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ciple in man, it works varioufly, and many times when he is not aware of it: and he hath benefit thereby, if he refift it not, but receive its influence and operation, though he hath not the strictest knowledge and difcerning
Thirdly, Again confider whether the light of Chrift's Spirit, or the grace and truth which is come by Jefus Chrift, hath not this property of difcovering, convincing, and reproving for fin. Doubtlefs the law of the Spirit of life in Chriftus, in the loweft. miniftration of it, is of that nature, that it dif covere and fighteth against the law of fin and death, where-ever it finds it. And whether the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of truth, who leads out of all error and falfhood, and into all truth, is not as well to be known by this, even by his convincing the world of fin, and inwardly reproving for fin, as by his comforting of the faints, in their holy travels out of fin, and battles against fin.
Confider, Fourthly, whether any thing can convince of fin but the light of God's Holy Spirit fhining in the heart? There may be an outward declaration of fin by the law outward; but it never reacheth the heart and confcience but by the fhining of the light inward. Nay, it cannot fo much as reach to the understanding, but as God opens the heart, and brings home the conviction by his light and power. This we have experience of in the Jews; who though the prophets came with certain evidence and demonftration from God's Spirit, yet they were not convinced thereby, but flood it out against the prophets, and juftified themselves against the voice and Word of the Lord; their eyes being closed, their ears shut, and hearts hardened against that of God in them, as may be read in Jeremiah, chap. ii. and divers other places, even to admiration. And what wickedness is fo great which the hardened man will not plead for, and be defending and juftifying himself, in! Yea, if God do open mens understandings in some meafure, fo that they cannot but confess such and fuch things to be evil in general (as pride, covetousness, drunkenness, riotousness, excess in apparel, lying, fwearing, &c.) yet they are not able to fee, the evil and danger of these things in and to themselves, but have covers and excufes to hide them, unless the inward light, and Spirit of the Lord fearch their hearts, and make them manifeft to them.
Fifthly, Confider the weight and proper tendency of these two fcriptures, and do not form another meaning, and fo put off the drift and intent of God's Holy Spirit in them. The first is that of the apostle, Ephef. v. 13, 14. But all things that are reproved, are made manifeft by the light: for whatfoever doth make manifeft, is light. Wherefore be faith, Awake, thou that sleepest, &c. Every man is bid to awake, because every man hath fome proportion of that in him, which (if hearkened to) will reprove, rouze up, and awaken him, and lead him from among the dead, to him who gives the light, and causeth it to fhine in him, even in the midst of his darkness and corruption, that it might awaken him out of it. The other fcripture is that of Gal. v. 27.
where the apoftle fpeaks of the flesh lufting against the Spirit, and the
Laftly, Confider the great love of God to mankind, and the great care he hath of them. Firft, as touching their bodies; how doth he provide for the bodies of all mankind! He would have none hurt, none deftroyed; but feedeth all, nourisheth all, making plentiful provifion, and giving fruitful feafons; caufing his fun to fhine, and his rain to defcend on all. Then as to their fouls, he knoweth the precioufnefs thereof, and what the lofs of a foul is; yea, he knoweth how eager the devourer is to deftroy, and fetteth himself against him. He is the Father of fpirits, and his Son the Shepherd and bishop of fouls, whofe nature it is to gather and fave; and it is faid exprefly of God, by the teftimony of the Spirit of truth, that he would have all to be faved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. And whereas it was faid to the Jews, that God was as the potter, and they as the clay, and he could make them veffels either of honour or dishonour at his pleasure, Jer. xviii. 6. yet it was to this end, even to invite and encourage them to be fubject to him, that they might be made veffels of honour by him, as appears ver. 11.
Now confider, if God be as tender of fouls as of the bodies of men, doth he not make provifion for the foul as well as for the body? Would he not have the foul live, and would he not have the foul fed as well as the body? If so, then needs muft the light of his Holy Spirit fhine inwardly throughout all nations, and the faving grace and power be manifeft every-where, even in every heart, in fome measure, and the flesh and blood of the Son of God (which is the foul's food) be distributed to all. And truly the Lord is not an hard mafter to any (as the unprofitable fervant, in every difpenfation, is ready to account of him); for the times of ignorance and darkness God winketh at, or paffeth over, being very tender towards men in that eftate;
estate; yea, a little that is of him turned to and heeded, according to the measure of understanding that God gives, will be owned and accepted, even in the midst of a great deal of darkness and evil working against it.
There was a time before the law (for the law was given by Moses): what faved then? Was it any thing but the faving grace, the faving light, the faving Spirit, the holy anointing? Could any be faved but thereby?
What faved under the law? Did the fhadows then fave, or the substance of life veiled under them? Did not the Spirit then work inwardly, redeem inwardly, fave inwardly? Did not the word or commandment nigh in the mouth and heart (to which Mofes, by God's direction, had turned their minds) enlighten and fave inwardly?
And any of the Gentiles, as the Word or Spirit of life did work in them, did it not circumcife inwardly, and fave them alfo? So that though they had not the law or miniftration of Mofes outward, yet they had the inward writing from God on their hearts, and fhewed the work and efficacy of it there, and fhall at last be juftified by, and according to, the everlafting gofpel, which juftifieth all whatsoever, fo far as in any measure they receive and are subject to the light and law of God's pure Spirit, which the carnal mind cannot receive, nor be fubject to.
