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The Effectual Delusion and Bewitching

Of Converted Christians:

The Evidences, the Causes, and the Remedies.

By David Dickson.

Excerpted from Book 3 of his Therapeutica Sacra.

Concerning the case of the convert in some point of doctrine deluded, and pleasing himself in this condition.

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General Observations.

Question 1: May Delusion befall a True Convert?

Question 2: What are the Effects and Marks of Such Delusion?

Observations on Bastard Zeal as an Effect of Delusion.

Question 3: What are the Causes of Delusion?

Conclusion: The Remedies of Delusion.

TO speak of delusion and bewitching in the general, requireth a large Treatise.  It shall suffice our purpose to speak of it, as it hath place in the point of doctrine and practice erroneous: Which we describe thus, Delusion is a powerful operation of a lying Spirit, whereby he obtrudes to men some noisome error in doctrine or practice contrary to true doctrine, fairded [painted] over with sophistical deceits, and doth persuade inconsiderate souls effectually to receive the error for truth, and to defend and spread it in their rash zeal: For explication of which description, we say,  1. Delusion is a powerful operation of a lying Spirit, wherein Satan in God’s judgment is permitted to put forth his power in lying effectually.  Therefore in all his effectual delusions, there is a concurring righteous judgment of God in loosing reins to the tempter, that by delusion, one sin in one degree, may be punished by a following sin in a higher degree.  No wonder therefore that a lying Spirit do work more effectually when he is not restrained by the powerful hand of God.  2. We say, that delusion is in some dangerous error tending to the damage of the Church, and hazard of souls.  And this we say not, as if we did think, that any sin doth not draw with it, the merit of death (for the wages of every sin is death) but because Satan is not so busy, to spread and foment such {411} errors, as are less perilous, as he is active in such errors which do most tend to pester the Church and divert the professors of religion from the path way of saving doctrine.  And to this purpose he assays all means, that he may obscure and darken the truth, and devise and spread abroad the most pernicious errors.  Mean time he is not idle in sowing and spreading lesser errors, that he may stir up contention and jangling in the Church, whereby precious time, which should be spent for mutual edification, may be idly wasted in needless disputes, and men’s minds may be prepared to receive grosser errors.  Thirdly, we put some difference between errors in doctrine and errors in practice, albeit there cannot be one error in practice, whether it be in the external worship or government of the Church, or in outward conversation, where being stiffly maintained, hath not some error of judgment and doctrine joined with it, or else it should not be contrary to sound doctrine; yet there may be an error in doctrine and judgment of the mind, when in the outward practice the error may lie hid, and men of contrary judgment may consent and agree in the same practice.  Fourthly, we presuppose the errors, whereof we are speaking, to be coloured and covered with fair pretences, and to be found deceitful sophistry: For otherwise a disciple of Christ could not be easily insnared, if the error were seen in its own colours, if it were demonstrate unto him with sound reason to be contrary to sound doctrine and pernicious to the welfare of the Church, and to men’s souls.  For in this case, every ingenuous and honest mind, would keep off from the error as from a deep pit: But Satan setteth forth the error, as if it were no error but most consonant to wholesome doctrine, and profitable for men’s souls and the Church’s good.  And by plausible pretences, lets out the error so as it may seem lovely and worthy to be defended, and spread abroad by all means.  Fifthly, in this delusion we are speaking of, we presuppose, that in the person deluded {412} there is a persuasion (stronger than any probation which he hath) can support: For here the efficacy of error doth specially appear, when the lying Spirit, by probable conjectures, appearance of advantage and sophistical disputation, doth persuade the deluded soul, that the error is as sure as if by divine oracle it were revealed an declared to be a truth.  How this can be, and how Satan worketh this persuasion, it is not to our purpose to make inquiry: For, lying Spirits have their own way, unknown to us, whereby they insinuate and suggest their errors unto men.  It may suffice us, that the Scripture hath taught us that Satan can form objections against our faith, Ephes. 6.10-12, and throw them at us as fiery darts, and work strong persuasions in unstable or ignorant souls.  Such was the persuasion of the Galatians, which the Apostle avoucheth to have been procured not by God who had called them, Gal. 5.8.  Sixthly, we presuppose in a powerful delusion a bastard and misled zeal, making the deluded man ardently to defend and promove the error which he hath embraced: For, this is Satan’s main endeavour, when he hath leavened with error one or more in a Church, to make all the use of them he can to leaven the Church with the same error.

