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Of False Prophets. “ I cannot believe, that they are all 16 wicked Men in their Hearts and Lives, " who are infected with

any

heretical, dangerous Doctrine.

It is probable, " the Sheeps-cloathing may extend farther " than the bare hypocritical outward " Shew, even to the good Habits of the “ Mind, and a regular Course of Life:

By which they are much better fur« nished and qualified to give a Credit to “ their false Doctrines.

But now “ here seems to be prescribed a plain,

easy Way of discerning false Teachers go from true, and a Way which lies level « to the meanest Capacity: It is only by

observing the Fruits, and Consequents " of every Doctrine, what it is apt to

produce where it is thoroughly fuck'd « in and believed, and then judging how « far those Fruits resemble the Doctrine < and Spirit of Christianity."

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a Vol. IV. p. 249, 274,

Of Enthusiasm. “The Spirit of God having given us " a clear Rule to walk by (namely, the « Rule of the holy Scriptures) whatsoe

ver Preacher shall deliver any Doctrine, “ either in the general disparaging the Holy Scriptures and preferring Enthu

hasm, or in particular setting up the private Spirit to affert any Thing contrary " thereto; it requires no great Depth of

Learning to observe, that such Do“ Arine strikes at the Root of all revealed " Religion, and opens a Door for the

Destruction of it. Here, the secret Views, or remote Tendency of all Enthisfiasm is briefly laid

open.

Enthusasm, in the bad Sense, appears to be a fubtile Device of Satan, upon ill-meaning, or unmeaning Instruments, (making Ule of their Ambition, Self-admiration, or other Weakness ) to draw them by some plausible Suggestions into a vain Conceit that they have something within them, either of equal Authority with Scripture,

or

Vol. IV. p. 274.

or superior to it: And when once they have thus got loose from that divine ReAtraint, under a Pretence of divine Impulses, then there is nothing so wild, or extravagant, that those free Rangers, following their own new Lights, are not capable of.

I shall conclude this Preface with recommending a few seasonable Reflections to the Consideration of serious and conscientious Christians amongst us.

1. One is, how particularly happy they may

think themselves, in their having three several Sets of excellent Discourses don our Lord's divine Sermon, in their own Language, (such perhaps as are not to be met with in any other) and in their constantly living under the Care and Directi

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They will not perhaps directly say, that their private Spirit is of Authority superior to that of Scripture : But they often make it so in effect, more ways than one: 1. By making the Scripture submit to be judged of by the private Spirit, and not the private Spirit by the Scripture. 2. By making the Guidance of the private Spirit to super sede even the reading, or the Use of the Scripture, after a Time, when fupposed perfect enough not to need any longer the Help of the written Word. 3. By setting up a Pretence of Infallibility in a Man's private Breast, warranting him to substitute his own Interpretations, in the room of the Divine Laws.

Besides Mr. Blair's, there is also Bishop Blackhall's, and Mr. Gardiner's,

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on of faithful Guides, judicious and wellstudied Divines: For, Those at last are, under God, in the Use of his Word, the fafest Counsellors they can have to confide in. Let those who boast of Divine Impulses, or immediate Inspirations, bring together all the choice Things they can meet with, that have been invented and uttered by those of their Way, for seventeen Centuries, and see whether they are at all fit to be compared, or named with the weighty and folid Compositions of the judicious and well-read Divines, early and late : who yet have pretended to no more than the ordinary Assistances of the Holy Spirit, in the Use of God's written Word, and of other outward Means, of divine providential Appointment, without any direct, immediate Inspiration at all. What then has the good Spirit been doing for his supposed Favourites, all the time? Or rather, What has not some evil Spirit been doing, through a long Tract of Centuries, in seducing many, to father Satan's Suggestions, or their own weak Fancies, upon the Blessed Spirit of God?

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2. It may be of Use to every serious Christian, wisely to consider, how many different kinds of Instruments the Tempter commonly makes use of, to corrupt their Faith, or to debauch their Morals. They are reducible to Three Kinds, 1. Open Enemies to God and Religion. 2. Difguised Enemies, Hypocrites under a feigned Covert of Friends. meaning, but injudicious, indiscreet Friends ; Friends in Heart, but rashly and undefignedly doing the Work of Enemies. All these must be carefully guarded against, in their Turns, as Occasions happen, by as many as love not to be deceived, or really love their own Souls. For, if any Man suffers himself to be deluded, or led aside, when he may avoid it; it fignifies little whether it was by the rude Attacks of one, or by the smooth Hypocrisy and Treachery of another, or by the Weakness or Madness of a Third. The Fault is, to be misled at all, so far as may be prevented: And the Rule of Scripture is, to stand firm and stedfast in true Do&trine and holy Life, against all Seducers, of what Kind foever, and

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