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mothers; the younger women as sisters, with all purity. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses; but a man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Therefore, I say, try such spirits with the anointing within, whether they be of God or no; for a man errs from the spirit of God before he be a heretic; for you read that the Jews had the scriptures, and many that are called christians have got the scriptures, the form of godliness; but the prophets told the Jews, ó that they rebelled against the spirit of God, and resisted the holy ghost;' and so they tried their spirits, and found them not to be of God. So must they that go under the name of christians, (that have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof,) be tried now with the holy ghost that giveth forth the scriptures, whether they be in it or no.
And Christ speaks of the false prophets and antichrists to his disciples, Matt. vii. how that they should come in the sheep's clothing, but inwardly they should be ravening wolves, and by their fruits they should know them ;' but were not these like sheep, and christians, when they had gotten the sheep's clothing on, the form of godliness, but were inwardly ravened from the spirit and power of God ? so their fruits were thorns and thistles. So try their spirit, and what fruit they bear, whether they be of God, yea or nay; for such inwardly ravening wolves are destroyers of the sheep of Christ, and cannot bring forth good fruit, nor abide the practice of truth and pure religion; and therefore Christ bid them beware of them, and not follow them; and John bids the church believe not every spirit, but try their spirits, whether they be of God or no.
And as Christ said, Matt vii. 22. “Many should call him Lord, Lord, or Master, and shall say, we have prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name,' &c.
Now, did not these go under the name of christians, and were great preachers, that could preach in the name of Jesus, and do such miracles? but Christ saith, he will profess he never knew them, and saith, • Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.' And Christ saith, “It is not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of his father which is in heaven.'
And so you may see here, it is not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, nor them that preach in the name of Jesus, and have the form of godliness, and not in the power of God, that Christ receives, and that entered into his kingdom; but such as depart from iniquity, and do the will of God, that are received by Christ, and that enter the kingdom of God; for the apostle himself saith, • I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away. Here the apostle had not only a care of others, but of himself, that he might be preserved in Christ Jesus.
And there were certain vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them that had evil spirits in the name of the Lord Jesus, say. ing, · We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches.' And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so, and the evil spirit answered and said, • Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And so the evil spirits came over them, and prevailed over them, and against them, that they fled away naked, &c. So you may see here, it is not them that take upon themselves to use the name of Jesus, and the name of Paul, that gives dominion over the evil spirits, but they that are in the spirit and power of Jesus, that Paul was in; this is it that arms them and clothes them.
And all such as preached up outward circumcision, or else they could not be saved; and also such as observe days, months, times and years, and thought to be justified by the law, and not by the faith of Christ; did not these go under the name of christians, whom the apostle said, • he was afraid lest he had bestowed upon them labour in vain ;' and of whom he said, “I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you, and if Christ be not in you, you are reprobates ?? And they that sought to be outwardly circumcised, Christ profited them nothing, &c. 'For in Christ neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a new creature,' and therefore the churches were not to trouble themselves with that which did not avail any thing, but mind the new creature in Christ, &c.
And those false brethren that came privily to spy out the liberty which the apostles and the true christians had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring them into bondage, . To whom (saith the apostle) we give place by subjection, no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you,' to wit, the church. Gal. ii 6. And the apostle saith, but some of these seemed to be somewhat in conference, but, they added nothing to me, and whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me, for God accepteth no man's person.'
Now, here you may see the apostle makes use of his authority in the power and spirit of Christ Jesus, over such false brethren that came to spy out their liberty in Christ, and bring them into bondage, and though • they seemed somewhat in conference,' the apostle did not matter it, • for he knew God respected no man's person,' to whom he would not bestow an hour's time withal, that the truth of the gospel might continue with the church. But did not these go under the name of christians? Did not the apostle here try their spirits, whether they were of God or no? And though they did seem somewhat in conference, it added nothing, and such the church is to reject now, which brings into bondage.
And the apostle saith to the church of the Colossians, Col. ii. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 'Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which, he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. Not holding the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances? Touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines of men. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. Here the apostle, who could try their spirits, would have others to try their spirits, and had a care of the church, and would not have them beguiled by intruders in the things they had not seen, who were vainly puffed up with a fleshly mind, which held not Christ the head, &c. These were gone from the light and spirit of God, by which they might have seen the things of God; so they were not likely to worship God in spirit and truth; and therefore the church is to beware of such beguilers now, as in the apostles' days, and to try their spirits, whether they be of God or no. And they that be dead, and risen with Christ, which are the church of Christ, they are not to be subject to the rudiments, or elements, or ordinances of this world; for they are not to touch, taste, nor handle the doctrines or commandments of men, which are all to perish with the using, that are not aster Christ, nor from him, though they may have a show in will-worship and humility, if they do neglect the body of Christ the church, and not hold him the head: and all that spirit works, is but to satisfy the flesh, which brings no honour to God.
