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hear against it, as imprudent and irregular. And to tell the truth, the cry of irregularity and imprudence has been much more in the mouths of those that have been enemies to the main of the work than others; for they have watched for the halting of the zealous, and eagerly catched at any thing that has been wrong, and have greatly insisted on it, made the most of it and magnified it; especially have they watched for errors in zealous preachers, that are much in reproving and condemning the wickedness of the times : they would therefore do well to consider that scripture, Isa. xxix. 20, 21: “The scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity, are cut off, that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” They have not only too much insisted on, and magnified real errors, but have very injuriously charged them as guilty, in things wherein they have been innocent, and have done their duty. This has so prejudiced the minds of some, that they have been ready to think that all that has been said about errors and imprudences, was injurious and from an ill spirit; and has confirmed them in it, that there is no such thing as any prevailing impruGlences; and it has made the best cantious and suspicious of themselves, lest they should err, Herein the devil has had an advantage put into his hands, and has taken the advantage; and, doubtless, has been too subtle for some of the true friends of religion. That would be a strange thing indeed, if in so great a commotion and revolution, and such a new state of things, wherein so many have been engaged, none have been guilty of any imprudence ; it would be such a revival of religion, as never was yet, if among so many men, not guided by infallible inspiration, there had not been prevailing a pretty many notable errors in judgment and conduct; our young preachers, and young converts, must in general vastly exceed Luther, the head of the reformation, who was guilty of a great many excesses, in that great affair, in which God made him the chief instrument.

If we look back into the history of the church of God in past ages, we may observe that it has been a common device of the devil, to overset a revival of religion, when he finds he can keep men quiet and secure no longer, then to drive them to excesses and extravagances. He holds them back as long as he can, but when he can do it no tonger, then he will push them on, and if possible, run them upon their heads. And it has been by these means chiefly, that he has been successful, in several instances, to overthrow most hopeful and promising beginnings: yea, the principal means by which the devil was successful, by degrees, to overset that grand religious revival of the world, that was in the primitive ages of Christianity, and in a manner, to overthrow the Christian church through the earth, and to make way for, and bring on the great antichristian apostasy, that masterpiece of the devil's work, was to improve the indiscreet zeal of Christians, to drive them into those three extremes, of enthusiasm, superstition, and severity towards opposers; which should be enough for an everlasting warning to the Christian church.

Though the devil will do his diligence to stir up the open enemies of religion, yet he knows what is for his interest so well, that in a time of revival of religion, his main strength shall be tried with the friends of it, and he will chiefly exert himself in his attempts upon them, to mislead them. One truly zealous person, in the time of such an event, that seems to have a great hand in the affair, and draws the eyes of many upon him, may do more, through Satan's being too subtle for him, to hinder the work, than a hundred great, and strong, and open opposers.

In the time of a great work of Christ, his hands, with which he works, are often wounded in the house of his friends; and his work hindered chiefly by them: so that if any one inquires, as in Zech. xiii. 6,“ What are those wounds in thine hands ?” he may answer, “ Those, with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."

The errors of the friends of the work of God, and especially of the great promoters of it, give vast advantage to the enemies of such a work. Indeed there are many things that are no errors, but are only duties faithfully and thoroughly done, that wound the minds of such persons more, and are more cross to them, than real errors: but yet one real error gives opposers as much advantage, and hinders and clogs the work as much as ten that are only supposed ones. Real errors do not fret and gall the enemies of religion, so much as those things that are strictly right; but they encourage them more; they give them liberty and open a gap for them; so that some that before kept their enmity burning in their own bowels, and durst not show themselves, will on such an occasion take courage, and give themselves vent, and their rage will be like that of an enemy let loose; and those that lay still before, having nothing to say, but what they would be ashamed of (agreeable to Tit. ii. 8), when they have such a weapon put into their hands will fight with all violence. And indeed the enemies of religion would not know what to do for weapons to fight with, were it not for the errors of the friends of it; and so must soon fall before them. And besides in real errors,

things that are truly disagreeable to the rules of God's word, we cannot expect the divine protection, and that God will appear on our side, as if our errors were only supposed ones.

Since therefore the errors of the friends and promoters of such a glorious work of God, are of such dreadful consequence; and seeing the devil, being sensible of this, is so assiduous, and watchful and subtle in his attempts with them, and has thereby been so successful to overthrow religion heretofore, certainly such persons ought to be exceeding circumspect and vigilant, diffident and jealous of themselves, and humbly dependent on the guidance of the good Shepherd. 1 Pet. iv. 7,“ Be sober, and watch unto prayer.” And chap. v. 8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about.” For persons to go on resolutely in a kind of heat and vehemence, despising admonition and correction, being confident that they must be in the right, because they are full of the Spirit

, is directly contrary to the import of these words, be sober, be vigilant.

