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some learned writers for determining fundamentals, and having pointed out (in as clear a manner, and in as short a compass as I well could) their principal defects; I may now return with the greater advantage to the rule before laid down, and there abide. Whatever verities are found to be plainly and directly essential to the doctrine of the Gospel covenant, they are fundamental verities : and whatever errors are plainly and directly subversive of it, they are fundamental errors. By this rule, as I humbly conceive, we may with sufficient certainty fix the terms of communion with the several denominations of Christians. As to the precise terms of salvation, they may admit of greater variety and latitude, on account of particular circumstances of diverse kinds : and there is no necessity of absolutely excluding all from uncovenanted or even covenanted mercies m, whom we may be obliged to exclude from brotherly communion. God will have regard in judgment to invincible ignorance, incapacity, infirmity: but men ought to have no regard to them, in settling the terms of communion ; because they ought never to look upon any ignorance &c. as invincible, while it is in their power to apply any probable or possible remedies ; and among the possible or probable remedies, Church censures may be justly reckoned, as carrying both instruction and admonition along with them. Whether the errors be vincible or invincible, whether the parties erring be curable or incurable, in many cases, God alone can know; Church governors do not, and cannot ; and therefore they are to proceed in the same way, and to make use of the same expedients, (under direction of Scripture,) as if they were certain that the error is conquerable, and the party capable of cure.
But besides the consideration of the offending party, there are several more things of moment to be looked to in this business, viz. the preserving others from going astray, and the keeping ourselves pure and undefiled, and the maintaining truth and godliness in the face of the world, every man according to his abilities, and according to the station wherein God has placed him: for “ since “the conservation of such things as are united is the end of “ union, it is evident that we are not to entertain any union but
m Persons unbaptized and without nanted mercies : for they that are unthe pale of the Church, doing all that avoidably, unaffectedly blind, are not humanly speaking could be expected chargeable with sin so far; and a man in their circumstances, we exclude shall be accepted (as I observed above, not from uncovenanted mercies. p. 78.) according to what he hath or
Persons admitted into covenant by might have, not according to what he Baptism, and erring fundamentally, hath not and could not have. This but with an honest mind, and under rule is a Gospel rule, and so makes a some unavoidable infirmity or incapa- part of the Christian covenant. city, we exclude not even from cove
only with them who may help it forward. If therefore there be
any, who, under colour of the blessed name of Christ, subvert “his doctrine, annihilate his authority and our saloation ; it is so “ far from being our duty to unite ourselves to them, that, on the “ contrary, we are obliged to part with them : because, to unite “ with them, were in effect to disunite from Christ, and from his
body ; and instead of coming to salvation, to fall into eternal “ ruin. Both the discipline of Jesus Christ, and the laws of civil “ societies, and even those of nature itself, permit us to avoid the “ communion of such as, under any pretence, name, or colour “ whatever, go about to destroy and ruin Christianity n."
n Daillé, Apology for the Reformed Churches, p. 4, 5.
DELIVERED TO THE
May 12th, 1736.
A CHA R G E
DELIVERED TO THE
mend some important point of Christianity; so I take the liberty to offer to your thoughts, at this juncture, the consideration of the Christian Sacraments. Not that I can have room, in a short discourse, to enter into the heart of the subject : but the time perhaps may permit me to single out some collateral article, of moderate compass, and to throw in a few incidental reflections, tending to illustrate the value and dignity of those Divine ordinances, and to preserve in our minds a just regard and veneration for them.
When we duly consider the many excellent ends and purposes for which these holy Sacraments were ordained, or have been found in fact to serve, through a long succession of ages, we shall see great reason to adore the Divine wisdom and goodness in the appointment of them. They are of admirable use many ways; either for confirming our faith in the Christian religion at large, and the prime articles of it; or for promoting Christian practice in this world ; or for procuring eternal happiness in a world to
I shall confine my present views to the first particular, the subserviency of the Sacraments to true and sound faith : which, though it may be looked upon as a bye-point, and for that reason hath not been so commonly insisted upon ; may yet be of weight sufficient to deserve some consideration at this time.