• I. The Antiquity, Tradition, and Succession of Mystical Divinity among the Gentiles; with Notes and Observations to distin­guish Illusions; and Directions of Spi­ritual Writers concerning Prayer.
  • II. Of the Guidance of the Spirit of GOD: The Doctrine of the H. Scriptures, of the Catholick Church, and of the Church of England in particular, upon a Dis­course of Sr. Matthew Hale concerning it.

LONDON, Printed for the Author, for the Use and Benefit of a Religious Society, 1697.


ASCETICKS: or, The Heroick Piety and Virtue of the Ancient Christian Anchorets and Coenobites, (wherein the Begin­ning and Progress of Contemplative Living and Religious Societies is briefly discoursed; and a true Account of the Esseans, Therapeuts, and ancient Egyptian and other Monks, collected out of the most Authentick Records.) Also the LIFE of the Famous Saint ANTONY, written in Greek by St. Athanasius, faithfully Translated into English. All Printed for the Author, for the Use and Benefit of the Society afore-said.


THE latter of these Discourses was Printed as part of a Preface to that Book of Sr. Matthew Hale's, from whence the beginning of the Discourse is now taken; but why it was not Published with it, I know no reason, unless that, which is the Ʋniversal pri­mary Obstacle to all Good, that Satan hindered it. And that, I make no question, was the principal moving Cause, which set the others on work. That wicked, envious Spirit, who had raised up all the Evil he could, both against him, and against me, in our several Families in his Life-time, hath not ceased to do so still since his Death. By what he got such Advantage against my self, I know very well, and intend to declare it. But by what he got such Advantage against that good Man, is a Secret I know nothing of. But this I know, that he hath been Ʋnhappy in his Family, both in his Life-time, and since his Death, and particularly in what I am now saying. I long looked upon [Page]him as a Man raised up by the Special Providence of God to be an Illustrious Example of Vertue and Piety in this degenerate Age: And therefore, that People might not be deprived of the Benefit of such an Example by their Ignorance of his Prin­ciples, (as I found by Experience many were) I did in his Life-time publish a Volume of his Con­templations, even after I had earnestly pressed him to consent to it, and he refused: Indeed, I knew him, and he knew me, so well, that I did not fear any misconstruction from him: and after his Death, I desired to have done Honour to his Me­mory for the same purpose, by the Publication of such of his Writings, as were most necessary and seasonable, that the Benefit of his Labours, as well as of his Example, while yet fresh in Me­mory, might be communicated, as much as might be, to all, and they might mutually recommend each other for the greater Benefit of all. But, alas! that wicked Spirit, which had so prevailed in his Family in his Life-time, as made him tell some of them, That Satan, or the Devil, did ride them, as an Ape would do a Mastiff-Dog, hath likewise prevailed hitherto upon such as vainly gloried in their Relation to him, to obstruct that good Design for Twenty years together, without due regard either to that Service of God, those Benefits to Men, the true Honour of his Memory, (in which they vainly gloried) or the Performance of his Will according to his Mind. For though he had [Page]not expressly ordered the Publication of one or o­ther in particular; yet had he made this Provision in a Codicil concerning the Publication of any of them, that he had nominated the Bookseller, who should have the Printing of them, paying as much as another would in reason for them: and of the Profits, appointed one part to one, for his Care and Pains in overseeing and ordering the Publication; another part to another, for Writing and Correct­ing; and the rest, among his Servants; and told them what he had done for them: so that besides the Injury done to their Country, they have done a double Injury to his Memory, not only by hin­dering the Honour due to it, but by Dishonouring it, and giving occasion to a Blemish and Reproach to it, provoking some not only to think, but to speak hardly of him, as if he had abused them in some of the last Acts of his Life: and all this out of a sordid Humour to get or keep what he had otherwise disposed of. And though thus they ex­ercised their Malice and Spight against the Me­mory of the Good Man, yet was not this the chief part of their Work and Triumph, that they had raised this Injury against his Memory, and, be­sides, had deprived his Country of the Benefit of much of his Labours in his own Profession: But there is a greater matter in the bottom, and of greater concern to them, which these Wicked, Sub­tile Agents had a principal regard to. The Good Man had taken great Pains in examining and con­sidering [Page]the Grounds and Evidences of Religion, both Natural and Revealed: And he was excel­lently well qualified for it, both by Natural Saga­city, by Exercise of his Parts in his own Profession, (which affords as much and good Exercise for such a purpose as any) and by Freedom from Pre­judice, either of Education or of Temporal Interest. For though he had a Religious Education, yet it is certain, that after he came to maturity of Thinking and Judging, he became, as he found reason, in many things, of a different Judgment from the Notions and Sentiments he had first received; by which it appeared, that his Religion was the Religion of his Judgment, and not of his Educa­tion. And being no Ecclesiastick, but a Man of a Civil Employment, he stood fair to be looked upon as an Indifferent Judge, and not as an Advocate or Party, (as Clergy-men generally are reputed by some) and, by consequence, his Writings upon such Subjects, besides the weight of his Reason, would have a double Weight of Authority, (if we take in his Example too) above others, to make them successful upon such as have received pre­judice from the Scandalous Practices of too many Professors and Preachers of the Christian Religion; which hath been a principal Cause of Atheism heretofore, and of Deism at present, and of the Contempt of the Clergy, and more effectual and prevalent than any of those which have been assigned in Print; though by Scandalous, I intend [Page]here nothing but Zeal for Preferments, and a cold Indifferency in Matters of Religion. For as it hath been rightly observed, When Vertue fails in the Priests, Faith will fail in the People; be their Preaching what it will. Now, by how much greater was the Advantage that the Writings of this Man had above others, to have done Service in this Cause, so much the greater was the Gratifica­tion which these Wicked Spirits received in the Suppression of them.

I know nothing so sordid that ever appeared in his Life. But that this hath been ordered by the Malice and Subtilty of those Wicked Spirits, who had gotten Advantage against Him, or his Fa­mily; (however some particular Dispositions in Persons might make it more feasible) as I verily believe, so I am well satisfied, he would not at all have doubted, had he been living, and to have spoken his Judgment in a like Case. He and I both, before he died, had had Experience enough to satisfie us concerning such matters. And I wish his, and all other Families, who are fallen into any such Snare, may consider well of it, and be well advised how to recover themselves out of it, if it may be. Many such have I known, and though the Burden be sealed upon some, and the Decree fixed, yet in others there seemed to be a Door open, if Oppor­tunity was not neglected. Mens Belief or Dis­belief will not alter the Truth of things: But Dis­belief of things that are true is often the Cause of [Page]great Ʋnhappiness: and they who disbelieve such things as these, are not the less obnoxious to their Malice, but more secure in their Power. So much as this is not impertinent to be said concerning the Malice and Subtlety of the Evil Spirits, be­fore a Discourse of the Gracious Conduct of the Good. And I think my self specially obliged to declare my Sentiments of both, upon any just Oc­casion. And, indeed,

I confess the Preface was not written so much for the sake of the Book, as the Book Published for the sake of the Preface, as an Occasion to write on that Subject, which I thought my self obliged to do, as an Act of Penitence for an Ʋnhappy Miscarriage, whereby my Enemy got that Advan­tage against me, which I mentioned before, and shall here repeat in the Words then Printed, as followeth:

I must not here forbear upon this Occasion to add, not my Opinion, but my own certain Know­ledge, upon great, and long, and in some respects in a great measure woful Experience, in an Hum­ble Confession of my Fault, to give Glory to God, Testimony to his Truth, and Warning to Men. I have had Experience of this Divine Conduct, and of the Blessings and Curses attending Obe­dience and Disobedience to it; so that I have plainly perceived that the Conduct of the Chil­dren of Israel out of Egypt through the Wilder­ness into the Promised Land, was a visible Ma­nifestation [Page]or Representation of the Secret Spi­ritual Conduct of Souls out of Slavery under the Powers of Darkness, through the Wilderness of this World, into the Land of Rest: and the very same thing in Action and Representation, which is delivered by way of Doctrine and Admonition in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, iv. 11,—20. and vi. 18,—31. The Crosses, Disappointments, and Afflictions, which I have gone through, have been very grievous, and many of them known to the World, though nothing hath appeared in my Life, to which they could be imputed by others as a Cause in any respect. I must therefore de­clare, that while I did act in a ready Compliance with that Conduct, I not only had great Peace and Serenity of Mind, but all things went strangely prosperous and successful with me; and I had extraordinary Answers to my Prayers, not only for my self, but for others also: But whenever I have done contrary, I always had trouble in my Mind, and what I did, was either blasted, or un­successful, and often of such evil Consequence, as I did not foresee. This I have found so, by great and long Experience, and in some of the great Businesses of my Life, wherein I acted not only upon my own Reason and Judgment, but also upon the Advice and Persuasions of very considerable Persons. And after considerable Experience of this, I was once so unhappy in my Disobedience to this Conduct, upon a special Occasion, having none [Page]to advise with, and yielding too much to the Sen­timents of our Anti-enthusiasts, which was a Temptation to me, that (as I have special reason to believe) it was like the Sin of Adam to me, an Inlet unto all the Ʋnhappiness that hath since befallen me and my Family: And I have been as it were turned back into the Wilderness ever since. The Things wherein I had this Conduct were not matter of Duty in themselves, or not in the particular Circumstances; but either were such as were in Humane appearance so indifferent, that I might have used my Liberty, or the Con­duct was much different from the Wisdom of the World. And though I cannot say whether the Afflictions I have suffer'd were so ordered as a Punishment for my Miscarriage, yet I am assur'd they were a Consequence thereof, at least such as we often fall into, when we neglect the Good Counsel of our Friends. And they have been such, as I am persuaded it is my Duty upon this Occa­sion to make this publick Penitential Confession, whatever Prejudice I may suffer thereby from Men: If I can but thereby obtain the Favour of God, and benefit Men, I shall accept that as part of my Punishment.

For the Certainty of this, I can truly affirm, That I had immediately upon my Miscarriage as sensible Notice of the Evils which have since be­fallen me, as I can have of any thing by any sense I have; as plain as if a Sentence had been pro­nounced [Page]against me. And what I have suffered, hath had Two several Marks as exactly agreeable to my Miscarriage, as the print of a Seal upon the Wax to the Seal it self. I cannot say but other Sins or Miscarriages might be Ingredients in this case: but I know full well that this was the Inlet unto all those Evils, which I am satis­fy'd had been prevented, had I continued at that time in the way I was in. And it often recalls to my mind part of the Eighty first Psalm, and other Passages of the Old Testament, which have been fulfilled in my Case; and therefore I have great reason upon such an Occasion to confess my Fault, that I may have other more comfortable Passages made good to me hereafter.

And here I cannot but remember, that I scarce knew the Man at that time to consult with in these things, who was not more likely to have put me out of the way, than to have directed me aright, how to proceed in it. And this I note for the sake of such Spiritual Guides as are consulted in such Cases: If they be not very careful and considerate to avoid the Common Errors on both sides, and neither incourage nor discourage the Attendance to such Impulses and Impressions, &c. in general, but carefully endeavour to di­stinguish and to direct aright, they may bring great Trouble upon those who consult them, (as I have known some do;) and perhaps greater upon themselves, when they are call'd to give [Page]Account of their Stewardship, either here or here­after.

Thus far was printed before: to which I must now add: Whether these things (as perhaps some o­thers) were not permitted to befall me for Ad­monition to others, I know not: but this I know by Experience in others, and even while this is Print­ing, that there is great need of Good Admonition. For I find, by divers such Experiences, that God is pleased at this time to give some sensible Notices of his Conduct to many, who are in some sort in the Case of Samuel, 1 Sam. 3.7. who then did not know the Lord, neither was the Word of the Lord yet revealed to him; and when they come to the Priest, who should be as Eli to them, to direct them how to behave themselves, are by him put quite out of the Way, and either dismissed to the Physician, to be cured of Melancholy; or ad­vised to some cheerful innocent Conversation; or to mind their Business in their Callings; or to reject the Impressions they feel as Fancies, and vain Fears and Scruples. And many Cases there are, wherein some of these Directions might be proper; but there are many others, wherein they are all quite out of the Way; and wherein great Faults have been, to my knowledge, and, I doubt, are daily committed by Learned, and otherwise able and good Men; partly through Ignorance in these Matters, or common Prejudice against them; partly for fear of incou­raging what they see many abuse to their own hurt, [Page]and to the Scandal of others; and partly for fear of bringing upon themselves the Censure and Re­proach of inclination to Fanaticism or Enthusiasm; and thereby at once the Grace and special Favour of God is rejected, the poor Soul greatly disap­pointed, at least, if no worse happen to it; and the Director must be accountable for both.

But to make a matter of so great Importance the more plain, it may not be amiss to propose an instance or two of some Cases: A Person wants an Employment, and an Employment is offered; but the Person hath strong Impressions, either not to accept it, or not to continue it, being otherwise sup­plyed for the present; and thereupon repairs to some noted Divine for Advice: The Divine con­siders that the Person needs an Employment, and upon Examination can discover nothing unlawful in the Employment, nor unfit for the Person; and thereupon confidently adviseth to reject the Im­pression, and embrace and continue the Employment. Such Advice as this proves, in the event, to one, unsuccessful all his time; to another, his Ruine and Ʋndoing as to his Temporal Estate; to another, the Occasion of the Loss of his Life; and to another, the hazard, if not loss, of his Soul; and all this by such Means and Occasions as could not be foreseen or discovered by any Mortal; but are plainly seen and foreseen by some kind invisible Friends con­cerned for us.

Again, a young Woman, who is not at all proud, if we will believe her, only she desires to be like other-Folks; but she finds something within her that tells her, or suggests, that she'll be damned if she wear such a Dress. Hereupon she goes for Advice to a Divine. He being more cautious in such cases, tells her, that since she may both lawfully and decently wear another meaner or plainer, she should have a care that she doth not reject such Motions in her Mind: For many times things which are not damnable Sins in themselves, may be Occasions and Inlets to such as are, and Hindrances of Graces, and so produce such unhappy consequence at last. But not liking this Advice, away she goes to another of greater note; and he tells her, that since that Dress is not unlawful, it cannot be a Damnable Sin to wear it; and therefore whatever it was, it could not be the Spirit of God that did so fright her; but she must have a care of such things, lest she run into Fanaticism, and I know not what. And this she likes and follows till the tricking up of her Natural Beauty proves a Snare to her self and others; the kind Impressions, which she formerly had upon occa­sion, cease; her Devotion grows cool, and she re­lapseth again into the common Course of the World, and what will be the end of it, God knows.

What I have had experience of in my self and my own Family, partly for want of due regard to such Notices, and too much yielding to Motives of Moral Prudence; and partly by such unhappy Re­solutions [Page]of Cases by others, would be too long to re­late particularly. I have had no less than four Sons undone in this City, all as likely Youths as any, and all, after their disappointments, by their Beha­viour gaining the Favour and Kindness of all they conversed with: and in the placing of them spared neither Cost, nor Pains, nor Care, and took the best Advice I could have; at first made choice of such for Masters, as I expected to act upon Principles of Religion; afterward, such as I expected Friend­ship, at least Moral Honesty and Humanity from them; but was disappointed in all. And I know assuredly that all did proceed from such Causes as I have in general mentioned already; and had notice of it in general before.

It is a great Ʋnhappiness to this Church and Nation at this time, that we have so few of any con­siderable Experience in these things, especially among those, who should be Guides to others. And it is their Great Sin, and, without due Repentance, will prove Damnation to many, that they have been so bug-beared by a fluttering, Sadducean, Atheistical Humour, and base prudential Compliance of some of greater Name than genuine Christian Vertue, as to be ashamed or afraid to assert, or own so great and noble a Principle of the Religion they profess. And therefore, besides my own special Obligations, and concern for the Honour and Service of God, and of our Holy Religion, Pity to the many Souls, which I perceive destitute of true Spiritual Direction, and [Page]Indignation at the Baseness, Folly and Madness of so many Prudentialists amongst us, hath made me for some time to long for an Opportunity to bear my Testimony in the Case. The Motive in my collecting the other Discourse, (which, though written last, and by the by, according to its proper order, is here first) was to detect a Misapplication of Truth, and retort his Argument against himself, who had so grossly and rudely treated the Business of Fanati­cism, without due regard to that Sacred Principle of Religion, which is pretended in it; or to the most noble and heroick Professors and Observers of it. But in this degenerate Age God hath not left himself without Witness, but raised up some of a more generous Spirit; such as Mr. Smith of Cambridge, the late profound Dr. Cradoc, whom I much esteemed for his Generosity, as well as Judg­ment, in Preaching up this Doctrine, who told me, he had Preached 20 or 30 Sermons upon it; and that if we deny that, we may burn our Bibles; for he knew not (he said) what Religion would sig­nifie without it; and the Learned Mr. Matthew Scrivener, who hath left us a Discourse concerning Mystical Divinity, Intituled, The Method and Means to a true Spiritual Life, and others; to say nothing of some I know now Living, whose number I pray God increase, and make them perfect and compleat in all Graces and Vertue, to his Ho­nour and Glory, and the Happiness of this Church and Nation.

OF THE Antiquity, Tr …

OF THE Antiquity, Tradition, and Succession, of Mystical Divinity Among the GENTILES, FROM THE Testimony & Confession OF AN Eminent Adversary.

AS Adam was the common Parent of all Man-kind from the Creation, so was Noah the common Parent of all Man-kind who have lived since the Flood. And of Noah it is recorded, that he was a just Man, and per­fect in his Generations, and that he walked with God, Gen. 6.9. And that he was 600 years Old when the Flood of Waters was upon the [Page 2]Earth, Gen. 7.6. From whence we may rea­sonably believe that he could not but be well acquainted with all the Knowledge of his An­cestors. And what this Walking with God doth imply, we may understand from the rest of the History, and the Apostles Observation, Heb. 11.7. viz. not only a careful Observance of all the General Rules of Righteousness transmitted from Adam to his Posterity, but a ready Obe­dience and Conformity to all special Declara­tions and Manifestations of the Will of God to him. Instances of which are those Commands of God, and his Obedience thereunto; in Build­ing the Ark, which undoubtedly exposed him to much trouble, by Questions concerning it, and to various Censures, Gen. 6.14, 22. He did, notwithstanding, according to all that God commanded him, so did he; and in going into it with the several sorts of Creatures, Gen. 7.1, 5, 7, 9. and in going out again at the Command of God, Gen. 8.16, 18. In his Walking with God in this manner, he could not but, besides all the Knowledge which he had re­ceived from his Ancestors, learn much more by the immediate Teachings of God. And it is not to be questioned, but, as he was instructed by his Ancestors, so he was careful to instruct his Family & Posterity in all necessary Knowledge; amongst which, that of Walking with God was some of the chief. And this being so, I see no reason, [Page 3]Why other Nations should not have derived their Knowledge, with their Descent, directly from Noah? or, Why we should suppose the other Branches of his Posterity to have all re­ceived their Knowledge, of Divine and Sacred things especially, collaterally from that of Abra­ham, rather than directly and lineally from their common Ancestor Noah. As Noah offered Sacri­fice, Gen. 8.20. and Abraham offered Sacrifice; so we find Priests and Sacrifices among other Na­tions. Such was MELCHIZEDECK, a Priest of the most High God, Gen. 14.18. And cer­tainly it was by Revelation from God, or some Divine Means, that PHARAOH understood that it was because of Sarah, Abraham's Wife, that the Lord plagued him and his House, Gen. 12.17. as we find it expressed afterward in the like Case of ABIMELECH, Gen. 20.3, 6. God came to Abimelech in a Dream by Night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead Man, for the Woman which thou hast taken: for she is a Man's Wife. And another PHA­RAOH acknowledged Joseph to be a Man, in whom was the Spirit of God, Gen. 41.38. and when he raised him to the greatest Preferment in the Kingdom, gave him for a Wife the Daugh­ter of an Egyptian Priest, ibid. v. 45. And Moses Married the Daughter of a Priest of Mi­dian, JETHRO, Ex. 2.16, 21. who was a good Man, and a Worshipper of the true God, [Page 4]as appears, Ex. 18.9, 10, 12. And the Means then to Inquire of the Lord were common to them, and to other Nations: As REBEKAH, Gen. 25.22. So BALAAM, Numb. 22.8, 9, 18, 19, 20: 23.4. went to inquire of the Lord, and received An­swers from Him. And about this time JOB is believed to have lived, who was a Holy Man, and offered Sacrifices, and had Visions.

By these Instances, and others that might be noted, we may understand, that in those ancient times it was believed, in all Nations, that there were Means, whereby Men and Women might come to have some Acquaintance and Communi­cation with God; and what these Means were, is well worth our Inquiry.

