THE TRIAL and CONDEMNATION OF THE Two False Witnesses Unto the late MIDNIGHT-CRY, Published by MR MASON, The Author of that present Great Assembly in Buckinghamshire; who are met together under a Deluding Expectation of Christ's Coming to Iudgment on Whitsunday approaching.

SHEWING Of what dangerous Consequence this may prove to the present Government, if they should persist in the same Enthusiasm till next Whitsuntide come Twelvemonth, &c. under pretence of a literal Mistake, &c.

Licens'd

May 14th, 1694.

LONDON: Printed for Richard Baldwin [...]6 [...]

The Tryal and Condemnation of the TWO WITNESSES UNTO THE Late Midnight-Cry.

WE have credible Information (from several Hands) that this Mr. Mason (a Minister of the Church of Eng­land in Water-strafford, in Buckinghamshire) is a Person of a Pious Life and Conversation, who above Three Years ago writ his Midnight-Cry; which, being a serious and practical Sermon, tending to stir up our exceeding vicious and debauched Age to a startling Consideration of the near Approach of Christ to Judgment (the great Argument used both by our Saviour and the Primitive Church in those early Days of the Gospel, unto constant Watchful­ness, &c.) was a grateful Subject unto all the godly amongst us; and though there appeared (to several at least) nothing extraordinary in that Discourse, more than to quicken up all sorts to an earnest Expecta­tion of, and Preparation unto Christ's speedy Approach to Judgment, (Mr Mason's Modesty not prefixing any limited Time, &c.) yet it became of such Universal Acceptation with the more pious sort [who under this late Great Revolution throughout the Christian World, and (more especially in these Kingdoms) have been waiting for some extraordinary Things immediately Antecedent thereunto] that the Book soon spread, and not altogether so much from the Title thereof (which was singular and startling) as from the Curiosity of many, who ex­pected to find some prefixed Time, or such singular Prognosticks thereof [Page 4] [...] might be Equivalent thereunto. But being frustrated herein, the [...]oud Rumor thereof was buried for a Time.

But soon after, the great Enemy of Souls began to lead the Apostate [...]ge (which like the Rebellious Unbelieving Jews of old was gree­ [...]ily looking after a Sign) into his dark Labyrinth of Error and Con­ [...]usion, and converting himself into an Angel of Light, raised up Two [...]old-fac'd Men, who called themselves, The Two Prophets unto the Midnight Cry, (Ward and Evans) who with much admir'd Arrogan­ [...]y and Presumption, laboured hard to ingraff a fixed Perswasion into [...]s, That They were immediately called by God to bear witness to the Truth of the Revelations: And that They were the Two Witnesses (in Apoc. 11.) who were to be slain, &c.—Also, That God had passed [...]n Irrevocable Decree against England, for most immediate Destruction, more Infallible than that Sacred Oath which he sware against the Jews, That they should not enter into his Rest. Making this dangerous Im­pulse of their deluded Fancy, equal with the great Articles of our Faith, that are Essential unto Salvation, and of the same Divine Signature as is that Testimony or Witness of the Holy Ghost in true Believers: The chief Subject of the ensuing Discourse being to detect this Spirit of Delusion, and to bring it to a fair Tryal by the Touchstone of Scripture-Truth, and to condemn these Arrogant Presumptuous Impostors by the Harmony of the Word of God, throughout the Old and New Testament.

This hath been written Two Years since, and was presented to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to some other of the Reve­rend Bishops and Clergy, &c. and had then come forth into the Publick, if They had thought That had been the fittest Season, and in whose Wisdom the Author did confide. Since that Time the Infinite Goodness of Di­vine Providence hath wonderfully preserved these Nations from that Immediate Destruction (now Three Years) which these Two false Wit­nesses did then so presumptuously pretend to foretel (as if by Divine Revelation) was then instantly and inevitably to befal us, and which they affirmed with such amazing Confidence, as if They had been in the Secret Council of the Almighty.

These Two, (who thought themselves little inferior to the Two Anointed Ones that stood before the Lord of the whole Earth) being thus shamefully confounded and put to silence, by the Event of things (which is the surest Interpreter of Visions and Revelations) the satanical Spirit of Delusion takes an other occasion to vent it self; and now lay­ing aside Ward and Evans, transforms it self (in a more subtile manner than before) viz. through a Dream (or Delivery Vision) in the Brain of Mr. Mason (the Author of that Midnight Cry:) Herein imitating [Page 5] those Sacred Dreams and Visions of the Patriarchs and Prophets. Now by what Fantasms resembling these Sacred and Oracular Visions, even some good Men have been Acted, in our late days, is too long here to particularize; it might be wished there had not been so many Instan­ces thereof. That Impulse of Mr. Sedgwick, (called Doomsday Sedg­wick) is yet too fresh in Memory to be wholly forgotten, and is revi­ved on this unhappy occasion now before us.

It had been greatly to have been desir'd, that this Mr. Mason had read a most Elaborate Manuscript, (now fitting for the Press) wherein all the Numbers of Daniel and the Revelations are made to Accord in one and the same Years for the Accomplishment of All these great Changes, that are expected coming on the Christian World, (and particularly the Time for Christs Second Coming, and also for The End of the World (which Mr. Mason hath so well observed, are Two distinct Times, in his Midnight-Cry) And whereon the whole is Il­lustrated by the Joynt Consent of all the Prophets (in the Old and New Testament) and all other parts of Sacred History; as also by the great Works and Wonders of God, from the Creation to this present Time in their Historical, Chronological, Mystical and Typical Significa­tions, in several Thousand famous Instances. A Work of that great Rarity and Acurateness, that it hath been perused by some of the most Learned Divines, (and Persons of Honour and Quality) in Foreign Parts, as well as by several eminent Divines both of the Church of England (and others) with extream satisfaction, and particular Recommendation unto the World, which ample Testimonies, &c. will be prefixed which when it comes forth in publick, may soon remove that dar [...] Veil that now is so much spread on all our Faces, (to say n [...] more.)

In the mean time if the Reader please to afford a deliberate Exami­nation, of the many remarkable things presented to his serious conside­ration in the following Treatise, he may soon perceive on what Sand [...] Foundation these Two false Witnesses build their Predictions, &c. and consequently may the better judge, Whether these self-conceited and (audaciously) confident Men, are like to be the Supporters of the Divine Oracles of God, or the Harbingers of that Great Midnight [...]Cry, which is immediately to precede the Second coming of our Savi­our, whatever Impressions Mr. Masons Dreams or Visions have mad [...] on that poor deluded Multitude, (who will find their expectation frustrated in few days, to their real shame and confusion of [...]ce. For how can They who proceed so directly opposite unto the whol [...] Sense and Tenour of Scripture Threatnings, in all the most severe and [Page 6] positive Comminations against the greatest Sinners, (which always intend a Condition or purpose of Revocation upon Repentance, and are denounced for that great End, and not to drive Men or Nations, (as Ward and Evans have done) into the Gulph of Desperation, &c. I say, how is it likely these Ignorant and Presumptuous false Prophets can be sent of God? And whether these Brain-sick Impostors, who have thus strangely Transformed the Infinite Patience and Goodness of God into false Notions, Dreams or Impulses of their own head (and which Three Years experience have abundantly demonstrated to be false and also dangerous, even to the present Governmeut, by strengthning the hands of our common Enemy, who watcheth for all such Occasions, [...]nd weakning the minds of many, who otherwise would strenuously [...]nd unanimously oppose that Inundation, threatning all our ruine, whether these Men are likely to be the Two Silver Trumpets for Pro­claiming the Great Jubilee, or the Second Coming of our Blessed Savi­our unto Judgment [beginning his Glorious Kingdom here on Earth, [...] St. Paul had the right apprehensions of that Time, 2 Tim. 4. 1.] And believe it, the great Midnight-Cry, Mat. 24. will be of another Nature and Effect, (both on the True Church of Christ, and the Apo­state State of Christianity,) those Wise and Foolish Virgins, who both, awoke, arose, and Trimm'd their Lamps at this Alarm.

