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within that guides him; the habit of his mind is attended with a taste, by which he immediately relishes that air and mien which is benevolent, and disrelishes the contrary. It causes him to distinguish between the one and the other in a moment, more precisely, than the most accurate reasonings can find out in many hours. The nature and inward tendency of a heavy body that is let fall from a height, shews the way to the centre of the earth more exactly in an instant, than the ablest mathematician without it could determine, by his most accurate observations in a whole day. Thus it is that a spiritual disposition and taste teaches and guides a man in his behaviour in the world. So an eminently humble, or meek, or charitable disposition, will direct a person of mean capacity to such a behaviour, as is agreeable to Christian rules of humility, meekness and charity, far more readily and precisely, than the most diligent study, and elaborate reasonings, of a man of the strongest faculties, who has not a Christian spirit within him. So also will a spirit of love to God, holy fear and reverence towards God, and filial confidence in him, and a heavenly disposition, teach and guide a man in his behaviour.
It is an exceeding difficult thing for a wicked man, destitute of Christian principles in his heart, to guide him, to know how to demean himself like a Christian, with the life, beauty, and heavenly sweetness of a truly holy, humble, Christ-like behaviour. He knows not how to put on these garments ; neither do they fit him ; Eccl. x. 2, 3. A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart is at his left. Yca also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool : with verse 15. The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city. Prov. x. 32. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. Chap. xv. 2. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. And chap. xvi. 23. The heart of the righteous teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
The saints in thus judging of actions by a spiritual taste, have not a particular recourse to the express rules of God's word, with respect to every word and action that is before them: but yet their taste itself in general, is subject to the rule of God's word, and must be tried by that, and a right reasoning upon it. A man of a rectified palate judges of particular morsels by his taste; but yet his palate itself must be judged of, whether it be right or no, by certain rules and reasons. But a spiritual taste mightily helps the soul in its reasonings on the word of God, and in judging of the true meaning of its rules; as it removes the prejudices of a depraved appetite, naturally leads the thoughts in the right channel, casts a light on the word, and causes the true meaning
most naturally to come to mind, through the harmony there is between the disposition and relish of a sanctified soul, and the true meaning of the rules of God's word. Yea, this harmony tends to bring the texts themselves to mind on proper occasions ; as the particular state of the stomach and palate, tends to bring such particular meats and drinks to mind, as are agreeable to that state. Thus the children of God are led by the Spirit of God in judging of actions themselves, and in their meditations upon the rules of God's holy word : and so God teaches them his statutes, and causes them to understand the way of his precepts ; which the psalmist so often prays sor.
But this leading of the Spirit is exceedingly diverse from what some call so; which consists, according to them not in teaching them God's statutes and precepts already given, but-in giving them new precepts, by immediate inward speech or suggestion. They do not determine what is the will of God by any taste, relish, or judgment of the nature of things, but by an immediate dictate concerning the thing to be done; indeed there is no such thing as any judgment or wisdom in the case. Whereas in that leading of the Spirit which is peculiar to God's children, there is imparted that true wisdom, and holy discretion, so often spoken of in the word of God; which is high above the other way, as the stars are higher than a glow-worm ; and that which Balaam and Saul (who sometimes were led by the Spirit in that other way) never had, and no natural man can have, without a change of nature.
