THE Distinguishing Marks Of a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD.

Applied to that uncommon Operation that has lately appeared on the Minds of many of the People of this Land:

With a particular Consideration of the extraor­dinary Circumstances with which this Work is attended.

A DISCOURSE Delivered at New-Haven, September 10th 1741. Being the Day after the Commencement; And now Published at the earnest Desire of many Ministers and other Gentlemen that heard it; with great Enlargements.

By Jonathan Edwards, A. M. Pastor of the Church of CHRIST at Northampton.

With a Preface by the Rev. Mr. COOPER of Boston.

Joh 10. 4. 5

And the Sheep follow him, for they know his Voice; and a Stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the Voice of Strangers.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND and T. GREEN, in Queen street, over against the Prison. 1741.

[Page i]


THERE are several Dispensations, or Days of Grace, which the Church of God has been under from the be­ginning of Time. There is that under the ancient Patriarchs; that under the Law of Moses; and there is that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, under which we now are. This is the brightest Day that ever shone, and exceeds the other for peculiar Advantages. To us who are so happy as to live under the Evangeli­cal Dispensation, may those Words of our Saviour be directed, which he spake to his Disciples, when he was first setting up the Messiah's Kingdom in the World, and Gospel Light and Power began to spread abroad; Blessed are the Eyes which see the Things that ye see. For I tell you, that many Prophets and Kings, have desired to see those Things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those Things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

[Page ii] The Mosaic Dispensation, tho' darkned with Types and Figures, yet far exceeded the former: But the Gospel Dispensation so much exceeds in Glory, that it doth eclipse the Glory of the Legal, as the Stars disappear when the Sun ariseth, and goeth forth in his Strength—And the chief Thing that renders the Gospel so glorious is, that it is the Ministration of the SPIRIT. Under the preaching of it the Holy Spirit was to be poured out in more plentiful Mea­sures; not only in miraculous Gifts, as in the first Times of the Gospel; but in his internal saving Operations, accompanying the outward Ministry, to produce numerous Conversions to Christ, and give spiritual Life to Souls that were before dead in Trespasses and Sins, and so prepare them for Life eternal. Thus the Apostle speaks, when he runs a Comparison between the old Testament and the new, the Law of Moses, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; For the Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life. But if the Ministration of Death, written and en­graven in Stones was glorious, so that the Chil­dren of Israel could not stedfastly behold the Face of Moses, for the Glory of his Countenance, which Glory was to be done away; how shall not the Ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?

This blessed Time of the Gospel, hath several other Denominations, which may raise our Esteem and Value for it. It is called by the evangelical Pro­phet, * The acceptable Year of the Lord. Or, as [Page iii] it may be read, the Year of Liking, or of Bene­volence, or of the good Will of the Lord; be­cause it would be the special Period in which he would display his Grace and Favour in an extraor­dinary Manner, and deal out spiritual Blessings with a full and liberal Hand.—It is also stiled by our Saviour, The Regeneration; which may re­fer not only to that glorious Restitution of all Things, which is look'd for at the Close of the Christian Dis­pensation, but to the renewing Work of Grace in particular Souls, carried on from the Beginning to the End of it.

But few were renewed and sanctified under the former Dispensations, compared with the Instances of the Grace of God in Gospel Times. Such Num­bers were bro't into the Gospel Church when it was first set up, as to give Occasion for that pleasing ad­miring Question, which was indeed a Prophecy of it, * Who are these that fly as a Cloud? And as the Doves to their Windows? Then the Power of the divine Spirit so accompanied the Ministry of the Word, as that Thousands were converted under one Sermon.—But notwithstanding this large Effusion of the Spirit, when Gospel Light first dawn'd upon the World, and that pleasant Spring of Religion which then appear'd on the Face of the Earth, there was a gradual Withdraw of his saving Light and Influences, and so the Gospel came to be less sucess­ful, and the State of Christianity withered in one Place and another.

[Page iv] Indeed at the Time of the Reformatiom from Popery, when Gospel Light broke in upon the Church, and dispell'd the Clouds of Antichristian Darkness that cover'd it, the Power of divine Grace so accompanied the Preaching of the Word, as that it had admirable Success in the Conversion and Edifi­cation of Souls, and the blessed Fruits thereof appear'd in the Hearts & Lives of it's Professors. That was one of the Days of the Son of Man, on which the exalted Redeemer, rode forth in his Glory & Majesty, on the white Horse of the pure Gospel, conquering and to conquer; and the Bow in his Hand, like that of Jonathan's, returned not empty.—

But what a dead and barren Time has it now been, for a great while, with all the Churches of the Re­formation? The golden Showers have been restrain'd; the Influences of the Spirit suspended; and the Con­sequence has been, that the Gospel has not had any eminent Success: Conversions have been rare and dubious; few Sons & Daughters have been born to God; and the Hearts of Christians not so quick­ned, warm'd & refresh'd under the Ordinances, as they have been.

That this has been the sad State of Religion among us in this Land for many Years, (except one or two distinguish'd Places, who have at Times been visited with a Shower of Mercy, while other Towns and Churches have not been rained upon) will be ac­knowleg'd by all who have spiritual Senses exercis'd, as it has been lamented by faithful Ministers, and serious Christians. Accordingly it has been a con­stant [Page v] Petition in our publick Prayers from Sabbath to Sabbath, "That God would pour out his Spirit upon us, and revive his Work in the midst of the Years." And besides our annual Fast-Days ap­pointed by the Government, most of our Churches have set apart Days, wherein to seek the Lord by Prayer and Fasting, that he would come and rain down Righteousness upon us.

And now,—Behold! The Lord whom we have sought, has suddenly come to his Temple. The Dispensation of Grace we are now under, is certainly such as neither we nor our Fathers have seen; and in some Circumstances so wonderful, that I believe there has not been the like since the extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit immediately after our Lord's As­cension. The Apostolical Times seem to have re­turn'd upon us: Such a Display has there been of the Power & Grace of the divine Spirit in the Assem­blies of his People, & such Testimonies has he given to the Word of the Gospel.—

I remember a remarkable Passage of the late Re­verend & Learned Mr. How, which I think it may be worth while to transcribe here. It is in his Discourse concerning the prosperous State of the Christian Church before the End of Time, by a plentiful Effusion of the Holy Spirit, P. 80. ‘In such a Time, says he, when the Spirit shall be poured forth plentifully, sure Ministers shall have their proportionable Share. And when such a Time as that shall come, I believe you will hear much other Kind of Sermons, (or they [Page vi] will who shall live to such a Time) than you are won't to do now a Days: Souls will surely be dealt withal at another Kind of Rate. It is plain, says He, too sadly plain, There is a great Retraction of the Spirit of God even from Us: We know not how to speak living Sense into Souls; how to get within you: Our Words die in our Mouths, or drop & die between you and us. We even faint when we speak; long ex­perienced Unsuccessfulness makes us despond: We speak not as Persons that hope to prevail, that expect to make you serious, heavenly, mindful of God, and to walk more like Christi­ans. The Methods of alluring & convincing Souls, even that some of us have known, are lost from amongst us in a great Part. There have been other Ways taken, than we can tell now how to fall upon, for the mollifying of the Ob­durate, and the awakening of the Secure, and the convincing & perswading of the Obstinate, and the winning of the Disaffected. Sure there will be a large Share, that will come even to the Part of Ministers, when such an Effusion of the Spirit shall be, as is expected: That they shall know how to speak to better Purpose, with more Compassion, with more Seriousness, with more Authority and Allurement, than we now find we can.’ Thus He.

