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Proving that they are no Christians in their Hearts Who are


Arminians, Anabaptists, Socinians, Romanists, Antinomians,
Erastians, and the like, in their Heads
by George Gillespie


Scottish Commissioner To the Assembly of Divines At Westminster.

WHETHER A SOUND HEART AND AN UNSOUND HEAD CAN CONSIST
TOGETHER? AND VICE VERSA; OR, WHETHER TRUTH AND HOLINESS
BE NOT INSEPARABLE COMPANIONS?

It is one of the greatest objections against the suppressing and
punishing of heresies, errors and schisms, O, say they, this is a
persecuting of those that are godly; this is a wound to piety, and
the power of godliness. I do not deny but there may be, and is, true
piety in many who are somewhat infected with the leaven of false
doctrine, and live in some erroneous opinion. I dare not appropriate
the name of the godly party to those who are free from any of the
errors of the times. Those that are truly godly may in divers things
differ in opinion. Every error is not inconsistent with holiness,
yet every error doth pro tanto, and proportionably retard, hinder,
and prejudge holiness; and although the devil sow his tares among
Christ's wheat (I mean in the same persons as well as in the same
church), yet who will say that a field of wheat is nothing the worse
of the tares, for then to what end did the enemy watch an
opportunity of that malicious hostile act, to sow the tares among
the wheat? 2. Dangerous and damnable errors can no otherwise consist
with true grace than dangerous and damnable sins. And this I will
hold as a good rule in practical divinity, that as the want of true
piety makes a person (if tempted) apt to be infected with error, so
error of judgment, if continued in, doth not only hinder growing,
but makes a dangerous decreasing and falling short in true piety; or
thus, the stability of the mind and judgment in the faith of the
gospel, and in the true reformed religion, and the stability of the
heart in grace and true piety, stand or fall together, flourish or
fade away together, lodge or flit together, live or die together.

First of all (to make good what I assert), let it be well observed,
that the Scripture finds out the roots of heresies and errors in the
corrupt hearts of men, in some reigning unmortified lust. An
unstable heart makes an unstable head, and a corrupt affection makes
a corrupt judgment This may appear in the general from Gal. 5.20,
where heresies are reckoned among the works of the flesh; Col. 2.18,
where a superstitious mind is called a fleshly mind; 1 Tim. 1.19,
where faith is compared to a precious treasure carried in a ship; a
good conscience to the ship that carries it, the loss of the ship is
the loss of the ladening; 2 Tim. 3.6; 2 Thess. x. 11,12; Gal. 6.12;
2 Tim. 4.3; 1 John 2.19. It is therefore a good argument that
protestant writers have used against the Pope's infallibility, The
Pope hath been, and may be, impious, profane, sensual, carnal,
proud, covetous; therefore he may dangerously err in his inditement
and decrees. Some have derived the origin of all the popish errors
from ambition and avarice, or (as others), from the cardinals' caps,
and the monks' bellies.

The apostle John reduceth all the cares, courses, studies,
endeavours, opinions or practices of the children of this world, to
one of these three, 1 John 2.16, "the lust of the flesh," peculiarly
so called; uncleanness, wantonness, gluttony, drunkenness; "the lust
of the eyes," when the soul is catched with something from without
in the world which tempteth, such a thing is goodly to the eye, it
entereth in upon the soul by the senses, riches, houses, lands,
brave apparel, ornaments, &c; "the pride of life," so called,
because where pride reigns a man will as soon quit his life as that
thing which his proud spirit loves; he had rather be dead before he
get not his pride satisfied; so that his pride and his life are all
one to him, and as it were things convertible.

You shall find many who have embraced new and erroneous ways have
been led away with the lust of the flesh, Rom. 16.18; Philip. 3.19;
2 Pet. 2.13,14,18; Num. 25.1-3; 1 Kings 11.1,4,5. It was the sensual
pleasantness of the groves and high places which made the Jews in so
much love with them, that even in the times of reformation, yet the
people still sacrificed in the high places. The lust of the eyes
hath drawn away others from the way of truth, and from the true
faith, 2 Pet. 2.3; 1 Tim. 6.9,10; Luke 16.4; Tit. 1.11; 1 Tim. 6.5:
these count gain to be godliness, and have men's persons in
admiration for advantage; they will no longer adhere to the
profession of the truth than they may enjoy the world withal, 2 Tim.
4.10. Such a one was that Eccebolus, who, under Constantius, seemed
to be a precise Christian, but afterwards, under Julian the
apostate, fell away and became a pagan, yet after all this turned
Christian again under the next Christian emperor.

