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to hear the Church. But in what Cafe? If thy Brother trespass against thee, admonish him privately. This relates then, not to difputed fpeculative Opinions, but to known practical Tranfgreffions againft our Neighbour. If he neglect private Admonition, tell it unto the Church. Not furely the whole Catholic Church, all over the World: that is impoffible: but the particular Church, to which you both belong. Now all Sides allow, that every particular Church is fallible; and therefore to be heard no farther, than it appears to be in the Right. It follows next: And if he neglect to hear the Church; if he will not reform his injurious Behaviour on a public Warning, let him be unto thee as an Heathen Man and a Publican": treat him no longer with the Tenderness and Regard, that is due to a good Chriftian; but confider him in the fame Light with an Infidel Sinner, till he makes Reparation. This Rule therefore by no means proves the Infallibility, even of the univerfal Church, and much lefs of the Romish, which is far from univerfal; but relates to a Matter intirely different. And it ftill remains true, that profeffing to believe in the Holy Catholic Church, is only acknowledging, that Chrift hath formed the whole Number of his Followers, under him their Head, into one regular and facred Body or Society, to laft for ever: the Unity and Holiness of which is to be carefully preferved by what the latter Part of this Article specifies.
The Communion of Saints. The Word, Saints, is of the fame Meaning with the Word holy and therefore comprehends all Chriftians, in the Manner which I have juft explained. Having Communion, is being entitled to partake of Benefits and Kindneffes, and bound to make fuitable Returns for them. And thus Chriftians, or Saints, have Communion or Fellowship with the Father, from whom cometh down every good and perfect Gift: with his Son Jefus Chrift, through whom Forgiveness and Mercy is conveyed to us: with the Holy Ghoft, whofe fanctifying Graces are conferred on fuch as duly Math, xviii. 15, 16, 17′′ 1 John i. 3. Jam. i. 17.
qualify their Hearts for the Reception of them. And for thefe Bleffings we owe all thankfulness, and all Duty, in Thought, Word, and Deed. Chriftians have allo Communion with the holy Angels; as thefe aré miniAring Spirits, fent forth to minifter for them, who shall be Heirs of Salvation". And undoubtedly we ought to think of what they do for us, with an inward Sense of Gratitude and Love. But as we are unacquainted with Particulars, we can make no particular Acknowledgments: nor ought we to make any general ones, by outward Expreffions of Refpect; fince worshipping Gcd alone is commanded, and worshipping Angels condemned, in Scripture.
With refpect to thofe of our own Nature, we are bound fo far to hold Communion, even with the worst of Unbelievers, as not only to do them every Kind of Juftice, but fincerely to wifh, and, if Occafion offer, heartily endeavour their Good, both in Body and Soul. But to all, who have obtained the like precious Faith with our felves, we bear a still nearer Relation; as being, in a peculiar Senfe, Children of the fame Father, Difciples of the fame Mafter, animated by the fame Spirit, Members of the fame Body. And thefe Things oblige us to the utmost Care of preferving, by prudent Order and mutual Forbearance, as much Unity in the Church, as' poffibly we can. Such indeed, as obftinately deny the fundamental Doctrines, or tranfgrefs the fundamental' Precepts of Christianity, ought to be rejected from Chriftian Communion. But to renounce communicating with any others, who are willing to admit us to it on lawful Terms, is the Way to cut off ourselves, not them, from the Body of Chrift: who yet, we doubt not, will allow thofe on both Sides to belong to his Church, who, through pardonable Paffions or Mistakes, will not allow one another to do fo.
And as we should maintain Communion with all proper Perfons, we fhould fhew our Difpofition to it in all
y Heb. i. 14. a Matth. iv. 10. a Col. ii. 18.
b 2 Pet. i. I..
proper Ways: attend on the public Inftruction, join in the public Worship, Sacraments and Difcipline, which our Lord hath appointed; and keep the Whole of them pure from all forbidden, or fufpicious Alterations or Mixtures: avoid, with great Care, both giving and taking needlefs Offence, in refpect to thefe, or any Matters; and, by all fit Means, edify one another in Love: obeying thofe, who are fet over us; condefcending to those who are beneath us; esteeming and honouring the wife and virtuous; teaching and admonishing the ignorant and faulty; bearing with the weak, relieving the poor, and comforting the afflicted.
