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Meditation XLV

Upon a Beehive and a Wasp’s Nest

Those two insects have, as naturalists observe, a likeness in sundry practiculars: The wasps have one common habitation, as well as bees, and are under the government of a king; who, as the king of bees, is the largest and most beautiful among them. In the building of their cells and combs they are exact, and make them much like the bees both for their figure and size. But they make no honey at all, nor yet any wax that is for service; they live only upon rapine, and are injurious to most kinds of fruits; like thieves they enter by force into the hives of bees and devour the honey which has with much industry been gathered by them. So eager are they after what is sweet, as that any narrow mouth glass set near the hive with the little sweet liquor becomes a snare to drown and destroy them, and a security to the bees to prevent their theft, which pass the more freely into their cells, not tempted to endanger their lives are to neglect their work by the sight for such a pleasing bait.

And now whither my thoughts carry me, who cannot easily conjecture? Is there not a double polity, or society of men, the one of which maybe justly resembled to wasps and the other two bees?  It was Tertullian’s saying long since: Faciunt favos & uspe, faciunt Ecclesias Marcionite: Wasps make combs but they are empty one; and so heretics make churches, but they are void of truth, which is that sweet honey that is to be found only  among the assemblies of the faithful.

What else is the Church of Rome, notwithstanding all the pretenses which makes to being a mother-hive, but a nest of angry wasps, under the rule and sway of a spiritual Abaddon? How many swarms have gone out from thence, not to make honey, but to destroy what others have made?  Frauds, robberies, violence have been the things which they have practice, and with which their habitations have been filled. Have they not thrust their stings deep into thousands, who have detected their impostors, and have endeavored to hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience? Have they not wasted many places, which were like the garden of the soul, full of precious fruits into which her Beloved might come and eat his honey and honeycomb? Who can express the rage and scorn with which they have trampled upon those, that would not abet their impieties?

How fond  [foolish] and fruitless then must be the attempts of those who, as they had forgotten what Amalek had done [Deuteronomy 25:17] , are setting on foot overtures of peace between Protestancy and Popery? As if the distance between the one and the other were more seeming than real, and might as readily be brought together as the two extremes of the serpent, who can, when he pleases cast himself into a circle and take his tail into his mouth? But who knows not that a little leaven leavens the whole lot; and so will a little error defuse its poison through the whole body of truth, like a drop of oil on a cloth, it no sooner falls then spreads. Like a spark on tinder it catches and runs at once. And therefore Paul would not for one hour give place on two false brethren, least the truth of the gospel might be endangered. To do it then with the least prejudice to the truth is sinful; and to effect it without it is impossible. Sooner may they reconcile antipathies in nature than in religion: when therefore they have combined fire and water, without the extinction of the other, and made an amity between the dove and hawk, between the wasp and bee; so that the one shall not infest the other, then may they promise themselves success, and making up the breaches between Babylon and Zion. But O that they who are studious to make strife to cease between the Philistines in the Israelites would bend their minds to heal the divisions of Israel, among whom their are great thoughts and searchings of heart.

Is it not pity to see the industrious bees, whose labors are so useful to their owners, to make a war in the mouth of their hive, and to kill one another by those stings which they should defend their cells against wasps and drones? And is it not been a sad spectacle to behold Christians who should be joined together, fidei  vinculo, glutine charitatis; by the bond and cement of faith and love, to be divided from one another and in animosities to draw the sword and to sheath it also in the bowels of each other? And yet such heats there have sometimes been, and still are between brethren. I could methinks give way to sorrow and let it overflow the banks to see professors to be less tender of Christ’s body than the soldiers were of his coat; and few or none to prize that unity which is the glory of faith of the gospel. Have we not all one Father, God blessed forever? Have we not all one elder brother, Jesus Christ , who is first born of every creature? Are we all not quickened by one Spirit, who is a Spirit of Love?  Are we not all under one solemn vow of baptism in which we have dedicated ourselves to God’s service as soldiers? How can we then turn enemies one to another?

O God, do thou, who hast made that blessed promise to thy people

One Heart

And one way

Put into them a Spirit of Wisdom and Love,

That they may walk wisely to those that are without

And Lovingly towards another;

That by this all men may know that they are Christ’s Disciples

And believe that those has sent Him.