« EdellinenJatka »
o actions.' He farther tells us, in his sermon of dealing with erring Christians, That it is the unity of " the spirit in the bond of peace, and not the iden"tity (or oneness of conceit, which the Holy Ghost
requires at the hands of Christians. A better way my conceit cannot reach unto, than that we should
be willing to think that these things, which with « some shew of probability we deduce from scripture, rare, at the best, but our opinions. For this peremp"tory manner of setting down our conclusions under I this high commanding form of necessary truths, is « generally one of the greatest causes which keeps the • churches this day so far asunder; when-as a gracious
receiving of each other by mutual forbearance, in this kind, might, peradventure, in time bring them nearer together.'
Thus much of this great man concerning schism, the cause and cure of it? And for the notion of hereticks he will help us altogether as well: for though they are generally taken for such who err in judgment about doctrines and articles of faith, yet if this man may have any credit, and perhaps none of his profession has deserved more, he tells us, that "Heresy is an act I of the will, not of reason; and is, indeed, a lie, not ra mistake : else,' says he, how could that known
speech of Austin go for true, Errare possum, Hæreticus ese nolo : I may err, but I am unwilling to be an heretick?' And indeed this is no other than what holy scripture teacheth; “ A man that is an heretick, « after the first and second admonition reject; know« ing that he that is such, is subverted, and finneth, « being condemned of himself.”. Which is as much as to say, that nobody is an heretick, but he that gives the lie to his own conscience, and is self-condemned: which is not the case of men merely mistaken, or who only err in judgment. And therefore the term of hereticks is as untruly as uncharitably Aung upon those that conscientiously diffent, either in point of discie
• speech: I may, erfaeed this is n that is an he know
? J. Hales, Golden Remains, p. 49, 50.
m Tit. iii. 10, 11.
pline or doctrine, from any society of Christians; and it is not hard to observe that those who have most merited that character, have most liberally bestowed it.
But to shew you that neither true schismatick, who is « One that unnecessarily and unwarrantably sepa« rates from that part of the visible church of which • he was once a member,' nor true heretick, who is a ( wilful subverter of true, or an introducer of falfe « doctrines, a self-condemned person,' can ever shelter himself under this common confession of Christianity, fincerely made; let us consider, that whoever fo declares Jesus to be the Messiah and anointed Saviour of God to men, must be supposed to believe all that of him, with respect to which he is so called. Now that for which he is so denominated, is that which God sent him to do : the reason and end of his coming he could best tell, who hath told us thus; “I am « come, that ye may have life, and that ye may have « it more abundantly." The world was dead in trefpasses and sins; the guilt and defilement of transgression had killed the soul, as to spiritual life and motion; and from under this powerful death he came to redeem the soul unto life : in short, to restore man from that fearful degeneracy which his disobedience to God had reduced him unto.
The way he took to accomplish this blessed work was, first, To preach repentance, and the reproach o of the kingdom of God, in which is his rule and authority in the hearts of men: and that brings to the second thing to be believed ; namely,
What be taught. First, His doctrine led men to repentance : « Repent, « for the kingdom of God is at hand.” No man could receive the kingdom of God, whilst he lived under the kingdom and power of Satan : so that to repent, is not only to bring their deeds, to the light, which Christ exhorted men to; but to forsake that, upon
• Mark i. 14. John üi. 20, 21.
examination, which appears to be evil. Wherefore I conclude, that such as have not been acquainted with this holy repentance, do not sincerely believe, neither can rightly confess, Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. Therefore faith the apostle, « Let him that nameth the name of the Lord, « depart from iniquity;" plainly implying, that those do rather profane than confess the name of the Lord, who do not depart from their iniquities. And, faith the apostle in another place, “ No man can call Jesus « Lord, but by the Holy Ghost :” which opens to us the nature of the true confession we ought to make, and which, being truly made in a scripture sense, makes us Christians in a right Christian acceptation ; to wit, "That the true confession of Jesus to be both Lord I and Christ, is from such a belief in the heart, as is i accompanied with the embracing and practising of
his holy doctrine. Such a faith is the work of the Holy Ghost; and those that do not so confess him, or call upon him, that is, by virtue of the overshadowing of this divine fpirit and power, are not truly Christians, true worshippers, or believers and disciples of our Lord Jesus.
