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withstanding truth and outfacing truth, to give you up to believe a lie, that you may be damned. There are no men on earth so fenced against error, as those are who receive the truth in the love of it. Such souls are not easily tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. It is not he who receives most of the truth into his head; but he who receives most of the truth affectionately into his heart, that shall enjoy the happiness of having his judgment sound and clear, when others shall be deluded and deceived by them who make it their business to infect the judgments, and to undo the souls of men.
Ah, souls, as you would not have your judgments polluted and defiled with error, let the word of the Lord that is more precious than gold, yea, than fine gold, dwell plenteously in you. It is not the hearing of truth, nor the knowing of truth, nor the- commending of truth, nor the talking of truth, but the in-dwelling of truth in your souls, that will keep your judgments chaste and sound, in the midst of all those glittering errors that betray many souls into his hands, who can easily transform himself into an angel of light that he may draw others to lie in chains of darkness with him for ever. O let not the word be a stranger, but make it your choicest familiar; then will you be able to stand in the day, wherein many shall fall on your right-hand and on your left, by the subtilty of those who shall say, Lo, here is Christ, or, lo, there.
There was more wit than grace in his speech who counselled his friends, not to come too nigh "unto truth, lest his teeth should be beaten out with its heels. Ah, souls, if truth dwell plenteously in you, you are happy; if not, you are unhappy under all your greatest felicity.
"It is with truth," saith Melancthon, " as it is with holy water, every one praises it, and thinks it has some rare virtue in it, but offer to sprinkle them with it, and they will shut their eyes, and turn away their faces from it.
Rem. 3. Solemnly consider that error makes the owner to suffer loss. All the pains and labour that men take to defend and maintain their errors, to spread abroad and infect the world with their errors, shall bring no profit nor comfort to them in that day, wherein every man's work shall be made manifest, and the fire shall try it, of what sort it is, as the apostle shews, in that remarkable scripture 1 Cor. iii. 11—15. O that all those who rise early and go to bed late, who spend their time, their strength, their spirits, their all, to advance and spread abroad God-dishonouring and soul-undoing opinions, would seriously consider this, that they shall lose all the pains, cost, and charge that they have been or shall be at for the propagating of error; and if they are ever saved, it shall be by fire, as the apostle there shews. O sirs, is it nothing to lay out your money for that which is not bread, and your strength for that which will not, which cannot profit you in the day in which you must make up your account, and all your works must be tried by fire? O that such souls would now at last buy the truth and sell it not. Remember, you can never over-buy it, whatsoever you give for it; you can never sufficiently sell it, if you should have all the world in exchange for it. It is said of Caesar, that he had greater care of his books, than of his royal robes; for swimming through the waters to escape his enemies, he carried his books in his hand above the waters, but lost his robes. O what are Caesar's books to God's booksl Well, remember this, that one day, yea, one hour spent in the study of truth or spreading abroad of truth, will yield the soul more comfort and profit, than many thousand years spent in the study and spreading abroad of corrupt and vain opinions, that have their rise from hell, and not from heaven; from the god of this world, and not from that God who shall at last judge this world, and all the corrupt opinions of men.
Rem. 4. Hate, reject, and abominate, all those doctrines and opinions that are contrary to godliness, and that open a door to profaneness; and all such doctrimes and opinions as require men to hold forth a strictness above what the scripture requireth; and all such doctrines and opinions as advance and lift up corrupted nature, to the doing of supernatural things, which none can do but by that supernatural power that raised Christ from the grave; and such opinions as lift our own righteousness in the room of Christ's righteousness, as place good works on the throne of Christ, and make them co-partners with Christ; and all those opinions and doctrines that do so set up and cry up Christ and his righteousness, as to cry down all duties of holiness and righteousness; and all those doctrines and opinions that make the glorious and blessed privileges of believers in the days of the gospel, to be less, fewer, and weaker than they were in the time of the law. Ah, did your souls arise with a holy hatred and a strong indignation against such doctrines and opinions, you would stand when others fall, and you would shine as the sun in his glory, when many, who were once as shining stars, may go forth as stinking snuff.
