Another in our series of extracts from Richard Baxter’s Cure of Church Divisions, published in 1670, in the hope of persuading presbyterians and congregationalists not to leave the Church of England after the 1662 Act of Uniformity. As long as Christians are still dividing and being divided, Baxter’s examination of the attitudes that lead to division remains relevant.

Direction IX:

Distinguish between weakness of Gifts and of Grace, and remember that many that are weak in the understanding of other matters, may yet be stronger in grace than you.

HE is the strongest Christian and the most Godly man, who hath the greatest Love to God, and heavenliness of mind and life: And this may be the case of many a one, who by some error about discipline or worship, is a trouble to the Church. He that offendeth you by his mistake and unjustifiable adherence to his own opinion rather than the judgement of the Church, though he be weak in that point, and perhaps in many other controversies, may yet be a far stronger Christian, than I who see his error: He may have more Love to God and man, more humility and self-denial, more fear of sinning, more fitness to die, more heavenly desires, and more patience in tribulation. Let us therefore value men according to the Image of God upon them, and not despise them as weak in grace, because they are weak in some point of knowledge: Though still their errors are not to be overlooked.