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and render the Man and his Cause the more ria diculous. And for the other Dangers, the fear of Perfecution, and the looseness of their Morals ; he must be a strange fort of Christian indeed, whom such Considerations can prevail with to fall from his stedfastness, and hardly worth the while for. any Church to get or to preserve. And tho I should be glad by any honest and Christian Mean's to promote the Interests, and enlarge the Borders of the Church of England, yet I must confess, that I am so little concern d for such Members as these, that on the contrary I could almost wish that all those who will not be perswaded to live Christianly in our Communion, would be so kind to us as to live Unchristianly out of it, rather than in it. The loss of Ten Thousand such Profelytes would only lefsen our Number, but neither our Honour nor our Intereft; nay, perhaps, would rather help to promote both : For I should then begin to hope, that God had indeed a Blessing in store for us, could I once see these Jonas's cast out, for whose fake, perhaps, it is that the present Storm is fallen upon us; and whose departure from us, may therefore, for ought I know, be the likeliest means to restore to us the Blessing of Peace and Security again.
But if there be then nothing in these Temptations that should draw us aside from our stedfastness, I am sure,
2dly, There is more than enough in what St. Peter' here offers, to engage us to continue firm to it. And because I may not now enlarge my self, I. will rather point it out to you, than insist upon it. For,
ift. It is with us now, as it was with the ChriStians in St. Peter's time: Thofe who would draw
. . H
us away from our stedfaftness to the true Catho lick Faith, would bring in dangerous, I am un.. willing with the Apostle to say, damnable Herelies, in the stead of it. We do indeed charitably hope, That they, who by the Providence of God have been born in a different Communion from us, and bred up all their lives. not only in an utter Ign norance of the right Faith, but in an irreconcilable hatred to it; who have been taught to damn us. as Hereticks and Schifmaticks, and to value themselves upon the score of their own pretended Catho.. licism, if they are otherwise sincere in that Faith which they profess, and repent them truly of their fins, but especially of their uncharitableness to those that differ from them, may, through the extraordinary Mercy of God, be saved, notwithItanding such their Errors. But for us, who know their delusions; that whil'st they damn all others as Hereticks, they are indeed themselves the most perverse and obstinate that ever were ; should we forsake our Truth, and go over to them, thạt little Argument so often used on these occasions, That we confefs Men may be saved in their Church, but that they utterly deny they can be so in Ours, and therefore that it is better to be on theirs, i.e. the safer fide, would stand us in small stead; and for all this Sophistry, we should certainly, run a very great hazard of being damn’d for falling away; from our own stedfastness. But,
2dly. A fecond Motive which our Apostle here offers to engage us to fuch a Constancy, will arise from the Confideration of the exceeding great pum nishment that shall be the consequence of such an Apostacy. Now that in this case was so much the more to be consider'd, in that the Punishment
the Miferies of confider'd, beArgument oucher Des
which St. Peter' here 'speaks of, was to fall upon them even in this present world. The Prophecies of Christ for the Destruction of the Jews being now just ready to be accomplish'd, and in which the Apoftatizing Christians were also to be involved. But however, I neither have, nor would desire to have any such prospect with reference to the Seduce cers and their Profelytes in our Days, whose conversion, tho I heartily wilh, yet, I thank God, I never did, I hope I never shall desire their DeAruction : Yer certainly the Argument' ought never the lefs to be consider'd, because it' respeêts only the Miseries of another Life. There is more than enough in the confideration of Eternal Tormenis, to move the most indifferent Person, both to confider, and, if it may be, to prevent the enduring of them. And however Men may please to put the Evil Day far from them, and hope that it shall not, because it is their Interest that it should rot, too soon overtake them; yet neither can any of us lay how soon it may come upon us; and were it at never fo great distance, yet let us but remember that when it does come, it brings an Eternity along with it, and we shall be forced to confess, Thar no present Confiderations, how great foever they may seem to be, are yet fit to stand in Competition with it.
He must be a very foolish, or a very necessitous Man indeed, that would part with the certain Reversion of a Thousand Pounds a Year, for the obtaining a present Peny. And yet such, or rather God kulows infinitely greater, is the folly of that Man, wlio for any secular Advantages whatsoever, sells his Soul ; and thereby not only loses his Title to all the Joys and Glories of Heaven, but exchan
ges them for a dreadful Portion of Fire and Brimstone for ever..
Blessed Saviour! What is there in all those little Enjoyments Men here pursue with so much greedinefs, that for the sake of them We should deny Thee, and that Faith which must save us when we appear before thee in Judgment ! Behold! yet a little while, and there we must stand to render a striet Account of all our A&tions, and receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. And what then will all these Interests and Advantages avail us ? What profit Shall we then.' have, tho'we could have gain'd the whole World, when we shall have lost our own Souls for the doing of it? How will it then please us, that we have renounc'd our Faith to preserve those little Enjoyments that are now no more; but the sad punishment of the foul Apostacy to which they have tempted us, will continue for ever? Certainly, were the complying Hypocrite, but capable of reflecting what shall be the end of his Apostacy ;. could he but once think with the Prophet, Who can dwell with everlasting burnings ? he would need no other motive to convince him of the Folly of such Courtly compliance, and to keep him from falling away from his own stedfastness.
3dly. But the Apostle adds yet another Motive, and which having mention'd, I shall conclude. We have seen the Sad, the unspeakable, and what is yet more, the eternal Mifery of him that falls from. his stedfastness. Could I now represent to you the as infiite Reward of the constant Christian ; could I. delineate to you but a small part of those Foys which are prepared for such an One; what an il-,
lustrious Crown of Glory shall adorn his triumphant Head to all Eternity : I might then hope to have fully accomplish'd the Design of this Exhortation, and to have effectually secured you against falling away from your stedfasiness.
But this is an Argument above my Capacity to illustrate. Eye hath not seen, nor ear beard, nor does it enter into the heart I Cor. 11. 9. of man to conceive, what God has prepared for them that love him. We have neither thoughts to imagine any thing comparable to its greatness, much less words to express it. And methinks even this should be enough to recommend it to us, that we are not able to express it. That its Excellency so far furpasses whatever experience we can pretend to of any felicity in this Life, that we cannot so much as found upon it any tolerable Apprehensions of the Foys and Glories of the other. At least, this I am sure, that'it ought to be more than enough to convince you, how incomparably more worthy our desires and pursuits such a reward of our firmness is, than whatsoever can be offered to draw us afide from it.
And now having shown you both what it is to be truly stedfast in our Faith, and how great an Obligation there lies upon us so to be ; what remains, but that I briefly close all with the last particular I proposed to speak to, III. How highly necessary in its felf, but espe
cially how advantageous to this great end it is, that we should all of us endeavour what in us lies, To grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Chrift?