Agreable to the just Expectation of this great and excellent Man, we have found it in this remark­able Day. A Number of Preachers have appear'd [Page vii] among us, to whom God has given such a large Mea­sure of his Spirit, that we are ready sometimes to apply to them the Character given of Barnabas, * That he was a good Man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of Faith. They preach the Gospel of the Grace of God from Place to Place, with uncom­mon Zeal and Assiduity.—The Doctrines they insist on, are the Doctrines of the Reformation, under the Influence whereof the Power of Godliness so flourish'd in the last Century. The Points on which their Preaching mainly turns, are those important ones, of Man's Guilt, Corruption, & Impotence; Su­per-natural Regeneration by the Spirit of God, and free Justification by Faith in the Righteousness of Christ; and the Marks of the new Birth.—The Manner of their preaching is not with the en­ticing Words of Man's Wisdom: Howbeit, they speak Wisdom among them that are perfect. An ardent Love to Christ & Souls, warms their Breasts, and animates their Labours. God has made these his Ministers active Spirits, a Flame of Fire in his Service: And his Word in their Mouths has been as a Fire; and as a Hammer that breaketh the Rock in Pieces. In most Places where they have labour'd, God has evidently wrought with them, and confirm'd the Word by Signs follow­ing. Such a Power & Presence of God in religi­ous Assemblies, has not been known since God set up [Page viii] his Sanctuary amongst us: He has indeed glorified the House of his Glory.

This Work is truly extraordinary in Respect of the Extent of it. It is more or less in the several Provinces that measure many hundred Miles on this Continent. He sendeth forth his Command­ment upon Earth; his Word runneth very swiftly. It has entred & spread in some of the most populous Towns, the chief Places of Con­course & Business. And,—Blessed be God!—It has visited the Seats of Learning, both here, and in a neighbouring Colony. O may the Holy Spirit constantly reside in them both, seize our devoted Youth, & form them as polish'd Shafts successfully to fight the Lord's Battles against the Powers of Darkness, when they shall be call'd out to Ser­vice!

It is extraordinary also with Respect to the Num­bers that have been the Subjects of this Operation. Stupid Sinners have been awak'ned by Hundreds; And the Inquiry has been general in some Places, What must I do to be saved? I verily believe in this our Metropolis, there were the last Winter some Thousands under such religious Impressions as they never felt before.

The Work has been remarkable also for the va­rious Sorts of Persons that have been under the Influence of it.—These have been of all Ages. Some elderly Persons have been snatch'd as Brands out of the burning, made Monuments of divine Mercy, & born to God, tho' out of due Time; as [Page ix] the Apostle speaks in his own Case. * But here with us it has lain mostly amongst the Young. Sprightly Youth have been made to bow like Wil­lows to the Redeemer's Sceptre, & willingly to subscribe with their own Hands to the Lord. And out of the Mouths of Babes, some little Children, has God ordain'd to himself Praise, to still the E­nemy and the Avenger.—Of all Ranks & De­grees. Some of the great & rich; but more of the low & poor—Of other Countries & Nations. Ethiopia has stretched out her Hand: Some poor Negroes have, I trust, been vindicated into the glorious Liberty of the Children of God.—Of all Qualities & Conditions. The most ignorant; the foolish Things of the World, Babes in Know­ledge have been made wise unto Salvation, and taught those heavenly Truths, which have been hid from the wise & prudent. Some of the learned and knowing among Men, have had those Things re­vealed to them of the Father in Heaven, which Flesh and Blood do not teach: And of these, some who had gone into the modern Notions, and had no other than the polite Religion of the present Times, have had their Prejudices conquer'd, their carnal Rea­sonings overcome, and their Understandings made to bow to Gospel Mysteries; they now receive the Truth as it is in Jesus, and their Faith no longer stands in the Wisdom of Man, but in the Power of God. Some of the most rude & disorderly, [Page x] are become regular in their Behaviour, & sober in all Things. The Gay & Airy, are become grave and serious. Some of the greatest Sinners have ap­pear'd to be turned into real Saints. Drunkards have become temperate: Fornicators & Adulte­rers of a chast Conversation; Swearers, & pro­fane Persons, have learn'd to fear that glorious and fearful Name, the Lord their God; and carnal Worldlings have been made to seek first the King­dom of God and his Righteousness. Yea, Deriders and Scoffers at this Work and the Instruments of it, have come under its conquering Power. Some of this Stamp, who have gone to hear the Preacher, as some did Paul; What will this Babler say? Have not been able to resist the Power and the Spirit with which he spake; have sat trembling under the Word, and gone away from it weeping; and afterward did cleave unto the Preacher, as Dio­nysius the Aropagite did unto Paul. Divers Instances of this Kind, have fallen under my Know­ledge.—The virtuous and civil have been convinc'd that Morality is not to be relied on for Life; and so excited to seek after the new Birth, and a vital Union to Jesus Christ by Faith. The formal Pro­fessor likewise has been awakened out of his dead Formalities, and brought under the Power of God­liness; taken off from his false Rests, and bro't to build his Hopes only on the Mediator's Righte­ousness. At the same Time many of the Children [Page xi] of God have been greatly quickned & refreshed; have been awaken'd out of the sleepy Frames they were fallen into, and excited to give Diligence to make their Calling & Election sure; and have had precious reviving & sealing Times.—Thus ex­tensive & general the divine Influence has been, at this glorious Season.

One Thing more is worthy Remark; and this is the Uniformity of the Work. By the Accounts I have received in Letters, and Conversation with Ministers and Others who live in different Parts of the Land where this Work is going on, It is the same Work that is carried on in one Place and another: The Method of the Spirit's Operation on the Minds of People is the same; tho' with some Variety of Circumstances as is usual at other Times: And the particular Appearances with which this Work is attended, that have not been so com­mon at other Times, are also much the same. These are indeed objected by many against the Work: But tho' Conversion is the same Work, in the main Strokes of it, wherever it is wrought; yet it seems reasonable to suppose that at an extraordinary Season wherein God is pleas'd to carry on a Work of his Grace in a more observable and glorious Manner, in a Way which he would have to be taken Notice of by the World; at such a Time, I say, It seems reasonable to suppose, There may be some particu­lar Appearances in the Work of Conversion, which are not common at other Times, when yet there are true Conversions wrought; or some Circumstances [Page xii] attending the Work may be carried to an unusual Degree and Height. If it were not thus, the Work of the Lord would not be so much regarded and spoken of; and so God would not have so much, of the Glory of it: nor would the Work it self he like to spread so fast; for God has evidently made Use of Example & Discourse in the carrying of it on.

