WARD Mayor,

UPon the motion of Sir John Lawrence, Kt. and Alderman, This Court doth desire Mr. Turner to print his Sermon, sometime since Preached at the Guildhall-Chappel before the Lord Mayor and Aldermen.

Wagstaffe.

TESTIMONIƲM JESƲ; Or, THE Demonstration of the Spirit, FOR The Confirmation of Christian Faith, and Conviction of all Infidelity. A SERMON Preached before the Right Honourable THE LORD MAYOR and ALDERMEN OF THE City of LONDON, AT THE GUILDHALL-CHAPPEL. By BRYAN TƲRNER, B. D. Rector of Sol­derne, Oxon, and Chaplain to the Right Ho­nourable, CHARLES, Earl of Carlisle.

LONDON, Printed by S. Roycroft for Walter Kettleby at the Bishops-Head in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1681.

REVEL. XIX. 10.

And I fell at his feet to worship him, and he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow Servant, and of thy Bre­thren, that have the Testimony of Jesus: Worship God,

For the Testimony of Jesus is the Spi­rit of Prophecy.

WHether St. John here was through Joy transported into too submiss a Reve­rence; or, he mistook the Person for Christ, (as the Angels telling him who he was, seems rather to insinuate,) is not needful to determine.

If transported into too submiss a Reverence, such as was usually ap­propriate to Divine Worship; then it reads us this Le­cture, That on the one hand, Bodily Adoration is within the list of Divine Worship, and necessarily due by the Commandment, Worship God: and on the other hand, to transfer it to Saints or Angels is Sacrilegious and Ido­latrous, See thou do it not. Now what bodily gestures are appropriate to Divine Worship, must not be mea­sured [Page 2] from the gestures themselves, (for one may fall at the feet of their Superiour without a crime, as Abigail did to David,) but from the circumstances of Custo­mary 1 Sam 25. 24. time, place, and matter in hand; as when they are tendred upon an Holy-day, in a Temple or Oratory, and when Religion, Prayer, and Devotion, is the matter pre­tended.

But if the Crime the Apostle was here incurring, was through mistake of the person, thinking him to be Christ; Then it us reads this Lecture, That bodily adoration in­tended Right, but mistaken in the object is yet peccant against the Commandment of Worship. And both these would affright a considerative mind at the peril of Ido­latry in the Church of Rome, where, if the Host be not mistaken, the Sense of Mankind must; and if all the Canoniz'd Saints be truly what they are esteemed, yet doubtless no better than the Angel in the Text. Neither will the distinction of [...] and [...] salve the Crime ob­jected in this latter case, seeing there was no room for it in this of the Apostle and the Angel here.

For why could not this Angel have applied the distin­ction to salve the breach of the Commandment, as well as the Angelical Doctor can? But that when the Circum­stances speak Religion, there is indeed no distinction at all. But 'tis the importance of the last words I design to consider, For the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. Which words are a reason, why the Angel was the A­postles fellow Servant, &c. For whosoever by the Spirit of Prophecy revealed the Divine will, was concerned in the common Testimony of Jesus; because all Prophecy (truly so called) had Jesus and his Interests for its grand Subject; therefore whosoever was employed therein, [Page 3] whether Angel to Man, or one Man to another; whe­ther before or after the exhibition of Jesus, were (as to that employment) fellow Servants, and had the Testi­mony of Jesus: though subpaena'd to it, as Balaam was, by that Power that could give the man the Spirit of Pro­phecy, as well as his Ass the Gift of Speaking. And so Numb. 24. 2. &c. much may serve to account for the words, as they are a reason why the Angel was the Apostle's fellow Servant, and of Brethren. I shall now consider them as a distinct proposition; The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy; which in logical order is to be placed thus, The Spirit of Prophecy is the Testimony of Jesus.

Not discussing the variety either the word Prophecy After Christ's Exhibition, the Prophetical light shone clearer, even to discover the obscurity of its own former shades: so that in this illustration of the former ancient Prophets, did the latter Spirit of Prophecy very much consist; and hence in Apostolical days to Prophecy, is to explain the intended or Evangelical meaning of the Old Testament. 1 Cor. 14. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 13, 19, &c. hence the phrase, Liberty of Prophecying, &c. or Testimony may admit in their significations elsewhere, I shall take them here (as I judge they ought to be) in their most obvious and primary sense.

A Testimony is a declarative proof to make good his cause for whom it is produc'd.

Prophecy most properly implies two things; First, Re­velation of the Divine will or mind; and, Secondly, Prediction; which latter is annex'd to the former, as a sign or rational evidence of the Truth and Divinity of the Revelation: For God offers no Revelation to Man­kind, but upon grounds of rational satisfaction that it is from himself, i. e. under some convictive Characters of Divinity and Truth.

Now Prediction is this Character annex'd to the Re­velation as a Seal for humane Satisfaction, that 'tis Di­vine, or from God himself. This being a presumptive Rule with Humane Nature, That what Gody saies is [Page 4] indubitably true, and what he commands ought instantly to be obeyed: (And 'tis upon these grounds of Natures allowance that all divine Revelation is founded;) But that which convictively proves the Word or Revelation to be Divine, is the determinate prediction of things fu­ture not necessary in their causes.

Thus, that Pharaoh should let Israel go, was the Re­velation; Exod. 7. 16, 17, 18, &c. and that Moses would at such a time work such a Wonder, was the Prediction, i. e. the Sign given to prove the Revelation from God. Therefore his Wonders 1 Kin. 22. 25, 28. 1 Sam. 10. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7. are called Signs; not only because Wonders or Mira­cles (for all Prophetical Signs were not so,) but because presignified; and therein, when fulfilled, Significators of Divinity in the Revelation.

Seeing then, that the Revelation (which I conceive is alwaies a Precept or Prohibition, with Promises or Threatnings annext) in its acceptance with men depends upon Prediction, as the Commission doth upon the Seal. The Spirit of Prophecy, is most properly the Spirit of Prediction; or that Spirit which can confirm the Re­velation by foretelling Futurities of a contingent nature, i. e. things only within the sphere of Omniscience. For I judge the weight of this Text lies here, and not in the abstract notion of Revelation, as the late Tract upon it seems to apprehend.

And this being premised for the sense I take the words in, every word in the Proposition seems pregnant with a peculiar Observation, which I shall offer you in these Three Particulars.

First, The Spirit of Prophecy is the Testimony of Je­sus, i. e. his, and none beside.

Secondly, 'Tis not the Person employed, Man or An­gel, upon whom the validity of this Testimony depends; but 'tis, The Spirit of Prophecy.

Thirdly, That primarily and above all others, the Spirit of Prophecy is, The Testimony.

This last, because little considered by any, that I have seen, or not so much as the Argument in my apprehen­sion deserves, is that I mainly intend; and therefore without occurring to all the Objections I foresee in the two former, I shall dispatch them briefly.

First, The Spirit of Prophecy is the Testimony of Je­sus: so peculiarly his, that it never was produced to abet any cause or interest, but his, and what related to it.

The first time the Spirit of Prophecy appeared in the World, was in the concerns of Jesus; to foretel his com­ing, and his undertakings. The Seed of the Woman shall break the Serpents head, Gen. 3. 15.

'Tis true, the Divine Spirit before reduc'd the Crea­tion into order, when it moved, or brooded upon the Gen. 1. 2. face of the Waters, and as that word imports, hatch'd the World into a lively form; but this it did as a Spirit of Power, not as a Spirit of Prophecy.

