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ing, by paffing through the hands of men differently difpofed, that the evil eventually produced may far overbalance the good originally projected. For the direct and immediate confequences of innovation of any kind are, generally speaking, the least important. Hence it follows, that reformers fhould be men poffeffed, not only of found heads and honeft hearts, but also of a confiderable degree of forecast, a fort of anticipating knowledge with refpect to future events, to enable them to fee the remote as well as immediate effect of the means they fet in motion. For no wife man, though fenfible of an evil, provided it be not of the intolerable kind, will risk a remedy, the operation of which he cannot in fome measure afcertain; and the effect of which may, from its violence, leave him in a worfe condition than it found him.

With refpect to ourselves, poffeffed of the best government, and the most Apoftolic church in the world, we are nevertheless, it must be confeffed, a difcontented people; owing in part to the hypochondriac feelings of fome, who know not what it is to be happy under any circumstances; the defigned mifrepresentations of others; and the various projected schemes of imaginary reformers, whose zeal feldom permits them to weigh coolly the poffible attainment

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of fpeculative perfection, against the probable risk attendant upon the prosecution of it. And perhaps it may be thus accounted for: in proportion as things in this world approach nearer to that perfection beft calculated to promote human happiness, there the grand enemy of man, the difturber of his peace, and the envier of his happiness, is always moft bufily employed. And when this prince of darkness affumes the dress of an angel of light, by making religion the tool with which he works for the accomplishment of his purpose, he is then most to be dreaded,' because then he can most successfully deceive.

Such are the general confequences resulting from a feparation from the church of CHRIST. A more particular investigation of them would lead into a a wider field, than is propofed to be entered upon, on this occafion.

Perhaps, indeed, fome indulgence may be required on the part of the reader, to excufe the difproportionate length to which the difcuffion of this subject has already been drawn out. Not without hopes, however, that what has been faid, though in a lefs complete and systematic form than the importance of the fubject demanded, may be fufficient to answer the purpose in view, where it meets with a mind

difpofed to receive it; we haften to a conclufion, in one fhort but neceffary word to the profeffed members of the Chriftian church.

Whilft we are engaged in an earneft, though humble, endeavour to preserve the unity of the Chriftian church, by bringing forward every confideration which may tend to prevent a feparation from it; it ought, most affuredly, to be a matter of very ferious concern with the members of that church, that they do not render abortive our endeavour, by a voluntary ignorance of, or fhameful indifference to, a fubject, which must be regarded as involving in it their most important interefts. To fecure themselves against fuch an imputation, it is necessary that they do justice to the church to which they belong; by making them. felves acquainted with the nature of its constitution, the design of its establishment, and the privileges of which they become partakers by their admission into it. This done, they will never forfake its commu nion; because they will be convinced, that no plan upon which any other Chriftian fociety has been formed, is fo well calculated to promote the fpiritual edification of its members, as that to which they belong. But if they will not feek to make themfelves acquainted with this interefting fubject, not

withstanding the abundant means graciously vouchfafed to them for that purpose; if the religion which they profess, instead of being built on the firm ground of fober and rational enquiry, is the mere refult of early prejudice, and accidental circumftance; a kind of hereditary poffeffion handed down to them from their forefathers, of which they confeffedly know little, and about which, perhaps, they still care less; if, when they come to a place of holy worship, they enter not into the fervices performed there; neither praying the prayers of the church, nor joining in the facraments; but when they ought to be on their knees, in humble fupplication for pardon and grace, they remain on their feats unconcerned and uninterested in the facred business that is going forward; the neceffary confequence muft be, that they will be dead, not living, members of the church; and it will be no fubject for furprize, if, after having continued in that state for years, without experiencing any communication of Divine fpirit from the Head to which they profeffedly belong, they should be per. fuaded to feek unhallowed fire elsewhere.

But be it remembered, the fault in this cafe is not in the church, but in its members; and by cutting themselves off from the church, upon the imaginary


idea of acquiring that spiritual attainment, of which they are not in actual poffeffion, in confequence either of their abuse or difufe of thofe appointed means to which the Divine grace has been formally annexed; they only render their cafe, it is to be feared, in some fenfe more hopeless than it was before. A limb, though difeafed, whilft it continue united to the body, may recover; which, when separated from it, muft inevitably perish.

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