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Now to help us herein, our Saviour acquaints us, in the next words, with the Manner and the End of their Coming. The Manner, in these words, They come to you outwardly in Sheeps-Clothing ; that is, with soft and smooth Pretences : The End, in these, But inwardly they are ravening Wolves, who come not but to despoil and to devour. A word or two of each. And,

It, Of the Manner of their Coming; They come to you in Sheeps-Clothing. These Words are an Allusion to the Habit and Custom used by the Prophets of old, who in the Delivery of any weighty Message were wont to wear Sheep-Skins, as a Badg of their Meekness and Innocence: in imitation whereof, the false Prophets would put on their Sheeps-Clothing on the like Occasions, to gain the greater Reverence to their Persons, and the better Reception to their Doctrines. The Sheep, you know, is a Creature noted for its Usefulness and Innocence ; it often receives, but never does any harm, and is therefore fitly made the Emblem of Meekness and Patience. So that by Sheeps-Clothing here we are to understand in general all those artificial Methods and Disguises, by which Deceivers seduce the unwary Multitude: St. Paul expresses them by good Words and fair Speeches, Rom. 16. and elsewhere by the Sleight of Men, and the cunning Craftinefs, whereby they lie in wait to deceive ; Eph. 4. 14. But more particularly, this Sheeps-Clothing consists in a great Show of Piety and Zeal for the Glory of God, of great Love and Affection to the Souls of Men, and of great Mortification and Self, denial in themselves. I say,

(1.) It consists in a great Show of Piety and Zeal for, the Glory of God. This piece of Sheeps-Clothing was visible in the Pharisees, who affected a mighty Appearance of Sanctity and Devotion, and with it cover'd many vile Enormities : They made long Prayers, sometimes in the Corners of the Streets, and sometimes in private Houses, merely, to be heard and seen of Men; they kept the Sabbath with a more than ordinary Strictness, and blamed our Saviour and his Disciples for not coming up to their Preciseness. Wherein they are exactly imitated by the modern Zealots and Followers of that separating Sect, who pretend to greater Purity, and cry up a more spiritual way of Worship, merely to hide the Impurity of their Lives, and the Impiety of their Divisions.

(2.) Ano

(2.) Another piece of this Sheeps-Clothing, is a Pretence of great Love to Mens Souls, and a more than ordinary Care and Tenderness for them. This St. Paul observ'd of the false Teachers crept into the Churches of Galatia, of whon he minds the Galatians ; They zealously affect you

; (faith he) but not well: meaning, that whatever Shew of Love and Kindness they make to you, there was nothing under it but Falfhood aud Hypocrisy ; and in all they say or do, their Love was not to you, but themselves. For they would exclude you (faith he) that you might affect them:

) that is, they would shut you out of the true Faith, that you might admire their persons, and embrace their Errors. The fame Cloke is put on and worn still by Seducers, who pretend the greatest Kindness when they intend the greatest Mischief, and cover the foullest Designs under the fairest Shew of Affection.

(3.) Another piece of this Sheeps-Clothing, is a Pretence to greater Mortification and Self-denial than other Men. So St. Jerom interprets the Sheeps-Clothing of falle Prophets; by their feeming Rigour and Austerity of Life. Indeed, all that will draw Disciples after them must pretend to something extraordinary this way, and this hath been a known Way and Method of Deceivers, to raise an Admiration of their Persons, the better to inftil their Opinions into them : for a great Appearance of Strictness and Sanctity is wont to impose upon unwary People, who are apg to think that such godly Men cannot be mistaken, and thence are easily persuaded to take all they say for Gospel; and so implicitely imbibe all their Errors. The Pharisees frequent Fastings and mortify'd Looks drew the People after them, and by these Arts false Teachers have deceiv'd many : which made St. Paul caution the ColossiansLet none beguile you with a voluntary Humility, intruding into things tohich they have not seen, being vainly puff'd up with a fleshly Mind

This is briefly the Sheeps-Clothing, in which falso Prophets are said to come.

But what is the End of their Coming ? Why, that the next words declare ; Inwardly they are ravening Wolves. Now the Wolf (you know) is a Creature of Prey, it comes not but to kill and to destroy ; its chief Design is upon the harmless Sheep, whom he seeks first to divide and then to devour. The ravening Wolf is the worit of its kind, and signifies one of the greatest Rage and Rapa

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city. And yet our Saviour thought this the fittest Refen blance of the Subtlety and Cruelty of false Teachers, who seek to fleece and devour the Flock they pretend to feed. Of this the Pharisees were a plain Instance, who by their long Prayers devour'd Widows Houses, and made their long Robes a Covering for all their Rapine and Oppresfion; and this hath been the method of their Followers ever since, to carry on Rebellion by Pretences of Reformation, and to hide Sacrilege and Schism under a Cloke of greater Sanctity. And so tho the outward Appearance be in Sheeps-Clothing, yet inwardly they are ravening Wolves.

But how may we know and discover these false Prophets and Teachers ? Why, that our Saviour informs us : Te Dall know them by their Fruits ; do Men gather Grapes of Thorns, and Figs of Thistles ? Such sweet and pleasant Fruit cannot spring from a dry and different Stock, no more can found Practices proceed from rotten and corrupt Principles. The Rule or Mark of Distinction here given by our Saviour, for the discovery of false Teachers, is, Te pall know them by their Fruits : 'tis not by the Leaves or Blossonis of a specious Profeflion, but by the real Fruits of a suitable Practice.

