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sacraments, is a sufficient pledge and earnest of our safety in embracing, as a church, the society in which they shall both be found, goes so far as this, that she is never to be renounced so long as she shall persevere in them, although, in other respects, she may abound in faults. Even in the administration of doctrine or sacraments, some defect may possibly creep in; which yet ought not to alienate us from her communion. For all the heads of true doctrine are not of the same rank, Some are so necessary to be known, that they must be fixed and undisputed by all, as the characteristic points of religion. Such as, that there is one God--that Christ is God, and the Son of God'—that our salvation depends upon the mercy of God,' and the like. There are others which, although subjects of controversy among the churches, do not destroy the unity of the faith. If, for example, one church, without the lust of contention, or obstinacy in asserting its own opinion, should think that the souls of believers departing from the body speed their flight immediately to heaven: another, not daring to (letermine any thing about their place, holds it nevertheless for certain that they live to the Lord. What two churches should fall out on such a matter as this? When Paul says, 'Let us, as many as are perfect, be of one mind: if in anu thing ye are of different mind, the Loril shall reveal ihis also to you ;'* does he not sufliciently indicate, that disagreement in things not so very necessary, ought not to be a source of division among Christians ? To agree throughout is, indeed, our first attainment: but since no man is perfectly free from the clouds of ignorance, we either shall leave no church at all, or we must forgive mistakes in those things where ignorance may prevail without violating the substance of religion, or hazarding the loss of salvation. I would not here be understood to patronize even the minutest errours, nor to express an opinion that they ought to be cherishıcd, in the slightest degrec, by flattery or connivance. But I say that we may not, on account of smaller disagreements, rashly forsake any church wherein is preserved sound and unhurt, that doctrine which forms the safeguard of piety, and that ise of the sacraments instituted by the Lord.”+
* Plil. III. 15.
+ Quod dicimus purum verbi ministerium et purum in celebrandis sa; cramentis ritum, idoneum esse pignus et arrhabonem, ut tuto possimus societatem in qua utrumque extiterit, pro Ecclesia amplexari, usque eo valet ut nusquam abjicienda sit quamdiu in illis perstiterit, etiamsi multis alioqui vitiis scateat. Quin etiam potest vel in doctrinæ, vel in sacramentorum administratione vitii quidpiam obrepere, quod alienare
“In bearing with imperfections of life, our indulgence must proceed much further. For we are here on very slippery ground, and Satan lies in wait for us with no ordinary machinations. There always have been some who, imbued with a false persuasion of their absolute sanctity, as if they had become a sort of supernatural beings, disdained the society of all men in whom they perceived the remains of human infirmity. Such, in old time, were the Cathari, and (who came very near their madness) the Donatists. Such, at this day, are some of the Anabaptists, who would fain appear to have made greater proficiency than their neighbours. There are others who go wrong more from an inconsiderate zeal for righteousness, than from such senseless pride. For when they see, that the fruits of practical life among those who enjoy the gospel, do not correspond with its doctrine, they immediately judge that no church is there. The offence is indeed very just; and we, in this most wretched age, give but too much occasion for it: nor can we excuse our cursed sloth, which the Lord will not permit to go unpunished; as he has already begun to chasten it with heavy stripes. (Wo, therefore, to us who, by our enormities, wound the weak conscience !) But, on the other hand, they whom I have mentioned, sin in their turn, by not knowing how to set limits to their offence. For where the Lord requires clemency, they, without regarding it, abandon themselves to immoderate severity. For because they do not think the church is where there is not solid purity and integrity of life, through their very hatred of crimes they quit the lawful church under the
nos ab ejus communione non debeat. Non enim unius sunt formæ omnia veræ doctrinæ capita. Sunt quadam ita necessaria cognitu, ut îxa esse et indubitata omnibus oporteat, ceu propria religionis placita: qualia sunt, Unum esse Deum. Christum Deum esse, ac Dei Filium : In Dei misericordia salutem nobis consistere : et similia. Sunt alia, quæ inter Ecclesias controversa, fidei tamen unitatem non dirimant. Guæ enina ob hoc unum Ecclesiæ dissideant, si altera citra contentionis libidinem, citra pervicaciam asserendi, animas à corporibus demigrantes in cæluin convolare putet; altera nihil ausit definire de loco, cæterum vivere tamen Domino certo statuat? Verba sunt apostoli, Quicunque perfecti sumus, idem sentiamus : siquid aliter sapitis, lloc quoque vobis Dominus revelabit. Annon satis indicat, dissensionem de res bas istis non ita necessariis, dissidii materiam esse non debere inter Christianos? Primum quidem est, ut per onunia consentianus : sed quoniam neino est qui non aliqua ignorantiæ nubecula obvolutus sit: aut nullam relinquamus Ecclesiam oportet, aut hallucinationem coniunenus in iis rebus quæ et inviolata religionis summa et citra salutis Jacturan ignorari possint. Hic autem patrocinari erroribus vel minue tissimis nolim, ut blandiendo et connivendo censeam fovendos: sed dico non temere ob quaslibet dissentiunculas deserendam nobis Eeclesiam, in qua duntaxat ea salva et illibata doctrina retineatur qua constat incolumitas pietatis, et Sacramentoruin asus à Domino institutus custodiatur
Id. ibid. & 12
idea of shunning the faction of the ungodly." **
“I do not deny that it is the duty of a pious man to withdraw from all private intimacy with the wicked ; to entangle himself with them by no voluntary bonds. But it is one thing to avoid familiarity with bad men; another, out of dislike for them, to renounce communion with the church. As to their deeming it sacrilege to participate with such in the bread of the Lord, they
* In vitæ autem imperfectione toleranda multo longius procedere indulgentia nostra debet : hic enim valde lubricus est lapsus : neque vulgaribus machinamentis hic Satan nobis insidiatur, Fuerunt enim semper qui falsa absolutæ sanctimoniæ persuasione imbuti, tanquam aërii quidam dæmones jam facti essent, omnium hominum consortium aspernarentur, in quibus humanum adhuc aliquid subesse cernerent. Tales olim erant Cathari, et (qui ad eorum vesaniam accedebant) Donatistæ. Tales hodie sunt ex Anabaptistis nonnulli, qui supra alios volunt vis deri profecisse. Alii sunt qui inconsiderato magis justitiæ zelo quam insana illa superbia peccant. Dum enim apud eos quibus Evangelium annunciatur, ejus doctrinæ non respondere vitæ fructum vident, nullam iHic esse Ecclesiam statim judicant. Justissima quidem est offensio, et cui plus satis occasionis hoc miserrimo seculo præbemus: nec excusare licet maledictam nostram ignaviam, quam Dominus impunitam non sinet: ut jam gravibus flagellis castigare incipit. (Væergo nobis, qui tam dissoluta flagitioruni licentia committimus ut propter nos vulnerentur imbecilles conscientiæ :) Sed in hoc vicissiin peccant illi quos dixinius, quod offensioni suæ modum statuere nesciunt. Nam ubi Dominus clementiam exigit, omissa illa, totos se immoderatæ severitati 'tradunt. Quia enini non putant esse Ecclesiam ubi non est solida vitæ puritas et integritas, scelerum odio a legitima Ecclesia discedunt, dum a factione improborum declinare se putant.
IBID. & 13.