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men, who hardened themselves against him, nor cenfures them, nor fines them; all which he who had the Power of Miracles, could have done, had he liked it. He barely departed from them. And if he did not damn them for the Sake of their Souls, fo neither did he furrender them to Beelzebub for the Sake of their Money. He demanded not a grey Groat of them; fo far was he from telling them, Gentlemen, I am your Spiritual Prince; pray pay me my Revenues. Paul was a Witnefs of the Resurrection, a difinterested Witness, and claimed no Dues; though others fince do in his Name, without being real Witneffes of the Refurrection, or difinterested Witneffes of any thing elle about it.
DISPUTING daily in the School of one Tyrannus. Mark here, my Beloved, that both Schools and Synagogues, or Churches, were open to him, though he was but a new Comer, and a Non-conformist. Mark, moreover, that he barely difputed, or reafoned. He was a Stranger to the Doctrine of Compulfion He was an Apostle, by virtue of whofe Words and Power, all Clerical Acts are pretended to be done ever fince: And yet he himself did none, fatisfying himself with faving Souls by Exhortation, and the Affiftance of the Spirit,
which are not Clerical Acts. He was the chief Paftor upon Earth, and held his Commiffion immediately from God; but he imposed no-thing but his Advice, Reason, and good Words, upon those that heard him. He could have forced them (had the Spirit fo directed) to have fwallowed implicitly all that he said; and either destroyed or diftreffed all who refufed. But the Lord Christ, my Brethren, in his Dealings with Human Kind, never ufes Means that are inbuman.
HERE you may diftinguish the Spirit of Chrift from the Spirit of High-Church. For trow ye, my Friends, that Chrift or his Apoftles ever delegated to weak and paffionate Ment Powers and Privileges, which, infallible and inspired as they were, they never affumed to themselves? Let us wonder, my Brethren, at the Impudence of fome Men in Black!
AND this continued for the Space of two. Years. Observe, it is not faid, that he kept at Curate all the while..
LET us go on to fome following Verfes : And God wrought Special Miracles by the Hands of Paul; fo that from his Body were brought unto the Sick Handkerchiefs or Aprons, and the Difeafes departed from them, and the evil Spirits. went out from them, ver. 11, 12.
OBSERVE, here are certain Signs of a Power from God; and they who pretend a Power from him, without manifefting the fame by certain Signs, are certainly Cheats and Impoftors. For a Power given by the all-wife God, must be given for fome certain End, which will infallibly be brought about. It is not confiftent with his Wifdom and Goodnefs to give it, and yet leave uncertain, that he has given it, when a plain Manifestation of it is of the utmost Importance to the World, and to the Purposes for which it is given. If a Man bring not infallible Proofs of his Power, how fhall I know, that he has it? Demonstration must go before Conviction, and Conviction before Confent. We cannot embrace for Truth, what we take to be a Lye. All which will farther appear from the following Verfes.
THEN certain of the vagabond Jews, Exorcifts, took upon them to call, over them which had evil Spirits, the Name of the Lord Jefus, Jaying, We adjure you by Jefus, whom Paul preacheth, ver. 13.
WE may perceive here, that the Apostles had Apes in their own Time; Fellows who fet up for their Succeffors, before they themfelves were dead. They were Exorcifts or Conjurers, fo called, I prefume, from their pre
tending to difpoffefs haunted Houses, by the dint of Spells and Forms of Words. They had now got a new Form of Words, and were going to work with them as faft as they could, boafting, no doubt, great things of their own Power. And indeed they took a politic Method to resemble the Apostle, had they succeeded in it; but they mifcarried miserably, as will be fhewn anon.
BUT what fhall we fay of fome Moderns, (more fhameless than these vagabond Jews) who will, right or wrong, be Succeffors to the Apoftles, without doing any thing that is Apoftolic, but what every reasonable Man may do as well? They fhew no Signs but those of Gracelefnefs and Pride; and do no Wonders, but in the Luxury of their Lives.
AND there were feven Sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and Chief of the Priests, which did fö, v. 14. More Mimickers of Miracles! We fee the Trade was growing fweet, but the Sauce proved four; for the evil Spirit answered and faid, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? An angry and contemptuous Quef tion, but full of good Senfe. But the worst follows: And the Man in whom the evil Spirit was, leapt upon them, and prevailed against
them, fo that they fled out of that House naked and wounded.
I. OBSERVE here, first, That we may eafily learn what Power Men have from God, by their Power over the Devil. When Paul gave the Word of Command, the Devil did not ftand fhilly-fhally, nor pretend to parly with one who was employed as the Lord's General against the Power of Darkness, but was forced to march Bag and Baggage; and glad, no doubt, that he could troop off in a whole Skin.
BUT it is quite otherwise, when Interlopers and Craftsmen, in Hopes to make a Peny of Satan, pretend to drive him out of his Quarters, though they come in the Name of the Lord. The Devil, in this Cafe, fets up the Flag of Defiance, and tells them they are Scoundrels to their Faces; Who are ye? Well spoken, Satan! They were Vagabonds, Jews, and Priefts, and the Devil chaftized them accordingly: They fled out of that Houfe naked and wounded. The Devil got the Day, and remained Mafter of the Field and the Baggage: He prevailed against them. They forged a Commiffion, and the Lord Jefus, whose Name they abufed, would not stand by them.