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rpes in the spring ; there are ...ar fair and beautiful, and
of young fruits ; but many of il's iney soon fall of, and never
**** it will always be 80; for though ini be an entire purity ; either in fiar. foredom from mixtures of corruption ;
hout any mixture of hypocrites with ritizion, and false appearances of grace
holines8 : Yet it is evident, that there . griater purity in the church of God,
; 1;; it is plain by these texts of scripture, ".0, 7, 9. Joel iii. 17. Zech. xiy. 21. Psal. Ixix. **9.8, 10. chap. iv. 3, 4. Ezek. xx. 38. Psal.
.frid one great reason of it will be that at Dace much greater light to his people, to disir ir.de religion and its counterfeits ; Mal. ji. 3. is is a refiner and purifier of silver : And he
of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, r to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” this a continuation of the prophecy of the same
Then shall ye return, and discern between the P wicked; between him that serveth God, and him Min not."
mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not disdistinguished, that the devil has had his greatest ad. L'inst the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hither.
may this means, principally, that he has firevailed against ines of religion, that ever have been, since the first
fike Christian Church. By this, he hurt the cause of mitei, in, and after the apostolic age, much more than by hersecutions of both Jews and Heathens : The apostles,
hrir epistles, shew themselves much more concerned at the *7*1ya mischief, than the latter. By this, Satan prevailed a
the reformation, began by Luther, Zuingilus, &c. 10 put a
:s its progress, and bring it into disgrace ; ten times more, on by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions
ide cirurch of Rome. By this, principally has he prevailed connitist revivals of religion, that have been in our nation since the rrivrmation. By this he prevailed against Newengland, to quench son size and spoil the joy of her espousals, about an hundred years
And I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly .? by this the devil has prevailed against the late, greai revival If religion in Newengland, so happy and promising in its begin. 1.5 ; Here most evidently has been the main advantage Saran
ofiareldte-controocrisöcs about religion. It is a hard thing to be a keårty ziąłogis friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraardinary appearances, and to rejoice neuch in it ; and at the sami zimie to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has been bąd, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly, :brot fully persutded; we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go or in a way coceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ's kingdom, till we do 80. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that 80 much good and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God : As it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is 80 divine and precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature, dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particular saint. Yet neither of these is more mysterious than real. And neither of them is a new or rare thing. It is no new thing, that much false religion should prevail, at a time of great reviving of true religion ; and that at such a time multitudes of hypocrites should spring up among true saints. It was 80 in that great reformation, and revival of religion, that was in Josiah's' time ; as appears by Jer, iii. 10, and iv. 3, 4, and also by the great apostacy that there was in the land, so 800n after his reign. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews, that was in the days of John the Baptist ; as appears by the great apostacy of that people 80 soon after so general an awakening, and the temporary religious comforts and joys of many ; John v. 35. “ Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." So it was in those great commotions that were among the multitude, occasioned by the preaching of Jesus Christ ; of the many that were then called, but few were chosen ; of the multitude that were roused and affected by his preaching, and at one time or other appeared mightily engaged, full of admiration of Christ, and elevated with joy, but few were true disciples, that stood the shock of the great trials that came afterwards, and en. dured to the end : Many were like the stony ground, or thorny ground ; and but few, comparatively like the good ground. Of the whole heap that was gathered great part was chaff, that the wind afterwards drove away ; and the heap of wheat that was left, was comparatively small ; as appears abundantly, by the his-. tory of the New Testament. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit that was in the apostles' days ; as appears by Matth. xxiv. 10.... 13. Gal. iii. 1, and iv. 11, 15. Phil. ii. 21, and ii. 18, 19, and the two epistles to the Corinthians, and many other parts of the New Testament. And so it was in the great reformption from Popery. It appears plainly to have been in the visible church of God, in times of great reviving of religion, from
time to time, as it is with the fruit trees in the spring ; there are a multitude of blossoms ; all which appear fair and beautiful, and there is a promising appearance of young fruits ; but many of them are but of short continuance, they soon fall off, and never come to maturity.
Not that it is to be supposed that it will always be s0; for though there never will, in this world, be an entire purity ; either in fiar. ticular saints, in a perfect freedom from mixtures of corruption ; or in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with saints, and counterfeit religion, and false appearances of grace with true religion, and real holiness : Yet it is evident, that there will come a time of much greater purity in the church of God, than has been in ages past ; it is plain by these texts of scripture, Isa. lii. Ezek. xliv. 6, 7, 9. Joel iii. 17. Zech. xiv. 21. Psal. Ixix. 32, 35, 36. Isa. xxxv. 8, 10. chap. iv. 3, 4. Ezek. xx. 38. Psal. xxxvii. 9, 10, 21, 29. And one great reason of it will be that at that time God will give much greater light to his people, to distinguish between true religion and its counterfeits ; Mal. iii. 3. 4 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness. With ver. 18, which is a continuation of the prophecy of the same happy times. . 66 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and hiin that serveth him not.”
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest ado , vantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hither. to. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion, that ever have been, since the first founding of the Christian Church. By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity, in, and after the apostolic age, much more than by all the persecutions of both Jews and Heathens : The apostles, in all their epistles, shew themselves much more concerned at the former mischief, than the latter. By this, Satan prevailed against the reformation, began by Luther, Zuingilus, &c. 10 put a stop to its progress, and bring it into disgrace ; ten times more, than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions of the church of Rome. By this, principally has he prevailed against revivals of religion, that have been in our nation since the reformation. By this he prevailed against Newengland, to quench the love and spoil the joy of her esfrousals, about an hundred years ago. And I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly that by this the devil has prevailed against the late, great revival of religion in Newengland, so happy and promising in its beginning : Here most evidently has been the main advantage Satan
has had against us ; by this he has foiled us : It is by this means, that the daughter of Zion in this land, now lies on the ground, in such piteous circumstances, as we now behold her ; with her gara menis rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness exposed, her limbs broken, and weltering in the blood of her own wounds, and in no noise able to arise ; and this, so quickly after her late great joys and hopes : Lam. i. 17. “ Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her : The Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries shall be round about him : Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.” I have seen the devil prevail the same way, against two great revivings of relig, ion in this country. Satan goes on with mankind, as he began with them. He prevailed against our first parents, and cast them out of paradise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to be a friend to their happy paradisaic state, and pretending to advance it to higher degrees. So the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his subtilty, by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect, we had a little while ago, of a kind of paradisaic state of the church of God in Newengland.
After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause, are commonly most exposed, where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly before them, to make head against, that, and do neglect carefully to look all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen ; and has opportunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his teisure, and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resist
And so it is likely ever to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between trųe and false religion, between saving affections and experiences, and those manifold fair shews, and glistening appearances, by which they are counterfeited ; the consequences of which when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means, the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass, that that should be offered to God, by multitudes, under a notion of a pleasing acceptable service to him, that is indeed above all things abominable to him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls ; making them think they are something, when they are nothing ; and so eternally undoes them ; and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who are in God's sight some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this means, he many ways dampoe