That the JEWS had anciently their Schools or Colleges of Prophets, we may observe in the Sacred Scriptures. And though what were their Institutions, and their Instructions, and Or­ders there prescribed, is not in the Scripture particularly related; yet in the Particulars men­tioned they seem to have been much the same with what was practised by the Ancient Chri­stian Anchorets and Coenobites.

If we inquire amongst other Nations of most ancient Note and Fame for Knowledge in Divine matters, the Egyptians and Chaldeans are the most considerable. And the Means recom­mended by them do so well agree with the My­stical Divinity delivered by divers Christians, [Page 5]that some Opposers of this Divinity think they have sufficient ground to derive it from them; and supposing that a Prejudice to it, have taken the pains to do it. ‘If the CHALDAICK ORACLES (saith one of considerable Learning, Name, and Place) were still ex­tant, which were frequently quoted by Plo­tinus, Jamblicus, Porphyrius, and Proclus, (who did wholly approve the Chaldaick Theology; and from them in a great measure the Frag­ments were preserved) we might more fully manifest these things; yet as they are, they give us sufficient ground to draw the Funda­mentals of this Mystical Divinity from thence. For they speak of God's being united to the Soul, by the Soul's clasping God to herself; and that not by any act of the Ʋnderstanding, but by the Flower of the Mind; (the very Phrase used by Proclus, and the same which the My­sticks call, the Fund of the Spirit;) of the Soul's being inebriated from God, (which Plo­tinus calls, being drunk with the Divine Nectar) and Psellus explains, of Divine Illuminations and Extasies; of Abstraction from the Body, and extending the Mind upwards, and hastening to the Divine Light and the Beams of the Father; with several other passages to the same pur­pose.’

And for the EGYPTIANS, the same Author tells us,

That Jamblicus, in his Book [Page 6]of the Egyptian Mysteries, (which he writ in answer to an Epistle of Porphyry to an Egyptian Priest, and wherein Proclus saith that he writ like a Man inspir'd) discourses at large concerning Divine Extasies, and Visions, and Inspirations; in which he describes the Persons just after the Mystical way, as no longer leading a humane Life, or having any Operations of their Senses or Ʋnderstanding, but their Mind and Soul is only in the Divine Power, and not in their own, being acted and possessed wholly by it. Af­terward he sets down the several Degrees and Kinds of those; in some, they have only Par­ticipation; in others, near Communion; and in the highest of all, Ʋnion. In some of these, he saith, the Body wholly rests, and sometimes breaks out into Singing, and all expressions of Joy: sometimes the Body is raised up from the Ground, (as M. Teresa thought hers) sometimes it swells into a greater bulk, and sometimes the con­trary. Then he lays down Rules to know Divine Inspirations by: viz. by Enquiring, In what manner God appears? Whether an ap­pearance of Fire come before Him? Whether he fills up and acts the whole Soul, so that there is a Cessation of all its own Acts? For this he makes the main Character of a Divine Inspi­ration, that the Persons are wholly taken up and possessed by the Deity; from whence follows an Extasie and alienation of the Senses: But if [Page 7]either the Soul acts, or the Body moves, then, he saith, it may be a false Inspiration. No Man can express himself more emphatically con­cerning the Excellency of Contemplative Prayer than Jamblicus doth: This quickens the Mind, inlargeth its Capacity, opens the Secrets of the Divinity, and fits it for Conjunction and Ʋnion with God; and never leaves Men till it hath carried them to a State of Perfection; and by degrees doth alter and change Men, that it makes them put off Humane Nature, and bring them into such a State of Dei-formity, that they be­come Gods. The first degree of Prayer, saith he, brings to a State of Recollection, and hath some Divine Contact, which helps our Know­ledge: The second carries the Soul to a nearer Communion with God, and excites the Divine Bounty to freer Communications to it: But the third is the Seal of the ineffable Ʋnion, which makes our Mind & Soul to rest in God, as a Divine Port or Haven. And he concludes his Book with saying, That this Ʋnion with God is Man's greatest Perfection, and the End of all Religion among the Egyptians; whose Mysteries his Design was to explain and vindicate. Many other Passages might be produced out of him, concerning the Knowing of God by Divine Con­tact, and the Insufficiency of any Act of the Mind for this ineffable Ʋnion: but these are enough to shew how well acquainted Jamblicus [Page 8]and (if we believe him) the Egyptians were with the profoundest Secrets of Mystical Divinity.

There is a Book translated out of Arabick, intituled, Of Divine Wisdom according to the Egyptians, wherein are many things to this purpose; but our Author takes notice but of one passage in it, which he sets down as the Words of Plato. But before we come to Plato, it is fit to be noted, that PYTHAGORAS and the PYTHAGORIANS could not but be well acquainted with this Mystical Theology, though they did not ordinarily deliver it in such express terms; but in a more occult manner. For it is known & confessed,

That Pythagoras himself was from his Youth greatly inclin'd to an Inqui­sition into Religious Rites and Mysteries: That he travelled into Egypt to hear their Priests, was there 22 Years, had recommendations from the King to the Priests, and was permitted to ac­quaint himself with all their Learning; entred into the Egyptian Adyta, and was instituted in things unexpressible touching the Gods; gave himself exact Information concerning Persons and Things, not omitting any Person eminent at any time for Learning, or any kind of Reli­gious Rites; or any Place, where he conceived he might find somewhat extraordinary: That he went thence to Babylon, and continued there [Page 9]12 Years, conversed with the most Eminent of the Chaldeans, as also with the Persian Magi, who entertained him very courteously, & gave him insight into their more hidden Mysteries, and Religious Rites; and, without doubt, with the most Eminent for Knowledge of the Jews, in both places; and likely enough, as Selden and others think, with Ezekiel in particular.

That he made Theology, or the Know­ledge of God, the First most Universal Being, the Centre of all his Philosophy: That he was by way of Eminency call'd, [...]; and his Philosophy, [...]; because he treated chiefly of God, his Nature and Worship: That he was a great Devoto, or Advocate for God, his Worship, and Sacred Institutes: That the Confederation of his Coenobium (for so they called it) or College, had reference to some Divine Temperament, and to Union with God, and to Unity with the Divine Soul: That the Institutions of his Society and Sect, for the Ad­mission and Probation of Disciples, distinction of Persons, Reverence to their Elders, Celibacie, Communion of Goods, Retirement from the World, &c. were very much the same with those of the Esseans, and the Christian Coenobites after­ward: That of the differing Sects afterward none did Pythagorize more than Plato, especially in Divine matters, as Aristotle and Laertius have observed: yea, that the choicest of his Meta­physick [Page 10]Contemplations seem to be traduced from Pythagoras and his Followers: and that Plotinus did more clearly explicate the Princi­ples of the Pythagorick Philosophy, as well as of the Platonick.

And from all this put together, we may very reasonably conclude, especially if we take in what is related by Jamblicus, That he continued 3 days and 2 nights, at one time, in the same Posture, without taking either Meat, or Drink, or Sleep, lib. 1. cap. 3. That he must have been well acquainted with this Mystick Theology, which was in such Esteem with both; those, from whom he received Instructions; and those, who received from him: and that in Plotinus and others, we read the Pythagorick as well as Platonick Principles; and that in both was a mixture of the Judaick, and what was derived by all from the Common Parent Noah. To this I will add only a Passage or two of his, out of Demophilus:

Being born of God, and rooted in Him, let us cleave to our Root. For the Streams of the Wa­ters, and the Sprouts of the Earth, if they be cut off from their Root are dry'd up and wither away, p. 11. Is not this the very Doctrine of our Sa­viour, The True Light, which lighteth every Man, who cometh into the World, of being born of God, and abiding in the Vine?

It cannot by any means be, that one and the same Person should apply himself to Pleasures, to the Body, to the getting of Riches, and also to God. And is not this also the very Doctrine of our Sa­viour; Ye cannot serve God and Mammon? But he goes on: For he who is given to Pleasures, the same will also be careful for the Body; but he who is careful for the Body, he will also study to get Riches; and he, who studies to get Riches, will necessarily be Ʋnjust: But he who is Ʋnjust, is both impious toward God, and unjust toward Men: and therefore, although he sacrifice (whole) Heca­tombs, he is (but) the more impious, and far from God and all Religion, and deliberately Sa­crilegious: Wherefore it behoveth to avoid every voluptuary Person, as impious and sacrilegious, p. 12.

You cannot well say that he is a happy Man, who relies upon Friends, or Children, or any transi­tory and fading thing; for all these are instable things: But to rely upon ones self and upon God, that only is firm and stable, p. 12.

A wise Man sent hither Naked, will naked (or stript of all) invoke Him, who sent him: for God hears him only, who is not incumbred with Imper­tinences, p. 9.

A Divine Sense ( [...]) solidly joyns us to God: For like must necessarily be joyned with like, p. 9.

The same which I have said of Pythagoras, [Page 12]may in effect be said of SOCRATES also, both as to the Disposition of his Mind, as to his Travels for acquiring of Knowledge, and as to his Principles, from the Observations and Con­fessions of such as were no Friends to Mystick Theology: They were Scholars in the same Schools, and received the Tradition of the same Doctrine, as did Plato also from thence, and from them; so that I may dispatch this in a few Ob­servations of what is known and confessed con­cerning him.

That he had as clear Notions as any touching God, his Nature, Unity, and other Sacred My­steries, which he could never have attained un­to, but by some borrowed Tradition, &c. That he asserted, That Virtue is neither by Nature, nor by Teaching, but by Divine Inspiration: and that all true Knowledge of God comes by Divine Infusion; and called God his Tutor: That while Man is subject to, and under the Im­pression of Corporal Images, sensible Forms, and terrene Affections, he is not rightly disposed for Divine Contemplation, which requires a Mind defecated, &c. That Divine things and My­steries cannot be comprehended but by a refined Judgment, by such as have their Souls abstract­ed from all Corporal Images, Impressions and Affections; and therefore Men should be very intent on getting a Reformed Life, that the Mind being exonerated of its depressing Lusts, might, [Page 13]by a natural Vigour, lift up it self to Eternals, and by that Purity of Intelligence, contemplate the Nature of that Eternal Incommunicable Light, where the Causes of all created Natures live in Stability, v. Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. 8. c. 3. And as to his own Life, That he instituted his whole Life, even from his Childhood, by the assistance of his Divine Inspiration, which he called a Daemon, a Voice, a Sign. And that Plato reports of him that he stood a whole day without any alteration in the same posture, his Mind being abstracted with pure Contempla­tion; and that Favorinus in A. Gellius saith that he did this often.

And now to return to our principal Author, and the Words of PLATO in him, which are these: Being often in the Depth of Contemplation, my Body being left behind, I seemed to enjoy the Chief Good with incredible pleasure. Where­fore I stood as it were astonished, finding my self to be a part of the upper World, and to have ob­tained Immortality, with the clearest Light; which cannot be expressed with Words, nor heard with Ears, nor understood by the Thoughts of Men: and then he describes the Sadness he felt at the decay of that glorious Light, and the pleasure which returned with his former Exta­sies. The Words are: At last my Intellect being wearied with this Contemplation fell back into phantasie, and then that Light failing I be­came [Page 14]somewhat sad: But again having left my Body, returning thither again, I perceived my Mind abounding with Light, and that flowing then into the Body then raised above it.

Nor of Plato himself doth our Author take any more notice then of that one passage; but of the later Platonists, Plotinus, Jamblicus, Por­phrygius, and Proclus, who, as he saith out of Psellus, did wholly approve of the Chaldaick Theology: he gives us some larger Tasts; and particularly,

‘The short account of Plotinus his Hypothesis, is this; That the Soul of Man being immersed in the Body suffers very much by reason of its Ʋnion with it; by which means it is drawn to the Affections of the Body, and to a Conversation with Sensible things, and so becomes Evil and Miserable: That its Good and Happy Condition lyes in being like to God, not in regard of Ʋnder­standing, but a State of Quiescency: That the Practice of the Virtues of the Active Life is insufficient for Assimilation to God; but in order to it, those which are properly Intellectual are most necessary, whereby the Soul draws it self off from the Body. Thus for the Soul to act by its self, is Wisdom; Introversion, is Temperance; Abstraction from Matter, is Fortitude; to follow Reason, is Justice: That by the Practice of these the Soul purifies its self, i. e. casts off the things without its self, and so recovers its Purity, by [Page 15]bringing those things into Light again, which lay hid under the rubbish of Sensible things before, so that the Soul did not know them to be there; but for the Discovery of them, it was necessary for the Soul to come near a greater Light than its self: and to bring the Images which are in it to the true Originals. The way of Purifying the Soul, he calls by the Names of Abstraction and Recollection; which he else-where expresses by awakening the Soul out of Sleep, wherein it was disturbed by sensible Images; not as though the Soul had need of any other way of Pu­rifying, but only restraining it to its self by taking away that load of Matter which oppressed it; and then it naturally endeavours after the nearest Ʋnion with the first Being; which he calls the True Being, and the super-Essential Being. And he saith, When the Soul endea­vours after this Ʋnion, it must lay aside all sen­sible and intellectual Images of things, and make use only of the purest and supream part of the Mind; (or the Fund of the Spirit) that God then is not to be considered under the Notion of Being, but as something above Being; and that we are not either to affirm or deny any thing of Him: that, Our Contemplation of Him is not by Knowledge, or any Intellectual Operation; but by a Divine Presence, which far exceeds any Know­ledge: for Knowledge, he saith, hinders Ʋnion: therefore we must go beyond Knowledge, and be [Page 16]abstracted from all other Objects; and be united to Him only by the Power of Divine Love; from whence follows a clearer Light in the Soul: And in this State, saith he, there is not only a Cessation of Passion, but of Reason and Ʋnder­standing too: neither is the Person himself, [...], like one in a Rap­ture or an Extasie he enjoys God in that State of Quiescency, as in a silent Wilderness; which he calls, being in God; and in other places, seeing God in themselves, being the same with God, being one with God; and which is the highest of all, being God: which is the perfect State of Dei-formity.

Of Porphyry, who was a Disciple and Con­fident of Plotinus, the same Author gives us this account: ‘That he looked upon the Theurgick Way, as lyable to deceit, and not capable of ad­vancing the Soul to highest Perfection. Which Theurgick Way lay in the initiating of Men in some Sacred Mysteries, by partaking of cer­tain Rites and Symbols, by which they were admitted to the Presence of some of their Deities; the End whereof, as they pretended, was, reducing the Souls of Men to that State they were in before they came into the Body. So St. Austin tells us from Porphyry, That they who were purified after this manner did converse with glorious appearances of Angels, which they were fitted to see: but Porphyry himself, as he [Page 17]did not utterly reject this Lower and Symbo­lical way; so he said, That the Highest Per­fection of the Soul was not attainable by it; but it was useful for purifying the Lower part of the Soul, but not the Intellectual. By the Lower part he understood the Irrational, which by the Theurgical Rites might be fitted for Con­versation with Angels; but the Intellectual part could not be elevated by it to the Contem­plation of God, and the Vision of the things that are true. And herein he placed the utmost Perfection of the Soul in its return to and Union with God in this upper part, or Fund of the Soul: for the utmost the other attained to, was only to live among the Aetherial Spirits; but the Contemplative Souls returned to the Father, as he speaks, which, as many other of his Notions, he borrowed from the Chaldaick Theology. To shew what this Intellectual or Contemplative Life was, that should bring Mens Souls to this State of Perfection, Por­phyry writ a Book on purpose, Of the Return of the Soul, as St. Austin tells us, who quotes many passages out of it; and this particular Pre­cept above all the rest, That the Soul must fly from all Body, if it would live Happy with God: which is all one with Abstraction of Mind, and pure Contemplative Life. In that Book he com­plains that there was no Perfect Way yet known to the World for this End; not the In­dian, [Page 18]Chaldaick, or any other. But what that was which he meant, appears by what he saith near the end of the Life of Plotinus, where he hath these Words: The Scope and End of his Life was Ʋnion and Conjunction with God over all: and four times, saith he, when I was with him he attained to this Ʋnion, by an unexpressi­ble Act of the Mind: which he before sets forth, by a Divine Illumination without any I­mage or Idea, being above the Ʋnderstanding and all intelligible things. And he saith of himself, that he was once in this State of Ʋnion, when he was 68 Years of Age. Which Hol­stenius understands of an Extasie he then fell into; and imputes it to the depth of his Me­lancholy joyned with his abstracted and severe Life, his frequent Watchings, and almost conti­nual Exercise of Contemplation. For all these things were remarkable in him: and Eunapius saith of him, That he was so little a lover of the Body, that he hated his being a Man; and being in Sicily, he was almost famished by Ab­stinence, and shunned all Conversation with Man­kind: as he begins the Life of Plotinus; That he was like one ashamed that his Soul was in a Body. So that we find the Foundation here laid, (saith our Author) not only for the Mystical Ʋnion, but the Abstraction of Mind necessary in order to it: and that it doth not lye in any Intellectual Operations, but rather [Page 19]in a Cessation of these Acts, is likewise expressly affirmed by Porphyry. Many things, saith he, are said of Ʋnderstanding things that are above the Mind; but the Contemplation of those things is better performed, [...], otio & vacatione Intellectûs, as Holstenius renders it, rather by the Rest and Cessation of Operation in the Ʋnderstanding, than by the Exercise of it; as many things, while a Man wakes, are said of him that he does when he sleeps, but the Know­ledge and Perception of them is by Sleep; for things are best understood by Assimilation. And elsewhere he saith, That our manner of Ʋnder­standing all things is different according to their Essence; those things above the Mind are to be known, [...], in the way of un­knowing, and after a super-essential manner; where we see the very Phrases of Dionysius used by him; and in many places he speaks of the Minds abstracting and loosing it self from the Body, and drawing it self nearer to the First Being; of the Souls being in God; of the pure and clear Light, which follows the Abstraction of the Mind; of the State and Life of Contem­plation, and the Virtues necessary thereto; such as Abstinence from the Actions of the Body, and from Affections to it, which, saith he, raise the Mind to the super-essential Being. And he very much disparages the Active and Political Life in comparison with this; the End of one, being only [Page 20]Mens living according to Nature; but of the o­ther, Assimilation to God: He that lives accord­ing to Practical Virtues, is only a Good Man; but he that lives the Life of Contemplation, is a God. From whence we understand the Dei­formity of the Mystical Divines, being attain­able by the Life of Contemplation. The Way laid down by him for Purifying the Soul is this: 1. The Foundation of it is for the Soul to know it self, i. e. to consider, that it is in a strange place, and bound to a thing of another Substance. 2. Recollection, or gathering it self up from the Body, to be free from the Affections of it: In order to which he adviseth to deny the Body in its Appetites and Pleasures, and to shew as little Care of it, and Concernment for it, as may be: by degrees to lessen all sense both of Pleasure and Pain; and so to come at last to a Freedom from the Passions of the Body. Then he describes the Superlative Being, and saith, that it is neither Great, nor Little, but above both; and is neither Greatest nor Least, but above all; and that his Presence is not Topical, but Assimilative; and that the only Way for our Souls to recover themselves, is, to bring them into them­selves; by which Means the True Being is present with them, and we become united to God. Which Ʋnion of the Soul with God, Holstenius thinks it very probable that Porphyry understood by the Book which he mentions in the Life of [Page 21] Plotinus, called, [...], the Sacred Nup­tials, because both Plotinus and he supposed this Union to be wrought by the Power of Divine Love, as well as the Mystical Divines; and Porphyry saith, upon the reading of it, some thought him Mad, because there were several things spoken in it after a Mystical and Enthusi­astical manner; for which he was highly ap­plauded by Plotinus.

Jamblicus was Porphyry's Disciple, but out of him our Author recites no more than what is set down before concerning the Egyptian Myste­ries: but out of PROCLƲS, another Pla­tonick Philosopher, who lived long after these, and of whom Marinus gives this Character, to­wards the Conclusion of his Life,

That his Soul was so recollected and drawn into its self, that it seemed to be separated from the Body while it remained in it; he hath this passage: In the beginning of his Theology, saith he, he distin­guisheth between that Intellectual Faculty in us, whereby we are capable of Ʋnderstanding the Nature and Difference of Intelligible Idea's, and that which he call [...], the Summity, as the Mysticks speak, and pure Fund of the Spirit, which, he saith, is alone ca­pable of the Divine and Mystical Ʋnion; so he calls it, [...]. For, saith he, though there be many Intellectual Powers in us, yet it is by this only that we can be united to the Divinity, [Page 22]and be made partakers of it. For we cannot reach the Divine Being either by our Senses, or by Opinion, or by Apprehension; no nor yet by Ra­tiocination, [...]. It remains there­fore, that if the Divine Nature can any ways be known by us, it must be by the Essence of the Soul. For the Soul being drawn into its own Ʋnity, and removing from it self the Multipli­city of its Powers, it ascends to the greatest height of true Contemplation. While the Soul looks about on things below it, it sees nothing but Shadows and Images of things: When it comes to a State of Introversion, then it sees its own Essence and Operations of the Ʋnderstanding: But when it searches deeper, then it finds the Mind within it self, and the several Orders of real Beings: When it goes yet farther into the most secret Closet of the Soul, there it contemplates, as it were blindfold, the Divine Beings, and the first Idea's or Ʋnities of Beings. And this, saith he, is the most excellent Operation of the Soul, in the Rest or Quiescency of its Powers, to stretch it self toward the Divine Nature, and dance, as it were, round it, and to raise up the whole Soul to­wards this Ʋnion with it, and abstracting it self from all Inferior Beings, to rest upon, and be con­joyned with that Ineffable and Super-essential Being. And by this means the Soul comes to have the truest Ʋnderstanding of all things.

