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God will not hçar you: Look off your Book, and read not or learn not the words, faith another, or God will not hear you. Batoh lamentable, that both of them tremble, not thus so abusc God, and add unto his Word, and to prophesie or speak fallly against their brethren in his Name; nor to reproach the prayers which Chrif presenteth from his fervants to the Father, and which (notwithfanding their defcas) are his delight!
Disca. 3. Offer God nothing as worship, which is comtrary to the perfection of his Nature, as far as you can avoid it; And yet fcign not that to be contrary to his nature which he commandeth. For then it is certain that you misunderstand cither his nature or command.
Dirca. 4. Never come to the Father but by the Son; and dicam ppt of any immediate access of a finncr- unto God, but wholly trust in Chrifts mediation. Receive the Fathers will from Chrift your Teacher, and his commands from Chrift your King, and all his mércies from Christ your Head, and the Treasury of the Church, and your continual Interceffor with God in Heaven. And put all your prayers, praises, durics, alms, inco his hand; char through him alone they may be accepted of God.
Direct. 5. Understand well booo far ibe Scripture is a particular Rule (as to the fubftance of Gods Worship) and how far it is only a general Rule (as to the circumstances) that so you may neither offer God a Worlhip which he will not accept; nor yet reje&t or oppose all thole circumstances as unlawful, which are warranted by his gencral'commands : (of which i have laid cnough elsewhere.)
Direct. 6. Look first and moft to tbe exercise of inw ar a grace, and to the spiritual part of Worship (for God will be worshipcd in spirit, and in truth, and hateth thc Hypocrite, who of fereth him a carkass, or empty shell, and ceremony, and pomp, or length of words, inficad of fubftance; and drawech neer him with the lips, without the heart:) And yet in the second place, look carefully also to your words, and order, and ourward bebaviour of the body:For God must be honoured with foul and body. And order and reverend Colemnity is both a help to the affeâions of the soul, and a fit expreffion of them,
Never forget that bypocritical dead formality, and ignorent, felf-conceited, Fanatical extravagancies, are the two extreams by which the Devil hath laboured in all ages, to turn Chrifts Worship againlt him, and to destroy the Church and Religion by such false Rcligiousness.
The poor Popish Formalifts on One Gide, mortific Religion, and turn it into a carkals, a comcly Image that hath any ching love life. And the Fanaticks on the other fide, do call all the enormitics of their proud and blustering fancies by the name of piritual devotion; and do their worst to make Chriftianity to seem a ridiculous fancy to the world : Escape boch thesc excrcams, as cver you will escape the dishonouring of God, the dividing, and disturbing, and corrupting of the Church, the deluding of others, and the disappointing and doceiving of your felves.
Dirca. 7. Negle& not any belps which you can bave, by the excelent gifts of any of Cbrifts Ministers or flocks; and yet take beedtbar ibrough prejudice, or for tbe faults of either, you vilific or reject not bing wbieb is of God. But carefuly diftinguille between Cbrifts and theirs.
Communion with the bolieft and pureft Affemblics, is more dcfirablc chan with thč less pure. But yet all that is less defirable comparatively, is not fimply unlawful, nor to be reje&ted : The labours of an abler and more laithful Minister, are much to be preferred before theirs that are less ablc and faithful : For God workech usually according to the aptitude of the means, and of the receiver. To the recovery and salvation of a soul it is necessary, 1. That the Understanding be made wise: 2. That the Heart or Will be (an&ificd by Love. 3. That ihs Life bc boly and obedient.
To the first of these there are three things needful; 1. That the Understanding be awakened: 2. That it bc iluminated : 3. That it be preserved from the fedu&tion of temptations to deccit.
Now an able and faithful Paftor is suited to all those cffcas: 1.He is a lively Preacher to awaken the understanding: 2. He is a clear, inteligent, matbodical and convincing Teacher, to illuminate it: 3. Ho can confute gainlayers, and rcfutc obje&tions, and thamac the cavils of temprers and deccivers to preserve it. Uuu 2
And 2. He speaketh all from the unfcigned Love of God and mexi and as all his words do breathe forth Love; so they are apt to kindle such love in the hearers: For every active Dacasc tendech io propagation.
3. And thc boliness of his life, as well as do&rine, tendeth to win the people to a boly lifo : So that he chat loveth his own foul, must not be indifferent whec Paftor he church for the help and condud of his foul ; but should most carefully lock to get the belt or fittest for such necesary ends.
But yet it followeth not that a weaker or worse may not be heard, or may not be accepted or submitted to, in a case of necesity; when a better cannot be hid, without more difturbance and hurt than the benefits are like to recompence, And when we live under such a weak, or cold, or faulty Pastor, our care must be so much the greater, that we may make up that in the diligence of our attention, which is want. ing in his manner of expression, and that we make up that in a care of our own souls, which is wanting in his care : And that our knowledge of his failings tempe us not to light the truth which he delivereth; and that we reje&t not the matter for the manner : The Sheep of Christ do know. bis voice, and they know his words, and reverence and love them from what mouth foever they proceed. A Religious Zealous man that prcacheth false do&rine, is more robe avoided, than a cold or scandalous man who preacherh the truth. If you doubt of this, observe chcíc texts.
