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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And like the precious ointment upon the head


First,

I willingly yield to, and cordially close with the truth of these assertions.

I. The unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace, ought to be the endeavour of all that are members of the one body of Christ, partakers of his one Spirit, called in one hope, professing one Lord, confessing one faith, sealed with one baptism, Eph. iv. 3. &c. and for brethren to dwell together in unity, is good and pleasant, and like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron's beard, Psal. cxxxiii. 1, 2. A fragrant ointment indeed, if it be composed aright of gospel simples, according to divine art, and the wisdom that is from above, which is pure, and then peaceable: and not made up of adulterate politics: that union that hath the Spirit for its author, the scripture for its rule, peace for its bond and beauty, love for its cement, faith for its foment, Christ for its foundation, and truth and holiness for its constant companions, cannot but be intensely desired, enixly endeavoured, and fervently followed by all the professors of the gospel of peace, and subjects of the Prince of peace: which makes division and schism, not only a great misery, but a grand sin. But it must be in the way of truth and duty, and consistent with holiness and the honour of Christ, otherwise if it be in the way of apostasy and defection, it is but a confederacy and conspiracy against the Lord. And true union can neither be attained, nor retained, nor recovered, except

the sinful cause of division, defection, and the holy over-ruling cause, the anger of the Lord be removed, in turning to and following him.

II. Though there be not perfect union, but diversity both of judgments and practices, in several cases there may be communion with a church in its ordinances and ministry. As, 1. We may have a catholic communion with all christian ministers and members of the catholic church, considered as such; holding the head Christ, and the fountain sure. And so we may meet for worship with all devout men in every nation under heaven, whether they be Parthians, or Medes, or Elamites, or French or Dutch, &c. though differing in controversies of lesser moment, not overturning that; if they hold the universal testimony of the gospel, against the common enemies thereof, Jews, Turks, or Pagans: for there is neither Greek nor Jew, if he be a christian, Christ is all and in all, Col. iii. 11. But if they be heretics, we can have no communion with them. 2. We may have a more special communion with all protestant ministers and members of the reformed church, considered as such, more strictly, and upon stricter conditions: providing they hold, not only the universal of christians, but the general testimony of protestants, against the greater and lesser antichrists; though differing from us in some circumstantial points, not reformed, and not contradictory unto the protestant testimony against popery, and all


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