[Page 23]

All these Notions, (saith our Author) both among the Chaldeans, and the Platonick Phi­losophers, are built upon a very ancient Hypo­thesis, but very different from that of Christiani­ty; which Hypothesis being granted, this My­stical Divinity appears with some face of Rea­son, and colour of Probability.— It was this; That the Souls of Men did exist in another World long before they came into the Body; that in their Descent to the Body they had an Aetherial Vehicle joyned to them; which up­on the conjunction of the Soul and Body be­came the Means of Communication between them, and takes up its chief Seat in the Brain, which is the same which we call the Imaginati­on: that the Soul being in this state is apt to be much inveigled with Kindness to the Body, and so forget its Return home: that the Body is ca­pable of doing the Soul mischief no other way, being it self under the power of Fate, then as it draws it downward: that the Mind, being the upper part of the Soul, is always acting; but we know not its operations but only by the Impressions they make upon the Phansie: that the Mind hath the true Idea's of things within it self; but we are deceived by the Represen­tations conveyed by our Imagination; and therefore our Ratiocination is very short and uncertain: that our only way of Recovering our Souls, is by drawing them off from the [Page 24]Body, and retiring into themselves; and that upon this the Mind hath the Divine Being so nearly conjoyned to it, that it passeth into a Divine Nature, and recovers its former State, when it parts from the Body. But because it is not to return alone without the Aetherial Vehicle it brought with it, therefore the Chal­deans and Egyptians had several Sacred and Symbolical Rites for the purifying of the Ve­hicle, as they called it, which they made ne­cessary for this End: and with them Jamblicus joyns, but Porphyry thought them not ne­cessary, but that Philosophy and meer Con­templation would purifie enough without it. This is the true Account of their Hypothesis, as may be fully seen in Hierocles and Synesius, without going farther; and was the first Foun­dation of Mystical Divinity, which I will not deny to be well enough accommodated to it. But it is as remote from Christianity, as the Hypothesis it self is.

This is said by our Author to disparage My­stical Divinity; because he supposeth it will not be consented to by any that are Friends to it. But how doth it appear that this Hypothesis was the first Foundation of Mystical Divinity; which, for any thing he hath shewed to the contrary, may be more ancient than it? His bare affir­mation in his own Case certainly is not to be admitted for Proof. But in case that were ad­mitted, [Page 25]how is that different from Christianity; for he would not say contrary; though, no doubt, many of his Readers would be apt to take it so? The Jews did believe it before our Saviour's time; the Apocrypha doth favour it; the Apostle's Que­stion concerning the Man, who was born Blind, doth favour it; nor doth our Saviour's Answer at all contradict it, but rather suppose it: and it hath been asserted by Learned Men, both of the Church of England and other Protestants, from Proofs of Scripture, as well as Reason. His Conclusion also is observable, that Mystical Di­vinity is as remote from Christianity, as the Hy­pothesis it self; such another cautious Expression not to expose himself, but by which the gene­rality of his Readers may easily be imposed upon. Truth is a very venerable thing; and Divine matters ought to be treated with great Reve­rence; the very Heathen Mysticks would have thought so, whatever our Rationatists think.

Besides these ancient Philosophers, our Author takes notice of the like Notions and Practices among other Gentiles, even at this day; but of what antiquity amongst them he saith not. It is taken from a Letter of Monsteur Bernier to Monsieur Chaplain, dated 4 Octob. 1667, con­cerning the Gentiles of Indostan, wherein he gives an account ‘of certain Orders of Religious among them, who make Vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, living in Convents [Page 26]under Superiors, who are commonly called Jauguis, i. e. united to God, who used themselves to many Hardships, and were looked on as so many Eremites by the People, being accounted true Saints, illuminated and perfect Jauguis: These are People that have entirely abandoned the World, and sequestered themselves into some very remote Corner or Garden, like Eremites, without ever coming to the Town. If you carry them any Meat, they receive it; if they do not, 'tis believed that they can live without it, and subsist by the sole Favour of God in perpetual Fasting, Prayer, and profound Meditations: for they sink themselves so deep into these Raptures, that they spend many hours together in being in­sensible, and beholding in that time, as they give out, God himself, like a very bright and ineffable Light, with an unexpressible Joy and Satisfaction, attended with an intire Contempt and forsaking of the World. For thus much one of them, that pre­tended he could enter into this Rapture when he pleased, and had been often in it, told me; and o­thers that are about them affirm the thing with so much seriousness, that they seem to believe it in earnest, that there is no Imposture in it.

To these others might be added, who have had the like Notions, and used the like Exercises, as well anciently, as at this time. Such as the Indian Brachmans or Gymnosophists, the Persian Magi, and the Druides, who are said by some to [Page 27]have been as ancient as Abraham's time. The Character given by Bardisanes Syrus of the BRACHMANES, that they neither worship Images, nor eat what is animate; neither drink Wine, or Beer; are far from all Malignity, attend­ing wholly to God; is comprehensive enough to take in both the Austerities and Contemplations of those before-mentioned. But the religious Care of the Ancients to conceal their most Sacred Mysteries from the Vulgar, and their communi­cation of them principally by successive verbal Tradition, is a great reason that we have so little of this in any Writings, not only of the rest, whom we call Heathens, but even of the Jews, and Christians. However, it is plain by what is collected by our Author, that these Notions and Exercises were not first introduced by Plotinus and his Disciples, but derived to them from the Egyptians, and the Chaldeans. And if it be in­quired from what Original they derived them, it will be hard to discover any other than either Abraham and his Posterity, as many assert; or at least the common Parent Noah; so that what our Author has collected to disparage Mystical Theology, being well considered, will prove a notable Recommendation of it. For as it is most reasonable to believe that Noah did instruct his Posterity in all things of greatest Importance to them; and that the Knowledge of them was transmitted to after-Generations, and in particu­lar [Page 28]to the Chaldeans and Egyptians in some sort or other; but to the Jews intirely, and without Mixture of Corruptions; so it is not to be doubted, but such inquisite Persons, and especially into Divine Mysteries, as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, Men of such extraordinary qualifica­tions, and so favoured as they were, must have obtained a compleat Knowledge of them from all these Nations; and especially at that time, in and after the Captivity, when they seem by Divine Providence to have been carried away out of their own Countrey for that very end and pur­pose, that God's dealings with them might be more fully known to other Nations. For the Posterity of Abraham was undoubtedly designed by Almighty God to be a Light and Admonition to the Gentiles, even from the beginning in all their various States; in Egypt, in the Wilderness, in the Land of Canaan, in their Captivity, and in their Dispersion to this very day. Nor do I at all doubt but there was so much Knowledge of Truth derived from them to other Nations, as together with what is observable in the Works of God, and what was received from the Com­mon Ancestors, was sufficient for the Salvation of all, who used and improved the same as they ought; and for the just Condemnation of the rest, who neglected it. And therefore, if we find that these Men were acquainted with the Mystick Divinity, that is, with the thing, whe­ther [Page 29]under that Name or any other, it matters not; if we find undeniable Evidence of it among the Chaldeans and Egyptians, and others before; if we find the most ancient Christian Asceticks well acquainted with it, and much, or rather altogether in the Practice of it, before Dionysius his Theologia Mystica was known in the World; this put together is such a Constellation of con­current and corroborating Evidences, that whencesoever that Name, and some Terms and Expressions, which seem somewhat uncouth, came in after Ages, yet that the thing it self must have been derived from some very ancient common Original to those Nations; and to those Christian Asceticks, not from the Collections of the Adversaries of Christianity, (which is a meer groundless Oratorical Fiction to expose it) no more than from Dionysius, whom our Author doth not believe to have been so ancient; but either from some of the first Converts of the Jews, or, which seems more likely, from a Divine Conduct and Inspiration: for they were many of them unacquainted with Humane Learning. Nor do I see any reason to think that the Institutions of the Sons of the Prophets among the Jews were much different from the Mystical Theology, which is thus opposed by our Author; but rather that the same Institutions were conveyed, as Secrets, by Tradition to some principal Men of all Nations, from the Common Parent Noah.

And indeed, if we do but fairly, that is can­didly and without Prejudice, consider that Ac­count of this Divinity, which our Author hath chosen for his purpose to collect from a late Au­thor, Father Austin Baker and Mr. Cressy's Preface, I suppose it will sufficiently recommend it self, as no improper or unlikely Method to have been used by the ancient Prophets. ‘Let the Reader judge of it (saith he, and so say I) by these Passages in his (viz. Mr. Cressy's) Preface: 1. The only proper Disposition towards receiving Supernatural Irradiations from God's Holy Spi­rit, is an Abstraction of Life; a Sequestration from all Business that concerns others; and an Attendance to God alone in the Depth of the Spi­rit. And a little after: 2. The Lights here desired and prayed for, are such as do expell all Images of Creatures, and do calm all manner of Passions; to the end the Soul being in a Vacuity, may be more capable of receiving and entertaining God in the pure Fund of the Spirit. Thus far our Au­thor out of Mr. Cressy. But I think fit to add to these two, the rest of his Characters of Divine Inspirations whereby they may be distinguished from Fanaticism. 3. The Prayer here acknow­ledged to be the most effectual Instrument to pro­cure Divine Light, is a Pure, Recollected, Intime (or most inward) Prayer of the Spirit. 4. Here are no new Speculative Verities or Revelations of Mysteries pretended; no private new-found-out [Page 31]Interpretations of Scripture bragg'd of. 5. Here the Established Order of God's Church, and the Ʋnity essential thereto is not prejudiced. Yea, the Inspirations expected and obtained by Pure Inter­nal Prayer do more firmly and unalterably fix Souls under this Obedience, and to this Order and Ʋnity. 6. Our Lights teach us to attend only to God and our own Souls, and never to interess our selves in any Care or Imployment about others, till evidently God's Inspirations force us, and External Authority obliges us thereto. 7. Our Lights make us to fear and avoid all Super-eminence and Judicature, all sensual Pleasures, Desires of Wealth, Honor, &c. 8. And lastly, Our Lights, if they should chance sometimes to be mistaken by us, no Harm at all would accrue to others, and not any considerable prejudice to our selves; because, as hath been said, the Matters in which they direct us, are in their Nature indifferent, and are ordered only toward a more perfect Loving of God, and withdrawing us from Creatures. §. 33. The contrary or differ­ent Characters of phanatick false Lights, I pass by for brevity sake.

Out of Father Baker himself he produceth these amongst others: Such (contemplative) Souls are not of themselves much inclined to Ex­ternal Works, (except (saith Father Baker, which our Author leaves out) when God calls them thereto by secret Inspirations, or en­gageth them therein by Command of Superiors) [Page 32] but they seek rather to purifie themselves, and inflame their Hearts to the Love of God by In­ternal Quiet, and Pure Actuations in Spirit; by a total Abstraction from Creatures; by Soli­tude, both external and especially internal; so disposing themselves to receive the Influxes and Inspirations of God, whose Guidance chiefly they endeavour to follow in all things. * And, The proper End of a Contemplative Life is the attaining unto an Habitual and almost uninterrupted perfect Ʋnion with God in the supream point of the Spirit; and such an Ʋnion as gives the Soul a Fruitive Pos­session of him, and a real Experimental Perception of the Divine Presence in the Depth and Centre of the Spirit, whith is fully possessed and filled with him alone; not only all deliberate Affections (saith Fa. Baker) to Creatures being excluded, but in a manner all Images of them also, at least so far, as they may be distractive to the Soul. And he adds: The Effects of this blessed Perceptable Presence of God in Perfect Souls are unspeakable and Divine: For he is in them both as a Principle of all their Actions Internal and External, being the Life of their Life, and Spirit of their Spirits; and also as the End of them, directing both the Actions and Persons to himself only. He is All in all things unto them: A Light to direct securely all their Steps, and to order all their Workings, even those also which seem the most Indifferent; [Page 33]the which, by the Guidance of God's Holy Spirit, do cause a farther Advancement of them to a yet more immediate Ʋnion. He is a Shield to pro­tect them in all Tentations and Dangers; an internal Force and Vigour within them to make them do and suffer all things, whatsoever his pleasure is they should do or suffer. They not only believe and know, but even feel and tast him to be the Ʋniversal Infinite Good. By means of a continual Conversation with him they are re­duced to a blessed State of a Perfect Denudation of Spirit, to an absolute Internal Solitude, a Transcendency and Forgetfulness of all created things, and especially of themselves, to an Hea­venly-mindedness and fixed Attention to God only, and this even in the midst of Employments to others never so distractive; and, finally, to a gustful Knowledge of his Infinite Perfections, and a strict Application of their Spirits by Love above Knowledge, joyned with a Fruition and Repose in Him with the whole extent of their Wills: So that they become after an inexpressi­ble manner Partarkers of the Divine Nature; yea, One Spirit, One Will, One Love with him, being in a sort Deified, and enjoying as much of Heaven here as Mortality is capable of.

The special Means for obtaining such spiritual and extraordinary Favours from God, are doubt­less very desirable to be known; and these our Author sets down in the Words of O. N. who [Page 34]purposely writ in Answer to him upon this Sub­ject, viz. (besides a watchful Guard, saith he, for keeping the Conscience clean, as much as may be, not only from Mortal, but also Venial Sin) Much fre­quent and continued Vocal or Mental Prayer; much Solitude, and Mortifications of our Flesh; and Abstraction of our Thoughts and Affections from any Creature; much Recollection, and with­drawing from abroad into our selves; much Me­ditation on such selected Subjects, as may rather inflame our Affections than increase our Science; and when once we find these enkindled, the En­deavouring a Quiescence, as much as we can from former Discourse, (those actions of the Brain and Intellect now hindering the Heart and Will) and the bringing of our selves rather to a simple Contemplation, to exercise Acts of Love, adhere to, sigh after, and entertain the Divine Object thereof. And here (saith he) if his Divine Majesty please to advance us any higher to such Unions with Him, as are not in our power, and wherein we receive rather than act, and he operates in us rather than we our selves, we embrace them with all Humility and Gratitude; if otherwise, we acquiesce in our best endeavours, and longing after him with Patience, though enabled also to these only by his Grace. This our Spiritual and Mystical Masters teach us; and thus, after this way, which these Men stile Fanaticism and En­thusiasm, we endeavour to procure a more strict [Page 35]Acquaintance and Converse with God, and herein to follow the Example of our Fore-Fathers.

‘Elsewhere, saith our Author, he (Fa. Baker) describes the Progress towards this State of Per­fection thus; That he who would come to it must practise the drawing of his External Senses inwardly to his internal, there losing, and, as it were, annihi­lating them: then he must draw his Internal Senses into the Superior powers of the Soul, and there annihilate them likewise: And those Powers of the Intellectual Soul he must draw into that which is called the Ʋnity; and to that Ʋnity, which alone is capable of perfect Ʋnion with God, must be applyed and firmly fixed on God, wherein the perfect Divine Contemplation lyes. It is true, these words are in Father Baker; but they are but what he saith we read in other Authors: and besides he adds: Now, whether such Ex­pressions as these will abide the strict Exami­nation of Philosophy or no, I will not take on me to determine. Certain it is, that by a frequent and constant Exercise of Internal Prayer of the Will, joyned with Mortification, the Soul comes to operate more and more abstracted from Sense, and more celebrated above the Corporeal Organs and Faculties; so drawing near to the resem­blance of the Operations of an Angel or Separated Spirit.

By this we may perceive, that it is not diffi­cult, as our Author saith, to put together some [Page 36]of their Words and Phrases, as an Account of their Divinity; (p. 285.) and what Account that is. But besides these, there are some other passages which he recites; and in them some, which he construes, as he doth these and other things; and some Expressions, which may seem hard Sayings to one, who is not willing to understand them, or consider them as terms of Art, and allow them a candid Construction; and may afford Matter for Exercise of Wit to such as are dis­posed to sport themselves with Matters of Re­ligion. The wicked Spirit does easily insi­nuate himself into, and impose upon Persons ingaged in Controversy; they are ordinarily like Souldiers ingaged in War, act as if all was Law­ful, whereby they can incommode an Adversary, without due regard to Charity, Truth, and that fair Dealing and Kindness which Chri­stianity enjoyns to Enemies; and too often be­have themselves like such Souldiers, as are loath to have an End of a War lest they should want Employment, trifling and skirmishing at a di­stance, with vain Words and Shews: and the consequence in each is frequently the baffling and disparaging of the Cause they are ingaged in, and giving advantages to their Adversaries. And I wish this Author, by his management, hath not given too much Advantage, or at least Occasion, to the common Adversaries, Infidels and Deists. But as to this cause, O. N. hath so [Page 37]fully answered all Cavils at the Terms of Art, that it seems he left little to be replyed to: and there­fore, for Answer, our Author is reduced to these two shifts: 1. To inculcate the Unintelligibleness of Mystick Theology, from the cessation of the discursive Faculty at the time of Contemplation, (which is all that the Mystick Writers intend) as if all Men, in the very act of intent listening to Sounds, or beholding something extraordinary, did not the like in a great measure. 2. To make a great Bravado, as if he had the Autho­rity of the whole Church of Christ against all Visions, immediate Revelations, Extasies, &c. in the case of Montanus; Whereas what was condemned in Montanus and his Compa­nions, was not the pretending to Visions and Revelations; but pretending such to be Divine, which were not; but Diabolical, as appeared both by the Manner, and by the Matter, being Heresie: as is very plain in the ancient Writer in Eusebius, l. 5. c. 16. When the Faithful throughout Asia had met often, and in many places of Asia, upon this account, and had inquired into this New Doctrine, and determined it to be pro­phane, and rejected this Heresie, they were ex­pelled out of the Church. And before he relates how Montanus his Ambition gave the Enemy an Entrance into himself, and he was filled with the Devil, and of a sudden possest with a furi­ous and frantick Temper of Mind, &c. So he [Page 38]saith of Theodotus, that he was possest with a false Extasie, which plainly implies true ones believed then, contrary to what our Author doth pretend. To say that it hath no Founda­tion in the Christian Doctrine, and yet to pass by so many Testimonies of Scripture produced for it, with no better answer than what amounts to a Concession, deserves no other reply than only to note it. To mistake and mis-represent Mens Words through Ignorance, is a Fault, but more especially in Men pretending to Learning and Knowledge; yet hath that some excuse, by reason of the Humane Infirmity incident to all. But to do it wilfully, deliberately, and seeking Occasions, is not only different from, but contrary to the Spirit of Christianity. But what is it then, if it be in despight of that which is really true, and the Operations of the Spirit of Grace? To say that the Case of Mon­tanus was the very Case of Mystical Ʋnions; and that the Spirit of Montanus was rejected in the Christian Church as a Fanatick Enthusiastical Spirit; as if the Case of Mystical Unions was the Case of that Spirit so rejected, with other expressions to like purpose, are fit to be con­sidered afterward, if they were not well con­sidered before-hand. There is a passage, which he recites out of the Spiritual Exercises of the Jesuites, p. 31, 32. edit. 1574. viz. It is the great Perfection of a Christian to keep himself [Page 39]indifferent, to do what God shall reveal to him; and not to determine himself to do what he hath already revealed and taught in the Gospel: which is very gross indeed, if the meaning be what he would have us to believe; and indeed so gross, that it is not to be believed to be their meaning, if it be to be found there, and fairly translated: but since it is capable of ano­ther construction, viz. not to confine ones self to what is revealed in general; but to be in­different, as to things not determined, but lest indifferent, to do as God shall direct: I know not what can be said of any weight against it: Such a Construction had been but according to their own Rule: Christianum unumquemque pium debere promptiore animo Sententiam seu Pro­positionem obscuram alterius in bonam trahere par­tem, quam damnare, &c. Exercit. Spirit. p. 65. edit. Ant. 1676. 8o. which had been more worthy of our Author's Observation. Nor do I see any reason to alledge, as an Instance or Proof of their Fanaticism, that Custom of Ignatius and his Companions, related by Orlan­dinus, lib. 1. n. 111. viz. In any matter of De­bate they were to joyn together in Prayer; and after seeking God, what Opinion the most were of, that they resolve upon. Where was the Fault in this? in joyning in Prayer? or in agreeing with the Majority? If the Odium of the Name will excuse any thing with the vulgar; yet it [Page 40]becomes neither Christianity, nor Ingenuity, nor is it consistent with true Prudence, to con­descend to such mean Objections. Over-doing doth often spoil a good Work, and disparage and discredit the Author. The Errors and Mis­carriages of Devout People ought to be pitied, mentioned with Grief, and not exposed beyond Truth or Necessity: For that makes sport for the Devils and wicked Men; gives Scandal to weak Men; promotes Uncharitableness and Irreligion; and discomposeth and disordereth the Spirit of him that doth it. He who judgeth others, ought to take care that they rise not up in Judgment hereafter against himself. How will that Fanaticism, which carries Men to the farthest part of the World for the Conversion of Infidels to Christianity, rise up in Judgment against them, who suffer their own Parishes and Diocesses of professed Christians at home, to sink into Insidelity, for want of due Care and sufficient Instruction? And how will the Excess of Devotion (if it be so) in some Spi­ritual Writers, rise up in Judgment against such as will be found to have given occasion to Te­pidity, Carelessness, and Neglect of the most Spiritual Exercises of Religion?