Having given this necessary Precaution to undeceive the deluded Multitude, who are met together in a great Assembly in Buckingham-shire, expecting The Appearance of Christ to Judgment on Witsunday now imme­diately approaching, according to Mr. Masons limited Time, (in his Dream or Vision) which being to expire so speedily (as a Week or a Fort­nights time,) will be soon confuted; and therefore needs no other Arguments thereunto, but the short Event: We shall therefore leave that Fraternity to their honest meaning Mr. Mason's Apprehensions, (which is like to prove no other than the Embraces of Juno in a Cloud, &c.) and cast a more stedfast Eye on the aforesaid Ward and Evans, (those Two deceived Witnesses, &c.) that so we may rightly inform our selves of what Complexion they are, and of what deep and [...]hastly Lineaments their (Proteus-like) Countenance is Composed, who [...]o speak the Truth in one Word) do seem to cast something like a [...]ontempt on the Articles of the Christian Faith, and also on the Spirits [...]fallible Testimony, and on the Sacred Symbols of Christianity, (or [...]ose Seals of the Covenant of Grace,) by making their Whimsical [...]mpulses equal thereunto, if not preferring them before the [...]me.

That which follows on this Subject, is Written in a Letter to a [Page 7] Friend, Proving, That the most Tremendous and most Positiv [...] Judgments of God in Scripture denounced against Persons, Cities [...] Nations, do not lay them under an absolute Necessity of continuin [...] Impenitent, or of Perishing under the same Doom; exceeding useful, bot [...] for Sinners of the greatest Obduracy, as well as for such who ar [...] Wounded under the sense of their Guilt, and tempted to Despair [...] who may here clearly behold the Nature of Gods most Simple and I [...]fallible Decree, touching the Damnation of every Self-reprobating Sin [...]ner, and how it becomes the Antecedent unto, but not the Physic [...] Cause of their Damnation; which Destruction is therefore possible to [...] Prevented, (taken in a Simple and Physical sense and consideration,) [...] Man, as a Rational and free Agent, (whose Will was never forced [...] Prenecessitated to do Evil, meerly from Gods Decree, as the Effect tha [...] follows its Cause,) although this Decree [grounded on his foresigh [...] of Mans Self-Reprobation, as also his Decree for peculiar Election, whic [...] is grounded on no Good in Man foreseen] admits of no Frustration These weighty Matters, (with some other considerations of grea [...] Moment,) are (on this occasion) here briefly and clearly handled even to the apprehension of the meanest Capacities, and the Judgme [...] of all such, whose Education-Light, or Interest, or Partial and blin [...] Respect of Persons, hath not cast a Mist on their Understandings; a [...] the Arguments are Solid and Orthodox, agreeable to the Doctrin [...] the Church of England, and the Consent of the Universality of D [...]vines beyond the Seas; and above all, to the whole Ten [...]ur of [...] Scripture throughout all its parts.

A LETTER to a FRIEND On the Occasion of Mr. MASONS's Midnight-Cry, AND Those Two false Prophets who most boldly Pre­sumed to Comment thereupon from their Whimsies and Impulses, being the Fore­runner of, and Preparative unto the said Mr. Masons late Deluding Vision which hath gathered such a great Concourse of People in Buckingham-shire, to the disturbance of the World.

Sir,

SEeing you have been pleased to ask my Opinion of that Book, lately published by T. W. and V. E. who call themselves the Two Witnesses to the Midnight-Cry, it's one small part of the Duty and Honour I owe you, to Comply with this Request, though I [...]ave at present something on my hands, which hinders me from gi­ [...]ing such an ample Answer, as otherwise I might.

I was in expectation to find some extraordinary thing in that Midnight-Cry, not knowing at first sight but this might be that Cry [...]retold in Matth. 25. 6. which all agree is to be the Prodromus of [Page 9] Christ's Second Coming immediately to ensue thereon, upon which Alarum the Text expresly tells us, 1st. That the Wise and foolish Virgins (who were both asleep) Awoke. 2d. Both these Virgins Trimmed their Lamps. 3d. The Foolish go to the Wise for Oyl, to furnish their Extin­guished Lamps. 4th. Being repulsed, they go to buy Oyl where it was to be sold, and while they went to buy, The Bridegroom came. When I see such a grand effect, (or something like it) throughout the Christian World, (made up of Wise and Foolish Virgins,) and that it receives its Life and Influence from this late Midnight Cry; I shall be Induced to consider, (if not to conclude) that this Alarum is likely to be That of which our Saviour spoke▪ (in the Text before.) In the mean time the Author thereof, doubtless, had very Pious Ends in Publishing a Warning to us all, so useful and seasonable at all times.

That the Sins of England, (and particularly of this City) are ve­ry great, beyond all others in the World besides, if we consider the heinous Aggravations we lye under, with respect of that clear Sun­shine of Gospel-Light which we enjoy, and the many wonderful Mer­cies and Deliverances God hath wrought out for us, beyond what he hath done for others, and the many Warnings we have had by several great Judgments, (both of Plague, Fire, Earth-quakes, War, &c.) and our great Incorrigible Frame, growing rather worse and worse under All, and therefore that we may have great cause to fear and expect some extraordinary Desolating Judgments, unless we Repent▪ (by deep Humiliation and Amendment) is that wherein all sober Persons are unanimously agreed (and God Almighty grant us all a true Repentance.) We have also no reason to presume we shall escape better than other People and Nations, whom God hath destroyed for less provocations than are found among us, unless we throughly a­mend our ways. But yet, How long God is resolved to lengthen out his Patience and Long-suffering to a very provoking People, concerning whom God hath positively and expresly declared the Limited Periods of his Mercy in his Holy Word, (and especially when we read in Scriptures, how prevalent the Cries and Prayers of one or other of his peculiar Favourites have been, in turning away his Wrath from a City or Nation) is a Secret amongst his Arcana Imperii, into which no Person, no not the Holy Prophets and Apostles, to whom God did so immediately Reveal himself) ought to prie [...] ▪ Nor will any truly humble and conscientious Person dare presume to affirm; and least of all to Determine, (as our Two Prophets undertake to do) with such Confidence and Infallibility, as if they had sate in Council with the [Page 10] Almighty, and that the Secret of VVisdom and Ʋnderstanding had been locked up within their Breast: And yet if they were Divinely assured that God had revealed a prefixed Period for his Judgment; nay, though he had confirmed it with a Sacred Oath, and that it seemed never so Positive or Irrevocable, yet the whole Tenor of Scripture, (as by and by we shall observe in several great Instances) in all its Prophetick parts agrees herein, viz. That God reserves a Secret or tacit Condition, and (either Implicitly or Explicitly) resolving, notwithstanding, to shew Mercy, and not to destroy in case of Repentance, let their Doom be never so great, and the Period never so plainly express'd, and this also even when Destruction is Threatned immediately to attend (even as at the Door.)

