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same subject. Beware of false has given such plain directions firophets, who come to you in what characters to choose for sheep's clothing, but inwardly religious instructors, and such are revening wolve 8. Peter's solemn cautions to avoid those, prophetic eye foresaw that the who hold not the true doctrines church would be misled and of Christ, how can the churches, corrupted by such characters. without great guilt, neglect the There were false prophets among duty ? What displeasure of God the people, even as there shall be do they incur by their cold infalse teachers among you, who difference respecting a subject, priviły shall bring in damnable on which he hath given them heresies, even denying the Lord such abundant instruction, and that bougbt them, and bring on so many precepts and warnings. themselves swift destruction, Secondly. The evil of that inPaul beheld the churches of difference, which many churchGalatia actually infested by de- es manifest respecting the religceivers. There be some, who ious sentiments of ministers, aptrouble you, and would pervert pears from this consideration, the gospel of Christ. What a that erroneous sentiments are great evil he esteemed every de- commonly connected with the want parture from the gospel doce of Christian piety. It is to be trine, appears, from the anathe expected, that men will feel and ma he denounced against the act according to their prevailing propagators of error. Though belief. If their sentiments are me, or an angel from heaven lax, their practice is likely to be preach any other gospel unto you so too. Christianity is one con. than that which we have preached sistent whole. Its theoretic and unto you, let him be accursed. practical parts perfectly harmoHe is so impressed with the im- nize, and are inseparable from portance of the subject, that he each other. The cordial belief immediately repeats the solemn of gospel truth tends directly to sentence ; if any man fireach any promote the holiness, which the other gospel unto you, than that ye gospel enjoins. Nor can gospel have received, let him be accurs- holiness be found, except in coned. By Jeremiah, God highly nexion with evangelical senticriminates his people for ap- ments. For example. They, proving false prophets. A won- who disbelieve the divine glory derful and horrible thing is com- of Christ, cannot exercise tomitted in the land ; the prophets wards him that religious faith, prophesy falsely, and the firiesta worship, and submission, which bear rule by their means ; and constitute an essential part of my people love to have it sq. In Christian holiness. If men en: addition to this, the Scripture tertain erroneous apprehensions particularly points out the requi- of God's character, law, and gov, site qualifications of gospel min- ernment, they must be erroneisters ; of which this is not the ous in their religious practice. least important, that they hold For every part of true Christian fast the faithful word, and teach piety has respect to those obthe things, which become sound jects, and must receive its pedoctrine. Now after Scripture culiar complexion from the mans ner in which they are appre- interest of the church. If a minhended. Defective views of the ister cordially believes the whole evil of sin will be attended with counsel of God, he will not shun defective repentance. Disbelief to declare it; as Paul says of of the atonement, as it arises himself and the other apostles, from a wrong idea of God, natu. we believe, and therefore speak. rally occasions a misplaced hope Peter and John expressed the of tis favour. Even the minis- same sentiment ; we cannot but terial office, though ever so sa. speak the things, which we have cred, cannot ingraft solid Chris- seen and heard. As a full exhi. tian piety upon
antichristian bition of the truth is so capital a opinions. The belief of the part of ministerial duty, how in. heart will show itself in the life. dispensable it is, that every minThe Spirit of Christ, which ister fully believe the truth. guideth into all the truth, does For we are not to suppose that not dwell in those, who reject an honest man's preaching will the truths he taught. How im- go beyond his belief. portant an article, then, in a gos; The beneficial effects of dispel minister's character, is his playing evangelical truth need belief. And how great an evil it not be particularly described. is in many of our churehes, that They have been acknowledged his belief is considered of no im- in all ages of Christianity, The portance. It is treating with conversion of sinners, and the indifference what is essential to progressive holiness of the saints a minister's personal religion. have taken place through the Indeed, those churches, that are instrumentality of divine truth. not desirous to ascertain, wheth- On the other hand, how woful er a preacher believes the scheme is the consequence of withholdof evangelical truth, are equally ing the truth and propagating. unconcerned as to his experi- error. It has been felt, and is mental godliness.
