THE Spirit of Prophecy. A TREATISE To prove (by the wayes formerly in use among the Jews, in the Tryal of Pretenders to a Prophetick Spirit) That Christ and his Apostles were Prophet [...]: Together with the DIVINE AUTHORITY OF Christian Religion And the HOLY SCRIPTURES, The Insufficiency of HUMANE REASON, And the Reasonableness of the Christian Faith, Hope, and Practice, deduced therefrom, and as­serted against Mr. HOBBS, and the Treatise of HƲ ­MANE REASON. By W. H.

LONDON, Printed for W. Crook at the Green Dragon without Temple-Bar, MDCLXXIX.

TO THE Right Reverend Father in God PETER Lord Bishop of ELY.

My Lord,

WHen the Gospel was first pro­mulgated by the Preaching of Christ and his Apostles, the Scribes and Pharisees a­mong the Jews, the Philoso­phers and Disputers of this World among the Gentiles, i. e. the Wits of that Age were some of the most eminent Opposers and Rejecters of it; the one requi­red 1 Cor. 1. 22. a Sign, the other sought after Wisdom; the one would have Signs and Mi [...]les wrought at their Demand, the other would have Philosophical Reasons drawn from Natural Causes to make them believe: and for lack of these (as it seems they pretend­ed) Christ crucified was to the Jews a stum­bling-block, [Page] and to the Greeks foolishness: and that for the same Reasons (such as they are) he seem [...] to be so still to some of the Wits of these Times, I am assured by the W [...]itings of such Persons as want neither opportunities of Converse with Men, nor ability to understand their Principles and Pretences. Some there are that have heard, and perhaps have read a little of the things called Miracles and Demonstrations, and for want of these, they seem to despise and con­temn the Gospel. But the t [...]uth is, could these Brisk and Airy, these Talkative and Dogmatical men, obtain leave of themselves to be s [...]ious so long as to consider the na­ture of the Gospel, and the Demonstration of the Spirit, they might perhaps find them­selves somewhat like those in the PrimitiveRom. 1. 22. times, who professing themselves to be Wise, be­came Fools: Nor have they any reason to look on this as a reproachful Suggestion; fo [...] since Life and Immortality are brought to light by the Gospel, upon either of these Pre­tences (and they can have no better) to reject it, is but to play the fool very wise­ly, and to run mad with a reason for it: and that not only because the Gospel ac­quaints us with matters of the highest and best importance that can be unto us, but also because which of these wayes soever [Page] they chuse to palliate their Infidelity, it will at length lead them to deplorable ab­surdity.

For the Semeiotical or Jewish Postulatum, is a very manif [...]st and malepe [...]t piece of Folly: not only because the Gospel was at first abundantly confi [...]med by Miracles, un­cont [...]ollably attested; but also because if that were constituted the way of demon­strating the truth of Divine Revelation, it would lead men to the impudence of pre­scribing to the Most High, and setting bounds to the Almighty, of expecting al­terations in the course of Nature, and of having Preachers (like Juglers) to shew tricks at the demand of every petulant Re­quirer. Instances hereof we have divers in the Holy Scripture, but few I think so p [...]eg­nant as that of the Pharisees seeking of Christ Mark 8. 11. a Sign from Heaven, tempting him. They had no mind to be his Disciples,, but to make tryal of his Skill and ability, and therefore they demand a Sign, and that presently, up­on the spot; and this Sign must be, not that which he had given them but the day before, by feeding four thousand with se­ven Loaves and a few small Fishes; this did not please their Pallats: but they must have a Sign of their own chusing, and that not from the Earth, the Wind, or the Sea, [Page] but from Heaven: from thence it must come in all haste to satisfie their wanton Curiosity▪ And was not this to expect that the Powers of Heaven and Earth should dance attendance on them at their senseless and impudent demand? It is plain then, that Insolence and Impiety, Folly and asinine Stupidity are the Brood that this Postulatum brings forth. And if this be the way of proving the Gospel to be of God, how shall future Ages be secured against it? Are men more wise and modest now than they were then? I doubt it; be­cause there are some (even in our Nation) that are fallen into such as this Absurdi­ty: Whence else is it that they require a Miracle to prove that Miracles have been done? but would they stand a little, and consider whither they are going, they might perhaps perceive, that he who put them into this way, hath no extraordinary Wit as is pretended.

And they that think to excuse their In­fidelity or Neutrality by the Grecanick Po­stulatum, seem not to me to be much wiser: because they hanker after such Proof as the nature of the thing will not admit, and reject that that is most p [...]oper: for, the Go­spel we know contains matters of Faith, and these matters of Faith (especially [Page] those of them that are most excepted against) are contained either in Historical Narrati­ons or Doctrinal Propositions: the former ha­ving received their Being from Free Agents, not from Causes Necessary, or of their own nature determined to the doing of that that is be Believed, cannot admit of strict and rigorous Demonstration, but are capable of proof only by Testimony: and this we have for matters meerly Historical in the Gospel, as fully as for any other of the same, or (as I think) of a far lesser di­stance: for, not only all Christians of the remotest Regions, but Jews and Pagans, Heathens and Infidels of all sorts have re­ceived them for true, and confirmed themVi [...] Grot▪ de V [...]rit. Relig. lib. 2. §. 21 unto us. This is all the Proof we either have, or can reasonably desire of these things, because their nature will admit of no other.

And if they are not, much less are the Doctrinal Propositions (containing meer matters of Divine Faith) capable of De­monstration, because they are a Mystery con­cerning God, his Nature, Essence or Opera­tions: and one would think that men of Wit and Parts should not betray so much Folly, Ignorance, and want of Learning, as to expect Philosophical Demonstration for things of that nature: for such Demonstra­tion, [Page] must be either à priori or à posteriori: à priori it cannot be, because that supposes causes precedent to the First, viz. God himself, and so implies a Contradiction. Nor can it be à posteriori, because the Go­spelCol 1. 26. is the mystery which hath been hid from Ages and from Generations: if it be not, whence was it that all the Learned as well as the Vulgar among the Jews and Gentiles were ignorant of it, till Christ and his Apo­stles made it manif [...]st? it seems therefore, the Faith of the Gospel is a sort of Super­natural Doctrine, which cannot possibly be demonstrated by the Light of Nature, and for that reason (were there no other) it is unreasonable to demand it, and sensless to reject the Gospel for lack of it: such Doctrine can admit of no demonstration but that of the Spirit: and this indeed is made à posteriori, yet not from the constant and ordinary Phaenomena of Nature, but from things Novel and Anomalous (such as Pre­dictions and Miracles) purposely designed for that end: and this is the way of pro­ving the Gospel to be Divine, far more decent and proper than any other, because it becomes the Majesty of God, and conci­liates Authority to his Word, by making [...] Cor. 2. 4, 5. our Faith to stand not in the Wisdom of men, but on the Power of God.

[Page] Now to shew that this Demonstration was abundantly made by the Spirit in Christ and his Apostles, is the great design of this Treatise: which being written on an oc­casion of a Command laid on me by your Lordship, was by me humbly offered to the Honour of your Lordships view: and ha­ving attained thereunto, your Lordship it seems was pleased to condescend so far as to read over as much as your Lordships time would give leave, and then to return it with many thanks to me for my good pains (as your Lordship was pleased to call them,) wisely placed on so worthy a Theme; together with such other expressions of your Lordships Approbation, as neither I did expect, nor (as I fear) doth the Treatise D [...]serve. But I submit to your Lordships Judgm [...]nt, and had I not so done, this Treatise had been buried in obscurity with its Author: but having that encouragement, I thought my self sufficiently armed against all elation or dejection of mind, at the various censures that may possibly be passed upon it, if it should come abroad; because I neither know, nor am like to m [...]et with any more able to judge of such matters, or impartial in Judging, than your Lordship. Hereupon I gave my consent to its being made [...]ublick: and for its freer passage among men, in this [Page] declining age of Christianity, I am humbly bold to let the World know, that your Lordship is thus far concerned therein▪ and forasmuch as it contends for that Faith which was once delivered to the Saints, which is at this day (God be thanked) most excellent­ly established and most mercifully preserved in the Church of England, whereof also your Lordship (very deservedly) is one of the Chief Ministers, with all humble confi­dence I perswade my self, that for so doing, your Lordship will either not be offended at, or will easily pardon

Your Lordships very much obliged in all Duty and humble Observance W. H.


IN this Treatise you will find Christ and his Apostles put to­gether in one Proposition: the meaning whereof is not, either that our blessed Lord Jesus was no more, nor no other than a Prophet, or that the Humane Nature of Christ had no higher a degree than the Apostles had of immediate Illumination: for, being Hypo­statically united to the Divine, it is reasonable to believe, it had such communications of Know­ledge therefrom, as are vouchsased to no other man whatever. But the meaning is, that the Eternal Son of God, having graciously been pleased to take our Nature upon him, made of a Woman made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, found it ex­pedient (in order to this end) for him to exe­cute the Office of a Prophet, and to inspire his Apostles with the Spirit of Prophecy.

That so he did, lies we know at the bottom of our Christian Faith: whoever believes the Go­spel [Page] to be of God, doth (in a sort) suppose it, and take it for granted: for whatever Religion is Divine, must needs be either Natural or Revealed: if Revealed, then the first Preach­ers of it were Prophets, because Prophecy is the only way whereby revealed Truth either is or can be dispensed unto us: for very evident it is, that the Positive Truths of God, besides, or above what is Natural, can no way be made known unto us, but by a free influx of the Di­vine mind upon ours: since therefore (as all agree that) though Christianity doth most high­ly befriend Natural Theology, yet it self (if it be of God) is Revealed, it must be concluded, that Christ (the Author of our Faith) and his Apostles (the first Preachers of it) were Pro­phets. Yet among the many good Books that have either heretofore or lately been written to prove the Truth of Christianity, I have neither seen, nor ever heard of any purposely written, and directly designed to make good this Prin­ciple: I could not but somewhat wonder at it, and wish it were well done; and this my de­sire, did at length vent it self in a Sermon on the Text you find prefixed to this Treatise: and this Sermon I resolved (on an occasion gi­ven me by a Person of great Learning and Au­thority in the Church) to transcribe and en­large in that method which is there proposed, and you will find here observed: from this un­dertaking, [Page] the slenderness of mine acquaintance with Oriental Language and Learning, did a long time deterr me; but considering that (be­sides mine own satisfaction, and diversion from less pleasing Imployments) I wrote it only for his Lordships perusal (who I knew had good­ness enough to pardon my Defects, as well as Learning to discover them) I reassumed my former resolution: and in order to the perfor­mance of it, I looked more narrowly than for­merly I had done into those Books which I had that were likely to acquaint me with the customs and methods of the Jews in the tryal of Pro­phets; and by so doing, have, I hope, found and pitched upon the principal Means and Me­thods observed by that People in that Affair: and this way of procedure (even before I had that Idea of it which you will find in this Treatise) I did conjecture must needs be very rational, because it was not only projected but practised (and that, as far as we find, without controul) for many Ages among God's peculiar People: and that I was not mistaken in this Conjecture, the fifth Chapter of this Treatise doth, I hope, make manifest, by shewing the strength and force of the preceding Arguments to prove that Christ and his Apostles were Prophets.

Now if any man ask what degree of Pro­phecy it is which I ascribe unto them, he may be [Page] pleased to know, his curiosity exceeds mine, yet for an answer I referr him to that Prophecy of Moses, wherein he told the Jews, that the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Pro [...]het from the midst of thee of thy brethren, like Deut. 18. 5. unto me, unto him shall you hearken. ThisAct. 3. 22. Prophecy I find by St. Peter applyed to our Blessed Saviour in particular; and by St. Ste­phen Act. 7. 37. to the Evangelical state in general: and from thence perhaps we may gather, not only that this Prediction did more especially pertain to the dayes of the Messias, but also that it speaks not of one single Person only, but of an Order of Prophets like unto Moses: and there­fore, though it were most eminently fulfilled in Christ, yet was it also accomplished in those that he sent, as the Father had sent him, viz. theJoh. 20. 21. Apostles. Whether or no this Collection be Lo­gical, it is not material to dispute; because the Spirit of Prophecy not only in Christ, but al­so in his Apostles, doth it self declare the truth of it. For easie it is to observe, that those Prerogatives which the Jews ascribe to the Pro­phecy of Moses, their Master, are very discer­nable in theirs, as will appear by a TranscriptDe fund. L [...]g▪ cap. 7. of them out of Maimonides, who tells us, (1) That all the other Prophets prophesied in a Dream or a Vision, but Moses our Ma­ster beheld and stood while he was awake, according to that that is said, When Moses [Page] was gone into the Tabernacle of the Congregati­on to speak with him, (i. e. God) then he heard the Voice of one speaking unto him: which Numb▪ 7. 89. Text is so interpreted by the Jews, as that it seems among the Talmudists it was a Rule, that Moses had never any Prophecy in the Night, i. e. in a Dream, or Vision of the Night, as the other Prophets had, but when he was awake, and in the full vigour of his Senses, then the word of Prophecy came unto him. (2) All the other Prophets prophesied by the help or ministery of an Angel, and therefore whatever they saw, they beheld it in Riddle and Similitude: but Moses our Master prophesied without the intervention of an Angel, as it is said, With him will I speak mouth to mouth. Thus again Numb. 12. 8. it is said, The Lord spake unto Moses Face to Face; it is also said, The Similitude of theExod. 33. 11. Numb. 12. 8. Lord shall he behold; to shew, not that there was any Similitude there, but that he saw clearly, without a Riddle or Parable: which also the Law there testifies concern­ing him: even apparently, and not in dark speeches: because he prophesied not in a Riddle, but he perspicuously beheld the matter in Vision. (3) All the other Pro­phets were horribly afraid and astonished, and became faint; but Moses our Master was not so, and this the Scripture saith, as [Page] Exod. 33. 1 [...]. a man speaketh to his Friend: as if it had been said, as one is not afraid to hear the speech of his Companion, so could the mind of Moses our Master understand the words of Prophecy, and remain in its per­fect Constancy. (4) None of the other Prophets could Prophesie when they would: it was not so with Moses our Ma­ster; but at what time soever he would, he was cloathed with the Holy Spirit, and Prophecy did abide upon him; neither had he need to dispose or prepare his mind for it; for he was alwayes disposed, and in a readiness, as a ministring Angel, at what time therefore he would, he could Prophe­sie; according to that which is said, Stand ye here, that I may hear what the Lord willNumb. 9. 8. command concerning you: and herein his con­sidence was placed in God, as it is said, Go say to them, get you into your Tents, butDeut. 5. 30, 31. as for thee, stand thou here by me. Thus Mai­monides, concerning the difference between the Prophecy of Moses and of the other Pro­phets. I will not pass my word (how little soever it may signifie) either for the truth of all that he saith, or yet for its consistence either with the Holy Scripture, or the Writings of other Hebrew Masters, or of himself: yet sup­posing it to be all true, we may thence gather, that in the Mosaical degree of Prophecy, i. e. [Page] the highest among the Jews, imagination had nothing to do, Divine Truth was represent­ed immediately to the Understanding, the Characters of it were clearly and plainly writ­ten on the Mind it self, and therein the Pro­phet might read it without the Hieroglyphicks of Material Phantasms: a soft and gentle ir­radiation did so enlighten his Ʋnderstanding, as that he might know the mind of God, without either Study or Teaching from Men or Angels, Dreams or Visions, panick Fears or Passions; and this degree of Prophecy was in him, not as the transient Effect of a sudden act upon the Patient, but rather as an Intelle­ctual habit, whose acts he might elicit when he pleased. This is that degree of Prophecy, which Maimonides and his Adherents attri­bute to Moses their Master, and we Christians may do it (I think with greater truth) to Christ and his Apostles.

For certainly, the Soul of our Saviour had whatever knowledge was convenient for it to have in order to his being able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him: and forasmuch as even in the dayes of his Flesh he was (as well as he now is) the Captain of our Salvation, it seems convenient for himHeb. 2. 10▪ even then, to have had no less knowledge than that wherein it doth consist: the reason is, because that that is only in a possibility of [Page] being, must be brought into actual Existence by that that actually is: And forasmuch as men in this World being only in a possibility of attaining to the knowledge of the Blessed, are, and ever were to be actually brought unto it by the Man Christ Jesus, it follows, that He, even in his sta [...]e of Humiliation, had that knowledge of Vision, whereunto he then did, and still doth conduct them: and this Knowledge, I suppose, will be granted to exceed all that ever Moses or the Prophets, or any other Mortals whatever either did or could at­tain to. But we need not fly so high in Spe­culation, because it was foretold of him, that the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Knowledge Isa. 11. 2. should rest upon him. These four (saith A­quinas) comprehend all things whatever can be known; for the knowledge of things Di­vine and Immaterial, pertains to the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding: and the know­ledge of all Practical and Speculative Con­clusions to the Spirit of Counsel and Know­ledge.3 Q. 11. [...]. 1. Since therefore the Spirit of these things did (in an extraordinary manner, or rather without measure) rest upon our Messias, it is to be concluded, that whatever Gifts the Holy Ghost doth embellish the Souls of men withal, were most eminently shed forth on the Soul of our Lord Jesus, and consequently that of Pro­phecy, [Page] far beyond the degree of Moses, or all other Mortals put together: and if so it were, then doubtless he could elicit the acts of a Prophetick Spirit, without either previous Dispositions or Preparations, Dreams or Visi­ons, Angels or Consternations, and that when he would, in a manner far superiour to that of Moses.

And then for the Apostles; it seems not that the Spirit of Prophecy in them was in any point inferior to that of Moses, but rather more excellent: for the Spirit of Truth did guide them into all Truth, and shew them Joh. 16. 13. things to come: and this he did in such a manner, as that they knew the mind of God without Dreams or Visions, or Angels to teach them; and the Knowledge they had of Divine Truth, it is evident they received without those discomposures of Soul, and terrible shakings of Body, which usually befell the old Prophets. Evident also it is by the Sermons and Discour­ses that they uttered upon all occasions, that the Knowledge they had they could alwayes im­part; they were cloathed with the Holy Spirit, neither did they need to prepare themselves to prophesie, but were alwayes disposed, and in a readiness to deliver such Truths of God as could no way be known, but by the free Influx of the Divine Mind upon theirs: i. e. by Prophecy▪ had not all this been true, it would be very hard [Page] to conceive how without any premeditation they could possibly have had a Mouth and Wisdom, which all their Adversaries were not able to Luk. 21. 14, 15. gainsay nor resist: had not the Divine Spirit been alwayes present with them, it had been im­possible for them on all occasions, even before Kings and other Rulers, so to speak, as that all their Adversaries could not (with any shew of truth) make any opposition against it: and had it not been true that so they did, it is altogether unlikely that their Adversaries would have burst out into such Rage and Passion, such Cruelty and Inhumanity, as we find they often did against them: it seems therefore the degree they had of Prophecy was no whit inserior to that of Moses.

But whether it were or no, is a Question that I am not solicitous about. From what I haveChap. 1. discoursed concerning the Nature of Prophecy in general, it may not obscurely be collected, that if Christ and his Apostles were men, who by im­mediate influence from God upon their Minds and Faculties, did attain to such knowledge of his Mind, as by their Natural Abilities would be unattainable, it is as much as I mean and contend for in the word Prophet. Now that such Knowledge they had, together with Com­mission from God to teach it, it is the primary design of this Treatise to prove.

Yet that is not mine ultimate aim therein; [Page] but besides that, I have done mine endeavour (as much as I could within the bounds of the proposed method) to conciliate our most ex­cellent Religion to our Reason, and to set­tle it (as much as in me lies) upon its true foundations. In order to this end, I have in the fourth Chapter discoursed somewhat more largely than perhaps otherwise was requisite, about the transcendent Wisdom of Christiani­ty; and have added the sixth Chapter almost on purpose to shake the sandy Foundation of bare Humane Authority, whereon Mr. Hobbs and his Complices would have it wholly to depend. I do most freely acknowledge, that the Authority of the Civil Magistrate is very great about matters of Religion, and that the Church of God is exceedingly obliged to those Christian Princes, who by good and wholsom Laws are become its Nursing Fathers: yet can I not believe, there is nothing of obli­gation in Christianity, besides what it receives extrinsecally from the Laws of Civil Sove­reigns: the reasons the Leviathan gives of this position, I endeavour to ans [...]er and ex­pose. To this undertaking it is, I hope, nothing but a just resen [...]ment of the Affronts Mr. Hobbs hath cast, and Injuries he hath done to our Religion thereby. I can hardly think any man worthy the name of a good Christian, much less of a Minister of Christ, that can [Page] read such pernicious Principles and perverse disputings against the Honour of his Religion, without something of Indignation: for, to make Religion so to truckle under Civil Sovereigns, as in and of it self to have nothing of obligation, what is it less than to clip the wings of all true Devotion towards God, and render it unable to fly higher than the Thrones and Scepters on Earth; yea also, and to null the Autho­rity of the Lord that bought us. For though all Power be given to him in Heaven and in Earth, yet this opinion makes him so far from being the Prince of the Kings of Rev. 1. 5. the Earth, as that he is at best but their Counsellour, modestly proposing his Advice: which it seems they are not bound to take, be­cause that neither he nor his Apostles had a Kingdom, and so could make no Laws; for which reason, (such as it is) the Leviathan affirms, that the Commands of the Gospel are but Precepts, or Invitations of men to receive it; and Invitations, we know, we may accept of or refuse, as we think fit, and yet without sin: so that our Acceptance is an act of Civi­lity rather than of Duty, and our Refusal an act of Unkindness, and not at all of Diso­bedience. Had not Civil Sovereigns done Christianity the kindness to imbody it into their Laws, we had been under no obligation to be Christians; We might have been Turks [Page] or Jews, Pagans or Atheists, and yet without Sin, and what would a Laodicean desire more? How kindly doth it cajole his Lukewarmness, and how fairly doth it promise him security from danger, by being against Christ in his Heart and Life, as long as he is with him in his Profession? Thus doth it turn Christianity into Hypocrisie, and makes us to serve God for fear of Men.

But if we are not so berest of Reason, as to think that God borrows his Authority from his Lieutenants, then the Philosophical Ru­diments of that Epi [...]urean (whereof the Au­thor of the late Reflexions on Philosophy, saith Thomas Hobbs, is one of the boldest Part. 4. §. 9. of these last Ages) have taken care to cor­rupt our Religion another way, and that is by perswading us to think, that the obligati­on of yielding God obedience lies upon us by reason of our weakness. This con­verts Religion into Superstition, for it makes us to serve God not out of love to his Good­ness, but only for fear of his Greatness: if we could resist him, and escape harmless, it were no matter it seems if we did; but since we cannot, we must obey. Thus are we dragged to Obedience by the force of meer Omnipotence, and when we are so, it is evident we are act­ed by such dreadful and terrible Apprehensions of the Deity, as debauch our Religion, and [Page] make it a meer slavery; utterly incons [...]stent with that Charity or Love of God, without which the most liberal Alms-deeds and Mar­tyrdom it self (much less inferiour acts of Wors [...]p) will find no Acceptance; this there­fore I look on as another most pernicious Principle; and for that cause I have made a long digression to prove that Gods Dominion is not founded in his sole irresistable Power, but that he hath a right to Rule us from his great Mercy and Goodnes [...] to us in his works of Creation, Providence, and Redemption: and forasmuch as it is requisite for all Chri­stians, rightly to understand this latter, which was at first made known unto us by the Spi­rit of Proph [...]y in Christ and his Apostles, I have s [...] [...]ar enlarged the Digression, as to gi [...]e an account of it, that from thence we may see what obligations [...]herefrom do arise upon us to ke [...]p the Comm [...]nds of the Gospel: and there­w [...]h I put an end to this Treatise.

Wherein, perhaps, the Reader may find a coin [...]id [...]nce of expression, and, it may be, of Matter also: if he be inquisitive after the occasion of it, he may please to know, that it was written temporibus successivis, which often were so far apart, as that not only the E [...]pressions which dropt from my Pen, but sometimes also the very Argument of Dis­course was utterly fled my Memory: I can­not [Page] therefore but suspect, there may be some ungrateful (but I hope not nauseous) re­petitions in it: and the truth is, my design not being auram captare, but (if not to convince Gainsayers, whereof I fear this Age hath more than some former have had, yet) to make the weak stedfast in Faith, and joyful through Hope, rooted in Charity, and resolute in Obedience, I was not very solli­citous to avoid them; but my chief care was to speak as clearly, and to argue as strongly as I could: and if by so doing, I have done any thing that may be (not injurious) but serviceable to the truth of the Gospel, as it was received in the Primitive Church (and that I have much reason to believe was, as it still is in ours:) if, I say, I have cast but two mites into this Corban, I trust that God and all good men will accept of it; and therefore I think I need no Apology, at least shall make none for writing this Treatise.


  • Chap. I. IT is certain the Mind doth assent, and that to Testimo­ny: the Testimony of Jesus what: why so called: the Nature of Prophecy, what: the Spirit of Pro­phecy, what: that Christ and his Apostles were Pro­phets, proved by Scripture: the method of proving it otherwise proposed.
  • Chap. II. Of the Notion of a Prophet, and that there were Prophets among the Jews. The Notion of a Prophet deduced from the Definition of Prophecy, assented to by Mr. Hobbs: it is agreeable to Reason, and all m [...]n receive it: that Moses was a Pro­phet, proved by the Testimony of Heathens: He promised in his Law that there should be Prophets among the Jews, proved by Deut. 18. 15. the certainty that there were so, thence deduced.
  • Chap. III. The Tryal of Prophets among the Jews.
    • Of the Conditions on which men were admitted to a Tryal. Sect. 1 These transcrib [...]d out of Maimonides: the first of them impertinent to our purpose; the second excepted [Page] against: the original of Oral Tradition: the Improbabi­lity of it: the Falshood of it. Concerning Alterations to be made in the written Law of Moses: it was not Immutable: an Objection out of Maimonides: another Objection: Moses himself and the Prophets taught that it should be changed: an Objection.
    • The Antecedents or Concomitants of a Prophe­tick Spirit. Sect. 2 These reduced to six Heads: the Jews Maxim, That Prophecy resteth on none but the Wise, the Strong, and the Rich; we Christians may well ex­cept against: it is not Ʋniversally true by their own Concessions: yet may it be admitted on two conditions: the Prophets Wisdom consisted not in Humane Learning, acquired by Study, but in Prudence and Knowledge su­pernatural: their Strength consisted in Courage or For­titude: and their Riches in Contentment and all Pro­bity of Manners.
    • Of Prophetick Predictions. Sect. 3 The Warrant the Jews had thereby to make tryal of mens Pretences to the Spirit of Prophecy: the difficulty thereof from Jer. 18. 7, &c. how unfolded: the Jews sense of Jer. 23, 28. the vanity of Astrology.
    • Of Miracles. Sect. 4 The Jews were not to expect them from all the Pro­phets: that Moses and other of the Prophets wrought Miracles to confirm their Prophecies, is both denied and granted by Maimonides: proved by Scripture.
  • [Page] Chap. IV. The Application of the foregoing Discourse to Christ and his Apostles.
    • Sect. 1 That they ought not to have been denied a fair Tryal: the Jews only were obliged to observe the Letter of the Law of Moses: yet Christ and his Apostles (as to the design and meaning of it) did most excellently establish it among the Gentiles, demonstrated out of Maimoni­des and Abravanels account of it, compared with Chri­stian Doctrine: they themselves conformed to the Let­ter of the Law of Moses, and taught the Jews so to do.
    • Of their Wisdom. Sect. 2 That Christ and his Apostles were men of excellent Intellectuals: Supernatural Knowledge was more espe­cially enquired after by the Jews in the Tryal of Pro­phets: that Christ and his Apostles had such Know­ledge, in respect of the manner of it: and also in respect of its degree or measure: Christian Theology more ex­cellent than that of the Jews: and that in a threefold reference, viz. (1) to Faith; the object whereof is more clearly revealed by Chri [...]tianity than it was by Judaisme: (2) to Hope: (3) to Practice: the bur­densomness of the Jewish Religion: the Excellency of the Moral Law, which was fulfilled by Christ: an Objection from the Impossibility of k [...]eping that Law so filled up, proposed: the mitigation of the Law by the Gospel, in four particulars: the motives we have to obey the Gospel: the assistance it gives us in well-doing: from all which the Excellency of Christianity to Ju­daisme is concluded: much more doth it excell the Phi­losophy [Page] of the Gentiles, and that in respect (1) of the General Nature: (2) of the Object: (3) of ehe End and Scope of Wisdom: from all which the transcendent Wisdom of Christ and his Apostles is demonstrated.
    • Of their Fortitude. Sect. 3 The great degeneracy [...]f the Jews: their preposterous Zeal for their Religion: their Malice against all that observed not their Traditions: Christ detected the short­ness and vanity thereof: the horridness of the Gentiles condition: the Fortitude of the Apostles thence deduced.
    • Of the Prophetick Riches of Christ and his Apostles. Sect. 4 That they were Rich, proved by the designed End of their Doctrine: by their deportment among men: di­stinctly of our Saviour: of the Apostles, from the multitude of their Followers; and from the silence of their Adversaries.
    • Of the Predictions of Christ and his Apostles. Sect. 5 The Destruction of Jerusalem, the Predictions of its fore-runners, and of its approach and consummation; all exactly accomplished: the calling of the Gentiles foretold, accomplished: Errors and Divisions among Christians foretold, and apparently accomplished: yea, the Means and manner of their Production, viz. the Addiction and Designs, the Artifices and Cunning of Se­ducers, together with the nature of their Doctrine, and speciousness of their Pretences: all foretold and fulfilled, proved at large.
    • [Page] Of the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles. Sect. 6 That they really wrought many and great Miracles, proved (1) by Reason: (2) by Tradition of the Church: the great Credibility of this Tradition: (3) by the testimo­ny of Adversaries of all sorts: an Objection: the Answer: they were not done by Inchantment, proved (1) by Rea­son: (2) by the continuance of Miracles in the Church for several Ages, attested by the Fathers: the evident certainty both that Christ and his Apostles wrought Mi­racles, and that not by Inchantment, thence deduced: an Objection out of Hobbs against the Credibility of Miracles: Ans▪ (1) that Miracles have been done, may be believed upon testimony: (2) it is needless to demand the doing of Miracles, to prove that there have been some done: (3) it is wicked and absurd so to do: the Tra­dition of the Church as convincing as the sight of our own Eyes.
  • Chap. V. The strength and force of the preceding Arguments. (1) They remove all suspition that Christ and his A­postles were not Prophets; for thereby it appears (1) that they pretended to the Spirit of Prophecy: (2) that they therein were not deceived: (3) they had no design to de­ceive others: (2) they give positive evidence that they were Prophets: (1) from their Fortitude: (2) from their Wisdom: (3) from their Predictions: (4) from their Miracles: here to shew the force of this Argument, it is observed, (1) that Christ and his Apostles wrought their Miracles on purpose to confirm their Doctrine: (2) Mi­racles were alwayes look [...]d on as demonstrative proofs of Divine Authority in them that did them: (3) the Rea­sons for which the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles de­serve [Page] to be so accounted: (1) from their Nature: (2) from their Number: (3) from their Greatness: (4) from their Goodness: thereby they conferred on men, (1) the goods of Fortune (2) of the Body: (3) of the Soul.
  • Chap. VI. Some use that may be made of this Doctrine.
    • Of the Divine Authority of Christian Religion. Sect. 1 This deduced therefrom: the Leviathan denies it: the first reason of this opinion answered: the second rea­son answered.
    • The Divine Authority of Holy Scripture. Sect. 2 Uncontrouled Tradition proves that the Books of the N. Testament were written by those men, whose Names they bear: and since they were Prophets, the Old Testa­ment also must needs be the word of Prophecy: a Doubt about the Gospels of St. Mark, and St. Luke, and the Acts; these Books had the approbation of the Apostles: an Objection out of the Leviathan: Object. 2. Object. 3.
    • The Insufficiency of Humane Reason. Sect. 3 The Treatise thereof ascribes as much thereunto as Pe­lagius did to free will: it evacuates the necessity of our Saviours and his Apostles Prophetick Office: the impiety of it: Reason it self condemns it: an Objection out of that Treatise.
    • The Reasonableness of the Christian Faith. Sect. 4 The certainty of the word of Prophecy, greater than that of a Voice from Heaven: the Mysteries of Christi­anity [Page] do not make it incredible: but are apt to strengthen our Faith
    • The Reasonableness of Christian Hope. Sect. 5 The nature of the Promises: an Objection drawn from Experience: another from the supposed impossibility of a General Resurrection.
    • The Reasonableness of Obedience. Sect. 6 All acknowledge an obligation to obey God: whence doth this obligation arise? (1) not from our weakness: (2) not from Gods sole irresistable Power: the nature of Divine Sovereignty: Gods right of it: a view of our state by Nature: the way that God hath chosen for our Redemption: Christ conquered the Devil at all those weapons whereby he overcame our first Parents and their Posterity: we are therefore his by right of Conquest: Christ made satisfaction for us: Christ now in Heaven is able to succour us when we are tempted: a Question: another Question: the nature of an Obligation, which is two-fold: the Redemption of Christ obligeth us by both to keep his Commandments, (1) by that of Authority: (2) by that ad [...], the Nature of it: the Reasons of it: (1) the benefit we receive by Redemption, (2) the satisfactoriness of it to our Reason: (3) the incompara­ble incouragement that it gives us to keep the Command­ments: the Conclusion.
[Page 1]REV. 19. 10.‘The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.’


THat We have a power of Assent­ing, is so manifest, as that Scepticism it self cannot doubt it; for that it is very appa­rently built on Assent to this Proposition, There is nothing certain. Who can be of that Perswasion with­out Assent? It seems therefore certain, that the Mind assents: and this it doth to Testimony as well as Reason; for the latter cannot be (at least improved) without the former; because there is no Reasoning without Words, and Words without Testimony signifie nothing. Were it not for Testimony, the wisest of Words, and the most inarticulate of Sounds would be to us equally significant: so that not only Religi­on, but also all Arts and Sciences are beholdingVid. The­odoret Ser. d [...] Fi­de p. 16▪ to Testimony: they are (if not founded on it▪ yet) unattainable without it. It seems therefore, those who [...]raduce our Religion as fond Credu­lity, [Page 2] because it depends on Testimony, are there­in very disingenuously Partial and irrational, especially considering, The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Proph [...]cy.

Which Words are an intire Proposition, not so difficult, but that it may be understood, nor yet so plain, but that both the Subject and the Predicate will need some Explication. In order whereunto it will not be amiss to observe, that in all probability, the Testimony of Jesus is either that which he himself gave, or else that which his Witnesses did bear of him: of the former,Joh. 3. 32, 33. St. John speaks in his Gospel; of the latter, in his Revelations, here in my Text: which to me seems evident by the Scope and Design of the whole Verse, the drift whereof is to prove, that the Angel (whose words they are to St. John) was Fellow-servant with him and the rest of the Apostles. St. John fell at the Angel's feet to Worship him, but the Angel said unto him, See thou do it not: of which Prohibition he gives this reason, because (saith he) I am thy fellow-ser­vant, and of thy Brethren, that have the testimony of Jesus: And who were they that had the testimony of Jesus? Surely, they were those whom Jesus himself had chosen to be his Witnesses, viz. theActs 1. 8. Apostles: Of these men then the Angel was Fel­low-servant; to prove that he was so, he al­ledgeth my Text, For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.

Which words can be no way Argumentative, unless the Testimony of Jesus be understood to sig­nifie, not that which Jesus himself gave, but that which his Apostles did give of him; but being thus taken, they import a two-fold Argument, [Page 3] viz. ad hominem, and ad rem. St. John we know was (as all the other Apostles) a Jew by birth, one of that Nation, wherein it was a received opinion, that there were ten degrees or Orders of Angels, the lowest whereof were called Ischim: by the Intervention and Ministry of this sort of An­gels they say (whether truly or falsly I affirmR. M. Mai­monides de fund. Legis. c. 2. Sect. 8. cum Vor­stii not. Idem c. 7. Sect. 2. not) that Prophecies were communicated unto Men. These Angels (as we are told) were chiefly employed to Prophesie, and when the Spirit of Prophecy rested on any here on Earth, his Soul was [...]ixt with, and advanced to this Order of Angels in Heaven, and was enrolled among them. If then this were a Vulgar opinion of the Jews at the time of St. John ▪s Revelations, it is apparent enough, that my Text contains an Ar­gument ad hominem. But the truth is, the force of the Angels Argument doth not lye so much in St. John's opinion▪ as in his own employment at that time, which was to prophesie concerning things pertaining to the Church of Christ, as appears by the preceding Verses: let's then but cast the Ar­gument into this form, and the strength of it will be evident: Those whom God employes to prophesie are Fellow servants: But you and your brethren the Apo­stles, as well as I, God employes to prophesie; therefore we are Fellow-servants. St. John could make a doubt of nothing in this Argument, but the Assum­ption, whether he and the rest of the Apostles were sent to prophesie? Yes (sayes the Angel) that you are, for the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Pro­phecy. Hereby to me it seems apparent, that the Testimony of Jesus here signifies that which the Apostles gave unto him: and would you know why this is called the Testimony of Jesus, not of the Apo­stle [...] [Page 4] concerning him, then observe that this Testi­mony of Jesus may be considered two wayes, viz. Strictly, or Largely: if abstractly or strictly in it self, then it is little or nothing else but the Record they gave of Christ, or the Doctrine they taught concerning him: and this is said to be the Testi­mony of Jesus, because he is the principal thing it treats of: but if it be considered largely, it com­prehends not only the Doctrine of the Apostles concerning Christ, but also the Strength, Power, and Authority whereby they taught it. Thus con­sidered, it is the Testimony of Jesus, not only because they gave it to him, but also because they received it from him. For he gave them not only Com­mandMar. 16. 15. to bear this witness of him, i. e. to go into all the World, and to preach the Gospel to every creature: but also Strength and Power so to do: for he firstLuke 24. 45. opened their Ʋnderstandings, that they should under­stand the Scriptures, and afterwards he e [...]dued them with Power from on high, by sending the Promise of the Father, i. e. the Spirit, upon them, to lead them into all Truth, and enable them to speak it to all Nations whatsoever: and this was done soAct. 25. 6. eff [...]ctually, as that men of every Nation under Heaven heard them speak in their own Language: and this surely in it self considered, was no small matter of Testimony to our Jesus. The Apostles we know were ignorant and unlearned men, that understood but little of Scripture, less of Foreign Languages, yet hereby on a sudden they were enabled exqui­sitely to understand the one, and to speak the other of all sorts: and doth it not surpass the Power of Nature to make so stupendious a change as this was? What Creatures can make Men Wise, Holy, and Learned in an instant? It is a work of Wonder [Page 5] that falls within the compass of little less than Omnipotent Power and Wisdom: Surely there­fore the Author of it was God, and if so, then Jesus (to whom the Apostles were thereby enabled to give Testimony) was at least a Man approved of him. On that account therefore their Doctrine, or rather their Preaching, or Promulgation of the Gospel by it, may well be called the Testimony of Jesus.

And this Testimony of Jesus (my Text tells us) is the Spirit of Prophecy. The truth and Essence of Prophecy (saith Maimonides) is nothing else but an Influence from God, by the Mediation of the active Intellect, operating first upon the Rational, afterwards More N [...] ­voc. p. 2. cap. 36. on the Imaginable Faculty. This Definition is thought somewhat too scanty and obscure to ex­press the nature of Prophecy in its full Latitude▪ it is therefore conceived, that by a little alteration of its Definition by another Rabbi, we may have a more adequate and clear conception of its nature, viz. that it is an Influence from God upon the Rational Faculty, either by the Mediation of the Fancy or other­wise: and by this Influence (whether by the Ministry of an Angel or otherwise) a man attains to such knowledge, as by his Natural Abilities would be un­attainable▪ In these Definitions of Prophecy weVid. Smiths Dis [...]. of Prophecy▪ cap. 2. have nothing at present to observe, but that where­in they both do agree: namely, the general Nature of it, which they make to consist in Influence from God▪ Prophecy is not an Ignis fatuus of a distur­bed Fancy, but an Impression of Divine Light: thence perhaps it was, that in old time the Pro­phets were called Seers, not because (or at least not so Properly because) of their Fore-sight of things Future, as of their Visions, those Images or [Page 6] Appearances of things as Visible, which by Divine Influence, were represented on the stage of their Fancy, to the sight of their Understandings. And afterwards the Prophets were called Men of God, be­cause God was pleased immediately to reveal him­selfVid. Rob. Steph. & Job. Bux­torf. Lex. in voce [...] 2 Pet. 1. 20. [...], to let loose. unto them: and so the word rendred Prophet denotes one that receives what he saith, from God. It seems then that all Prophecy, truly so called, hath its descent from Above; it is not of any Pri­vate interpretation, or rather of a mans own start­ing or suggestion; for it comes not by the Will of Man, but Holy Men of God did thereby speak as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. WeNic. Creed 1 Cor. 12. 8, 9, 10. Apol. 2. Christi­ans therefore believe, the Holy Ghost spake by the Pro­phets, and that Prophecy is a Gift of the Spirit. For which cause, no doubt, it was, that Justin Mar­tyr intitles him the Spirit of Prophecy. But when we consider, that the Spirit of Prophecy, as in my Text, is affirmed of the Testimony of Jesus, it seems most probable, that it therein signifies not his Person, but his Gift, not his Essence or Subsistence, but an Effect produced by him, which is here called by his Name. Thus the Spirit of a sound Mind, the Spirit of Wisdom and Meckness, the Spirit of Knowledge, the Spirit of Grace, and the Spirit of Prayer, signifie Effects, Works, or Gifts, which the Spirit of God produceth in the Souls of Men. So here in my Text, the Spirit of Prophecy (by an ordinary Metonymy of the Cause for the Effect) is put for the Gift or Ability to prophesie, which the Holy Ghost wrought in some of Gods Ministers. This Gift the Angel had when he spake to St. John, and so, saith he, had St. John too, and the rest of the Apostles, in their Testimony of Jesus; i. e. in the Record they gave of Christ, or in the promulgation of the Do­ctrine [Page 7] they taught concerning him: from whence it apparently follows, that the Angel here speaking and they were Fellow-servants. But it is not this their Association with Angels which I now intend to discourse of, but the Reason and Cause of it, viz. their Gift of Prophecy. It is we see here avouched by an Angel, that the Apostles in the Promulgation of the Gospel, were indued with the Gift of Pro­phecy; or, in short, that they were Prophets: and if they, in their Testimony of Jesus, were Prophets, much more was He himself (by whose Spirit they gave it to him) a Prophet; all then that remains for me to do will be to prove, that Christ and his Apostles were Prophets.

Hereof, methinks, none can doubt, but those that are slow of heart to believe the Holy Scriptures: for therein we first find it fore-told to the Jews, thatDeut. 18. 18. God would raise them up a Prophet from among their Brethren, like unto Moses: which Promise Petrus Ga­latinus De Arca­nis cath. verit. l. 8. c. 7. Acts 3. 22. proves the ancient Jews themselves under­stood to speak of the M [...]ssiah: and in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter affirms, that our Jesus is that Prophet. And Christ himself gave such evidence of it, as that his Disciples thought him a Prophet mighty Luke 24. 19. in deed and word before God and all the people: i. e. that God did demonstrate, and the People did con­fess, that he was a great Prophet: and that they did so is manifest, for the Jews themselves, whose hearts were not subdued to his Doctrine, did yet believe that of a truth he was that Prophet that should Jo [...]. 6. 14. come into the world. The Samaritan woman also per­ceived that he was a Prophet, and the men of Samaria J [...]. 4. 19. believed and knew as much, namely, that indeed he was the Christ, the Saviour of the World: a partv. 42. v. 2 [...]. of whose Office (as they thought) was, to tell them all [Page 8] things, and so to be a Prophet. And then for the Apostles, we do not only read that God by his Spi­rit 1 Cor. 2. 10 revealed things unto them; but moreover we find it recorded that he did it in this manner: Our bles­sed Lord Jesus Christ promised his Disciples to send them a Comforter, and that when He the Spirit of Joh. 16. 7, 13. Truth should come, he would guide them into all Truth: which it seems fell out accordingly, for when the day of Pentecost was fully come, the Apos [...]les were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty Wind, and it fill­ed all the House where they were sitting, and there ap­peared to them cloven Tongues, like as of Fire, and it sat upon each of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other Tongues, Act. 2. 1. &c. as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Nor did they then receive only the Gift of Tongues, but that also of Prophecy. For the pro­mise of God by the Prophet Joel, that He would pour out his Spirit upon all Flesh, and that their Sons Joel 2. 28. and Daughters should Prophesie &c. The Importance of which Promise is, that in the days a little before the Destruction of the Jewish Nation, there should be so great and unusual an effusion of his Spirit upon P [...]rsons of all sorts, as that those who were not brought up in the Schools of Prophets should yet be indued with the Spirit or Gift of Prophecy. This Prediction of Joel was fulfilled in the Apo­stles by the most auspicious Descent of the Holy Ghost upon them; for St. Peter affirms, this is that Act. 2. 16. which was spoken by the Prophet Joel. It seems then the Mystery of Christ, which in other Ages was not made known unto the Sons of men, as now it is, was revealed unto his Holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spi­rit. [...]ph [...]s. 3. 4 5. It is therefore manifest, there can be no doubt [Page] made of our Assertion, if the Holy Scripture be thought sufficient to prove it. On this account I suppose it is, that among those who believe the Scripture, it seems an Hypothesis rather taken for granted, than otherwise proved by any. But be­cause our Age is inquisitive, and somewhat too apt to derogate from the Authority of the sacred Pan­dects, because also since those parts thereof which make mention of Christ and his Apostles, did drop from Their Mouths and Pens, to alledge Texts from thence is but to produce their own Testimony con­cerning themselves, and therefore whatever Truth there may be, there certainly is but little Force in that way of arguing, unless it be to those that alrea­dy are well perswaded of their Authority. For these Reasons I shall at present ascribe no more Authority to the Holy Scripture than is usually given to other Writings far inferiour, and argue only from Reason and Testimony that cannot be suspected of Partiality: by the help thereof (together with Gods blessing) I doubt not to prove these five Particulars: 1. That the Notion of a Prophet is very agreeable to Reason. 2. That there were Prophets among the Jews. 3. That for the Tryal of Pretenders to the Gift of Prophecy, they had certain Rules, Notes, and Signs whereby to judg of them. 4. that if Christ and his Apostles be tryed thereby, it will be found that they were Prophets. 5. That this way of proving they were so, is very sufficient and rati­onal.

CHAP. II. Of the Notion of a Prophet, and that there were Prophets among the Jews.

THE Notion of a Prophet may certainly best be learned from the Nature of Prophecy, before defined: from which Definitions of Prophecy we may gather this of a Prophet, viz. that He is a per­son, who by the Influence of God upon his Rational Fa­culty, doth attain to such knowledge, as by his Natu­ral Abilities would in one respect or other be unattain­able. In which Description, it concerns us at present to observe only, that it is not Prediction, but In­fluence from God, which constitutes a Prophet, at least such an one as we are now speaking of. And that this is no new Notion, adapted to our present Undertaking, is evident enough by the words of a late Author, whose Principles are thought most un­luckily of any to undermine such Foundations as we are now laying; yet he expresseth himself in these words: Although there be many significations in Scri­pture, of the word Prophet; yet is that the most frequent in which it is taken for him to whom God speaketh im­mediately, that which the Prophet is to say from him, to some other man, or to the People. Gods speaking to men immediately, he himself saith, is to be interpreted, Hobb [...]s Le­viat [...]an p. 3. [...] ▪36. that way (whatsoever it be, I suppose he means with­out the Ministry of man) by which God makes them to understand his Will. Hereby 'tis evident that in his Judgment, as well as ours, a Prophet was a Per­son on whose Understanding God had immediate Influence: how else is it possible, he should make [Page 11] him immediately to understand his Will? and sure it cannot seem strange to any, that there have or might have been such men in the World; the Pow­er and Wisdom of God, together with the Capaci­ties of Mens Souls, are enough to remove all suspi­tion of Its impossibility. He that made the Mind, shall not He be able to teach men knowledge? and he that was made on purpose to know God, and give him the Glory of his Handy-work, shall not he be thought capable of learning from such a Teacher? There is therefore no show of Reason to doubt the Possibility of Prophecy, especially consi­dering, that all sorts of men (how wide soever their differences are in other matters, do yet) agree in this, viz. that there are or have been such Pro­phets in the World. This is so manifest and vul­garly known to be the Belief of Christians, Jews, and Turks, as that (among all that have heard of Christ, Moses, or Mahomet) all necessity of proving it is perfectly fore-stalled: and that the Heathens al­so were of the same opinion, is evident by what they have reported of some of their Law-givers, viz. that they received their Laws from the Gods: as Numa Pompilius from Egeria, Minos from Jupiter, Ly­curgus Luc. Flor. from Apollo, Zaleucus Locrus from Minerva. Clem. Alex. Stro. lib. 1. idem ibid. Alex. ab Alex. gen. dier. lib. 4. c. 17. id. lib. 3. cap. 16. Plutarch de plac. Phil. l. 5. c. 1. Maimon. Mor. Nov [...]ch p. 3. cap. 29. Jupiter also and Lachesis had their distinct Prophets: and Prophetesses there were as well as Prophets, as appears by the Reputation of Sibyls among them: and that their Philosophers had such a Notion as ours is of Prophecy, appears by the Opinion of Pla▪ to concerning Divination, wherein he agrees with the Stoicks, who held it an effect of Divine Instinct and Inflation: and long I think it was before them, that the Zabians believed, Men had this gift of Pro­phecy. [Page 12] From all this it is manifest, that the Noti [...] of a Prophet was entertain'd by Heathens, as well as Jews, Turks, and Christians; and therefore surely (since all own it) it is very consonant to Reason. If any of our Modern Scoffers think otherwise, I de­sire them to know that the Seat of the Scornful is no Infallible Chair, there is no reason to think them wiser than all the World besides; especially consi­dering our second Assertion:

That there actually were Prophets among the Jews. Which Assertion appears more than probable, not by the Jews only, but by the opinions of the Heathens concerning Moses, whom the Egyptians thought toJosephus Stra. Apion lib. 1. be A man Wonderful and Divine. And good reason they had for so thinking, as was manifest by his Conquest of Jannes and Jambres (their most re­nowned Magicians) and also by the Plagues, which, according to His word, were brought upon Egypt; allEuseb. de praepar. Evang. lib. 9. c. 8. which are attested by Eumenius. Nor do the Hea­ thens represent him as the Jews do Michael, to have been the Minister of Gods Justice only, but they also speak of him as those do of Gabriel, that he was the Minister of Gods Mercy to them. For they tell us, that Moses was author of so many useful In­ventions among the Egyptians, as that he gained not only the love of the People, but also the Worship of the Artapanus apud Eu­seb. lib. cod. c. 27. Priests; for they named him Mercury, and gave him equal honour with their gods. Which Testimony is the more credible, because Diodorus (among many other high Commendations of Moses, which he pro­fesseth to have had from the Egyptian Priests) ex­presly tells us, that he was called God: Not thatJust. Mar­tyr. ad Graec. cor­hor [...]. Moses pretended to be so, but because (saith he) men thought his Mind was wholly Admirable and Di­vine. All which, methinks, can amount to no less [Page 13] than a competent evidence, their thoughts are well enough expressed by Chalcidius his words of Moses, viz. That He was most wise, as being enlivened not with mans Wisdome, but (as 'tis reported) with Divine In­spiration. Grot. de verit. Rel. Christian. lib. 1. an­not. d** ad Sec. 1 [...]. And if so, then surely Moses was they thought him) at least a Prophet, and in this their Judgment of him, it is very notorious, that the Jews, Christians, and Mahometans do concur with them: so that in effect we have all Mankind giving its Suffrage to this Truth: insomuch that if any please to deny it, they seem to undermine their own Credit, as well as Reason; for (unless they have a Charter of Credibility peculiarly granted to them) there is no Reason to believe them wherein they make all men else Fools or Lyars: We shall there­fore take it for granted, that Moses was a Prophet.

