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above any other secular business, requires great foresight, and a wise provision for future events and consequences.

And particularly ministers ought not to be careless how much they discompose and ruffle the minds of those that they esteem natural men, or how great an uproar they raise in the carnal world, and so lay blocks in the way of the propagation of religion. This certainly is not to follow the example of that zealous Apostle Paul, who, though he would not depart from his enjoined duty to please carnal men, yet wherein he might with a good conscience, did exceedingly lay out himself to please them, and if possible to avoid raising in the mul. titude, prejudices, oppositions and tumults against the gospel ; and looked upon it that it was of great consequence that it should be, if possible, avoided. I Cor. x. 32, 33. “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all meh, in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." Yea, he declares that he laid himself out so much for this, that he made himself a kind of a servant to all sorts of men, conforming to their customs and various humors, in every thing wherein he might, even in things that were very burdensome to him, that he might not fright men away from Christianity, and cause them to stand as it were braced and armed against it, but on the contrary, if possible, might with condescension and friendship win and draw them to it ; as you may see, 1 Cor. ix. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. And agreeably hereto, are the directions he gives to others, both ministers and people : So he directs the Christian Romans, not to please themselves, but every one please his neighbor, for his good, to edification, Rom. xv. 1, 2. And to follow after the things that make for peace, chap. xiv. 19. And he presses it in terms exceeding strong, Rom. xii. 18. “ If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” And he directs ministers to endeavor if possible to gain opposers by a meek condescending treatment, avoiding all appearance of strife or fierceness, 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, 26. To the like purpose the same apostle directs Christians to walk in wisdom, towards them that are without, Eph. iv. 6. And to avoid giving offence to others, if we can, that our

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good may not be evil spoken of, Rom. xiy. 16. So that it is evident that the great and most zealous and most successful propagator of vital religion that ever was, looked upon it to be of great consequence to endeavor, as much as possible, by all the methods of lawsul meekness and gentleness, to avoid raising the prejudice and opposition of the world against religion, When we have done our utmost there will be opposition enough against vital religion, against which the carnal mind of man has such an enmity; we should not therefore, need lessly increase and raise that enmity) as in the apostles' days, though he took so much pains to please men, yet because he was faithful and thorough in his work, persecution almost every where was raised against him.

A fisherman is careful not needlessly to rule and disturb the water, least he should drive the fish away from his net; but he will rather endeavor if possible to draw them into it. Such a fisherman was the apostle. 2 Cor. xii. 15, 16, “ And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so, I did not burden you, nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile."

The necessity of suffering persecution, in order to being a a true Christian, has undoubtedly by some been carried to an extreme, and the doctrine has been abused. It has been looked upon necessary to uphold a man's credit amongst others as a Christian, that he should be persecuted. I have heard it made an objection against the sincerity of particular persons, that they were no more hated and reproached. And the manner of glorying in persecution, or the cross of Christ, has in some been very wrong, so as has had too much of an appearance of lifting up themselves in it, that they were very much hated and reviled, more than most, as an evidence of their excelling others, in being good soldiers of Jesus Christ, Such an improvement of the doctrine of the enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and of the necessity of persecution, becoming credible and customary, has a direct tendency to cause those that would be accounted true Christians, to behave themselves so towards those that

are not well affected to religion, as to provoke their hatred, or at least to be but little careful to avoid it, and not very studiously and earnestly to strive, (after the apostle's example and precepts) to please them to their edification, and by meekness and gentleness to win them, and by all possible means to live peaceably with them.

I believe that saying of our Saviour, I came not to send peace on earth, but division, has been abused ; as though when we see great strife and division arise about religion, and violent heats of spirit against the truly pious, and a loud clamor and uproar against the work of God, it was to be rejoiced in, because it is that which Christ came to send. It has almost been laid down as a maxim by some, that the more division and strife, the better sign ; which naturally leads persons to seek it and provoke it, or leads them to, and encourages them in, such a manner of behavior, such a roughness and sharpness, or such an affected neglect, as has a natural tendency to raise prejudice and opposition ; instead of striving, as the apostle did to his utmost, by all meekness, gentleness, and benevolence of behavior, to prevent or assuage it.

