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16. Live in perfect 16. Be of the same mind one towards anotber, Amity, and Concord. Mind not bigb things, but condescend ro Men of low And when it is in your eftate. Power
do good, think no Person too mean to do it to, nor any honeft Method bencath you to do it by
* Ver. 6, 7, 8.
HE last Day's Epistle declared to us the Close
ness of that Union, which Christians ought to look upon themselves knit together by; when called so osten one Body in Christ, and every one Members one of another. In the explaining whereof having spent part of my Discourse, I closed with some of those Obligations, which that Consideration brings us under, and which are contained in the beginning of the Chapter. The Scripture, now in hand, consists of a great many. Which, for Method's sake, we may conveni
ently enough reduce to the following
Heads. 1. * Contentedness in our Sta+ 6, 7, 8, 11, tion. 2. + Diligence in our proper BuIl 9, 10, 16.
finess. 3. Mutual Love | and Respect. 4. * A tender Concern for the profpe
rous and adverse Fortunes of our Fellow+ 15, 16.
Christians. 5. + Unity in Matters of || 12, 14.
Religion : And 6. 11 Constancy and Meek-
ness under Perfecutions and Wrongs. Each of these I shall consider, as briefly as I can: remembring, that my Method, propounded before, does not undertake to treat of any Duties we meet with in this Chapter, according to their own due Extent, but purely, and so far forth, as they are Consequences of that Union, and mutual Relation, intended by this Figure of a Body.
1. I begin with Contentedness in our respective Stations. The Arguments for which are comprised in the 6th, 7th, and 8th Verses, and prosecuted more at large in the xiith Chapter of the First Epistle to the
Corinthians. By comparing these two Places, it seems very probable, that the Gifts, more directly aimed at by the Apostle, are those extraordinary Adistances of the Holy Ghost, vouchsafed to Christians in the Infancy of the Church, as at that time necessary Evidences of the Truth, and fitted for the more successful Propagation of the Gospel. Yet are not those Arguments, either in the Apostle's Design, or in the Nature of the thing, so confined to those Extraordinary Gifts, as not, with great force and clearness of Reason, to extend to all Ages and Conditions of Christianity, when left to the Ordinary Methods of Grace, by which it now subfifts.
For, First, we are put in mind, (as was observed before under the Head of Humility) that all these Endowments, by which any one Man excels any other Man, are Gifts. Instances of Favour, which none of Them who enjoy, could lay any manner of Claim to, or, by any Industry of their own, acquire to themselves. Consequently, the Meanest in common Efteem are the Effect of Bounty. And they all agree in this, that they come from the same Hand, and are so many Streams of Grace, issuing from one common Source of undeserved and overflowing Mercy. The thing Men receive is in Substance the same; for tho" there be diversities of gifts, yet the same ? Cor. xii. 4. Spirit is given in all: And though there be diversities of Operations, yet is it the ver. 6. fame God which worketh all in all. A God, who is tied to no Proportions ; who need not give at all except he please, and therefore works freely, both in the Act, and in the Measure, of his Distributions. For all these worketh that one and the self-fame spirit, dividing to every man feverally as he will. Now the plain Inference from hence is, that, where every Man hath more than his due, there none can have a right to murmur or com
plain: And, where all have the Honour of receiving from God, none can in reason think himself disgraced, upon the account of any Inequality in the Degree of what he so receives. It is enough, that every one partakes in that One best Gift, and is considered by that One best Giver.
2. But, Secondly, Such Inequality is not only not unjust, but it is likewise prudent, and proceeds upon
equitable Considerations. For every man 1 Cor. vii. 7.
