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he be not really taken as such, he is not taken for their God; and he that hath no God hath no religion; and he that hath no religion is no Christian; and if he call himself a Christian, he is an hypocrite.
Sect. 2. Though we must prefer the interest of Christ and the church above the interest of our souls, yet must we never set them in competition or opposition; but in a due conjunction, though not in an equality.
I add this, to warn men of some common, dangerous errors, in this point; some think that if they do but feel themselves more moved with another minister's preaching, or more edified with another way of discipline, they may presently withdraw themselves to that minister or discipline, without regard to the unity and good of the church where they are, or whatever public evil follow it: whereas, he that seemeth to deny even to his soul some present edification for the public good, shall find that even this will turn to his greater edification.
And some, on the contrary extreme, have got a conceit, that till they can find that they can be content to be damned for Christ, if God would so have it, they are not sincere: which is a case that no Christian should put to his own heart, being such as God never put to any man all the trial that God putteth us to is but whether we can deny this transitory life, and the vanities of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, for the love of God, and the hopes of glory; and he that doth thus much, shall undoubtedly be saved. But to think you must ask your hearts such a question, as whether you can be content to be damned for Christ, is but to abuse God and yourselves. Indeed, both reason and religion command us to esteem God infinitely above ourselves, and the church's welfare above our own; because that which is best must be best esteemed and loved. But yet, though we must ever acknowledge this inequality, yet that we must never disjoin them, nor set them in a positive opposition or competition, nor really do any thing which tendeth to our damnation, upon any pretence of the church's good, is past all question. He that hath made the love of ourselves and felicity inseparable from man, hath made us no duty inconsistent with this inclination; that is, with our humanity itself; for God hath conjoined these necessary ends, and we must not separate them.
Rom. ix. 3, and xv. 7; 1 Cor. x. 31; Eph. i. 12, 14.
Sect. 3. The interest of the church is but the interest of the souls that constitute the church; and to prefer it above our own, is but to prefer many above one. h
Sect. 4. He that doth most for the public good, and the souls of many, doth thereby most effectually promote his own consolation and salvation.
Sect. 5. The interest of God is the ultimate end of religion, church, and particular souls. i
Sect. 6. God's interest is not any addition to his perfection or blessedness; but the pleasing of his will, in the glory of his power, wisdom, and goodness, shining forth in Jesus Christ, and in his church. k
Sect. 7. Therefore, to promote God's interest, is by promoting the church's interest.
Sect. 8. The interest of the church consisteth, 1. Intensivè, in its holiness. 2. Conjunctivè and harmonicè, in its unity, concord, and order. 3. Extensivè, in its increase, and the multiplication of believers.
Sect. 9. I. The holiness of the church consisteth, 1. In its resignation and submission to God, its Owner. 2. In its subjection and obedience to God, its Ruler. 3. In its gratitude and love to God, its Benefactor and ultimate End. 1
Sect. 10. These acts consist, 1. In a right estimation and belief of the mind. 2. In a right volition, choice, and resolution of the will. 3. In the right ordering of the life. m
Sect. 11. The means of the church's holiness are these: 1. Holy doctrine; because, as all holiness entereth by the understanding, so truth is the instrumental cause of all.
Sect. 12. II. The holy, serious, reverent, skilful, and diligent preaching of this doctrine, by due explication, proof, and application, suitably to the various auditors.
Sect. 13. III. The holy lives and private converse of the pastors of the church."
Sect. 14. IV. Holy discipline faithfully administered; encouraging all that are godly, and comforting the penitent, and
1 Eph. iv. 11~16; Col. i. 24; 1 Tim. iv. 16, and iv. 7, 8.
i Rom. xi. 36; Prov. xvi. 4; 1 Cor. x. 31.
k Eph. iii. 10, 21, and v. 27, 29; 1 Thess. i. 10, 11; John xxi. 15-17; Matt. xxv.
1 Eph. v. 25, 26; Tit. ii. 19; 1 Peter ii. 9, 10, and i. 3, 6, 8, 14-16, 22. m Acts xxvi. 18; Eph. i. 18; Matt. xxviii. 19; Heb. v. 9.