The pride of life hath corrupted the judgment of others, and
perverted them in the way of religion. It was the love of
pre-eminence which perverted Diotrephes, 1 John 3.9,10. It was pride
which made Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, cry down the magistracy of
Moses, and the priesthood of Aaron, and cry up the whole
congregation as holy. It was the love of a crown that made Jeroboam
set up his calves, and make another altar, and other priests, and
erect that independent church of his, which should not go up with
their hard cases to the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem. Henry IV. of France,
who was once a Protestant, changed his religion for the same cause,
that he might get a crown; so did Julian the apostate, once a
Christian. Porphyrius forsook the Christians that he might be the
better avenged upon some Christian in Cesarea of Palestine who had
done him a wrong. Yea, there is an innate pride in all men by nature
against Jesus Christ, Psal. 2.3; Luke 19.14; which pride must be
mortified, 2 Cor. 10.5.

Secondly, There is a reciprocal influence, as of the will and
affections upon the understanding, so of the understanding upon the
will and affections. The will determines the understanding, quo ad
exercitium, but the understanding determines the will, quo ad
specificationem actus; that is, the will applies the understanding
unto, or hindereth it from, the discerning of good and evil; yet the
will itself hath not light in itself, but is guided by the light of
the understanding; wherefore, as the rain makes vapours, and the
vapours make rain, so a bad understanding makes a bad will, and a
bad will makes a bad understanding. If the eye be single the body is
full of light, Matt. 6.22; which makes good what the schoolmen tells
us, that bonitas voluntatis dependet a recta a ratione velut regula,
the goodness of the will depends on right reason as its rule. See
Aquinas (q. 2, quest. 19, art. 3), and the commentators upon that
place. It is to be observed that sometimes the Scripture speaketh of
an error of the judgment concerning the faith as a fountain and
cause of ungodliness, profaneness, Atheism, 2 Tim. 2.16-19; Gal.
5.4; 2 John 9; as, contrariwise, there is a light and knowledge
which preserveth from sin and ungodliness, and leadeth the soul in
ways of holiness and obedience, Psal. 9.10; 119. 33,34; John 17.17.
If the knowledge of God, of his Christ, and of his word, and will,
and name, and statutes, preserve us from sin, and lead us in the
ways of obedience, then, by the rule of contraries, error of
judgment in these things will ensnare us in sin and wickedness. For
instance, an error concerning God, whether Father, John 15. 21, Son,
1 Cor. 2.8; 1 John 2.23; 2 John 9, or Holy Ghost, John 14.17.

Thirdly, As the infection of sin spreadeth itself throughout the
whole soul, and all the faculties and powers thereof, so doth the
work of the Spirit of God. We find light and holiness, 1 Pet. 2.9,
joined together like the Urim and Thummim. See also 1 Thess. 5.23:
here is both soul and spirit sanctified; which two are plainly
distinguished, Heb. 4.12. The word of God is so quick and powerful
as that it pierceth even to the dividing asunder of the soul and
spirit. If either the intellectuals be not sound, or if the vitals
and animals be not right, the word will find it out. A well-meaning
pious soul, a good heart and affection, which perhaps a person may
sit down satisfied with, will not excuse a corrupt mind, an
erroneous spirit; neither will a sound and orthodox judgment excuse
a corrupt heart and inordinate affections. Aristotle himself could
distinguish art and knowledge from virtue, because the most
excellent intellectuals cannot make a man so much as morally
virtuous, without the practice and exercise of virtue. Both soul and
spirit, both the inferior and superior part of the soul, must be
sanctified. Reason is as the helm, the affections as the sails. Let
the helm be steered never so right, if the wind either blow not at
all, or blow cross in the sails, the ship makes no speed in her way;
let the wind blow never so fair, and fill all the sails, yet if the
helm be off its hinges, or be not rightly steered, the ship may
quickly run upon a rock, or run ashore where it is not safe: so he
that hath a sound judgment, without good affections, cannot move
heavenward. He that hath good affections, without a sound judgment,
will make more haste than good speed. Reason is as the rider;
affections as a nimble horse. A man is but in an ill-taking if
either this rider mistake his way, or the horse run away with him
out of the way, having no reins to govern him, or if the horse be
lame and cannot ride.

