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ciple in, man, it works variously, and many times, when he is not aware of it: and he hath benefit thereby, if he resist it not, but receive its influence and operation, though he hath not the strictest knowledge and discerning of it.
Thirdly, Again, consider whether the light of Christ's Spirit, or the grace and truik vhich is come by Jesus Christ, hath not this property of discovering, convincitis, and reproving for, sin. Doubtless the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, sus, in the lowest. ministration of it, is of that nature, that it difcovere, and fightech against the law, of sin and death, where-ever it finds it. And whether the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of truth, who leads out cf all error and fallhood, and into all truth, is not, as well to be known by this, even by his convincing the world of sin, and inwardly reproving for sin, as by his comforting of the saints, in their holy travels out of sin, and battles against sin. - Consider, Fourthly, whether any thing can convince of lin but the light of God's Holy Spirit shining in the heart? There may be an outward declaration of sin by the law outward; but it never reaçheth the heart and conscience but by the shining of the light inward. Nay, it cannot so 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 demonstration from God's Spirit, yet they were not convinced thereby, but stood it out against the prophets, and justified themselves against the voice and Word of the Lord, their eyes being closed, their ears shụt, and hearts hardened against that of God in then, as may be read in Jeremiah, chap. ii. and divers other places, even to admiration, , And what wickedness is lo great which the hardened man will nog plead for, and be defending and justifying himself in ! Yea, if God do open mens understandings in some meafure, so that they cannot but confess such and such things to be evil in general (as pride, covetousness, drunkenness, riotousness, .excess in apparel, lying, swearing, &c.), yet they are not able to see the evil and danger of these things in and to themselves, but have covers and excuses to hide them, unless the, inward light and Spirit of the Lord search their hearts, and make them manifest to them. :
Fifthly, Consider the weight and proper tendency of these two scriptures, and do not form another meaning, and so 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 manifest by the light : for what. soever doth make manifeft, is light. Wherefore be faith, Awake, thou that seepest, &c. Every man is bid to awake, because every man hạth some 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 shine in him, even in the midst of his darkness and corruption, that it might awaken him out of it. The other scripture is that of Gal. y. 274 where the apostle speaks of the 'Aeth lufting against the Spirit, and the Spirit agaitist the Aeth, 'and 'these two are contrary, Did not God's Spirit ftrive with the old world; not only with the son's of God, who had cor: rupted themselves, but with the rest also? And what is it thať háth striven with wicked men fince, and that doch ftrive with wicked men stihl ? Is it not the same good Spirit ? What'is it also that inwardly refifts and Tufts against the will and strivings of God's Spirit? Is it not the flesh? So here are the two feeds, the two, principles which are contrary one to the other near tran. For there is the creature'man (which of right' is the Lord's) into whóm the destroyer hath gained entrance, and in whom he rules by the law of fin and death.. Now he who made man, feeketh after him, and find eth out his enettiy in man, and giveth forth a law against him inwardly in the heart'; which, fo far as any man gives ear to, believes, and receives, there ariseth presently a fight and striving between these two'contrary principles in him, fo that this man cannot do the things that he would. Now that which thus strives against fin in any man, and troubles him because of fin, reproving and condemning him for it, that is of another nature than the fleth (which harbours fin) and contrary to it.
!. Lastly, Consider the great love of God to mankind, and the great care he hath of them. First, as' touching their bodies; how doth he provide for the bodies of all mankind! He would have none hurt, none destroyed; þut feedeth all, 'nourisheth all, making plentiful provision, and giving fruitful feafons ; causing his fun to shine, and his rain to defcend on all. Then as 'to their souls, he knoweth the preciousness thereof, and what the lofs of a soul is; yea, he knoweth how eager the devourer is to destroy, and fetteth himfelf against him. He is the Father of spirits, and his Son the Shepherd and bishop of souls, whose nature it is to gather and save ; and it is said exprefly of God, by the testimony of the Spirit of truth, that he would have all to be saved, 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, Fer. xviii. 6. yer it was to this 'end, even to invite and encourage them to be subject to him, that they might be made veffets of honour by. him, as appears ver. 11.
Now consider, if God be as tender of fouls as of the bodies of men, doth he. not make provision for the soul as well as for the body. Would he not have the soul live, and would hé not have the foul fed as well as the body? If so, then needs must the light of his Holy Spirit shine inwardly throughout all nations, and the faving grace and power be manifest every-where, even in every heart, in some measure, and the flesh and blood of the Son of God (which is the soul's food) be distributed to all. And truly the Lord is not an hard master to any (as the unprofitable servant, in every dispensation, 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
estate; 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 saved then? Was it any thing but the saving grace, the saving light, the saving Spirit, the holy anointing? Could any be saved but thereby? . What saved under the law ? Did the shadows then save, or the substance of life veiled under them? Did not the Spirit then work inwardly, redeem inwardly, save 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 save inwardly?