NOTES and OBSER­VATIONS to discern Illusions, from Divine In­spirations.

THERE is another part of the Quarrel, which our Author hath to this Mystical Divinity, besides that, that it is unintelligible, as he says, viz. That it leads Persons into strange Illusions of Fancy; which he takes to be a great Injury, not only to those Melancholy Souls that are led through this Valley of Shades and Darkness; but to the Chri­stian Religion it self. Which, if true, is a just Cause of Quarrel indeed: But if well consider'd, no greater Cause than others have against the Holy Scriptures, because some wrest them to their own Destruction, 2 Pet. 3.16. It is true, many Persons have been impos'd upon by their own Fancies; and many more by Satan transformed into an Angel of Light: but must we therefore deny that there are any true Divine Illuminations, Inspirations, Motions, or Com­munications? It is therefore very necessary to be well considered, How they may be distinguished. And because O. N. in the Book which our Author answers, hath a Discourse on that Subject, which hath passed his Examination without any hard censure, which is an implicit Approbation, that may not im­properly here be added.

FOR the discerning of such Illusions, proceeding from Satan, from the true Inspirations of God's Holy Spirit, we affirm, That many Notes and Observa­tions there be, whereby they may be known, if not cer­tainly whether Divine, as to their Original; (where no Spirit of Prophecy or Miracles:) yet whether containing Truth, and advancing Vertue, as to the Matter; and whether any way noxious and hurtful, either to the Person that receives them, or others. And this is abundantly sufficient. Now for these Notes of discerning them, I need referr the Reader to no other Book then to the Doctor's Martyr, Sancta Sophia, (though he was pleased to take no notice of them there) in the Preface, from §. 29. to §. 35. Again, in the third Treatise, p. 268. from §. 9. to §. 22. where, after directing a strict Observation to be made concerning the Person, whether, 1. vici­ously inclin'd; 2. arrogant and proud; or, 3. curi­ous; 4. or much addicted to melancholy, there are particularly cast off, and marked out for Satanical Illusions; among others, these: All such pretended Inspirations or Revelations as do invite the Person to say or do any thing contrary to the Catholick Faith, Obedience, Humility, Peace, and Unity, Ho­nesty, Parity,’ and any other Divine Vertue: but espe­cially contrary to the Catholick Faith, or Obedience; for instance, as the attempting to make any new and seditious Reformations; as likewise, when the Persons obstinately believe these Revelations to be of God, after they have been condemned by experienced Superiors and Directors. All such, I say, are condemned for Satanical Illusions, which cuts all the nerves of all such pretended Reve­lations as can any way disturb the Church's Faith, or Peace; and most of all, of those Enthusiasms and Fa­natick [Page 43]Frenzies which have been so common among Protestants. — §. 14.

Lastly, in all these Pretensions, where there is any greater difficulty of discerning the Good and Di­vine from the Bad and Satanical Spirit, we have a judge to repair to, the Governours of the Church; The Spirits of the Prophets, saith St. Paul, are subject to the Prophets. — §. 15.

But there are other Influences and Inspirations of the same Spirit, directing us also in Actions in their own nature Indifferent, or of Counsel, and on either side lawful, and free from Sin; some of which Inspi­rations cannot be tried, or distinguished from En­thusiasm, by any such way as the former; which, be­cause they are much spoken of by the Mysticks, and are very necessary for advancing Christians in the way of Perfection, it seems requisite, for the freeing these also from Mistakes, to give the Reader here some ac­count of them. §. 18.

1. We must know then (as Sancta Sophia, Tr. 1. p. 57. and others have discoursed more at large) that there are two Spirits within us; (that is, all the Regenerate) the Holy Spirit, and that of Corrupt Na­ture assisted with the Suggestions of the Devil, who took a kind of Possession of us upon Adam's Fall, Eph. 2.2. That this last Spirit is never totally expell'd or silenc'd in us during this Life; but tempts us still, Gal. 5.17. And that its Suggestions may appear many times like the Motions of God's Spirit; pretending Good Ends, the performing some Duty to our selves or our Neighbour, our advancement in Vertue, and the like: That the Effect of the first of these Spirits, Sanctifying Grace, received in our Regeneration or Justification, is, in its infusion, ordinarily but as a small Seed, 1 John 3.9. 1 Pet. 1.23. Mat. 13.31, [Page 44]33. or spark, capable of a daily growth and in­crease; and which, with the co-operation of our Free will, and further Aids, that are from time to time received from God, works in us at length a total Reformation, and Christian Perfection; which, so many among the Regenerate as do attain, are said in a more special mannner to be Spiritual Persons, and to have the Spirit of God: And in this sense the Apostle writes to the Corinthians,— I, Brethren, could not speak unto you as to Spiritual, but as to Carnal, and as to Babes in Christ, 1 Cor. 3.1. and so, ver. 3. For ye are yet Carnal, and Walk according to Man: that is, ye are Babes only in Christ, and so in some degree Carnal, and walking according to the natural Man still, and not as yet entirely Spiritual. And frequent mention we find in the Scriptures of these several Degrees and Growths in a Regenerate Condition. (It being God's Pleasure, that the New Man, as the Old, should grow by degrees, and not be made compleat in us all at once.) Mention, I say, of some Babes and little ones, and to be fed as yet only with Milk: Of strong Meat, and Wisdom, and higher Mysteries, only to be delivered to, and spoken amongst, the Perfect. See Heb. 5.12, 13. 1 Pet. 2.2. 1 Cor. 3.1: 1.2, 6. Of growing in Grace, and re­ceiving Increase from God, 2 Pet. 3.18. Col. 2.19. Of the new Man being renewed day by day, 2 Cor. 4.16. Of arriving to a perfect Man unto the measure of the Stature (or Age) of the Fulness of Christ, Eph. 4.13. Of the Apostles labouring to present every one perfect in Christ Jesus, and that they might stand perfect, and full in all the Will of God, Col. 1.28: 4.12. and of this Perfection still containing in it higher and higher degrees; Not as if I had already attained, saith the Apostle, Phil. 3.12.

Though therefore by this Principle of a New Life, and the infusion of the habitual Grace of Charity, we are already translated from the former being of corrupt Nature to a Divine being of Supernatural Grace, freed, at the first, from the former state of Mortal Sin, and from the Slavery and Captivity we suffered under its Dominion; yet hath not this Spirit as yet attained such a soveraign Empire and Mastery over the importunate Solicitations of Concupiscence, and the natural Inclinations of our Will and Affecti­ons, as that we do not still fall frequently into many lesser, and those call'd Venial Sins; or at least, as to Actions that are not sinful, but in their nature in­different, or lawful, that we do not, for the most part, still prosecute those that are more grateful, or advantageous to our present Carnal desires, and our Sensual or secular designs: Though such Actions are no way expedient for us, nor acceptable to the Holy Spirit, in which now we live; nor do conduce to our growth in Grace, but are great hinderances thereof; and though these Acts, contained indeed within the compass of lawful, yet often expose us to Occasions of Sin. Now, so long as we stay here, and advance no further, we appear but as Infants, and Babes in Grace, it having not as yet obtained its perfect Reign in us, either over our Concupiscence, which carries us still into frequent venial Sins; or over our Nature and Will, which carries us, in other matters lawful, to those satisfying our natural Condition. But, when we are come to have potestatem voluntatis nostrae, as St. Paul expresseth it, 1 Cor. 7.37. come once to act seldom according to [...], Concupiscence, to fall seldom into Venial Sin, especially with adver­tency and unsurprised; and the Holy Spirit to have a more absolute power over Sense, Reason, our own [Page 46] Will, Propriety, and Self-love, as to these things lawful, but not expedient; when come to St. Paul's omnia mihi licent, sed ego sub nullius redigar potestate, 1 Cor. 6.12. and to his corpus in servitem redigo, 1 Cor. 9.27. and to act more constantly ac­cording to the Spirit, moving now more per­ceptibly in us, and giving the Law to us, when Grace is, as to these non-expedients, also predominant, and sole Mistress; ordering all things (without our re­luctance, or also with our zeal,) to the greater Love, Praise, Honour of God, and the doing of all things in order to his Will, so far as it is made known to us by this his Spirit, then are we arrived to a full growth, to a compleat Man in Christ, to a state of Perfection, such as this Life attains: but few Regenerate there are that do not, by their own disorders, die in their Spiritual Youth, before they come to such a mature Age. As therefore, in our Regeneration, a Man is removed from the state of Sin into the state of Grace; so the Church desires in that which is called (from some high Mysteries it speaks of as to the supream Effects of this Grace) Mystical Theology, to advance those, already in the state of Grace, to that of Per­fection; and from the Spirit Dwelling, to it more absolutely Reigning in us, which finds so many great Rewards, not only in the next, but this present Life. §. 19.

2. We must know therefore, That to such end this Holy Spirit received in our Regeneration assisteth and worketh in us, not only as to affording generally to all good Christians that seriously endeavour to save their Souls, such internal Illuminations and Motions as are sufficient to direct them for the resisting of any sinful Temptation, or to perform any necessary act of Vertue, in Circumstances wherein they are obliged to [Page 47]it; but also, in affording us Light and Ability in all indifferent Actions and Occurrences, (with which may be also joyned all the Acts of Christian Vertues, when no necessity obligeth us to do any of them, and so when it is lawful for us, without Sin, to do or omit them) whereby we are guided to make such a Choice, as is more conformable to God's Will, and, parti­cular Circumstances considered, may much more ad­vance us in the Love of God, and Christian Perfe­ction, and whereby we may avoid such other of them as may be suggested, either by corrupt Nature, or the evil Spirit, under pretence also of some Good End, but to defeat a Better. For the Holy Spirit excites us and assists us, not only in doing Duties of necessary obligation, or in the avoiding what is prohibited, and performing what is commanded by God under pe­nalty of Sin; but in all these Acts also, that may any way tend more to God's Glory, or to our greater Perfection; though these be such as we may without sinning chuse or refuse.

For in this I may say, that the Holy Spirit in us is like to Concupiscence in us; the one continually ex­citing us unto that which is Better, as the other to that which is Worse. See the Apostles description of these two inmates, Rom. 8.1. &c. and Gal. 5.16, 17, 18. where he saith, v. 7. that Spiritus concupiscit adversus Carnem, & Caro adversus Spiritum— and that sibi invicem adversantur. And ibid. v. 18. as also Rom. 8.14. That those who are God's Children, or Regenerate, aguntur Spiritu, are acted by the Spirit: It guides us into Truth, Jo. 16.13. brings things for­gotten to our Remembrance, Jo. 14.26. gives Know­ledge and Arguments to one, Act. 6.10. Ʋtterance and Eloquence, and the power to perswade, to another, Act. 2.4. To another Wisdom, or a good Judgment, [Page 48]1 Cor. 1.5: 12.8, 9, 28. Prudence in Governing; in executing anothers Commands, Rom. 12.6, 7. To another Courage, and Boldness, Act. 4.29, 31. It opens Mens Ʋnderstaendings and Hearts, and renders them docile, and apt to believe, Luk. 24.8. Act. 16.14. Eph. 1.18. What is there that is not done in us by this Holy Spirit, when we are employed about any thing that tends to the Glorifying of God, the Father, or the Son? So is our regenerate Life wholly managed by this Spirit, as the Natural is by the Soul; and, if not obstructed, works in us a continual growth in Grace, till we come to a perfect Man in Christ, 2 Pet. 3.18. Eph. 4.13. Therefore the Apostle exhorts his Converts, Gal. 5.25. that as they live (their new Life) in, or by, the Spirit, so they would walk in it, (according to its directions:) And that they would mind or affect the things of the Spirit, (or the things it minds them of:) Because, [...], within them is Death in the end; but the [...], within them is Life and Peace to them: Exhorts them also, Eph. 4.30. with no corrupt and fruitless Communication to contristate or grieve this Spirit.— Tim. 4.14. not to neglect it.— 1 Cor. 15.10. That it should not be void (or idle) in them— 1 Thess. 5.19. not to quench it. Eph. 5.18. To replenish themselves with it. And 2 Tim. 1.6. continually to revive it— Rom. 12.11. to be fervent in it; without which the Apostle saith, 2 Cor. 3.5. we cannot think a good Thought; and our Lord, Jo. 15 5. that we can do nothing. §. 20.

3. These Actions of the latter kind, we are now speaking of, that may be lawfully done, or omitted, the one or the other performed, without any guilt of Sin, are either such, as, by the Evangelical Coun­sels, and the dictate of rectified Reason, are clearly [Page 49]discerned by us; the one to be better, and more to lead to Christian Perfection than the other; or such, where we have some doubt of these two Actions, good or lawful, which is the better, or more expe­dient. In the former of these we may safely con­clude, that that which is manifest to us to be the better, as to our Perfection, is the motion in us of the Holy Spirit; and that the doing it, is the doing the Will of God in this matter; and that so often as we reject or neglect this, so often we contristate the Spirit, (that would thus conduct us to Perfection,) and re­fuse to do God's Will, when this is known to us; whose Will it ought always to be presumed to be, that we should do that which is clear to us, all things considered, to be best, for his Glory, and our Good, to be done; though such omission or neglect amounts not to a Sin, but to a Failing so much in Perfection. And indeed the not vigilantly observing these Mo­tions of the Spirit within us, and the not hearkening to and obeying them when evident to be such, or also the not preconsulting by Prayer what it adviseth, but rather precipitating our Action to prevent it, is the reason of so many their no greater Improve­ment in the Spirit, and that they are such strangers to it, and It to them, is a check to the further and stronger operations of it in the Soul; (for, Who would offer Counsel, seldom or never accepted, or asked?) abates the Fervour and Solace that there would be in prosecuting its Suggestions, and leaves us guilty of much Unkindness and Ingratitude. For, as St. Bernard, Cum hae Sancti Spiritus circa nos dispensatoriae quidem vicissitudines vigilantissime non observantur, fit, ut nec absentem desideres, nec presentem glorifices, in Cant. Serm. 17. When these condescending vicissitness concern­ing us are not most watchfully heeded, it comes to pass [Page 50]that thou dost neither desire him when absent, nor glorifie him when present.

But in the latter Actions, wherein we have some cause of doubt, which is best, and yet wherein the making a good choice may be exceedingly beneficial to us, (according to the variety of our Temper and Condition) to the better ordering of our Life and Service of God, such Illumination and Direction of the Holy Spirit, or also a clear discerning thereof, is obtained especially by much Purity of Conversation, and Abstraction from Worldly things; by frequent Recollection, and Introversion, and attendance on God, in the perfectest Practice of Prayer we can attain to. For God hath graciously declared to us in the Scriptures; That the effectual Prayer of a Righteous man (as that of Elias) availeth much, Jam. 5.17. That he heareth not Sinners, but if any one be a Worshipper of him, and doth his Will, him he heareth, Jo. 9.31. That all things whatsoever we shall ask in Prayer, (that is, such Per­sons) not doubting, but believing, we shall receive them, Mat. 21.22. Mar. 11.23. That if we abide in Christ, and he in us, ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us, Jo. 15.7. (because indeed such ask by the Spirit of Christ, who liveth in them, and so ask according to God's Will.) That if we keep his Commandments, and do what is pleasing in God's sight, what-ever we ask we receive of him, 1 Jo. 3.22. That if we ask any thing according to his Will he heareth us, (and grants our requests,) 1 Jo. 5.14. that though we know not what we should desire, or pray for as we ought, Rom. 8.26, 27. (that is, as to temporal Prosperity, or Af­flictions, or such like things, of which St. Paul there speaks, what therein is best for God's Glory, or our own Proficiency) yet the Holy Spirit within us with unutterable Groans and great Ardour interceedeth for [Page 51]us according to God's Will; and that God knoweth its Mind, (though not expressed in Words) and granteth its requests: that the same Spirit searcheth the profound things of God, (and what is his Will) and revealeth them to us; that natural Reason is not able to understand them, but they many times seem Foolishness to it: but the things of the Spirit are discerned only by the Spirit, 1 Cor. 2.10. &c. Most of which Texts seem to be spoken, not only of our petitioning God concerning the necessary means of our or others Salvation; but more universally of all sorts of Requests concerning the things of this Life, and any things that are in their nature indifferent, and lawful; and of his Spirit directing us to ask and do in them what is his Will; and of his grant­ing those to us which may be best for us; wherein God heareth, and granteth the Petitions of his Saints much sooner than of others. §. 21.

I say then, since God in the Scriptures hath de­clared these things, and made these Promises, that he will not deny what we ask according to his Will, we may rationally presume and be piously confident, that he will grant our Request, when this is, only to know his Will, that we may do that which is according to it; and we may safely take that for his Will, to which, after such Addresses, and other due Prepa­rations made, we shall find our selves more strongly inclined; and also take such Inclination to proceed from the Operation of God's Spirit, either illumi­nating sometimes our Understanding, in discovering to it some Reasons not so well discerned; or else disesteemed, and thought inconsiderable before; Or sometimes more confirming to us the Judgment our own Reason made of the thing before: Or sometimes effecting a strong and suddenly injected Inclination [Page 52]in the Will, so swayed without any preceeding Rea­sons, or discourse of the Intellect presented (to) it: Or sometimes causing an extraordinary Tranquility, Consolation, and Satisfaction to accompany such our Election; (According to the Rule of Abbot Isaac in Cassian, Collat. 9. c. 32. Cum orantes nos nulla interpellaverit haesitatio, si obtinuisse nos in ipsa orationis effusione, quod poscimus, senserimus, non ambigamus preces nostras ad Deum efficaciter penetrasse; where note, that the Devil, or any Creature, cannot work so imme­diately and intimately on our Understanding and Will, as God's Spirit doth; but by the use of Phan­tasms, or Images; of the Spirits, Humours, &c.) Or, where no such preponderation to any side is per­ceived in the Soul, then we may presume this to be his Will, that, making use of our best Reason, or others Advice, without any Solicitude, we take either side. §. 22.

Now, in the discerning of these Divine Illuminations and Inspirations, from Enthusiasms; or the Motions of the Good, from those of our own, or a Bad Spirit, in these matters; as any one hath attained to a greater Perfection in Prayer, and Mortification and Purity of Life, they attain hereby a greater measure of God's Spirit, and hence its Illuminations and In­spirings in them are also much greater and stronger, and more intimately effective on the Soul, than any other Motions, from whencesoever they come, can be; and so also these become more evident to such, and many times are so clearly discerned by them, from the Supernatural impression they make upon the Soul, as that it cannot resist, disbelieve, or any way doubt of them, that they are Supernatural and Divine. So St. Austin relates of his Mother Monica, that she clearly knew such Supernatural actings in her [Page 53]from her own Imaginations; Dicebat enim, discernere se nescio quo sapore, quem verbis explicare non poterat, quid interesset inter revelantem Te, & animam suam somnian­tem, Confess. l. 6. c. 13. For she said, she did discern, by I know not what Savour, which she could not explain in words, what difference there is between Thee revealing, and her own Soul dreaming. And indeed, if such in­terior Divine Operations were not sometimes cer­tainly discernable, how could St. Paul be assured, when he intended to Preach the Word in Asia, and again in Bithynia, (a most Charitable design!) that the Spirit forbad it; and not rather the Enemy of the publishing of the Gospel? Act. 16.6, 7. or, That it was by Revelation, and not a Fancy of his, that he ascended to Jerusalem, Gal. 2.2. or, That it was the Holy Spirit that testified, and not Mens Fears, that much Affliction should happen to him there? Act. 20.23. How the Corinthians knew, when they had a Revelation, that it was not a work of their own Imagination? since all these things were transacted only interiourly in the Soul, and it was the Holy Spirit only, that in all these gave the Evidence to it self. A certain Assurance then, it cannot be denyed, that some at sometimes may have of Divine Operations in them. But yet it is not affirmed here, that all Persons, less advanced in Prayer, and Purity of Life, or also the greatest Saints at all times, discern the Operations of the Holy Spirit within them so clearly in this sort of Actions, as not to be sometimes mistaken; and it is sufficient, that Persons piously disposed, and frequent in Prayer, may have a rational presumption of it, as hath been said. Neither is any more communicated unto them, perhaps, for the better preserving of their Humility. And that no absolute Certitude is herein [Page 54]to be expected, is a thing often confessed by Sanctae Sophia. See 1 Vol. p. 139. and p. 137. §. 23.

