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Part I. govern them ; that is to say, to rule and reign over

them; which is a thing, that all men naturally desire, Every man and is therefore worthy to be suspected of ambition

ex amine the pro. and imposture ; and consequently, ought to be exbability of a amined and tried by every man, before he yield pretended prophet's calling. them obedience; unless he have yielded it them

already, in the institution of a commonwealth ; as
when the prophet is the civil sovereign, or by the
civil sovereign authorized. And if this examination
of prophets and spirits, were not allowed to every
one of the people, it had been to no purpose to set
out the marks, by which every man might be able
to distinguish between those, whom they ought, and
those whom they ought not to follow. Seeing
therefore such marks are set out (Deut .xiii. 1, &c.)
to know a prophet by; and (1 John iv. 1, &c.)
to know a spirit by: and seeing there is so much
prophecying in the Old Testament, and so much
preaching in the New Testament, against prophets;
and so much greater a number ordinarily of false
prophets, than of true ; every one is to beware of
obeying their directions, at their own peril. And
first, that there were many more false than true
prophets, appears by this, that when Ahab (1 Kings
xxii.) consulted four hundred prophets, they were all
false impostors, but only one Micaiah.
little before the time of the captivity, the prophets
were generally liars. The prophets, (saith the
Lord, by Jeremiah, chapter xiv. 14) prophecy lies
in my name.

name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor spake unto them; they prophecy to you a false vision, a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Insomuch as God commanded the people by the mouth of the prophet

And a

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Jeremiah (chapter xxiii. 16) not to obey them : PART 11. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, hearken not unto the words of the prophets, that prophecy to you. They make you vain, they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.

Seeing then there was in the time of the Old all prophecy Testament, such quarrels amongst the visionary vereign proprophets, one contesting with another, and asking, examined by when departed the Spirit from me, to go to thee & every subject. as between Micaiah and the rest of the four hundred ; and such giving of the lie to one another, (as in Jerem. xiv. 14) and such controversies in the New Testament at this day, amongst the spiritual prophets ; every man then was, and now is bound to make use of his natural reason, to apply to all prophecy those rules which God hath given us, to discern the true from false. Of which rules, in the Old Testament, one was, conformable doctrine to that which Moses the sovereign prophet had taught them; and the other, the miraculous power of foretelling what God would bring to pass, as I have already showed out of Deut. xiii. 1, &c. And in the New Testament there was but one only mark; and that was the preaching of this doctrine, that Jesus is the . Christ, that is, king of the Jews, promised in the Old Testament. Whosoever denied that article, he was a false prophet, whatsoever miracles he might seem to work; and he that taught it was a true prophet. For St. John (1 Epist. iv. 2, &c.) speaking expressly of the means to examine spirits, whether they be of God, or not; after he had told them that there would arise false prophets, saith thus, Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth

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examined by

PART III. that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God;

that is, is approved and allowed as a prophet of God: All prophecy not that he is a godly man, or one of the elect, for vereign pro- this, that he confesseth, professeth, or preacheth phet, is to be Jesus to be the Christ; but for that he is a prophet every subject. avowed. For God sometimes speaketh by pro

phets, whose persons he hath not accepted; as he did by Balaam ; and as he foretold Saul of his death, by the Witch of Endor. Again in the next verse, Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of Christ; and this is the spirit of Anti-Christ. So that the rule is perfect on both sides ; that he is a true prophet, which preacheth the Messiah already come, in the person of Jesus ; and he a false one that denieth him come, and looketh for him in some future im postor, that shall take upon him that honour falsely, whom the apostle there properly calleth AntiChrist. Every man therefore ought to consider who is the sovereign prophet ; that is to say, who it is, that is God's vicegerent on earth ; and hath next under God, the authority of governing Christian men; and to observe for a rule, that doctrine, which in the name of God, he hath commanded to be taught ; and thereby to examine and try out the truth of those doctrines, which pretended prophets with miracle, or without, shall at any time advance: and if they find it contrary to that rule, to do as they did, that came to Moses, and complained that there were some that prophecied in the camp, whose authority so to do they doubted of; and leave to the sovereign, as they did to Moses, to uphold, or to forbid them, as he should see cause ; and if he disavow them, then no more to obey

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their voice; or if he approve them, then to obey Part II. them, as men to whom God hath given a part of the spirit of their sovereign. For when Christian men, take not their Christian sovereign, for God's prophet; they must either take their own dreams, for the prophecy they mean to be governed by, and the tumor of their own hearts for the Spirit of God; or they must suffer themselves to be led by some strange prince; or by some of their fellowsubjects, that can bewitch them, by slander of the government, into rebellion, without other miracle to confirm their calling, thani sometimes an extraordinary success and impunity; and by this means destroying all laws, both divine and human, reduce all order; government, and society, to the first chaos of violence and civil war.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

OF MIRACLES, AND THEIR USE. By miracles are signified the admirable works of A miracle God : and therefore they are also called wonders. is a work that And because they are for the most part, done, for ration. a signification of his commandment, in such occasions, as without them, men are apt to doubt; (following their private natural reasoning;) what he hath commanded, and what not, they are commonly, in holy Scripture, called signs, in the same sense, as they are called by the Latins, ostenta, and portenta, from showing and fore-signifying that, which the Almighty is about to bring to pass.

To understand therefore what is a miracle, we must first understand what works they are, which

therefore

PART III. men wonder at, and call admirable. And there be but 37.

two things which make men wonder at any event: And inust the one is, if it be strange, that is to say, such as be rare, and

the like of it hath never, or very rarely been prowhereof there duced : the other is, if when it is produced, we is no natural cause known. cannot imagine it to have been done by natural

means, but only by the immediate hand of God. But when we see some possible, natural cause of it, how rarely soever the like has been done, or if the like have been often done, how impossible soever it be to imagine a natural means thereof, we no more wonder, nor esteem it for a miracle.

Therefore, if a horse or cow should speak, it were a miracle ; because both the thing is strange, and the natural cause difficult to imagine. So also were it to see a strange deviation of nature, in the production of some new shape of a living creature. But when a man, or other animal, engenders his like, though we know no more how this is done, than the other; yet because it is usual, it is no miracle. In like manner, if a man be metamorphosed into a stone, or into a pillar, it is a miracle ; because strange: but if a piece of wood be so changed ; because we see it often, it is no miracle: and yet we know no more by what operation of God, the one is brought to pass, than the other.

The first rainbow that was seen in the world, was a miracle, because the first ; and consequently strange; and served for a sign from God, placed in heaven, to assure his people, there should be no more any universal destruction of the world by water. But at this day, because they are frequent, they are not miracles, neither to them that know their natural causes, nor to them who know them

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