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establishing and multiplying them. And although there were some found who resisted, yet they were soon overcome and repressed. Even as not long before their present times, it happened unto Ernestus, Bishop of Saxony, of whom they said, that when he had destroyed a certain diabolical temple of this kind, he fell into a dreadful disease as a punishment; and was compelled to hurry the rebuilding of it with all possible speed.—It was by such monstrous bugbears and diabolical impostures as these, that the fire of purgatory arose and was confirmed, together with particular masses for souls, worshippings of the saints, undertaking religious pilgrimages, and building monasteries, churches, and secluded retreats. Nay, no small number of these characters became famous for their predictions of future events; as Liechtenberg and others. But all these things are, at the instigation, and by the co-operation, of the devil; that he might thereby confirm his abominations and lies, blind the eyes of men, and hold them captive in error, that none might escape his snares.
INDEED, it is by no means contrary to the purposes of the devil to permit himself to be cast out, when he wishes, even by the most abandoned and wicked reprobate though in reality, he himself still remains an outcast, and, by this very means the more powerfully holds and entangles men deceived by this imposture. Nay, he even knows how to conjecture of, and divine concerning future things; being a spirit so crafty and experienced. Though, in truth, he always deludes and laughs at men by these his divinations; giving such ambiguous answers, that his oracles may be interpreted many and various ways; so that, which way soever the event may turn out, he establishes his truth: even as it was among the antients and their priests of Apollo and Jupiter, and Hammon, and the priests of other nations also. And when these priests and their wonderful signs are seen, all men become mad, and immediately fly about in all directions, crying out with one voice, God certainly dwells here!' Here are miracles to be seen indeed, which are quite palpable!' But they know not how to
judge, and to perceive, that it is the devil himself that works all these things, on purpose to deceive and seduce men. Nor do foolish men consider, that Christ clearly foretold all these things long before, and forwarned us of them both by himself and by his apostles. But so it was to be all these things have come upon us most deservedly, from our having first despised the Word of God, and refused to examine it: and therefore, we have lost Christ, and found all these signs of the devil. And moreover, this sport exactly pleases the devil; for by means of it, he has gotten a most powerful dominion throughout Christendom; which was just what he was seeking after.
Since, therefore, we have seen these things, and have abundantly experienced, to our great evil, what great injuries the devil has brought in by means of these false signs and lying spirits, I think it becomes us, being thus rendered wiser from the evils we have suffered, to act more prudently, and not to suffer the Word of Christ, (as those who were before us did,) to lie neglected as if it were spoken in vain; lest the same thing should happen unto us which happened unto them. For these words of Christ are a declaration, or rather, a prophecy, written on purpose to admonish us. But alas, it was too late for those who were before us. It is, however, sufficiently in time for us, if we do but embrace it: that is, if we do not suffer ourselves to be moved, what signs and wonders soever they may boast of as being wrought by Saint Mary and other saints: which signs they extol with all the pomp of words, that they may draw us away from the Word. Being, therefore, thus admonished, let us act wisely; knowing, that these false signs must be wrought, that we might learn to have no faith in any mere naked sign.
Christ has most abundantly and faithfully admonished us, where, speaking of these same kind of signs, Matt. xxiv. 25, he says, "Behold I have foretold you." As if he had said, Beware, and take heed of my words, and follow them: if you do not, ye will most certainly be implicated in errors and seduced. But,
ye have my Word: from which ye know what is the will of my Father. Ye have therein my doctrine, which shows unto you how ye ought to live, and also, what ought to do. Ye see, on the other hand, signs contrary to that Word. Therefore, ye can thus conclude :-Since I see on the one hand great signs, but have, on the other, a doctrine that warns me against them; therefore, I am first to observe to what these signs tend; and I am to try them in that way in which they are to be tried; to see, whether they tend to confirm my faith in this article of the Word--that Christ died for me, that I might by him be justified before God and saved; and then, that I am to live in my appointed state of life, and to do those things faithfully which he has commanded me. But, after weighing these things I find all quite the contrary:-namely, that these characters endeavour by these signs to confirm their own vanities, and establish their own merchandize, teaching men thus, Run to this or that saint. Put on a hooded-cloak, or hide thyself in a desert,' &c. And this is to draw me away from Christ, out of my church and congregation, and also from baptism and the sacrament, wherein I ought to remain, and also in all the works that are commanded me in my condition of life. Therefore, I will not listen to such men nor know them, even though an angel should descend from heaven, and raise the dead before my eyes. For Christ hast taught me to cleave unto the Word and Sacraments ordained by him and tells me, that I shall only find him where they are: and that I am to remain there, and not to seek him any where else: because he never draws nigh unto us but where baptism, the Gospel, and the office of the ministry are: by the means of which it is that he flows into our hearts and holds communion with us. Moreover, as he saith,
Obey thou thy parents, princes, and masters, faithfully, &c. and remain in thy station of life.' It is there, therefore, most certainly, that thou hear him and find him present with thee. Why then like a madman dost thou run to stones and trunks of trees, where no Word of God is taught at all, but where men blind the eyes of
mortals by diabolical signs? as if Christ himself were there, where his Word is not!
