in the Church of Corinth, and of
the present Separations.
the Kings Armes in Ludgate-street, 1672.
Notwithstanding the many Modern Epistolar Flouts at such kind of Apologies for Printing, give me leave to say, that many Considerable Persons have earnestly desired that this Sermon should be publick. I was not much provoked to hear, that Some of my Auditors should say, there was not a word of Edification in it; for as, I hope, hey were none of the wisest; so, I know, it intended to prevent destruction. We are called to labour under this odds: men may reject the means without Gods grace, we may not expect the End without Gods blessing.
I fear some of my Friends question my prudence; and are troubled that I appear so earnest in the point. But I am not yet satisfied, that it is Prudence in the Pastor not to be in earnest, when the Flock is in Hazard. I believe I never had more plain Truth on my side, or greater Cause to deliver it: when we see the Nerves of our Church resolved, and the whole body and the very Foundations shake: when mischief is intended to our Fathers and Mother and all our Brethren round about us: When, not only our Neighbours, but even Gods house is in flames, is this a time for a prudent man to keep silence? To what end are we placed upon the Tower as Watchmen, if we dare not say, What of the Night?
I hope, upon serious deliberation, I have set my shoulder to the Parochial constitution of the Church of England: if that falls, I can but fall with it: and in earnest, I foresee not, where I can stand safe, without it; neither care I much to be informed in that point: duty only is true security. He that said follow me; hath this said of him, the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
IT was truly observed, that the late Conventicles Ebb'd and Flow'd, with their hopes of Mercy and fears of Justice; in the Execution, and Suspension of the Execution of the penal Laws; for, accordingly, upon the security of impunity, we are now overflown beyond all bounds of Sober Moderation and Just Liberty.
And, who can any longer forbear? Who, I say, that hath any sense of Religion can forbear, to cry out; What an Horrible thing is committed in the Land? unless other parts are wiser than ours.
'Tis confest the observation is to our Reproach, and ought to be concealed: but that is impossible: and perhaps, the Cure too is beyond our power: yet, I hope, none can think they have cause to be offended, if we use our liberty, so far only, as to detect and bewail the Sin and Mischief [1/2] of this most monstrous licentiousness. My Complaint is this.
That, in a City of so excellent Government, and whose Governours are singular Examples in our publick Worship, whereas, about thirty or fourty persons did use to meet together, privately, before the late Declaration; now, as themselves doe glory (though it's thought, they sometimes overlash a little) there are so many hundreds, that doe it in the face of the Sun: and these, generally, such, as Communicated with us in our Parish-Churches, immediately before the Toleration.
These are they that now separate themselves; defie our Communion; set up their Altar against ours; and hold their new Assemblies, just at the same hour with our Parochial; as if they designed the ruine of our Churches by the directest opposition imaginable; and all this, under colour of his Majesties gracious Declarations; though that as directly declareth the Establishment of the Church of England.
But let it be well considered; is there one word in that Declaration to encourage Such to forsake us, as it found in Communion with us? It intends indeed to gratified persons of Tender Consciences; that is, those that could not, as themselves thought, joyn with us in our publick worship without sin: but what part of it will they lay claim to that both Could and Did? If such do separate, and yet have any Consciences, they seem not to be very tender ones that can serve at opposite Altars: and in so short a time, upon the only single Temptation of Liberty, can [2/3] so easily change their Guides, their Churches, their places of Assembling, and manner of worship.
For thus, they do not only disturb, desert, and divide, but even despise the Church of God. An Argument, which the great Apostle (what ever we think) thought sufficient, not only to rebuke but suppress the Divisions and Schismes in the Church of Corinth; as appears by the Smart exprobation in the Text. What! have you not Houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the Church of God?
Let us weigh both the Indictment and the Evidence. The Indictment, in general, lieth in the Text: they despised the Church of God. The Evidence is found in the preceding verses 18, 19, 20, 21. and is twofold. For they did so, both by their Schism and prophaneness.