Next then we are to observe, that this Moses the Prophet, was the Jews Law-giver. Hereof I know none that makes a doubt; if there be, they may easi­lyVid. Jos. Stra. Api­on, lib. 1. Clem. A­lex. stro. be lib. 1. Eu­seb. de Praep. E­vang. l. 9. Deut. 18. 15. be satisfied by a multitude of Witnesses from a­mong the Gentiles to prove it. All then that re­mains to be farther observed, is, that this Moses the Prophet did promise in his Law, that there should be Prophets among the Jews, The Lord thy God (saith he) will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me. Which pro­mise, I confess, was most compleatly fulfilled in Christ (the supreme Prophet of the Church) yet that hinders not its being first to be fulfilled by some other Prophet, or rather Order of Prophets, who (before the coming of Messias) was shortly to suc­ceed Moses in the Prophetick part of his Office: whoever, methinks, considers all Circumstances, must needs conceive that it was so; for it was at first given, and afterwards renewed on such occasi­ons as required its speedy accomplishment. For Mo­ses [Page 14] having conducted the Israelites almost to the Land of Canaan, was commanded to gather the Peo­ple together in Horeb: and they came near and stood under the Mountain, and the Mountain burnt with Fire Deut. 4. 11. unto the midst of Heaven, with Darkness, Clouds, and thick Darkness: and all the People saw the Thunderings and Lightenings, and the noise of the Trumpet, and the Mountain smoaking: and when the People saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses,Exod. 20. 18, 19. speak Thou with us and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we dye. Whereby it is plain, they requested, that God would speak no more immedi­ately, at least not so terribly unto them, but that for the future he would please to use the Ministry of Mo­ses Deut. 18. 17. and such like Prophets, in revealing his Will un­to them: this their request the Lord approves of; and condescending to their Infirmity he gave this Promise in answer to it, viz. That He would raise them up a Prophet from among their Brethren like unto Moses, and would put his words in his Mouth, and he v. 18. should speak unto them all that the Lord should command him. This was the first occasion of this Promise, af­terwards Moses admonished them to beware of learn­ingv. 9. to do after the Abominations of those Nations, which were cast out to let them in: among which Abo­minations,v. 14. hearkening to Observers of Times, and to Diviners was one: this then was forbidden to the Jews. By which Prohibition, doubtless there was so great a restraint laid upon their Curiosity and Desire of knowing future contingences (which is very great almost in all men) as that, without something in lieu of Divination, &c. it would haveVid. Orig. contr. Cels. lib. 1. been almost impossible to have kept them within the Bounds of due Obedience to their Law: but either they would have thought there was nothing Divine in it, [Page 15] or else they would have fallen into some heathenish Abomination, or else they would have instituted something else somewhat like it among themselves. Now to shew them there was no need of so doing, Moses calls to mind the Promise that God had made them to raise them up a Prophet like unto him. Unto which Promise he subjoyns the Means of try­ing the Truth of Pretensions to the Gift of Prophe­cy.v. 22. Now to me it seems strange, that this Promise at first made and afterwards renewed on those so­lemn and important Occasions, and attended with these circumstances, should have no reference at all to some Prophet or Order of Prophets that should shortly succeed Moses. When the People were afraid they should dye, and begged (as it were for their Lives) that God would speak no more immediate­ly unto them, but that he would use the Ministry of Moses, is it likely that God giving this Promise in answer, should mean only that he would raise up a Prophet about two thousand years after? and as unlikely it is, that a Promise of a Prophet to arise so long after, should keep them from Heathenish A­bominations in the mean time: nor is it likely that the Rules then given for the trial of Prophets should be of no use till Then. These and some such other Considerations incline me to Confidence, that this Promise (though in its Extent and Latitude it reach­eth to Christ, in whom it was most compleatly ful­filled, yet) in its primary Sense and Meaning it hath reference to some Prophets which God would raise up to succeed Moses among the Jews: and from hence, the Inference is both easie and cer­tain, there where Prophets among them. Hereun­to it is apparent that both Jews and Christians give Testimony; nor can the Heathens deny it; for from [Page 16] their Assertions or at least Concessions that Moses was a Prophet, by a good Consequence it follows that this his Promise was fulfilled. For it is moral­ly impossible, that so important a Promise given on so solemn Occasions, by so illustrious a Prophet, should ever fall to the Ground. Can God lye, or his Prophet prevaricate? Our Reason saith no: it is therefore most rational to conclude, there were Prophets among the Jews.

CHAP. III. The Tryal of Prophets among the Jews.

Sect. 1.

AND by them doubtless they had much advan­tage; chiefly because by Their Ministry the Ora­cles of God were committed to them. Yet, since wheresoever God employes men to sow the Seed of his Word, there will certainly be some to scatter the Devils Darnel, the Jews (even while they had the Happiness of Direction from true Prophets) were in some danger of Seduction, from false ones; for which cause their Law did authorize them to make trial of Pretenders Gift of Prophecy, and gave them Rules for so doing; of which Rules I shall give an account, not of mine own, but of the Jewish Rabbines collecting, especially Maimonides: by whom they are digested into two sorts, whereof the first concerns the conditions of a mans Admission to a tri­al; the other contains the [...], Notes, or Marks whereby they made it.

[Page 17] In Ser. Zer. Concerning the first, M [...]imonides saith, Those who lay claim to the Gift of Prophecy, are distinguished into two sorts; namely, those that prophesie in the name of an Idol, and those that prophesie in the name of the Lord. Prophecy in the name of an Idol is again two-fold. (1.) When a Prophet that riseth up shall say, such a Star, by its spiritual influx upon me, hath said, Worship me in this manner, or in this manner call upon me: and also when he inviteth to the Worship of some Idol or Te­l [...]sman, saying, This hath it shewed me, this hath it told me, or commanded me, that I should command the Wor­ship of it in such a manner, as the Prophets of Baal and the Prophets of the Wood were wont to do. The second sort of Prophets in the name of an Idol were, when one said, There came a Revelation from God unto me, that such an Idol is to be worshipped, or that any spiritual Influx is drawn forth in such a manner This also is to be reckoned an Idolatrous Prophet: for that Name com­prehends not only those that say, an Idol commanded its own Worship, or any thing else; but also those who say, the Lord commanded the Worship of any Creature. When therefore we have heard any one in [...]ither of these manners boasting himself to be a Prophet, and it be ma­nifestly proved of him, he ought to be put to death by st [...]angling; as God saith, but that Prophet or dreamerDeut. 13. 5. of dreams shall be put to death. Thus far we agree with him▪ or at least, we put in no Exception against what he saith, because he hath sufficient Reason and Authority for it: and we need say no more of it, because it is no way pertinent to our pre­sent purpose: for manifest it is, that Christ and his Apostles did equal the Jews (if not exceed them) in the Abhorrence of Idols: that therefore that con­cerns the Trial of Idolatrous Prophets, is no way pertinent unto theirs, but that which our Author [Page 18] saith concerning those that Prophesied in the Name of the Lord, it concerns us to Consider and examine; and to prevent all suspicion of Partiality in this our Disquisition, I shall take the pains to transcribe it at large out of him.

Moreover, (saith he) Those that proph [...]sie in the Name of the Lord are likewise of two sorts, (1) When one prophesying in the Name of the Lord, allures men un­to him, and incites them to Worship him, saying, God hath added a Command to his Precepts, or hath detract­ed some Precept from the number of those contain'd in the Book of the Law. Nor is the matter much, whether he add or take from it, either in those things which are in the Text of the Law, or in the Explication thereof received by Tradition. As for Example, If one should adde unto, or detract from those things which are in the Text, in this manner: God hath said unto me, the time wherein Fruits shall be uncircumcised is but two years, after which it is lawful to eat of the Fruits that have been planted: or if he shall say, the Lord hath said un­to me, it shall be unlawful to eat of them for four years, whereas the Lord hath said, three years shall they be [...]vit. 19. 23. uncircumcised unto you: and thus in other matters of the same nature. Thus also if he shall make any change whatever it be in the Tradition, yea, though the letter of the Text favour him: As for Example; If he saith that saying in the Law, and thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not spare her, is to be understood of a real and true abscission, but not of some mulct, so constituted as to make her ashamed, as by Tradition it is received, and gives out he received it by Prophecy, saying, The Lord hath said unto me, that saying of his, and D [...]ut. [...]5. 12. thou shalt cut off her hand, is to be understood as it soundeth, this man also is to be strangled, because he is a lying Prophet, f [...]igning that of God which God never [Page 19] spake unto him, nor is he to be regarded, no not for a Sign or a Miracle done by him; because that Prophet, who astonish'd the whole World with his Miracles, whom al­so God hath fastned it in our hearts to believe and have Faith in, (God himself affirming it, when he said, and they shall believe thee for ever) hath now before­hand told us, there was no other Law but his to come from God, and this is it that he saith, It is not Deut. 30. 12. v. 14▪ in the Heavens that thou shouldest say, Who shall ascend into Heaven for us, &c? and when he saith, In thine heart, and in thy mouth, he insinu [...]tes, ei­ther Sentences delivered by the Mouth, or else Conclusions drawn forth by Speculation, and the Powers of the Heart, which also he hath forbidden to make Addition to, or Diminution from, saying, Thou shalt neither add un­to Deut. 4. 2. and 12. 32. it, nor diminish from it: and therefore our Ance­stou [...]s (with whom be Peace) have said, from that time it is not granted to a Prophet to change any thing: When therefore we know him, (the Prophet) in that which he claims to himself, to lye against God, and to feign that of Him which He never said unto him, we are necessitated to kill him, according to what the Ho­ly Scripture de [...]lar [...]th, while it saith, The Prophet that Deut. 18. 20. shall have added, &c. even that Prophet shall dye.

The second sort of Prophets in the Name of the Lord, was, When one invites men to Worship God, and incites them to keep his Commandment, and declares they should observe the Law, and that without Addition or Diminution, (as the last of them hath said, Remember Mal. 4. 4▪ the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the Statutes and Judgments) promising good to him that shall keep, and threatning punishment to him that shall break this Law, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest of them did▪ in the mean time commanding and forbidding things [Page 20] different from those of the Law: As for Example sake, if he should say, Drive out now that Country, or this Faction, as Samuel of old commanded Saul, that he should destroy Amalek: or if he prohibits the put­ting one to death, as Eli [...]ha forbad Jehoram to vanquish the host of Hazael, which had entred Samaria, (as 'tis known) and as Isaiah forbad water to be con­veyed within the Walls, and as J [...]remiah forbad the Israelites tp go out of Jerusalem, and other such like things. When therefore a Prophet doth claim to him­self the Gift of Proph [...]cy, so as that he neither ascribes it to any Idol, nor addeth to, or diminisheth ought from the Law, but walks in oth [...]r wayes, in that manner we have explained, then our next work is to try him.

Thus far M [...]imenides, concerning those conditi­ons on which Pretenders to Prophecy were to be ad­mitted to a Tryal; and thereby we see, that (accor­ding to him) admitted they were not but on these two conditions; (1) that they prophesied in the Name of the Lord; this we have already granted: (2) that they make no alteration either in the written Law of Moses, or in the Explication of it received by Tra­dition. This Rule (how confidently soever it be gi­ven, yet) must not be received without Exceptions. For, first, The Explication of the Law therein men­tioned, certainly had no such Authority as is there­by pretended: and to the end we may the more fully see what that was, together with the impro­bability of it, I shall shew you the pretended Ori­ginal of this Explication, as it is recorded by ourlib. cod. Author, who would have us to know, ‘That all the Prophets of the Law, which came from God to Moses, came to him, together with their In­te [...]pretation. First, God spake the Text unto him, and then the Explication, or Interpretation [Page 21] of it, and what the Authentick Text it self com­prehended: and the manner of teaching them to Israel was such as I am now about to describe unto thee. Moses being gone into his Tent, the first that came unto him was Aaron, to whom he told the Text which was given him from God, and taught him the Interpretation of it. After­wards, he, having placed himself at the right hand of Moses, Eleazar and Ithamar, his Sons, came in, to whom also Moses told the same he had told to Aaron: they then rose and went, one to the left hand of Moses our Master, the other to the right hand of Aaron: afterwards the seventy El­ders came in, whom also Moses taught in the same manner that he had taught Aaron and his Sons: after them, a promiscuous Assembly of the People, viz. Every one that sought the Lord, came in, to him also he repeated the same, till they all had heard it from him. And now Aaron had heard the Text four times from Moses, his Sons twice, the Elders twice, the rest of the Assembly once. Then Moses went out from them, and the Text which Aaron had heard four times from Mo­ses, he repeated to all that were present; so that now his Sons as well as himself had heard it four times, thrice from Moses, and once from him: and then he himself also withdrew: and Eleaz [...]r and Ithamar repeated the same Text which they had so heard, to the whole Assembly, and they rose up from teaching: and by these means the seventy Elders also had now heard the Text four times, twice from Moses, once from Aaron, and once from his Sons; then they also repeated it once to the People, and so all heard it four times: fir [...]t, from Moses, secondly from Aaron, thirdly, [Page 22] from his Sons, and fourthly from the seventy El­ders, who then departing some taught some, and some, others, that which they had received from Gods messenger. The Text they writ in Vo­lumes: then the chief of the people dispersed themselves throughout all Israel to teach and in­struct them, until they remembered the Text, and could read it in writing: afterwards they taught them also the Interpretation of the Text it s [...]lf which came from God, which Interpre­tation contained the universal sense and meaning of it. The Text they committed to writing, but the tradition to memory.’

And had they not all good memories to retain so much? yes surely. For Moses (they say) brought no l [...]ss then 613 Precepts together with their Inter­pretations from mount Sinai; of nec [...]ssity (we know) the Comment must be larger than the Text, and was it not a wonder that he at once, and they at four times hearing should be able to repeat it? yet (if you will believe him) they did it so ex­actly as that neither the Text, nor its Interpretati­on, lost any thing of their Perfection or Authori­ty: for not the Text only, but the Interpretation too had the Nature of a Law; and thus (as our Author informs as) say the wise men, the Law that is written, and the Law that is delivered by ibid. word of mouth. It seems then that they (just as the Papists do now) did receive and venerate theConcil. Trider. Dec. 1. 4. Sess. Holy Scripture and tradition with equal affection of Pi­ [...]ty and Reverence. But was not this tradition more liable to the Corruptions of men and the Injuries of Time than the Text was? yes surely: for Mai­monides himself insinuates, that even in the dayes of Joshua, there was some small dissension about [Page 23] it; but that being appeased by the consent of the greater part, he commended it to the Elders, that overlived him, and they to the Prophets, and the Prophets delivered it one to another, till at length it came to the great Synagogue, at which time there was such a stirr, as that that Council was fain to make Decrees and Constitutions about it: nor was it then safe. And therefore Rabbenu Hakkadosh (a­bout 18 generations afterwards) gathered together the Sentences and Sayings thereof a [...]d composed the Mishna, which Contains the Explication of all thosevid. lib. [...]und. p. 33. 34, 35, 36, 37. &c. Precepts, which are written in the Law. And why was this Comment committed to writing as well as the Text, but because there was no preserving it in­tire without it. Why then should it be set cheek by jole with the Text it self? Was Rabbie Judah a Pro­phet as well as Moses? no: He lived a long time after the Spirit of Prophecy was ceased among them; his writings therefore ought in all reason to truckle un­der the Scripture which was given by Inspiration of God, and although the matters contained in them (as is pretended) came together with those of Holy Scripture from God Almighty, yet having been for many hundreds of years, most easiely subject to Cor­ruptions, Changes and Depravations (for the pre­vention whereof he committed them to writing) there can be but little or no certainty, and conse­quently no knowledg of such Authority as is pretend­ed to be in them, and if not after, much less be­fore he wrote them. For by committing them to writing, without all doubt he did rather add unto then diminish their Authority: and truly it seems probable, that He devised the fable of their descent from God Almighty: for had there been such an Explication (as they say) delivered by God to Mo­ses, [Page 24] by Moses to Aaron and his sons, by them to the seventy Elders, by them to Joshu [...], by him to the surviving Elders, by them to the succeeding Prophets, who delivered it from one to another through at least a thousand years: had this I say been true, it is ve­ry strange that in all that time they did not drop one word from their pens about it; although certainly they had frequent occasions of so doing▪ for a great part of their Office was to uphold the practice of the Law in the Purity and Integrity of it, which they could no way have done better, than by reducing Transgresso [...]s to that authentick Interpretation of it, yet we find not a word of it: but that that falls out most unluckily is, that this traditional Interpretation of the Law doth thwrat and contradict the Exposi­tion thereof by the Prophets: this wretch [...]d Tr [...]diti­on restrained the sense of the Law to the letter of it,Mat. 5. and taught men to believe it forbad no more than it expressed; but the Prophets surely taught them other­wise,Jer 4. 14. whence [...]lse was it, that they r [...]proved themHos. 7. 6. for the thoughts of their hearts, as well as the Works of their hands. Thus did the Comment make void the Text, and this Tradition made the Command­ments of none [...]ff [...]ct. It is therefore most manif [...]st that they came not from the same hand. Can infi­nite Wisdom speak contradictions, or destroy what it builds? it is blasphemy to say it can. Since then this Tradition explodes the Law instead of ex­pounding it, we are sure it came not from God. Was it then likely that the Divine Majesty (as our Author often calls the Spirit of Prophecy) should be made to hold up its hand at the Bar of this Tra­dition which perhaps was made worse by its keep­ersvid. V [...]is de Leg. div. cap▪ 9. than it was in it self? It was alwayes imprisoned in a Consistorie, where no man knows what usage [Page 25] it had, or how it might be dress'd up to serve the emergent exigence of Prophecy; were tryed by Tra­dition, and that Tradition known only in a Con­sistory, and that Consistory consisted of men subject (as doubtless they were) to Error and Corruptions, the Ark was more like to fall before Dagon, than Dagon before the Ark; I mean, the Truth of God to be repelled by Vice and Wickedness, oftener than they corrected by the Truth of God. How easie was it for Vice to pretend to this Tradition, and for Wickedness to plead Prescription by this Oral Law for its Protection? And if they dwelt in the Con­sistory, (as too often they did) or could make some friends there (as no doubt they might) they would certainly be more mindful of their concerns, than to neglect so fair an Advantage: and then if the Consistory declared that Tradition was for them, that Prophet must die who presumed to speak against them. But is it possible, that the God of Holiness should make a Law so apt to establish wickedness? no: it borders upon Blasphemy to say he did. Pie­ty therefore as well as Reason inclines us to look on this Tradition as a meer Fiction, at first invent­ed to uphold the tottering Reputation of their Ma­gisterial Rabbies, and afterwards improved and used to patronize their Infidelity and justifie their barba­rous Proceedings against Our Blessed Lord Jesus and all that adhered to him. This therefore we do ut­terly reject.

But the other part of Maimonides his assertion (viz. That Pretenders to the Spirit of Prophecy were not admitted to a Trial unless they made no alteration in the written Law of Moses) is something more probable; for doubtless an attempt to null the Obligation of a Law, which God himself hath established, if he that [Page 26] makes it gives little or no Evidence of Gods Inten­tion by him to do it, is a strong presumption, yea a sufficient argument, that he therein is a false Pro­phet. But if God hath constituted a Law which in it self is mutable, and withal hath declared that it shall be changed, if the Pretender to Prophecy gives as great or greater Evidence of Gods Intention by him to do it, then he did at first to establish it, there is no more Reason to reject him than there was Moses: and if so, the Jews were certainly very rude and barbarous, if they would not vouchsafe him a Trial, but forthwith put him to Death without it. What Law therefore of the Jews it was wherein (our Au­thor saith) this Rule was contained, is yet unknown to us; however assured we are, that though it might be of theirs, yet it was no part of Gods Law, because it inflicts Death on them, who bring the broad Seal of Heaven to avouch their Authority to speak what they do in his Name. I suppose therefore the Rule is seldom or never true but in case either of Immu­tability in the Law it self, or want of sufficient Evi­dence of Gods Intention by the pretender to change it: and that neither of these is the case now under debate will be evident by considering these two things.

1. That the Law of Moses (as to the Ceremonial and Judicial parts of it) was not immutable, for it was founded upon no immutable Reasons: this me­thinks Maimonides himself must needs have confes­sed, if he had consider'd what he himself hath else­where told us, viz. That the first intention of our Law is, to take away Idolatry, to blot out the memory of it, and of all things that adhere to it, or give occasion of it. And then, after some digression, he returns to his purpose, and saith, the Reasons and Causes of many of our Laws be­came [Page 27] known to me, through the knowledge of the Faith, Rites, and Worship of the Zabians, the knowledge of their Opinions and Sciences is a great Gate (i. e. it serves much) to let in the sight of the Causes of the Precepts; for the very foundation of our whole Law, and the book whereon it turns, is to raze those Opinions out of mens heart [...], and to extirpate their memory. This also is the primary and principal Intention of all our whole Law, as our Wise men have taught us, in saying, Whosoever con­fesseth Idolatry, is accounted to deny the whole Law, but whosoever denies Idolatry, is reckon'd to confess it. IfMor Nev [...] p. 3. cap [...] 29. then this were the Foundation, and primary Inten­tion of their Law, how was it immutable? The O­pinions Rites and Worship of the Zabians were not unchangeable; if they were, how came it to pass the Law was designed to raze them out of mens Hearts, and to blot out their Memory? if then they were changeable, how can that be immutable which was founded and hanged on them? how can those Laws be immutable whose Reason and Foundation are subject to Vicissitudes and Changes? the Inten­tion and Reason of a Law is the Law, rather than the Words of it. Since then in these Laws, the particu­lar Things intended, and the Reasons as well as the Words of them may be altered, so methinks may they. Especially considering, that while they were in greatest force divers of them were occasionally suspended and transgressed, yet without offence to God, yea with his Liking and Approbation; as for Instance, that of offering Sacrifice only in the placeDeut. 12. 13, 14. 1 King. 18. which the Lord should chuse, was violated by Elijah when he offered Sacrifice upon mount Carmel; yet was it accepted, as appeared by the Fire that fell from the Lord and consumed it. The command tov. 38. keep the passeover in the month Abib, was trans­gressed Exod. 13. 4, 5. [Page 28] by the good King Hezekiah and his Subjects,2 Chron. 30. 2. 15. who kept it in the second Month, yet was this no unacceptable Sacrifice, for the Lord harkened to He­zekiah'sv. 20. Prayer and healed the People: and when the Priests blessed the People their Voice was heard, [...]. 27. and their Prayer came up to his Holy dwelling Place, even to Heaven: whereby 'tis evident, that when men did prepare their Hearts to seek God, he him­self did dispense with the strict Observation of the Ceremonial Law. Yea God himself hath declared, that he desired Mercy and not Sacrifice, and the Know­ledge [...]os. 6. 6. of God more than burnt Offerings. whereby 'tis plain, that God preferred the Duti [...]s of Morality, for before all Ceremonial Performances, and conse­quently when they stand in Competition, the latter was to yield and give place unto the former: it seems then that in such cases the Ceremonial Law was sus­pended by the moral; and if so, then certainly it was not immutable: and that that admits of a tem­poral Suspension is not in its own Nature u [...]terly un­capable of a total Abolition: that which may be made void for a time may certainly be made so for ever: it is not repugnant to its Nature.

Obj. But Moses hath told us, there was no other Law to come from God, but that which he gave unto us, and this is it that he saith, it is not in the Heavens, that thou shouldest say who shall ascend into Heaven for us, &c. but it is in thine Heart and in thy Mouth.

Ans. But was this it that M [...]ses there saith? no surely: for whoever considers the Series of his Dis­course will easily find, that he is not speaking of the Duration of his Law whither long or short, but re­quiring Obedience to it: the Reason of his so doing is because the Commandment is not hidden, neither is it far off. It is not in Heaven that thou shouldest say, who [Page 29] shall go up to Heaven for us and bring it unto us, that we may hear and do it? Neither is it beyond the Sea, that thou shouldest say who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it? But the Word is very nigh unto th [...]e, in thy Mo [...]th and in thy Deut. 30. 11, 12, 13, 14. Heart, that thou mayest do it. But what is this to the pretended Eternity of the Law? because the Law was neither hidden nor far off, so that they need not to send either to Heaven or beyond Sea to fetch it, was it therefore Eternal? either this argument is wholly impertinent, or else I do not under­stand it.

De fund. Leg. c. 9▪ [...]. 1. Obj. 2. But it is (saith our Author) expounded and declared in our Law, that the Precept is [...]ixt for ever, that it shall not be obnoxious to variations, neither Diminution nor Addition. Every Word that Deut. 12. 32. I command you, you shall keep, that you may do it: thou shalt neither adde unto it, nor diminish from it. And therefore our Ancestours have said, it is not granted to a Prophet to change any thing.

Have they so? but what Authority had they for so saying? for divers of their Rabbies (disputing against the pretended Eternity of their Law) tell us, the Holy Scripture admonisheth none but Ʋs, that we should not for our pleasure, or according to our own judgement, add unto the Precepts, or diminish ought from them; but what hinders, why the blessed God himself may not add unto the Law, or diminish from it, as his Wisdom shall appoint? Nay, it seems that R. Albo (whom the Jews call the Divine Philosopher, and adorn with more than a little praise) restrains the place now cited, to Idolatry, and understands it to speak of Idolatrous Additions and Diminutions from the Manner or Form of Gods Worship constituted by the Law. And this, saith he, may rightly be ga­thered [Page 30] from the Context: for in the two preceding Verses, the People are dehorted from the horrible Worship of the Gentiles, and the Oblation of theirVid. Vorst. ad Maim. de fund. Leg. c. 9. Not. 2. Children: whereunto this Admonition is immedi­ately subjoyned. If then this be the meaning of the place (as R. Moses Nachman also thought it was) it puts in no Caveats against those that (for ought appears) by the Spirit of Prophecy teach a variation in other matters from the Law of Moses. Of which Law, we are to observe

2. That Moses himself declared, there should be a Change and Abrogation of it; for he foretold such a state of things as was utterly Inconsistent with its Observation in all particulars. Evident it is by his Writings, that long before the Promulgation of his Law, God had a purpose to communicate his Grace and Goodness to all Nations: for he it was thatGen. 22. 18. recorded Gods Promise to Abraham, that in his Seed should all the Nations of the Earth be blessed. AndGen. 49. 10. afterwards old Jacob foretold, that the gathering of the People should be to Shiloh. But shall all Nations be blessed at Jerusalem? must they all resort thitherDe Resar. Mor. 1. 3. c. 2. to Shiloh? All Nations (saith Menasse [...] Ben Israel) with unanimous consent shall adhere to the God of Jacob and Isaac, and embracing his Doctrine, with one and the same Worship they shall serve him. But shall the Wor­ship of God be then confined (as it is by the Law of Moses) to the place which the Lord shall chuseD [...]nt. 12. 13, 14. in one of the Trib [...]s of Israel? But if that were pos­sible, will the Aaronical Pri [...]thood be sufficient to at­tend at the Temple for all Nations? It is impossible that all People should be gathered together in the Land of Canaan, much more in one of the Tribes of Israel: Impossible it is also that the Tribe of Levi should be numerous enough to find Priests to offer [Page 31] all their Sacri [...]ices: there must therefore of necessity be a Change made both in the Place of Worship and also in the Priesthood.

And this which we have thus deduced from the Predictions of Moses, was more fully revealed by succeeding Prophets, viz. That it should come to pass in the last Dayes, that the Mountain of the Lords house should be established on the top of the Mountains, and should be exalted above the Hills, and all Nations Isai. 2. 2▪ should flow unto it. The Prophet here teacheth, that not only temporal Good things, but also Spiritual shall be given unto men of all Nations, when the Messias shall come: saith the last cited Author. I have no Pleasure [...]b. s [...]p▪ in you (the Priests of the Jews) saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your Hand. For from the rising of the Sun, even unto the going down of the same, my Name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place Incense shall be offered unto my Name a pure Offering; for my Name shall be great among the Heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts. But who shall thenMal. [...]. 10, 11▪ be Priests to offer this Incense and Pure offering? why it shall come to pass saith the Lord, that I will ga­ther all Nations and Tongues, and they shall come and see my Glory, and I will also take of them for Priests, and for Levites, saith the Lord. Whereby 'tis plain,Isai. 66. 18, 21▪ that there should be a Priesthood taken out of all Nations and Tongues. And these Priests surely were to be subject to him to whom the Lord had sworn, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek; for this Priest was to judge (i. e. to Reign and Rule) among the Heathen, and to wound the heads (of those that oppose him) over many Countreys; andPsal. 110. 4, 6. that in the opinion of the Jews, as well as of us Christians, this Priest was their expected Messias, Pe­trus Galatinus makes evident by divers of their most [Page 32] De Arc. Fid. Cath. 1. 8. c. 24. Ancient and Authentick Writings. From these Pre­mises they might have inferred, that there was to be a Priesthood (subject to the Mess [...]as) not after the Order of Aaron, but taken out of all Nations: and concerning the promised Messias the Jews were ex­presly taught to believe, not only that he should con­firm the Covenant (viz. which God made with A­braham Dan. 9. 27. &c.) but also that he shall cause the S [...]crifice and Oblation to cease. On this account it is like it was, that many Masters in Isra [...]l have said as much, viz. That all the Feasts and Oblations, b [...]sides that of Consession or giving of Thanks, shall ceas [...] in the future Age: Yea, that the Holy Blessed one now re [...]ts, and consi­ders of a new Law which [...]e will give by the h [...]nd of Vid. Vorst. Not. ad Abr. de cap. [...]id. cap. 13. the Messias: and that God shall make a new Covenant with him: and surely not with him only, but in him with them also; for, Behold, the day's [...]ome, saith the Lord, that I will make a new Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juda [...]: n [...]t according to the Covenant which I made with their Fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; but this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel▪ [...]fter those dayes saith the Lord, I will put my Law, in their inward Jer. 31. 31, 32, 33. parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my People: In that he saith a New Covenant, he mak [...]th the [...]irst Old: and in thatHeb. 8. 13. he saith, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, he clearly teacheth, that this New Covenant was to be a more Spiritual Dispen­sation than the former. The first had multifarious Ordinances of Divine Service, and Pandects of Laws, enjoyning such things as were not good in them­selves, but only because they were commanded: but the New Covenant hath Laws, agreeable to the [Page 33] dictates of Right Reason, and Natural Morality written in our hearts: and these shall be those, whereby men in this Covenant shall have the Lord to be their God, and they his People. By all which 'tis evident, not only that the Law of Moses was in it self mutable, but also that it should be actually changed, another more Divine and Spiritual Dis­pensation was to be substituted in the room of it; and if so, it is very unlikely that by Gods Authori­ty any were denied admittance to a tryal of their pretended Gift of Prophecy, barely for want of strict Conformity to the Law of Moses, especially if they gave evidence of Gods intention by them to repeal either the whole or any part of it. The reason is manifest, because God not intending it to b [...] per­petual, did not certainly ty [...] himself up to send no Prophets but such as should in no case teach an abro­gation of it; nay, by declaring that it should be changed, he hath evidently reserved to himself a Power of so doing. And of this we are assured by Maimonides his own concessions, viz. That a Pro­phet had Pow [...]r to command the omission of an Affir­mative Precept, and to enjoyn the doing of what was forbidden by a Negative, except only in case of Idola­try; and this, saith he, was the opinion of the Wise men in [...]heir Talmud, where they say, In all things, In Sed. Zer. except Idolatry, if a Prophet shall say unto thee, transgr [...]ss the Law, thou art bound to obey him. And is it likely that God should endue men with Power to Suspend his Laws, and yet give order, that they should be put to death for offering to do it? It is unworthy of God to think so of him.

Obj. Aye bu [...], saith our Author, This pow [...]r was granted not to Candidates for the Prophetick Office, but only to those, of whom it was certainly known, they [Page 34] were called unto it, as Samuel, Elias, &c.

Answ. But where, I pray, hath God declared, he will not do it by any other? but if he hath not, why may not one but newly [...]ndued with the Spirit of Prophecy give sufficient and certain evidence of it? and if he doth, it is unreasonable to reject him, re­bellicus against God to r [...]fuse him, and barbarous murder to kill him. In this case therefore (and doubtless this was the case of Christ and his Apo­stles) they ought not so to do, but to allow him a fair Tryal. And so I come to consider

Sect. 2. The Ant [...]dents or Concomitants of a Prophe [...]ick Spirit.

The Jewish Rabbies inform us, there were cer­tain Qualifications antecedently or concomitantly useful to sit a man for the Spirit of Proph [...]cy, or ra­ther for the Office of a Prophet: all which (accor­ding to their Recension of them) Vorstius hath re­duced to these six Heads, viz. 1. Good Constitution of Body, even from the very Conception. 2. Endowment with Goods both of Wit and Fortune. 3. Sequestration from the common and profane manner of living. 4. Conveni­ence of Place, and that they make proper to their own land. 5. Seasonableness of time, because (say they) all times are not equally apt for the reception of Prophecy. Ad Mai­m [...]n. de fund. Leg. c. 7. S. 1. not. 1. 6. Divine Disposition, or the free Gift and Suggestion of God. The nece [...]sity of all these is deservedly questi­oned, not only by Christians, but also by some of the Jews themselves: insomuth that (as far as I can find) there is no one of them that hath spoken di­stinctly of them all as Requisites to Prophecy. Yet one Maxim there is (pertinent to this Subject) where­unto they all seem to yield Assent, and that is, That [Page 35] Prophecy rest [...]th on none but the Wise, the Strong, and the Mai [...]. in Sed. Zer. Rich. This saying, among the Jews, is perhaps thought worthy of all acceptation, yet by some Chri­stians it is est [...]med more wo [...]thy of rej [...]ction; not only because the Holy Ghost hath not tyed his Gifts to such requisites, but also because it s [...]ems to savour of a design to k [...]ep P [...]ople in unb [...]lief of Christianity. Such we know is the m [...]lice of the Jews against the Son of God, as that their Rabbies labour what they can to hinder the growth of our Christian Faith: to that end they have taught such Principl [...]s, and Ma­gisterially dictated such Sayings and Rules to the People, as are apt to prepossess their Minds, and for­tifie their unbelieving Hearts with such Pr [...]judices, as make them impregnable, by all the Weapons and Strength of our Christian Warfare. Such as these are those Fundamental Articles of their Faith, con­cerning the Perpetuity and Immutability of the Law of Moses, and the time of the coming of the M [...]ss [...]as: which Opinions seem formed almost on purpose to hinder the Faith of Christ, and to stop its Course among Men. And in mine appr [...]hension, the Rule now under debate may be thought like unto them; for while men believe that Prophecy rests on none but the Wise, the Strong, and the Rich, how hard is it for them to believe that Christ and his Apostles were Prophets? The reason is, because in their Birth and Bodies, their Education and Fortunes, th [...]re seems little or nothing that may d [...]nominate them so qualified, but much otherwise. For this reason (were there no other) we Christians have just cause to qu [...]stion this Rule of their Rabbies: but more­over we are sure, that it is not universally true: and indeed the Jews themselves confess as much, for they except Moses and Samuel, Amos and Jonas from it: [Page 36] whereunto they might have added Deborah and Eli­sha: Judg. 4. 4. whereof the former, although a Prophetess, yet being one of the Weaker Sex, surely was not so strong as this R [...]le would have the Prophets; and1 King. 19. 19. Elisha was called from following the Plough; and so not likely to have been so Wise and Learned as this Rule pret [...]nds the Prophets should. And then as for Riches, we may well say with Vorstius, there is nothing more foolish and unsavoury, than to joyn matt [...]r of Money with the Prophetick Office or Spi­rit. His reason is manifest, because 'tis certainly ap­par [...]nt, that many, if not most of the Prophets, were sometimes reduced to such Pove [...]ty, as that they endur [...]d hunger (yea perhaps, cold and nakedness) th [...]ough their Want and pentoy, yet still the Spirit of Pr [...]phecy rested on them. By these their con­c [...]ssions and Observations it plainly appears, that this their Rule (according to the most common ac­ceptation of the words among the Vulgar) is not universally true, there is no indispensible nec [...]ssity of those things, which that se [...]ms to make requisite for the R [...]ception of Prophecy. I am therefore inclined to think, that that Opinion concerning the Election of Prophets, which M [...]imenides ascribes to the Vul­gar,Mor N [...] ­ [...]och p. 2. cap. 32. Thesau. Phil. l [...]b. 2. c. 3. §. 4. is the onely true one; namely, that God chuseth and sends whom he pleases, without regarding whether they be wise and learned, ignorant, young or old: and if so, then we may conclude with Hottinger, that this Rule is not worth a nut-shell: or else we must find out some s [...]nse wherein it may be admitted: but ad­mit it I think we may not, unless it be on these two conditions; 1. That the Prophet's Wisdom (di­stinct from that they had by Rev [...]lation) be not thought alwayes to consist in humane Learning, ac­quir [...]d by s [...]udy, but in their natural Sagacity or Pru­dence, [Page 37] improved by Experience or otherwise; and that their Strength was not alwayes that of the Bo­dy, but the Fortitude of the Mind: and lastly, that their Riches be not those of the World; but of Vir­tue and probity of Manners. 2. That these things, even thus understood, be not made necessary Ante­cedents of Prophecy, but concomitant Attendants on it: they are not necessary for the Gift of Prophe­cy, but convenient for the Office of a Prophet: In this sense, and this only, the Jews perhaps may ju­stifie their Rule, and we may allow it some measure of Admittance, and in this sence we are not unwil­ling, that the Spirit or Gift of Prophecy which we assert to have been in Christ and his Apostles, should be tryed by it: in order whereunto it will not be amiss to take a distinct Survey of the Prophets Wis­dome, Strength, and Riches.

By the Prophets Wisdom, Maimonides understands humane Learning and Knowledge acquired by Study: This therefore (saith he) is our foundation, without without Study and Perfection no man can Prophesie, and Mo [...]. N [...] ­vo [...] [...] c. 32. that the possibility of it depends thereon. But was Samu­el perfect in his Childhood? had Elisha and Amos been so studious as to arrive at Perfection, before God took the one from holding the Plough, and the other from following the Flock? It seems not: althoughAmos 7. 15. therefore Maimonides was a Master-builder in Israel, yet he laid his Foundation in the Sand, otherwise it could not have been so easily shaken. We are not of his mind, that Fools and Sons of the Earth can pos­sibly Prophesie, no more than an Ass or a Frog, or the possibility of Prophecy hath a dependance on Study, and Perfection acquired by it: We dare not so to limit the Almighty, or set bounds to Omnipotence, yet we think it becoming the excellency of Prophecy, [Page 38] and convenient for the Office of a Prophet, that the Person inspired should be one of no contemptible Na­tural Parts and Prudence. Not that Natural Sagacity or any acquired Endowments could conduce by way of Efficiency to the Gift of Prophecy, but yet they might and did by way of Anticipation, although they were not absolutely needful in order to the Production or Reception of the Spirit of Prophecy, yet they were convenient to anticipate and prevent the Prejudices which otherwise would arise against the Persons of the Prophets. How hard a thing was it, (especi­ally if their age were such as ours) to make men be­lieve, that the God of Infinite Wisdome would In­spire men of shallow Intellectuals and incompetent Apprehensions? Prophecy is one of the highest de­grees of Perfection, whereof in this Life our humane Nature is capable: and how hardly are we perswa­ded, that so good and perfect a Gift should be congruously bestowed by the most Wise Disposer of all things. But if they were so successful as to con­vince men of their Calling, yet how could they per­form their Office without Discretion and Prudence? By their Office (as we may gather from the use of2 Tim. 3. 16. their Scripture) the Prophets were to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct men in righteousness, to declare what they ought to know and believe, to convince them in Falshood and Error, to reform and amend their Lives, to build them up, and carry them on unto Perfection, in all Vertue and Holiness of living: without Discretion and Prudence who were suffici­ent for these things? Can Ignorance teach, or Fol­ly reprove? Can Weakness of Judgment demolish the Strong Holds of Errour, or discover the Falla­cies of Falshood? Can Shallow Apprehensions fa­thom the Depths of Sin, or detect the Mysteries of [Page 39] Iniquity? Can Ideots make men Wise, or Fools In­struct others in Righteousness? Yet so they must, unless the rational Faculties of the People rather than of the Prophets, were almost wholly absorpt by the Spirit of Prophecy, and so their Wisdom and Holiness were increased by a strange antiperistasis of Folly and Ignorance, than which there was no­thing more unlikely and ridiculous. It must there­fore be granted to the Jews, that Gods Prophets were (though it may be not alwayes Learned in Langua­ges, Arts and Sciences &c. yet) Wise and Prudent Men: and this their Prudence dwelt with such know­ledge, as was unattainable without Revelation, and that in one or more of these three respects. Either, first, in respect of the nature of the things known, as in their Predictions of Future Contingences, (of which hereafter.) Or, secondly, in respect of the manner of their Knowledge; my meaning is, that those things which of their own nature were such as might have been known by the power of our Na­tural Abilities, were sometimes made known to the Prophets by immediate Revelation. Thus the Pro­phet Samuel knew where Sauls Asses were: and1 Sam. 9. thus Elisha knew whither his Servant Gehazi was gone, and what he did, when he followed Naaman, 2 King. 5. 26. and had overtook him. In the Nature of the Things, and the Measure of their Knowledge, th [...]re was no­thing Extraordinary, but the Things themselves be­ing remote from these Prophets, and they not being informed by any Creature concerning them, it is evi­dent, that the manner of their Knowle [...]ge, or the means whereby they attained unto it, were Superna­tural. Thirdly, the Prophets knowledge of some things was Supernatural in respect of the Measure of it; as is evident by their clearing up the Principles [Page 40] of Natural Theology: and this they have done soApol. c. 47. successfully, as that Tertullian offers to prove to the Gentiles, that not only their Poets and their Sophi­sters drank out of the Prophets Fountain, but also their Philosophers quenched the thirst of their Wit therefrom. They all were Plagiaries, and stole the choicest of their Notions from the Revelations made to the Prophets. How partial then are we in count­ing the Philosophers Wise, unless we also reckon that the Prophets did excell them in Wisdom, if not in respect of that which they themselves acqui­red, yet in respect of that which was revealed unto them. And this their Wisdom was far more excel­lent than that of the Philosophers, not only in respect of the Matter, Manner, or Measure of it, but also in respect of the Effect or Operation of it in them: and this brings me to the second thing en­quired after by the Jews in the Tryal of Prophets, [...]amely, their Strength, or Fortitude.

So Servile and Pusillanimous were the Heathen Philosophers (even Plato himself) as that for fearVid. Theo­doret. S [...]. 3▪ ad Graec. of Men they concealed Truths of greatest impor­tance. Thus may men do by acquired Knowledge, but not with Infused, at least not so easily: that which they get by Study, they may stifle, but what they have by Prophecy they can hardly conceal. Is not my Word like as Fire, saith the Lord, and like an J [...]r. 23. 29. Hammer that breaketh the Rock in pieces. The word of Proph [...]cy can hardly be imprisoned in Unrighte­ousness: the Prophets must [...]ither burn or break un­less they utter it. Hence no doubt it was, that when the Prophet Jeremiah was so passionate and petti [...]h as to say, I will not make mention of the Lord, nor speak any more in his Name; he thought (no doubt) it had b [...]n in his power to have concealed Gods Word, [Page 41] and he it seems resolved so to do; but (saith he) his word was in mine heart, as a burning Fire shut up Jer. 20. [...] in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. Such was the strength of the Prophe­tick Impression, and such the Energy of its Power in the Souls of the Prophets, as that (like a Fire burning in their bones) it would force its way out, or else consume them. This I presume was a great cause of that admirable Fortitude and Magnanimity, which made them despise the terrours of Men, and the threats of wicked Princes; neither the indocible temper of the People, nor the ruggedness of their behaviour, neither the power of Monarchs, nor the menaces of Rulers, could ever deterr them from ut­tering their Prophecies. Of this we have a pregnant instance in Moses, who, with nothing but his Staff went boldly to Pharaoh, and (notwithstanding his Power and Tyranny) undauntedly told him, the Lord God of Israel would have him to let his People go. Exod. 5. 1. And because Pharaoh hardned his heart, and would not hearken, Moses threatned him to his face, that the Waters in the River should be turned into Bloud, Exod. 7. 17. 8, 2. &c. and that all his borders should be smitten with Frogs, &c. Thus did he prevail against a mighty King, and re­trieve a whole Nation out of bondage. Nor was this Courage peculiar to the Mosaick d [...]gree of Pro­phecy, but common therewith to others: as appears by Nathan's application of his Parable to David; 2 Sam. 12. 17. 1 Kings 18. Elijah's reprehension of Ahab; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Eze­kiel, and the rest of the Prophets, most Faithful and couragious discharge of their Office: they all there­in had, and discovered such Prowess and Fortitude, such Magnanimity and nobleness of Resolution, as cannot be parallel'd by the Examples of the most heroick Teachers of Wisdom and Vertue among the [Page 42] Gentiles. That therefore in respect of this their For­titude and Courage in the Execution of their Office, the Prophets were alwayes strong, will easily be granted:

But that they were alwayes rich in respect of Worldly Wealth, may justly be denied; and since the Jews give us no reason for their confidence in Affirming it, we need give them none for our de­nying it. Yet since the Rabbies were oftentimes pleased to speak mystically in other things, it is possi­ble they did so in this; and if they did so, who knows but that the word rich may be taken in them as itEccles. 10. 6. once is in Solomon, viz. for one that is rich, not so much Money and Earthly Possessions, as in Pru­dence and Moral Vertues. Which Conjecture seems somewhat strengthened by Maimonides his Expositi­ons of the Rule now debated: for he therein makes no mention at all of Riches, but of Learning, Religion, Continence, Ʋnderstanding, and all probity of Manners. Andin Sed. Zer. elsewhere he tells us, that Prophecy falls on none but the excellently Wise, one that is able to rule his Affections, and cast off the dominion of Worldly Concupiscence; one whose Reason rules his Appetite, and is indued with De fund. Leg. cap. 7. §. 1. large and very well disposed Intellectuals. Not one word of Wealth or Worldly Riches; and is it not somewhat strange, that when he professedly Ex­pounds this Rule, he should so utterly forget the third part of its Contents, if they had so been, or he had thought them so? Surely he did not, for in another place of his Writings he tells us, that in this Rule the word Wise without doubt com­prehends Intellectual Vertues, but the words Strong and Rich import Morals; the former denotes Forti­tude, the latter Contentment: for his words are these; Gihbor [Strong] is of the Moral Vertues, viz, [Page 43] He who doth moderate and rule the Powers of his Soul according to right Reason: and this is it which they say, when they ask who is strong? and answer, he that sub­jugates his own Concupiscence. And so also Ashir [Rich] is of the Moral Vertues, viz. the vertue of a contented mind; for he that is contented with his portion, they call Rich: this is it they say, when describing a rich man they ask, who is rich? and return answer, He that re­joyceth in his own portion. i. e. He that is content with what the time present affords him, and doth not grieve at what it denies him. By all this it is veryin Pirk Aboth cap. 7. plain, that if he hath given us the true meaning of this Rule, the Jews thereby understood no more than that the Prophets were Excellent men, in re­spect both of Intellectual and Moral Vertues, especial­ly Fortitude and Contentment; and in this sense we affirm as well as they, that generally they were Strong and Rich, namely, in Vertue and Probity of Manners, in good Works and all Holiness of living, especially in Courage and Magnanimity, in Content­ment and well-pleasedness with their Condition; and we will not contradict our Authors saying, there never was any one hitherto who would have it, that God made his Divine Majesty (so he calls the Spirit of Pro­phecy)Mor. Ne­voch. p. 2. c. 32. to dwell in a wicked man: for a man of a more Excellent Spirit than he hath told us, they were holy men of God that in old time spake as they were 2 Pet. 1. 21. Jast. Mart. Dial. cum Tryph. moved by the Holy Ghost. They were blessed and just, Lovers of God, and beloved of him. And it was need ful for them so to be, for being by their Office obli­ged to pull the Motes out of the Eyes of others, it highly concerned them to have no Beams in their own: so base a thing is Vice, that it villifies the authority of Instruction, and abates the credit of Predictions by them that are Vicious; and on the [Page 44] contrary, an holy Magnanimity and Contempt of the World, accompanied with all other probity of Manners, do conciliate Authority, and facilitate Be­lief. Since then the Prophets were Men of Gods own immediate chusing, and that on purpose to pro­pagate his Holiness to others, and infuse it into them, it is more than probable that they themselves had a great share of it. Concerning these things then, (viz. Wisdom, Strength and Holiness, but especially Fortitude and Contentment) when the Jews were satisfied, they had at least some probable Arguments, that the Pretenders to Prophecy were indeed indued with it. For the Spirit of Prophecy and the Office of a Prophet, had so little of Secular advantage to allure mens Affections, and so much of likelihood to expose them to all manner of hardships, yea, per­haps to Death it self, as that it was altogether impro­bable that a Wise and Prudent man would undertake it without a Call, or Necessity laid upon him to do it: much more unlikely is it, that he should be Cou­ragious and Resolute in it, when in his Conscience he knew, he had nothing to do (and so might be put to death, and damned for medling) with it. Nor was it at all likely, that any Holy man, content and well-pleased with his Condition, should lye so horridly, and prevaricate so prodigiously in a mat­ter of this nature. If then the Pretenders to Prophe­phecy were found to be Wise, Strong, and Rich, i. e. Eminently indued both with Intellectual and Moral Vertues, especially Fortitude and Content­ment, the Jews had great reason to believe them, or at least, to proceed to some farther Tryal of them

Of Prophetick Predictions. Sect. 3.

For the performance whereof, they had yet ano­ther kind of ordinary Means, which in their esteem was most certain and demonstrative: viz. the accom­plishment of Predictions. These they enquired after, and sufficient warrant they had for so doing: for Moses having told them, that by the non-accomplish­ment of Prediction, they might know the word which Deut. 18. 21, 22. the Lord had not spoken, it was easie and Logical from thence to infer, that by the accomplishment of Pre­dictions, they might know the Prophet did not speak presumptuously. Yet forasmuch as most (if not all) Predictions were either Promises of some future Good, or Comminations of Evil to come, and the Lord had declared that the conditions of bothJ [...]r. 18. 7. to 10. were mutable, there was certainly no small difficulty in trying the truth of a Pretension to Prophecy by the success of Prediction. It seems therefore the Rabbins have taken some pains to extricate them­selves and others out of this Labyrinth. We need not take notice of their unsuccessful attempts to do it: it sufficeth us they seem all agreed in this: that the full and exact accomplishments of Predictions (whe­ther Promises or Comminations) were sure and certain signs of a Prophetick Spirit. They expected, that not so much as a tittle of what the Prophets foretold should ever fail, or fall to the ground, but that all should be fulfilled and accompli [...]hed by the Event. And this they pretend to have learned from the words of Jehu to the Rulers of Jesreel, there shall fall unto 2 Kings 10. 10. the Earth nothing of the word of the Lord. Which also, as they think the Lord himself insinuates, when he saith, the Prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a [Page 46] dream; and he that hath my Word, let him speak my Word faithfully; what is the Chaff to the Wheat, saith Jer. 23. 28. the Lord? In which words (saith M [...]im [...]nides) there are some persons reprehended for taking their Dreams to be prophetick, and divulging them for such, and themselves for Prophets: although the Lord allows them to tell their Dreams, yet he ap­proves not their doing it for Revelations: however, he that hath his Word may say that he hath so, pro­vided he do it faithfully, i. e. without Addition or Diminution: and this surely (saith the Lord) will be disc [...]rnable from Dreams: for what is the chaff to the wheat? The sense of which Question, our Au­thor saith, their Wise men have rendred to be this; That all Indications of things Future, whether by Dreams or otherwise (besides those of Prophecy) are like to Chaff: for as in that there may be some few grains of Wheat, so say they, perhaps there is in these some small measure of Truth mix'd with much more Mistake and Falshood, but Prophecy is a thing pure, having no more mixture than Wheat wellin Sed. Zer. winnowed hath with Chaff. Hereby then they di­stinguished the Predictions of Prophets from those of Sooth-sayers, Astrologers, &c. whose Prognostica­tions were very much unlike the Predictions of trueub. sup. Prophets: for of necessity (saith mine Author) they had falshood as well as truth in them: this we alwayes see, and they themselves that profess these Arts confirm it to us: because they make it matt [...]r of glory to themselves, that their Lies were not so many as anothers of the same Profession, but that any one of them should speak truth in each of his Predictions is impossible: nor indeed do the skilful therein arrogate that to themselves: for when something comes to pass, which looks but like an accom­plishment, they account th [...] Foreteller excellent, and en­roll [Page 47] him among men of illustrious Fame, whom Histories celebrate: and this is the sense of what Isaiah saith to Isa. 47. 13. Babylon: Let now the Astrologers, the Star-gazers, the Monthly Prognosticators stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Let them try if they can foretell these things, that thou mayest escape from them. The challenge implies that they cannot: and R. Albo it seems gives the reason of it: viz. becauseVid. Vorst. nat. ad Maim. de [...]und. Leg. cap. 16. Sect. 3. all such Arts (or whatsoever else some are pleased to call them) are founded in Fancy: they are Crea­tures of Imagination, that have a Being in no­thing but mens Conceits, they are founded on no demonstrable Hypotheses, and are therefore vanity; as is also abundantly demonstrated by a Learned Wri­terDr. Hen. More, My­stery of Godliness, lib. 7. c. 15, 16, 17. of our own. And truly the things from whence these Foretellers pretend to deduce their Judgments, are certainly so remote, intricate and various, as that it seems impossible for any to arrive at perfect know­ledge of them: how then is it possible for their Prognostications to be certain Predictions: they can be but Conjectures, and Conjectures we know (especially in such cases) are very often wholly false, very rarely (if ever) wholly true: but the Promises of the Prophets (saith our Author) were very much otherwise, viz. alwayes true, but never false: it cannot be found throughout all Ages, that ever any thing, either much or little of the Word of the Lord by the Prophets, (unless the Conditions were altered) ever yet fell to the ground. But theibid. Predictions of Gods Prophets were fully answered by the Event: and thereby the Jews knew that they were indued with the Spirit of Prophecy, be­cause such certain fore-knowledge of Future Con­tingences was no way attainable without it; and for this cause ('tis like it was, that) among all the or­dinary [Page 48] means of trying Prophets, this was account­ed the most demonstrative.

Of Miracles. Sect. 4.

But besides these Ordinary, the Jews had some Extraordinary means of discerning the truth of mens Pretensions to the Spirit of Prophecy, viz. Mi­racles. Not only the Vulgar, but more than a few of the Better sort among the Jews, w [...]re of opinion, they were not to believe any Pretender to Prophecy, till he had done a Miracle, equal to some of those of Moses, or had disturbed the ordinary course of Na­ture, as Elijah did in raising the Widows Son: butIn Sed. Zer. this rule (saith Maimonides) hath nothing of truth in it. And indeed we are apt to think it hath not much: the reason is, because the Order of Prophets was at first founded by Miracles: for evident it is, that Moses (the first of that Order) was indued with a power of working Miracles, on purpose toExod. 4. 1. to 9. convince the Children of Israel, that the Lord God of their Fathers had appeared unto him. Yet that great R. Maimonides (out of design, I suppose, to dero­gate from the belief of Chri [...]tianity) was not asha­medDe fund. Leg. cap. 8. s. 1. to say, The Israelites did not believe Moses our Master, because of the Miracles he wrought. And else­where he tells us, that, Elias, Elisha, and the rest of the Prophets, did not their Miracles to confirm th [...]ir in Sed. Zer. Prophecies, but to supply their own and others necessity. But it seems at another time he was of another mind: for he expresly affirms, that a Prophet may be sent to the common People, or to the Inhabitants of a City or Kingdom, to prepare, and warn them what shall be done unto them, or to dehort them from the wicked works that are in their hands: but when God so sends him, [Page 49] He gives him a Sign or a Wonder, that the People De fund. Leg. c. 7. §. 11. may know God hath truly sent him. And in the next Section he saith, But we believe not every one that shews a Sign, or doth a Miracle, to be a Prophet, un­less from the beginning we have known him to be sit for Prophecy, that in his Wisdome and his Works he hath excelled his Contemporaries, and hath walked in the wayes of Prophecy, in Holiness and separation from others: then if such an one should come, and do a Sign or a Wond [...]r, and should s [...]y that God had sent him, then it is commanded that we should hear him, as it is said, ye shall hear him. These his conc [...]ssions (al­thoughDeut. 18. 15. they speak him somewhat unconstant to him­self, yet) we have no great reason to thank him for, because the evidence of Truth in Holy Scrip­ture did extort them from him. Thus the Prophet that was sent to Bethel gave them a Sign, that his word was what the Lord had spoken. Thus in the1 Kin. 13. 3. Fire-ordeal tryal between Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, Elijah obtained Fire to fall upon the Sacrifice1 Kin. 18. 2 King. 2. 14. and consume it. Thus also Elisha, to demonstrate his calling to succeed Elijah, divides the Waters of Jor­dan with Elijah's mantle: by which Examples we learn, that though among the Jews the ordinary Tryal of Prophets was made by Predictions, yet in some cases extraordinary, they were by Miracles to make proof of their Mission to teach, and do what they did.


