society. This is according to Christ's express direction, in Matt. xviii. 15, &c. If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone : if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more ; and if he neglect 10 hear them, tell it unto the church ; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen-man and a publican. There is nothing more plain in scripture, than that scandalous members should be cast out of the church ; and an excessive indulgence is most severely censured. St. Paul orders Timothy to turn away from such as have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. 2 Tim. iii. 5. He lays the weight of his apostolic authority upon the christian church in this case.

We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us. 2 Thess. iii. 6. The churches of Pergamos and Thyatira are severely threatened by Christ himself, for tolerating the corrupt scct of the Nicolaitans, and the followers of Balaam's and Jezebel's profane and loose practices, and not casting them out of their communion. Rev. ij. 14, &c. And the church of Ephesus is commended for her strict discipline, and that she could not bear them that were evil, and had tried pretended apostles, discovered and rejected them as impostors. But I need go no farther than the chapter where my text lies, for abundant evidence of the necessi. ty of this holy discipline. Here St. Paul warmly rebukes the Corinthian church for allowing a scandalous member to continue in communion with them ; and solemnly charges them to cast him out from the church into the wide world, the territories of Satan, who is called the god of this world. And this he strongly describes, in order to strike terror into the offender, as a deliver. ing him over to Satan. He urges this wholesome severity, as a proper expedient to bring the offender himself to repentance, and especially to keep their church pure. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? And just so the indulgence of one corrupt member may in time corrupt the whole society. It was by the remarkable strictness of their discipline, that the primitive church kept itself from corruption in the midst of heathens and idolaters. And it is the want of this that has so scandalously corrupted the generality of our modern churches, whose members are very often the reproach of that religion which they profess. Let not us imitate them, but pity and pray for them, lest we become a mere mass of corruption, like them. The apostle forbids not only all religious communion, but all unnecessary familiarity with such scandalous professors ; and intimates, that we should be more shy of them than of such as make no pretensions to religion at all. I wrote to you, says he, not to keep company with fornicators : yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world : that is, ' I do not mean that you should break off all intercourse with the fornicators of this world, who are professedly of the world, and make no pretensions to christianity ; or with the cove etous, or extortioners, or idolaters ; for then ye must needs go out of the world :' all places are so full of such profligate sinners, that you cannot avoid them without leaving human society altogether. But now I have written unto you, says he, not to keep com. pany, if any one that is called a brother, a christian brother by profession, here lies the emphasis, if any one that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard or an extortioner, not to keep company with such an one, no not to cat. I Cor. v. ver. 10, 11. Cultivate no unnecessary familiarity with such a one : do not make a choice of him as your guest or companion at your common meals, much less in the sacred feast of the Lord's supper.

You see, my brethren, we are not at liberty in this case ; we are tied down by the divine authority to the faithful exercise of discipline. And though nothing can be more disagreeable to us than to touch the sores of mankind, yet we cannot dispense with our duty in this respect. If we make a compliment of the ordiDances of Christ, it is at our peril. It is therefore the most unreasonable and absurd thing for persons by their offences to constrain the officers of the church to animadvert upon them, and then to take it ill that they faithfully do their duty. All that is required of them is a profession of deep repentance for their misconduct and a promise of reformation for the future. And is this too much to do to repair the injury they have done to religion, to satisfy the society to which they belong, and restore themselves into the charity of their brethren, whose hearts are so grieved by their conduct ? Or are they indeed determined not to repent and reform, but go on in their wicked courses? Then they have nothing to do with the peculiar privileges of the christian church, and therefore should not claim them. It is in vain here to object, • That none can forgive sins but God, and therefore they will not confess them to man. For, as I told you, every member of the christian church ought to give his fellowmembers some evidence that he is indeed one of their body, and worthy of their charity. But what evidence can they have of this, if when he falls into some scandalous sin inconsistent with his profession, he does not so much as profess his repentance ? It is only God that can pardon the sin, as it is done against him : but the church is also offended, and every society as well as the particular person who is offended, has a right to demand satisfaction. Hence we are commanded to confess our faults to one another, James v. 16. and that is a proud, impenitent creature indeed, unworthy of a place among christians, who thinks it a mighty thing to make this small satisfaction. The incestuous Corinthian was brought to repentance by the wholesome severia ties used with him. And upon this, the apostle, in his second epistle, advises them to forgive him, (which implies, that in some sense the offence was against the church ; and, in that sense, that they had power to forgive him) that they should comfort him, and confirm their love towards him, lest he should be swallowed up with over-much sorrow. 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8. And shall we be more obstinate than an incestuous, excommunicated Corinthian?

As this subject naturally came in my way, and as it is necessary for us as church-members to have right ideas of gospel-discipline, I have taken this opportunity to enlarge on it ; and I hope you will so remember it, as to render all instructions on this head needless hereafter.

