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" of these is charity," 1 Cor. xiii. And therefore where the work of faith appears not, nor the patience of hope, but e. specially where there is no appearance of charity, in that la. bour of love shewed towards his name, in ministring to the faints, as he requires in his word, there, let men think what they will, there is no appearance of Christianity.
We are not to take the description of the children of God from our own fancy : For through our self-liking, we are ready to fancy, that likeft to God that is likest ourselves; por are we to take the description of a child of God from the esteem and approbation of the world, as if these who are highly esteemed among men for holiness, were so likewise in the light of God; for by that rule the Pharisees, who were
an abomination in the light of God," would have been his children, and his fon a Samaritan, having a devil: but let us take the description of a Christian, with whom we are to behave as with the brother of Jesus Chrift, only from his own word in the New Teftament. Let all our notions. of a Christian's character be examined and corrected by that infallible rule. Let the greatest names of men that “ could $c speak with the tongues of men and angels,” if yet they be not conformable to that description, fall in our esteem before that rule. And let the least of Christ's brethren be acknow: ledged by us according to that rule, though the “base, weak, 6 and foolish things of the world,” and though they should be " hungry and thirsty, naked, strangers, and in prison," or whatever their circumstances be in this world, and however they be dispised among men.
There is the more need for cleaving strictly to the scripturedescription of a confeffor of the name of Christ, that the New Teltament foretels a false profession of Christianity coming in place of the true one, and setting it aside : for Paul, forewarning Timothy of the “perilous times to come in the “ last days,” points out the danger of these times in descrie bing the people that should then have “a form of godliness, “ denying the power of it ;" and, as a guard to us against the peril of these times, he gives this charge," From such “ turn away,”. 2 Tim. iii, By this new form of godliness, or of Christianity, suited to the people there described, the "outer court of the Lord's house" came to be trodden un“ der foot of the nations,” and “the man of sin” rose to his seat in “ the temple of God," and " the power of the « people,” whom God “ took out of the nations for his "name,was scattered, when, by this " form of godliness,
they came to be “mingled again with the people of these a. 6 bominations ;" and so that took place which was pointed at in the prophecy of Ezekiel, chap. xxxiii. 17. 18 19.
The Apostle likewise gives Timothy a sample of these, that, in the last days, should have the form of godliness denying its power, in them who, at that time, under the name of Chri. stians, went about craftily among the disciples to subvert the true profession of Christianity, and prevailed on them that had not attained to that knowledge of the truth, whereby they might be delivered from the dominion of their lofts ; and therefore wanted a profeffion of Christianity under which they might have some more ease in the fulfilment of them. And these were, on the one hand, the Judaizers, largely defcribed in the epiftles of Paul ; and, on the other hand, they that were confident of their justification, by a knowledge and a faith that they said they had, which did not fhew itself in works of obedience to the gospel; for they came to know their justification a shorter way, as we see in the epistle of James, and in Jude, and the second epistle of Peter.
The Apostle compares them whom he thus fhews to Timothy to the Egyptian inagicians, in their opposition to the word of God to keep his people in bondage whom he made free to serve him. And thereby he infinuates, that, as the true Christian profession was at first established in the world by signs, so that other form of godlinefs should have signs on its lide also, whereby men would harden themselves in cleaving to it, in opposition to the true profession of Christianity described in the scriptures, to which God bare witness by all the signs recorded there. But he says these men shall not proceed the full length, even as these Egyptians, though they held pace with Moles fo far, did not go the full, and were obliged to own themselves outdone by the finger of God, So none of the men that ever gloried in any signs that they imagined to be wrcught in favours of the modern form of Christianity, in any mape of it, can so much as pretend, that the signs they talk of ever proceeded the length of the signs whereby God baie witness to the profession of Christianity that is described in the New Testament. How shall we then turn away from them that “ have a form of godliness, de.
nying the power of it,” as the Apostle charges us, but by turning to the Christianity described in the New Testament, and there exemplified to us in the way of the firft Christians, to ubich the Lord bare witnels by such figns as no other Chritianity in afier.ages could ever pretend to?