(says this Apostle elsewhere) bath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 'Tis true, the Occasion of these Last Words differs from the Subject we are now upon ; but they certainly contain this general Truth ; that That is a Man's proper Gift, which he is qualified to ufe, and to improve. Let each Man therefore but remember that He hath his Gift of God, whose Wifdom adjusts all things with the greatest Exactness; God, whose Providence disposes every Man's Fortune and Poft in the World, as well as dispenses their several Abilities; God, who especially consults the Beauty and Convenience of the Whole, and is not directed by such narrow and partial Views, as Ignorance or Interest are apt to sway Us by ; and he will find it reasonable to believe, that every Man is placed in such a Sphere, as, all things considered, it is best for that Man at that time to be in. And that He, who made him and posted him there, did so, because he best knew what he was cut out for ; that, if the Fault be not his own, he may be serviceable in This Station ; and if be be not useful in This, 'tis highly probable, he would prove less so, in any Other. All this St. Paul, without any overstraining the Allufion, seems to insinuate, not only in the 6th, 7th, and 8th Verses now in hand, but also in his Discourse to the Corinthians; when comparing the different Orders and Offices in this Myftical, to the different
Members and their respective Functions, in the Natural Body. The Formation of these Last is adapted to the Uses Nature designed them for ; the Qualifications of the Former are likewise, in proportion, suited to the Condition God hath set them in. And this is certainly a very powerful Motive to Contentedness, that, whatever Place we hold in the Body of Christ, He, who set us there, knew very well why he did so; that, however we may think our selves capable of filling a higher, better than those already in it; yet, if the Experiment were made, 'tis probable it would be made to loss. So much the more probable, as we are more disposed to think loftily of our felves, and meanly of those above us; as we are forward in usurping, or bitter in detracting from, and envying, the Honours of Their Post; and dissatisfied with, and given to disdain, and to be ashamed of, the Meanness of our own.
3. Farther yet. This Inequality of Gifts and Stations is not only Just, because free; not only Prudent, because accommodated to the Parties concerned; but it is also absolutely Necessary. The Beauty of the Body cannot be displayed, the Exigencies of the Body cannot be supplied, nay the very Being of the Body cannot be preserved, without it. All these require Variety. The Beauty, as consisting in Symmetry of Parts; The Exigencies, as served by several Offices, to be performed by Instruments differently disposed; The Being, as including, in the very Idea of a Body, Order and Distinction, and, without these, no longer a Composition, fitted for Life and Motion and Sense, but a rude Mass of useless undigested Matter, a Lump of Inactivity and Confusion. So says the Apostle of the Body Natural, The Body is not one Member, but many. If the Foot shall say, because I am not the Hand, I am not of the 15, 16, 17, 18, Body, is it therefore not of the Body? And 19, 20.
1 Cor. xii. 14,
if the Ear Mall say, because I am not the Eye, I am not of the Body, is it therefore not of the Body? If the whole Body were an Eye, where were the Hearing ? If the whole were Hearing, where were the Smelling? But now bath God set the Members, every one in ibe Body, as it hath pleased bim. And if they were all one Member, where were the Body? But now are they many Members, yet but one Body." The Application of all which Similitude himself hath made in the latter end of that Chapter :
Now ye are the Body of Christ, and MemVer. 27, 28, 29.
bers in particular. And God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly
Teachers, after that Miracles, then Gifts of Healing, Helps, Governments, Diversities of Tongues. Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers ? and so To the same purpose, in his Epistle to the Ephe
fians, He gave some Apostles, and some Eph. iv. 11, 12.
Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers; For the perfecting of the Saints, for the Work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ. The Sum whereof is this. The Necessities of Mankind thus united are of several kinds; These cannot be served, without a proportionable number of Organs, formed and placed differently; The difference of that Form and Place depends upon the Uses assigned to cach; All the Parts, thus formed and placed, make up one regular Fabrick ; Every One of these is useful and necessary, in its proper Position, the least and lowest can no more be spared than the noblest and highest; The exalting of One, above its due situation and proportion, would produce a defect and deformity, no less than the debasing or diminishing of another ; Every One is therefore of equal value, when considered as a Member, and All compound the same Body. Consequently, this difference of Gifts and Stationsought to breed no Discontent, but quite the contrary ; Because, without this difference of Parts, there could not be