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Christ, seeing as he is the promised Spirit of truth the world cannot receive him. His operations are all of them either in a way of grace or gifts; and his gifts are either extraordinary or ordinary. When therefore those of the church of Rome can manifest that they enjoy such gracious operations of the Spirit, as others enjoy nothing of the same kind, or that they are furnished and supplied with such spiritual gifts either ordinary or extraordinary, as no other do participate of with them or besides them; not proving it by saying they alone are the church and therefore it must be so, but by the evidence of the things themselves as it was in the primitive times, they shall not only free themselves from the charge of any dangerous apostacy from the gospel, but enjoy moreover all that their hearts can wish.


But this pretence hath been so often and so fully evinced of falsehood, and that by all means of conviction in the examination of causes and effects (it being undeniably demonstrated, that as no such promise was ever peculiarly made unto them, much less, on such terms of security as they imagine, and that in the issue as unto matter of fact instead of being led into all truth,' they have departed almost from all), that it needs not again to be insisted on. And indeed such a promise as is pretended, is altogether inconsistent with the glory and honour of the gospel of God. The word of the gospel, that is, the truth contained therein, is the sole external instrument of the reconciliation of sinners unto God, and of their walking before him in obedience unto his glory; other end and use it hath none. To give by irrevocable grant the possession of this truth, and not in order unto that end, and so to continue it whether ever that effect be produced or no, yea, where it is not, corresponds not with other fruits of the wisdom of God in the dispensation of his grace. And whereas the gospel, as to the nature of its doctrine, will and may be interpreted by its fruits and effects in the lives of men; to allow them the security of its truth on a supposition of a course of sin, and a continuance in a state of irreconciliation or enmity against God, is to expose the doctrine of it, and the law of obedience contained in it, to just censure and reproach.

Wherefore notwithstanding these, or any other pretences

of an alike nature, we may safely proceed to shew, How the generality of Christians have partially apostatized from the gospel, and to inquire into the ways, means, causes, and reasons thereof.


Apostacy from the mystery, truth, or doctrine of the gospel. Proneness of persons and churches thereunto; proved by all sorts of instances.

THERE are three things in the gospel which are as the essentially constitutive parts of it: 1. The mystery of its doctrine, which is the object of faith; 2. The holiness of its precepts, which is the matter of our obedience; and, 3. The purity of its institutions of worship, which is the trial of our faith and obedience, as to their profession. With respect unto these we are to make our inquiry, both as unto matter of fact, and as unto the reasons, causes, and occasions of it, in the apostacy from them that is in the world. Instances hereof in every one of the particulars mentioned we shall find in our own days, and those both deplorable and of ill abode. But I shall not confine myself unto the present age, nor unto what is done or come to pass among ourselves; but consider things with respect unto the whole course and progress of religion, since the first preaching and declaration of the gospel.

1. The mystery of the truth or doctrine of the gospel which is the object of our faith, is the foundation of its precepts and institutions, of the holiness it requireth, and of the worship that it appointeth. Where this is forsaken, the others cannot be retained. Men may profess the truth, and yet not yield obedience unto it; Tit. i. 16. 2 Tim. iii. 5. But without the real belief of it, no man can be obedient as he ought. The obedience which the gospel requireth, is the obedience of faith,' Rom. i. 5. or being' obedient unto the faith;' Acts vi. 7. It is this grace of God alone which 'teacheth men to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world,' so as to find acceptance with God therein; Tit. ii. 11, 12. Wherever

therefore this is rejected, renounced, forsaken, declined from by any, so far as it is so, so far there is and will be an apostacy from all other conceruments of the gospel. This therefore we are to inquire into. And we shall find in our inquiry that all sorts of persons, all churches, are and always have been exceedingly prone to turn aside from the mystery and truth of the doctrine of the gospel; that they have done so accordingly, and that those which are now in the world continue to be of the same temper and inclination. And as it will appear that no evil practices are indulged unto on this supposition; so it is desirable that those who are secure in this matter on such principles as wherewith they are satisfied, would not with too much severity reflect on them who cannot but be jealous over themselves and others. The great apostle himself makes this the principal ornament in the preparation of his triumph upon the success of his ministry, that he had kept the faith,' 2 Tim. iv. 6-8. 'I am,' saith he, ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.' Of all that made way for that triumphant glory which he now had a prospect of, he insists on this only in particular, that he had kept the faith,' which he did not do without a severe warfare and conflict. So great a matter was that in his esteem, which most suppose so common, so easy, that little diligence or watchfulness is required thereunto.. And the frequent solemn charges, with pathetical exhortations, which he gives unto his son Timothy to be careful herein, manifest both the weight he laid upon it, the difficulty that was in it, and the danger of miscarriage wherewith it was attended: 1 Tim. vi. 20, 21. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.' 2 Tim. i. 13, 14. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.' And the same apostle expressly mentions the proneness of some

