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21. Let him that is most busied set apart some solemn time every year, in which, for the time quitting all worldly business, he may attend wholly to fasting and prayer, and the dressing of his soul by confessions, meditations, and attendances upon God; that he may make up his accounts, renew his vows, make amends for his carelessness, and retire back again from whence levity and the vanities of the world, or the opportunities of temptations, or the distraction of secular affairs, have carried him.

22. In this we shall be much assisted, and we shall find the work more easy, if before we sleep every night we examine the actions of the past day with a particular scrutiny, if there have been any accidents extraordinary-as long discourse, a feast, much business, variety of company. If nothing but common hath happened, the less examination will suffice; only let us take care that we sleep not without such a recollection of the action of the day as may represent anything that is remarkable and great either to be the matter of sorrow or thanksgiving; for other things a general care is proportionable.

23. Let all these things be done prudently and moderately, not with scruple and vexation. For these are good advantages, but the particulars are not Divine commandments, and therefore are to be used as shall be found expedient to every one's condition. For, provided that our duty be secured, for the degrees, and for the instrument, every man is permitted to himself, and

the conduct of such who shall be appointed to him. He is happy that can secure every hour to a sober or a pious employment; but the duty consists not scrupulously in minutes and half hours, but in greater portions of time ; provided that no minute be employed in sin, and the great portions of our time be spent in sober employment, and all the appointed days, and some portions of every day, be allowed for religion. In all the lesser parts of time we are left to our own elections and prudent management, and to the consideration of the great degrees and differences of glory that are laid up in heaven for us, according to the degrees of our care, and piety, and diligence.

I plea for Toleration. [Bishop Taylor's boldest and most original work is “The Liberty of Prophesying." As a protest against persecution from the protegee of Laud and the chaplain of Charles I., it would have been still more remarkable had it appeared before troublous times began, and whilst the tide was still running against the Puritans. In any circumstances, however, it was a courageous and precocious book, far in advance of the age, and sure to entail on its author a large amount of obloquy. Some of his allegations as to the difficulty of interpreting Scripture are extreme and injudicious, and his chapter on the “Inconsistencies of the Fathers” is curious, as coming from the most patristical of all our divines. But whatever may be our opinion as to his line of argument, there can be no dispute as to the goodness of his remedy--the cultivation of a large and cordial charity. The “ Liberty of Prophesying” was published in 1647.]


The infinite variety of opinions in matters of religion, as they have troubled Christendom with interests, factions, and partialities, so have they caused great divisions of the heart, and variety of thoughts and designs amongst pious and prudent

For they all, seeing the inconveniences which the disunion of persuasions and opinions have produced directly or accidentally, have thought themselves obliged to stop this inundation of mischiefs, and have made attempts accordingly. But it hath happened to most of them as to a mistaken physician, who gives excellent physic but misapplies it, and so misses of his cure. So have these men : their attempts have



therefore been ineffectual; for they put their help to a wrong part, or they have endeavoured to cure the symptoms, and have let the disease alone till it seemed incurable. Some have endeavoured to reunite these fractions, by propounding such a guide which they were all bound to follow; hoping that the unity of a guide would have persuaded unity of minds; but who this guide should be, at last became such a question, that it was made part of the fire that was to be quenched, so far was it from extinguishing any part of the flame. Others thought of a rule, and this must be the means of union, or nothing could do it. But supposing all the world had been agreed of this rule, yet the interpretation of it was so full of variety that this also became part of the disease for which the

was pretended. All men resolved upon this, that though they yet had not hit upon the right, yet some way must be thought upon to reconcile differences in opinion; thinking, so long as this variety should last, Christ's kingdom was not advanced, and the work of the gospel went on but slowly. Few men in the meantime considered, that so long as men had such variety of principles, such several constitutions, education, tempers, and distempers, hopes, interests, and weaknesses, degrees of light, and degrees of understanding, it was impossible all should be of one mind. And what is impossible to be done is not necessary it should be done; and therefore, although variety of opinions was impossible to be cured (and they who attempted it did like him who claps his shoulder to the ground to stop an earthquake), yet the inconveniences arising from it might possibly be cured, not by uniting their beliefs—that was to be despaired of—but by curing that which caused these mischiefs, and accidental inconveniences of their disagreeings. For although these inconveniences, which every man sees and feels, were consequent to this diversity of persuasions, yet it was but accidentally and by chance; inasmuch as we see that in many things, and they of great concernment,

men allow to themselves and to each other a liberty of disagreeing, and no hurt neither. And certainly if diversity of opinions were of itself the cause of mischiefs, it would be so ever—that is, regularly and universally (but that we see it is not): for there are disputes in Christendom concerning matters of greater concernment than most of those opinions that distinguish sects and make factions; and yet because men are permitted to differ in those great matters, such evils are not consequent to such differences as are to the uncharitable managing of smaller and more inconsiderable questions. It is of greater consequence to believe right in the question of the validity or invalidity of a death-bed repentance, than to believe aright in the question of purgatory; and the consequences of the doctrine of predetermination, are of deeper and more material consideration than the products of the belief of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of private masses; and yet these great concernments, where a liberty of prophesying in these questions hath been permitted, hath made no distinct communion, no sects of Christians, and the others have, and so have these too in those places where they have peremptorily been determined on either side. Since then, if men are quiet and charitable in some disagreeings, that then and there the inconvenience ceases, if they were so in all others where lawfully they might (and they may in most), Christendom should be no longer rent in pieces, but would be redintegrated in a new Pentecost; and although the Spirit of God did rest upon us in divided tongues, yet so long as those tongues were of fire, not to kindle strife, but to warm our affections and inflame our charities, we should find that this variety of opinions in several persons would be looked upon as an argument only of diversity of operations, while the Spirit is the same; and that another man believes not so well as I, is only an argument that I have a better and a clearer illumination than he, that I have a better gift than he, received a special grace and favour, and



excel him in this, and am perhaps excelled by him in many more. And if we all impartially endeavour to find a truth, since this endeavour and search is only in our power (that_we shall-find-it, being ab extra, a gift and an assistance extrinsical), I can see no reason why this pious endeavour to find out truth shall not be of more force to unite us in the bonds of charity, than his misery in missing it shall be to disunite us. So that since a union of persuasion is impossible to be attained, if we would attempt the cure by such remedies as are apt to enkindle and increase charity, I am confident we might see a blessed peace would be the reward and crown of such endea

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But men are now-a-days, and indeed always have been, since the expiration of the first blessed ages of Christianity, so in love with their own fancies and opinions, as to think faith and all Christendom is concerned in their support and maintenance; and whoever is not so fond and does not dandle them like themselves, it grows up to a quarrel, which, because it is in materid theologice is made a quarrel in religion, and God is entitled to it; and then, if you are once thought an enemy to God, it is our duty to persecute you even to death, we do God good service in it; when, if we should examine the matter rightly, the question is either in materiâ non revelata, or minus evidenti, or non necessariâ, either it is not revealed, or not so clearly, but that wise and honest men may be of different minds, or else it is not of the foundation of faith, but a remote superstructure, or else of mere speculation, or perhaps, when all comes to all, it is a false opinion, or a matter of human interest that we have so zealously contended for; for to one of these heads most of the disputes of Christendom may be reduced; so that I believe the present fractions (or the most) are from the same cause which St Paul observed in the Corinthian schism, “ When there are divisions among you, are ye not carnal ?" It is not the differing opinions that is the cause of

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