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when at death I resign it into thy hands, receive it as thine own, and finish the work which thou hast begun, in placing it among the blessed spirits, who are filled with the sight and love of God. I trust thee living, let me trust thee dying, and never be ashamed of my trust.
And unto thee, the eternal Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, the communicative Love, who condescendest to make perfect the elect of God, do I deliver up this dark, imperfect soul, to be further renewed, confirmed, and perfected, according to the holy covenant. Refuse not to bless it with thine in-dwelling and operations, quicken it with thy life, irradiate it by thy light, sanctify it by thy love, actuate it purely, powerfully, and constantly, by thy holy motions; and though the way of this thy sacred influx be beyond the reach of human apprehension, yet let me know the reality and saving power of it by the happy effects. Thou art more to souls than souls to bodies, than light to eyes. O, leave not my soul as a carrion, destitute of thy life; nor its eyes as useless, destitute of thy light; nor leave it as a senseless block without thy motion! The remembrance of what I was without thee, doth make me fear lest thou shouldest withhold thy grace, Alas! I feel, I daily feel, that I am dead to all good, and all that is good is dead to me, if thou be not the life of all. Teachings and reproofs, mercies and corrections, yea, the Gospel itself, and all the liveliest books and sermons are dead to me, because I am dead to them; yea, God is as no God to me, and heaven as no heaven, and Christ as no Christ, and the clearest evidences of Scripture verity are as no proofs at all, if thou represent them not with light and power to my soul. Even as all the glory of the world is as nothing to me, without the light by which it is seen. O thou that hast begun, and given me those heavenly intimations and desires, which flesh and blood could never give me, suffer not my folly to quench these sparks, nor this brutal flesh to prevail against thee, nor the powers of hell to stifle and kill such a heavenly seed. O pardon that folly and wilfulness which hath too often, too obdurately, and too unthankfully striven against thy grace, and depart not from an unkind and sinful soul. I remember, with grief and shame, how I wilfully bore down thy motions: punish it not with desertion, and give me not over to myself. Art thou not in covenant with me, as my Sanctifier, and Confirmer, and Comforter? I never undertook to do these things
for myself, but I consent that thou should work them on me, As thou art the Agent and Advocate of Jesus, my Lord, O plead his cause effectually in my soul against the suggestions of Satan and my unbelief, and finish his healing, saving work, and let not the flesh or world prevail. Be in me the resident witness of my Lord, the author of my prayers, the spirit of adoption, the seal of God, and the earnest of mine inheritance. Let not my nights be so long, and my days so short, nor sin eclipse those beams which have often illuminated my soul. Without thee books are senseless scrawls, studies are dreams, learning is a glow-worm, and wit is but wantonness, impertinency, and folly. Transcribe those sacred precepts on my heart, which, by thy dictates and inspirations, are recorded in thy holy word. I refuse not thy help for tears and groans; but Q, shed abroad that love upon my heart, which may keep it in a continual life of love: and teach me the work which I must do in heaven. Refresh my soul with the delights of holiness, and the joys which arise from the believing hopes of the everlasting joys, Exercise my heart and tongue in the holy praise of my Lord. Strengthen me in sufferings, and conquer the terrors of death and hell. Make me the more heavenly, by how much the faster I am hastening to heaven; and let my last thoughts, words, and works, on earth be likest to those which shall be my first in the state of glorious immortality, where the kingdom is delivered up to the Father, and God will for ever be all, and in all of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Consectaries.-I. What Party of Christians should we join with, or be of, seeing they are divided into so many Sects.o
I SHALL briefly despatch the answer of this question in these following propositions :
Sect. 1. Godliness and Christianity is our only religion; and if any party have any other, we must renounce it.P
Sect. 2. The church of Christ being his body, is but one, and
• Vid. Pet. Damian. Dom. vobisc. c. 6. de Unit. Eccles.
P Psalm i.; Matt. xvii. 19; Acts xi. 26.
hath many parts, but should have no parties, but unity and concord without division.a
Sect. 3. Therefore no Christian must be of a party or sect, as such, that is, as dividing itself from the rest, causing schism or contention in the body, or making a rent unnecessarily in any particular church, which is a part.
Sect. 4. But when parties and sects do trouble the church, we must still hold to our mere Christianity, and desire to be called by no other name than Christian, with the epithets of sincerity; and if men will put the name of a party or sect upon us for holding to Christianity only, against all corrupting sects, we must hold on our way, and bear their obloquy.s
Sect. 5. What Christianity is, may be known, 1. Most summarily in the baptismal covenant, in which we are by solemnization made Christians, in which, renouncing the flesh, the world, and the devil, we give up ourselves devotedly to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. 2. By the ancient summary rules of faith, hope, and charity, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Decalogue. 3. Integrally in the sacred Scriptures, which are the records of the doctrine of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.t
Sect. 6. But there are many circumstances of religious worship, which Scripture doth not particularly determine of, but only give general rules for the determination of them, as what chapter shall be read, what text preached on, what translation used, what metre or tune of psalms, what time, what place, what seat or pulpit, or cup or other utensils, what vesture, gesture, &c. whether we shall use notes for memory in preaching; what method we shall preach in; whether we shall pray in the same words often, or in various; with a book, or without, with many others. In all which the people must have an obediential respect to the conduct of the lawful pastors of the churches." Sect. 7. Differing opinions, or practices, about things indifferent, no, nor about the mere integrals of religion, which are not essentials, do not make men of different religions or churches (universally considered).×
41 Cor. xii; Eph. iv. 3, 4, 14.
r 1 Cor. i. 10; Acts xx. 30; Rom. xvi. 17.
