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Applt. Con. Excufes for neglecting the ordinances, obviated. 249 them ; but infinite hazard, in eiiher reglecling lo come ; or in coming without the wedding gare ment ; in the sense of the parable as here introduced. It is a hazard equal to the worth of the loul, and the feelings of the perfon to all elernity.
But I am of opinion, ibat ihat parable has a more extensive meaning than merely as above introduce ed. And the man without the wedding garment se presents all such as live under the light of the Gospel ; whether ihey have ever personally joined to the Church or not. ,
And the addrel's to every Christless perfon, hay. ing lived in a land of Gospel light, inder ihe means of grace ; will be, Friend low came it thou in hith. er ? That is, how camelt thou to live under the light of the Gospel all thy days, and haft never ein. braced the Gospel ? Must not this strike those that have never paid so much regard to the Gospel as to profefs it, as pungenily as those who have ? Both having the fame means and opportunities. : Can they mcet such a demand with any better answer? Mult not all be equally speechless ? So that here is not the least shadow of grounds for any less haz. ard, out of the Church, than in. .
The next excuse, is, They are afraid they shall 10t live lip to their profeffion ; and they had beider not vow, than to vow, and not perform.
The iniltake and fallacy of this excuse máy very much appear in what is said as to the foregoing particular : It being there shown that ibere is no finning safely, out of ihe Church more than in it. And this seems to suppose the making a saving of hazard in finning, by not professing religion. And This is supposed to be fupported, by thole words; viza It is better that thou fhouldelt not vow, than that shou shouldet vow, and not pay. But ihere is a
250 Coming to G's ordinances, nothing like a um Artti. Cori great mintake in comparing the joining to the Church or coming up io God's infiicuted ordinan. ces, to a vow. For vou's or free-will offeringsg, were a promise of fomeching to the Lord, which was not before required of the person, but when he had promised it, he then was stii&tly obligated 10 perform : But a vow or free-will offering could not be made of any thing which God required by his law. Thus in the law regulating vows, Levo xxvii. 26. Of the firstlings of the biofis no man Jhall forelify it, IT IS THE LORD's. What God claimed as his, or required by his law, no man could make a vow or free will offering of ihal. Thus as to every perfon in a land of light, God requires of him to attend all his ordinances, and it is not left for any person to say whether he will or not. Will not all allow, that the authority of God, the Lord and overeign of the universe, is as great as the authority of men ? and when any person is born and educated in a fate ;; or comes from any foreign state or country into a fare, he is under obligation to obey the laws of the fate where he is, whether fre fays he will, or not. But if he pleales, to make a preient to the state, or towany individua al; that is another thing, that is the same as a vow, in religious nattere.
Thus may be seen the entire difference between coming up to God's inftituied ordinances, and the making of vows. The coming up to all God's in. ftituied ordinances, being what he positively re. quires, It is the Lord's. Therefore, for any one to do it, or neglect is, as being a vow, is of the natore: of facrilege, a robbing of God. Therefore it is a great miltake to suppose that the liberty of enter. ing into vows, or not; gives any countenance to she omiffion of any of God's intituled. ordinancese
Arlli, Cori Sacraments made light of: It is also this same mistake that many people are under, in fupposing that what Christ says of bringing a gift to the Altar, Mat. v. 23, means coming to the Lord's Table; or is any way applicable to it.
Thus I hope all those misapprehensions and miliakes, which many serious thoughtful persons labor under, detering them from God's instituted or. dinances, are fully obviated. And I hope those more inattentive may be benefited thereby ; disa cerning therein the falal mistakes they are resting upon, in their security of mind. Yet I will say a few things more dire&tly as to the Gituation and excuses they reft in.
