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in neglecting to profess their faith and love, and to bind themselves to obedience. The more upright and amiable they appear, the more they injure the cause of God and the souls of men, by the weight and influence of their criminal example. There are no persons, perhaps, whose example the world more applaud, and are more fond of employing in excuse and justification of their own faulty negligence. It highly concerns these persons in particular, to prepare the way of the Lord, by giving up themselves to him and his people in a perpetual covenant. If they would come out from the world, and appear against them, ihey would carry conviction to their consciences, and awaken them to flee from the wrath to come. It has always been found that professing religion and entering into covenant with God, has had a greater effect than almost any other scene or circumstance, to awaken and alarm the careless and secure. And do the negligent subjects of special grace believe this to be true? And can they, with any inward peace and comfort, still continue to neglect a duty so important to themselves, to others, and to the cause of Christ?
4. It appears from what has been said, that some who have long entertained a hope of being the subjects of special grace, must soon give up their hope, if they continue to neglect joining the church. A well grounded hope of the grace of God, has, in all ages and in all places, led the subjects of such a hope to join themselves to the Lord and to his people. And if the hope of any does not produce this effect, have they not reason to fear that their hope is built on a false and sandy foundation, and ought to be given up? They have reason to fear that they have mistaken nature for grace, and that they are still in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. If this be the case of any, their duty is plain and important, to renounce their self righteousness and self dependence, and cast themselves upon the unpromised mercy of God, and sincerely to commit their spiritual and eternal concerns to his wise and sovereign disposal.
Finally, it appears from the whole tenor of this discourse, that it highly concerns those who have entered into covenant with God, to be steadfast in his covenant, and persevere in universal obedience. The bond by which they have freely and voluntarily bound themselves, is extremely solemn, and infinitely and perpetually binding. It is death to go back from following the Lord, and it is highly displeasing to him, to become weary in well doing. If you do not forsake him, he will never leave nor forsake you, but punctually fulfil the great and precious promises that he has made to you, and bound himself by an oath to fulfil. Trust in him, and he will keep you in perfect peace.
SERMON LXX VIII.
THE MODE AND SUBJECTS OF CHRISTIAN BAPTISM.
AND when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house
and abide there. — ACTS, xvi. 15.
The right of private judgment in matters of religion, is better secured to us than to any other people in the world. We have the privilege of forming and of propagating our own religious sentiments, without the least restriction. Every man, in this country, may think what he pleases, and speak what he thinks, concerning the duties and doctrines of religion. This great and distinguishing privilege, however, is extremely liable to abuse. It opens the door as wide to error as to truth, and affords an ample opportunity of diffusing, far and wide, the most absurd and pernicious doctrines. But every person of candor and discernment must clearly perceive, that it is much better to suffer the abuse of religious liberty than to suffer the loss of it. We ought, therefore, to give to others all the freedom which we wish to take to ourselves. If we take the liberty of differing from others, we ought to allow others the liberty of differing from us. Or, if we assume the right of separating from others, we ought to indulge others in assuming and enjoying the same right.
On this catholic and pacific principle, I have very rarely, in the course of twenty years, said any thing in public concerning the peculiar tenets of our Baptist brethren. They have assumed the right of separating from us; and we have no right to disturb them in the quiet enjoyment of their religious liberty. But, if they call our opinion and practice in question, we may, without giving the least ground of offence, take the liberty of defending VOL. V.