Fourthly, Consider what the Apostle saith, 2 Tim. 3.16,17. He tells
us of four ends and uses of Scripture. The first two are commonly
referred to doctrinals, the last two to practicals. The Scripture is
profitable "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works." If any of these be
wanting, a Christian is not perfect, so much as in the perfection of
parts. He is but half a Christian who is an orthodox believer, if he
be not practical also; and he is but half a Christian who is
practical, if he be not an orthodox believer. These ends of
Scripture do not consist nor stand sure one without another.

Fifthly, To be led into all truth, and preserved from error, is a
work of the Spirit of truth; and this Spirit of truth is the
Comforter, and the Spirit of sanctification; which Spirit the
Mediator prayeth the Father to give unto those that are his, John
14.16,17; 16.13,14; 1 John 2. 27: no promise of being led into all
truth but to those that receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost,
Isa. 54.13; Psal. 25.12.

Sixthly, By how much a man falls from the truth, by so much he falls
from grace, and by how much a man falls from grace, by so much he
falls from the truth; for stability in the state of grace dependeth
in a manner upon stability in the truth; for proof whereof mark
three ifs. Christ's, John 8.31; Paul's, Col. 1.23; John's, 1 John
2.34. Again, stability in the truth dependeth upon stability in
grace, for proof whereof make a fourth if, 1 John 2.19. These
scriptural ifs have much in them, and should make us very cautious
and heedful, that we do not so far deceive ourselves, as to divide
what God hath joined together,a sound head and a sound heart.
Chrysostom1 exhorteth his hearers to join Christian virtues and
purity of doctrines together; for, saith he, "It profits us nothing
to be orthodox, if the life be vitiated; as, upon the other part, an
uncorrupt life profiteth nothing without soundness of faith.
Licentiousness of judgment in doctrines will certainly introduce
licentiousness of heart and life" in practicals. Arminius2 himself
(although many of his followers have cried up scepticism in
religion) could say that different doctrines produce in a people a
dubitation or hesitation concerning religion, that this doubting of
the truth produceth despairing to find the truth, and thence follows
Atheism and Epicurism; yet when heresies and false doctrines
introduce Atheism and Epicurism, they do but discover those roots of
bitterness which were before in the heart. Therefore, as Christ
tells those Jews that believed on him, if they continue not in his
word they are not his disciples indeed, John 8.21, so the apostle
John gives this reason why Simon Magus, Hymeneus, Alexander,
Philetus, Me-nander, Carpocrates, Basilides, Ebion, Corinthus, and
such like, went out, and separated from the church, and from the
profession of the truth, because, saith he, "they were not of us,"
meaning in respect of lively faith, true grace and regeneration,
therefore they went out from us, 1 John 2.19; which text John
Jerome, in the close of his first book upon Jeremiah, applies to
heretics in this respect,when they fall away openly they do but
show those very idols of their hearts which, in their inward parts,
they worshipped before.

I will add a seventh reason. Look how the Scripture distinguisheth
the elect from those who are of an ungodly life; in the same manner
it distinguisheth them who are of an erroneous belief, 1 Cor. 11.19.
The Apostle, 2 Thess. 2.10,11, tells us, that those who perish
believe a lie, i.e., an error pretending to be a truth; but, ver.
13, he gives thanks for the believing Thessalonians, "Because God
had chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit,
and belief of the truth:" so that they who believe not the truth are
no more elected than the unsanctified. Our Saviour, Matt. 24.24,
intimateth that it is impossible that the elect should be deceived
by false prophets; that is, in the same sense as he that is born of
God doth not commit sin, 1 John 3.9. Christ characteriseth his true
disciples, and distinguisheth them from others, not only by
obedience and a good life, Matt. 7.17,24; 25.35; John 13. 35, but
also by light in the eye of the understanding, Matt. 6.22,23, with
Eph. 1. 17,18; by continuing in his word, John 8.31; by knowing his
voice, and fleeing from a stranger, John 10.4,5. I hope I have
abundantly proved what I undertook; and so I conclude that he said
right who compared truth to the teacher, holiness and righteousness
to the ruling elders. I add: Where heresy is the teacher,
ungodliness and unrighteousness are the ruling elders; a holy
heretic is a chimera; and a profane person believing aright is
another.