When it exerted it self as a Spirit of Prophecy, from first to last it treated solely of Jesus and his Interests, such as were either antecedently, concomitantly, or con­sequently relating to his exhibition and undertakings: as all things relating to his Church in all Ages, or its Ene­mies, were; as in Egypts case, the Nations, the four Monarchies.

Whether this Spirit stept abroad into the Heathen World; as in the Baalamitick, and Sybilline; or it con­fin'd it self, as generally, to the Patriarchal and Israe­litish part, as in the Prophetical Oracles; its chief Er­rand was, to give Testimony to Jesus, and mentioned other matters (as Cyrus, the Nations, the four Monar­chies) for the connexions sake of him and his Church?

The grand Objection that I here foresee, is that of the Heathen Divinations, in matters where Jesus or his Interests were unconcerned; but sure, would the limits of this Discourse permit, they might all be shewed to fall much short of the Spirit of Prophecy. For,

First, Premonitions by Dreams, either in the first Ages or our own, (which I will not absolutely reject,) I e­steem no other, than the Preventive acts of a gracious Providence; the like to which may by wise men be ob­served in other various Instances of common life, which naturally awaken the Mind to caution and reflection; but will not amount to the Spirit of Prophecy: or else, if ever they arose to the dignity of that title, it will be found they were in order to the Testimony of Jesus; as Abimelechs might be shewed to be: for I can never Gen. 20. think that any other causes, besides what related to him, (as Sarahs did) should be vouchsafed the honour of so divine a Testimony. Isai. 41. 21, &c. Chap. 43. 9. and Chap. 44. 7. 24, &c.

Secondly, Humane prudence may conjecture, and some­times hit it; it cannot certainly foretel future Contin­gencies without this Spirit.

Thirdly, Angelical Sagacity may with great proba­bility foresee Contingencies near at hand; when once conceived, and animated in the womb of Second causes; (as the issue of a Battel, or a cause depending;) but this presaging faculty of Angels, whether good or bad, is ever defective in two properties requisite to the Spirit of Prophecy. First, In the certainty of their foresight. Secondly, In the distance of the things fore-seen. For defect in Certainty, the most renowned Heathen Oracles were generally ambiguous, thereby to salve their Repu­tation, be the event what it would. And for defect in Distance they were seldom I think, or never consulted, but about the success of a Actions already on the Wheel, [Page 7] or prepared for: And I suppose these two Considerations may help us to account for all the arts of Heathen Divi­nation; for why might not a prudent man, that under­stood the temper and interest of both Armies have satis­fied young Pompey the night before the Pharsalian field, as well as the Witch of Thessaly by her familiar Daemon? Lucan. lib. 6. especially if acquainted with Daniel's Prophecy (as no doubt the Devils were) concerning the Fourth Monarchy, which now call'd for its proper head in Caesar, and was inconsistent longer under Pompey's Cause, i. e. the Se­nates.

Fourthly, How far soever into the future the Contri­vances of Men or Angels may succeed without this Spi­rit of Prophecy, yet in all such matters two things are observable: First, That the last results of such plots and contrivances, proved ever something beside, if not con­trary, to the grand intendment of the Projector: of which instances in all politick Gests recorded, are innu­merable. Secondly, The most projecting Politician, ab­stracting from this Spirit, ever found some link in the Chain of his Contrivances broken; which he was forced to piece up anew, as the circumstances of his affairs would permit.

And to let all men see, that only the All-seeing Coun­cels of God shall stand, all other Consults even at their height have fallen, as in the Four Monarchies; whereof the best account that can be given is, that the utmost created Foresight is short and defectible, and therefore the best laid Projects subject to defeat.

Whereas the unerring Spirit of Prophecy, is both cer­tain, and extended to the most distant futurity: so that it has determinately foretold (ex. gr.) the rise and fall of the Four Monarchies, that so it might make For the Communicati­on the World enjoyed by being under one Monarchy, did extreamly facilitate the Gospels pro­pagation; and being foretold to be in the Fourth Monarchy, did in all reason oblige it to [...] submission, as to the Ordinance of Heaven. way for Jesus and his everlasting Kingdom.

Lastly, (what looks with the face of the most difficult Objection,) the Oracles and Divinations of the Heathen; (for I shall say nothing of our Astrological vanity,) were apparently acted by the Sophistry of evil, Men or Angels, and were as far below the Spirit of Prophecy, as Lieger­du-main is of working of Miracles.

And that the Prince of Devils, though so ambitious to be like God, could never reach the Spirit of Prophecy, this to me is a demonstration, viz. That in the daies of his celebrated Oracles (when it was properest,) he has not foretold the coming of some suc­cessful Antichristian Power (as The boldest attempt in a determinate Pre­diction that I remember amongst the Hea­thens, is that mentioned by St. Austin, de Ci­vit. lib 18. cap. 53. Excogitaverunt nescio quos versus Graecos, tanquam consulenti, cuidam di­vino Oraculo effusos, ut Coleretur Christi nomen per 365 annos; deinde completo memorato nu­mero annorum, sine morâ sumeret finem. This, as he in the next Chapter computes, should have been fulfilled in the Consulship of Ho­norius and Eutychianus. Whether it was Ora­culum daemonum aut figmentum hominum, he assures us not. To me it seems grounded on some Opinions of the Primitive Christi­ans, concerning Antichrist's appearance; but how miserably it fail'd, St. Austin observes, that in the very year Gaudentius and Jovius overthrew the Temples of the Heathen gods in Cartage; Et plurimi Christiani facti qui tanquam verâ illâ Divinatione revocabantur à fide, postquam eam completo eodem annorum nu­mero inanem irridendamque viderunt. De Ci­vit. lib. 18. cap. 54. the Papal or Mahometan) under the Character of a divine Institu­tion. For certainly this he would have done, had not the ability of his own Spirit fail'd him, both as to the certainty and distance of such a contingency; because nothing imaginable could have bruised the heel of the Womans Seed so dan­gerously, confirmed Gentile Idola­try, and staggar'd the Faith of Mankind so effectually as this; by confronting a testimony for Anti­christ out of the Heathen Oracles, as good as that for Christ out of the Old Testament Prophecies. And therefore all that the Serpent can do in this matter is, to play the after-game as subtilly as may be, and inspire Mahomet when he finds him En­thusiastick and amongst a People fit for delusion, and so to club to perfect the Imposture: or else, to transform himself into an Angel of Light; (the only way to mis­chief the Christian Church) as the Bishop of Rome doth [Page 9] himself into the Catholick, or a Jesuit himself, into a Chri­stian; or a Quaker himself into a man of Perfection.

And because I may not scan every objected Instance in Heathen Divination, I shall in general only say, that who so affirms any other than the Divine, can be the Spirit of Prophecy, seems to suffrage with them that blasphemed against him; in leaving no distinctive Cha­racter to discern the Holy Spirit by, and so may ascribe to Beelzebub what is the Divine Spirit's prerogative: And I call this of Prediction the Divine Spirit's prero­gative, because God in the Prophet puts all other Divi­ners upon this Test. Isa. 41. 21, &c. Produce your cause, saith the Lord, Bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us See Isa. 47. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. what shall happen; let them shew the former things what they be, that we may consider 'em, and know the latter end of them, or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.

