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thought by some, that there is no need that such and such religious services and performances should be limited to any certain office in the church; (of which more afterwards.). And also that those offices themselves, as particularly that of the gospel ministry, need not be limited as it used to be, to persons of a liberal education; but some of late have been for having others that they have supposed to be persons of eminent experience, publicly licensed to preach, yea, and ordained to the work of the ministry; and some ministers have seemed to favor such a thing. But how little do. they seem to look forward, and consider the unavoidable consequences of opening such a door? If once it should become a custom, or a thing generally approved and allowed of, to admit persons to the work of the ministry that have had no education for it, because of their remarkable experiences, and being persons of good understanding, how many lay persons would soon appear as candidates for the work of the ministry? I doubt not but that I have been acquainted with scores that would have desired it. And how shall we know where to stop? If one is admitted because his experiences are remarkable, another will think his experiences also remarkable; and we perhaps, shall not be able to deny but that they are near as great. If one is admitted because, besides experiences, he has good natural abilities, another by himself, and many of his neighbors, may be thought equal to him. It will be found of absolute necessity that there should be sonic certain, visible, limits fixed, to avoid bringing odium upon ourselves, and breeding uneasiness and strife amongst others; and I know of none better, and indeed no other that can well be fixed, than those that the prophet Zechertah fixes, viz. That those only should be appointed to be pastors or shepherds in God's church, that have been targht to keep cattle from their youth, or that we have had an education for that purpose. Those ministers that have a disposition to break over these limits, if they should do so, and make a practice of it, would break down that fence, which they themselves after a while, after they had been wearied with
the ill consequences, would be glad to have somebody else build up for them. Not but that there may probably be some persons in the land, that have had no education at college, that are in themselves better qualified for the work of the ministry than some others that have taken their degrees, and are now ordained. But yet I believe the breaking over those bounds that have hitherto been set, in ordaining such persons, would in its consequences be a greater calamity, than the missing such persons in the work of the ministry. The opening a door for the admission of unlearned men to the work of the ministry, though they should be persons of extraordinary experience, would on some accounts be
especially prejudiciāl at such a day as this; because such persons, for want of an extensive knowledge, are oftentimes forward to lead others into those things, which a people are in danger of at such a time, above all other times, viz. impulses, vain imaginations, superstition, indiscreet zeal, and such like extremes; instead of defending them from them, for which a people especially need a shepherd; at such an extraordinary season.
Another erroneous principle that it seems to me some have been, at least, in danger of, is, that_ministers, because they speak as Christ's ambassadors, may assume the same style, and speak as with the same authority that the prophets of old did, yea, that Jesus Christ himself did in the xxiii: of Matthew, Ye serpents, ye generdtion of ripers, &c. and other places; and that not only when they are speaking to the people, but also to their brethren in the ministry. Which principle is absurd, because it makes no difference in the different degrees and orders of messengers that God has sent into the world, though God has made: a very great difference. For though they all come in some respect in the name of God, and with something of his authority, yet certainly there is a vast difference in the degree of authority with which God has invested them. Jesus Christ was one that was sent into the world as God's messenger, and so was one of his apostles, and so also is an ordinary pastor of a church; but yet it does not follow,
that because Jesus Christ and an ordinary minister are both messengers of God, and therefore an ordinary minister in his office, is vested with an equal degree of authority, that Christ was, in his. As there is a great difference in their authority, and as Christ came as God's messenger, in a vastly higher manner, so another style becanje him, more authoritative than is proper for us worms of the dust, though we also are messengers of inferior degree. It would be strange if God, when he has made so great a difference in the degree in which he has invested different messengers with his authority, should make no difference as to the outward appearance and shew of authority, in style and behaviour, which is proper and fit to be seen in them. Though God has put great honor upon ministers, and they may speak as his ambassadors, yet he never intended that they should have the same outward appearance of authority and majesty, either in their behaviour or speech, that his Son shall have, when he comes to judgment at the last day; though both come, in different respects and degrees, in the name of the Lord. Alas! Can any thing ever make it enter into the bearts of worms of the dust, that it is fit and suitable that it should be so?