But here, peradventure, some will think that the great objection
lies, May not a profane person have a sound or orthodox judgment in
all controverted truths? May not a man understand all mysteries and
all knowledge, who yet hath no love, nor true sanctification? 1 Cor.
13.2. May not a person hold fast the profession of the true faith
without wavering, whose heart, notwithstanding, is not right with
God, nor steadfast in his covenant?

First, I answer, Where there is but a form of godliness there is but
a form of knowledge. MorfwoiV is a word nowhere used by the Holy
Ghost but in two places, "A form of knowledge," Rom. 2.20; and "A
form of godliness," 2 Tim. 3.5. It is not the true and real form,
either of knowledge or godliness, which, as they have a true matter,
so a true form. He saith not morfhn (which had been the proper word
for a true form), but morfwsin, speciem scienti, speciem pietatis.
If we have respect to the notation of the word, it is a formation or
forming; I may call it a forming without mattering; so that the form
of knowledge more than which an ungodly man hath not, be he never so
learned, hath not the true substance and reality of knowledge.
Theophylact saith, some understand it to be the image and false
resemblance of knowledge; so Hesychius and Suidas understand
morfwsiV to be eikwn, an image of a thing.

Secondly, There is no sinfulness in the will and affections without
some error in the understanding. All lusts which a natural man lives
in, are lusts of ignorance, 1 Peter 1.14; the sins of the people are
called the errors of the people, Heb. 9.7; and the wicked person is
the fool in the Proverbs; the natural man receives not the things of
the Spirit of God; and what is the reason? because they are
foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. 2.14; the world cannot receive the
Spirit of truth, because it knoweth him not, John 14.17. The popish
doctrines of free will, of justification by works, of meat, of
implicit faith, of believing the Scriptures, because the church
receiveth them (and what marvel that they do so, whose eyes are not
opened to see the sunbeam of divine light in the Scripture itself,
which is spiritually discerned), of the sacraments conferring of
grace, and the like; also the Socinian tenets, that a man is not
bound to believe any article of faith, nor any interpretation of
Scripture, except it agree with his reason; that pastors and
ministers of the word have not now any distinguishing sacred
vocation authorizing them to be the ambassadors of Christ, to preach
and minister the sacraments more nor other Christians (which is also
maintained by a late Erastian writer in the Netherlands), these and
the like errors professed and maintained by them, what are they but
so many legible commentaries and manifest interpretations of those
corrupt and erroneous principles which are lurking and secretly
seated in the judgments and understandings of natural and
unregenerated persons, as well learned as unlearned? These heretics
do but bring forth to the light of the sun what is hid within the
minds of other unregenerate persons, as in so many dark dungeons.
The like I say of the Arminian doctrine of universal grace, and
universal atonement by Christ's death; and of original sin, that it
is not properly sin (which doctrines are common to many Anabaptists
with the Arminians). The like I say also of the Antinomian
doctrines, that Christ hath abolished not only the curse, and
rigour, and compulsion, but the very rule itself of the moral law;
so that they who are under the covenant of grace are not bound to
walk by that rule; that they ought not to repent and mourn for sin;
that God doth not afflict them for sin; that faith, without the
evidence of any marks or fruits of sanctification, doth assure the
soul of its interest in Christ; and what is that scientia media
which the Jesuits glory of as a new light, but the very old error of
natural men, which looks upon things contingent as not decreed and
determined by the will of God? And what is the Erastian way which
oppugneth suspension from the Lord's table, excommunication, and all
church government,what is it but a declaration or manifesto of the
proud imaginations of men's corruptions, which say within
themselves, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their
cords from us: and ye take too much upon you, Moses and Aaron,
seeing all the congregation are holy every one of them, and the Lord
is among them." I conclude this point: Every natural man hath in his
heart somewhat of Popery, somewhat of Socinianism, somewhat of
Arminianism, somewhat of Anabaptism, somewhat of Antinomianism,
somewhat of Erastianism (and I cannot but add), somewhat of
Independency too, so far as it pleadeth for more liberty than Christ
hath allowed; and if every man hath a Pope in his belly, as Luther
said, then every man hath an Independent in his belly (for the Pope
is the greatest Independent in the world); and it is natural (I
think) to every man to desire to be judged by no man.

