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From what has been said, it appears, not from our reafoning, but from the infallible word of God, that the welfare and happiness of nations depend upon their obedience to the laws of God and nature, and upon the restraint that is put upon vice and impiety, by such as are commissioned by God in his place.

And indeed, wherever God has placed any share of power and authority, it is for this very end- to keep the world in order, that he may not be provoked by their wickedness to fend his judgments upon them.

From hence also it follows, that the sins of private people become the fins of a whole nation, and are the cause of national judgments, when the guilty continue unpunished by those who should call them to an account.

It is for this reason that the government of England, at this very time,' has ordered, that certain abominable fins shall be prosecuted at the expence of the crown; concluding very truly, that when justice and judgment are duly executed upon wicked men, by such as have authority, God will not plague that nation, however he may punish particular offenders.

It behoves therefore every body, to whom God has imparted any share of his power and authority, from the king that sitteth upon the throne to the lowest; it behoves them, as they value the honour of God, the welfare of society, or their own salvation, to make use of In the year 1728.


that power to discountenance and to punish vice and impiety:

Now the authority which men have from God to restrain or punih fin, is either natural, ecclesiastical, or civil.

God has given parents a power over their own children and families; and a great deal they may do, if they have any grace themselves, towards reforming the world, by a sober and good example; by bringing up their children in the fear of God; by stifling the seeds of corrupt nature when they first begin to spring up; and, by falutary chastisements, making every degree of fin uneasy to them, until they shall be able to understand the danger of sin, with respect to another world.

And a fad account parents will have to make, if, instead of doing so, they suffer their children, as they grow in years, to grow in sin; and either by an evil example, or by furnishing them with means of nourishing their natural corruptions, they leave a generation behind them more wicked than themselves.

But when parents (as it happens too often) do prove thus unnatural to their own children, God in mercy has provided other means to instruct, and to reclaim them, if men are not extremely wanting to their duty.

And these are, first, bis Ministers, who are commissioned to teach, and to administer the means of grace and salvation to all such as are willing to receive them:


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And secondly, his Magistrates, who have their power from him to restrain and to punish such as will not be taught and governed by milder means, by the ministry of the word, and the discipline of the church.

It is certain, that the well-being of the world, if not its subsisting, depends upon the due and faithful exercise of these two powers. It will therefore be very proper to consider the duties both of those that are appointed by God to exercise these powers, and of those that are bound to obey them.

We will first consider the powers which God, by his Son Jesus Christ, has given to his Ministers, in order to regulate the manners of Christians, and to keep men from bringing ruin upon themselves by their wickedness.

Their commission is recorded by St. Matthew [ch. xxviii.] in these words: Go


faith our Lord to his apostles, and make disciples to me in all nations, baptisng them, and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo! I am with you alway even unto the end of the world; that is, with them and their successors.

Jesus Christ knew very well to what a perverse world he sent them; and therefore to guard them and his own authority and commission from contempt, he declares, that he will always look upon himself as injured, in the contempt any one shews to his ministers:

k Lake x. 16.


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He that despiseth you, despiseth me, and him that fent me.

But does their power consist in this only, to teach men their duty, and to set before them the terrors of the world to come, and so to leave them to themselves?--Very far from it. God has been more merciful to his

poor creatures; and knowing how subject men are to sin, to forfeit his favour, and to make themselves liable to his anger, both in this world and the next: he has therefore invested his ministers with the power of discipline; that is, with a power not only to exhort and to rebuke with all authority, but to put away from among Christians such as are an offence and a scandal to their profession, and to hinder them from ruining others. And he must be a person of a very prosane spirit, who would set" light by an ordinance which has God for its author, as Church Discipline most certainly has.

St. Paul's epiftles are an unquestionable proof of this; and the practice of the pure primitive church shewed how useful it was for the keeping the Christian world in some tolerable order.

The church of England (in her office of commination) passionately wishes, That this godly discipline may be restored; that notorious finners may be put to open penance, and punished in this world, that their fouls may be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, may be more afraid to offend.


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I Tim. v. 13.

This church, God be praised for it, is in possession of this discipline, in some good measure; and if, through the malice of the devil, and the perverseness of men, it has not always those saving effects which we could wish, and do pray for, this is no more an objection against the discipline of the church, than it is against christianity itself, or any of its ordinances, which are but too often abused by wicked men.

Must we therefore renounce christianity, and neglect its ordinances ? God forbid. Rather let us take more pains to make our people truly sensible of the blessing of christianity, and of the reason of that discipline, which is designed, under God, to preserve it. For example:

That the church is Christ's family; that all who are admitted into this family do solemnly promise to live as becomes so holy a fociety; that such as after this do become disorderly livers, and will not be reformed, ought to be turned out of the church, till they become sensible of their error; that while they obstinately continue in that condition, they are deprived of all the means of grace, and hopes of salvation."

That as sure as baptism is the gate of falvation, and a real blessing, so sure is excommunication a real punishment, and to be dreaded more than any temporal punishment on earth:

^ John vi. 53•


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m In the Isle of Man.

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