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Thomas Bromley's
"A Treatise of Extraordinary Divine Dispensations"
(continued)   File 2 of 2


 

(8th)

My 8th Observation is, That in the primitive Time Christians were wont to see the Angels of absent Saints, appearing to them in Visions,

according to Acts 9.12. where Christ commanding Ananias to visit blind Paul, told him that he was at Prayer, and had seen in a Vision a Man, named Ananias, coming in, and put his Hand on him that he might receive his Sight.    In this Scripture we may observe these Things,

1st, that this Spirit, or Angel that Paul saw, had some particular Relation to Ananias, because Christ calls him by his Name.   
2dly, that he was beheld in a bodily Appearance, as coming in like a Guest, and laying his Hand upon Saul.    
3dly, that he was in the likeness of Ananias, for appearing in the Similitude and Figure of a Person, he would not take the likeness of any other, but of him whom he represented.   

And such Visions of the particular Spirits, or Angels of Saints seem to have been somewhat frequent in those Times, by that of Acts 12.15.    Where they said of Peter, It is his Angel:  

Now you may observe by the Context, that they in Mary's House, at whose Door Peter knocked, thought it more probable that Peter's Angel should be there, than he himself present, and delivered from Prison, whence they said the Maid was mad, for affirming that Peter was come, and when she strongly asserted it, they concluded 'twas his Angel;  now they that made this Conclusion clearly insinuate, that they were wont to see the Angels of absent Friends, and particularly his, and this being the Conclusion of many Christians, who at that Time, ver.12. were met to pray, and enjoy God together, adds more Weight to this Observation.    

Moreover these personal Angels were wont to speak in the Voice of those to whom they did belong;  for the Maid concluding only from Peter's Voice, ver.14. without opening the Door, that he was there, gave them within, Occasion to believe it was not he, but his Angel, which serves to answer Dr. Brown's sudden and witty, yet groundless Objection, who says it might be Peter's Messenger, because Angelos signifies a Messenger in general, as well as an Angel in Particular.   But how could the Maid conclude from hearing the Voice of a strange Messenger, that it was Peter?    And the Text saith, she knew his Voice:  And why should they conclude against the Maid that it was his Messenger, when she, by having heard his Voice, affirmed it was Peter?    'Tis certain therefore they meant his Angel, with which and others they were wont to converse, as this Place evinceth.   

But to bring one more Proof, let us consider Acts 16.8-10. Where it is said, at Troas a Vision appeared to Paul in the Night, and there stood a Man of Macedonia and prayed him saying, come over to Macedonia and help us.   

Here we may observe three Things: 

1st. That the Angels or Spirits of Persons far off, (the Sea lying betwixt Macedonia and Troas) sometimes appeared to the Saints.   
2d. That these Angels or Spirits were wont to speak, and discover their Minds, and God's Will by Voice.   
3d. That Paul much regarded such Speakings, for ver.10. he concluded from this Vision that God had called him to preach the Gospel in that Country, whither he presently sailed.   

But now if it be asked whether these were particular subsisting Spirits and guardian Angels deputed to particular Persons, or the very Spirits and inward Man of those Persons?    I answer, I shall not positively determine whether they were such guardian Angels, personally different from those they represented, or whether they were the Spirits and inward Men of such Persons;  that they might be the last, we may have some Ground from the 1st and 3rd Text before cited, in one of which it is said that a Man named Ananias appeared to Paul;  in the other, that a Man of Macedonia stood by him and spoke, &c. by which Expression it seems that they themselves in relation to their Spirits, or internal Man, thus appeared, which might be by God's secret Operation, without the knowledge of their outward Man, as by my own Experience in Things of this Nature, I can witness: 

But besides I know some that enjoy such Visions, who have seen the Angels, or Spirits of other Saints, speaking as in their Persons, and saying that they are affected thus or thus, under such, or such spiritual Discoveries and Openings, just as such Persons are at the same Instant;   which makes it probable that they are not particular subsisting Angels, distinct from the Spirits of such Persons, but even their own Spirits:  

But to render this a little more plain, let us consider that every Saint hath his own inward Man, which Paul, 2Cor.4.16. makes really different from the outward, being that which 1Thess.5.23. is called to Pneuma the Spirit, there distinguished from Soul and Body, the same which is expressed, Heb.4.12. where the Word of God is said to pierce even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, where by Soul is meant the animal imaginative Soul, by Spirit the inward Man, or intellectual Spirit, which the Platonists call ton Non or Anthos Nou, the Mind and flower of the Mind or Soul, by which as the Cabbalists say we are capable of Divine Vision, and immediate Illumination;  and therefore may well be call'd our Angel, because it stands betwixt God and our outward Man, receiving Directions from him, for the Government and Rule of the outward Man:  This compared to the imaginary sensual Soul, is as the Man, that, as the Woman, which ought to be in subjection to her angelical Husband, and learn of him in Silence, according to the Mystery of Paul's Precept: 

Now the Word of God divides betwixt these two, by raising the Spirit out of the irregular concupiscible Imbraces of the animal fleshy Part, and so, by making them keep their just Distances, in giving the Spirit Power over the Flesh to subdue it, and to check it's wandering Imaginations and Earthly Affections, that so these being in Order, the Spirit may enjoy Divine Silence, in Conversing with God and Angels;  for it is in reference to this inward Man or Spirit of our Minds that we are said, Eph.2.6. to sit in Heavenly Places, for this lives not properly in any particular Place, so as to be circumscribed by an ambient Body, and tho' it hath a more particular Relation to an outward Body, than separate Spirits and Angels; yet being a pure Spirit beautified with God's Image, 'tis very Subtile, and virtually extensive and capable, by God's actuating of it, to appear any where within the Sphere of it's Created influence, by making a Representation of the Body to whom it belongs, not in the outward Air, but in the internal World, which being nearer the Centre, contains not such distances as the Outward;   for the more Spiritual any thing is, and the nearer to God, the more Universal it is: 

Therefore where any Spirit by Nature or Grace is so Pure, as to be United to God, and his most pure Nature, that being Essentially perfect in every Punctum, and no more distant as to extensive Space, from one Place than another: Such a Spirit by this Union, hath a kind of Universal tho' not infinite Presence, and may discover a figurative Similitude of itself any where, as God will employ it:  Hence it appears that our Spirit, or inward Man, which thro' the Humanity of Christ is united to God, by his Appointment, may make an Appearance to another Saint, far distant from our outward Bodies, yea, and see things our absent Eye cannot reach;  which Mystery Paul gives Testimony to, by his own Experience, Col.2.5. where he saith, tho' I am absent in Body or Flesh, tae Sarki, yet I am present with you, to Pneumati, in Spirit, joying and beholding your Order, and the stedfastness of your Faith:  Here he clearly expresseth the Absence of his Body, the Presence of his Spirit, the Sight he had by that Presence, and Joy which flowed from that Sight:  And there are some now who are sober, spiritual Christians who have truly experienced what Paul writes;  all which shews the possibility of our internal Angels appearing to those who in the Body are at an outward distance from us.

 

(9th)

My 9th Observation is, That some of the Church Militant have by Vision enjoyed Communion with some of the Church Triumphant;  which clearly appears by Mat.17.3. where Moses and Elias, appeared to Peter, James and John, talking with Christ upon the Mount, which so affected Peter that ver.4. he said, Lord it is good for us to be here;  and Mat.27.52,53. it's said, The Graves were opened, and many Bodies of Saints which slept arose, and came out of the Graves after his Resurrection, and appeared to many.   

Here you see they shewed themselves not to all but to some, having Power by Reason of their Spiritual Bodies to be Visible or Invisible as they pleased;  which Power Christ manifested after his Resurrection, whose Body sometime vanished out of the sight of his Disciples;  as on the contrary, these are said here to appear, which Terms are wont to be attributed to Angels, in their Discoveries and Disappearances.     Moreover Christ himself, after his Ascension appeared to Paul, in his Journey towards Damascus, and discoursed with him;  and again in the Temple when Paul was in a Trance;   and afterwards Acts 23.4. Christ stood by him when he was at Jerusalem in great Danger and comforted him.    

And did he not shew himself in Brightness and Splendor to John in the Isle of Patmos, who there particularly describes the Appearance of his glorified Humanity, which was so full of Lustre and Majesty, that John with the sight, fell at his Feet as Dead, by which he gave our Saviour occasion to touch him with his Blessed Hand and to bid him not Fear:  Now what a blessed visible Communion was this, with the blessed Head of the Church Triumphant: who by his often appearing in Vision after his Resurrection and Ascension, confirmed the Truth of his own Promise, that he would be with his Disciples to the End of the World;  and doth not Rev.4.4. confirm this, of Communion with Saints in Glory?     Where John affirms, that round about the Throne he saw Four and Twenty Elders, presbyteros, sitting on Twenty Four Seats, Cloathed with White Rayment, with Crowns on their Heads:  Now that these were some highly glorified Saints appears; 

1st,  In that they are called Elders, a Term usually applied to the most Grave and Spiritual of the Church, in the Old and New Testament.   
2d,  In that they are, Rev.7.11, distinguished from the Angels, who are said all to stand round about the Throne, and about the Elders, who sat in their Seats, and yet sometimes, Rev.4.10, fell down before him that sat on the Throne and Worshiped him, casting their Crowns at his Feet, which shews their Subjection as Creatures.   
3d, In that they had been saved and redeemed by Christ from the Earth, which clearly appears by their Epinikia, or Songs of Victory, Rev.5.9, in which they make this Confession to the Lamb; Thou wast slain, and has Redeemed us to God by thy Blood, out of every Kingdom, &c.  And hast made us to our God, Kings and Priests, and we shall Reign on the Earth:  Their kingly Office was express'd by their Crowns, which were given as Rewards of Victory, Rev.2.10;  Their Priestly, by their offering up Odours to God, Rev.5.8;  Their Redemption thro' Christ's Blood, by their White Rayment, according to that of Rev.7.14, where one of those Elders discoursing with John, of those arrayed in white Robes affirms;  These are they that came out of great Tribulation, who have washed their Robes, and made them White in the Blood of the Lamb:  And this white Rayment Christ exhorts us to buy of him, Rev.3.18, which in Rev.19.8. is called, the Righteousness of the Saints.    