I now proceed to what is more practical.

Let me as an herald of Jesus Christ proclaim to you the business of the next Lord's day. We are going to commemorate the most important event that ever happened upon our globe ; an event accomplished about seventeen hundred years ago, but never to be forgotten ; an event that extends its happy consequences to the remotest periods of eternity, I mean the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ for us. And who among you is prepared and willing to commemorate this grand event? Where are the broken-hearted penitents? Where the lovers of a cruci. fied Saviour ? Where the happy persons that believe in him with all their bearis? Come, take the dear memorials of your precious Redeemer ; come, refresh your souls once more with the sweet remembrance of his love. O! shall his dear name be forgot among us ? What ! forgotten, after all he has done, after all he has suffered for us? Can you bear the thought ? We are going to profess openly before a scoffing world, that we are the servants and disciples of a crucified Christ ; we are going to put on the badges of his servants, and wear his livery ; to enlist as volunteers under his banner, and swear allegiance and fidelity to him. And where are those that are willing to join with us ? Who is upon the Lord's side? Who? Come ye that will have Christ for your Master, come enter your names in his list : be fixed and determined for him. How long will ye halt between two opinions ? It is a plain case and requires no long time to deliberate. Come ye that would stand among his people at his right hand at last, come now with prepared hearts, and mingle among them at his table. We are going to enter into an everlasting covenant with our God, and to set our solemn seal to the contract. And who among you gives his consent? Who is willing to take the Lord Jesus for his only Saviour and Lord, and to give himself up to him entirely and forever? Who will avouch the Lord to be his God, that He may avouch him to be one of his people ? How are your hearts, my brethren, disposed in this respect? Do they give a full consent ? And are you willing from this time to renounce and abjure all your lusts and sinful pleasu res ? In short, do you consent to the covenant of grace? If so, come and confirm it with that solemn oath and seal. God and Christ are agreed to the proposal ; and if you agree, the happy contract is made : it is established firmer than the pillars of heaven ; and if you had them, you might venture ten thousand souls upon it. We are going to maintain communion with the saints, and sit down with them at the same table of our common Lord. And who of you would join yourselves with that little flock, that despiserl but happy few? If you would mingle with them in heaven, separate from the wicked world, and join them now; and as a token of it eat of the same bread, and drink of the same cup with them. But we are going to maintain communion of a still more exalted kind : communion with the Father of our spirits, with the Son of his love, and with the Holy Ghost. And where are they that pant and languish for this sacred and divine fellowship? Come to the table of the Lord, the place of interview, and you may humbly hope to meet him there. There you may pour

hearts to him with all the freedom of intimacy and filial boldness, and there you may receive the tokens of his love.

My brethren, if, upon careful self-examination, you find reason to hope you have the qualifications of acceptable communicants,

out your

which I have described, I require you, in the name of that Jesus who expired upon the cross for you, a name which one would think should have some weight with you ; in his endearing, irresistible name, I l'equire you to come to his table. This is not only your privilege, but your duty; and you cannot neglect it, without the basest ingratitude and wickedness. Shall Jesus, when he views the guests around his table, find your seat empty? Alas! shall he have reason to say, 'What! has such a one turned his back upon me? I bought him with my blood, and have I deserved to be thus treated by him ? O! my brethren, is it come to that pass with you that you stand in need of persuasions to commemorate that Saviour who laid down his life for you? Had he been as shy of a cross as you are of his table, as backward to die as you are to commemorate his death, alas! what would have become of you?

What are the obstructions and discouragements that lie in your way ? Mention them, and methinks I can remove them all in a few words, when the case is so plain. Do you urge, that you are afraid you are not prepared ? But have you examined yourselves impartially by what I have said ? Are you sure you have the qualifications mentioned? If so, your way is very clear. Or if you are not sure, does it appear probable to you? If so, you may humbly venture. Or if you cannot go so far as a probability, have you some trembling hopes ? hopes which, though they often waver, yet you cannot entirely cast away, though you admit all the evidence you can get, and are desirous to know the very worst of yourselves. Why, if you have even thus much of cncouragement, I would advise you to come, though with trem. bling. If you are impartial in self-examination, and yet cannot after all discover that you are destitute of those qualifications I have mentioned, it is extremely unlikely that you are deceived : persons are never deceived in this case but by their own careless. ness and partiality ; therefore take courage. If you look out with a careful eye, there is little danger of your splitting on this rock.

Or are you afraid that you will not be able to perform your sacramental vows, but may apostatise from your God ? But I need not tell you that your strength is entirely from God : and I appeal to yourselves, whether it be most likely you will obtain strength from him in the way of duty, or in the neglect of it? VOL. II.


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