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XII.

ciples after them, A&s xx. 30. A light and SERM.
inconstant Sort of Men will never be wanting
to wheel and turn about with every Wind of
Doctrine. The Apostle intimates that fome
Men, as it were, lie in wait for Errør, nor
matter how abfurd and palpable it is, if it
has but the Appearance, of being new. For
the Time (faith he) will come, when they will
not endure faund Doctrine ; but after their
own Lufts hall they heap to themselves Teach
ers, having itching Ears: And they shall turn
away their Ears from the Truth, and Mall be
turned unto Fables, 2 Tim. iv. 3; 4. This is
a Character which we may obferve generally
belongs to all fond Admirers of new-fangled
Opinions : And therefore would the Authors
of Heresies or the Abettors of Infidelity either
now, or at any Time, but enquire into the
Quality of their Converts; they would find
but little Reason to pride themselves in the
Number of them.

For I have newed in the second Place
that God sometimes permits Infidels and He-
reticks to arise, on purpose to clear and purgie
bis Church from such Members of it as are
useless and unprofitable. And fhould we ex-
amine into those who are at any Time drawn
aside by any Heretical or Atheistical Ténets,

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XII.

SER M. they would for the most Part, 1-doubt, ap

pear to be such, as, whilst they professed
Christianity, were of no Credit to it, and
therefore their leaving it is no Loss. We may
properly apply to them the Words of St. John,
They went out from us, but they were not of
us i For if they had been of us, they would,
no doubt, bave continued with us. But they
went out, that they might be made manifeft,
that they were not all of us, 1 John ii. 19.
i; e. that they were not all, though Christians
in Profession, Christians indeed.
in As to.ourselves notwithstanding it certain-
tý' concerns us to confirm and strengthen our
Faith in the Articles disputed; that so we
may be able by Sound Doctrine both to exhort
and to convince the Gainsayers, and to put to
Silence: the Ignorance of foolish Meno For I
observed in the third Place, that this was
another Advantage designed by God. to his
Church from the Permission of Herefies.
And if fo; it is not to be doubted but that
the gross Infidelity now spreading among us
is a Call to this Duty. For, how it comes
to pass I say not, but that so it is, nobody
will deny; viz. that the Fundamentals of
our Religion were never less regarded, nor
the Revelations of the Gospel ever less taken

XII.

Notice of, than they have been of late : SERM.
What else then could we expect, but that
God, if he has still any Mercy for us in Store,
should awaken us to look from whence we
are fallen; by shewing us the Depth we are
falling into

But this rather belongs to a fourth End
which, I have said, Providence has in View in
the Permission of Heresies, and that is, the
punishing his Church for her Carelessness and
Neglect, and rouzing her by such Punish-
ments from her Lethargy and Sloth. And if
this be the Case, when, I beseech

you,

had our Church Reason to fear a severer Judgment, or when stood it in Need of a louder or harsher Call than now ? For many Years past the same Heresy has spread, and daily gained ground (I mean the Heresy of Arianism) which was the Fore-runner, we know, of the Ruin and Extirpation of the several Churches in the East; and yet the fame Indifference and Unconcernedness has possessed our own Church, which then made Way for the Destruction of the others. And what is the Consequence, we at this Day fee. From our bearing with the Impeachment of the Divinity of our Saviour, the Adversaries now grow bold and insolent; and having been per

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XII.

SERM. mitted before to ungod aim; they now repre.

sent him as an Impostor and Cheat. How dangerous and dismal therefore does our Cafe appear? We seem to be going beyond Reco, very: Providence has thought fit to visit us with a Rod; and we, it is true, have kised the Rod; but not in order to Reconciliation and the laying it aside, but out of a blind Fondness and Desire to keep it among us.

We seem to think, that becaufe St. Paul says, Tbere MUST BE HEREsies, that therefore Hereticks are never to be thwarted or opposed : But that is an Inference which the Text was never designed to support. Our Saviour says, It must needs be that Offences come ; or it is IMPOSSIBLE but that they WILL

But does that oblige us to embrace the Man through whom they come ? No, certainly: Wo be unto THAT Man, our Lord himself fays, Br Whom the Offence cometh, And therefore though St. Paul asserts in my Text, that there must be Herepes; yet we may undoubtedly rejoin, with our Lord, Wo be unto those who broach and propagate them; Wo in the next World, whatever Encourage, ment they may meet with in this. What the End of them will be, I shall leave the inspired St. Jude to say, who also will instruct us how

we

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we are to regard their Reproaches at present, SERM.
and in what Manner we ought to behave our-
felves towards them : Enoch (faith he) the
seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
Bebald the Lord cometh with ten thousands
of his Saints, to execute Judgment upon all,
and to convince all that are ungodly among
them, of all their ungodly Deeds which they
bave ungodlily committed, and of all their hard
Speeches wbich ungodly Sinners bave spoken
against him. But, beloved, remember ye the
Words which were spoken before of the Apofiles
of our Lord Jesus Chrift: How that they told
you, there should be Mockers in the laft Time,
who should walk after their own ungodly Lufts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual,
baving not the Spirit, Jude 14–19.
their Sin and their Punishment let us leave ta
God and their own Souls : And take we
heed to ourselves, that we partake neither of
one or the other. Let me exhort you earnestly
to contend for the Faith once delivered to the
Saints, ver. 3. Hold fast (as the Apostle
St. Paul advises) the Form of found Words
which

ye

have heard, in Faith and Love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto you, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us, 2 Tim. i. 13, 14, avoiding profane and vain Babblings, and Op

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