Thus I have considered the two first of those three causes of error in conduct that were mentioned, I come now to the
Third and last cause of the errors of those that have appeared to be the subjects or zealous promoters of this work, viz. a being ignorant or unobservant of some particular things, by which the devil has special advantage.
And here I would particularly take notice.
1. Of some things with respect to the inward experiences of Christians themselves. And,
2. Something with respect to the external effects of experiences.
There are three things I would take notice of with regard to the experiences of Christians, by which the devil has many advantages against us.
1. The first thing is the mixture there oftentimes is in the experiences of true Christians; whereby when they have truly gracious experiences, and divine and spiritual discoveries and exercises, they have something else mixed with them, besides what is spiritual. There is a mixture of that which is natural, and that which is corrupt, with that which is divine. This is what Christians are liable to in the present exceeding imperfect state.The great imperfection of grace, and feebleness and infancy of the new nature, and the great remains of corruption, together with the circumstances we are in, in this world, where we are encompassed all round with what tends to pollute us, exposes to this. And indeed it is not to be supposed that Christians ever have any experiences in this world that are wholly pure, entirely spiritual, without any mixture of what is natural and carnal. The beam of light, as it comes from the fountain of light upon our hearts, is pure, but as it is reflected thence, it is mixed. The seed as sent from heaven and planted in the heart, is pure, but as it springs up out of the heart, is impure; yea, there is commonly a much greater mixture, than persons for the most part seem to have any imagination of; I have often thought that the experiences of true Christians are very frequently as it is with some sorts of fruits, that are enveloped in several coverings of thick shells or pods, that are thrown away by him that gathers the fruit, and but a very small part of the whole bulk is the pure kernel, tl:at is good to eat.
The things, of all which there is frequently some mixture with gracious experiences, yea, with very great and high experiences, are these three, human, or nalural affection and passion; impressions on the imagination; and a degree of selfrighteousness or spiritual pride. There is very often with that which is spiritual a great mixture of that affection or passion which arises from natural principles; so that nature has a very great hand in those vehement motions and flights of the passions that appear. Hence the same degrees of divine communications from heaven, shall have vastly different effects, in what outwardly appears, in persons of different natural tempers. The great mixture of that which is natural with that
which is spiritual, is very manifest in the peculiar effects that divine influences have in some certain families, or persons of such a blood, in a distinguishing inanner of the operating of the passions and affections, and the manner of the outward expressions of them. I know some remarkable instances of this. The same is also evident by the different effects of divine communication on the same person at different times, and in different circumstances. The novelty of things, or the sudden transition from an opposite extreme, and many other things that might be mentioned, greatly contribute to the raising of the passions. And sometimes there is not only a mixture of that which is common and natural with gracious experience, but even that which is animal, that which is in a great measure from the body, and is properly the result of the animal frame. In what true Christians feel of affections towards God, all is not always purely holy and divine; every thing that is felt in the affections does not arise from spiritual principles, but common and natural principles have a very, great hand; an improper self-love may have a great share in the effeet. God is not loved for his own sake, or for the excellency and beauty of his own perfections as he ought to be; nor have these things in any wise, that proportion in the effect that they ought to have.
So in that love that true Christians have one to another, very
often there is a great mixture of what arises from common and natural principles with grace; and self-love has a great hand.
The children of God are not loved purely for Christ's sake, but there may be a great mixture of that natural love that many sects of heretics have boasted of, who have been greatly united one to another, because they were of their company, on their side, against the rest of the world; yea, there may be a mixture of natural love to the opposite sex, with Christian and divine love. So there may be a great mixture in that sorrow. for sin that the godly have; and also in their joys; natural principles may greatly contribute to what is felt, a great many ways, as might easily be shown, would it not make my discourse too lengthy. There is nothing