now obvious to every beholder, The same remarks are, in a in many New England churches. considerable degree, applicable Their faith, and with it their the
indifference, which discipline and morals have been churches show, respecting the gradually corrupted. From the religious sentiments of their erroneous sentiments and loose members. Such indifference, conduct of ministers, multitudes often miscalled charity, is found of nominal Christians have taken in those only, who overlook the a licence to cast off the restraints importance of regeneration, and of the law and gospel, and to live are disposed to build up the according to the course of this church with materials, which world. They no longer feel the the fire of the last day will con- obligations of their holy profes. sume.
sion, and are not distinguished Thirdly. The evil now under from the children of disobedi. consideration rises in our view, ence. All the evils found in the when we consider the extensive churches are promoted by erroinfluence of a minister's religious Neous, unfaithful preachers. sentiments upon his own conduct Their influence is pernicious alin the sacred office, and upon the so, with respect to men in gene
ral. Conviction of sin is pre- cultivate his vineyard, but leave vented. The wicked, instead of it to be laid waste. They will being solemnly warned, are flat- resemble the shepherds so se. tered with delusions, and so verely reproved by Ezekiel, who sleep, undisturbed, in an impen- fed themselves and not the flock, itent state. Go to the places, The diseased ye have not strength. where the salutary truths of the ened, said God by the prophet, gospel are withheld, and false neither have ye healed that which theories, empty declamations, or was siek, neither have ye bound cold moral essays are substitut, up that which was broken, nei. ed in their place. Do you find ther have ye brought again that sinners deeply impressed with which was driven away, neither the criminality of living without have ye sought that which was lost, God in the world, and with the They subject themselves to the importance of a penitent, godly fatal sentence of those, who daub life? Do you hear them serious- with untempered nortar, who heal ly proposing the question, What wounds slightly, and cry, Peace, shall we do to be saved ? a ques- peace, when there is no peace. tion, which the apostles always When, therefore, churches rejoiced to hear, and were ready are negligent of the religious to answer, but which many cler. sentiments and the piety of their gymen at this day totally dis- ministers, they show themselves countenance, and treat with wholly unconcerned respecting scorn. What a pestilence in the effects of the gospel dispensathe Christian world is the influ- tion. In a degree they are reence of such ministers. Even sponsible for all the mischief the most godly have their share which is done by unqualified of the injury. What edification teachers. They are guilty of can they derive from the instruc- encouraging and supporting tions of God's house, when the those, who not only refuse to go most momentous truths are into the kingdom of heaven them. passed over in contemptuous si- selves, but, by the errors of their lence? What a disturbance and faith and the unholiness of their grief must it be to them, if, example, hinder others from When going to the temple of re- entering. So that, if the woful. ligion, they cannot know, but influence of erroneous teachers that in the place where the light is seen in the corruption of the of heaven should shine, they faith, the discipline, and the shall be overshadowed with the morality of the churches; if mists of error? Does not men’s nominal Christians are loosed attendance upon the gospel min- from the restraints of religion, istry, as it is conducted in many and openly conformed to the parts of New England, instead world; if conviction of sin is of promoting their salvation prevented, and the impenitent through belief of the truth, tend are flattered and hardened; and to a contrary purpose ?
if God's own people, instead of Ministers, who are not estab- being edified and comforted, lose lished in the belief and love of the sensible blessings of religion, the gospel, will not be faithful in pine for want of spiritual food; Christ's cause. They will not or are for a time carried away
with the current of popular error ly doctrines, which exalt Chris, and vice ; if these, and other like tianity above the darkness of effects take place, they are in a paganism. Must all these things considerable measure to be be endured, as little differences charged to the criminal negli- of opinion, which should not gence of the churches respecting lessen our esteem, nor interrupt the religious sentiments and the Christian communion, and which personal holiness of gospel min- do not unfit men for a church isters.