Nor have we Communion only with the Saints on Earth; but are of one City, and one Family, with fuch, as are already got fafe to Heaven. Doubtless they exercife that Communion towards us, by loving and praying for their Brethren, whom they have left behind them. And we are to exercife it towards them, not by addreffing Petitions to them, which we are neither authorized to offer, nor have any Ground to think they can hear; but by rejoicing in their Happiness, thanking God for the Grace which he hath beftowed on them, and the Examples which they have left us; holding their Memories in Honour, imitating their Virtues, and befeeching the Difpofer of all Things, that having fol-. lowed them in Holiness here, we may meet them in Happiness hereafter; and become, in the fulleft Senfe, Fellow-citizens with the Saints, and of the Houshold of God": having, with all thofe that are departed in the true Faith of his holy Name, our perfect Confummation and Blifs, both in Body and Soul, in his eternal and everlasting Glory, through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rom. xiv. 19. Eph. iv. 16.
Eph. ii. 19.
Article X. The Forgiveness of Sins.
E are now come to that Article of the Creed, for which all the preceding ones have been preparing the Way: a Doctrine, of the greateft Comfort to believe, and the utmost Danger to mifapprehend. I fhall therefore endeavour clearly to explain,
I. The Nature of Sin, its different Kinds, and its Guilt.
II. The Nature and Conditions of the Forgiveness promised to it.
I. The Nature of Sin. Both Men and all other Beings, endued with fufficient Reafon, must perceive a Difference between different Inclinations and Actions, of their own and others: in Confequence of which, they must approve fome, as right and good; and disap prove others, as wrong and evil. Now this Diftinction, which we are capable of feeing, God must fee as much more clearly, as his Understanding is more perfect than ours. Therefore he muft entirely love what is good, and utterly hate what is evil: and his Will must be, that all his rational Creatures fhould practise the former, and avoid the latter. This he makes known to be his Will, in fome Degree, to all Men, however ignorant, by natural Confcience; and hath more fully made known to us, by the Revelation of his holy World: wherein also, befides thofe Things, which we of ourselves might have known to be fit, he hath fignified his Pleasure, that we fhould obferve fome further Rules, which he knew to be ufeful and requifite, though we fhould otherwise not have difcerned it. Now the Will and Pleasure of a Perfon
Perfon having Authority, as God hath abfolute Authority, is, when fufficiently notified, a Law. Thofe Laws of his, which human Reason was able to teach us, are called natural or moral Laws: thofe, which he hath added to them, are called pofitive ones. Obedience to both Sorts is our Daty; Tranfgreffion of either is Sin: whether it be by neglecting what the Law commands, which is a Sin of Omiffion; or doing what it forbids, which is à Sin of Commiffion.
Further as God hath a Right to give us Laws, he must have a Right to punish us, if we break them. And we all of us feel inwardly, that Sin deferves this Punishment: which Feeling is what we call a Sense of Guilt. Some Sins have more Guilt, that is, deserve greater Punishment, than others: because they are either worfe in their own Nature; or accompanied with Circumftances, that aggravate, inftead of alleviating them. Thus if bad. Actions, known to be fuch, are done with previous Deliberation and Contrivance, which are called wilful or prefumptuous Sins; they are very highly cri minal. But if we do amifs in feme fmaller Matter, through Inconfideratenefs or other Weakness of Mind, or elfe through a fudden unforeseen Attack of Temptation; which are ufually called Sins of Infirmity or Surprife: thefe, though real, are yet lefs Offences. And if, lastly, we act wrong through invincible Ignorance, that is, have no Means of knowing better; then the Action is not, ftrictly speaking, a Fault in us, though it be in itself. But if we might, with a reasonable Attention, have known our Duty, and did not attend; we are justly blameable, even for a carelefs Ignorance, and full as much for a defigned one, as if we had known ever fo well.
Another Difference in the Kinds of Sins is this: that though they be only in fmaller Inftances; yet if Persons take fo little Pains to guard against them, that they live in a conftant or frequent Practice of them, which are called habitual Sins: the Guilt of these may be full as heavy as that of greater Tranfgreffions, provided they