BEHOLD! it is in this way that the mouths of the Papists ought to be stopped, who, according to their custom, so pride themselves upon their fathers, their councils, and their numerous signs and wonders: by means of which, they attempt to comfirm all these impostures: and we ought to make them this short reply. 'Let us compare both together. I have here the Word of Christ, concerning which I am fully assured, and which has now been most powerfully confirmed throughout the whole world. But thou, on the other hand, bringest forth unto me thy doctrine and signs: by which I am led away after rosaries, pilgrimage the wor shippings of saints, masses, monkery, and other selfdevised and self-chosen singular works: in all which I do not hear one word about Christ, nor baptism, nor the sacrament, nor about that obedience and those works which are to be shown forth toward my neighbour, according to my situation in life as Christ has taught me; but I hear that which is quite the contrary.--Therefore, all these signs cannot be true: but both the signs and the doctrine are diabolical impostures!
Thus can we clearly know and judge all false signs; and say, I am not at all moved by signs, nor should be even though thou shouldst raise the dead unto life before my eyes for all these things may deceive, but the Word of God cannot deceive. For the devil so knows how to work upon men, and can deceive them with such delusions, that he may for a time, hold a man as if dead; and then permit him to come to life again, by allowing him the use of his senses, as if he had raised him from the dead. Or, he can also take away the sight of any ones's eye, or afflict any of his limbs with some disease, which he may afterwards permit to be healed, while men are made to think that these healings were the signs and wonders of some great saint or other!
Moreover, God also permits real signs to be wrought as a punishment unto those who disregard the truth, (as
Paul saith,) and as an admonition unto others. For so great are the sins of ingratitude and contempt of the Werd, that no wrath is sufficiently fierce to punish them as they deserve. And this is what we shall see, if the world shall be permitted to remain a little longer. For it will involve itself in such iniquities, by the one sin of despising the Word of God, that the state of Christians will be far worse than that of all the false signs that ever have been wrought, or ever will be! For God will send an abundance of false prophets into the world, because of its utterly loathing and refusing to hear his Word, and following after other things with wonderful curiosity; by the influence of whom, it will be brought into an inextricable labyrinth and abyss of errors; as we have hitherto seen to be the case in all the churches, monasteries, and schools, where nothing else was held forth and taught; and where all their books were crammed with nothing else besides these vanities, signs, and impudent lies. Nor was their reason for so doing any other, than that such signs might continue to be wrought: as though it were not predicted with sufficient clearness, that such things would come to pass, and that men would be seduced by such signs, so awfully so, that the elect should scarcely be saved. But, all these things happened unto those justly, who suffer themselves to be so easily seduced, and will not be admonished. Whereas, Christ has freely given us his Word, wherein we are instructed how to believe and live; which Word has been fully and abundantly confirmed by signs wrought by himself; and with this Word he himself will be content; nor will he add any thing else unto it; but will defend by all his power that which he has once spoken. These characters, nevertheless, still go on to devise new doctrines, and to institute better ways of living, (as they imagine,) contrary to the Word and true signs of God.
Therefore, Christ here saith, I will not at all regard them, even though they should boastingly say, Lord, have we not wrought many signs, and exhibited many virtues in thy name?' but I will pronounce this sentence upon them, "I never knew you: depart from me ye