And as to the Fruits of this Work, (which we have been bid so often to wait for) Blessed be God! so far as there has been Time for Observation they appear to be abiding. I don't mean, That none have lost their Impressions, or that there are no In­stances of Hypocrisy & Apostacy. Scripture and Experience lead us to expect these at such a Season. It is to me Matter of Surprize & Thankfulness that as yet there have been no more. But I mean, That a great Number of those who have been awakened are still seeking & striving to enter in at the strait Gate. The most of those who have been thought to be converted, continue to give Evidences of their being new Creatures, and seem to cleave to the Lord with full Purpose of Heart. To be sure a new Face of Things continues in this Town; tho' many Circumstances concur to render such a Work not so observable here, as in smaller & distant Pla­ces. Many Things not becoming the Profession of the Gospel are in a Measure reform'd. Taverns, Dancing-Schools, and such Meetings as have been call'd Assemblies, which have always prov'd un­friendly to serious Godliness, are much less fre­quented. Many have reduc'd their Dress & Ap­parel, [Page xiii] so as to make them look more like the Fol­lowers of the humble Jesus. And it has been both surprizing and pleasant to see how some Younger People, and of that Sex too which is most fond of such Vanities, have put off the Bravery of their Ornaments, as the Effect & Indication of their seeking the inward Glories of the King's Daugh­ter. Religion is now much more the Subject of Conversation at Friends Houses, than ever I knew it. The Doctrines of Grace are espous'd & relish'd. Private religious Meetings are greatly multiplied.—The publick Assemblies (especially Lectures) are much better attended: And our Auditories were never so attentive & serious. There is indeed an extraordi­nary Appetite after the sincere Milk of the Word.

It is more than a Twelve Month since an Even­ing-Lecture was set up in this Town; there are now several; two constantly on Tuesday and Friday-Evenings; when some of our most capacious Houses are well fill'd, with Hearers who by their Looks & Deportment seem to come to hear that their Souls might live. An Evening in God's Courts is now esteem'd better than many elsewhere. There is also great Resort to Ministers in private. Our Hands continue full of Work: And many Times we have more than we can discourse with distinctly and seperately—.

I have been thus large and particular, that Per­sons at a Distance, who are desirous to know the present State of Religion here, into whose Hands these Papers will come, may receive some Satisfaction.

[Page xiv] And now, Can any be at a Loss to what Spirit to ascribe this Work? To attribute it, as some do, to the Devil, is to make the old Serpent, like the foolish Woman, who plucketh down her House with her Hands. * Our Saviour has taught us to argue otherwise in such a Case as this: Every Kingdom divided against it self, is bro't to Desolation; and every City or House divided against it self, shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself: How then shall his Kingdom stand?

That some entertain Prejudices against this Work, and others revile and reproach it, does not make it look less like a Work of God: It would else want one Mark of it's being so; for the Spirit of this World, and the Spirit which is of God, are con­trary the one to the other. I don't wonder that Satan rages, and shews his Rage in some that are under his Influence, when his Kingdom is so shaken, and his Subjects desert him by Hundreds, I hope by Thousands.

The Prejudices of some, I make no doubt, are owing to the Want of Opportunity to be rightly in­formed, and their having received Misrepresentations from abroad. Others may be offended because they have not experienced any Thing like such a Work in themselves; and if these Things be so, they must begin again, and get another Foundation laid than that on which they have built: And this is what [Page xv] Men are hardly bro't to. And others, perhaps, may dislike the present Work, because it supports & con­firms some Principles which they have not yet em­braced, and against which such Prejudices hang a­bout their Minds, as they cannot easily shake off: For 'tis certain these Fruits do not grow on Armi­nian Ground. I hope none dislike the Work because they have not been us'd as Instruments in it: For if we love our Lord Jesus Christ in Sincerity, we shall rejoyce to see Him increase, tho' we should decrease.

If any are resolutely set to disbelieve this Work, to reproach and oppose it, they must be left to the free sovereign Power & Mercy of God to enlighten and rescue them. These, if they have had Opportu­nity to be rightly inform'd, I am ready to think, would have been Disbelievers, & Opposers of the Miracles and Mission of our Saviour, had they liv'd in his Days. The Malignity which some of them have discover'd, to me approaches near to the unpar­donable Sin; and they had need beware lest they indeed sin the Sin which is unto Death: For as I believe it can be committed in these Days as well as in the Days of the Apostles, so I think Persons are now in more Danger of committing it than at other Times. [I hope these Words have dropt from my Pen not in an untemperate Zeal, but with due Caution, & some suitable Solemnity of Spirit] At least let them come under the Awe of that Word, Psal. 28. 5. Because they regard not the Works of the Lord, nor the Operation of his Hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.

[Page xvi] But if any are dispos'd to receive Conviction, have a Mind open to Light, and are really willing to know of the present Work whether it be of God, it is with great Satisfaction and Pleasure I can recom­mend to them the following Sheets; in which they will find the distinguishing Marks of such a Work, as they are to be found in the Holy Scriptures, applied to the uncommon Operation that has been on the Minds of many in this Land. Here the Matter is tried by the infallible Touchstone of the holy Scrip­tures, and is weighed in the Ballances of the Sanc­tuary, with great Judgement and Impartiality.

A Performance of this Kind is seasonable and necessary; and I desire heartily to bless God who inclin'd this his Servant to undertake it, and has graciously assisted him in it. The Reverend Author is known to be a Scribe instructed unto the King­dom of Heaven; the Place where he has been cal­led to exercise his Ministry has been famous for ex­perimental Religion; and he has had Opportunities to observe this Work in many Places where it has powerfully appear'd, and to converse with Numbers that have been the Subjects of it: These Things qualify him for this Undertaking above most. His Arguments in favour of the Work, are strongly drawn from Scripture, Reason, and Experience: And I believe every candid judicious Reader will say, he writes very free from an Enthusiastic or a Party Spirit. The Use of human Learning is asserted; a methodical Way of Preaching, the Fruit of Study as well as Prayer, is recommended; and the [Page xvii] Exercise of Charity in judging Others press'd and urged: And those Things which are esteem'd the Blemishes, and are like to be the Hin­drances of the Work, are with great Faithfulness caution'd and warn'd against.—Many I believe will be thankful for this Publication. Those who have already entertain'd favourable Thoughts of this Work, will be confirm'd by it; and the Doubting may be convinc'd & satisfied. But if there are any who cannot after all see the Signatures of a Divine Hand on the Work, 'tis to be hop'd they will be prevail'd on to spare their Censures, and stop their Oppositions, lest haply they should be found even to fight against God—

I had yet several Things to say, which I see I must suppress, or I shall go much beyond the Limits of a Preface: And I fear I need to ask Pardon, both of the Reader and the Publishers, for the Length I have run already. Only I can't help expressing my Wish, that those who have been conversant in this Work, in one Place and another, would trans­mit Accounts of it to such a Hand as the Reverend Author of this Discourse, to be compiled into a Narrative, like that of the Conversions at North­hampton which was published a few Years ago: that so the World may know this surprizing Dispen­sation, in the Beginning, Progress, and various Circum­stances of it. This, I apprehend, would be for the Honour of the HOLY SPIRIT, whose Work and Office has been treated so reproachfully in the Christian [Page xviii] World: It would be an open Attestation to the Di­vinity of a despised Gospel: And it might have a happy Effect on other Places, where the Sound of this marvellous Work would by this Means be heard. I can't but think it would be one of the most useful Pieces of Church History the People of God are bless'd with. Perhaps it would come the nearest to the Acts of the Apostles of any Thing extant; and all the Histories in the World do not come up to that: There we have something as surprizing, as in the Book of Genesis; and a new Creation, of another Kind, seems to open to our View.—But I must forbear.