Thirdly, When an unregenerate or unsanctified person holds fast the
profession of the faith, take heed it be not because he is not yet
tempted, nor put to it in that thing which is the idol of his heart.
Let him be brought to this, either to quit the truth and the faith,
or to quit what is dearest to him in the world, and see what he will
do in that case. His fruit is but such as grows upon the stony
ground, but stay till the sun of persecution arise and scorch him.

I have the more fully and strongly asserted the inconsistency of
heresy and holiness, as likewise of sound believing and profane
living; and have showed the joint fading or flourishing of true
grace and true holiness, that this being demonstrated and laid down
for a sure principle, may lead us to many practical and useful
conclusions and corollaries, which I will only here point at.

First, It cuts off the exception of those who cry out against the
censuring, suppressing, and punishing of heretics by the Christian
magistrate, as if this were a persecuting of piety or pious persons,
when it is indeed a suppressing of a work of the flesh, for heresy
is no other, Gal. 5.20, and of that which is either the cause or
effect, either the usher or page of some impiety.

Secondly, It confuteth that most pernicious and cursed opinion, that
if a man live well, he may be saved in any religion or any faith.
Socinus3 did hold that all, whether Lutherans, or Calvinists, or
Anabaptists, or Arians, so that they may live well, shall be saved
(as hath been observed). He was a follower of Mahomet, for Mahomet
having compiled his Alcoran partly out of the Jewish and partly out
of the Christian tenets, and made it an hotch-potch out of both,
that he might conciliate favour unto it among both, he held that
every one who lives well, whether Jew or Christian, shall be saved.
He that holds a man may be saved, whatever he believe, may, with as
much truth, hold that a man may be saved whatever he do, or however
he believe.

Thirdly, It stoppeth the mouths of heretics and sectaries, who call
themselves the godly party. Arius, Photinus, Socinus, Arminius, and
generally the chief heresiarchs which ever rose up in the church,
have been cried up by their followers for men of extraordinary
piety, as well as parts. All are not sheep that comes in sheep's
clothing. A false prophet is a wolf in sheep's clothing, Matt. 7.15;
but it is added, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Mark "by
their fruits," not by their green leaves nor fair flourishes. Let
them pretend what they will, we must believe the word of the Lord,
that one of the marks of those who are approved, is to hold fast
gospel truths against heresies, 1 Cor. 11.19; and by the rule of
contraries, those infected with heresy are made manifest not to be
approved. If that which I have formerly asserted and cleared from
Scripture be a truth, as most certainly it is, then it is no truth,
but a most dangerous and grace-destroying doctrine4 which some hold,
viz., that it is to be much questioned whether any opinions or
heresies (as they are called) be absolutely inconsistent with
believing in Jesus Christ (and so damnable, that is, accompanied
with eternal damnation), but only that which is formally
contradiction to such a believing. This writer (who is one of the
fomenters of the scepticism of this time) makes much question
whether any error or heresy be damnable which doth not formally
contradict this proposition, "That whosoever believes in Jesus
Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life;" but I have
showed elsewhere that heresies, denying the Godhead of Jesus Christ,
are accompanied with damnation; and no marvel, for whosoever
believeth in Christ, and yet believeth not him to be eternal God,
doth but believe in a creature, and no creature can redeem us from
hell, nor satisfy infinite justice; so are the heresies concerning
justification (which hold that something besides Christ's
righteousness, whether our faith or works, is imputed to us to
justification) damnable if continued in, Gal. 5.4; that if, by
damnable heresies, we mean such errors as are of dangerous
consequence, and, in this respect, justly and deeply condemnable or
censurable by men, many who hold and publicly maintain damnable
heresies, in this sense, may have, yea, and some (as far as men are
able to discern, de facto) have true grace and goodness. If he mean
that such have true grace and goodness in that sense as David,
during the time of his continuing in the sin of adultery, or Peter
during the time of his denying Christ, had true grace and goodness;
that is, that such do not totally fall away from true grace, but
have the seed of God abiding in them, then he pleadeth no better
than as if one should say the sin of adultery, the sin of denying of
Christ, are not damnable sins, at least, not inconsistent with true
grace and goodness. But if he will yield that errors of dangerous
consequence, which are justly and deeply condemnable, are
inconsistent with true grace and goodness in the same sense as gross
sins are inconsistent therewith; that is, that gross and condemnable
errors are inconsistent with the soul's growing, thriving,
prospering, and flourishing,yea, with any lively acting and putting
forth of true grace,yea, that gross errors do greatly and
dangerously impair, abate, diminish, weaken, wound, hurt, and blast
true grace and goodness, and do extremely grieve, and, in a great
measure, quench the Spirit of grace,then he must also grant that to
bear with or wink at gross errors, is to bear with or wink at such
things as are extremely prejudicial, obstructive, and impeditive to
true grace and goodness.

