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then with disbelieving, what God has revealed; and being advanced thus far in his progress towards rebellion, his next step actually commences it by forming plans and schemes of his own, which he thinks better calculated to answer the purpose in view than those which come recommended by an authority, which he feels a natural indisposition to admit. is a portion of this strong propensity, which man has to judge and act for himself, that prevails with the generality to separate from the church; upon the plausible, though mistaken idea, of serving God more acccep;ably in a way of their own: without considering, that it is not the worshipping God in the way they please, but in the way He has appointed, that will secure to them his blessing. To judge in some measure of the consequences resulting from fuch self-willed conduct, so far as they belong to our present subject, it may be proper to consider, what'we we have in the church, and what out of it; that the reasonable man, balancing the advantages of communion with, against those of a separation from it, may judge for himself.
From the authority of the sacred writings we conclude, that where the Christian facraments are duly administered, by persons regularly appointed to that
facred office, according to the plan originally laid down by the Apostles, there we find the church of CHRIST. From the fame authority we learn, that this church is to continue to the end of the world.. The unity confequently of the Christian church must mean the fame now that it ever did; and a feparation from it must be attended with confequnces as dangerous in the present day as at any former period. For the church of CHRIST is but one; and all the promises of the Gospel are exclufively made to that one church. None confequently but members of that church, can lay claim to an interest in those promises; upon the fame principle, that none but those who have been admitted members of any human fociety, can lay claim to the privileges belonging to it. Thus the direction given to those who were ftruck with St. PETER'S fermon was this, Repent, and be baptized in the name of JESUS CHRIST, for the remiffion of fins, and ye fhall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts ii. 38. By which we underftand, that admiffion into the church was confidered by the Apostle as a neceffary qualification for the gift of the Holy Ghoft. Indeed, from the general tenour of scripture, it is to be concluded, that none but those who are members of the church, can bẻ
partakers of the spirit by which it is accompanied, Without, therefore, prefuming to determine upon the condition of those who are out of the church, we are at least justified in saying, that their hope of falvation must be built upon fome general idea of Divine mercy, to which the member of the church has a covenanted claim. In the one cafe we have an act of Grace indeed; but for the performance of which there is no fecurity, because it does not stand on the fure ground of any revealed promife: whilft in the other we build on a pofitive act of Covenant, which affuredly will take place, according to the conditions on which it has been made; because "He is faithful who hath promised."
In this one church, then, we have the facraments of CHRIST's appointment; as feals of that covenant, by which fallen man lays claim to eternal life. In this one church, we have the ambaffadors for CHRIST, whole faced office it is to administer, in the name of Him whom they are commiffioned to reprefent, the facraments of that covenant, which GoD on his part is thereby engaged to fulfil. In this one church, we have moreover the fpirit of CHRIST accompanying his own ordinances; according to the promise made at the original ef ablishment of this church,
that He would "be with it always, even to the end of the world.”
Such are the effential advantages. attendant upon communion with the church.
Let us now confider for a moment the difadvan tages confequent upon a feparation from it.
When you leave the church, then, it should be remembered, you leave the ministers and facraments of CHRIST behind you. You may indeed appoint other ministers, and inftitute other facraments; but let it be observed, these ministers are not the ambaffadors of CHRIST; nor are the facraments which they administer, the facraments of CHRIST: for the effence of an ambaffador's office is, that he should be commiffioned by the party whom he represents, and in whose name he acts; and the effence of a covenant, of which the facraments are feals, is, that it fhould be binding upon the party in whofe name it is made. But ministers of the feparation are not ambaffadors of CHRIST, because they have never been sent by him; and with refpect to the benefit to be derived from the facraments administered by them, their dif ciples must not look to GOD, for this obvious reason, because Gop is not bound but by covenants of his own making,
Now the effect to be looked for from the Christian facraments depends not upon the mere performance of the ministry, in the administration of the elements of water in baptifm, or of bread and wine in the LORD'S-Supper; (for in that cafe, any minister, however appointed, might answer the purpose;) but upon the spirit of GOD accompanying ordinances of his own institution. And there is little reafon to fuppose, that the Divine bleffing will accompany irregular ministrations, call them by what name you please; which are not only not fanctified by Divine appointment, but are moreover in direct oppofition to that order, which is effential to the peace and preservation of the Christian church Whoever, therefore, hopes to receive benefit from religious fervices, muft perform them according to God's will, rather than his own; for let our religion be ever fo right and good in our own eftimation, it cannot, on that account, have any covenanted title to those privileges and bleffings, which are by Divine authority annexed to the church of CHRIST.
In this fenfe, the primitive fathers are to be underftood, when they fay, that there is no falvation out of the holy Catholic Church. By which is meant, that no covenanted plan of falvation has been revealed