I will only add my Prayer, That the worthy Author of this Discourse, may long be continued a burning and shining Light in the Golden Candlestick where CHRIST has plac'd him; and from thence diffuse his Light thro' these Provinces! That the divine SPIRIT, whose Cause is here espous'd, would accompany this, and the other valuable Publica­tions of his Servant, with his powerful Influences; that they may promote the REDEEMER'S Interest, serve the Ends of vital Religion, and so add to the Author's present Joy, and future Crown!

W. Cooper.
[Page 1]

The Marks of a Work of the true SPIRIT.

1 JOHN iv. 1.Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but try the Spi­rits whether they are of GOD; because many false Prophets are gone out into the World.

THE apostolical Age, or the Age in which the Apostles lived and preached the Gospel, was an Age of the greatest out-pouring of the Spirit of God that ever was; and that both as to the extraordinary Influences and Gifts of the Spirit, in Inspiration and Miracles, and also as to his ordinary Opera­tions, in convincing, converting, enlightening and sanctifying the Souls of Men. But as the [Page 2] Influences of the true Spirit abounded, so Coun­terfeits did also then abound: The Devil was abundant in mimicking, both the ordinary and extraordinary Influences of the Spirit of God, as is manifest by innumerable Passages of the A­postles Writings. This made it very necessary that the Church of Christ should be furnished with some certain Rules, and distinguishing and clear Marks by which she might proceed safely in judging of Spirits, and distinguish the true from the false, without Danger of being imposed upon. The giving such Rules is the plain Design of this Chapter, where we have this Matter more ex­presly and fully treated of than any where else in the Bible. The Apostle here, of set Purpose, un­dertakes to supply the Church of God with such Marks of the true Spirit as may be plain, & safe, and surely distinguishing, and well accommodated to Use and Practice; and that the Subject might be clearly and sufficiently handled, he insists upon it throughout the Chapter: Which makes it won­derful that what is said in this Chapter, is no more taken notice of in this extraordinary Day, when that which is so remarkable appears; such an un­common Operation on the Minds of People, that is so extensive; and there is such a Variety of Opi­nions concerning it, and so much Talk about the Work of the Spirit.

The Apostle is led to discourse on this Subject by an occasional Mention of the indwelling of the Spirit, as the sure Evidence of an Interest in [Page 3] Christ, in the last Verse of the foregoing Chapter. And he that keepeth his Commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him; and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. Whence we may infer, That the Design of the Apostle in this Chapter is not only to give Marks whereby to distinguish the true Spirit from false in his extraordinary Gifts of Prophecy & Miracles, but also in his ordinary Influences on the Minds of his People, in order to their Union to Christ, and being built up in him; which is also mani­fest from the Marks themselves that are given, which we shall hereafter take Notice of.

The Words of the Text are an Introduction to this Discourse, of the distinguishing Signs of the true and false Spirit. Before the Apostle proceeds to lay down these Signs, he exhorts the Christians he writes to, to Care in this Matter. And, 1. Here is the Duty of trying the Spirits urged, with a Caution annexed, against an over Credulouslness, and a Forwardness to admit every Thing as the Mark of a true Spirit that has that Shew or Pretext; Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits, whether they are of God. 2. The Necessity of this Duty is shewn from this, That there were many Counterfeits: because many false Prophets are gone out into the World. The false Apostles, and false Prophets, that were in those Days, did not only pretend to have the Spirit of God in his extraordinary Gifts of Inspiration, but also to be the great Friends [Page 4] and Servents of Heaven, and to be eminently holy Persons, and so to have much of the ordinary, sav­ing, sanctifying Influences of the Spirit of God on their Hearts; and we are to look upon these Words as a Direction to examine and try their Pretences to the Spirit of God, in both these Respects.

After the Apostle had thus counsel'd & warn'd the Christians he wrote to, with Respect to the Trial of Spirits, he immediately proceeds to give them Rules, by which they may safely proceed in judging of every Thing that had the Pretext of being either the ordinary or extraordinary Work of the Spirit of God.

My Design therefore at this Time is to shew what are the true, certain, and distinguishing E­vidences of a Work of the Spirit of God, by which we may proceed safely in judging of any Operation we find in our selves, or see in others.

And here I would observe that we are to take the Scriptures as our Guide in such Cases: This is the great and standing Rule which God has given to his Church, to guide them in all Things relating to the great Concerns of their Souls; and 'tis an infallible and sufficient Rule. There are undoubtedly sufficient Marks given to guide the Church of God in this great Affair of judg­ing of Spirits, without which it would lie open to woful Delusion, and would be remedilesly ex­posed to be imposed on and devoured by its Ene­mies: And what Rules soever we may find in [Page 5] the holy Scriptures to this end, we need not be afraid to trust to. Doubtless that Spirit that in­dited the Scriptures knew how to give us good Rules, by which to distinguish his Operations from all that is falsely pretended to be from him.

This, as I observed before, the Spirit of God has done of set purpose, in the Chapter wherein is the Text; and done it more particularly and fully than any where else: so that in my present Discourse, I shall go no where else for Rules or Marks for the Trial of Spirits, but shall confine my self to those that I find here.

But before I proceed particularly to speak to these, I would prepare my Way by first observ­ing negatively, in some Instances, What are not Signs that we are to judge of a Work by, whe­ther it be the Work of the Spirit of God or no; and especially, what are no Evidences that a Work that is wrought amongst a People, is not the Work of the Spirit of God.