And any of the Gentiles, as the Word or Spirit of life did work in them, did it not circumcise inwardly, and save them also ? So that though they had not the law or ministration of Mofes outward, yet they had the inward writing from God on their hearts, and shewed the work and efficacy of it there, and shall at last be justified by, and according to, the everlafting gorpel, which, justifieth all whatsoever, so 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 subject to.
Oh! that men could die to themselves, even to their own wisdom and prudence, and not lean to their own understandings, nor idolize their own apprehensions and conceivings, but wait to receive understanding from God, who giveth liberally of the true wisdom to those that ask and wait aright! And how doth God give true wisdom and understanding? Is it not by the shining of his light in the heart? Oh! that men were turned inwardly thither, and inwardly dead to that wisdom and prudence from which God over hid things, and ever will! He that will he truly wise, must first become a fool, that he may be wise; that is, he must not strive to learn in the comprehensive way of man's wisdom 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 so die to the other, and know no more the things of God after the Aesh; that is, as a wise man, as a learned fcribe, as a great disputant (for where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer 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 so receive and bow to that which his own wisdom 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 salvation.
Τ Ο Τ ΗΕ Witness of GOD in all Consciences,
WHICH IS THE More sure Word of PROPHECY? The Testimony of the
Scriptures without; or the Voice and Testimony of the Light and Spirit of GOD within, in the Heart.
THE apostle Peter speaks of a more sure word of prophecy (or a more
sure prophetical word, as the Greek hath it) than that voice which came from heaven, which they heard when they were with Christ in the holy mount, 2 Pet, i. 18, 19. Now what this more sure word is, which ought to be given heed to in the most especial manner, more than to such an eminent voice and testimony from heaven, even from the excellent glory, is a very great and weighty question. Now some affirm, that it is the word and testimony of the scriptures without; others affirm, that it is the voice, sound, and testimony of the Word of Life within.
I do not know a scripture that my heart hach more been tenderly solicitous about, desiring to give due honour both to the Spirit of God, and to the holy fcriptures, and also to understand what the Lord would have me in the most especial manner give heed to, until the season came from him, in which he should cause the day to dawn, and the day-star to arise in my heart. And now, that others might come to the same understanding and satisfaction also, are these following consideracions proposed in the weight of my spirit to them.
First, Consider how sure the word of prophecy was, how sure the voice and testimony from heaven was ; than which, the apostle directs them to fumewhat as more sure. This I may clearly say of it, it was undoubtedly from God, and that in a very extraordinary manner, even in Christ's prefence, when Mofes and Elias were with him, and God bestowing upon him honour and glory, transfiguring him before his disciples, causing his face to fhine as the iun, and making his raiment white as the light, Matt. xvii. 2. VOL. II.
And the intent of it was to give the disciples full evidence and satisfaction (for the voice was not for his fake, but for theirs), or rather that they might have a full ground, after his death and resurrection, to testify for the fatisfaction and confirmation of others; for till then they were to keep it secret, ver. 9. Now that which was provided for this end, doubtless was very sure, and testified by them who were chosen to be faithful witnesses in this respect.
Secondly, Consider whether the testimony of the prophets concerning Christ were furer than the immediate voice from God himself? Were they surer to those that lived in those days, or to those that should come after, than this teftimony was to the apostles, and to those that did communicate it in the will and counsel of the Lord ? The prophets did testify from God's holy unerring Spirit; but they that lived in those days did not always believe and receive their prophecies, but sometimes doubted of them, and questioned them: yea, their prophecies were not always evident, and clearly understood by those who desired to understand; but their visions were many times a book sealed, both to the learned and unlearned. But this testimony, this word of prophecy, this voice from the excellent glory (This is my beloved Son, bear him) is a very plain, evident, full testimony, easy to be understood by any in that present, or in after ages. And I must confefs, as to myself, the reading of it did always deeply affect and satisfy my heart.
Thirdly, Consider the manner of God's appearing to the prophets, and compare it with the manner of this appearance. God appeared to them sometimes in visions, sometimes in dreams. Mofes saw a buih burning, and heard a voice. The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, Ifai. i. 1. And Ezekiel saw visions, chap. i. 1. And Daniel had a dream and visions on his bed, Dan. vii. 1. And Jeremiah had that sweet prophecy (of God's satiating the weary soul, and replenishing every sorrowful soul) in his seep, Jer. xxxi. 26. Now here to these blessed apostles was a vision given of the glory of Christ, and of Moses and Elias with him ; not in the mind or head, as Daniel's visions were, Dan, vii. 1.; but the excellent glory did appear, and Christ, Moses, and Elias were really there together on the mount (which is more than a prophetic vision of a thing), and Christ was cloathed with, and swallowed up in, the glory. For God the Father did set himfelf to glorify him, so 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 vision of glory (even of God's thus appearing, and Christ's thus transfiguring) they saw, 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 demonstration ? Why was John greater than the rest of the prophets ? Was it not in that he was