Is any Angel, (much less any Man) Infallibly assur'd, but that God may have said of England, as he did of Old unto sinful Judah and Je­rusalem, for whom the Prophet wrestled, although they were at that time a greater provocation than all others, Jer. 14. 7, 8, 9. O Lord, though our Iniquity testifie against us, do thou it for thy Names sake; al­though our Back-bitings are many, and we have sinned against thee. O the hope of Israel, and the Saviour in the time of trouble, VVhy shouldst thou be as a Stranger in the Land; As a Man that cannot save? Yet thou O Lord art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy Name, leave us not. The Prophet better understood Gods Will, and had a nearer access to his Heart, and was more acquainted with his Secret than T. VV. and V. E. (our two late Prophets) can pretend to be. A Blessed Prophet whereof we have in that famous Text, Isa. 48. 1, 2, &c. Hear ye this, O House of Jacob, which art called by the Name of Israel, who swear by the Name of the Lord, and mention the God of Israel, but not in Truth and Righteousness: For they call themselves of the Holy City, and Stay them­selves on the God of Israel. I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy Neck an Iron Sinew, and thy Brow Brass, &c. yet thou heardest not, yea thou knowest not, yea from that time that thy Ear was not opened; for I know thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a Transgressor from the VVomb. Yet for my Names sake will I defer my anger, and for my Praise will I refrain that I cut thee not off for my own, even for my own sake, will I do it, for how should my Name be polluted? and I will not give my Glory to another. Which is an excellent Coment on that Famous Text in Deut. 32. 26. Where we may see by what wonderful Argument God is pleased to persuade himself from a total Rejection of this his Sin­ful and Rebellious People, who had been a continual provocation to him, from the day they came out of Egypt all along in the VVilderness for Forty Years. I said I would scatter them into Corners, I would make [Page 11] their remembrance to cease from among Men,—v. 27. Were it not that I feared the wrath of the Enemy, lest their Adversaries should behave them­selves strangely, and lest they should say, Our Hand is high, and the Lord hath not done All This.—v. 28. Though they are a Nation void of Council, neither is there any understanding in them. And Moses, in his Intercession, useth the same Argument with God, Exod. 32. 12. com­pared with Numb. 14. 13, 14, 15.

Who can tell but God may have spoken thus to England also? But T. W. hath published to the World, as a Person of extraordinary Call by God [and by and by we may discover he takes himself and his Brother V. E. to be those Two Witnesses in the Revelations, c. 11.] sent to denounce unto us, That there is a dreadful Judgment immediately coming on the Land, and that the honour of God and of his Justice, and of his Goodness to them and their Posterity obligeth him (some would do well to perswade him thus plainly to express himself, if he knows his own meaning) to begin and make an end of them at once, (pag. 8) And in the same Page he pretends to tell us what kind of Judgment this will be, which he would perswade us he is most infal­libly certain [as of any one Article in his Creed] will immediately overtake us (his Mercy engageth him to send forth his Army, and destroy them.) And he often repeats it, that we may not mistake him in such a matter of importance, viz. That this Belief of his, That God's Decree is irrevocably gone out to destroy us immediately, without any limited Conditions of our Repentance, is the Great Point or Ar­ticle of his Faith, (as pag. 11.) [though my Faith in a Judgment immedi­ately coming upon us, be the principal thing I am enlightned in, &c.] And pag. 11. (I am in the Faith of it still.) And again (in the sane Page) [If I should grant this a Delusion, O how would it break my Faith all in Pieces? And therefore there is a necessity laid upon me to maintain that it is from God, because I should overthrow my Religion if I did not.] I wish he knew what his Religion is, if he can tell us. Again (in his Postscript) [And therefore I dare not so much as admit of an If:] As much as if he had said, God hath determined that all our Repentance shall not prevent his Infallible Decree that is gone out. And in pag. 12. he proceeds [I cannot tell how any can make out that this Faith is a Delusion, but he must reflect upon That—Speaking in the Words before of David's Testimony of the Spirit, touching his own Salvation; thus equalling his Impression or Impulse with the Sacred Seal or Witness of the Spirit. And if we track him a little further (in the same twelfth Page) he is resolved to die a Martyr for this Funda­mental Point or Article of his Religion [Now you see it is come to this [Page 12] Issue, that I am to maintain this Faith even unto the Death.] But the best of all is in p. 14. [This is to be seen only by an Eye of Faith] A little before he spake of Armies of God's sending [which we sup­pose he did not mean of Locusts (except the French Locusts) nor yet of swarms of Flies, &c.] and though his natural Eye-sight could not look cross the Seas into France, yet it is difficult to perswade us that he had not heard what great Preparations Lewis le Grande had made by Sea and Land for giving us a Visit to destroy the Northern Heresy (so called) cum multis aliis; and then his Faith is but a moral Perswasion and no Divine Revelation. Now if he hath never heard of these things, we may safely conjecture he hath slept for some Years, like Epimenides, (and might also fall into a Dream) But if he hath heard thereof, and believes the same, then his Faith is no more Divine than that of every Philonides (as to these things;) and if there is a Peculiarity in his Faith (as he will needs have it to be) we find no foundation for it it in all the Scripture [viz. That England hath out-sinned her Day of Grace, and that all our most hearty Endeavours to Repent and Turn to God will not pre­vent the Infallible Certainty of our immediate Destruction: Or indeed that any Nation or People though never so wicked, did ever lie under such a Doom:] And though Christ's Words unto Jerusalem [O that thou hadst known in this thy Day the things that belonged to thy Peace, but now they are hid from thy Eyes] seems to come nearest hereunto, yet we are to note, 1. That Expression had not a direct tendency to the Salvation of their Souls, as if thereby they had been laid under an utter Impossibility of Repenting, for the Words are an Appendant to that Expression before [How often would I have gathered you together as a Hen her Chickens under her Wing] which some eminent Divines (together with Mr. Baxter also) understand of our Saviour's intentions of gathering them into a National Church, under the Gospel Administration, and under a most peculiar Protection, as of old they had been in the Legal Admini­stration.] 2. Christ exhorts them afterwards as a collective Body, to Repent and turn to God (Daughters of Jesus weep for your Sins, &c.) 3. And he prays for them (as a Nation considered) who were guilty of his Death, in the whole Body Politick, [viz. in the Chief Priests and Elders, or ruling Sanedrim, and in its Members also, when all the People cryed out unanimously, Crucify, crucify him,] and yet he prays Father forgive them (i. e.) if they will afterwards repent by the preaching of the Gospel. 4. Christ sent his Apostles and Ministers to preach Repentance to the whole Nation (else why did they enter into the Jews Synagogues, from time to time, on their Sabbath Day) Forty Years after his Death, before their City was destroyed, and about [Page 13] Sixty Years to the Remnant afterwards, before they were totally de­stroyed from being a Nation.

But Mr. W. will needs have this Faith and Belief of his (thus rivet­ed into his Head by strong impulse) to be the Standard or Touchstone not only of his own Faith and Christianity, but for his Apprehensions of others Christianity also; (pag. 15.) [They seem all of them to have a Prin­ciple of Grace in them who have this Faith though they may not have great Parts:] And that their Faith should not prove a Choak-Pear to any of us, they interlard their Divinity with a seeming regard unto the Scripture (in the same 15th page) [And they all seem to have some Impression made upon their Heart from Scripture.] One great Argument for the Autho­rity of the Word of God is, That all Hereticks and Sectaries will al­low thereof, and fetch their Proofs even from Sacred Writ, though it is evident that the Church of Rome (and some of her Children who hang on her Skirts, though in Disguise to captivate silly Souls) use the Holy Bible as the Philistines did the Ark, who being perplext (and some­times smitten in their Consciences) thereby, hoise it up, as decently as they can on their Wooden-Cart [Tradition, &c.] and drive it out of their Coasts, sending it away from them (to take its Lot) with the detestable Offerings of their Golden Mice.

In the last-mentioned Page Mr. Th. Ward gives us a Copy of his Countenance, which looks (Janus-like) with a double Face. Modest [...] on one side, and presumptuously Arrogant on the other. In the first, he tells us, that he, and those of his Way, are not Learned Doctors, as to the Revelation Prophesies; But on the other side, his Countenance looks with such an Aspect, as if he expected the World should take Him and his Brother Evans for those Two Witnesses (Apoc. 2.) and therefore prepares us all to behold them, as shortly to be Slain, and to Rise again (in Three Days) and to Ascend up into Heaven, &c. As by their own Words; [And though we cannot fathom those Depths in th [...] Revelations, as being indeed uncapable of them, I mean as ordinary Peo­ple, yet such is the goodness of God to condescend to do it, in a way we are most capable of, and can best defend our selves,] so that we are now loudly called on to believe the Revelations are fulfilling in Them, and have prepared us to entertain venerable Thoughts of themselves though they cannot tell us how we are to understand these Mysteries▪ And lest we too closely intrude, M. Ward defends himself (as with [...] Quadrter-Staff) and lays about him with big Words, to maul dow [...] all our Arguments and Objections, which we have in his Postscript telling us that this Faith (or Doctrine of his Christianity) is Infallible [Page 14] and hath No If in it, (or can admit no possibility of Frustration;) so that hereby he seems (in Capital Letters) to tell the World, that this sacred Creed of his (touching England's Immediate and Irrevocable Destruction) is built upon a more firm Foundation than that Great Oath of God, which the Apostle comments on, in Heb. 3. 2. [ [...] &c.] who sware that his Backsliding Church should not enter into his Rest (or the promised Land) yet not in that Simple or Absolute manner, but that he reserved a Condition for its non-accomplishment [namely If they Repented not, [...], &c.]

