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To confider in what respects, particular office-bearers in the church may trouble the church.
H. To fhow in what view their excision may be wished and prayed for by Chriftians.
III. To apply what fhall be faid, fuitably to the occafion of this meeting.
That office-bearers may be troublers of the church, is fo evident from this epiftle, that he who runs may read :-nor evident from this epistle only, but from various other notices alfo, through the facred records.-Were not Hophni and Phineas troublers of the church of Ifrael? 1 Sam ii. Was not Judas Iscariot a troubler of the original apoftoTic church? Matth. x. 4. Were not certain men, who went out from Jerufalem, troublers of the church at Antioch? Acts xv. 24. Were there not many, especially they of the circumcifion, who troubled the Cretians? Tit. i 10, 11. Doubtless. -The holy fcriptures, having tranfmitted their feveral hiftories, put the truth of this hypothefis beyond doubt.But if recourfe is had to prophane hiftory, the amount of fuch characters would fwell far beyond due bounds. Valentinus, Cerdon, and others, during the three first centuries; Arius
* VALENTINUS was an Egyptian, who flourished between the years 1 40 and 160. He reduced the doc trines of the Gnoftics into a regular fyftem; and, enraged by a difappointment from the church, propagated them with an inflamed zeal, firft in Egypt, and then at Röme. His fcheme chiefly confifted in realizing the divine attributes, or Platonic ideas; making different perfons of them, to compofe his pleroma, or complete Deity. See Dupin's church history, vol. II. p. 42,
Arius, Prifcillian, and others, in the fourth century; Pelagius, and others, in the fifth §; Sc
As for CERDON, he came from Syria to Rome, between the years 139 and 143, under the pontificate of Hyginus. His notions, which he spread with no less fuccefs than zeal, were, That the God of the law was a malignant, and the Father of Chrift a good being;
that Jefus was neither born, nor poffeffed of a true body; that his Father fent him to destroy the ty ranny and works of the Lawgiver ;-that there was no refurrection;-and that the law and the prophets merited no regard. See Dupin's church hiftory, vol. II. p. 47, etc.
* ARIUS, a native of Lybia Cyrenaica, was a priest of the church of Alexandria. The error by whichhe was diftinguished, and for which his bifhop condemned 1.im in the 320, confifted in the grofs notion he had of the ho Logos, or word; counting Jefus Chrift a mere creature, of a different fubftance from the Father; one who had a beginning, and was capable of change. He began to publish that error in the 318; and continued to dogmatize until after the 334, when his repofition by the bishop of Conftantinople was prevented by his fudden death. See Dupin's church hiftory, vol. II. p. 104, etc.
The errors of PRISCILLIAN, which began to make a noife in the 379, were a complication of many former herefies, with additions and improvements of his own and his followers: they are reduced to fifteen heads. See Dupin's church hift. vol. II. p. 123, 125, etc.
PELAGIUS, a native of our own ifland, began to teach his errors at Rome, in the 400: They confifted chiefly of thefe three,-That man's merit procured grace;—that man in a prefent ftate, may arrive at perfect freedom from pafions and fin;---and that there is no fuch thing as original fin at all, but that men are naturally inclined to good, with out the affiftance of grace. Ibid. p. 188, etc.
cinus, and many others, in later centuries all standing proofs that the churches have never wanted troublers within their own bofoms, nor wounds received from the hands of profeffed friends.