4. But in case such Divine Inspirations be sometimes mistaken, yet can no damage come there­by, I mean as to committing any Sin; 1. The Subject of them we speak of here being Matters in themselves indifferent, and on any side lawful. See Sancta Sophia 1 Vol. p. 143. 2. No Command of Superiors in these any way neglected. 3. No Neg­lect, besides using Prayer, in practising any other means of making a secure Choice, either in weighing Reasons on all sides, or taking Advice from others: Only the devout Soul, in using these endeavours, yet relies not on them, but on the Directions of God's Holy Spirit, working continually in the Regenerate, both by prevenient and subsequent Grace; makes no sudden Resolutions, nor rushes hastily upon any Action; but diligently hearkens first to this internal Guide, what it may tell her is best; desiring faith­fully, all natural Passions and Self-love laid aside, to correspond with all its Motions; the careful Ob­servers of which, with a pure Intention of Mind, may be justly presumed seldom to want them, though they do not so certainly know them; and mean while such Persons, if not free always from Mistakes, yet are secure in this sort of Actions we speak of, from entertaining any sinful Enthusiasm; or such, as any other Person (except by Divine In­spiration) can either censure or discover. §. 24.

Here the Author proceeds to another Discourse, which being no less necessary for this purpose, than pertinent to the Subject of Mystick Divinity, it may be both proper for this place, and also useful and grateful to many devout People, to add part of it. It is of

Directions given by Spiritual Writers concerning Prayer and Devotion.

FIRST for Preparation for Prayer, they are advised (1.) to a serious Endeavour at all times to keep their Conscience clear from all Sin, even the least, as much as Humane Frailty permits; and to a Care of avoiding the Occasions thereof; without which Endeavours our Devotions cannot be acceptable to God, as to the receiving from him any great plenty of his Grace: And (2.) at times of Prayer to Abstraction from all Secular Business, Recollection of the Mind and Thoughts from all Creatures, and all Objects of the Exterior Senses.

And then to begin at first with Forms for all Oc­casions of Vocal Prayer, where Novices, saith he, begin, and which the most perfect also frequently return to. §. 25.

From these they are led on to Mental Prayer; in which the Cessation from External Action ren­ders the Inward more attent and affective; more free from Distraction of the Senses, and from the Wandring of the Thoughts. For this many useful Subjects of Meditation are recommended, chiefly touching our own Misery, the Mysteries of our Salvation, and the Divine Perfections.: 1. Of [Page 56]their Natural Condition, the Heinousness of Sin, the Divine Justice, the bitter Passion of our Lord in Satisfaction for Sin, the Terrors of Death, Judg­ment, and Hell, to plant in them the Due Fear of God, and advance in them all sorts of Mortification and Purification from all Habits of Sin. 2. Of the Life of our Lord, and the Lives of his Saints, for Imitation and Growth in Vertue. And, 3. of the Divine Perfections and Benefits, both received and promised; of the Graces and Operations of the Holy Ghost in us, and the Abilities for doing Good and pleasing God restored to Man by it, if atten­tively observed and obeyed; to advance them in all Spiritual Grace and Christian Perfection, and to enkindle in them an ardent Love of God; the Ac­quisition of which Love, and not of Knowledge, being chiefly designed in them. §. 26.

When by the Practice of these Meditations they are well prepared, they are directed, by laying more aside their former Reasonings and Discoursings of the Brain, (with the frequent stroaks of which they have already kindled this Fire in the Heart) how to ex­ercise these Affections now, in that Lesson of Loving God with all the Heart, and all the Soul, and all the Mind, and all the Strength, Luke 10.27. in a more simple and quiet Intuition and Contemplation, Adver­tency and Admiration of the Divine Beauty, and Perfections; and in more fervent and amorous Colloquies with God; in Praising, Thanking, So­lacing her self with him, whilst she casts her eye upon his infinite Mercies past and promised; in ma­ny Resolutions for the future to serve him better, and no more so to grieve and offend him; in offer­ing all she hath, she can do, or suffer, to his Service; and in putting her self in a posture of Silence and [Page 57]Attention, to hear what he may be pleased to speak to and in her: speak to her, not only in Guiding and Admonishing in all necessary Duty, but also in things indifferent, or also good, but not necessary, when several of them happen to fall under delibera­tion; in which she also desires to be instructed by him, that she may still chuse and do, that which may better please him, and wherein his Holy Will may be more perfectly accomplished. §. 27.

Which Acts of Love, when once to a competent degree facilitated in us, as they fill the Soul with great Consolations, so they exceedingly help to ad­vance it in all Christian Duties and Vertues. For Love will not be idle, and works in us now with much more Fidelity and Alacrity, as doing all things not out of Fear, but Affection; and not to obey, but please her Beloved, and gain from him also a reciprocal Love. And when a Soul is arrived so far, through the constant Exercise and Custom of Prayer, and other Mortifications necessary to it, that these Acts of Love, and of the Will, (of which there are many several Degrees surpassing one another) are rendered easie and frequent, and upon every Occasion speedily resumed, without any or much preceedent meditation; which Acts before were diffi­cult and rare: And when the Soul, by reason of the greater Sweetness she finds in this latter af­fective Meditation, as I may call it, returns not to the former inventive Meditation without some re­luctance, this is the first Entrance into that which is stiled a State of Perfection, such as Humane Indu­stry attains; namely, wherein the Will assisted with Grace excites it self to these Acts of Love and simple Contemplation. Of which Practice thus St. Bernard, De interiori Domo, c. 14. Jam fortasse [Page 58]ascendisti, jam ad cor tuum rediisti, & ibi stare didicisti: nec hoc sufficiat tibi; Disce habitare, & mansionem fa­cere; & qualicunque mentis vagatione abstractus fueris, illuc semper redire festina. Absque dubio per multum usum quandoque tibi vertetur in oblectamentum in tantum ut absque ullâ laboris difficultate possis ibi assiduus esse; quin imo poena potius tibi sit alibi quam ibi moram aliquam facere. ‘Thou hast now perhaps ascended; thou hast now returned to thy Heart; and hast learned to stand there: Nor let this suffice thee: Learn to dwell, learn to make thy abode (there.) And with whatever Wandering of Mind thou shalt be withdrawn, make haste always to return thither. Without doubt by much use it will at one time or other be turned to Delight to thee, insomuch, that without any laborious Difficulty thou may'st be there continually; yea, rather it will be a Pain to thee to make any stay any where else than there.’ Thus He; yet is the Soul not directed here to remain idle, stupid, or unactive, but to return to its wonted Meditations; and if neither fitly disposed for these, to Vocal and set Forms of Prayer; or also to Reading, when the Sweetness of such Con­templation ceaseth. §. 28.

Devout Souls advanced hitherto are directed and provoked to yet much higher flights, and by their continued Devotions to prosecute a further Fruition of that Object, which hath no bounds. To this purpose, for their Encouragement, is declared to them, from Persons experienced therein, the many rich Rewards of Prayer; the Supernatural Elevations that God is pleased to advance some Souls to, who have been much practised in this Holy Exercise, and the more free and familiar Manifestations of himself that he makes to them in several manners mentioned [Page 59]before; wherein the Soul doth not now act so much, as, in a great Quietness, Silence, and rest of its for­mer natural Operations, is more immediately moved and acted by a more special Presence of God in it, who sometimes with the Touches and Influences of an extraordinary Grace doth illuminate, inflame, and ravish the Soul, and causeth in it an ineffable and transporting Delight in Contemplating what is shewed to it of the Divine Beauty and Perfections; perceiving in it self a most ardent Love, and this Supernaturally infused; when also are communicated to it many times Coelestial Secrets, and Divine Mysteries, and future Events, by internal Words and Revelation. All which things are received by it with a great Tranquility, and Attention, and Cessation of the Natural use of its Faculties, Sensi­tive or Intellectual: Nor seems it in its own disposal whilst it hath these Touches, but both doth and must see, and think, only what his Divine Majesty will have it; and this only so long as he pleaseth. Nor can any of these things by any Art or Industry of the Soul be attained or procured when she will, but all is Supernatural, and as well above the Ope­rations of common Grace in us, as of Reason. In which Supernatural and Extraordinary Divine Impressions upon the Soul, the Experienced also observe two sorts of Motions in it: Either a very intimate Retreat and Recollection of the Soul from Exterior Objects, as it were into some interior part of it self, removed from the Thoughts or Remembrace of Creatures or Worldly things; which is often joyned with a Retiring also of the Vital Spirits, more or less, from the outward parts of the Body left sometimes in such Recollection without Sense, Motion, or Heat. Alienatio Mentis à Sensibus Corporis, S. Augustin (in [Page 60] Psal. 67.) calls it, ut Spiritui quod demonstrandum est demonstretur. Such perhaps was that Extasie of St. John, when he is said to have been in the Spirit, Rev. 1.10. Or, 2. an Elevation, Rapt, or Flight of the Soul as it were above it self, and as if it were to depart presently out of the Body, and the Person to suffer a present Dissolution. Avolatio Mentis, as S. Bernard expresseth it. Such seems that of St. Paul, 2 Cor. 12. §. 29.

These things are not handled as Rules of Devotion, but as a Reward of it; and as things only in God's, not our Power. Yet are these Rich Gifts of God and Pregustations of the State in the World to come recommended to signifie the many noble Effects and powerful Influences, which such Favours have upon those who receive them, as to the compleating them in all Christian Perfection; that is, in the perfect Love of God; all these Divine Inactions tending still to a clearer Manifestation of God to the Soul, and so to the wounding it more deeply with the Love and Longing after him, and after the Suffering and Doing any thing with all Alacrity for him; and the Graces that are received disposing us still to others higher, if the Soul correspond to them as she ought. If I persevere (saith S. Bernard (in Cant. Serm. 69.) speaking of these Favours) to correspond to this Condescention, as much as I can, with meet Affections and Actions, and the Grace of God be not in vain in me, the Father and the Son will ever make their Abode with me.

We are also told, That, though upon no Prepa­rations and Predispositions in us, whatever such Favours do necessarily follow, yet without these God doth not usually grant them: That Active Con­templation is the ready way to Passive; and, That [Page 61]though in the higher degrees of them they are but rare, and given to few, yet in some inferior degree they are communicated to many: and however, That an Active Contemplation and Fruition of God by Love, (spoken of before) and the Great Ad­vancement in all Christian Vertue gain'd thereby, (if we be admitted to no higher things, of which true Humility always esteems its self unworthy) is a sufficient Recompence in this World for any Pains of ours in Purging of our Life, and close Atten­dance on God in Solitude and Prayer, which is un­dertaken for it.

Lastly, since such Christian Perfection chiefly con­tains in, and depends upon the Exercise of the Affective part of the Soul, and not on high Know­ledge or Speculation, therefore it is recommended as attainable by all Sexes and Conditions, and all are equally encouraged in the Prosecution of it. For the Grace of Contemplation, as S. Gregory observes, in Ezek. hom. 17. is not given to the high, and not given to the low; but this do often the highest, and often the lowest; more often those who are remote, that is, from Worldly Cares, but sometimes those who are in a Married State receive. §. 30, 31.

More of this he hath afterward, which I shall here add, as followeth:

Of the Steps, in order to the highest State of Per­fection, which this Life arrives to, mentioned in Sancta Sophia, p. 32. 1. The first, is the way of External and Imaginary Exercises of Prayer; that is, using the Discourse of the Understanding, and Me­ditations, as also Vocal Prayer; then which Step, Sancta Sophia observes, many go no further, but end their days in it; that is, in such Meditations is taken up the most part of their Devotions.

2. The second Step is, the Exercise of the Will and Affections, which, after long practice, breaks forth into continual Aspirations and Elevations there­of.

3. The Third, is, Divine Inaction, or the extra­ordinary, and supernatural, and more sensible Ope­rations of God's Spirit in the Soul, wherein God acteth more than she, and which are not in her power at all to procure sooner, or retain longer, then God pleaseth: of which much hath been said before.

4. After which usually, in the Intervals of those Coelestial Visits, do follow great Desolations of Spi­rit, as the Experienced have described them; partly arising from the sense of her Loss, and an impatient longing after these Favours, once tasted; and partly out of a great nauseating, and disrelish that she hath now of those entertainments of the Creature, from which she formerly received some Content. Such we may imagin was that of the Prophet David, when he said; Heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est, And Concupiscit & deficit anima mea, in atria Domini, And after a Non movebor in aeternum, (Psal. 29.) an Avertisti faciem tuam, & factus sum conturbatus. §. 63.

But not only this; but God also sometimes with­draws even from his greatest Saints, and that for some long duration of time, any sensible assistance at all of his Grace, leaving the Soul as it were in its pure Naturals, and as if he were quite departed from it, in great Aridity, Obscurity, Solitude, Pressure and Heaviness, disgusted with all things, she knows not why; performing still her Devotions, and accu­stomed Duties of Piety, and the Service of God, as formerly, but without any sensible comfort in such [Page 63]Performance; Meditation, Aspiration, Reading, very difficult, sterile, insipid, and seeming without Fruit; only forbearing her Consent to any Sin, Vanity, or Sensuality, and not seeking any secular Consolations. Much discouraged also at such times many are, in imagining, that God hath so deserted them, for Failings in their Duty, or for something wherein they have offended his Divine Majesty, which doubles this Anguish. Or, if not this, at least they imagin it to be caused by some great Indisposition of Body, (as it is granted sometimes partly it may) so as some begin therefore to dispense for a time with the former Exercises of their Devotion, and other pious Employments. But notwithstanding many times in these, the poor Soul is mistaken; and this strange dejection of Spirit comes, without any such respects, meerly from the sole Will of God, and is the or­dinary course of his proceeding with those also, who are by his former Graces well grounded, and arrived to some degree of Perfection, and is sent only for their much greater Advancement therein, and the rendring them more capable of higher Fa­vours; and therefore ought, as such, to be enter­tained with all Equanimity, Patience, Resignation, and Conformity to his Will.

These Consolations and Desolations take, as it were, their certain turns in them, as they do, in a lesser degree, in all the Regenerate; they have by course a Day, and a Night; an Ascent towards God, and a Descent, and decadence into themselves; a Vivi­fication by and in him, and a Mortification in them­selves; a Summer, wherein the Branches shoot forth, and Fruit comes to Maturity; and a Winter, when the Root spreads more, and the Tree becomes more surely fixed. To all God's Children do these Vi­cissitudes [Page 64]happen; but these in a higher degree to the further advanced in Perfection; and the greatest Favours are preceeded with greater Desolations; and these ordinarily proportioned one to the other. And always necessary, less or more, are such Pur­gations and Refinings of the Soul by these interior Crosses, because always something in them is amiss, and as yet imperfect. Our natural Corruption is still producing something in us to be amended; and some Self-will and Self-love to be parted away by this sharp Remedy, whilst we are in this Life. And the Benefit of these Desolations, if rightly complied with, as well as of Divine Consolations, is very great in many respects. §. 64.

For herein it is, that the Soul comes most perfectly to know it self, and all other Creatures; to see its own Nothingness, and to be most perfectly purged and cleansed from all Self-love and Propriety: and herein it is most especially taught — non quiescere in donis Dei, sed in Deo; and Adorare Deum in Spiritu & Veritate; not, in Devotione: and Exercere se ad Deum in adversis, sicut in prosperis; the seeking Gust, and Suavity, and Consolations, even in Spiritual things, being one of its Imperfections, since these are not God himself. Herein it is, that the Soul is preserved amidst such Divine Favours, which are apt to inflate it, in a due and necessary Humility; (Angelus Satanae colaphisans, ne magnitudo Revelatio­num extollat me, saith the Apostle after his Rapt.) Herein its true Love and Adherence to God; (Qui veniendo adjuvat; and then, derelinquendo probat: Donis firmat; and then, Tribulationibus tentat; saith St. Gregory, Moral. l. 20. c. 19.) its Perseverance and Loyalty are especially discerned, in keeping constant in the Service of him, when deprived of [Page 65]all Consolation in it; avoiding any application to the Comforts of the Creature, when God hath thus as it were dismissed, and cast it off: But resigning it self, and loving its Misery for his Sake, and be­cause it is his Will that it should be so. An Exer­cise wherein our Lord himself was pleased to be tried, (that he might become a merciful High Priest before God, and experimentally) that he might compassionate our Infirmities in the great Desolation he underwent in the Garden, the Night before his Passion, Heb. 4.15: 2.17. Where, caepit pavere & taedere, saith the Evangelist, Matt. 26.37, 38. And that sad Expression came from him, Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem: Tarry here, and watch with me, Mark 14.34. Yet these Desolations also, in a Soul thus far advanced in Grace, are not void of a mix­ture of Joy and Satisfaction, that it hath always in God's Will being performed in them; which Will of God now, in whatever happens, is a constant Con­solation to it; and the Apostles Precept, 1 Thess. 5.16, 17. of Semper gaudete, is thus accomplished in such a Soul, as well as his orate sine intermissione; and go together. For there cannot want Content, where the Mind hath its Desire; nor doth such a Mind want this that is unanimous with the Divine Will: the want of which Conformity, is only from the loving of something that is against his Will. Worldly Sorrows, saith St. Gregory, affligentes cru­ciant; but these Spiritual, reficiunt dum affligunt. In the one is, In afflictione maeror; but in the other, In merore laetitia, Moral. l. 23. c. 13. Nay, more true Sweetness [...] these Sorrows, than in the other Joys: And the abstaining in such a sharp Tryal from all Sin against God, or seeking Comfort from any thing besides Him, or giving over her accustomed [Page 66]Exercises of Piety, argues also then a close Ʋnion of the Soul with God, though not so sensible; and that when it thinks it self farthest from him, it is in some sort nearest to him. Lastly, by and upon these Spiritual Desolations ordinarily it is, that the Soul afterward receives higher sensible Visits, and Caresses from God, then any former were; for which the Soul seems best prepared by this her ex­tream Poverty and Lowness; and then it is, if ever, the Soul receives them with more Gratitude; and both highlier values them, and villifies its self. And it is God's ordinary way to exalt us in proportion to our Humility, and to be Adjutor in tribulationibus, as in opportunitatibus, when also the Soul is more endeared unto him by her Sufferings. All this I have said, to shew that these Spiritual Desolations (of which this Author Ironically saith, Then, when one would least expect them, follow, &c.) are a necessary part of the Way to Perfection; and that the resistance of such Pressures when they come, or a non-compliance with them in shewing much Irre­signation and Impatience, in seeking to relieve such Spiritual Desertions with some secular Contents, in relaxing former Holy Practices, and the like, dis­appoints the Soul of those following Consolations, which are the proper Reward of these Sufferings, and disturbs God's Work in her, and good Inten­tions toward her; and hinders her Growth in Ver­tue, by her retaining still those Imperfections, and that Self-love, which these, rightly received, would have purged and mortified. This of the fourth Step to Perfection, Desolation.

5. The Fifth, is a State more settled, constant, and tranquil, where neither these Desolations are so frequent or necessary; nor those Coelestial Visits so violent, or so short. §. 65.

