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teth out water :' and he that, to the intent his neighbor's lands should be overflown with a torrent of dissension, doth unloose the dams, and cut the banks of former friendship, may (if he be wise) expect the merciless flood should at length reach himself, and that his own habitation should be at last surrounded therewith. For when men at length begin to be weary, and to repent of their needless quarrels, and the mischievous consequences attending them, and to be inquisitive into the causes and instruments of their vexation, they will certainly find out, detest, and invert the edge of their displeasure on these wretched makebates; and so the poison they mingled for others they themselves drink up; the catastrophe of the tragedy (begun by them) is acted on themselves; they sink down into the pit they made for others, and in the net which they hid is their own foot taken: Et delator habet quod dedit exitium.

Lastly, if we would effectually observe this precept, we must readily comply with the innocent customs, and obey the established laws of the places where we live. I say first comply with the customs; which also are in effect inferior laws enacted by the tacit agreement of the generality of men; the non-observation of which is on many accounts very prejudicial to peaceable life. For to those concerned in it, it will always seem to intimate a squeamish niceness, a froward perverseness, an arrogant self-conceitedness, a manifest despising other men's judgments, and a virtual condemning their practices of fault or folly, and consequently a monopolising all goodness, and appropriating all wisdom to himself; qualities intolerably odious to men, and productive of enmity. It incenses the people (hugely susceptive of provocation) with a sense of notable injury done, and contempt cast on it. For the only authority, which the commonalty can lay claim to, consists in prescribing rules of decency in language, habit, gesture, ceremony, and other circumstances of action, declared and ratified by ordinary practice; nonconformity to which is by them adjudged a marvellous irregularity, contumacy, and rebellion against the majesty of the people, and is infallibly revenged and punished by them.

There is no preserving peace, nor preventing broils and stirs,

but by punctually observing that ordinary rule of equity, that in cases of doubtful debate, and points of controverted practice, the fewest should yield to the most, the weakest bend to the strongest, and that to the greatest number should be allowed at least the greatest appearance of reason. To which purpose we may observe that the best and wisest men (not to displease those with whom they conversed, as far as their duty to God, and their conscience would permit) have commonly in their manners of life followed not what in their retired judgment they most approved, but what suited to the customs of their times and places, avoiding a morose singularity, as offensive to others. and productive of disquiet to themselves. You know how Cicero censured Cato for endeavoring, against the grain and predominant genius of those times, to reduce things to a strict agreement with his private notions : Ille optimo animo utens, et summa fide, nocet interdum reipublicæ. Dicit enim tanquam in Platonis noliteiq, non tanquam in Romuli fæce sententiam. But a more clear and pertinent instance we have in St. Paul, who thus represents his own practice : I have made myself a servant to all : unto the Jews I became as a Jew; to them that are without law, as without law : to the weak became I as weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.' St. Paul wisely knew that, by a prudent compliance with men's customs, and condescension to their capacities, he engaged to him, or at least did not alienate from him, their affections; and thereby became more capable of infusing good doctrine into their minds, and promoting their spiritual good. And the same course was generally taken by the primitive Christians, who in all things (not inconsistent with the rules and principles of their religion) did industriously conform their conversation to the usual practices of men ; thereby shunning those scandalous imputations of pride and perverseness, which then rendered the Jews so odious to the world, as appears by divers passages in the ancient apologists for Christian religion : particularly Justin Martyr (in his Epistle to Diogoetus) hath these words : Χριστιανοί γάρ ούτε γη, ούτε φωνή, ούτε έθεσε διακεκριμένοι των λοιπών εισίν ανθρώπων ούτε γάρ πον πόλεις ιδίας κατοικούσιν, ούτε διαλέκτω τινί παρηλλαγμένη χρώνται, ούτε βίον παράσημον ασκούσιν-κατοικούντες δε πόλεις Ελληνικάς τε και βαρβάρους, ως έκαστος έκληρώθη, εν τοις εγχωρίοις έθεσιν ακολουθούντες, &c. • The Christians neither in dwelling, language, or customs differ from the rest of men ; they neither inhabit towns proper to themselves, nor use any peculiar dialect, nor exercise an uncouth manner of living; but, as by chance it is allotted to them, inhabiting cities belonging both to Greeks and Barbarians, comply with the customs of the country. And much more hath he there; and much Tertullian likewise in his A pologetic, to the same purpose.

* Epist. ad Alt. lib. ii. Ep. i,

Neither do we find in the life of our Saviour, that exact pattern of wisdom and goodness, that in any thing he did affect to differ from the received customs of his time and country, except such as were grounded on vain conceits, extremely prejudicial to piety, or directly repugnant thereto.

And I cannot except from this rule the compliance with religious customs used in the worship and service of God: since a wilful discrepancy from them doth much more destroy peace and kindle the flame of contention, inasmuch as men are apt to apprehend themselves much more slighted and more condemned by a disagreement in those, than in matters of lesser concernment. And it cannot reasonably be imagined that the God of love and peace, who questionless delights to see men converse in peace and amity, and who therefore in general terms enjoins us to pursue the things that make for peace, (whereof certainly in reason and to experience, following indifferent and harmless customs, not expressly repugnant to his law, nor to the dictates of natural reason, is one thing, and not the least,) in our addresses to himself (partly designed and mainly serving more strictly to unite, not to dissociate men in affection) should dislike or disapprove the use of this course so expedient and conducible to peace : especially since he infinitely more regards the substance of the duty, and the devotion of the heart therein, than the manner, or any circumstantial appendages thereof: it is certain however that St. Paul intimates a wilful departure from ordinary practice in such cases, to proceed from a contentious disposition : But if any man,' saith he, have a mind to be


contentious, (so δοκεί φιλόνεικος είναι imports,) we have no such custom, nor the churches of God.'

But yet much more is peaceable conversation impeached by disobedience to established laws, those great bulwarks of society, fences of order, and supports of peace : which he that refuses to obey, is so far from living peaceably with all men, that he may reasonably be presumed unwilling to have peace with any man ; since in a manner he defies all mankind, vilifies its most solemn judgments, endeavors to dissolve those sacred bands by which its union is contained, and to subvert the only foundations of public tranquillity. He declares himself either to affect an universal tyranny over, or an abhorrency from society with, other men, to be unwilling to live with them on equal terms, or to submit to any fair arbitration, to desire that strifes should be endless, and controversies never decided, who declines the verdict of law, the most solemn issue of deliberate advice, proceeding from the most honorable, most wise, most worthy and select persons, and involving in it the consent of the whole commonwealth. St. Paul, directing that prayers should be made for princes and those in authority, assigns the reason, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty :' and certainly if we are to pray for, we are also obliged to obey them in order to the same end, which to do is absolutely in our power, and more immediately requisite to that purpose. For as no peace can be preserved without the influence of authority; so no authority can subsist without obedience to its sanctions. He that is desirous to enjoy the privileges of this happy estate of peace, must in reason be content to perform the duties enjoined, and bear the common burdens imposed by those who are the protectors of it.

Thus, as plainly as I could, have I described what it is to live peaceably, and what the means are that principally conduce thereto: I should now proceed to consider the object of the duty, and the reasons why it respects all men ; as also whence it comes, that sometimes we may fail in our endeavor of attaining this desirable condition : and, lastly, to propound some inducements persuasive of its practice. But I must not farther

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encroach on your patience, and shall therefore reserve these things to the next opportunity.

Now the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowlege and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

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