Allowing then, that the sphere of Jesus's Interests, is as large as the concerns of his Churches in all Ages; the Prophecies of Enoch, Noah, Jacob, and Others, before his Incarnation; or of Agabus, St. John, and Others after it, make no Objection against this Truth, That the Spirit of Prophecy is the Testimony of Jesus, and nones else: so that no cause distinct or opposite to his can produce it; all divine Revelation centring in him; to which give all the Act. 10. 43. Prophets witness: 'tis theresore called the Spirit of Christ in the Prophets, 1 Pet. 1. 11. and 'tis observable, when this Divine Spirit was to convince the World of Sin for not believing; it silenc'd all the Oracles in the World both true and false, I mean both Jewish and Heathen, Act, 16. 16, 17. 19. 16, 19. which might be made use of in opposition to the Gospel. And that's my first Observation, 'Tis the Testimony of Jesus, i. e. peculiarly, and nones else.

Secondly, 'Tis not the Person employed, Man or An­gel, on whom the validity of this Testimony depends: but 'tis The Spirit of Prophecy: not only as revealing God's mind; but as predicting to confirm the Revelation; i. e. 'tis the Testimony of Omniscient Veracity, or of the prime Verity; for nothing can furnish out the Spirit of Prophecy, but a Science, and Truth that is indefectible and infinite. (For the account of certainty in the Divine Prescience, as to Contingencies, and the products of Li­berty, must not be resolv'd into the Decree, as if God certainly foreknew this would be the product of Liberty therefore, because he decreed it, for the Decree makes all Contingencies equally possible, unless we introduce Fata­lity. But the certainty of Prescience must be resolved solely into the Infinity of Science. There is no searching of his understanding. Isa. 40. 28.)

So then, whether it be Man or Angel that's acted by the Spirit of Prophecy; whether Moses or Balaam, Simeon or Caiphas, it matters not! (contrary to Maimonides's Rules about Qualifications,) the Testimony is the Spirits of Prophecy, the attestation to the Revelation is made by the Prime Verity, and the force lies in the presum­ptive truth of Nature's concession. What God says is true, or as St. John expresses it, If we receive the wit­ness of men, the witness of God is greater. 1 Joh. 5. 9.

For all things in the World are true, or false, as they have, or want the Testimony of the Thus the Sun evidenceth it self by its own light; and all other things visible, by that illustration of Light it lends them, either transiently as to the Air, or permanently as to some Pre­cious Stones, &c. Prime Verity; whe­ther that Verity record its Testimony in the settled Laws and Volumes of Nature; upon which the study of Phi­losophy and all Secular knowledge depends: or in the prescripts of Revelation, called for distinctions sake Su­pernatural knowledge, i. e. therefore this or that Know­ledge is true in the nature of things, because their causes and effects are apprehended as the first Cause, and the Divine Truth did constitute them. And so in Revelation: [Page 11] this or that created Knowledge and Judgment is true, or false, which apprehends it according to the word and meaning of the first Revealer, or otherwise.

We see this in Humane affairs, where the grand deci­sion of Truth depends entirely upon an Oath; and there­fore upon an Oath, because an Oath is the attestation, or appeal to the Prime Verity; which Testimony upon Oath being ever esteemed most Sacred (till the Licen­tious and Atheistical prophaneness of our Swearing Age essayed to unhallow, and make it common,) Therefore it must follow, That whatever is attested by the Prime Ve­rity itself, is true without any other, or against any o­ther contrary Evidence, (and 'tis this that renders the Faith of Christian Mysteries reasonable.) Now the De­clarations or Revelations of the Spirit of Prophecy, Self­evidently appear to proceed from the Prime Verity, be­cause no knowledge but the Divine and Infinite, can reach the Spirit of Prophecy, i. e. can confirm Revela­tion, by certain Prediction.

And if I mistake not, this wounds the Leviathan, who has taken his pastime in these waters of the Sanctuary, and may shew him that Divine Faith may, and ought to be resolved into Divine Truth, that so its certainty might be stedfast, as any knowledge in the World; for who­soever may minister to this Faith, its relyance must be upon Divinity itself: and happy were it, would men consider the grounds of their Faith, that they might with the Apostle amidst all the oppositions of the World stand firm, with a Nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I 2 Tim. 1. 12. know whom I have believed.

And that Mankind might have rational and satisfacto­ry grounds for Faith in Jesus. The Divine Spirit which ever gave Testimony to him, exerted it self both as a Spirit of Omnipotency (in Miracles,) and of Omnisci­ence (in Prophecy,) to the end Men might believe the [Page 12] great concerns of Revelation, upon the demonstrative grounds of Divine perfection.

This I take to be St. Paul's meaning, when he says, My preaching was not with enticing words of man's 1 Cor 2. v. 4, wisdom, but in Demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, i. e. of Miracles wrought by the Spirit of Omni­potency, and of Demonstrative conviction out of the Prophets, who appear to have been acted by the Spirit of Omniscience and Truth itself, by the Events answer­ing their Predictions: That your Faith (saies he) should Verse 5. not stand in the wisdom of men, (either the Authority of the Civil State, with the Leviathan; or strong Proba­bility, with Others:) but in the Power of God, i. e. in [...], v. 4. the Divinity itself; which, when it gives Testimony, Natural light unquestionably concludes it true.

And if it be demanded, which way the Apostle made his Demonstrations in the Spirit, I suppose he tells us, v. 13. We speak not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth (i. e. according to the studied Rules of Arts now in Greece,) but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, Com­paring spiritual things with spiritual, (i. e. comparing the Doctrine and Transactions of the New Testament with the Prophecies of the Old:) and hereby the Faith of Jesus is Demonstrated to be Divine, because attested by the Spirit of Prophecy, for in the 9th verse he had quoted the Prophet Isaiah; and so in all his preaching (as Acts 17. 2, 3. and for studying this Demonstration, or comparing the New Testament with the Old, the Bere­ans are so much commended, v. 11.) and nothing is plainer, than that all the Evangelists, and Apostles, and even Christ himself did thus argue or convince out of the Old Testament Prophets: The force therefore of the Testimony depends solely upon the Spirit of Prophecy: or that 'tis the Testimony of the Prime and Omniscient Verity.

I must not stay to clear my hand of the Tractatus Theologico-politicus, who has resolv'd the Spirit of Pro­phecy, not as St. Peter did, into being Moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet, 1. 21. but into the Crasis of the Imaginative faculty; that so you may know him the First-born of the Leviathan, and by their Hypotheses, whose Scholars Tract. p. 7, &c. both were, even his who resolv'd the Creation of the Universe into the fortuitous concurs of Atoms.

Neither may I reflect upon that Moral Probability, which some seem to think a sufficient foundation for Faith, further than to say, That matters reveal'd and confirm'd by the Spirit of Prophecy, are, and ought to be (so far as reveal'd) as certain Truths, as any Demon­strations in the World besides. I fear not after St. Paul to say, that matters of a Moral and Spiritual nature may be demonstrated: taking Demonstration not in the con­fin'd signification which the School of Heathen Philoso­phy affixt to it; but in the reality of the thing, and with respect to the end for which Demonstration serves, viz. a Proof that creates a knowledge certain and indubitable; and this the Spirit of Prophecy, not as revealing, but as confirming Revelation by Prediction, doth. Which brings me to the Third and chief design'd Particular.

Thirdly, That of all other Testimonies of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy is The Testimony. My meaning is,

There is no such standing, satisfactory, and demon­strative proof of the Divinity of JESƲS's Transacti­ons, Faith and Doctrine, as the Spirit of Prophecy is.

There are indeed many other Testimonies of Jesus, better than most, or any other cause beside his, can pro­duce.

First, The Testimony of Angels, both good and bad! the good in obsequious attendancies upon his Birth, his Luke 2. 13. 22. 43, &c. Agonies, his Resurrection, and Ascension. The bad, in [Page 14] flying Fears, concluding, at least strongly suspecting, by Luke 8. 28. Mark 1. 24. the Predictions of the Old Prophets, who it was they now had to deal with in Humane Nature; even the Holy One of God, or the Seed promised to break the Ser­pent's head.