Another Fencing-Blow Mr. Ward gives us (in the same Postscript) as if he meant to affright us into his Belief [He that opposeth it, viz. the aforesaid Article of his Faith) opposeth the Seal of God; and since God hath sealed it, it is done] When he shall please to come forth next, he would do well to explain his Meaning, and whether he appre­hends this Answer, is the Sin against the Holy Ghost.

Valentine Evans (his fellow Witness) comes after, and tells us, he is sure none will ever have a Warrant from God to speak or write against these things. And takes upon him very proudly and arrogantly to de­termine that Satan hath transformed himself into an Angel of Light, in Mr. Baxter's appearing against them, with a pretence to vindicate the Truth (Ex Ʋngue Leonem, &c.) Surely it becomes these extraordi­nary Prophets (as they would have us take them to be) to shew them­selves to be Men of God by Meekness and Gentleness, even to those who oppose them, and in modesty to mention so great a Sub­ject as the Immediate and irreconcilable Destruction of a Kingdom, for which God hath but very lately manifested his miraculous Goodness and Power, and his infinite patience and long-suffering, convincing the most indocible, that he is even yet exceeding unwilling to give us up a Victim to the Fury of the Adversary, and a Prey unto their de­vouring Teeth. How ought this Consideration to check (if not to [...]radicate) the most bold presumptuous Confidence, and self-Opinion [...]f our Two new-raised Prophets, who if they knew what a godly [...]ealousie meant, would fear, lest they be left by God to the Judgment [...]f spiritual Pride, lest the Devil hath transformed himself in them, act­ [...]g by the delusory Impressions and Impulses of their own Imagina­ [...]on, and tempting them in this manner unto such dangerous and al­most unparallel Presumption as they seem guilty of in sober and un­derstanding Persons thoughts; and how greatly doth it become them [...]o lie prostrate in Dust and Ashes, lest God in his Judicial Anger [...]mite them dead, for daring (in such a confident manner) to enter [Page 15] into the Secret of his Decree? and with the Bethshemites to look into the Ark? (1 Sam. 6. 19.)

Their Delusion may evidently appear to any who will please to weigh the following Considerations.

CONSIDERATION I.
Touching God's Predeterminate Will, (Decree or Pur­pose) concerning Judgment on any Person, City, or Nation, although it be threatned most positively and expresly in Scripture, yet they always carry with them a secret or tacit Condition or Limi­tation, and are never to be understood as Irre­vocable.

MANY famous Instances hereof we have in SCRI­PTURE.

1. God seemed most positive, that he would drown the old World, repeating his purpose many times, without once expressing his Reso­lution, to spare them if they repented (at least that we read of) but plainly threatning to wait no longer than One hundred and twenty Years (Gen. 6. 7, 15, 17. compared with ch. 7. 4.) and at the end of that period then to destroy them: Yet this had a secret Condition in it, with a Resolution to have spared them upon Repentance, and God's Patience and long-Suffering towards them in bearing and forbearing so long, had a direct tendency unto this great End, 1 Pet. 3. 20. com­pared with Rom. 2. 4.

2. God seems most positive for Pharaoh's Destruction; and several Texts plainly tell us, God hardned him [Exod. 4. 21. 7. 3, 13, 14. 9. 12, 15, 16.] And S. Paul sets him forth as a famous Figure of that which we call Reprobation, Rom. 9. 17, &c.] Not that God is Active in hardning any Sinner, or in tempting any unto Evil (as Jam. 1. 13.) but only is pleased to deny to some his sanctifying Grace, for their [Page 16] abuse of the Strivings of the Spirit in his common Grace (or in a Word, for sinning unto high degrees against the Light and Conviction of their Illuminating Conscience.) And because this most just denyal, is the Antecedent of that Infallible Consequent, (viz. Hardness of Heart, and Impenitency) and bears such an Analogical resemblance of the Cause and it's Effect, therefore the Scripture so frequently expresseth it, as if God was Active in it, as the simple or Physical Cause of hard­ning wicked Men, which in reality is no other than his leaving those self-hardning Sinners, (who resolve to persist in Sin without fear and trembling, against the checks and wounds of their Enlightned Con­science) unto the Lusts and Corruptions of their own Hearts, which without his Sanctifying Grace, will assuredly arise daily unto greater and stronger Rebellions, and end in final Obduracy, Unbelief and Impenitency. Pharaoh was left by God to the liberty and freedom of his own Will, [for who questions, but he had the power to let Israel go,] (as appears plainly from Exod. 3. 19. Chap. 9. 30, 34.) but he first hardens his own Heart against God, before God in his Just Judgment left him to himself, [as Ex. 5. 3. 8. 15, 32. 9. 30, 34. And the (Heathen) Philistines had learnt so much Divinity, that the grand Cause of Pharaohs Destruction was to be layd at his own Door, and not at Gods, in that Famous Text of 1 Sam. 6. 6. God really de­sir'd Pharaoh should Obey him, and had rather he should have Turned and Lived for ever in his Favour, then to have perished in his Sin, (if we dare credit the Scripture, and take it in its own express words, without Mens Glosses and Coments) Exod. 4. 5, 8, 9. 6. 13, 29. 7. 1, 2, 8. 10. 9. 20. And Chap. 10. 3. puts it yet more clearly out of doubt, [How long wilt thou yet refuse to humble thy self before me?] And to make it yet more evident, we are to consider that the First Threatning God sent him was, The Death of the First-born throughout Aegypt, and this Judgment was the same, that after all made him bow by force, [Exod. 4. 23. compared with Ch. 11. 1, 4, 5.] Thus Gods Patience and Long-suffering waited on this self-destroyer, to bring him unto Repentance and Salvation, as 2 Pet. 3▪ 9. And thus it wait­eth at this day on the great Enemies or Oppressors of his Church.

3. What more positive than the Destruction of the Canaanites, seve­ral times Sentenced to be all cut off, (Exod. 23. 24. Deut. 7. 2, 16, 20.) and if any of them remained, it's expresly forbid, to make any Covenant with them. (Exod. 23. 32, 34. 12. 15. Deut. 7. 2.) and yet repenting Rahab is preserved, and the crafty Gibeonites famous League with Josuah was such a Heavenly Mystery, that the Sun and Moon was [Page 17] made to stand still a whole Day, while Josuah fought for their de­fence, (Josh. 9. 15. compared with Ch. 10. 12, 13, 14.) whereby all the World were invited to take Cognisance thereof.

4. What more plainly foretold and threatned than the Destru­ction of the Jews? Deut. 29. 28, 29. and of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Ezech. 21. 7. 2 Kings 20. 17, 18. Ch. 23. 26, 27. The last Text telling us this should come to pass for the Sins of Manasse; Nor did Hezekiah and Josia, (the two most Pious Kings of Judah) prevail to alter Gods resolution herein, notwithstanding their great zeal in Reformation. And yet for all this, if Zedekiah had gone forth to meet the King of Babylons Princes, then he should have lived, and Je­rusalem had not been burnt, notwithstanding all the Predictions of the Prophets from God himself, threatning the same, as by an Irre­vocable Decree. Jer. 38. 17.

