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tent than one congregation; but this was by churches already constituted ; and it is extended to more congregations than one, on the occasion of their contributing to the relief of their brethren at Jerusalem. The churches of Macedonia consisted chiefly, if noe wholly, of Gentile believers : At this time they intended a fpecial act of communion with the Jews. How shall they accomplish it? They dedicate their persons unto the Lord, prior to the dedication of their substance for the relief of his people.

The manner in which they performed this duty. They gave it a first place, as a most proper prelude unto others; as it was a first, or principal duty:- -It was unexpected. The Apostle expected, indeed, that they should attend unto the preaching of the gospel, and

fubjection unto the spiritual authority of rules and rulers appointed by Christ in that state."-" 21. The same way for the erection of a church state, for the participation of the more excellent privileges of the gospel, and performance of the duties of it; for the fubitance of it is still continued, (viz. as under the Old Testament) For the constitution of fuch a fociety as a church is, entrusted with powers and privileges, by covenant, or mutual consent, with an engagement unto the performance of all the duties belonging to it,-hath its foundation in the light of nature, fo far as it hath any thing in common with other voluntary relations and societies ; was instituted by God himself, as the way and means of erecting the chnrch state of the Old Testament; and confifteth in the performance of such duties as are expressly required by all believers."True Nature of a Gospel Church, chap. ii.

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the administration of the facraments of Baptisin and the Lord's Supper; but, as these churches had been lately erected, and, as their members had covenanted at their adımillion unto special privileges, he did not expect a renovation of them at this time. Nevertheless, it met with divine approbation. It was done ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD. THE WILL OF God is the reason of duty,—a valid reason unto every conscientious person: The WILL OF GOD is the rule and measure of dutty,—even his revealed will in his word. Little, if any, of the New Testament had been written when this duty was performed: The canon of it, at least, was by no means settled. But they had abundant notice of his will, as to this duty, in the Old Testament: And they never dreamed but gospel churches were built upon the foundation of the PROPHETS, as -well as that of the APOSTLES.

2. I HAVE another reason for concluding that the engagements of Christians in the Apoftolic Churches were, on proper occasions, renewed; and that is, The Testimony of Martyrs. Every martyr is, upon the matter, a covenant

hen persons were brought to martyrdom, they gave not only an explicit testimony, for which they suffered, but their adherence was frequently repeated, and publicly avowed.

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IN

the foregoing Dissertations I have been

able to authenticate the facts I have narrated by inspired history. In the following, I mult content myself with such evidence as can be produced from the monuments of uninspired antiquity, taken in connection withi Scripture prophecy, relating to the times to which there memoirs do refer. The period under consideration has fewer monuments of the historical kind than others which might be mentioned,

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indeed;

indeed; but those which exist are genuine, and less enveloped in fable, than those of the following centuries, which were forged in the dark reign of monkish superstition and fallehoods; having apostolic men, for some time, as living members; so they had a more sacred regard for apostolic institutions, and kept nigher the pattern shewed in the mount. We have not related any of their deeds, as of equal authority with the example of inspired persons ; or as of any authority at all, farther than they exemplify divine institutions. But in so far as they acted

up,
in

any measure, unto the facred standard, their example is worthy of our imitation. It becomes us to tread in the foot. steps of the flock. The plan we design to purfue is,-). To furvey the Creeds, Confessions, and Covenants which took place during the time we have specified.--II. The Circumstances of the Church, which rendered these fit and feasonable.-III. The Natural and Actual tendency of such Transactions.

FIRST, I must survey the CREEDS, ConFESSIONS, and COVENANTS which obtained in the three first centuries of the Christian Church, immediately after the apostolic age. This province has been cultivated by many; but few have attended to it with that diligence and industry which the importance of the subject demands. Their labours, however, have been serviceable in this inatter. I noticed al

ready

ready, that the pastors of particular churches formed creeds unto such as submitted unto their ministry: Hence, we need not greatly wonder, if we find some verbal difference among them, while they were materially and substantially the same. It is our purpose to insert as literal a translation as possible of such creeds as have come to hand, fubjoining the original in the notes; so that the intelligent reader may judge for himself as to the justice and propriety of it *.

IREN AUS gives us the first composition, which bears, the name of a creed, to the following purpose: “ For, although the Church be diffufed over all the world, yet she received from the Apostles, and their disciples, the Faith in one God the Father, Almighty, the maker

• Prior to Irenæus, we have a fummary of faith which some style a Creed, others not, given by Ignatius. Tho' it does not bear the form of one, yet I have thought proper here to insert Bishop Wake's translation of it; as it is the same in fubstance with some others acknowleged to be creeds : “ Stop your ears therefore, as often as any one shall speak contrary to Jesus Christ; who was of the race of David, of the Virgin Mary. Who was truly born, and did eat and drink ; was truly perfecuted under Pontius Pilate; was truly crucified and dead; both those in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, being fpectators of it: Who was also truly raised from the dead by his father, after the same manner as he will also raise up us who believe in him, by Christ Jesus ; without whom we have no true life.” IGNATIUS's Epistle to the Trallians, chap. ix. Edit. 4. by Bishop Wake, London, 1737 Cc cc 2

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