Secondly, The Testimony of Men, both his Friends, and Enemies. His Friends extol, adore him, die for him: his Enemies of all sorts confess him an extraordinary Person, though a deceiver: as Celsus, Jalian, Mahomed, the Jew, the Philosopher, the Apostate, the Impostor, the Infidel: Mahomed is kindest of all the rest, for he will allow him to be his Pew-fellow in Prophecy, upon con­dition he may but sit above him. Nay,

Thirdly, There are more venerable Witnesses, than either Angels or Men, I mean those Three in Heaven, 1 Joh. 5. 7, 8. and those Three on Earth; where, though the Divine Spirit make One in either Three, yet (which I wonder is no more observed and insisted on) the Spirit as 'tis in this sence explain'd, The Spirit of Prophecy, is (however to my apprehension) The Testimony.

Not in preference to the Others consider'd in them­selves, but consider'd with reference to Mankind, who are to be Judges of their Evidence; and whose Judging faculties are more susceptive of satisfaction from the Spi­rit, as a Spirit of Prophecy, or infinite Science in truth; than from the same Spirit in any other way of Evidence: the reason of which I conceive to be this, That the con­victions of the Spirit in the way of Prophecy, or in the display of Omniscience, is more directly accommodate to humane Intellect, our faculty of Science, than any other operation of the Spirit is. For the strongest tendencies of Intellect are to the Science of Truth; and therefore acts of Omniscient Truth, are more accommodate to Hu­mane understanding, than acts of Power, Wisdom being that it is more delighted in, than Strength.

If any Revelation be from God, by the foresaid Rule of Natural knowledge, it ought to be accepted and sub­mitted to. But whether that which pretends Revelation, be from God, or no; is the only Question.

Now the Argument from Miracles is prest by all, this of Prediction by few or none; but without depreciating the former, I must confess ever since I consider'd it, the latter is weightier and more convictive with me: for I am more fully satisfied, That the whole Series of Scrip­tural Revelation is Divine, because I find all along, the Spirit of Prediction interwoven; than because I read such and such Miracles done. For I find the Alcharon pretending Miracles, but not daring to pretend Predi­ction. So that of all the innate Characters of Divinity pretended to in any written Law, this of Prediction is peculiar to the Scriptures.

This therefore is the Proposition I shall insist up­on;

That the Spirit of Prophecy, not as revealing God's mind only (for that's the Question,) but as predicting to confirm what is revealed, is primarily The Testimony.

The Reasons I shall at present offer are these Two.

First, Because this Spirit of Prophecy is that Tally cannot be counterfeited, but may easily be discovered by certain Rules of tryal.

Secondly, Because all Ages are equally under its con­viction, which they are not as to any other Testimony abstracting from this; nay, succeeding Ages have the ad­vantage in this, and may rely upon it as that which gives credit to all the rest.

First, Because the Spirit of Prophecy is that Tally cannot be counterfeited, but may easily be discovered; and therefore God gave it to the World to prevent delu­sion in matters of Revelation.

The intentions of his Mercy to recover Mankind from the Fall, God held forth the faith and hope of, to Adam and all his Posterity, in the Promise of a Seed that should break the Serpent's head, i. e. in the Gospel style, should Gen. 3. 15. 1 Joh. 3. 8. destroy the works of the Devil.

But lest the subtil Serpent should set up one of his own party, under the specious pretences of redeeming Mankind, when the conceal'd intention was to enslave them more, God did by the Spirit of Prophecy in seve­ral Ages so individualize that Redeemer, so precisely foretel his Time, so notifie all his Transactions, that in common reason he might be known from all others; and this want of reason is that our Saviour wonders at in the Pharisees, who sought a Sign of him! Ye can discern the Matt. 16. 1. face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times? i. e. that these are the Times of your expected Messiah, presignified by the Spirit of Prophecy in the Old Testament? and that ye need no Sign from me to prove it, but the correspondency of my time and actions to their Predictions.

That the Spirit of Prophecy had thus characteriz'd the Person, the Time, the Actions, and Sufferings of the Messiah; that this Jesus of Nazareth must needs be him of whom Moses and the Prophets did write, Joh. 1. 45. I shall not go about to clear! In this I refer to the E­vangelists, especially St. Matthew, who still appeals, As Matt. 18. 17. and else­where. even in Christ's Miracles, to what was written in the Prophets.

Taking then this for granted; I say, that this Spirit of Prophecy was that Tally could not be counterfeited, given therefore by God to prevent delusion in matters pretending to Revelation, and so 'tis emphatically, The Testimony.

Not that a lying Spirit could not pretend a Divination, as well as a Revelation; but that it could not predict a [Page 17] future contingent Event, especially remote, so as to ad­venture on the tryal of Prophecy; and all Heathen Di­vination boggled here.

For 'tis as infallible a Rule, That none but the Divine Spirit can be the Spirit of Prophecy: as 'tis, That remote future contingencies can be clearly foreseen, and certainly foretold by none, but Omniscient Veracity.

And therefore setting aside the Works of Creation, which found Natural Religion; there's no effect that ar­gues an immediate Divinity for its cause so clearly, as the Prophetical Predictions do; because there are more easie and certain Rules of Tryal to discern which is the true Spirit of Prophecy, than any Divine operation after the creation of things.

For wonderful Works may be said to be the products of that energy, which the Creator at first enricht Nature with, and so a Quare absolutè concludimus, omnia quae in Scripturis Verè narrantur contigisse, ea secun­dum leges Naturae, ut omnia necessario conti­gisse. Et si quid reperiatur legibus Naturae re­pugnare, aut ex iis consequi non potuisse; planè credendum id à Sacrilegis hominibus sacris Literis adjectum esse. Tract. Theo. pol. c. 6. p 71. late Off-spring of the Levia­than affirms. But Prediction is Self-evidently an immediate issue from the Divinity, de novo; which if so, and prest home upon the Le­viathan and his First-born now mentioned, will shew them other grounds for Christian Faith, and Scriptures, than only the Authority of God's Leviath. cap. 36, 37. Lieutenants.

Now the Rules to try the Spirit of Prophecy by, as I take it, are but these Two.

First, That the thing pretended to be a Revelation from God, (which was alwaies an Injuction or Prohi­bition with their annexes) had no intrinsecal Evil in it, or necessarily derivative from it, peccant against the Laws of Morality, settled in the first Creation, (i. e. a­gainst Natural Religion, or a former Law reveal'd, and on good grounds accepted as Divine;) for God's Laws never contradict one another; neither is his Wisdom so short­sighted [Page 18] as to set up contrary Institutions of life: and therefore the Christian Law destroys not the Mosaical, but compleats its imperfections; I came not to destroy, but to fulfil, i. e. to fill up. This is the primary and grand Rule of Tryal: To which mens non-attendance, has at last debaucht all Religion, made it a wild and unaccount­able thing, and let in that Spirit of Giddiness, that ex­poses men to every wind of Doctrine.

The Second Rule of Tryal is this, That the Revela­tion pretending from God, and not peccant, as aforesaid, should be confirm'd with a Sign, i. e. Prediction fulfill'd.

These two Rules brought the whole Spirit of Prophe­cy under trial; let the Rabbies, and they that in this ad­mire them, multiply never so many, I apprehend not that the Scriptures have given us any more, or that rea­son requires them.

