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and that faith which we daily mention in our prayers; which is, I believe in Jesus Christ, that he suffered for me, and that he died, and was buried,' &c.; or, whether they teach any thing else that is contrary to Christ.
Thus then we are now sufficiently pre-admonished, if any one will but listen to the admonitions. But the inculcating of these things will have but little effect upon the common multitude of men, even as hitherto it has been of no avail. And I am fully persuaded, that if any one should come forth in Wittemberg, and should shew forth one sign, all would immediately flock unto him. For this is the way of the world, that when any thing new or unheard of before comes out, they are immediately turned away into a wondering at it, and accounting every thing else naught, that is, the Word and doctrine; and they go with open mouths after this new thing only, how diligently soever we may exclaim against it. Even as they have ever hitherto yielded themselves up to be deceived and led away by the most palpable and most impudent lies; and, as it were, have permitted themselves to be made to swim in a whole sea of such lies, just where any vagabond has wished, when he has risen up and broached any new falsehoods concerning some new relicts of saints: and men being caught with such an one, have flocked to him in crowded roads and streets. And all that led them on, was, an inconsiderate curiosity and headlong impulse of mind; and also pride, under the influence of which, they have despised and loathed the Word. And in addition to all this, the devil also has come in with his goads: by whose workings upon men's minds, false signs have ever drawn more followers after them than true. For no one either sees or regards the signs which were wrought by Christ and his apostles: but if any one casts out a devil, that exceeds all miracles! Therefore, if they will not receive admonition, they cannot lay the blame of their destruction upon us.
CONCERNING FALSE PROPHETS.
Matt. vii. 15.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Christ had hitherto been rightly establishing the true doctrine and life, and warning us against all those things that are contrary to that life and doctrine, and that may be offensive unto them and destructive of them. And now, in addition to all that, he here uses another exhortation; that we may take heed again and again, lest, even after the true doctrine and life have been rightly established and have flourished, teachers should rise up amongst us, who, under the name of true preachers of the Gospel, may bring in some other doctrine, and may pervert, and even sap the foundations of, both the true doctrine and life. For it cannot be, but that the true, right, and sincere doctrine of the Gospel will be fought against by the devil every where, every way, and by all possible means, both external and internal: even as Christ said at the beginning of this sermon of his, that it would come to pass, that he who would be a Christian must have all men his enemies. First, those who are placed out of the pale of Christianity; who will hate, persecute, and afflict him, either by beating and killing him, or by accusing, execrating, and condemning him, as much as lies in their power. And therefore, the conclusion is certain, that he who has no haters, calumniators, and persecutors, is not yet a Christian, or has not openly confessed his faith by external works for as soon as ever he begins to make his confession, he will stir up the hatred and envy of men against himself, who, as much as lies in their power, will devote him to death. Thus, those are his open enemies who are without the pale of Christianity: and these every one can see and feel.-But, in addition to these (as Christ would say) ye shall have other enemies: not those who are
without and who deny the doctrine, but those who grow up among you, and usurp, and boast of, your name and title: these will produce a mighty havoc, and will be the destruction of many. As to the former kind of enemies, they, although they may rage to the utmost extent, can do no more than strip those who trust in this life and the things thereof: they cannot by any violence take away from me my heart and my faith. But these latter do not at all lay any snares for the life and property they allow my substance to remain untouched : but they insidiously strike at the true doctrine, in order that they may plunder my heart of its inestimable treasure: namely, of the Word of God: for the sake of which, we endure every kind of persecution from the former kind of enemies. And this is the height of the miserable calamity,-that those who are our brethren, and who boast of the Christian doctrines, should rise up in furious arms against us, and, under the name of the Gospel, take away the true doctrine, and introduce another doctrine in its place! Concerning which Paul also, when departing from Asia, admonished the Ephesians, Acts xx. by foretelling them that men should rise up among them who would speak perverse things,' &c. And this is what may deservedly raise the lamentations and complaints of many,- that those should attempt these things, who are among us and of our company : whom we considered to be sincere, and of whom we never thought of bewaring, till we received the injury from them.
This is that persecution against Christians which is foretold us throughout the whole scripture, and which has prevailed ever since the beginning of the world: for the same happened unto Moses himself from among his people, and the same befel also Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham in ther families. And though there were in the family of Adam only two children, yet sedition, &c. was to be raised by one of them. And I believe we also have experienced the same in no common instances. For what a number were there in the beginning who stood by us, and enforced with us the preaching of the Gospel,
against the Pope? so many, that we hoped the whole world would have been brought over to our side. But at the time, when the greatest effort was to be made, and the Gospel was most firmly to be stood by, those very persons began that tragic scene, which was far worse, and more pernicious than any that all the princes, kings, and Cæsars ever could have raised in their persecution of the Gospel. And what could we do to these things? when those same persons were bringing on us the greatest injuries, and comforting, at the same time, and fostering the malice and determined opposition of our enemies, by calling out thus ;- From this it is plainly manifest, of what kind this doctrine of ours is; seeing that, we are all quarrelling among ourselves. For it is evident that the Holy Spirit cannot be with us, because we are persecuting, and continually criminating and abusing each other,' &c. And this is what we have to bear. Our enemies are to be comforted and feasted by our mutual offences, while we are weakened and reviled. And thus, we have to endure both our enemies and brethren as adversaries. So that, it is plainly manifest, that there is no greater trial in Christianity than that which befals us from without, and which concerns our doctrine.
BUT as these offences are to be expected by us in every age and time, and as they cannot be avoided, Christ has in this sermon of his fortified us against them both, by consolation and admonition.
The consolation is this:-that we suffer not ourselves to be cast down in mind, or filled with much trembling, when any offence of this kind shall take place; that is, when at the first sight we see and feel, that we, who boast of the Word, are ourselves quarrelling with each other; but that we take instruction from that same Word, and say, in reply to our adversaries;—I was not ignorant, when I first began to be a Christian, that these things would certainly take place. For Christ my Lord foretold me, that it would come to pass, that I should have both these characters for my enemies that is, both those who should attack me
from without, and also my own brethren who should cause me all this distress from within. But this shall not frighten me back; much less shall it cause me to depart from the true doctrine, as if it were false, because these my brethren are become my adversaries. For Christ himself had his betrayer Judas with him ; and yet, his doctrine was not therefore false, nor was that unjust which he did, though a disciple revolted from him: and therefore, our Judases also are not to be considered of so much consequence.
And the admonition is this. It is certainly declared to us before-hand that these things shall be so: in order that, we may with all diligence guard against them, and take heed unto ourselves that we be not deceived by such sects: but that we fortify ourselves against their attacks, and carefully learn to know such characters. For when Christ says, "Take heed unto yourselves,” he would teach us not to be inactive in these matters, but to open our eyes, and watch diligently and providently. For, with respect to external enemies, we do not need many things, besides patience, to endure all those evils with which they may afflict us with an undaunted and unmoved mind. But in the latter case, there is no room left for patience; we must have caution and watchfulness. We must not trust our brother that is by the side either of me or thee; no! not so much as in one word! But we are, like Arguses, to look with open and steady eyes into the Word of God only and to see, that we trust not any one man in any one thing: because, he may agree with me to-day, and teach against me tomorrow. And let no man promise to himself security in these matters, as if he had no need of any such admonition as this. For this temptation is so perilous and insidious, that the most spiritual men can scarcely take full heed to themselves therein, so as not to be deceived. But as to the other multitude, who are of a secure mind and without watchfulness and caution, they cannot escape these snares, so as not to be led away and seduced. Therefore, it is not in vain that Christ makes use of these words, "Take heed unto yourselves!" For so great is