CHAP. IV. The Application of the fore-going Discourse to Christ and his Apostles.

Sect. 1.

HAving thus cleared the Ground, and laid the Foundation, We are next to erect the Super­structure; i. e. to shew, that by all these means of Probation, viz. both by the probable and demonstra­tive Arguments, both Ordinary and Extraordinary, it may be proved, that Christ and his Apostles were Prophets. We are to take them as they lye in order, and so to begin with the Conditions, whereon, among the Jews, Pretenders to Prophecy were ad­mitted to a Tryal.

By what we have already discussed out of Maimo­nides, it appears, that Pretenders to Prophecy (even in the Name of the Lord) were not admitted to a Tryal, but upon condition of conformity to the Law of Moses: they were in no point allowed to teach a perpetual variation from it, unless they gave as great or greater Evidence of Gods intention by them to change it, as Moses at first did to establish it. Whe­ther or no Christ and his Apostles on the account hereof were justly denied the benefit of a fair Tryal, we our selves may perceive by these following Ob­servations.

1. There are two things considerable in the Law of Moses, viz. the External, and the Internal parts of of it. The former is the Letter, or the Words wh [...]re­in it is expressed; the latter is the Sense and Mean­ing, [Page 51] the Scope, Design, and End of it: the one is the Shell, the other the Kernel: in respect of the one, it was Civil or Positive; in respect of the other, Natural. As Positive, it could oblige only that Peo­ple to whom it was given: and therefore the literal Observation of it among the Gen [...]iles, was no way ne­cessary; nor was it so esteemed by the Jews' th [...]m­selves, as appears by the Proselytes of their Gates, who were neither circumcised, nor did they conform to the Rites and Ordinances of that Law, according to the letter of it: the seven Precepts of No [...]h w [...]re thought sufficient for them, they w [...]re oblig [...]d to no more. If th [...]n Christ and his Apostles in posed no more than these upon the Gentiles, and disswaded not the Jews from literal Obedience to the Law of Mo­ses, they could not be judged false Prophets, on the account of subverting it. Next then observe,

2. That Christ and his Apostles were so far from d [...]troying the Law, as that they did most excellent­ly fulfill and establish it among the Gentiles, as to the Sense and Meaning, the Scope, Design, and End of it. What was natural in the Law (saith Irenaeus) Lib. 4. c. 27. the Lord bath extended and fulfilled. And again, All the Natural Precepts are common to us with them (viz. the Jews) among them they had their beginning, and their rise, among us they receive their increase and ad­impletion: so that the whole Law, as to the End and Design of it, if that be Moral and purely Natural) is not only not Abolish'd, but Extended and Impro­ved by the Doctrine of Christ among us Gentiles. In order to the demonstration hereof, it will not be a­miss to observe out of M [...]imonides, That the general intention of the Law is a double [...], or Well-being Mor. [...] ­ [...]och p. 3. viz. of the Body and of t [...]e Soul: all and every of the Precepts tends either to the one or to the other: to de­monstrate cap. 23. [Page 52] the truth whereof, he reduceth the Preceptscap. 35. of their whole Law to 14 Classes, and then ren­ders the r [...]asons of each one distinctly: by which ac­count of his we shall find, that the designed end ofa Class. 1. b Class. 9. c Class. 8. 10, 11, 12. d Cl. 2. e Cl. 14. f Cl. 3. 13. g Cl. 4. h Cl. 7. i Cl. 6. the whole Law was, to teach sound Doctrine, a to establish Religion, both the inward Grace, b and the outward Exercise of it, c and together herewith, a great part of its design was to cohibit Idolatry, d to extirpate Vice, e to promote Vertue, f especially Cha­rity g and Justice, both commutative h and distribu­tive i. By the promotion of these things, it taught and directed men towards the attainment of that [...], or Well-being both of Body and Soul, where­unto it was ultimately designed and intended. Now wh [...]th [...]r or no Christ and his Apostles did not at least pretend by the same means to direct men to the obtainment of the same end? I dare leave to any ingenuous J [...]w to judge. I am confidently perswa­ded that whoever doth impartially consider the na­ture of their Doctrine, and the excellency of their Precepts, will think it reasonable to conclude, that the Gospel of Christ doth establish the Law of Moses, as to the Scope and End of it but now mentioned. For the foundations of that Law, or the Articles of the Jewish Faith (according to Abravanels recension of them) are thirteen in number, viz. the Existence and Unity, the Spirituality, Eternity, and Omni­sci [...]nce of God; that He only is to be worshipped; the Being of Prophecy, and the Excellency of the Prophecy of Moses; that his Law was from Heaven, and was never to be extirpated; Gods future Judg­ment; the dayes of the Messias, and the Resurrection ofDe cap. Fid. cap. 1. the Dead. Now manifest it is, that the Being and At­tributes of God, that He only is to be worshipped, his f [...]ture Judgm [...]nt, the dayes of the Messiah, and the [Page 53] Resurrection of the Dead, are more clearly revealed by the Gospel than they were by the Law: yea, the Being of Prophecy and the Precedence of Moses to all the other Prophets, the descent of his Law from Hea­ven, and its non-extirpation, as to the End and Scope of it, are at least as plainly asserted by Christ and his Apostles, as ever they were by Moses or the succeeding Prophets: the Jews therefore could not deny but that they taught sound Doctrine. And then for the Religion that they have establish [...]d among us, it apparently is (as one saith) An ex­cellent Hi [...]rony­mus O [...]ori­us de Reg. Instit. 1. 6. c. 238. endowment of mind, continually flourishing from due Piety towards God, with an ardent study of the Eternal Beauty, and an imitation of it. And this it is, not only in the Inward Operations, but also in the Outward Exercise of it; for the Christian Worship of God tends to nothing so much as his Glory, by making us like unto him. It consists not in Mystical Oblations, Sacrifices, and Purifications, but in Direct and strenuous Striving after that Holiness and Purity which, perhaps, was shadowed thereby: that pure and Spiritual Devotion, which was hardly discerna­ble in the Carnal Ordinances of the Law, is openly and clearly proposed unto us by the Institutions of the Gospel: insomuch that among Christians, there are hardly any▪ so ignorant as not to know, they ought to pursue it in all the parts of Divine Worship. And together herewith, it doth not only (as the Law) re­strain men from Idolatry, but it utterly destroyes it. And what can be more effectual to extirpate Vice and promote Vertue than such a Religion? And besides that, the Gospel gives us the severest Precepts and strongest Motives that can be, to avoid all Vice and Wickedness of Living, and to follow Holiness in all manner of Conversation: and above all things, it [Page 54] asserts the highest necessity of Charity, which will certainly uphold Justice and Equity, and indeed the most elevated Vertue of all sorts. Apparent therefore it is, that the Gospel doth most highly establish the Law, as to the general Intention of it, viz. the [...], or Well-being both of the Souls and Bodies of men, in their respective Societies. What then, though Christ and his Apostles were not so zealous for Obe­dience to the letter of the Law, as to the End and Scope of it? Were they therefore transgr [...]ssours of the Law? No, surely; for they therein had the Ex­ample of the Prophets to warrant them in so being: sor which of them was there, that had not more re­gard to the Sense and Meaning than to the Letter of the Law of M [...]s [...]s? How severely did they reprehend the Moral Vices forbidden, and constantly inculcate the Duties of Morality that lay hidden under it? yea, so contemptuously did they seem to speak of obedi­ [...]nce to the Letter, without conformity to the Scope of it, as would even tempt one to think it was a part of their Office to contradict and null the Law of Moses. An instance of this we have in Isaiah, who brings in the Lord thus speaking to his formal Peo­ple;I [...]. 1. 11, 12, 13, 14. To what purpose is the multitude of your Sacrisices unto me? I am full of the burnt-offerings of Rams, and the fat of s [...]d Beasts, and I delight not in the blood of Bullocks▪ or os Lambs, or of He-goats. When you come to app [...]ar b [...]fore me, who [...]th required this at y [...]ur b [...]nd to tre [...]d my Courts? Bring no more vain ob­l [...]tions, Incense is an abomination unto me, the new Moons and Sabbaths, the calling of Assembli [...]s I cannot away with, it is iniquity, even the Solemn meeting. Your new Moons, and your app [...]inted Fe [...]sts my Soul hateth, they a [...]e a trouble to me, I am weary to bear them. And elsewhere, (to express his detestation of their for­mal [Page 55] hypocrisie) he tells them, He that killeth an Ox, is as if he slew a Man: he that sacrificeth a Lamb, as if he cut off a Dogs neck: he that offereth an Oblati­on, as if he offered Swines blood: he that burneth In­cense, as if he blessed an Idol. But why so? Were notIsa. 66. 3. Sacrifices and Burnt-offerings, Oblations and Incense, the New Moons and Sabbaths, the calling of Assem­blies and Solemn meetings, some of Gods own Ordi­nances in the Law of Moses? Yes: but whence then was it that they were thus abominable and loathsom? Why it arose from the Peoples neglect of, and disre­spect to the End and Scope of those Precepts: they, 'tis true, conformed themselves to the Letter of the Law, but regarded not that real Holiness and Moral Goodness whereunto it tended. Thence it was, that not only Isaiah, but others also of the Prophets re­provedJer. 7. 4. them, as a Nation that did not rightcousness, but forsook the Ordinance of their God; even while they sought him daily, and delighted to know his wayes: even while they asked of him the Ordinan­ces of Justice, and took delight in approaching toIsa. 58. 2. God; yet even then, when they seemed to be most obedient, because they neglected the Scope of the Law, they chose their own wayes, and their Soul delight­ed Isa. 66. 3. in their abominations. And the Prophets we see did as sharply reprove them for it, as if they had had no respect at all to the Law of their God among them: whence 'tis plain, that they did prefer Obe­dience to the Intention of the Law, far before that to the Letter of it: the latter they looked on as a thing of no value, yea, detestable and odious, without the former. If then Christ and his Apostles did so like­wise, they were not for that cause worthy of Reje­ction, but rather of all Acceptation, because they thereby gave evidence of a truly Prophetick Spirit in [Page 56] them; by making the Scope of the Law the Rule and Standard of their Doctrine, they did most excel­lently ful [...]ill it: and by so doing they cast a greater honour upon Moses and his Law, than ev [...]r they re­ceived from the greatest Bigots among the Jews: for the Fame of the one, and the Worth of the other is hereby p [...]pagated to all Nations. How rash then and ignorant was their Zeal? how absurd the fierce­ness of their Devotion in rejecting them? especially considering

3. That as the Prophets of old, so Christ and his Apostles were strict Observers of the Law, even ac­cording to the Letter of it: they were not only circumcised the eighth day, but in their Lives they discharged the Obligations of their Circumcision by their literal Observance of the whole Law, as well the Statutes as the Judgments of it, i. e. those Precepts whose Reasons were not vulgarly known, as well as those that wereVid. Mai­mon M [...]r. Nevo [...], p. 3. c. 26.. So that, touching the Righteousness which is in the Law, they were as blameless as any other Jews whatever: yea, though they did not put the necks of the Gentiles under the yoke of Literal obedience to the Law of Moses, yet they never taught the Jews to withdraw theirs, but rather to keep them under, and submit unto it: for Jesus spake to the multitude, and to his Dis­ciples, saying, the Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Mos [...]s seat: all therefore whatsoever th [...]y bid you observe, that Mat. 23. 1, 2, 3. observe and do. Nor did the Apostles ever teach them otherwise: 'tis true indeed, it was once reported of St. Paul, that he taught [...]he Jews which were among the Gentiles, to forsake Moses, saying, that they ought not to Circumcise t [...]eir Children, neither to walk after t [...]e Customs: the rest of the Apostles and Elders were so concerned at this News, as that (to wipe off the [Page 57] scandal) they advised him by all means to purifie himself with four men that had the Nazarites vowNumb. 6. 13, 14, 15 upon them, and to be at charges with them to pro­vide such Sacrifices for them as the Law prescribed: this they would have him to do, that all might know, that those things, whereof they were informed concerning [...]im, were nothing, but that he himself also walked or­derly and kept the Law. Thus careful were they,Act. 21. 23, 24. that they th [...]mselves and others should keep the Law, and give none offence by breaking it. 'Tis true in­deed, as touching the Gentiles which believed they wrote and concluded, they were obliged to observe no such thing. Nor had the Jews any reason to take it ill that they did so: for Christ and they gave as great or greater evidence of Gods intention to ac­cept the Gentiles without the Law, as ever Moses gave of his Purpose to guide the Jews to Salvation by the Law. That so they did is manifest by their Mi­racles, which were so far fro [...] being inferiour to those of Moses as that they did f [...] [...]xceed them both in Number and Nature as we [...] see hereafter. And if so, then thereby evident it was, that they gave far greater Evidence of their Mission from God than Moses did of his. How unreasonable than was it in the Jews to deny them Audience? How brutish to reject them, and barbarous to kill them, for I know not what non-conformity to their Law. Whereof (by what we have [...] it ap­pears) they were only supposed, and that very fal [...]ly to be guilty: they were so far from making void the Law, as that they fulfilled it, and that both accor­ding to the intention and the letter of it. And this they constantly did by their Doctrine as well as Pra­ctice, and therefore they deserved not to have been rejected as false Prophets, but to be received as true; [Page 58] which will yet farther appear, if we consider the Antecedents or Concomitants of a Prophetick Spi­rit. The first whereof is

Wisdom. Sect. 2.

And these we have already granted were Wisdom, Fortitude, and Probity of Manners, especially Content­ment. The Method proposed leads me to begin with the first of these, viz. Wisdom: which being an intelle­ctual Virtue is without doubt (in the preceeding rule of the Rabbins) put to signifie those excellent endowments of mind, whereof the Prophets usually were Partakers: and these 'tis confessed were some­times those useful Ornaments of Arts and Sciences, but more frequently if not alwayes those of Intelli­gence and Prudence, somewhat above the ordinary rate of others: the Spirit of Prophecy seldom or ne­ver rested on any, but those whose minds were very capable of first principles, and able to guide their actions with Judgment and Discretion.

Now that Christ and his Apostles were so, is a thing whereof it seems needless to make proof: be­cause among all the Enemies of Christianity I can find none that ever had the Impudence to say that its Founders were Fools: but rather they acknowledg, it is such a cunningly devised Fable or so subtil a Contrivance as that they are forced to confess, the Authors of it were men of excellent Intellectuals: E­ven Atheists themselves by saying that our Religion is an humane Invention (allowed of and defended by Princes) to keep men in Subjection, do declare plain­ly, that its Authors or first Founders (who in all ap­pearance were Christ and his Apostles) were men of no shallow apprehension, but rather of deep judgment [Page 59] and profound Ratiocination. The whole Christian World must be thought to consist of these Fools, if those that have given these Laws to it, were not wise. Yet evident it is, whoever saith so, deserves to be reckoned one of that number or worse. However it see [...]s the first Opponents of Christ and his Apo­stl [...]s (although they were extreamly malicious, yet) were not so far transported with the madness of Pride, as to say any such thing of them; but contrariwise they admired and marvelled at them: insomuch that not only the People were astonished at the DoctrineMat. 22. 33. Matt. 13. 54. Luk. 2. 47. of Christ, and his country-men at his Wisdom; but also the very Doctors themselves at his Understan­dings and Answers, when he was but twelve year old; and afterwards being come to Maturity never man spake like this man. Insomuch that the wickedJoh. 7. 46. Hearts of many among them prompted them to think he had a Devil, but others said (and gave a good rea­sonJoh. 10. 20. v. 21. for it too) that his were not the words of one that had a devil, if we lay both togeth [...]r we may from thence gather, that his discourse was extraordinary, so far above the pitch of the hearers, as that it gave Evidence of transcendent Wisdom in the Speaker. Which also in some measure discovered it self in his Apostles; for the Elders of Israel marvelled, and Sergi­us Act. 4. 13. Act. 13. 12. Paulus (a prudent man) was astonished, at what they heard from them: and wise men we know use not to admire and marvel at the Rhapsodies of Fools: if therefore the People or yet their Rulers were wise, it must be concluded, that Christ and his Apostles were such, because (in despite of Malice) they were forced to admire them for so being. But in this point the confessions of our modern Scoffers have given me a Supersedeas from the trouble of saying any more: for though they will sometimes shoot their [Page 60] bolts at some Parts of our Religion, divided from the rest; yet they dare not say but that the Whole is so consistent with it self and subservient to the End whereunto they say it is designed, as that th [...]y pre­sume to disgrace it only with slie Insinuations that it savours more of Subtilty and Guile than of Hone­sty; of Craft and Cunning, than of the thing called Conscience. Were this as great a Truth as it is a Slaunder, yet this might we learn from it, namely that the Author of our Faith and Founders of our Religion were very intelligent Persons, men so far from Defects in their Understandings, as that they had very large Intellectuals and comprehensive Capa­cities: can Naturals befool the World and make it dance after their Pipe? no surely: it must therefore be concluded that Christ and his Apostles were men of Parts and Prudence; of Profound Judgment and deep Intentions. And in that Respect they were such as the preceeding Rule of the Rabbins style Wise.

But this sort of Wisdom (not being peculiar to Prophets) was not I suppose so much inquired after in the Trial of those that pretended to the gift of Prophecy as that that was supernatural; namely, that Knowledg which without Revelation was ut­terly unattainable, and that in respect either of the Matter, Manner, or Measure of it. That Knowledg ledg or Wisdom which in one or other of these re­spects was supernatural, was I think, principally enqui­red after in the Trial of Pretenders to Prophecy: the Reason of this my Conjecture is, not only be­cause the Nature of the thing requires that it should be so, but because the contumelious carriage of the Jews towards our blessed Saviour seems to intimate that it was so: for when they had blind-folded him, [Page 61] they stroke him on the face and asked him, saying, Prophe­sie, who is it that smote thee. It seems far more probableLuk. 22. 64. to me, that this their usage of Christ should referr to a Custom of their own, rather than to a sport called [...] amongst the Grecian Children, or Blind-mans­buff among our own: if this sport were of use among the Jews also, yet I do not think their Malice was then so gamesome and childish; it seems a more so­lemn jeer, allusive to some Custom or Enquiry that wont to be made in the Trial of Prophets: and if so it were, then is it most probable, that in this affair, the Jews required evidence of some supernatural Knowledg in him that pretended to the Spirit of Pro­phecy. and such Knowledg as this we have alrea­dy observed the old Prophets had, in respect either of the Matter, Manner, or Measure of their Knowledg; and that Christ and his Apostles had so as well as they, is the thing which we are now to demon­strate.

Fore-knowledge of future Contingencies, the Jews very justly held to be Supernatural, in respect of the Matter of it. That Christ and his Apostles were endued therewith, will hereafter appear by the ac­count we are to give of their Predictions: at present therefore I shall wave that, and observe, that they, as well as the Prophets before them, had a sort of know­ledge which was truly Supernatural, in respect of the Manner of it; i. e. those things which of their own nature were such as might have been known by the power of mens Natural Faculties, were sometimes made known to them by immediate Revelation, as appears not only by Jesus his knowledge of Natha­neel, Joh. 1. 47, 48. Joh. 2. 24. Act. 5. and of all other men, but also by the Discovery which the Apostles made of Ananias and Sapphira's sacriledge. Neither in the Nature of the thing known, [Page 62] nor yet in the Measure of their Knowledg, does there seem any thing extraordinary; yet not being informed concerning it, 'tis evident the manner of their Knowledg, or the means whereby they attained to it, were Supernatural; they received it by Inspi­ration or Revelation of the Spirit; and that's thev. 3. v. 4. reason why St. Peter told Ananias, that he had not lied unto Men, but to the Holy Ghost: i. e. to God himself. But of this I shall say no more, because I would here speak somewhat largely of the third sort of Superna­tural Knowledg, viz. that that is so in respect of its Degree or Measure.

The Spirit of Prophecy did not only Reveal those things, all knowledge whereof was utterly unattain­able by the Light of Nature; but moreover, it did oft-times illustrate those things whereof men had some obscure Conceptions without it. Thus the Being and Attributes of God, although they may in some measure be understood by the things that are made, yet much more clearly by those that are Re­vealed. Now that Knowledge which doth clear up and elucidate the Principles of Natural Theology, beyond the possibility of Study and Industry, is that which I mean by Divine and Supernatural Knowledge, in respect of its Degree or measure: and this is that Knowledge which ought in all reason among the Jews to have been honoured with the name of Wis­dom: if they were so prodigal of that honourableDrus. prae­tor. in 2 Pet. 1. 16. Title, as to bestow it on the puny Arts of Arithme­tick, Astrology, and the like, in Justice, methinks, they ought much rather to have given it to Theolo­gy: and so indeed we find that they did; for amongHottin. Thesaur. Phil. c. 2. §. 1. them it was better known almost by no name than that of Divine Wisdome. And well might it be so called, because not only the Object, but also the [Page 63] Teachers of it were Divine; for they were the Men of God, or the Prophets from whom they first learned it. Probable therefore it is, that in the Trial of Pre­tenders to the Gift of Prophecy, especial s [...]arch was made after this Wisdom: and for this cause it will now be my business to enquire, whether or no on the account of this Wisdom, Christ and his Apostles were not worthy to be thought wise? this Question 'tis true was denyed by many in the dayes of their Flesh, and seems hardly believed by more than a few now in ours; and among those that affirm▪ it in their words, there are many that deny it in their deeds, as if there were Wisdom in the Profession, but Foolishness in the Practice of our Religion. I fear therefore it will be no needless or unseasonable [...] to demonstrate their superlative Wisdom in this kind. Which it seems was so transcendent, as that Justine Martyr after all his hard Study and Tra­vel in almost all sorts of humane Learning found Christianity to be the only sure and useful Philosophy. Dyal. cum Try. We cannot except against his Judgment, as that of a Party, because this was his Experience before his Conversion: yet because those that are wise in their own eyes will not see with his, we shall submit our cause to a Tryal at the bar of its Adversaries, Jews and Heathens.

The Jews we know rested in the Law, and made their boast of God, that they knew his Will, and appro­ved the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the Law: on this account they were confident, that they were Guides of the Blind, Lights of them which are in Darkness, Instructers of the Foolish, and Teachers Rom. 2. of Babes. And although their Theology was grie­vously corrupted by their Traditions, yet those that were Learned in their Law, were on that account so [Page 64] Conceited and Insolent, as that they did almost wholly ingross the name of Wise men to themselves: this they did with such a matchle [...]s Pride and Con­tempt of others, as would even tempt one to think that (at least in their opinion) there was [...]arce any Wisdom in any thing but Theology. Methinks then (if they had understood it) they could not have been so disingenuously partial, as to have denied the title of Wisdom to Christianity: the reason is, be­cause it is a sort of Theology far more excellent than their own, and that in a three-fold reference; namely, to our Faith, our Hope, and our Practice. For,

The Object of Faith is more clearly revealed by Christ and his Apostles, than by Moses and the Pro­phets: For very evident it is, that not only the Tri­nity of Persons in the Unity of the Divine Essence, the Person and Office of the Messiah, are more fully discovered, but also the very Attributes of God are most auspiciously asserted and illustrated by the Do­ctrine of the Gospel. No man hath seen God at any Joh. 1. 18. time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosome of the Father, he hath declared him. Our minds may ap­prehend God, but our eyes cannot see him: We can therefore have no knowledge of him, but by Ratio­cination or Revelation: the former we have by the Light of Nature, the latter by the Spirit of Prophecy; which surely is apt and able to advance our know­ledge, above the highest pitch of meer Nature: for to that end (among the Jews) it spake by the Pro­phets, and after them by Christ and his Apostles: for they have blessed the World with the greatest Il­lustrationVorst. ad Maim. de fund. Leg. c. 6. not. 5. that ever yet was made of the Divine At­tributes; which (it seems, according to the Jews) are distinguished into two sorts, viz. Fundamental [Page 65] and Practical: the former are those whose foundation is laid in the very Essence of God it self, such as Power, Wisdom, Holiness, &c. the latter are such as have relation and reference to the Works of God, in and about his Creatures, such as Mercy, Goodness, Truth, &c. Whether this Distinction be Orthodox and Adaequate, I will not now enquire: but sure I am, that Divine Attributes of both sorts are most evidently illustrated by the Gospel: for its Doctrine doth not only teach us to b [...]lieve that God is Pow­erful, Wise and Holy, Merciful, Just and true; but the Work of Redemption (therein made known) doth demonstrate that he is so. Where can we find so magnificent a demonstration of infinite Power and Wisdom, as in the Incarnation of the Son of God, and his Resurrection from the Dead? wherein are Gods Holiness and Mercy, his Justice and Goodness so conspicuous, as in the Death and Sufferings of Christ? and where do Divine Truth and Veracity shine so brightly as in the Completion of Prophecies in and by our Saviour, from his Birth to his Burial, yea, from his Conception to his Ascension? It seems then the Object of Faith (as to the greatest part of it) is not only more clearly revealed by Christ and his Apostles, than by Moses and the Prophets, but also that part thereof wherein they were most di­stinct and clear, is illustriously demonstrated by the Gospel.

Nor have they therein provided worse for our Hope than they have for our Faith; but as in the Object of that, so also of this, the Gospel far excels the Divinity of the Jews; for their Master Moses in the Institution of their Religion, either promised them nothing beyond the good things of this Life, or if he did, it was covered with such Clouds, and [Page 66] wrapp'd up in such Obscurity, as that none but the most piercing eyes could see it. Thence it was, thatVid. Grot. de verit. Rel Christ. lib. 2. §. 9. a great and learned part of his followers (viz. the Sadduces) did reject all hope of any good after this Life was ended. But the Founders of our Faith ob­tained a more Excellent Ministry, in that they preach­ed and made known a better Covenant, established upon better Promises; for Life and Immortality are 2 Tim. 1. 10. brought to light through the Gospel: they are thereby so clearly revealed, as that among those who be­lieve that, there can be no doubt of them. As all the lesser Rivers of the Earth do at length empty themselves into the Sea, so all the other Promises of the Gospel (although exceeding great and pre­cious, yet) do bend their course towards the Oce­an of Immortal Glory in the World to come: even those that concern this Life, teach us to look beyond it. We are indeed assured, that all these things shall be added to us, but 'tis upon condition, that we seek Mat. 6. 33. first the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness. Our Temporal Interests and Eternal Glory, the Wisdom and Goodness of the Gospel have so twisted toge­ther, as we best mind the one by seeking the other. And indeed, the Gospel doth Strengthen our hopes of Salvation as well as Raise them: for it shews us an inestimable Price paid for it, and assures us that (if we are not wanting to our selves) we shall be raised up unto it, and by Eternal Judgment bidden to take possession of it. And forasmuch as in this Life we are at a Distance from it, the Gospel hath given us Tokens and Pledges to assure us of it. To De coen. Dom. this end (saith St. Bernard) were the Sacraments or­dained, viz. that the Invisible Grace of our Lord might be assured by some Visible Sign unto us. Hence no doubt it was, that one of the most Ancient Fathers called [Page 67] the Eucharist the Physick, another the Food of Immor­tality: Ignat. ad Ephes. Cypr. de coen. because they thought it apt to purge out De­spair, and to cherish our Hopes of Eternal Life. And what so good as Life? and what Life so long as that that is eternal? and what Eternity so desireable as that in the Kingdom of Glory? yet this hath the Gospel most clearly revealed, and firmly promised to us.

And in order to the obtainment thereof, Christ and his Apostles have given us far better Rules than any among the Jews, for the guidance of our Lives and Actions. Besides the Moral Law, Moses we know required obedi [...]nce to a great number of positive Precepts, enjoyning such things as were not good in themselves, but barely because they were Command­ed, or else for some other Reason wholly extrinsick to Moral Goodness, (as we have already seen by Maimonides his account of the first End and intention, the Causes and Reasons of their Law) and these po­sitivep. 39. Precepts were so exceeding burdensome and uneasie, as that St. Peter calls them a Yoke which nei­ther Act. 15. 10. our Fathers nor we were able to bear. Let not the Jews be offended, that one of our Apostles gives their Law no better Language; for a Learned Rabbi of their own hath said as much or more, viz. that the written Law which God gave to Moses, and Moses to the Israelites from Mount Sinai, is both obscure and diffi­cult: first, because it speaks Contradictions, and secondly, because it is imperfect. 'Tis well he was a Jew, and aR. M Mik­kotzi ap. Buxtorf. de Syn. Jud. c. 1. Rabbi too; had he been a Christian, 'tis like they would have accused him of Blasphemy, and perhaps justly: for what greater Disparagement can easily be cast upon Divine Wisdom, than to say it speaks Contradictions? To that therefore we cannot assent, but to the Imperfection of the Law we may, because [Page 68] a man of a more Excellent Spirit than he hathHeb. 10. 7. taught us, that it could never make the comers there­unto Heb. 7. 9. perfect, yea, that it made nothing perfect: but also because the Jews themselves insinuate as much by their zeal for Traditions; all which derive their Au­thority from that one before-mentioned, viz. the pre­tended Exposition which they say God gave of his Law to Moses, that from him by Oral Tradition it might be transmitted to Posterity. The pretence of this fictitious Exposition was founded in Necessity, and this Necessity in the Obscurity and Imperfection of the Law without it: which (they say) are so great, as that without the Oral Law, the whole Writ­ten Law would be in the dark: for many things (they tell us) there are in the Scripture so repugnant each to other, as that we can neither depend upon, or reconcile Vid. Mai­mon in Sed. Zer. Hotting. The. Phil. lib. 2. c. 3. § 3. Buxt. Syn. Jud. cap. 1. them, without the Oral Law which Moses received from Sinai. It seems then, for the Guidance of their Lives and Actions, the Jews had a vast number of External Directions; for (as was before observed) the Pre­cepts of the Written Law were no fewer than 613. concerning each one whereof (as to the manner of its performances &c.) it is not unlikely that their pretended Exposition contained divers particular Ca­nons: and so it seems it did, for they say, that Moses in his sorrow utterly forgot no less than three thousand of Josh. 15. 17. Vid. Vorst. ad Mai. de fun. Leg. cap. 9. not. 13. these Constitutions; but afterwards Othniel the Son of Kenaz by the sharpness of his wit, retrieved seventeen hun­dred of them: and these all (and it may be as many more) were no less to be regarded than the Written Law it self: because (as they say) of equal Autho­rity therewith. Was it not then an uneasie Yoke, and an heavy burden that they lived under? how could it be other? for it was as hard to learn and remember their Rules of Living, as it was to live by [Page 69] the Essential Rules of Holiness: and yet when they had done all, they did but escape the Vices, especially the Idolatries of the Gentiles, or at best, prepare them­selves for some higher enjoyments in the time of the Messias, for the Law was a School-master to b [...]ing men Gal. 3. 24▪ to Christ. Churches and Kingdomes as well as Men have their distinct Ages: that of the Jews under the Law was but a sort of Childhood, a time of Mino­rity; to this Imperfect State the Temporary or Im­perfect Authority of a School-master or Guardian was most fitly proportion'd: this Office the Law did them, for it restrained them from the more grie­vous Vices of the Gentiles, and gave them some little knowledge of Christ; and by so doing, it did pre­pare them for his sublimer Truths, and more eleva­ted Rules of Holy living: which are chiefly compri­sed in the Precepts of the Moral Law, according to his Interpretation of it. The Excellency of which Law appears by the matter about which it is conver­sant, viz. those things which are Good or Evil in themselves; namely, those wherein the Image of God doth consist, and those that are repugnant to it. Since the [...]efore God made Man after his own Image, there can be no Law so Excellent as this, in respect either of its Agreeableness to the Reason of Man, or its Subservience to the Glory of God. What so Rational as to preserve the glory of our Nature, viz. the Image of God in us? And how can we Glorifie God so much as by strenuous Endeavours to resemble him? Thou shalt not honour God (saith Hierocles) by giving any thing unto him, but by ma­king In Aur. C [...]r. thy self fit to receive from him: for the Pythagore­ans say, thou shalt best honour God, when thou makest thy mind like unto him. If so, it is evident, there can be no Law so subservient to the Glory of God as [Page 70] the Moral Law is, and consequently none so Good and Excellent as that is, because none so apt to pro­mote the Supreme End of all Laws whatever, viz. the Glory of the Law-giver, and the Good of the Subjects.

Yet so brutishly wicked were the Jewish Rabbies, as that they made it void, and of none effect: not only its Precepts were neglected and slighted, in comparison with their Ceremonial Performances, but its very Native Sense and Meaning were almost wholly Clouded and Eclipsed by their false Glosses, vain Interpretations and Traditions: wherefore one end of Christ his coming into the World, it seemsMat. [...]. 17. was, to [...]ulsill the Law. i. e. not only to do, but also to teach and declare what the Law required. Wh [...]t w [...]s natural in the Law (as was before observed out of Iren [...]eus) the Lord bath not only destroyed, but also ex­tended and [...]illed up. Those that desire to know where­in this Extension, or Adimpletion of the Law doth con [...]ist, may learn it from the same Father, who tellsLib. 4. [...]. 27. us, 'tis in r [...]quiring abstinence, not only from all evil Works, but also from the very D [...]sire of them. It seems then, the Moral Law (as it is now constituted the Rule of our Obedience) is so Pure and Spiritual, as that it reacheth the Faculties of our Souls as well as the Works, Words, and Gestures of our B [...]dies; s [...]rictly forbidding the Thoughts or Assent of our Minds, and the very feeblest In [...]linations of our Wills and Affections to Sin, as well as the outward Perpetrations of it. And how much this exceeds the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, i. e. of the s [...]rictest Professors among the Jews, our SaviourMat. 5. himself hath d [...]monstrated in divers instances. The Prohibition of Murder, they restrained to Sheddingv. 31. 33. of Blood, but Chris [...] [...]xtended even to immode­rate [Page 71] Anger: that of Adultery, they restrained to the External commission of Folly, but Christ extended even to the very eructation of Concupiscence: the Pro­hibitionv. 27, 28. of taking Gods Name in vain, they restrained to Perjury, but Christ extended to all manner of Vain and False Swearing, &c. There is therefore no­thingv. 33. 34. more evident, than that the Moral Law (as established by the Gospel) is far more Pure and Spi­ritual, more Extended and Comprehensive than it was, as expounded by the Jewish Traditions and Rabbies: and indeed they did rather Explode the Law than Expound it. For if the Being of Sin con­sists in Consent (as it apparently doth in most cases) a man might be guilty almost of all Sins, and yet (according to Them) be no Sinner, because no Transgressor of the Law, according to their Exposi­tion of it. But as Christ hath now restored it to its primitive Sense and Meaning, it is (we see) so transcendently Holy, and immaculately Pure, as that the Wayes of our H [...]arts, as well as Works of our Hands, and Words of our Mouths, are, or may be Unclean and Impure before it. This then is the Prime Rule of our Practice; hereunto the Gospel re­quireth most absolutely Perfect, Unsinning Obedi­ence, insomuch that we ought to be humble for our Imperfections, as well as penitent for our more grie­vous Transgressions: and all this must spring from Faith that work [...]th by Love; for without Faith it is im­possible Gal. 5. 6. Heb. 11. 6. 1 Cor. 13. 2▪ to please God, and without Charity Faith is nothing worth.

Obj. But here perhaps it may be objected: that it is impossible to keep the Law thus expounded: it is rather fit for Adam in Innocence, than for any of his Fallen Posterity: Were there no depravity in our Nature, or [...]emptations in the World to do wickedly, it might per­h [...]ps [Page 72] with Justice and equity be imposed on us: but since (as Chri [...]t and his Apostles themselves teach) we all have si [...]ned, and cannot live without Sin, it is ra­ther apt to increase our Damnation, than to promote our Salvation: it is therefore very unbecoming that Wisdom and Goodness whereunto they pretended in the Pro­mulgation of the Gospel: it speaks more Zeal than Wis­dom to r [...]quire Imp [...]ssibilities.

Answ. This Objection (having something of Truth and Reason in it) even tempts me to wish, it were found in the mouths only of humble and [...]o­ber Enquirers after Truth; but Experience hath taught me, that our Semi-Atheists think to serve their Lusts by it; for since gradually perfect Obedi­ence is impossible, and no man is obliged to Impossi­bilities, they say (and perhaps will swear it too) it is sensless Folly and brutish Inadvertency to trou­ble our heads about it, either by repenting what we have not done according to the Law, or by taking care for the future to walk by it.

But let them not be too ha [...]y in their Conclusion, or too confident in the strength of their Argument; for it is but a piece of Sophistry: it divideth what ought to be joyned, viz. the Law, and its Expositi­on, from the Mitigation of it by the Gospel; take in this, and the Argument will be found very in­conclusive on their part, but demonstrative on ours. For though it be conf [...]ssed, we find the Law Ex­tended, and far more comprehensively Expounded by Christ and his Apostles, than for ought we know it ever was by Moses or the Proph [...]ts, much more by the Jewish Doct [...]rs and Rabbi [...]s; yet withall we find it so qualified and mitigated, its Rigor and Se­verity so allayed, as that the Evangelical Constitution of it is far more eligible than the Legal: it d [...]mon­strat [...]s [Page 73] far great [...]r Wisdom and Goodness than ever it did, either in the time of mans Innocence or af­terwards under the Mosaical Dispensation. For

First, Evident it is, that the Law is not now esta­blished as a Covenant of Works, as at first it was in the time of mans Innocence; nor is it now yoked with a great number of positive Precepts, as it was by the Law of Moses. For (besides Faith in Christ and the due use of his Sacraments) it is not easie to think of any thing enjoyned by the Gospel but what is reducible to the moral Law: which Law being ca­pable of a twofold use▪ viz. either as a Rule of Life or also as a Covenant of Works, is both establish­ed and abolished by the Gospel, for although as a Rule of Life and Manners the Gospel is so far from making void the Law, as that there is no Religion in the World doth so apparently establish it, yet as a Covenant of Works, whereby to obtain Salvation, the Gospel doth abolish it▪ for in that it establisheth a new Covenant, it maketh the first old. InsomuchHeb. 8. 13. that that compleat and gradual perfect Obedience, which in the Covenant of Works (to Adam in In­nocence) was absolutely necessary to eternal Life, al­though it be our Duty, yet it is not an indispensable Condition of our Salvation. For

Secondly, Though the Gospel requireth Perfect Ob [...]dience, yet it accepteth Sincere; which is such as makes us with David to have respect to All Gods Commandments, and careful to keep them as well as we can. Although (for the Glory of God and Honour of his Laws, for the patefaction of his most Holy Nature and most Just Dominion over us) I say that although for these and such like great ends, the Gospel hath made the most perfect unsinning Obedi­ence to be our Duty, yet not that, but only sincere [Page 74] Obedience is indispensably necessary in order to our Salvation. For

Thirdly, Those Sins which are really inavoidable, the Gospel doth not impute to us for our Condem­nation. I would not be mistaken; that that I say is, that though according to the Rigour and Severity of the Law as a Covenant of Works the wages of every Sin be death, yet such is the Mercy of God in the Gospel of Christ, as that those Sins which to us are really and truly inavoidable, shall not be imputed to us for our Condemnation. Hereof one Reason is, be­cause the Gospel puts us into a state of Trial and Probation in this Life, in reference to another after it, Surely therefore there is no inavoidable guilt thereby charged upon us to our eternal Condemnation: it is not imaginable it should so Tantali [...]e us with hopes of Heaven in the Confines and Power of Hell. Howe­ver evident it is

Fourthly, That the Gospel doth promise, that our known Sins as well as others, how heinous soever they be either in their Nature or their Aggravations, yet, if they are timely retracted by true Repentance and Humiliation, Contrition and Confession, change of Mind and amendment of Life, they shall be forgiven us. No mans Sins are either so many in Number or so heinous in their Quality, but on these terms they may be forgiven: insomuch that to me it seems most probable, that the Sin against the Holy Ghost is im­pardonable, not for want of Grace in the Gospel, but for want of repentance in the Sinner.

Let then our modern Scoffers add these things (as they ought) to that against which they level their Objection; and then let them tell us what Impossi­bility there is in obeying the Gospel, so far forth as is necessary to Salvation. Is it impossible to do what we [Page 75] can, or to repent when we have done amiss? I sup­pose not, esp [...]cially while we have those Motives and Assist [...]nces which the Gospel gives us to keep the Commandments. Since the nature of reasonable Crea [...]ures is to be drawn by the Alliciency of those Pro [...]it [...]r [...]icks that present themselves to it, we may well wond [...]r at our own Disobedience. For so ma­ny and so great are the Motives the Gospel gives to keep its Commandments, as that there is no active Vertue in us, but may receive the highest Incitement therefrom. What entertainment so fit for the Mind as Truth? and what Truth so sweet as that that is eter­nal? What so desireable to the Will as Goodness? And what Goodness so great as that that is Infinite? And where can you find Eternal Truth and Infinite Goodness so clearly revealed as they are in the Gos­pel? Where can the Affections have the like Motives to set us a doing? Hath not the Rule of our Life the highest Majesty and Authority instamped on it? Are we not promised the greatest Reward that can be de­sired in case we walk by it? And are we not threat­ened with the greatest evil that can be feared, in case we neglect it? Are we not assured of a su [...]iciency of Temporal Blessings and Spiritual Graces in this World, if we will seek first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness i. e, for Glory and Honour and Im­mortality in the other? Is it not then strange that be­ing thus besieged with Motives to do well we should be so prone to do ill? Although we know very well the Commandments are such, as that it is not more our Duty, than our Interest to do them: we pro­mote our own Good as much as Gods Glory by Obe­dience to them; for they are apt not only to enligh­ten our Minds, and perfect our Understandings, to refine our Natures and sublimate our gross Affections, [Page 76] to amend our Lives and purifie our Conversations; but also to pr [...]serve our Estates and advance our For­tunes, to secure our Reputation and promote our Honour, and that in all Conditions and Capacities whatever; insomuch that their own Goodness might be their own Eternal obligation. How admirable then are that Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness, which impose them on us and require Obedience of us?

Especially considering the Assistance provided for us to have in well-doing: and truly, 'tis more than a little we do or should receive in our Childhood, by being brought up in the nurture and admo [...]ition of Ephes. 6. 4. the Lord: for a Child being led by little of it self but a Chain of Imaginations, Education hath the force of a Natural Agent rather than a Moral: hence it is that Children of the same Parents are some­timesPlutarch de Insti­ [...]ut. Lib. like Lycurgus his Whelps of the same litter, whereas one ran to his dish, the other after the Hare, because he had brought them up so to do: which Experiment he made in the sight of his Subjects, on purpose to teach them to train their Children in the way they should go, and that when they were old Pro. 22. 6. they would not depart from it. But if they do, the Gospel hath sufficiently provided for their reduction, for it doth not only encourage brotherly Admoniti­on, and oblige us to pray for each other, but it hath also ordained a Sacred Function for the per [...]ecting of the S [...]ints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the Ephes. 4. 11, 12, 13. stature of the fulness of Christ. Now not only Men on Earth, but also the Angels of Heaven, are obli­ged to afford us their assistance: Are they not all mi­nistring Spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall [Page 77] be heirs of Salvation? And besides the assistance ofHeb. 1. 4▪ Angels, we may have that of the Eternal Spirit also to help us. For the Fathers of Flesh here on Earth are not so ready to give good Gifts unto their Chil­dren, as our Heavenly Father is to give the Holy Spi­rit to them that ask him: and this it seems he dothLuk. 11▪ 13. 2 Cor. 3▪ 6. 8. so abundantly in the dayes of the Gospel, as that it is called by his Name, and the ministration of the Spi­rit, and the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Je­sus, which makes men free from the Law of Sin and Death. Whereby it seems, that though the HistoryRom. 8. 2▪ and Outward Communicatio [...]s of the Gospel be to us in Scriptis, yet we are not to look upon it as a meer piece of Book-learning, but as a Vital quicken­ing thing, able to give Life to those that are Dead in Trespasses and Sins, to beget them again in Christ Jesus, and to form divine Goodness in the Souls of Men; and by so doing to help their Infirmities. Yea not only the Spirit but also the Son of God himself (notwithstanding his Exaltation now in Heaven) humbleth himself to sympathize with us here on earth: for we have not an high Priest, which cannot be touched with a feeling of our Infirmities: but was in all Points tempted like as we are, yet without Sin: if there­fore we come boldly to the Throne of Grace, we may obtain Mercy and find Grace to help in time of Need. And ifHeb. 4. 15. 16. we may have Mercy and Grace for coming for it, I hope we have no cause (be our Duty what it will) to complain of hard usage.

Let's then lay all these Things together, viz. that the Object of our Faith is most [...]l [...]arly revealed by the Gospel: that that of our hope is most fully d [...] ­clared to be most excellent and certain: and that the Rule of our Lives is most becomming the Attributes of God, and agreeable to the Reason of man, and [Page 78] withal is so compleatly suited to his Ability, as that no other Law can possibly be so good for him in his present State of Nature, Morality and Imperfection. Lets I say lay all these things together, and then me­thinks we must needs see something of that Stupen­dious Wisdom and Goodness, whereby Christ and his Apostles were guided in the OEconomy of the Gospel: far more excellent than the Wisdom of Mo­ses and the Prophets in the Institution of the Law.

And if they did excell the Jews in Wisdom, much more the Gentiles: for since by the Ministry of Moses and the Prophets they were taught of God, it is evi­dent, they had more excellent Wisdom, not than the vul­gar only, but than those also that seem'd to be Philoso­phers. Origen. con. Cels. lib. 5. Yet at the bar of their Judgment we are wil­ling to try the Truth as it is in Jesus, viz. Whether it be real and true Wisdom yea or no? Whereof we shall need no longer to doubt, if we consider what the most famous Philosophers have told us concern­ing the Nature, the Object, and the End of Wis­dom.

As for its Nature in general, it seems the com­mon concession of them all, that Wisdom is one of the best, if not absolutely the most excellent kind of Knowledg: they therefore define it by [...], which with them seems to denote more than a bare Perception of things, viz. some knowledg of them by undeniable necessary Arguments, such as Command Assent rather than Beg it. Now that Christianity is a sort of Knowledg founded on such Arguments, I hope you will find in the end of this Treatise, the design whereof is, to prove that it is so. At present therefore, I shall say no more of its general Nature, but observe

[Page 79] That the Object of Christian Doctrine, as well as its Nature, doth highly justifie its Claim to the Title of Wisdom: for what I pray is it that Wisdom treats of? about what is it conversant? the first Anonym. de ejus vi [...]. Causes, saith Pythagoras; the best things, or the things that are most honourable, saith Aristotle: and which are those? All men (except Atheists) will answer, they are God, and the things that approach nearest unto, and partake most of his Nature: otherwise Anaxago­ras, Thales, and such like, would not have had a Re­putation for Wisdom (as the Philosopher last menti­oned reports they had) because they knew matters of Divinity. And where shall we find the greatestEthic. ad. Nic. lib. 6. knowledge of these things? Is it in the Wisdom of the Gentiles? No verily, their Philosophy is here dumb, or worse. Simonides (though a Learned and Wise man in their esteem) could give no account of the Divine Essence: and those of the Heathens that undertook to do it, had better been as sparing and modest as he was, as is more than probable by the accounts that Plutarch and Cic [...]ro give of their Senti­mentsDe Phil. plac. de nat. Deor. lib. 1. in this particular: they were so weak and ob­scure, so absurd and irrational, so unworthy of God, and unbecoming the Deity, as that the Orator saith of them, they were almost not the Judgments of Philoso­phers, but the Dreams of Madmen. We see then, thatibid. men of great and excellent Wit, after all their hard study and travel to find out the Truth, have yet lost their labour and their Industry: but blessed be God,Vid. La­ctantius. divin. In­stit. lib. 1. cap. 1. who (pittying it seems the Ignorance and Weak­ness of Humane Nature) hath sent his only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, and he hath declared him: both his Being and his Nature, his Attributes and his Will, he hath more fully de­clared, than either was, or could be known without [Page 80] it: and that which most highly commends the Reve­lation of God, by the Gospel of Christ is, that it is so far from contradicting those prime Notions of a Deity, wherewith Nature hath endued us, as that it doth exceedingly advance and improve them; it becomes the Majesty of God, and accords with the Reason of Man. Hereof Origen was so confident, as that he doubted not to bid Celsus see whether it were not the agreeableness of our Faith with the common sense of men from the beginning, which made it so effectual, as to work the Conversion of its candid and Cont. Cels. lib. 3. ingenuous Hearers. How rash and ill-advised had he been in thus appealing to his subtile Adversary, if he had not been well assured, that Christianity opens and offers nothing but what is worthy of Heaven, to those that embrace it here on Earth; that here we may see the Express Image of that solid Wis­dom and Felicity, which the Jews in their Talmudi­cal Rhapsodies, and the Gentiles too in their Philoso­phy have hitherto sought in vain.

Hereof also we are assured by the designed End and Scope of it: which in effect is the same with that which was pretended by the Heathen Philoso­phers: And what was that? Let Porphyrius answer for Pythagoras, who (as he tells us) professed a sort of Philosophy, the Scope whereof was, to snatch and deliver the mind that is in us from Sensual Impediments De Vit. Pyth. and Fetters. But to wave the trouble of many Quotations, it seems by Maximus Tyrius, that the pretended End of all sorts of Philosophy was, to direct men to true Happiness. They all agreed in the End, but were miserably divided in the choice of the Means. We need not wonder at either, for (as that Philosopher saith) the Desire of Good, God hath kindled as a spark in the minds of Men, but the Find­ing [Page 81] of it he hath hid from them. Thence it was, that one sent his Scholars to one thing, another to an­other to find it; Pythagoras to Musick, Thales to Astron [...]my, Heraclitus to Solitude, Socrates to Love, Carne [...]des to Ch [...]stity, Diogenes to Labour, Epicurus to Pleasures. They all aimed at Happiness, but Epi­curus dissert. 19. was thought to have missed the mark so grosly, as that the Romans and Messenians did banish and expell his followers from their respective Domini­ons; calling them (because of their softness and im­piety) the Pests of Youth and Spots of Philosophy. They were therefore commanded to depart the Messe­nian Territories, and being so thrust out, the Priests by Sacrifices purged their Temples, and the Magi­strates their City. It is also reported, that some of the Epicureans (being looked on as Inventors of an esseminate degenerate and filthy sort of Wisdom, odious to the Gods) were by a Law (written in the vulgar Tongue) driven out of Lyctos a City of Crete: by which Law it was provided, that if any one of them should presume to come thither, he should be bound and put naked into a Cage near the Senate, and be anointed with milk and hony for twenty dayes together, that Bees and Flies the mean while might devour him; but if he survived this Torment, then was he cloathed in Womens apparel and cast headlong from a Rock. By this their re­proachfulSuidas in voc. Epi­curus. Severity, they declared plainly, what was the end of Philosophy, or at least what they expected from it, viz. that it should be so far from debauch­ing Mens Manners, as that it should purifie th [...]ir Souls and sublimate their Affections, destroy their Vices and promote Vertue. Sen [...]ca therefore tells Lucilius that Wisdom forms the Mind and builds it, disposeth the Life and rules the Actions, sh [...]ws what's to [Page 82] be done, and demonstrates what's to be omitted: it is to us as a Rudder to a Ship, it directs the course of them that Epist. 16. fluctuate and waver in uncertainties. If then this be the designed Work and end of Wisdom, there is no Doctrine in the World can lay so just a claim as that of Christ and his Apostles to that Title. For the de­sign of it is not to fill mens heads with Notions or to teach them Systems of Opinions, but to furnish their Minds with incouragements to Vertue, to mor­tifie their Passions and Self-wills, in order to the Love of the Eternal Beauty and an Imitation of it: that so in a sort they might anticipate Heaven by a Resemblance of God here on Earth: for our Savi­our hath taught us to be Perfect as our Father in Hea­ven Mat. 5. 48. is Perfect. To this end both the Precepts and the Promises of the Gospel are so exquisitly adapted as that they do not only most effectually forestall all those Vices, which the wisest of mens Laws and In­structions have but in vain attempted to destroy, but they do also promote such exact and elevated Ver­tue, as is apt to make us as like to our Maker as in this Life is possible. For the exceeding great and precious Promises of the Gospel are given us to this2 P [...]t. 1. 4. end, That by them we might be Partakers of the Divine Nature: and the end of the Commandment is Charity out of a pure Heart and of a good Conscience and of 1 Tim. 1. 5. Faith unfeigned. Faith unfeigned begets a good Conscience, a good Conscience a pure Heart, and a pure Heart Charity: and Charity we know mustJoh. Clin. Stal. pard. grad. 30. needs be as one calls it [...], a likeness to God or resemblance of him, for God is Love; an Eternal and Im­mutable, an Omniscient and Almighty Goodness: to the Imitation hereof the Gospel doth allure and direct us, to this end it is intended and designed: its efficacy in order thereunto St. Paul insinuates [Page 83] when he calls it the Ministration of Righteousness and 2 Cor. 3. 9. the Pow [...]r of God unto Salvation. It is a thing moreRom. 1. 16. Divine than any Demonstration; it hath heat to quicken and enliven our Affections, as well as Light to guide them. It so forms Christ in the Souls of Believers, as that it inclines them to say of him and his Word as the Priests of Mercury did in eating Sa­crifices, Truth is sweet: and when once it is so and well digested it will so transform them by the renew­ing of their Minds, as that they may prove what is that Good and Acceptable and Perfect Will of God. And by so doing it will dispose them to such a chearful Compliance therewith, as that they shall be Fol­lowers of God, as dear Children. And this (as Se­neca insinuates) is the ultimate End and Design, the utmost Scope and Tendency of Wisdom▪ ut D [...] ­um ub. sup. sequaris. Since therefore the Gospel of Christ gives better Rules and affords greater Helps for so doing, than any there are, either in the Theology of the Jews or the Philosophy of the Gentiles, most manifest it is, that it doth most highly deserve not on­ly to be called Wisdom, but also to be accounted Super­natural and Divine, because it excels all former Re­velations of God, as well as the Wisdom of men; and it that be such excellent Wisdom, most evident it is that Christ and his Apostles were most excel­lently Wise, endued with a sort of Knowledg, which was utterly unattainable without Inspiration of God; because if otherwise, it would have be [...]n impossible that they should hav [...] been Authors of such an excellent Production.