Matth. 23.2, 3. Tbe Scribes and Pharisees fit in Moses frat; Alsherefore w bar foever i bey bid you observe, that observe and do : but do not ye after tbeir works, for tbey say and do not.
AQs 1. 17. For be (Judas) was numbred witb us, and bad obtained part of sb i Ministry. Judas the thick and traitor was an Apoftle, called and sent out by Jesus Chrift,
Phil. 1. 15, &c. Some indeed preach Clrift even of envy and Arife, and some also of good will. The one preacb Cbrift of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affli&tion 80 my
bonds mbat iben? Notwithstanding every day, wberber in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, and I do sbereix rejryce, you and Rom. 16. 17. Now I befeceb you brethren, Marktbem wbicb
cause divifions and offences contrary to the do&rine wbicb ye bave learned, and avoid obem...
AQs 20.30. Of your opon selves shall men erife, Speaking per. verse things, to draw away Disciples efter sibem.
Gal. 1.7, 8. If we or an Angel from Heaven tring anorber Gospel, let biwo be scoursed...
Is not all this a plain decision of the calc?
Dirca 8. Whilc you prefer local como raunion 'with the pureft Churches, and best taught and ordered, for your own edification, take heed that you disows not a distant and mental consmunion witb any part of tbe Churcb of Cbrist on eartb, wbicb Cbrift bimfelf disownet b not, But first remember that you are members of the Universal Cburcb, and as such in mental communion with the whole, present your selves and services to Chrift; and next as members of your Particular Cburcb.
It is true, that you must not own the corruptions of any Church, or of any of their Worship; but you muft own the Cburcb it felf, and own all the substance of the Worship which is good, and which God owocch. God doth not reje&t the matter for the manner, nor the whole, for a faulty part, where the heart is fincere that offereth it: nor no more must you. And if they force you got to any adual fin (as by falfe fpcak. ing, subscribing, or the like) you mult sometimes also locally joyn with fuch Churches, when occifion requircth it : (As when you have no better to go to, or when it is necessary to shew your mental communion, or to avoid fchifm, fcandal or offence.) As you must not approve of your own fattings in Gods Worship (as in the manner of praying, preaching, &c.) and yec muft not give over worshipping God, though you are alwaits fure to fail; even fo mult you do by your communion with others.
And here I would carnefily intreat all those that are in clinable to finful separation, to think but of these few things.
1. What is more contrary to Christianity than Pride and what is a plainer fign of Pride, than to separate from whole Churches (and perhaps from most part of the Chriftian world, for such faults as arc no greater than otbers of our own and to say, Thcy uc too bad for luch as you to communicate with
2. Whether it be not much contrary to that clemency of Jesus Chrift, by which he perdoncth the failings of Believers? and which we have need of our felves as well as others? And whether it be not an horrid injury to our Lord, to ascribc brie inberitance to the Devil, and to caft those out of his Church whom he himself receiveth, and to deny so many of his fervants to be his ?
3. How grcat a. lofs is it, to lose your part in all those prayers of ihc Churches (how weak focver) which you difonon ? And how can you jully expc& the benefit of such prayers ?
I would not take all tbeir ricbes for my part of the benefit of those prayers of the Churches of Church, which some reject because they are extemporate, and orbers because they are forms, or book-prayers, or impofed; nor would I cakc al ibeir wealth end bonour, for my part in all the prayers of the Universe Church, which are guilty of mouc disorders, tautologics, unmeet expresfions, and manifold defcas, than any that I ever yet hcard from thosc Ministers that pray cither by babit or book.
Dirca. 9. Take beed borb of carelesness and curiofity in the worshipping of God. Avoid carelefuefs, because it is prophane. nofs and contempt. Therefore wach against idlenels of mind, and wandering thoughts, and remember how great a work ic is, to speak to God, or to hear from him about your evalafting state.
And yet curiosity is a heinous fin : When men are fo nice, that unless there be quaint phrases, and fine cadencies and jingles, or at leaft a very laudable style, they nauseale all, and are wcary of hearing a homely Ayle, or common things: when cycry unmcet expreffion, or tautology of the speaker, doth turn their stomachs against the wholesomeft food. This curiosity cometh from a weak and an unhealthful ftatc of foul.
Direct. 10. Lally, Let your eye of Faith be al tbe mobile ape on the beavenly Host, or Cburcb trianopbant : I remember how they worship God: with what wisdoms, and purity, and fervour of Love, and sacred pleafure, and with what unity, and peace, and concord? And let your Worship bc is much composed to the imitation of them, as is agrecable to the likeness of our condition unto thcirs,