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Rule xi. Cheerfully to undergo the lot and portion of the whole church, in prosperity and affliction, and not to draw back upon any occasion whatever.

Matt. xiii. 20, 21, “He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”

Heb. x. 23–25, 32–39, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

2 Tim. iv. 10, 16, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world … At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”

Explication xi. Backsliding from the practice of any way of Christ or use of any ordinances, taken up upon conviction of his institution, is in no small degree an apostasy from Christ himself.

Apostasy, in what degree soever, is attended with all that aggravation which a renunciation of a tasted sweetness and goodness from God for transitory things can lay upon it. Seldom it is that backsliders are without pretences. Commonly of what they forsake, in respect of what they pretend to retain, they say, as Lot of Zoar, “Is 80it not a little one?” But yet we see, without exception, that such things universally tend to more ungodliness. Every unrecovered step backward from any way of Christ maketh a discovery of falseness in the heart, whatever former pretences have been.

They who, from motives of any sort, for things that are seen, which are but temporal, will seek for, or embrace, being presented, colours or pretences for declining from any gospel duty, will not want them for the residue, if they should be tempted thereunto.

The beginnings of great evils are to be resisted. That the neglect of the duty whereof we treat, — which is always accompanied with contempt of the communion of saints, — hath been a main cause of the great dishonour and confusion whereinto most churches in the world are fallen, was in part touched before; it being a righteous thing with God to suffer the sons of men to wax vain in their imaginations, in whom neither the love of Christ nor terror of the Lord can prevail against the fear of men.

Let this, then, with the danger and abomination of backsliding, make such an impression on the hearts of the saints, that with full “purpose of heart they might cleave unto the Lord,” and “follow hard after him,” in all his ordinances; so that if persecution arise, they may cheerfully “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth;” and, by their close adhering one to another, receive such mutual assistance and supportment, as that their joint prayers may prevail with the goodness of God, and their joint sufferings overcome the wickedness of men.

Now, to a close adhering to the church wherein we walk in fellowship, in all conditions whatsoever, without dismission attained upon just and equitable grounds, for the embracing of communion in some other churches. Motives are, —

1. The eminency and excellency of the ordinances enjoyed.

2. The danger of backsliding, and evidence of unsoundness in every degree thereof.

3. The scandal, confusion, and disorder of the churches, by neglect thereof.

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