And 'tis very probable the Angel that interpreted to John many of the Mysteries he saw in his Revelations, was one of the antient Prophets which appears by Rev.19.10. and Rev.22.9. where the Angel forbids John to worship him, annexing this Reason;  For I am thy fellow Servant, and of thy Brethern the Prophets, and of them that keep the Sayings of this Book;  by which Expressions he intimates,

1st,  that he was one of the Prophetical Saints, in that he calls himself John's Fellow Servant, Syndulos, which Term usually expresseth, one United to some Saint or Saints in some peculiar Work;  and in a nearer Relation and Conjugation, than a Saint and an Angel, as Col.4.7. and in other Places.   
2d,  In that he saith, he was of his Brethern the Prophets, which makes it clear, that he was some deceased Saint, for if he had only said, and of thy Brethern, it had been enough, to have shewed that he was one of the human Nature, redeemed by the same Blood, and baptized by the same Spirit of Adoption, into the Body of Christ:  But his annexing, that he was of his Brethern the Prophets, plainly shews, he was one of the Seed of Abraham, and of the Antient Prophets, which had given, and did now give Testimony to and of Jesus by the Spirit of Prophesy, Rev.19.10.    

And this is more confirmed by Rev.21.17. where the Wall of the New Jerusalem was said, to be one Hundred and Forty Four Cubits, according to the Measure of a Man, i.e. of the Angels.     Here the Holy Ghost seeing to point to that Angel which in Rev.22.16. was sent by Christ to shew these Things to John, calls him a Man;  for it cannot import that the Measure of a Man, and an Angel is one and the same, i.e. that the Capacity and Dignity of their Natures and Essences is just equal, for one must exceed, and the other be exceeded in some Things, otherwise all were Men, or all Angels.   

1st,  it doth not import that this Man was an Angel, in Reference to his specifical Nature, for why should the new Jerusalem be measured according to the Model of an Angel, seeing the Measures of it are proportioned according to 12 times 12, or the Number of those 144000 Saints (1 being put for a Thousand) which were seen standing upon Mount Sion, being those that were sealed of the 12 Tribes;  according to which Tribes this City had 12 Gates, and 12 Foundations bearing the Names of the 12 Apostles.    
2d,  'Twas fitter to be measured by the Nature of a Man than an Angel, because Christ took our Nature upon him, and by his Blood redeems his human Brethern, and makes them living Stones of this new Jerusalem;  it clearly then appears that the new Jerusalem was measured by a Man as to his Species, tho' called an Angel;  because of the nearness and great Proportion betwixt an Angel and a glorified Man.   
3d,  Because of the Office of this Person, in that he was sent, Rev.22.16., to reveal divine Mysteries to the Church.    
4th,  Because he was one of a large comprehensive Intellect, deep-sighted in Eternity, like some Eagle-eyed-Angel that never knew the Vail of an elemental Body;  and why Christ may not still make use of some highly illuminated Saint of the Church in Heaven, to discover Mysteries to those on Earth, who are fitted by Faith, Mortification and Abstraction from their Senses, I know no Reason, in regard they being one in Nature with us, and having lived in corrupt Bodies as well as we, are fitter than the abstract Angels, instrumentally to work upon our Spirits in the revealing and opening of spiritual Mysteries.

Now that 'tis possible for us in this Life to enjoy Communion with the Saints departed, that live in Eternity, appears by the former Examples, and that probably we may, if we use the Means in following the Pattern of Christ's Life, is clear.   

1st,  In regard the Heaven wherein they live, is not at such an outward Distance from us, as most suppose;  but in it's own Principle every where, as I proved by Christ's appearing after his Ascension, for the more we die to the sensual Nature, and through Death partake of Christ's Resurrection, the nearer we come to God and Heaven, and so are more capable of Communion with the Spirits of just Men made Perfect.    
2d,  In that the Communion of Saints is an Article of the Creed, that is the Communion of the Saints in Heaven, with those on Earth, and Reciprocally, as well as of Saints Triumphant, with those that are so;  and with Saints Militant with their Fellow Soldiers;  for we make all but one Body, having one Spirit, which living in every Member, unites all so to the Head, and to one another, that there can be no such Schism and Distance, as to hinder free Communion, either External or Internal, or both.    
3d,  Because Paul in Heb.12.22-24. makes the great difference betwixt Christians, that are in the pure Gospel-Dispensation, and those Israelites under mere legal Administration;  to consist in this, that the latter were but at Mount Sinai, under the terrible Administration of a strict outward Law; but the former were come to Mount Sion, unto the City of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable Company of Angels, ver.23.    To the general Assembly and Church of the first Born, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the Spirits of just Men made perfect, ver.24.    And to Jesus the Mediator of the new Covenant, &c.

We see here, that Paul makes it the Character of spiritual Christians attainment, to be arrived at Mount Sion, the Place of the Blessed, to be come to an innumerable Company of Angels, and to the general Assembly of the first Born written in Heaven.    And is not this a State of Communion with Angels, and with the Saints glorified, and Spirits of the Just?    

Let us take heed then of denying this great and blessed Truth, which is so clearly held forth in the Scripture;  and rather reflect upon ourselves, and examine whether in the outward Letter of the Gospel, we are not yet under the Law?

And whether Christians now, are not far short of the State of the Saints in Paul's Time?    And is it to be doubted, that if the Eyes of many that think themselves in the Noon-tide of the Gospel were but opened, they would see that they had not yet passed Mount Sinai, and would begin to Quake and Tremble, as beholding Fire and Darkness, yet betwixt God and them

And I truly fear, that many take the Thunder, Lightning, Hail and other terrible Judgments, at first poured down upon the Rebellious Egyptians, (or gross natural Corruptions) to be the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, and so in their spiritual Progress (of which the outward was a Type) think themselves near Canaan, whereas they are yet but in their Sinai, betwixt that and Egypt;  not seeing the Cherubims Sword which stands betwixt them, and the Garden of Eden

As to my own Experience, after I had had great Changes, and real Works of Conversion upon me, and thought myself past Mount Sinai;  yet my Eyes being opened a-new, I saw I was between Egypt and Mount Sinai, and came to behold the Law given, in a great deal of Majesty and Severity;  seeing betwixt me and Mount Sion, the smoking Mount of Sinai, covered with Fire and Darkness;  and that my Flesh was to be thrust thro' and Slain by the Cherubim's Sword, before I could pass thro' the Region of Fire, towards the Heavenly Paradise;  and all this was after great Enjoyments of Free Grace, and many Tastes of the great Love of God to, and in my Soul, which were sent as sweet Allurements to draw me further out of myself.    But Blessed be our great Mediator, who has walked with me in the hot Furnace of God's Wrath, and by his Blood hath satisfied Justice, quenched the Flames of Wrath, washed my Soul, and thro' Death, brought me nearer the Fountain of Life.   

But to conclude this Head, let us consider, that our coming to Mount Sion, and enjoying Communion with the Spirtis of the Just in this Life, and the Angels, is a great Priviledge purchased for the Saints, by the Blood of the Lamb: Having therefore, Brethern, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us thro' the Vail, that is to say his Flesh;  and having an High Priest over the House of God, let us draw near with a true Heart in full assurance of Faith, Heb.10.19- 21.

 

(10th)

My 10th Observation, I shall make is, That Communion with God and Angels by way of Vision, is a great and weighty Dispensation.    Hence Jacob (Gen.28.16,17.) after he had seen the Angels ascending and descending, and the Lord from above them speaking to him; breaks forth into these Expressions, surely the Lord is in this Place, but I know it not, as intimating some more particular Relation to, and extraordinary presence of God in such Places, where he opens the invisible World, and shews manifest Visions to his Saints in Union with elemental Bodies.    Hence Moses was commanded to put his Shoes off his Feet, whilst the Flaming Vision continued, because of the Relation of God's extraordinary Presence to that Place, at that time, which was therefore called Holy Ground, tho' it was a Figure of a deeper moral Mystery.     And this Jacob more confirms by his Ekphonesis, ver.17.   How dreadful is this place?   This is none other but the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven, and Gen.32.30. The Vision of God in human Form, is called the seeing of him Face to Face, which intimates the Greatness and Honourableness of such Visions.    The Apostle expressing the very beatifical Sight by the same Terms, 1Cor.13.12.     And Jacob, thought it a great Priviledge to have enjoyed such a Vision, and yet to live, Gen.22.30.    For Isaiah, that high Evangelical Prophet, Chap.6. after he had beheld the Vision of the Lord upon his Throne with his Attendants, the Seraphims, cries out, ver.5. that he was Undone, because he had seen with his Eyes, the King, the Lord of Hosts;  which shews the Weight, and Glory of such Visions, striking those that saw them into Admiration of God's Majesty, and their own Vileness:  This Daniel (that eminent Saint) Chap.10.8. confirms, who by the Bright appearance of the Majestick Angel confesseth that he retained no strength, and that his Comeliness was turned into Corruption, and God himself who is most Wise, and knows best what things are Great and Excellent, what not, Num. 12.6,7.  makes it a peculiar Token of his extraordinary Love to, and high value of Moses, to shew him, ver.8. the Similitude of the Lord, which shews 'tis an high enjoyment to see God by way of Similitude, that is in that Glorious Spiritual Likeness and Similitude, which he himself takes up to appear in, as he did to Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micaiah, Daniel, and last of all, to Divine John, when he saw him in Heaven sitting on a Throne in a Human Form;  and when he beheld this, he was in the Spirit and wrapt up into or near Heaven, Rev.4.10. according to that Voice, come up hither:  

