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Rule iii. Earnest striving and contending, in all lawful ways, by doing and suffering, for the purity of the ordinances, honour, liberty, and privileges of the congregation, being jointly assistant against opposers and common adversaries.

Jude 3, “And exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Heb. xii. 3, 4, “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

1 John iii. 16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Gal. v. 1, 13, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.”

1 Cor. vii. 23, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”

Cant. vi. 4, “Thou art beautiful, O my love; … terrible as an army with banners.”

1 Pet. iii. 15,” Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Explication iii. The former rule concerned our dealing with God in the behalf of the church; this, our dealing with men. To the right performance hereof many things are required; as, —

1. Diligent labouring in the word, with fervent prayer, to acquaint ourselves with the mind and will of God concerning the way of worship which we profess, and the rules of walking which we desire to practice, that so we may be able to give an account to humble inquirers, and stop the mouths of stubborn opposers. According to our knowledge, such will be our valuation of the ordinances we enjoy. A man will not contend unless he know his title.

2. An estimation of all the aspersions cast on and injuries done 66to the church to be Christ’s, and also our own, — Christ wounded through the sides of his servants, and his ways. And if we are of his, though the blow light not immediately on us, we are not without pain; all such reproaches and rebukes fall on us.

3. Just vindication of the church against calumnies and false imputations. Who can endure to hear his parents in the flesh falsely traduced? and shall we be senseless of her reproaches who bears us unto Christ?

4. Joint refusal of subjection, with all gospel opposition, to any persons or things which, contrary to or beside the word, under what name soever, do labour for power over the church, to the abridging of it of any of those liberties and privileges which it claimeth as part of the purchase of Christ.

To them that would inthral us we are not to give place, no not for an hour.

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