And to the intent this matter may be the more usefully spoken of, three questions must be answered so briefly as may be.  The first question is, whether such a powerful delusion may befall a true convert?  We answer it is possible, and experience proveth it: that it is possible, we learn from the Apostle’s fear, 2 Cor. 11.3, I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, So your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.  He was feared also for the Colossians: lest they should be deluded, Col. 2.4. This I say, lest any man beguile you with enticing words.  And verse 8, Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  Wherein it is clear, {413} that this sort of delusion may befall the Saints.  Now that it hath indeed and in experience befallen some true converts, it is evident by what Christ saith to the Church of Thyatira, Rev. 2.20, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezabel, which calleth herself a prophetess to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to Idols.  And the Apostle shews the matter evidently to have befallen the Galatians, Gal. 3.1, O foolish, or mad Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth.  Secondly, that this delusion drew deep, and was very dangerous, appears, Gal. 1.6, I marvel that you are so soon turned from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel.  And Gal. 5.2, they were in danger to lose all benefit by Christ; and verse 4, in danger and on the way to fall from grace.  Thirdly, the Galatians did err both in doctrine and practice; in doctrine, because they sought to be justified by the works of the Law, Gal. 5.4.  In practice they erred, Gal. 4.10,11, ye observe days and months, and times and years, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.  Fourthly, their error was fairded with the pretense of the truth, which made them greedily embrace the error: for, Gal. 4.9, they turned themselves back to Mosaical rites and ceremonies now abolished under the pretense of sometime commanded duties.  And verse 21, they desired to be under the Law, and so run themselves under the curse.  Fifthly, their error was not by a light opinion held by them, but by a full persuasion, wrought in them, not by Christ, but by a lying spirit, Gal. 5.8.  Sixthly, this bastard, and unhallowed zeal was evidenced both in the seducing teachers, and in the misled Galatians, Gal. 4.17, They zealously affect you, but not well: yea they would exclude you that you might affect them, that is, draw you away from the society of Christ and of his true Apostles, that you might be their affectionate disciples.  And as for the Galatians, deluded by Satan, by their means, they turned their {414} ardent affection toward the Apostle almost in hatred against him, Gal. 4.15,16, Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Hence it is clear, that true converts are subject to this evil, and ready to fall in it except they watch carefully, and earnestly deal with God to keep them from deceivers: for, many young converts are like lambs and sheep, very simple, and being lately turned unto the course of holiness, they are easily taken with every appearance of piety, whereof if they do apprehend any seeming signs in seducers, they suspect no guile in wolves clad with sheeps skins, wherethrough they are overtaken unawares, and moved to separate from the society of the Saints, by the fleshly authors of division, who by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom. 16.17,18.

Question 2. As for the second question, what are the effects and marks of such a delusion?  We answer, there is a delusion active wherein Satan and his seducing instruments do set themselves on work to delude, and there is a passive delusion in the party deluded by Satan and his instruments.  The effects of the deluding or lying spirit, and the marks of delusion in the party deluded do concur; for, the effects of Satan’s powerful delusion do appear in the party deluded as signs and evidences of the effectual delusion: These effects and signs albeit they be many, we shall content ourselves to specify some of them.

The first and chief effect and sign of delusion, is, the rejecting of a point of true doctrine, and the avouching of a false error contrary thereto.  This we call the first and principal sign, or mark of delusion; because except this sign be found, other signs albeit they point forth a perilous condition, yet without this effect and sign be joined, they do not prove delusion in the strict sense wherein we take it here.  This sign the Apostle doth point at in the Galatians, Gal. 3.1, O foolish Galatians! who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey {415} the truth? where he challengeth them for rejecting the truth and obedience unto it.

