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mischievous a people, then surely it is a matter of great commendation to make discovery of them.
It is an excellent thing also to make discovery of them; Christ doth commend what is excellent, spiritually excellent, and the more excellent the thing the more it doth fall under the commendation of Christ. Now by discovering of these false teachers, you put a stop and check unto their folly and madness; their madness or folly, saith the apostle, shall proceed no further. How so? It shall be made known to all : 2 Tim. iii. 9, “ But they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be made manifest to all men.” Thereby, also, ye shall preserve those who are not declined ; and thereby you shall be serviceable unto Christ in the great work which he hath to do and is doing in these latter times. One part of his work is to discover those that are unsound: Rev. ii. 24, “ Then shall all the churches know that I am he that searcheth the heart and reins." But did not the churches know that before? Yea, but then, that is, in the latter times, they shall have experience of it, for then I will discover Jezebel and all her false prophets ; so that this discovery of false teachers is part of Christ's own work in the latter days, and the more you labour therein, the more serviceable you are unto Christ. Surely, therefore, it is a matter of great commendation in the eyes of Christ, to try, find out and discover false teachers and false apostles.
If it be so commendable in the eyes of Christ to discover these persons, then it is lawful for us, though weak, to go to the meetings of these false teachers, or to receive them into our houses, and to speak with them; else how shall I try and discover them?
Nay, but this follows not, no more than that you must go to Rome to try and find out the deceits of the papists, or that you must go into Turkey to try and find out the false doctrine of the Turks; you may try and discover papists and Turks, yet it doth not follow that you must read over their books and Alcoran. The apostle saith, “ Mark those which cause division, and avoid them. False teachers shall arise in the last days (saith he), and from such turn away.” And the apostle John saith, “ If any come to you not with this doctrine, receive him not into your house, nor bid bim God speed,” lest you be partaker of their evil deeds. Lok, what
ever mischief they shall do abroad by their false doctrines, all that shall you partake in if you receive them into your houses, or countenance them by bidding them God speed. He that receiveth a true prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive that prophet's reward; he shall profit by that prophet, and shall have a share in all the good which he doth. So he that receiveth a false prophet, shall receive a false prophet's reward; he shall be poisoned by him, and shall partake in his evil deeds.
But how then shall I try all things?
Mark this scripture well. Those words are spoken to the church of the Thessalonians, 1 Epist. v. 20, 21, “ Despise not prophesyings, prove all things;" that is, try those things which ye hear in the church by way of prophesy; but he doth not say that you must run out to every meeting of suspected persons to try all things there, but keep your place in the church, and try all things; otherwise, it being a commandment, all men should be bound to read Popish books, Socinian books, and the Turkish Alcoran. And if you should go to these meetings, do you think that is the way to try all things? Do ye not know that it is the ordinary way of all false teachers, to hold out truth at the first? Will they not preach an hundred truths first, that they may make way to one error? And if so, how can you try them by going to a meeting or two? But keep your station in the church of God, despise not, turn not your back on prophesyings, and so try all things. If you be convinced of the truth and way of God by the Scripture, you will easily find out a false doctrine, for rectum est index sui et obliqui ; truth known will discover error.
But where do you find in Scripture that trying is the end of hearing: that we are to hear that we may try? I must therefore go to hear that I may learn and profit by my hearing; and if you go to these meetings that you may learn and profit, are you not in a fair way to be deceived by them? The members of the church of Ephesus, here, did not run from the church for this discovery, for says the apostle, Acts xx. 30, “And of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things ;" which, when it came to pass, the Ephesians did discover them, saith our text, for which they were thus highly commended of Christ.
