue and Grace; with fome others, if this were a fit Place for it. The Difference that is among us as to those Points, is, possibly, not much greater than this, That" fome Men, in these Matters, speak more clearly and fülly; others more imperfectly and obscurely. Some Men convey their. Sense in plain and proper Words; others delight in Metaphors, and do perhaps extend the Figurative Expressions of Scripture : Some reason more closely, and upon more certain Principles; others possibly may proceed upon weaker Grounds, and misapply Texts of Scripture, and discourse more loosly. But both Parties (especially the more moderate of both) seem to drive at much-what the same Thing, though by different Ways, as appears from this, That being interrogated concerning the Consequences of their several Opinions, they generally agree in admitting or rejecting the same.
But, Fourthly, Another Thing that would make for Peace, is this; Never to charge upon Men the Consequences of their opinions, when they expresly disown them.
This is another thing that doth hugely tend to widen our Differences, and to exafperate Mens Spirits one against another; when having examin’d some Opinion of a Man, or Party of Men, and finding very great Absurdities and evil Consequences necessarily to flow from it, we presently throw all those into the Dijb of them that hold the Opinion; as if they could not hold the one, but they must necessarily own the other; Whereas, indeed, the Men
we thus charge, may be fo innocent in this Matter, that they do not in the least dream of such Consequences; or if they did, they would be so far from owning them, that they would abhor the Opinion for their Sakes.
To give you an Instance or Two in this Matter : It is a Doctrine maintained by some, That God's Will is the Rule of Justice; or, That every Thing is therefore just or good, because God wills it. Those that are concerned to oppose this Doctrine, do contend, that if this Doctrine be true, it will necessarily follow, that no Man can have any Certainty of the Truth of any one Proposition that God hath revealed in Scripture; because, say they, his Eternal Faithfulness and Veracity are by this Doctrine made Arbitrary Things. Granting now that this can by juft Consequence be made out, yet I dare say, those that hold the aforesaid Doctrine would be very angry, and had good Reason fo to be, if they were told, that they did not, no, nor could not, upon their Principles, certainly believe the Scripture.
Some Men think that they can, with demonstrative Evidence, make out, that the Doctrine of God's irrespective Decrees doth, in its Consequences, overthrow the whole Gospel; that it doch destroy the Nature of Rewards and Punishments, cuts the very Sinews of Mens Endeavours after Vertue, makes all Laws, Promises, Exhortations, perfectly idle and infignificant Things, and renders God the '
most unlovely Being in the World. Now supposing all this to be true, yet it would be a most