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of being enlightened, than under the ministration of a bramin, or a mufti. Or suppose your polished and soothing preacher has done his
and induced the infidel to abandon his creed, for some general confession of the truth of the bible, its doctrines having been frittered down till he is satisfied ; and he has exchanged the school of infidelity, for the church of Christ ;--suppose this done, and the child thus born delivered over to be nursed, and reared, under a better gospel; let me ask, if that one fatal error, which he has adopted, will not operate like a corrupt leaven, to poison the whole system of truth. You may bring the man to the sanctuary, where is taught the faith once delivered to the saints, and chain him to his pew, and pour in truth upon his car for half a century, and still you will never reach his conscience, till you make him feel, and he becomes willing to learn, that his heart is alienated from God, and that the profession he has made is a lie. You must teach him that the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; that he is an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and is not, and never has been, in covenant with God; and thus at the very first push of truth, thrust him from his strong hold, or he stands shielded against any attack that can be made upon him by the true gospel. Thus in order to make him listen to the truth, or in other words, to furnish him better means of grace, you bring him up to the communion table, and when there you can make him feel nothing, till you show him, that the incense and the sacrifice he offers is abomination to the Lord.
It does seem to me that when you have made the unrenewed man a professor of godliness, you have placed him where he cannot be taught the gospel. You have prepared him a shield for his conscience and his heart, that will effectually protect him, against any thrust that truth can make. It is then doubted, whether sealing ordinances, are at all likely to become means of grace, to wicked
men, who are admitted to those ordinances, while i in impenitence and unbelief.
I take it for granted, what is too evident to admit a doubt, that a mere profession does not alter the man's moral character in the least. He believes no truth that he did not believe before, is as much an infidel as ever, and does no duty that he did not ; unless you please to say that coming to the communion is a duty, and this we deny. To do so is duty, if the heart be right with God, not otherwise. Indeed nothing is done, that deserves the name of duty, while God is not feared and loved. And nothing will be attempted to be done in this case, merely because God commands it, but all because consistency of conduct requires it. There may be some attempt at prayer, and greater punctuality in attending upon a preached gospel, but it must all be, from the very nature of the case, a show of piety. The profession has not altered the man, either in heart or conduct, enough to give him another character, either in the view of God or man. How then are his means of holiness, or his chance of heaven at all altered for the better?
Beside there is produced by attending upon ordinances, when there is no piety, a positive hardness of heart, and obtuseness of conscience, which tends to remove the man farther than ever from God."'It is trifling with the most holy things, and the man who shall do this, must rise to a pitch of profanity, and of daring, that cannot fail to beget an abiding insensibility. It is like the deed of Uzziah king of Judah, who for daring to assume the priest's office, was made a leper, and continued so all his life. God will be sanctified in them that draw near to him. Thus are we driven to the conclusion, that when the ungodly come to the consecrated elements, their means of grace are not increased, while their prospects of heaven are greatly darkened. I close with one general
How above all price is an honest and distingaishing gospel. In the
1. Place such a gospel is the only true gospel. My audience I hope are persuaded that we have a distinguishing bible. God intended, when he inspired his word, to give us, not the means of guessing at the truth, but of knowing it. " Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Hence he has made his word plain,'so that the wayfaring man though a fool shall not err. Now we should depart from honesty, to either teach, or suffer ourselves to be taught, indistinctly, from this plain bible. There must be some base design, when the truth of God, that stands intelligible on the record, is rendered obscure and confused in the lips of the publisher. The doctrines clearly taught in the bible, must be made evident by the preacher; and the characters, there distinctly marked, not be by him . blended and confounded : else we can easily be sure, that we have not before us the honest legate of the skies.
2. It is only an honest and distinguishing gospel, that does honour to the Saviour. Its grand object is to redeem men from all iniquity, and purify to the Lord Jesus Christ à peculiar people, zealous of good works. The church it gathers, and feeds, and comforts, has on the image of her Lord, stands out from the world, an illustrious monument of his sanctifying power, and tells all the generations that pass by, how holy and how glorious, and how mighty, is her Redeemer. Christ has declared that his people are like him, he is formed in them the hope of glory. But if you mix up the church with the world, and the people of the saints of the Most High, cannot be known from the multitudes with whom they are amalgamated, and you call this whole mass the church, which is expected to wear
the image of her Lord, then you grossly libel his character.
If the ungodly, as they look upon this church, are to learn from its character, what is the character of the Saviour ; and from its conduct, what is the life and conversation he would approve ; and from its temper, what is the Spirit of Christ; then is the Saviour degraded and abused by such a church, and the whole design of his mission covered with reproach. He came to save his people from their sins. Are these then the people he has saved ? these worldlings? these profane men ? these gamblers ? these covetous men ? these ambitious men ? these proud, litigious, thoughtless, prayerless men? Are all these the saved of Jesus Christ ? this the multitude that he has washed from their sins in his blood !!
Thus an indistinct gospel, builds up a worldly church, and that church by its open, and barefaced, and abounding iniquities, brings reproach and contempt upon its Redeemer. But let the church be pure as he would have it, be composed of only such as will put on his image, and glory in being like him; then the world will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus, and he will be honoured in the house of his friends.
3. It is only an honest and distinguishing gospel that will be useful.
It gives men the means of knowing their own