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to relinquish the truth of the gospel; whom therefore he would have rebuked sharply, that they might be sound in the faith, not giving heed to fables and commandments of men turning away from the truth;' Tit. i. 13, 14. Neither would there be any need that some should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints,' Jude 3. but that others are very ready to corrupt it, and turn away from it.

Examples of this state and event of things among all the churches in the world, since the first planting of them in and by the doctrine of the gospel, will give more evidence unto the truth of our assertion, and a clear account of that matter of fact, whose reasons and causes we are to inquire into. And because I would confine myself unto the full declaration of the mystery of Christ, I shall not insist on the church of the Jews under the Old Testament. But it is known unto all, how from their first transgression in making the golden calf, whereon, as God complains, they quickly, in a few days, turned out of the way, they were continually prone unto all sorts of apostacy; and in the issue, the generality of them fell off from the promise and covenant of Abraham by their unbelief, as the apostle declares, Rom. xi. And it is to be feared, that the appearance and pretence of some Christian churches unto better success, have this only advantage, that their ways and practices are not recorded by the Spirit of God as theirs were. But I shall not insist on

that instance.

Of all the churches that are or ever were in the world, those gathered and planted by the apostles themselves, had the greatest advantage to know the mystery and truth of the gospel, and the most forcible reasons unto constancy and perseverance therein. Considering the ability of their teachers to reveal unto them the whole counsel of God, with their faithfulness in withholding nothing that was profitable unto them,' Acts xx. their authority, as being sent immediately by Jesus Christ, and their absolute infallibility in all that they delivered; a man would rationally think that there were no room, no pretence left for any to decline in the least from the doctrine wherein they were instructed by them; nor any advantage for Satan or seducers to practise upon them. There is no doubt but most of us suppose, that

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had we been so taught by the apostles themselves, nothing could ever tempt us to doubt or waver; much less to relinquish any truth wherein we were so instructed. But alas! this thought is not unlike the apprehension of the rich man in hell, who judged that if one rose from the dead to warn his brethren, they would repent and be converted unto God. But, as Abraham told him, if they would not believe Moses and the prophets, neither would they believe should one rise from the dead;' no more would we, if we be not constant and steadfast in the doctrine of the gospel as revealed in the Scripture, be so if we had been taught it by all the apostles together. An example of this proneness to relinquish evangelical principles we have in most of the churches called and gathered by them, whose faith and practice is recorded in their writings.

The church of Corinth was planted by the apostle Paul, and watered by Apollos, that great evangelist; and none can question but that they were fully instructed by them in all the principles of the gospel; which is evident also from that abundance of spiritual gifts which above any other church they had received. But yet, within a few years, before the writing of his first epistle unto them, which was not above five or six years at the most, many of them fell into that fundamental error of denying the resurrection of the dead, whereby they wholly annihilated (as the apostle declares) the whole death and resurrection of Christ; rendering what seemed to remain of their faith altogether vain; 1 Cor. xv. 13-15.

The churches of the Galatians are yet a more pregnant instance. Converted they were unto the faith of Christ, and planted in their church state by the ministry of the same apostle. And although he instructed them in the whole counsel of God, yet it may be justly supposed that he laboured in nothing more than to establish them in the knowledge and faith of the grace of God in Christ, and the free justification of believers by faith in him or his blood alone. For this he everywhere declareth to have been his principal aim and design in the whole course of his ministry. The doctrine hereof they received with so much joy and satisfaction, that they valued the apostle as an angel of God, received him as Jesus Christ, and esteemed him above the

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