Only Two things are here to be observ'd: First, That in whatever matter it consisted, whether Miracle, or not; yet being a contingency, the formality of a Sign consisted in Prediction fulfill'd. Secondly, That the Rule of Tryal by Signs, was but Secondary, and subordinate to that of tryal by Natural Religion, i. e. a former Law, whether that of Creation or Revelation after, confirmed and accepted. And all this is plain from Deut. 18. and the 13th Chapters.

First, When a Prophet speaketh in the Name of the Chap. 18. 22. Lord, (i. e. pretends a Revelation,) if the thing follow not, nor come to pass; that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken. The defect of Prediction fulfill'd over­throws the pretences of Inspiration, or Revelation; which necessarily argues whatever the materiality of a Sign be, its Jer. 28. 9. Ezek. 33. 33. formality consists in Prediction fulfill'd: Though I allow 'twas often (but not alwaies) in a mat­ter or work miraculous, that what Omniscience had said, Omnipotence might back; and awaken the Understanding by the impressions on sense.

Secondly, If a Sign or Prediction should be fulfill'd, to promote Idolatry, or any thing destructive to Natural Religion, or a former Divine Law reveal'd, Thou shalt not hearken to the voice of that Prophet, for the Lord Deut. 13. 3, &c. your God proveth you. The meaning is, In matters of Immorality, the Case is not to be try'd by the Rule of Signs, but by the primary Rule, that of a former Law, whether in Creation, which we call Natural Religion, or in some well-grounded former Revelation, as this of Mo­ses's was in respect of all following Prophets; and so the Gospel in respect of all New light, &c.

For whatever has any intrinsecal Evil necessarily adhe­rent, or repugnant to a former Law surely believ'd to be Divine; whatever overthrows Humanity, the natural Notions of Good and Evil, Truth and Falshood; which is Natural Religion, or the Law of Creation, (upon whose bottoms all Supernatural stands,) let it pretend Catholi­cisme and Infallibility on the one hand, or Spiritual giftedness and Inspiration on the other, 'tis certainly, not Divine, but Diabolical, though strengthned with Signs and Wonders. And 'tis then men are given up to strong delusions to believe Lies, when through pretences of In­spiration they have not received the love of this Truth, but let go this grand and primary Rule of Tryal; for doubtless, were the pretences of new Revelations and In­spirations examin'd closely by this Rule, and observ'd how they overthrow Natural Religion, or the plain Ma­xims and Duties of Christians; it would discover the Impostures of Popery, Fanaticism, Mahometism, as well as Gentilism.

But what pretends to Prophetical Revelation, or to be God's Will; being not peccant against this first Rule; and is confirm'd with Signs, or Prediction fulfill'd; must be allowed to be Divine, as having the Seal of God annext, and no mark left to discern the counterfeit by; which is [Page 20] a case Omnipotent and Omniscient Truth is concern'd to Isai. 44. 25, &c. look to.

It will perhaps be demanded, if this be so. How could the several Ages of the World make Tryal of the Spirit of Prophecy in its Testimony to Jesus, seeing they liv'd not to see the predicted Signs fulfilled?

To which I Answer, They liv'd to see and know o­ther Signs or Predictions fulfill'd, which the same Spirit of Prophecy, in connexion to the Testimony of Jesus, had foretold; and that was sufficient. Ex. gr.

The Deluge was sign sufficient to Noah and all his Po­sterity till Abraham's daies: Isaak's Birth was so to A­braham, the Egyptian Bondage and Delivery precisely foretold to Abraham, was so to Jacob, and his Posterity, till Moses and the Prophets arose, and then there wanted none till Christ's time, as might be easily shew'd.

So that in every Age God submitted to Tryal that Spirit of Prophecy that gave Testimony to Jesus, by such Events or Predictions fulfill'd, as peculiarly concern'd the sight or experienc'd knowledge of those Ages: Nam quae melior & validior ratio de rebus talibus redditur, quàm cum Omnipotens ea fa­cere perhibetur, & Facturu; dicitur; quae praenunciasse Ibi legitur, Ubi alia multa prae­nuncia [...]it, quae Fecisse monstratu [...]? Aug de Civit. lib. 21. cap. 7. and from hence 'twas reasonable they should con­clude, That the same Spirit would not miscarry in its Testimony to Jesus, or the Messiah promised, and so particularly decipher'd. And this was the foundation of Patriarchal Religion, so far as 'twas Superna­tural, i. e. of their 1 Pet. 1. 10, 11, 12. [...], v. 10. [...], &c. v. 11. [...], &c. v. 12. where Prediction and Revelation are distin­guisht in the Spirit of Prophecy; for the Re­velation was, v. 12 in the things they mini­stred, (or the same Gospel to us and them, Heb. 4. 2.) the prediction was, in testifying beforehand, v. 11. [...]. Faith, as St. Paul calls it, Heb. 11.

From all which I hope I may conclude, that the Spirit of Pro­phecy in this sence, is THE Testi­mony of Jesus; as being that Tally could not be counter­feited (like the Roman Ancile by Mamurrius) without [Page 21] discovery by the easie Rules of Tryal: whereas to me all the other Testimonies without this seem liable to it.

And I am perswaded my freedom in saying so will not be esteemed impious by him, that considers St. Peter has said as much before me, who recognizing the Father's Voice, which he himself heard on the Holy Mountain, yet immediately subjoyns, We have also a more sure word 2 Pet. 1. 18. 19. of Prophecy; i. e. more sure than a Voice from Heaven.

For the question is not, which is surer in itself; the Fa­ther's Voice on Mount Tabor, or the Spirits of Prophecy in the Scripture? but, which is surer unto us in the way of our discerning? The one I conceive cannot be coun­terfeited without discovery, but may not the other? for a Voice in the Air from a good Angel has been heard, why then not from a bad one? We have no Rules of Tryal, that I know of, for the one; as I have shew'd we have for the other; therefore that other is surer to us.

And to evidence this further, 'tis observable, That the Father witnessing refers to the Son; hear him: and the Matt. 17. 5. Joh. 5. 39. Son witnessing refers to the Spirit of Prophecy; Search the Scriptures, [...], They are they that testifie of me; which is as much as I affirm from the [...] in the Text, the Spirit of Prophecy is eminently The Testimony.

So that of the Three that bear record in Heaven; to Ʋs, the Spirit of Prophecy is the Test of the others, as being that which cannot be counterfeited, but may be dis­covered by the easie Rules of Tryal.

And as for those Three on Earth, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, i. e. as they are generally interpreted, Christ's Miracles wrought by the Spirit of Power; his Holiness and Purity denoted by the Water; and his Con­stancy to death imply'd by the Blood: It may well be scrupled, whether they may not all be so far counterfeited, [Page 22] that without other Considerations, they may not alwaies by us be discerned, whether they attest a Divine Reve­lation, or Imposture.

For First, Holiness and Purity is a garb Hypocrites may put on so artificially, that it may not be in our power to detect it.

Secondly, Constancy to death, is but what a strong de­lusion may animate a man to; if it be but of the right Roman temper, and Jesuitical mettal; which the In­stances of our Age surely have evinc'd.

Thirdly, The Spirit of Power, i. e. Miracles, though I grant a divine Testimony in itself, yet may not alwaies be so to us; because not subjected to such easie Rules of Tryal, as the Spirit of Prophecy is. For how far sensible Nature may be under the power of Art, or the Agency of evil Spirits; who is so skilful as to determine, the most that may be, and the least that is? So that a Beholder may be at a loss, betwixt a true Miracle, and a lying Won­der, and not know who to believe, Moses, or the Magi­cians, till one Party quits the field, and confess the Finger of God.

