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HE disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, having made that great confeffion of him, in distinction and opposition unto them who accounted him only as a prophet, thou art Christ the Son of the living
God,' Matth. xvi. 14, 15, 16, he doth on the occasion thereof, give out unto them the great character of the church's stability and continuance, Upon this rock I will 'build my church, and the gates of hell * shall not prevail against it,' ver. 18. He is himself the rock upon which his church is built; as God is called the Rock of his people, on the account of his eternal power and immutability, Deut. xxxii. 4, 18, 31, Psal. xviii. 2, 46. and himself the spiritual Rock, which gave out fupplies of mercy and aslistance to the people in the wilder, ness, 1 Cor. x. 4.
The relation of the professing church unto this Rock, consists in the faith of this confession,' that he is Christ the Son of the
living God.' This our Lord Jesus Christ hath promised to fecure against all attempts; yet so as plainly to declare, that there should be great and severe opposition made thereunto. For whereas the prevalency of the gates of hell in an enmity unto this confesion is denied, a great and vigorous attempt to prevail therein is no lels certainly foretold; neither hath it otherwise fallen out. In all ages, from the first solemn foundation of the church of the New Testament, it hath one way or other been fiercely attempted by the gates of hell. For some time after the resurrec. tion of Christ from the dead, the principal endeavours of Satan, and men acting under him, or acted by him, were pointed against the very foundation of the church, as laid in the expression before-mentioned. Al. most all the errors and heresies, wherewith for three or four centuries of years it was perplexed, were principally against the person of Christ himself, and consequently the nature and being of the holy and blessed Trinity. But being disappointed in his defign herein, through the watchful care of the Lord Christ over his promise; in the
following ages Satan turned his craft and violence against sundry parts of the superstructure, and by the aflistance of the Papacy cast them into confusion; nothing as it were remaining firmi, stable, and in ora der, but only this one confession, which in a particular manner the Lord Christ hath taken upon himself to secure.
In these latter ages of the world, the power and care of Jesus Christ reviving towards his church in the reformation of it, even the ruined heaps of its building have been again reduced into fome tolerable order and beauty. The old enemy of its peace and welfare falling hereby under a disappointment, and finding his travail and labour for many generations in a greať part frustrate, he is returned again to his old work of attacking the foundation itself; as he is unweary and restlefs, and can be quiet neither conqueror nor conquered; nor will be fo, until he is bound and cast • into the lake that burneth with fire.' For no sooner had the reformation of religion formed itself in some of the European provinces, but immediately, in a proportion of distance not unanswerable unto what fell out from the first foundation of the church, sundry persons by the instigation of Satan attempted the diflurbance
and ruin of it, by the very same errors and heresies about the Trinity, the person of Christ and his offices, the person of the Holy Ghost and his grace, wherewith its firft trouble and ruin was endeavoured. And hereof we have of late an instance given among ourselves, and that fo notoriously known, through a mixture of imprudence and impudence in the managers of it, that a very brief reflection upon
it will suffice unto our prefent design.
It was always supposed, and known to some, that there are fundry persons in this nation, who having been themselves fedu. ced into Socinianism, did make it their business, under various pretences, to draw others into a compliance with them in the same way and persuasion. Neither hath this for fundry years been fo fecretly carried, but that the design of it hath variously discovered itself by overt acts of conferences, disputations, and publishing of books; which last way of late hath been sedulously pursued.
Unto these three is now a visible acceffion made, by that fort of people whom men will call Quakers, from their deportment at the first erection of their way, long since deferted by them, until by some new revolutions of opinions, they cast themselves under a more proper
denomination. That there is a conjunction illued between both these forts of men, in an opposition to the Holy Trinity, with the person and grace of Christ, the pamphlets of late published by the one and the other do fufficiently evince. For however they may feem in sundry things as yet to look divers ways, yet like Samson's foxes, they are knit together by the tail of consent in these fire-brand opinions, and jointly endeavour to consume the standing corn of the church of God.
And their joint management of their business of late hath been, as though it were their design to give as great a vogue and report to their opinions, as by any ways they are able. Hence besides their attempts to be proclaiming their opinions under various pretences, in all affemblies whereunto they may intrude themselves, as they know without trouble, they are exceedingly fedulous in fcattering and giving away, yea, imposing gratis and as to some ingratiis, their fmall books, which they publish, upon all sorts of perfons promiscuoufly; as they have advantage fo to do. By this means their opinions being of late become the talk and discourse of the common fort of Christians, and the exercise of many; amongst whom are not