But what are these Fruits by which we may know them? Why, 'tis by the Fruits of their Doctrine, and the Fruits of their Lives.

1/4, I say, false Teachers may be known by the Fruits of their Doctrine ; not indeed always by the Matter of their Doctrine, for false Teachers' nay fómetimes preach Doctrines that are found, orthodox, and true; but by the Ends, Tendencies, and Confequents of them, which are molt properly ftild the Fruits of their Doctrine. Such as propesy'd falsly in God's Name, and, as ronie would have them, prophesy'd {mooth Things, Deceits, and Lyes, Sowing Pillors under mens Arms to hunt Souls; foothing them in their Iniquities, and saying Peace when there was no Peace; were of old stild false Prophets, who daub'd with untemper'd Murtar, as we read in Jeremy and Ezekiel. And such are they who still flatter Men, especially great Persons, in their Vices and Follies, and deal unfaithfully with them committed to their charge, for By-ends.

There are others who perhaps may preach found Doc. trine, but not from good Principles, or for right Ends; viz. not for the Glory of God, or the Good of Mens Souls, but for their own Glory, and to promote fome world


ly Interest. $t. Paul speaks of some who preach'd Chrift out of Envy and Strife, not of Good-will, but of contention, and therefore not sincerely; Phil. 1. 15, 16. And we have fome who vent Doctrines tending to the Breach of Peace and Unity in the Church of Christ, and to promote Sedition, Faction, and Disobedience in it: such as these are justly reckon'd in the number of false Teachers, who serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own Bellies. St. James speaks of a sort of Wisdom, that is attended with bitter Envying, Strife, and Dilension, which leads to Confusion and every evil Work: and this Wisdom, he tells us, descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilishi. But the Wisdom that is from above, is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality and without Hypocrisy. By these Marks we may try the Fruits of Mens Doctrine, and thereby know the false Teachers from the true,

2dly, We may know them by the Fruits of their Lives; for wicked Practices flow froni evil Principles, and plainly demonstrate the Falfhood of them. As falfe' Premises always infer a false Conclusion, so a bad Life discovers the Naughtiness of the Heart, and the Unfoundness of the Profeffion. 'Tis true indeed, a wicked Life doth not always denominate a Man a false Teacher, for a bad Liver may sometimes preach true Doctrine: in which case our Saviour's Direction is, to do as they say, and not as they do ; for they say and do not.

But for the most part Mens Practices are sutable to their Principles, and the Debauchery of Manners proceeds from the Debauchery of the Mind : tho this, as all other Rules, may admit of some Exception.

Again, It must be granted, that some Men may so artificially colour over and disguise their evil Deeds and Designs, that 'tis not easy to discover the Badness of them ; but yet here too the Disguise often drops off, and the Wolf appears under the Sheeps-Clothing; the Cloke in time wears out, and the Hypocrisy may be seen through the Thinness of the Covering. But where Mens Wickedness is more open and scandalous, where their Lives are vicious or factious, where they manifestly fow the Seeds of Discord and Dissensioni, fomenting Division and Separation, and thereby kindling mutual Heats and Hatred against one ano. ther; there we may safely conclude them to be none of Christ's Husbandmen, to fow his good Seed, but some of Q 3


Satan's Emissaries and Instruments to plant his Tares,

Again, Where Men persuade to do Evil that Good may come, casting off known Duties, and allowing themselves in apparent Violations both of Divine and Human Laws; these are all evil Fruits, and they whose Doctrines or Prac tices lead to the Growth of them, are some of the false Prophets or Teachers, that we are here exhorted to beware of and to avoid.

But our Saviour goes on to illustrate these things by the Similitude of a Tree and its Fruit : for having before intimated, thật Men do not gather Grapes of Thorns, but of the Vine; nor Figs of Thistles, but of the Fig-tret ; he adds, Even so every good Tree bringeth footh good Fruit, but a corrupt Tree bringeth forth evil Fruit : meaning, that the Fruit partakes of the Nature and Goodness of the Tree from whence it proceeds; so that if the Tree be good, the Fruit will be good also ; but if the Tree be evil or corrupt, the Fruit will be fo too. Even so good Principles, if firmly rooted in the Mind, will bring forth the good Fruits of found Doctrine and a suitable Practice ; but evil Principles, if got there, will produce the bad Fruits of Error and un found Practices. St. James explains it by the Similitude of a Spring or Fountain, where if the Waters are pure and clean, it will send forth, clear and wholesom Streams; but if the Waters be foul and polluted, the Streams that iffue from it must be fo too, for a Fountain cannot at the same place send forth (weet Waters and bitter, James 3. 11. In like manner, a good Man out of the good Treasure of the Heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil Man out of the evil Treasure of his Heart bringeth forth evil things; for out of the Abundance of_the Heart the Mouth Speaketh: Luke 6.45. So that as a Tree is known by its Fruit, fo is the Man by his Manners: which is so true, that our Saviour adds, A good Tree cannot bring forth evil Fruit, neither can · a corrupt Tree bring forth good Fruit, But here we must note, that what is here faid of the Tree and its Fruit, must not be apply'd always to Perfons, but mostly to Principles : for if we apply it to Perfons, it will fometimes prove otherwife ; for the best of Men having something of Evil in them, sometimes bring forth evil Fruit; and the worst of Men having something of Good in them, sometimes bring forth good Fruit: This is so evident from the Failings of good Men, and the good Works of bad Men, that it needs to further Proof. But if we apply it to Principles, it will

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