5. What looks more like a positive Decree for Destruction, than Gods Command to the Prophet, not to pray for that People? Jer. 17. 16. (as if they had Sinned that Sin unto Death, 1 Joh. 5. 16.) and yet we find Jeremy very affectionately drawn out from them, Jer. 9. 1. &c. and the effect was a farther time for tryal, (v. 7.)

6. What Decree more Express and Irrevocable than that against Amalek, (Ex. 17.) The Lord hath Sworn, that he will utterly blot out all the remembrance of Amalek from under Heaven. 1st. Moses is Com­manded to write it in a Book. 2d. And to rehearse it before Joshua. 3d. An Altar is built to perpetuate the Memory thereof, [called Je­hovah-Nissi] and Balaam rememembers their Tremendous Doom, (Numb. 34. 20. His end shall be to perish for ever,) And yet they are a Nation many Hundred Years after this; and though one of the Con­federate Enemies of the Church, (for whom the Prophets are so much concerned to Lament, and moved thereto by God himself, as in the 5th. Consideration,) yet David prays that this Nation also, (with other of the Churches Enemies) might come to seek the Name of God, Psalm 83. 16.

7. What Doom more positive than Ninive's Destruction in Forty Days? (this was without an If) as to the Prophet, or any Man's present apprehension, when Jonah denounced that VVo, after he had escaped that Storm at Sea,) though he soon found it otherwise, and was made to understand, that God's most Severe and Positive Threat­nings, [Page 18] always presuppose a Tacite Condition of Final Obduracy and Impenitency, and that they are not otherwise to be under­stood.

8. What more plain and express than Babylon's Destruction? in Jer. 50. and yet God expected Repentance, that he might have healed her, or at least a deliberate Act of Reason, in her hearty desire for her own Salvation, [VVe would have healed Babylon, but she would not be healed.] Jer. 51. 19.

9. Those Two famous Texts following are a Sacred Coment, to con­firm the Argument, and speak the same in Capital Letters, That in Jer. 18. 7. At what time, I say to a Nation or Kingdom to pluck it up, or to destroy it, yet if that Nation turn from their evil, and repent, they shall surely live. The other in, Zeph. 2. 2. Before the Decree bring forth, seek the Lord.

10. What can be more positively spoken of the certain and infal­lible Damnation of any, than Christ himself is pleased to express against the Scribes and Pharisees, who had wilfully and maliciously Blasphemed that Holy Spirit, by which they were convinced he did those great Miracles among them? In short, Isaiah is foreshewn, the Jews final rejection of Christ, by reason of that height of Impiety which should amount to no less than The Sin against the Holy Ghost, which the Prophet gives us very Emphatically, Isa. 6. 10. Make their Hearts fat, and their Ears heavy, and shut their Eyes, lest they see and hear, and understand, and convert and be healed. And our Saviour often reminds them of this Prophecy, telling them it was then fulfilled by their hei [...]t of wilful Impiety, which through Gods Righteous Judgment, rendred his Gospel, which he Preached unto them in his own Sacred Person The Savour of Death unto Death, although it came amongst them for this Primary End, that it might Enlighten and Convert. Now that these Jews had actually sinned The Sin against the Holy Ghost, [and so were given up afterwards unto that Judicial Blindness and Obduracy, as issu­ed in the Crucifixion of their Messias,] Christ expresly tells us in Mark. 3. 30. touching which, Matthew (Chap. 13. 32.) says, It shall never be forgiven and what can be a more positive Doom? And yet the Evangelist Mark, [Chap. 3. 29.] renders it [...], which we Translate, Is in danger of Eternal Damnation; and this a­grees with Isaiah, who, expressing the most dangerous State which this Nation of the Jews could be in on this side Hell, [as in the Text before, [Page 19] and so remarkable, that each of the Four Evangelists quote it against them, Matth. 13. 14. Mark 4. 12. Luke 8. 10. John 12. 40. Besides, St. Paul also Acts 28. 27.] yet, leaves them not without a possibility of Salvation, [lest they should Convert and be healed.] And if we com­pare the former Scriptures with Rom. 11. 7, 8. we may find that this Judicial Blindness is a Mark of their own Self-reprobation, and in Con­tradistinction from those other Jews, who were of the Peculiar Election of Grace. The Summary gathered from the whole Premises is this, that as on the one hand none can be encouraged to think, that any, living and dying in final Obduracy and final Unbelief, can have any possibility of Salvation, (being a flat contradiction in Terminis) so on the other hand there is no Scripture Ground for any Person, City or Nation, though lying under a Positive and seeming Irrevocable Decree of Wrath, to pass a Definitive Sentence against themselves. Which to do, is to enter into Gods most secret place of Thunder, into which he would not suffer any of his dearest Favourites, (no not the Holy Prophets or Penmen of his Word) to enter. And the reason is very plain. For that Discovery, who, (for certain) shall live and dye in Final Unbelief, (or in other words, who they are that will be Self-murderers) which is the true Cause and Ground of Gods Ʋnchangable and Irrevocable Decree for their Damnation,) would forthwith drive them into Final and Irrecoverable Desperation and Condemnation, and which is contrary to Gods Great End, in all his Severest Threatnings, (even in those Cases which seem most forlorn in Man's Eye,) the whole Scripture throughout all its parts, declaring that it is thereby, to raise them up to such an awakning sense of the exceeding great­ness of their danger, as thereby to provoke them to do their whole endeavour, and to continue therein to cry to God with great Impu­nity for Converting Grace, and to plead his Sacred Oath, who hath Sworn by himself. (As I live, saith the Lord, I delight not in the Death of a Sinner, but had rather he should live and not dye, Ezek. 33. 11.) And this most plainly appears yet farther, when we consider how unkind­ly God takes it from degenerated Judah and Jerusalem, that they con­cluded that their State was, such as was without hope, Jer. 2. 25. al­though the Prophet had just before told them their Sin was of a most deep dye, insomuch that much Nitre and Soap would not fetch it out, for that their Iniquity was marked before the Lord. (Jer. 2. 22.) nay and that their bruise was incurable, (Ch. 30. 12.) yet for all, there was Hope.

These things rightly apprehended, may not only be sufficient (if God please) to Silence and Shame those Two Presumptuous and [Page 20] most Confident Persons, (who call themselves The Witnesses, and who make it one chief Article of their Faith, (or Religion) to believe Eng­lands Immediate and Irrecoverable Destruction,) but likewise to confute that dangerous Muggletonian Heresie, and to condemn their horrid Impiety and Blasphemy, who pass their wicked Sentence of Irrevocable Damnation, on whom they please; so opposite to the End of Gods Se­verest Threatnings against the greatest Enemies of his Church, through­out the Scripture, making the Silly and Ignorant think They only, are Heavens Secretaries of State, and the Registers of Gods Ʋnalterable Decrees. These Considerations I hope, (through Gods Blessing) may Strengthen, Comfort and Establish many poor Self-condemning Christians, who un­der Hellish Suggestions and Temptations, do entertain very unworthy apprehensions of the Eternal, Infinite, Goodness, Mercy, Justice, Wis­dom, Truth and Love; [for God is Love, 1 John 4. 8.] And that we may rightly understand how his Irrevocable Decree for the Dam­nation of some, can consist with Vnlimited Goodness and Love, we are to consider that it is Grounded upon his Eternal Fore-knowledge of the wilful and final unbelief of all those from whom the most Just and Righ­teous Judge of all the Earth, (as Gen. 19.) is pleased for most wise reasons, (never to be understood by us in this World) to deny and withold Special Sanctifying Grace, whose Sovereign Will and Pleasure herein is not the Real or Physical Cause of their final Impenitency, or Damnation, but only the Antecedent to that Infallible Consequent, (as the withdrawment of the Sun is the Antecedent of Darkness) Jer. 2. 17. Hast thou not procured this unto thy self, v. 19. Thy own Iniquity shall Correct thee, Hos. 13. 9. O Israel thy Destruction is of thy self, but in me is thy help. Yet lest we mistake on the other hand, we are to know that Gods most Absolute and Sovereign Will, to deny Sanctifying Grace to some, which he gives to others, is the Causa sine qua non, (for without this Will, they had not perished,) but not the Physical or Na­tural Cause of their own Damnation, because it doth not Actually Com­pel or Influence, (no not that Debile part of Man's Free-will that yet remains since the Fall) unto any Sin; And this is that VVill of God to save some and pass by others, whom he pleaseth, of which the A­postle speaks in Rom. 9. 19, &c. which no Man ever did or ever can resist.