It appears to me a matter devourly to be la. mented that persons should be trained up in a habit of thinking or feeling, as if they were not under obligation to observe God's ordinances unless they personally engage, ihai it is a vow, and so long as they do not vow, they are not obligaied. This is indeed true as to vows, and so long as persons sup. pose it to be a vow, so long they naturally feel fafe in negleding God's ordinances. And the church, considering and treating baptized persons as not belonging to, or in covenant with the Church, is really making nothing of their baptism, and it necessarily generates in the appre. hensions and feelings of the rising generation, a fixed habitual sensation that their bap:ism is noth,
ing, of no consequence; and as to the other Sa· crament, they are trained up to believe they are noi criminal for neglecting that, so long as they have not vowed ! And thus the Sacraments are both made light of; treated as of no great copsc-, quence, as being of little or no importance. And: it naturally forms a habit of thinking and feeling, that they are most fafe, not to approach the Sacra
dze The Devil hates Sacraments. Appls. Con. ments. And such conclusion is doubtless true, if Such treatment of the patter as above noticed, is righi.
But let every one pause here, and folemnly in. quire wbat this leads 10. Is not this setting at nought the authority of God, who has inftituted the Sacraments ? and so ftrictly enjoined the observ. ance of them ? And is not this virtually an impeach. ment of the divine wisdom and goodness of God, as instituting fucile ordinances, and making much of them, when they are of litle or no importance ?
I will not suppose that any body means fo. But I fully believe there is the hand of the tempter, in all this ; Of that old ferpent called the Devil and Sa. tan, which deceiveth the whole world ; Rev. xii. 9. a:Who began very early with the first human pair, and reduced our firat parents. He has al.. ways had it his primary objed, to set at nauehti and pervert God's Sacramenis ; that was the first we hear of him. And he has been pursuing that
na Although perhaps this Text alone, might be fufficient Lo justify me in ascribing so much to the agency of the Dev. il, as in the subsequent pages ; yet lince many are unwilling to admit, that there is any fuch thing as Angelic agency in carrying on the affairs of this world ; it may not be imper. tinent to notice some of the many passages in Scripture ihat plainly alert such agency,
Waving the many places in Scripture showing that God effectuates his special difpenfations of providence by Angel. ic ministration : We may notice some places showing that he thus carries on his ordinary providence, especially toward the righteous, tlose that trust in him. .
Of the many places to this purpose, we may cotice that Psalm xci, 11, 12. “For he shall give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They fall bear thee up in their hands, left thou dalli thy foot against a stone." We find also that the Apofle to the Heb. speaks of the An. gels as ministering Spirits, jent forth to minister for them that forall be keirs of salvation, Chap. i verse 14. .
AMPLL Con. F The Devil's agency in this world. 2533 object ever since ; especially since Chrill the Son of God was manifest in the flesh, has conquered the Devil, and is exalted on high. Before that c. veni, that old Infidel doubtless hoped to defeat Christ of his incarnation and exaltation, but now, that is cftablished in fact ; yet he exerts himself to have it disbelieved, and to pervert whatever an. nounces, or indicates that truth. And the Sacraments, fo dirc&tly lead to Christ, and exhibit that truth in such sensible tokens ; the Devil specially exerts his faculty of deception 10 pervert theme He indeed perverted God's worship before. But the Sacraments were then so involved in shadows, that perhaps be did not distinguish them, from other Shadows; however he perverled God's inftitutions of worship then, to idolatry. But since the passion of Chrilt, and God's inftitutions are dilincumbered
* But it is not so dire& to my present purpose to dwell on the agency of good Angels, in carrying on the affairs of his world ; as to notice and fhow that the evil Angels are active in the scenes of providence ; having power when permitted, to affed boil the bodies and minds of mankind; to operate on other animals, and on the elements. Witness wha: Satan did to Job's body. What he did to the elements, to destroy Job's substance. What he did to the minds of Ahab and his prophets. What he did to the swine, which he hurried ina in the sea. But it does not appear, that the devil is fert by God, in the sense that good Angels are ; but is constantly joving about and watchiog his opportunity to do mnischief and if he were not reftrained by God, would make the most awful havock in the world that can be imagined. This is evident from what he has done, when God for fovereign purposes ; or for Judgment, kas permitted him. But we are abundantly taught in Scripture, that the Devil is alwa;s busy, endeavoring to deceire, seduce and citroy mankind : And if he can do na more, at least to deceive them into things to dishonor Christ, and sound ibeir own souls. He is styled, the God of this World, 2 Cor. iv. 4. The frince of the power of the air works in the children of disobedience, Ello