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cumbent upon all the saints and churches; for though the epistle be directed to the angel of the church, yet the matter thereof doth belong to all; for saith the same epistle," He that hath an ear, let him hear, what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” And if this work do belong unto all the church, what an evil thing is it for those that are members of a church, to be beguiled with false teachers. Shall they be beguiled by them, that should discover them? This is directly contrary to their duty. It is your duty, and it is all your duty, to make this discovery. Therefore, yet more practically,
Go to God for wisdom and the Spirit of discerning; it is Christ alone that doth see men's fruit under all their leaves : beg this discerning Spirit therefore at the hands of Christ.
Take heed that you do not lie in any sin or error, for all sin and error blinds. How shall you see the error of another, if
you be blinded with your own sin and error?
In case any thing doth arise, which hath any difficulty in it, consult with others, for ye are not alone; and saith David, “ I will inquire in thine holy temple.”
Be sure that you keep to the Scripture, and take heed that you do not judge of doctrines by impressions. Let the light within you be your principle, enabling you into what is good; but let it not be your rule to judge of doctrines, that is the word alone.
Take heed that you have not too great a charity towards, and opinion of, those that are suspected to be false teachers. Ye shall know them by their fruits, saith Christ. And lest you should think that they may be good, I tell you, nay, says Christ, in the next words, for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit: no man gathers grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles: “but evil men and seducers,” says the apostle. If seducers, you are to look upon them as evil men, as well as on drunkards, swearers, and profane persons; which because some have not done, they have been deceived, instead of making this discovery.*
And if you would be sure to make up a right judgment in this great discovery, then stay your time, and wait long
* Plerique enim hominum ita impostorum liberalitate fascinantur ut quicquid proponunt monstruosæ doctrinæ tamen pro bonis habeant. Quibus Christus respondet, non modo hujusmodi homines bonos non esse, sed ne esse quidem posse. - Cartwrighti Harm. p. 271.
before you close with any of their opinions; for saith Christ, Ye shall know them by their fruit. Now the fruit of a tree is not presently seen; an ill tree in winter may seem to be as good as the best : stay therefore your time, and you shall know them by their fruit, and so be able to make this discovery, which is so pleasing to, and commendable in the eyes of Jesus Christ.*
It may be some will think and say, This doth not concern or reach my condition ; I am troubled with and labour under such or such a temptation; and in all this, nothing hath been spoken unto that temptation. But remember, that our Lord and Saviour Christ hath not said to some, but to all, ware of false prophets;" not behold, but beware: we behold what is open, and beware of what is hidden.t And both Christ and his apostles tell us, “ That in the last days there shall arise false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, and false brethren; insomuch, as if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect:" and is this nothing then unto your condition? It may be it is your temptation, that you do not take heed and beware enough. I dare boldly say, he is under a temptation, that thinks these things do not reach him, or concern his condition. And what is the reason that many poor souls are so misled in these days of ours, but because they have not been prepared, and underlaid with knowledge for to make resistance. All their work and business hath been about some particular temptation, striving against some temptation : if they have heard any thing about that, well; if not, then they think the matter concerns not them; and so not being grounded in the faith, when deceivers come, they are taken captive by them. But I know you all desire to be commended by Christ at that great day, when he shall say, “ Well done, good and faithful servant." And this discovery of false teachers, is a matter of great commendation in his eyes now; and what he commends now,
he will commend then: wherefore up and be doing. It may
* Si quis ex foliis et foribus judicium formare velir, non expectata fructuum maturitate plane hallucinetur, sic etiam qui de initiis quibusdam judicium sibi singant, &c. tandem enim eorum amentia omnibus innotescet. 2 Tim. ii.Cartwrighti Harm. p. 270.
† Attendite a falsis prophetis, diligenter cavete non dixit aspicite, sed attendite, quod aspicere est ad allud quod palam videtur, attendere autem est cum sollicitudine inquirere.---Abulens. in Matt. vii. p. 218.
may be some pains and labour to you ; but Christ saith, “ I know thy works and thy labour.” It may be it
you much trouble and sorrow; but he saith also, “I know thy labour and thy patience.” It may be some may
think you are too busy and severe in the work of this discovery; but he hath said, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and that thou canst not bear them which are evil, and hast tried them which say, they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” Wherefore let us comfort and encourage one another with these words.
