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others in your present case, that are elected members of this
have an unseen master that must be pleased, whoever be displeased, and an unseen kingdom to be obtained, and an invisible soul that must be saved, though all the world be lost. Fix your eyes still on him that made and redeemed you, and upon the ultimate end of your christian race, and do nothing wilfully unworthy such a master, and such an end. Often renew your self-resignation, and devote yourself to him ; sit close at his work, and be sure that it be his, both in the matter, and in your intent. If conscience should at any time ask Whose work are you now doing?" Or a man should pluck you by the sleeve, and say, 'Sir, whose cause are you now pleading ?' See that
have the answer of a Christian at hand; delay not God's work till you have done your own, or any one's else. You will beșt secure the commonwealth, and your own interest, by looking first to his. By neg. lecting this, and being carnally wise, we have wheeled about so long in the wilderness, and lost those advantages against the powers of darkness, which we know not whether we shall ever recover again. It is the great astonishment of sober men, and not the least reproach that ever was cast on our holy profession, to think with what a zeal for the work of Christ men seemed to be animated in the beginning of our disagreements, and how deeply they did engage themselves to him in solemn vows,
protestations, and covenants, and what advantages carnal self hath since got, and turned the stream another way! So that the same men have since been the instruments of our calamity, in breaking in pieces and dishonouring the churches of Christ, yea, and gone so near to the taking down, as much as in them lay, the whole ministry that stand approved in the land. Odo not, by trifling, give advantage to the tempter to destroy your work and you together! Țake warning by the sad experiences of what is past, bestir you speedily and vigorously for Christ, as knowing your opposition, and the shortness of your time. * Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. If you ask me wherein this interest of Christ doth consist, I shall tell you, but in a few unquestionable particulars. 1. In the main, that truth, godliness, and honesty be countenanced and encouraged, and their contraries by all fit means suppressed. -2. In order to this, that unworthy men be removed from magistracy and ministry, and the places supplied with the fittest that can be had. 3. That a competent maintenance may be procured where it is wanting, especially for cities and great towns, where more teachers are so necessary in some proportion to the number of souls, and on which the country doth so much depend. Shall an age of such high pretences to reformation and zeal for the churches, alienate so much, and then leave them destitute, and say, it cannot be had? 4. That right means be used, with speed and diligence, for the healing of our divisions, and the uniting of all the true churches of Christ at last, in these nations; and 0 that your endeavours might be extended much further ! To which end I shall mention but these two means of most evident necessity. 1. That there be one Scripture creed, or confession of faith, agreed on by a general assembly of able ministers, duly and freely chosen hereunto, which shall contain nothing but matter of evident necessity and verity. This will serve, l. For a test to the churches to discern the sound professors from the unsound, (as to their doctrine,) and to know them with whom they may close as brethren, and whom they must reject. 2. For a test to the magistrate of the orthodox to be encouraged, and of the intolerably heterodox, which it seems is intended in the 37th article of the late formed government, where all that will have liberty must profess faith in God by Jesus Christ, which, in a christian sense, must comprehend every true fundamental article of our faith, and, no doubt, it is not the bare speaking
of those words in an unchristian sense that is intended; as if
liberty of the churches, to meet their officers and delegates on all just occasions, in assemblies smaller or greater, (even national, when it is necessary,) seeing, without associations and communion in assemblies, the unity and concord of the churches is not like to be maintained. I exclude not the magistrates' interest, or oversight, to see that they do not transgress their bounds. As you love Christ, and his church, and gospel, and men's souls, neglect not these unquestionable points of his interest, and make them your first and chiefest business, and let none be preferred before him until you know them to be of more authority over you, and better friends to you, than Christ is. Should there be any among you that cherish a secret root of infidelity, after such pretences to the purest Christianity, and are zealous of Christ lest he should over-top them, and do set up an interest inconsistent with his sovereignty, and thereupon grow jealous of the liberties and power of his ministers, and of the unity and strength of his church, and think it their best policy to keep under his ministers, by hindering them from the exercise of their office, and to foment divisions, and hinder our union, that they may have parties ready to serve their ends; I would not be in the case of such men, when God ariseth to judge them, for all the crowns and kingdoms on earth! If they stumble on this stone, it will break them in pieces, but if it fall upon them, it will grind them to powder. They may seem to prevail against him awhile, when their supposed success is but a prosperous self-destroying, but mark the end, when his wrath is kindled, yea, but a little, and when these, his enemies that would not he should reign over them, are brought forth and destroyed before him, then they will be convinced of the folly of their rebellion. In the mean time, let wisdom be justified of her children.
