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gion, by their means, was known and proved sufficiently, these extraordinary effects of his presence gradually ceased: but those, which remained still needful, were still experienced. And to this day, wherever his ministers teach men to believe and do what he hath commanded, there he is alway with them: and wherever two or three of his Disciples are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them* : protecting his whole church, and every
* member of it, outwardly against their temporal enemies to such degree, as infinite wisdom sees to be fit; and inwardly against their spiritual ones, so that nothing, but their own wilful sins and perseverance in them, shall hazard the salvation of any one of them. But so far as men allow themselves to teach, believe, or practise, contrary to his commands, they forfeit their title to his gracious presence, which evidently depends on their obedience to those commands. And consequently no set of men in the world have a right to argue, as the Romanists would fain do; that Christ hath promised to be with his church for ever; and therefore their church, or the majority of the whole church, can teach only what he appointed they should. But ours is a very just way of arguing; that we teach what Christ pointed we should, and therefore we are a part of his church, with which he hath promised to be for ever. For that our doctrines are Catholic, however the Romanists have stolen the name, we are bold to say, and fully able to prove: on this account we have nothing to fear. Could we but say as much of our lives too, then all were well.
But alas, though they have little cause on comparison to reproach us in this respect, we have much
* Matth. xviii, 20.
cause to reproach ourselves.
The number of professed Christians amongst us indeed is large: yet even that is lessening. But the number of such as are truly Christians, and behave like ChristiansWhat shall we say of this ? May God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, cause the light of his gospel to shine more effectually into the hearts of men *, and brighten the very dark prospect there is before us concerning spiritual matters; that we may know, at least in this our day, the things which belong to our peacet, our present and future happiness. But what others will do, is for them to consider; and what shall be the consequences of men's doings, is for God to appoint. Let us only look to our own souls: that in the midst of a bad world we be, as we ought, innocent, prudent, and exemplary; that we watch over those who are under our care, and warn others as we have opportunity; that, by openly professing the gospel of Christ, we encourage the profession of it; and, by adorning our profession with a suitable conduct, do honour to it. Provided we behave thus; let others behave as they please, and the event be what it will to them, and to all, in temporal concerns; to us the final event however shall be good. Christianity began with a very small number; and were it to be reduced to an equally small one again, we might take the same comfort still, which our Saviour gave his disciples at first; Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom 1. The kingdoms of this earth we have cause to hope will yet, in due time, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary, become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his
• 2 Cor. iv. 6. + Luke xix. 42. #Luke xii. 32.
Christ*, in a much ampler manner than they have hitherto been. But the kingdom of Heaven, God, who cannot liet, hath, in the plainest terms, promised to the faithful disciples of his Son. And all who have secured his presence with them here, by a life of religion and virtue, shall assuredly reign with him for ever hereafter in those blessed mansions of his Father's house, whither he is gone
prepare a place for us, and will come again, and receive us unto himself, that where he is, there we may be also 5.
* Rev. xi. 15.
+ Tit. i. 2.
| John xiv, 2, 3.
EPHESIANS IV. 26.
Be ye angry, and sin not. The nature of Almighty God being absolutely perfect and uncompounded, neither passions nor affections, properly so called, have any place in it: but his actions all proceed from uniform and unmixed regard to truth and equity. His creatures, incapable of attaining to be in any respect what he is, fall short of it in different degrees, from those spirits above, that approach nearest to pure intelligence, though infinitely distant from it, to the lowest inhabitants of earth, which have no other guide than appetites and instincts. Man is of a middle rank; and partakes, almost equally, of inferior principles to excite and move him, where reason would be insufficient, and of reason to direct and restrain these, where else they would take a wrong course, or exceed proper bounds. Our proportion therefore of lower faculties, though a proof that we are very imperfect, contributes to our being on the whole less so, than we should have been; and a due regulation of them by the higher, will make us continually more perfect than we are. This is the great employment allotted us by our Maker here on earth: which indeed we often find much pain in attempting, but should suffer much greater by neglecting, and shall be rewarded eternally for performing.
Now, according to the several kinds of our inward dispositions, the moral discipline of them varies. Some, as the benevolent sort, require chiefly to be strengthened: some again, as the irascible, to be kept in subjection. And indeed our anger is so hard to be governed, and the cause of such dreadful evils, when it is not governed; that no wonder, if great and wise men have seemed to speak of it, as totally and essentially vicious: as requiring to be, not only moderated but rooted out. Yet, as those parts of the outward frame of nature, which have produced at any time the most frightful effects, appear notwithstanding, on due inquiry, beneficial constituents of that whole, which the Creator originally pronounced to be good: let us not condemn, without reserve, this part of our inward frame; which he hath planted in our breasts, otherwise it had never existed there; and which, in condescension to our understandings, he hath ascribed to himself.
Resentment is, in its primitive nature, a just and generous movement of the mind, expressing that displeasure against ill actions, which they deserve: and, in our hearts at least, such disapprobation of what is wrong seems inseparably connected with approving what is right. From this principle, applied to ourselves, we feel a scorn of baseness and vice, that prompts us to reject it with disdain, when we are tempted to it: or a consequent self-dislike, if we have fallen under the temptation, which doth not easily allow us any rest, till we have returned to our duty, The same principle pointed towards our fellow-creatures deters them from enterprising wickedness, and invigorates us to resist it: or, if it be already committed, stirs us up to set before them the offensiveness of their conduct in so strong a light, as may