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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 Seady 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 imprudences; and it has made them less cautious 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 mea, 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 thein to excesses and extravagances. He holds thein back as long as he can, but when he can do it no longer, 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 ipostacy, 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 an 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. Šo that if any one inquires, as in Zech. xii: 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
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 bas 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. 6 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 30 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 an 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 frames of spiritual joy. For persons in such a confidence, to cease to be jealous of themselves, and to neglect watchfulness and care, is a presuniption by which I have known many wofully enshared, 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 mail."
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 Goil has appointed this whole life, as a state of labor, to be all, as a race or a battle; the state of rest wherein we shall be so out of danger, as to have no need of watching and fighting, is reserved for another world. I have knowp 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 wil
derness, 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, becausc God is much with them, and they have great degrees of the Spirit of God. There were some in 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. I Cor. xvi: 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 commandment 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 intreat 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 in the
First place, take notice of the causes whence the