I hear, saith he, there are divisions among you; 'tis Schismes in the Margent, according to the Greek: and by the word [Heresies] in the next verse, he intends nothing else, by the consent of all Expositors. And by their intemperance, which he calleth drunkenness, v. 21. he argueth their prophaneness: and by both evinceth their despising the Church of God in the Text.
Hence my Work is,
1. To lay before you the nature of Schism.
2. To shew you, that the present separation is such.
3. That thus the Church of God is despised; especially when the consideration of prophaneness is added thereunto.
 Now of these things, I beseech you of your Clemency, to hear me a few words: which I have rather chosen to deliver at such a time as this; when, it is presumed, there are many from several parts of the Country, equally concerned in the occasion, assembled to hear me. For the choise of this subject, with a little patience, you will perceive, the sin and danger of the present Schism is too plain a Reason. And for my incouragement, in labouring to stay this plague, and the farther eating of this sore Cancer, I am sure I follow very great Examples.
What do the Apostles; what the most Eminent Fathers; what all our solid Modern Divines, oppose themselves against, upon all occasions, with more zeal and vehemence of spirit, than against Causers of division and Schism in the Church? Yea herein, not only our own Pastors of the Church of England, but the very Nonconformists, (which were easy to manifest by the writings of the Puritans against the Brownists heretofore, and more lately of the Presbyterians against the Independents, and other Sectaries,) have led me the way.
So that, if I prove that thing to be Schism which I speak against; and that Schism such, as is of fearful consequence to the Church of God; I doubt not of your kindness to pardon me, if I shall use that boldness in my way of Arguing, that in other Cases might not so well become me, in so great, so grave, so Learned and so Honourable an Audience. And with this Confidence I shall now ever the lists.
 Of Schism in general, and the Application of it to the present separation.
We are to lay our foundation in the right notion of schism: to that end, we shall shew you first the nature of schism in general; and then the nature of that schism of which the Corinthians were guilty: still making application to the present Separation as we pass along.
For the first, that we may understand what Schism in general is, we must know that it is agreed by all that we have formerly written about it, that the nature of it lies in practice; and not in opinion, father than the opinion concerns the practice. Indeed the words, Heresie and Schism, sound the same thing in the Text, and some other places of holy Scripture; but after ages found reason to distinguish them; by consining Heresie to error in Faith, and schism to error in practice: and that practice peculiarly such, as is a breach of unity in the Church (as S. Austine and S. Hierom teach) what ever our opinions otherwise be.
Schisma, à Scissura vocatur, schism is a rent: therefore the Holy scriptures express it, by causing divisions; separating our selves; forsaking the Assemblies; heaping up teachers to our selves; and drawing Disciples after us, and the like.
 Ignatius and Cyprian soon after define schism by a renouncing, or not obeying or submitting to our lawful Guides, Bishops, and Presbyters. And with Tertullian, S. Austin, S. Jerom, and the rest of the Fathers, schism is a breach of Unity, by a Separation from the Church, and errecting Altar against Altar.
But when things of this nature had past a more thorough examination; it was at length concluded, that there might happen to be a just cause of separating from a true Church: and hence schism came to a more accurate and stated definition: and now it seems to be agreed on by all, at least Protestants, That Schism is an unlawful and unwarrantable or causeless rending or dividing the Church of God.
Schism is dividing the Church; therefore such as are said to be guilty of it, are supposed to be, or bound to me members of the Church thus divided. Again 'tis an unlawful, unwarrantable and causeless dividing; therefore it must be either without just ground; or, at least, without due counsel and advice, if the cause be just. According to Cameron and others; Schisma est secessio ab Ecclesia, vel injusta vel temeraria: schism is either an unjust or a rash separation from the Church.