Sect. 3. Of Christ and his Apostles Fortitude.

And that this their Wisdom dwelt with Forti­tude: i. e. such Courage and Magnanimity as the Prophets had in the di [...]charge of their Office, is the next thing to be considered and demonstrated; and this it may be from the greatness and strangeness of their Undertaking: which we know was to reform the Jews, and to convert the Gentiles. In prosecution of this Design, their Actions and their Sufferings de­clared the Greatness of their Minds.

For the Jews, (although They only of all peo­ple worship'd the true God, and had the know­ledge of his Laws, yet) were very corrupt and de­generate both in Doctrine and Practice: which Corruption seems introduced by their Traditions, (the Spawn of that pretended Interpretation of their Law before-mentioned,) for in process of time the Comment made void the Text; Tra­ditions were so much regarded, as that the Text was little minded: the Commandments of Men were taught for Doctrine, and the Commandments of God were made of none effect by their Traditi­ons:Vid. Bux­tors. Syn. Jud. cap. 1. Not only their Faith was founded thereon, but a Path was thereby paved for all Israelites (though never so bad) to go to Heaven in. For so absurdly Partial and Indulgent were they to their own Nation, as that it was a most Authen­tick Opinion of their Doctors, that every Israelite Tract. Sanh. cap. 10. p. 76. shall have a portion in the World to come. Whosoe­ver believes the thirteen Fundamentals of the Jew­ish Law, (before-mentioned) is admitted (saith [Page 85] Maimonides) into the number of Israelites: and so surely he obtains as great a Right as any hath, to receive Benefit by this their grand Charter for Hea­ven: and this Right he holds, unless he be so un­happy as to fall into the number of those that are exempted therefrom: but there is no great dan­ger of that, because there were but six Sorts of Of­fences, whereby the men of Israel might forfeit this their inestimable Priviledg: and truly those Offen­ces were such as they might easily withstand all Temptations to commit: for one half of them con­cerned matters of Faith, and therefore might be avoided, with little Displeasure to the Flesh, and less Intrenchment upon worldly Interests: the other half concerned such petty trivial Matters of Practice, as that no man well in his Wits, would endanger so great a loss for so small Pleasure or Profit as seem to be had thereby. For in the Tract but now mentioned we find, that those only of the Israelites, who deny the Resurrection, or the Descent of their Law from God, or the Being of a Deitie: or those that read Heretical Books, or pretend to cure Dis­eases by Inchantment, or expound the name Jehovah Vid. Maim▪ Tract. praed. & Abravanel de cap. fid. cap. 24. in the vulgar Language, these I say and these only of all the Israelites should be excluded from eternal Life. And were not the people very much obliged to their Rabbies for removing the Cherubims and flaming Sword, which kept the Way of the Tree of Life against all other unhallowed Sinners? yes verily, that they were; especially considering, that if any of them were so ill-advised as to hazard this their Right to Heaven yet had they no cause to dis­pair of its recovery: for either by Repentance in this life, or by a twelve Months Penance in Purga­tory, and the Prayers of Survivors the Exemption Bux [...]orf. ubi. sup. [Page 86] might be taken [...]ff, and they recover their Portion in the World to come. And what more likely than these Traditions to evacuate the Command­ments? When a Rewa [...]d is s [...]ured to All, who will work? When Eternal Happiness is entailed upon All, who will regard the Necessity of Holi­ness, or take Care to follow it? 'Tis true indeed Antigonus Socensis forbad his Discipl [...]s to serve God on Condition of receiving Reward, and required them to do it without any such Exp [...]ctation: ▪tis also true that for this he was applauded by di­vers of their Seraphick Rabbies▪ yet the effect of it was fatal to the Truth in some, and of no Force on the Practice of most of the Jews: and for that Reason divers of their Wise men that li­ked his Opinion, yet blamed the Publication of it: they therefore thought it better to permit the vulgar to enjoy their Opinion, that Good was to be done for Hope of a Reward, and evil to beM [...]im. ad Pe [...]k C [...] [...] eschewed for fear of Punishm [...]nt. But since they were assured of a Portion in Heaven, they had not much Reason to fear the Torments of Hell. For (if their Traditions were true) it was a very ea­sie Matter for them to keep the Law: the Pr [...]c [...]pts whereof they distinguished into two Sorts, where­of they called the one Commands the other P [...]hi­bitions. The Commands they say a [...]e two hundr [...]d forty eight, just so many as (according to the A­natomy of the Rabbies) there are Members in a mans Body: but the Prohibitions are three hundred sixty five, viz. as many as there are dayes in the Year, or as they say there are Veins in the Body of a man: and th [...]refore say th [...]y, if any one Mem­ber of a mans Body doth every day fulfill one of the Commands, and omit one of the things pro­hibited, [Page 87] it will thence come to pass, that not only the Decalogue, but the whole Law of Moses shall be by them most excellently kept every Year throughout all Ages. Though perhaps we Chri­stiansBuxtorf. lib. [...]od. ibid. may laugh at and despise this their Obedi­ence, yet it seems they thereby did supererrogate as well as obey; for Abravanel assures us, it was an approved Opinion of their Wise men, that Whosoever (of the Israelites) did any one Precept of the Law which is in his Power, he should th [...]reby merit the chief Reward, i. e. The Life of the World to come. ub. sup. And what more apt than such a Perswasion to make men partial and languid in the Practice of Moral Vertue? And so indeed we find them, for the Religion of the most Devout and Strictest Sects among them, did either degenerate into Forma­lity, or else evaporate in Hypocrisie. It was dry and sapless, dead and lifeless▪ a meer Contexture of Ceremonies and External Performances, a Sce­leton, or at best, but a Carcass, without any heat or Life of Divine Love in it, a form of Godliness without the Power, a shew of Piety, a Device to seem religious without being so, a meer bodily kind of Drudgery and Servility; yet were they as confident of its Goodness and as fondly proud of the Advantages they thought they had thereby, as if in very Deed, it had b [...]en that which was re­quired by God and confirmed by Miracles, sup­ported by Prophets and professed by their Fore­fathers throughout all preceding Generations: and so obstinately did they adhere to it, as that the severest calamities of War could not make them cease from it: for Josephus reports, that when Pompey was got into their City, and Aristobulus his Faction had took Sanctuary in the Temple, with a [Page 88] Resolution to defend it, they would not oppose his raising of Bulwarks or Towers or planting his Engines against it on the Sabbath day: because (as they thought) their Law allowed them not to re­sist an Enemy upon the Sabbath day, unless he were actually [...]ghting against them: the most imminent and th [...]eatening Preparations for War, were not (in their Judgment) sufficient to warrant their Work or Acts of Hostility on that day. Yea such was their Zeal for their Tradi [...]iona [...]y Religion, as that when the Romans had taken the Temple and were killing whomsoever they met therein, yet (it being one of their dayes of Fasting) Survivors would not desist from the exercise of it; neither the Fear of Death nor the Dreadful fight of dead and dying Multitudes, could affright them from Acts of Divine Worship, but judging it better to die than to forsake their Altars, or omit any thing prescribed by their Laws, they were ready to sufferAntiq. Jud. lib. 14. c. 8. whatever the Conquerours thought fit to inflict▪ And again afterwards, when Pontius Pilate had brought the Effigies of Caesar into the City, they grew so troublesome with their Importunity to have it removed, as that Pilate threatened them with Death, if they would not depart and be quiet; whereupon (casting themselv [...]s down before him, and making bare their Throats) they say [...]d unto him, they could sooner endure Death with Pleasure than dare to suffer the Wisdom of their Laws to be I [...]. lib. 18. cap. 4. sc [...]ssed at. Since then their Zeal for their Religion was thus preposterous and servent, it seems to me more than probable that they were apt thereby to be transported into Fury and Madness at Reasons and D [...]monstrations (made by private men) of its Shortness and Vanity; yea, that they could not with [Page 89] Patience bear those that did but so much as gently suggest it: as appears yet more probable by the Ex­plication their Gemara giv [...]s of Epicures, viz. That they are those who contemn the Disciples of their Wise men, and for that cause (if they are Israelites) they shall lose their Portion in the World to come.Vid. Abra­vantl de cap. fid. cap. 24. What then, think ye, thought they of those who had the courage to cast Contempt on the Dogmata and Traditions of the Wise men themselves? were they not looked on as Blasphemers o [...] God, and E­nemies to the Law of Moses? Yes doubtless that they were: for since the Jews were thorowly in­structed not only to attribute a Divine Original and Authority to the Traditions of their Elders, but also to believe that it was a more heinous sin to trans­gress them, than the Written Law; yea that who­soever dissents from his Teacher doth as much as if he dissented from the Divine Majesty, and sinned against the Holy Ghost, and for that Cause was guilty of Death, viz. by the Scourge of Rebellion, Vid. Hot­ting Thes. Philol. lib. 2. c. 3. § 3. Vorst. ad Mai. de sund. Leg. c. 6. not. 4. which was a sort of Punishment by cudgelling, in­flicted for the Breach and Contempt of Traditions. Since I say they had these and many other such prodigiously wicked and cruel Inventions to up­hold the Authority of their Traditions and Di­ctatorship, it is no marvel, if they proceeded against those that spake lightly of them, as if Malice were the fittest Affection, Vengeance, and Cruelty, the best Behaviour towards them. Yet evident it is, that Christ did not spare them; but as the Prophets of old, so did he detect the Hypocrisie and sharply reprove the faults of their Elders: He did demon­strate the Vanity of their Righteousness, and ex­pose the cunning Wickedness of their Traditions: He discovered the impiety of their Magisterial Di­ctates [Page 90] and freely unfolded the Mysteries of their Ini­quity: He pulled off the Guilding and Paint of their seeming Devotion, and uncovered the Rot­tenness and P [...]trefaction of their Hearts: He de­spised the Pageants of a Pompous Formality and set at naught the Ceremonies of their External Performances, without inward and real Goodness. Though the People did rage and the Rulers take Councel together against him, yet he did constant­ly affirm, that God had sent him, and (as the Prophets before him, so did he) undauntedly shew the People their Transgressions and the House of Jacob their Sins. And in so doing he strived to re­trive the Law and the Prophets, to rescue them from false Glosses and Misconstructions; to disco­ver the Insufficiency of Traditions and Pharisaical Righteousness: to inculcate the necessity of Morali­ty, and so to reduce the Jews to the Practice of Piety in all Holiness of Living and Fervours of di­vine Worship in Spirit and in Truth, without their numerous Ceremonies, or at least, their mighty Confidence in their Priviledges and Performances; which both he and his Apostles taught them to place in our Lord Jesus (a stumbling Block and Rock of Offence unto them;) and was not this a great and strange Undertaking? Such as loudly speaks the Greatness of their Minds and the Brave­ry of their Courage? Which was not in the least abated, but rather increased by Opposition: in their Lives it did assist them to bear all Sorts of Af­flictions and to endure the rudest Contradictions of Sinners against them: and at their Deaths, it did not forsake them: for though (after some solemn Mockeries of Justice, enough to move ones Indig­nation) they were cruelly Murdered and barbarously [Page 91] Butchered, yet their Patience and Charity (those truest Signs of M [...]gnanimity in Sufferings) were conspicuous and admirable: insomuch that They only of all Teachers may be compared with the Prophets, or rather preferred before them, for For­titude.

Whereof also the Apostles gave abundant evi­dence among the Gentiles, whom they found dead in Trespasses and sins, prone to nothing so much as the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, i. e. Sensual Pleasures, Riches and Honours; these things they did not only love, and live in, but (in a sort) adore and dei [...]ie: for not only Gods Creatures, and Men that were fa­mous in their Lives, nor only the Fancies and Ficti­ons of Poets, but their own Lusts and Passions (cal­led by other names) were also enrolled among their Gods. Venus and Cupid, Mars and Baccbus were the Names of deified Concupiscence, Wrath and Drunk­enness: although they forbad these Vices, and made Laws against them, yet their Causes (as Theodoret Ser. 3. ad Graec. tells them) they saluted as heavenly Gods, and gave divine Worship unto them. And was it not a sad and direful Apotheosis, whereby Enmity against God was advanced to his Throne, the grossest Superstition and Un [...]leanness established for Religion? for in their Fe­stivals and Solemn Ceremonies of divine Worship, all manner of Vice and Wickedness was appointed to be committed; such filthiness as the most sala­cious would almost blush at in a Closet, was com­mittedVid. Theod. Ser. 7. dc Sac. in open Pomp and Ostentation: insomuch that almost all the Sacred Games (but especially the Bacchanals) were (as one calls them) the Cause and Seed-plots of the greatest Wickednesses. If theAlex. ab Alex. Gen. dier. lib. 6. c. 19. Ethiopian may change his skin, and the Leopard his [Page 92] as soon as those do good who are accustomedJer. 13. 23. to do evil, although their Religion teach them to do the one, and eschew the other, how hard is it for those to do good, who have been not only ac­customed, but taught to do evil, and that under pain of Transgression against Conscience, or at least, the Laws and Customs of their Country, if they omit it? Especially considering their most wicked and filthy Practice could plead Prescription in the Examples of their Fore-fathers, and Noble Heroes; yea also it had the Power and Policy, the Strata­gems and Devices of the Devil, the Cunning, Guile, and Craft of his Agents, the Force and Authority of Civil Powers to countenance and uphold it, in despite of all Opposition: Was it not then an hard thing for any (much more for a few private men and strangers, such as the Apostles) to turn them from Darkness unto Light, from the Power of Satan unto God? yet they undertook to do it, and pursued it all their dayes, although they very well knew, that not only Labours, travels, and hard­ships of divers kinds, but also Bonds and Afflictions of all sorts and degrees, stripes and Imprisonments, yea, and Death it self would abide them in so do­ing. Yet none of these things could trouble their Minds, nor discourage their Attempt; nothing could make them retract their Resolution, or abate their Endeavours (as they were able) to pro­mote it: which to me seems a demonstration of Prophetick Fortitude, viz. that that same Courage and Magnanimity whereby the Prophets were acted in the discharge of their Office, did assist them in promulgating the Gospel.

Of the Prophetick Riches of Christ and his Apostles. Sect. 4.

And as in Wisdom and Fortitude, so also in the Riches of the Prophets; i. e. in all Moral Vertues, but especially Contentment, Christ and his Apostles were equal, yea superiours unto them. Hereof we need no other demonstration than the designed End of their Doctrine; which (as we before saw) was the Promotion and Establishment of the most Elevated Vertue and Immaculate Purity; but if any farther proof of it be desired, we may find it in St. Paul, by whom we learn, that the Grace of God which bringeth Salvation (which words are but a Periphrasis of the Gospel) teacheth us, that denying all ungodliness and worldly Lusts, we should live sob [...]rly, righteously, and godly in this present World. Tit. 2. 11, 12. To this end, both the Precepts and Institutions, the Promises and the Threats of the Gospel are so ex­traordinary subservient, as that they loudly speak the Holiness as well as Wisdom of its first Teach­ers. It is no way probable, that Lovers of Vice should so study the promotion of Vertue, especially when they were so far from having any Worldly Temptation to do it, as that they had all imaginable Discouragements from it. Who but Lovers of God, and beloved of him, in such a case, would so stre­nuously propugnate his Glory, by the Extirpa­tion of Vice, and Plantation of Vertue and Holi­ness of living? Is it likely that Workers of Wick­edness should be Planters of Holiness, and that with design to have it spread universally, and continue [Page 94] perpetually? Yet such we know were Christ and his Apostles, and so zealous were they in it, as that their Labour and Industry did far out- [...]trip that of the most admired Teachers of Vertue among the Gentiles: for they did not only despise their Fa­mily-concerns, and renounce all sinful Pleasures whatever, but they endured the utmost Malice of Men, and the rudest Contradictions of Sinners, in the Defence of Truth, and Propagation of Vertue: the one they Signed, the other they Sealed with their Blood: Was it then possible they should be no Lovers of it? Greater Love than this we know hath no man, that he layeth down his Life for the Beloved: and the Object of strong Love is like the green Poplar that Jacob set before the Flocks of Laban, it makes the Lover bring forth something that's like it self: it alwayes hath a kind of plastick Power, whereby it is able to form its own Image, and work its own likeness in the Souls and Lives of the Lovers: and thus it seems the Love of God and his Righteousness wrought in Christ and his Apostles.

As was apparent by their Deportment and Con­versation among Men, which was so highly be­coming the Gospel, as that That Heroick Vertue, which in others was a meer Phantasm, in them was real. The Life of Christ was so unbl [...]mished a pat­tern of Piety and transcendent Vertue, as that heJohn 8. 46. challenged his Enemies to convince him of Sin. What he himself did to the Jews, his Followers have since done to the Gentiles: thus Arnobius upbraids the partiality of their Judgment and behaviour towards the Deceased. Those (saith he) that in their Lives were prodigio [...]sly profligate and l [...]scivious, after their Death you admire and extoll to the skies in [Page 95] your praises, you repose their memoirs in the safest pla­ces of Libraries, you reward them with Chariots and Statues: and, as much as in you lies, you endow them with a kind of Eternity, by the testification of immortal Titles: only Christ, if you could, you would tear and mangle into pieces, yea, him only (were it lawful) you would chew (like savage Beasts) with bloody mouths, and devour all with bruised bones. But for what Cause, I beseech you? speak; what Sin, what Fault is it for? what was there that he did which swerved from the Rule of Righteousness, or might stir you up to your sharp hatred against him? ThusAdvers. Gent. l. 1. also Origen tells Celsus, divers of their reputed Gods were stained with the Vices of Men, but of our Jesus there is nothing reported that he did intemperately; for those that lay in wait, and sought false witnesses against him, would certainly have found something of probability to have put into the evi­dence, that so for that Intemperance they might (the more plausibly) have drawn up their accusation against him. But nothing of that nature could with any shew of probability be alledged against him: for the truth hereof, he refers Celsus to some Histo­ries which it seems they then had of him: and if byLib. 3. them or any other means, either Origen or Arnobius could have been found Lyars, how rash and ill­advised had they been in thus appealing to their Adversaries, who wanted neither Wit nor Malice to have done it, if they could: but since they left it unattempted, it is more than probable, that they (as well as Pontius Pilate) could find no evil thatLuk. 23. 22. our Saviour did.

Nay, so far was he from it, as that in some of their esteem (as well as ours) he was infinitely above it, for they thought him a God: thus Chal­cidius, [Page 96] a Platonist mentions the Star that condu­ced the Eastern Sages to Christ, and saith of it, it did not presage Diseases or Mortality, but the Baron. An. 1. Morn. de ver. Rel. Christian. c. 34. descent of a venerable God to converse with men and settle the affairs of Mortals. Apollophanes and his friend Dionysius it seems were of the same Opi­nion; for being together at Heliopolis in Aegypt, and contemplating the supernatural Eclipse of the Sun at our Saviours Passion, O good Dionysius (said Apollophanes) things Divine now have their turn to suffer, and Dionysius thought so too, for he replied,Suidas in voc. Diony­sius Fran. Zeph. ad Tert. Apol. c. 21. either God himself suffers, or Sympathizeth with him that doth. Afterwards Pontius Pilate gave such an account of Christ to Tiberius, as that (in Tertullians judgment) Pilate himself in his Conscience was a Christian: yea and Tiberius thought him a God, and would have had the S [...]nate declared that he was so, but the Senatours (because Pilate did not give them the first Notice of it) were pleased to refuse him. However C [...]sar continued in his Opinion and did threaten those that should presume to accuse the Christians. And so much Reason it seems there was for this his Opinion, as that his Successours would have believed in Christ, if theApol. c. 5. & 21. Caesars had not then been necessary, or if they could have been Christians and Caesars too. Had these things been false or doubtful, or capable of be­ing proved so, Tertullian had much better have spared his Apology, than sent it: to tell fals [...] tales of such importance concerning Emperours, and that in Writing, to their Successours, was much more likely to betray his own Folly and Impudence, than to obtain their Belief and Clemency, to enrage their Anger than to acquire their Favour: but who­ever reads his Works will [...]ind Cause enough to [Page 97] think Tertullian much more wise and learned than to be so bad an Advocate, yea so rash and impu­dent a Lyar, as he must needs have been, if these things had not been true; we have therefore much Reason to believe, and none to doubt that they were so: and consequently that in the esteem of the Gentiles, as well as of us Christians, our Saviour was holy, harmless, and undefiled with Sin, and fully satisfyed in the enjoyment of himself; for Ho­liness, Self-sufficiency, and perfect Happiness are such essential Attributes of the Deity, as that who­ever owns the one, confesseth the other.

And for the Apostles, though they themselves confessed, they did not live without Sin, yet surely they were in Holiness that which Saul was in Sta­ture, viz. higher than others by the Head and Shoulders. By their Doctrine they taught men to abstain from the very appearance of Evil, and to follow Holiness in all manner of Conversation: and for their help in so doing they made no doubt of propounding their own Example to their Imita­tion; most unlik [...]ly therefore it is that that did ener­vate their Doctrine: especially considering the mul­titudes of their Followers and the science of their Adversaries.

Although our Nature be corrupt and depraved, yet not so degenerate from all Vertue, as to put no brand of Infamy upon Vice: for of all the things in the World there is hardly any but That shameful; at least not so apt to blast the Reputation of men and lessen their credit among others: is it then like­ly the Apostles could have drawn the World after them by their Doctrine, if they had been stained with moral Vices in their Practice? Was the World so weary of it's old Religion as to change it for a [Page 98] new one, taught them by a few persons, that had neither any Authority from man to oblige them, nor Eloquence to allure them, and withal were so inconsistent with themselves, as that their lives gave their mouths the Lye? There is nothing more un­likely: it is therefore beyond a Probability, that the Apostles were burning and shining Lights in their lives as well as Doctrine. Hereof methinks the silence of their Adversaries gives occasion of Confidence, for the Heathens exclaimed against the Christians as their common Enemies, that had a design to shake and unsettle all things, both sacred and civil, and (to use their own Language) [...]. All common calamities they accountedVid. Cypr. cont. De­met. effects of the gods anger because of them, the reason of it was because they believed in Christ, whose coming had almost driven the Rabble of their gods out of the World: nor was that all, but they af­firmed their Doctrine was apt to extinguish all Humanity, and to introduce the grossest barbarity that could be; and is it not remarkable, that among all this, a great deal more filth, which they scraped together against Christianity, they could find no dirt to cast at the Apostles? yet surely so it was, for 'tis hard to find any of the Gentiles charging them with any Immorality; except such as shame­fully begs the Question, or betrayes the slanderous humour of the Accuser. Thus Hierocles (if it be he of whom Lactantius saith) he railed against the Dis­ciples (especially St. Paul and Peter) as sowers of De Justi­tia lib. 5. cap. 2. Deceit. Whom also Porphyrius slaundered, as if they contended each against other in a childish manner: yea that Paul grew hot with envy at Peter's Ver­tues, and writ those things vaingloriously, which he either never did, or if he did, it was sa [...]cily done [Page 99] of him, and all this he gathers (no man knowsHierony­mus Augu­stino Epist. 89. Gal. 2. 11. how) from St. Pauls withstanding St. Peter to his Face: but this is so frivolous and withal so ground­less an Accusation, as that it loudly speakes the Authors malice and the Apostles innocence in their case, such accusations of Adversaries were much more demonstrative, than the testimony of Friends that they were holy.

And if they were holy in their Lives, then certain­ly they were contented with their present Portion: they were so far satisfyed with what the time pre­sent did afford them, as that they did not sinfully grieve at or labour after what it denyed them: for contentment is at least an integral, if not an essen­tial part of Holiness: if it be possible to be holy▪ yet not intirely so without contentment; you lose a limb, if not the Life of Holiness without it. Since therefore the Apostles were eminently holy, it is more than probable that they were also contented. Which likewise Lactantius proves not by conse­quence from their Holiness, but by the cohererence of their Doctrine. Such (saith he) is the Nature of Lies, as that they cannot agree, but the Tradition (or Doctrine) of the Apostles, because it is true, qua­drates on every side, and agrees with it self in all things, and therefore it perswades, because it is stayed up with constant reason: they did not therefore devise this Reli­gion for the sake of gain or any earthly convenience: for both in their Precepts and their Practice they led such a life, as was void of Pleasure and despised Pro­fits: they did not only dye for the Faith, but they also both knew and foretold that so they should, yea also that whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus must suf­fer Persecution. Yet evident it is by their enterprizede Justitia lib. 5. cap. 3. [...]d travails, that they forsook their Houses and [Page 100] Habitations, their Estates and Callings, their Kin­dred and Relations, and whatsoever else had a sub­servience to Wealth, Pleasure, or Honour in the World, and relyed wholly upon the immediate Provisions of Providence. Think ye then that they did hunger after Riches or thirst after Pleasures? It is evident they did not, and therefore they were contented with their present Portion of earth­ly enjoyments, and so were Rich, in the sense before mentioned.

Thus have we passed through the prerequisites to Prophecy, or rather the concomitant attendents on it, and have found that in respect of them, Christ and his Apostles (as well as the foregoing Prophets) were Wise, Strong, and Rich i. e. endowed with all those intellectual and moral Vertues, which the Jews thought needful to expect in their Prophets. the force hereof to prove that they also were such, I reserve for another place, where (God wil­ling) I shall joyn it with that of the more demon­strative evidence of their prophetick Spirit: and this is it that comes next to be considered.

Sect. 5. Of the predictions of Christ and his Apostles.

It was before observed that the evidence of a prophetick Spirit (which the Jews esteemed certain and demonstrative) was twofold; viz. either ordi­nary or extraordinary, each one evacuating the neces­sity of the other: for when divine Providence af­forded the ordinary marks of Prophecy, the Jews had no more need of extraordinary, than Elijah had the Ravens should feed him while he sat at his [Page 101] own Table in Gilead: and when men made proof of the prophetick Spirit in them, by the extraordi­nary signs of it, the necessity of the ordinary was as eminently superseded, as the same Prophets want of his ordinary provision was by the extraor­dinary Supply thereof at the brook Cherith. Since therefore Christ and his Apostles did abundantly demonstrate their Mission from God by extraordi­nary proof of it (as we shall see hereafter) there cer­tainly was the less need of the ordinary: but God, willing more abundantly to shew to the Heirs of his promise the unquestionable certainty of their Missi­on, confirmed it by both: our design it is to make it appear that he did so; and our method requires us to begin with that, which among the Jews by Gods appointment was ordinarily expected, viz. predictions fully and exactly accomplished.

And surely those that are acquainted with mat­ters of Fact, and have read the New Testament, cannot be ignorant that Christ and his Apostles gave this evidence of the prophetick Spirit in them, as well as in any of the Jewish Prophets before them: for the destruction of the Jews, their City and the Temple, we therein find by them so plainly fore-told, and by divine wrath and vengeance so noto­riously fulfilled, as that all the World (I presume) knows it. Yet since particular Demonstrations are far more convincing than general Assertions, it will perhaps be worth the while to take a brief Sur­vey of it, as it lyes both in Prophecy and in History.

That the Apostles fore-told it, is so manifest, as that there is hardly any one of their Epistles but makes mention of it; Yea Lactantius informs, us, they spake of it in their Sermons as well as [Page 102] Justitut. lib 4. cap. 21. wrote of it in their Epistles. but it will be suffici­ent to take a view of it as it lyes, not in theirs but our Saviours predictions; wherein (that he might forewarn his Disciples) he describes the Fore-run­ners approach and perfection of it. The Fore-run­nersMat. 24. 5. of it were false Christs; some Pseudo-pretenders to redeem Israel (which indeed was the Work of the true Messiah, but not as the Jews hoped) out of subjection to the Romans: by which pretension they caused Wars and rumour of Wars in diversv. 6. Places: and after these or rather together with them great afflictions and persecutions were to be­fall the Christians. The accomplishment hereofv. 9. Antiq. lib. 20. cap. 2. we may learn from Jos [...]phus, who tells us, that when Cuspius Fadus was Procurator of Jud [...]a there arose one Theudas a false Prophet, of whom he af­firms (as Christ foretold of those that would come in his name) that he deceived many. And a little after he saith, that Jud [...]a was full of Impostures, who seduced multitudes into the Wilderness to see the signs and wonders which they promised to shew them from God. One of these Deceivers was thatLib. eod. cap. 6. Act. 21. 38. Aegyp [...]ian the chief Captain speaks of to St. Paul: such another as these was that Samaritan Dositheus, who affirmed expresly, that he was the Christ of Origen. contra Cel­sum lib. 1. whom Moses proph [...]sied. By these and other such Incendiaries, the Jews (who were oppressed by divers of the Roman Procurators, especially by Flo­rus) were incited to Sedition and Rebellion, which occasioned bloody Wars and great slaughter in di­versVid. Jo­seph. u [...]. sup. et lib. 2. de bello Jud. places of Judea. About the same time Ananus (or Ananias, or Annas) the second High Priest of that name, having called a Council of Judges, convented James the Brother of Jesus Christ, and him (together with some others) he accused as a [Page 103] transgressor of their Law, and delivered to be sto­ned: which fact of his, although it highly displeas­ed all the most sober men in the City, together with the most learned in their Law, yet it did not abate his Reputation with the vulgar, for this notwith­standing he grew greater and dearer daily to the Peo­ple, and indeed he was honoured by all for his Libe­rality: being thus great in Authority and Reputa­tion too, and withal bold and fierce by Nature, and Sadducee by Sect, (who above all other Jews Id. Antiq. lib. 20. [...].8. were observed to be most severe in judging) he was no doubt willing to proceed farther in persecu­ting the Christians, and the Jews (being Admi­rers of him) without question were willing to joyn with him in so doing. This in all probability was one great occasion of the persecution of Christians, in Jerusalem and other Places of their Country. Wherein also our Saviour foretold there sh [...]uld be Famines and P [...]stilences: and accordingly so thereMat. 24. 7. were: viz. so great a Famine in the City, as that Multitudes p [...]rished for lack of Food, although Queen Helen and her Son bought vast quantities of Provision for them: and Pestilence we know wasI [...]. lib. [...]od. c. 2. & 3. ever observed so closely to follow Famine, as that [...] after Famine Pestilence, was almost proverbial among the Greeks. Much about the same time (according to Prediction) there were Earthqu [...]kes in divers Places: namely in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chins, Sam [...]s, Laodicea, Hierapolis Grot. ad Mat. 24. 7. and Colosse. Nor were these all the Fore-runners of that Destruction, but besides them (as Christ also foretold) there were fearful Sights and great Signs from Heaven: viz. a star in form of a SwordL [...]. 21▪ 11. hanging very low over the City: the Light about the Temple, which turned the Night into Day for [Page 104] halfe an hour together: the Cow which brough forth a Lamb: a Gate of the Temple (which wa almost twenty mens Work to shut it, yet) opened of it self: the Chariots and armed Legions, that before Sun-set appeared in the Clouds encircling the City: the Voice in the Temple saying, let us go hence; but a more horrible Prodigie than any of these, was that of the ignorant Country-fellow, who would not by any means either fair or foul, be prevailed with to desist from going Night and Day about the City, especially at the time of their Feasts for above seven years together crying, Wo, Joseph. de bello Jud. lib. 7. cap. 12. Wo to Jerusalem, and the Temple, and to all the Peo­ple. Thus did divine Vengeance abundantly fulfill our Saviours Predictions concerning the Fore-run­ners of that fatal Desolation.

No less remarkable were the accomplishments of those concerning its Approach and consummation. Christ admonished his Disciples to know, that whenMark. 13. 14. Luk. 21. 20. v. 28. they should see the abomination of D [...]solation stand where it ought not, i. e. Armies compassing Jerusal [...]m, the desolation thereof, but their Redemption drew nigh; and in order thereunto, he warned them (whenv. [...]1. they should see it so) to flee unto the Mountains: nei­ther did his compassions extend only to his Dis [...]i­ples: for even in the midst of their joyful Acclama­tions, when the stones themselves could scarce for­bear speaking his Praises, yet even then when the Heart of others would have leapt for Joy, his was cast down with sorrow for his Enemies; for he be­held the City and wept over it; saying, if thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy Day, the things which belong to thy Peace! but now they are hid from thine Eyes: for the Days shall come upon thee that thine Enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and com­pass [Page 105] thee round and keep thee in on every side, and shall l [...]y thee even with the Ground, and thy Children within Luk. 19. 41, 42, 43, 44. thee: and they shall not leave in thee one Stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. Not one of these Words passed away unfulfilled▪ for when Cesti­us besieged the City, it seems he did it not so close­ly but that many fled out of it, as if it would have been immediately taken: and who they were that did so,Joseph de bell. Jud. lib. 2. cap. 24. is not hard to guess, if we consider that our Saviour warned his Disciples (when they should see the Ci­ty in that Condition) to fly out of it: and that Eusebius and Epiphanius assure us that so they did, into a City beyond Jordan called Pella: where theyHist. Eccles. lib. 3. cap. 5. Epip [...]. lib. 1. Tom. 2. & Ebion. possessed their Souls in Patience. Thus were the days of Vengeance to the unbelieving Jews, a time of Redemption to sincere Christians; who being thus escaped out of the City and the Country too, Jerusalem (not very long after) was more closely b [...]sieged by Titus, whose puissant Armies cast such a Trench about it, as that they could not only plant their Engines against it's Walls, but also lay hands on them that brake out, and as well with Earth as Arrows, drive back those that stood on the Walls: yea they kept them in so closely, as that they had no way to esc [...]pe, no not so much as through those Mines or Vaults under the Walls, made for the conveyance of Water into the City; all which (saith Dio) did Titus obstruct, afterwards the Walls being broken down, and the Temple set on Fire, some cast themselves on the Swords of the Romans, others destroyed each other, others murdered themselves, and others leaped into the Flames, accounting it not an overthrow, but a kind of Victory, Health a [...]d Happiness, that they perished together with theDio Cassius Hist. Rom. lib. 66. Temple. But whatever they thought of it, our Sa­viour [Page 106] foretold it should be great Tribulation, such Mat. 24. 21. as was not since the beginning of the World, till that time: and such it seems it was, for Josephus thought verily that the Calamities of the Jews did for exceed Prol. in. lib. de bello Ju­daico. all those of former Ages. Nor was he without Rea­son to think so. For there were (according to his Computation) no less than an eleven hundred thou­sand that died by Pestilence and Famine, Fire andLib. 7. c. 17 Sword during the Siege. Thus were Jerusalem's Children layed on the Ground within her, and it was but a few days that she her self stood after; for ninety seven thousand being reserved for Captives the enraged Souldiers had no more to kill, nor any thing else to do, whereupon Titus commanded them to pluck up the very Foundations of the City and the Temple; and accordingly they layed them so even with the Ground, as that Travellers could scarce have Faith enough to believe the City was ever inhabited, or the Temple ever standing: for the Foundations of it Turnus Rufus tore up with a Plough-share. Thus punctual was Providence in fulfilling our Saviours Predictions concerning the Destruction of the Jews.

Who being thus rejected, the next thing in the oeconomy of the Gospel was, the calling of the Gen­tiles: this also was foretold by Christ, if not like­wise by his Apostles. But to me it seems unreasona­ble to expect Records of such Predictions by them: because both the History of their Acts and also their Epistles were all written to Persons so little concern­ed in it and on occasions so remote from it (if not also at times after it) as that they had scarce any at all to make mention of it: yet we therein read St. Peter had a Vision on purpose to teach him that he should not call any man common or unclean i. e. [Page 107] that he should make no difference between Jews and Gentiles, but that he should converse with and preach freely to the one as well as to the other, and therefore should make no scruple of going to Cor­nelius at Coesarea: St. Paul also in one Vision wasAct. 10. Act. 22. 21. Act. 16. 9, 10. sent to the Gentiles, in another he was called to help the Macedonians: hereby they assuredly gather­ed, that the Lord had called them to preach to the Gentiles: and if so, then surely they had some cer­tain foreknowledge of good success in so doing; and that the rest of them had so too, is manifest by their undertaking to do it. Had they not had this assurance, it would be hard to imagine that men so Wise and Rich as they were in all Vertues both intellectual and moral, should also be so strong i. e. so careless of their own easie and unmindful of their worldly Concerns, so resolute and courageous in pursuit of a Project so dangerous and grievous to Flesh and Blood in the Prosecution, and withal so unlikely (in the Eye of humane Reason) to take [...]ffect as theirs was: it is therefore most rational to conclude, they had some assured foreknowledge of good Success in their Labour: and this certain Foreknowledge (however discovered, whether by Prediction or otherwise) was a sure sign of a pro­phetick Spirit, because it is above the Power of Art or Ability of any Creature to impart it to another and Predictions themselves are no otherwise proofs of the Spirit of Prophecy, than as they make evi­dence of such Foreknowledge: if then the Apostles were indued with this, the matter was not much whether or no they were Authors of those; especial­ly in the thing now under Consideration: because Christ had foretold it before them, and sent to ful­fill it: and this he did so plainly in his Parables [Page 108] Mat. 22. 2. &c. Mat. 21. 33, &c. v. 45. (viz. that of the King which made a marriage for his Son, and that of the Housholder that planted a Vine-yard &c.) as that the chief Priests and Pha­risees perceived, he spake of them, and were much of­fended, because they found they were not in his esteem, as they were in their own, viz. such Fa­vourites of Heaven as still to keep the keys of God's Kingdom, which (as he plainly told them) should be taken from them and given to a Nation bringing forth [...]. 43. the fruits of it; i. e. the Gospel and Priviledg of be­ing the only Church and People of God, should be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles, who would be perswaded not only to believe, but also to receive it, and in their Practice to pursue the end and design of it, viz. all Vertue and Holiness of living, and this bl [...]ssed Efficacy of the Gospel, he illustrates by the Similitudes of Mustard-seed and Leaven; whereof the one (though the least of all Seeds, yet) grows to so great a bigness, as that the Birds of the Air may lodge in the Branches of it: and the other (though little also in Quantity, yet) is apt to diffuse it self and give a tincture to all the meal about it. So it seems the Gospel (be­ing sowen by the Apostles preaching) should so exceedingly grow and prosper among the Gentiles, as that they should fly unto it and lodge their Souls under it; and then by its secret invisible influence upon them, it should change and affect their Hearts and Actions that flow from them. Which certain­ly fell out accordingly; for such were the Apostles Pains and Travails, Industry and Success in Preach­ing, as that their sound went out into all the Earth, Rom. 10. 18. and their Words to the end of the World: which Words of St. Paul were perhaps literally true of the Apostles only in reference to the Jews, yet [Page 109] without any very great Hyperbole are also applica­ble to the Gentiles: for whosoever will take the pains to follow the Apostles whithersoever they went, will find they travailed almost all the known World over; insomuch that there was scarce any Region on earth but by them was shewed the way to Heaven: and that they were so successful as to convert almost all Nations, is methinks manifest, by those appeals the ancient Fathers made to the Enemies of Christ and his Kingdom. Irenaeus affirms that in his time (which surely was in the early Dayes of the Gospel, for St. Hierom writes he wasIn. vit. Ir. the Disciple of Polycarp, and 'tis thought that Poly­carp was the Disciple of St. John the Apostle) the Church was dispersed all the World over, and as the Sun the Creature of God is one and the same in all the World, so also the Preaching of one and the same Truth every where shines and enlightens them that are willing to come to the Knowledge of it. And Origen tells Cel­sus, Lib. 1. 13. the Gospel of Christ is preached in every Nation un­der Heaven; to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, to the Wise and to the Foolish; for the Word spoken with Power hath overcome the Nature of all men, insomuch that there is no sort of men whatever to be seen, among whom the Doctrine of Jesus is not received. And toLib. 2. those places spoken of in the Holy Scripture, Tertul­lian adds the mention of so many more, large and vast Regions, together with so many Provinces and Islands, almost hid and unknown before, be­sides others innumerable, as that he concludes, though the most flourishing and largest Kingdomes on earth had their Limits, yet the Kingdom and Name of Christ spread every where, was every where believed, all Nations every where worshipt it and sub­mitted to it: it was every where adored, and to all eve­ry [Page 110] adv. Jud. cap. 7. where equally distributed without respect to persons▪ Christ to all is equal, to all he is King and Judg, to all he is God and Lord. Not long after him Arnobi­us asked the Gentiles, whence it was, that in so short a time the whole World was filled with Christian Reli­gion. Lib. 1. But in this case methinks we have not much need of appealing to Antiquity: for, for ought I know the very being of Christianity at this day among the Gentiles is a Demonstration, that the Predictions which went before of their Conversion to the Faith of Christ are evidently fulfilled. What therefore Tertullian said to the Jews, may well enough be said to any one that doubts it: what we see done, thou mayest avouch with Confidence and believe without Hesitance.

The like may we do concerning another sort of Predictions, viz. of those about the being of Here­sies and Divisions among Christians: whereof our Saviour gave more than an intimation by his De­scription of false Prophets and his Cautions againstMat. 7. 15. &c. them: and the Apostles also of our Lord Jesus Christ spake before and told us, there should be Mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly Jude 18, 19. Lusts; these are they who separate themselves. Mock­ers and Separatists they could not be without He­resy and Division: manifest therefore it is, the Apo­stles foretold the being thereof among Christians; and there are scarce any called by that name but can bear witness to the Accomplishment of it. Yea the very enemies of Christianity (as Celsus for in­stance)Orig. lib. 3. took notice of it. Though 'tis confessed they did it to disgrace Christianity, yet unawares they did thereby somewhat confirm it, because the Founders foretold, that so it should be in after ages: and that in very deed it was and is so, both ancient [Page 111] and modern Heresies together with our present Di­visions, are so sad and evident a demonstration, as that all necessity of proving it is perfectly superse­ded.

Obj. Yet here perhaps an Observation which Ori­gen long since alledged in behalf of Christianity, may ibid. be objected against it or the Founders of it. viz. That there never was any thing of great use and estima­tion among men, but there arose Divisions and Diversi­ties of Opinions and Sects about it. As for example Physick▪ it is and ever was held to be good and useful to mankind, yet 'tis confessed that among the Greeks (perhaps also among the Barbarians that gave their minds to the Study of it) there were not only many Questions but divers Sects and Sorts of Physitians. Thus also Philosophy that promiseth the Knowledg of the Truth and directions for a good Life, it is well known there were divers Sects about it, some more some less famous. Yea and Judaisme it self, though acknow­ledged to be of divine Origine, yet gave occasion to Sects and Divisions among those that owned it so to be. From hence it follows, that though it be granted, Christ and his Apostles did foresee and foretell, there would be Divisions among their Followers, yet this doth not argue they were indued with the Spirit of Prophecy; because wise men (by compa­ring things past with things present) may guess at things future, yea by the strength of Ratiocination, they may be so verily perswaded concerning their future Existence, as that with some Confidence and good Success they may foretell it.

Ans. It seems then 'tis granted, that Christ and his Apostles were wise men, otherwise they could not have been Authors of such Conjectures: but that their Wisdom was herein more than rational Con­jecture, [Page 112] viz. supernatural Foreknowledg of future contingences, will appear, if we consider that theyMat. 18. 7. 1 Cor 11. 19. foretold not only that there must be Offences and Heresies, but also the means and manner of their Production, viz. the Addiction and Designes, the Artifices and cunning of Seducers, together with the Nature of their Doctrine and speciousness of their Pretences: all which I say were plainly fore­told by Christ and his Apostles. For our Saviour gave caution against them, because inwardly they Mat. 7. 15. were ravening Wolves, and St. Paul knew that after his departing, should grievous Wolves enter in among the Act. 20. 29. Elders of Ephesus, not sparing the Flock. Whereby 'tis plain that they would be men of an avaritious rapacious humour, making Advantages to them­selves out of others Expences and Destruction. And their Design would be very suitable to this their Addiction; for it was to be, to draw away Disciples v. 30. after them, and that not only for Ostentation and vain Glory, but for their own more real profit and Advantage, for through covetousness they would make 2 Pet. 2. 3. merchandise of them; to this end (it seems by predi­ctions) both their Doctrine and Pretences were to be very subservient: for though by their Do­ctrine2 Tim. 4. 4. men were turned unto Fables, yet these Fables (as St. Peter insinuates) were cunningly devised, not to make sport and laughter, but to sute the humours of men, that they might privily bring in damnable 2 Pet. 2. 1. Heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. But for these Fables and Heresies, they first prepared the minds of men by specious pretences, either to the Spirit of Prophecy, or the [...]xcellency of Vertue, or the gift of working Miracles, for they were to come Mat. 7. 15. in Sheeps cloathing, i. e. either wearing Sheeps-skins (as the Prophets sometimes did, and so they pre­tended [Page 113] to partake of their Spirit, and are therefore here cautioned against under their name) or else at their first coming they made shew of great Inno­cence and meekness, Patience and Humility &c. but it was but the sleight of men and cunning craftiness Ephes. 4. 4 whereby they lie in wait to deceive. To which end their coming was attended, not only with all de­ceiveableness of Ʋnrighteousness, but also with the working of Satan with all Power and Signes and lying Wonders; insomuch that (if it were possible) they 2 Thes. 2. 9. 10. Mat. 24. 24. would deceive the very Elect. These things we find foretold of Seducers; and every eye seeth they are in their Nature as contingent, and hidden as deep­ly as any thing the World affords from humane Conjecture; if then we can make it appear that these Predictions were punctually fulfilled, it will clear our Way to the designed Conclusion.

Know therefore that even in the Apostles times, when the Mystery of Iniquity first began to work, they themselves discerned the accomplishment of these Predictions: for the primitive Seducers were men of so profligate a Conscience and lewd an Ad­diction, as that they served not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own Belly; though they professed friend­ship;Rom. 16. 18. yet they were enemies to the cross of Christ, their God was their Belly, their Glory was in their shame and they did mind earthly things. Whereby it is plain,Phil. 3. 18. 19. they were (as it was foretold they would be, viz.) Men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the Truth sup­posing that Gain is Godliness. And this their perverse1 [...]im. 6. [...]. Supposition did doubtless dispose them to make merchandise of other Christians; insomuch that they sought not them but theirs, not their spiritual Good and Welfare, but their worldly Wealth and temporal Interests, that so they might make [Page 114] advantage to themselves thereby. This was their design.

In order hereunto, they seem wisely to have con­sidered, that their Power being only perswasive, not coercive, it would be their best way to adapt a Re­ligion to the Humours and Vices of men: according­ly we find, that the contemplative and studious they allured with great swelling Words of Vanity about no man knows what [...] or Ages, whichIren. lib. 1. cap. 1. they divided into an Ogdoad: a Decad, and a Dode­cad: wherein there were (as the Apostle saith) Fa­bles and endless Genealogies, which minister questions 1 Tim. 1. 4. Ir [...]n. lib. 2. c [...]p. 13. 19. rather than godly edifying, which is in Faith: the Fi­ction of which Fables and Genealogies, they stole out of Antiphanes his Theogony. So likewise they did divers of their Precepts out of heathen Philoso­phy: for their practical Divinity consisted in the Rudiments of the World, the Commandments and Do­ctrines Col. 2. 20. of men, touch not, [...] not, handle not: Ter­tullian therefore saith of the Hereticks, that they had brought forth a Stoical, Platoni [...]al and Dialectical Praescrip. adv. Haer. cap. 8. Christianity. Herewith they entertained the studi­ous; but they being but few in number in compa­rison with the more ignorant and vicious, they found it expedient to allow of the Vices, as well as the Learning of the Gentiles, and accordingly soIren. lib. 1. cap. 23. they did: for they held the use of all Lust indifferent: and herein their Practice was agreeable to their Opinion, for it is a Shame even to speak of those things Epbes. 5. 12. which were done of them in secret, and so infectiously wicked it seems they were, as that they perswaded others to be as bad as themselves: thence it was that the Ephesians were in some danger of being deceived with vain Words into an Opinion, that For­nication and all Uncleanness, Avarice and Filthiness, [Page 115] obscene and foolish talking and jesting were thingsv. 3. 4. 6▪ lawful, or at most but venial Sins.

Yet for all this (to allure the minds of the rigo­rous and austere) they pretended to great Mortifi­cation and Severity of living: other Christians in­dulged themselves the use of Marriage and all man­ner of Meats without distinction, but these were more mortifyed than so; they did forbid to marry and commanded to abstain from meats. The Appetites of1 Tim. 4. 3▪ the Flesh were so hateful and impure in their Sight, as that they thought marriage and the better [...]orts of meats too great an Indulgence to them, y [...]a, such was their zeal against them, as that some of them said▪ marriage was of the Devil: and many of them ab­stained from all living Creatures, and by this pretence of perfect continence, they seduced many. And no wonder,Iren. lib. 1. c [...]p. [...]3. since they were such morti [...]ied men, who would not take them for Saints? with these baits did these cun­ning Anglers fish for Christians from among the Gentiles, almost of all Sorts and all Inclinations.

The Jewish Christians (who were yet Zealous of Act. 21▪ 20. the Law) they enticed by asserting a necessity of Circumcision and keeping their Law. For they taught the Brethren and said, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, and keep the Law, ye can­not be saved. By this part of their Doctrine theyAct. 15. 1. 24. did conciliate the obstinate Jews and insinuate them­selves into those that believed, who partly for fear of Prosecution from their unbelieving Countrymen, and partly out of Love to their old Religion, were very apt to swallow their Poyson: whereunto also they added several Ingredients of most damnable Heresie. For even in St. John's time, many decei­vers were entered into the World, who confessed not that Jesus Christ was come in the Flesh. But because 2 Epist. 7. [Page 116] Vid. Iren. lib. 1. cap. 30. others thought he was, they made an high Pro­fession of him, that by the sweetness of his Name they might reach out this their bitter poyson unto them.

Which Poyson they sweetened with Pretences, it was very wholesome and useful to purge the Soul from the dreggs of Ignorance and Error, to enligh­ten the Mind, and inform the Understanding: for their profane and vain Bablings they had the Con­fidence1 Tim. 6. 20. 21. to call Science, and to make Profession of it. and from a pretended excellency of Knowledge they laid peculiar claim to the Title of Gnosticks (knowing men) as if none, no not St. Paul or St. Pe­ter or any other of the Apostles could plead an [...]quality to the greatness of their Knowledg, for they boasted that Iren. lib. 1. cap. 9. they knew more than all men else. And Knowledge we know is a thing so inviting, as that it hath no Enemies but the Ignorant, and scarce any so sot­tish as not to desire it, insomuch that it was a Temptation even to Eve in Innocence, when doubt­less her Knowledge was compleatly suted to her Innocence: yet even then [...]he judged the forbiddenGen. 3. 6. Fruit desireable, because it would make one Wise: We 'tis true have lost her Innocence, but not the Desire after Knowledge; no marvel then if with this pretence they allured many.

Especially considering, that though their Wisdom was Earthly, Sensual, devilish, yet they pretended it was from above, it came not of Blood or of the Will of the Flesh or of the Will of Man, but of God. For as the Devil in tempting our blessed Saviour hid his Lies under Texts of Holy Scripture, so (saith Irenaeus) do all Hereticks: what though (as Polycarp. observed) they wrested the Word oflib. 5. Epist ad phil. God according to their own Lusts, y [...]t it appeared [Page 117] thereby, they fathered their Lies upon the God of Truth: from whom also (as they pretended) their Fables sometimes descended by Tradition, and some­times by Revelation.

When they were urged and baffled out of the Holy Scriptures, they fell foul upon them, and ac­cused them of such depravations, insufficiences, va­rieties and obscurities, as that the Truth could not therein be found by any that knew not Tradition, and by Tradition they understood not (as others did) that which every where, always, and by all Chri­stians Vinc. Li­rin. cap. 3. is believed, but a more secret delivery of Truth down from one to another, not by Writing, but by Iren. lib. 3. cap. 2. word of mouth. Thus it seems they pretended to have received their Doctrine, not from the Apostles, but from the mouth of Christ himself; and there­fore in the Church of Corinth they were neither for Paul nor Apollo, no, nor yet for Cephas, but for1 Cor. 1. 12. Christ; as if Christ had transmitted such Doctrine to them as he withheld from others; or at least, such Doctrines as were but obscurely revealed to others by Holy Scriptures were plainly made known to them by Tradition.

But besides the Holy Scriptures and Tradition, they, (or at least some of them) pretended Revela­tion in behalf of their idle Fables, as Irenaeus makes evident by the example of one Marcus and other Gnosticks, who (as they gave out) did not only pro­phesie themselves, but had power to communicate the gift thereof to others, and accordingly (as they boasted and their Disciples believed) so they did to divers, especially of the weaker Sex; and by this pretence they deceived and drew many after them:Lib. 1. c. 9▪ and no wonder if they did so, for all men took Pro­phets to be holy Men of God, who spake as they [Page 118] were moved by the Holy Ghost: and who so pro­fligate from all Religion, as to think that they were such, and yet refuse to be led by, or partake of their Spirit? by this pretence therefore (how false and fabulous soever their Doctrine was) the foundation of Faith in it, and of Obedience to it, was laid in the Consciences of men; and this Foundation is of all others the most firm and immoveable, able to bear whatever superstructure shall be laid upon it; yea also, and to beat off whatever assaults shall be made against it; as appears by the improbability of some Doctrines, and severity of some Orders, still received and defended, because at first founded on the credit of pretended Visions and Revelations, all the diffi­culty was in the choice of the ground wherein to lay this Foundation, the minds of men that were of sharp, deep, and strong Discourse, were not apt to receive it, but men of shallow apprehensions and weak intellectuals were fittest and most prepared for it: this those builders of Babel, the primitive Sedu­cers seem wisely to have considered, for S. Peter in­sinuates, they were unstable Souls whom they begui­led, 2 Pet. 2. 14. Rom. 16. 18. 2 Tim. 3. 6. and S. Paul more expresly saith, they were the Simple whose hearts they deceived, they crept into houses and led captive silly women laden with sins, and led away with divers lusts; thus those in the Apostles dayes: and Irenaeus tells us of others, who a little after them, were most busie with women, especially those that were of greatest Quality, and most famous for world­ly Lib. eod. Grandieur and Riches: these they most frequently sought to impose upon and allure by flatteries.