Fourthly, It is but an ignorant mistake, and a dangerous
soul-deceiving, presumption, for a profane loose liver, or for a
close, unmortified, and rotten-hearted hypocrite, to think or
promise that he will stand fast in the faith, and hold fast the
truth without wavering. Whosoever maketh shipwreck of a good
conscience cannot but make shipwreck of faith too. He that is
overcome of a sin may be overcome of an error too, when he is
tempted in that which is the idol of his heart; therefore let him
who would have light from Christ awake from his sins, Eph. 5.14. He
that hath not pious affections, and thinks his orthodox judgment
will make him steadfast in the faith, is as great a fool as he that
thinks to ride without a horse, or a captain that thinks to fight
the enemy without soldiers, or a mariner that thinks to make out his
voyage when his ship wants sails.

Fifthly, They that would have church censures put forth only upon
heretics, apostates, or such as are unsound in the faith, but not
upon profane livers in the church (which was the error of Erastus,
and, before him, of the princes and states of Germany, in the
Hundred Grievances; the original of which error, so far as I can
find, was from the darkness of Popery; for there was an opinion that
the Pope might be deposed for heresy, but not for a scandalous life;
which opinion neus Sylvius, de Gestis Concilii Basil., lib. 1,
confuteth); they also, upon the other hand, that would have the
censure of excommunication put forth upon loose and scandalous
livers within the church, but not for those things which the
reformed churches call heresies; so Grotius, Annot. on Luke 6.22,
and divers Arminians, divers also of the sectaries in England;
these, I say, both of the one and of the other opinion, do but
separate those things which ought not, cannot be separated.

Sixthly, There is cause to set apart days of fasting and prayers,
when heresies and errors abound, as well as when profaneness and
gross wickedness aboundeth in the lives of the people. Christ doth,
in five of his epistles to the churches of Asia (to Ephesus, Smyrna,
Pergamos, Thyatira, Philadelphia), take notice of false teachers,
sects, and erroneous doctrines, commending the zeal in Ephesus
against them, blaming those in Pergamos and Thyatira for tolerating
such amongst them, encouraging those in Smyrna and Philadelphia, by
expressing his displeasure against those sects. No mention of loose
and scandalous livers, distinguished from the sects, in those
churches. Either there were such scandalous livers in those churches
at that time, or not. If there were, then observe, Christ mentions
not them, but the false teachers and sectaries; for although both
are condemnable, yet he takes special notice of scandals in doctrine
and profession, as being matters of the highest treason against him,
and the most provoking sins in a church; as being also the more
deceitful and secret poison, honeyed over with plausible pretences,
and therefore the more needing a discovery. If there were no such
scandalous and profane livers in these churches, then note, that
Christ will have a great controversy against a church which hath
false doctrines and pernicious sects in it, although there were
never a scandalous person more in it. There is therefore cause to
fast and pray, for which Christ makes a matter of controversy
against his churches. If we have prayed away Popery, Prelacy, the
old superstitious ceremonies, the malignant armies, &c., O let us
cry mightily for this also! See if we can pray away heresies and
pernicious doctrines, sects and schisms.

