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God will not hçar you: Look off your Book, and read not or Icaro not.chc words, faith another, or God will not hcar you. Batoh lamentable, that both of them tremble, not thus so abusc God, and add unto his Word, and to prophesie or speak falliy again their brethren in his Name; nor to reproach the prayers which Chrift presenteth from his fervants to the Father, and which (norwichftanding their defcas) are his delight!
Dircat. 3. Offer God norhing as worship, which is com trary to the perfection of his Nature, as far as you can avoid it; And yet feign 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 drcam not of any immediate access of a linncr-unto God, but wholly trust in Chrifts mediation. Receive the Fathers will from Chrift your Teacher, and his commands frem Chrift your King, and all his mercies from Christ your Head, and the Treasury of the Church, and your continual Intercessor with God in Heaven. And put all your prayers, praises, dutics, alms, into his hand; chat through him alonc they may be accepted of God
Dircet. s. Understand well bom far obe Scripture is a parti. cular Rule (as to the fubftance of Gods Worship) and how far it is only a general Rulc (as to the circumstances) that so you may neither offer God a Worlhip which he will not accept ; nor yet reje& or oppose all thole circumstances as unlawlul, which are warranted by his gencral commands : (of which i have said enough elsewhere.)
) Direct. 6. Look firft and moft to the exercise of inw ari grace, and to the spiritual part of Worship (for God will be worshipcd in spirit, and in truth, and hateth thc Hypocrite, who offereth him a carkass, or empty shell, and ceremony, and pomp, or length of words, instead of fubftance; and draweh neer him with the lips, without the heart:) And yet in the second place, look carcfully also to your words, and order, and ouiw ard bebaviour of the body:For God muft be honoured with soul and body. And order and reverend folemnity is both a belp to the affcdions of the foul, and a fit expreffion of them.
Never forget that bypocritical dead formality, and ignorant, felf-conceited, fanatical extravagancies, are the two extreams by which the Devil hath laboured in all ages, to turn Chrifs Worship againt him, and to deftroy the Church and Religion by such falfe Rcligiousncls.
The poor Popilh Formalifts on One Gde, mortific Religion, and turn it into a carkass , a comcly Image that hath any ching lave 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 worlt to make Chrifianity to seem a ridiculous fancy co the world : Escape boch thesc cxtrcams, as cver you will cscape 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. Negleå not any belps which you can bave, by the excellent gifts of any of Cbrifts Ministers or flocks ; ond yes take beed that i brough prejudice, or for tbe faults of either, you vilific or reje&t nothing wbicb is of God. But carefuly difting will between Cbrifts and theirs.
Communion with the bolieft and pureft Assemblics, is morc desirable than with thè less pure, But yet all that is lefs defirable comparatively, is not fimply unlawful, nor to be rejected: The labours of an abler and more faithful 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 wife : 2. That the Heart or Will be (an&ificd by Love. 3. That ihs Life be 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&ion of temptations to deccit.
Now an able and faithful Paftor is fuited to all thcsc cffcas: 1.He is a lively Preacher to awaken the understanding: 2. He is a clear, inteligent, mabodical and convincing Teacher, to illuminate it: 3. Ho can confure gainlayers, and rcfute objc&tions, and thamc the cavils of tempers and deccivers to preserve it.
And 2. He fpcaketh all from the unfcigned Love of God and men i and as all his words do breathe forth Love ; so they arc apt to kindle such love in the hearers: For cvery active naturc tendech to propagation.
3. And thc boliness of his life, as well as do&rine, tendeth to win the people to a boly life : So that he that loveth his own soul, muft not be indifferent whet Paftor he chuseth for the help and condud of his foul ; but should molt circfully lock to get the belt or fittelt for such ncccffary 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 neceslicy ; when a better cannot be had, without more di. sturbance and hurt than the benefits are like to recompence, And when we live under such a weak, or cold, or faulty Paftor, 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 tempo us not to fight 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 whar mouth loever they proceed. A Religious zealous man that prcacheth false dodrine, is more so be avoided, than a cold or scandalous man who preacherh the truth. If you doubt of this, observe chose texts.