But lest their deceiveableness of unrighteousness, viz. their Artifices of deceit should not be sufficient to secure the Foundation, they came also (as it was fore­told they would) with the working of Satan, with all [Page 119] Power and Signes and lying Wonders; for we read of Si­mon the Samaritan (the Founder of Heresies and Fa­therIren. lib. 1. cap. 30. of Hereticks) that he used Sorcery and bewitched the People of Samaria, giving out that he himself was some great one; to whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is the great Power of God. Act. 8. 9. 10. Yet as great as he was, he at length was in some measure subdued by a greater Power than his, for he believed and was baptized: yet, his heart not being v. 13. v. 21. right in the Sight of God, but supposing the Apostles to be greater Magicians than himself, he greedily contended against them, that he might seem more glorious than they; to this end he desisted not from the study of Magick, but made such farther progress in it, as that he provoked many to amaze­ment by it, for Claudius Caesar erected a Statue in Honour of him for it. After him the Carpocratians Iren. lib. 1. cap. 20. were much addicted to Magick and Inchantments, that they might entice others to love them: yea and they drew Devils to their assistance, that by many Delusions it might be in their Power to be Lord and Master of whom they pleased. Thus also it is re­portedEpitaph. lib. 1. To. 2. H [...]r. 27. of the before mentioned Marcus, that he was a very great Proficient in Magical Imposture, whereby he deceived many, both Men and Women. the likeIren. lib. 1. cap. 8. might I observe concerning others, but this may suffice to shew, that in this respect (as well as others) the primitive Seducers did exactly fulfill the Prophecies that went before of them: and from thence it is easie to inferr, that they who uttered them viz. Christ and his Apostles were Prophets; because the only ordinary and certain Mark of a Prophetick Spirit (viz. Predictions exactly accom­plish'd) is manifestly found in them.

[Page 120] But forasmuch as the Predictions of Christ and his Apostles concerning Seducers, are of use not on­ly to confirm the Faith, but also to direct the Judg­ment in the choice of what Teachers men ought to follow and adhere to, it would not be unuseful for us to make Trial of our Modern Teachers thereby: which if we should do impartially, I doubt not but we should find, that the Copy which was set by the false Teachers in the Apostles times, is too fair­ly transcribed by too many, especially the Papists in ours and consequently we need not search the Re­cords of Antiquity, our own age will afford us too sure and sad accomplishment of these Predictions▪ the demonstration hereof I did once intend, but finding I should thereby grasp at matter more sit for a Volume than a Section, I shall not so far di­gress; but proceed to speak

Sect. 6. Concerning the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles.

And here my business will be to prove, that they really wrought many and great Miracles. The Truth and certainty of which Proposition, (because Mira­cles were matters of Fact) is most properly demon­strable only by Testimony: yet Reason (methinks) proves it probable, or somewhat more: for granted it is on all sides that our Blessed Saviour himself (in re­gard of his Manhood) was but mean in the World: his Parents were no Persons of Honour, and he himself had but a mean Reception at his Birth, nor was he by the Jews much set by in his Life. He grew up as a root out of a dry Ground, they thought there was no Form, Comeliness, or Beauty in him, that [Page 121] they should desire him. They would see no such blossomes in his Youth, as promised any extraordi­nary Fruit in his riper age: wherein also he was despised and rejected of men, a man of Sorrows and acquainted with Grief, a Rock of Offence and Stone of Stumbling, set at naught by the Master-Builders of Israel, rejected by the chief of his own Nation, pursued by his Enemies, betrayed by one of his pretended Friends, denyed by another, and suspected by all: pursued and apprehended, bound and buffetted, arraigned and spit on, condemned and crucified by his own Country-men, as one of the worst of Malefactors: was this mans Name like to become great in Israel and famous among the Gentiles? yet this was he that sent forth his Apo­stles; and who were They? why men as mean as himself, persons of obscure Parentage, of no Repu­tation for Wealth or Wisdom, Honour or Authority in their own Country: yea so far from it, as that the chief of them was a Fisherman, and others as rude and illiterate as the meanest Mechanicks: and when they came abroad among the Gentiles, they were looked on as foolish Bablers, and were made as the Filth of the World, and off-scouring of all Things. Were these men likely to out wit the wise ones and to baffle the Philosophers? to be too cunning for the Devil and too strong for the Powers of Darkness? was their bare Word likely to pull down the strong Holds of Sin and Satan, and to convert the World from the Errors of its Wayes? and that by a sort of Doctrine which in divers points seemed Foolishness to the Wise, direct oppo­sition and contrariety to the carnal; and this de­livered not with enticeing words of mans Wisdom, but in the plainest simplicity of speech, nakedly re­presenting [Page 122] what they believed, had seen and heard. Were these men likely by such Doctrine so delivered without Miracles to take down the Gates of Brass, and break the Bars of Iron in sunder? to reform the World in spite of all Opposition? yet so they did: for by their preaching, mens beloved Lusts were divorced, the Devils Oracles were put to si­lence, his Prophets struck dumb, and Soothsayers were unconsulted: Temples were laid wast, and Al­tars demolished: the Wise were confounded by the Foolish, the Mighty by the Weak; the base and despised things of the World, yea and things that were not, brought to naught the things that were; although they were favoured and patronized by the Love and Liking, the greatest Power and Polity of Men and Devils, of Earth and Hell, all which took Council together and stood up against them. Yet such was the Efficacy of their Doctrine, as that though the Grecian and Roman Lawgivers (not­withstanding their Authority and Reputation for Wisdom and Power, and their Pretences to Inspi­ration from the Gods then worshipped) could not perswade even their next Neighbours, but only their own immediate Subjects to embrace their Laws; yet the Apostles drew not only them, but all bar­barousVid. Theo­dor. Ser. de Legibus. Nations to the Love of the Law of Christ; and that not by the force of Arms and Weapons but against it; insomuch that they and their Fol­lowers in all Places were begirt with Reproaches, and encircled with great Dangers, both to their Lives and Fortunes: yet all Mankind and all Nati­ons they perswaded to embrace the Faith and Laws of our crucifyed Jesus: and think ye, men were then so mortifyed to the Flesh, and crucifyed to the World, as that they would hazard their Ease and [Page 123] Pleasure, Wealth and Honour, Relations and Lives and all that was dear to them, upon the bare word of a few private persons preaching one Jesus cru­cified at Jerusalem? think ye that that could have done it without the Demonstration of the Spirit and the power of the Almighty, working Miracles to induce and perswade men to it? Surely all Na­tions could not be allured by naked Asseverations, or induced with vain Hopes to jeopard their lives, when they saw no such thing as a Miracle to invite them to Arnob. lib. 1. this their new Worship. 'Tis hardly imaginable that this could be: how much more rational therefore is it to conclude, that God by them did work Wonders and many Miracles among the Jews and Heathens.

Of which conclusion we are also assured by the Tradition of the Church, which in this case is so august and illustrious, as that there is nothing want­ing to make it most absolutely compleat and per­fect: it hath Universality, Antiquity, and Consent of all Christians to avouch its Authority and credibili­ty: it was every where, always, and by all believed, that Christ and his Apostles wrought Miracles to confirm their Doctrine. Was there ever any Nation on Earth where the Gospel was planted, but this was believed of them? and what Age hath ever passed since their time without transmitting the same Be­lief to Posterity? men of all Qualities and Coun­tries, of remotest Regions and different Customes, Languages and Perswasions in other matters, do all and ever did agree in this Assertion: thence is it that Arnobius with great reason asked the Gentiles, what we shall say of the men of that time (viz. wherein the Gospel was first preached) were they so vain and false, so foolish and brutish as to feign themselves to have seen [Page 124] those things they never saw? and so by false witness and childish asseverations to avouch those things that never were: and that when they did not only lose the sweets of Ʋnanimity and peaceable converse with their old Ac­quaintance, but also freely became so odious unto them, as that their very name was execrable: if the History of these things be false, whence was it, that the whole world in so short a time became Christian? or that Na­tions of the farthest distant Regions, driven, as it were, with the wind and convexions of Heaven, should yet come [...]ib. [...]od. together in this one mind? was it possible they should be all deceived, or have a design to deceive others? was the world so sottish as that it could be so im­imposed on? or was it so knavish as that it would so impose on all others? yet among so many Myri­ads both of Deceivers and deceived, there should be none able and willing to discover the Cheat? that was impossible; and so it will appear, if we consi­der the circumstances of that testimony wherein the Belief and Tradition of the Church seem founded, viz. the Times and Places wherein, and the Confi­dence wherewith it was given.

As for the time wherein it was first reported, that Christ and his Apostles wrought Miracles, it was not (as we know other reports have been raised, viz.) long after the Fact was done, but in that Age where­in the Doers lived, yea in those Years, Months, and Dayes, wherein the Facts (supposed to be Miracles) were done: while all men were musing in their hearts concerning the Wonders they saw and heard, and consequently while Interest in some, and Curio­sity in others, did prompt them to make enquiry into the Truth of the Report, and while if false, it might most easily have been found to be so; yet then did the first Witnesses of these things, with all [...]oldness give evidence thereof.

[Page 125] And that not in places far remote and distant from those wherein they were done, but even in them: where certainly if there had been any fraud, it might best and would effectually have been disco­vered: for the persons that found the effects, those also that opposed the design of these Miracles, viz. those on whom they were wrought, and those who were enemies to the belief of them, were then and there living, when and where the Report was first spread of them: and without all doubt in those times and places wherein Christianity was a Sect that was every where spoken against, there wanted notActs. 28. 22. those, who had both Wit and vigilance enough to have discovered the Cheat and falshood, if there had been any to be found, either in the pretended Mi­racles or the Testimony that was given of them; and is it not very strange, that in such times and places there were none that would undertake to de­tect the Forgery? in such a case, the silence of Ad­versaries seems more demonstrative than the Testi­mony of Friends. Especially considering, they had not only the advantages of time and place, but also provocations to have done it if they could: for such was the Confidence and noble Magnanimity of those that first avouched it, as that though they were stript of all Succour and Support from other men, and exposed to Contempt and Scorn, Curses and Execrations, Persecutions and Afflictions, Stripes and Imprisonments; in short, to all manner of hard­ships and Death it self in giving this Testimony, yet were they not moved with fear, or diverted from it, but they did constantly avouch it, and of­ten appeal to the Consciences of their implacable Enemies concerning the Truth of it. Thus St. Peter (as it were in the name of all the Apostles) tells the [Page 126] men of Israel, That Jesus of Nazareth was a man ap­proved of God among them by Miracles, Wonders and Signs, which God did by him in the midst of them, as Acts 2. 22. (saith he) you your selves also know. The Jews therefore could not, and Arnobius tells the Gentiles that they dare not attempt to convince it of Falshood: Lib. 1. the reason I suppose was, because (as Origen tells Celsus) it was not possible to deny, that the Miracles Lib. 2. (reported of Christ and his Apostles were done. In this case wherein the Christians had all imaginable motives to be silent, and their Enemies to speak, yet that none of them, either Jews or Gentiles, should be able to contradict their Testimony: how strange is it? how clearly and plainly doth it speak the truth of their Testimony, and vindicate them from all shadow of Suspicion, they had a design to cheat the World into belief of Lies? how evidently doth it shew the triumphant force of Truth and Energy of Conviction, that Christ and his Apostles wrought Miracles?

Which Energy of Conviction discovered it self by Concessions, as well as by forced Silence; for so apparently true was the Churches Tradition in this particular, as that some of his Enemies have added their suffrages to hers, that Christ and his Apostles wrought Miracles. The Jews it seems do openly confess it in their Jerusalem-Talmud and their Midras Cohele, where, they tell us, that the Grandson of R. Jehosua the Son of Levi, having swallowed Poyson, was recovered from danger of death thereby, through the Invocation of the Name of Jesus; but the Father understanding by what means his son was cured, was so maliciously un­grateful as to say, it had been better for him to have Avodaza­ra. died, than to be so cured, whereupon his ingratitude was presently avenged by the Death of his Son. To [Page 127] this Story they add another, the sum whereof is, that R. Elazar the Son of Duma, being bit with a Serpent, was healed by St. James. Among thePet. Gala [...] de Arcan. Fid. Cath. lib. 8. cap. Gentiles, the very bitterest of the Christians Ad­versaries did acknowledge as much: for Celsus pro­tested himself to believe the Stories of Christs mi­raculous Cures o [...] the Sick, and raising the Dead, and feeding the Multitudes with a few Loaves, and the Fragments that remained: all these things and whatever else the Disciples reported (as he thought) to amplifie the greatness of his Miracles, he profes­seth to believe were true, and grants we may believe they were done. It seems also that Iulian did ac­knowledge,Orig. lib. 1. the Lame and the Blind were healed, and those that were possessed with Devils received help in Bethsaida and Bethanie: and to enrage others a­gainstCyrillus lib. 6. Christ and his followers, Porphyrius under­took to tell them the reason why the City was so long afflicted with sickness: and that in his judge­ment was, because neither Aesculapius nor any other of the gods could have access unto it: for (saith he) since the time that Iesus was worshipped, no man can get any publick help from the gods. And from thatTheodoret Ser. 12. Gallimalfry of non-sense and errors, viz. the Alco­ran we may gather this Truth, that Messias Iesus the Son of Mary gave sight to the Blind, healed the Leprous, raised the Dead, and taught the Living, and that the Apostles did the same in his absence. If thencap. 3. Reason or Tradition, the testimony of Friends, or the Writings of Enemies will satisfie, we have (one would think) enough of all sorts, and that when some were vomiting Lyes and belching Blasphemies against Christ, his Person and his Doctrine, yet even then they confess, that He and his Apostles did those things which we take to be Mir [...]cles.

[Page 128] Obj. But here perhaps it will be said, that we are mistaken: it was of old objected, they were not real and true Miracles, but lying Wonders, Delusions of Satan and Effects of Magick: thus the Scribes and PhariseesMat. 9. 24. Mark. 3. 22. Arnob. lib. 1. among the Jews, and thus also many among the Gen­tiles: and this was thought so apparent, as that Celsus himself, although he had formerly written many books against Magick, was yet in a sort constrained to retract his Opinion, and confess that it had a Being in the things that were done by Christ and his Followers: for having granted the Truth of the Report, that such and such Wonders were indeed done by them, he immediately sub­joyns a comparison between them and the sleights of Juglers, who promise greater matters and more won­derful, yet are they but such as they learned from the Aegyptians, and for a few Farthings will shew in the midst of Markets: boasting that by their Arts they can cast out Devils, heal Diseases, recall the Souls of the Dead, prepare Tables sumptuously furnish'd with all manner of Dainties, and raise Ghosts that seem to move, though in truth they are void of all motion.

Origen. lib. 1. Ans. And so is this odious comparison of all Truth and Probability: for what communion hath Substance with Shadows? What agreement have substantial Changes with bare Appearances? Could Celsus have proved, that the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles were meerly Phaenomena of Fancy (as he calls these impostures of Juglers which he basely compares therewith) he had said something to the Purpose: but he had not the imp [...]dence to affirm that, nor so little wit as to attempt the Proo [...] [...]f it: this therefore (as Origen justly tells him) is not the part of a Disputant, but of the unlearned Vulgar; an effect of Passion unworthy of a Philosopher, whom it becomes (not impertinently to rail at, but) can­didly [Page 129] to examine a matter that lyes b [...]fore him: which if Celsus had done impartially, he would without doubt have found, that swe [...]t Wa [...]r and bitter might be sent forth from the same Foun­tain, as well as the Miracles of Christ and the Delusions of Inchanters from the same Cause, viz. the Devils Malice. For so evident it is to the Reason of all men, as that it was almostVid. Grot. in Mat. 12▪ 25, 26. a Proverb among the Greeks and Romans as well as Jews, that every Kingdom divided against it self is brought to Desolation, and every City or House divided against it self shall not stand: and manifest it is that if Satan cast out Satan he is divided against himself; how then shall his King­dom stand? 'Tis true indeed, we are not igno­rant of his Devices, among which perhaps it was sometimes one, at the Word of Inchanters to recede a while, as an Army may feign a slight thereby to get a greater advantage of the Enemy: but to weaken his Kingdom, much more to de­stroy it, is undoubtedly none of Satan's contri­vance: is he such a Fool as to cast himself out of Possession? no surely, the common Sentiments of all men concerning him abhorr it; well then, those Miracles the scope and tendency whereof is to disposess him and destroy his Works, can­not be the Products of his Power. No In­chanter or Jugler by any thing that he doth (as Ori­gen well observes) ever calls his Spectatours to the Correction of their manners, nor do such Sights ever instruct those that are indued with the fear of God; nor doth any Jugler ever so much as attempt [...]o perswade beholders so to live as those whom God will judge. Inchanters do none of these things, be­cause [Page 130] they neither can nor will have any thing to do with the amendment of mens lives, for they them­selves are full of the foulest Vices, and guilty of the contra Cels. lib. 1. most detestable Wickedness. Their Sights and Shews served for no other Purpose but to raise Wonder and Admiration, to beget astonishment, and amaze the Multitudes: but the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles were not done with vain Ostentation to display their own Power or Cunning, but that hard hearted men and incredulous might know that what they avouched was not false, and from the Goodness of the Works might learn more Arnob. ib. 1. throughly to conjeciure what the true God is. So that they by their Miracles did not only con­firm their Doctrine (the Scope and Design whereof is to extirpate Vice, and Implant the choicest Vertue of all sor [...]s) but also they there­by gave the highest instances thereof, by decla­ring the Power and Goodnessof the divine Na­ture. Their healing the Sick, of all Diseases, their making the Lame to walk, the Blind to see, the Dea [...] to hear, and the Dumb to speak, together with their cleansing of Lepers, and feed­ing the Hungry, raising the Dead, and casting out Devils; what incomparable Mercies in God and Kindnesses in them were they to the afflicted, as well as Wonders to all? how evidently did they demonstrate Gods Goodness and their Cha­rity, as well as their Mission from God and their Zeal for him? and what can be more di­rectly opposite to Satan, or destructive to his Kingdom than such Miracles? they chased away evil Spirits, and imposed silence on their Prophets: they made Soothsayers unconsulted and frustrated [Page 131] the Actions of arrogant Magicians, not by the horror of the name of Jesus, but by the licence of its greater Power. So that Christ and his ApostlesIdem ibid. by their Miracles did in a manner wage open War with Satan, and declare themselves his ut­ter Enemies. How than could the Power where­by they did them (since they used it against him) be derived from him? Satan we know is subtle, and his subtilty directs the Establish­ment of his Kingdom, not it's Eversion: think ye then that he would enable men to destroy it, to release his Captives and set free his Vassals, to turn him out of Possession and so to beat him with his own Weapons? this is impossi­ble: impossible therefore it is that the Mira­cles of Christ and his Apostles should be his Delusions: what then were they but real and true Miracles, Works that God did by them above the Power of Nature ordained in the Creation?

Hereof also we are yet f [...]rther assured by the continuance of Miracles in the Church for several Ages after the Death of Christ and all his Apostles. And of this we are assured by very credible Testimony of the Ancient Fathers; who herein cannot be suspected of Falshood or Forgery; because if so, it might easily (as they gave it) and would certain­ly have been detected by their Adversaries, to whom (for the most part) they alledged it. Thus Iustin Martyr told Trypho the Iew, that the Devils do fear and tremble at the name of our Redeemer. For, to this very day (saith he) being adjured by the Name of Iesus Christ [Page 132] crucified under Pontius Pilate, Governour of Ju­daea, they obey: that thence also it may be mani­fest to all, that the Father hath given him such Power, as that Devils are subject to his Name,Dial. pag. 247. Ed. par. and the oeconomy of his Passion. Wherefore also by his Name (saith Irenaeus) those that are tru­ly his Disciples, receiving Grace from him, con­fer benefits on other men, according to the Gift which each one hath received from him. For some do assuredly and truly cast out Devils, that they who are cleansed from Evil Spirits may believe, and be in the Church, as they are most frequently: Others have the knowledge of future Contingences, Visions, and the Word of Prophecy: Others, by the Impos [...]tion of hands cure the Sick, and make them sound: Yea also in this Age, the Dead have risen, and continued with us ma­ny years: and what shall I say more? I cannot reckon the benefits, which the Church throughout all the World, receiving from God, doth every day confer on the Gentiles in the name of Christ Ie­sus, crucified under Pontius Pilate: and this she doth, neither seducing any man, nor taking his Mo­ney from him: but as she hath received freely from God, so freely she gives: Neither doth she any thing by Invocation of Angels, nor by Inchantments, or any kind of wicked Curiosity, but purely, and sincerely, and manifestly directing her Prayers to the Lord, who hath made all things, and exalt­ed the name of our Lord Iesus Christ in great Pow­er,Lib. 2. cap. 58. for the profit of men, and not for their se­duction.

Not long after him, Tertullian sent a bold and daring Challenge to the Governours of the Roman [Page 133] Empire, wherein, to prove that their Gods were Devils, he offers them to make an Experiment in this manner: Let there (saith he) he a man brought before your Tribunals, of whom it is evident that he is possessed with a Devil; that Spirit being commanded by any Christian to speak, shall there (of a truth) confess himself to be a Devil, as well as elsewhere falsely, to be a god. Let there also be ano­ther produced, of whom it is thought that he is under the force of Divine Asslations, namely, one of those, who attending the Altars, suck in Divinity from the smell, or of those who are cured by the belching of the Priests, or of those that foretell by the difficulty of their breathing: Yea, the caelestial Virgin her self that pro­miser of rain, Aesculapius that Demonstrator of Medi­cines, or otherwise the Dispenser of Scordium Dena­tiumVid. Frau. Jun. Not. and Asclepiadoton to the dying: unless they confess themselves Devils, not daring to lye unto a Christian, there shed you the blood of that shameless Christian. Than this Work what more manifest? than this Proof what more faithful? the sincerity of Truth is conspicuous; its vertue assists it, there will be no colour for suspicion, that it was done by Magick or any the like Fallacy. Like unto this is that Appeal of Minutius Felix to other Heathens. Most of you Apol. c. 23. know that they themselves confess themselves Devils, as oft as by the Torments of Adjuration or Flames of Devotion we cast them out of possession; even Saturn, Serapis, and Jupiter himself, and whatever other Devils ye worship, being overcome with grief, speak what they are; neither lye they for the advantage of their Villany, as they do to some, especially of you that Patronize their Cause; confessing the truth of themselves, believe that they are Devils, themselves be­ing [Page 134] witnesses: for being adjured by the true and only God▪ they unwillingly either cling to the miserable bo­dies of the possessed, or else they forthwith forsake them, [...]r else they vanish by degrees, according to the [...] edit. Ox. 1 [...]36. Faith of the Patient▪ or the Grace of the Physician. About the same time Origen told Celsus, that to that [...]ry [...]ib 2. day Cures were wrought by the Name of Jesus. And again afterwards he saith, We can shew innu­merable multitudes both of Greeks and Barbarians, that confess the Faith of Jesus: for the sake of which Faith, some of them have received something miraculous, the signs whereof they shew by Curing the Sick: on whom they use no other means of Reco­very, but calling on the God of all, and the Name of Jesus, together with the History of him; for by these means we our selves h [...]ve seen many rescued from grievous Evils, Distractions and Madness, and many other Diseases, which neither Men nor Devils were Lib. 3. able to cure. And that the Christians of that Age wrought not these Cures by the Power of the De­vil, he farther yet makes evident, by their Eje­ction of him wherever they found him: the Pow­er of Christ did so triumph over him, as that al­most the meanest Christians could dispossess him: For, More than a few of them were able to drive him away from them that suffered by him; and that without any curious magical or poysonous thing, but only by Prayer and pure Invocations, such as a simple Lib. 7. man may make. For, private Christians most frequent­ly do it, the Grace of Christ in his Word thereby dis­covering the contemptibleness and weakn [...]ss of the Devil's that in order to their Ejection from the Soul and Body of a man, there was no need so much as of a Wise man, or one that was mighty in rational Demonstrations of [Page 135] the Faith. To the same Purpose St. Cyprian wisheth that the Proconsul of Africa (a great Persecutour of the Christians would hear and see (the Devils whom he worshipt as Gods.) ‘When (saith he) we ad­jure and vex them with spiritual Scourges, and when by the torments of Words we cast them out of possessed Bodies, when at the Word of Man by the Power of God as it were feeling Stripes and Scourges they cry out and groan and confess there is a Judgment to come. Come and know that what we say is true. And be­cause thou sayest, thou so worshipest the Gods, either believe those whom thou dost worship, or if thou wilt, b [...]lieve thy self; he that hath now besieged thy breast and blind [...]d thy mind with a night of Ignorance, shall sp [...]k i [...] [...]hy h [...]ring con­cerning thy self: thou shalt see that we are in­treated by those, of whom thou art afraid and adorest: thou shalt see them s [...]and bound und [...]r our hands, and tremble b [...]ing Captives, whom thou dost honour and ven [...]rate as Lords.’ AndCon [...]r [...] Dem [...]tri­anum. after him La [...]tantius testifyed, ‘that they fly from the Just, and tremble; because when they possess the Bodies of men and vex their Souls, being by them adjured, the Name of the true God cha­seth them away. For, having heard it, they trem­ble, cry out, and testifie that they are burnt and scourged: and being asked who they are, when when they came, and how they entred into a man, they confess; being thus constrained and tortured, by the vertue of Gods Name, they are banished; because of these lashes and threatnings, they have alwayes hated holy and just men; and because by themselves they cannot hurt them, [Page 136] those whom they feel grievous to them, they pur­sue with publick hatred, and exercise Cruelty as violently as they can, either that by grief they might diminish their Faith, or (if they cannot effect that) that they might utterly take themDe Justi­tia, lib. 5. cap. 22. from the Earth, le [...]t they should survive to restrain their wickedness.’ Now than this, what is there more demonstrative, that Christian Miracles were not wrought by the Power of Satan? Since they bound and scourged him, took him captive, and thr [...]w him out of possession, it is manifest the Pow­er that did them was greater than his, and contra­ry to it: and can he give greater Power than he himself hath? No surely. Nor will he, neither in­deed can he change himself into an Angel of Light to destroy, but only to uphold the Kingdom of darkn [...]ss; and if that be impossible, much more so was it for him to have given Power to one, that at the Invocation of his Name by others, not only all Diseas [...]s should be healed, but also he himself [...]ormented and ejected. This Power, (Arnobius ob­serves) that Jupiter C [...]pitolinus himself scarce grant­ed to any Moral, no not to his own chief Pri [...]. I wil [...] not demand (saith he) that he should r [...]ise the Dead, or restore light unto the Blind, or give Strength and Beauty to the Lame and deformed▪ but that either by the command of his Voice or touch of his Hand he should so much as suppr [...]ss a Pimple a [...]l [...]ft from the Nail or Wheal of the Skin. And since so trivial a Power as this was not conferr'd by the chief of the Gods, he might well (as he doth) with Confi­dence challenge the Gentiles to summon the most renowned Magicians from all Quarters, to give to one of the people Power [...]o make the Dumb to speak▪ the [Page 137] Deaf to hear, the born-blind to see, to restore Sense and Motion to members long cold and withered. Or if that be an hard matter, such as they cannot give Power of doing unto others, let them do it themselves, and that with their Rites too; whatever poysonous Herbs the Bosomes of the Earth do nourish, whatever force there is in their rumbling of Words and the ad­joyned Causality of Verses, we envy it not, let them gather it. It liketh us to try and know whether they with their Gods can do that which Country Christians can by their naked commands. lib. 1.

And it seems by St. Austin, that this Power of working Miracles continued in the Church (though not so conspicuously) a long time af­ter; for he testifies, that even in his time (viz. in the fourth Century) Miracles were done in the name of Christ, either by his Sacraments or by Pray­ers at the Monuments of his Saints. And for Proof hereof he relates the stories of divers, where­ofDe Civit. Dei Lib. 22. cap. 8. he himself had been an Eye-witness. Thus apparent it is and much more abundantly evident, might it be made, that the Disciples of Christ for several Ages after his Death, wrought Mi­racles in his name, and cast out Devils: and surely, these Miracles of theirs do conciliate Authority to the Churches Tradition concerning those of Christ himself and his Apostles. For 'tis not possible that he who granted this Power to his Disciples should want it himself; and next to an Impossibility it is, that in his Circumstances he should never make use of it; nor is it at all pro­bable, that he would confer it on his meanest Disciples in private capacities, and that when his Gospel was every where planted, and deny or [Page 138] withhold it from the chief of his Followers, those whom he chose to be his Witnesses and Foun­ders of his Faith throughout all Nations. That this should be the oeconomy of his dispensations, it's an astonishment to Reason to imagine, but that it was not, is most highly agreeable; insomuch that with Confidence we may conclude, there is no matter of Fact whatever (although of a far less distance) of whose Truth we have more or indeed so much reason to be perswaded, as we have of the Churches Tradition, that Christ and his Apostles wrought many and great Miracles.

Yet (if we may believe St. Austin,) that he who still requires Prodigies that he may believe, is him­self [...]ib. sup. a great Prodigy, it is to be feared there are more than a few such Prodigies in our Age: for an admired Author asks the Question: How can one that saith those things he saith or teach­ [...]th were confirmed by Miracles be believed, unless that he also himself hath done a Miracle? The reason of this Question (such as it is) he sub­joyns in another: For if a private man be to be believed without a Miracle, why among thoseHobbs de Hom. cap. 14. Sect. 3. that teach diverse things is one to be believed rather than another.

Because there are other Motives of Credibi­lity besides Miracles: why else should this un­lucky Author be believed in any thing he saith, that's different from others? but whether it be fit he should or no, I shall not now enquire, but only observe.

[Page 139] First, That Miracles have been done, may be believed upon the Credit of Testimony, without the doing of any Miracle to confirm it. The possibility of Miracles I now take for granted, and so also I might this Observation, had it not been for this Authors sly insinuation, that without the doing of a Miracle, it cannot appear credible that ever there were any. But why so? is there any thing in the Nature of a Miracle that renders the Attestation of it incredible? It seems not: for the same Author else where de­fines a Miracle to be a Work of God (besides his Operation by the way of Nature, ordained in the Creation) done for the making manifest to his elect, the Mission of an extraordinary Minister for their Sal­vation. Leviathan p. 3. c. 37. Whether a Miracle be a Work of God only besides and not also above his Operation by the way of Nature ordained in the Creation; and what precious ones this Authors Elect are, it doth not at present concern me to enquire: but only to observe, that whosoever they are, the designed end of a Miracle (according to him) is to make manifest unto them, the Mission of some extraordinary Minister for their Salvation. Be it so, that this (as in Part at least it undoubt­edly) is the End and Scope of real and true Miracl [...]s: I would fain know of this Author how a thing that is incredible can make ma­nifest a thing that is not? The Mission of an extraordinary Minister (although not hastily to be b [...]lieved, yet) is not incredible, but a Miracle it seems is, how then can it make it manifest? But if this be impossible or unin­telligible, whence comes it to pass, that God [Page 140] makes choice of such a thing to make mani­fest another? doth this Author think the Wis­dom of God so short, or his Power so weak as to lay and effect his Designes no better? if so, he may change apprehensions with Epicurus Pil. [...]ud. c. 15. §. 14. (as wretched as he thinks his) and yet be no looser by the bargain. But whatever he thinks of God, I cannot think him so void of Reason as to deny, that that which makes manifest, must it self be more manifest than that which it makes so: manifest therefore I take it to be, that if the end of Miracles be to make manifest, they themselves must needs be so; and if ma­nifest, then credible, and if credible why may they not be done before credible Witnesses? And why may not those Witnesses report them truly to other credible Persons? And why may not this Report be transmitted to Posterity? And why may not Posterity b [...]lieve it, as well as it doth those concerning Alexander, Julius C [...]sar &c? What Impossibility, Immorality or Imprudence is there in so doing? If there be none, then,

Secondly, It is needless to demand the doing of Miracles to prove that there have been some done: the Reason is manifest; because this Assent may be built upon another foundation, viz. Testimony of credible Witnesses, transmitted or delivered down throughout all Ages to Posterity: the sufficiency of this foundation to bear that Superstructure, will be evident, by the firm Assent that men build upon less credible Testimony: whereof they give evi­dence in almost all affairs of humane Life. The [Page 141] Nobleman claims his Peerage, the Gentleman his Estate, the Merchant ventures his money, and the Traveller takes his Journey, the honest Lawyer Pleads, and the just Judge pronounceth Sentence upon the credit of Testimony: and such is the ne­cessity of Testimony, as that the Child cannot learn his Letters, nor the Scholar attain his knowledge in the Sciences, nor the Mechanick skill in his Trade, nor indeed can we our selves know our own Names, without assenting to Testimony: yet so firm an Assent do we yield unto it, as that there is nothing more ridiculous, and hardly accomplish­ed, than perswasion of us out of our Names. Most firm Assent therefore we see is yielded to Testimo­ny, and that such as is not more, perhaps less cre­dible, than that whereby the knowledge of Christs Miracles is conveyed unto us; for it hath not An­tiquity, Universality, and Consent of all Parties (as this hath) to avouch its Credibility: most firm Assent therefore may, and (in reason) ought to be given to it: for, where there is certain Credi­bility in the matter propounded, and also in the Testimony that propounds it, there doth arise up­on men an obligation to believe: as appears by the Law of Nature concerning Converse, which would serve to very little or no purpose, if the motives of Credibility do not induce an obligation to believe. It seems therefore, that the Testimony or Tradition whereby we understand that Christ and his Apostles did many and great Miracles, we not only may, but also we ought to believe: because there is a certainty of Credibility, both in the Matter propounded, and also in the manner of its proposition to our consideration: and if this renders it a Duty to believe, then,

[Page 142] Thirdly, It is both wicked and absurd to de­mand a Miracle to induce our Assent unto it. It is wicked, because it not only hinders the perfor­mance of our Duty, but also meerly to gratifie an unreasonable Humour, it importunes Almighty Power and Wisdom (without any necessity) to change the course of Nature, or at least to act be­sides it: and what affront more petulant and sau­cy can we easily offer to Divine Majesty? It is also absurd as well as wicked: for, suppose a man in this Age should really work a Mira­cle; if the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles may not be received on Testimony; then nei­ther may that, how then shall the knowledge of it be conveyed to all that are concerned in it? why they themselves must both see it done, and use all means possible to consider, whether it be such as no man can do the like by his Natural Power, but that it requires the immediate hand of God. L [...]viathan. part 3. cap. 37. It seems then, if what one saith was confirm­ed by Miracles, be of concern (as Christian Reli­gion is) to all People in all Ages and places of the World; there must be almost as many Mi­racles wrought to confirm this saying, as there are single Persons; how else should each Person concerned therein see one done? and then Mi­racles would be no Wonders, they would change their Nature, and lose their Efficacy: and be­sides that, every one must then be a diligent searcher into Nature; how else can he use all means possible to consider, whether the pretend­ed Miracle be such as no man can do the like by his Natural Power? No (saith the Author) that is needless: Herein also they must have re­course [Page 159] to Gods Lieutenant. It seems then at lastibid. they must be assured by Testimony: but why may not the Testimony or Tradition of the Ho­ly Ca [...]holick Church (strengthened by the con­cessions and suffrages of its Enemies) be believed, as well▪ as the word of Gods Lieutenant? but I shall say no more; hereby it is plain enough, that this Author and his Followers seek not for Truth and Certainty, but to palliate their Atheism or Infidelity. And, pity it is, that their sugge­stions should disturb any ones reliance on the Pillar and ground of Truth, the House and Church of the Living God: by whose Testimo­ny and Tradition we are so very well assured of the truth of our Saviour and his Apostles Miracles, as that we have little or no reason to envy either the Jews or Gentiles whose eyes were blessed with the sight of them: For, to what purpose did their eyes then serve them? Was it not to convey those their Credentials to their Un­derstandings? Yes, doubtless; they therein had little other benefit by the use of them. And is not this abundantly supplied unto us by the Tra­dition of the Church? Which (if well consider­ed) will be found as incapable of Deception as our Senses. For ought I know, mine Eyes may as soon be deceived in an Object of Sight, as the whole Church in this its Tradition: how­ever, if Christ and his Apostles did not do Mi­racles, it certainly is a Miracle that the World should receive their report without them, and a lying Wonder (much more incredible than what we plead for) that the whole Church through­out all Ages should so confidently believe and [Page 160] teach that they did them. Although therefore the sight of Miracles might perhaps make deeper Impressions on the Fancy and Affections; yet the Tradition of the Church is full out as convincing to our Reason and Judgment, that Christ and his Apostles wrought many and great Miracles.

CHAP. V. The Strength and Force of the Preceding Arguments.

NOthing now therefore r [...]mains of my pro­mise, but the last Part, which is, to show that this way of proving Christ and his Apostles were Pro­phets, is very sufficient and Rational. And this it will appear to be on the account both of its Re­moval of all suspition, that they were not, and of its positive Evidence that they were.

All just Suspition that they were no Prophets, must be Founded on a Probability, either that they pretended not to the Spirit of Prophecy; or if they did, that they therein were deceived; or else that they had a design to deceive others: but by the preceding Arguments, it is manifest that nei­ther of these is true. For,

1. It is hardly possible for men to have the Antecedents, or Concomitants and Consequents of Prophecy, and to use them (as they did,) [...]n Order to the Propagation of Doctrine, and yet not pretend to the Spirit of it. Had their mouths been perfectly silent, their Actions would have de­clared plainly to what they pretended; Their Do­ctrine they Taught, to be the Word of God, and not of man: In the Propagation of it they made Evidence of that Wisdome, Fortitude and Vertue▪ which attended the Prophets in the discharge of their Function; and for the Demonstration of their Mission to Teach it, they Foretold Future Contingences, and wrought many and great Mi­racles▪ [Page 162] And how could all this be without a pre­tense to the Spirit of Prophecy and the Office of Prophets? and if this be Evident by their Actions without their Words, much more so is it in con­junction with them; for as a mans Actions may either Enervate or strengthen the credibility of his protestations and pretensions, so his Words pro­testations or Declarations, may very much Illu­strate the purport of his Actions; they remove all doubt that otherwise might be made concerning them. Since then Christ and his Apostles did not only take upon them to do the Work of the pro­phetick Office; but did also say that they were Pro­phets,Matt. 13. 57. Luk. 13. 33. Act. 2. Eph [...]s. 3. 4, 5. it is very Evident that they took them­selves, or at least pretended to be so.

2. And that they were not deceived in taking themselves to be Prophets will hence also be Evi­dent, if we consider, that this was hardly possible without Enthusiasme, the Spirit of Divination, or some such other Fantastick delusions: but Enthu­siasts or Diviners it is Evident they were not, be­cause they were wise, Men of sound minds, and discerning Intellects, which were so great preser­vatives against the delusions of Enthusiasme andDe Orac. defec. Divination, as that in the Opinion of Plutarch, prudence doth Repell and oftentimes Extinguish them: hereof he insinuates a reason, viz. Because Pru­dence doth cherish that modesty and sobriety which are destructive to those Calentures and In­ [...]lammations, which are requisite to the Being of them. And these usually were therein so great and fervent, as that during the prevalence of En­thusiasme or Divination, Men had not the use of reason, nor indeed could they: because these things being in themselves such as partake not of reason, [Page 163] they could rise no higher than the fancy, where (dwelling like storms and tempe [...]s in the middle Region of the Air,) they did disturb and disor­der the Phantasmes, and present them tumultuous­ly to the Understanding, and by so doing they did Eclipse its Light and hinder its influence, in so much that either (as Maimonides saith,) nothingMor. Neu [...] par. 2▪ c. 37. of the rational Faculty could pass f [...]rth into Art; or else at least it could pass no true Judgment on things so represented to it. Hence no doubt it is, that all sorts of Writers concerning them, (viz. Vid. Smiths Disc. of Prophecy▪ cap. 4. Heathens and Jews, as well as Christians) have ob­served, that they were always accompanied with Alienations and Abreptions of mind. But that the Testimony of Jesus was so in Christ and his Apostles, who so absurd, as well as impudent to affirm? In pretending to the Spirit of Prophecy therein, how then can it be Thought that they were deceived by Enthusiasme, or the Spirit of Divination? What madness or Phrensy? What Alienations or Abreptions of mind can impartial Reason charge upon them? where can we find such admirable Wisdom, so becoming the Attri­butes of God, and agreeable to the Reason of Man, so Transcendent to others and Coherent with it self as in their Doctrine? and where was Wisdom ever Taught with so great temper and Moderation, calmness of Spirit and presence of mind as in their delivery of it? What shadow than of Enthusiasme, or of any other such Delusion can there be found in them? and if not by such De­lusion, much less probable (if possible) is it, they should have been deceived into a conceit that they were Prophets, by the perswasions of others. It seems no [...] in the power of any, meerly by Mo [...]al [Page 164] suasion (as this was if any way, because opposed by all the Powers and the fury of the people then in being,) to beat it into the heads of wise Men, or the hearts of good ones so to believe that they themselves were Prophets, as to Jeopard their lives in pursuit of the others suggestions, and that under the Notion of Divine Revelations can Wisdom be seduced into such folly, or Holiness be guilty of such lies and wickedness? since therefore they were Wise, Strong and Rich in contentment and all Vertue, it is (at least Morally) impossible they should be so deceived by any such slie insinua­tions.

3. Hence also it follows, that they had no de­sign to deceive others, for how was it possible for wise Men that feared God and eschewed Evil ever to consent to, and prosecute so wicked and improbable an undertaking? It is no way likely that Men whose rejoycing was this, the Testimo­ny of their Conscience, that in simplicity and Godly sincerity, not with fleshly Wisdom, but by the grace of God they had had their Con­versation in this world: it is, I say very unlikely (if not impossible) that such Men as these should be Impostors in the main Work of their lives: had they bin Men of Artifice and fineness, of Lewd lives and dissolute examples, that followed cun­ningly devised Fables of Fleshly Wisdom, it might have been suspected that they contrived a story: but such was the plainness of their Speech and open­ness of their Carriage among Men, as that they not only Preached, but lived down deceit and for­gery: and was it possible for such Men to lay out their Lives against their Conscience, and all in pur­suance of a Cheat, and to begin it at Jerusalem, [Page 165] where if there had been any Fraud, it best might and certainly would have been discovered? Yea, and there to be so confident and daring, as to Challenge their enemies to convince them of Sin, and Appeal to them concerning the Truth of what they avouched. How Foolish and Mad had they been in so doing, beyond all Example, if they had not been far from a design of Threatning the World out of its Old Religion, into a New One of their own devising! But by the Wisdom and Prudence we before observed to be in them, it appears without Shadow of probability, that they would have Engaged in a design so dangerous in the attempt, and so unlikely to take Effect, unless they had had Divine Warrant and Command for it. No prudent Man contented with his condi­tion, Studies his own death and Misery: it is hope of obtaining some Good, or avoiding some Evil which makes Men expose themselves to danger: but Christ and his Apostles being stript of all man­ner of Defence and Succour from Wealth, Friends, or Honour, whence could they hope for any such thing? what Gain or Glory, what Ease or Pl [...]a­sure, what Safety or any thing else that Allures the minds of Men were they like to get? Yea, rather what losses and poverty, what infamy and disgrace, what Hardships and Labours, what Pe­rils and Evils of all Sorts did they not For [...]see were like to befal them in their Enterprize? Yet were they not moved with Fear, or diverted from it; but all their days they pursued it, even to the ef­fusion of their Blood: which one thing to an im­partial considerer ought in all Reason to perswade him, that (since they were Wise and sober Men, no ways misled by the D [...]lusions of Enthusiasm, [Page 166] or any other Phanaticism) it was the force of Con­viction and Energy of the Prophetick Spirit, that wrought in them so mightily. What else could possibly be the cause or reason of their admirable Fortitude and Magnanimity in the Propagation of the Gospel? for how is it imaginable that Wise, Sober and prudent Men, (whose understandings were perfected and advanced beyond examples both of Former and Latter Ages,) how I say can it be imagined, that these Men (continuing such) should be so rash and Brutish as to live con­tradictious to the propensities of Nature and In­junctions of their own Doctrine? among the Phae­nomena of Nature, there is none more mani­fest than that it dictates its own preservation so far as Lawfully it may: and among the Articles of our Faith there is scarce any more plainly TaughtRom. 9. 5. Rom. 8. 31. us, than that though Christ be over all, God blessed for ever, yet He was sent in the likeness of sinful Flesh. Not that he so took the likeness of sinful flesh, as if he had assumed only the Image not the Truth of a body, but by the likeness of sinful flesh the Apostle is to be thought to mean, that that very Flesh which Christ assumed, although in Him it was innocent, yet was it like to that which inTertull. de carne Christi cap. 16. us is sinful, like it in the kind, not in the Vice of Adam: and consequently that it had all the Parts, Properties and general Infirmities (Sin only exce­pted) of our mortal bodies; surely, therefore he had as we have, a Natural appetite to Meat and Drink, and other supports of human Nature in this its Estate of Mortality and imperfection: and that his Apostles were men of the like necessities, ap­petites and passions, there is none that make a Question: how then was it possible, but that Na­ture [Page 167] should prompt them to put some esteem on those persons things and callings, which were most likely to supply th [...]ir Natural n [...]cessities? and there is nothing in their Doctrine that teacheth a neglect of them, but much otherwise; for it1 Cor. 7. 20. obligeth every man to abide in the same calling where­in he was called; and prohibits those to eat that will not Work, and declares that they walk disorderly, 2 Thessal. 3. 6, 10, 11. and are therefore to be withdrawn from. Now 'tis no way probable, that wise Men (labouring under the natural necessities▪ and common infir­mitiesof human Nature,) should Abandon all their worldly interests and concerns, disoblige their Friends and forsake their Callings, throw away the Staff of Life, and neglect their own Bodies to promote a [...]iction of their own or others fancies, that (if such) could have assured them of nothing, but contradicton and gainsaying, yea, the worst of usage from all sorts of men that were other­wise minded; yet, herein to take unparallel'd pains and travails, to undergo the greatest mi­series and perils, tortures and death it self, how wonderfull was their constancy, how admirable their resolution? whereunto can it rationally be imputed; but to the Spirit of Prophecy? Which being in their hearts, as a burning fire shut up in their Bones, made them weary with forbearing, and unable to hold speaking.

Of which Spirit in them, we are yet farther as­sur'd by the Nature of the Wisdom, which was peculairly Theirs: for we have found it to excell not only that of the Gentiles, but of the Jews also: and surely 'twas impossible for them with­out Revelation, to have Taught a sort of Wisdom, more excellent than that that was revealed: can [Page 168] Man be Wiser than his Maker, or his Wisdom more excellent than that of his Creator? That's impossible. Or is not the Foolishness of God (i [...] I may so call the most imperfect of his Revelati­ons) wiser than Men? Yes surely, that it is; Why else was it made known unto them? since then the Wisdom discovered by Christ and his Apostles, is more excellent than that Revealed by Moses and the Prophets, they could not have attained unto it, but by Revelation. Whence else was it possible that these Men should have this Wisdom? surely, 'twas neither from Themselves nor any o­ther Creatures; They themselves in the Eye of the World were very unlikely to be Authors ofAc [...]. 4. 13. so Excellent a Production: for they were ignorant, and unlearned men, their Education had not raised them above the Vulgar, nor their Callings distin­guish't them from the common sort. (For, to say nothing of our Saviour,) his Apostles were Fish­ers, Artificers and Rus [...]icks, or such like unlearned men: and were these Men likely of themselves to bless the World with a sort of Wisdom, more ex­cellent than that both of Jews, and Gentiles? no surely, 'tis therefore evident they had it not of themselves; no, nor yet of other Creatures, either Men, or Angels, good or bad: not from o [...]her good Men, or Angels, for these neither would, [...]or could (without loss of their goodness) de­vise a Religion, and impose it on the World for Divine, so Fathering their Lies on God himself; much less could they have it from bad Men, or yet from the Fiends of darkness: it is utterly inconsistent with their Lusts and Interests, to be Authors of so much Glory to God, and Good to Men, or of such Destruction to themselves, and [Page 169] their Impiety, as we find designed and effected by the Gospel of Christ and his Apostles. If then these men had not this Wisdom from any Crea­tures, we must conclude with St. Paul, that God 1 Cor. 2. 10▪ revealed it to them by his Spirit.

But that Christ and his Apostles were prophets, we have yet greater evidence than that of the Ante­cedents, or concomitant Attendants on the Spi­rit of Prophecy: Namely, that of their Predicti­ons and Miracles.

That the exact accomplishment of Predictions, concerniug future Contingencies were looked on as Infallible Proofs of a Prophetick Spirit; and that Christ and his Apostles were Authors of such Predictions, we have already seen: All there­fore that now remains, will be to shew the reason of the Consequence, viz. Why, from thence we conclude them to be Prophets, what strength or force is there in the accomplishment of such Predi­ctions to shew that the Authors of them were Di­vinely inspired? What cause or reason is there on that account to conclude that they were Prophets?

Hereto I Answer, the reason is, Because thereby it appears, they were intrusted with some knowledge of Gods Secret purpose, concerning future Contingents. To discover the force of this Reason, it will be needful to observe, that Contingents are twofold, viz. either such as happen (as we call it) by Chance: Namely, such as have their Being from the con­course of diverse natural causes, in some sort hin­dering, as well as helping one another, or else such as come to pass according to the purpose and in­tention of some free Agent. There is no natural n [...]ssity of their Production in such a manner: the Ability of their cause might otherwise have produ­ced [Page 170] its effect, there is no necessary connection be­tween them and the Series of natural causes; theirVid. Ami­tus Con­ [...]entinus de Deo uno et trino: Disp. 12. Sec. 3. n. 53. Being depends wholly (as to their Contingency) on the will either of God himself▪ or of his reaso­nable Creatures. These things are most properly contingent; and if so, then evident it is, that the fore knowledge of them cannot come within the compas [...] of any art or Science whatever, because all Arts and Sciences, being habits of doing or de­monstrating from things natural and necessary, they neither do nor can reach those that have no neces­ary connection with them or dependance on them. Yet by the Predictions concerning them evident it is that God foreknows them. If not, how could he foretell them? I may therefore say with Tertul­lian Adv. Mar­tion lib. 2. cap. 5. that Gods foreknowledge hath as many and great Witnesses as he hath made Prophets. Now this his foreknowledge must needs be, though not the effi­cient, yet the directive cause of all future contingents, otherwise there would some things come to pass, which neither of themselves, nor yet by any super­intendence of Providence would have any subservi­ence to the Supream end of all things, viz. The Glory of their Maker: But this is absurd and un­worthy of God. For tis not credible, that the in­finitely Wise and Almighty Creator, who at first made, and still upholds all things in their Being, and vertues for his own glory should suffer any thing to come to pass, that neither of it self, nor by his direction is subservient thereunto. For Provi­dence being the reason of the Order of things, as well as the actual gubernation of them, in referenceAq [...]inas 1. q. 22. Ar. 1. to their end, especially the last, it must needs belong to the perfection of it, to dir [...]ct all things, as well contingents as others to the glory of God, and for [Page 171] this cause 'tis necessary, that of all the contingencies within the vast Circuit of Possibility, those that come to pass should be, if not predefined i. e. absolutely wil­led, yet (as I may say) pre-permitted. i. e. in the pre­scienceVid. Amic. Consenting Disp. 14. [...] §. 5. and eternal Order of all things in the Divine Intellect, allowed to come to pass in their respective seasons. Which 'tis evident they cannot be, with­out some secret purpose concerning them: of which secret purpose, it is as evident by the exact accom­plishment of Predictions, that the Prophets had some fore-knowledge; but whence I pray had these men this knowledge? Were their souls themselves with­out Revelation able to attain unto it? No surely, for though the mind of man walks in all the Paths of Arts and Sciences, as well those that lye d [...]ep in reason, as those that are usual and beaten; and though it compasseth Sea and Land, and finds out the Nature of things contained in them: And then lifting it self up from things below, it soars aloft; and so the Air and its affections considered▪ it flies higher even to the Skie, and rides the Circuits of Heaven, and bending its course with that of [...] the Wandring and fixed Stars in their dance after the Musick of the Sph [...]res, it follows the Love of Wisdom, as its Leader: And when it hath raised it self above every nature that is apt to move the Senses, it is led with a desire of coming to that which Reason only can perceive; and when in that it contemplates the Examples and fair Forms of those things, which here fall under our Senses, being (as men inflamed with Fury) even brought asleep by a kind of modest Drun­kenness, and filled with another desire and better Love, it partakes of Divine Afflations; thence its intelligence being raised to the Supream Globe of things perceived, it seems to have arrived at the great and omnipotent King himself; yet while it covets to see him, the pure [Page 172] and immixed Raies of Divine light, as of a Torrent, are so poured forth, as that through their Clarity and Brightness (as if it were overspread with Darkness) the very sharpness of its sight waxeth dull, and dim. De fabric. Mandi. ex interpret. Jo. Xo­phorson. Thus elegantly doth Platonizing Philo display the Powers of the Soul in reference to its attainment of knowledge: and thereby we learn that though the mind of man be able to discern much of the na­ture of all Creatures, yet when it pries into the se­crets of their Maker, it is struck with Blindness, and can see nothing of them: think ye then that Crea­tures of a far Inferior Nature are acquainted with them? Hath the Eternal King Almighty, constitu­ted the Hosts of Heaven to be his Secretaries? And are the Planets so treacherous as by their Conjuncti­ons and Oppositions, to reveal the Arcana Imperii to Astrologers? Or is the Firmament so untrusty as by its spangles to make them known to Star-Ga­zers? Or is the Moon so unfaithful as by her course or countenance to declare them to Monethly Prog­nosticators? Or are they committed to the custody of Beasts, that the Aruspices may read them in their Intrals? Or are they so little set by as to be laid on the Wings, put into the mouths, or trampled under the Feet of Birds, that the Augures might know them by their flying, noise, or sitting? How fondly, ridiculous is it to fansie that the Secrets of Heaven are intrusted with any of these things, while they are hid from the mind of man? Which as it far exceeds them in the nobleness of its Nature, so also in dearness to its Maker: For man in his Crea­tion was allyed to God; a Creature so neerly con­joyned unto him and so gracious with him, as that in a sort all things else were prepared for him. How strange then is it and incredible, that they should [Page 173] be able to tell him such things as his most bounti­ful and indulgent Creator thought fit to conceal from him? If then this be not likely, it is certainly the dictate of Reason, that that knowledge, which at any time any man at first hath of them ought to be resolved into immediate Revelation: and for that cause tis likely Predictions ever were (and still de­serve to be) accounted Infallible Proofs of a Pro­phetick Spirit; since then Christ and his Apostles were Authors of Predictions exactly accomplished, it is not to be doubted but they were Prophets.