Christ came to send a sword on earth, and to cause division, no otherwise than he came to send damnation ; for Christ that is set for the glorious restoration of some, is set for the fall of others, and to be a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to them, and an occasion of their vastly more aggravated and terrible damnatión ; and this is always the consequence of a great outpouring of the Spirit and revival of vital religion, it is the means of the salvation of some, and the more aggravated damnation of others. But certainly this is no just argument that men's exposedness to damnation is not be lamented, or that we should Bot exert ourselves to our utmost, in all the methods that we can devise, that others might be saved, and to avoid all such behavior towards them as tends to lead them down to hell.

I know there is naturally a great enmity in the heart of man against vital religion ; and I believe there would have been a great deal of opposition against this glorious work of God in Newengland if the subjects and promoters of it had behaved themselves never so agreeably to Christian rules ; and I be.


lieve if this work goes on and spreads much in the world, so as to begin to shake kingdoms and nations, it will dreadfully stir up the rage of earth and hell, and will put the world into the greatest uproar that ever it was in since it stood; I be. lieve Satan's dying struggles will be the most violent: But yet I believe a great deal might be done to restrain this opposition, by a good conformity to that of the Apostle James, Jam. iii. 13. “ Who is a wise man, and e-dued with knowl. edge ? Let him shew out of a good conversation, his works, with meekness of wisdom." And I also believe that if the rules of Christian charity, meekness, gentleness, and prudence had been duly observed by the generality of the zealous promoters of this work, it would have made three times the progress that it has ; i. e. if it had pleased God in such a case to give a blessing to means in proportion as he has done.

Under this head of carelessness of the future consequences of things, it may be proper to say something of introducing things new and strange, and that have a tendency by their novelty to shock and surprize people. Nothing can be more evident from the New Testament, than that such things ought to be done with great caution and moderation, to avoid the offence that may be thereby given, and the prejudices that might be raised, to clog and hinder the progress of religion : Yea, that it ought to be thus in things that are in themselves good and excellent, and of great weight, provided they are not things that are of the nature of absolute duty, which, though they may appear to be innovations, yet cannot be neglected without immorality or disobedience to the commands of God, What great caution and moderation did the apostles use in introducing things that were new, and abolishing things that were old in their day? How gradually were the ceremonial performances of the law of Moses removed and abolished among the Christian Jews ? And how long did even the Apostle Paul himself conform to those ceremonies which he calls weak and beggarly elements ? Yea even to the rite of circumcision, (Acts xvi. 3) that he speaks so much in his epistles of the worthlessness of that he might not prejudice the Jews against Christianity ? So it seems to have been very gradually that the Jewish sabbath was abolished, and the Christian sabbath introduced, for the same reason. And the apostles avoided teaching the Christians in those early days, at least for a great while, some high and excellent divine truths, because they could not bear them yet. 1 Cor. iii. 11. 2. Heb. v. 11, to the end. Thus strictly did the apostles observe the rule that their blessed master gave them, of not putting new wine into old bottles, lest they should burst the bottles, and lose the wine.

And how did Christ himself, while on earth, forbear so plainly to teach his disciples the great doctrines of Christianity, concerning his satisfaction, and the nature and manner of a sinner's justification and reconciliation with God, and the particular benefits of his death, resurrection and ascension, because in that infant state the disciples were then in, their minds were not prepared for such instructions; and therefore the more clear and full revelation of these things was reserved for the time when their minds should be further enlightened and strengthened by the outpouring of the Spirit after his ascension. John xvi. 12, 13. “ I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now : Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.” And Mark iv. 33. “ And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to bear it.” These things might be enough to convince any one, that does not think himself wiser than Christ and his apostles, that great prudence and caution should be used in introducing things into the church of God, that are very uncommon, though in themselves they may be very excellent, least by our rashness and imprudent haste we hinder religion much more than we help it.

Persons that are influenced by an indiscreet zeal are always in too much haste; they are impatient of delays, and therefore are for jumping to the uppermost step first, before they have taken the preceding steps ; whereby they expose themselves to fall and break their bones : It is a thing very taking with them to see the building rise very high, and all their endeavor and strength is employed in advancing the building

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