" Matt. xxviii. 20; Gal. i. 7; 2 Tim. i. 13; Acts xx. 20, &c.; 1 Tim. iv. 2; 1 Tim. v. 17.
humbling the proud, and disgracing open sin, and casting out the proved impenitent, gross sinners; that they infect not the rest, embolden not the wicked, and dishonour not the church in the eyes of the unbelievers."
Sect. 15. V. The election and 'ordination of able and holy pastors, fit for this work.
Sect. 16. VI. The conjunct endeavours of the wisest and most experienced members of the flock, not usurping any ecclesiastical office; but by their wisdom, and authority, and example, in their private capacities, seconding the labours of the pastors, and not leaving all to be done by them alone.
Sect. 17. VII. Especially the holy instructing and governing of families, by catechising inferiors, and exhorting them to the due care of their souls, and helping them to understand and remember the public teaching of the pastors, and praying and praising God with them, and reading the Scripture and holy books, especially on the Lord's day; and labouring to reform their lives.
Sect. 18. VIII. The blameless lives, and holy conference, converse, and example, of the members of the church among themselves. Holiness begetteth holiness, and increaseth it, as fire kindleth fire.P
Sect. 19. IX. The unity, concord, and love of Christians to one another.
Sect. 20. X. And, lastly, holy princes and magistrates, to encourage piety, and to protect the church, and to be a terror to evil doers. These are the means of holiness.
Sect. 21. The contraries of all these may easily be discerned to be the destroyers of holiness, and pernicious to the church. 1. Unholy doctrine: 2. Ignorant, unskilful, negligent, cold, or envious preaching: 3. The unholy lives of them that preach it: 4. Discipline neglected, or perverted, to the encouraging of the
Acts xx. 1; Tim. i. 6, 18, 19; iii. 2, and iv. 12; 1 Cor. v.; Matt. xviii. 15; 2 Thess. iii.; Rom. xvi. 16, 17; 1 Tim. v. 20; Acts xx.; 2 Tim. ii. 15, 21, and 2 Tim. iii. 2, 3; John viii.; Acts xviii. 26; Rom. xvi. 3; 1 Tim. vi. 18; Tit. iii. 8.
P 1 Tim. iii. 5; Eph. vi. 4; Deut. vi. 6-8, and xi. 18, 19; Acts x. 2, 24; 1 Pet. iii. 2; Phil. ii. 15; 2 Pet. iii. 14; Tit. ii. 5; 1 Tim. vi. 1; Rom. ii. 24; John xvii. 21; 1 Cor. i. 10; Isa. xxxii. 1; lii. 5, and xlix. 23; Hos. viii. 4, 5; Psalm ii. ; Dan. ix. 6, 8; Rom. xiii. 3, 5, 6; 2 Pet. ii.; Gal. i. 7, 8; 1 Tim. iii. 6; v. 22; iv. 15, 16, and vi. 4, 5; 1 Cor. v.; 1 Tim. iii. 7; Mark ix. 38, 39; Phil. i. 15; James iii. 1, 15, 17; 1 Sam. ii.; Acts xx. 30, 31; Rom. xvi. 16, 17; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; 2 Chron. xxvi. 14, 15; Ezek. xxii. 27; Hos. ix. 15, and vii. 3; Zeph. iii. 3; 1 Cor. ii. 6, 8.
ungodly, and afflicting of the most holy and upright of the flocks: 5. The election or ordination of insufficient, negligent, or ungodly pastors: 6. The negligence of the wisest of the flock, or the restraint of them by the spirit of jealousy and envy, from doing their private parts in assistance of the pastors. 7. The neglect of holy instructing, and governing of families; and the lewd example of the governors of them: 8. The scandalous or barren lives of Christians: 9. The divisions and discord of Christians themselves: 10. And bad magistrates, who give an ill example, or afflict the godly, or encourage vice, or, at least, suppress it not.