Hereof, also we have yet another and greater Evidence, viz. Their Miracles: that they really wrought many and great miracles, we have al­ready asserted: all therefore that now remains, will be to shew the Force of that Argument. In order whereunto it will not be amiss to observe, (1.) That Christ and his Apostles, wrought their Miracles on purpose to confirm their Doctrine, or their Mission from God to teach it. (2.) That Miracles were always looked on as undeniable, or Demonstrative proofs of Divine Authority. (3.) The Reasons for which those of Christ and his Apostles deserve to be so accounted.

1. That Christ and his Apostles wrought their Mi­racles on purpose to Confirm their Doctrine, or De­monstrate their Mission from God to teach it. 'Tis true indeed each one of their Miracles considered singly, and apart from the rest of its Fellows, may seem to be wrought on some other occasion, and to other purpose: but considered in the whole and in conjunction with the rest, it will be easy to observe that the Ultimate End, Scope, and De­sign of it, was to Demonstrate the truth of their Doctrine, and the reallity of their Mission from [Page 174] God to teach it. Hereof methinks it is no trivi­al argument that may be drawn from the time of them: and this was not before, but presently af­ter our Saviours Inauguration into his Office of Preaching the Gospel: that He himself could have done, and inabled others to do Miracles be­fore that, is firmly believed among Christians, yet▪ we find not that he did it till after his Ba­ptism, and Consecration to the Sacred and solemn Office of Preaching. Hereof surely, there can no Reason so probably be given, as that, because he wrought his Miracles to confirm his Doctrine. But if this suffice not, pray observe what he him­self said to the Noble-man of Capernaum; Ex­cept Joh. 4. 48. ye see signs and wonders, y [...] will not believe: whereby 'tis plain not only that Miracles are great inducements of Assent, but also that Christ wrought his on purpose to be so; thence sur [...]ly, it was that he required belief, if not on the Authority of his Word, yet, on the account of his Works: If (saith he to the Jews) I do not the Works of my Father: i. e. Such as God only can do, name­ly Miracles, then believe me not, on this supposition he Christens Infidelity unblameable: but again, he saith, if I do the Works of my Father, though Job. 10. 37, 38. you believe not me, i. e. My words for my sake, yet believe the Works, viz. The purport of them, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him: viz. either by Identity of Nature, or else at least by the Energy of his Spi­rit working in Me, and most perfectly obeyed by me; this it seems, in his Judgment they might have known by the Works that he did, for they being the Works that the Father had given him to Job. 5. 36. finish, they did bear witness of him, that the Father [Page 175] had sent him. And that He was the Christ, the a­nointed of God, as appeared by his doing themJoh. 10. 25. in his Name: for 'tis an astonishment to Reason, a thing altogether incredible, that God would give Power to an Impostor to do such works in his Name. On this account it is most likely that our most Blessed Saviour upbraided the Cities where­in Matt. 11. 20. most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not; and said to his Disciples, if I had not done among them the works which none other man did, Joh. 15. 24. they had not had sin; but now have they both seen, and hated both me and my Father. So convincing did he account his Miracles, as that he imputes their unbeli [...]f to Malice and enmity against God and himself: all which, or any thing whereof he could not have done, unless he had wrought his Mira­cles to consirm his Doctrine, or attest his Mission from God to teach it. To this End also 'tis evi­dent the Miracles of the Apostles were designed: for they went forth and Preached every where, the Mark 16. 20. Lord working with them, and consirming the word with s [...]gns following. It is the dictate of Nature as well as of Scripture, that God cannot lie, or a­vouch a Fal [...]hood; therefore surely, the word of his Grace is Truth, for we find that he gave Te­stimony to it and this he did, by granting signs Act. 14. 3. and wonders to be done by the hands of the Apostles. The salvation the Gospel proposeth, first began to be spoken of by the Lord, and was consirmed unto the first Christians by them that heard him, i. e. By the Apostles; but lest their Testimony should beHeb. 2▪ 3, 4. suspected, God did bear them witn [...]ss with signs and wonders, and with divers Miracles. Hereby then it is manifest, not only that their Doctrine was true, but also that the Wisdome of Providence did de­sign [Page 176] the Miracles of the Apostles to the confirma­tion of it: and so doubtless did they themselves, for their Embassie to the Jews and Gentiles, being somewhat like that of Moses unto Pharaoh, viz. unlikely to be believed among them, they found it expedient to have some Letters of Credence from the King of Heaven, and hereupon they prayed God to stretch forth his hand to heal: and to grant, that signs and wonders might be done by the Name of Act. 4. 29. 30. his holy child Jesus; and this they desired to the end that with all boldness they might speak his word; and having obtained their request by the grant of signs and wonders to be done by their hands, They ct. A14. 3▪ speak boldly in the Lord. Neither the malice of the unbelieving Jews, nor the ill affected minds of the seduced Gentiles could deterr them from speaking Boldly the truth, as it is in Jesus: it seems, then the Testimony of God, to that word by the Mira­cles of their Works was the Ground of their con­fidence in preaching the Gospel: but this it could never have been without their intendment thereof to the confirmation of their Doctrine: for with­out this they could neither pretend, nor indeed be­lieve their Miracles were the Testimony of God to the word of his Grace: how could they look on them as such, unless that they also themselves did use and intend them to this end? Manifest therefore I take it to be, that they wrought them on purpose to confirm their Doctrine, or demon­strate their Mission from God to teach it: and much Reason there was for their doing them to this end. For,

2. Miracles were always looked on as indispu­table, or demonstrative Proofs of Divine Power, or Authority in them that did them. To deny [Page 177] this is little less than to charge God foolishly: for He indued Moses, with power of doing Miracles, to the End that the Israelites might believe that the Exod. 4. 5. Lord God of their Fathers had appeared unto him: a charge also he had to do all his wonders beforeV. 21. Pharaoh: and although his heart was hardened, yet being done in the siglit of the people, they believed and bowed their heads and worshipped: andV▪ 30, 31. after them it seems, the Magicians were almost of the same perswasion, for they sayed unto Pharaoh, this is the finger of God: by this their grant ofExod. 8. 19. the Premises, they drew on themselves a necessity of confessing the conclusion: for if the Miracles of Moses were done by the finger of God, then had God appeared unto him, or sent him. Thus al­most in the Morning of the world, we find both the Children of Israel, and the Wisest of the E­gyptians, confessing the force of Miracles to induce belief: and that not as a probable argument, but Demonstrative, such as rather Commands As­sent than Begs it: for when Elijah sojourned with the Widow of Zarephath, by his raising her Son to life She knew that He was a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in his mouth was Truth. And1 Kings 17. 24. when the Prophets of Jericho, saw that Elisha di­vided the waters of Jordan with Elijahs Mantle, they said, the Spirit of Eiljah doth rest on Elisha; hereof it seems they were thereby so convinced, as that though they themselves were Prophets, (partakers in some measure of the same Spirit,) yet they met him and bowed themselves to the ground 2 K 2. 1 [...] before him, as to the Father of the Prophets and the chief of Their Order: and not only they (who had their Education in the Schools of the Prophets, and therefore perhaps are thought Apt [Page 178] to have ascribed somewhat too much to Their Mi­racles;) but also Naaman a Syrian, an Alien from the Common-wealth of Israel, being (at the ap­pointment of the same Prophet,) Miraculously Cu­red of His Leprosie, was so convinced of the2 Kings 5. 15. True God, as that He returned to the man of God: and said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: His mind was cleansed from the grosness of Idolatry, as w [...]ll as his Body from the Loathsomness of his Leprosie. But to draw our Discourse a little nearer the business in hand, we may observe in the New Testament, that among the Jews, many that Adhered not to Christ, did yet believe that He came from God, when they saw His Miracles: Thus when He was in Je­rusalem at the Passeover, many believed in his Name, Joh. 2. 23. when the saw the miracles which he did. These many believers, surely, were not Disciples, forV. 24, 25. Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, or intrust Himself with Them, as well affected to him, be­cause, He knew all men and what was in them. He searched their hearts and dived into the hidden secrets of their Souls, and by so doing He found, that though these mens Understandings were con­vinced by His Miracles, yet their Wills were not subdued to His Doctrine: and after them many of Joh. 7. 31. the people believed on him, and said, When Christ com­eth, will be do more Miracles than these which this man hath done? To them it seemed Improbable, that when their expected Messias should come, he either would or could do more, or greater Mira­cles than our Jesus did: considering therefore his Works and his saying, they peremptorily conclu­ded that of a truth this is the Prophet, viz. Fore­toldV▪ 4 [...]. by Moses, Deut. 18. 15. And believed by them [Page 179] to be different from the Messias: but other [...] said, this is the Christ: but when the Pharisees heard that the V. 41. people murmured such things concerning him, they and the Chief Priests sent Officers to take him: But theV. 32. Officers being ast [...]nished at his Doctrine, returned without him, whereupon they Expostulate with them, and in a Scornful manner askt him, have any of the Rulers, or of the Pharisees believed on him? V. 48. and presuming that none had, they haughtily censure the People who know not, or professedly Stu­dy not the Law, as if these poor Serjeants were a Demonstration that they are Curs [...]d. But thisV. 49. their Pride and confidence were mounted upon Ignorance, for Nicodemus a man of the Phar [...]s [...]es, and a Ruler as well as themselves; He though fearful of giving Offence and incurring the Cen­sures of the Sanhedrim, yet for his farther satisfa­ction went to Jesus by Night, and said unto him, Joh. 3. 2. Rabbi, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him. Although he was not fully perswaded that J [...]us was the Messias, or that Prophet whom they expected to come before him, yet faith he, we know, we do not conjecture, but 'tis evident and certain to us, that thou art a Teacher come from God: hereof he was c [...]nvinced by the Miracles he did: they in his esteem were arguments so Demonstrative and necessary▪ as van­quished all objections and made that his conclu­sion but a just Trophe of their victorie. So that not only the common people or the vulgar Rab­ble that knew not the Law, but also the most Wise and Learned among them did account Mi­racles, undeniable arguments of Divine Authority in them that did them. On this Score it was, that [Page 180] the Man who was born Blind urged his miraculous Cure with great evidence of Truth before the Pha­risees, to whom he declares that this Miracle had such an Influence upon him, as that he thoughtJoh. 9. 17. Him that did it a Prophet; but they not willing to think so too, would not believe that He had everV. 18. been Blind, whereupon they call his Parents and ask Them three Questions, viz. 1. Whether that were their Son? 2. Whether he was born Blind? 3. Whether They knew how this pretended CureV. 19. was wrought, or by Whom? To the two First they answered directly, We know that this is our V. 20. Son, and that he was born blind: But for an answer to the Third, they referred them to him; WhoV. 21, 22, 23. being again called in, was by the Pharisees Instru­cted to give God the praise: and not to look on Him that did it with any Veneration, or to think him a Prophet as he had said he did: No, say they,V. 24. far be that from Thee, for we know that this man is a sinner, i. e. (Surely, as they would have it) an Impostor: for afterwards they Institute a com­parisonV. 29. between Him and Moses: as for this Lat­ter, They say, We know that God spake unto him, but as for this Fellow, we know not from whence he is: of any Commission he hath from God, as Moses had, we know nothing. Hereat the man marvails, as well he might, for it was a common Principle known and allowed among them, thatVid. Maim. de fund. Leg. ca. 7. 5. 12. if a man had the requisites to a Propheti [...]k Spirit, and did a Miracle to shew that God had sent him, then it was the command of God, that men should hear and believe him, and good Reason too, for (saith he,) we know; i. e. You and I agree in t his persw [...]sion, that God heareth not sinners, viz. Such Impes [...]ors asi m [...]ortune Heaven to Seal their [Page 181] Lies with Miracles, but He whose prayers of that Nature he heareth, is a Worshipper of God and doth V. 31. his Will: he is on ethat is no Idolater, but a Faith­ful Servant of God, that comes to do his Will: if not, then must it be granted, that God Works Miracles to assist Impostors: but what Wretch so Profligate as not to abhor such a Position? since then since the World began, it was never heard, that any Man opened the Eyes of onethat was born Blind, it must be concluded that This Man who hath o­pened mine, is of God, Sent and Impowered by Him, o▪herwise h [...] could do nothing of this Nature. ThisV. 32. 33. conclusion being clearly deduced from their Own approved Principles, they had nothing to object a­gainst it, as appears by their base supplying the de­fect▪ of their Reason, and Impotent opinion, by the Scorns of Insolence and Rage of Malice, for they an­swered and said, thou wast altogether born in sins, and V. 34. dost Thou teach us? and they cast him out. A clear sign of a baffled prejudice and a strong (though stifled Conviction, that Miracles were a Demon­stration of Divine Power and Commission. And had not the Gentiles been of the same opinion An­tiquity had been extreamly Sensless and Sottish, in feigning Miracles▪ (as I am told it often did) in some Mens arrival at Crowns and Scepters, that thence they might seem preserved from Danger, and advanced to the Royal Dignity, not by chance and Alex. ab Alex. Gen. Dier. lib. [...]. cap. 31. fortune, but by the Majestie and care of the Gods. If men among the Gentiles as well as Jews, had not then generally looked on Miracles as Demon­strations of Divine Authority, the Authors of these Fictions must have been thought Brutes in the shape of Men, rather than partakers of a Rea­sonable Nature▪ Nor could Vespasi [...]n have ob­tained [Page 182] the accession of Authority and Majestie (as Suetonius saith, he did) by his Miraculous Cures,Lib. 8. §. 7. (or rather the Fiction of them) at Alexandria. Thus then we see that all men every where, Jews and Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and all other Gentiles, yea, that God himself esteemed Miracles undeniable or Demonstrative Proofs of Divine Authority in them by whom, or for whose sake they were done. All therefore that now Remains, will be to shew.

3. The Reasons for which the miracles of Christ and His Apostles deserve (as well, yea, better than any,) to be accounted: and that this they do, will be made apparent by a brief Sur­vey of their Nature and their Number, their Greatness and their Goodness.

A Miracle (as to its general Nature) is definedH [...]bbes Le­viathan, pa. 3. ca. 37. (by a Mod [...]rn Author,) to be a Work of God be­sides his operation by the way of Nature ordained in the Creation. This perhaps may pass without exception, but then it must be understood with Aquinas his distinction, that to the being of a Mi­racle it is not sufficient that something be done beside the Order of Nature, in some one particu­lar: for if so it were, then the production of Mules and Monsters, yea, the very casting of a Stone upwards would be a Miracle; because each of these Things in some one particular is besides the Order of Nature, yet, is it ridiculous to say, that it is Miraculous▪ the Schoolman therefore [...]. Q. 110. Ar. 4. concludes, that a Miracle is besides the Order of the whole Created Nature, and consequently above it. Now that the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles were such Works, is so apparent; as that there is [...]o need of recourse to Gods Lieutenant (as the [Page 183] Leviathan directs) to know the Truth of it: for this was so far from being a doubtful Case, as that by their ejection of Devils it was evident to every mans Reason. The Power of the Air is by all owned to be as great, if not Superior to all other Power in Na [...]ure, yet they by their Power of doing Miracles cast out the Prince of that Pow­er. Who then but the obstinate (for whose Cure God himself affords no Remedie,) can doubt, whi­ther their Power were the Power of God? If the Prince of the Power of the Air, be (as Aquinas probably conjectures) the Supreme of all the An­gels1a. Q. 63. Ar. 7. that ever God Created, it is manifest his Pow­er is inferior to none in the whole Order of the created Nature; however for ought I know, it e­ver was, and still is so accounted among all Jews and Christians, except those (if there be any) that deny his being; and as for the Heathens, it is Ap­parent that they thought it Divine, and inferior to none, yet, (as we have already abundantly proved) it was over matched and conquered by the Power of Christ and his Apostles: what baslled and self condemned Wretches then must those needs be, who will not own it to be the Power of God, be­side the Order of the whole Created Nature? and if so, then were their Miracles the Seals of Heaven to Ratifie their Mission from then [...], and so to prove that they were Prophets.

Their number also as well as their Nature speaks them Worthy to be so accounted: for doubtless it did far exce [...]d that of those Wrought by Moses and the Prophets. The Jews no doubt for the ho­nour of Moses their Master, and of their own ap­proved Prophets, were so Zealous, as that they would rather enlarge than diminish the Number of their [Page 184] Miracles, yet, after their utmost diligences, they could find but 76. for Moses their Master, and but 74 for all the Rest of the Prophets: and the Re­cords they find so many in are not only unknown to us, but also liable to suspition of Falshood: for we cannot think them their Bible, because the Number therein contained, after the greatest im­provement that we can make will fall very short of that Account that they give of it: but suppose it doth not, what are they to those of Christ and his Apostles? could an exact account be taken of All that they did, I dare say, the Number of those wrought by Christ only, would be found greater than that of Moses and all the Prophets put toge­ther. For they were so many as that the Jews themselves (as we have already observed,) madeJoh. 7. 31. it a question, whether Christ (the Messias) When he cometh, would do more miracles than these which this man hath done? Nothing but amazement at their extraordinary Multitude could Raise such a question among them: Which Facilitates belief of St. Johns assertion, there are also many other things, which Jesus did; (besides those RecordedJoh. 21. 25. in the New Testament,) the which is they should be written every one, I suppose that even the World it self could not contain the Books which should be written. His supposition is an Hyperbole, the plain meaning whereof I take to be, that those Works of Christ, whose memory, the Apostle in this His History had committed to Writing, were to be looked on as a small part of what Jesus did, as that if a full account of them all should be ex­actly taken and described in Writing, the World would be over-stock't and oppressed with Books on that Subject. If then to the Miracles of Christ, [Page 185] we add those of His Apostles, we shall find Rea­son to conclude them almost innumerable, for since their Sound went into all the Earth, and They themselves into almost all the known Parts of the World, Converting men by their Miracles to their Doctrine, how can it be Imagined that they were but few in Number? The Devil being then in possession, Ruled without controle in the Children of Disobedience, and the World was Then asleep, yea, dead in Trespasses and sins; and think ye that a few Miracles would suffice to Cast out the one, and to awake and raise the other? it is much more Rational to think that they were many, yea, so exceeding many as to admit of no Comparison with those of others in point of Number: and all these being done in one Gene­ration; (for Christ and his Apostles were Contem­poraries) how strongly do they prove, and how clearly do they Declare the Divine Authority of Them that did Them? If Judaisine were Credi­ble, because in the space of above 3000 years Mo­ses and the Prophets wrought 150 Miracles to con­firm it, how much more Credible is Christianity, because fewer Persons in the space of less than an hundred years, wrought incomparably more to Demonstrate the Truth of it? If the Jews had Reason to believe that They were Prophets, much more have we, that Christ and his Apostles were so well as they. Especially considering,

That the Greatness of their Miracles doth as just­ly claim our Assent thereunto, as their Number. It is true indeed all Miracles being Works of God, besides the whole Order of the Created Nature, in respect of His Power they are all equal: yet, in respect of the Power of Nature one may be [Page 186] greater, because remoter from it, or farther above it than another: for (as Aquinas well observes) these Works of God, viz. Miracles, may Three ways exceed the Power of Nature; either First in re­spect of the substance of the Fact, wh [...]n it is a­bove the Power of Nature by any means to do that which is done, as that the Sun should go back, or that a Mans Body should be Glorified: these are Things that Nature cannot do. Again second­ly, other Miracles there are that exceed the Power of Nature, not in respect of that which is done, but in respect of that wherein it is so: as the Rai­sing of the Dead and giving Sight unto the Blind, Nature may be the Cause of Life, but not in one that is dead, and Nature may give Sight▪ but not to one that was born Blind. Lastly, another sort of Miracles there is which do indeed exceed the Power of Nature, but neither in the substance of the Fact, nor in that werein 'tis done, but only [...]a. Q. 105. Ar. 8. in the Manner of doing: as when one on a sudden by the Divine Power without the use of Physick, or accustomed Process of Nature in such Cases, is Cured of a Fever. Of these Three sorts of Mira­cles, the First is greater than the Second, the Second than the Third, because it farther exceeds the Power of Nature, yet, so as that each Sort have divers Degrees of advance above it, so that one Miracle may be greater than another, not only of another, but also of the same sort. However, sure we are, that among the Miracles of our Blessed Saviour, it is no hard matter to find Instances of the First and Second, as well as the Third Magnitude; witness His feeding the Multi­tudes in the Wilderness, his Casting out of Devils, His raising the Dead and giving Sight unto the [Page 187] Blind, &c. Insomuch that since the World be­gan it was never heard that any Man did the like: and this takes away all Colour of Pretence for Unbelief: for since the Jews had Reason to believe Moses their Master for his Miracles, much more had they to believe Christ for His, because the Latter did exceed the Former as much almost as they did Nature. 'Tis true iudeed had Christ fallen short of Moses either in the Number, or the Quality of his Miracles the Jews had not had sin, at most not so great as They had: but since He did among them the Works which no other Man did; their unbelief could not be Imputed to any want of Rational evidence of Truth in him, but to want of good Will, to hatred in them: and so must it be in us▪ because the knowledge of his Miracles is as Infallibly transmitted to us by Tra­dition, as it was to them by their Senses: since therefore such were his Works and his promise to his Disciples of doing the same, or greater, wasJoh. 14. 12. undoubtedly fulfilled in his Apostles, we have a­bundant more reason to believe that He and they were Prophets, than the Jews had to think so of Moses and his Successours. In which persuasion we may be yet, farther confirmed by consider­ing

That the Goodness of their Miracles did bear a full proportion with their Greatness. 'Tis true indeed they were not such as the Jews expected, nor was it requisite that they should, for they be­ing Sick of their Fore-Fathers Disease, (whose Low and uninstructed minds could rise no higher in their Conceptions of the promised Messias, than of a King exceeding all Mortals in the Majestick Goodliness of his presence and Lovelyness of his [Page 188] Personage, in the Wisdom of his Conduct and Victorious valour of his Battels, putting to flight the Armies of the Aliens and Restoring the King­dom and Glory to Israel;) They I say, being Sick of this Disease, dreamed of, and looked for Signs from Heaven, unprofitable Amazements, apt only to feed their Eyes and affect their Fancies with Strange Shews and Pompous representations: but there being none such Fore-told by the Pro­phets, Christ and his Apostles were no way obliged so to humour the Extravagance of their Fancies, as to fulfill their ungrounded expectations. And although Christ and his Apostles had as high an esteem for Moses, as could be kept within the bounds of Sobriety, and really did Him and his Law more honour than the most zealous Jews themselves, yet did they not take his Miracles for Patterns of theirs: for we find no such affrighting and hurtfull things, as Serpents▪ Rivers of Blood, or Plagues among them; but Christ being surety, and his Apostles Witnesses of a better Testament, their Miracles were (as it was fit they should be) of a more Benign and better Nature. The Son of Man came not to destroy mens Lives, but to save them, and his Gospel brought glad Tidings of great Joy that should be to all Nations. How Suitable then and Decent was it, that the Seals and Confirmations of it should bear the Impressi­ons, not of Wrath and Judgment, but of Mercy and Goodness? and accordingly so we find did their Miracles; for they were like a Flock of Sheep, whereof there was none Barren among them, but rather every one did bear Twins, viz. Instruction or assurance of Salvation for the Souls of Men, and Inestimable good and great benefit to [Page 189] their Bodies; for very easy it is to discern, that the Three sorts of good things, viz. of Fortune, Body and Soul, which all Mankind by the light of Nature perceived requisite to Happiness, were conferred by our Saviours Miracles.

The Goods of Fortune, being not desireable in themselves, but only in Order to those of the Bo­dy or the Soul, we do not indeed find that Christ ever made the needy exceeding Rich in Worldly Wealth and Grandure, yet, his own and others necessities he somtimes supplyed by his Miracles: Such was the Nobleness and Generosity of his Temper, as that though he had no visible Estate, nor any Imployment to get one, yet He never was so burdensome as to ask a Gratitude from any to whom He had been a Benefactor by his Miracles, but His necessities he supplyed by doing others: Thus when Tribute was demanded, he sent St. Peter a Fishing, and made him so lucky an Angler▪ as that he Caught a Fish with Money in its Mouth, sufficient to pay the Pole-Tax, both for his Master and Himself: this shewed his Goodness as well as Loyalty, for though this Money was sent to Rome with th [...] rest, yet was there not a Penny the less Injury, no Man was the poorer, and Caesar was somwhat the Richer for him But the bene­fit of this Miracle was far Inferiour to that of o­thers; for we read that many Thousands of the people followed him into the Wilderness, where they somtimes Fasted so long as that they were rea­dy to Faint, in this their necessitous condition (al­though Jesus very well knew that the greater part of them had no sincere affection to him, yet) He had compassion on them, and Fed at one time a­bout Five Thousand, at another Four, besides Wo­men [Page 190] and Children; and Feed them he did, not barely to the support of Nature, but even to a Satiety; for the Remains of his entertainment were far Greater than the Provision for them; Twelve Joh. 6. 13. bask [...]ts full of fragments remained of five Barley Matt. 15. 37. loaves, at one time, and seven of seven and a few small Fishes at another: and since the broken Meat was not lost, it is most probable that many an hungry B [...]lly besides was filled therewith; however Manifest it is, that these his plentiful entertainments in the Wilderness did no way lessen, but rather increase Provisions in Adjacent Towns and Vil­lages. Nor did His bounty display it self only in Cases of necessity, but also in matters of Delight and Decency, for, to grace the Marriage at Cana in Galilee, He turned Water into Wine, and that such as surpassed what ever they had had before, in Goodness. Thus did He (in great mercy and com­passion, kindness and urbanity) furnish many Thousands with the Goods of fortune, and that without the least injury, yea, with advantage to o­thers: this was a sort of Bounty that far exceeds the Magnificence of the greatest Princes.

And yet this is but a small part of the goodness in the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles, for the good they thereby did to mens Bodies was far more exceeding: they Cast out Devils and cleansed Le­pers, they made the Deaf to hear and the Blind to see, the Dumb to speak and the Lame to walk, they Cured the Sick and Raised the Dead: and what good so great as these to the Body? what bene­fit could the torn and distorted Bodies of the pos­sessed receive greater, than the ejection of their Tormentors? what so acceptable to poor Lepers as the cleansing of their loathsome and perhaps [Page 191] loathed Bodies? what so gladsome to the Deaf as Hearing, or so joyful to the Blind as Sight? what so proper for the Lame as Strength, or for the Dumb as Speech? and what so beneficial to the Sick as Health, or to the Dead as Life? could each one of These afflicted have made his own Option, it is great odds, but He would have Chosen what they thereby gave him. How transcendent then was the goodness of these Miracles? how benefi­cial to their Bodies, and obliging to ingenuous Spirits? and that not of them only on whom they were wrought, but of all their Friends, yea, of all in the like Condition throughout the Vicinage: for they being no Select company, but a Promiscu­ous Multitude of Foes as well as Friends, on whom it pleased Christ and his Apostles to do these Mi­racles, it was thereby made known unto all, that all Men every where that were so, or otherwise afflicted in Body, might be relieved, if either they them­selves or others in their behalf would have made their due Addresses. How Admirable then and Divine were these Miracles? they did not only do good to the Bodies of many Thousands, but pro­claimed it to all that needed or desired it: what a lively resemblance therefore were they of God, whose mercy is over all his Works?

Nor was the goodness of these Miracles, con­fined to Mens Bodies, for doubtless their Souls were thereby instructed, not only to make a better Use than formerly they had done of Gods Mercies, but also in and by whom to seek for Salvation: for thereby they might clearly perceive, that He who did them or in whose Name they were done, being a Teacher must needs be come from God, and so had the Words of Eternal life abiding with [Page 192] him: to whom then should they go but to Him for it? But if they were so slow of understanding as not to get this good to their Souls, by the Mi­racles wrought upon their Bodi [...]s, yet doubtless there were some that did. The [...] in the Catalogue of Miracles, which our Sa­viourMatt. 11. 5. returned in Answer to St. John Baptists que­stion, were doubtless such poor as took the Stamp and received the impression of the Gospel, and were thereby as really wrought upon, transformed and altered in their Souls, as the Blind or the Lame, the Deaf or the Dead werein their Bodies. The Verb [...], some, it seems have here rendred Actively, as if the meaning of our Saviours WordsVid. Syn. Crit. were, that the poor,) Viz. his Apostles) Preach the Gospel: but this is so far from a Miracle, as that it seems a Lesson too trivial for so great a Master as our Saviour so Solemnly to Teach, or so great a Scholar as St. John, so Solemnly to Learn, as it is here proposed: here therefore (as well as else where) it is to be taken passively: and observable it is that Verbs passive often import a Real passion or true Change in the Person, or thing spoken of, as well as one meerly Grammatical: thus [...] Tit. 3. 11. is one that not only is persuaded, but also effectually wrought upon and corrupted byGal. 6. 1. Seducers: and thus [...], to be tempted andMat. 11. 6. [...] to be offended, signifie not barely to have a Temptation o [...] a Scandal cast before one, but to be wrought upon by the Temptation, and to be really discouraged in the ways of Godliness by the Scandal : thus here the Verb [...] to be Evangelized, is not barely to have the Gosp [...]l Preached to the Poor, but moreover to be Really Wrought upon, Transformed and [Page 193] Changed by the Preaching of it: their Understand­ings were Englightned by the Gospel, and their Hearts subdued unto it; their Natures were re­newed▪ and their whole Souls, or all their Faculties changed for the better by it: and in them that our Saviour makes mention of, this Ch [...]nge seems to have been made almost as sudd [...]nly and con­spicuously as that in Saul's heart after his Unction to be King over Israel: as when Jesus walking1 Sam. 10. 9. by the Sea of Galilce called Peter and Andrew, James and John, and immediately upon His call they forsook their Ships and their Nets, their Fa­therMatt. [...] and All and followed Him: what a strange and wonderful Change was there on a Sudden wrought in them? how else was it possible, that by a Word or two speaking▪ they should be pre­vailed with to quit their worldly Interests. Rela­tions and Callings, to follow a private Person, whom 'tis likely they had not seen, perhaps ne­ver so much as heard of before? they therefore undoubtedly were Evangelized on a sudden, and so I conceive were the poor our Saviour speaks of in His Answer to St. John's Question: and if so they were, then well may this be Ranked among Miracles, for indeed it is the greatest in all the Ca­talogue: If not in regard of its Advance above the Power of Nature, yet of its Goodness to the Souls of them on whom 'twas done: for before it, they seem if not to have been oppressed with the in­supportable burdens of a Wounded Spirit, yet to have walked in some Darkness as to their grea­test, i. e. Their Eternal concerns: and to such be­nighted Souls, what so good as Light? to such lost wanderers, what so welcome as a Guide? for such dejected broken hearts, what so proper as Comfort? [Page 194] to wounded troubled Spirits, what so gracious as Refreshment? and what Light is there so clear as that of the Sun of Righteousness? what Guide so sufficient as that of Christ his Precepts and Ex­ample? what Comfort so great as that of his Pro­mises? and what Refreshment so reviving as that of his Spirit? and these Goods of the Soul (be­ing Adapted to and sufficient for its faculties, as large and capacious as they are,) ought in all Reason to be preferred as far before the Goods of the Body, as that exceeds them. If then the poor were Evangelized by our Saviours Miracles, they thereby received the greatest good whereof in this life they were capable.

However, though perhaps we have not Evi­dence enough to be confident, that the poor our Saviour speaks of were suddenly and Miraculously Evangelized, yet this we are, or may be sufficient­ly assured of, Namely, that the Ultimate End and Scope of all His and his Apostles Miracles was, that They and We should be so: and since so it was, they certainly▪ wereas good and gracious to Mens Souls in their Tend [...]ncy, as they were to their Bodies in the Performance: the Reason here­of is, because (as hath already been in part, and may hereafter more fully be Demon [...]rated,) Christianity affords such supplies for the Wants and objects for the Faculties of our Souls, as are not to be found in any one or in all other Religions whatever. Now to the end that our Wants might be supplyed thereby, and our Souls possessed there­of, Christ and his Apostles have abundantly con­firmed it unto us by their Miracles: How great then is their goodness! nothing but the incapaci­ [...]y of the Subject hinders it from bearing a full [Page 195] proportion with the Power that did them▪ For it extends it self to all Men every where through­out all generations. Those that did or do live in the remotest Regions, and that in these Latter Ages may have heard of Christ and his Miracles: and the Design [...]f them being ▪confirming his Doctrine) to convey the most excellent Religion into their Souls, it is their fault if they do not re­ceive benefit by them. The Miracles of Christ and his Apostles are so sufficiently attested, as that were it not for Prejudice or Laziness, Inadvertence or one such Vice or other, I verily think there nei­ther is nor ever was any considering Man in the World, but either he was or might thereby have been c [...]nvinced of the Truth of their Doctrine: and so blessed by the excellencies of their Religi­on, as that his mind should no longer be blinded with Superstition, or Fluctuate in Uncertainties, but should know assuredly where to have the most per­fecting Objects of all His faculties. How great then I say, is the goodness of these Miracl [...]s, that confirm such a [...]reasure unto us? how plainly doth it shew their descent from the Essential and Eternal Goodness, viz. God Himself? For who but an Almighty Goodness can be Author of such Productions? Such unparalleled Instances of Love and Kindness, such inimitable Beneficence, so Im­mense and immixt a Goodness from whom can it come but from God, who is Love and Good­ness it self? In mine apprehension therefore the Goodness of these Miracles shew as plainly that they were the Works of God in Testimony to His Word, as the Image and Superscription on the Mo­ney did that the Coin was Cesars.

Let's then Lay all these things together, viz▪ [Page 196] That Christ and his Apo [...]les did take upon them the Office of Prophets, and that having the An­tecedents to, or Concomitant Attendents on the Prophetick Spirit, they therein neither were deceiv­ed, nor had a design to deceive others; and by their Predictions exactly accomplished it appears, that they had such certain Fore-knowledge, as no Man, by any Art or Science whatever, could possi­bly have of Gods Eternal Purpose concerning fu­ture Contingences. And besides this Supernatural knowledge, to confirm their Doctrine or Demon­strate their Mission from God to Teach it, they wrought such Miracles, as in the Truth and Real­lity of their Nature, and the incomparableness of their Number, greatness and goodness did most Evid [...]ntly and Eminently appear to be the Works of God; and consequently Christ and his Apostles who did them, (being Teachers of such an excel­lent Wisdom as the World knew not before) were therein inspired by God, and so Prophets.

CHAP. VI. Some Use that may be made of this Do­ctrine.

THUS have we passed through the several parts of the proposed M [...]thod, and in so doing have, I hope, found the Truth of our As­sertion sufficiently evinced; And if so it be, then thence surely we may see the Divine Authori­ty of Christian Religion, and of the Holy Scri­pture; the insufficiency of Humane Reason, and the Reasonableness of Christian Faith, Hope and Practice.

Sect. 1.

1. The Divine Authority of Christian Religion. It is not of so base and low an Extraction as to spring from an Opinion of Ghosts, or ignorance of Leviathan, pa. 1. c. 12. second Causes, Devotion towards what Men fear, or the mistake of things Casual for Prognosticks: but it is an Heaven-born thing; it descends from the Father of Lights; it derives its Pedigree from God Himself, and hath the Image not only of his Wisdom and Goodness, but likewise of his Do­minion and Lordship instampt upon it▪ in so much that it brings its own Obligation along with it, and makes it not only convenient, but n [...]cessa­ry, not only Prudence in us, but Duty to receive it, for Christ and his Apostles being Prophets did not only Teach it by Gods commandement and dire­rection, Idem ibid. but also in so doing they laid the highest Obligation that can be, on all to receive it. God we know is the Supreme Lord; the Fountain of all just Authority is in Him: as therefore Wat [...]rs [Page 198] drink sweetest out of a Fountain, so those Laws that come (as the word of prophecy doth) immedi [...]tly from God, have the highest Ma­jestie and Authority Instampt upon them. For this Cause the Jews when they were Assured of any mans Calling to the Prophetick Office, thought Themselves obliged and bound to obey him in all things except Idola [...]ry, yea though he required the omission of the Affirmative, or the doing of the Negative Precepts of their Law. Notwithstanding their mighty zeal for their Law, and the profound Reverence they had for Moses their Master, yet they Judged it their indispensable Duty in all things to obey the Prophets: and whosoever would not, they held Worthy and Guilty of Death, by the immediate hand of Heaven. This is the opinion of their Wise men in the Talmud, where they say, in all things (except Idolatry) if a Pro­phet Maimon. in [...]ed. Z [...]r. say unto thee, transgress the Law, thou shalt o­bey him: and good Reason too▪ for a Prophet be­ingLeviathan, cap. 36. Gods spokes-man to the people, his Herauld to Proclaim his Laws, there is good Reason he should be heard and attended to, whosoever else be neg­lected▪ the Reason is, because the word of Pro­phecy coming immediately from God, is cloathed with his Authority; and if where the word of a King is, there be Power▪ much more methinks is there, where the Word of Him is, by whom Kings Reign: had not this been the dictate of Natural Reason Numa Pompilius and other antient Lawgiv­ers among the Heathens, had been very Foolish as well as False in pretending to have received their Laws from the gods: but Mens Natural Reason telling them, that the Highest Authority of Man is far inferior to that of God, this Politick pre­tense [Page 199] was thought a very effectual Engine to make Men obedient to their Laws: and this En­gine we see was to stand upon the ground, That God, above all, is to be obeyed: Since then Christ and his Apostles were Prophets, those are no good subjects unto God, yea, they are worse than Jews or Heathens, that deny the Religion that they have Taught us to have Power of binding us to receive it.

Obj. Yet the Leviathan, would have it, in and of it self to have none; for it faith expresly, the Prece [...]ts Re­pent; be Baptized; keep the Commandements; believe the Gospel; come unto Me, Sell all that Thou hast, give it to the Poor and follow Me; are not Commands, but Invitations and Callings of M [...]n to Christianity; like that of Esay, Ho, every manIsai. 55. 1 that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, come, andPart. 3. cap. 42. buy Wine, and Milk without money.

Ans. The difference between Precepts and Com­mands, (especially in point of Obligation,) I am hardly so subtle as to understand. I have Read indeed that the Jews put a difference between Laws, Statutes and Judgments, but hardly ever that either they, o [...] the Gentiles found any between Precepts and Commands: but this is a matter too tri­vial to be debated; whether therefore it be a pro­found pi [...]ce of Subtilty or a Contradiction▪ I shall not now take upon Me to determine: but letting it pass as a Specimen of that Extraordinary Wit, which the Treatise of Hum [...]ne Reason observes in that Author, we shall enquire why he [...]aith so? viz. Why he [...]aith that the Precepts of the Gospel, or its callings of Men to Christianity, have not the Obligations of Commands in them? his Reasons are two:

[Page 200] 1. Because the Apostles Power was no other than that of Our Saviour, to invite men to imbrace the Kingdom of God, which they themselves acknowledg­ed for a Kingdom (not present, but) to come, andIbid. They that have no Kingdome, can make no Laws.

It is very true, They that have no Kingdom,Ans▪ can make no Laws, yet since, (as the same Page tells us,) God is the Soveraign of all the World, they that have no Kingdom may Proclaim his Laws: and this was the Office of the Apostles, as Prophets, or men Inspired by God and sent to Preach the Gospel. Their calling of M [...]n to Christianity de­rived not its Authority Originally from them, but from God that sent them; and send them he did, not barely to invite Men unto it, but also in His Name to Command them to receive it: for now A [...]. 17. 30. God Comm [...]deth all Men every where to repent: and this is his Commandement, that we should believe on 1 Jo [...]. 3. [...]3. the Name of his Son Jesus Christ. Under these two heads of Repentance towards God, and of Faith towards our Lord J [...]sus Christ, St. Paul comprehends all Invitations that can be to Christi­anity: and since they both are thus plainly and Em­phaticallyAct. 20. 21. commanded, it is a strange over [...]ight, or worse, to say, the Prec [...]pts of the Gospel are no Commands. And yet more strange and worse than so it is to say.

2. We read not any where, that they who receiv­edObj. 2. not the Doctrine of Christ, did therein sin; but th [...]t they died in their sins; that is, that their sins against the Laws to which they owed obedience, were not pardoned. And therefore of Infidels, St. John [...]aith not, the wr [...]th of God shall come upon them,Job. 3. 3 [...]. but the wrath of God remaineth upon them; and not that they shall be condemned; but that they are [Page 201] condemned. Nor can it be conceived, that the be­nefit of Faith, is Remission of sins, unless we conceiveJo [...]. 3. 18. withall, that the dammage of In [...]idelity, is the Re­tention of the same sins.

Ans. But do we not read, that when Christ sent forth His Disciples by two and two, He gave them Or­der that in whatever House or City, they were not received and heard, they should shake off the dust un­der their feet, for a [...]estimony against them; and with­allMark. 6. 11. assuring them, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom, and G [...]m [...]r [...]a in the day of Judgment, than for that city? And do we not read of Jerusalem, whose Houses were le [...]t desolate, because the Inha­bitants would not be gathered unto Him? and doMatt. 23. 37, 38. we not read that This is the cond [...]mnation, that light is come into the world, and men love Darkness, rather than light? and do we not read that he who believeth Jo [...]. 3. 19. Mark. 16. 16. not shall be Damned? and do we not read, that the Lord Jesus, shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty Angels in fl [...]ming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? and do we not read2 Thess. 1. 7, 8. of the Comforter, who was to come and reprove the world of sin, because they believe not Jo [...]. 16. 8. 9. on him? It is well known that if we turn to our Bibles, we may read all these things▪therein: how strange then is it and horrid to say we read not any where that they who received not the Doctrine of Christ did therein sin? Is that no Sin which will make E­ternal Judgment more severe and intolerable to otherwise the best of Cities, than to Sodom and Gomorr [...]a? is that no Sin for which God destroyed Jerusalem, and cast off the [...]eed of Abraham his Friend, and the Children of Jacob his chosen? Is that no Sin, for which above all things the World [Page 202] is condemned? Is that no Sin, for which Men shall be damned? Is that no Sin, for which they shall suffer the vengeance of Eternal fire? Is that no Sin, for which the Holy Ghost reproves the World of Sin? Who so blind in his apprehension or so per­verse in his judgment as to think it is not? even he that writ it, I verily think, did it with but at best a trembling Assent unto it. His Allegations of Scripture and Reason to prove it, are so imper­tinent and insufficient, as that they rather conclude the contrary. For what though St. John speaks in the present Tense, and faith not, the Wrath of God shall come, but that it abideth upon him that believeth not, and that he is condemned already? Doth it thence follow that Infidelity is no sin? who would not rather thence conclude that it is, yea, and that so great an one, as that the Unbeliever shall as certainly be punished for it, as if Gods Wrath were actually Inflicted, or Eternal Con­demnation had actually passed upon him? this Construction of the Evangelists words, is certainly far more probable than the other, because He there assigns the Reason of the Unbelievers Condemna­tion, which is not because he had sinned against the Laws of Nature, and the Civil Laws of State, but, because he hath not believed in the Name of the Jo [...]. 3. 18. only begotten Son of God. Since then this is the moving Cause, or Reason of his Condemnation, it is here evident that this is his sin. Nor doth the Reason that the Leviathan alledgeth to the contra­ry, enforce any other conclusion: for it cannot be conceived that the Retention of sin is the dam­mage of Infidelity, unless we conceive withal that Infidelity doth displease God, nor can we conceive it to displease Him, unless withal we conceive it [Page 201] to be a Sin. And indeed when we well consider it, we cannot possibly methinks conceive it to be any other: for very evident it is, that Christ Cru­cified, is either a Rock of Offence or Foolishness unto it; it sets at naught the Counsel of God in contriving, and despiseth the Riches of His Grace in effecting the Redemption of the World by Him; it counts the Blood of the Covenant an Unholy, or Trivial thing, not worth minding; and does despite unto, or at least resists the Spirit of Grace; it makes God a Lier, and all the Witnesses to Christianity it impudently chargeth with Fals­hood; in short, it frustrates the whole Gospel, and breaks the Commandment of God, and therefore it is a great sin. Nor indeed can it possibly be o­therwise, because it is a Notorious transgression of the Gospel, and the Gospel is a Law, Namely, the Law of the Spirit of Life, and the perfect Law of Li­berty: Rom. 8. 2. James 1. 25. Nor can it be thought that these Apostles do improperly style the Gospel a Law: for a Law being little or nothing else, but an Ordinance and Preception Promulgated for the common Good by Him that hath the Care of the Community, it is very easy to discern that the Gospel hath in it the Nature of a Law, because all the parts of its Definiti­onAquin. 1. 2. Q: 90. Art. 4. are very agreable thereto▪ it concerns Me at pre­sent to take Notice only of its Obligation: and this is so inseparable from a Law, as that it receives its Name therefrom: and indeed the most Essential difference of a Law from Advice or Counsel con­sists in Obligation: for the Latter doth only di­rectLex a li­gando. to the doing of what is thought fit to be done; but the Former doth moreover oblige and bind them to whom it is given to the doing of it: thus also doth the Gospel (and that very severely) to [Page 204] them to whom it is Preached; for the Author and Finisher of our Faith in it, viz. Christ Jesus our Lord is He of whom Moses said unto the Fathers, a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me, Him shall you [...]ear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you: and it shall come to pass that every Soul which will not [...]ear Act. 3. 22, 23. that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the peo­ple. We ought therefore to give the more earnest heed to the things that we have heard, l [...]t at any time [...]e should let them slip: for if the word spoken by An­gels was stedfast, and every transgression and d [...]sobedi­ence received a just recompence of reward, How shall H [...]. 2. 1, 2, 3. we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation? Obli­ged then (it seems) we are by the Gospel, much more severely than the Jews were by the Law: be­cause the Gospel first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness both with signs and V. 3, 4. wonders, and with divers Miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own. So that this its Obligation is primarily derived, not from the Laws of Civil Soveraigns in favour of it, but from the Lords speaking it; its Authority therefore is Di­vine.

Sect. 2.

So also is that of the Holy Scriptures. That those Books of the New Testament, which bear the Apostles Names did drop from their pens, we have as great assurance as any can be given of a matter of that Nature. Affirmative Demonstrati­on that Homer wrote the Poems, Plato or A [...]istotle, Cicero or Plutarch the Books that are Extant under their Names, is impossible: uncontrolled Tradition is all the Proof, whereof this matter is capable: and this we have in behalf of those Books that bear [Page 205] the Apostles Names, as fully as of any other what­soever. The Sceptical Hereticks in Tertulli [...]ns time, who it seems made a Question of it, he therefore thus bespeaks. Go to now thou that wouldest exercise thy Curiosity in matters of thy Salvation, betake thy self to the Apostolick Churches, where thou mayest find the very Chairs of the Apostles, yet abid­ing in their proper places, wherein also their very Au­thentick Epistles, as it were Sounding each ones voice, and representing his face are still recited. If Achaia be nighest thee, thou hast Corinth; if Macedonia be not Praescrip. ad ver. Hae­ret. cap. 36. far from the, thou hast the Philippian and Thessalo­nians. If thou canst go into Asia, there thou hast E­phesus. But if thou art neer Italy, thou hast Rome. From these and other Apo [...]olical Churches, Copies of the Apostles writings were undoubtedly dispersed among the Primitive Christians, who received and delivered them as theirs: and this their Tradition hath run throughout all Ages down to ours, and that without any contradiction: for those that ei­ther in the Primitive or Latter times have thought fit to oppose Christianity, yet did it not under the pretence that these Books were Spurious; neither [...]ews nor Heathens, ever had the confidence to make that objection, but rather they have yeilded their suffrages to the Testimony of the Church, that they were written by the Apostles. it is true in­deed, that some few particular and private persons have both of late and heretofore, either out of their Error rejected, or out of their Curiosity (more than befitted them) debated, the Canonical Au­thority of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, the second Epistle of St. Peter, the second and third of St. John, the Epistle of St. Jude, and the Apocalyps, beside some other lesser parts [Page 206] of the Gospel; yet can it never be shewed, that any entire Church, nor that any National or Provincial Council, nor that any multitude of men in their Confessions or Catechisms, or other such publick writ­ings have rejected them, or made any doubt at allVid. Bishop Co­sin Schola­stic. Hist. cap. 1. 5, 9. of them; so that the Scruples that some few have raised about them, should no more weaken the Credit of such an universal Tradition, than the O­pinion of Atheists overthrows the Faith of all the World besides: for very evident it is, that such Conjectures are at best but Negative probabilities against the Affirmative deposition of all the Chri­stian World beside; and forasmuch as Negatives (especially in such competition) prove n [...]thing, were they imbraced by Ten Thousand times more than they are or ever were, they would not a­mount to a Proof against (and therefore [...]ught not in Reason to derogate from the Credibility of) the Churches Tradition, that they were written by those Apostles: concerning these therefore and those other Books of the New Testament, which bear the Names of Apostles, we have no Reason to doubt: and that they wrote them in prosecuti­on of their Apostolick Office, the Books them­selves declare. And for this cause, since the Apo­ [...]les were Prophets, concerning them it must be concluded, that they are given by inspiration of God; and if these be so, then so also are the Books of the Old Testament, because they are therein said expresly2 Tim. 3. 16. 2 Pet. 1. 19. to be so: and impossible it is for Scripture given by Divine Inspiration to testify a Falshood: and indeed, had not the Scriptures of the Old Testament been so expresly called the word of Prophecy, and said to have been given by Inspiration of God, as we find they are in the New; yet, because the Apos [...]les [Page 207] in their writings found their Disputations upon them, and prove their Doctrines by them, as the word and Truth of God, from whence there lies no Appeal; it would be very Evident that they ascribed Divine Authority to them: and this their Testimony (being given by the Spirit of Pro­phecy) is beyond the reach of a Doubt about the Truth of it.

All the doubt therefore that can be raised, will be about those Books of the New Testament which the Apostles themselves did not write, viz. the Gospels of St. Mark, and St. Luke, together with His History of their Acts: But for the removal hereof from all besides Scepticks, it may methinks suffice, that these Books also had the approbation of the Apos [...]les. For the Gospels of these Evan­gelists do not only agree with the other two; but they themselves (after the death and Resurrecti­on of our Blessed Saviour,) conversed with and adhered to the Apostles; and forasmuch as they were eminent fellow-Labourers with the A­postles, it is not to be doubted but they received the Holy Ghost, (perhaps at the day of Pent [...]cost) as well as others. After which time we know that the Apostles dispersed themselves into their re­spective Provinces: and certain it is (by all Anti­quity) that St. Mark did accompany St. Peter, and St. Luke St. Paul, in almost all his Travels: it is therefore very unlikely that these Evangelists should write without their knowledge and appro­bation: especially considering that Tertullian faith, S. Marks Gospel may be affirmed to be St. Peters, and St. Lukes the Apostolical Churches are wont to A­scribe Adv. Mar­tion. l. 4. c. 5 unto St. Paul: insomuch that St. Hierom, it seems affirms, that this is the Gospel which St. Rom. 2. 16. [Page 208] Paul calls His. What shadow of Probability hadVid. Ba­ron. ad An. Christi 58. there been in these assertions, if these Evangelists had not had (at least) the Approbation of these A­postles in their Writings? and Approved (it seems) they were by St. John as well as them: for Eu­sebius (reporting the Tradition of the Church) informs us, that when the Writings of these Evange­lists were come unto him, He approved of them, and gave them His testimony to their truth: only [...]e d [...]si­red that in these Writings there [...]ad been an account gi­ven of those things which Christ did when He first be­gan to Preach. And that that is said is true: for it may be disc [...]rned, that these thr [...] Evangelists, viz. St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke, have committed to writing only th [...]se things which our Saviour did (in the space of a year) after the imprisonment and Capti [...]ity of St. John the Baptist. They say theref [...]re that St. John the Apostle bath delivered in his Gospel Hist [...]r. Ec­cles. lib. 3. cap. 24. the things which our Saviour did in that space of time which the former Evangelists [...]ad pass [...]d over in silence, the time (namely) before the Imprisonment of the Baptist. An Observation not unworthy of our Notice; but at present we have no use for any part of it, but only the beginning, viz. That St. John the Apostle did not only approve of, but added his Authority to the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke, which testimony of Eusebius, or rather of the Church by him, is so much the more Credi­ble, because Justin Martyr in many places of his Works, calls these (as well as the other Gospels) [...] the Commemo­rations Apol. 2. & Dial. cum Tryph. [...]ap [...]usculè. or Narrations of the Apo [...]les: but this they could not be, unless (as Tertullian faith) the Evangelical instrument [...]ad for its Auth [...]rs the A­postles, on whom the Lord imposed the Office of Pro­mulgating [Page 209] the Gospel: or if Apostolical men had a­ny hand in it, yet not alone, but with the Apostles and after the Apostles; because the Preaching of the Disciples might be suspected of vain Glory, if it had not [...]ad the Authority of the Masters, yea of Christ Adv. Mar. lib. 4. ca. 2. who made the Apostles Masters, to assist it. And having the assistance of their Authority▪ it is very evident, that since they were Prophets▪ the Truth and Authority of these Writings mu [...] needs be Di­vine;Hom. in prooem. Lucae. the Authors of them wrote (as Origen faith,) by Inspiration: and so clear hath this argument heretofore been thought by its own light, as that among the Jews it was a Rule, That of whomso­ever a Prophet bears witness that he is a Proph [...]t, Maimon. de fund. Leg. c. 10. sect. 9. he shall be received as a Prophet, neither shall there any farther Trial be made of him. Since then the Apostles were Prophets, and did either write or approve of, and Authorize all the Books of the New Testament, wherein also they give Testimony to those of the Old, that they are the Word of God; we ought to acquiesce, and ceasing from making a doubt of it, should conclude, that the Authority of the whole Bible is Divine. Obj. 1.