Furthermore, they that receive Christ, receive his kingdom, his power and authority in their souls; whereby the strong man that kept the house becomes bound, and his goods spoiled by this stronger man, the “ Lord's Chrift;" who is come from heaven to dwell in us, and be the hope of our glory;' for so he was preached to the Gentiles. This kingdom, the apostle tells us, stands in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and Christ tells us where it is to be set up : « The kingdom of God is within “ you,” saith the king himself; and where should the king be, but in his own kingdom? They are blessed that feel him to rule, and that live under the swaying of his righteous sceptre: For when this « righteous “ one rules the earth, the sons of men rejoice.”
So that no man can truly confess, and rightly be... lieve, Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God, who does not receive him to be his king to rule his heart and affections. For can a man be said to believe in one that he will not receive ? But “to as many as, received “ Christ of old, gave he power to become the sons 66 of God ;P which were born, not of blood, nor of the 6c will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of 6 God.” What is this will of God ? Paul answers the question : : « The will of God is your fanctification;" for this Christ came into the world. So that those that believe and receive Christ, he is made to them “righ" teousness, sanctification, and redemption ; that is, he has saved them from their fins, both guilt and defilement, and sanctified them from their corruptions : they live now by the grace of God, that teaches them to be of a sober, righteous, godlike life.- “ Ye shall ac know them by their fruits,” faith Christ of the
are the effects Tod's distinctiuitinction,
lieve and confess Christ, by their fanctified manners and blameless conversations. And woe from the true and just God to them that make other distinctions ! for God has made no other: there will be but goats and fheep at the last day; holy and unholy; just and unjust: therefore let that be our distinction, which ever was, and will be, God's distinction; for all other meafures are the effects of the passions and presumptions of men. But because it may be expected that I should fix upon some few general heads of Christian doctrine, from the mouth of Christ and his apoftles, as requisite to Chriftian communion, I shall proceed to mention what Christ eminently taught..
He that reads his sermon upon the mount, will find in the entrance how many states and conditions Christ blessed ;' « The poor in Spirit, the mourners, the “ meek, they that hunger after righteousness; the merci
ful, the pure in beart, and the peace-makers ;” which, indeed, comprehend the whole of Christianity.
John i. 12, 13.
1 Cor. i. 30.
By mourners, we understand true penitents, men of unfeigned repentance, which leads them not only to confess, but forsake their fins. This « godly sorrow" strips inen of all false rests and comforts, makes them “ poor in spirit,” empty of themselves, wanting the comfort of the light, life and power of Jesus to support and sustain them; yet, as they steadfastly walk in that measure they have, the atonement of the blood is felt, and it cleanseth them from all unrighteousness, which makes them pure in heart. And in this condition no food will serve their turn but righteousness; after this they hunger and thirst, more than for the bread that perisheth. They are full of meekness and mercy, making peace, and promoting concord, whereever they come : for being themselves reconciled to God, they endeavour to reconcile all men unto God, and one unto another: submitting all worldly considerations to this incomparable peace, that passeth all human understanding.
In short, let us bring it home to our consciences, and deal faithfully with ourselves. Do we know this holy mourning? This godly forrow? Are we poor in spirit indeed?! Not · self-conceited, but bumble, meek, and lowly in heart, like him that bid us do so? Do we hunger after the kingdom of God, and the righteousness of it? And are our hearts purified by the precious faith of the Son of God, that is a working, cleansing, and conquering faith? In fine, Are we merciful? Ten. der-bearted ? Lovers of peace, more than lovers of our.. Jelves? Perfecuted, rather than persecutors ? Such as receive stripes for Christ's sake, and not those that beat our fellow-servants ? No man has true faith in Christ Jesus, that is not acquainted with these blessed qualifications. This is Christ's doctrine ; and to believe in bim, is to obey it, and be like him.
The great intention of this sermon, is to press peo. ple to a more excellent righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. “ For,” said Jesus to the mul
o, John i. 7.
' i Cor, ü. 3. G