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what it produceth ; each of those respects will engage SERM. us to it.

LVII. It is in itself a thing very good and acceptable to God, very just and equal, very wise, very comely and pleasant.

It cannot but be grateful unto God, who is the God of love, of order, of peace, and therefore cannot but like the means furthering them; he cannot but be pleased to see men do their duty, especially that which regardeth his own ministers; in the respect performed to whom he is himself indeed avowed, and honoured, and obeyeda.

It is a just and equal thing, that every member of society should submit to the laws and orders of it; for every man is supposed upon those terms to enter into, and to abide in it; every man is deemed to owe such obedience, in answer to his enjoyment of privileges and partaking of advantages thereby; so therefore whoever pretendeth a title to those excellent immunities, benefits, and comforts, which communion with the church affordeth, it is most equal, that he should contribute to its support and welfare, its honour, its peace; that consequently he should yield obedience to the orders appointed for those ends. Peculiarly equal it is in regard to our spiritual governors, who are obliged to be very solicitous and laborious in furthering our best good; who stand deeply engaged, and are responsible for the welfare of our souls: they must be contented to spend, and be spent; to undergo any pains, any hardships, any dangers and crosses occurring in pur

Tempus est,—ut de submissione provocent in se Dei clementiam, et de honore debito in Dei sacerdotem eliciant in se divinam misericordiam. Cypr. Ep. 30.


SERM. suance of those designs: and is it not then plainly LVII.

equal (is it not indeed more than equal, doth not all ingenuity and gratitude require?) that we should encourage and comfort them in bearing those burdens, and in discharging those incumbencies, by a fair and cheerful compliance ? it is the apostle's enforcement of the duty in our text: Obey them, saith he, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as those who are to render an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief, (or groaning.)

Is it not indeed extreme iniquity and ingratitude, when they with anxious care and earnest toil are endeavouring our happiness, that we should vex and trouble them by our perverse and cross behaviour?

Nay, is it not palpable folly to do thus, seeing thereby we do indispose and hinder them from effectually discharging their duty to our advantage? áâvOltenes yàp úpão ToŰTO, for this, addeth the apostle, further pressing the duty, is unprofitable to you, or it tendeth to your disadvantage and damage; not only as involving guilt, but as inferring loss; the loss of all those spiritual benefits, which ministers being encouraged, and thence performing their office with alacrity and sprightful diligence, would procure to you: it is therefore our wisdom to be obedient, because obedience is so advantageous and profitable to us.

The same is also a comely and amiable thing, yielding much grace, procuring great honour to the church, highly adorning and crediting religion : it is a goodly sight to behold things proceeding orderly; to see every person quietly resting in his post, or moving evenly in his rank; to observe superiors


calmly leading, inferiors gladly following, and equals SERM.

LVII. lovingly accompanying each other : this is the Psalmist's Ecce quam bonum! Behold, how (ad- Ps.cxxxix. mirably) good, and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! such a state of things argueth the good temper and wisdom of persons so demeaning themselves, the excellency of the principles which do guide and act them, the goodness of the constitution which they observe; so it crediteth the church, and graceth religion; a thing which, as St. Paul teacheth, in all things we should endea- Tit. ii. 10.


It is also a very pleasant and comfortable thing to live in obedience; by it we enjoy tranquillity of mind and satisfaction of conscience, we taste all the sweets of amity and peace, we are freed from the stings of inward remorse, we escape the grievances of discord and strife.

The causes also and principles from which obedience springeth do much commend it: it ariseth from the dispositions of soul which are most Christian and most humane; from charity, humility, meekness, sobriety of mind, and calmness of passion; the which always dispose men to submiss, complaisant, peaceable demeanour toward all men, especially toward those whose relation to them claimeth such demeanour: these a genuine, free, cordial, and constant obedience do signify to live in the soul; together with a general honesty of intention, and exemption from base designs.

In fine, innumerable and inestimable are the benefits and good fruits accruing from this practice; beside the support it manifestly yieldeth to the church, the gracefulness of order, the conveniences

SERM. and pleasures of peace, it hath also a notable inLVII. fluence

upon the common manners of men, which hardly can ever prove very bad, where the governors of the church do retain their due respect and authority; nothing more powerfully doth instigate to virtue, than the countenance of authority; nothing more effectually can restrain from exorbitancy of vice, than the bridle of discipline : this obvious experience demonstrateth, and we shall plainly see, if we reflect upon those times when piety and virtue have most flourished: Whence was it, that in those good old times Christians did so abound in good works, that they burned with holy zeal, that they gladly would do, would suffer any thing for their religion? whence but from a mighty respect to their superiors, from a strict regard to their direction and discipline ? Did the bishops then prescribe long fasts, or impose rigid penances ? willingly did the people undergo them : Did the pastor conduct into danger, did he lead them into the very jaws of death and martyrdom ? the flock with a resolute alacrity did follow : Did a prelate interdict any practice scandalous or prejudicial to the church, under pain of incurring censure ? every man trembled at the consequences of transgressing b: no terror of worldly power, no severity of justice, no dread of corporal punishment had such efficacy to deter men from illdoing, as the reproof and censure of a bishop; his frown could avail more than the menaces of an emperor, than the rage of a persecutor, than the rods

b Neque hoc ita dixerim, ut negligatur ecclesiastica disciplina, et permittatur quisquam facere quod velit sine ulla correptione, et quadam medicinali vindicta, et terribili lenitate, et charitatis severitate. Aug. adv. Petil. iii. 4.

and axes of an executioner: no rod indeed did smart SERM. like the spiritual rod, no sword did cut so deep as

LVII. that of the Spirit; no loss was then so valuable as being deprived of spiritual advantages; no banishment was so grievous as being separated from holy communion; no sentence of death was so terrible as that which cut men off from the church; no thunder could astonish or affright men like the crack of a spiritual anathema: this was that which kept virtue in request, and vice in detestation; hence it was that men were so good, that religion did so thrive, that so frequent and so illustrious examples of piety did appear; hence indeed we may well reckon that Christianity did (under so many disadvantages and oppositions) subsist and grow up; obedience to governors was its guard ; that kept the church firmly united in a body sufficiently strong to maintain itself against all assaults of faction within, of opposition from abroad; that preserved that concord, which disposed and enabled Christians to defend their religion against all fraud and violence; that cherished the true virtue, and the beautiful order, which begot veneration to religion: to it therefore we owe the life and growth of Christianity; so that through many sharp persecutions it hath held up its head, through so many perilous diseases it hath kept its life until this day. There were not then of old any such cavils and clamours against every thing prescribed by governors ; there were no such unconscionable scruples, no such hardhearted pretences to tender conscience devised to baffle the authority of superiors : had there been such, had men then commonly been so froward and factious as now, the church had been soon shivered into pieces, our reli



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