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ESSAY

ON THE

CHURCH.

CHAPTER I.

OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE WORLD

AND THE CHURCH; WITH THE NATURE

AND CHARACTER OF BOTH SOCIETIES.

Two

WO things of a contrary nature are best understood when they are placed near to one another, or compared together in the mind. The summer is better understood, and more to be valued, when we compare it with the winter; a season in which so many comforts are wanting, which the summer affords us. The blessings of government are more acceptable,

when

VOL. IV.

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when compared with the miseries of anarchy. We have the like advantage, when we compare together the church and the world, those two societies of which we are members : of the world by our natural birth; of the church by our spiritual birth in baptism. When we are admitted into the christian covenant, we renounce this world as a wicked world, and become members of the church, which is called the holy church. Both these societies are influential on those who belong to them; the one corrupts, the other sanctifies: therefore it is of the last importance to mankind to consider and understand the difference between them.

If we ask, why the world is called wicked, we shall find it to be such from the nature and manners of its inhabitants: for the world, as it means the system of the visible creation, can have no harm in it. There can be no wickedness, where there is no moral agency nor freedom of action,

From the sin of Adam, and the effects of his fall, the state of man by nature is a state of sin. The scripture is so express in this, that it is not necessary to insist upon it. A disposition to evil comes into the world with every man, and is as a seed, which brings forth its fruit throughout the course of his life. Many eyil passions disturb and agitate his mind; and from the ignorance or darkness which prevails in him; he know's not that he is to resist them in order to his

disturb those

peace and happiness; nor hath he ability so to do, if he did know it. The worst and the most violent of all his passions is pride, which affects superiority, and delights in vain shew and

pompous distinction; whether it be that of wealth, or honour, or wisdom. Covetousness disposes him to take all he can to himself, and pay no regard to the wants of others; whence the state of nature is a state of war, in which men plunder and destroy one another; not knowing the way of peace, which consists only with restraint, and must be taught them from above; the way of peace have they not known, saith the scripture.

Man knows all things by education, but nothing by nature, except, as the Apostle saith, what he knoweth naturally as a brute beast. The world, as we see it now, is under the restraint of laws, which in some countries are better in themselves and better executed than in others: but if there were no laws and no governments to execute them, then we should see what a scene of destruction and misery this world would be, through the sinfulness of man's nature. Fraud, rapine, and cruelty, DD 2

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those three dreadful monsters, make strange havock amongst us, notwithstanding the laws and regulations of society: what then would this world be without them?

With respect to God, the state of man is a state of rebellion, alienation, and condemnation. His ways are so opposite to the will of God, that he is said to be at enmity with him. He has no alliance with his Maker, either as a child, a subject, or a servant; but being under a general law of disobedience, can inherit nothing from God but wrath and punishment.

You will see this account verified by the plainest declarations of the scripture.—First, as to the enmity of the world against God. If the world hate you, saith our Lord when he came to save it, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Secondly, as to their alienation or departure from all alliance with him-you that were some time alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works; saith St. Paul, Col. i. 21: and again, speaking of the natural state of the Ephesians before their conversion, he describes them as aliens and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. In which

passage,

there is something farther than appears from the sound of the words; for when we read, with

out

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out God in the world, the words, in the world, are emphatical, and denote this wicked world, such as we have been describing it, of which they that are members must of course be witha out God, and without hope: they belong to a society which knows him not.

Then, thirdly, that the world is under condemnation; we are chastened of the Lord, saith St. Paul, that we should not be condemned with the world: whence it is evident, that the world, as such, is under condemnation, and can expect nothing of God, but punishment for sin.

We are now prepared to take a review of this society called the world. It is composed of men lost by the fall; disposed to all manner of evil; ignorant of the way

of

peace; at enmity with God, and with one another; delighting themselves in the pride of appearance, and the vanity of distinction. In a word, the whole world lieth in wickedness, and they that are condemned for sin will be condemned with the world, whose condemnation, therefore, isą thing of course. What human philosophy may say of this description of the world, we are not to regard: if it is the description which stands in the Holy Scripture, we are not to consider what men may say of it. A proud world will

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never

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