Once more; It is also generally agreed, That there can be no just cause of separation from a true Church, while we may lawfully Communicate with it; that is, while we may do so without sinning. So that schism is a refusing to communicate with such a Church. It is as weakly, as needlessly said of some, that a not having [6/7] actual communion with a particular Church is not schism. Who ever dream'd it was? yet a refusing to Communicate, or, as Ames saith well, a renouncing Communion with any Church, especially our own, while we may continue it without sinning, this, I say, is schism; and indeed generally acknowledged to be so; in that all parties concern'd in the controversie, put it to this sole issue; whether the conditions of Communion be lawful; that is, whether we may Communicate without sin. And indeed as nothing is better than unity but duty; so nothing is worse than division or breach of unity, especially in the Church of God, but sin.
Schism then is such unlawful breach of unity; and only a breach of charity as an effect of it. And all causeless separation is such unlawful breach both of unity and Charity: and such separation is causeless, when we may Communicate without sin: and consequently, is schism beyond all exception.
As there is little difference about the definition of schism; so less about the distinctions or modes of it. We every where find it said to be Partial, when we causelessly refuse to Communicate with a true Church in some ordinances only: Total, when in all. It is negative, when we simple separate: positive and formal, when the separated gather new Churches, and set up Altar against Altar.
And now we have the foundation laid, not on the narrow principles of a party, but in its full latitude, according to the Scriptures and the Church of God. And I dare even challenge [7/8] you to shew me one good Authour of any perswasion, that hath written purposely of this point, that contradicts me in any one particular of the premises. I am sure, the worst of the separatists doe not: for that they generally excuse their separation, by this plea; that our Churches are null: or they cannot joyn with us without sin.
Give me leave then so far to apply this Doctrine of schism, to the present practice: and now judge righteously. Is not the present general separation from our Churches, in the language of the Scripture, a causing divisions; a separating themselves; a forsaking our assemblies; a going out from us; a heaping up new Teachers; and a drawing Disciples after them?
Do they not, in the words of the Fathers, renounce our Bishops and Presbyters; break the unity of the Church; separate from it; and set up Altar against Altar?
Do they not doe this, rashly without due advice; unjustly without sufficient ground? Do they not thus rashly and unjustly separate from a true Church, not only in party but wholly? not only negatively but positively, and run upon formal schism, in the Reformed and Presbyterian Dialect, by renouncing our Communion, and gathering new Churches, under new Ministers, government and manner of worship? Wo can deny it? who dare defend it?
 Keep close to the Argument, and there are but two things that can possible be objected: either that they are not, and ought not to be members of our Churches: or, that they cannot continue so without sin.
But neither of these can be bended to the present case: for we speak, especially, of such as were Baptized; and have, for many years together, worshipped God, in their own persons, in the Temples with us: and thus have done as much to the making themselves members of our Parish-Churches, as the very Independents require.
Besides, it ought to be considered seriously, that they stand obliged to worship God with us by the laws of Order and Cohabitation: by the civil and Ecclesiastical laws of the Church and Kingdom: which, do what they can, will reach and bind their Consciences, both by virtue of the natural laws of Government, and the positive laws of Scripture. Both which have Divine Authority sufficient to exact your obedience to your Rulers in all lawful things.
And that, to worship God with us in the Temple, is a lawful thing; I appeal to your own present judgment, if it agree with your late practice. However, I am sure, I have the general consent of the Reformed Churches, and of the old Nonconformists, Puritans, and Presbyterians, against both your judgment and practice, if they be indeed both changed.
 I know it is said, they do not absolutely deny our Communion; but they think they may serve God better in their gathered Churches. This is the refuge of their cunning men.
But can they be in earnest? Our Communion then must be either corrupt or defective. Defective, you cannot say; for we have all the same Ordinances that you have, and a great many good Prayers that you have not.
Are we corrupt then? Shew, wherein: there is nothing in our lay-Communion that you use to scruple, but Kneeling at the Sacrament. As for the Surplice and the Cross, these belong to the Pastor's Office: And shall not he have liberty to doe his duty, as well as you to neglect yours? Besides, if you should imagine, that you are concern'd about the Application of the Sign of the Cross to your Children; I need not tell you of wayes to avoid it, without gathering Churches.