If things then even in Heaven, where God manifests himself most perfectly, are seen under figured determine'd Appearances, as John saw the Elders and Angels about the Throne;  I say if, for, as really it is; this shews that ordinary Intellection (such as we commonly enjoy in the Body) by imperfect Species of things, is far below this Sight, which beholds things so clearly in God's own Light, even as the thinking of a thing, is below the real sight of it;  and the meditating of Heaven far short of Paul's Vision of it in that Rapture, in which he heard and saw things unutterable;   and the representing Christ in thoughts exceeding mean, in Comparison of Stephen's real sight of him in Glory, and the Life of Faith, much inferiour to that of perfect Sight:  And altho' pure Intellection being absolutely Spiritual, is more Noble than the Sight of the outward Eye:  Yet, one cannot reasonably argue from thence, that ordinary Intellection which is much Corrupted, and hugely short of Pure;  must therefore be more Excellent and Satisfactory than the sight and enjoyment of Heavenly Visions;  for most Visions, as I know by Experience, are seen by the Internal, not by the external, Corporeal Eye;  and so are not Material, but spiritual Objects:  

And tho' Visions did all appear to the external Eye, yet were not their Enjoyments more Base, yea, they would be more Excellent, all things well consider'd than that of ordinary Intellection;  which brings but the Knowledge of things by those Species, which once came from the Senses, is but a dark imperfect way to converse in;  whereas, the sight of glorious extraordinary Objects thro' the Eye, by their visible Presence, gives more Assurance, Satisfaction and Delight, entering deeper into the Soul by strong Impression, than Thoughts without such Objects;  and who (for Illustration) would not prefer a sight of the Circulation of the Blood in Man's Body, which might discover to the Eye, the Situation of all the Arteries and Veins, with the secret Passages of the Blood from one to another, and so back to the Heart:  I say, who would not prefer such an experimental Sight to the representing of it only by Thoughts to ones self?    Seeing that in the First, there is a joining of the Eye and the Understanding together, which is not in this Last;  which is much to be taken notice of in our Comparisons of common Intellection, (which in its kind, is very imperfect) with the sight of the Eye, which, in its own kind, is much more perfect, lest we should disjoin Things that go together;  for in the corporeal Visions, besides the presence of the Object, and all Advantages that flow from it, there is all that may be called Intellection joined with Sensation, which clearly proves that enjoyment of Communion with God and Angels by Vision, tho' it were to the outward Eye only, were more excellent, and to be prefer'd before Communion by Thoughts only:  because in this last, besides Intellection and Reflections of the Understanding, there's the addition of a visible extraordinary presence of God and Angels, in a way more like the Enjoyments of Heaven, than ordinary Communion is;  for in such Enjoyment, the Eye (suppose that of the Body) sees a glorious Object more beautiful than the Sun, the Understanding presently apprehends this an effect of God's extraordinary Presence, and knows it an extraordinary Discovery of this particular Favour, which, it may be, is presently discovered by an angelical Voice speaking to the Soul.     Oh! How is the Soul then ravished?    How is it transported with this open Discovery of God?    How is it filled with holy Amazement, to see God and his Angels in such an immediate visible way of Discovery so near?    How is it struck into profound Reverence?    How low at this time do all Earthly Enjoyments seem?    How mean the greatest Monarch?    How much more ravishing Satisfaction doth it now enjoy, by such a manifest appearance of God and his Angels, or through his Angels, than it ordinarily enjoys by intellective Reflections, which are many times eclipsed and disordered by Imaginations, raised from the Sense of outward Objects?    What a difference doth it find betwixt thinking of God and his Angels, and such Appearances of them as present by Voice and Vision, through which the Soul finds wonderful Virtue, Power, and Life conveyed into Itself?  

But as I shewed before, most Visions of the Prophets, and primitive Christians (as I believe) — all those of the opening of the internal Heavens, the Similitude of God on his Throne, of Christ Glorified, of the Seraphims, Cherubims, and other Angels when they appeared in Sun-like brightness, and most, if not all that we now enjoy, are seen by the Eye of the Soul, and intellectual Power of Sight, without the help of corporeal Organs, and so more in that way by which Angels and Saints behold Things in Heaven, than Communion by meer Thoughts is, which shews the Excellency of the former way over the latter, because that which is more agreeable and like to that, which is more excellent in itself, so far as it's agreeable, more excellent also;  and questionless {without question}, this open Sight and Enjoyment is more like that of Heaven than common Intellection by Thoughts;  for certainly in this way of internal Sight, John saw all his Visions, especially those in Heaven, for he was wrapt into the Spirit, as a Preparation for this enjoyment, and certainly, the Understanding by Image and Conception without internal Sight, as we ordinarily do, is a great and sad effect of the Fall, and shews the prevalency of the Imagination over the Intellect;   for in thinking, we behold not the Essence of any thing, but only the Image or Species of it, whereas true, perfect Knowledge is the Intuition of the Being, or Essence itself, and the more we come to Perfection, in the Restoration of our primitive Faculties in their Use, the more we shall enjoy the real Sight and Intuition of Things;   even as the outward Eye sees it's Object, though more nobly.    

Whence the Enjoyment in Heaven which the Souls of Saints partake of, (as soon as they are out of the Body) is called the Seeing of God Face to Face, and this is without Images, or such Species which in ordinary Intellection we use;  for there, Rev.22.5. the Light of the Son of God supplies their Place, who is the only Light of the new Jerusalem, by which our spiritual Eyes shall be joined with all Spiritual Objects.    And David affirms, that when a Man dies all his Thoughts perish;  and I cannot understand what more perfect and satisfactory Way to Knowledge we can desire or imagine, than for the Soul to see by Intuition the Essences of all Things, as we do the superficies of Things by the outward Eye, and to understand in that simple Vision, the Causes, Effects, Agreements and Distinctions of all Things:  Therefore it is not a Sign to the Baseness but of the Nobleness of Enjoyments for the Soul in this Life, to see in that Way spiritually as the outward Eye doth materially;  for such was the manner of John's seeing all those glorious Objects in Heaven opened, even when he was in the Spirit, and so in Abstraction from bodily Impediments, and such will our Sight be in perfect Bliss;  or else we must be in that sad Condition blind Men are in that want the sweet and comfortable Enjoyment of the Light, seeing no real Object, only entertaining themselves with the Thoughts and Conceptions of Things.  

But to proceed a little further in the prosecuting this Head, I will particularly shew the Weightiness of Visions of Angels;   which appears, in that God lives and acts in them in such an immediate Presence, that sometimes they speak in the Name of God, as Ambassadors who represents their Prince.    Hence, Gen.22.11,12. the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of Heaven and said, Now I know thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thy only Son, from me.    Now Abraham had no intention to offer up his Son to an Angel, therefore the Angel must speak in the Name or Stead of God. So Gen.3.11.   Now this shews how presentially God lives and acts in them;  which is also clearly shewn in Exod. 23.20,21. where God declaring how he had sent his Angel before the Israelites, commands them to beware of him, and not provoke him, but obey his Voice, adding this one Reason, for my Name is in him;  Now by Name, in Scripture, is many times meant the Nature, Power, and Image of God, as Deut.28.58., Prov.18.10., Acts 3.16., Rev.3.12.     Therefore it was a strong Argument that God used to persuade them to obey that Angel that went before them, to tell 'em, that his own Nature, Power, and Image dwelt in him, and so that he himself thro' that Angel was present in a extraordinary Way amongst them;  and that it is a high Priviledge and Effect of a glorious Union, appears by that of Christ, Rev.3.12. Where he promiseth, as one of the highest Rewards to those that overcome, that he will write on them the Name of God;  which is no other than his Nature, which we shall be perfectly united to in the state of Perfection.    

Moreover the Name Angel is so honourable, that sometimes the Lord is call'd an Angel without Addition, tho' not an Angel of the Lord.    Thus Hosea 12.4. it is said of Jacob, he had Power over the Angel, who ver.5. is there stiled the Lord of Hosts;  so the Angels have been sometimes called God, our Lord, as Judg.13.22. where Manoah saith, we shall surely die, because we have seen God;   whereas in the verse before it's recorded, that Manoah knew it was an Angel of the Lord.    And that Angel which God promised should lead the Israelites in the Wilderness, is sometimes called the Lord, Exod.13.21. and the Angel of God, Exod.14.19. promiscuously, which shews the eminent Presence of God in them, and what Regard we should have of such angelical Appearances when God sends them; seeing at such times his flaming Chariots, in whom he rides, do so visibly converse with us.  

But to conclude, tho' this Communion with Angels is a weighty Enjoyment, and a great and blessed Priviledge for those who live in mortal Tabernacles, yet we are not to worship them, but to look upon them as our fellow Creatures, who owe Worship to our Messiah, and their Captain, Heb.1.6. Let all the Angels of God Worship him;  altho' for our Good he became a little lower than the Angels, Heb.2.9. by assuming Flesh and Blood for the suffering of Death;  even as we yet are far below them in Glory and Happiness, by Reason of our sensitive Nature, which are Vails, hindering our Sight of the holiest Place, where Jehovah dwells between the Cherubims.    It is therefore an Honour to those who enjoy their Society, which Daniel well understood, when he gave such civil Respect to the Angel, as we are wont to afford Persons of Honour and great Quality, by giving them their Titles, Dan.10.16. O my Lord! And ver.17. How can the Servant of this my Lord, talk with this my Lord?     But, in a Word, tho' the Angels, in the time of our Imperfection, are far above us in Light, Power and Glory, yet in the Resurrection we shall be, at least, Isangeloi, equal to the Angels, if not above them.

 

(11th)

Another Observation flowing from the former shall be this, 1st, That the Enjoyment of Visions and other extraordinary Gifts, hath been the Effects of God's particular Favour and Goodness, to those that possess them.    2dly, A real Sign of his dwelling and acting in them, in an eminent Manner.

