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dued with that light and grace which might secure him from the power of such temptations, could look on the fierce, devouring, bloody contentions of its professors, and that solely on its own account, and not suppose that itself proceeded from a spirit of malice, strife, and disorder? But the truth and faithfulness of God, preserved it against all the oppositions of its adversaries, and in the midst of the treacheries of its avowed friends. Thus was it in the primitive times, which as it was the first considerable stop unto the progress of the gospel, so it was one principal cause of corrupting the conversations of many, filling them with a frame of spirit in all things directly opposite unto that of the gospel. The differences with their untoward management which fell out among the first reformers, was the chief means that hindered their work from a universal success.

Is it much otherwise among the strictest sorts of professors at this day? Do not some seem to aim at nothing more than to multiply and increase divisions, and to delight in nothing more than to live and dispute in the flames of them? There is not the least different apprehension of men's minds about any thing in religion, but such persons suppose it a sufficient ground to quarrel and contend about it for ever. By such ways and means scandals are given unto the world in its proneness unto apostacy, and seeking occasions for it, or countenance unto it, which is its present posture. For these things are not done in a corner. Men who know nothing of the inward power and virtue of that religion which is in such professors as it is hoped, seeing and observing those other distempers among them, are really alienated from all the good they do profess; and not only so, but do from thence justify and approve themselves in their immorality and profaneness, as those which allow them a better condition than such wranglers can afford them. By this means hath religion lost much of that awful authority in the world whereby it ofttimes put a restraint on the minds and consciences of men, who were never acted by its power. What are the rules whereby we ought to walk under the continuance of these differences, and what are the best means to put an issue unto them, I have inquired in a treatise unto that purpose. But it must be acknowledged, that for the most part, attempts for the rebuking of these

distempers, the reconciliation of dissenters, and the uniting of professors, have been managed from such principles, and in such a frame of spirit, as have heightened and increased rather than allayed or diminished them.


2. Great offence is given to the world by the uselessness of professors, and in that they are not what they ought to be, the common good and blessing of mankind. There is a selfish spirit on many of them, whence contenting themselves with abstinence from known sins, and the performance of the religious duties of divine worship, they are of little or no use unto others. Some will be kind, benign, helpful, good in some measure unto other men; but yet will and do give undue bounds and limits unto their actings in this kind. Their own household, and the household of faith, according unto that measure which from opinion or prejudice they take of it, they will alone regard. As for love, condescension, benignity, kindness, readiness to help, assist, and relieve all mankind, yea, the worst of men, as they have opportunity, they understand them not; yea, have many pretences that they are not required of them. But if we are Christians, it is required of us to abound in love towards all men,' 1 Thess. iii. 12. and our doing good unto all, being useful unto all, exercising loving-kindness in the earth towards all, is the principal way whereby we may express our sincere obedience unto the gospel. One professor that is kind, benign, condescending, charitable, useful, ready to become all things unto all men for their good, brings more glory to the gospel than a hundred who are looked on as those who live too much unto themselves. When the old saying was, 'Bonus vir Caius Sejus, sed malus quia Christianus: such a one is a good man, evil only in this, that he is a Christian;' religion did by such convictions insensibly get ground amongst men. If the world cannot see that it hath any advantage by professors, but hath trouble on the other hand by the hatred which it cannot but have of their profession, it is no wonder if it desire to have no more to do with them. Did men find that so soon as any gave themselves unto the strictest ways of profession, that therewithal they became benign, kind, merciful, charitable, useful, and helpful unto all men, it could not but give an honourable reputation in their minds unto that religion

which they do profess. But an observation of a contrary frame and temper in such persons, and of how little use they are in the world, must needs produce contrary effects. By reason of such miscarriages as these, and others of an alike nature, whereby some professors are so far from adorning the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as that they cast (what lies in them) a blemish and reproach upon it, others are every day hardened in their alienation from all its


These few instances have I given of the means and ways whereby a general apostacy from the holy precepts of the gospel, as the rule of our obedience, hath been begun and carried on. Many others of an alike nature might be added unto them; but it is to no purpose to insist long on the nature of a disease, when we find it to despise all possible remedies. Sovereign grace yet remaineth, whereunto this state of things is referred.