If these things be so, answer me like Christians. You would Separate that you may have pure Ordinances, i.e. that you may receive the Communion, sitting.
And is it, indeed, all come to this? And will this bear you out in a Total Separation, and tearing our churches in pieces, as you do? You cannot think it.
But, what ever is amiss with us, your late practice and this very Objection granteth, that you believe it lawful to joyn in our worship; and if so, nothing can excuse your Separation from [10/11] Schism, according to the Doctrine of Ames, and indeed in the judgment of all men but your selves; if not very lately, of your selves too.
Besides, to Separate, that you may serve God better, is too like the pretence of all former Schismaticks, that stand condemn'd in the Histories of the Church. The Novatians, Audeans, Donatists; the Soberer part of our own Separatists and Independents, all these pretended for Reformation and purer Worship and Discipline; which, with you, is to serve God better.
Lastly, pardon me, if I warn you of some danger in this Principle; if left or trusted in their hands that are Cunning, and know how to use it with Advantage. It laies the Reins of Government upon the Peoples Neck, and impels them to reform without their Rulers; and consequently, is plainly inconsistent with the reason and order of all good Polity; and opens a Gap for Division and Confusion in the Church (how ever it fares with the State) while every one is hurried by his own Wild Fancy, set on fire by this Principle.
Yea, it carries also in it the Ruine of the Separated Churches themselves: It hath been formerly observed to ferment and work strangely in them, and may do the like again. It hath not been content to pill off the first black or browner Skin of the Onion; but it would have it whiter and whiter; and still hath pilled and pilled, one after another, till nothing has been left (except tears in the eyes of the beholders) but Skin and Husks; though fit only to be [11/12] trodden under foot by Atheistical Swine; while the Reformers themselves are prepared to be torn in pieces by Doggs; as the Apostle stiles some Ravenous Antichristian Doctors.
2. The Point hath yet force to defeat another great Argument for Separation; for if our people cannot leave us without Sin and Schism; how vainly is it said, We must preach; we may not preach in the Temples; we cannot preach otherwise without Auditours; we can have no Auditours but out of the Parochial Congregations; therefore we must gather Churches out of them.
One would think the Argument went better thus: had we a People of our own, there were a necessity of our preaching; but seeing we have none, there is no such necessity; where there is no opportunity, there is no duty, saith Mr. Baxter: The Argument as it is, is in plain English, no better than this; We must provide for our Families; we cannot doe this except we steal from our Neighbour; therefore we must steal.
It seems ridiculous to plead an interest in, or Pastoral Relation to the people you had ten years agon; founded in the Independent Notion of the peoples Consent. Where do you find one word in Scripture, making the peoples Consent necessary to a particular Pastors Call, or his relation to them? Besides, in a Christian Commonwealth, is there nothing required to give such relation but the peoples Consent, if that be so? Is the Consent of the Magistrate expressed in his Laws respectively, nothing in this matter? Is the Consent of the Overseers in the Church, that give us Institution nothing? It seems, beyond all doubt, [12/13] doubt, that the Laws of the Church where we live, must be the measure and standard of our spiritual Title, as well as the Laws of the Land, of our Temporal. And if the King and the Bishop have a hand in our Introduction and Ejection, we cannot be restored without them.
Besides, the remedy is too too short, were it good: have not the people generally consented to other Pastors? How few of the Ejected Ministers do indeed apply themselves to their Antient Flocks, as they should do by this Rule? Yea, they put their Sickle, every where, into other mens Harvest, without all shadow of this poor pretense.
Give me leave to be plain; This pretended necessity of preaching and drawing away our people from us, the real necessity of peace and order condemns; the necessity of obedience to God's word, requiring obedience to those Laws, condemns: Yea, the necessity of keeping your Promises and Oaths, if you were ordained by Bishops, flatly condemns.