Now if this be so commendable in the eyes of Christ,
then why should we not all take some pains herein, and be found doing this work of our generation? Do ye think that there are no false teachers, and false apostles, and false prophets, in these days of ours ? Read what is said in Zech. xiii. 2-6. 1. The prophet tells us, that in the days immediately before the calling of the Jews, there shall be unclean spirits in the land, verse 2, and false prophets, verse 3. 2. He tells us, that when the Jews shall be called, in that day, verse 1, there shall be so great a zeal amongst them, against these false prophets, that their parents, and such as are near to them, shall be the first that shall punish them, verse 3, “ His father and mother that begat them, shall say, Thou shalt not live, for thou speakest lies ;” and yet these are high gospel times. 3. He tells us here, that this correction shall be a means to reduce them; for upon that it is said, verse 4, “ And it shall come to
pass in that day, that the prophet shall be ashamed,” &c. But the thing that I bring this scripture for, is to shew you, that there shall be such people as these, immediately before the call of the Jews, and that is in these days of ours. Only observe how the prophet doth here describe them: He tells you that they shall be such as were originally husbandmen; for upon their reducement, he shall say, “I am no prophet, I am an husbandman.” He tells you here, that they shall be such as shall wear a rough, hair, or plain garment to deceive, verse 4. He tells you, that they shall come in the name of the Lord, and say, they are not sent by men, but by God immediately, verse 3. That yet these men shall be acted by the very spirit of the devil; for says the Lord, “I will cause the false prophet, and the unclean spirit, to pass out of the land;" that is, such as do work and act by the inspiration of the devil, having the fierce and unclean spirit of the devil : these are the men that shall arise in these days of ours. Do you think then, that we are free from false teachers now; or do you think that it is not incumbent upon all; only upon officers, to try and discover them? Here the whole church are commended for it. Or do you think that it is nothing to be commended by Christ? Those that he commends now, he will commend before the Father, and all the angels, and saints another day; his commendation shall never make you proud, as the applause of
man may do. Oh, what an excellent thing then is it, to make discovery of these false apostles, and false teachers: why should we not all, more or less, according to our places, labour to be found in this work, in these days of ours?
How shall we find out, and discover them? for if we may not go to their meetings, and they be such a crafty, deceiving people, what shall we do, and how shall we try, a true teacher, from a false teacher; or a true apostle, from a false apostle :*
All teachers are to be tried three ways.
As for a man's call to preach : whoever is called to preach, is either called ad opus, to a particular work: or he is called ad munus, to an office. If he be called to a work only, then bis preaching is called prophesy; and so some are called to preach; for else how should we know whether men be fit for office, if they may not preach before they be in office? Now if men be so called to preach, then they must preach according to the proportion and analogy of faith, Rom. xii. 6. If they be so called to preach, they must have a gift to profit others publicly; for all prophesy is for exhortation, edification, and comfort, 1 Cor. xiv. 3. And if they be so called to preach, they must submit that they speak to the judgment of others : the officer speaks with authority; but another speaks with submission, " and let the rest judge," i Cor. xiv. 29. So that, if any man will take upon him to preach and teach as a gifted man, if he have not a gift to profit others in public: a gift beyond a family gift; and if he do not speak according to the proportion of faith, and do not submit what he speaketh to the judgment of others, he is a false prophet, and no true teacher in this kind.
But if a'man be called to office; then his office is either extraordinary, or ordinary.
If extraordinary, then he is either a prophet, who doth foretell things to come, and they do come to pass; or he is an evangelist, whose office was to accompany, and minister
* Veri doctoris lana est vocatio vel authoritas, sana doctrina ; vita probata sed hac lana non omnes eodem modo utuntur imo multi abutuntur.-Ferus in Malt. vii. p. 255.
unto the apostles: when the apostles therefore ceased, then the evangelists ceased; for sublato subjecto tollitur adjunctum. Or he is an apostle who hath seen the Lord, and is immediately sent by him, whose commission extendeth unto all the world, who is infallible in regard of doctrine delivered, having the gifts of tongues given him; not by industry, but by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and doth work miracles. And therefore if any man say, that he is an apostle, and yet hath not seen the Lord Christ, nor hath these gifts of tongues, nor can work miracles; then he is a false apostle, and a false teacher in that kind.
But if a man be called to an ordinary office, then, he must be apparently godly: not only free from vice and scandal, but holy and blameless, shining with positive virtues, as well as free from scandalous sins, 1 Tim. iii., Tit. i. He must be qualified, and gifted for the work of preaching, being apt to teach, anointed with the unction of the Holy One ; not that he must necessarily have the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost: for when the apostle Paul sets down the due qualifications of a minister, 1 Tim. iii., there is not one word of that. Being gifted and duly qualified, he must be chosen, or desired by the church, Acts xiv. 23. Then having consented, he must be separated to the work of the ministry. And therefore if any man say, that he is a teacher in office, ordinarily called, and yet be profane, scandalous, or vicious, or ignorant, being not fitly qualified; or is not desired, or chosen by the church, and separated to the work of the ministry, he is a false teacher in this kind.
But whether a man's call be ordinary or extraordinary ; whether he be called, ad opus, to a work, or ad munus, to an office, he must make out his call to others; it is not enough
I am sent of God, I tell thee I am sent of God: the apostles themselves made out their call to others; “Do ye require a proof of my ministry, or apostleship ? ” says the apostle Paul; then thus and thus. So that though a man do pretend that he is sent of God, and that he hath seen the Lord; yet if he be not able to give an account thereof unto others, he is surely a false apostle, and a false teacher. Thus may you try and discover men by their call.
As for doctrine. Teachers may, and must be tried by