It is a mistake I have observed in some, by which they have been greatly exposed, to their wounding, that they think they are in no danger of going astray, or being misled by the devil, because they are near to God, and so have no jealous eye upon themselves, and neglect vigilance and circumspection, as needless in their case. They say they do not think that God will leave them to dishonor him,and wound religion as long as they keep near to him: and I believe so too, as long as they keep near to God in that respect, that they maintain a universal and diligent watch, and care to do their duty, and avoid sin, and snares, with diffidence in themselves, and humble dependence and prayerfulness : but not merely because they are near to God, in that respect, that they now are receiving blessed communications from God, in refreshing views of him; if at the same time they let down their watch, and are not jealous over their own hearts, by reason of its remaining blindness and corruption, and a subtle adversary. It is a grand error, for persons to think they are out of danger of the devil, and a corrupt deceitful heart, even in their highest flights, and most raised franes of spiritual joy. For persons in such a confidence, to cease to be jealous of themselves, and to neglect watchfulness and care, is a presumption by which

I have known many wofully ensnared. However highly we may be favored with divine discoveries and comforts, yet as long as we are in the world, we

are in the enemy's country; and therefore that direction of Christ to his disciples, is never out of date in this world, Luke xxi. 36 : “ Watch and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of man.”

It was not out of date with the disciples, to whom it was given, after they came to be filled so full with the Holy Ghost, and out of their bellies flowed rivers of living water, by that great effusion of the Spirit upon them, that began on the day of pentecost. And though God stands ready to protect his people, especially those that are near to him, yet he expects great care and labor of all; and that we should put on the whole armor of God, that we may stand in the evil day: and whatever spiritual privileges we are raised to, we have no warrant to expect protection in any other way; for God has appointed this whole life, as a state of labor, to be all, as a race or a

battle

e; the state of rest wherein ive shall be so out of danger, as to have no need of watching and fighting, is reserved for another world. I have known it in abundance of instances, that the devil is come in very remarkably, even in the midst of the most exalted, and upon some accounts excellent frames: it may seem a great mystery that it should be so; but it is no greater mystery, than that Christ should be taken captive by the devil, and carried into the wilderness, immediately after the heavens had been opened to him, and the Holy Ghost descended like a dove upon him, and he heard that comfortable, joyful voice from the Father, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. In like manner Christ in the heart of a Christian, is oftentimes as it were taken by the devil, and carried captive into a wilderness, presently after heaven has been, as it were opened to the soul, and the Holy Ghost has descended upon it like a dove, and God has been sweetly owning the believer, and testifying his favor to him as his beloved child.

It is therefore a great error, and sin in some persons, at this day, that they are fixed in their way, in some things that others account errors, and will not hearken to admonition and counsel, but are confident that they are in the right of it, in those practices that they find themselves disposed to, because God is much with them, and they have great degrees of the Spirit of God. There were some such in the the apostles' days: the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, was sensible that some of them would not be easily convinced that they had been in any error, because they looked upon themselves spiritual, or full of the Spirit of God. 1 Cor. xiv. 37, 38, “ If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual

, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you, are the commandinent of the Lord; but if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."

And although those that are spiritual amongst us, have no infallible apostle to admonish them, yet let me entreat them, by the love of Christ, calmly and impartially to weigh what may be said to them, by one that is their hearty and fervent friend (although an inferior worm), in giving his humble opinion, concerning the errors that have been committed, or that we may be exposed to, in methods or practices that have been, or may be fallen into, by the zealous friends or promoters of this great work of God.

In speaking of the errors that have been, or that we are in danger of, I would,

First, take notice of the causes whence the errors that attend a great revival of religion usually arise: and as I go along, take notice of some particular errors that arise from each of those causes.

Secondly, observe some errors, that some have lately gone into, that have been owing to the influence of several of those causes conjunctly.

As to the first of these, the errors that attend a great revival of religion, usually arise from these three things:

1. Undiscerned spiritual pride.
2. Wrong principles.
3. Ignorance of Satan's advantages and devices.

The first, and the worst cause of errors, that prevail in such a state of things, is spiritual pride. This is the main door, by which the devil comes into the hearts of those that are zealous for the advancement of religion. It is the chief intet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind, and mislead the judgment: this is the main handte by which the devil has hold of religious persons, and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God. This cause of error is the main-spring, or at least the main support of all the rest. Until this disease is cured, medicines are in vain applied to heal other diseases. It is by this that the mind defends itself in other errors, and guards itself against light, by which it might be corrected and reclaimed. The spiritually proud man is full of light already, he does not need instruction, and is ready to despise the offer of it. But if this disease be healed, other things are easily rectified. The humble person is like a little child, he easily receives instruction; he is jealous over himself, sensible how liable he is to go astray, and therefore if it be suggested to him that he does so, he is ready most narrowly and impartially to inquire. Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach, as humility, and so prepares the mind for true divine light, without darkness, and so clears the eye to look on things as they truly are. Psal. xxv. 9, “ The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek he will teach his. way." Therefore we should fight, neither with small, nor with great, but with the king of Israel: our first care should be to rectify the heart, and pull the beam out of our eye, and then we shall see clearly.