Lastly, that we must preach, though inhibited by Law, and Law executed, is a principle condemn'd by the reason and practice of all Churches; yea of all kind of Nonconformists; the late Presbyterians, the old Puritans, and the very Independents themselves in New-England; as might easily be made to appear. And if our Brethren concern'd, examine their own late Principles, and the little reason they had to forsake them, I fear they will hardly escape Self-condemnation: But I desire it may be heeded, [13/14] that I hear speak not of the point of Liberty, but of Law and Conscience.
You have heard what Schism, in general, is; and how notoriously the present Separation is guilty of it. Let us now consider the particular Schisms in the Church of Corinth, and the agreeableness of ours with these.
The Corinthians seem to be charged with a threefold Schism. I. In preferring some Teachers to the sleighting of others. 2. Refusing to observe the lawful Customs of their own Church. 3. Dividing in the Communion of it.
The first we find, I Cor. I. 10. Now I beseech you brethren, let there be no Divisions (or Schisms Gr.) among you; it hath been declared to me that there are contentions among you, vers. 11.
Now, what were these Schisms and Contentions? Why, ever one saith, I am of Paul, I of Apollo, I of Cephas, and I of Christ; one not liking to hear any but solid Paul; another, any, but zealous Peter; a third, any, but eloquent Apollos; and a fourth would hear none, but wait for the Inspirations of Christ himself.
Thus, we see we may be guilty of Schism, not [14/15] only by refusing all Ministeries; but by having Itching ears, and heaping up teachers to our selves; and by a partial preferring some kind of Teachers to the sleighting of others with pretenses of Edifying better by them.
This too palpably argues a renouncing and disobedience of our own Pastors, that notorious Schism branded by the most eminent Fathers in the Primitive Ages of the Church, as before was noted; and Mr. Hales tells us, that the peoples partial preference of some Bishops before others, hath been the general cause of Schism in most Ages; yea, he adds, that he that reads St. Cyprian, would imagine that the Father thought, there was no other Schism but this.
Hear him in one place for the rest; unde enim Schismata, &c. whence do Schisms and Heretics arise? but when the Bishop who is one, and governs the Church, is contemn'd by the proud presumption of certain persons; and the Man that is honoured, Dignatione Dei, Indignis hominibus Judicatur, is judged by unworthy men.
Now, are not our New Churches Schismatical enough for this Cause also? Is it not respect of Persons that draws our people from us, to hear their New or Old Teachers?
But, besides what we have said to this already, we must say, the cheat is too manifest: For, how few of their old Ministers are left, that will preach unto them? Many are dead; many conform; and some are honest and modest, and like [15/16] not to be Independents and gather Churches: And very few of these few, that are left, and do take this liberty, are to be found near their old places; except they are such, as were ejected out of the best of our Towns.
But the Non-Conformists are godly, zealous and painful Preachers: And what is this but to intimate that we are not so, though, thanks be to God, you cannot say it; especially in the Parishes, where your Godly Preachers would gather their Churches.
But, my brethren, is not this to say, I am of Paul, &c. Deceive not your selves, this is not your vertue, or your strength, or spiritualness above others; but indeed your Sin and Schism, your weakness and your flesh.
The Apostle saw (though you cannot,) envying, strife and faction in these, and such like pretences. I write unto you, saith he, not as unto spiritual, but as carnal and Babes; for ye are not carnal; For whereas there is envying and strife and Divisions or Factions among you, are ye not carnal and walk as men? And all this he proves, after this manner; for while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollo; are ye not carnal? I Cor. 3. 1, 2, 3, 4.
Yet you may not escape thus: Your practice hath a double Aggravation, beyond theirs.
I. The Preachers in Corinth were all of one kind of Ordination, and Pastors of the same Church; and did not all countenance this partial respect of their own gifts, but rather reprove it; as you have heard the Apostle, who was one of them: So that there was no Schism or difference [16/17] among the Pastors; and St. Hierom's great Cause of Schism was wanting; who tells us, that it Separates from the Church propter Episcopalem dissensionem.
But you Separate from us, and adhere to such as are no allowed Pastors of our Church, either by presentation, Institution, Induction, or, for the most part of them, Ordination it self; and we have cause to fear, that our Differences are made not only by the people, but chiefly by the Teachers.