CONSIDERATION. II.
They to whom God was pleased to reveal most of his Secret Council throughout the Scripture, have been Men of extraordinary Holiness and Exemplary Pi­ety; such who were to do or suffer, beyond all, or most others, for the Testimony of the Word, or for the Name and Glory of God.

THIS is so clear, that it needs no words to confirm that where­in all Men are agreed; And perhaps our Two Witnesses might consider that the Ʋnbelieving Age we live in, would Question their Eminency for Sanctity, (coming only from their own Testimony of themselves,) and therefore may have endeavoured to persuade the World, that they have set themselves apart for Martyrs, speaking positively of their readiness to Sacrifice their Lives in the maintenance of this Article of their Christian Faith.

CONSIDERATION III.
As to the way and manner of Gods Discovery of Judg­ments, or Mercies, we find it various in Scripture, (viz. by Apparitions, Voices, Angels, Dreams, Vi­sions, &c.) But it is the Ʋnanimous Opinion of Di­vines, and other Solid and Ʋnderstanding Christians, that every of those ways are long since Ceased.

1. WHatever the Holy Prophets and Penmen of the Word speak in a way of Prediction, as it had immediate relation unto Judgments; yet what they foretold, was always most Congruous unto the Tenour of Gods Covenant; And here we might enlarge. But to be brief, we find throughout Sacred Writ, that the Conditions of the Covenant are these. 1st. Severe Chastisement in case of a long continu­ance [Page 22] and growth in Sin, and Obstinate Rebellion. 2d. Gods great­er readiness to return to be Gracious, (even in the greatest height and aggravations of their Sins, and under the, seeming, most Forlorn Circumstances) than we can be to Repent and turn to him; that so we all may be assur'd no State on this side Hell, with respect unto Gods severe Indignation threatned, is remediless, and wholly desperate. Now if our Two new Prophets are to be tryed by this Touchstone, we may easily per­ceive what Spirit moves them unto such Presumption, as to assure the World that our Nation (though God knows, a most wicked [...]nd Rebellious People) are past all Recovery; or that it is Impossible God can, or will give Repentance to us, [for so we are to conclude [...] Judgment is Immediately and Irresistibly to overtake us:] By what [...]pirit these Men are Acted, let all Judge.

2. The great End why God discovered himself by these Ways in his [...]acred Predictions, is now Ceased, and therefore all such ways of [...]iscovery since that time are Ceased, with respect to any matter of [...]ublick Prophecy, relating to a City or Kingdom. Now the great [...]nd of Sacred Visions in the days of Old were, 1st. To beget a Holy [...]we and Reverence in the Church towards those Persons, whom God Selected out from many, in and by whom to make an immedi­ [...]te discovery of his Mind and Will, not thereby to lift them up, (who were more humble, and more afflicted and less in their own and others Eyes than most good Men beside.) 2. That the Sacred Oracles of his VVord might be Sealed up thereby, both to that present Age, and to [...]ll future, even to the End of the World. But we are not to expect [...]nce the Evangelists and Apostles, any other Writings of the Immedi­ [...]te Inditement of the Holy Ghost, as all theirs were; And therefore to [...]tertain any Men as Prophets, raised up by his Immediate Inspiration, to [...]ublish any Predictions unto a City or Nation, of as Infallible Certainty as [...] written VVord, (and how much more then when the Matter [...]ey foretel is contrary to the Tenour of all Scripture Threatnings, [...]hich never excludes a Possibility of avoiding the Judgment by Repen­ [...]ce) is to offer high Indignity to God himself, and to his written [...]ord, and to all the Holy Prophets and Penmen thereof.

3. This written VVord, St. Peter makes to be a more sure and safe [...] for the Church to walk by, than that Voice of the Father which was [...]rd by him and Two more of Christs Disciples and Favourites, (James [...] John) at our Saviours Transfiguration on the Mount, although it [...] from the most excellent Glory, and confirmed the Truth which was [Page 23] Testified throughout the whole Scripture, and is one of the most importa [...] Articles of our Faith, (viz. that Christ was the Father's beloved Son, a [...]sent among us, that we should Hear him preaching to us, 2 Pet. 1. 1 [...] 18, 19. [But we have a more sure VVord of Prophecy, &c.] A famo [...] Text to assure us how eminently God hath honoured his written wor [...] Which confutes the pretended Authority of Rome's Tradition, and al [...] of any who would impose their Impulses and Impressions on the Worl [...] as if they were to be reverenced like the holy Scripture.

4. All that before hath been said, doth not gainsay but that God ma [...] discover several great things unto whom he pleaseth, and both ho [...] and when he sees best (and that also since the Scripture hath been th [...] sealed up) but then we must take these Co [...]siderations along with [...] 1. They are unto Men of Piety, and such whom he intends to mak [...] some way or other eminently instrumental for his Glory, &c. 2. An [...] of Modesty and Humility, who are not ambitious to expose themselv [...] as Prophets immediately sent by God. 3. And least of all do they spea [...] any thing for Publick Instruction, which doth contradict the whole [...]nor of the Scripture (of which before.) But These who call themselve [...] the Two VVitnesses, have not approved themselves to be immediatel [...] raised up by God, in any of the several respects aforesaid, nor yet [...] those which follow.

CONSIDERATION IV.
The Ratification of Sacred Predictions is of such a na [...]ture as carries its own self-Evidence, that they ca [...] be no other than from God, contrary to all pre [...]tended Revelations.

THE Confirmation of Sacred Predictions are to be con [...]sidered,

1. Affirmatively. And this,

Either as they have more immediate Relation to Private Persons o [...] Families, or to Publick Communitie: (as Cities and Nations:) As it con­cerns [Page 24] the first, so the Confirmation is of a more Private Considera­tion, as by particular Signs and Tokens; This also holds good in Pro­phecies of a more publick Nature, and are commonly granted for their sake whom the Prediction concerns (as a Revelation of the par­ticular Time, Place, Manner, Circumstances, with the Antecedents, Con­comitants and Consequences:) And this carries with it a Twofold Convi­ction, Natural and Moral; Natural, so far as these Circumstantials may, and have been sufficient to perswade Heathens and Infidels of the Transcendent Being, of a Supreme, Omniscient, Omnipotent God, the all­ [...]ise Fore-ordainer, Disposer and Predeterminer of all Events. Also of his Goodness, Wisdom and Love to his Creatures in his Government of them, [...]ccording to such Laws as establish his Praise and Glory, and his Crea­ [...]ures Felicity. A Moral Conviction also, so far as these Circumstan­ [...]ials have a great prevalency with those who profess their Subjection [...]ohis written Laws, to restrain them from further sin (the End of [...]ll) and to constrain them unto new Obedience, in order to avoid the Threatning, and obtain the promised Rewards. Or as they more [...]mmediately concern the Publick (as Cities, or Kingdoms, or Peo­ [...]le) so the Sacred Predictions are confirmed Two Ways. Either 1. By Renewed Appearances, or 2. By Signs and Miracles. The first runs much throughout the Scripture, and the reason is from God's [...]nfinite Goodness, endeavouring to fix man's serious Attention, and [...]o remove all grounds of diffidence: Also from infinite Mercy, Pati­ence and Long-suffering, who is never willing to strike before he warns [...]gain and again, to provoke to Repentance: And further also, for the greater Aggravation of the Sins of the wilfully obstinate; and hence [...]o many Prophets were sent to the Jews, (rising early and sitting up late) [...]nd so many Signs and Prodigies before their total Destruction. Or [...]. By Miracles, of which the Scripture is so full.