Oh! that men could die to themfelves, even to their own wisdom and prudence, and not lean to their own understandings, nor idolize their own apprehenfions and conceivings, but wait to receive understanding from God, who giveth liberally of the true wisdom to thofe that afk and wait aright! And how doth God give true wifdom and understanding? Is it not by the fhining of his light in the heart? Oh! that men were turned inwardly thither, and inwardly dead to that wisdom and prudence from which God ever hid things, and ever will! He that will be truly wife, must first become a fool, that he may be wife; that is, he must not strive to learn in the comprehenfive way of man's wifdom and prudence the things of God's kingdom; but feel the begettings of life in his heart, and in that receive fomewhat of the new and heavenly understanding, and fo die to the other, and know no more the things of God after the flesh; that is, as a wife man, as a learned fcribe, as a great difputant (for where is the wife? Where is the fcribe? Where is the difputer of this world? Can they find out the mystery of life, the mystery of God's kingdom in this age, any more than they could in former ages?) but become a babe, a fool, and fo receive and bow to that which his own wifdom will call foolishness, and account weakness; but the other birth, which is begotten and born of God, will know, and daily experience, to be the wisdom and power of God unto falvation.
WHICH I S THE
More fure Word of PROPHECY? The Teftimony of the SCRIPTURES without; or the Voice and Testimony of the Light and Spirit of GOD within, in the Heart.
HE apoftle Peter speaks of a more fure word of prophecy (or a more fure prophetical word, as the Greek hath it) than that voice which came from heaven, which they heard when they were with Chrift in the holy mount, 2 Pet. i. 18, 19. Now what this more fure word is, which ought to be given heed to in the most especial manner, more than to fuch an eminent voice and teftimony from heaven, even from the excellent glory, is a very great and weighty queftion. Now fome affirm, that it is the word and teftimony of the fcriptures without; others affirm, that it is the voice, found, and teftimony of the Word of Life within.
I do not know a scripture that my heart hath more been tenderly folicitous about, defiring to give due honour both to the Spirit of God, and to the holy fcriptures, and alfo to understand what the Lord would have me in the most especial manner give heed to, until the feafon came from him, in which he should cause the day to dawn, and the day-ftar to arise in my heart. And now, that others might come to the fame understanding and fatisfaction alfo, are these following confiderations propofed in the weight of my spirit to them.
Firft, Confider how fure the word of prophecy was, how fure the voice and teftimony from heaven was; than which, the apoftle directs them to fomewhat as more fure. This I may clearly fay of it, it was undoubtedly from God, and that in a very extraordinary manner, even in Chrift's prefence, when Mofes and Elias were with him, and God beftowing upon him honour and glory, transfiguring him before his disciples, caufing his face to fhine as the fun, and making his raiment white as the light, Matt. xvii. 2. VOL. II. Bb
And the intent of it was to give the difciples full evidence and fatisfaction (for the voice was not for his fake, but for theirs), or rather that they might have a full ground, after his death and refurrection, to teftify for the fatisfaction and confirmation of others; for till then they were to keep it fecret, ver. 9. Now that which was provided for this end, doubtlefs was very fure, and teftified by them who were chofen to be faithful witnesses in this refpect.
Secondly, Confider whether the teftimony of the prophets concerning Christ were furer than the immediate voice from God himfelf? Were they furer to those that lived in thofe days, or to thofe that should come after, than this teftimony was to the apoftles, and to thofe that did communicate it in the will and counfel of the Lord? The prophets did teftify from God's holy unerring Spirit, but they that lived in thofe days did not always believe and receive their prophecies, but fometimes doubted of them, and queftioned them: yea, their prophecies were not always evident, and clearly understood by thofe who defired to understand; but their vifions were many times a book fealed, both to the learned and unlearned. But this teftimony, this word of prophecy, this voice from the excellent glory (This is my beloved Son, bear him) is a very plain, evident, full teftimony, eafy to be understood by any in that prefent, or in after ages. And I must confefs, as to myself, the reading of it did always deeply affect and fatisfy my heart.
Thirdly, Confider the manner of God's appearing to the prophets, and compare it with the manner of this appearance. God appeared to them fometimes in vifions, fometimes in dreams. Mofes faw a bufh burning, and heard a voice. The vifion of Ifaiah, the son of Amos, Ifai. i. 1. And Ezekiel faw vifions, chap. i. 1. And Daniel had a dream and vifions on his bed, Dan. vii. 1. And Jeremiah had that fweet prophecy (of God's fatiating the weary foul, and replenishing every forrowful foul) in his fleep, Jer. xxxi. 26. Now here to these bleffed apoftles was a vifion given of the glory of Chrift, and of Mofes and Elias with him; not in the mind or head, as Daniel's vifions were, Dan. vii. 1.; but the excellent glory did appear, and Christ, Mofes, and Elias were really there together on the mount (which is more than a prophetic vifion of a thing), and Chrift was cloathed with, and swallowed up in, the glory. For God the Father did fet himself to glorify him, fo as never man was glorified before; and the voice came (the certain voice; what voice could be more certain ?) from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, 2 Pet. i. 17. And this pure vifion of glory (even of God's thus appearing, and Chrift's thus transfiguring) they faw, and heard the voice which came from heaven, when they were with him in the holy mount. Now were the prophecies of the prophets that Christ should be born in Bethlehem, and that he should be thus and thus, &c. equal to this in evidence and demonftration? Why was John greater than the reft of the prophets? Was it not in that he was