Rem. 6. Holdfast the truth. As men take no hold on the arm of flesh, till they let go the arm of God, so men take no hold on error, till they have let go their hold of truth; therefore hold fast the truth. Truth is thy crown; hold fast thy crown, and let no man take thy crown from thee. Has not God made truth sweet to thy soul,- yea, sweeter than the honey, or the honeycomb? and wilt not thou go on to heaven feeding upon truth, that heavenly honey-comb, as Sampson fed upon his honey-comb? Ah, souls, have you not found truth sweetening your spirits, and cheering your spirits, and warming your spirits, and raising your spirits, and corroborating your spirits? Have not you found truth a guide to lead you, a staff to uphold you, a cordial to strengthen you, and a plaster to heal you? And will you not hold fast the truth? Has not truth been your best friend in your worst days? Has not truth stood by you, when friends have forsaken you? Has not truth done more for you, than all the world could do against you? And will you not hold fast the truth? Is not truth your right eye, without which you cannot see for Christ? and your right hand without which you cannot do, for Christ? and your right foot, without which you cannot walk with Christ? And will you not hold fast truth? O hold fast the truth in your judgments and understandings, in your wills and affections, in your profession and conversation.
Truth is more precious than gold or rubies, and all the things thou canst desire, are not to be compared to her. Truth is that heavenly glass, wherein we may see the lustre and glory of divine wisdom, power, greatness, love, and mercifulness. In this glass you may see the face of Christ, the favour of Christ, the riches of Christ, and the heart of Christ, beating and working sweetly towards your souls. O let your souls cleave to truth, as Ruth did to Naomi, and say, 'I will not leave truth, nor return from following after truth; but where truth goes, I will go; and where truth lodges, I will lodge; and nothing but death shall part truth and my soul.' What John said to the church of Philadelphia, I may say to you; Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. The crown is the top of royalties; such a thing is truth; Let no man take thy crown. Holdfast the faithful word, as Titus speaks. You had better let go any thing than truth; you had better let go your honours and riches, your friends and pleasures, and the world's favours, yea, your nearest and dearest relations, aye, your very lives; than let go truth. O keep the truth ; and truth will keep you safe and happy for ever. Blessed are those souls who are kept by truth.
Rem. 6. The sixth remedy against this device of satan, is to keep humble. Humility will keep the soul free from many darts of Satan's casting, and erroneous snares of his spreading. As low trees and shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind, which shake and read the taller trees; so humble souls are free from those gusts and blasts of error, that rend and tear proud lofty souls. Satan and the world have least power to fasten, errors upon humble souls. The God of light and truth delights to dwell with the humble; and the more light and truth dwells in the soul, the farther off darkness and error will stand from the soul. The God of Grace pours in grace into humble souls, as men pour liquor into empty vessels; and the more grace is poured into the soul, the less error shall be able to overpower the soul, or to infect the soul. I have read of one, who seeing in a vision many snares of the devil spread upon the earth, sat down mourning, and said within himself, 'Who shall pass through these?' whereupon he heard a voice answering, 'Humility shall pass through them.'
That is a sweet word in Psalm xxv. 9. The meek, or the humble, will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way. And certainly souls guided by God and taught by God, are not easily drawn aside into ways of error. O take heed of spiritual pride. Pride fills our fancies, and weakens our graces, and makes room in our hearts for error. There are no men on earth so soon entangled, and so easily conquered by error, as proud souls. O it is dangerous to love to be wise above what is written; to be curious and unsober in your desire of knowledge, and to trust to your own capacities and abilities; to undertake to pry into all secrets, and to be puffed up with a carnal mind. Souls that are thus soaring up above the bounds and limits of humility, usually fall into the very worst of errors, as experience daily evidences.
Rem. 7. Solemnly consider the great evils that errors have produced. Error is a fruitful mother, and has brought forth such monstrous children, as have set towns, cities, and nations on fire. Error is that whorish woman, who has cast down many, wounded many, yea, slain many strong men, and many great men, and many learned men, and many professing men in former times and in our time, as is too evident to all that are not much left of God, destitute of the truth, and blinded by Satan. O the graces that error has weakened, and the sweet joys and comforts that error has clouded, if not buried! O the hands that error has weakened, the eyes that error has blinded, the judgments of men that error has perverted, the minds that error has darkened, the hearts that error has hardened, the affections that error has cooled, the consciences that error has seared, and the lives of men that error has polluted! Ah, souls, can you solemnly consider of this, and not tremble more at error, than at hell itself?
Dev. 12. The twelfth device that Satan has to draw the soul to sin, is to affect wicked company, to keep wicked society; and O the horrid impieties and wickedness that Satan has drawn men to, by working them to sit and asiociate themselves with vain persons!