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uncontrollable power in the use and application of it, which must, of course, make them greatly powerful in other respects ; the bad consequences of which, surely, are too well known. The apostles and clergy, when they went out into the world to preach the gospel, must have proposed and expected success in the exercise of their miniftry, else the attempt to convert the people must have appeared vain to themselves; and though they had been taught to expect great opposition and ill usage in the discharge of their duty; yet that could be no bar to their just expectations of success, because they had God and his promise on their side; and Christ had assured them that he would be with them to the end of the world. And, as all that were discipled to Christ, and thereby became part of his family, were, according to the above constitution, to lodge the surplus of their fortunes in the hands of the apostles and clergy, who were the appointed guardians and managers of the Church's treasure ; fo, this must of neceffity have given them a fair prospect, as it gave them the opportunity, of drawing much wealth into their hands, whether great power should attend it, or not; I say, this

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must of necessity have been the case. And if we add to this, the very great influence the apostles and clergy must have had

upon the minds of the people, on account of that Special and extraordinary power they were intrusted with, viz. of remitting and retaining of Sins, John xx. 23. a power scarce fit to be trusted in human hands, confidering the frailty of human nature, from which the apostles themselves do not appear to have been exempt ; this power must have given the apostles and clergy a great command upon

the minds, and consequently upon the fortunes of the people ; for, if skin after skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life, then, what will a man give, or rather; what will he not give for the pardon of his sins and the saving of his soul? Tho' the influence of such power, upon

the minds and fortunes of the people, is best known in the church of Rome, with whom, it is said, that such power is still remaining. Besides, the mirds' of the disciples, at that time, must have been greatly intimidated, and they must, one would think, have been kept close to their duty, with regard to the aforesaid constitution, by the terrible example thewed upon Ananias

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and Sapphira for transgressing it. By this example, divine providence became, as it were, a Guarantee to the above constitution ; for who would venture to offend against it, if this were the case? And, indeed, the historian has observed, Asts. v. 11. that by this heavy judgment falling upon Ananias and Sapphira, great fear came upon all the church, and upon all that heard those things. According to this account, providence shewed a much greater concern and regard for the above constitution, than it did for the gospel itself: For, as to those who had greatly corrupted christianity, who had

perverted whole houses, teaching the things they ought not for filthy lucre fake; these went scot free, and would, no doubt, have efcaped divine vengeance, had they told twenty lyes to Ananias's one, provided the church's treasure was not affected thereby; whereas, the withholding from the church but a part of the surplus of a man's fortune, was like touching the apple of God's eye, if I allowed to use such a figure ; and therefore, was punished most severely in the instance referred to; as if the church's treasure was infinitely more valuable, and was much more worthy the care of providence, than the

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truth and purity of the gospel. From what is observed above, I think, it abundantly appears, that the constitution or scheme referred to, whoever was it's parent, was of most dangerous consequence, as the least knowledge of mankind does plainly shew. Long and constant experience has sufficiently evinced what a great share selfishness has in the direction of human actions, and in the conduct of human life ; and therefore, whatever good end might have been proposed to be obtained, in lodging the church's property in the hands of the apostles and clergy; yet that will by no means justify the introducing and setting up such a constitution ; because it was a trust greatly unfit to be lodged in human hands, considering the strong propenfity men are always under to abuse it, and the very bad things such abuse is usually productive of: This, I think, is most obvious, from the nature of the thing itself, exclusive of the event ; which, if that be taken into the account, then it is exemplified more abundantly; as it shews what immense wealth and power the christian clergy in after-times became masters of, by virtue, and in consequence of the above conftitution; and as it also shews what mischievous pur

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poses that wealth and power have been made to serve. From what is observed above, I think, 'it also appears how groundless the pretence must be, viz. that the apostles and ministers of Jesus Christ could have no worldly advantage in view when they went forth to preach the gospel ; whereas, nothing can be more evident, than that they had a fair prospect of, and a very plausible pretence for gathering great riches into their hands, as keepers and managers of the church's property or treasure. It may

be said, with equal propriety and justice, that Mr. Whitfield, when, in the exercise of his ministry, he collected the people's bounty, could have no worldly advantage in view, as to say this of the apostles and the christian ministry of the first age ; seeing there is as just a pretence' for one as the other. There is, indeed, some difference in the two cases; Mr. Whitfield, or his collectors, I apprehend, only held out the bason to the people, and received what was put therein, whether little or much; whereas, according to the above conftitution, a man was to deliver up all the furplus of his fortune to the apostles and clergy; else, whence came the enquiry after all in Ananias's case? I say, the above

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