The second effect and mark of delusion, is a bastard persuasion whereby the person deluded layeth hold on a most false error, as if it were a most solid truth, and without hink [hesitation] or doubt rests upon it, as if it were a divine truth: This sort of persuasion we call a bastard and illegitimate persuasion,  1. because it is not wrought by the Spirit of Christ: for which cause the Apostle makes the Galatians’ persuasion not to be right and legitimate, Gal. 5.8.  Secondly, because this persuasion neither leans upon God’s Word rightly understood, nor upon any firm reason deduced reasonably from the Scripture.  Thirdly, because this persuasion of the deluded that his tenet is true, is stronger than his persuasion of many articles of his faith, for which he hath clear Scripture; and yet this persuasion of the deluded is not so strong when it cometh to trial, as weak faith well grounded is, which when the force of tentation and persecution cometh, is more able to bear out, than the deluded man’s persuasion wherein he glorieth.  Upon which ground, the Apostle doth not doubt by the Galatians, being true converts, shall renounce this false persuasion, and return to the truth which they had forsaken.  Last of all, we call this a bastard persuasion, because it draweth its original and strength, not from clearness of God’s revealed truth, but from the agreement which the error hath with some carnal affection, whereunto this error doth service, for which respect, carnal and corrupt reason is easily drawn to maintain it pertinaciously.

The third effect and sign of delusion is, the causing division and schism in the visible Church needlessly; and this effect doth readily follow on the former two: for where error in doctrine, and in the rule of practice, getteth up the head, it falleth out inevitably, that the defenders of the truth and spreaders of the error, shall fall in contention and division.  In which case, the {416} Apostle doth exhort the Romans, howsoever they should pity the misled multitude, yet carefully to mark the causers of the division, Rom. 16.17, I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause division and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them; which presupposeth they deserve excommunication if they be obstinate.

The fourth effect and sign of delusion, is foolishness or a sort of madness, which appeareth partly in the inconsiderate embracing of the error, and partly in the defending and promoving of it: for, if the error in itself be considered, it is a falsehood and deceit; or if we look to the hasty receiving of it, when no sound proof can be had of it, it is foolishness; or if we consider the damage which followeth the defending and spreading of it, which the partly deluded did not fore-see and guard against, it is a madness, and cannot but be so: for, a false doctrine, albeit at first it may carry the appearance of piety and prudence, yet when it is compared with Scripture and [the] rule of right reason led by Scripture, it is found nothing but vanity, falsehood, cozening, and deceit, as the Apostle doth insinuate concerning the errors which in his time were sprouting forth in the Church, Col. 2.23, which things have a shew indeed of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh, that is, they are not worthy of any estimation, for they serve only to satisfy fleshly corruption of nature, as he observeth in the authors of Angel-worshipping, of whom he averreth, that they intrude themselves into those things which they have not seen, vainly puft up by their fleshly mind, Col. 2.18.  And he calleth the Galatians foolish, or mad, for their embracing of the error, Gal. 3.1, and for hasty embracing of it, Gal. 1.6, I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel: for there are many who after much time spent, and pains taken, upon them by faithful Pastors, do not come up to the {417} understanding of the heads of the doctrine held forth in the Catechism, and proofs given thereof by Scripture, and yet will very readily embrace an error, and seem to themselves so well to understand it, and to be able to argue for defence of it; whose folly and madness may be seen in this, that they do not consider the bitter fruits of their error; to make a schism in the Church they think nothing of it; to rent the body of Christ they care not for it: and for this very cause, the Apostle reproveth the Corinthians, that falling in contest and contention among themselves about the excellency of their teachers, they rent the Church, the body of Christ, did despise his dominion and government, and gave his glory unto men, and did not regard the lamentable consequences of the schism; no not when they were admonished and rebuked by the wiser sort of their brethren, 1 Cor. 1.11, and 2 Cor. 10.2.

The fifth effect and sign of delusion, is the pride of the deluded, and vain gloriation in their error: for, the Corinthians gloried in men, and made it a matter of praise to themselves to have such and such men heads of their schism, 1 Cor. 3.21, and upon this ground did despise and contemn one another.  And the Apostle giveth this mark of Schismaticks and Sectaries, 2 Tim. 3.2, Men, (saith he,) shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, &c. and the followers of the false Prophetess Jezebel, did despise the Orthodox as ignorant dolts, uncapable of the high mysteries and spiritualities of the Gospel, which indeed were nothing but the deeps of Satan’s delusions, Rev. 2.24.