I know that a great many things at this day, are very injuriously laid to the pride of those that are zealous in the cause of God. When any person appears, in any respect, remarkably distinguished in religion from others, if he professes those spiritual comforts and joys that are greater than ordinary, or if he appears. distinguishingly zealous in religion, if he exerts himself more than others do, in the cause of religion, or if he seems to be distinguished withpsuccess, ten to one, but it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those that are about him; and they will suspect (whether they have cause or no), that he is very proud of his goodness, and that de affects to have it thought that nobody is so good as he ; and all his talk is heard, and all his behavior beheld, with this prejudice. Those that are themselves cold and dead, and especially such as never had any experience of the power of godliness on their own hearts, are ready to entertain such thoughts of the best Christians ; which arises from a secret enmity against vital and fervert piety.

But then those that are zealous Christians should take heed that this injuriousness of those that are cold in religion does not prove a snare to them, and the devil does not take advantage from it, to blind their eyes from beholding what there is indeed of this nature in their hearts, and make them think, because they are charged with pride wrongfully, and from an ill spirit, in many things, that therefore it is so in every thing: --Alas, how much pride have the best of us in our hearts ! It is the worst part of the body of sin and death : it is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and the last that is rooted out: it is God's most stubborn enemy. Vol. III.

45

The corruption of nature may all be resolved into two things,

pride and worldly-mindedness, the devil and the beast, or self and the world. These are the two pillars of Dagon's temple, on which the whole house leans. But the former of these is, every way, the worst part of the corruption of nature ; it is the first born son of the devil, and his image in the heart of man chiefly consists in it; it is the last thing in a sinner that is overborne by conviction, in order to conversion; and here is the saint's hardest conflict; it is the last thing that he obtains a good degree of conquest over, and liberty from ; it is that which most directly militates against God, and is most contrary to the Spirit of the Lamb of God; and it is most like the devil its father, in a serpentine deceitfulness and secrecy : it lies deepest, and is most active, is most ready secretly to mix itself with every thing:

And of all kinds of pride, spiritual pride is upon many accounts the most hateful jeit is most like the devil; it is most like the sin that he committed in a heaven of light and glory, where he was exalted high in divine knowledge, honor, beauty and happiness. Pride is much more difficultly discerned than any other corruption, for this reason, that the nature of it does very much consist in a person's having too high a thought of himself: but no wonder that he that has too high a thought of himself

, does not know it; for he necessarily thinks that the opinion he has of himself, is what he has just grounds for, and therefore not too high; if he thought such an opinion of himself was without just grounds, he would therein cease to have it. But of all kinds of pride, :spiritual pride is the most hidden, and difficultly discovered; and that for this reason, because those that are spiritually proud, their pride consists much in a high conceit of those two things, viz., their

light, and their humility;-both which are a strong prejudice against a discovery of their pride. Being proud of their light, that makes them not jealous of themselves; he that thinks a clear light shines around him, is not suspicious of any enemy lurking near him, unseen : and then being proud of their humility, that makes them least of all jealous of themselves in that particular, viz., as being under the prevalence of pride. There are many sins of the heart that are very secret in their nature, and difficultly discerned. The Psalmist says, Psal. xix. 12, “Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” But spiritual pride is the most secret of all sins. The heart is so deceitful and insearchable in nothing in the Horld, as it is in this matter, and there is no sin in he world, that men are confident

in, and so difficultly convinced of: the very nature of it is to work self-confidence, and drive away self-diffidence, and jealolay of

any

evil of that kind. There is no sin so much like the devil, as this, for Secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in a great many shapes, undiscerned and unsespected, and appearing as an angel of light : it takes occasion to arise from very thing; it perverts and abuses every thing, and even the exercises of real gnce, and real humility, as an occasion to exert itself: it is a sin that has, as it were, many lives; if you kill it, it will live still; if you mortify and suppress it in one shape, it rises in another; if you think it is all gone, yet it is there still ; there are a great many kinds of it, that lie in different forms and shapes, one under another, and encompass the heart like the coats of an onion; if you pull off one there is another underneath.—We had need therefore to have the greatest watch imaginable, over our hearts, with respect to this matter, and to cry most earnestly to the great searcher of hearts, for his help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

God's own people should be the more jealous of themselves, with respect to this particular, at this day, because the temptations that many have to this sin

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