$ 1 Cor. iii. 3-5; Acts xxiv. 14, and xxviii. 22.
t Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 16; Heb. vi. 1-3.
u 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 40.
x Rom. xiv. and xv.; Gal. ii. 13-15; Phil. iii. 16, 17.)
Sect. S. Nothing will warrant us to separate from a church as no church, but the want of something essential to a church.
Sect. 9. The essential or constitutive parts of the church catholic, or universal, are Christ the Head, and all Christians as the members.y
Sect. 10. All sincere and sanctified Christians are the members of the church mystical, invisible, or regenerate and all professors of sincere Christianity, that is, all baptised persons, not apostatised nor excommunicate, are the members of the church visible, which is integrated of the particular churches.
Sect. 11. It is essential to particular political churches, that they be constituted of true bishops or pastors, and of flocks of baptised or professed Christians, united in these relations for holy communion in the worshipping of God, and the promoting of the salvation of the several members."
Sect. 12. It is essential to a true bishop or pastor of the church to be in office, (that is, in authority and obligation,) appointed by Christ in subordination to him in the three parts of his offices, prophetical, priestly, and kingly; that is, to teach the people, to stand between them and God in worship, and to guide, or govern them, by the paternal exercise of the keys of his church. a
Sect. 13. He that doth not nullify, or unchurch a church, may lawfully remove from one church to another, and make choice of the best and purest, or that which is most suited to his own edification, if he be a freeman.
Sect. 14. But in case of such choice, or personal removal, the interest of the whole church, or of religion in common, must be first taken into consideration, by him that would rightly judge of the lawfulness of the fact.b
Sect. 15. If a church which, in all other respects, is purest and best, will impose any sin upon all that will have local communion with it, though we must not separate from that church as no church, yet must we not commit that sin, but patiently suffer them to exclude us from their communion.c
y Eph. i. 22; iv. 12, 15, and v. 23; Col. i. 18, and ii. 19; 1 Cor. v. and xii. 27; Matt. xxviii. 19.
Acts xiv. 23; Phil. i. 1; Eph. iv. 11, 12; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.
a Matt. xxviii. 19, 20, and xviii. 15, 18;
James v. 14; Acts ii. 42; viii. 1, and xx. 36.
b Rom. ix. 3; 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26.
c Rom. iii. 8.
Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii. 17;
Sect. 16. True heresy, (that is, an error contradictory to an essential article of the christian faith,) if it be seriously and really held, so that the contrary truth is not held seriously and really, doth nullify the Christianity of him that holdeth it, and the church-state of that congregation which so professeth it. But so doth not that fundamental error which is held but in words through ignorance, thinking it may consist with the contrary truth, while that truth is not denied, but held, majore fide; so that we have reason to believe, that if they did discern the contradiction, they would rather forsake the error than the truth. d
But of this more elsewhere.
Consectary II.-Of the true Interest of Christ, and his Church, and the Souls of Men: of the Means to promote it, and its Enemies and Impediments in the World.
So great and common is the enmity against Christianity in the world, yea, against the life and reality of it in all the hypocrites of the visible church, that the guilty will not bear the detection of their guilt; and therefore the reader must excuse me for passing over the one-half of that which should be said upon this subject, because they that need it cannot suffer it. e
Sect. 1. Every true Christian preferreth the interest of Christ and of religion, before all worldly interest of his own, or any others.
For he that setteth himself or any thing above his God, hath indeed no God; for if he be not Maximus, Sapientissimus, Optimus, Greatest, Wisest, and Best, he is not God; and if
d Tit. iii. 10; 2 John x. and xii. 16; Heb. v. 11, 12; 1 Cor. xv. 1, 2, &c.; Luke xviii. 34; Gal. v. 2, and i. 7—9, and iii. 1, 2. In isto factiosissimo sæculo, vix quisquam eximie doctas hæreseos suspicione carebat.—Erasm. in Vita Hieronym. Et profecto ita est, ut id habendum sit antiquissimum et Deo proximum, quod sit optimum.-Cic. de Leg. lib. 2. p. 244.
e I entreat the reader to peruse the Lord Bacon's 'Considerations,' and Mr. Hales' 'Of Schism,' and Mr. Stillingfleet's Irenicon,' especially p. 117, and Mr. Jer. Borough's Irenicon,' which will all much promote his understanding in this point; and Grotius' De Imper. Sum. Pot.'
f Luke xiv. 26, 29,