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both they who faithfully preach the Gospel, and they who sincerely embrace it, may be afsured. Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the End of the World. Amen.

Amongst Men, chusing to be with any one is not only a natural Consequence of having a Regard for him, but, on many important Occasions, a necessary Means of Thewing that Regard to his Advantage. In Condescension therefore to common Language, God, though present every where, is described in holy Writ as peculiarly drawing nigh unto, being, and dwelling with, those, who by a Temper and Conduct of Piety and Virtue intitle themselves to his Love and fatherly Care : whereas he is represented as departing from Persons of a contrary Character, not vouchsafing to look upon them, or beholding them afar off, till he returns to execute Judgement on them. Of this Kind is the Manner of Speech used in the Text: where our blessed Lord, being about to leave the World, and go unto the Father, tells his Followers, that though his visible and bodily Presence was to be withdrawn very soon, he should be still as really present upon Earth, as ever : not only seeing, but watching, directing, and defending them continually. And there

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fore, notwithstanding St. Matthew thought fit to abstain from fubjoining in his Gospel any Words of his own to these most folemn ones of our Saviour, yet his Ascent into Heaven is almost as well understood by them, as if it had been expressly related.

This gracious Promise was doubtless immediately, and in the first Place, made to the Apostles. But as the Use, for which it was made, is perpetual ; and the Term, for which it is expressed to be made, cannot possibly be confined to themselves; but must signify either, as we translate it, to the End of the World, or to the End of the Gospel Age, which is to last as long as the World ; it must necessarily be extended to those, who should at any Time succeed the Apostles in teaching the Faith and Duties of Christianity. And since the Presence of Christ with the Teachers of his Religion is designed for the Benefit of those, who are taught it: therefore all such, in all Ages, have a Share in the Assurance of the Text. Accordingly, in many Places of Scripture, the Presence, not only of the Son of God, but of the Father and Holy Spirit, is promised to every true Believer without Exception. St. Paul declares, If any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, be is

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none of his '. And Christ himself declares, If a Man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our Abode with him.

If then, as the Church of Rome pretends, fuch Expressions as these convey a Promise of Infallibility, or Security of not departing from the right Faith, to their Church, or any Perfon or Persons in it; they convey the same to every Church, and

every

Person in it. But our Saviour's Declaration is, not that any one or more Churches may not, if they will, intirely throw off the Faith ; and even all Churches, as well as all Men, fall both into

Errors and many Sins : but that this shall never happen through his forsaking them, but their forfaking him : and that, how great foever the Apostacy of the latter Times may be, (as St. Paul hath foretold it should be a very grievous one v ;) how much foever at any Time the Church of Christ may be obscured, it shall never be extinguished : for it must continue to the End of the World, fince he hath promised to be with it to the End of the World. In different Ages he is present to it in different Manners, as the Circumstances of • Rom. viii. 9. John xiv. 23.

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each require. His Apostles he directed by Inspiration into all Truth : and strengthened them with Power to work Miracles in Confirmation of it. When Religion, by their Means, was known and proved sufficiently, these extraordinary Effects of his Presence gradually ceased : but those, which remained still needful, were still experienced. And to this Day, wherever his Ministers teach Men to believe and do what he hath commanded, there be is alway with them : and wherever two or three of his Difciples are gathered together in his Name, there be is in the Midst of them w: protecting his whole Church, and every Member of it, outa wardly against their temporal Enemies to such Degree, as infinite Wisdom sees to be fit; and inwardly against their spiritual ones, so that nothing, but their own wilful Sins and Perseverance in them, shall hazard the Salvation of any one of them. But fo far as Men allow themselves to teach, believe, or practise, contrary to his Commands, they forfeit their Title to his gracious Presence, which evidently depends on their Obedience to those .Commands. And consequently no Set of Men in the World have a Right to argue, as the Ro

w. Matth. xviii. 20.
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manists would fain do; that Christ hath promised to be with his Church for ever; and therefore their Church, or the Majority of the whole. Church, can teach only what he appointed they should. But ours is a very just Way of arguing ; that we teach what Christ appointed we should, and therefore we are a Part of his Church, with which he hath mised to be for ever. For that our Doctrines are Catholic, however the Romanists have stolen the Name, we are bold to say, and fully able to prove : on this Account we have nothing to fear, Could we but say as much of our Lives too, then all were well.

But alas, though they have little Cause on Comparison to reproach us in this Respect, we have much Cause to reproach ourselves. The Number of professed Christians amongst us indeed is large : yet even that is lessening. But the Number of such as are truly Christians, and behave like Christians-What shall we say of this ? May God, who commanded the Light to Shine out of Darkness, cause the Light of his Gospel to shine more effectually into the Hearts of Men *, and brighten the very dark Prospect there is before us concerning spiritual Matters;

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* 2 Cor. iv. 6.

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