1. Nothing can certainly be concluded from this, That the Work that appears is carried on in a Way very unusual and extraordinary. 'Tis no Sign that a Work is not the Work of the Spirit of God, that it is carried on in such a Way as the same Spirit of God heretofore has not been wont to carry on his Work, provided the Variety or Difference be such, as may still be comprehend­ed within the Limits of those Rules which the Scriptures have given to distinguish a Work of the Spirit of God by. What we have been used [Page 6] to, or what the Church of God has been used to, is not a Rule by which we are to judge whether a Work be the Work of God, because there may be new and extraordinary Works of God. God has heretofore wrought in an extraordinary Manner; he has brought those Things to pass that have been new Things, strange Works; and has wrought in such a Manner as to surprize both Men and Angels: And as God has done thus in Times past, so we have no Reason to think but that he will do so still. The Prophecies of Scripture give us Reason to think that God has still new Things to accomplish, and Things to bring to pass that have never yet been seen. No Deviation from what has hitherto been usual, let it be never so great, is an Argument that a Work is not the Work of the Spirit of God, if it be no Deviation from the Rule that God has given, to judge of a Work of his Spirit by. The Spirit of God is sovereign in his Operations; and we know that he uses a great Variety; and we can't tell how great a Variety he may use, within the Compass of the Rules he himself has fixed. We ought not to limit God where he has not limited himself. If a Work be never so different from the Work of God's Spirit that has formerly been, yet if it only agrees in those Things that the Word of God has given us as the distinguishing Signs of a Work of his Spirit, that is sufficient to determine us intirely in its Favour.

[Page 7] Therefore 'tis not reasonable to determine that a Work is not the Work of God's Spirit, because of the extraordinary Degree in which the Minds of Persons are influenced and wrought upon. If they seem to have an extraordinary Conviction of the dreadful nature of Sin, and a very uncommon Sense of the Misery of a Christ­less Condition, or seem to have extraordinary Views of the certainty and glory of divine Things; and consequent on these Apprehensions, are pro­portionably moved with very extraordinary Affections of Fear and Sorrow, Desire, Love or Joy: Or if the Change that seems to be made in Persons, the Alteration in their Affections and Frames, be very sudden, and the Work that is wrought on People's Minds seems to be carried on with very unusual Swiftness, and the Persons that are thus strangely affected are very many, and many of them are very young; and also be very unusual in many other Circumstances, not infringing upon Scripture Marks of a Work of the Spirit; these Things are no Argument that the Work is not a Work of the Spirit of God.

The extraordinary and unusual Degree of In­fluence, and Power of Operation, if in its Na­ture it be agreable to the Rules and Marks given in the Scripture, is rather an Argument in it's Favour; for by how much the higher Degree that is in, which is in its Nature agreeable to the Rule, so much the more is there of Conformity to the Rule, and so much the more evident and [Page 8] manifest is that Conformity. When Things are in small Degrees, tho' they be really agreeable to the Rule, yet the Nature of them is more diffi­cultly discerned, and 'tis not so easily seen whe­ther it agrees with the Rule or no.

There is a great Aptness in Persons to doubt of Things that are Strange; especially it is difficult for elderly Persons, those that have lived a great while in the World, to think that to be right which they have been never used to in their Day, and have not heard of in the Days of their Fa­thers. But if it be a good Argument that a Work is not from the Spirit of God, that 'tis very unusual, then it always was so, and was so in the Apostles Days. The Work of the Spirit of God that was wrought then, was carried on in a Manner that, in very many Respects, was altogether new: There were such Things then that the Jews, then living, nor their Fathers, had never seen nor heard, yea such as never had been since the World stood: The Work was then carried on with more visible and remarkable Power than ever had been before; never were there seen before such mighty and wonderful Effects of the Spirit of God, in such sudden Changes, and such great En­gagedness and Zeal in such Multitudes; such a great and sudden Alteration in Towns, Cities and Countries; such a swift Progress, and vast Extent of the Work; and many other extraordinary Circumstances might be mentioned. The great Unusualness of the Work surprized the Jews; they [Page 9] knew not what to make of it, but could not be­lieve it to be the Work of God; many looked upon the Persons that were the Subjects of it as bereft of Reason; as you may see in Acts 2. 13. & 26. 24. & 1 Cor. 4. 10.

And we have Reason from Scripture Prophecy to suppose, That at the Commencement of that last and greatest Out-pouring of the Spirit of God, that is to be in the latter Ages of the World, the Manner of the Work will be very extraordinary, and such as never has yet been seen; so that there shall be Occasion then to say, as in Isai. 66. 8. Who hath heard such a Thing? Who hath seen such Things? Shall the Earth be made to bring forth in one Day? Shall a Nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her Children. It may be reasonably expected that the extraordinary Manner of the Work then, will bear some Proportion to the very extraordinary Events, and that glorious Change in the State of the World, God will be about to bring to pass by it.

2. A Work is not to be judged of by any Effects on the Bodies of Men; such as Tears, Trem­bling, Groans, loud Out-cries, Agonies of Body, or the failing of bodily Strength. The Influence the Minds of Persons are under, is not to be judg­ed of one Way or the other, whether it be from the Spirit of God or no, by such Effects on the Body; and the Reason is, Because the Scripture no where gives us any such Rule. We can't con­clude [Page 10] that Persons are under the Influence of the true Spirit, because we see such Effects upon their Bodies, because this is not given as a Mark of the true Spirit: nor on the other Hand, [...] any Reason to conclude, from any [...] Appearances, that Persons [...] that does, either expre [...]y or [...] Body; nor does Reason ex­clude them. 'Tis easily accounted for from the Consideration of the Nature of divine and eternal Things, and the Nature of Man, and the Laws of the Union between Soul and Body, how a right Influence, a true and proper Sense of Things, should have such Effects on the Body, even those that are of the most extraordinary Kind; such as taking away the bodily Strength, or throwing the Body into great Agonies, and extorting loud Outcries. There are none of us but what sup­pose, and would have been ready at any Time to say it, That the Misery of Hell is doubtless so dreadful, and Eternity so vast, that if a Person should have a clear Apprehension of that Misery as it is, it would be more than his feeble Frame could bear; and especially, if at the same Time he saw himself in great Danger of it, and to be utterly uncertain whether he should be delivered from it, yea, and to have no Security from it one Day or Hour. If we consider human Nature, [...] need not wonder that when Persons have a [Page 11] very great Sense of that which is so amazingly dreadful, and also have a great View of their own Wickedness and God's Anger, that Things seem to them to fore-bode speedy and immediate De­struction. We see the Nature of Man to be such, that when he is in Danger of some Cala­mity that is very terrible to him, and that he looks upon himself greatly exposed to, he is ready upon every Occasion to think that now it is coming: As when Persons Hearts are full of Fear, in Time of War, looking upon themselves eminently ex­posed; they are ready to tremble at the shaking of a Leaf, and to expect the Enemy every Mi­nute, and to say within themselves, now I shall be slain. If we should suppose that a Person saw himself hanging over a great Pit, full of fierce and glowing Flames, by a Thread that he knew to be very weak, and not sufficient long to bear his Weight, and knew that Multitudes had been in such Circumstances before, and that most of them had fallen and perish'd; and saw nothing within Reach, that he could take hold of to save him; What Distress would he be in? How ready to think that now the Thread was breaking▪ now this Minute he should be swallowed up in these dreadful Flames? And would not he be ready to cry out in such Circumstances? How much more those that see themselves in this Man­ner hanging over an infinitely more dreadful Pit, or held over it in the Hand of God, who at the same Time they see to be exceedingly provoked? [Page 12] No wonder they are ready to expect every Mo­ment when this angry God will let them drop; and no Wonder they cry out of their Misery; and no Wonder that the Wrath of God when manifested but a little to the Soul, over-bears hu­man Strength.