If we would indeed be so much as fcriptural professors of Christianity, let us everyone seek to be conformed to the scripture-description of a Christian, without cutting or carving upon it, or seeking to bring it down to us, but to have ourselves brought up to it, without adding to it or taking from it. And let as many as are thus minded separate themselves to the law of God, from these that shew no such purpose of heart, but are willing to rest in the form of godliness, denying the power of it, or denying the ancient work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope, which is the power of godliness. And herein also we may ftudy the example of the typical Israel, in their reformation when they returned from typical Babylon. They not only refused the Samaritans, offering to incorporate with them and build the temple, though that refusal brought no small trouble upon them, but long after that they found, in reading the law of God, that the feed of Ifrael Thould not be mingled with strangers; and particularly they found it written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite Mould not come into the congregation of God for ever ; and when they had heard the law, they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude. They trembled at the words of God, and were not afraid to depart from the prac, tice of their fathers, that had departed from the law of God on that head, though they themselves had been before follow. ing them in that departure : for they separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their fins, and the iniquities of their fathers. If Christians had trembled as much at the word of God on this head, as they did at feparas tion, when the form of godliness without the power of it was taking place, Christianity had never been so much corrupted in the profession of it as it has manifestly been. And there has not been one true step of reformation from that corruption taken at any time, but by them that were more afraid of the word of God, and Nunned a departure from it, more than separation or departure from their former courses, and the courses of their fathers, or from the fellowship of any fort of men in the world. Let them, therefore, that seek to be conformed to the scripture-description of a Christian, be separated to the law of their Lord, confessing their sin, and the iniquity of their fathers, in having fellowship in that form of godliness with them that denied the power of it. And whereas they and their fathers in this nation have been zealous contenders for such a form; and have sworn to it, and for the sake of that expressly abjured Christ's own insti.
tution, under an odious name, let them confess the iniquity of that also; and so study reformation according to the New Testament in Christ's blood, which can both direct and en. able them to all the reformation that God requires of them, and is the only everlasting covenant that shall never be forgotten.
Let them assemble themselves together, in the confeffion of the faith that is in Christ the Son of God the Mediator of that covenant, and in obedience to his law in that covenant, to observe all his institutions of worship, continuing stedfast in the doctrine and in the fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, praising God, and to obey his new commandment in all the branches of it, and to observe all things whatsoever he commands, as they find them written in his law. And while they are thus feparated to the law of God, let them be in the diligent use of every mean there prea scribed for keeping up the study of conformity to the scripture-character of a Christian among them, as these mention, ed Matth. xviii. and 1 Cor. v. Heb. iii. 12. 13. & x. 23. 24. 25. & xii. 15. Left they again swerve from the work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope, and return to a form of godliness, denying the power of it.
And when the Christian people thus separate themselves to the law of God, let none be acknowledged as ministers of the word or elders but according to their conformity to the scripture-description of a minister ; even as, among the captives returned from typical Babylon, these were put from the priesthood as profane, whose descent from Aaron did not appear.
3. Let the connection betwixt Christianity and the cross, of which Paul speaks to Timothy when forewarding him of the perilous times, be carefully observed. When the ApoAtle fets his doctrine and mapper of life, in opposition to them that have a form of godliness, denying the power of it, he insists on his patience, and sets forth his sufferings ;. and, lest any should imagine this was peculiar to him, or the time wherein he lived, he says, " yea, and all that will live godly « in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Men may have the form of godliness of which he speaks without perfecution; yea, it was the
proper fruit of an endeavour to separate Chri: stianity from the cross; but live godly in Christ Jesus without the cross, they cannot. This living godly in Christ is not a manner of life utterly bid from the world's view, as they that are gainers by the form of godliness without the power of it
would have its power to lie unobserved, left, being as light set on a candlestick, or as a city on a hill, it should create them disturbance; and so they tell the deluded people pretty tales of this fort, that it is the best way of going to heaven, to go with the sound of their feet unheard. But the godly living that the Apostle speaks of, is a manner of life that provokes the hatred of the ungodly, and brings on persecution from the world.
It is true, the first Christians had sometimes rest from pu. blic persecution, as Acts ix. 31.; and Paul himself was not always in the hands of the magistrate ; yea, our Lord, the great pattern of suffering, did not suffer publicly from the powers of the earth till the end; but he has foretold, that a man's foes shall be they of his own house, and private persecution from friends and neighbours, and all sorts of men that we live among in the world, for the sake of Christ and his word, is no such light thing as they that look on it at a distance may be ready to imagine; yea, the trial of cruel mockings for his fake cannot be made easy but by that fame grace that acted in Christ when he patiently endured the cross, despising the hame. The Plalmist, in his name, complains of hypocritical mockers in feasts, gnashing upon him with their teeth, and of his becoming a stranger unto his brethren, and an alien to mother's children, and of the men that sit in the gate speaking against him, and his being the song of the drunkards, &c. Different parties of worldly men, contend. ing for pre-eminence in this world, will be ridiculing and reproaching one another; but it is another thing, and requires more self denial, to be suffering from all sorts of men for the word of God, than to be enduring for the sake of a man's self, in pursuing and hoping to attain the honour, gain, or ease of a present world. The clergy have endured much to raise themselves in the world, and maintain what they have gained; but the sufferings of the first Christians were not attended with any worldly hope, and they were supported under them with no hope but that which is proposed in the gospel. Paul declares his disposition in this matter, and his expectation of the concurrence of every confirmed Christian, when he says, “Yea, doubtless and I count all things but loss, " that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, “ and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conform. “ able unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto " the resurrection of the dead. Let us therefore as many as « be perfect be thus minded." - Phil. ii.