I am sensible, the Common Opinion presses me most with this Objection, as if my Doctrine evacuated the conviction of our Saviour's Miracles, and patroniz'd the Jews Infidelity, in not believing for the Works sake.

But, as has been observ'd by a Judicious Man, this is a Dr. Jackson. mistake, for the Jews had a certain Rule of Tryal, where­by to discern that the Works of Jesus were wrought in God, and not in Beelzebub; and that Rule was no other than the Spirit of Prophecy, which (like the Light) as it Self-evidently manifests its own Divinity; so by its Il­lustration it manifests other things: which Spirit of Pro­phecy in the Old Testament (those Oracles committed to the Jews) had foretold that the Messiah, so born, so Rom. 3. 2. qualified, so circumstantiated as Jesus, and none other [Page 23] ever was, should do these particular Works of wonder. So that the Miracles of Christ were to them truly Signs, and therefore convictive; not solely because Divine ope­rations, (for that was the question,) but because they were Contingencies determinately foretold.

And this is plain from our Saviour's Answer to the Pharisees, requiring a Sign, Matt. 16. 3. Can ye not discern the signs of the times? or as St. Luke, This time, Chap. 12. 56. where in St. Luke Christ adds, as awa­kening their Common reason; Yea, why do you not of your selves judge what is right? which argues that they had a Rule to judge by, i. e. why do ye not of your selves, without my granting your request of a Sign; judge out of the Prophets that I am the Messiah? The works that I do in my Father's Name-bear witness of John 5. 36. me, i. e. who I am. Why, how? the Answer Christ made to John the Baptist Disciples, Matt. 11. 4. resolves it, Go tell John what ye see and hear, the blind see, the lame walk, &c. i. e. Go tell him that Isaiah's Prophecy you see is ALL Christ's Miracles were Signs to the Jews, because presignified by the Prophets whom the Jews believed; and in the Oeco­nomy of Grace, the Messiah was therefore sent to that People first, who had the Re­cords of the Spirit of Prophecy; I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel: Why? Mankind had as much interest in him as they; but the most satisfactory, convictive way of propagating his Faith to Mankind, was from them; which is the reason it was to be preach'd to all Nations, Beginning from Jerusalem, Luke 24. 46. fulfilled by me, Isai. 35. 6. and 61. 1. and then let him and you consider, who I am. Where Christ to that grand Question, which was the Pharisees as well as John's, in an­swer produceth the Testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy; and here­by he proved his works to be Di­vine, or that he was sent by the Father, as he himself speaks; and then I allow most unquestionable and demonstrative Convictions. And why was not this that which aggran­diz'd their Sin into blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, Matt. 12.? that they wilfully withstood the Convictions, not only of the Spirit of Power, but of Prophecy too, [Page 24] of which latter, they were such competent Judges, what­ever they were of the former.

Nay, 'tis further observable in this matter, that after Jesus had prest the Jews with the two first Witnesses in Heaven, viz. the Father's Voice and the Son's Miracles. Joh. 5. 36, 37. he finally laies the stress of his Convictions on the Writings of the Prophets; Had ye believed Mo­ses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me, i. e. Joh. 5. 46, the grand Witness I appeal to at the bar of mens Judg­ment, is the Spirit of Prophecy in the written Records, Search the Scriptures: and all this to prove what Christ v. 39, had said, v. 30. that the Father sent him. Where, after all the other Testimonies produc'd, he finally relies upon the Spirit of Prophecy; But if ye believe not his wri­tings, how shall ye believe my words: where Jesus him­self v. 47. plainly acknowledgeth, That in humane Judgment the test both of his Words and Works, and all his Pre­tensions of Divine mission (mentioned v. 30, &c.) was the Spirit of Prophecy as predicting.

So that I see not but we may conclude without any derogation, That Christ's Miracles receiv'd the force of their conviction from the Spirit of Prophecy, not of Power only: and so the Apostles Miracles did too; for as Christ's Miracles were determinately foretold by Mo­ses and the Prophets, so the Apostles Miracles were by Christ. Both were Signs, i. e. foretold Christ's Works in all the Old Testament; the Apostles, Mark 16. 17. These Signs shall follow them; and elsewhere.

And this was the Gospels Confirmation, God bearing them witness both with Signs and Wonders, and divers Heb. 2. 3, 4. Miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost: The first of Signs, convictive, as being the Testimony of Omniscient Verity; the second of Miracles, awakening the Senses (and there­by the Understanding) to consider that Conviction, as the force of Omnipotence most effectually in this dull [Page 25] state can: the last, of Gifts, as qualifying the Gospels Ministers to so difficult an employment.

Lastly, After all their Miracles, both Jesus, and his Apostles back their Doctrine with this Testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy, and hang the weight of their Con­victions thereon; This is that which was spoken, or thus it is written, throughout all the New Testament. And I think 'tis most remarkable, That after all possible satis­faction given to their Senses, Christ proves the truth of his Resurrection from this Testimony; and 'tis spoken signanter. Then opened he their understandings, that Luk. 24. 45, 46. they might understand the Scriptures (i. e. he explain'd the Scriptures intelligibly to them,) and said unto them, Thus it is written, &c.

From all which consider'd I may conclude this first Reason, why the Spirit of Prophecy is The Testimony, because 'twas that Tally could not be counterfeited, (given therefore to prevent delusions) for the Rules of Tryal were easie and certain: and no Divination could bear the test, but what had the Spirit of God its Author, or else deserv'd not the name of Prophecy.

Secondly, 'Tis The Testimony, because all Ages are under its conviction equally, more than they are of any others, abstracting from this. And my reason is, because this Testimony is permanent, and the rest, without this, are transient; though this adjoyned makes even them permanent too. Ex. gr.

1. The Father's Voice (as I remember) was only heard at the Baptism, and Transfiguration of Jesus.

2. The Word incarnate was personally present, only in the Daies of Augustus and Tiberius.

3. The Holy Ghost's Visible descent was but once at Jordan, and once at Jerusalem, the Day of Pentecost. And these (as generally interpreted) are the Three in [Page 26] Heaven. So likewise for the other Three on Earth.

1. Holiness or Moral goodness is the pretence of every Philosopher, a standing and laudable Testimony I confess; and therefore the grand design of Jesus was to restore it effectually, which he did by Supernatural helps, whereas others essay'd it by the strength of Na­ture alone, which after the Fall was impossible: so that though Jesus in this surpast all Mankind, yet some Ri­vals have been set up against him, as Apollonius by Hie­rocles.

2. To be a Martyr for a Lie, when a man believes it, (as the Apostle tells us, some shall,) is neither unusual, nor 2 Thess. 2. 11. unreasonable.

3. The Age of Miracles (excepting the wisdom and conduct of Providence, which is not regarded) is worn out, for all the Legendary Impostures of that Church that still pretends them.

But that which strengthens all the rest by its con­nexion with them, The Testimony of the Spirit of Pro­phecy, stands like a fixed Star, to give light to every hour of time; call'd therefore The more sure Word, and the 2 Pet. 1. 19. 1 Pet. 1. 25. Not [...], but [...]. Word of God which abideth for ever, to which we do well, if we give heed. My meaning is,

The Old and New Testaments are standing Witnesses to our Faith in Jesus, all Ages may consult these Re­cords, and find the Testimony of the Spirit of Pro­phecy so interwoven in every part, that it certainly evidenceth their Divinity and Truth.

Can any other Writing be produc'd, that durst at­tempt to foretel such things, and at such a distance, to confirm any other pretended Revelation, or Institution contradictory to this? or doth not every Event in these answer its prediction? Ex. gr.