state, nor even for the sacred ofFourthly. Negligence as to fice? What a false moderation, the sentiments, which ministers what a mere show of candour hold and propagate, is an implicit would this be in the churches of contempt of Christ and his gospel. Christ! What a forgetfulness of Is it not his peculiar glory, that their obligations to him, and a he is “ full of grace and truth ?” betraying of his honour into the Is it not one great end of his hands of infidels. At best, what coming into the world, that he an inglorious neutrality in a might bear witness to the truth : cause, which ought to be dearer that he might scatter the clouds than life ! which hang over the world, and Can we seriously survey New enlighten mankind with spirit, England churches, and compare ual knowledge? Is not the mis- their present state with their sion of the Holy Spirit to guide pristine purity, without grief and men into all the truth one great amazement of soul? What disadvantage of the gospel state ? cerning man does not see, what In short, are not the doctrines of feeling Christian does not bewail religion the substance of the the apostasy of these latter times, revelation, with which God hath and the fatal success with which blessed the world ? And is it the open and secret enemies of not through them, that God Christ have laboured to poison sanctifies his people? How impi- the souls of men, and to effect ously, then, do many churches the destruction of truth and undervalue the gospel of Christ, godliness? Can we be Christ's yea, with what contempt do they disciples indeed, and behold with treat him, and the design of his unconcern, the darkness of error labours, sufferings, and blood? overclouding the light of the To what a low ebb' is religion gospel, and veiling its divine reduced, how are the imprese beauty ? Must not our hearts sions of God our Saviour erased swell with sorrow, to see that from the minds of his professed men proudly dare to villify, or friends, when they can uncon- studiously to conccal the eternal cernedly behold a flood of errors truths, to which the Son of God overwhelming the land; when bore witness; that so many, they can carelessly see those, who know the joyful sound, who are set for the defence of should love darkness rather than the gospel, breaking down all the light, and offer their deluded boundaries of truth, and public- souls a sacrifice to infernal mally disclaiming, treacherously ice ; and that any who profess undermining, or “subtilizing to believe the Bible, should be into an airy phantom,” those ho have with such cold indifference as if they were no wise concern- England churches without blushed in the honour of the Redeem., ing and amazement? And will er; as if his cause might be they not seize every opportunity innocently abandoned, and the to show their adherence to the treasures of wisdom in his gospel adorable mysteries of his gospel ? treated as empty speculations, or What momenlous arguments, disputable, intricate points, and, are these, friends of Immanuel, as if it were a triling, matter ' to raise your zeal, to add life and whether divine purity and light, constancy to your endeavours or moral darkness possess our and fervour to your prayers for hearts, and prevail in the world. the defence of the truth. The, Is this the way, in which the eternal love of God, who sent his friends, yea, the churches of Son to illuminate your souls with God show their gratitude for the celestial knowledge; the wonriches of his mercy? What ders of the Saviour's grace ; the perfidious treatment of that reve- native beauty, the divine simplicilation, which his infinite love hasty of the gospel, surrounded bestowed! What an entertain- with all the glories of redeeming. ment is this of those important love, l'ecommended by every contruths, which flow from the sideration of gratitude and duty, mouth of the greatest prophet, and testified by the loudest apand are supported by the strong- plauses of angelic hosts, furnish est and most moving arguments; an endless train of irresistible truths, which bear the stamp of motives, and conspire to animate ineffable wisdom, and are bright- your hearts with holy ardour in ened by the lustre of an eternal the cause of Zion. Lift up your excellence. And what lamenta- eyes, and behold your exalted tion is added to our grief, when Lord. From his glorious throne we consider, that these evils ex- he looks down to notice the or, ist in New England, where God der, the purity, and fidelity of his hath made the clearest discover- churches. He directs your eye ics of himself; where he plant- to the scorn of the multitude, ed his church a noble vine, and the hatred of the learned, the his mercy cultivated it and blindness and rage of rulers, and rendered it fruitful from age to the furious efforts of infernal age; in New England, for which spirits, which afflicted him, but God hath done so much in his could never shake his resolution, providence, and which he hath or drive him from his cause. honoured and blessed, as a thea. He points to the shame he despitre of his abounding grace ; in sed, to purchase honour for you; New England, whose churches to his torturing cross and dying have been justly famed for the blood, which saved you from, purity of their faith, the strict- everlasting death.
He repredess of their discipline, and the sents to you the alluring glories influence of their piety, and of a forgiving God, the pure joys whose saints God hath set up, as of faith, and the eternal pleasures illustrious examples to future of the sanctuary above. He reages. Can they, who love the minds you of what his almighty Saviour, and duly value bis arm wrought for your forefaword, view the apostasy of New thers, and shows the blessings,