The first of which appears in that they who were endued with the greatest proportion of these, have been the greatest Favourites of God;  such were Abraham, Enoch, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Zachariah, Ezekiel, Noah, Daniel, Job, together with Christ, the Apostles, and primitive Christians;  and that the Possession of these Gifts and Dispensations, were the Effects of his especial Favour to them is clear.  

1st,  Because amongst the great Favours God Promised to the Christian Church, these are reckoned as very remarkable ones, Joel 2.28. I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your Sons and Daughters shall prophesy;  Your young Men shall see Visions, I will shew wonders in the Heavens, and in the Earth, &c.   

2dly,  Because the withdrawment of these Enjoyments, hath been threatened by God as a great Judgment, Mich.3.6,7. and it was a Sign of his Displeasure against Saul, that he would answer him neither by Prophesy, Dreams or Urim.   

3dly,  In regard they afford the Enjoyers of them, many blessed Advantages in reference to their Spirits, and good of their Souls:  As

1st,  They give powerful Administration of God's especial Presence, and so afford an Happy means to Saints in the Body to carry themselves as before so Mighty a Presence, Gen.17.3., Exod.3.6. And when all the Children of Israel saw how the Fire came down, and the Glory of the Lord upon the House, they bowed themselves with their Faces to the Ground upon the Pavement, and Worshiped and Praised God saying, for he is good, for his Mercy endureth for ever, 2 Chron.7.3.    Oh! What a sweet Frame of Spirit were they drawn up into, at the Sight of this miraculous Emanation of angelical Glory which descended, as an extraordinary Testimony to Solomon's Prayer.    

2d.  They strike the Beholders of them into a deep sense of their own Vileness. Isa.6.5., Dan.10.8. Who when he saw the Glorious Vision of him whose Body was like the Beryll and Face as the Appearance of Lightning, confesseth, That his Comliness was turned into Corruption.

3d.  They powerfully shew the Vileness of the fairest and most enticing earthly Objects;  For how unbeautiful would that, which hath been the greatest Allurement in the World, even the Beauty of Women, seem after such a Vision as that of Daniel chap.10., and that of Paul, Acts 26. 13. When Christ appeared to him in a Light, brighter than the Sun, which yet is the most glorious Body of this Creation?   And what would Honour from Men, and Converse with the greatest Princes, seem to that Converse Jacob had with the Lord at BethelMoses in the Mount; Daniel with that Mighty Angel, who told him, he was a Man greatly beloved; John, with Christ in the Isle of Patmos.

4th, Advantage is, that Transcendent delight they afford the Souls, of those that enjoy them:  For what degree of Pleasure did Paul want, when he was wrapt into Paradise?  What did Moses feel in his Soul, when the Lord caused all his Goodness to pass before him?    How could Micaiah but be transported, when he saw the Lord upon his Throne, with all the Hosts of Heaven standing on his Right and Left Hand? What did some of the holy Men of God feel, when by the Power of the Spirit, they were sometimes transported in Vision, sometimes wrapt Personally up into the Air, and carried as upon the Wings of the Wind. 1Kings 18.12., 2Kings 2.16., Ezek.3.12. and Acts 8.39.    The Spirit much working upon, and penetrating thro' Souls and Bodies, at such Times, how could they but be filled with delightful Amazement and astonishing Joy, to the Eternal discredit of all Earthly Pleasures?    Especially when in such Transportations they had such Visions as Ezekiel, Chap.1.8,10., of the Lord in Majesty upon his Throne, and of the wonderful Cherubims moving in State, with a Sound like the Voice of the Almighty.

The 5th Priviledge the possessors of these receive by them, is the happy Capacity they are put into, to do much good for others, and so very much to glorify God, and to make their own Crowns the greater at the Last Day, when all shall be judged according to their Works.    How useful were the Prophets to the Israelites, by their immediate Messages from God?    And the Apostles by the powerful Gifts of the Spirit, when three Thousand were converted at one Sermon?    How did Moses and Aaron glorify God, by the wonders they wrought in Egypt?     How helpful was Moses to the distressed Israelites in the Wilderness, when by him, as an Instrument, the Red-Sea was Divided, the Rock flowed with Water in a Time of extreme Thirst;  the Enemies overthrown thro' the stretching out of his Arm?    How helpful was Elijah to the Widow of Zarephath and her Son, in making an Handful of Meal, a Store-house, and a little Oil in a Cruise, a lasting Fountain in the time of Famine?    How much good did Elisha do by his Gifts?    As in discovering the King of Assyria's secret Stratagems against Israel, in striking his Army blind, and leading them into Samaria;  in multiplying the Widow's Oil, by which, she freed herself from Debt, and raising from Death the Shunamite's Son, and by healing the Poison'd Pottage, and in a Time of Famine, by satisfying an hundred of the Sons of the Prophets with twenty Loaves?      I might here reckon up, that good which Multitudes received by the Gifts of Healing in the Primitive Time.

But I shall pass to the 6th Advantage, which is, That great Comfort and Refreshment some of these Dispensations have afforded eminent Saints in time of great Trial and Sadness, 1Kings19. when Elijah was sad almost to Death, God sent his Angel and refreshed him;   and when Daniel was cast into the Lyon's Den, the Angel of the Lord shut the Lyon's Mouths, and so freed him from Death, and the fear of it;  and Chap.10., after he had mourned three Weeks, an Angel with a Countenance like Lightning was sent to him, who gave him Comfort and Refreshment, by discovering that God had heard him, and that he was greatly beloved;  and in Acts 23.11. when Paul was in danger of his Life, by Reason of the envious Jews, the Lord stood by him in the Night and said, Be of good Cheer Paul, &c.    Now God made use of this, as a  very effectual way of yielding Comfort in a very dangerous Season;  we see then, that eminent Saints have needed and been supplied with these Dispensations. 'Tis not then a Sign of the Weakness of those who were blessed with this Administration, compared to others that did not enjoy it; but of God's particular Love to them, in affording them such Comfortable ways of Communion being yet in the Body, which clearly appears, in that Christ himself needed, and was supplied with these Supports, Mat.4.11. After his Temptation the Angels came and ministered to him, and Luke 22.43., when he was in his great Trial, concerning the bitter Cup of his Passion, There appeared an Angel to him from Heaven strengthening him, which clearly evinceth the Greatness and Powerfulness of this Way of Support, by the visible Ministration of Angels;  the Heavenly Wisdom at that time applying the most eminent way of Comfort and Support, to the most eminent Time of Suffering and Trial.

The 7th and last Advantage is the very great Obligation, which by these Dispensations is laid upon those that are Blessed with them, to return extraordinary Love to God, and to live more to him;   and as they do much oblige to this, so they very much conduce to beget it, in those that enjoy them;  for the very great Comfort and spiritual Delight which they bring to their Possessors, draw their Hearts by a holy Violence, to strong returns of Love to the Fountain of them;  and we find that nothing works so much upon Noble Spirits, (such as the most of them were, that were most favoured with these Enjoyments) to beget Love, as the preventing of them in great and eminent Discoveries of Love, and in affording particular (not common) Favours, which cannot but so win upon the Souls of such as that they must be forced to cry out with the Spouse in the Canticles, We are Sick of Love:  And this I know in some Measure by real Experience, having found the great growth of my Soul in the Love of God and answerable Obedience, since he bestowed some of these Enjoyments upon me.

And that the Possession of these Gifts, hath been an effect of God's living and acting in those that enjoyed them, in a very eminent Manner, (which was the second Branch of this last Observation) is clear enough, because they are immediate Effects of the extraordinary Effusion of the Spirit, upon those that enjoy them, as in Joel 2.28., where Prophesy, Visions, heavenly Dreams, are enumerated amongst the Effects of the eminent pouring out of the holy Ghost upon the Church, even as all other extraordinary Gifts, 1Cor.12.8-10., are shewed to be the particular Rivulets of one Fountain, even the Spirit, in reference to the eminent Dwelling and Acting of it, in and thro' the Saints;  whence it evidently appears, that God by his Spirit, lives in the Possessors of those Enjoyments, in an especial and extraordinary Manner.

 

(12th)

My 12th Observation which flows from the last, and is parallel with the 2d, is That as the Cessation of Prophecy, and other extraordinary Enjoyments after Malachi, 'till Christ's first coming, was a Token of God's withdrawing his wonted Favour from the Jewish Church, and of leaving them more to themselves; so the Cessation of extraordinary Gifts, and Operations of the Spirit in the Christian Church, was a real Sign of GOD's withdrawing the eminent Kindness and Favour it enjoyed in the Primitive Time, and a real Demonstration of leaving it more to itself;  by which the Wonders of Babel came to be manifested, and an Occasion ministered of Christ's second coming in Spirit to reform the Church, and triumph over the Mystery of Iniquity

For 1st, if the bestowing and conferring these extraordinary Gifts, were Tokens of God's very great Favour to, and eminent Presence amongst those that enjoyed them;  Then on the contrary, the Withdrawment of them, and denying the Collation of them, must be a Sign of the lessening of his Favour to, and Withdrawment of his eminent Presence from those that do not enjoy them;  but the 1st, I proved in the last Chapter, and that even in Relation to the Christian Church;  therefore the last also must needs be true, especially considering what I have proved in my 2d Observation.   
2d, The withdrawment of that from the Church, which preserved pure Truth and Unity, and so hindered and kept out the Anti-christian Man of Sin, and the Mystery of Iniquity, was an Effect of God's withdrawing his former Favour from the Church, and a Sign of more leaving it to itself;   but the taking away of the Spirit in reference to it's infallible extraordinary Gifts, was the withdrawing of that which made the Church happy with the Blessings mentioned;  therefore the withdrawing of the Spirit in it's extraordinary Effects, was an Effect and Sign of that before expressed.   