Is not the disperst condition of the Jewish Nation, a On those words, Psal. 59. 11. Slay them not, lest my People forget. Scatter them by thy power. St. Austin applying Them to the Jews, has this excellent remark, Ne obliti legem Dei, ad hoc de quo agimus testimonium, nihil valerent, quoniam si cum testimonio scriptura­rum in suâ tantummodo terrâ, non ubique essent; profecto Ecclesia quae ubique est, eos, Prophetia­rum quae de Christo pramissae sunt, testes in om­nibus gentibus non haberet. De Civit. lib. 18. cap. 46. And then concludes, Ideo nihil est firmius ad convincendos quoslibet alienos, si de hac re contenderint: nostrosque fulciendos, si rectè sapuerint, quam ut Divina praedicla de Christo, ea proferantur, quae in Judaeorum scri­pta sunt Codicibus, Quibus avulsis de sedibus proptils, & propter hoc Testimonium toto Orbe dispersis, Christi usquequaque crevit Ec­clesia. Ibid. cap. 47. standing Sign to all Ages of the World since the Gospels pro­mulgation, and a permanent Rule of Tryal laid before all considera­tive men, that both Testaments which foretold it, proceeded from the unerring Spirit of Omnisci­ence? Or was there ever any pa­rallel Case to theirs? to continue so many hundred years without any Ty of National Government, and yet not to be lost in the crowd of the Nations where so many muta­tions have happen'd, nor at all (like the Ten Tribes) swallow'd up in their Dispersions as wide as the Universe.

I must not insist upon other permanent Signs confirm­ing the Scriptural Revelation, as the Case of the Four Monarchies, the Conversion of the Gentiles, and many more foretold in the Old and New Testament, which our Age and others may see fulfilled, and therefore are under the conviction of this Testimony equally.

I mean, We of this, and every Age, are under the Convictions of that Revelation which the Spirit of Pro­phecy has attested in the Scriptures, (and therefore, be­cause it has so attested;) as much as those who liv'd in the daies of the Prophets, or in the Age of Miracles; for else I see not how Abraham's answer to Dives is good; nay certainly, Posterity is better enabled to judge of Prophecy, than the Age in which it first appear'd. And this, after the Canon of Scripture shut up, and uni­versally receiv'd, renders all New light, and extraordi­nary Inspiration, not only suspected, but perfectly need­less.

The design of my Discourse is chiefly this, to shew, That the Spirit of Prophecy thus explain'd, which so apparently runs parallel to the whole lines of Scriptural Revelation, doth most rationally convince us, and all A­ges, of the Divine Truth of that Revelation.

And if so, we gain two Points, not only of great ad­vantage alwaies, but most needful at this day; when Christian Religion, is either look'd out of countenance by Atheism and Scepticism; or looks itself we know not whither, by the distortions of Popery and Phanati­cism.

The First Point we gain is, To confirm our Christian Faith in general upon most rational and accountable grounds, that it may endure the concussions and mutati­ons of the World.

The Second is, To confirm the Divine Authority of the Scriptures in particular, as our Sure Rule both of Faith and Duty, for if we confess (as cannot be deny'd, till some other be produc'd as able) that the Divine Spirit was Author of the Predictions in Scripture; what reason can we have against the Institution of life Re­veal'd? It being in all mens allowance unreasonably unjust, To allow the Testimony of the Record in one part that it declares, and not in another; unless we can, better than by bold affirming, prove it in that part cor­rupted.

To draw these Points out to the greater advantages, let me reflect upon this Discourse, and infer Three things.

First, That the great design of our Merciful Creator in giving this Testimony, is mens conviction in order to the Faith, i. e. the Obedience of Jesus. For in its most plen­tiful effusion, and powerful operation, this was its first grand end, [...], It shall convince the World, John 16. 18. which, when it has done, the Revelation itself becomes the undoubted Rule, as to Believers; but they who dis­believe [Page 29] the whole Revelation, are principally to be con­vinc'd by this Testimony; which I have asserted to be most demonstrative and satisfactory; and such surely our Saviour thought it himself. I have told you before, that when its come to pass ye may believe. Joh. 13. 19. and 16. 4.

Whether then the Unbelievers, who pretend to a Primogeniture in Wit and Reason, having this convicti­on offer'd them under all the advantages of Predicti­ons fulfill'd, more than the Scribes and Pharisees had; as the Atheists and Scepticks of our Age; may not by ascribing all to a cheat, sin against the Holy Ghost, as well as they in Matt. 12. is a question I will not abso­lutely determine in the affirmative; but ought not me­thinks to be carried in the negative so dogmatically, as by the Authors of our Age it has; who (led, I believe, Hales, &c. by their own native tenderness and benignity) have con­cluded, there's no Meridian for that Sin to appear in, now the Age of Miracles is past.

To confirm the Faith of Jesus, the Spirit both of Power and Prophecy was given Believers, as the Pro­phets and Jesus foretold: and the manifest effects of this remain unto this day as foretold, in the Conversion of the Gentiles; nay, all Events by Jesus, the Prophetical Writings and Apostolical, foretold, answer their Predi­ctions, (to instance in the case of the Jewish Nation;) Therefore not only Jesus and his Apostles had the Spirit of Prophecy, but the Revelation or Doctrine by them preach'd is confirm'd by it to be Divine, and that as cer­tainly as the Divine Spirit can demonstrate. St. Paul saies, it did demonstrate, and I think it can, as effectu­ally as any Mathematician in the Universe; whence I conclude, 'tis no defect in the Argument, but Brutality in the recipient obstructs its force.

Secondly, I infer, That seeing the design of this Te­stimony was, and is, man's Conviction in order to the Faith of Jesus, there is something in man capable of Conviction, even before he can be said to be con­verted.

Thirdly, Nothing in Man being capable of Divine conviction, but the faculty of Reason, I infer, That the Faith of Jesus is, and ought to be a Rational Faith. For the declining this Proposition has encourag'd men of Parts, and lovers of Pleasures, to decline Christianity; or men of weak Reason and strong Imagination, to con­vert it into an Enthusiastick and Phantastical thing.

And to give this account for the Mysteries of Faith, that the Prime Verity has affirm'd them, as 'tis all we can without vanity give in this state: so, if consider'd, 'tis as good and rational as of any other knowledge we pretend to, for 'tis demonstrable, that the last resolution of See Job 38. 4, 5, &c. and 24, 25, &c. our Knowledge, of all other things, must upon a through scrutiny be into the First Cause.

Many more than the Leviathan, think the want of Miracles mitigates the Crime of Infidelity, which to me seems but Dives's vain opinion, for if men will not be­lieve the Testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy, neither will they believe Miracles, as being a Conviction that's easier shifted, than this which considered is more argu­mentative; because Reason may with some colour seru­ple the one, as the Jews did, than they can the other, for the proof of which I refer to John 5. 49.

For I can never conceive that Miracles are of any signification, but as they address to Reason to give it sa­tisfaction, i. e. as they prove the attestation of the Di­vinity, and argue the Commission to be from God, be­cause his Seal is to it. For, to think that Miracles are terminated in the senses, or designs any further upon them, than only to Excite the Intellect to a Judicious con­clusion, [Page 31] is to think that something may be wrought upon a Beast by a Demonstration.

Neither is the proper Mathematical Demonstration, in Scheme of any signification, as 'tis terminated in sight alone; for then the Elephant, that was taught to draw Pliny, Nat. hist. lib. 8. cap. 3. the Greek Alphabet, might have been taught as well to demonstrate; but as thereby it helps to present convictive Truth to Reason: so that whatever convinceth Reason satisfactorily, attains the end of Demonstration.