Taking this hypothefis then for granted, "That "office-bearers may trouble the church," the im port of the term, here ufed by the apoftle, may be illuftrated, as an useful preliminary to what follows. It properly fignifies t, "thofe who fhake the foun‡, "dation upon which you stand, in fuch a manner, as to make your confidence in it to totter ; " and put the fuperftructure you raised upon it, i
a falling pofture §." Or, may not the phrase b a figure borrowed from the agitation given to any fluid, by fhaking the veffel in which it is contain ed? If fo, it is a lively defcription of what perturbation of mind, to particular Chriftians; and of what diftractions, in particular churches, fuch troublers may be the occafion.-Secret doubtfulness, inftead of a firm belief;-heart anxiety, instead of holy compofure ;-jealousy alfo, instead of confidence;-divifions, instead of harmonyalienation, instead of fervent love amongst Chriftians;-fliding, moreover, into errors, both in fpeculation and practice, instead of cleaving to the G 2 Lord
+ Socinus taught, that Jefus Chrift was not God; and that the Holy Ghoft was not a perfon, but a fimple virtue. He began to vent his errors in Italy about 1546, and died in Poland, May 1604. See Dupin's church history, vol. IV. p. 124.
Hoi anaftatountes umas.
Vide Pafor. Lexicon, in verbum anaftaton.
Thus the verb taraffe, which is ufed by this apostle, chap. i. 7. and v. 10. in the fame fenfe with anaflatoo here, is a figure borrowed from that very thing. Vide Pafor, Lexicon, p. 474.
Lord and his truths with full purpose of heart; are but a part of the troubles brought upon Chriflians and churches, by perfons of the character under view: For these things, being the fins as well as fufferings of church members, deferve and draw down judgments, whereof those who trouble them are, at least, the indirect caufes. Thus, when the church of Ifrael was fmitten by the men of Ai, Achan's tranfgreffion having procured that ftroke,
Joshua faid unto him, why haft thou troubled us?" Joh. vii. 25. And when many in that church were drawn, by the example of their kings, from the worship of God, to the fervice of idols, and had thereby brought down the fword of famine upon the land of Ifrael; in an addrefs to Ahab, a most idolatrous prince, Elijah faid, "I have "not troubled Ifracl, but thou and thy father's
houfe," 1 Kings xviii. 18. Which brings us to the main purpose of the
I. Head, To confider, namely, in what refpects particular office bearers in the church of Chrift may trouble the church.
They may do fo in the following views,-by the following means.
1. By a groveling, mercenary temper of mind. 2. By unfcriptural doctrine.
3. By laxness in communion, and oppreffive measures in the exercife of difcipline and government.-And,
4. By untendernefs in their lives and converfations.
1. Office-bearers may trouble the church by a groveling, mercenary, temper-of mind. The views which determine one's choice of the ministerial function, must be chiefly profecuted, through his whole labours in the gospel.-If "zeal for the ho"nour of God, love to Jefus Chrift, and defire of faving
faving fouls, are mens great motives and chief "inducements to enter into the function of the holy miniftry *;" thefe views bid fair to run through all their endeavours, in discharging that important truft; and, therefore, to render fuch perfons" workers together with God," rather than troublers of the church. Such were the motives of our apostle, in entering upon the difcharge of his miniftry; and, accordingly, we find, what mighty influence they had through the whole of his work : "I will not be burdenfome to "you (faid he to the Corinthians); for I feek not yours, but you and I will very gladly spend "and be fpent for you," 2 Cor. xii. 14, 15Whereas, if "worldly defigns and interefts " are meus only leading inducements to enter into that facred function, the promotion of thefe being chiefly in their eye, they will profecute the ends of a gofpel miniftry only-in a fubferviency to them. Their heads cannot be fet on the fleece, and on the interefts of the flock, at the fame time; if that is uppermoft with them, thefe must be proportionably neglected. "Wo be to the shepherds "of Ifrael, faid the Lord God, that do feed them"felves; should not the fhepherds feed the flocks-3 "Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, "but ye feed not the flock," Ezek. xxxiv. 2, 3. And on this very account, a lafting ftigma lies upon the character of a once fellow labourer with. Paul; "Demas hath forfaken me, having loved this prefent world," 2 Tim. iv. 10.
*Thefe are the very words of the fixth queftion put to minifters at their ordination. See Affem. 1711. A& 10.
§ Motives, abjured by minifters at their ordination. See Queft. 6. Act 10. Affem. 1711