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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 conies into the hearts of those that are zealous for the advancement of religion. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind, and mislead the judgment. This is the main handle 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 anıl 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. 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 with success, 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 he 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 en tain such thoughts of the best Christians; which arises from a secret enmity against vital and fervent 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!
The sorruption 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 overborn 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 deceitful. ness 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; it is most like the devil; it is most like the sin that he committed in an 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 an high conceit of those two things, viz. their light, and their humility; both of which are 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 an enemy lurking near him, unseen. And then being proud of their humility, that makes them least of all jealous of themselves in that particolar, 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 unsearchable: in nothing in the world, as it is in this mat
ter, and there is no sin in the world, that men are so confident in, and so difficultly convinced of. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence, and drive away self-diffidence, and jealousy 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 unsuspected, and appearing as an angel of light. It takes occasion to arise from every thing; it perverts and abuses every thing, and even the exercises of real grace, 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 have 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 are exceeding great. The great and distinguishing privileges to which God admits many of bis saints, and the high honors that he puts on some ministers, are great trials of persons in this respect. It is true that great degrees of the spiritual presence of God tend greatly to mortify pride and all corruption; but yet, though in the experience of such favors there be much to restrain pride on e way, there is much to tempt and provoke it another; and we shall be in g*eat danger thereby without great watchfulness and prayerfulness. There was much in the circumstances that the angels that fell, were in, in heaven, in their great houtors and high privileges, in beholding the face of God, and view of his infinite glory, to cause in them exercises of humility, and to keep them from pride; yet through want of watchfulness in them, their
great honor and heavenly privilege proved to be to them, an undring temptation to pride, though they had no principle of pride in their hearts to expose them.
Let no saint therefore, however eminent, and however near to God, think himself out of danger of this. He that thinks himself most out of danger, is indeed most in danger. The apostle Paul, who doubtless was as eminent a saint as any are now, was not out of danger, even just after he was admitted to see God in the third heavens, by the information he himself gives us, 2 Cor. xii: chap. And yet doubtless, what he saw in heaven of the ineffable glory of the divine Being, had a direct tendency to make him appear exceeding little and vile in his own eyes.
Spiritual pride in its own nature is só secret, that it is not so well discerned by immediate intuition on the thing itself, as by the effects and fruits of it; some of which, I would mention, together with the contrary fruits of pure Christian humility.
Spiritual pride disposes to speak of other persons' sins, their enmity against God and his people, the miserable
delusion of hypocrites and their enmity against vital piiety, and the deadness of some saints, with bitterness, or
with laughter and levity, and an air of contempt; whereas pure Christian humility rather disposes, either to be silent about them, or to speak of them with grief and
Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others. Whereas an humble saint is most jealous of himself, he is so suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they be, and crying out of thern for it, and to be quick to discern and take notice of their deficiences. But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with others' hearts; he complains most of himself, and cries out of his own coldness and lowness in grace, and is apt to es