Matth. 23. 2, 3. Tbe Scribes and Pharisees fit in Mofes frat ; Alsberefore w bar foever Ibey bid you observe, that observe and do : but do not ye after their works, for tbey say and do not.
AQs 1. 17. For be (Judas) was numbred with us, and bad obtained part of tb in Ministry. Judas the thick and traitor was an Apoftle, called and sent out by Jesus Chrift,
Phil. 1.15, &c. Some indeed preacb Cbrift even of envy and Arife, and some also of good wil. The one preach Cbrift of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add a lition to my
bonds... wbat iben? Nut witbftanding every day, w bet ber in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, and I do ibercin rejyce, yea and Rom. 16. 17. Now I befeecb you brethren, Marktbem w bicb
caufe divisions and offences contrary to the do&rine wbicb ye bave learned, and avoidsbem...
Aas 20.30, of your own felves Mal men erife, Speaking per. verse tbixgs, to draw aw ay Disciples efter sibem.
Gal. 1. 7, 8. If we or an Angel from Heaven tring anorber Gospel, let bim be scoursed...
Is not all this a plain decision of the calc?
Direct 8. While you prefer local comeraunion 'with the pureft Cburcbes, and best taught and ordered, for your own edification, take heed that you disowas not a distant and mental communion with any part of ibe Churcb of Cbrift on earıb, wbicbo Cbrift bimSelf difornet b not, But first remember that you are members of the Universal Cburch, 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 tbe Cburcb ir felf, and own all the substance of the Worship which is good, and which God ownech. God doth not rejc& the matter for the manner, nor the whole, for a faulty part, where the heart is fincere that offercth it: nor no more muft you. And if they force you got to any a&ual fin (as by falfe speaking, subscribing, or the like) you must fometimes 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 Thew your mental communion, or to avoid fchifm, scandal or offence.) As you mult not approve of your own fattings in Gods Worship (as in the manner of praying; preaching, &c.) and yet must not give over worshipping God, though you are alwaies fure to fail ; even fo mult you do by your communion with others. : And here I would carnefly 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 obers of our own ! and to say, They are too bad for such as you to communicate with 1
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 whecher it be not an horrid injury to our Lord, to ascribc bio inberitance to the Devil, and to caft those out of his Church whom he himself receiveth, and to deny lo many of his fcr. vants to be his ?
3. How great a loss is it, to lose your part in all those prayers of the Churches (how weak focyer) which you difoson ? And how can you jubily expect the benefit of such prayers ?
I would not cake all tbeir vicbes for my part of the benefit of thosc prayers of the Churches of Church, which some reject because they are extemporate, and orbers because they are forms, or book-prayers, or imposed; nor would I cakc al ibeir wealth and bonour, for my part in all tbc prayers of the Universal Cburcb, which are guilty of morc disorders, tautologies, unmeet expressions, and manifold defc&s, than any that I ever yet hcard from thosc Ministers that pray cither by babit or book.
Dire&. 9. Take beed bord of carelesnefs and curiofity in the worshipping of God. Avoid carelefrefs, because it is proplane. ness and contempt. Therefore watch againft idlenels of mind, and wandering thoughts, and remember how great a work ić is, to speak to God, or to hear from him about your ever. lafting Itate.
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 least a very laudable style, they nauseate all, and are weary of hearing a homely Ayle,
or common things: when cvery unmcet cxpreffion, or tautology of the speaker, doth turn their stomachs against the wholesomeft food. This curiolity cometh from a weak and an unhealthful Aate of foul.
Dire&. 10. Lastly, Let your eye of Faith be al tbe mobile ape exibe beavenly Hoft, or Cburcb trianoplanı : I remember bom tbey worship God: with what wisdom, and purity, and fervour of Love, and sacred pleasure, and with what unity, and peace, and concord? And let your Worship be as much composed to the imitation of them, as is agrecable to the likeness of our condition unto theirs,