So it may be easily accounted for, that a true Sense of the glorious Excellency of the Lord Je­sus Christ, and of his wonderful dying Love, and the Exercise of a truly spiritual Love and Joy, should be such as very much to over come the bodily Strength. We are all ready to own that no Man can see God and live; and that 'tis but a very small Part of that Apprehension of the Glory and Love of Christ, and Exercise of Love to him and Joy in him, which the Saints in Heaven are the Subjects of, that our present Frame can bear: Therefore 'tis not at all strange that God should sometimes give his Saints such Fore-tastes of Heaven, as to diminish their bodily Strength. If it was not unaccountable that the Queen of Sheba fainted, and had her bodily Strength taken away, when she came to see the Glory of Solomon, much less is it unaccountable that she who is the Anti-type of the Queen of Sheba, viz. the Church, that is brought as it were from the utmost Ends of the Earth, from being an Alien and Stranger, far off, in a State of Sin and Misery, should faint when she comes to see the Glory of Christ, who is the Anti-type of Solomon; and especially will be so in that [Page 13] prosperous, peaceful, glorious Kingdom, which he will set up in the World in it's latter Age.

Some object against such extraordinary Appea­rances, that we have no Instances of 'em record­ed in the New Testament, in the Time of the extraordinary Effusions of the Spirit that were then. If this should be allowed, I can see no Force in the Objection, if neither Reason, nor any Rule of Scripture excludes such Things; especially considering what was observed under the foregoing Particular. I don't know that we have any express mention in the New Testament of any Person's weeping, or groaning, or sigh­ing, thro' Fear of Hell, or a Sense of God's Anger; but is there any Body so foolish as from hence to argue, that in whomsoever these Things appear, their Convictions are not from the Spirit of God? And the Reason why we don't argue thus is, Because these are easily accounted for, from what we know of the Nature of Man, and from what the Scriptures do inform us in gene­ral concerning the Nature of eternal Things, and the Nature of the Convictions of God's Spirit; so that there is no need that any Thing should be said in particular concerning these external, cir­cumstantial Effects. No Body supposes that there is any need of express Scripture for every exter­nal, accidental Manifestation of the inward Mo­tion of the Mind: And tho' such Circumstances are not particularly recorded in sacred History, yet there is a great deal of Reason to think, from [Page 14] the general Accounts we have, that it could not be otherwise than that such Things must be in those Days. And there is also Reason to think that that great Out-pouring of the Spirit that then was, was not wholly without those more extraordinary Effects on Persons Bodies. The Jaylor in particular, seems to have been an In­stance of that Nature, when he, in the utmost Distress and Amazement, came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas: His falling down at that Time, don't seem to be a designed put­ting himself into a Posture of Supplication, or humble Address to Paul and Silas, for he seems not to have said any Thing to 'em then; but he first brought them out, and then he says to them, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Act. 16. 29, 30. But his falling down, seems to be from the same Cause as his Trembling. The Psalmist gives an Account of his crying out aloud, and a great weakening of his Body under Convictions of Conscience, and a Sense of the Guilt of Sin, Psal. 32. 3, 4. When I kept Silence my Bones waxed old, through my roaring all the Day long; for Day and Night thy Hand was heavy upon me, my Moisture is turned into the Drought of Summer. We may at least argue so much from it, That such an Effect of Conviction of Sin, may well in some Cases be supposed: for if we should suppose any Thing of an Auxesis in the Expressions made use of, yet the Psalmist would not represent what was, by that which would be absurd, and which no Degree [Page 15] of that Exercise of Mind he spoke of, would have any Tendency to.

We read of the Disciples, Math. 14. 26, that when they saw Christ coming to them in the Storm, and took him for some terrible Enemy, threatning their Destruction in that Storm, they cried out for Fear: Why therefore should it be thought strange, that Persons should cry out for Fear, when God appears to them as their terrible Enemy, and they see themselves in great Danger of being swallowed up in the bottomless Gulf of eternal Misery?

The Spouse once and again speaks of her self as over-power'd with the Love of Christ, so as to weaken her Body, and make her ready to faint. Cant. 2. 5. Stay me with Flaggons, comfort me with Apples, for I am sick of Love. And Chap. 5. 8. I charge you, O ye Daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my Beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of Love. From whence we may at least argue, that such an Effect may well be supposed to arise from such a Cause in the Saints in some Cases, and that such an Effect will sometimes be seen in the Church of Christ.

'Tis a weak Objection, That the Impressions that Enthusiasts are under, have been won't to have a great Effect on their Bodies. That the Quakers used to tremble, is no Argument that Saul, afterwards Paul, and the Jaylor, did not tremble from real Convictions of Conscience. Indeed all such Objections from Effects on the [Page 16] Body, let them be greater or less, seem to be exceeding frivilous: they that argue from hence, are going in the Dark; they know not what Ground they go upon, nor what Rule they go by. The Root & Cause of Things is to be looked at, and the Nature of the Operations & Affections that Persons Minds are under, are what are to be in­quired into, and examined by the Rule of God's Word, and not the Motions of the Blood and animal Spirits.

3. 'Tis no Argument that an Operation that appears on the Minds of a People, is not the Work of the Spirit of God, That it occasions a great Ado, and a great deal of Noise about Religion. For tho' true Religion be of a contrary Nature to that of the Pharisees, that was ostentatious, and delighted to set it self forth to the View of Men, for their Applause; yet such is human Na­ture, that 'tis morally impossible that there should be a great Concern, and strong Affection, and Engagedness of Mind amongst a People, that should be general, and what most of them agree in, and yet there be but little said or done that should be publickly observable; or that it should not cause a notable, visible, and open Commotion and Alteration amongst that People.

Surely 'tis no Argument that the Minds of Persons are not under the Influence of God's Spi­rit, that they are very much moved: for indeed spiritual and eternal Things are so great, and of such vast and infinite Concern, that there is a [Page 17] great Absurdity in Men's being but moderately moved and affected by them; and 'tis no Ar­gument that they are not moved by the Spirit of God, that they are affected with these Things properly, and in some Measure, as they deserve, or in some Proportion to their Importance. And when was there ever any such Thing, [...] the World stood, as a People in general being greatly affected, in any Affair whatsoever, without Noise or Stir? The Nature of Man will not allow it.

Indeed Christ says, Luk. 17. 20. The Kingdom of God cometh not with Observation. That is, it won't consist in what is outward and visible; it shall not be like the Kingdoms of earthly Kings, set up with outward Pomp, in some particular Place, which shall be especially the Royal City, and Seat of the Kingdom; as Christ explains himself in the Words next following, Neither shall they say, lo here, or lo there; for behold the Kingdom of God is within you. Not that the Kingdom of God shall be set up in the World, on the Ruins of Satan's Kingdom, without a very notable, observable, great Effect; a mighty Change in the State of Things; to the Observation and Astonishment of the whole World: For such an Effect as this is even held forth in the Prophecies of Scripture, and is so by Christ himself, in this very Place, and even in his own Explanation of those forementioned Words, ver. 24. For as the Lightning, that lightneth out of one Part under Hea­ven, [Page 18] shineth unto the other Part under Heaven, so shall also the Son of Man be in his Day. This is to distinguish Christ's coming to set up his King­dom, from the coming of false Christs, which Christ tells us will be in a private Manner, in the Deserts, and in the secret Chambers; whereas this Event of sitting up the Kingdom of God, should be open and publick, in the Sight of the whole World, with clear Manifestation, like Lightning that can't be hid, but glares in every ones Eyes, and shines from one Side of Heaven to the other.

