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his man beyond the range of the preacher's voice, leading him utterly to despise Christ's royal ordinance of preaching. Which artifice of placing the soul, as it were, word-proof, he doth exercise in a four-fold way:-1. By deadening the spiritual capacities through much sensual and material and physical studies, or occupations, in which case be presenteth himself as the prince of the kingdoms of the natural world, and overchargeth the carnal man with such a surfeit of care and conceit, that it never dreameth it hath a spirit to be spoken to. This is the drugging of the soul under which our self-sufficient, God-despising infidels labour.2. When these doses of outward knowledge and pleasure will not keep his man from looking homeward, he artfully insinuateth flatteries of his excellent parts of nature; as his honesty, moral worth, and excellent character, and slily converting himself into an angel of light, doth find texts of Scripture to commend the same, and he presenteth to him the law as the rule of a good life, and turneth the Gospel creed into a make-weight to balance the unequal scale of his merits, and so juggles the great body of professing Christians out of their faith, and maketh them deaf to the word of Gospel-preaching.–3. With whom this natural Christianity will not answer his end, he dealeth by Sectarianism, to enamour them of some favourite doctrine, theme, and manner of preaching, with which he sleekly serveth their selfishness, until he hath got them blown into the big and swollen churchman, or shrivelled up within the light purse-strings of the sect or conventicle, whom then he rideth with an easy bridle; and they would say of Christ himself, if he were preaching to,
them, “ Have any of the Pharisees believed on him?”
But, brethren, this is not all, as you may well conceive. Satan owes Christ, who came to destroy his works and cast him out of the earth, too great a grudge, to be contented with these three defensive methods of warfare against the word ; and he hath too many zealous servants in the world, not to be able to muster a head and front of direct opposition and hearty warfare against the truth as it is in Jesus; men who shall corrupt it, and reject for false its plainest doctrines, and for truth set forth the most spurious and false corruptions of the Divine testimonies. This I regard as Satan's fourth art to invalidate the word ; and in this day and place he worketh it upon a very large scale. Into which I would now inquire, putting the people upon their guard.
Very early in the Christian church, so early as the time of the Apostles, he wrought the engine of heresy against the truth, as we read of some who brought in “ damnable heresies,” to meet which the Apostles and their descendants in the church were wont to set down a form of words, containing the very truth; of which John hath given one in his First Epistle: “ Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God.” According as new heresies arose by the craft of Satan, clauses were added to the creed, and it grew at length to that symbol of faith which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed. In process of time, when that heresy of heresies, the Arian heresy, which striketh at the root by denying our Lord's Divinity, overspread the west, and carried every
thing like a tide through the sweeping violence of the barbarous nations, the Lord interposed for his church; and the Nicene Creed was drawn up, embodying the orthodox opinion of the church in respect to that question, and at the same time the Athanasian Creed came into being, Athanasius being the great opposer of Arius. Thus the body of orthodox doctrine acquired greater dilatation, and distinctness in proportion to the variety of heresies which were broached. Especially in defence against the Pelagian heresy, which was the Arminianism of those early ages. By and bye, when the mystery of iniquity began to manifest itself in the church, and Satan to obtain the supremacy of the church, he proceeded to disguise orthodoxy under such deep veils that the truth became utterly hidden, and the falsehood which was presented before the scenes possessed the faith of all, or almost all. When the Reformers arose in the spirit of primitive times, with more than primitive intellect, to enable them to combat with the growing intellect of man, and with great care and patience embodied the orthodox doctrine of the church of Christ in various forms, of which I lately read the Twentysix Articles of the Fathers of our Church in the hearing of
many of you ; then arose the Arminian heresy; and in a full synod, whereat divines both , from the North and South of this island assisted, the truth was declared against them. And afterwards in the Assembly of Westminster, another code of orthodox doctrine was drawn up, from which we have our two most excellent Catechisms and Confession of Faith. Now it is perhaps the most marvellous of all things, and doth denote what unity there is in the faith of the true church
of Christ, that from the Apostles' Creed, to the Westminster Confession, there is a perfect harmony on all the great points of Christian doctrine, concerning the offices of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the salvation of sinful men.
And concerning the weight and value which should be given to this body of Christian interpretation, we have this much to say, that a wise and a good man will pause long before he contradict any portion of it. While he doth not surrender to it any absolute power over his faith, which were to do great dishonour to the word of God, and to the Holy Spirit, the only infallible interpreter of the word, he will hold it as a noble testimony of the great cloud of Christian witnesses, for which they have given their blood to be poured out like water. Whatever is venerable in antiquity, and most excellent in human opinion, whatever is sacred in suffering for conscience sake, and most authoritative in the common consent of the best of all countries and
is most properly and fairly due and most faithfully to be rendered to the orthodox faith of the Christian church. Common sense, which there is no man but defers to in a high degree, is a mutable and ambiguous voice compared with this universal sense of the faithful in Christ Jesus. The customs of our country, and its constitutions of law and government, before the representatives of which every man uncovers his head in token of his high regard, have neither had such long establishment, such persevering firmness and indubitable testimony, nor such sanctifying oblations of blood, as this the hereditary truth and common wealth of Christendom, for every article of which whole hecatombs of martyrs have been offered up. Waving therefore all considerations of a more sacred kind, and steering by the rule and compass of ordinary things, the man who holds not the orthodox opinions of the church in reverence doth either declare his total ignorance of the number and weight and value of the witnesses which have testified for it unto the death, and lived in the strength of it, holy and blameless lives ; or he doth declare his own overweening confidence in himself, and in the petty sanction of men like himself, whose interpretations he setteth up on the other hand. Oh there may be many of us Protestants who in our zeal against the Papal errors, of which perhaps the greatest is the infallibility of the church, do little justice to the great ideas of which these false doctrines were the perversion, and are little on our guard against the opposite extreme, which, if once fairly embraced, is the more dangerous of the two; the Papal extreme being too much faith, and the opposite extreme no faith at all, or the least possible. Of which, the danger to which we are liable, you will perceive the imminency and extent, if you
will but consider with what an incessant hue and cry the people are baited on by our popular preachers to go to the Scriptures and make up opinions for themselves, while at the same time they sedulously set them loose from all respect or reverence or even knowledge of the orthodox creed of the church. And the very name of orthodoxy is sneered at. Methinks that England might be a little instructed in this matter by the infinitude of heresies which she hath broached during the last century, and the infinitude of sects which prevail, and the contempt into