Secondly, Paul, Apollo and Cepas, as they were Ministers of the same Church, and at unity among themselves, so they had all the same Mode of Worship, the same Government and Discipline, as well as Doctrine.
But now, as you forsake your true Pastors, so you make new Churches of another Ministry, Worship and Government, and quite of another Constitution; and where is your Sobriety to run thus upon a Total Separation from us? What think ye, are ye not carnal and walk as men in the Apostles Logick? Yea, I say, ye are children, and driven of the wind and tossed.
The Second Sort of schism, viz sleighting lawful Usages.
These Corinthians were further blamed with a sleighting the Customs of the Church; for the Apostle, having in the beginning of this Chapter, minded them of the Decency of some [17/18] particular Circumstances of Worship; he at length enforceth their observance by an Argument from Custom in the Churches of God. v. 17.
But perhaps, though this be a fault, some may think it not always so great a fault, as to be called Schism; especially when men keep their Church.
Yet it may not be amiss to observe that Beza placeth the nature of Schism in this very thing; a leaving the Church for the sake of some external Rites.
And I see not how our new Churches can be excused in this point: For do they not take offence at our Rites and Ceeremonies? Do they not plead this offence, and this only or chiefly, for their Separation? Though our Rites are not only Rites of Custom, but of positive Laws too: Though our Rites are such as the Communion of the people is little concerned in: Yea, though they are such also, as all former Non-Conformists stiffly contend, none ought to Separate from our Churches for; and much less to gather themselves into new Churches; as it is at this day, when, you know, you are indulged to omit them without penalty or Separation.
Lastly, these Corinthians were guilty of Schism also by their Divisions in their Communions; reproved in the Text; explained in the Verse before it; In eating, every one taketh before other his own Supper; and one is Hungry and another is Drunken, i.e. saith Calvin, they drank too freely and merrily at their feasts, joyned with the Lords Supper; wherein, also, the Rich excluded the Poor, and Factiously denied them to Communicate with them; and after the Rich had done, the Poor were suffered to eat together, only of what the Rich had left: Thus, they Divided in their Love-feasts, as most consent; but Pareus thinks also, in the Lords-supper it self.
Thus Unity was broken; and that's Schism: Thus, saith Grotius, it happen'd in their Times, which is faln out much more in ours, that the thing instituted for the incorporating and uniting of Christians, in vexillum Schismatis vertitur; is made the occasion of Division and Schism.
This kind of Schism, is too easily applicable to our present Separation, which cannot escape alike, yea a far worse Accusation: For do not our brethren avoyd Communion with us especially in the Eucharist? Hath not this Communion been the only matter of their Division, when they so long joyned with us in all things else? None can deny it.
 But, by their Schism is now commenced much higher, by the following Circumstances.
I. The Corinthians divided only in one Ordinance with partial Schism; our brethren, in all, with total Separation.
2. The Corinthians held their divided Communions in the same Publique Place; our brethren leave our Publique Churches, and have Private Houses for Publique Worship.
3. Their divided Communions were successive; and not at the same time; but some before, some after other, v. 21. but our brethren set their new Altars directly against ours in point of time; in plain opposition.
4. The Corinthians communicated with the same Pastors, in the same Modes of Worship and Government; yet for dividing among themselves were Schismaticks; and who can excuse those that renounce their Pastors, and heap up new ones, of another Ordination, to serve another Altar, under another Mode of Worship, Government and Discipline?
The Sum is; the Corinthians were Schismaticks for dividing only in one point: But our brethren divide from us in all things; in our Pastors, Temples, Assemblies, Worship and Government: Yea, they have new Pastors, Places, Assemblies, and all things else, concurring both to Negative, and Positive, and Total Separation; and if this be not Schism, in the Rankest sense imaginable, say, what is.
Of the Contempt which falls upon Church, as a Publique Place of Worship, by Schism.