To these I shall add two or three of his Answers, to Objections and Cavils, such as I think most pertinent for Common use: and first, whereas upon the first Step his Adversary descants thus: ‘A sad Case to end our days as Christ and his Apostles did, who used this low dispensation of Praying to the last. But, alas! they never understood these Ʋnions with God in the Fund of the Spirit; they taught Men a plain and intelligible way of Serving God, and bid them look for Perfection in another World.’ To this he replies;

I ask, Did our Lord and his Apostles end their days only, or chiefly, in the first Step here, that of Meditation, and Discursive or Vocal Prayer, and never ascend to the second Step, exercising more therein the Will and Affections in Aspirations, and Ele­vations of the Soul to God? What think we of the most exalted Disciple St. John, every where discoursing so much of Love? and of our dwelling, by Love, in God, and God in us? 1 John 4.16. What of those Precepts, Pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5.17. Watch and pray always, Luk. 21.36. And with all Perseverance therein? Eph. 6.18. Are these to be understood only of Vocal and discursive Prayer, the first Step; or not rather of Effective Prayer, the second; (according to that, Qui semper desiderat semper orat;) which latter is also much easier to be continued? Again; What think we of our Lord's spending so long time in Prayer, often mentioned in the Gospels? Rising up a great while before day, for this purpose, Mar. 1.35. Again; retiring into the Wilderness, for a great vacancy to it, Luk. 5.16. Before the day of the Election of his twelve Apostles, (the twelve Foundations of his Church) ascending into a solitary Mountain, and there spending the whole Night in Prayer, Luk. 6.13. His [Page 68]ascending again into another Mountain, before he took his last Journey to Jerusalem, for the accom­plishing of his Passion, taking three of his Disciples with him, where all the Night again was spent in Prayer; for it is said, he descended not from the Hill till the next day: and that there the three Disciples were surprised with Sleep, Luk. 9.37, 32. In which Prayer they saw his Countenance changed, and an anticipated appearance of his Glory, such as he shall have when he comes to Judgment, 2 Pet. 1.16. and an Apparition also of Moses and Elias, they by a supernatural Illumination knowing also who the Persons were, Matt. 16.28. and his Di­sciple Peter in such an Extatick Joy, as that he cryed out, Bonum est esse hic, &c. Luk. 9.33. not know­ing, saith the Evangelist, what he said. So, in our Lord's being in Prayer, presently after John's Baptizing him happened the Vision of the Heavens opened, the Holy Ghost descending upon him in a Bodily shape like a Dove, seen by the Baptist, Luk. 3.21, 22. and a Voice from Heaven speaking to him, as here, Thou art my beloved Son, Luk. 9.35. And then a Rapt of the same Spirit that carried him into the Desart; where also we may rationally ima­gin his time to have been wholly spent in Prayer and Devotion, and this in such a degree, as to suspend and supercede the ordinary Functions of Nature, as to Eating and Drinking; and in these his Prayers the Tempter to have assaulted him. What think we again of our Lord's Infremuit Spiritu, once and again, in his Prayer to his Father for the Resur­rection of Lazarus? Joh. 11.33, 38. of the ravish­ing Expressions of his Love, and tender Affection, and Aspirations after a perfect Union of all his with Him, and his Father, in his Prayer after his last Sup­per, [Page 69]delivered, Joh. 17. from ver. 20. to the end. And, lastly, of his [...] in the Gar­den, with few Words, but much Passion, being in an Agony, and sweating Blood, and making frequent acts of Resignation, and Conformity to the Will of his Father. What think we again of St. Peter's Extatical Prayer, and his Vision on Simon the Tan­ner's House-top, Act. 10.9. and again, St. Paul's in the Temple, Act. 22.17. Whilst I prayed, I was in an Extasie, &c? Did our Lord and his Apostles, in the Devotions here mentioned, not ascend at all to that which the Mysticks make the second Step to Perfection, the Aspirations and Elevations of the Will and Affections; but only stay on the first Step? and, Did they understand nothing of that the Mysticks call passive Ʋnions with God? Their Extasies and Raptures, and their being in the Spirit, their [...], 2 Cor. 12.4. and [...], Rom. 8.26. argue otherwise. But then are Passive Ʋnions the obscure and unintelligible way of Serving God, that the Church teacheth in her Rules of Devotion; or, the end rather which her plain and intelligible way sometimes attains to? Lastly, Is there not in some sort a State of Perfection also in this World? 1 Cor. 2.6. we speak Wisdom among the Perfect. And Phil. 3.15. let us, as many as be perfect, be thus minded. And Luk. 6.40. Every one that is perfect, shall be as his Master, (that is, in Sufferings like him.) The Author may do well to review this passage of his. §. 66.

The repairing to Prayer, in the best manner we can make it, is a proper, natural, and most efficacious way to obtain a supernatural Light (from God's Spi­rit) to discern his Will in all our Actions; speaking of such as are indifferent, and such wherein neither we, nor any others, have any external certain Rule, [Page 70]all Circumstances considered, whereby we may be guided, as we have in all such other Actions, the Lawfulness of which is doubted of; which yet is not said, as if Prayer were the only means of our dire­ction in these, so as to exclude the making use of either our own Reason, or other Mens Advice, as is said before. §. 76.

This is not making Enthusiasm, but Prayer, a means to obtain the Illuminations of God's Spirit, to shew us, in two things suggested to us, which of them comes from It, or which is more conformable to God's Will, that so we may follow and obey it: and, What a Christian is he, that being doubtful, especially in two affairs of much concernment, which to make choice of, doth not retire to his Prayers, desiring God to direct him in such a particular, and promising to do that which he shall be pleased, by any way, to signifie to him to be more conformable to his Will, and more conducing to Christian Per­fection, (as certainly the one may be much more than the other, although both contained within the general bounds of Good, or indifferent?) And then, what Illumination he Prays for, why may not he also expect? Again, Who is there, much fre­quenting Prayer, that doth not perceive in them some Illustrations and Influences entring, and injected as it were into his Mind, without his own procure­ment, touching a more perfect knowledge of him­self; or the immense Love of God to Mankind; or some acceptable Service he may do to God or his Neighbour; or secret Reprehensions for some Faults; or Admonitions for the better ordering of his Life; Spiritu (as our Lord saith, Jo. 3.8.) Spirante ubi vult, and he not knowing whence such things come, or how they pass away? yet these [Page 71]things, we are assured, must be from God's Spirit, because no good Thought is from our selves. And why may not we imagin the same (a due Prepara­tion being supposed) of the Thoughts injected in our Doubtings, and Requests concerning Actions left free, and undetermined by the Divine declared Will, what way in these we may rather take, the better to serve and please him? God forbid that the Name of Enthusiasm should deterr Chri­stians from such a Practice, or hearkening to this internal Language; or (as Mr. Cressy expresses it in his Preface) should render Prayer, and by Prayer the obtaining of Divine Grace, a suspicious Exercise. And I wish the Author would a little better weigh his Words, and the malign Influence they may have on others. We say then, Divine Inspirations are ne­cessary (for Grace, as well furthers as prevents us) to distinguish the Motions of the Good and Bad Spi­rit in our Minds in matters purely indifferent, (which may be proposed to us by either of these Spirits, for a different end,) where we have no other ex­ternal Rule to judge these Motions by, as we have in all internal Suggestions concerning such other matters as are either directly commanded or pro­hibited by God's Law.

I shall conclude my Collections out of this Author, with the Explications of some of the Terms of Art which are quarrelled with, as followeth:

Divine Inaction is, in plain English, the acting of God, or his Spirit in us, which, in the Perfect, is more extraordinary, sensible, and manifest. §. 48.

Passive Ʋnions, are called Passive, not that when herein a Soul contemplates God, she may not be said in some sort Active; but, Because when God is pleased so graciously to communicate himself to the Soul, the Soul [Page 72]is taken out of her own Disposal, and doth and must see and think only what God will have her, and this no longer then his good pleasure is such. Neither can any Dispo­sitions or Preparations that the Soul can use assuredly pro­cure it. Thus Sancta Sophia explains this Word: And the Expression is secured by such like Scripture Language; Qui Spiritu Dei aguntur, Rom. 8.14. Not I live, but Christ in me, Gal. 2.20. Not I work, but the Grace of God which is with me, 1 Cor. 15.10. Not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you, Matt. 10.20. So the Spirit, that is in us, is said to interceed for us with Groans unutterable, Rom. 8.26. &c. §. 48.

Deiformity and Deification are words not of late only, but anciently used, signifying an Ʋnion with God, not in Essence, but by Grace; and this Union still more intimate, as the Grace more extraordi­nary: secured by like Scripture Language. For Deiform, Renewed to the Image of our Greator, Col. 3.10. Changed into the Image of our Lord, 2 Cor. 3.18. Transformed by the renewing of our Mind, Rom. 12.2. For Deification, Partakers of the Divine Nature and of the Powers of the future World, Heb. 6.4, 5. The Lord and we made one Spirit, 2. Pet. 1.4. Filled with all the Fulness of God, 1 Cor. 6.17.

I have no more, but to acquaint the Reader, who this O. N. was, out of whose Book I have collected those things; his Name was ABRAHAM WOODHEAD, a good Man, who with great Modesty and Solidity hath vindicated Mystical Divinity against the Quarrel of one who charged it to be Fanaticism. His Character may be seen more at large in Mr. Wood's Oxford An­tiquities.



WHEREAS it is feared by some, that what is in the fore-going Discourse re­lated concerning Plotinus and Porphyrius, who lived in Gospel-times, and yet were not Chri­stians, but the latter a grand Adversary of the Christians, and of Christianity, may too much gratifie some call'd Quakers, to their hurt, who are great Magnifyers of the Gentile Dispensation: I do declare, that I should be glad to gratifie any People for their Good, but not any to their Hurt: And therefore, to prevent any such mis­use of what I have written for a good purpose, which I have mentioned in the end of the Pre­face, they must know,

1. That as the Actions of Witches, and their Familiars, if the matter of fact be evident and undeniable, are good Evidence against Atheists and Sadduceans: and the Real Inspiration of any Spirit, if proved, is good Evidence against all such Anti-enthusiasts, as deny the Reality of In­spiration, and that there is any thing more in it than meerly the actings of Peoples Imagina­tions; [Page 74]so the plain apert Declarations by these Men of the Mystick Divinity, which was more occultly delivered by the Ancients, is good Evidence of the Tradition and Succession of these Mysteries, though they should be found to have erred in the Use and Application of it: And for this purpose was that Collection made.

2. That though Porphyry and Plotinus, and some others of them, might receive some Lights, Powerful Attractions, and Sensible Consolati­ons, &c. from some considerable Spirit, yet was not that the Spirit of Christ, or any Good Ministering Spirit; not such as that of Socrates, under the Gentile Dispensation; for Porphyry ridiculed it; (v. Soc. Hist. l. 3. c. 23.) but a Spirit of Antichrist, and of Satan transformed, as appears most manifestly in Porphyry, who was a Renagado, and Apostate from Christi­anity; and that not upon any Grounds of Reason, but upon Passion for some Reproof, as Valesius understands it; or some more severe Discipline, he received from some Christians; possibly for some abuse by Scoffing, to which he was much addicted; and thereupon became not only an Apostate, but a spiteful Adversary, and the more impudent, through the Countenance of the Emperor Julian, who was also an Apostate, and such another Scoffer. This might be abundantly shewed, if it was needful here, and may be upon some other occasion: but this is sufficient for this. [Page 75]And this may serve for another purpose, in respect of the Quakers; viz. to undeceive them, and let them fee plainly by what Spirit they have been deceived, even this very Antichristian Por­phyrian Spirit, and no better. The Spirit, I doubt not, is the very same, or of the same kind, only the Appearance is somewhat different, more bare-faced then, upon the Encouragement of an Apostate Emperor; but more covert now in this, being a Christian State. But as that soon ceased, so will this, I am well satisfied, to the Shame and Confusion of those, who ob­stinately persist in their Errors; but especially those, who not only are deceived, but presume to take upon them to be Ministers of Christ, and deceive others; when it shall appear that they are only Ministers of this Porphyrian An­tichristian Spirit, that is, of Satan transformed; as I nothing doubt but it will in due time, and that ere long, by undeniable Moral Evidence, if not also by manifest Divine Vengeance upon some of the Obstinate; which I have sincerely endeavoured to prevent; and should still be glad to help them out, if they would humble themselves, and give Glory to God, as their Case doth require: otherwise they will cer­tainly be called to account for neglected Di­vine Favours.

As for the Gentile Dispensation, there is plainly a Fallacy concerning it put upon them by the [Page 76]Subtilty and Fraud of that Spirit, which acts so sensibly amongst them. For as the Israelites were chosen to be, as it were, of God's own Regiment, and are therefore call'd his Peculiar people; yet were they, for their Sin, delivered over to the Conduct of an Angel, Exod. 33. so were other Nations committed to the Conduct of certain Angels, probably of in­ferior Orders. And as the Israelites, after they were settled in the Promised Land, under the immediate Government of God, (v. Sam. 8.7.) were often, notwithstanding, for their Back­slidings and Transgressions, delivered into the hands of their Enemies, (which was plainly a Representation of Spiritual matters:) so the other Nations, though they were committed at first to the Regiment of Good Angels, though of an inferior order, yet when they came to yield to the Inspirations of Apostate Spirits, (which was a real, though Spiritual Fornication and Defilement) were left in their Power to be abused, and ridden, and led Captive by them at their pleasure. And those who continued under their Conduct to the last, without Repentance, are like to have their part with them hereafter. And this is the Mystery of Iniquity whereby these People are imposed upon by the Subtilty of this Porphyrian Spirit. For,

There is a twofold Gentile Dispensation, or two parts of the Gentile Dispensation; the one of Grace, [Page 77]under the Good Angel, which is God's Deputy; the other of Judgment, under the Apostate Spirit, which is God's Executioner of Vengeance. And this is it, which St. Paul tells us concern­ing the Seduced by the Spirit of Antichrist, that God should send them strong Delusions to be­lieve a Lye, because they received not the Love of the Truth; that they all might be damned who believe not the Truth. Now, whatever become of the rest, who have not the Favour of the Gospel communicated to them, but yet desert not the Conduct of the Spirit, by God set over them; yet those who have the Gospel in all Simplicity offered to them, and either through Pride and Conceitedness, or through the Inspiration of any Spirit, are drawn from it, their Case is very dangerous: for no Good Spirit would dare, or would offer any such thing: and then it must needs be some wicked Spirit in disguise, how specious soever his ap­pearance be, which for some Spiritual Sin, at least, if not Carnal or Worldly, in them or their Parents, hath gotten Advantage of them: And such are very officious to offer themselves, and very subtile to deceive: And their Neglect of the Offers of Grace is like to prove fatal to them. But none are in greater danger than they, who are so unhappy as to become the Agents and Ministers of such a Spirit, whatever they may think of themselves at present.

This, I hope, may serve for this Occasion; but having for divers Months past been endea­vouring, by private Conferences with, and Let­ters to, the Chief of their Ministers, to set this People right, in what they are out of the way, I intend ere long, if no less will serve, by the Grace of God, to discourse these matters more fully at some publick Meetings, upon sufficient Notice, and there to give a true Account of my Proceedings with them hitherto, and to discourse the Great Question now depending between us:

What that Spirit is, by which the Party hath been generally and principally acted and conducted? Whether the Spirit of Christ, or any Good Mini­string Spirit; or the Spirit of Antichrist, or some Porphyrian or Apostate Spirit?

And in the mean time I only recommend this Advertisement to all, That the Holy Scriptures and the best Spiritual Writers give great Cau­tion to beware of false Spirits, and Directions to Try the Spirits: and if the Leaders of the Qua­kers do not so, they are the more to be suspected: also, That it is commonly agreed by such Wri­ters, that there is often much Deceit and Delu­sions of Evil and Seducing Spirits, in seeming Illuminations, and Sensible Impressions and In­spirations. See Sancta Sophia, Tr. 3. §. 4. ch. 5. &c.


Enthusiasmus Divinus: THE GUIDANCE OF THE Spirit of GOD: The Doctrine of the Scriptures, of the Catholick Church, of the Church of England in particular, upon a Discourse of Sir Matthew Hale's concerning it.

LONDON, Printed for the Author, for the Use and Benefit of a Religious Society, 1697.

The Judgment of Sir Matthew Hale concerning it, in his Contemplations on the Magnet,c. 15. p. 132.

THE Magnet hath not only its intrin­sick, active Principle, its Form from which its Motions proceed; but there is also a common Magnetism of the Earth and its Effluxes, that greatly assist, excite, and direct its Motions.

Animals and Vegetables have not only their intrinsick, specifical, vital Principles of their specifical Motions and Operations, but the [Page 2]Sun and its Heat and Influence is an universal, adjuvant, exciting Principle of all vital and sentient Operations.

And not only the ancient Philosophers, as Aristotle and Plato, and their several Com­mentators, as Simplicius, Themistius, Alex­ander Aphrodiceus, Avicen, and Averroes, but also the Jewish Doctors, and the Christian Philosophers and Divines for some Ages after Christ, did think, that, besides the individual intellectual Soul of every Man, there was also a certain Common Intelligent Nature, or Being, substituted by Almighty God, whose Office it was to illuminate the humane Soul, to excite actual Intellection in it, and to com­municate unto it these common intellectual Principles, which ordinarily and generally obtain in all Men, and stood in relation to the humane Intellectual Soul, as the Sun and its Light and Influence stands in rela­tion to vital Natures in the Lower World: And this they call Intellectus Agens, which Averroes supposeth to be Ʋltima Intelli­gentiarum separatarum, and deputed to the actuating and exciting of Intellection in Men.

This Opinion hath been (possibly upon Reasons probable enough) laid aside for ma­ny Ages in the Christian Church: the Use therefore that I make of it only is this, That [Page 3]though this Opinion seems to be dark and obscure, and not bottom'd upon a clear Evi­dence, yet it carries with it and under it an Adumbration of a great and real Truth, though they attained not a full, clear, distinct discovery of it: Therefore as the Apostle else­where in another Case told the Athenians, that that God, whom they ignorantly wor­shipped, Him declare I unto you, Acts 17.23. so, with some variation, I may with humility say, that secret, unseen, and spiritual Power, which these ancient Philosophers did not di­stinctly understand, but groped after it, and celebrated by the Name of Intellectus Agens, I am now endeavouring to declare.

Almighty GOD, as he is every where by his Essential Presence, so he is every where by his Powerful Influence; and as he is the Universal Productive and Conserving Cause of all things in the World, so he is more in­timate unto, and effective of every thing in the World by his Efficacious Influence, than any second created Cause in the World; for they are all but his Instruments, and therefore their Causality is still but in and from the Virtue and Influence of the first Cause.

And this Influx of the First Cause, the prime Efficient, Almighty God, is by him ordina­rily communicated, effused, and proportioned [Page 4]according to the several Natures of Created Beings; though, according to his wise good Pleasure, he sometimes is pleased to do it in a different manner for excellent Ends, pro Im­perio Voluntatis.

And therefore in Matters that are simply natural, this ordinary Efflux of the Divine In­fluence is suited to that common Law of Na­ture, that he hath settled in the World, and governs such things according to those insti­tuted, regular, natural Laws.

But unto an Intellectual Nature, such as is that of Man, endued with Understanding and Will, this Divine Efflux is communicated in a kind proportionable to those Faculties of the humane Soul; and therefore these Ef­fluxes of the Divine Influence are commu­nicated in two kinds: 1. By way of Illumi­nation, in relation to the Understanding Fa­culty. 2. By way of Persuasion, Inclination, and Incitation, in relation to the Will and Affections, although there are many other kind of Effluxes of the Divine Spirit and In­fluence: as the Gift of bodily Strength, as that of Samson, Judges 16.20. the Gift of curious Workmanship, as that of Aholiab, and Besaliel, Exod. 36.1. the Spirit of Majesty and Government, as that of Saul, 1 Sam. 10.9. the Gifts of Prophesying, Tongues, Miracles, 1 Cor. 12.4, 9. for these were extraordinary [Page 5]Effluxes given out upon special Occasions, and for special Ends, though even in most of them, and other extraordinary Gifts of the like nature, the Understanding and Will were much concerned and wrought upon.

1. As to the Illumination of the Ʋnderstand­ing, certainly what the Sun is to the sentient Eye, that, and much more, is Almighty God to the Mind of Man: Psal. 36.9. In thy Light shall we see Light. John 1.9. This is the true Light that enlightneth every Man that cometh into the World.

2. As to the Inclination and Bending of the Will, it is true, the Will is naturally free, but yet it is essentially subject unto the God that made it; and the operation of the Divine Influence upon the Will ordinarily is but per­suasive, and therefore ordinarily resistible: thus the old World resisted the merciful striv­ing of the Divine Influence, Gen. 6.3. My Spirit shall not always strive with Man. Acts 7.51. Ye always resist the Holy Ghost: but the Powerful God hath so great an Efficacy, and hath so intimate an access into the Minds of Men, that he can when he pleaseth, and doubtless sometimes doth, irresistibly bend and incline the Will unto himself, according to his good Pleasure, Psal. 110.3. Thy Peo­ple shall be willing in the day of thy Power. It [Page 6]is an excellent Expression, Prov. 21.1. The Heart of the King is in the Hands of the Lord, as the Rivers of Water he turneth it whitherso­ever he will. A good Artist will guide a Stream of Water to what place, and in what manner, he pleaseth, in the same Level, and yet without any violence offered to the natu­ral Motion of the Water, which in all those Motions is kept entirely suitable to its Nature: And with the same and much greater facility the God of Heaven can, and often doth, in­fallibly Guide the Hearts of Men, yea, of Kings, and yet without Force or Violation of its natural Liberty.