Now if we examin our Two Prophets, and try them by these things, [...] what particulars can we find them comporting with any of these [...]ings, which have Ratifyed the Sacred Predictions (and especi­ [...]y Threatnings of Desolation to a City or a whole Land) for Their [...]ry End seems contrary to God, in the Judgments he threatens; [...]o (to speak as a Man) is anxiously solicitous lest the wicked misun­ [...]rstand his Intention, and run away from him into final Desparation, [...] at large before.) But these Witnesses, on the contrary, labour to [...]ssess the World (who are otherwise apt to entertain too hard thoughts [...] God) that all his holy Attributes [yea his Love and Mercy) can­ [...]t have a more magnificent Exaltation and Triumph than in the [...]mediate and Irresistible Destruction of this Nation, or rather its Total [Page 25] Desolation [as their odd Phrase of Beginning and making an End at once, seems to import.]

As for Mr. Ward, he gives us no one collateral Sign or Token to con­vince any that he is sent of God, and raised up to be a Prophet, but toils hard to shew us after what manner he came to be Infallibly per­swaded into the good Opinion he hath of his Impulse, hoping that then we need no other Confirmation of the Doctrine (or Article of his Faith) but only his ipse dixit, whereas neither of them shew us any Antecedents, Concomitants or Circumstantials of Time, Place, or Manner when, where, or how they had this Revelation, &c.

But its worth our Consideration that Evans (the other Witness) will hardly own such an impulse as VVard avoucheth for him, honest­ly confessing he hath little or nothing more to say for the matter, than that he hath a firm Belief that VVard, (because he said so) had ob­tained this Article of his Faith by Divine Inspiration. If we follow him hence, we need not much question but he hath been taught to Be­lieve as the Church believes; and who can tell but Evans may in a little time slip his Neck out of the Collar, and leave Mr. VVard to witness alone; and then, Wo be to the Man that is alone! And touching Signs or Miracles, neither of them pretended thereunto.

2. Negatively.

God never, that yet I have observed, confirmed one Threatning touching the Ruin of any; Either,

1. By such an Absolute Oath as hath not in his own Breast the Condition of Reversing it upon the Sinners Repentance; nor doth his Oath hinder it, but serves rather to awake the guilty to a more serious Consideration of the great Danger they are in, and thereby to quicken up a speedy Conversion. One Standard Royal, or Sacred Test we have in Scripture whereby to understand Gods most positive Threatnings, and all such Comminations as seem to carry in them a most Absolute and Irrevo­cable Decree, and that is in Numb. 14. 21, 23. As truly as I live, sure­ly they shall not see the Land which I sware to their Fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. Which the Original both in the Old and New Testament renders Conditionally (if they see the Land) as we find in the Margin also observed, both in the fore-mentioned Text, and also in Psal. 95. 11. [ [...]V;nto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest] Agreeable to Heb. 3. 11. [ [...]] As much as to say, [Page 26] If they repent they may enter; for my Threatning (though confirmed with an Oath) doth not simply (in a Physical Sense) hinder them from repenting, and so from entring into the promised Land. The Jews account this Oath the most dreadful Ratification of their Doom in the whole Scripture, being denounced on that Day (as their Tradition is) for their Great Anniversary Fast, on the 10th of the 7th Month, or solemn Day of Attonement, Numb. 16. the only Fast in all their Year, and wherein the whole Congregation are strictly commanded to afflict their Souls, under the Penalty of being cut off, v. 29, 31. Here, by the way, observe, that most serious Fasting and Prayer, and Heart-Af­fliction and Contrition is God's Ordinance, by which to turn away even the severest Threatnings of his Wrath, most suitable to that Oath of God's in Ezek. 33. 11. As I live, saith the Lord, I delight not in the Death of any Sinner, but that they turn and live; Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die, O House of Israel?

2. Or, by that Seal or VVitness of the Holy Ghost in Believers, which testifies to all, more or less, that they are Justified by Faith, Adopted and Sanctified [called the [...], or full perswasion of Faith.

But Mr. VVard, (like a good Christian, shall we say?) hath Prosti­tuted his Faith and Hope in God, and all the Assurance of the Spirit's witness in him, and laid all at stake to maintain his strong Impression or Impulse, and tempts uncharitable Persons to think he hath no other Article of his Religion, or at least none that is more Sacred or Venerable in his Eye.

CONSIDERATION V.
The consequent Effects which the immediate Manife­station of God unto the Holy Prophets, (or Penmen of Scripture, or eminent Worthies of the Church) had upon themselves, were far differing from the ef­fects which seem to appear in our two late pretended Prophets.

MOre Generally we find in the Holy Men of Old,

1st. Humble and low thoughts of themselves, thus it was with Abraham that great Prophet, Gen 17. 3, 17, 18. Ch. 18. 3, 27. thus with Jacob, Chap. 28. 27. Chap. 33. 10. Moses, Exod. 3. 15. Gideon, Judg. 6. 15. Isaiah Ch. 6. 5.

2. Sweet, Courteous, Affable demeanour and Condescention to others: The Scriptures are full of this, particularly one Text for all, 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25. The Servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all Men, apt to teach, patient (or forbearing) In Meekness inctructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them Repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth, (so opposite to Persecution, or the Muggleto­nian way of Damning, &c. compared with Tit. 3. 2. Speak evil of no Man; be not brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all Men. And how unsuitable to this Doctrin, is the Spirit of these Two Men, so presumptuously asserting that Satan had Transform'd himself into an Angel of Light in Mr. Baxter, who then detected by what Spirit these pretended Prophets were moved; This Meekness which we are in the consideration of, (so opposite to proud, railing, brawling, and un­christian demeanour) is one of the excellent Fruits of the Spirit, (Gal. 5. 23.) a Temper so amiable, that the British Saxons resolved this should be their Touchstone to try that Doctrin which Austin the Monk came over with, from Pope Gregory, (called the Great) even then, when they could not Argue the Point with him.

More Particularly,

The most severe and positive Threatnings to the greatest Sinners have always tended to stir up the Holy Prophets and VVorthies of Old unto an extraordinary Wrestling, Mourning and Prayer for them: And this,

[Page 28] 1. Whether we consider them as denounced against Gods backsliden Church, we see it most conspicuous, viz. in Moses, when they had made and Worshipped their Golden Calf, Exod. 32. 10. Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and Censure them, (and Deut. 9. 14. adds, that I may blot out their Name from under Heaven;) and yet at that time when Immediate and Irrevocable Destruction seemed to attend that whole Nation, how Sweetly and Excellently doth Moses Intercede for them? And Gods Wrath was pacified. So at other times also, (Deut. 9. from verse 22. to the end, compared with Numb. 11. 10, 11.) Another Instance we have in Phineas, Numb. 25. 11. and in Samuel, 1 Sam. 12. 23. and in Jeremy chap 4. 19. chap. 9. [...], 10. Chap. 13 17. and in Isaiah, chap. 22. 4. and in Ezek. chap. 21. 6. and in Micah, chap. 1. 8. And God himself puts his backsliden Children (even them when lying under his severest and most posi­tive Threatnings) into the right way of preventing the desolation threatned, Jer. 4. 8. chap. 6. 26. chap. 7. 29.

2. Or whether considered as against the Grand Enemies of his Church; and here, N. B.

First, God puts them also into the right way of preventing their ruine Threatned, Isa. 13. 6. VVe would have healed Babylon, (what? Babylon, that cursed Nation, Sentenced to utter desolation! Yes this Baby­lon,) but she would not. Compare with Jer. 51. 9. Thus God stirs up Ni­nive to Repentance, Exhorting them to turn from their Violence, &c. Jonah 3. 2, 8. and Pharaoh also, even after that God had expresly told him he had raised him up to shew his wondrous Power, (or Justice) on him and his Kingdom, Exod. 9. 16. Compared with chap. 10. 3. A Text greatly to be Noted.