But it is Manifest, (faith the Leviathan,) that none can know the Scriptures are Gods Word, (though all true Christians believe it,) but thosePart. 3. cap. 33. to whom God Himself [...]ath revealed it Superna­turally.

An [...]. It is Manifest, yes, that it is; very good: But I pray what makes it so? why the sole Authori­ty of the Leviathan. And let me tell you, you will never be fit to be his Disciple, unless he hath Pow­er enough over you to make you think so: for he is [...]o Auth [...]ntick a Teacher, as that he often sug­getts such Principles as this upon his bare Word; [Page 210] and this you must take, although perhaps you have good Reason to the contrary. If you are so ill Natur'd as to deny him this little Postulatum, you spoil all, and leave no hope that ever you will be of his Opinion. For an Instance of this you need not seek far, there is one before you. For what is knowledge but a firm, certain and evident Assent to the Truth of a Proposition? and our assent to that under debate, viz. That the Holy Scriptures are the word of God, seems to have all these de­grees of perfection in it: for it is firm, because with­out Hesitation and doubting: it is certain, because Built upon such sure and solid Foundations as can­not be made unable to bear it: and it is evident, because it is evidently and plainly deduced from the next and immediate cause of any Scriptures being the Word of God, Namely, the Spirit of Prophecy. But whether or no (according to the strict and rigorous definitions of Philosophers) it be Knowledge properly so called, it is not ma­terial to enquire, because it is not necessary that so it should be: for as in all Arts and Sciences, firm Assent to first Principles (by what means soever it be attained,) is sufficient for Learners, so here: the chief design of Holy Scripture being to Teach us knowledge of things Supernatural, and our As­sent to the Divinity of its Authority, being one of the first premises requisite to our attainment of that Knowledge▪ it had need only to be firm▪ because firmness of Assent thereunto is of it self sufficient to make us learn, believe and obey the Scripture as the Word of God: as is evident by the example of all those Pious and Good men, who although illiterate, do yet take heed thereunto, as to the Rule that God hath given them both of their Faith and [Page 211] Practice: this they do, although they can give no other Reason why they think the Scriptures to be so, than because they are generally received as such, and Vogued to be the Word of God: these Men it is confessed do not know, but only believe that they are so, yet their Faith being stedfast, i. e. their Assent firm, they (we see) do Learn, Believe and Obey them as the Word of God.

Obj. 2▪ But this is more than they need to do; for He to whom God hath not Supernaturally revealed that they are his, nor that those that published them were sent by Him, is not obliged to obey them, by any Au­thority, but His, whose commands have already the force of Laws; that is to say, by any other Autho­rity than that of the Common Wealth, residing inIbid. the Sovereign, who only has the Legislative Power.

The Postulatum before mentioned, was obtrud [...]d upon us because it was big with this Monster;Ans▪ which the Leviathan hath Midwif'd into the World with its unhallowed Mouth against Heaven, ab­solving (as much as in that lies) all Men living from Obedience to the Word of their Maker unless the Common wealth requires it. This puts me in mind of the Roman Senates Decree, and Tertulli­ans irrision of it, that unless God please Man, he shall not be God: so here, Man must be merciful untoApol. ca. 5. God or else there shall be no Power in His Word: for those Books only are Canonical, that is, Law in every Nation, which are established for such by the Sovereign Authority. It is true that God is the Sovereign of all Sovereigns▪ and therefore, when He speaks of any Subject, He ought to be obeyed, whatsoever any earthly Potentate commanded to the contrary. But the question is not of Obedience to God, but of when and what God hath said; which [Page 212] to Subj [...]cts that have no supernatural Revelation▪ cannot be known, but by that Natural Reason, which guided them for the obtaining of Peace and Justice, to obey the Authority of their several Common Wealths, Cap. [...]od. that is to say, of their Lawful Soverei [...]s. It seems then by Natural Reason it may be known that the Scriptures are the Word of God: but that a thing which none can know but those to whom God hath revealed it supernaturally, may yet be known by natural Reason, is so gross a contradiction as may perhaps puzzle his extraordinary Wit to re­concile. But whether it do or no, it is no mat­ter: it sufficeth me that since bot [...] parts of it are the Spawn of the Leviathan, he hath granted, that it may be known by Natural Reason: but by what means I pray doth Natural Reason attain to this knowledge? by its guidance of Men to obedience to the Authority of their several Common-Wealths, i. e. of their Lawful Sovereigns. And how doth Natural Reason know what Books those are which Lawful Sovereigns have commanded to be acknow­ledged for Canonical? how I say, doth Natural Reason know this, but by the Promulgation of their Laws? and what is Promulgation, but a Pro­clamation or publick Attestation or Testimony that they are the Sovereigns Laws? and hereupon we know that Subjects yeild their Assent that they are so: but Assent that is built upon Testimony, is Faith, not knowledge; yet upon this the King re­quires Obedience, and all good Subjects think them­selves bound to ob [...]y: Faith therefore obligeth to obedience as well as Knowledge: if not, then evident it is that the Leviathan robs the King of his Scepter, as well as Gods Word of Authority: and i [...] so, I cannot but recover some hope, that one [Page 213] time or other, this writing of his, may fall i [...]to the hands of a Sovereign, who will consider it him s [...]lf, and by the exercise of entire Sover [...]ignty, in protec [...] ­ing the publick, not teaching, but burning of it, convert it into Ashes. But if Faith, i. e. Assent unto Te­stimonyI eviathan▪ p. 2. ca. [...]1. do oblige un [...]o Obedience in reference to the King, why not also in reference to God Al­mighty? If there be no re [...]son (as surely there is none) why it should not, then supposing we do not know, but only believe the Scriptures are Gods Word, yet we are thereby obliged to obey them.

Obj. 3. All that the Leviathan hath farther to say a­gainst it, is, that if it be not the Legislative Autho­rity of the Common-Wealth, that giveth them the force of Laws, it must be some other Authority deri­ved from God, either private or publick: if private, it obliges only him, to whom in particular God hath been pleased to reveal it. I [...] publick, it is the Au­thorityPa. 3 c. 33. of the Common-Wealth, or of the Church.

Ans. But suppose we should d [...]ny his Dil [...]mma, and say it is not the Authority either of the Common-Wealth or of the Church, but of God himself immediatly sending his Ministers and Messengers, his Heraulds, viz. the Apostles to proclaim his Gracious Law: and if they gave Evidence (as we have abundantly proved that they did) of this their immediate Mission from Him, then are these his Laws so sufficiently publish [...]d, as that no Man can excuse himself by saying▪ he knew not or could not know, they were his: and sin [...]e they are so sufficiently published, (according to the Leviathans own conc [...]ssion,) they a e Laws t [...] Ib [...]d. them to whom they are so: and thus we see they are without the Authority eit [...]er of the Church, [Page 214] or Common-Wealth to make them so: and there­fore their Authority is Divine.

Sect. 3.

But leaving him a while and his dangerous Po­sitions. Let's look a little into the Treatise of humane Reason; wherein we find Pelagianisme in a Disguise, or Free will in Maskerade: for, one of the Errours of Pelagius was,

Quòd satis ad propriam possit conferre salutem
Arbitra libertas, etiamsi Gratia desit.

Vid. Voss. Hist. Pelag. lib. 3. p. 2. Th [...]s. 1. That a Mans own Free Will even without Grace is sufficient for his Salvation. And so saith this Treatise is humane Reason: for it informs us that a long and serious Debate about the choice of a Guide to Happiness, could bring the Author thereof no other but his own Reason: which (saith he,) if it take such Directions as it ought, and may do before it sets forth, and pursue those Directions with care and constancy, though it may possibly lead me into Error, yet will bring me at last even through them to the purposed end of my Journey, which is Pag. 2. Happiness: and letting us know that this is no peculiar excellency of his Reason. The next Page tells us; this is the only North Star which God has given us for the right Steering of our Course. And afterward, it saith, that every Mans particu­lar Reason, if well followed, i. e. With Constancy, Dilig [...]nce and Sobriety, will Infallibly carry him at Pag. 28. last (though perhaps, through many tedious and troublesome Wandrings) to his Eternal Happiness. This is there aff [...]med of Reason in contradi­stinction to wh [...]soever other Guide you pitch on, whether it be the Scriptures, Spirit, Church past or pres [...]nt, or any thing else imaginable. It is therefore [Page 215] somewhat more than probable, that our Reason (in some kind of opposition to Revelation) is that which that Treatise would have us take for our Infallible Guide to Happiness: But if this be our Guide, whence is it that it may, and ought to take Directions before it sets forth? What? a Guide and take Directions? This is such a Solecisme as evacuates all pretence to the ability of a Guide, and speaks it a Stranger in the way, or at least not well acquainted with it. Since then Reason may and ought to take Directions before it sets forth, it is but a Traveller, (not a Guide, unless it be a Blind one) in the way to Happiness. And indeed, if it were not so, what need had Men of any other? And if no need of another, to what End were Christ and his Apostles Prophets? Whence was it that through the tender Mercy of our Luk. 1. 78, 79. God, the Day-spring from on High hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and to Guide our Feet into the way of peace? if Men could have seen this way by the Light of humane Reason, what Necessity was there that the Day-spring from on High should visit them on purpose to Guide their Feet into it? But since so it did, we must either charge God foolishly and set his ten­der Mercy at nought, or else we must confess, that Reason alone could not find it. And unrea­sonable methinks it is, that any Man (much more a Christian) should be shie of making this Con­fession. For, what an astonishment to Reason is it, that a Person of the ever Blessed and Glori­ous Trinity should in a sort lessen Himself, and lay aside his Glory, leave his Heaven and come down to Earth, take upon Him our Nature, to­gether with the Infirmities and Servile conditi­on [Page 216] of it, and herein should take incomparable pains in Preaching good Tidings to the meek, and should send his Apostles by enducing them with Power from on High to do the like to all Nati­ons, and to confirm their Word with signs fol­lowing, and all this on little or no Necessity! This is such a Kindness as no Romance ever fan­cved! But since the measures of Friendship are usually taken not only from the good things it bestows but also from the need we have of them, it is altogether unlikely, that infinite Wisdome would be so lavish of its Favours to little or no purpose. Into which absurdity (if not Blasphe­my) we cannot avoid falling, if we think our own Reason sufficient (as this Treatise saith it is) to carry us at last infall [...]bly to Eternal Happiness: if this be true, what need is there of Revelation? What can that do more? it can't surely carry us to Heaven before we come at the last here on Earth; nor can the certainty of its doing it then be grea­ter than Infallibility: but all this we had before by our own Reason; wherein then are we or can we be beholden to Rev [...]lation? thus manifestly doth this Opinion evacuate the necessity of Re­velation, and derogate extreamly from the Mercy and Goodness of God in Blessing the World with knowledge of his Gospel. It imputes the folly of a needless Labour to the Son of God, and vi­lisies the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, that enabled his Apostles to Preach it to all Nations: it sets at nought the Labours of Men in the Word and Doctrine, and puffs up Sciolists with such a con­ceit of their own Reason, as makes them swell and burstinto contempt of all supernatural Know­ledge: it opens a door to Divisions, and le [...]s in the [Page 217] Wind of any false Doctrine that conceited Opi­nionists shall think reasonable. Piety therefore and the love of Peace prompt us to abhor it: and indeed Reason it self cannot chuse but speak a­gainst and condemn it.

For it must confess, that Life and Immortality, viz▪ Eternal Happiness, is brought to light through the Gospel: without the Revelation thereof thereby Reason can but surmise and conjecture at it. Contemplating the Works of Creation, it finds that all Creatures (besides what they are in themselves) receive [...]xternally some perfection from other things; for there is not a Creature in the World but may be what it is not: hence it is, that there is a kind of appetite or desire in all things, whereby they incline to somewhat, which they are not, that when they have attained it, they may be perfecter than they are without it. This inclination shews it self in no Creature more than Man, who being capable of, propends unto a per­fection beyond all that in this life is attainable: hence indeed Reason concludes, that there is a state of Eternal Happiness provided for humane Nature: but this its conclusion leaves the Mind altogether in the dark as to the nature of its beati­fick Object. The Objects provided for the satis­faction of other Creatures, Reason (by the informa­tion of the Senses for the most part) perceives: but what there is provided for its own, it cannot con­ceive; somewhat it seeketh, but what that is, it directly knoweth not: but being verily perswaded that God hath made nothing in vain, and perceiv­ing that all attainments in this world will not satisfie the appetites of our reasonable Nature, it concludes there is something else provided for i [...][Page 218] that exceeds all things else that it knowes of, in goodness, but what that is, it cannot tell. Now from this its ignorance of the End, ariseth so thick a cloud of darkness about the Means conducing to it, as that it knows not what to do, or which way to go to attain it. All that it can possibly direct us to do, is to work: but when it well considers the happiness it seeks for, it can give no account of its being attainable by our works: for it being something beyond or above the power of Nature ordained in the Creation, it cannot be the natural effect or product of our Works: to imagine this, is to think our works effectual beyond their proper strength and power; yea it is to make God infe­rior in power unto men; it gives them the rule over him, and supposeth them able to attain to happiness whether he will give it them or no, and so (without a Metaphor) to take the Kingdome of Heav [...]n by force, and to commit a Rape upon the Almighty: but this is so gross an absurdity▪ as that every man's par [...]icular Reason abhors it: the supr [...]me perfection of our Nature, if any way at­tainable by our works, must therefore be the re­ward of them: but then Reason perceives, that a Reward is two-fold, viz. either of debt or of gift: the former is such as is due to the Receiver upon the account of something, that he (of his own ac­cord, without any obligation on him) hath done, which in justice or equity is worthy of it. But who so void of Reason, as (after a just and im­partial examination of his works) to think them worthy of Eternal Life: humane Reason surely is not so silly as to think that they are so meritorious and beneficial unto God, as to deserve it at his hands. A Reward therefore Reason cannot conclude [Page 219] it to be of Debt, but of Gift: and this is such as may become due to the Receiver, but not for the merit or by virtue of his Works, but by the unde­served Promise of the Giver. But without Reve­lation, where will Humane Reason find a Promise of Eternal Happiness to Man in his present fallen Condition? The Fall of Man is so discernable by the light of Nature, as that scarce any sort of Phi­losophers was wholly ignorant of it; but the Py­thagoreans were more especially troubled about it. There was a time (saith Porphyrius) when we were intellectual, purged from the dreggs of Sense and Irra­tionality, and so we still are, in respect of our Essence; but now by reason of our inability perpetually to converse with Intellectual and Eternal Objec [...]s, and through our proneness to those of Sense, we have wrapt and folded our selves up in them: for the Soul not remaining in its primitive intellectual state, all its powers being actu­ated by the Senses of the body, are so hurt and maimed, as that like ground not well manured, they bring forth Tares instead of Corn, although good seed be thrown into them: and all this comes to pass through the Soul's improbitie, which though it doth not corrupt the Essence of it, yet it fetters it to that which is fading, and draggs it down from its first and proper state to another far inferior. Hereby it is evident, that thede Abstin. lib. 1. [...]. 30. Light of Nature discovers our fallen condition: Herein I say, where can Reason (without Revela­tion) find a promise of eternal happiness made un­to us? The vast Volumes of the Creation do not afford it, the Book of Nature doth not contain it. Where then will it look for it, or can it possibly find it? Here then this supposed Infallible Guide is at a stand, it cannot carry us one step farther, it is at such a loss, as that it cannot tell us what to [Page 220] do, or which way to go, that we may g [...]t within the compass of a Promise of Salvation, without which we walk in darkness and at all adventures, and so our wandrings are like to be very tedious and troublesome indeed.

Object. But what if they be? the matter is not much: for, those who commit themselves to the guidance of their own Ʋnderstandings, if they do commit themselves wholly to it, are as safe on the left hand as on the right; as secure of happiness in their Errors, as others are, whoTreat. of Hum. Rea­son. p. 65. are otherwise guided, even in the Truth which they happen to fall into.

Behold h [...]re the power of Reason! how broad it makes the way to Heaven, and how wide its gate! it throwes it open, and takes it on every side! no matter with what it approach [...]th it; Error as well as Truth (if it be the dictate of our own understanding) will let us into it. What scrupu­lous Coxcombs then are those who ask with the trembling Jaylour, Sirs, What must we do to be saved? Can they not wholly commit themselves to their own Understandings, and then they would be saved right or wrong. What though we be Turks, Jews, Heathens, or Atheists, in our perswa­sion, it is no matter; if we therein wholly com­mit our selves to the guidance of our own Under­standings, we are as secure of happiness in our Errors, as others are who are guided, even in theIbid. Truths which they happen to fall into. For there is no danger of perishing but from Disobedience, without which every man may often err, the Commandment of God being not to find out truth (especially every par­ticular one) but to Endeavour the finding it: He com­mands no more but to search, and ye shall find, sayes be, not every particular Truth, for experience teaches us [Page 221] that cannot be the interpretation: but whether you find or no the Truth which you search for, you shall find the Pag. 66. Reward of searching, which is Happiness. So that if your Understanding search, and you do commit your selves wholly to the guidance o [...] it, there is no danger of perishing from disobedience to the Laws even of God himself, much less from Errour. Well, little did we think what an amulet we carry about with us, and little did we know, (till this Treatise told us) that such is the force and virtue of our Understanding, as that, if it doth what it may, the most venomous errour cannot hurt us; if it doth but search, we shall be sure to find the re­ward of searching, which is Happiness.

This indeed is a very comfortable Speculation; but it falls out somewhat unluckily, that He who acquainted us with it (as it is to be feared) spake without-book: for the Promise is not made to searching, but to seeking; i. e. to Prayer and Devo­tion,Matt. 7. 7. not to Study and Enquiry after Truth in Opi­nion. It doth therefore give us no reason to think, either that Happiness is the reward of such searching, or that we shall ever find it thereby; no, though we commit our selves wholly to the guidance of our Understanding therein: for if on those Terms men may attain to Salvation, I can­not understand that St. Paul the Apostle was e're a whit securer of happiness, than Saul the Persecu­tor: for he verily thought with himself that he ought Act. 26. 9. to do many things contrary to the Name of Jesus. This was the guidance of his Understanding: and he wholly committed himself to it, for even then he lived in all good Conscience. Why then wasAct. 23. 1. not he as safe on the left hand, as on the right? i. e. while a Pesecutor, as when an eminent Belie­ver. [Page 222] If he were, why doth he magnifie the Mercy1 Tim. 1. 13, &c. of God in his Conversion? If he were not, what reason have we to believe the now controverted and grand Assertion in this Treatise? That there­fore notwithstanding, we conclude, That since Christ and his Apostles were Prophets, it is un­reasonable to think our own Reason a sufficient Guide to Eternal Happiness.

Sect. 4.

Hence also it follows, That it is very reason­able for us to believe whatsoever Christ and his Apostles have undoubtedly taught us. The reason of the consequence most manifestly is, because they2 P [...]t. 1. 21. were Prophets, and being Prophets they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and forasmuch as God cannot lye, the truth of their doctrine must needs be beyond all question. For such is the cer­tainty of the Word of Prophecy as that St. Peter pre­fers it before the voice, which he himself heardV. 19. from Heaven when he was with Jesus in the holy Mount. But can any thing be more sure than such a Voice? No, not in it self considered absolutely, but unto us. God is Truth, and in him there is no Possibility of lying, or Shadow of falshood: all things therefore that come from him must needs be equally sure and certain, infallible and true in themselves: yet for all that, one thing may have greater evidence of its descent, and more apparent credentials of its Mission from him than another hath. As for example, St. John the Baptist and our Blessed Saviour were both sent from God, but both did not give equal evidence of their Mission from him. St. John did no Miracle but our SaviourJoh. 5. 36. wrought many, and the Works that he did, did bear witness of him, that the Father sent him. And as it is in Persons, so may it be in several wayes of Reve­lation: [Page 223] and so I conceive it is in those that now lye before us, a Voice from Heaven, and a Word of Prophecie: The Question is not which is most true, considered as in it self, for so there can be no comparison between them: but which of the two is most sure as to us, i. e. which of them gives us the fairest Credentials of its coming from God? St. Peter decides the question; the Word of Prophecy: And for this his decision, he had the authority of the Jewes, among whom it seems that in those dayes it was, and perhaps still is a received Opi­nion, That the Bath Kol, filia vocis (such as St. Peter speaks of) was inferiour to the very lowest degree of Prophecy; not in its truth as in it self consi­dered, but in motives of credibility to others: here­of Maimonides insinuates this reason, viz. because it Mor. Ne­voch. p. 2. c [...]p. 42. may happen to such as are not prepared for Prophecy, there were (as we have shewed) divers qualifica­tions antecedently or concomitantly necessary to fit men for the Spirit of Prophecy: and these qua­lifications (as we have also seen) took away all cause of suspition, that the Prophets either were deceived, or had a design to deceive others in their Prophecies: And besides that, either by Predictions or Miracles) they gave such evidence of a Prophe­tick spirit, as could possibly come from none but God: and therefore in Motives of credibility, a Word of Prophecy doth far exceed a Voice from Heaven; because (for ought we know) the Prince of the power of the Air may deceive us with some­thing like it; or the pretended hearers of it were, it may be, themselves deceived, or had a design to deceive others. Since then Christ and his Apostles (as we have largely proved) were a sort of Pro­phets, that most eminently had all the qualifica­tions [Page 224] requisite to the spirit of Prophecy, and both by Predictions and Miracles gave th [...] clearest evi­dence, that ever the World had of it we have the highest reason (whereof a Revelation is capable) most firmly to believe the doctrine that they have taught us.

What though the mystery of Godliness be (as without controversie it is) very great, yet the Theists of our Age have no reason on that account to disbelieve it: for though, pe [...]haps, it is reason­able to expect that our Religion should befriend our Reason, yet not so far as to make it the Rule and measure of Divine Revelation; the reason is, because the divine Intellect is infinite, and ours finite: although therefore without an experiment or other demons [...]ration, there seems to be no obli­gation on us firmly to ass [...]nt to any thing in Phi­losophy, yet are we not permitted to be such Vir­tuos [...] in Religion. The reason is, because things (in themselves uncapable of a demonstration) are revealed with a command to beli [...]ve; and we ought not to make them a r [...]mor [...] to our Belief: for as after all our Searches into Nature, and grea­test Discoveries of things therein, we are forced to confess there may be more in her dark bosome than we can discover, and we on that account have no reason to deny the Being of Nature: so also in things revealed, if after all our hardest study we cannot comprehend them, we thereupon have no reason to deny the Being of them, because God who hath made, may also reveal things that pass our Understanding: if therefore there be evidence sufficient to convince the Understanding (as in the case now before us there is) that the Revelation came from God, there is no reason (on the account of its mysteries) to reject it.

[Page 225] And indeed, the mysteries of Christianity are so far from giving just occasion of Unbelief, as that they are apt to strengthen our Faith in it: for the Gospel teaching us to glorifie God in 1 Cor. 6. 20. our Spirits as well as Bodies; it is very reasonable and convenient, that it should require us to ho­nour Him by the Submission of our Understand­ings to indemonstrab [...]e Revelations, as well as by the Obedience of our Hearts and Lives unto his Laws: and therefore as it is fitting for us to obey the divine Law, though our Wills reluct never so much against it, so also is it for us to believe what­ever God hath revealed, though [...] never so impro­bable, to our Understandings: for unless we do so, we shall undoubtedly fall short of our Duty, which in this Case without dispute is to tread in the steps of our Father Abraham, who gave Glory to God by being so strong in Faith, as to believe that That was impossible in Nature, and therefore incredible unto Reason. If we will believe no more than what we can demonstrate to be true, our Assent is not Faith, but Science; for it is not built upon the Foundation of Gods Testimony▪ but on Demonstrations from the Nature of the things testified, and so it honours not God at all; because it receives not the Truth for His sake, but Him for the Truths sake; and so it pays no re­spect to his Word, but only to our own Ratio­cination. But forasmuch as the mind assents to Testimony as well as Reason, and the divine Prerogative extends it self to the whole Man, that Religion that becomes God and it is suitable to Man, must have somthing in it to exercise this his innate Power about; and for this Cause, the Mysteries of Christianity ought to be looked on [Page 226] as a Motive to believe, rather than to reject it: for were there no Mysteries in it, we should have some Reason to entertain a Temptation to think that it is not of God, because whatsoever else we are assured there is, hath somthing in it that ex­ceeds the reach of our Reason, yea and Conjecture too: for if we contemplate the Works of Creati­on, things that we dayly see and handle, which [...]eem to lye level with our Understandings, yet af­ter our most accurate Researches into their nature, we shall find, that the most piercing Judgment or profoundest Reason is not able to solve all the Phaenomena, or attain to a perfect knowledg of them. And who is there that observes well the Dispensations of divine Providence, but may there­in find such Riddles as his Reason cannot unfold? Such Mysteries as baffle his Understanding and con­found his Curiosity in his enquiring after the cause of them. The Ends and Reasons of Gods pro­ceedings with Men, although always most Just and Righteous, yet very often are so secret and hidden, as that they convince us, his Judgments are un­searchable and his ways past finding out. And from the Works of Creation and Providence re­sults a Natural Religion; the chief Principle where­of we know is, That there is a Being Infinite in all Perfections: this is the Dictate of Reason as well as Conscience; yet Reason cannot f [...]thome the depth of it, for it hath only a Negative conception of Infinity, and whatever there is that it hath no Conception of, doth undoubtedly surpass its reach and Comprehension: so that Natural Theology, as well as revealed, hath its Mysteries: if therefore Christianity had none, how unlike would it be to all things else in the world that have God for [Page 227] their Authour? How just a prejudice would this be to the reception of it as divine Truth and Revelation? Who would believe it to be of God, when he sees nothing that surpasseth Man in it? How decent then and useful are the Mysteries of Christianity? Since they make it like to all things else of Gods making, they beautifie and adorn it with fairer Characters than otherwise it would have of Gods Image on it: and the fairer the Characters of His Image are upon it, the more Legible is his Truth in it: for infiniteness of Truth is inseparable from right Reasons Idea of Deity: and where there is infiniteness of Truth, there is no possibility of a Lye, Mistake or Deceit, and where these are excluded, there is no room for Hesitance or doubting, but the strongest Reason imaginable to believe. Since therefore our Chri­ [...]ian Faith hath the impression of Gods Image on it, and the Word of Prophecy revealed it, it is most highly reasonable to believe it.

Sect. 5.

And since such is the Reason that we have, most firmly to believe the Doctrine that Christ and his Apostles have taught us, such also we have most stedfastly to hope in the Promises that they have made us, for Hope being the expectation and waiting of Faith, ariseth out of it and hath it [...] growth with it, although the Object of Hope be some difficultly attainable future good thing, yet Faith (receiving the promises of it) puts us up­on expecting and waiting for it: if therefore it be reasonable for us to believe the Promises of the Gospel, it is also Reasonable for us to hope for the Accomplishment of them. The Hope of a Christian is not like our Golden Dreams which vanish when we awake, but it is such an expectati­on [Page 228] of good things not seen, as will indure the Test of the severest Reason; for it is founded on the Promises of the Gospel: and these Promises (made by the Spirit of Prophecy in Christ and his Apostles) are little or nothing else, but Declarati­ons of what God will do for the Good of Men; and since they declare his purpose, they open to us a part of that external Law, which he himself hath set for himself to work by; they therefore are and must needs be as immutable as that Law, and that Law is as immutable as God himself, because it is his external Wisdome; and herein there can be no Variableness or Shaddow of turning, because2 Tim. 2. 13. his Understanding is infinite. On this account I suppose it is, that St. Paul insinuates it as possible for God to deny Himself, as to fail of performing his Promises: in them therefore we may have Hope without despair, and Confidence without diffi­dence.

Obj. But hereunto some perhaps suspend their Assent, because (as they think) their Experience confutes the Christian Faith. The Apostle teacheth us, that1 Tim. 4. 8. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that [...]ow is, and of that which is to come. But we find that all things come alike to all, there is no more care taken of the most Pious Christian, than of the lewdest among men: we cannot there­fore believe the Promis [...]s of the Gospel, or think it safe to put our trust in them: if they deceive our expectation in things that fall within the compass of our Experience, what Reason have we to give credit, or to take heed unto them in those that do not?

An [...]. If our expectations have been deceived, it is most rational as well as pious to resolve the d [...]ceit [Page 229] (not into Gods Promises, but) into our own Mis­understanding of them: but such usually is the peevish Worldly-mindedness of those that are used to make such as this Objection, as that they take the dirt of their own Ignorance and misap­prehensions and throw it in the face of Gods Pro­mises: for very easy it is to observe, that this and all such like Objections, are founded upon an O­pinion, that Gods promises concerning the life that now is, do import that those who perform the conditions of them, shall enjoy such an uninterrupted Series of Worldly prosperity, as that they shall not be afflicted like other Folk. But this certainly is a great mistake; for Afflictions and troubles are so inseparably An­nexed to Christian Piety, as that if any Man will Mat. 16. 24. Luk. 14. 27. come after Christ, he must deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Him; and unless he do so, he can­not be His Disciple: it seems, therefore that those grim Duties of Self-denial and mature resolution of bearing the Cross, are so essentially united to the other parts of Christianity, as there's no being a Good Christian without them: impossible there­fore it is that the promises of the Gospel should be designed to evacuate the Necessity, or frustrate the Use of these Essential parts of Christianity. And for this Cause it is most probable, if not cer­tain, that the importance of its Promises concern­ing things Temporal is, that they who seek those that are Eternal, shall have no just cause of such destra­cting Cares about the things of this World, as render them unable acceptably to mind the concerns of the other. That this is the Design and Scope of them, we have methinks a Demonstration in that grand Promise of our Saviour, that all these things shall Mat. 6. 33. be added to them that seek first the Kingdome of God [Page 230] and his Righteousness: for being a part of his Ser­mon on the Mount (wherein he gives his Disciples an abstract of Christian Philosophy) it is to be looked on as a Standard, whereby we are to take the measures of other Promises of the like nature, in our Interpretations of them: and if so, then the Design and in [...]endment of them all must needs be, not to raise our Hopes to an expectation of Freedom from Affliction, but to keep our Souls from sinking into Dispondence and distrust of Gods Providence in providing for us: for this manifest­ly is the Scope of our Saviours Promise now un­der Consideration, and that being as ample as any or all the rest▪ and pronounced by our Lords own Mouth, when He was delivering the Sum and sub­stance of his practical Doctrine, may most justly be thought to shew us their importance. And if it be granted so to do, I dare Appeal to the expe­rience of good Christians, concerning the Truth of them; what though they are sometimes reduced to such Straits and Difficulties, as a Natural Man can see no way out of; yet, even then their Trust in the Promises does buoy up their Hope, that they shall find away to escape: and I dare, I say, ap­peal to their Experience, whether or no divine Providence (if on an Impartial Scrutiny they cannot find, that they themselves have omitted the Conditions of the Promises) have not so far fulfil­led them, as to let them see, that God so cares for them as in due time to do it. And if they cannot say, but that (though in this Sea of troubles Gods Promises of Temporal Blessings do not keep them from Storms, yet) they cast out such an Anchour o [...] Hope unto them, as secures them from being o­verwhelmed with Billows of Sorrow, or split up­on [Page 231] the Rocks of Desparation, it must be confessed that they sufficiently do the Work for which they are intended: and if so they do, there certainly is no Reason to stagger at the Promises of God through Unbelief, but much rather to give Him Glory by being therein strong in Faith.

Especially considering moreover, that the great­est Inducements we have to believe the Gospel, viz▪ the Miracles that were wrought to confirm it, do also assure us of the Infallible Truth and Certain­ty of its Promises: for, Blessedness we know is the Sum and substance of all that they can Import, or we can hope ro enjoy; and that this we shall have if we be not offended in Christ, is his own Inference from his Miracles: and that the Premises will very well bear the Conclusion, will be evident to any one who Impartially considers, that the Mi­racles of Christ (or at least some of them) did as far exceed the power of Nature, as the Donation of Blessedness or any thing else contained in the Promises; by them therefore it appears, that all things requisite thereunto, are in the Power of Him by whom, or in whose Name they were done: and the Goodness of his Miracles declare Him as Willing as Able to bestow them on us: and where both Power and Will do concur to make men Blessed, it is very evident, there is no place left for Diff [...]ence or room for Despair: Since then the Miracles of Christ do Demonstrate both his Ability and Willingness to make us Blessed, and all the Pro­mises of the Gospel do empty themselves into Blessedness, it thence follows, that on that account we may and in Reason we ought to have st [...]ong confidence in the Promises.

But here perhaps some will say, no▪ because the per­formance Obj. [Page 232] of them in Order to the acquisition of Bles­sedn [...]ss, includes a general Resurrection from the Dead; whi [...]h is impossible, because if some Men have not been nourished by feeding on the Flesh of others, yet surely Fish eat Men, and Men eat those Fish, so that That which formerly was the Flesh of one Man, is frequently taken into the substance of anothers body: and because it cannot be that the same numerical matter should constitute divers bodies, it seems im­possible that these men should have a Resurrection.

Ans. Be it so, that a general Resurrection seems in­credible, yet ought not that to prejudice our Hope any more than the Mysteries of Christianity do our Faith: because that He who made and revealed things that pass our comprehension, may propose the like to our Hope; and forasmuch as it is our duty to honour him by the submission of our irasci­ble faculties as well as rational, it ought not to seem strange that so he should. But why should it be thought impossible for God to raise the dead? If the Loadstone can so extract the filings of Steel out of dust, as that nothing thereof shall be lost, why should it be thought impossible for God to gather together and raise up every the least Particle of each mans body, wheresoever hid or inter­mingled with others? and there is no fear of a Contention at thee Rsurrection, among the Cani­bals or others for their respective bodies; for it seems to me more than probable, that Infinite Wisdom, Power and Justice will so order the mat­ter a [...], that humane flesh which men have devour­edDe Civit. Dei. li▪ 22. cap. 20. shall be (as St. Austine faith) restored unto them, in whom it first began to be mans flesh: and they from whose Bodies the restitution is made, shall have no cause to be troubled at it; for as the Im­perf [...]ctions, [Page 233] or the defects of strength and Nature in the bodies of Infants at their decease, shall (by the Almighty Power and Wisdom) be supplyed at the Resurrection, so may, and so I believe shall theirs: N [...]r doth this Supply make them cease any more to be the same Bodies▪ than the cure of an old Ulcer in the Leg mak [...]s it cease to be the same Leg; although in order thereunto the putrefied flesh be removed, that sound may be restored. In all this there is nothing impossible; and since Christianity doth so clearly assert a future Resurrection, and we have so much Reason to believe it, it is not only possible, but probable, that so it shall be. However, since so it may be, there is no truth or force in the Objection to make our Christian Hope unreasona­ble: but since it grasps at nothing that is really im­possible, and withal is so well founded on Promises, of whose Truth and certainty we are so abundantly assured, it must be concluded to be very rational.

Sect. 6▪

Lastly, since it is thus reasonable to believe the Doctrine, and to hope in the Promises of Chri­stianity, it is also very reasonable for us to keep its Commandments. Faith and Hope are so great Engines of Action, as that in Natural and Civil affairs scarce any man omits doing of any thing, whereby he believes and hopes to obtain some good, or to avoid some evil: and if in those Af­fairs all the World think it reasonable for Faith and Hope to set us on doing, why is it not so also in Religious? Since therefore in these affairs, we have (as we have seen) very fair ground to plant these Engines on, it is very reasonable to set them on work in keeping the Commandments. And not for this cause only▪ but especially because Christ and his Apostles (who revealed them to us, and impo­sed [Page 234] them on us) being Prophets, it is thence ma­nifest, that they have no less than divine Autho­rity instampt upon them: and so indisputably evi­dent and transcendently great is this Authority, as that the whole Earth (Heathens and Turks as well as Jews and Christians) acknowledge an obliga­tion to obey it: and since Gods Commands have so confessed an obligation in them, it is certainly a part of the Synteresis or habit of pr [...]ctical Prin­ciples, wherewith Nature hath indued all mens Consciences, that God is to be obeyed. Since then, because Christ and his Apostles were Prophets, the Precepts of that Religion that they have taught us, must needs be the Commands of God, we are self­condemned Wretches, perhaps worse than Infidels, if we do not obey them.

But here (to demonstrate at once both the na­ture and the greatness of our obligations to Obe­dience) it will not be amiss, (though it may seem a Digression) to enquire, Whence our obligation to obey God doth arise? If we consult the Philosophical Rudiments concerning Government and Civil Society, for an Answer to this Question, we shall there find it affirmed, that the obligation of yielding God ob [...] ­dience, Chap. 15. Art. 7. lyes on men by reason of their weakness. If this shall seem hard to any man, the Author in his Anno­tation, desires him with a silent thought to consider, if there were two Omnipotents, whether were bound to obey. And well may it seem hard, since it admits of no proof without the supposition of an Impossi­bility, viz. that there may be two Omnipotents; which cannot be, because the one is, or it is not able to destroy the other; if it be, then the other is not Omnipotent, because it is not able to resist it; if it be not, then is it not Omnipotent, because there is something which it cannot do; so that the [Page 235] Being of two Omnipotents is impossible. Let a man therefore consider his arguing with never so silent a thought, he shall find but little or no force in it. And truly though our Saviour admo­nishing Paul, (who at that time was an enemy to the Church) that he should not kick against the pricks, seems to require obedience from him for this cause, be­cause he had not power enough to resist, yet doth it not thence follow, that his Weakness was the for­mal reason of his obligation to yield Obedience: because there may be many motives to obey, be­sides the basis and radix of our obligation so to do. In the advice of a Friend there is no obliga­tion at all, yet there may be great reason to take it; and since the Command of a Superiour, (much more of God) may equal it in goodness, there cer­tainly may be some reason to obey it, besides the Power it hath of obliging to Obedience: and this was Saul's case: his Duty undoubtedly it was to desist from Persecution; to induce or perswade him hereunto, our Blessed Saviour told him, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks, i. e. thou wilt ex­pose thy self to danger by persisting in thy way, therefore desist from it.

But the Assertion now under consideration be­ing a deduction from another Position, sends us back to the fifth Article, where we find it affirm­ed, that God hath a Right to rule and to punish those who break his Laws, from his sole irresistable Power: and that God Almighty derives his Right of Sovereign­ty from the Power it self. To say that the Right of Sovereignty in the Sovereign of all Sovereigns is derived, is certainly somewhat incongruous; but letting that pass, it is plain, his meaning is, that God is our Sovereign Lord, because his Power is [Page 236] irresistable; so that his Dominion ariseth from hisCap. 38. 4. Power. For proof hereof he alledgeth a place orCap. 42. 7. two out of Job; but how much they are to the purpose, will best be seen by abridging the Analysis of the Disputation between Job and his Friends, occasioned by his afflictions. The Question discus­sed was, Whether the right [...]ousness or unrighteousn [...]ss, the sincerity or hypocrisie of a person pretending to serve God, may be judged of▪ by Gods outward Dispensations of prosperity or adversity unto him? This Question is s [...]iffly affirmed by Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar the Opponents, and as vehemently denyed by Job the Respondent; and so they joyn Issue: in the ma­nagement of this Dispute, although Job was in the right, yet it must be confessed, that sometimes (being chafed into Passion either by the sharp­ness of his Sufferings, [...]or the bitterness of his Oppo­nents invectives) he spake unadvisedly and rashlyCap. 13. 20. to 28. and [...]lsewhere. Vers. 22. even of God himself: whom he daringly chal­lenged either to call and he would answer, or to let him speak and God should answer: h [...]reupon God having heard both him and them, (for the vindication of his own Honour, and for the satis­faction and humiliation of his servant Job) was pleased to answer him out of the Whirlwind, and said, Cap. 38. 4. to cap. 40. 1. Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the Earth, &c. Hereupon Job was so far convinced of the folly and evil, the irreverence and rashness ofCap. 40. 4. his Challenge and expostulations with God; as that he confessed his own vileness, and laid his hand up [...]n his mouth: After this it pleased God toCap 42. 6. [...]nlarge his Answer so far, as that Job abhorred him­self, and did r [...]pent in dust and Ashes: the Lord then ceasing to speak any more unto Job, was pleased directly to determine the Question disputed on be­tween [Page 237] him and his Opponents: This he did by saying unto [...]phaz, My wrath is kindled against Cap. 42. 7. thee, and ag [...]nst [...]hy two Friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my Servant Job bath. How these Texts do prove, that God hath his Right of Sovereignty from his sole irresistable Power, He must have other Eyes than I that can see.

Agreeable to this is his arguing from that speech of our Saviour, in the man's case who was born blind, when his Disciples asking him, whether he or his Parents had sinned, that he was born blind; he an­swered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his Parents, Joh. 9. 3. but that the Works of God should be manifest in him. For though it be said, that Death entred into▪ theRom. 5. 12. World by sin, it followes not but that God by his Right might have made men subject unto Diseases and Phil. Rud. Cap. 15. Art. 6. Death, although they had never sinned, even as he hath made the oeher Animals mortal and sickly, although they cannot sin. But what of all this? be it true or false, how I wonder doth it prove, that God hath Right to rule from his sole irresistable Power? If it hath any relation at all to it, or connection with it, it seems rather to conclude the contrary, viz. that Gods irresistable Power ariseth from his Right of Sovereignty, or at l [...]ast is (as I may say) war­ranted thereby: for all that this argument amounts to, is but this, that God might have done other­wise than he did, or he may do whatsoever he will do: To say that he hath this power from his So­vereignty or Dominion, is good sense, and agree­able to reason; but to say that he hath this Power from his sole irresistable Power, is to say it is so, because it is so: This Argument therefore (as well as the other) I look on as so far fetched and un­worthy [Page 238] of a Philosopher, as that a modest man may blush to have made use of it: but this Authour (ei­ther knowing or conceiting himself to be thought some body) seems to have presumed that from him, it would pass (as perhaps it doth among his credulous Disciples) for a Demonstration, although therein be scarce so much as the shadow of a probability: for it is very hard, if not impossible to discern wherein the force of it lyes: and since there can no other estimate be made of things that appear not, than there is of those that are no [...], the Laws of Civility will scarce forbid us to say, it is a piece either of mysterious Non-sense, or of grave Impertinence to prove his incongruous Asser­tion, That God Almighty derives his [...]ight of Sove­reignty from his sole irresistable Power.

The truth or falshood of which Position will best appear by a few Observations, manifest almost by their own light: as First, that Sovereignty, Dominion or Lordship, is an essential Attribute of the Deity; for, a Being infinitely perfect, it is evi­dent there cannot be without it▪ the prime Basis o [...] Foundation therefore of this (as of all the other Attributes) is laid in the Divine Essence it self. Yet manifest it is Secondly, that this Sovereignty cannot be brought into Act or Exercise, without the existence of something else besides God: for he is not a Sovereign over himself, but over or un­to other Things or Persons. It must therefore be concluded Thirdly, that this Attribute is relative, i. e. it includes a relation or reference which God hath to the Persons or Things whereof he is the Sovereign: and forasmuch as Parties related have not their Being as such, the one before the other, but both together, it follows, that in this Relation [Page 239] between God and us, we are as old as he; and for this cause, the next and immediate Right of his Sovereignty cannot arise from his sole irresistable Power, because that is positive and eternal, it was long before us, and is no emanative cause of a Re­lation to us; but it must arise from something else, by the intervention whereof God stands related to us, and we to him: That Act therefore or those Acts of God, whereby this relation is produced, I [...]ake to be his next and immediate right of Sove­ [...]eignty over us: for Right in general being little or nothing else but that which is just, or the Object of Justice, viz. that Equity which Justice doth con­stitute and preserve, the Right of Sovereignty mu [...]t arise immediately from that, whereby the Sovereign doth justly acqui [...]e that Relation to his Subjects: for this cause also God's Right of Sovereignty can­not arise meerly and immediately from his sole irresistable Power, absolutely considered; because as such, it neither causeth a relation between us, nor confers any such benefits upon us, as make it just and equal either for him to claim, or for us to yield him such sovereign authority over us. If there­fore we should admit the Ru [...]iments strange Sup­position, viz. That there had been a man, who so far Chap. 15. Ar. 5. exceeded the rest in Power, as that all of them with joyned forces could not have resisted him, yet by this excess of Power (without any overt-acts or exer­cise of it for the general good of others) Nature would perhaps have given him ability, but no more Right to rule the rest, than High-way men have to my Money by their force, which I am not able to resist. The Conclusi [...]n therefore is, That though by reason of the Supereminence of the divine Nature, it's impossible for God to do any wrong, [Page 240] yet the next and immediate Right of his Sovereign­ty, is something whereby he doth most justly ac­quire that Relation to us. And what can we ima­gine this to be, but his Incomparable Goodness, and inestimable Bounty to us in our Creation, Preser­vation and Redemption? A relation to God it's manifest we have from these Acts of his towards us; and that That of Subjects to him as Sovereign doth result th [...]refrom, is so evident to every man's Reason, as that the whole World (as it were with one mouth) doth confess it: for every man (much more hath God) hath power over the work of his own hands, and every man ought to obey him by L [...]viath. part. 2. cap. 20. p. 102. whom he is preserved; and much more methinks ought he so to do, if also he be by him redeemed: It is therefore most Just and equal, that the first Authour of our Being, Preservation and Redemp­tion, should have the preheminence of Rule over us. From hence then it is that God hath his Right to Rule and to Punish those that break his Laws: and from hence it follows, that whatsoever there is in Creation, Providence or Redemption, to ob­lige us, That there is in Gods Commandments to bind us to Obedience. Here then I might be very large, but because the Province that I have under­taken reacheth no farther than the Gospel, I shall only shew, That by the Redemption thereby made known unto us, God hath renewed his Right to rule us, together with the Obligations that thence arise upon us to keep his Commandments.

In order to a distinct and clear Declaration here­of, it will be requisite to take a brief view of our state by Nature, without the Grace of God in the Gospel of his Son. And this I suppose most Chri­stians know to have been a state of Sin against [Page 241] God, and of Vassallage or Subjection to the De­vil. Such it seems was the malicious Pride of the fallen Angels, as that soon after the Creation, they shook off Obedience to God, and chose to con­tend with Him for the [...]upremacy and Govern­ment of all his other Creatures: wh [...]reupon (Man being the Lord under God of all the lower World) the Serpent tempted him to transgress and re­bell (as he hims [...]lf had done) against his Mak­er: in this Temptation he was (we know) so un­happily successf [...]l, as that Man revolted from God his Natural Lord and Sovereign, and became sub­ject unto Satan. Not that Adam did avowedly renounce his Duty unto God, but that (as Irene­us saith,)Li. 3. ca▪ 3 [...] he became the first Vessel of the Devils pos­session, and he held him under his power: Insomuch that he could not recover his Primitive Innocence and Immortality, but was nec [...]ssitated to involve him­self and his posterity▪ yet farther in the grief of Sin and the Snares of Death: for by this Fall, it came to pass that, the Nature of every Man that is Naturally ingendred of the off-spring of Adam is ve­ry far gone from Original Righteousness, and is of it self enclined unto Evil, so that the Fl [...]sh lusteth a­gainst Vid. Art. 9th of the 39 Arti. the Spirit, and therefore in every person born in­to the World, it deserveth Gods Wrath and D [...]m [...] ­tion: and this Degeneracy or Corruption of our humane Nature, doth certainly give the Devil so great an advantage over us, as that he will surely detain us in his Service: for he having overcome our First Parents by his temptations, seems to have claimed them for his, by a kind of Right by Con­quest over them, and all Men in their su [...]cessive Generations (being descended from them after their Revolt and Apostasie from God) seem in a [Page 242] sort to be born in his subjection, and are certainly less able than they were to withstand his t [...]mpta­tions: and forasmuch as he neither ever did, nor ever will neglect therewith to assault them, and that (if need be) to the utmost of his power, it is manifest, that in the state of Nature (without the Grace of God in the Gospel of his Son) we either wholly surrender our s [...]lves to the s [...]ductions of the Devil, or [...]lse we make too feeble a resistance, o [...] too weak an opposition against them. Since Satan conquered our first Par [...]nts while there was nothing in them of an evil inclination, certain it is to our Reason, that since of our own Nature we are inclined unto evil, he will undoubtedly keep us in his subjection: eith [...]r by his fraud or by his force, by his sub [...]il [...]y or his strength he will make the tendency of our hearts, lives and actions, more to his pernicious designs than to God [...] glory; and thus it ever would have been without an Almighty Arm to help us: and al [...]hough in this universal Monarchy, the Devil was a Tyrant and Usurper,He [...]. 2. 10. yet because it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many Sons unto gl [...]ry, to mak [...] the Captain of th [...]ir Salvation per­fect through suff [...]r [...]gs, In [...]inite Wisd [...]me did not think fit to rescue us out of the hand of Satan by the Almighty force of meer Omnipot [...]nce, but was pleased to chuse another, a fairer and more noble way for our Redemption; and that was to raise up one in our Nature, who should not only con­quer Satan at his own weapons, and so dissolve his seeming Right of Conque [...]t over us, but also should make aton [...]ment and satisfaction to God for our offeue [...]s, and should aft [...]rwards be able to succour them that are tempted. Now all these three parts [Page 243] of Redemption were undertaken and are most hap­pily accompli [...]hed by our Bles [...]ed Lord Jesus partly in his Temptations and Sufferings for us and partly in his state of Exaltation far above us.

In order to making manifest the truth hereof▪ it will not be amiss to observe, That the whole World is a kind of Armory, from whence the De­vil takes weapons of his warfare, viz instruments of Temptation; and though these w [...]apons are ma­ny in number, yet St. John hath reduced them to three sorts, namely the lust of the fl [...]sh, the lust of the 1 Joh. 2. 16. eye, and the pride of life: And observable it is, that with all these three▪ the Devil set upon our Sa­viour in the Wilderness: for fir [...]t he assaulted him with a lust of the fl [...]sh▪ i. e. temptation to an inor­dinate appetite and endeavour after food to sustain Nature, to support and gratifie the appetite of his flesh: If thou be th [...] S [...]n of God, command that th [...]se Matih 4. 3. stones be made bread. That we may see the De­vil's dexterity in the management of this weapon, observe, that the Son of God being now to enter upon his Ministery, and to be cons [...]crated for his everlasting Priesthood, was led up of the Sp [...]rit into V. 1, 2. the Wilderness, and there he fasted forty dayes and forty nights. Why he made choice of this number of dayes for his Fast, I am not at present concerned to enquire: but only to observe, that after this Fast, the Evangelist saith He was an hungred: which is not to be understood of an ordinary hunger, such as healthy men frequently feel before they eat their daily bread; but the meaning is, that he was then so pinched and bit with hunger, as that Nature was not well able to endure it any longer: it was such an hunger as did much weaken his body, and breed great grievance and molestation to Nature: [Page 244] Now in the throwes and bitter pains of this hun­ger the Devil assaults him with a te [...]ptation to command that the stones be made bread. Never was Temptation more cunningly timed than this: when Nature did not only begin to crave some Supply, but was almost ready to faint for lack of it; when natural heat had so wrought upon former nourish­m [...]nt, as that it was almost ready to commit a rape upon his unspotted life, then to put him in a way how to get bread, and that with ease (as he might have done by letting this C [...]mmand go forth) how great, how subtle▪ how insnaring was this t [...]mpta­tion? especially considering it was somewh [...]t hard to discern a fin in it, but [...]a [...]e to perceive there was (at least seemingly) ve [...]y gr [...]at n [...]d of it. To sup­ply the nec [...]s [...]ti [...]s of others, our Savi [...]ur frequent­ly wrought M [...]racles, and here the Devil advises him to work one to supply his owr: and s [...]ems it not very reasonable and [...]tting that so he should? yes doubtless, so it would have s [...]med to low and un­instructed minds, insomuch that no lust of the Flesh could be greater▪ or inde [...]d so great as this tempta­tion: but our Saviour perceived that this smooth and well▪wrought Dart of the wicked One was dipt in the poyson of distr [...]st of Gods Providence in general, and of his Love to and Care of him in particular; and was also feathered with Vain-glory and Intemperance, as well as undecent compliance with the Devil, all which Sins that cunning Ar­cher would have shot into him by the seeming ne­c [...]ssity, Easiness and Ex [...]edi [...]nce of his advice: but [...]r Saviour, I say, p [...]rceiving the design of it, quenched this fiery [...]art by the Shield of Faith,V. 4. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procee [...]eth out of the mouth [...]f [...]od. He [...]eby he [Page 245] restrained his flesh, and convinced the Devil there was nothing in him whereon he might fasten a Temptation to a fleshly lust.

Whereupon Satan assaulted him with another of his Weapons, viz. the pride of life; in order here­unto he took him up into the Holy City, and set him on a Pinacle of the Temple: and having here placedV. 5. him▪ He said unto him, If thou be the Son of God▪ cast thy self down; Shew thy s [...]lf in the Temple, and that not to me, but to the Jews, who frequently r [...]sort unto it, that they may believe, or at lea [...]t that thou mayst shew that in very deed thou art the Son of God, supported and upheld in all dan­gers by his especial Providence: and for this thouV. 6▪ ha t sufficient warrant, for it is written, He shall give his Angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a st [...]ne: Having so plain a warrant, and so great assurance of safety, cast thy self down, shew thy power unto the Jews, that they may know that thou art their Messias▪ because God hath given his Angels such charge concerning thee. Had there been any thing of Pride or Ambition, Osten­tation, or Vain glory in our Blessed Saviour, what could have been so great a glozing, so luscious and grateful to him as this temptation? for it is (we see) ushered in with a slie insinuation of subservience to the end of his coming, viz convenience to make the Jews believe, that he was the Son of God: and is seconded with a plain and pregnant Text ofPsal. 91. 11, 12. Scripture: yet this Weapon also (though thus steeled and pointed) could do hi [...] [...]o hurt, because he turned it aside by the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, it is writt [...]n, Thou shalt not tempt V. [...]. the Lord thy God▪ A S [...]n that few live without, [Page 246] though none have so great temptations to commit it: yet here we see, that to avoid it, our Saviour would not convince the Jews, that he was the Son of God, by displaying his Power before them: hereby therefore the Devil found by experience, that no Pride of life whatever would prevail upon him.