Sect. 22. To these may be added, 1. The degenerating of religious strictness, from what God requireth, into another thing, by human corruptions, gradually introduced; as is seen among too many friars, as well as in the pharisees of old. 2. A degenerating of holy institutions of Christ, into another thing, by the like gradual corruptions, as is seen in the Roman sacrifice of the mass. 3. The degenerating of church offices by the like corruptions, as is seen in the papacy, and its manifold supporters, 4. The diversion of the pastors of the church to secular employments. 5. The diminishing the number of the pastors of the church, as proportioned to the number of souls : as if one school-master alone should have ten thousand scholars; or ten thousand soldiers but one or two officers. 6. The pretending of the soul and power of religion, to destroy the body, or external part: or making use of the body, or external part, to destroy the soul and power; and setting things in opposition which are conjunct. 7. The preferring either the imposition or opposition of things indifferent, before things necessary. 8. An apish imitation of Christ by Satan and his instruments, by counterfeiting inspirations, revelations, visions, prophecies, miracles, apparitions, sanctity, zeal, and new institutions in the church. 9. An overdoing, or being righteous over-much, by doing more than God would have us (over-doing being one of the devil's ways of undoing). When Satan pretendeth to be a saint, he will be more strict than Christ, as the pharisees were in their company, Sabbath-rest and ceremonies: and he will be zealous with a fiery, consuming zeal. 10. Accidentally, prosperity itself consumeth piety in the church; if it occasion the perdition of the world, the church is not out of danger of it.
a Matt. xv. 2, 3, 9, 11, 13; Col. ii. 20-22; Mark ii. 26; Luke vi. 2, and xiii. 14, 15; Johu v. 18; xi. 49, and xviii. 13; Acts iv. 6, and xxiii. 2;
Sect. 23. II. The unity, and concord, and harmony of the church consisteth, 1. In their universal adoption, or one relation to God, as their reconciled Father in Christ: 2. In the one relation they have all to Christ their Head: 3. In the unity of the Spirit, which dwelleth and worketh in them all: 4. In their one relation to the body or church of Christ, as its members: 5. In the unity of that faith which stateth them in these relations : 6. In the unity of the baptismal covenant, which initiateth them: 7. In the unity of the Gospel (in the essentials), which is the common rule of their faith and life, and the ground of their hope and comfort: 8. In the bond of mutual, brotherly love: 9. In the concord of a holy life: 10. In the unity of the end which they all intend, and shall at last attain, the pleasing of God, and the heavenly glory."
Sect. 24. The means of this unity and concord are, 1. All, as aforesaid, which promote their holiness. From holiness is the centring of all hearts in God: and it destroyeth that dividing selfishness, which maketh men have as many ends as they are persons. 2. The learning and ability of the pastors, to hold the flocks together by the force of truth, and to stop the mouths of cavilling dividers and seducers: when no gainsayers are able to stand before the evidence of that truth which they demonstrate. 3. The holy lives of pastors, which keep up the love of truth and them in the people's hearts. 4. By the paternal government of the pastors, ruling them, not by force, but willingly, and in fatherly love, and a loving, familiar converse with them. 5. By the just execution of discipline on the impenitent, that the godly may see that wickedness is disowned. 6. By the concord of the pastors among themselves; and the prudent use of synods or councils to that end. 7. By the humble and submissive respect of the people to their pastors. 8. By keeping up the interest and authority of the most ancient and experienced of the flock, over the young and inexperienced, who are the common causes of division. 9. By the pastors' avoiding 2 Tim. ii. 4—6, 12, and 1 Tim. iv. 15; Matt. ix. 37, 38; 1 Cor. iii. 9; Acts xiv. 23; Tit. i. 3; 1 Cor. xiv. 26; xv. 16, xxxi. 33–35; Matt. xv. 9, 13; Rom. xiv. and xv.; Acts xv. 28; 1 John iv. 1; 2 Thess. ii. 2; 1 Kings xxii. 22, 23; 2 Cor. xi. 14, 15; Matt. xxiv. 24; xv. 2; xi. 13, and xii. 2; Luke xiii. 14, 15 John iv. 16; Luke ix. 54; Acts xi. 36, and xxii. 22; Rom. x. 2; Prov. i. 32; James v. 5, 6.
Eph. iv. 1-4, &c.; Rom. viii. 17; Eph. i. 22; 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13; Eph. iv. 15, 16; Rom. viii. 9, and x. 8, 15, 17; Gal. i. 6-8; Phil. i. 17, 27; 1 Thess. iv. 9: 1 Pet. i. 22; Eph. iii. 17, and iv. 16; Heb. x. 24; 1 Cor. i. 10; 1 John iii. 22; 1 Thess. ii. 4.