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taken. For if the devil can work such things as appear miracles to me, I am as much persuaded as if they were true miracles, and wrought by God. And so men may be deceived in trusting to miracles. The common notion of a miracle is what exceeds the power

of nature. To which we say, that we know not the utmost of the


of nature, and consequently cannot tell what exceeds it. Nor do you pretend to know the utmost of the power of spirits, whether good or evil, and how then can you tell what exceeds their power? I doubt not but you would have thought those to be true miracles, which the magicians are said to have wrought in Egypt, but that Moses is said to have wrought miracles that were superior to them.

C. Therefore, if two persons contend for the superiority, as here God and the Devil did, the best issue that can be, is to see them wrestle together, and then we shall soon know which is the strongest. This was the case of Moses and the magicians, of Christ and the Devil. There was a struggle, and Satan was plainly overcome.

I confess I know not the power of spirits, nor how they work upon bodies. And by the same reason that a spirit can lift a straw,


may a mountain, and the whole earth, for aught I know; and may do many things which would appear true miracles to me, and so might deceive me. And all I have to trust to in this case, is the restraining power of God, that he will not permit the devil so to do. And, were it not for this, I doubt not but the devil could take away my life in an instant, or inflict terrible diseases upon me, as upon Job. And I think this consideration is the strongest motive in the world to keep us in a constant dependence upon God, that we may live in the midst of such powerful enemies as we can by no means resist of ourselves, and are in their power every minute, when God shall withdraw his protection from us. And it is in their power likewise to work signs and wonders to deceive us, if God permit.—And herein the great power and goodness of God is manifest, that he has never yet permitted the devil to work miracles in opposition to any whom he sent, except where the remedy was at hand, and to show his power the more, as in the case of Moses and the magicians, &c.

And this is further evident, because God has, at other times, and upon other occasions, suffered the devil to exert his power, as to make fire descend upon Job's cattle, &c. But here was no cause of religion concerned, nor any truth of God in debate. D. But your Christ has foretold, Matt. xxiv. 24.

. that false Christs and false Prophets shall arise, who shall show great signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. And it is said, 2 Thess. ii. 9. that there shall be a wicked one, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; and it is supposed, Deut. xiii. 1, &c. that a false prophet may give a sign or a wonder, to draw men after false gods. Here, then, is sign against sign, and wonder against wonder, and which of these shall we believe ?

C. The first, no doubt. For God cannot contradict himself, nor will show signs and wonders in opposition to that law which he has established by so many signs and wonders. Therefore, in such a

case, we must conclude, that God has permitted the devil to exert his power, as against Moses and Christ, for the trial of our faith, and to show the superior power of God more eminently, in overcoming all the power of the enemy.

But, as I said before, we have a more sure word, that is, proof, than even these miracles exhibited to our outward senses, which is the word of prophecy. Let, then, any false Christ who shall pretend to come hereafter, show such a book as our Bible, which has been so long in the world (the most ancient book now extant) testifying of him, foretelling the time, and all other circumstances of his coming, with his sufferings and death, and all these prophecies exactly fulfilled in him. And till he can do this, he cannot have that evidence which our Christ has, and he must be a false Christ to me, and all the signs that he can show, will be but lying wonders to any that is truly established in the Christian faith. But it may be a trial too strong for those careless ones who will not be at the pains to inquire into the grounds of their religion, but take it upon trust, as they do the fashions, and mind not to frame their lives according to it, but are immersed in the world, and the pleasures of it.

And it will be a just judgment upon these, that they who shut their eyes against all the clear evidences of the Gospel, should be given up to believe

And the reason is given, 2 Thess. ii. 12. because they “had pleasure in unrighteousness.” They loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

So that I must repeat what I said before, that


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there is a preparation of the heart (as of the ground) to receive the truth. And where the doctrine does not please, no evidence, how clear soever, will be received. God cannot enter, till mammon be dispossessed. We cannot serve these two masters. He who has a clear sight of heaven, cannot value the dull pleasures of this life; and it is impossible that he who is drowned in sense can relish spiritual things. The love of this world is enmity against God. The first sin was a temptation of sense; and the reparation is to open our eyes to the enjoyment of God. Vice clouds this eye, and makes it blind to the only true and eternal pleasure. It is foolishness to such

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This, this, Sir, is the remora that keeps men from Christianity. It is not want of evidence, but it is want of consideration. I would not say this to you till I had first gone through all the topics of


that you might not call it cant. But this is the truth. As David says, “ To him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I show the salvation of God." And our Saviour says, “ If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

And 6 No man can come unto me except the Father draw him."

This was the reason why John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner to prepare the


for Christ, by preaching of repentance, to fit men for receiving the Gospel. And they who repented of their sins opon his preaching, did gladly embrace the doctrine of Christ. But they who would not forsake their sins remained obdurate, though other


wise men of sense and learning. As our Saviour told the Priests and Elders, “ John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not;

, but the publicans and the harlots believed him. And ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, that ye might believe him.” And when Christ sought to prepare them for his doctrine, by telling them, that they could not serve God and mammon, it is said, Luke xvi. 14. 66 That when the Pharisees, who were covetous, heard these things, they derided him.” But he instructed them, in the next verse, (if they would have received it) that " what is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God.” And enforced this with the example of the rich man and Lazarus. And said, “that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” And that whosoever he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Now, take this in the largest sense, that he who is not ready and willing to forsake all, as if he hated them, as Christ said,

If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother,” &c. (that is, when they come in competition with any command of Christ) and “take not his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.” How few disciples would he have had in this age ! Would all bis miracles persuade some to this ! The world is too hard for heaven with most men !

Here is the cause of infidelity. The love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, darken the heart, and, like shutters, keep out the light of heaven; till they are removed, the light cannot enter. The spirit of purity and


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