What has been said of the nature of spiritual understanding, as consisting most essentially in a supernatural sense and relish of the heart, not only shews that there is nothing of it in this falsely supposed leading of the Spirit ; but also shews the difference between spiritual understanding, and all kinds and forms of enthusiasm, all imaginary sights of God, and Christ, and heaven; all supposed witnessing of the Spirit and testimonies of the love of God by immediate inward suggestion; all impressions of future events, and immediate revelations of any secret facts whatsoever. Hereby we see how different is true spiritual religion, and all enthusiastical impressions and applications of scripture, as though they were words now immediately spoken by God to a particular person, in a new meaning, and carrying something more in them, than the words contain as they lie in the Bible; and all interpretations of the mystical meaning of the scripture, by supposed immediate revelation. None of these things consist in a divine sense and relish of the heart, of the holy beau
a ty and excellency of divine things; nor have they any thing to do with such a sense; but all consist in impressions in the head; all are to be referred to the head of impressions on the imagination, and consist in exciting external ideas in the mind, either of outward shapes and colours, or words spoken, or letters written, or ideas of things external and sensible, belonging to actions done, or events accomplished, or to be accomplished. An enthusiastical supposed manifestation of the love of God, is made by exciting an idea of a smiling countenance, or some other pleasant outward appearance, or by the idea of pleasant words spoken, or written, excited in the imagination, or some pleasant bodily sensation. So when persons have an imaginary revelation of some secret fact, it is by exciting external ideas; either of some words, implying a declaration of that fact, or some visible or sensible circumstances of such a fact. So the supposed leading of the Spirit, to do the will of God, in outward behaviour, is either by exciting the idea of words (which are outward things) in their minds, either the words of scripture, or other words, which they look upon as an immediate command of God, or else by exciting and impressing strongly the ideas of the outward actions themselves. So when an interpretation of a scripture type or allegory, is immediately, in an extraordinary way, strongly suggested, it is by suggesting words, as though one secretly whispered and told the meaning; or by exciting other ideas in the imagination.
Such sort of experiences and discoveries as these commonly raise the affections of such as are deluded by them, to a great height, and make a mighty uproar in both soul and body. And a very great part of the false religion that has been in the world, from one age to another, consists in such discoveries as these, and in the affections that flow from them. In such things consisted the experiences of the ancient Pythagoreans among the Heathen, and many others among them, who had strange ecstasies and raptures, and pretended to a divine afflutus, and immediate revelations from heaven. In such things as these seem to have consisted the experiences of the Essenes, an ancient sect among the Jews, at and after the times of the apostles. In such things consisted the experiences of many of the ancient Gnostics, the Montanists, and many other sects of ancient heretics, in the primitive ages of the Christian church. And in such things as these consisted the pretended immediate converse with God and Christ, saints and angels, of the Monks, Anchorites, and Recluses, that formerly abounded in the church of Rome. In such things consisted the pretended high experiences, and great spirituality of many sects of enthusiasts, that swarmed in the world after the reformation* And in these things seems to lie the religion of the
Such as the Anabaptists, Antinomians, and Familists, the followers of N. Stork, Th. Muncer, Jo. Becold, Henry Pleiser, David George, Casper Swenckfield, Henry Nicolas, Johannes Agricola Eislebius; and the many wild enthusiasts that were in England in the days of Oliver Cromwell; and the followers of
many kinds of enthusiasts of the present day. It is by such sort of religion as this chiefly that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light: and it is that which he has ever most successfully employed to confound hopeful and happy revivals of religion, from the beginning of the Christian church to this day. When the Spirit of God is poured out to begin a glorious work, then the old serpent, as fast as possible, and by all means, introduces this bastard religion, and mingles it with the true; which has from time to time soon brought all things into confusion. The pernicious consequence of it is not easily imagined, until we see and are amazed with the awful effects of it, and the dismal desolation it has made. If the revival of true religion be very great in its beginning, yet if this bastard comes in, there is danger of its doing as Gideon's bastard Ahimelech did, who never left until he had slain all his threescore and ten true-born sons, excepting one that was forced to flee. Great and strict therefore should be the watch and guard that ministers maintain against such things, especially at a time of great awakening: for men, especially the common people, are easily bewitched with such things; they having such a glaring and glistering shew of high religion. The devil hiding his own shape, and appearing as an angel of light, men may pot be afraid of him.