The sixth effect or sign of delusion, is rash, preposterous, and bastard zeal: This the Apostle did mark in the mis-believing Jews, Rom. 10.2, They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, saith he.  This preposterous and rash zeal is far more fiery and hot than true zeal in the godly: for, the error for which the deluded do strive, is the native brood of corrupt nature; and therefore it hath corrupt reason and affection stout for {418} it, and no wonder that corrupt nature be strong to defend and advance its own birth [offspring.]  But true zeal is much more moderate; partly, because it is carried on with knowledge and prudence, doth fear to offend God by yielding to passions, and hath to strive against corrupt nature which cloggeth and hindereth every grace in the convert, and this amongst the rest.  2. This preposterous and bastard zeal, doth render the deluded person too pertinacious in the defence of the error wherewith her is overtaken, that rather than he will quit his error, he will embrace another error to maintain the former error for which he doth content.  And this cometh to pass, partly, by a sort of necessity, and partly, by corrupt wilfulness.  Partly of necessity, I say, because one absurd error being received, draweth after it many other errors: for, it is impossible to defend one error in religion, but by broaching and maintaining more errors.  I say partly, by corrupt wilfulness, because when the deluded person findeth himself in dispute entangled, so as he must either renounce the error which he hath embraced, or receive and maintain another error which followeth thereon, he chooseth rather to embrace the error which followeth upon his first error, wherein he was first ensnared.  3. Holy zeal loveth every truth, yea loveth other points of truth, as much as it loveth that particular doctrine of truth which discovers the error; neither will it suffer a believer, for the defence of any point of doctrine, to pass from another truth; but preposterous and bastard zeal is contrary: for, if many points of truth come in comparison and competition with the error which the deluded man hath drunken in, he will mis-regard them all rather than forsake his error, albeit he profess other truths to be more precious and necessary than his erroneous tenet.  A proof of this we have in the Pharisees, who made the great things of the Law of none effect, for upholding of their own traditions, Matt. 15.6.  And the same power of delusion may be seen among Papists, who will not so hotly {419} pursue or punish so severely the breach of God’s commandments, as they do pursue and punish the neglect of superstitious ceremonies.  4. Preposterous and bastard zeal, is very busy to spread and propagate an error, by all means, venting false doctrine.  And such men’s speeches do spread as a gangrene, 2 Tim. 2.17, and a little leaven of this kind is ready to leaven the whole lump, Gal. 5.9.  In which case Christ advertised and exhorted his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, whereby they were about to leaven the whole Church.  And this furious zeal, as experience hath taught, doth spare no pains or labour to draw on more and more to the profession of the zealot’s errors, as may be observed in Pharisees who compassed sea and land to make proselytes, Matth 23.15.  5. This bastard zeal of deluded persons, carrieth them to have respect unto, and estimation of, them that embrace their error, and to seek respect and estimation from them who are overtaken with their error.  This was evident in the schism of the Corinthians, of whom some did choose to be called such men’s disciples, other some did choose to be called the disciples of another man, and all did glory in their leaders, 1 Cor. 3.5, 21.  And on the other hand, the heads of the schism did glory in the multitude and excellency as they conceived of their disciples.  This the Apostle observed in the seducers of the Galatians, and in them that were seduced by them, Gal. 4.17, They zealously affect you but not well, yea they would exclude you (from communion with God & us his Apostles) that you might affect them.  6. This bastard zeal of the deluded, doth drive them to disdain and contemn all them who oppugn their error, yea and to hate them, as experience did shew among the Corinthians: for so soon as schism did arise in Corinth, dissensions also did arise, 1 Cor. 3.3, and 2 Cor. 12.20, and of this evil the Apostle doth complain, Gal. 4.16, Am I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?  And this much may serve for our purpose concerning the effects and signs of delusion. {420}

