Imatges de pàgina
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any man beguile them of their reward; leaft being led aside by the error of the wicked, they fal I from their own stedfastness ; least fin should reign in their mortal bodies. Nay, they are told, if ye live after the flesh, ye ihall die. He that loweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption. If we deny Chrift, he will also deny us. Election therefore, adoption, vocation, salvation, justification, sanctification, &c. are antecedent blesfings, belonging at present to all Christians, even those, who for their wickedness do perish eter. nally; and do not import any thing necessarily and absolutely connected with a right temper and behaviour, with stedfastness in religion, and with the enjoyment of the heavenly bliss. Key, ch. x. xi. xii.

I acknowledge this reasoning is plausible, and merits a very particular and critical review: from which I think it will appear, that more than one link in the chain is faulty. The fact he alledges, cannot be disputed, that in the inscriptions of Paul's epistles, and other places of sacred writ, whole churches are termed holy, tho' doubtless there lurked in them many hypocrites. But in the inference from that fact, there is an evident mistake. In these very epistles characters peculiar to good men, are ascribed to the members of these churches, and is it not plain from this, that the apostles addressed them upon a charitable supposition, that they were inwardly pious. They did not consider hypocrites, thó' mingled with the church, as constituting any part of it: and therefore to have regarded them, in their descriptions of churches or addresses to them, would have been absurd. What has been advanced, Sect. i. 3. seems fufficient to convince

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the impartial, that those only are true members of the church, who are endued with the spirit and temper of Christ, and thereby secured against total and final apostacy. Yet as a further proof of what I assert, it may not be improper minutely to consider, what the apostles say, of the character and privileges of those, whom they address as members of the church of Christ.

$ 4. Paul addresses the members of the church at Rome, as men beloved of God, Rom. i. 7. who rejoiced in hope of the glory of God, v. 2 who had received the spirit of adoption, the spirit of God witnessing with their spirits that they were the children of God, yea heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, who as they now fuffered should hereafter be glorified with him, viii. 15, 16, 17. He thanks God, that they had obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine that had been delivered them, and were made free from fin, and become the servants of righteousness, vi. 17, 18. He assures them, tho' their sentiments about rites and ceremonies differed, yet that both parties acted from an honest and truly gracious principle, and as they lived to the Lord, fo fhould die to him, xiv. 6, 7, 8, Nothing can be stronger than that expression, xv. 14. I myself allo am persuaded of you, my brethren, that you are full of goodness.

Many things are said to the Corinthians, plainly implying, that they were inwardly holy, and that their eternal happiness was secure : 1 Cor. is 8. Who shall confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Chrift. Ver. 30. Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to as wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. iii. 16. Know you not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you. Ver. 21-23. All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come.

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All are yours, and ye are Christ's. vi. 2. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world, and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matter ? Ver. 11. Ye are washed, ye are fanctified, ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the fpirit of our God. He urges their certain profpect of a glorious resurrection as an argument to stedfastness and vigour in the work of the Lord, xv. 49–58. In the ad epistle, he writes in the same manner. 2 Cor. i. 7. Our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the suffering, so fhall you be also of the confolation. Ver. 14, 15. We are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of Jesus. And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you. Ver. 21, 22. Now he which established us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the spirit into our hearts. iii. 3. For as much as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but by the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. vi. 14. Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousnefs with unrighteousness ?

It were easy to cite a multitude of similar paffages from Paul's other epistles. Thus Gal. iv. 6. 7. Because ye are fons, God hath sent forth

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the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a fon, then an heir of God thro’ Christ. vi. 1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken with a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Compare Gal. v. 22, 23. The fruit of the spirit is meekness. Eph. i. 13, 14, 15. In v hom also, after that

ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the earitest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased poffeffion. Wherefore I also, after that I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you. Phil. i. 6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Chrift. ii. 12, 13. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, as ye have always obeyed not as in my prefence only, but now much inore in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trem: bling. Fór it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. iv. 19, My God fhall supply all your need; according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Paul" addressing the Colossians, i. 4, 5, 6. fpeaks of their faith in Christ, their love to all faints, the hope laid up for them in heaven, and the gospel's bringing forth fruit in them, since the day they knew the grace of God in truth; and tells thém, iii. 3, 4. Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Chritt in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then thall

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appear with him in glory.

i Theff. i. 3-10. Remembring without cea. fing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the fight of God and our Father. ij. 13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God that ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of man, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe. Ver. 19. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming ? v. 4. Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. V. 23, 24. The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole fpirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 2 Thess. i. 3—7. he speaks of the great increase of their faith and charity, and their patience in persecution and tribulation, as manifest tokens of their interest in the hea. venly rest. 2 Theff. iii. 3. But the Lord is faithful, who thall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

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The other apostles wrote in the same strain, acknowledging the truly godly alone, as members of the christian Church. Peter, 1 epift. i. 5, 8, 22. addresses the dispersed strangers, as persons who were kept by the power of God thro' faith unto salvation : who loved Christ, and believing, rejoiced in him, with joy unspeakable and full of glory : and as having purified their souls in obeying the truth thro' the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren. ii. 5. Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual facrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Ver. 7. Un.

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