THE GOOD AND MEANS OF ESTABLISHMENT.
PREACHED AT STEPNEY, JANUARY 6, 1655.
“ But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”—1 Peter v. 10.
Some think these words are spoken in the way of a promise from God ;* others think they are spoken in the way of a desire and prayer to God.t They are a promise, say some, because they are brought in to comfort and relieve these dispersed saints against the temptations of Satan and opposition of the world, which the apostle had mentioned in the former verses (8 and 9), as also because those words, “perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you,” are found in some books in the future tense of the indicative mood, to be read thus : “ Shall perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you;"I but I find the copies ordinarily to give them in the optative. Beza tells us that all our books, excepting three, do read these words in the optative mood. || And Estius, though the vulgar latin renders them in the future tense of the indicative, saith that all such copies are of less credit, and that although the words should be in the future tense, it comes all to the same reckoning; forasmuch as the Hebrews, whom the New Testament follows much, do ordinarily put futures for optatives as well as for preceptives. So Num. xx. 17, we translate the words thus: “ Let us, I pray thee, pass through thy country;" and
* Promissionem adjungit apostolus.-Salmeron, Grotius, Gerardus, Tirinus, Thom. Aquinus.
+ Ad precationem se convertit apostolus.--Calvin, Beza, Piscator, H. Illiricus, Estius, Gomarus. Aretius.
1 Καταρτισει, “τηριξει, σθενωσει, θεμελιωσει.
l| Omnes nostri codices, tribus tamen exceptis, scripta hæc habent optandi modo.-Beza in loc.
§. In nonnullis quidem exemplaribus græcis verba sunt indicativa modi tempo. risque futuri, quem admodum in latinis, verum ea minus probatæ sunt fidei.Estius in loc.
yet the word in the Hebrew is in the future tense: “We will pass through,” &c.* So Jer. xl. 15, we read, “ Let me go, I pray thee, and I will smite Ishmael ;” and yet the word in the Hebrew is, “I will go and smite Ishmael.”+ So that according to the Hebrew, the future is ordinarily put for the optative in a way of desire and petition. But the words here used are in the optative mood,and therefore, by that argument, we cannot conclude these words to be spoken in the way of a promise. It is true, indeed, that they contain matter of much comfort and relief for those that suffer under the temptations of Satan or oppositions of the world, but so they do, also, though they be spoken in a way of prayer; and it is usual with the apostles to conclude their epistles with a short prayer, and that prayer with a doxology; and so doth the apostle here: “ The God of 'all grace, who hath called you, &c., perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you; to whom be glory for ever and ever :" a promise is not so concluded, but a prayer is.|| I conceive, therefore, that these words are spoken in way of a prayer; wherein we have,
First, The mercy, and the blessing prayed for.
First, As for the mercy and blessing prayed for; it is expressed in four words: perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you. Some think they are synonimous, all intending the same thing, the confirmation and perseverance of those dispersed christian Jews. But though they may aim at the same general thing, yet there are several particulars under that general which the words seem to point at. The first word, which we render perfect, should, I think, be translated otherwise. It is the same word that is used Mait. iv. 21, and Mark i. 19, for mending of their nets; and the same that is used, Gal. vi. 1, “ You that are spiritual restore such an one with the spirit of meekness;" and it signifies such a restoring
* 1758. Ilapolevooueba da ons yns.-Septuagint.
|| Postquam satis incubuit in monitiones nunc se ad precationem convertit, nam frustra in nerem fundetur doctrina nisi Deus per Spiritum suum operetur.Calvin in loc.
§ Quod pluribus verbis rem unam designat Petrus, nempe fidelium confirmationem, hoc ideo facit ut sciamus raræ esse difficultatis cursum nostrum persequi et proind e singulari Dei gratia opus esse.-Calvin in loc.