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the invisible world, that is, persecution and death, shall not prevail against his church *, so neither shall any other power. Nothing shall abolish it; though several things may obscure and corrupt it. That sin doth, we see why then may not error too? It is certainly not a worse thing: nor is our Saviour's promise a greater security against the one, than the other. He requires us indeed to hear the church. But in what case? If thy brother trespass against thee, admonish him privately. This relates then, not to disputed speculative opinions, but to known practical transgressions against our neighbour. If he neglect private admonition, tell it unto the church. Not surely to the whole catholic church all over the world; that is impossible 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 publicant: treat him no longer with the tenderness and regard, that is due to a Christian; but consider him in the same light with an infidel sinner, till he makes reparation. This rule therefore by no means proves the infallibility, even of the universal church, and much less of the Romish, which is far from universal: but relates to a matter entirely different. And it still remains true, that professing to believe in the holy catholic church, is only acknowledging that Christ hath formed the whole number of his followers, under him their head, into one regular and sacred body, or society, to last for ever; the unity and holiness of which Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17.

* Matt. xvi. 18.

is to be carefully preserved by what the latter part of this article specifies.

The communion of saints. The word saints, is of the same meaning with the word holy; and therefore comprehends all Christians, in the manner which I have just explained. Having communion, is being entitled to partake of benefits and kindnesses, and bound to make suitable returns for them. And thus

Christians, or saints, have communion or fellowship with the Father, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift: with his Son Jesus Christ *, through whom forgiveness and mercy is conveyed to us: with the Holy Ghost, whose sanctifying graces are conferred on such as duly qualify their hearts for the reception of them. And for these blessings we owe all thankfulness and all duty in thought, word, and deed. Christians have also communion with the holy angels; as these are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister 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 acknowledgements: nor ought we to make any general ones, by outward expressions of respect; since worshipping God alone is commanded ‡, and worshipping angels condemned § in Scripture.

With respect to those of our own nature, we are bound so far to hold communion, even with the worst of unbelievers, as not only to do them every kind of justice, but sincerely to wish, and, if occasion offer, heartily endeavour their good, both in body and soul. But to all, who have obtained the like precious faith


1 John i. 3. James i. 17.
Matth. iv. 10.

+ Heb. i. 14.

$ Col. ii. 18.

with ourselves *, we bear a still nearer relation; as being in a peculiar sense, children of the same Father, disciples of the same Master, animated by the same Spirit, members of the same body. And these things oblige us to the utmost care of preserving, by prudent order and mutual forbearance, as much unity in the church, as possibly we can. Such indeed, as obstinately deny the fundamental doctrines, or transgress the fundamental precepts of Christianity, ought to be rejected from Christian 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 Christ: who yet, we doubt. not, will allow those on both sides to belong to his church, who, through pardonable passions or mistakes, will not allow one another to do so.

And as we should maintain communion with all proper persons, we should shew our disposition to it in all proper ways: attend on the public instruction, join in the public worship, sacraments, and discipline, which our Lord hath appointed; and keep the whole of them pure from all forbidden or suspicious alterations or mixtures: avoid with great care, both giving and taking needless offence, in respect to these, or any matters; and, by all fit means, edify one another in love + obeying those who are set over us; condescending to those who are beneath us; esteeming and honouring the wise 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 such as are already got safe to heaven. Doubtless they Rom. xiv. 19. Eph. iv. 6.

* 2 Pet. i. 1.

exercise that communion towards us by loving and praying for their brethren, whom they have left behind them. And we are to exercise it towards the. not by addressing 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 bestowed on them, and the examples which they have left us; holding their memories in honour, imitating their virtues, and beseeching the Disposer of all things, that having followed them in holiness here, we may meet them in happiness hereafter; and become in the fullest sense, fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God *; having with all those that are departed in the true faith of his holy name, our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in his eternal and everlasting glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen †.

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Article X. The Forgiveness of Sins.

We are now come to that article of the Creed, for which all the preceding ones have been preparing the way: a doctrine of the greatest comfort to believe, and the utmost danger to misapprehend. I shall 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.

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I. The nature of sin. Both men and all other beings, endued with sufficient reason, must perceive a difference between different inclinations and actions, of their own and others: in consequence of which, they must approve some, as right and good; and disapprove others, as wrong and evil. Now this distinction, which we are capable of seeing, God must see as much more clearly, as his understanding is more perfect than ours. Therefore he must intirely love what is good, and utterly hate what is evil and his will must be, that all his rational creatures should practise the former, and avoid the latter. This he makes known to be his will, in some degree,

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