And we find that when Christ's Kingdom came, by that remarkable pouring out of the Spirit in the Apostles Days, it occasioned a great Stir and Ado every where. What a mighty Opposition was there in Jerusalem, on Occasion of that great Effusion of the Spirit that was there? And so what a great Ado in Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth, and other Places? The Affair filled the World with Noise, and gave Occasion to some to say of the Apostles, that they had turned the World upside down, Act. 17. 6.

4. 'Tis no Argument that an Operation that appears on the Minds of a People, is not the Work of the Spirit of God, That many that are the Subjects of it, have great Impressions on their Imaginations. That Persons have many Impressi­ons on their Imaginations, don't prove that they have nothing else. It is easy to be accounted for, that there should be much of this Nature amongst a People, where a great Multitude, of all [Page 19] Kinds of Constitutions, have their Minds engaged with intense Thought and strong Affection about those Things that are invisible; yea, it would be Strange if there should not. Such is our Nature that we can't think of Things invisible, without a Degree of Imagination. I dare appeal to any Man, of the greatest Powers of Mind, Whether or no he is able to fix his Thoughts on God or Christ, or the Things of another World, without imaginary Ideas, attending his Meditations? And the more engaged the Mind is, and the more intense the Contemplation and Affection, still the more lively and strong will the imaginary Idea ordinarily be; especially when the Contem­plation and Affection of the Mind is attended with any Thing of Surprize; as when the View a Person has is very new, and takes strong hold of the Passions, either Fear or Joy; and when the Change of the State and Views of the Mind is sudden, from a contrary Extreme, as from that which was extreamly dreadful, to that which is extreamly ravishing and delightful: And it is no Wonder that many Persons don't [...] distin­guish between that which is imaginary, and that which is intellectual and spiritual; and that they are apt to lay too much Weight on the imaginary Part, and are most ready to speak of that in the Account they give of their Experiences, especially Persons of less Understanding and Capacity of Distinction.

[Page 20] As God has given us such a Faculty as the Imagination, and has so made us that we can't think of Things spiritual and invisible, without some Exercise of this Faculty, so it appears to me that such is our State and Nature, that this Faculty is really subservient and helpful to the other Faculties of the Mind, when a proper Use is made of it; tho' oftentimes when the Imagi­nation is too strong, and the other Faculties weak, it over-bears 'em, and much disturbs them in their Exercise. It appears to me manifest in many Instances I have been acquainted with, that God has really made Use of this Faculty to truly divine Purposes; especially in some that are more ignorant: God seems to condescend to their Circumstances, and deal with them as Babes; as of old he instructed his Church while in a State of Ignorance and Minority by Types and outward Representations. I can see nothing unreasonable in such a Supposition. Let others that have much Occasion to deal with Souls in spiritual Concerns, judge whether Experience don't confirm it.

It is no Argument that a Work is not the Work of the Spirit of God, that some that are the Subjects of it, have in some extraordinary Frames, been in a kind of Extasy, wherein they have been carried beyond themselves, and have had their Minds transported into a Train of strong and pleasing Imaginations, and kind of Visions, as tho' they were wrapt up even to Heaven, and [Page 21] there saw glorious Sights. I have been acquaint­ed with some such Instances; and I see no Man­ner of Need of bringing in the Help of the De­vil into the Account that we give of these Things; nor yet of supposing them to be of the same Na­ture with the Visions of the Prophets, or St. Paul's Rapture into Paradise. Human Nature, under these vehement and intense Exercises and Affections of Mind, which some Persons are the Subjects of, is all that need be brought into the Account. If it may well be accounted for, that Persons under a true Sense of the glorious and wonderful Greatness and Excellency of divine Things, and Soul-ravishing Views of the Beauty and Love of Christ, should have the Strength of Nature over-power'd, as I have already shewn that it may; then I think it is not at all strange, that amongst great Numbers that are thus affect­ed and over-born, there should be some Persons of particular Constitutions that should have their Imaginations thus affected: When it is thus, the Effect is no other than what bears a Propor­tion and Analogy to other Effects of the strong Exercise of their Minds. 'Tis no Wonder that when the Thoughts are so fixed, and the Affecti­ons so strong, and the whole Soul so engaged and ravished and swallowed up, that all other Parts of the Body are so affected as to be deprived of their Strength, and the whole Frame ready to dissolve; I say, 'tis no Wonder that in such a Case, the Brain in particular, (especially in some [Page 22] Constitutions) which is a Part of the Body which we know is nextly and most especially affected by intense Contemplations and Exercises of Mind, should be over-born and affected, so that it's Strength and Spirits should for a Season be di­verted, and so taken off from Impressions made on the Organs of external Sense, and wholly im­ployed in a Train of pleasing delightful Imagi­nations, such as the Frame the Mind is then in disposes it to.

Some Persons are ready to interpret such Things wrong, and to lay too much Weight on them, as tho' they were prophetical Visions, and to look upon what they imagine they see or hear in them as divine Revelations, and sometimes Significa­tions from Heaven of what shall come to pass; which the Issue, in some Instances I have known, has shown to be otherwise: But yet it appears to me that such Things are evidently sometimes, from the Spirit of God, tho' indirectly; that is, as that extraordinary Frame of Mind they are in, and that strong and lively Sense of divine Things that is the Occasion of them, is from his Spirit; and also as the Mind continues in it's holy Frame, and retains a divine Sense of the Excellency of spiritual Things, even in it's Rapture: which holy Frame and Sense is from the Spirit of God, tho' the Imaginations that attend it are but acci­dental, and therefore there is commonly something or other in them that is confused, improper and false.

[Page 23] 5. 'Tis no Sign that a Work that appears, and is wrought on the Minds of People, is not from the Spirit of God, That Example is made use of as a great Means of it. 'Tis surely no Argument that an Effect is not from God, that Means are made use of in producing it; for we know that 'tis God's Manner to make use of Means in carrying on his Work in the World: and 'tis no more an Argument against the Divinity of an Effect, that this Means is made use of, than if it was by any other Means. 'Tis agreable to Scripture that Persons should be influenced by one anothers good Example: The Scripture directs us to set good Examples to that End, Math. 5. 16. 1 Pet. 3. 1. 1 Tim. 4. 12. Tit. 2. 7. and also directs us to be influenced by the good Examples that others set, and to follow them, 2 Cor. 8. 1,—7. Heb. 6. 12. Phil. 3. 17. 1 Cor. 4. 16. & Chap. 11. 1. 2 Thes. 3. 9. 1 Thes. 1. 7. By which it appears that Example is one of God's Means; and cer­tainly 'tis no Argument that a Work is not the Work of God, that God's own Means are made Use of to effect it.