Secondly, God himself expresseth very enlarged Bowels towards these his Enemies, even then, when lying under his Severest Commi­natins. One great Instance take for all; Moab is threatned by Gods Oath to be made a Perpetual Desolation, (Zeph. 2. 9. yet his wonder­ful Bowels of Compassion yerned towards that great Enemy of his Church, Isaiah 15. 5. ch. 16. 9. Jer. 48. 31, 32, 36. Texts worthy to be Engraven in Letters of Gold and fixed in us.

Thirdly, God draws out the Prophets Heart to Mourn over them at the same time, when lying under his Severest Doom, that they may be taught how to mourn for their own Sins and Repent, and escape the Desolation threatned; thus for Tyre, Ezek. 27. 1, 31. for Egypt. Ezek. [...]2. 2, 18. and thus for Moab, Jer. 48. 20. (to Instance no more.)

[Page 29] NOW from the whole, it is not difficult for any considering Person to Conjecture by what Spirit Ward and Evans do Act in these re­spects, for they are far from stirring up themselves or others to Pray and Fast, and Wrestle for our poor sinful Land, (which they have thus un­mercifully Sentenced to unavoidable Destruction,) that they seem resolved to Pawn all the hopes and expectations they have of Salvation, (or all the Religion they have) as a certain Pledg, that God will not give Repentance to England, though they should seek it never so fer­vently; nay more, that his most Sacred Oath is gone forth, (without an If) that they may thereby Infallibly be assured God hath made an Irrevocable Decree for our Immediate Destruction. Now let any judge, Doth not these Mens Faith teach us all to cast our selves into a Hellish Plunge of Desperation, and thereby to become Seven-fold more the Children of the Devil than now we are? Doth not it teach flat Rebellion against God, and the whole Tenor of his VVord, who Commands us all to Trust in him at all Times, and to Pour out our Souls before him in the worst condition we can be in? Psal. 68. 8. And always to Pray and not faint, Luke 18. 1. compar'd with Job 35. 14. Judgment is before him, therefore trust thou in him, which Text is excellently explained Jer. 9. 24.

That Scripture in Ezek. 14. 14. may be Objected—Though Noah, Daniel or Job were in it, yet they should deliver but their own Souls. Answ. 1. We all know, God sometimes makes a plain discovery of a limited Period for his Mercy to a City or People with this Prov so, That if they Repent not in that time they shall be Destroyed. But where do any prove that this present Year is Englands last Period for continued Mercy? Conjectures are many, (perhaps) but we must not Build our Faith on Impressions or Impulses, and Idolize our own Apprehensions. Answ. 2. If we attentively consider the aforementioned Text, we may find how much we all lie under a Vulgar mistake, for that Scripture of­ten repeats it, that we might take a particular notice thereof, and not run into a dangerous Error. God there tells us plainly, (and no more that yet I learn) viz. That when he is so highly provoked with a Nation, as to Begin to bring his Desolating Judgments thereon, (or in the Scripture words, when his Decree hath begun to bring forth) it may sometimes so happen, [though it seems not to be a constant General and Infallible Rule, as in the Case of Phineas Intercession, when the Plague was begun, and other Instances] That he will not hear the Pray­ers of his greatest Favourites, but will proceed to destroy; And if not­withstanding that harder Text be Objected in Jer. 15. 1. It is as easily. [Page 30] Answer'd. For Jerusalems Destruction was thereby foretold in all the appearance of Irrevocable Judgment, and yet (as was before observ'd in the 4th. Note under the 1st. Consideration) notwithstanding all, if Zedekiah had gone forth to meet the King of Babylon's Princes, the City had certainly not been destroyed by the Babylonians.

Answ. 3. Our plain Rule is this, That none ought to conclude their con­dition, or the State of any Nation or People so desperate, as to be exempted from all hope of Mercy, or Salvation, no though God possibly Denounceth Destruction, and prefixeth a very speedy Time, or Day, without any Con­dition limited: As that Famous Instance in Ninive may serve once for all. There God had Twice declared it positively, that within Forty Days that City should be Destroyed, first to Jonah before his Storm, (Jonah▪ 1. 2. compared with ch. 3. 2.) and afterwards:

It may be Asked, whether, if Immediate Destruction should come up­on England, will not this plainly Evidence these Two Men were Di­vinely Inspired, and sent by God? Answ. This will no more prove they have the Spirit of Prophesy, and are immediately sent by God, than it proves that any Minister hath that Divine Gift in an Extraor­dinary manner, because he publisheth he Verily Believes, (or is fully persuaded some sudden Judgment is coming upon us,) and yet I make not this an Article of my Faith, and least of all, to believe we are in a Remediless Condition, (For with God all things shall be possible unto them that believe.) And how many Philonides are their amongst us, who need no Extraordinary Inspiration, to make them believe the same?

But to draw the Eyes of all Men upon them, as Extraordinary Prophets of God, raised up to denounce against England, a desolating Judgment Immediately and Irrevocably falling on us, is such a Secret, as if God intends to accomplish the same, yet perhaps he hath not revealed it to any Angel or Creature: And it is very evident, that se­veral great Evils are like to follow, if these Mens Impulses are taken for Oracular Truths. As 1st. their own Self-exaltation, Pride, Self- [...]onceit, as if the World must needs fix their Eyes in a singular man­ [...]er upon these Two Persons as the Two witnesses in the Revelation. They [...]re not Jealous of themselves (it seems,) how far Satan may become [...]ransform'd into the white Devil, and hold a Dominion in [...]eir Spirits. 2. It occasions Profane Men to deride Piety, and to [...]ontemn the Christian Religion, and the Seals of the Covenant, and to [...]ullifie and Ridicule that precious Faith of true Believers, by which [...]ey are Justified, Adopted, and Sanctified, and to think contemptibly of [Page 31] the Seal or Witness of the Spirit, by whose Infallible Light, Believers are (more or less) Divinely assured, that they are the Children of God. A more sure and safe Testimony, than all Visions and Revelations, than all Voices and Secret Impulses and Impressions. 3d. It serves ex­cellently for blowing up that Animosity, that still remains in a sort of Men amongst us, who so much desire, yea thirst after, and wait for Englands Calamity, and Imbrument in War, Blood and Confusion, and who will not want [...]absheka's fine-spun Argument to perpetrate their Mischief, as if they were sent out against our Land, to Exe­cute by Immediate Commission from GOD himself, his [...]revocable De­cree, (2 Kings 18. 25.)

Thus I have endeavoured to Answer yours, according to my Capaci­ty, and that strait of Time [...] was then in, when your Commands came to my knowledge. The Lord gives us all a right understanding of his Word, that we may not be tossed to and fro by every Wind of Do­ctrin, but Established in [...] and Holiness, and Comfort, and As­surance, with full perseverance unto the End, and that we may by this Divine Touchstone now presented before us, Try the Spirits of these and all such like Pretended Prophets, and Impostors, which are gone forth into the World, to deceive, (if possible) the Elect themselves, who shall all be kept by the mighty Power of God through Faith unto Sal­vation.

If real benefit may hereby redound to any single Person, (and more especially to Troubled Souls lying under a deep sense of their own Irrevocable Doom, &c.) I shall heartily bless God, who hath granted me my chiefest End in Publishing these few Leaves, and shall have cause to rejoyce, that no discouragements, (either from within my self, or from others &c.) have any longer detained this Epistle from your (genuine) Censure, tho [...]gh its prolixity may be sufficient Ground to ask your Pardon for so large a Trouble: But your Good­ness is such, as makes me depend upon the grant of this Request, who am,

Sir, Your Humble Serrvant to Command,

ERRATA.

PAge 5. line 15. dele whereon. p. 10. l. 24. for Prophet r. Proof. p. 11. l 15. dele that.

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