Now the truth of the Proposition will appear, by proving the Truth of the particular Things contained in it, and

1st, That the Spirit by it's infallible Gifts preserved Truth and Unity, I do not see how any can ingenuously deny, because the same Spirit that revealed Truth, and brought forth Unity, with the same Unction preserved both Truth and Unity:    

And 2d, That by this Unction which preserved Truth, and so Unity, the Anti-christian Mystery of Error was hindered from breaking in upon the Church, is clear, because whilst this unerring Unction continued, it was ready upon all Occasions, with it's infallible Determinations, and evident Convictions to oppose and crush breeding Error, which questionless it did on all Occasions offered;  and this is confirmed by 2Thes.2.7. where Paul speaking of the Working of the Mystery of Iniquity saith, He that letteth will let, 'till he be taken out of the Way:    Now who can be properly meant by this Person here, but the Spirit in it's infallible Gifts?     With which he obstructeth the Inundation of this Man of Sin and Error, but this continued but for a Time, even 'till ver.7. it was taken out of the Way upon which quickly followed ver.8. the revealing and appearing of the great Mystery of Iniquity;  so that the Withdrawment of the Spirit made Way for the sudden and vigorous coming forth of this Mystery of Error, as the removing a Flood-gate gives Passage to the swift Flowing in of a Pressing Water.  

3dly, That this was a Sign of the Withdrawment of God's former Favour, and of leaving the Church more to itself, appears

1st,  By the great blessing the Church enjoyed, by the Continuance of the Spirit in its infallible extraordinary Gifts.   

2d,  By the sad Inconvenience and Miseries it experienced through the Withdrawment of it, as

1st,  The starting up of human Reason in the Church, instead of the Spirit's infallible Unction.   
2d,  The arising of many Opinions and Controversies, for want of the infallible Opener of Scriptures.  
3d,  From this, pure Love and Unity began apace to decay.
4th,  The creeping in of Pride and the Ambition into the Governors of the Church, whence came the fierce Contests betwixt Bishops for Power and Preeminence. 
5th,  The growing and springing up of Idolatry, Superstition, outward Worship, instead of pure Worship of God, in Spirit and Truth.    
6th,  The sad darkening of the Scriptures, and obscuring of the spiritual Truths of the Gospel.   
7th,  The Hatred and Persecution one of another for Difference in Judgment.    

In a Word by the Cessation of the pure Unction of the Holy Ghost, the Christian World relapsed into such horrible Corruption, that the outward visible Church became a great Harlot, committing all manner of spiritual Abomination, Rev.17. which clearly proves the Truth of the 3d. and last Particular in that Proposition.    

But continuing 3dly, if the Cessation of these Enjoyments be not an Effect of God's withdrawing his former eminent Favour, and a Sign of leaving the Church more to itself, and so of it's Eclipse in Gospel Glory, then our present Churches, reformed according to the Letter of the Scripture, may be said to be under the glorious Gospel Administration;  but that cannot be said in Truth and Verity:  For if our Churches, as to their present Constitution and Enjoyments, be in the pure Gospel Administration, then the Administration of the Gospel is not more glorious than the Administration of God under the Law; but that's against the Testimony of Truth. 2Cor.2.    

Now the Consequence of this will clearly appear by parallelling the Administrations of God, under the Law, with the Administrations of our Churches, by which I shall clearly show that they are not under the pure Gospel Dispensation, but yet under the Cloud of God's Withdrawment, in comparison not only to the primitive Times, but even to the Church's Priviledges under the Law.   

In my Parallel, then I shall begin with those we call Ordinances.   

1st, Then we have Baptism as a Seal of the Covenant of Grace, giving us Initiation into Membership with the visible Church, and typing forth the washing of the Heart, and Conscience from the Filthiness of Sin;  they under the Law had Circumcision as a Seal, likewise of the Covenant, a Sign of Initiation into Church Membership, which was a more lasting Figure, and costing them Blood and Pains seemed more powerfully to type forth the Mystery of internal Circumcision, and the cutting off of the Fleshy Corruption from their Hearts, even to the shedding of Blood, i.e. to the Death of the fleshy Man.   

2d, We have the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or breaking of Bread and receiving of Wine, to type forth the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, and to seal the Effects of them.     They had the Passover or Service of the paschal Lamb, the innocency of which Creature, the killing of it, the sprinkling of it's Blood, and the eating of it with bitter Herbs, did most evidently and powerfully figure out the Innocency and bitter Death of Christ, with the sprinkling and applying of his Blood, as a means of Reconciliation and Prevention of God's Wrath, and also the Mystery of feeding upon his Body, as the Heavenly Manna.    Besides this the calling to mind God's destroying all the first Born of Egypt at Midnight, with his gracious passing by them, could not but be a great help to the effectual celebrating of this Passover.  

3d, We keep one Day in seven of solemn Worship, they kept their Sabbath more strict than we;  we have preaching and reading of Scriptures on that Day, they had the reading of Scriptures, and Lectures upon them, with Exhortations, not always confining to one Speaker only, but giving Liberty to any that had the gift of Speaking to Edification, which appears by that of Acts 13.15.    Where after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the Rulers of the Synagogue sent to Paul and Barnabas, saying: Ye Men and Brethern if ye have any Word of Exhortation to the People say on, which gave Paul, ver.16. an occasion of Preaching there, and this exercising one after another, was the Practice of the Primitive Times, 1Cor.14.31. Ye may all prophecy, one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted:   And certainly the Cessation of this amongst our Churches, with the want of pure Gifts to perform it, the Minister engrossing all to himself, is an evident Sign of the Corruption of our Churches;  besides the Jews had many other great Feasts, solemn Sacrifices and Services, and lively Celebrations of God's Mercies, with an evident setting forth the Joys of Heaven, with musical Instruments and skilful Singers, amongst whom there were some in David's Time set a part to prophecy with Harps, Psalteries and Cymbals; 1Chr.25.1 which questionless were useful to those that where spiritual in raising them, to the lively Contemplations of the Harmony of Heaven, and Joys of the Blessed in singing and loving, and might be more effectual than the Preaching of many in our Days;  for we read that David by his Harp, freed Saul from the extraordinary Possession of an evil Spirit, and by that the Hearing of Musick, the Spirit of Prophecy came to Elisha, 2Kings 3. 15. which Effect we do not hear of, from the preaching or praying of our DIVINES, tho' in the Primitive Christian Church, such powerful Outgoings of the Spirit were ordinary.    

But 4thly, We have the History of the Gospel, in which Christ's Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension are declared, and the Mysteries of Justification, Regeneration and Union with God and Christ more particularly discoursed of, and clearly held out than before Christ's coming in the Flesh, and on this Account, in reference to the Scriptures of the New Testament, we are priviledged before them:  But we must know this is but a Difference in an outward Priviledge, and that secundum Gradus only, not in the very Substance of it, we enjoying only a more clear Discovery of some Gospel Truths than they:  For we must know, that by the Sacrifices and Services of the ceremonial Law, the noble Mystery of Redemption was figured forth to those that understood them;  yea the whole Work of Regeneration, and the Mystery of entering into the most holy Place, by the Blood of Christ, as appears in the Epistle to the Hebrews;  and were not the Truths of Christ's Life and Death, of his suffering for our Sins, of Justification by his Blood, of the Righteousness of God, of the new Covenant, of the spiritual Marriage and Union betwixt the Lord and the Church, of Christ's glorious Reign in the Saints, his Members, in a word, of the Resurrection and Judgement, clearly held forth in the Writings of the Prophets?    And we must know that the Glory of the Gospel doth not consist in the expression of an outward Letter, but in the Administration of the Spirit, 2Cor.3.6. in and upon the Saints, in it's mighty Unction and powerful Operation according to that Promise, I will pour out my Spirit upon all Flesh, Joel 2.28.

Besides if we do but consider how the great Gospel Truths expressed more largely in the New, than the Old Testament, are darkened by the Spirit of Error and Apostasy, working in Men's Reason, instead of the Unction of the Infallible Spirit;  as for Instance, the Doctrine of Election, the Mediation of Christ, of Justification and Union with God; which for want of the Holy Ghost, clearly to expound his own Dictates, are made the ground of many bitter Controversies and long Disputes, thro' which, the Spirit of Love and Union is much lost:  I say, if we consider this, our Churches have not much reason to boast of the Letter of the Gospel, as it's handled amongst them, in preferring it before the Administration of the Law and the Prophets, to the Jewish Church.    

But now I shall proceed, in shewing what Priviledges the Jewish Church enjoyed under the Law, which our Churches have not: 

As 1st, Infallible Prophets, who by Prophetical Messages and Revelations, were wonderful useful to the Church;  whence Moses wisheth, That all the Lord's People were Prophets, (O! That they who sit in his Seat were of his Spirit), and of these, there where whole Schools, or Colledges, to whom God revealed his infallible Will; and amongst whom, the Spirit sometimes moved so Powerful, that it fell upon those that heard them, as upon Saul, &c.    Now our Churches have not these blessed Additions of infallible Prophets, or of the Gift of immediate Prophecy.   

2d, Under the Law they had infallibles Answers from the Mercy Seat, by Urim and Thummim, and from Prophets;  they were wont to resort to these for Directions of things of Difficulty and Concernment; as about making Peace or War, &c.    Now what a Priviledge the Jewish Church enjoyed, by these standing infallible Oracles, cannot but be evident to all that know what a Happiness 'tis to have a standing infallible way of discovering God's Mind in a Church, to which, there may be Addresses in all matters of difficulty and doubt:  But these Priviledges our Churches have not, therefore on this Account, the Jewish Church was before them.   

