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1 THESSALONIANS ii. 4.
But as we were allowed of God to be put in truft with the gospel, even fo we speak, not as pleafing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
HEN we compare ourselves with
WH the primitive Chriftians, we are
obliged to confefs, that, in every
refpect, we fall greatly fhort of their attainments. We feem to be creatures of a lower rank, incapable of reaching the same degree of perfection with them: And indeed it is to be fufpected, that through a falfe and vicious modefty, we look upon these ancient worthies as examples which, though we ought to imitate, we can never hope to equal. Hence we reft satisfied with
distant resemblance we can attain, thinking that if we are not altogether unlike
to them, it is all that a modern Chriftian can expect.
This is a grofs and most pernicious miftake. The gate of heaven is no wider now than it was feventeen hundred years ago. The law of God extends as far as it did when the Apostles lived; and I know of no indulgence granted to us which did not exift in the earliest times of Christianity. The church of Rome indeed hath taught, that fome eminent Chriftians have done more than was ftrictly neceffary for their own falvation. But no fuch doctrine is to be found in Scripture: Nay, on the contrary, we are told, that when we have done all, we are still unprofitable fervants, and have done no more than what was our duty to do. To this day, therefore, we are bound to the fame ftrictnefs and purity, to the fame mortification and felf-denial, to the fame zeal and stedfastness, which distinguished the primitive Christians; and it is impoffible to devise any excufe for our degeneracy from their bright example. example. They were all men of like paffions with ourselves; they had the fame corrupt nature to strive