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darkness to cover the earth, and thick darkness the people.

2. It appears from the nature and tendency of heresy, that a church composed of real christians, ought to censure and reject any of their members who embrace it. Many suppose, that a church have no right to censure and excommunicate professors of religion for mere heresy. They say, that every one has the right of private judgment, and does not stand amenable for any religious sentiments, which he chooses to adopt, to any human tribunal. They say, that no church can distinguish errour from truth, and consequently cannot determine whether any man is an heretick, or not. But these are groundless objections against censuring and condemning men for heresy. Heresy has been explained to consist in essential errours. And it is as easy to determine what essential errours are, as to determine what essential truths are. Any errour is essential errour, that opposes or denies an essential truth. So that there may be as many essential errours as there are essential doctrines of the gospel. And if a christian church can determine what are essential doctrines of the gospel, then they can determine what heresy is, which consists in the denial of the essential doctrines of the gospel. And though every member of a church has the right of private judgment, yet he has no right to judge wrong, and embrace errours, which would pervert and destroy the gospel. Heresy is as plain and sure an index of a man's character, as immorality. As immorality flows from a corrupt heart, so does heresy. Let a catalogue of essential truths be presented to one member of a church, and a catalogue of essential errours be presented to another member of the church. And if the first embraces the catalogue of truths presented to him; and the second embraces the catalogue of errours, presented to him; the church would then have as just ground to judge, that he who embraced the catalogue of errours was an enemy to Christ and the gospel; as to judge that he who embraced the catalogue of truths

was a friend to Christ and the gospel. It is with the heart, that a man believes and loves the gospel; and it is with the heart, that a man disbelieves and rejects the gospel. He that professes to believe and love the essential doctrines of the gospel, is a visible christian; and he that professes to disbelieve and hate the essential doctrines of the gospel is a visible heretick; and such a visible heretick is a visible enemy to all righteousness, whom the church ought to censure, and exclude from their christian fellowship and communion. Hence says the apostle, "an heretick after the first and second admonition reject." Not only the nature, but the tendency of heresy shows that hereticks ought to be shut out of a christian church. For they are not only unworthy, but corrupt members, who are disposed to corrupt and destroy the church. And in reference to such persons the apostle says, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." A church cannot discharge their duty to Christ, nor to themselves, nor to hereticks, unless they exclude them from their christian communion and fellowship.


3. If it be one design of God in continuing heresies, to distinguish real christians from false and erroneous professors; then there is a palpable impropriety and absurdity, in attempting to unite those together in christian harmony and communion, who differ essentially in their religious sentiments. Many, at this day, are zealously engaged to bring about a coalition, harmony, and connection among almost all, who profess the christian name, though they widely differ in their opinions respecting the great and important doctrines of the gospel. It is, indeed, much to be desired, that all denominations of christians should be brought to believe, and love, and profess the first principles of the oracles of God. But it is not to be desired, that they should visibly unite, while they are visibly disunited upon the most important religious subjects. Such a union would imply something more than mutual charity and condescension to each other; it would imply a mutual combination in errour. It would be practically

saying to each other, if you will allow us to err from the truth, we will allow you to err from the truth. Can this be the proper way to answer the wise purpose of God in continuing the existence of heresies? He says that they must exist, that those whom he approves may be made manifest, and distinguished from those whom he disapproves and condemns. The promiscuous union and harmony among those, who hold diametrically opposite sentiments, has a direct tendency to prevent making manifest the real difference between orthodox and heterodox christians, and is calculated to spread errours, heresies, and moral corruption through the whole christian world. This the most erroneous and lax professors of christianity know, and therefore have been the most forward and bold in proclaiming their unbounded catholicism and charity towards all who differ from them in their religious opinions. Those who believe and love the pure and important doctrines of the gospel, are willing to be made manifest, and to be known and distinguished from those, who dislike and despise and reproach the most precious and important principles of the christian religion. It is, therefore, very unwise and criminal in the sincere professors of religion, whom God approves, to unite with those who are ashamed of the gospel, and wish to hide their heterodoxy, among the conflicting and undetermined sentiments of the more popular denominations. Sincere christians need to be upon their guard against those, who, by their good words and fair speeches, would persuade them to unite harmoniously with concealed hereticks and real infidels, who would either corrupt their sentiments, or obstruct their spiritual edification and growth in grace. Nor will such a union be injurious to themselves only, but be injurious to the cause of Christ in general, and tend to spread errour and heresy through the world.

4. It appears from what has been said, that when fatal errours and heresies greatly prevail, that then is a time when God is about to purge and purify the church and make manifest those who are approved among

the professors of religion. He has told us, that it is one of his good purposes, to make manifest those whom he approves, by the means of heresies. And it is easy to see, that heresies naturally tend to draw a visible line of distinction between true and false professors in the churches of Christ. There is now a trying time among his followers. Those who are with him and for him, will gather with him, while those who are against him will scatter abroad. God has always produced his designed effect, by errours, heresies, and delusions. This was the case, when Jeroboam corrupted the ten tribes by his idolatries and delusions. He drew together all the corrupt part of the Jewish Church, and made manifest the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, whom God accepted, approved, and blessed for ages. Errour and heresy had arrived to their highest pitch, in Luther's day, when God overruled errour and heresy as means of bringing about a great and general separation between the corrupt, and uncorrupt branches of the christian church. And the separation between Protestants and Roman Catholicks has continued to this day, and produced the happiest effects among the nations of the earth. Errour and heresy had risen to an enormous height in England, when they were instrumental in bringing about the memorable separation between dissenters, and the heretical clergy in the established church; the happy influence of which separation, we in this country have always felt and still feel. God's designin heresies, is not to unite, but disunite pure churches from those who are corrupt; and to purge the pure churches from their corrupt members. God now appears to be indicating his purpose of separating the precious from the vile, those whom he approves from those whom he disapproves, by the flood of errours, heresies, and delusions, which are overflowing the land. It is now a fanning and winnowing, a purging and purifying time among the churches. God has for years been sifting other nations, and is now sifting our nation with the sieve of vanity, to make manifest those whom he approves. It is a time, not to unite with,

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but to separate from the erroneous and corrupt. friends of truth are loudly called upon to show and exert themselves in the cause of truth; and in opposition to all heresies, errours, and delusions. Hereticks are employing all their learning, ingenuity, and subtilty, to spread heresy and errour among all the pure churches, who seem to be asleep and insensible of their danger. It becomes them to awake and stand fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ has made them free, and not be "tossed nd fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in ait to deceive."

5. We learn from what has been said, the importance of ministers preaching the gospel fully and plainly. If the gospel had always been preached fully and plainly, it is hard to conceive how heresies and fatal errours should have abounded so much every age, and in every part of the world. The great and essential truths of the gospel approve themselves to every man's reason and conscience in the sight of God. And where they are fully and plainly taught, men are constrained to see and feel their weight and importance, and the absurdity of believing and embracing errours, which are diametrically opposite to them. When the pure and essential doctrines of the gospel are fully and plainly taught, they cannot fail to make manifest the falsehood and absurdity of every fatal errour and heresy. But if the gospel be not fully and plainly preached, it will naturally lead men into the most fatal errours by enabling them to pervert the gospel, and to employ it to All nominal prove and sanction the worst of errours. christians who run into the greatest errours and delusions, always employ the gospel to support their false doctrines. But if the gospel were fully and plainly preached, every one would perceive, that there is not a text in the bible, which countenances, approves, or supports any religious errour that ever was believed, or propagated. It is the indispensable duty of ministers to declare all the counsel of God, and to explain and prove all the great and fundamental truths of the

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