3d, Under the Law they enjoyed Visions, which were both publick and private;  publick, such were the Cloud that was wont to cover the Tabernacle, and that Glory of the Lord, which was wont to appear in the Temple;  private, such were Visions of Representations, as those of Zach.4. of the Candlestick of Gold, of the two Olive Trees, representing spiritual Mysteries;   also Visions of Angels, as of Gabriel, the Seraphims, Cherubims, and of the Similitude of God in Glory, as he appeared to the seventy Elders of Israel upon the Mount, and to some of the Prophets.    Now what great Priviledges these were I shewed before;  but our Churches are not furnished with these Enjoyments;  therefore on this Score, they under the Law excelled us.    

4th, in the time of the Law they had the Addition of Miracles, even when the Jewish Church was settled and established, which were many times of great concernment and use, both to private Persons and to the publick, as that of Elijah before Baal's Priests, 1Kings 18.    By which the Israelites were turned from Idolatry:  Now these are not in our Churches, hence in this also, they had the Advantage of us. 

But if it be here said, Our Churches have now more secret Communion with God, by the inward workings of the Spirit than under the Law:  I answer, that cannot be made appear, seeing that many of them had those great Enjoyments of Rapture, Prophecy, Visions of God and Angels, with Heavenly Dreams; all which were the effects of the Spirit's resting upon, and working in them in an eminent manner, and which served to encrease and heighten inward Communion, by inflaming the Soul with love to God, and taking them off from regarding any worldly Things.  Now our Churches have not those effects of the Spirit's Operation amongst them, and besides the Effects of the Apostacy are so prevalent yet, that we make the blessed Advantages we might have by the Letter of the Gospel useless, by darkening and limiting those Scriptures, which press the perfect Death and Conformity to Christ's Life, as the means of attaining the high and pure Gospel-Enjoyments of Revelation, Prophecy, living in Mount Sion, and of continual Communion with God, Christ, Angels and Spirits of the Just, with that perfect Love, which is to conform us on Earth, to God's Will as is done in Heaven:  By which we might far excel those under the Law.    

But these Attainments are look'd upon by our Divines, as impossible in this Life, and not to be look'd for, or expected by any;  altho' some of them were enjoyed under the Law, or Old Testament, and all of them by the blessed primitive Christians, in a more eminent manner than before:  And furthermore, if we do but consider the generality of Christians, we shall find far the greater part loose in their Conversation, and not able to give an Account of their Faith, in Words or Works;  and of the rest, how many are but merely Civil and Moral, honest in Appearance, not understanding the Mystery of Conversion?    So that the Number of those that profess Religion, Holiness and christian Zeal, is very inconsiderable to those that do not, and yet of these, how many are Hypocrites?    How many make Religion a Disguise to their carnal Interests and Designs?    How many deceive both themselves and others, in resting upon the Performance of Duties, without the effectual Change in their Hearts by the working of the new Birth?    How few then are those that are really changed by some Work of Regeneration, and sincerely love God, and in some measure keep his Commandments?    And yet of those, how many stick in the first Work of Conversion, setting Limits to themselves and others, by which they are hindered from a daily Progress towards the Mark of Perfection?    

If then we parallel those that are in some Work of Regeneration amongst us, and the true Saints amongst them in the Jewish Church:  I know no Reason we have to boast, of exceeding them in Communion with God and Keeping his Commandments, seeing the most holy amongst them have these Testimonies in Scriptures, That they clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him;  were after God's own Heart;  that they were Perfect and upright, fearing God, and such as walked in all his Commandments Blameless, Luke 1.5,6.    And are not many of them left as excellent Patterns for us to follow in particular Graces, as Abraham for Faith;  Enoch for walking with God, the Effect of which through Faith was his Translation;  Job for Patience; Elijah for earnest and powerful Prayer, thro' which he both shut and opened the Clouds; Moses for Meekness, Self-denial, and eminent Converse with God?    And doth not the Apostle, after he had produced many Instances, Heb.11. of the Faith of the Ancients, affirm, ver.32. that the Time would fail him to tell of Gideon, Barak, David, Samuel, the Prophets and others, who, ver.33. thro' Faith subdued Kingdoms, wrought Righteousness, obtained Promises, stopped the Mouths of Lions, quenched the Violence of Fire, out of Weak were made Strong, Women received their Dead to Life again.

We all see these were the Effects of their Faith, O Strong Faith!    Now if the eminent Saints of the Jewish Church, were so far above the most eminent of our present Churches, in the Gifts and Graces of the Spirit;  as in the Visions, Raptures, Prophecy, Power of Miracles, Faith, Patience, Meekness, strong Prayer, and in Walking with God, Gen.5.24. 'tis more than probable, that the Rest which were true Saints, seeing their Examples, and beholding their wonderful Gifts, were somewhat beyond, at least equal to, weaker Christians amongst us.

But if it should yet be objected, That we need not these extraordinary Dispensations, in which they under the Law seem to excel our Churches, and which the Planters of the Gospel enjoyed, because the Scriptures are now fulfilled, and embraced by all Christians;  whence there's no use of such extraordinary Things, which seemed to be given more for the Sake of those that believed not, than for Believers?  

Ans. To this I answer, and first to that part of the Objection, that the Scriptures are finished;  I know no Scripture that asserts it;   if Rev.22.18. be urged, where it is written, if any Man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the Plagues that are written in this Book:  I answer 1st, That is spoken in Relation to that particular Book, which was a particular Prophecy of the Church's State to the End of time.     And 2d, Tho' it had been spoken of all the Scripture, yet it excludes not God's infallible opening and explaining of it by the Saints, thro' the Revelation of that Spirit which did first dictate it;  which Expressions, if wrote, would be new Scriptures, but forbids the Presumption of Man to add any Thing to it from his Reason and corrupt understanding.    For we see a more clear Inhibition given by Moses, Deut.4.2. Ye shall not add to the Word that I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.    Now this Prohibition sets not Limits to God's Spirit, but to Man's daring Invention;  which clearly appears in that the Books of the holy Prophets and Apostles have been added since the written Word of those Times:  Yea, the Observation of the whole ceremonial Law in the Letter of it, hath been abolished and taken away;  which by Moses was commanded to be observed:  Therefore these Inhibitions do not bind up the Spirit of God from infallible Interpretations of what hath been written, or from more clearly opening Mysteries before but briefly or obscurely touched;  or from vindicating the written Word from the corrupt Glosses and Interpretations of others;  by which the meaning of the Holy Ghost hath been lost or much obscured.   

And that the infallible Spirit will again discover itself in such an extraordinary Way, appears from that of Matt.24.14. and Rev.14.6,7.    In the first of which Places it is said by Christ, This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the World, for a Witness unto all Nations, and then shall the End come.    You see an universal Preaching of the Gospel must immediately preceed the End of the wicked World, for this was given as Part of the Answer to the Disciples' Question, ver.3. What shall be the Sign of thy Coming and of the End of the World?   In the last Place, John saw, as a Thing to come, an Angel flying in the midst of Heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on Earth, and to every Nation, and Kindred, and Tongue, and People.    Here you see the Gospel was again to be preached, and that to all Nations and Tongues, which will require the New Gift of Tongues, for the full and free preaching of it, and some highly illuminated Prophet (exprest in the Text by an Angel) come up to the angelical Glory, and furnished as the Angels are, with powerful and immediate Messages from God, to fit him for this great Employment, which could not be Effectual without an infallible Unction, and suitable Power to prove it, by extraordinary Operations of the Spirit:  For if any of our common Preachers, or such as they, without extraordinary Commission and Power, should attempt to go into Turkey, Tartary, or China, to preach the Gospel, what Success were they like to have, but Shame or Death?    And what just Prejudices might our Rents and Divisions amongst ourselves give 'em, both against them and their Doctrine;  especially seeing the Contention, Bitterness, Envy, Cruelty and Injustice, which are the sad Attendants of Differences in Opinions:  And how could they be sure to embrace the Right, without extraordinary infallible Proofs;  seeing the Christians of several Sects, judge, condemn, decry, nay persecute and anathematize one another.

2dly, This Truth of infallible extraordinary Dispensers of the Gospel, yet to come, appears by the 2Thes.2.8. where the Apostle speaking of the Man of Sin, and that Mystery of Iniquity which should creep into, and overspread the visible Church, and so Reign as an Anti-God or Anti-Christ, affirms ver.8. That the Lord should consume him with the Spirit of his Mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming:  Here you see the Man of Sin is to be destroyed, 1st, By the Spirit of his Mouth, i.e. by the Power of the Spirit in it's out-going, by the Preaching of the Word.    2d, By the Brightness of Christ's coming, which intimates that light, evidence and clearness of Discovery in his Saints of his own Glory, which shall confound and dazzle the Eyes of Opposers.   

Now if by this Anti-Christ the Papistical Hierarchy be meant, we see not how they must be destroyed, even by the Spirit of Christ's Mouth, and the Brightness of his coming:  And these must discover themselves by extraordinary Operations of Miracles, Prophecy, infallible Revelation:  For nothing less will be able to convince them, being fortified with so much Reason, Subtilty and Prejudice against all but themselves, Stigmatizing all others by the Names of Hereticks:   And the Protestant Churches generally, by long Peace, Prosperity and Corruption of their Ministers, being Relapsed into Worldly Mindedness, Coldness and Deadness of Spirit, neglect of the Cross of Christ, and some into formal blind Zeal;  Besides, the many Rents and Divisions amongst them, give the Papists such occasion of Prejudice against the reformed, and of more firmly embracing their own Religion;  that it seems impossible without the infallible Unction, and extraordinary Power, ever to reform or convince them.   

