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what concern God had, and what concern his creatures had in bringing about all the holiness and happiness of heaven. And it is of infinite importance, that the character and conduct of man and of all other intelligent beings, should be fully unfolded. For both the conduct of God and of his creatures will finally contribute to the supreme glory of God. It was no dimunition of Solomon's glory, that he built the temple, by the instrumentality of his own servants. And so it will be no diminution of the glory of God, that he had employed the agency of his creatures, to accomplish his wise and holy designs. Hence it follows, that God will, by the accomplishment of his predictions, promote his own glory, and the good of the universe, to the highest degree.
7. It appears from the design of prophecy, that it will throw the weight of the whole intelligent universe in favour of the friends, and in opposition to the enemies of God. Every event which ever has taken place, or ever will take place, will promote the happiness of the righteous, and the final misery of the unrighteous. Every person in the world stands inseparably connected with all holy and unholy beings, and must
, feel the weight of their influence, in their favour, or against them. Individuals have always felt the influence of publick favours, and publick evils, in this world, and this will be the case in the world to come. The final state of the holy, will sensibly and eternally affect the state of the unholy, and the final state of the unholy, will eternally affect the state of the holy. This being true, it is the most serious and important question that every person can put to himself, whether he is holy, or unholy. When all God's predictions are fulfilled, it will fix all mankind in an unchangeable state of holiness and happiness, or in an unchangeable state of unholiness, unhappinesss and misery. Divine predictions now hang over the world, containing vials of mercy, and vials of wrath ; and how soon their contents will be poured upon the world, we know not; but when they are, we shall feel them either in time or eternity.
I. CORINTHIANS xi. 19. For there must be also heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.
THOUGH the church of Corinth came behind no other church in respect to the variety and richness of spiritual gifts ; yet they were unhappily divided in their religious sentiments, which produced unchristian animosities and contentions, which the apostle entreats them to lay aside. Now, I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you ; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." Among other erroneous opinions and practices, he mentions, in the chapter that contains the text, their unworthy views and unchristian conduct respecting the sacrament of the Lord's supper. He says, “ Now in this, that I declare unto you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear there be divisions among you: and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Here the apostle first mentions divisions, and then also heresies ; which plainly implies, that heresies are distinct and different from divisions. Though divisions in a church may flow from heresies; yet they may flow from other causes. Both divisions and heresies have been in the christian church from the begin
ning, and the text intimates, that they must still be in the church. This then is the truth which now lies before us:
That it is necessary, that there should be heresies in the church of Christ. I shall,
I. Explain heresies; II. Show that they have been hitherto in the church of Christ;
III. Show in what sense it is necessary that they should be in the church of Christ; and,
IV. Show why they are necessary in the christian church.
I. Let us consider what heresy is. There are but two different opinions upon this subject. One is, that it means a schism in a church, or a bitter contention, which brings about an unhappy and unchristian separation. But the apostle in the text and in the verse before it, makes a distinction between divisions or separations, and heresies. After mentioning divisions, he adds, “ There must be also heresies.” By heresies, all denominations of christians mean such great errours and false doctrines, as they consider contrary to, and subversive of what they call the essential or fundamental doctrines of the gospel. The apostle, in his epistle to Titus, represents an heretick as a man who maintains and propagates corrupt and dangerous doctrines, and not as one, who is only contentious, and causes animosities and disputes in a church. “A man that is an heretick, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” An heretick avows his false and corrupt sentiments, so that the church have no occasion to prove that he is an heretick, but only to censure him for his heresy, he having condemned himself, by openly acknowledging and propagating his errours. The apostle gives the same description of hereticks in his epistle to the church of Galatia. "I marvel, that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some
that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” That is, let him be anathematized or excommunicated for his heresy. As there are various essential and fundamental errours which would pervert the gospel of Christ; so all these errours are so many heresies in a scripture sense. Though every errour is not a heresy; yet every errour which subverts the gospel is a heresy. Heresy essentially consists in any religious errours, which are inconsistent with, and subversive of any of the first principles of the oracles of God; and hereticks are those who openly avow and propagate such false and dangerous doctrines. I proceed to show,
II. That heresies have been in the christian church from the beginning. Though the church of Christ was planted by his apostles, who admitted none into it but Those who professed to believe and love the gospel sincerely ; yet very soon errour and heresy made their appearance among the professors of christianity. Immediately after the gospel was preached by Philip in Samaria, Simon the sorcerer professed to believe and embrace it; but he soon became an open enemy to christianity, and propagated the grossest heresies. Paul in his epistle to the Romans intimates, that there were hereticks in that church, and warns them to guard against their heretical opinions. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrines which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple.” These persons were deceivers, which is the proper character of hereticks, who are actuated by the spirit of the great deceiver. Our text assures us, that there were heresies in the church of Corinth. Paul admonishes the church of Ephesus “not to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” This implies, that there were hereticks, who propaga. ted heresies among the Ephesian church, and used every artifice to deceive and destroy. To the Philippians the apostle says, “ To write the same things to
• you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers." These were false teachers and dangerous hereticks. The apostle says to the Colossians, “ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him ; rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, as ye have been taught. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of man, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” This was an admonition againt hereticks and heresy, to which the Colossians were exposed. The apostle charges Timothy, “ to charge some that they preach no other doctrine, than he had preached.” And he assures him, that “ the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” He concludes his epistle by saying, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called : which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” In his second epistle to Timothy he says, “ Shun profane babblings : for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenedus and Philetus; who, concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” The apostle Peter says, “ There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies ; even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." And the apostle John mentions various dangerous and destructive delusions and heresies in the seven churches of Asia in his day. If we now consult ecclesiastical history, from the apostolick times