Question 3. The third question is, what are the causes of delusion?  For answer, the causes are many and various; for some causes are principal causes, some subservient, some meritorious causes, and some promoveing and helping forward of this evil: All which causes and instruments, God doth so over-rule in his justice, power, and wisdom, that he turneth all to his own glory, and [the] welfare of his Church: This we learn from the Apostle, 1 Tim. 4.1, 2, Now (saith he) the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with an hot iron, forbidding to marry, and [commanding] to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received, &c.  Where, first, he foretells, that there shall be a departing from the doctrine of the Apostles, whereof he giveth an instance of that which might seem furthest from suspicion of delusion, to wit, a putting of a religious restraint upon the use of things lawful in themselves, as marriage and meats.  The authors of this delusion,  1. he points forth to be lying spirits, and men seduced by a lying spirit.  2. The way of seduction he foretells, shall be by lies spoken in gross hypocrisy.  3. Lest any should wonder how this could come to pass, that any man against his conscience should dare to speak lies, he points at the cause procuring, to wit, the stupidity and senselessness of the conscience, they have their conscience seared with a hot iron.  And, 2 Cor. 11.14,15, speaking of deluded seducers of the people, Such are false apostles (saith he) deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ.  And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of light.  Where among sundry ways of deceiving, he points forth one of Satan’s stratagems, to tempt men to make a shew of piety and counterfeit appearance of holy zeal, and to pretend the authority of God, to delude the simple.  By which delusion, whosoever are ensnared, they are ready to put on the same coat; for, being deceived, they {421} deceive others, pretending Scripture, that they may fight against Scripture; and pretending holiness and piety, that they may hinder in others the true exercise of holiness.

As to the causes of ready embracing of errors,  1. there is propension abundant in the natural corruption of the heart to lay hold on any error offered, Jer. 17.9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?  Another cause is pointed forth by Christ, Matth. 22.29, You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.  A third cause is the want of mortification; for the Apostle doth reckon heresies and schisms among the works of the flesh; and in particular, 1 Tim. 6.10, The love of money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith.  And concerning the instruments of delusion and division in the Church, the sentence of the holy Spirit doth stand sure: for he knoweth the evils of the heart perfectly, Rom. 16.18, They that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches, they deceive the hearts of the simple.  Of such men Jude speaketh, verse 20, These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, &c.

As for passive delusion in seduced people, the Apostle prophesieth, 2 Tim. 4.3,4, The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  In which words he holdeth forth the meritorious and adjuvant [helping] causes of passive delusion, their lusts, their turning away from sound doctrine, their itching ears, and desire to hear flatterers, who by false doctrine may foster them in their lusts, and making choice of such men to be their Pastors.  From this sort of teachers Christ fore-warneth his disciples to keep off, Matth. 7.15, Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves, ye shall know them by their fruits.  Their outward {422} behaviour and conversation will not decipher them, for they will seem innocent and harmless lambs, but their doctrine which is the fruits of their teaching and the proper work of the ministry, shall find them out: But the meritorious cause of this giving men over to be deluded, is plainly set down, 2 Thess. 2.10,11, Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them strong delusion.  This judgment, albeit it pursues unto the death only the reprobate, yet whiles in some degree for a time it may over-take the elect and renewed persons, because some of them, sometimes are found to give way to their lusts, and not to take heed to the truth which by God’s blessing might kill these lusts, therefore God in his justice suffereth them to be infected with a contrary error, and to eat the bitter fruits of their folly, that being corrected they may repent, and forever fall out with their carnal lusts and reject the error whereby they were infected: for God in his wisdom and justice, most holily and powerfully, doth so rule the whole exercise of his elect, that truth shall have no loss, but be the more cleared, and no elect soul perish, as Christ giveth assurance, speaking of the efficacy and power of delusion by the doctrine of false christs, Matth. 24.24, There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible) they shall deceive the very elect.  This is also manifest by what the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 11.18,19, where he declares, that God hath decreed to permit heresies to arise, that both the truth oppugned by the heresy, and the true converts, may be made the more manifest: for by this means, the lusts and wickedness of some, is brought to light; some are chastised, some perish, justly, some have their weakness and folly discovered, by being tainted with error for a time, and in their recovery out of the heresy, the grace and power of God is made more evident: and in these who shall suffer for refusing or resisting heresy, God shall make {423} manifest (for stopping the mouth of Satan and all calumniators) that truth is more precious to his sincere disciples, than goods, or lands, or liberty, or life, or whatsoever can befall them in this mortal life for adhering to truth; and of this many martyrs are sufficient proofs in all ages.