The imagination, or phantasy, seems to be that wherein are formed all these delusions of Satan, false religion, and counterseit graces and affections. Here is the devil's grand lurkingplace, the very nest of foul and delusive spirits. It is very much to be doubted, whether the devil can come at the soul of man to affect it, or to produce any effect whatsoever in it, any other way, than by the phantasy ; that power of the soul by which it receives, and is the subject of the species, or ideas of outward and sensible things. As to the laws and means which the Creator has established, for the intercourse and communication of unbodied spirits, we know nothing about them ; we do not know by what medium they manisest their thoughts to, or excite thoughts in each other. But as to spirits united to bodies, those bodies are their medium of communication. They have no other medium of acting on other creatures, or being acted on by them, than the body. Therefore it is not to be supposed that Satan can excite any thought, or produce any effect in the soul of man, any otherwise, than by some motion of the animal spirits, or by causing some motion or alteration in something which appertains to the body. There is this reason to think that the devil cannot produce thoughts in the soul any other way than Mrs. Hutchison, in New England; as appears by the particular and large accounts given of all these sects, by that eminently holy man, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, in his Display of the Spiritual Antichrist. And in such things as these consisted the experiences of the late French prophets, and their followers. VOL. V
by the medium of the body, viz. that he cannot immediately know the thoughts of the soul. This is abundantly declared in the scripture, to be peculiar to the omniscient God. But it is not likely that the devil can immediately produce an effect, which is out of the reach of his immediate view. It seems unreasonable to suppose, that his immediate agency should be out of his own sight, or that it should be impossible for him to see what he himself immediately does. Is it not unreasonable to suppose, that any intelligent agent should by the act of his will produce effects, according to his understanding, or agreeable to his own thoughts, and that immediately, and yet the effects produced be beyond the reach of his understanding, or where he can have no immediate perception? But if the devil cannot produce thoughts in the soul iminediately, or any other way than by the animal spirits, or by the body, then it follows, that he never brings to pass any thing in the soul, but by the imagination or phantasy, or by exciting external ideas. For we know that alterations in the body do immediately excite no other sort of ideas in the mind, but external ones, or those of the outward senses. As to reflection, abstraction, reasoning, &c. and those thoughts and inward motions which are the fruits of these acts of the mind, they are not the nearest effects of impressions on the body. So that it must be only by the imagination that Satan has access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, or suggest any thing to it.*. And this seems to be the reason why persons that are under the disease of melancholy,
* “ The imagination is that room of the soul, wherein the devil doth often a ppear. Indeed, (to speak exactly,) the devil hath no efficient power over the rational part of a man: he cannot change the will, he cannot alter the heart of a mag. So that the utmost he can do, in tempting a man to sin, is by cuasiun and suggestion only. But then how doth the devil do ihis? Even by working upon The imagination. He observeth the temper, and bodily constitution of a man ; and thereupon suggests to his fancy and injects his fiery darts thereinto, by which the mind and will come to be wrought upon. The devil then, though he hath no imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because he can thus stir and move thy imagination, and thou being naturally destitute of grace, canst not withstand these suggestions ; hence it is that any sin in thy imagination, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth quickly lay hold on all. And indeed, by this means do arise those horrible delusions, that are in many erroneous ways of religion: all is because their imaginations are corrupted. Yea, how often are these diabolical delusions of the imagination, taken for the gracious operations of God's Spirit?- It is from hence that many have pretended to enthusiasms; they leave the scriptures, and wholly attend to what they perceive and feel within them." (Burgess, on Original Sin, p. 369.)
The great Turrentine, speaking on that question, “ What is the power of angels ?”' says, As to the bodies, there is no doubt, but that they can do a great deal upon all sorts of elementary and sublunary bodies, to move them locally and variously to agitate them. It is also certain, that they can act upon the external and inierpal senses, to excite them, or to bind them. But as to the rational soul itself, they can do nothing immediately upon that; for to God alone who knows and searches the hearts, and who has them in his hands, does it also appertain to bow and move them withersoever he will. But angels cap act upon the rational soul, only mediately by imaginations." (Theolog. Elench. Loc. VII. Quest. 7.)