You have heard the first Evidence, viz. schism; but because your patience would fail me to speak of the Second, viz. Prophaneness (though doubtless we have too much reason for that also) I shall employ the time remaining, in lamenting the Contempt, which necessarily falls upon the CHurch of God, by Schism and Separation; beseeching you, at last, for Pitie's sake, to have no hand in it.
Despise ye the Church of God? Whether we understand the Locus or the Coetus, the Place or the Assembly, such as Separate shew plainly, that they despise the Church of God.
First, they despise the Publique Place of our God's usual Worship; as the Synagogue is properly the meeting of the People, and improperly the Place in which they meet; so the name Church, saith Grotius, hath both Significations; but here, as he conceives, and is plain enough in the Context, we are especially to understand the Place: For so early it seems the Church had Places peculiarly devoted to divine Service; and Eusebius observes, it was evidently so in Diocletians time.
These Churches or Temples, were then distinguisht from their Private Houses, by their proper uses; these were to eat and to drink in, [Have [21/22] you not houses to eat and to drink in?] and for Civil Conversation; but the Church for divine things; Prayers, Doctrine, Sacraments, the Publique Exercises of Piety and Religious Worship; therefore called, as in the Text, the Churches of God. Despise you the Church of God?
Not that divine Worship is to be wholly shut out of our Private Houses: Yet it ought to be such as agrees with the Nature of them, viz. Family-Worship. Publique Worship in Private Houses, when we may have a Publique, hath been ever a Solecism in Religion: So we must also eat a drink in the Church; yet, in such wise, as agrees with the Place; not after a common and carnal manner, as these Corinthians did; but in Christian Communion, after our Lords institution, as the Apostle commands.
Now, by Schism, this Church or Publique Place of God's Worship was despised among them; thereby, they made it was their own house; they have it nothing of its due Reverence; they despise the Worship of it, and the God of it, by turning it into a den of Thieves, stealing from God and the Poor; and a Sty of Swine, by their Sensuality and Luxury; a House of Pride and Faction, of Envy and Division; which ought to have been a House of prayer and Piety, a House of Purity and Unity, in the Communion of Saints.
Did they thus despise God's House, and do not we, much more? P. Martyr complains of his Times; now the Temples lie open all the day long, for walking, news, and all sort of prophane business; [22/23] and minds us of our Saviours whipping the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple; and it cannot but seem strange to us, that such, especially, as despise the Temple in its holy uses, should yet thus prophane it.
But, this is not the Contempt, I chiefly bewail; for while men forsake this Publique House, and build others for Divine Service; can they more shamefully despise it? While they forsake it, especially upon such Grounds, as they imagine should carry away all others, as well as themselves; can they take a more effectual course to render it contemptible? If after these cross Examples, others should be tempted to do so wickedly, what would become of our Temples?
They may stand a while indeed as forlorn and neglected Monuments of our Irreligion and Atheism; but, at length, must fall, and the Magnificence of England fall with them, to the imparallele'd reproach of our Church and Nation; they may serve a while, for meaner Offices than our own Houses, as some of them lately did, but too soon we may have cause to lament with the Prophet,
Lift up thy feet to the perptual desolations; even all that the Enemy hath done wickedly in the Sanctuary: they have defiled by casting down the Dwelling place of thy Name to the ground; they said in their hearts, let us destroy them together; they have burnt up all the Synagogues of God in the Land: O God, how long shall the Adversary reproach? Psal. 74. 2. to 11.
Yea, it is not an Enemy that reproacheth us; then we could have born it. We took sweet counsel [23/24] together, and (lately) walked to the House of God in Company.
I know you will say, that our brethren intend no such thing; but this is, plainly, the intention of their Actions, if not of their minds, which ought chiefly to be observed, and without which the intention of their minds is insignificant.
The Contempt of the Assemblies by Separation.
Secondly, suppose by the Church of God we understand the Coetus or Assembly of Christians; how are these despised, while you treat them as unworthy of your Company? while you reject our Pastors, our Members, our Worship and Ordinances, as well as our Temples?