And this apostacy, in its measure and proportion, partakes of the guilt of that prescribed in the text which we made the foundation of this discourse. For therein also is Christ crucified afresh, and put unto open shame.' For,


1. All persons who profess the Christian religion, and yet are thus fallen off or alienated from its holiness, do really renounce and forego the commands of Christ, and those as enlivened by his promises, for the pleasure and wages of sin. And herein do they openly declare and avow as the judgment and resolution of their minds, That there is not that excellency in his precepts, nor that goodness, beauty, desirableness, or satisfaction in obedience unto them, or not that assurance in his promises, or worth in the things promised, as that they ought to be preferred before the course of the world and the pleasures of sin. Hence some commands of the gospel (and those of no small importance unto the furtherance of holy obedience) are neglected and cast from among the generality of Christians. Such are the commands for mutual love, whereof there is scarce any shadow left in the world. For that pretence of it which some seem to rest in, and plead for as satisfactory, in the peaceable and, as they say, loving converse of persons in their civil and ecclesiastical distributions, is no other than what is found among Mahometans and pagans on the like

occasion, which, as it is good and commendable so far as it proceeds from and is suited unto the light of nature, so it no way answers either in the kind of it, or in its acts and fruits, unto that evangelical love which the Lord Christ requires among his disciples. That watchfulness over one another with love, care, and tenderness, those mutual admonitions, exhortations, and consolations which the gospel so frequently and diligently prescribes unto us, are not only neglected, but so far despised, that the very naming of such duties is made a matter of scorn, as a pretence of hypocritical preciseness. And no better entertainment have many other of the commands of Christ among the generality of them that are called Christians. So do many, on all accounts, openly profess in their walkings and conversation, that they see no cogent reason why they should comply with him in his commands. And it is not easily to be conceived how they can cast a greater dishonour or contempt upon him.

2. By continuing in the outward profession of Christianity, they do most falsely represent Christ and the gospel unto the world, and thereby (what lies in them) put him to open shame. For, pretending to yield obedience unto him, and to place their hope for life and blessedness in him by the gospel, they profess withal, that he is a person that will approve of such ways as they walk in, and his gospel a doctrine that gives countenance unto all manner of licentiousness in sin. Who would judge otherwise who had no knowledge of him or it, but by the representation that is made of them in the profligate conversation of such apostates? But this argument I have elsewhere insisted on.


Apostacy from evangelical worship.

THAT which was proposed to be considered in the last place, is that apostacy which is in the world from the purity of the worship of the gospel as appointed by Jesus Christ. And herein principally did consist that great defection foretold

by our apostle, 2 Thess. ii. which is also prophesied of in the Revelation, and did accordingly come to pass. But because I have insisted on this subject on many other occasions, and some things relating thereunto are under difference and debate among such as are capable of the warning given concerning the apostacy that is in the world, I shall wholly wave the consideration of particulars, about which any such differences may be, and only mention such things as the generality of Christians, at least of Protestants, cannot but acknowledge.

I shall take it for granted at present, that our Lord Jesus Christ did institute and appoint a solemn worship of God to be continued inviolably and unalterably unto the end of the world. And the principal end of his appointing, continuing, or preserving any church on the earth, is the celebration of this worship. For herein alone consisteth that public revenue of glory, which God requires from believers in this world. All other duties of the gospel may be performed by men in their single capacities, if there were no such thing as a church on the earth. And those churches do exceedingly mistake their duty, and every end of their being, which make it not their principal business to take care of the due celebration of that worship, which the Lord Christ hath appointed. 'He was faithful in the whole house of God as was Moses;' Heb. iii. 6. And if the life, being, happiness, and welfare of the church of Israel, consisted in and depended on their remembrance of the law of Moses, which God commanded unto him in Horeb, with the statutes and judgments,' Mal. iv. 4. because he was 'faithful in the house of God' as a servant; certainly the being and well-being of the Christian church consists in, and depends upon, that observing and doing of all whatever he hath commanded in the worship of God, as Matt. xxviii. 18. who is faithful as a son, in and over the whole house of God.

Besides, it is acknowledged by all, and we shall, God willing, shew the manner of it in our exposition of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that the Lord Christ in and by the gospel, hath altered and abolished all that solemn worship, all those ordinances and institutions, which God himself had set up under the old testament, to continue unto the time of reformation. And hereby he rendered it absolutely

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