Now all Divine Revelation, though usher'd in by sense, (for the stupidity's sake of our dull Understanding, which otherwaies will hardly be awaken'd;) yet ever made its application to Reason; therefore saies the Pro­phet, Shew your selves men, with reference to this very Isal. 46. 8, 9, 10. Luk. 12. 56. 2 Thess. 3. 2. Argument of Prediction. Why do ye not of your selves judge what is right, saies Jesus. Pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable men, for all men have not Faith, saies the Apostle.

Neither is this Pelagianizing at all; I acknowledge the necessity of God's Supernatural Grace, and that Faith is his gift: 'tis possible it may be rejected, but the Argu­ments that induce to it are most cogent; because of God's making, not our own; what we do, is but to shew our selves men, i. e. to exert the Faculties with which he en­du'd us in the first Institution of our Nature, and with which he is ever ready to concur by his Grace.

So then whatever convinces Reason most, confirms Faith best, and Faith being so confirm'd, is the highest Reason in the World; for because its light and discove­veries proceed (as my Reason tells me) from a more un­erring Intellect than mine own, 'tis most reasonable, that it should supersede all the opposit acts of my own Mind, and leaves me no Inquiry, but whether the Spirit of God has said so, or no; which sufficiently discountenances all Socinianism. For it will not follow by any Rule of [Page 32] Reason, That things are therefore true, or false, because I can, or cannot comprehend them, (this were for our Reason to make it self God,) but because they are, or are not attested by the Prime Verity; how far soever they may exceed the Idaeal comprehensions of our own finite Faculties; as the discoveries of Infinity necessarily must do, and in these all Christian Mysteries consist.

So that Faith without Reason is fancy, as Reason op­posing Faith is phrenzy. For all the Mysteries which Gospel Christianity has made necessary, this is good and sufficient Reason, God has plainly reveal'd them, and other matters beside Mysteries, are evidently true from their congruity with our own reasonable minds; as the excellency and goodness of its Precepts, and the nobleness of its End. And now, if upon these grounds we have that due honour for our Christian Faith to assert it Rea­sonable as well as Holy; then 'twill follow, That no man of Parts, that's willing to consider (and Demonstrati­ons signifie nothing else) the Testimony of Jesus, is Ir­religious; but he that is Irrational.

For no Interest opposit to that of Jesus can produce this Testimony, unless it be to its own overthrow. And therefore the grand Interests opposit or destructive to those of Jesus, will alwaies dissemble and pretend this Testimony; Thou art Peter, upon this Rock will I build; To thee I give the Keys, feed my sheep; so the Papal on one hand: or on the other hand (though in truth they are coincident,) They shall be all taught of God, and that's Infallible; so the Enthusiast.

My meaning is, That which endangers true Christia­nity, is some Evil within its own Profession or Pale. And though there be a numerous brood of Offenders herein; yet there are Three who mainly threaten that Religion amongst our selves, which God's wonderful Providence has preserv'd so long; and we seem solicitous that it [Page 33] might be longer; and they are, in my apprehension, these Three, the Atheists, the Papists, and the vicious Pro­testant, i. e. the Ʋnbelievers, the Ill-believers, and the Ill-livers, allowing Vice its due latitude.

And these Three serve the mutual designs of one ano­ther, though as 'tis very subtil, Popery gets the last ad­vantage; for Vice begets Atheism, and Atheism at length devolves to Popery: for Ill-livers, 'tis their interest to be Unbelievers, and they that through the vice of Opinions and Sects have been alwaies unstable, are very near the brink of this Precipice; so Vice begets Atheism. But because to outstrip the Devil and not believe at all, is impossible long to continue, and Religion in general is so planted in Nature, that it will recur and keep the field; therefore the most corrupt Religion in special, is fittest at last to be chosen; and so Atheism devolves to Popery, and sends so many Newgate-Converts to Tyburne, as that party boasts of.

But Conviction without bitterness is all the Applica­tion I shall tender from this discourse, and that particu­larly to the Three abovesaid.

First, To Atheism thus. If the Scriptural Revelation, which is the Christian Institution be not to be believ'd, no­thing in the World is; for he that considers it as becomes a reasonable man, and yet disbelieves it, rejects the Testi­mony of the Prime Verity, as I prov'd before: And set this aside, let the Atheist prove his Senses, or any thing in the World true if he can.

Secondly, To Popery (which is that part of pretended Christianity which is peculiar to them of the present Roman Communion and none else.)

I apply the Conviction of this discourse thus.

That if any Religion so call'd, overthrow the founda­tions of Natural Religion; as by introducing Idolatry, and subverting the common Notions of Good and Evil; [Page 34] then by the grand Rule of trying Spirits, 'tis most infal­libly an Imposture. To make good which Charge against Popery in each particular Doctrine or Practice by that Church espoused, as I may not now essay: So I think 'tis sufficient to consider the many bloody Plots it has hatcht to promote it self, and to weigh the whole Do­ctrine of the Jesuits Casuistical Divinity; for never did any pretended Religion so boldly and palpably refix the common and natural sentiments of Good and Evil, as that has done. And God grant that no Profession amongst our selves by thirsting after New light and In­spiration, pretending to differ from them, may yet sym­bolize with them in this particular.

Lastly, To the vicious Protestant, or Member (as he calls himself) of the Church Reform'd the Conviction applies itself; for such an one stands self-condemn'd; a good Believer (as he thinks himself) and a bad Liver, being one of the greatest absurdities in the World; and may not this be fear'd as much as Popery? for that makes but Men, this makes God our Enemy.

We talk much at this day of uniting different Parties joyntly disclaiming Popery, and God grant it may suc­ceed to good effect; but if it be an Union in matters of Faith or Religion, I hope they'l let us of the Church of England by Law establisht, know what Faith they are of, as they know ours: For methinks all, or most Diffe­rences in the World might be reconcil'd but one, and that's the difference between Good and Evil; and this indeed is eternally irreconcileable.

The best method then of Uniting us who pretend to the Reform'd Religion, is to carry on that part of it which is most needful: not to Reform the Church, but the Members of it, i. e. the Evils we are guilty of against the Rules of it: and this is more in Our power than our Governours, else I would not mention it; but then, as [Page 35] I said before, Evil and Vice must have its due latitude, which takes in giddy and Enthusiastick Opinions, as well as sensual and sinful practices: for there is a Filthiness 2 Cor. 7. 1. of the Spirit as well as of the Flesh; I mean, ungovern­able Spiritual Pride and Intellectual Debaucheries, as well as Sensual.

And would all sorts of People joyntly disclaiming Po­pery, set themselves sincerely and humbly about this great work of Reformation; it would certainly dispose their hearts to the Union of Charity and good Affection; though it might not in every particular mould their heads into an Unity of Notion: And without this Unity in good Affection, 'tis strange, if a Church or Kingdom so divided should stand.

In a word, That our Faith in Jesus might be Rational and lasting, I have prest the best Argument of Satis­faction and Conviction I know. That it may work by Love, and the Ʋnity of Christian Affection, shall be my Prayer, and ought to be all our Endeavours, Till we all Eph. 4. 13. 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 stature of the fulness of Christ.

Which God of his infinite mercy grant, by directing and succeeding these and all the Ministeries of his Appointment, through the continual Blessings of his Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus our Lord; To whom, with the Father and the Divine Spirit, be Praise, and Honour, and Glory eternal. Amen.

FINIS.

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