Seventhly, We must turn away from and avoid the fellowship of false
teachers, and the spreaders of dangerous doctrines, not only that we
may be steadfast in the truth, but that our hearts may be
established with grace; for there are such reasons given in
Scripture for avoiding the company of that kind of men as highly
concern piety: Avoid them, because they serve not Christ, but their
own bellies, Rom. 16.18; from such turn away, because they are men
of corrupt minds, supposing gain to be godliness; and their
disputings breed envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 1 Tim.
6.4,5; receive them not into your houses who bring not the doctrine
of Christ, because such have not God, 2 John 9,10,11.

Eighthly, Let no man think that opinions are free more than
practices, or that a man runs no hazard of his salvation by
erroneous and heretical opinions. Error of judgment, as well as
wickedness of practice, may bring death and destruction upon the
soul, James 5.19,20; 2 Pet. 2.1; 3.16; Gal. 2.21. Heretics, as well
as murderers and drunkards, are there excluded from the kingdom of
heaven.

Ninthly, If thou wouldest keep thy head from erring, be sure to keep
thy heart from erring: Psal. 95.10, "It is a people that do err in
their heart, and they have not known my ways." As thou desirest not
to be a backslider in the profession of the true faith, be not a
backslider in heart, Prov. 14.14. If thou wouldest be preserved from
erroneous opinions, pray for the mortification of thy corruptions,
Gal. 5.20, with 24.

Tenthly, If thou wouldest be firm and stable in the truth, thou must
not only have grace in the heart, but be established in grace, Heb.
13.9, "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines, for
it is a good thing that the heart (he saith not have grace, but) be
established (bebaiousqai) in grace." He that is not established in
the present truth, i.e., in the truth of the times, proves himself
(or otherwise makes himself) to be unstable in grace. If abebhloV be
abebaioV, if he that is no profane one be yet an unstable one, what
doth it profit? It is plainly intimated to us, 1 Pet. 5.8,9, that
such as are not steadfast in the faith do not resist Satan, but are
devoured by him; and, 2 Pet. 1.12, the Apostle thinks it not enough
that Christians be established in the present truth, if they be not
also growing in grace, and making sure their calling and election,
and adding one grace to another; "Wherefore (saith he) I will not be
negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things (to wit,
which belong to the establishing of the heart in grace), though ye
know them, and be established in the present truth."

Now, that the heart may be established in grace (and so also in the
truth), let us endeavour to walk always as under the eye of God,
Psalm 16.8; Heb. 11.27; to improve the promises, and rest upon
Christ for stability of heart, 1 Cor. 1.8; for he is our wisdom and
sanctification, as well as righteousness and redemption, ver. 30.
Let us entertain the Spirit of grace, and not grieve him, nor quench
him; for by the Spirit of the Lord are we upholden, stablished,
strengthened, Psal. 51.11,12; Eph. 3.16.

Eleventhly, When it comes to a time of trial, and to the sifting of
the whole house of Israel, as corn is sifted in a sieve, Amos 9.9,
they only are made manifest to be approved in whom there is both
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, both true
piety and sound judgment: if either of these be found wanting, be
sure the other is wanting too, whatever show there may be to the
contrary. There is a text, 1 Cor. 11.19, worthy to be much and often
thought upon in these days, "For there must be heresies (or sects)
among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among
you;" of which text more anon. Now, then, forasmuch as the church is
sometimes tried by heresies, sometimes by persecutions, sometimes by
both, sometimes by other temptations, and, for our part, we know not
what further trials we must endure before this work be at an end, or
before we go off the stage, as we desire to hold out in a time of
trial, let us hold fast truth and holiness together, and cast away
from us whatsoever maketh us to offend, whether it be the right eye
of an erroneous opinion, or the right hand of a sinful will, or the
right foot of a carnal affection.

1. De Verbis Apost., ser. 24.
2. Orat. de Compon. Relig. Diffidio.
3. Vide Orat. in Abrah. Calovii. Anno 1643.
4. Mr J. Godwin, Hagiomastix, sect. 634.


 

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