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Gospel, to teach men not to place religion chiefly in the performance of outward rites, (such as Moses taught the Jews,) but in the purity of the heart, and a holy life; worshipping the Father in spirit and truth; yet Christ hath thought fit to ordain a few plain and visible rites, (as Baptism and the Lord's Supper,) whereby men should be admitted into the visible society of his church, and become partakers of the spiritual benefits thereof; which therefore by no means are to be neglected, but reverently, devoutly, and thankfully to be used
Nor ought it to be pretended, that because the Gospel requires inward purity, therefore the external ordinances were only for a season, and the obligation to them now ceases; forasmuch as we find nothing in Scripture concerning their being only temporary, and there is rather more reason for the continuance of them, than at their first institution, when the miraculous and sanctifying graces of the Spirit were so evident and common. So that, without being a visible member of the church of Christ, and making open profession of Christianity, frequenting the public assemblies, and partaking of the holy sacraments, the Gospel hath not promised us salvation by Christ. Where indeed these things are not in our power, there we may reasonably hope God will accept the will and resolution ; for he hath not bound up himself to his own ordinances; but hath made them absolutely necessary as to us, when it is possible for us to observe them.
This ought to be well considered by all such who content themselves with a belief of the Gospel, and, it may be, a moral conversation, but wilfully neglect the forementioned ordinances of Christ.
Sixthly, Every true Christian must be ready and resolved beforehand rather to suffer, than disown Christ and his Gospel ; or do, or consent to any
nt and com
thing against the rules thereof; since our Lord declares ', If any man will come after me, or be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Seventhly, We may do well sometimes to reflect on the reasonableness and perfection of the religion which Christ hath established? ; such as in the first place agrees with the reason of mankind; which teaches us to reverence and love God, the Author of our being, and of all our enjoyments, and to express our inward reverence and love of him by outward worship and, adoration, to testify our dependence on him by prayers, and also to acknowledge our obligations to him by praises and thanksgivings. The Christian religion does also teach us the best methods for the government of ourselves, in order to our temporal ease, health, and happiness, by purity, chastity, moderation, and temperance; the contrary vices whereto are unnatural, unreasonable, and unhealthful: and likewise Christianity is available to establish true holiness, by teaching us how to purify our souls from the dross and filth of sensual delights, that provoke to covetousness, intemperance, and lust; which indispose a man for the contemplation of things spiritual and divine. Further, the religion which Christ hath taught the world does also tend to the peace and happiness of human society; than which end nothing can be devised more proper, by enjoining love one to another, meekness, justice, and charity. Lastly, This religion furnishes us with the best motives to patience and contentedness, under the evils and afflictions of this life, by propounding to us the example of the Son of God, and the glory and reward with which we shall be recompensed for ever.
y Matt. xvi. 24. ? This is at large illustrated by Dr. Hammond, in his Reasonableness of the Christian Religion, chap. iv, and Archbishop Tillotson's Serm. V. vol. i. in Phil. verse 8.
Nor does the practice of the Christian religion deprive us of our temporal interests and satisfactions ; it does not oblige us to resist our natural appetites, but the corruptions of them: every man may enjoy the comforts of this life, provided he does not, for the sake thereof, unqualify himself for those of the life to come, which being so abundantly more excellent and eternal, it is his greatest interest, as well as happiness, to secure; as it would prove his greatest unhappiness to forfeit them, for what is so momentary and uncertain in this world. O how excellent is the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord! And how happy are we, and shall be, if we do those things which we know, so much tending to our present, future, and eternal good!
Eighthly, One branch of the new covenant, under the Gospel dispensation, is the blessed ? operation of the Holy Spirit; which being forfeited by our first parents' transgression, was graciously renewed by the promise of the. Messiah, the seed of the woman ; and afforded to the prophets, and other holy persons under the legal dispensation, as it is now under the Gospel, by which Spirit we are regenerate, or born again of water and of the Spirit", This is explained by the apostle", viz. that Christ hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit: the sum of which is, that sin having corrupted our nature, whereby our wills and affections are inclined to evil, ever since the fall of our first parents, we are therefore said to be born in sin, and to become the children of wrath, or subject to the wrath of God: but in our baptism, by virtue of Christ's institution, and the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, (which always accompanies his or
2 Dr. Clagget has, among others, largely treated of this subject in his Operations of the Holy Spirit. a John iii. 5. b Tit.
dinances,) we are entered into a state of regeneration, or are spiritually new-born, are taken into covenant with God, and have an interest in the sanctifying graces of his Spirit, in order to holiness and salvation. Now the gifts and operations of the Spirit, expressed in Scripture, are twofold; the one sort miraculous, and peculiar to the apostles and first Christians; such as speaking with new tongues, healing diseases, intérpreting the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, &c. for the planting and propagating the Gospel at the beginning, as we shall see afterwards : the other spiritual gifts are such as are to continue in the church. The former, we find by experience, are ceased; and therefore it is a gross and dangerous mistake in such, who confound those two sorts of gifts, and support their pretences to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, by promises peculiar to the apostles and first Christians. As for the latter sort of spiritual gifts and assistances, which are to continue in the church, these are promised on our prayers, and do both confirm a person in the state of regeneration or grace, and keep him so, except he resist and quench the Spirit, that is, either by refusing to do that good to which he finds himself to be strongly moved by his inward workings and persuasions; or proceeding presumptuously in any evil course, notwithstanding the checks and reproofs he feels within him.
The distinct peculiar manner, how the Spirit worketh in us, is not revealed, and therefore is not to be known by us; some have endeavoured to explain it, by God's raising such and such ideas in our brains, or making " such impressions on our minds; for we cannot conceive him to have less power than he hath given to man, who can utter his mind in such man
© Luke xi. 13. 8 See the first part, chap. i. §. 4. concerning inspiration in general, towards the end of that section.
ner, as to be apprehended by another ; so God, who is a Spirit, can speak to the spirits and minds of men, as men can to the ear: but this we may be sure of, that his Spirit worketh in us in a way suitable to that reasonable nature which God hath given us, and to those faculties of the mind, and that freedom of choice, with which he hath endued us, as by inclining, convincing, persuading, &c. which is the method the same Spirit hath used, as we find in Scripture, viz. by arguments and motives to convince and persuade. There may be those who are more suddenly and powerfully wrought upon than others; and they may know when and where they perceived a very extraordinary and strong impression on their minds; which they inay, not without just cause, believe to be the operation of the Spirit of God in their hearts : but, doubtless, there are many, who, by means of a happy education, in conjunction with the grace and Spirit of God, and an early religious conversation, with a constant progress therein, though they cannot point out the time and place of any such particular extraordinary impression on their minds, yet are truly regenerate, and led by the Spirit, and frequently feel the gracious influences thereof. The effects of a new birth, and the operations of the Spirit, are discerned by the holy dispositions wrought thereby on our minds; for he worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. So we are said to be led by the Spirit of Godf. Nay, that we are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in us; that is, as the Shechinah, or glory and bright shining, under the Jewish state, dwelt or resided in the temple of the Jews, as a testimony of God's presence with them to protect and govern them. But then we are to guard against enthusiasm ; that is, the vain pretence of too many, who mistake the idle