And therefore the church of Christ is to try the spirits of such now, as in the apostles' days, lest they should be beguiled of their reward.
And again the apostle saith, · Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and after the rudiments, or elements of this world, and not after Christ.? Here again you may see the apostle had a care of the church, that they should try their spirits, not to follow that which is not after Christ; and therefore the church is to beware of such things and spirits, lest they be spoiled.
And again the apostle warns the church, • lest any man shall beguile them with enticing words. And again he saith, · Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision;' that is, false apostles
which gloried in circumcision, and the apostle calls them concision, which is a cutting off and tearing asunder of the truth. See the margin in Phil. iii. 2.
So the apostle would have the church to try such spirits then, which the church ought to do now by the spirit of God, and anointing with*in; and that they may not be beguiled with men's enticing words, and they may beware of dogs, and evil doers, and evil workers, &c. though they may come in sheep's clothing, fair speeches, and good words, and a. form of godliness, but denying the power of it;' from such the church is to turn away; for the prophet saith, • As to the wicked, what have they to do to take God's words in their mouth, and hate to be reformed ?' And Christ saith to such preachers, that are workers of iniquity, Depart from me, I know you not;' and the apostle saith, 2 Tim. ii. 19. • Every one that nameth the name of Jesus, let them depart from iniquity;' and so saith the church of Christ, and all his faithful ministers now.
And the apostle saith to the church, Acts xx. 29. •I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in amongst you, not sparing the flock;' also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;' therefore watch and remember, that for the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears, and said, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to the flock over which the holy ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his blood;" here you may see the apostles care of the church of Christ, and with what they were to watch and oversee the flock of Christ, and to feed his church withal, to wit, the holy ghost; in which holy ghost is the church of Christ's communion, by which they should try their spirits that were amongst them; and were not these men that should arise among themselves, and speak perverse things, and should draw away disciples after them, a kind of christians? And would they not draw into a kind of separation from the church? And did not the apostle say, that. They should have grievous wolves that would not spare the flock, which should enter amongst them? And had not they the sheep's clothing? And is not the church of Christ to beware of all such now, as were in the apostles' days, and to watch against them with the same holy ghost, and not to believe every spirit, but try them whether they are of God.
And the apostle said to the church, what saith the scripture, Cast out the bond woman and her son, the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman, for the son of the bond woman was born after the flesh, and will persecute the free woman's children
"Gal. iv. 30.
born after the spirit; for the free woman's children which are the church of Christ, Jerusalem, which is above, is their mother.'
And again, the apostle exhorts the church of Christ, and bid them? take heed lest there be any fornicators or profane person, as Esau, who for a morsel of bread sold his birth right; for ye know that afterwards when he would have inherited the blessing he was rejected. He found no place of repentance, though he sought it with tears; and the apostle said to the church of Christ,* • This is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother, and wherefore slew he him, because his works were evil, and his brother's righteous.'
And the church now must take heed of this nature of Ishmael, Esau and Cain, though Cain did offer sacrifice, so he was a kind of a priest, but a persecutor and a slayer of the righteous; and Ishmael was circumcised outwardly, and was in an outward fellowship, yet he was wild, and a mocker, and a persecutor of the heir of the promise.
And Esau he was also circumcised, who despised his birth right for a mess of pottage and a morsel of bread, who said in his heart he would kill Jacob, the second birth whom God loved; but Esau and Ishmael were not circumcised with the spirit; and therefore the church of Christ now is not to believe every spirit, but try their spirits whether they are of God, or of Cain, Esau'and Ishmael, and if so, to beware of them. · And John, in his epistle to the church, said, 2 John i. 7. • Many deceivers were entered into the world, &c. look to yourselves, &c. whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; and he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the father and the son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, (mark, not this doctrine of the apostles,] receive him not into your houses, neither bid him God speed; for he that bids him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds.'
Now here the apostle, with the spirit of Christ, warned the church of Christ in his day, of such before mentioned ; and the church of Christ now are to look to themselves, and beware of such now that walk not in the commandments of Christ, and abide not in the doctrine of Christ; such are transgressors, and abide not in the Father and the son, though they may profess them both in words. And the church of Christ had and hath authority in the power and spirit of Christ not to receive such into their houses, nor bid them God speed, &c. therefore try their spirits whether they be of God, and lay hands on no man suddenly.