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UNIFORMITY EXAMINED.

2 COR. IV. 13.

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.

OBSERVING that our brethren of Scotland, together with the Assembly of Divines, and the rest of the Presbyterian judgment, do often, both in their discourse and writings, exceedingly press for uniformity; I have been urged in my spirit to think upon the matter, and to consider whether there could be any such thing found in the word of the New Testament, or in the practice of the churches of Christ. And for my part, I ingenuously profess, I cannot yet discover it: and would be glad if any would instruct me further in this particular, so he do it from the word.

Now, uniformity, what is it, but "an unity of form ?" and the form they mean, no doubt, is outward for the inward form, as it cannot be known by the outward senses; neither can in it be accomplished by outward power. And therefore, till I know their meaning better, I conceive, that by uniformity, they understand an unity of outward form in the churches of God; yea, some of them do declare so much, calling the thing they would have, external uniformity.

Now such a thing as this (after so much meditation and recollection, as my other employments, and the many dis

tractions that necessarily attend my present condition, will permit me) I cannot discern, in the word of the gospel. For Christ, speaking of the church of the New Testament, saith, The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and Truth, John iv. 23. In which words it is most evident, that the worship of God in the time of the New Testament, is inward and spiritual, consisting in faith, hope, love, and in prayer, which is the operation of the three former, &c. And so, is so far from uniformity as it hath been explicated, and as they understand it, that it is not at all capable of it. And therefore I cannot but wonder at the strange workings of darkness in the minds of men, who would have an external uniformity, in a worship that is inward and spiritual; and of which, the outward form is no part at all, but is merely accidental, and so absolutely various.

Again as I find not this uniformity in the doctrine of the gospel, so neither in the practice of the Saints, who had the spirit of the gospel, as that practice is represented to us in the word.

In Acts i. 14. I read, how the apostles being together with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren, continued, with one accord or mind, in prayer and supplication: and Acts ii. 44, and 46. how all that believed were together, and continued daily, with one mind in the temple, and did break bread from house to house, &c. And in all this there was unity, but no external uniformity, neither name nor thing. Again, Acts iv. 23. Peter and John being let go by the magistrates, went to their own company, (which many of our clergy would term a conventicle) and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them; and when they heard it, they lift up their voice to God, with one mind, and prayed.

Here was inward unity, in faith, and love, and spiritual prayer, but no external uniformity; and verse 32. The multitude of them that believed, were of one heart, and one soul. Unity still, but nothing of external uniformity. Further, we read, Acts, chap. vii. and chap. viii. that Stephen and Philip, who, by the church were ordained decons, and were to serve only for the ministry of the table, yet by virtue of the anointing, preached the word of God freely, and powerfully and how all the members of the church of Jerusalem, who were neither ministers nor deacons, being scattered abroad by persecution, went preaching the word every where where they came, in that case of necessity the unction of the spirit, of which all believers partake alike, being one fundamental ground of such ministry, where there are no believers to call to the office: and in this, though there was unity of faith, spirit, and doctrine, yet I am sure they will say, there was no such uniformity as they would have. Again, Acts xx. Paul, the first day of the week, preached to the disciples of Macedonia, from the evening till midnight, (which Dr. Pocklington, in a printed sermon, saith, was out of order) and after, brake bread, and did eat, and talked with them a long while, till break of day and going from thence, he arrived at Ephesus, and there called the elders of the church together, and appeals to them after what manner he had been with them, to wit, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations, &c. and how he had held back nothing profitable for them, but had taught them publicly, and from house to house, (which I wish were more in use now-adays, if it might obtain so much leave from uniformity) and had preached to them repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ: our chief work towards God, since our fall and corruption, being repentance, which is the change of the creature towards God, through God's own work in the creature: and this is not done without

the sorrow of the flesh; and our chief work towards Christ, who is given to us as a head, being faith or union. And in the end, exhorts the presbyters to take heed to themselves, who, (according to the church-principles of this age, want no admonition themselves, seeing they are become a peremptory rule to all others) and to the flocks over which the Holy Spirit (and not patrons) had made them overseers, to feed the church of God, which he had purchased with his own blood, &c. But in all this, neither practises himself, nor preaches to them, nor commands them to preach to others, or impose upon others any such kind of thing as external uniformity. And so surely, they that so vehemently urge this thing, that they make it all in all in their reformation, have some other teacher than the apostle, who being taught of Christ, as Christ was taught of God, yet knew no such thing at all in the worship of God, as uniformity.

And yet further, that the world, if it be possible, may be the more convinced, observe a little more seriously the practice of Christ and the saints, in reference to this point, and you shall see nothing of external uniformity. See this in the prayer of Christ, (prayer for the duty itself, being nothing, but so much spiritual worship, as being the voice of the Spirit in the flesh, both in head and members) this, Christ sometimes performed with his eyes lifted up to heaven, sometimes being prostrate with his body on the earth, and so several times, several ways: and as he, so the saints have; some prayed standing and lifting up their hands, as Moses; some kneeling and lifting up their hands, as Solomon; some standing and not lifting up their eyes, as the Publican, &c. And what external uniformity in all this? And as for praying, so for preaching ; Christ sometimes preached in a ship, sometimes on the shore, sometimes in the city Jerusalem, sometimes in the Temple, sometimes in the desert, sometimes early, sometimes late; as if he intended on purpose to witness against

that piece of the mystery of iniquity, which in after ages should be called uniformity. So Paul preached, sometimes on the Jew's sabbath, sometimes on the first day of the week, sometimes each day of the week, sometimes in the day, sometimes in the night; sometimes prayed in the house, sometimes on the shore: he circumcised Timothy among the weak, refused to circumcise Titus among the perverse; became as a Jew to the Jews, as a Greek to the Greeks, to the weak as weak, to the strong as strong, all things to all men, that he might win some and what external uniformity was here? And then for the Sacraments, Christ administered the Sacrament of the supper immediately after supper; Paul at midnight, and it may be, others in the morning, or at noon and what external uniformity in all this? And for government; sometimes the apostles met together into a council, and in that council ordered things, not of their own heads, or by plurality of voices, but by the word and spirit; and what they ordered by the word and spirit, they put in execution by the power of the word and spirit, and not by the power of the world. At other times, ministers and believers did things by the word and spirit among themselves, by the mutual consent of both; or else believers alone among themselves, if there were no ministers present. And where the number of believers were more, they stood in need of more officers: and where fewer, of fewer officers; and all these things, are the free ordering of the churches, who have Christ, the Spirit, and the Father, among them, and in them, and so are taken out of the bondage of men, into the freedom of God. That truly I see not the gospel more setting its spirit against any thing of antichrist, than against this point of external uniformity. For if we have one Lord, Christ, Spirit, Faith, Baptism, and God, all other things are free to the churches, as God shall order by them, and no otherwise; and the reason, and wisdom, and

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