But if this Man of Sin and Wicked One, be more Universal than any particular Man, company of Men or particular Church, having a kind of common Nature and living in many of the Members of all Christian Churches, as that Spirit of Error and Apostasy, opposite to the true Unction of God's Spirit;  which I believe comes nearer the Truth, because he is called a Mystery of Iniquity, exalting himself above all that is called God, and Worshiped, which intimates the closeness and depth of this Man of Sin, or wicked Principle, with it's exalting of itself in reaching above God and his Spirit, in the Souls of Men, who are the Temple of God.    I say, if this Man of Sin, be such a spreading universal Nature, and such a Mysterious Subtilty, how will it ever be perfectly found out and discovered, without an infallible Light, or destroyed, without the extraordinary Workings of the Holy Ghost;  being that several Sects and Churches upbraid one another, with the imputation of Apostasy, Anti-Christianism and Error?    Hence it clearly appears, that such extraordinary Gifts and Dispensations, will again be given to the Church. 

3dly, How shall the Church ever attain to the true and certain Understanding of all those Mysteries wrapt up in the Tabernacle and Ceremonial Law, the services of which were Patterns and Figures, Heb.9.9-23. of Spiritual Things as of Redemption, Regeneration, &c?    Of which Paul affirms, Heb.9.5. that he could not speak at that time particularly.    And how shall we certainly understand many of the Mysterious Visions of the Prophets, especially those of Ezekiel (in the beginning concerning the Cherubims) and at the latter end, about the Temple, with the meaning of all the exact Measures, Figures, and Situations of all the Parts;  of the Divisions of the Land by Lot;  with the exact Portions of the Twelve Tribes;   and the exact Situations of the Twelve Gates?  With the meaning of those Mysterious Waters, which he saw flow from the Temple, and that Terrestrial Paradise, which was on the sides of the River?    And how shall we know the true Interpretation of the deep Mysteries in the Revelation of John, and of all other doubtful things in the Scripture?    I say, how shall we attain this, without the renewal of infallible Revelations, and Interpretation again in the Church?     And that the Church shall know these, and all other Secrets of Scripture before the end of the World, appears clearly from the End of God's revealing them, which was for the Use and Instruction of the Church Militant in this World, and whilst on Earth;  and not for the Saints in Glory, who then make no use of that Glass, but see Face to Face, 1Cor.13.12.     Now if before the End of Time, all Scripture Mysteries be not clearly opened;  God would not have his End in revealing them, nor the Church the true use of them, or the Benefit intended by them:  Hence it clearly appears that Christ will yet shew himself again thro' his Saints, in the Brightness and Glory of Revelation, and in other eminent discoveries of the infallible Spirit.

4thly, The calling of the Jews, being a Thing yet to come, proves this, Rom.11.26. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away Ungodliness from Jacob.    Here we have a second Coming of Christ expressed;  and that to convert and call the Jews, and that this is not yet fulfilled is as clear as the Sun, by ver.25. where tis expressed, that this must be after the Fullness of the Gentiles be come in:  Now how the Jews should be called without the high and extraordinary and infallible Actings of the Spirit, I cannot conceive;  seeing that ordinary Gifts of Christians are far more unfit, in this Time of the Corruption of our Churches and their inveterated Prejudices, than the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit were, in the Time of the Church's Purity, which notwithstanding, did not then convince them:  It seems then, that this coming of Christ in Spirit to convince and gather the Jews, will be more glorious and powerful than that was, when they received him;  of which blessed Time Peter speaks, Acts 3.19-21. where it is noted as an eminently happy Season, being called The Time of Refreshing from the Presence of the Lord, and the time of the Restoration of all Things, of which, (as Peter there affirms) God hath spoken by the Mouth of his Prophets since the World began; which I could easily prove, by running thro' all the Prophets who wrote general Instructions to the Church;   but because others have performed this in collecting the Promises, I shall content my self with annexing of one Proof only, which Daniel affords in Chap.7.26,27. But the Judgement shall sit, and they shall take away his Dominion to consume and destroy it unto the End;  and the Kingdom and Dominion and the Greatness of the Kingdom, under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the People of the Saints of the most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and all Dominions shall serve and obey him.

Now I shall answer the other part of the Objection, That we need not extraordinary Dispensations now, which were for the first planting of the Gospel, and for the Conviction of the Unbelievers, more than for the Use of the Believers.    In my Answer to this, I shall shew what Gifts were more for Use of Believers, what more for Others;  and so examine whether our Churches need such or not.   

First,  then, as to the Gift of Prophecy, that was chiefly for the Instruction of the Church and the Comfort of Believers, 1Cor.14.3. which Paul makes a blessed and happy Enjoyment;  therefore commands the Corinthians to desire spiritual Gifts, but rather that they might prophesy, ver.1.     And doth not this Command oblige still?    And would not such immediate Prophecy, as is here spoken of, be of blessed Use amongst us to convert Sinners, to convince those in Error, and extreamly to comfort all Sorts of Christians by the Power and Evidence of it?    And is it not for Want of this Gift of the Spirit, that the Preaching of most is so dead and ineffectual, and of some so Erroneous, by mistaking the true Sense of Scriptures?   

2dly,  As to Visions, they were for the Use of the Church;  some being of more publick Concernment, as Daniel's of the Fifth Monarchy; Ezekiel's of the Temple;  John's of the State of the Church to the End of the World;  others for the more particular Use, Instruction and Comfort of particular Saints, as Daniel's of the Angel Gabriel;   Moses's of the Similitude of God; Jacob's of Mahanaim, or the Lord of Hosts:  Christ's of the Angel that strengthened him in his Agonies;   and Paul's of Christ in the Temple at Jerusalem.     Now what Advantages we might receive from such Visions in these Days, in which Christians are so earthly Minded, so drowsy in Spirit, so ready to be taken with the Opinion and Allurements of the World;  and so very low in spiritual Enjoyments;  I need not here particularly demonstrate, having proved their Usefulness before.    

3dly,  For Discerning of Spirits, that was given for the Safety and Help of the Church:  And what a Happiness were it, if we had this Gift now, when there are so many Wolves in Sheep's Cloathing;  so many that pretend to much Knowledge of, and Communion with God, and yet are Corrupt at the Heart;  so many that shew so much Zeal to Truth, that they are ready to call for Fire from Heaven, and yet have but a Form of Godliness, denying the Power and Life of it?   

4thly,  As to Infallible Oracles, such as the Responses from betwixt the Cherubims, of Urim and Thummim, the infallible dictates of the Spirit thro' the Apostles:  These were for the Preservation of Truth and Unity in the Church, and for Resolution in doubtful and weighty Things:  Now, how highly Advantageous such infallible Oracles and Determinations would be to our Churches, all cannot but see, that do but consider, that by the Cessation of infallible Unction, the Mystery of Iniquity seized upon the Church, and that by the Absence of it, this Mystery of Error still continues, and for want of this Unction, our Controversies started by Reason, still abide, yea multiply, to the Decay of Unity, Love and Peace;  to the swallowing up Christian Discourse and Conversation, in sharp and vain Janglings;  yea, even to the decrying and blaspheming of the Spirit of Truth one in another, yet all alledge Scripture, from which they clash and oppose one another, and this for want of the infallible Unction, which did first dictate them.     And this the Subtile Romanists perceiving, usurped and affixed the Title of Infallible to their Church, but wanting the true Unction itself, they came to obtrude many Suggestions of Reason, and deep Policy, for the Truths of God, Anathematizing all Dissenters: But their Fraus Pia, or rather Impia, will one Day be arraigned and condemn'd.   

5thly,  As to the Gifts of Miracles and Tongues, they indeed were chiefly intended for the Conviction of Unbelievers, tho' Tongues were also useful Qualifications to those that were sent to Preach in strange Countries, either to Ethnicks or Converts, and besides the use of Conviction, Gifts of Miracles, were of much good to Believers and others;  in raising the Dead, healing the Sick, in restoring the Sight, Hearing and Strength to those that were Blind, Deaf, and Lame;   by which many poor Creatures were freed from the Miseries of Great Expence, Torment and Poverty:  And would not Miracles and Tongues be very useful now amongst Christians?    Who in general Professing the Christian Religion, for the greatest Part are no more converted, regenerated, and truly christianized than Heathens, and so might be fit Objects for the Power of Miracles;  By which, might be proved to them, that they undid their Souls by resting upon their Education in the Christian Religion, and that unless they be converted and born again, it had been better for them even amongst us, to have been bred Heathens;  for then, they had not had the Prop of outward Profession, but might have been sooner convinced of their desperate and sad Condition.    I say, this set home by the Power of Miracles, would startle and amaze Thousands, and make them cry out, as those, Acts 2.37. Men and Brethren what shall we do;  which now lie in dangerous security, resting upon Christ to be saved, whom they neither know nor love, only own by Education and Custom;   besides, would not Miracles be wonderfully useful, attending such an infallible Unction, as I spake of before, to convince or shame, and confound all Opposers of the Truth, by shewing what was the Truth, by proving the true interpretation of Scripture, about which there is so much quarreling and disputing, to the loss of the true Faith and Charity?    By which Thousands that are now wandering in the Paths of Error, might be reduced, even as the Israelites were from following and believing Baal's Priests, by Elijah's Miracle. 1Kings 18.

To conclude then, the affirming that we have now no need of Miracles, or any other extraordinary Enjoyments, because of the fullness of Scripture, which by the Effects of the Apostasy is Misunderstood, and made the Ground of bitter Controversies, is an ungrounded and rash Assertion:  But I shall here end this long yet necessary Chapter, and proceed to my last Observation.

 

(13th)

My last Observation, which is parallel'd with the 3d is this; That as immediately before and just at Christ's coming in the Flesh, extraordinary Dispensations of Visions and Prophesy, began to be renewed, and to break forth amongst some choice Ones of the Jewish Church:  So now just before Christ's second coming in Spirit (2Thes. 2.8) to deliver and reform the Church, which had been long in Babylon, extraordinary Dispensations of Visions and Prophecy, &c. begin amongst Christians to be renewed after their so long withdrawment and Cessation;   whose Enjoyments evidently discover themselves to be of God, and the very fulfilling of that promise, Joel 2.28.   1st,  From the way of attaining them.   2d,   For their substantial Agreement with those of Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles.    3d,  From the Effects they produce in those that enjoy them.

