Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

TO THE

CONGREGATION

AT

PASTON

MY DEAR BRETHREN,

HAVING more employment in my profession than will admit of my attending upon you so often as I wish, it is my endeavour, when I speak to you from the pulpit, to give you as much truth as I possibly can in a small compass. .

It can be no offence to any of you to suppose, that as members of a congregation in the Church of England, you may stand in need of some serious admonition, concerning the nature of your profession. Too many there are, who follow the Church from custom, without considering and applying personally to themselves what the Religion of the Church teaches and requires. My business, in what I here present to you, is to put you in mind of the sense and spirit of your worship, and to prove that you can have no just cause to depart from it.

It

gave me a sincere pleasure to find that I was heard with so much attention when I spake to you upon this subject; and that

you

wished for an opportunity of reading and laying up your minds what I then delivered. In consequence of which the following Discourses are printed, and very affectionately recommended to your farther consideration.

in

That God Almighty may give you

his Grace to apply them effectually ; to your comfort here, and your eternal happiness hereafter ; is the hearty prayer

of

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

SERMON XVIII.

HEAR THE CHURCH. MATTH. XVIII. 17.

THERE are two sorts of Christians, who do not hear the Church; and of these, one sort is in the Church. There are also two great errors, into which Christian people are betrayed ; the first. supposes, that the Church will save men without godliness ; the second, that godliness will save men without the Church. The first was the error of the Jews, and is now the error of too many, who call themselves Churchmen: the other is the error of those that leave the Church to follow some private way of worship. Very plain rules may be laid down, by which both these parties may judge of themselves, if they will but be honest and sincere: and as the case of the Churchman is of nearer concern, I shall in this discourse address myself to him in the first place

His profession is right: but it will do him no good, unless he is wise enough to keep up to the design and spirit of it. All the living creatures, which God hath made, are endued with form and life. There is no life that we know of without form. And the Church, which God hath made, is of a like constitution. It hath its forms, its sacraments, its ordinances; and with these, it has a life, sense, and spirit of them; without which, the Church is nothing but a form; that is, a body without a soul. Every Christian is taught, that with the sign, there is the thing signified. The sign is the pledge for information and assurance: the thing signified, is the inward and spiritual part: and neither of these can be, what God intended it should be, without the other.' With every doctrine of the Church, there is a moral, or practice, which should attend it: and the latter should always follow: accord. ing to that admonition, be ye doers of the word and not hearers only. But here the Churchman falls into a mistake : if he complies with the forın, he is too apt to think himself safe; and his mistake is the same as that of the Jew was forinerly. If the Jew was circumcised on the eighth day, he was called a son of Abraham; and such he was; but not by the sign without the sense of it. For there was a circumcision made with hands : and there was another circumcision made without hands, which was inward upon the heart, by the power of God's Holy Spirit, disposing and enabling a man to put away all carnal and unclean affections. This latter was the inward and spiritual grace, without which a person was uncircumcised in heart. By the outward circumcision, he became a Jew; but unless the inward and spiritual were added, he was not a true Jew; not an Israelite indeed.

The case is the same, and the danger is the same, at this time, with the Christian, in regard to Baptism. The outward sign is water; and the promise of God to the office and authority of the Christian Ministry, makes that water effectual to the purpose intended. But what is the sense of the sign? What is it that water doeth? It washes and cleanses : and what that doeth to the outward man, the Spirit of God doeth to

1

the inward. But the effect may remain with us; or, it may be lost. He that is washed may remain white and pure, as the sheep doth; or, he may turn again to the mire, as the swine doth. From the lives of too many Christians, it appears, that they have returned to the vileness of nature, and are now in the midst of it, defiling themselves with that sinfulness, which it is the work of Baptism to wash away.

The true Churchman is therefore mindful of his Baptism; knowing that its real value is not in the washing with water, but in the new creature *. He therefore continues in newness of life ; according to that petition of the office in his behalf, wherein the Church prays, that he may lead the rest of his life according to that beginning ; that he may be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. The end of Baptism is everlasting life: for it makes us members of Christ, and consequently heirs with Christ of his Father's kingdom; but all this must be through a present life of righteo’sness. In this we have the true sense of Baptisin: it is not only a birth but a life, never to be departed from. For Christ being dead unto sin, dieth no more, but liveth for ever unto God: and the Christian is to be conformed to the same pattern; sin should no more have dominion over him ; then is Baptism what it should be, and what the Church intends, and prays for, from the beginning.

The service of the Church requires every person to repeat the Articles of the Apostles Creed : and so far we may be said to witness a good confession. But does he that repeats the Creed endeavour to practise it? I say, practise it : for the Christian faith is prac. tised in the Christian life : if not, it will be a witness against us : every word we repeat will condemn us.

[ocr errors]

* Gal, vi, 15.

t

« AnteriorContinuar »