There was never any Age nor People in the World that was wholly destitute of this Divine Efflux upon their Understandings and Wills: it is as Ʋniversal and Common as the Light and Influence of the Heavens; only upon some in all Ages it was more special and ef­fectual than upon others, even in the Gentile World. I have always esteemed those excel­lent Men among the Heathen famous for Wis­dom, Justice, Piety, and Knowledge, as Men illuminated and guided by this Divine Influ­ence, though possibly communicated to them in a more signal manner than to other Men: Such were Socrates, Plato, Zeno Citticus, Solon, Lycurgus, Pythagoras, Tully, Seneca, Aristotle, and divers other excellent Philosophers, [Page 7]Moralists, and Law-givers, among the Gen­tiles; who were by the Influence of the Divine Spirit excited, illuminated, and in­structed for the Benefit of themselves and the rest of Mankind, and to prepare the Heathen World for the Reception of greater Light.

When it pleased God to select unto himself and his special Government, the Family of Abraham, and his Descendants, the Jewish Na­tion, he sets them in the middle of the Ha­bitable World, like a Beacon upon a Hill, to be a kind of Common Instruction to the rest of Mankind; and for that purpose, made them signal to all the World by his special Govern­ment over them, by Miracles, Signs and Wonders; by giving them Laws from Hea­ven in great Majesty and Terrour; by com­mitting to them the Divine Oracles; by raising up Prophets and Men specially inspired by an Extraordinary Spirit, and by effusing among them a greater Measure of the In­fluence of his Sacred Spirit. For (that I may say it once for all) it hath been always the Method of the Divine Wisdom and Good­ness, when he sends out the greater Measure of this Influx, whereof I speak, the Divine Providence accompanies that Efflux with suit­able external Means to render it the more effectual, and the more agreeable to the man­ner [Page 8]of the Reception of the humane Under­standing: But when the Messias came into the World with the Message of the Glorious Gospel, the Sun was as it were in its Meri­dian; and as the means of Illumination and Conversion of the World unto God was more effectual and universal, so was also the Efflux and Irradiation of the Divine Influence upon the Souls of Men more vigorous, diffusive, and universal.

And as the miraculous Gifts of the Spirit of God appeared in the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles, the Gifts of Tongues, of Healing Diseases, of Prophecy, and the like, to confirm and establish Mens Minds in the Faith, Belief, and Obedience of the Gospel; so neither was this all: but the secret and effectual Influence of the same Blessed Spirit appeared in Illumination of the Minds of Men, in persuading and mightily subduing their Wills to the Belief and Obedience of the Truth, in converting Mens Minds unto God, and placing them in their just and due Habitude to Almighty God. And this, ac­cording to the various Workings thereof, is sometimes called the Spirit of Regeneration, the Spirit of Renovation, the Spirit of San­ctification, the Spirit of Holiness, the Spirit of Adoption, the Spirit of Prayer and Suppli­cation, the Spirit of Life, &c. according to [Page 9]the various Energies that this great Effusion of the Influences of the Blessed Spirit had up­on the Minds of Men.

And this great and more diffusive and ef­fectual Effusion of this Influence under the Gospel was no other than what was prophe­sied of by the ancient Prophets, Isa. 25.7. I will destroy in this Mountain, the covering cast upon the Face of all People. Isa. 11.9. The Earth shall be filled with the Knowledge of the Lord, as the Waters cover the Sea. Isa. 54.13. All thy Children shall be taught of the Lord. Isa. 59.20. This is my Covenant that I will make with them, my Spirit, that is upon thee, and the Words which I have put in thy Mouth, shall not depart from thee, nor from thy Seed, nor from thy Seeds Seed. Ezek. 36.27. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my Statutes, and keep my Judgments, and do them. Isa. 44.3. I will pour out my Spirit upon thy Seed. Joel 2.28. I will pour out my Spirit upon all Flesh. And this Energy of the Divine Influence appears, 1. By a secret Irra­diation and Illumination of the Understanding. 2. By a powerful Persuasion and Inclining of the Will; both which, as they were with a more vigorous and effectual Dispensation under the first breaking out of the Light of the Gospel, so they do accompany the Publi­cation of it unto this day, and shall unto the [Page 10]end of the World; though by reason of the Corruption of the Lives and Manners of Mankind, not with equal Success in all Ages.

We have here the Judgment and Belief of this Great and Good Man of a Divine Efflux upon the Understandings and Wills of Men, and that even among the Heathen, those so famed for Wisdom, Justice, Piety, and Knowledge, were Illuminated and Guided by a Divine In­fluence. And we have here also the Ground of this his Judgment. 1. Observations in Na­ture. 2. The Sentiments of Learned and Un­derstanding Men, Philosophers in all Ages. 3. The Authority of the Sacred Scriptures; to which, he elsewhere adds his own Experience. And whereas he had in some things changed his Opinion, as he saw cause, from what it was in his younger time, this he received early, as appears by some of his First Writings, and re­tain'd constantly to the last, as appears by his Treatise of Humility, which he wrote upon my Motion, not long before his last Sickness.

In his Treatise of Wisdom, and the Fear of God, after other particulars of the Wisdom of the Fear of God, he adds, in the 10th place: But besides all this, there is yet a Secret but a most Certain Truth, that highly improveth that Wis­dom, which the Fear of the Lord bringeth, and that is this, That those that truly fear God have [Page 11]a Secret Guidance from a higher Wisdom, than what is barely Humane; namely, by the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom, that doth really and truly, but secretly prevent and direct them. And let no Man think that this is a piece of Fanaticism. Any Man that sincerely and truly fears Almighty God, relies upon Him, calls upon Him for his Guidance and Direction, bath it as really as the Son hath the Counsel and Direction of his Father: and though the Voice be not audible, nor the Di­rection always perceptible to Sense, yet it is e­qually as real as if a Man heard the Voice saying, This is the Way, walk in it. And this Secret Direction of Almighty God is principally seen in Matters relating to the Good of the Soul: but it may also be found in the Great and Momentous Concerns of this Life, which a Good Man, that fears God, and begs his Direction, shall very often, if not at all times, find. And in his Treatise of Humility, speaking of this Guidance and Direction of Almighty God, in relation to a double End; 1. The Salvation and Happiness of the Soul. 2. In all the Walk and Concern of this Life; as to this latter he saith; The Air doth not more naturally yield to our Attraction in Respiration, or to insinuate it self into those spaces that are receptive of it, than the Divine Assistance, Guidance, and Beneficence doth to the Desires, Exigencies, and Wants of an humble Soul, sensible of its own Emptiness and Deficiency, [Page 12]and imploring the Direction, Guidance, and Bles­sing of the most Wise and Bountiful God. And then adds, I can call my own Experience to witness, that even in the External Actions, Occur­rences and Incidences of my whole Life, I was never disappointed of the best Guidance and Direction, when in Humility and Sense of my own Deficiency, and diffidence of my own Ability to di­rect my self, or to grapple with the Difficulties of my Life, I have, with Humility and Sincerity, implored the Secret Direction and Guidance of the Divine Wisdom and Providence. This he speaks of the secret Guidance by the Spirit of Truth, by Illumination of the Understanding, and In­clination of the Will; but there is another Secret Guidance by a Providential Disposal of Occurrences, which he doth not here exclude, yet seems more especially to intend, when he afterward appeals to the Experience of others.

I have also observed, as well from what he hath said upon several Occasions, as from di­vers Passages in his Writings, that he had from his younger time, in all his Life, not only a great respect to this secret Guidance of the Spirit of God, but also so great a Sense of the Malice, Subtlety, and Energy of the Evil Spi­rits, as made him very vigilant against them. And I doubt not but his constant and reverend Attendance to that Holy Conduct, and his [Page 13]Vigilance against the Wiles and Devices of those invisible Enemies, were a principal Means whereby he became so Great and Good a Man as he was.

This is genuine Christianity, and therefore it cannot but move Indignation in the Hearts of True Christians, to see so Great and Noble a Principle of their Religion to be so unworthily expos'd, contemned and reproached, as this hath been in our Times, partly by sensual Bruits, partly by conceited animal Pretenders to Reason, and partly by inconsiderate Opposers of Enthu­siasm. Nay, it is a Principle not peculiar to the times of the Incarnation of the Eternal Lo­gos, and succeeding Ages, but made manifest by that Light which enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World, unto all pious and virtuous Souls from the beginning: and it is a dangerous sign of an empty, bewidowed, de­serted Soul, for any Man to speak slightly or irreverently of so Holy a Principle. That Ex­cellent Philosopher and Emperor Antoninus, be­sides divers other Passages to the purpose, hath expressed himself in one place in the very words before used by our Author. Seneca affirms it; Bonus Vir sine Deo nemo est; besides many Pas­sages to this purpose: And Cicero, besides what more largely elsewhere, Nemo vir Magnus sine aliquo Afflatu Divino unquam fuit. Socrates is notorious, and Plato, and his Followers Plotinus, [Page 14]Porphyrius, Jamblicus, Proclus, &c. are known and confess'd to have been of the same Judg­ment; as also the Chaldaick and Egyptian Phi­losophers. The same is observ'd of Democritus, That he thought that there were no Men Wise besides those who were inspir'd with a Divine Influence: And Theophrastus, and indeed all the better Philosophers, are noted to have had the same Sentiments. And even Aristotle himself, as great a Rationalist as he was, hath plainly expressed himself to have been of the same Judgment, in several places. In one among the rest to this effect: They who are moved by a Divine Instinct ought not to consult Humane Rea­son, but follow the Interior Instinct; because they are moved by a better Principle than Humane Reason. And that the same Sentiments were among the Gentiles in very ancient times, we may observe in the Sacred Scriptures, Dan. 4.8. and 5.11. and long before, Job 32.8: 33.14, 15, 16. and Gen. 41.38. and 39.3. and before, 26.28. and before that, 21, 22. And for the Jews, it is very plain that in those Ex­cellent Books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, by the Name of Wisdom, this Divine Influence and Conduct is intended.

And for the Christians, the Doctrine of our Saviour and his Apostles is so express to this purpose, that they who would evade the genu­ine Sense of their Words, are forced to strain [Page 15]their Wits to the utmost, and their Consciences too, I doubt, if they be not stupified before hand. I need not recite the places, which every one may have recourse to at pleasure; and therefore it may be sufficient to note them under several Heads; as,

  • I. The Predictions of the Prophets, Isa. 44.3: 54.13. (recited by our Saviour, Jo. 6.45.) Jer. 31.33, 34. Ezek. 11.19: 36.26, 27. Joel 2.28. recited by St. Peter, and applyed not only to the Christians then, but to those also who should come after, Act. 2.17: 33.39. Zech. 12.10. Mat. 3.11.
  • II. Promises of our Saviour, Luk. 11.13. Jo. 7.39: 14, 16, 17, 23, 26: 15.26: 16.7. Lu. 24.49. Act. 1.4, 8: 2.38.
  • III. The Accomplishment of these Predictions and Promises.
    • 1. In the Original visible Effusion on the day of Pentecost, upon the Apostles and Primitive Christians, Act. 2.2, 3, 4, 33.
    • 2. By a Ministerial Communication, Act. 8.15, 17: 10.44: 19.6. Gal. 3.2, 5, 14. 2 Tim. 1.6. 2 Cor. 3.6, 8.
    • 3. By internal Residence and Operation, Illu­mination and Sanctification, Rom. 8.9, 11. 1 Cor. 3.16: 6.19. Eph. 2.22. 2 Tim. 1.14. 1 Jo. 2.24. Gal. 4.6. 1 Thess. 4.8. 2 Cor. 13. [...] 2.13.
    • [Page 16]4. By special and particular Manifestation and Conduct, variously exhibited; as,
      • 1. By Visions and Revelations, Act. 9.10, 12: 10.10: 11.28: 16.9: 18.9: 22.17. 1 Cor. 11.23: 12.4, 6, 10: 14.6, 24, 29, 30, 31. 2 Cor. 12.1, 2, 7. (v. Lu. 2.26.) Gal. 1.12: 2.2.
      • 2. By Allocutions, Act. 8.29: 10.19: 13.2, 4: 23.9.
      • 3. By Impulses and Excitations, (v. Lu. 2.27.) Act. 4.8, 13, 31: 5.20.
      • 4. By Prohibitions, Act. 16.6: 20.23: 21.4, 11. and Restraints, Act. 16.7.
  • IV. Admonitions.
    • 1. How to obtain it, Jo. 14.15, 16, 17, 23. Act. 5.32. Lu. 11.12. Ja. 1.5. Rev. 3.20. 1 Pet. 4.13.
    • 2. To follow and obey it, Rom. 8.1, 4, 5, 9, 13, 14. Gal. 5.16, 18, 25. Eph. 4.30.
    • 3. To try the Spirits, 1 Jo. 4.1: 1 Cor. 14.29.

More might be added, but these are more than enough. And to these it would not be hard to add a true Catholick Interpretation and Comment, that is, The Sentiments of the most ancient Christian Writers, and others of the most Eminent of after Ages; such as Hermas, Justine, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Novatian, Hilary, Nazianzen, Ambrose, Hierom, Austin [Page 17]and many others; but it would be too long for this place and occasion. And therefore to make short Work, instead of that, I will here repre­sent their Sentiments in some short Notes of an Eminent and most Learned Annotator, who was well acquainted with them, and doth sometimes intersperse some of their Testimonies in his Writings: It is the Famous Hugo Grotius. These, saith he, upon Mat. 18.10. (who dedicate themselves to God with a true Faith, and there­upon are accounted his peculiar People) God, as he doth favour them with a peculiar Providence, so he seems to give to each an Angel Guardian to guide and assist them, either perpetually or certainly, until they come to the full Possession of the Divine Spirit: For so I see the Ancient Christians did be­lieve. And in his Pref. to his Annot. upon the Epistle to the Romans. Into the Heart purified by Faith, as into a clean Vessel, God doth infuse his Spirit; I mean the Spirit of Christ full of Love of God, and of our Neighbour, and of all Goodness. — Those who have this Spirit of God, and carefully keep it, God doth account as born of Him, and like unto Him; to them he gives a certain Right to Heavenly and Eternal Good Things.— Neither is the Heart purisied but by Faith in Christ; nor is the Spirit infused but into a Heart so purified; nor doth he plainly own for his any but who are endowed with that Spirit. Upon Luke 22.3. As they who religiously obey [Page 18]the Divine Admonitions, at length receive the In­dwelling Spirit; so they who readily consent to the Suggestions of the Devil, at length, God deserting them, become the Slaves of Satan. Upon Jo. 5.45. Those (to whom the Gospel is Preached) become taught of God, that is, if they would, if they be greedy of it, if they do not reject the Be­nefits offered, and even forc'd upon them. They will have no need to have recourse to Learned Men, that from them they may learn the Mysteries of the Old Testament. Upon Eph. 1.17. The Spi­rit of God which is given to Believers, doth, among other things, imprint also Wisdom in their Souls, not that of the things of this World, of which Philoso­phers did boast, but of those things which conduce to a better Life. The same Spirit doth reveal also to those who are his, things future and secret, which cannot be known by humane Means. Upon 1 Jo. 2.20. The Spirit doth suggest to us in all Circumstances, both the Precepts of Christ, and such Hints or Notices as are meet for the Occasion. v. 27. What we are to do in every Circumstance: For there are certain Differences, which Times, Places, and Persons, require. Therefore is there often need of Admonition to hit the way of our Duty. See Jer. 31.34. Jo. 6.45. and, if you please, Seneca Epist. 94. And upon 1 Thess. 4.9. The Holy Ghost teacheth you concerning all things to be done. By how much the more there is of the Spirit, so much the less need is there of Prescripts. [Page 19]This Place is not to be understood of the General Precept, but of special Determinations, as all Things, Persons, and Times do require. And Gal. 5.18. Those who are led by the Spirit, as now of Age, have no need of the Law, the Guardian of their Touth. And Rom. 8.4. Those who walk after the Spirit, he interprets, those who having obtained the Holy Spirit, do constantly obey its Motions: and afterwards, v. 5. They that are after the Spirit, he interprets, those who are pos­sessed by the Spirit of God; which doth not now come to pass, but by Christ. And, v. 12. he notes, God hath given his Spirit that we should use it; and again, So great a Guest will be treated with Care; otherwise he will bid farewell to his Lodging. And to conclude, 1 Thess. 5.23. Spirit here, saith he, is that Holy Spirit, inhabit­ing in the Souls of Christians, and if it be carefully kept, adhering to Souls unto Death, and after Death even to the Resurrection; and then referrs to what he had said, 1 Cor. 15.44. to Hierom upon Gal. 5. and recites, to the same purpose, the Words of Philo, Irenaeus, Tatianus, Clem. Alex­andrinus, and Tertullian. More might be added; but this is enough to shew the Mind of this great Man, concerning the Necessity of our having the Spirit of God dwelling in us, the Effects of his Residence in Light and Conduct, and our Duty how to treat it.

And that this is also the Belief of the Church of England, (however some of late have com­monly presum'd to speak, if not despitefully and reproachfully, yet too slightly of so great and holy a Principle of our Religion) may appear, by the most Authentick Evidence that can be, her most solemn Addresses to Almighty God in divers Collects for this very purpose: As, for all Persons to be Baptized, before they be Bap­tized, to give his Holy Spirit to them, that they may be born again, &c. and after they be Bap­tized, to give his Holy Spirit to them, that they may continue his Servants, and attain his Promises: So likewise for all Persons Confirmed, to strengthen them with the Holy Ghost, and daily increase in them his manifold Gifts of Grace: before Impo­sition of Hands, and then again together with the Imposition of Hands, that they may daily in­crease in his Holy Spirit; and again afterward, that his Holy Spirit may ever be with them, and so lead them, &c. and lastly, for all the Con­gregation upon several Occasions; as, upon the Nativity of our Lord, that they may daily be renewed by his Holy Spirit. Upon the 19th Sun­day after Trinity, that his Holy Spirit may in all things Direct and Rule our Hearts. Upon the first Sunday in Lent, that we may ever obey his Godly Motions. Upon Easter-Day, that as by thy special Grace preventing us, thou dost put into our Minds good Desires; so by thy continual Help [Page 21]we may bring the same to good Effect. Upon the fifth Sunday after Easter, that by his Holy Inspi­ration we may think those things that be good, and by his merciful Guiding may perform the same: and others to the like Effect; as, upon the Sun­day after Ascension, Whitsunday, the 13th Sunday after Trinity, the Collect at the beginning of the Communion Service. And at every Morning and Evening Service, all are admonished to beseech him to give us his Holy Spirit. And in the Coll. for Grace, we pray to God, that all our doings may be ordered by his Governance: and in the Litany, to indue us with the Grace of his Holy Spirit, to amend our Lives according to his Holy Word. In the Ordering of Deacons, this Question is first to be asked by the Bishop, Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this Office and Mini­stration, &c? In the Ordering of Priests, the Bishop says, Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, &c. And in the Consecration of a Bishop, the Arch-Bishop says, Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Bishop, &c. and at each is sung the Hymn, Come Holy Ghost, &c. And in the Exhortation in the Commination, this is mentioned as one of the Conditions of our Par­don, viz. If we will be ordered by the Gover­nance of his Holy Spirit. And in the Articles of Religion, Art. 17. are mentioned together [Page 22] Godly Persons and such as feel in themselves the Working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying, &c.

To this Authority of the Church, I will sub­joyn the Judgment of one of her Sons, who, though at first it seems he was carried away with the common Prejudice of the Age, yet afterward, upon better consideration, extricated himself, and recover'd a better Judgment, and has in few words said what is much to the purpose.

That God himself affords his Intimacies and Con­verses to the better Souls, which are prepar'd for it.

I confess the proud and phantastick Pretences of many of the conceited Melancholists in this Age, to Divine Communion, have prejudiced divers in­telligent Persons against the Belief of any such happy Vouchsafement; so that they conclude the Doctrine of Immediate Communion with the Deity in this Life to be but an high-flown Notion of warm Imagination, and over-luscious Self-Flattery: and I acknowledge I have my self had Thoughts of this nature, supposing Communion with God to be nothing else but the Exercise of Vertue, and that Peace and those Comforts which naturally result from it.