What can be the Intention of your Separation, but to reflect upon us as too too corrupt; and to censure us as Assemblies of Sinners and Publicans, though you heed not who are the Pharisees; and plainly to expose our Bishops, Pastors, Government and Worship to Publique Scorn and highest Contempt; and the Church of England, and our Parochial Congregations, to the certainest Method of Reproach and Ruine; should others be perswaded to deal so spitefully with us as your selves?
I say, this way of Separation, as it immediately plucks up our Antient Land-marks, and dissolves our Parochial Constitution; so, it leads directly to the tearing our Prayer-book again; [24/25] the trampling, first, upon our Government, next upon our Governour; and, if wiser men than I am, have any skill at ghessing, a betraying our Church, and the Reformation of it to Forraign Invasion and Usurpation; the barbarous Captivity of spiritual Egypt and Sodom; which God avert.
If not, then this must be for a Lamentation: How doth the City sit solitary that was full of people? How is she become as a Widow? All her Friends have dealt treacherously with her; they are become her Enemies. Judah is gone into Captivity. She dwelleth among the Heathen. The ways of Sion do mourn, because none come to her solemn feasts; all her Gates are desolate; her Priests sigh; her Virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness; her Adversaries are the chief; her Enemies prosper; and from the Daughter of Sion all her beauty is departed.
The Application of the Whole Discourse for Union and Parochial Worship.
Thus you have heard what Schism is, and the danger of it to the Church of God; and that breach of Union and Division of the Parts, threatens the dissolution of the whole: Now, what remains, but that if you would avoid the Mischief, you prevent it in the Cause, which you see is Schism, Separation and gathering Churches.
 As you would preserve our Church, you must preserve its Union; the Case admits of no other Cure; the Case is otherwise desperate: Yet, this is a sure Remedy, carrying in it a continuity of Parts, which is our Health.
Now, there is but one way of maintaining this Union; and that is necessary, viz. the preserving our Parochial Constitution and Worship; if this be once dissolved, we are lost.
Parish-bounds were, at first, laid by the light of Nature, (for persons living together, should worship God together) and the general practice of Scripture; where we still find Cities and Churches are Commensurate: perhaps, among so many Instances, there may be some few just exceptions; but, generally, the bounds of our Parish Churches are convenient enough, our very Adversaries being Judges.
However, where they are inconvenient, the people cannot be thought fit Reformers; popular Experiments about Antient Foundations will be ever hazardous if not Ruinous. What hand trembles not to touch a Constitution that hath been found so convenient, and stood so firm for so many Ages? Yea, a friend of their own, of no mean account, affirms, that the Protestant Interest in England depends very much upon the Piety, Honour and Integrity of our Parish-Churches.
Conclude then; there is no other visible remedy against the foresaid Mischiefs, but our ordinary attending upon the Worship of God in the Temples.
 If you regard the Common Safety and the Publique Peace, or your Private Interest therein involv'd; if the Prosperity of Sion, your duty to and care of Religion; if the great concerns of God and Mens Souls, and the Reformation, weigh any thing with you: Yea, as you abhor Schism and Heresie, Popery and Anarchy, Atheism, Confusion and perpetual desolations in the Church of God, take head of separating your selves; break not our Parish-bounds; forsake not, sleight not, our Publique Worship and Assemblies.
Take heed of giving Countenance to gathered Churches; so far, as to gratifie a Wanton itch of hearing their Teachers: They are Schismatical in their Constitution; and plainly design opposition and destruction to the Church of England; and he that sees not this, sees Nothing.
Let Houses retain their proper offices, and be content with them; but see, that you Reverence the Sanctuary. O contemn it not, by withdrawing your selves, and Gods Ark and Altar from it: What! Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the Church of God? Do not dare to do it; 'tis a great Sin, and of destructive Consequence; and you have had Warning; and, to say no more, you have no Assurance, that either God or Man will always indulge it, or let it go unpublished.