My lord, I had not troubled you with so many words, had I not judged it probable that many more whom they concern may
RICHARD BAXTER. August 5, 1654,
THE NECESSITY OF BEING DEVOTED AND LIVING
1 CORINTHIANS vi, 19, 20.
And ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
FUNDAMENTALS in religion are the life of the superstructure. Like the vitals and naturals in the body, which are first necessary for themselves and you also, for the quickening and nourishing of the rest; there being no life or growth of the inferior parts, but what they do receive from the powers of these : it is but a dead discourse, which is not animated by these greater truths, whatever the bulk of its materials may consist of. The frequent repetition, therefore, of these is as excusable as frequent preaching: and they that nauseate it as loathsome battology, do love novelty better than verity, and playing with words to please the fancy, rather than closing with Christ to save the soul. And as it is the chief part of the cure, in most external maladies, to corroborate the vital and natural powers, which then will do the work themselves, so it is the most effectual course for the cure of particular miscarriages in men's lives, to further the main work of grace upon their hearts. Could we make men better Christians, it would do much to make them better magistrates, counsellors, jurors, witnesses, subjects, neighbours, &c. And this must be done by the deeper impress of those vital truths and the good in them exhibited, which are adequate objects of our vital graces. Could we help you to wind up the spring of
faith, and so move the first wheel of christian love, we should find it the readiest and surest means to move the inferior wheels of duty. The flaws and irregular motions without, do show that something is amiss within, which, if we could rectify, we might the easier mend the rest. I shall suppose, therefore, that I need no more apology for choosing such a subject at such a season as this, than for bringing bread to a feast. And if I medicate the brain and heart, for the curing of senseless paralytic members, or the inordinate convulsive motions of any hearers, I have the warrant of the apostle's example in my text. Among other great enormities in the church of Corinth, he had these three to reprehend and heal : first, their sidings and divisions occasioned by some factious, self-seeking teachers. Secondly, their personal contentions by law-suits, and that before unbelieving judges. Thirdly, the foul sin of fornication, which some among them had fallen into. The great cure which he useth to all these, and more especially to the last, is the urging of these great foundation truths, whereof one is in the words before my text, viz., the right of the Holy Ghost; the other in the words of my text, which contains, first, a denial of any right of propriety in themselves. Secondly, an asserting of Christ's propriety in them. Thirdly, the proof of this from his purchase, which is his title. Fourthly, their duty concluded from the former premises, which is to glorify God, and that with the whole man, with the spirit, because God is a Spirit, and loathes hypocrisy; with the body, which is particularly mentioned, because it seems they were encouraged to fornication by such conceits, that it was but an act of the flesh, and not of the mind, and therefore, as they thought, the smaller sin. The apostle's words, from last to first, according to the order of intention, do express, first, man's duty to glorify God with soul and body, and not to serve our lusts. Secondly, the great fundamental obligation to this duty, God's dominion or propriety. Thirdly, the foundation of that dominion, Christ's purchase. According to the order of execution, from first to last, these three great fundamentals of our religion lie thus : First, Christ's purchase. Secondly, God's propriety thence arising. Thirdly, man's duty_ wholly to glorify God, arising from both. The argument lies thus : they that are not their own, but wholly God's, should wholly glorify God, and not serve their lusts; but you are not your own, but wholly God's: therefore you should wholly glorify God, and not serve your lusts. The major is clear by the