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will produce the evil effect of engendering sectarianism, schism, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. Those meetings-together of the people which fear the Lord, and think upon his name, should be as a breathing-time in our conflicts with the world; a counsel, held on the field of battle, concerning what is next to be done for the cause of God's glory, in the defeat of the world, the devil, and the flesh: and being used for such ends, they are most profitable, yea and necessary. But, being used for no such ends, but being ends unto themselves; that is, being taken as the proof of our Christian zeal, and the measure of our Christian activity, and the test of our soldiership; they do turn aside the understandings, and beguile the hearts of the people from the great ends of their calling and election, and leave the whole discipline of human life and business of the world without a rule and guide: and the result is, that the right hand is always fighting against the left, and no work is done for Christ. But, contrarywise, hypocrisy is engendered; and religion is measured by striking a balance between the services in the church, or conventicle, or religious work-shop of whatever name, and the customs of the world, or inclinations of our own nature, which we give way to in all other places. Which system of accommodation the Papists have so perfected, in their various religious orders, that it is too late in the day for us Protestants to think to surpass them, although this kind to which I now refer are fast following in their footsteps. Wherefore I pray them to give heed to counsel before it is too late to return. While such a discipline exists of open confession and religious registry, of prohibited books, and, above all, of prohibited doctrines, and these too the very marrow of divinity, there never will be a deep soil to produce abundant and well ripened fruit, which, as we shall shew hereafter, is by nothing to be produced save the patient continuing in well-doing, and the constant endeavour to glorify God in all the places, and in all the occupations, and in all the occurrences of life.
Besides these forms, which the revival of the last fifty years has assumed, there is another at present engendering by the subtlety of Satan, which to delineate and expose aright, may be of great profit to the Christian church: for it hath not yet settled into the chronical state of a sect and party. The Arminian spirit of preaching experience, and registering experience, which is nothing different from the confessions and goodworks of the Papists, hath at length begun to alarm many with apprehensions for the honour of Christ: who, not comprehending the proper position from which to contend, through their ignorance of the true visible church, which they see only in our Arminian and Pelagian formalists, who call themselves churchmen, but are of the synagogue of Satan, do come forth in their own single strength, and preach the assurance of faith, the immediate and instant assurance of our salvation through Christ Jesus. They preach Christ, as they term it; that is, the liberty of salvation through his merits; and they say, Do you believe that you are saved? And if you say,
Yes, they call upon you to rejoice, to go on and prosper. And on they go at full gallop, rushing against every soberminded Christian, and upbraiding him as they pass.
Our good old distinctions between justification by faith in the imputed righteousness of
Christ, the assurance of which, we also allow, must commence the Christian's work, and sanctification through faith in the Holy Spirit,—the former an act, the latter a work, they give little or no heed to whatever: although I believe this distinction to be at the foundation of all sound doctrine, and not, without the loss of both truths, to be confounded. And the prerogative of the Father to implant faith, which may lead us unto Christ, they make little discourse of not knowing how to preach at liberty, with that rock always a-head of them; and never witting that this very rock is the stumbling-block at which the wicked are appointed to stumble. They preach as if their preaching could make Christ gainly and attractive to the natural man, which Christ himself never dreamed that his own all-accomplished preaching and fulness of the Godhead could do. And the consequence is, that these believers, instead of looking to the Father, and acknowledging him as the Almighty Power which overpowered their reluctancy, and empowered their powerlessness, to come to Christ, refer back unto their preacher, and call themselves by his name, saying, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas. This infection runs like wild-fire. This seed springs up like Jonah's gourd; and like Jonah's gourd it will perish, affording no shelter to a man's soul in the strong heat of the sun. One cannot but love their zeal, and admire the ringlets of their childish beauty, and the freshness of their downy cheek; but, ah! what shall these avail in the day of fierce and fiery controversy, when man must brave the battle's edge, and snatch the martyr's crown from the midst of the fire ? I also love them as I do my sweet children, and delight myself with their soft and yielding spirits : but when I speak to them as men, straightway they are offended. God knows how I suffer daily in my heart, when I behold these, and many other exemplifications around me, of this thinness of soil, perceiving how we shall be broken upon the first onset of the enemy, which the Lord for the present restraineth, and which may he long restrain! for who could look upon the tents of Israel scattered, and the children of the living God discomfited ?
It is in my free office of an interpreter of Christ's word, and upon my responsibility as a steward of his mysteries, that I am forced to make these painful disclosures of our present weakness to all whom it may concern.
And now before advancing further in my subject, I would put to you, my people, a few searching questions, by which you may prove, whether you be of any of these classes of ill-grounded and joyful Christians which we are now discoursing of. Come, then, give heed, and answer me as a minister of God, entrusted to keep the door of his church: Dost thou remember any scene of sadness when thou lookedst back to Sodom, whence thou hadst just been rescued ; or lusted for Egypt's sensualities, to which thou wast in bondage? Dost thou remember the pangs of the birth of the new man in the stable of thy unclean heart; with songs and salutations from above, but with wretchedness and misery and denial of favour and entertainment on the earth ? Hast thou had inward trials of Satan, fear of the world, scornings and scoffings of thy pride, rebellions of thy affections, perverseness of thy will? Hath the word taken root deep, deep, into thy immortal being ? Hast thou heard it, and trembled on its hearing, and obeyed with fear and trembling? Tell me, whether through such clouds of the morning, the light of the morning did break in upon thy soul? Hadst thou, in such horrors of thick darkness, the view of that “ burning lamp, and smoking furnace;" the one to enlighten thy darkness, the other to consume thy dross? Through such inward strugglings and strivings I ask thee if the word came to thee, and thy change of mind made way? For if not, thou art surely a hanger-on, and not a tried friend of the cause; a bravo, not a soldier; and I warn thee that thou wilt in time of persecution fall away. Persecution were the best thing that could befal thee; for thereby thou wouldst discover thy self-deception : but as that proof is uncertain, I pray thee to try thyself by undergoing the inward trial, and submitting thyself to the spiritual crucifixion of faith and holiness; otherwise thou need not expect to be a partaker of Christ's glory, never having partaken of his humility. Thou wilt deny him, and yet though thou have thrice denied him, he will thrice forgive thee, if indeed thou wilt submit thyself to feed his sheep, and take care of his lambs-that is, for the sake of his kingdom and the children thereof, do offices of love, and humble services, in the spirit of love to Him who is their King. For as he said unto Mary, “ Tell the disciples, and Peter;" not excluding, but specially including Peter, so saith he unto thee; and as he saved Saul the persecutor, so if thou wilt hear the word of the Ananias that may be sent unto thee, though now blind, thou wilt receive thy sight, and be a vessel chosen of him to bear the fragrance of his name. And though thou not only art in a mood