The remedy of this fearful condition.

ALBEIT this delusion draweth the reprobate when they are overtaken with it, unto certain perdition, as the Apostle (2 Thess. 2.10,11,) expressly doth teach; and albeit this fearful plague be hardly curable, when it falleth on the elect: partly, by reason of the deep roots of carnal lusts in them, which open the way unto error; partly, by reason of the subtle sophistry of seducers, whereby honest souls are entangled; partly, by reason of new tentations suggested against returning to the truth wherefrom they are slidden; and partly, by reason of the difficulty of coming forth from the bonds of temporal judicial hardness of heart, whereby God hath chastised his child for harbouring such lusts in himself as made way for the error: yet the cure of delusion is not desperate [hopeless,] for the Apostle giveth good hope of possible and certain recovery out of it: for, Gal. 5.10, I have confidence in you (saith he to the ensnared Galatians) through the Lord, that you will be no other ways minded, but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

1. For preveening [preventing] and curing of this evil, the Apostle commandeth Pastors to hold forth to all sound doctrine, to preach the Word and to be instant upon all occasions, in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, 1 Tim. 4.6, and 2 Tim. 4.1,2.

2. Let the deluded person be disputed with, that by arguments drawn from Scripture he may be convinced, as the Apostle dealt with these who denied the resurrection, 1 Cor. 15, and with these who sought to be justified by works among the Galatians. {424}

3. Let the deluded be exhorted to examine accurately his own conscience, how he standeth affected to his own carnal wisdom and earthly lusts; for if he be proud in the conceit of his own wisdom, power, or holiness, or any gift he hath received, or be led by the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, or pride of life, and [pretend to] come to God by prayer to solve his doubts, or to teach him the right way, he shall receive such an answer as Balaam received, and such as the Lord threateneth to give, Ezek. 14.2,3,4, &c., for he hath by his lusts deceived his own conscience, and made it a flatterer of himself when it should have been a grave counsellor being well informed.

4. Let the deluded person be exhorted to be humbled for the sins which he granteth to be in himself, and fly to Christ for pardon, pity, and help against his own known corruptions, making use of all Christ’s offices in the sense and acknowledgement of his standing in need of the benefits thereof daily; for if he do not repent [of] known sins, but go on in them against the light of his conscience, how shall he expect that God shall give him light in his doubts, or errors, who maketh no use, or an ill use, of the light he hath? and if he be in a course of grieving the Spirit of the Lord, and make no use of the grace that is offered in Christ, how is it possible that he who doth not follow Christ, should eschew to walk in darkness?

5. And last of all, let the party deluded consider how from time to time, and most evidently in this time wherein we live, God hath punished the lusts and sinful practices of professed Christians, with giving them over to their own heart’s lusts, and letting them not only walk in their own counsels, and in the imaginations of their own ill hearts, but also in his justice, sending to them strong delusions, and false teachers to authorize their errors, and hold them on in the way to perdition.  What wonder to see God for the light esteeming of baptism bestowed on men in their infancy, {425} and the note making use thereof for mortification of lusts and sanctification of life by faith in Jesus Christ, to let loose phanatick Anabaptists, to teach men to renounce their baptism?  What wonder to see men’s loose-living in the service of their sensual lusts, punished with letting loose antichristian Antinomians, who turning the grace of God into wantonness, do avouch whatsoever they do, it is no sin, and that they are not bound to keep the law, which Christ professeth he came not to dissolve, but by the contrary to establish it?  What wonder to see men’s carnal confidence in their own wit, worth, strength and ability, works and merits, punished with letting loose lying spirits to harden them in their error?  And what wonder to see God punishing the abuse of the Gospel, and refusing to receive the truth in love with giving men over to the spirit of Antichrist and strong delusions, 2 Thess. 2.  The patrons and propagators of such errors and delusions are called by the Apostle, ministers of Satan and false brethren, 2 Cor. 11.16, deceivers, 1 Tim. 4.1, and men who were of old ordained to this condemnation.  From whose contagion and punishment, let every misled soul pray to God to be delivered.