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SERM. gion had been swallowed up in confusion and licen
If again we on the other hand fix our consideration upon disobedience, (the nature, the sources, the consequences thereof,) it will, I suppose, much conduce to the same effect, of persuading us to the practice of this duty.
It is in itself a heinous sin, being the transgression of a command in nature and consequence very important, upon which God layeth great stress, which is frequently inculcated in scripture, which is fenced by divers other precepts, which is pressed by strong arguments, and backed by severe threatenings of punishment upon the transgressors.
It is in its nature a kind of apostasy from Christianity, and rebellion against our Lord; for as he that refuseth to obey the king's magistrates in administration of their office is interpreted to disclaim his authority, and to design rebellion against him; so they who obstinately disobey the ministers of our Lord's spiritual kingdom do thereby appear to disavow him, to shake off his yoke, to impeach his
reign over them ; so doth he himself interpret and Luke x. 16. take it: He, saith our Lord, that heareth you Matt. x. 40. heareth me, and he that (6 åbetū, that baffleth) de
spiseth you despiseth me; and, If any man neglect to hear the church, (or shall disobey it, éày tapakoton) let him be to thee as a heathen, and a publican ; that is, such a refractory person doth by his contumacy put himself into the state of one removed from the commonwealth of Israel, he forfeiteth the special protection of God, he becometh as an alien or an outlaw from the kingdom of our Lord d.
d Nec putent sibi vitæ aut salutis constare rationem, si epie Quo exemplo ostenditur, et probatur obnoxios omnes et culpæ et pænæ futuros, qui se schismaticis contra præpositos et sacerdotes irreligiosa temeritate miscuerint. Cypr. Ep. 76.
Under the Mosaical dispensation those who would SERM. do présumptuously, and would not hearken unto
LVII. the priest, that stood to minister before the Lord, Deut. xvii. did incur capital punishment; those who factiously murmured against Aaron are said to make an insurrection against God, and answerably were punished in a miraculous way, (the Lord made a new thing, Num. xvi. the earth opened, and swallowed them up; they went down alive into the pit.) It was in the prophetical times an expression signifying height of impiety, My people is as those who strive with the Hos. ir. 4. priest. Seeing then God hath no less regard to his peculiar servants now than he had then; seeing they no less represent him, and act by his authority now, than any did then ; seeing their service is as precious to him, and as much tendeth to his honour now, as the Levitical service then did; seeing he no less loveth order and peace in the church, than he did in the synagogue; we may well suppose it a no less heinous sin, and odious to God, to despise the ministers of Christ's gospel, than it was before to despise the ministers of Moses's lawe.
It is a sin indeed pregnant with divers sins, and involving the breach of many great commands, which are frequently proposed and pressed in the 1 Cor. xvi. New Testament, with design in great part to guard Phil
. ii. 14. and secure it: that of doing all things in charity; 18. of doing all things without murmurings and dis- 2 Tim. ii. sensions ; of pursuing peace so far as lieth in us ; Heb. xii. of maintaining unity, concord, unanimity in de- Mark ix. scopis et sacerdotibus obtemperare noluerint; cum in Deutron. Deus dicat, &c. Cypr. Ep. 61.
SERM. votion; of avoiding schisms, and dissensions, and the LVII.
like: which are all notoriously violated by this disobedience; it includeth the most high breach of charity, the most formal infringing peace, the most scandalous kind of discord that can be, to cross our superiors f.
It is also a practice issuing from the worst dispositions of soul, such as are most opposite to the spirit of our religion, and indeed very repugnant to common reason and humanity; from a proud haughtiness or vain wantonness of mind; from the irregularity of unmortified and unbridled passion ; from exorbitant selfishness, (selfishness of every bad kind, self-conceit, self-will, self-interest,) from turbulent animosity, froward crossness of humour, rancorous spite, perverse obstinacy; from envy, ambition, avarice, and the like ill sources, the worst fruits of the flesh and corrupt nature: to such dispositions the rejecting God's prophets of old, and the noncompliance with the apostles, are ascribed in scripture; and from the same the like neglect of God's messengers now do proceed; as whoever will observe may easily discern; do but mind the discourses of factious people, you shall perceive them all to breathe generally nothing but ill-nature.
The fruits also which it produceth are extremely bad; manifold great inconveniences and mischiefs, hugely prejudicing the interest of religion and the
welfare of the church. Vid. Cypr. It is immediately and formally a violation of order Ep. 55. Neque enim and peace; whence all the woful consequences of aliunde,&c.
disorder and faction do adhere thereto.
An esse sibi cum Christo videtur, qui adversus sacerdotes Christi facit ? &c. Cypr. de Unit. Eccl. p. 258.
It breedeth great disgrace to the church and SERM. scandal to religion ; for what can appear more ugly
LVII. than to see among the professors of religion children opposing their fathers, scholars contesting with their masters, inferiors slighting and crossing their superiors ? what can more expose the church and religion to the contempt, to the derision of atheists and infidels, of profane and lewd persons, of wild heretics and schismatics, of all enemies unto truth and piety, than such foul irregularity 5.
It corrupteth the minds and manners of men: for when that discipline is relaxed which was ordained to guard truth and promote holiness; when men are grown so licentious and stubborn as to contemn their superiors, to disregard their wholesome laws and sober advice, there can be no curb to re- Ecclesiæ
gloria præstrain them, but down precipitantly they run into positi gloria all kind of vicious irregularities and excesses; when est. Cypr: those mounds are taken away, whither will men ramble? when those banks are broken down, what can we expect but deluges of impious doctrine and wicked practice, to overflow the ignorant and inconsiderate people?
Doth not indeed this practice evidently tend to the dissolution of the church and destruction of Christianity ? for when the shepherds are (as to
& Inde schismata, et hæreses obortæ sunt, et oriuntur, dum episcopus, qui unus est, et ecclesiæ præest superba quorundam præsumptione contempitur. Cypr. Ep. 69.
Hæc sunt initia hæreticorum, et ortus atque conatus schismaticorum male cogitantium ut sibi placeant, ut præpositum superbo tumore contemnant. Sic de ecclesia receditur, sic altare profanum foris collocatur, sic contra pacem Christi, atque unitatem Dei rebellatur. Cypr. Ep. 65.
SERM. conduct and efficacy) taken away, will not the sheep
LVII. be scattered, or wander astray, like sheep without
exposed as a prey to any wild beasts; to the griev-
Consult we but obvious experience, and we shall
h Τούτο πάντων των κακών αίτιον, ότι τα των αρχόντων ήφανίσθη, ουδεuía aidas, oideis póßos, &c. Chrys. in 2 Tim. Or. 2.