But I have considered since, That God's more near and immediate imparting himself to the Soul that is prepar'd for that Happiness by Divine Love, Humility, and Resignation in the way of a Vital Touch, and Sense, is a thing possible in it self, and will be a great part of our Heaven: [Page 23]That Glory is begun in Grace, and God is pleased to give some excellent Souls the happy Antepast: That holy Men in ancient times have sought and gloried in this Enjoyment, and never complain so sorely, as when it was with-held and interrupted: That the Expressions of Scripture run infinitely this way, and the best of modern good Men do, from their own Experience, attest it: That this spiritualizeth Religion, and renders its Enjoyments more comfortable and delicious: That it keeps the Soul under a vivid sense of God, and is a grand Security against Temptation: That it holds it sted­dy amidst the Flatteries of a prosperous State, and gives it the most grounded Anchorage and Support amidst the Waves of an adverse Condition: That 'tis the noblest Encouragement to Vertue, and the highest Assurance of an happy Immortality. I say, I considered these weighty Things, and won­der'd at the Carelessness and Prejudice of Thoughts, that occasion'd my suspecting the Reality of so glo­rious a Priviledge: I saw how little Reason there is in denying Matters of inward Sense, because our selves do not feel them, or cannot form an Ap­prehension of them in our Minds: I am convinc'd that things of gust and relish must be judged by the sentient and vital Faculties, and not by the noetical Exercises of speculative Ʋnderstandings: And upon the whole, I believe infinitely, that the Divine Spirit affords its sensible Presence, and immediate Beatifick Touch to some Rare Souls, [Page 24] who are divested of carnal Self, and mundane Pleasures, abstracted from the Body by Prayer and Holy Meditation; spiritual in their Desires, and calm in their Affections; devout Lovers of God and Vertue, and tenderly affectionate to all the World; sincere in their Aims, and circumspect in their Actions; inlarged in their Souls, and clear in their Minds. These, I think, are the Dispo­sitions that are requisite to fit us for Divine Communion: And God transacts not in this near way, but with prepared Spirits, who are thus dis­posed for the Manifestation of his Presence, and his Influence; and such, I believe, he never fails to bless with these happy fore-tasts of Glory. But for those that are Passionate and Conceited, Tur­bulent and Notional, Confident and Immodest, Imperious and Malicious; that doat upon Trifles, and run fiercely into the ways of a Sect; that are lifted up in the Apprehension of the glorious Pre­rogatives of themselves and their Party, and scorn all the World besides; for such, I say, be their Pretensions what they will, to Divine Commu­nion, Illapses, and Discoveries, I believe them not; their Fancies abuse them, or they would us: For what Communion hath Light with Darkness, or the Spirit of the Holy One with those, whose Genius and Ways are so unlike Him? But the other Excellent Souls I described, will as certainly be visited by the Divine Presence and Converse, as the Chrystalline Streams are with the Beams of [Page 25]Light, or the fitly prepared Earth, whose Seed is in it self, will be actuated by the Spirit of Nature.

There is a late Writer of no mean Learning and Parts, and Authority too among those of his own Party, who reckons the Despising of the Holy Spirit, and his Operations now, to be a Sin of the same Nature with the Apostacy of the Jews by Idolatry of old, and afterwards by rejecting of our Saviour at his coming: and yet in detestation of Enthusiasm, utterly aban­dons all Impulses and Motions to Things and Actions, which are not acknowledged Duties in themselves, evidenced by the Word of Truth, &c. under the Name of Irrational Impressions, and violent Inclinations: and what some Men intend by Impulses, he says, he knows not. Indeed they who reject all such things, reject they know not what. And did they thereby only hurt themselves, it might be thought a just Punishment: but such confident Assertions in Print may not only be hurtful to Men, but also injurious to the Wisdom and Goodness of God, which is not to be limited by Mens Conceits. The Jews heretofore had the Favour to inquire of God, and receive Answers and Direction in their special Exigences: and if the Christians are not allowed that Favour now, it may be thought that the State of Christians is inferior to that of the Jews then, in a Matter of great [Page 26]Importance; or that the Christians now are, as the latter Jews were, fallen from the Inte­grity of the true Christian State: Nor can I conceive any reason why Christians should not have some such Means for this purpose, as the ancient Jews had, but that every Christian ought to have a Divine Oracle in his own Breast, by the Residence of the Spirit of God there, if we were indeed such as our Profession doth require, and oblige us to be, that is, truly Spiritual, and Heavenly-minded. It doth there­fore concern us to inquire, whether the Fault be not in our selves, if God doth not answer us, as it was with Saul, when God was de­parted from him, rather than to dishonour our Profession, by arguing against the Truth to cover our Shame? and since the Lord's Ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, whether our Sins have not interposed between our God and us, that he will not hear? Certainly we often need a Wisdom more than Humane in many Cases, wherein the General Prescripts are not sufficient.

For, as many things are lawful, which may not be expedient; so many things may be ex­pedient, or necessary, which may not be acknow­ledged Duties in themselves, evidenced by the Word of Truth, the written Word; and to the successful Performance of acknowledged Duties certain Circumstances may be, and often are so [Page 27]necessary, that unless duly observed, all En­deavours would be frustrate: and all these Expediences and Circumstances may be, and frequently are, such as are not discernable by us Mortals, without some Notice from more Intelligent Beings. If therefore the All-seeing, Wise, and Gracious God, be pleased, either im­mediately by his own Spirit, or mediately by any of the Invisible Ministers of his Providence, to afford any such Divine Favours to such Mortals as are duly disposed for the same; if taking notice of the Sincerity of his Servant, he be pleased, by any secret Impression upon his Heart or Mind, or other Notices, to conduct him in these things, or in any thing of his Will and Pleasure, though without manifesting the Reasons of it, to exercise his Reasonable Crea­ture to the Subjection of his Intellect to the Divine Wisdom, as well as his Will to Obedience to his Pleasure: as he who after competent Experience of this, should be disobedient to any such Notice, would certainly incurr Sin more or less, and justly deserve Correction; so it would be no less Impiety against that Holy Majesty, and Mischief to Men, to raise amongst them any Scandal or Prejudice against it, and thereupon a great Indisposition for it, by any undue Opposition of Fanaticism, without sufficient Distinction and Caution, than it is Impudence and Inconsiderateness in others, to expose them­selves [Page 28]and their Followers to the Delusions of Evil Spirits by high Pretences to such Divine and extraordinary Favours, without any Regard to, or Notice of those special Qualifications, and Cautions for Tryal of Spirits, which are necessary to capacitate them for such Favour, and to secure them against such Delusions. It requires therefore no small Caution, (to use this Author's Expression) that under an in­vidious Name they reject not such Favours, or calumniate such an Holy Conduct: and, that they especially who reproach others with limiting the Holy Spirit, do not themselves in this, what in other things they condemn in others, with less Reason.

And certainly great Caution is likewise to be used on the other side, that we presume not to attribute to the Holy Spirit of God, what is meerly the Imaginations or Effusions of our own Spirit; what is meerly Humane Invention, or Artifice; and even the Inspirations and De­lusions of Satan transformed into an Angel of Light. By this means is great Indignity com­monly done to the Holy and Pure Spirit: and great Sin contracted by Mens arrogating to themselves those Gifts and Graces, which they have little of, and recommending themselves and their Performances upon such high Pretences; and great Scandal given to People to think meanly of so great a Principle of our Religion.

There are three Great Means which God hath provided for us to lead us into all necessary Truth: Natural Reason, Supernatural Revela­tion communicated by Persons authorized by Divine Commission so to do, and Special Illu­mination and Direction of the Holy Spirit. And they who carefully use all these in their due Order, cannot err. But they who set up these one against another, do usually run themselves and lead others into great Errors. And hence it is that so great Disorders and Mischiefs have through the Subtilty and Energy of Satan been brought into the Church by Persons pretending to some one of these in a kind of Opposition to some other of them: either of Right Reason, or of the Pure Word of God; or of the Spirit and Spiritual Worship.

I do not doubt but they who pretend most to Right Reason, in opposition to Inspiration, are even therein very strongly inspired, but by the subtile Spirit of Opposition, and are in effect as great and pernicious Fanaticks as any, though they least suspect it. But not only those un­happy Atheistical Pretenders to Reason, who despise all Revelation and Revealed Religion; but such as profess themselves Christians; and not only that insolent and presumptuous Sect, who assert the Divine Authority of the Scrip­tures, and yet make no scruple to strain and wrest them to comply with their pre-conceived [Page 30]Notions; but more Moderate Men, and such as pretend highest to the Pure Word of God, and to the most pure Spiritual Worship, and cry out against Man-made Divinity, and against Fanaticism too; by indulging too much to their own Conceits, have brought such Disor­ders and Mischiefs into the Church, as are not much to be doubted were the Fruits of the In­fluences and Impressions of the Spirit of Delu­sion upon their Mind. Hence are many run from Superstition into Prophaneness; from Idolatry into Sacrilege; from Formality into Contempt or Neglect of the most Solemn Chri­stian Worship; from beggarly Rudiments and Carnal Ordinances, to make light of the Insti­tutions of Christ; from Monkish Austerity, as they call it, into common Indulgence and Gratifications to Sense; from Popish Merit into Carlessness, Worldly-mindedness, Selfishness, and little Concern for the Honour of God, or Sal­vation of Souls; from the Traditions of Men and Popish Pretences, to deny all, even of the Apostles, the Authority of the Catholick Church, and the Catholick Sense and Interpretation of divers of the Evangelical and Apostolical Pre­cepts and Directions; and, at last, to limit our Saviour's Sermon upon the Mount to the times of Persecution, til, at last, by those means, we are grown ripe for a Persecution, or some other severe awakening and purging Judgment. All [Page 31]this, and more that might be noted, we cannot impute meerly to the Weakness and Corruption of Men, unless we can imagin that all the Powers of Darkness have been all the while meer idle Spectators. But if they have been so subtle and active thus to deceive the Gentiles in these latter times, and the best of Men have not been exempt from their Assaults, it concerns all to beware that they be not deceived by a Spirit of Delusion under any of these Appea­rances, either of the Good Spirit, or of the Scripture, or of Reason: that they embrace not false Conclusions instead of Right Reason, their own Conceits, or the Novel Opinions of some Sect, instead of the Genuine Sense of the Scriptures, or Satan transformed for the Spirit of God; least, by any means, as the Serpent be­guiled Eve through his Subtilty, their Minds should be corrupted from the Simplicity that is in Christ.

And there is no way possible to escape this but by the Aid, Illumination, and Conduct of the Holy Spirit of God. Nor are any to be be­lieved to be led by that Spirit, when they go out of the way prescribed by Christ, and by his Apostles, who were Commissioned by Him: for it is the Spirit of Christ, and of his Fulness we all receive. As the Law was our School­master to bring us unto Christ, so is Observance of the Prescripts of the Gospel designed for our Tutourage, to bring us to the Spirit. To that [Page 32]we must come, or we are none of his: but that way we must come, and in that way we must keep, or else we shall be led by the Spirit of Error, and mistake that for the Spirit of Truth. If we do well consider the Holy Scriptures, the Nature of the Holy Spirit, and the Fruits of the Spirit, we may learn what Qualifications are requisite to obtain that in­estimable Treasure; and by what Signs and Characters it may be known and distinguished. And thereby we may discern that many, who pretend highly to the Spirit, are much out of the way of the true Spirit of God; and many led by the subtile Spirit of Antichrist, under the appearance of an Angel of Light, to under­mine the Gospel and Institutions of Christ; to do despite to the Spirit of Grace, and to raise Scandals and Prejudices against the Holy Do­ctrine, which they pretend, and it may be think to assert, and to indispose Men for the Re­ception of those Graces, which those envious and malicious Spirits may know to be ready to be communicated to them. And this should make others the more cautious, that they be not subservient to, and be made the very Tools of these wicked Agents in their Opposition, least at last they be involved with them in their Condemnation.

The True way to reduce the misled People, is, not to deny or dissemble the Holy Doctrine, [Page 33]much less to villifie or reproach it; but plainly to assert the Truth, and shew them wherein, and by what Means they are misled from it: 1. That the Spirit of God is the most precious and desirable thing in the World, and absolutely necessary; but it is to be desired principally to transform us into its own Nature; to lead us into all necessary Truth; to endue us with Power to overcome all our Corruptions, and all Temptations, and to adorn us with all those Graces, which ennoble Humane Nature, and raise it above its self, and so make us Christians indeed; and to conduct us in all the important Occurrences of our Lives: but to desire it for Matters of Ostentation, to glory in Divine Communications, or over-earnestly seek after the Consolations, through impatience of bear­ing the Spiritual Cross, are great Signs that such Souls are either quite out of the way, or have made but little Progress. 2. That Satan is often transformed into an Angel of Light; and therefore we must be careful to try the Spirits. 3. That whatever is contrary to Sound Doctrine, 1 Tim. 1.10: 2.1. to the Doctrine, which is according to Godliness, ibid. 6.3. the Doctrine taught by the Apostles, Rom. 16.17. Gal. 1.8. to the Faith once delivered to the Saints, Jud. 3. cannot be from the true Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. 4. That such Spirits as lead into Divisions, Separations, and Sects, lead [Page 34]out of the way of the True Spirit of God: and whatever lead into contempt or disrespect of the Sacred Scriptures, or any of the Ordi­nances or Institutions of Christ, are certainly Spirits of Antichrist, how specious soever their Pretences may be: for the Conscientious and Reverend Use of these are the very Means whereby Souls are prepared for the Commu­nication of the Spirit of God, and whereby it is ordinarily communicated to them. Cui Ve­ritas comperta sine Deo? Cui Deus cognitus sine Christo? Cui Christus exploratus sine Spiritu Sancto? Cui Spiritus Sanctus accommodatus sine Fidei Sacramento? saith an ancient and eminent Christian, Tertul. de Anima, c. 1. ‘To whom is Truth discovered without God? To whom is God known without Christ? To whom is Christ manifest without the Holy Spirit? To whom is the Holy Spirit granted without the Sacrament of Faith?’ that is, Baptism. 5. And more particularly in respect to some amongst us; That they who assert this Doctrine with­out Distinction or Caution, are not much to be regarded; and if they be Men of Learning, and may be presumed not to be ignorant what Cautions and Rules are given by Learned and Experienced Christians, to distinguish the Im­postures of Evil Spirits from the Conduct or Motions of the Good, are much to be sus­pected to serve another Interest then what [Page 35]they pretend to those they mislead; and that they all expose People to the Delusions of Evil Spirits, which readily embrace such Advan­tages. 6. That there were special Reasons why God ordered Moses to smite the Waters and the Dust with the Rod, and to take hand­fuls of Ashes from the Furnace and sprinkle it towards the Heaven, and to erect the Brazen Ser­pent in the Wilderness, &c. to produce the intend­ed effects; and why our Saviour made Clay with Spittle, and anointed the Eyes of the Blind Man, and then bad him wash, and many other such things, for which perhaps no Man did nor doth know the reason; and yet, undoubt­edly, if these Orders had not been observed, the Effect had not follow'd. 7. That it is but reasonable that God should give Orders, without declaring the Reason, for Tryal and Exercise of the Subjection of the Intellectual Faculties of his Creatures; and that in such Case, if the Orders be not observed, it is not likely the Effect should follow: and that if there were no more than this Exercise of hum­ble Submission to the Wisdom of God, in the Christian Sacraments, it could not be imagined to be the Spirit of Christ, that should lead Peo­ple to despise or neglect these Orders and Insti­tutions of Christ: But in them there is more; for Instance, in that of Baptism, it is the So­lemnity, and external Act of Declaration of [Page 36]our Engagement in Covenant with Christ: and the Refusal of it is as much as to refuse to Seal and Deliver a Bond; which whoever should refuse to do, and yet pretend to give Bond, might be looked upon as a Knave or a Cheat: and in that of the Holy Communion, there is a great and Solemn Duty of Recognition of the absolute Dominion of the Father by Right of Creation, and of the Son by Right of Re­demption, over us and all we are and have; a Symbolical Oblation of our selves and of all we have to God, in a Commemorative Sacrifice and Representation of the Passion of Christ be­fore the Father, as the Great Propitiation for the Sins of the World, of as full import to all intents and purposes to Christians, as were all the Sacrifices of the Jews to them, which were but Types of the same; a Holy Rite of Address to God the Father, by Christ the Mediator, through the Merit and Satisfaction of his Passi­on, by which alone our Prayers and Thanks­givings have acceptance with him; and of Spiritual Communion with God in Christ, where­by a Divine Power and Vertue is as really com­municated to Souls duly disposed, as Vertue went out of him and healed the People, and the Woman who touched the Hem of his Gar­ment. And these have been the Sentiments, and this the most solemn and peculiar Worship of the Christian Church, all over the World, [Page 37]from the rising of the Sun to the going down of the same, performed every day in most of the great Churches, and every Lord's-Day in all, from the times of the Apostles till the last Age. It is an Ordinance of so great Honour to our Saviour, and Benefit to Souls duly dispos'd, that there can hardly be a greater Evidnece of the Prevalence of the Spirit of Antichrist, and of Satan transformed, than Disrespect and Ne­glect of it, under pretence of a more spiritual Worship: For nothing can be more grievous to that envious and malicious Spirit, than to see that Passion, which he had most maliciously procured, to be so honoured all over the World, and applyed to his Confusion; and therefore hath he oppos'd it with all the Subtilty and Malice he could possible. Besides, for People to slight it under pretence of Christ being come to them in the Spirit, is a manifest and dan­gerous piece of Spiritual Pride so to set up themselves above the Primitive Christians, and St. Paul himself, who had so great a Manife­station of the Spirit with them; and therefore another pregnant Evidence of the Spirit of Delusion. And if we do well consider what decays of Charity and Unanimity among Men, and of Piety and Devotion to God, hath in all parts attended the Neglect of this Holy Ordi­nance, that may be another Evidence of what Spirit they are of, who do neglect it, [Page 38]whatever their Pretences be. But for all Se­paratists and Sectaries in general, it is matter of great Caution that the Scriptures are so full of Admonitions and Prohibitions against Schisms and Divisions, and of Predictions, both by our Saviour himself, and by his Apostles, both of the Variety of them, and of the Danger, in that some of them have that specious Ap­pearance, as to deceive, if it were possible, the very Elect. And if we look into the History of the Church in former times, we shall find little or nothing of the true Spirit among any of any Party of Separatists, but much of the Spirit of Error or Delusion. And therefore when we find a Manifestation of the Presence or Energy of some Spirit, and a Concurrence of divers of these Indications or Signs, we may be assured and confident that it is an Antichristian Spirit, be its appearance never so specious in other re­spects. And in these two things especially, have such as have been partakers of the true Spirit, found themselves to be sometimes strangely assaulted and tempted by the subtile Adversary, viz. to Spiritual Pride, and undervaluation of other Persons, and to neglect of the Ordinances of Christ, as needless to them.

The Way, whereby the ancient Religious Chri­stians were generally preserved from these and such like Snares, was, that they were trained up, as the Sons of the Prophets of old, under ancient [Page 39]experienced Christians in all kind of Exercises of Humility, Subjection both of Mind and Will, and constant discovery of the Dispositions and Motions of their Hearts to their Superiors, and of all Grace and Vertue. But where both Do­ctrine and Practice hath been neglected, it is not strange that amongst many Appearances and Pretences there should be found little of Soli­dity; especially where those noble Heroick Vir­tues of Abstraction, and Contempt of the World, Heavenly-mindedness, and continual Attendance to God, &c. are rejected as Monkery and Supersti­tion; but all their goodly Appearances and Pre­tences end, at last, in Emptiness and Scandal. And therefore it concerns all, who have any Care of their Souls, to beware of all such as are out of the Way and Method of the Ancients.

But, on the other side, to take such Offence at the Miscarriages of such as have been led into Error by any seducing Spirit, as therefore to oppose the Conduct of the Spirit of Truth, or any of its Operations, and elude the Holy Scrip­tures, and undermine the Doctrine thereof, is as certainly the Effect of the Operation of the Spi­rit of Antichrist, and, in truth, as much Fana­ticism as the other, in the contrary Extream. For the Good Spirit is as absolutely necessary to be had, as all others to be avoided; for without it we cannot be genuine living Christians, but meer empty formal Professors; of which sort, it [Page 40]is much to be feared, are the greatest part both of Conformists and Non-Conformists amongst us, if Judgment be made according to our Sa­viour's Rule of their Fruits, and Fruitfulness.

But lest any well-minded Soul should be troubled with any doubts in this respect, we must distinguish between Having the Spirit, and the Manifestation of the Spirit; and between the Operations of the Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the Graces of the Spirit: and know, that as there may be the Operations of the Spirit, where there are not the Gifts of the Spi­rit; and the Gifts of the Spirit, where there are not the Graces of the Spirit: so, on the other side, there may be the Residence of the Spirit, where there is no sensible distinguishable Manifestation of the Spirit. For the Operations and Communications of the Spi­rit are often so subtile and secret in the manner, both in Illumination, and Power, and Inclination of the Will, as are not manifest by Sense, but by Faith only, and we know not how they are wrought in us. But as the most desirable Graces of the Spirit are Regeneration and Effectual Sanctification, so the Fruits and Effects thereof are the most infallible Notes of the Presence of the Good Spirit, which always leads to Mortification of all Carnal and Earthly Affections, and to the Perfection of all Coelestial, Angelick and Divine Dispositions in the Soul. But to Souls duly prepared, purged and disposed for it, that Blessed Guide doth often manifest his Presence by Sensible Attractions and Restraints upon the Heart, and plain Suggestions to the Mind; and to such as once find that, I can give no better Advice then what we have, Ecclesiasticus 4.— and 6.— which, I believe, was part of the Mystick Theology of the Ancients.


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