1st, Then, as to the way of their attainment, it hath been that of the Cross,  i.e. by the habitual Practice of Self Denial, both internal and external :

Internal, as first, by dying to all Imaginations, and speculative Pollutions, keeping up our Thoughts to God, and heavenly Objects.  Second, by continual Watchfulness over our Affections and Passions, in exercising the Cross, upon the first Motions of them.  Third, by dying to the desire of Repute and Honour amongst Men in the World, looking after that Honour which comes from God only.

External, first, by Fasting, and keeping under our Bodies, by constant Observations of the Rules of Christian Sobriety.  Second, by abstaining from all Objects of sensual Lust and Pleasure, in observing the Rules of Chastity. Third, by withdrawing ourselves, except for necessity, both from all Persons and Employments that might interrupt our inward Communion, or awaken any earthly Passion, as knowing that evil Communications corrupt good Manners; especially where the Habit of Mortification is not yet very strong, and deeply rooted.  A second Means hath been frequent and earnest Prayer in private.   Third, in spending our Time when together, by redeeming Time in Prayer and heavenly Discourse, in relating our Experiences, in exhorting and encouraging one another:  And all this from a Principle of Love to God and Faith in Christ, by whose Goodness and spiritual Blessing, these Means have been effectual to the fitting of us for our present Enjoyments.

2dly,  Their substantial agreement with those of the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles, will appear by paralleling their and our enjoyments.  

1st,  Then we have Visions of Representations, exhibiting spiritual Mysteries and truths; so had they, as Zachariah's golden Candlestick, and Peter's Vessel, &c.   2d,  We have Visions of Angels appearing in Brightness and Splendour, and particularly of the blessed Angel Gabriel, the Seraphims, &c. so had they.  3dly,  Some of us have seen the Vision of Christ in Glory, so did some of the antient Pillars of the Church.    4thly,  We have been wrapt up into the third Heaven's, or Paradise, where the Majesty and Glory of God and the blessed Spirits have been beheld;   so were some of them.   5thly,  We are much taught by angelical Dreams and Visions in Dreams, in which spiritual Mysteries are discovered, and future Things oft predicted; so were they, as appears by those of Joseph, Daniel, &c.   6thly, We see the personal Angels one of another at a distance, so did some of them:  

Now, as to the Objects of internal Faculties of Hearing.   1st, We have internal Words, or inspeakings from the Spirit;  so had they, Acts 7.12.13.2.   And these inspeakings are oft in the very Language and Words of Scripture; by which sometimes particular Scriptures are applied to our particular Condition, heavenly Mysteries sometimes opened, and Directions given in doubtful Things.   2d, We hear Things spoken by the Angels, so did they.  3rd,  We sometimes hear the Harpers upon Mount Sion, and the spiritual Songs of the Blessed above; so did divine John, and the poor Shepherds.  4th,  As to other spiritual Gifts.   1st. We have first immediate Prophecies, the Accomplishment of which, to my knowledge, hath proved the Truth of them, so had they.   Then, 2d,  [We have] Immediate Revelation and Interpretations of deep mystical Scriptures, so had they.  3d,   [We have] Immediate spiritual Hymns and Songs, which are accompanied with so much Power and reviving Virtues, that they clearly speak their Author to be the Spirit;  such also had the Saints of old;  other eminent and extraordinary Enjoyment I could here annex, but they shall be discovered in their Time, few being yet able to bear them.

3rdly,  As to the Tendency and Effects of these Enjoyments, they have been and are suitable to the Means thro' which they were attained, leading to those Things which are the chief Scope of the Scripture;

as 1st,  To the giving of us a deep Sense of our natural Corruption, and sad Condition in this elemental Body.
2dly,  Of the very great Grace of God, in affording us such happy Means of Redemption by the Blood, Life and Death of his Son.
3dly,  Of our Necessity of Conformity to the Death and Sufferings of Christ, in regard that the way to Life is thro' Death, and the Opposition of Devils very great and constant.
4thly,  They lead us to a continual Watchfulness over our inward and outward Man.
5thly,  To the Denying our selves of all Enjoyments pleasing to the Flesh, which are any way hindrances to the spiritual Temper and Progress of the Soul to God.
6thly, To the freeing of us (by Abstinence) from many fleshly Entanglements, in which many Christians are sadly ingulfed.
7thly,  To a constant Sense and Sight of the Presence of God and his holy Angels.
8thly,  To the enjoying of exceeding much spiritual Comfort and Refreshment.
9thly,  To the loving of God and our fellow Saints, with a pure, strong and constant Love.
10thly,  To the renouncing of the Desires of Honour and Riches in this World.
11thly,  To the denying of spiritual Pride, and the selfish Desire of Greatness and Honour in the Kingdom of God.
12thly,  To the continual taking up our Cross, and constant pressing forward to the Mark, for the Prize of the high calling in Jesus Christ; hence we shew the Danger of spiritual Sloth, and the Principles that lead to it, affirming it our Duty to labour to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect and that our Business and Work in this World, is to return to God and Paradise.
13thly,  To the spiritual opening of Scriptures, more to the Advantage of God's Kingdom, and our spiritual growth, less to the indulging of the Flesh, and corrupt Principles of old ADAM.

 

I have now performed my Work in raising my Observations upon the collected Scriptures, and in vindicating those Saints, whom the Lord hath blessed with a renewal of extraordinary Dispensations:  And I would have the Reader know that my Scope was not to discourse particularly of every extraordinary Dispensation, but in general to treat of them so far as to show the Happiness of them that enjoyed them, and the great Advantages and Priviledges that the Church in general, and many of it's Members in particular received by them, and the great Disadvantages and Inconveniences our Churches lie under for want of them, together with the springing Hopes we have of their Resurrection, in regard to those blessed Christians, who now enjoy them:  and God's Promises both to increase and spread them over the Church again, and I believe it hath been a great design of the Devil to raise up many Pretenders to Visions and Revelations, whose Lives and Ends have been unsuitable to those blessed Saints, who in the purest Times were eminent for them, that so he might raise Prejudices against all that shall enjoy or possess them tho' immediately given from that holy Spirit, which must again be poured out upon the Saints, for the pure reformation of the Church, the vindication of the Scriptures from the false glosses, the destruction of Antichrist, and for the Preaching of that everlasting Gospel, which must yet go forth with mighty Power and Authority thro' the World;   and this Plot of the Devil's is the same he invented and set on Foot, before the first pouring out of the Spirit upon the Apostles, after Christ's Ascension, as you may see, Acts 5. by Gamaliel, that learned and sober Pharisee's Speech, in which he shews how before that time one Theudas, had started up, boasting of great Things, who drawing 400 after him, was slain, and all his Disciples scattered, and after him, Judas of Galilee, in the Days of the taxing, who likewise drew away many People, yet afterward perished with the dispersion of all his Adherents;   these Instances he applied to the Apostles, who at that time were called before the Jewish Council, for their Miracles, and Preaching the Gospel, yet he did not so apply them, as positively to conclude that the Apostles were such Deceivers, and that their Works and Miracles were from the Devil;  for then he had rashly Blasphemed the Holy Ghost, even as they do now, who conclude from the many Miscarriages of Persons, who pretend to extraordinary Things, that all our enjoyments, being the very effects of the Holy Ghost, are either Pretentions only, or Delusions of the Devil:  But all such should learn Charity of Wise Gamaliel, who after these Instances, thus concluded his Speech to the imbittered Jews:   Refrain from these Men and let them alone; for if this Counsel, or this Work be of Men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

 

And I know the Day will come, when it shall be powerfully demonstrated;   that they who now oppose and Judge that Spirit which lives in us, and affords extraordinary Gifts to us, oppose and fight against the Spirit of the living God;  tho' ignorantly, as Poor Paul once did.    And as to the Interpretation of those Scriptures, in which we differ from the common Road, we may take notice, that our Interpretation is more to the Advantage of God's spiritual Kingdom;   more to the killing of the Flesh;   to the calling of us out of the World;   to the fitting us for Heaven and Eternity, and the State of Perfection, than the Expositions of others:  Yea, exactly agreeable to Christ's own Practice, who came to set us a Copy without Blur, which we ought to imitate.  And is it any wonder, if this last Dispensation of Christ's second coming in the Spirit be more Spiritual, Pure and Glorious, than any that have yet been generally embraced?    Especially, considering that it hath been God's usual way, to make latter Dispensations, exceed former in Glory;  as the Temple did the Tabernacle; evangelical Prophets; that of the Law;  Christ's Dispensation in the Flesh that of the Prophets, and the pouring out of the Holy Ghost, that of his Corporeal Presence.   And is it not agreeable to Divine Wisdom, that this Dispensation which is now coming forth, to disperse all the Clouds of Anti-Christ, should be more bright and glorious, than that upon which Anti-Christ prevailed?  Which carrying so great Evidence of Truth with it, may teach us to beware of setting Limits to God's Spirit, or of confining the Holy One of Israel, in reference, either to his abolishing of any Shadows, or to revealing the Substance of Truth more clearly, and vindicating it when sadly Misapprehended, by a more spiritual and powerful effusion of Glory.

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End of :  'A Treatise of Extraordinary Divine Dispensations'

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Note from Pass the WORD:   This treatise was written in the late 1600's when Thomas Bromley was a part of the Philadelphian Society with Jane Lead.    The "we", to whom he refers,  must surely have been those of his immediate fellowship — the Philadelphians.   This scholarly manuscript  is 65% longer than Bromley's 'Way to the Sabbath of Rest'.
 
The  manuscript content is important for the exhortation, confirmation, and encouragement that it provides for committed  seekers and followers of Christ in this Last Age.   

We thank the Lord that He has made hands and eyes available to do the transcription of this entire work and that it is now offered at the banquet-table, freely to be shared with those who find their WAY  to the feast.  

 

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