Hereupon the Devil betook himself to the other sort of his Weapons, viz. the lust of the Eye, or the Riches of the World; herewith he used to be most successful; and to the end that he might so be in this his Encounter with our Blessed Saviour, He laid on his blows with all his Might. Experience had taught him that it must be some extraordinary great matter, that could move him whom he then assailed, from s [...]rict Obedience to God; whereupon (it seems) he thought it to no purpose to bid low for his Disobedience; and therefore he offered all (perhaps more than) he had to give, viz. All the V. 8, 9. Kingdomes of the World, and the glory of them▪ Had th [...]re been any thing of Avarice or love of the World in our Lord Jesus▪ this Temptation could not have failed to kindle and inflame it, yet was it resisted with such admirable Fortitude and Mag­nanimity, expressed by those words of indgnation,V▪ 10. Get th [...]e h [...]nce Satan▪ as convinced the Devil, there was no unlawful love of the World neither could any be raised in him. He found that all the Wealth and Plenty, all the Palaces and Possessions in the World would not tempt him to any the least di­mi [...]ution of his Innocence and Holiness. Thus we see that [...] Blessed Saviour foiled the Devil at th [...]se weapons wherewith he had overcome our first Par [...]nts, and all their Posterity ever since: And thus also we see, that in all points of allure­ment [Page 247] or enticement unto Sin, He was tempted like as we are, vet without it.

But besides Allurements and enticements unto Sin, the Devil sometimes (by especial permission from God) hath other wayes of provoking men thereunto. And this he hath power to do, by bringing afflictions, perhaps the [...]orest pains both of Loss and Sense that possibly he can upon them: Thus we read of Gods Servant Job, whom he tempted by great and grievous afflictions in his Person, Goods and Kindred: And thus it pleased God to permit him to do by our Blessed Saviour. It was we know at first foretold, that the Seed of Ge [...]. 3. 1 [...] the Woman should bruise the Serpents head, and the Serpent should bruise his heel; i. e. that the Messias should destroy the power and authority of the De­vil, and the Devil should sorely but not irrecove­rably wound the Messia [...]: Now in order hereunto there was to be a time wherein the Devil was to be permitted to do his utmost against him; this bitter Conflict with the Devil, it is thought our Saviour apprehended at his triumphant Ingress into Jerusalem, three dayes or more before he en­tred upon it: This seems it he spake of when he said, Now is my Soul tr [...]ubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: No, this he himself (upon a little deliberation) seems to disapprove, because for this cause saith he) came I to this hour: he resolved therefore to say, Father, glorifie thy Jo [...]. 12. 27, 28. Name. Hereby he commits himself to his Father's disposal, and prayes him to make the Contest glo­rious unto Him. A little while after J [...]sus know­ing that this hour was come, said unto his Disci­ples, hereafter I will not talk much with you, f [...]r the J [...]. 14. 1 [...]. Prince of the World cometh: Satan it seems would [Page 248] again try his strength upon him, and that (not as before with subtilty and snares, but) with greater force and violence than formerly had been permit­ted to him; and accordingly so it seems he did in his Agonie and Bloody Sweat: at which time (saithT. Jack­son. Humil. of [...]he Son of God, cap. 4. a great Divine) his Fath [...]r permitted Satan to exer­cise the utmost of his power against him: only over his Soul or Life he had no power. Yet doubtless during this Agonie he suff [...]red pains more than natural, such as neither the Prophets before him, nor the Apostles or Martyrs after him, either felt or could indure; the pains of Hell they could not be, because (the Prince of the World having nothing in him) he was not a Patient rightly disposed to indure those pains: yet doubtless, as the glory of our Saviour Idem. ibib. Christ is now much greater than the glory of all his S [...]ints which have been, or shall be hereafter: so no doubt his Sufferings did far exceed the sufferings of all his Martyrs. But what they were, is it seems best expressed in the ancient Greek Liturgies by [...], unknown Sufferings. Hereby the Devil tempted him to Impatience or some other obliquity in one kind or other: but his design was frustrate:Heb. 5. 7. for when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, he was heard in that he feared. The Paroxysme was over, the sharpness of the pain was abated, if not quite extinguished: by t [...]ese means at this assault, in this battel also the Devil was beaten; he ceased therefore from farther at­tempts by way of single Duel.

But the Contest b [...]ng for no less than the Crown and Empire of the whole World, Satan resolv [...]d not so to leave him, but once again to attaque him; and it should be in that manner [Page 249] wherein throughout all Ages he had found him­self most successful in doing mischief: and that is not by hims [...]lf alone and immediately, but by his wicked Instruments. Men being left to the free­dom of their own Wills, are not under so strict a restraint as the Devil is▪ [...]ereupon he hath tempt­ed them to be executioners of his Malice, and they at his suggestions have often acted greater cruel­ties than were permitted to him to do by himself immediately: Judas therefore and the Jews he most e [...]fectually t [...]mpted to the most barbarous and unnatural cruelty that they could possibly execute on the Holy One of Israel: Thence was it that when he was apprehended, He said unto them that took him, This is your hour and the power of Luk. 22▪ 53. darkness: whereby it is plain, not only that at that time our Dear Lord was delivered into their hands to do what they would with him, but also though the Devil did not appear, yet he was the greatest Actour in all the Scenes of that sad Tragedy: from the Apprehension to the Crucitixion of our Lord Jesus, his Darkness was in its power: his Will was then done, his Pleasure was ful [...]illed: The Out­rages and Barbarisms that men then committed upon him, were but the Venom which that Old Serpent spit at him▪ and by so doing did the worst he could against him, viz. he bruised his heel, i e. he crushed his Humanity to death: yet neither so could he conquer him by obtaining the least Sin to be committed by him. Had he effected this▪ he had obtained his purpose, and done his own busi­ness, viz. he had de [...]cated our Salvation, and esta­blished his own Throne for ever: but (blessed be God) the Captain of our Salvation was Victorious; and by so doing he [...]ath canc [...]lled all the Claim [Page 250] that the D [...]vil can p [...]ssibly make unto us and hath utt [...]rly dissolved and [...]isp [...]sed all Shadow of pre­tence to the Right of Conquest over us; and since he received his Commission from God, and in all his Temptations and trials he fought his Bat­tels against the Devil, it is evident that his Right hand and his holy arm h [...]ve gotten God the vi­cto [...]y: and so indisputable is the Right of Con­quest▪ Vid. Grot. de jur. B [...]l. & Pa­ris. lib. 3. c. 7. as that (by the Law of Nations) Conque­rours are always and every where Lords and So­vereigns over them that they have taken in just and lawful Wars: since therefore in the War between Christ and the Devil (most justly and graciously designed for our Redemption) our Blessed Savi­our was the Conquerour, he hath thereby un­doubtedly renewed (if not also augmented) Gods Rig [...]t of Sovereignty over us; and by so doing hath laid (as we shall see in the Sequel) f [...]esh Ob­ligations of All [...]giance and Subjection to Him up­on us.

Neither is that all; for by his sufferings he did not only [...]e [...]ore us into the freedom of Gods ser­vice;1 Jo [...]. 4. 10. Rom. 3. 25. but did also propitiate and make him gra­cious unto us. For God sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins, or he set him forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood: and soMat. 26. 28. the Son Himself tells us, that his Blood was shed for many for the Remission of Sins. As a farther proof and illustration hereof, it will not be amiss to ob­serve, That the Law of Moses had this severe San­ction;Deut. 27. 26. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them: the matter of this Curse was a violentGal. 3. 10. death without mercy: so that whosoever transgres­sedHeb. 10. 28. it, was for that Cause liable to be put to death: [Page 251] this Law then was severely Penal; and known it is sufficiently that Law-Givers on earth (much more may the Supreme one in Heaven) admit of a Relaxation of their Laws: and accordingly so hath God done in divers Cases: as for instance, in case the high Priest, or the Congregation, or a Ruler of the People sinned through ignorance: although according to the Rigour and utmost se­verity of that Law, the Sinn [...]r ought to be put to death, yet God accepted of a Sacrifice. Con­cerningLevit. 4. which Sacrifice we shall do well to observe three things, viz. First that the thing Sacrificed (whatsover it was) was substituted in the place of the offender; and this its Surrogation was u­sually signified by the imposition of his hands up­onV. 4, 15, 24. it: and then secondly the Bullock or Kid of the Goats thus substituted in the stead or room of the offender was killed and offered in SacrificeIbid. unto God: and hereupon thirdly Gods Wrath was appeased; by the Offering or oblation of this Sacrifice, the Offender obtained pardon for his fault, and his life was to be spared, for the Priest thereby made an attonement for him concerning his V. 20, 26, 31, 35. Sin, and it was forgiven him. The suffering of a viol nt death was remitted, he was no longer bound over to it, he had no cause to fear it from the hand either of God or of the Magistrate.

Now know that (the Law having but the Sha­dow of good things to come) these things were Types of our state by Nature and deliverance there­from by our Blessed Saviour: a violent temporal death (the penalty of transgressing the Ceremo­nial Law) did Typifie or at least not Inelegantly adumbrate Eternal death (the Sanction and Curse of the moral Law:) whereunto both by Nature [Page 252] and Practice we are all obnoxious: but it pleased God to admit a Relaxation even of this Law, and thereupon to send his Son to be the Propitiation for our Sins. i. e. to be a Sin-offering, a Propitiatory Sacrifice, or Sacrifice of Atonement and Exp [...]ation for them, and this he was in his sufferings, espe­cially his Bloody Death and Crucifixion; for the three essential parts of such a Sacrifice but now m [...]ntioned, were all evidently contained therein;Mat. 20. 28 Luk 22. 19, 20. Rom. 5. 6. 2 Cor. 5. 14. H [...]b 2. 9. 1Pet. 221. [...]18. as first his Surrogation in [...]ur stead; this is very plain to be seen in his Death; for He gave his life a ransome for many: his Body was given and his Blood was shed for you: Christ dyed for the un­godly, i. e. for all: He did tast Death for every Man: He suffered for us, i. e. for our Sins, the Just for the Unjust. From any, much more from all these Texts of Scripture the Surrogation of Christ in his sufferings is so plain and evident, as that the Socinians (with all their Criticisms and distinctions.) will never be able wi h any Proba­bility to gain say it. The like also we may observe concerning the second thing in a Sin-offering un­der the Law; namely the Oblation thereof unto God: this likewise is evident in our Saviours suf­ferings, for through the Eternal Spirit he offered Heb. 9. 14. himself without spot to God; And that this Oblation of himself to God, was not made (as some would have it) by his entrance into Heaven, but by his sufferings on the Cross, appears, if not from the Apostles making it the same or almost all one thing therewith, by calling his offering of Himself in oneV. 25, 26. verse, his suffering in the next: yet, from the Com­parison he makes between the condition of ChristV. 27. and other Men: it is appointed unto Men once to die, V. 28. so (saith he) Christ was once offered to bear the Sins of [Page 253] many; so that Christ in dying w [...]s offered, and in being offered he dyed, so that [...] are sa [...]ctified thro [...]gh the Offering of the body of Jesus Christ once Heb 10. 10. for all; and this offering of his b [...]dy to God was antecedent to his Glory in Heaven, for after he had offer [...]d one Sacrifice for Sin for ever, he sat down on V. 12. the right hand of G d: it is n [...]t therefore to be doubted, but our Saviour upon the Cross, offered Himself a Sacrifice to satisfie divine Justice, and so to appease the Wrath of God against us. For lastly his Sufferings had the Effect, that was natural and necessary to a Sin-offering, namely, the Atone­ment and Reconciliation of God to Sinners: for when we were enemies we were Reconciled unto God Rom. 5. 10. by the death of his Son: and you that were enemies in your mind by wicked works yet now hath he recon­ciled Col. 1. 21. 22. in the body of his flesh through death; hereby then methinks it is so plain, as that nothing can be plainer (unless it be to those that can see knots in a Bull-rush) than that Reconciliation and Atone­ment was made to God for us, in and by the death of his Son. Thus fully do we see, that our Blessed Saviour in his Temptations and Sufferings hath redeemed us from the power of Satan and the Curse of the Law, or the Wrath of God against us.

But these things I confess are not sufficient, for to any one that shall consider the imbecillity of hu­mane Nature, now in its state of Mortality and imperfection, it must needs methinks be evident, that after this great Salvation thus far wrought out for us and revealed unto us, we still shall want Grace and Mercy to help in time of need: Grace to help our Infirmities, and to enable us acceptably to perform our Duty: And Mercy, to forgive us our Sins, and to succour us in our Miseries: Both these [Page 254] it is manifest that we want: Know therefore lastly, that both these Christ is enabled to give unto us by his Temptations and Sufferings for us; for in H [...]b. 2. 18. that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. But was not he able to succour us before he suffered and was tempted? Yes doubtless that he was, as he is God over all blessed for ever: but Infinite Wisdome and Goodness (condescending to our infirmities) were pleased to constitute another way of shewing mercy, and affording Succour to us in miseries and temptations. When we consider the Infinite di­stance between God and us, together with our manifold sins and odious miscarriages against him, we may well be afraid to approach him, or else void of confidence in our approaches: To the end therefore that we might have the highest assurance that may be, both of Grace and Mercy, and of their accommodation to our Nature under its abasing reflections on it self, it seemed good to Infinite Wisdome so to order the matter, as that the Di­vine Grace and Mercy should in some sort be made Humane: for being conveyed to us through the Heart of our Lord Jesus, the Mercy of God is so assimilated unto and made the Mercy of a man as that though we cannot conceive how the Divine Na­ture is disposed to shew Mercy; yet by the familiar experience of our own hearts towards others, we may conceive how Christ will be merciful unto us, viz. by way of Pity and Compassion on us: Af­flictions and Temptations we know are often grie­vous unto us; our Hearts are troubled, and our Souls are sorrowful and sad under them: Those good men that know our condition and love our persons, especially if they are meerly related to us, [Page 255] and have Af [...]ction suitable to that [...]lation: these men I say d [...] sympathi [...]e with us; in so [...]e sort they feel what we [...]nd [...]e, and share with us in our sufferings. And thus hath God provided that our Mediatour should; to this end it beho [...]ed him in all things to be made like unot his br [...]thren: by his Incarnation he was made like unto us in the parts and properties, the faculties and affections, the imperfections and infirmities of our Nature, Sin only excepted: The same affection therefore of Pity and Compassion, which in us is natural, was by him assumed together with the rest our sin­less Nature: and probable it is, that this most sweet and indearing Affection was more tender in him than it is in us, because it was pure and alto­gether unmixt with the leaven of Vice, and so without any allay of Acerbity, Envy or Cruelty whatsoever: and besides that, this affection he assumed to this very end, that he might be a merciful Heb. 2. 17. and faithful High Priest in things pertaining unto God: i. e. that he might have comp [...]ssion on us in our Miseries and Temptations, and that out of this affection of Commiseration he might faithfully and sincerely mind our business in Heaven, and get it done for us with God Almighty. Now unto this his merciful and faithful High-Pries [...]hood he was Consecrated. i. e. set apart or rendred more apt and fit by his Sufferings and Temptations; and this is his Ability to succour them that are tempted.

But here the Inquisitive will certainly be ready to ask, not only how the Sufferings and Tempta­tions of Christ do conduce her [...]unto, but also how it can be? For their satisfaction therefore I shall so far enlarge this Digression, as to return Answer to these two Questions.

[Page 256] Quest.1 How do the Sufferings and Temptations of Christ conduce to his Ability to succour them that are tempted?

Ans. By way of Experiment. Christ in the dayes of his flesh suffered (as [...]ight easily be demonstrated) all those Evils which are common to all Mankind, and was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin: Hereby then he did experimentally find and feel the very self-same kind of Sorrows and troubles, griefs and pertu [...]bations, which we endure under our sufferings and temptations. Now then observe, That not only the Divine, but also the Humane Nature of Chri [...]t in Glory hath knowledge of all occurrences that in this life do befall us: were it not so, it would be impossible that he should be (as the Apo [...]le saith he is) touched H [...]b. 4. 15. with a feeling of our infirmities: This he affi [...]ms, not of the Divine Nature, but of that that was tempted in all [...]oints like as we are, i▪ e. of the hu­mane: and affirm i [...] he doth for our encourage­ment to hold fast our profession; but an incourage­ment it cannot be unto us, unless that he knowes all our infirmities; b [...]cause if otherwise, we not knowing which he knowes and which not, should be utterly discouraged from seeking succour from him in any: The conclusion therefore must be, That he knows all our infirmities and temptati­ons: and together with this his knowledge, it is more than probable that he hath an act of Memory whereby he calls to mind how he himself was af­fect [...]d under the same or the like Trials and Tem­ptations here on Earth: for surely it is not to be doubted, but the memory [...]f things done and in­dured in this World, remain with him in Glory: [Page 257] for if the immediate seat of Memory be the Soul herself, Vid. Dr. More Im­mortality of the Soul, lib. 2. cap. 11. & lib. 3. cap. 11. and all the representations with their circumstan­ces be reserved in her, not in the spirits nor in any part of the body, then surely it remains with the Souls of all men departed either into Hell or Hea­ven. Son, remember thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; Luke 16. 25. said Abraham to Dives in Hell. Remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdome, said the good ThiefLuke 23. 42. to Christ on the Cross: So that both in Heaven and in Hell there is a remembrance of things done in this life. But to come nearer to the case in hand, namely our Saviours remembrance Hea­ven of his Temptations and Sufferings here on Earth; He himself said to St. John, I am he that Revel. [...]. [...]. liveth, and was dead. He remembers then that he was dead; and strange it is that he should re­member his Death, and forget the Temptations and Sufferings that brought him to it! This can­not be: By his remembrance then thereof he is able, i. e. apt and inclined or affectionately dispo­sed (out of Compassion and Pity) to succour them that are tempted: for known it is sufficient­ly, that there's nothing in the World, that doth so much move men to pity and compassion on others in misery, as their own M [...]mories that they themselves have suffered in the same or the like manner: Hand ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco, Virg. AE [...] ▪ neid. lib. 1. said Dido to Aeneas, I my self being not unacquainted with evil, do now learn to succour those that are in misery. Thus our Blessed Saviour having suffered in the dayes of his flesh, and indured Temptations in all points like unto us, He is able, i. e. his Heart is fitted and disposed out of his own experience, to pity and succour them that are tempted.

[Page 258] Q. 2. But how can this be? The Humane Nature of Christ is now advanced unto Glory, and made perfect in Bliss and H [...]ppiness: Surely therefore He is not now subject to Pity or Compassion; for such we know is the nature of that affection, as that in some sort it makes us share with others in their sufferings, and to feel what they endure: how then can it remain with Christ in Glory? Can we throw sorrow into the regions of joy, or grief into the place, yea the very Fountain of gladness? How can these things be?

Ans.This difficult Objection the Apostle foresaw, and therefore by way of pre-occupation or pre­vention, he said, We have not an High-Priest which cannot, i. e. We have one that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And forasmuch as he hath said it, by what we have already discoursed concerning the reasonableness of the Christian Faith, it appears that we ought believe it, al­though we cannot apprehend the manner of it: yet even here our Reason is not at a loss; for it tells us that since Chri [...]t (even now in his state of Exal [...]ation) is our merciful and faithful High-Priest; he undoubtedly hath such Affections for us, as are suitable to that Office and Relation to us; and he being a Man, yea the very same man that he was before his Exaltation, Reason again tells us that he hath all those Affections which are essential to our Nature: i▪ e. the very same Af­fections that he had in the dayes of his flesh, only it teacheth us to distinguish between the affecti­ons and the frailty of them: which if we do in the case now before us, we [...]hall find it not im­possible to conceive how Compassion remains with [Page 259] him in Glory: for▪ as to the nature and essence of it, it is we know little or nothing e [...]se but a mo­tion of the appetite▪ following the apprehension of anothers evil: as for that grief and sorrow which in this life do sometimes follow it, it is no way es­sential to it: for they who are most generous, and D [...]s ca [...]s of the Pas­sions. have the greatest spirits, so that they fear not any evil to themselves, and hold themselves above the power of fortune, are not exempted from Compassion, Art. 1 [...]7. when they s [...]e the infirmity of other men, and hear their complaints; for it is a part of Generosity to bear good will to every man: but the sadness of this Pity is not bitter: And if not bitter, then surely not grievous; and if so, then grief is not essential to compassion; yea, it seems▪ so f [...]r may it be from being grievous, as that it may be rather joyous; for we take a delight to feel pass [...]ons excited in us, and this delight is an intellectual joy, which may Ide [...]. spring as well from sadness as all the rest of the pas­sions. Art. 147. Why then should it seem strange to any one that the Heart of Christ in Glory should be touched with a feeling of our infirmities? It is true indeed, such frailty of affections as is a di­stu [...]bance to the joy of his Soul, or an impediment to either of the beati [...]ick qualifications of his body, is not to be thought to remain with him: yet since our Faith assur [...]s us that our Blessed Saviour now [...]itteth at the right hand of God in that very same Body which was Crucified at Jerusalem, our Reason tells us, that it hath true humane blood running in its veins and arteries, as formerly it had, and this blood and spirits by their motion may affect his Heart with Pity and Compassion on us, and that without any the least diminution of his joy and glory, or Impair to his Body, by weak­ning [Page 260] themselves: for his body being now a Spi­ritual body, it lives not in Glory as formerly it did and ours do here on earth, viz. by Meat and Drink produced out of corruptible elements, but by the immediate [...]us [...]entation of the Spirit; so that the support of his life and joy being altered, the same Affection of Pity and Compassion may be in him still▪ which was in him heretofore, yet without causing the least degree of grief in his Soul, or of obstruction to the vital motion of the Heart in his Body, as it formerly did in him, and still doth in us here on Earth. We may conceive that thus it may be, and forasmuch as it is plainly revealed, that notwithstanding his Exaltation above us▪ he doth still sympathize with us, it is at least probable that thus it is: but whether it be or no, is not material: our Curiosity should give way to our Faith, and let it so triumph over all its objections, as that since it is revealed, we should firmly believe that in that Christ hath suffered being tempted, he is able, i. e. out of Pity and Compas­sion disposed, or of his own Will inclined to suc­cour them that are tempted, i. e. to afford them Grace and Mercy to help in time of need: hereby then it appears, that he is able to save to the utter­most them that come to God by him: had he only conqu [...]red the Devil▪ and made atonement to God for us, and so left us to work out our Salvation with only our own strength, we should certainly have relapsed into the state of Nature after the Fall: but since he hath not only conquered the Devil, and made atonement to God, but also ever liveth to make Interc [...]ssion for us, to afford Succour and assistance to us, it is evident that he hath most compleatly Redeemed us▪ Nothing now is want­ing [Page 261] to our Deliverance and Salvation, but our own acceptance of what He hath done for us, and sub­mission to the directions, which He by his Com­mands is Pleased to give us.

And hereunto we are undoubtedly obliged by what He hath done for us: for an Obligation (ac­cording to the definition that Civilians give of it) is little or nothing else but a Bond of the Law whereby one is bound to pay what he owes. Which definition, if it be not restrained to the Laws of Men, but extended to the Laws of God and Na­ture, may be commodious enough for the Expli­cation of those things which appertain to the In­ternal Court of Conscience, as well as of those that belong to the Courts of Church or State: and forasmuch as all Obligation (as appears by the ve­ry definition of it) takes its Original from some Law, and there is a twofold Law, the one Divine and Natural, the other Civil and Humane, there must also be a twofold Obligation; the one Natu­ral, which by force of the Law of Nature, i. e. of Gods Law, obligeth in the Court of Conscience: the other Civil, which by force of Mens Laws bind Externally in Ecclesiastical Courts or Courts of Civil Jurisdiction. At present I have nothing toVid. San­ders. de [...]ur. Oblig. Prae. Pri. [...]. 11. do with the latter, but only with the former, viz. the Obligation that ariseth on Men from the Laws of God or of Nature: and this again seemeth to be twofold, the one we may call an Obligation of Authority, the other of Goodness: the First ariseth from the Sovereignty or Dominion of God, the Se­cond from his Beneficence or Goodness. They both make it our duty to keep his Commandments; the one because of his most Just Authority and Do­minion over us, the other because of his great [Page 262] Goodness, Bounty and Beneficence towards us▪ Now both these Obligations are layed upon us by the Redemption which our Blessed Lord Jesus hath wrought out for us: for Christ (as we have seen) Redeemed us by force, He conquered the Devil, cancelled his claim to us, and hath so far taken us out of his hand into his own Custody, as that he cannot approach to hurt us, but by his Permissi­on; so that we may be saved (if we will) in de­spite of the Devil and all his works; it is not in his power to hinder it: he cannot take us out of Christs hand, but by our own voluntary revolts and backslidings to him: the Captain of our Sal­vation h [...]th rescued us out of the power of Satan, and if we do not run away from him by Infidelity or Disobedience, he will keep us through Faith unto Salvation; and the Devil and the World, yea, a whole World of Devils shall not be able to help it. Taken therefore it is certain we are, and kept al­so by the force of Arms, or in War, from the Devil: and since (as we have already observed out of Gro­tius) all that are so taken by the Laws of Nations are Servants to them that so took them, it follows that we are so to Him. By his Redempti [...]n there­fore he hath acquired a right of Dominion over us, and therefore his Commands lay an Obligation upon us.

N [...]ither is that all, but besides this Obligation of Dominion, there is an other that ariseth from the Goodness and B [...]neficence of Redemption. Such is our Nature, as that by Reason of a benefit received, there ariseth upon the R [...]ceiver an Ob­ligation ad [...], i. e. to make returns of the like or greater kindness to the Giver; and this is so fixed and natural unto Man, as that, as by Na­ture [Page 263] we are in some sort driven to defend our selves against the injuries of force and violence, so also are we compelled by Nature to requite one Kind­ness with another, or (in case of Inability) to reckon our selves so deeply Obliged to the Giver as to be willing to serve him according to what we are able; or at least to acknowledg the benefit received; this our own Nature will force us to do, if not openly, yet behind the Curtains of our own Conscience, which will chide us for doing no more, or being no more regardful and Obs [...]quious to them that have been so good to us: this is so commonly known and believ [...]d among us, as that it is almost a Proverb one good turn d [...]s [...]rves another: therefore also the Poet saith,

Quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magnar [...]mitti.

Not that the liberal Mans Design in giving is to get as much or more again than he gives▪ but since Nature prompts us to make Returns of Gifts, he that will give great things, by consequence Wills that great things may be returned to him again▪ this then it seems our Nature hath made to be the Law of Gratitude; In so much that those who walked not by it the Athenians and Macedonians made a Law against, whereby it was provided, that they might be dealt with as Theives, or other grievous Malefactors; the Persians also did the same, and though it may be all Nations were not so serve, yet all have looked upon them as trans­gressours of the Law of Nature, unworthy of any help or assistance from Man, uncapable of be­ing called worse than they are, viz. Ʋngrateful: him therefore on whom a bene [...]it is freely confer­red, [Page 264] Ʋid. Alex. ab Alex. Gen. Dier. lib. 5. [...]a. 1. the Law of Nature doth bind and oblige to make Returns, either in the like or some other kind, according to what he is able. Hence then it follows, that if we have any advantage (as undoubtedly we have much every way) by the Re­demption of Chris [...], then are we thereby obliged to keep h [...]s [...]ommandments, because it is impossible for us otherwise [...]o make any credible Re [...]urns of Gratitude; for words we know without Works, when and where Works are required and may be (especially when with advantage) performed, are but blasts of a putrefied breath, that stinks of flat­tery and smels rank (in distinguishing Nostrils,) of Affront and Mockery; unless therefore we will mock our Saviour insteed of thanking him for our Redemption, we must do what He requires us. And no Man can think our Obedience too great a Return for it, if he doth but consider the benefits which we receive by it, the ease and satisfaction which our Souls may find in it, and the incourage­ment we have from it.

1. The benefits which we receive thereby, and here ask not what they are, but rather what are they not: for (besides our Sins) there is nothing which we either are, have or hope for, but is given us on the account of his Redemption: we our selves were dead in Law without it, our possessi­ons forfeited, and our Hopes not only dash'd, but turning into Despair, or a certain fearful looking for Heb. 10. 27. Judgment and fiery Indignation to d [...]vour us: but blessed be God, who by sending his Son to be theHeb. 2. 17. Propitiation for our Sins, made him in all things like unto his [...]r [...]thr [...]n, that he might be a Merciful and fait [...]ful High Priest, to make Reconciliation for the Sins of the people, not only bythe Sacrifice of a­tonement [Page 265] which he suffered here on Earth, but also by his Intercession for us in Heaven; so that the people (notwithstanding their Sins) do now find God Propitious and Gracious unto them; as it is evident that we do, not only by the free Prof­fer of acceptance in case of Repentance, but also by the Series of Providence, which either Crown­ [...]th our years with Goodness, and its paths drop Fat­ness, or else it clothes us with Sables, makes us go mourning some part of our dayes; one way it leads us, and the other it drives us to Repentance, and Repentance we know is [...] a secure care of our selves, or a care of our selvesJo [...]. Clim. Scal. parad. Grad. 5. to be secure: and this was at all times very rea­sonable, but never so much as since Christ was made Redemption unto us: for there are now no Cherubims or Flaming Sword to keep the way to the Tree of Life against us, but God being Recon­ciled unto us, by the Atonement which Christ hath made for us, there is none of his Attributes but now speak kindly to us and invite us to take of its Fruits and eat them. We have therefore now no Just cause from God either of Despair or of servile Fear: neither the pr [...]parations that he hath made for the Punishment of the Impenitent in the other World, nor the afflictions that his Provi­dence brings on us in this, do give us any cause to think (as the Superstitious seem to do, viz.) that there is some soure despight or envy lodged in his Nature, or little but Evil in his purpose towards us. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled Rom. 5. 10▪ unto God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. For he ever Heb. 7. 25. liveth not only to make Intercession for us, but alsoAct. 5. 31. to be a Prince and a Saviour for to give Repentance to [Page 266] Israel and forgiveness of Sins: so that That Gracè which he requireth of us, and those Benefits which by his Atonement he hath purchased for us, he is exalted to give unto us: evident therefore it is, that now we have such sufficient ground of cheer­ful dependance on God, and of such ingenuous af­fiance in him, as that there is much Reason for us out of a Principle, not of Fear and dismal dread of his Greatness, but of Love and Thanksgiving, Joy and Gratitude for his Goodness, to serve him all our dayes.

2. Whereunto also we are yet farther obliged, by the Satisfaction which our Redemption by Christ affords us. Such is the Nature of our Souls, as that the difference of Man from other living Creatures, may as well, perhaps better be expressed in his de­finition by the word Religious, than Rational: the Reason is, because other Creatures seem in some measure to partake of Reason, but not at all of Re­ligion. That there are some Footsteps of Reason, some strictures and emissions of Ratiocination in the Actions of some Brutes, is too Vulgarly known and too commonly granted to be doubted: it seems then that not Reason in general, but as it doth dispose us to Actions of an higher Nature than those of Brutes, especially those of Religion, is the form of our humane Nature. This is it that doth constitute us Men and most of all distin­guish us from other Animals. And well may the honour of this distinction be cast upon Religion rather than Reason, not only because it sets us far­ther off from Brutes than that doth without it, but also because it is as inseparable from our Nature as that is: for no Creature that knoweth it self to be so, can be reasonable without owning it self [Page 267] obliged to love, reverence and worship its Crea­tor: Hence I suppose it is, that the Principles and Foundations of Religion, viz. the Being of a Dei­ty and of a future state or judgment, are so firmly laid in all mankind (and in no Creature below it) as that the utmost endeavours that can be used, are insufficient wholly to race them out, or utterly to suppress their Energy. Whence else is it, that somtimes when there is no apparent danger, pro­fessed Atheists are subject to fears as well as other Men? or whence else is it that it is almost as easy to find a Nation without Souls, as without all Re­ligion? these things would be unaccountable, if Religion were not Essential to our Nature, as well as Reason. If then so it be, manifest it is that a Religion we must have; for we cannot be happy because our Souls will not be satisfyed without it: and forasmuch as we aime at some good (as our End) in all our Actions, and those of Religion are conversant (not about the little low things of the World, but) about God himself and the things that are his, it is also manifest, that we can therein regularly aim at nothing less than some Good or Perfection which this World cannot afford, and God only can give: and what can this be but the supreme Bliss and Happiness whereof our Nature is capable? This then is it which we except to obtain by Religion: and difficult it is for the mind of Man to pitch upon a Religion which his own Reason will think in all points sufficient for this End, for this it cannot judge any Religion to be, unless it shews us a likely way to Happiness, and removes the Impediments or obstructions that therein are unto it.

The way that to our Reason seems likely to lead [Page 268] us to Happiness must of necessity lie thorow Ho­liness: the Reason is, because perfect Righteousness and Integrity in all our Actions, was the way that was made and ordained in our Creation; and our Souls retain so much of their Primitive constituti­on, as that (though by our fall we are so bruised and maimed as that we cannot walk in it, yet) our Reason cannot fully assent to any way that leads not to it, there is a kind of Reluctance in Reason against it: our own Natural Conscience cannot be fully persuaded that Happiness can be attained without Holiness: it is true indeed, Men that live in Notorious Wickedness, by the wind of Phanati­cism may be blown up into an Opinion of their own Saintship, and confidence of their Salvation; but if the power of imagination did not suppress their Reason and put it to silence, their own Con­science would soon tell them, that they cannot ad­vance towards Heaven by their verbal Religion, while they go towards Hell by Wickedness of liv­ing: the way therefore that seems likely unto Rea­son to carry us unto Happiness, must guide us unto and keep us in the paths of Holiness: yet withall, if it deals impartially it will tell us that we cannot therein so walk as by walking to attain to that end of our journey, because (as we are thereby con­vinced) we shall stumble into Sin, and by so doing shall fall short of Eternal Glory: for Eternal life (as we have already said,) is so far from being a Reward that in Justice is due to our works, as that we cannot Reasonably expect, that God (on whose very Being as well as Honour, we have made most odious attempts by our Sins,) should ever be plea­sed (without Atonement and Satisfaction) either to give, or again to profer it unto us. And indeed, [Page 269] should our own self-love flatter us into a firm per­swasion, that God is willing we should be saved; yet if there be no way made for our Salvation, but what was at first ordained in our Creation, our Rea­son would teach us, that we should be never the nigher; for our Souls being fettered to That that is fading, and inslaved to divers Lusts, cannot possibly inable us therein to walk to Eternal Happiness, but of necessity we should relapse into our former state of Nature since the Fall of our first Parents. By this discourse then it appears, that That Religion which we rationally make choice of to bring us to the supream End of our Being and Actions, viz. Eternal Life and Glory, must of necessity do these three things for us, viz. First it must shew us a sufficient Atonement or Satisfaction made for our sins past, present, and to come. Secondly, it must lead us unto Vertue and all Holiness of living. Thirdly, it must dispose us so to follow it, as that with God we may find acceptance.

Where then shall we find a Religion that upon a just and impartial examination may in reason be judged sufficient for these things? Shall we seek it among the Gentiles? Alas their Wisdome is but foolishness, their knowledge of God but Ignorance, their way of worship and exercise of Religion, Profaneness; their vertue, unholiness, and their strength Weakness in respect of that that is requisite for us: And as for the atonements and Satisfactions they make to God for their offences, who so weak sighted as not to see the shortness and vanity of their Sacrifices and Lustrations? they exceed not the power of corrupted and enfeebled Nature, which by these means strives to cast off the burdens of guilt, that it groans under: They are [Page 270] therefore at best but implorations of Mercy, and so no Satisfactions to injured Justice: in them therefore men can reasonably put no confidence. Much more unlikely is it, that our anxious Souls [...]hould find rest among the Turks, for their Alcoran (which with profound rev [...]rence they receive as the Rule of their Fai [...]h, Hope and Practice) is in­deed and in truth but a Rhapsodie of non-sense and gibbrish, filth and wickedness, much more apt (though blended with some sense and wholsome instruction) to retain men in, than to help them out of their Spiritual wants and N [...]cessities. And truly if we go to the Jews themselves, we shall find, that though th [...]ir Law by Gods appoint­ment had a shadow of good things to come, and their Prophets spake by inspiration of them, yet the shadow was so dark, and the Prophets pre­notions of them so obscure▪ as that men had need to be very sharp sighted, and to lay their eyes very close to see through them.

But in the Redemption we have by Christ, we may behold with open face as in a glass, all those things which we expect our Religion should do for us▪ For therein we find an Atonement infinite­ly sufficient to expiate the offences of the most guilty, and to satisfie the doubts of the most scru­pulous, to silence all the clamours of an accusing Conscience, and to answer all the objections of a misgiving Understanding, if the Sinner be but truly penitent. For though the Humane Nature of Christ was the sole Subject of his Sufferings, yet the Manhood being taken into God, it was the DivinePhi [...]. 2. 8. Person▪ that humbled himself and became obedient un­to death, even the death of the Cross; insomuch thatA [...]. [...]0. 2 [...]. the Church of God is said to have been purchased [Page 271] by his Blood. What then can there be so Precious as the Blood which Christ shed to redeem us? What Sins can there be so great and crying as to call so loud for Vengeance, as that doth for Mercy upon penitent Offenders? If then we are weary and heavy laden with the burden of our Sins, here we may find Rest, and here we may repose our Souls with such confidence as the severest Reason cannot shake, and will not gainsay: And if so, then undoubtedly the Sufferings of our Saviour do satis­fie our Reason in the first thing it expects to find in our Religion, viz. a sufficient Atonement made for our Sins.

The like Satisfaction they give it in the second, viz. That it should shew us a likely way to Heaven; 1 P [...]t. 2. 21. and so they do, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: And the Example that he hath left us, our own Reason can not chuse but approve of; for it is such an unblemisht Pattern of Purity, as cannot be paral­lell'd in all the World: He did no sin, neither was V. 22. guilt found in his mouth. So magnanimously holy was he, as that notwithstanding the Injustice and Severity of his Sufferings, he would do no sin, nor so much as speak a guileful word: This is an Ex­ample that farther exceeds all others in Purity, than the Sun doth the Moon in Brightness: And an Example he hath left us, not only of the most im­macula [...]e Purity, but also of the most elevated Ver­tue: and this (as St. Bernard observes) we have in the work the manner and the final cause of his Passion. Ser. t [...]rti [...] de Pass. Dom. For in the work there is Patience, in the manner Humi­lity, in the cause Charity commended unto us. And indeed his Patience in the one was so insuperable, his Humility in the other so admirable, and his [Page 272] Charity in the third so inestimable, as that they pass our expressions, and are fir for no less than Exstasies of apprehension: And such is the nature of those Vertues, as that if we rightly follow him in these steps of his Example, we shall undoubtedly pursue the highest degree that can be of Vertue and Holiness: for if Patience hath her perfect work, itJam. 1. 4. will make us perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If we be humble and lowly in heart, we are qualified1 P [...]t. 5. 5. for the Grace of God, for He giveth grace to the humble: and if we follow after Charity, we shallRom. 13. 10. not only tread in the steps of his Example, but also walk in the way of his Commandments, for Love is the fulfilling of the Law, and the end of the Com­mandment 1 Tim. 1. 5. is Charity. Herein then ought we so to follow the Example of our Blessed Saviour, as that we may come to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. And although now in this our state of Imperfection, we cannot tread exactly in the steps of his Example, yet may we therein walk uprightly: And this is all that the Grace of God in the Gospel of his Son, hath made necessary, as a means of our Happiness: for though perfect Conformity thereunto be our duty, yet (God be thanked) Sincerity of endeavour after it only, is an indispensable condition of our Salvation: so that the Holiness of Christs Example is adapted both to our Reason and to our Ability. What he hath done being our duty, how plainly doth it lead us unto Holiness? But, but what we can do, being a condition of our Salvation, how graciously doth it stoop to our infirmities? How satisfactory therefore is the Religion which we may read in the red Let­ters of our Saviour's Blood and Passion? with what delight and complacency may our Reason receive [Page 273] it, and our rational faculties contemplate and think on it?

Especially considering that the Religion therein recommended unto us, doth not only lead us unto holiness, but also (more than any other whatever) it doth dispose us to follow it; because it is taught us by an Example: for, Examples we know (espe­cially of those whose actions may be thought to warrant ours) have the force of Natural Agents, as well as Moral. Commands do oblige, and Promises do perswade us to obedience; but Ex­amples do (in some sort) constrain and drive us to an Imitation: The reason I suppose is, because Example makes its way to the Affections, not only by the Understanding, but also by Imagina­tion: Such is the force of prevalent Affection, as that out of the abundance of the Heart the Eye looketh, the Foot walketh, and indeed the whole Man moveth as well as the Mouth speak­eth: And observable it is, that there is a kind of plastick power in Imagination, whereby it shapes and forms a man as much as may be▪ into a con­formity likeness or resemblance of the image of persons or things therein lodged by a strong im­pression, and this is apt much more vigorously to incite the Affections, than bare Precepts can do to a prosecution. If then we did set the Lord alwayes before us, and meditate so frequently as we ought on our Saviour in his Sufferings, how conformable should we be to his death? how cru­cified to the World, and mortified to the [...]lesh? how patient in adversity, and humble in prosperity? how resolute not to be overcome of evil, but to over­come evil with good? In short, how servent in Charity, and consequently advanced should we be in all Vertue, if we did rightly understand and [Page 274] duly consider the Temptations and Sufferings of our Bl [...]ssed [...]od J [...]sus: for they not only have the efficacy of a most powerfull Example, but also 3. They give us the gr [...]atest encouragement and assistance that can be to follow it: For (as we have already seen) Chri [...] suffered and was tempt­ed, that he might be able to succour them that are te [...]pted. This is one gr [...]a [...] advantage which we Christians have above the holy Pa­triarchs and Pr [...]phets of Old: they indeed did believe in the M [...]ssias t [...]at was to come, and they did h [...]pe to be saved by his future Merits: but they then had not an high Priest in Heaven that could be touched with a [...]eeling of their infirmi­ties; but (blessed be God) We have▪ and what a migh [...]y encouragement is this unto us, to take his Yoake upon us and to learn of him, i. e. advisedly and constantly to frame our selves to keep his Commandments and follow his Example? With what vigorous r [...]solutions may it inspirit us? With what magnaninmity and fortitude ▪notwithstanding all oppositions) m [...]y it animate and embolden us to wressle▪ not with [...]l [...]sh and blood only, but with Principaliti [...]s and Powers, with the Rulers of the darkness of this World▪ and spiritual wi [...]kedness in high pla [...]s? Since the Captain of our Salvation all alone, and that when he was at the lowest, both in single Duels, and when their f [...]rces were united against him, hath foiled and beaten both his and our enemies, and is now made perfect in glory and power over them; whom shall we fear, of whom n [...]ed we be afraid in the way of our duty? When we consider that He who upholdeth all things by the Word of his Power, by which also they are made to bow unto and ob y him, doth hims [...]lf sympathize with us in all our pr [...]ssures and [Page 275] troubles, afflictions and temptations, to the end that he might be able, i. e. affectionately disposed to succour and therein to help us: how exceed­ingly (almost infinitely) doth it pr [...]ponderate and out-weigh all the discouragements, that we can possibly find or fansie, either from the imbecillity of humane Nature, or the power of Temptation, or whatever other topicks there are, from whence men think to draw excuses for their disobedience? how do they all vanish and evaporate into Air before this one consideration, viz. That He who now governs the World, and shall h [...]reafter judge it, is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and is able to succour them that are tempted? What in­couragement can we desire, or indeed can he give us greater than this, to continue his faithful Soul­di [...]rs and S [...]rvants unto our Lifes end?

Let us then hear the conclusion of the whole matter, which is this; That seeing our Bl [...]ssed Lord Jesus in Redeeming us, hath so e [...]fectually rescued us out of the hand of the Devil, and s [...] brought us into the Liberty of Gods Service, as that the Prince of the power of the Air, who rules in the Children of disobedience, cannot now approach to hurt us without his permission, and our own unworthy defection from him; He hath thereby obtained such an indisputable Right of Dominion over us, as that his Commands do most evidently lay the obligation of most just Authority upon us. And forasmuch as Christ in the dayes of his flesh made such an All-sufficient Atonement to his Father, and now lives to make such Inter­cession for us, as have and do procure to us, the most inestimable Benefits and Favours, that in this life can be conferred on us, the most ample, and the [Page 276] highest satisfaction that our Reason can expect to find in our Religion, together with the greatest Encouragement, that our Souls can have to obey it, we must of necessity (by the rules of Gratitude, i. e. by the Laws of our own Nature) be most highly obliged so to do. For, that a man which receiveth Benefit from another of meer Grace, endeavour that he which giveth it, have no reasonable cause to repe [...]t him of his good will, the Leviathan it self grants to be aP. 1. cap. 15. Law of Nature. Although this be true, yet is it but an ill-favoured definition of Gratitude, for it deforms the face of that fair Vertue, as if it looked directly only on it self, and asquint upon its Be­nefactour, and had no design, but only to avoid an impend [...]nt evil, viz. his repentance of his good will: but there is more in it than so, for it belongs to the nature of it, for a benefit received from any one, pre­sently in heart and good Will largely to requite theVid. Aquin. 22. [...]. Q. 106. Sharrock de Officiis secundum Natureae jus. cap. 5. Donor: and afterwards seasonably to do it in word and deed according to the affection of the Giver, [...]nd the ability of the Receiver: And to this we are obliged by the very Law of our Nature; and consequently this we are bound to do unto God for the Benefits of our Redemption by our Blessed Lord Jesus. But alas, they are so free and transcen­dently great, as that they infinitely exceed all re­quital, and justifie astonishment at the goodness of the Donor. What then shall we render unto the Lord for them? it is evident we cannot be suffi­ciently thankful: yet the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his Name, and that of our lives in keep­ing his Command [...]nts, it is manifest we may render unto him. Could we do more, more we should be obliged to do; the very Law of our own Nature would tell us, that both the greatness of the [Page 277] Benefits and the affection of the Giver would de­serve it at our hands. How just therefore and rea­sonable is it for us to do what we can? i. e. out of a Principle of Love and Gratitude, and not of fear only, to keep his Commandments, and (what ever it costs us) to wal [...] in the same to our Lives end.

Which God of his Mercy grant all men Grace to do, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be Glory and Honour, Power and Dominion, Praise and Thanksgiving World without End.



Books Printed for William Crook at the Green-Dragon without Temple-Barre, 1679.

1. THE Compleat Vineyard or a most excellent way for the planting of Vines in England, and to make Win [...] of their Grapes according to the French and German way, by W. Hughes, price 2 s.

2. A Description of Candia with an Account of the Siege and Surrender of it into the hands of the Turks, octa. price 1 s.

3. The Deaf and Dumb man's Discourse, being a discourse of such as are born Deaf and Dumb, shewing how they may express the sentiments of their minds, together with an ac­count of the Rationality of Beasts, Particularly of the Reason of the Elephant, price 1 s.

4. An Answer to Mr. Fergusons doctrine about Christ's Justification and Sanctification, together with an account of the extent of Christ's Death, by J. Knowles. octa. pr. 1 s. 6 d.

5. Sir Henry Blunt's Voyage in the Levant, in Twelves, price 1 s.

6. The Compleat Measurer, or a new and exact way of Mensuration, by Tho. Hammond, octavo, price 1 s.

7. Mr. Hobbes's Rosetum Geometricum, five propositiones aliquot frustra antehac tentatae, cum censura brevi Doctri­nae Wallisianae Authore. T. Hobbes. Quarto.

[Page] 8. The Carpenters Rule made easie, or, The Art of Mea­suring of Superficies and Solids &c. 3d. Edition. To which is added Gaugeing, by J. Darling.

9. The Flower-Garden inlarged, Shewing how to order and increase all manner of Flowers, whether by Layers, Slips, Off sets, Cuttings, S [...]eds, &c. Also how to draw a Horizontal Dial in a Garden. With a Treatise of all Roots, Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Fruits, Herbs, in the Kings Planta­tions. Twelves.

10. The Elegant Poems of Dr. Richard Corbet, Dean of Christ-Church in Oxford, after, Bishop of Norwich. Twelves.

11. Brownlows Reports Compleat in two Parts. Quarto.

12. The Court of Curiosity, wherein by the Lot the most intricate Questions are resolved, and Nocturnal Dreams and Visions explained, according to the Doctrine of the Antients, to which is added a discourse of Physiognomy, and Character of Countreys. Written in French, and now translated into Engli [...]h, by J. G. Gent. of the Inner-Temple, London, the Second Edition. Twelves.

13. Lux Mathematica excussa Collisionibus. J [...]. Wallisii & Tho. Hobbes, multis & sulgentissimis aucta radiis, Authore R. R. Quarto.

14. Principia & Problema [...]a aliquot Geometrica ante desperata nunc breviter explicata & demonstrata Autho. T. Hobbes.

15. The American Physitian, treating of all the Roots, Herbs, &c. in America, by W. H [...]ghes.

16. The Great Law of Nature about Self-preservation, vindicated against the abuses in Mr. Hobbes's Leviathan. Twelves.

17. Calliop [...]s Cabinet opened, wherein all Gentlemen may be informed how to order themselves, for Feasts, Funerals, and all Heroick meetings: to know all degrees of Honour, and how all degrees are to take place▪ with a Dictionary for Herald-Terms. Twelves.

18. A Discourse of the Dukedome of Modena, the Native Country of her Royal [...]ighness the Dutchess of York. Quarto, 6 d.

19. Brevis Demonstra [...]io, Proving the Truth and Excellency of the Christian Religion by Reason; Recommended to all rational men by several eminent Divines in London. Twelves.

20. The Apophthegms or Witty Sentences of Sir Francis Bacon. Price bound 6 d.

[Page] 21. The Primitive Institution, or a seasonable discourse of Cate­chizing; wherein is shewed the Antiquity, Benefits, and Necessity thereof, together with its suitablenss to heal the present distempers of the Church, by L. Addison. D. D.

22. The present State of the Jews, wherein is contained an exact Account of all their present Customes, Secular and Religious: To which is annexed a Discourse of the Mis [...]a, Talm [...]d, and Gemara, by L. Addison. D. D.

23. Homers Works Translated out of Greek into English, by Tho. Hobbes of Mal [...]sbury.

24. The Golden Rule of Arithmetick, made more easie than is commonly found in our Books of Arithmetick, by C. H. Octavo.

25. A Supplement or 3d. Volumn to Mr. Hobbes's Works, in Qua.

26. The Grounds of Sovereignty and Greatness, in Quarto.

27. a [...]ra Regis, Or, The present State of [...]ondon, containing the Antiquity, Frame, Walls, River, Bridge, Gates, Tower, Cathe­dral, Officers, Courts, Customes, Franchises, &c. of that City. Octavo, price 1 s.

28. A Sermon preached at the Funeral of a sober Religious man found drowned in a Pit; since revised and inlarged by the Author.

29. A Visitation Sermon preached at Chichester, by W Howell. Qua.

30. The School of Righteousness: A Sermon preached before the King, by His Grace the present Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. Quarto, price 6 d.

31. The Circumcision of the Great Turk's Son, and the Cere­mony of the Marriage of his Daughter, sent over by the English Ambassador's Secretary.

32. Scarron's Comical Romance, or, A [...]ace [...]ious History of a Company of Stage-Players; interwoven with divers choice Novells, rare Adventures, and amorous Intrigues: Written in French by the Famous and Witty Monsieur Scarron, now done into Engli [...]h by J. B. Gent. Fol.

33. A Letter about Liberty and Necessity: Written by Thomas Hobbes of Mal [...]sbury, to the Duke of Newcastle, with Observations on it by the Bishop of Ely. 1678.

34. A Modest plea for the Clergy of the Church of England; Wherein is considered the Original, Antiquity, Necessity, together with the occasion they are so slighted and contemned, Octa. 1678.

35. A Treatise of Wool and Cattle, shewing how far they raise or abate the value of Lands in England. Quarto.

36. An excellent Rationable Discourse of the Lawfulness to take Use for money, by the Learned Knight, Sir Robert Filmer, and pub­lished with a Preface to it, by Sir Roger Twisden. 1678.

[Page] 37. The Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire, called the Devi [...]s-Arse of Peak, in Latin and English. Octavo, 1678.

38. The Reflections upon Antient and Modern Philosophy, Mo­ral and Natural: Treating of the Egyptians, Arabians, Grecians, Ro­mans, English, Germans, French, Spanish, Italian, &c. Philosophers, and their Philosophy, with the use to be made of it. 1678.

39. Decameron Physiologicum, or, ten Dialogues of Natural Philo­sophy, by Tho. Hobbes of Malmsbury. To which is added the propor­tion of Straight Line, to half the Arc of a Quadrant by the same Author. 1678.

40. Melpomene, or the Muses Delight, being new Poems and Songs, Written by the great Wits of our present Age. 1678.

41. Clelia, an Excellent new Romance, in 5 Parts, in Fol.

Plays Printed for W. Crook.
  • 1. White Devil, or, Vittoria Coromb [...]na.
  • 2. The old Troop, or, Monsieur Raggou.
  • 3. Catalines Conspiracy, by [...]. Johnson.
  • 4. Amorous Gallant, or, Love in Fashion.
  • 5. Mock Duellist, or, The French Vallett.
  • 6. Wrangling Lovers, or, The Invisible Mistress.
  • 7. Tom Essence, or, The modish Wife.
  • 8. French Conjurer. 1678.
  • 9. Witts led by the Nose, or, The Poets Revenge. 1678.
  • 10. Rival King, or, The Loves of Oroondates. 1678.
  • 11. Constant Nymph, or, Rambling Shepherd. 1678.
  • 12. Counterfeit Bridegroom, or, Defeated Widdow. 1678.
  • 13. Tunbridge Wells, or, A days Courtship. 1678.
  • 14. The Man of New-Market. 1678.
Books Printed for W. Crook, this Year 1679.
  • 1. The Confinement, A Poem, with Annotations upon it. Octavo, price 1 s.
  • 2. Praxis Curiae Admiralitatis Angliae, Author. Francis [...]. Clark, Edit. Secunda. Twelves, price bound 1 s.
  • 3. Justifying of Faith, or the Faith by which the Just do live. To which is added a Discourse of the Excellency of the Common-Prayer Book. Octavo, price bound 1 s.
  • 4. The first State of Mahumadisme, or an Account of the Author and Doctrines of that Imposture. Octavo, price bound 2 [...].

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