And as 'tis a scriptural Way of carrying on God's Work, to carry it on by Example, so 'tis a reasonable Way. 'Tis no Argument that Men are not influenced by Reason, that they are in­fluenced by Example. This Way of Persons holding forth Truth to one another, has a Ten­dency to enlighten the Mind, and to convince Reason. None will deny but that for Persons to [Page 24] signify Things one to another by Words, may ra­tionally be supposed to tend to inlighten each others Minds; but the same Things may be sig­nified by Actions, and signified much more fully and effectually. Words are of no Use any other­wise than as they convey our own Ideas to others; but Actions, in some Cases, may do it much more fully. There is a Language in Actions; and in some Cases, much more clear and con­vincing than in Words.

'Tis therefore no Argument against the Good­ness of the Effect, that one affects and stirs up another; or that Persons are greatly affected by seeing others so; yea, tho' the Impression that is made upon them should be only by seeing the Tokens of great and extraordinary Affection in others in their Behaviour, taking for granted what they are affected with, without hearing them say one Word. There may be Language sufficient in such a Case in their Behaviour only, to convey their Minds to others, and to signify to them the Sense of Things they have, more than can possi­bly be done by Words only. If a Person should see another under some extreme bodily Torment, he might receive much clearer Ideas, and more convincing Evidence what he suffered by his Actions in his Misery, than he could do only by the Words of an unaffected indifferent Relator. In like Manner he might receive a greater Idea of any Thing that is excellent and very delight­ful, from the Behaviour of one that is in actual [Page 25] Enjoyment, or one that is sensible thro' Sight and Taste, than by the dull Narration of one that is unexperienced & insensible himself. I desire that this Matter may be examined by the strictest Rea­son.

And there is this Argument, that Effects that are produced in Persons Minds by Example are rational, that 'tis manifest that not only weak and ignorant People are much influenced by it, but nothing can be more evident to any one that ob­serves the World of Mankind, than that all sorts of Persons, wise and unwise, and even those that make the greatest Boasts of Strength of Reason, are more influenced by Reason held forth in this Way than almost any other Way.

Indeed when religious Affections are raised by this Means, it is as when Persons affected in hear­ing the Word preached, or any other Means, the Affections of many prove flashy, and soon vanish, as Christ represents of the stony Ground Hearers; but the Affections of some that are thus moved by Example are abiding, and prove to be of sav­ing Issue.

There never yet was a Time of remarkable pouring out of the Spirit, and great Revival of Religion, but that Example had a main Hand; so it was in the Time of the Reformation, and so it evidently was in that great Out-pouring of the Spi­rit that was in the Apostles Days, in Jerusalem, and Samaria, & Ephesus, and other Parts of the World, as will be most manifest to any one that attends [Page 26] to the Accounts we have in the Acts of the A­postles: As in those Days one Person was moved by another, so one City or Town was influenced by the Example of another, 1 Thes. 1. 7, 8. So that ye were Ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia,and Achaia; for from you founded out the Word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every Place your Faith to God­ward is spread abroad.

'Tis no valid Objection against Examples be­ing made so much use of, that the Scripture speaks of the Word of God as the principal Means of carrying on God's Work; for the Word of God is the principal Means nevertheless, as that is the Means by which other Means operate, and are made effectual: The Sacraments have no Effect but by the Word. And so it is that Example becomes effectual; for all that is visible to the Eye is unintelligible and vain, without the Word of God to instruct and guide the Mind: 'Tis the Word of God that is indeed held forth and ap­plied by Example, as the Word of the Lord founded forth to other Towns in Macedonia and Achaia, by the Example of those that believed in Thessalonica.

That Example should be a great Means of pro­pagating the Church of God seems to be several Ways signified in Scripture: It is signified by Ruth's following Naomi out of the Land of Moab, into the Land of Israel, when she resolved that she would not leave her; but would go whether she [Page 27] went, and would lodge where she lodged; and that Naomi's People should be her People, and Naomi's God her God. Ruth who was the Mother of David and of Christ, was undoubtedly a great Type of the Church; upon which Account her History is inserted in the Canon of the Scripture: In her leaving the Land of Moab and it's Gods, to come and put her Trust under the Shadow of the Wings of the God of Israel, we have a Type, not only of the Conversion of the Gentile Church, but the Conversion of every Sinner, that is naturally an Alien and Stranger, but in his Conversion forgets his own People, and Father's House, and is made nigh, and becomes a Fellow-Citizen with the Saints, and a true Israelite. The same seems to be signified in the Effect the Example of the Spouse, when she was sick of Love, has on the Daughters of Jerusalem, i. e. visible Christians, who are represented as being first awakened by seeing the Spouse in such extraordinary Circum­stances, and then converted. See Cant. 5. 8, 9. and 6. 1. And this is undoubtedly one Way that the Spirit and the Bride says, come, Rev. 22. 17. i.e. the Spirit in the Bride. 'Tis foretold, that the Work of God should be carried on very much by this Means, in the last great Out-pouring of the Spirit, that should introduce the glorious Day of the Church, so often spoken of in Scripture. Zech. 8. 21, 22, 23. And the Inhabitants of one City, shall go to another, saying, let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts; [Page 28] I will go also. Yea many People, and strong Na­tions shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jeru­salem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, in those Days it shall come to pass, that ten Men shall take hold, out of all Languages of the Nations, even shall take hold of the Skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

6. 'Tis no Sign that a Work that is wrought amongst a People is not from the Spirit of God, That many that seem to be the Subjects of it, are guilty of great Imprudences & Irregularities in their Conduct. We are to consider that the End for which God pours out his Spirit, is to make Men holy, and not to make them Politicians. 'Tis no Wonder at all, that in a mixt Multitude of all sorts, wise and unwise, young & old, of weak and strong natural Abilities, that are under strong Im­pressions of Mind, there are many that behave themselves imprudently. There are but few that know how to conduct them under vehement Affections of any Kind, whether they be of a temporal or spiritual Nature: to do so requires a great deal of Discretion, and strength & steadiness of Mind. A thousand Imprudences won't prove a Work not to be the Work of the Spirit of God; yea if there be not only Imprudences, but many Things prevailing that are irregular, and really contrary to the Rules of God's holy Word. That it should be thus may be well accounted for from the exceeding Weakness of human Nature, toge­ther [Page 29] with the remaining Darkness and Corruption of those that are yet the Subjects of the saving Influences of God's Spirit, and have a real Zeal for God.

We have a remarkable Instance in the New Testament, of a People that partook largely of that great Effusion of the Spirit there was in the Apostles Days, among whom, there nevertheless abounded Imprudences and great Irregularities; and that is the Church of the Corinthians. There is scarce any Church more celebrated in the New Testament for being blessed with large Measures of the Spirit of God, both in his ordinary Influ­ences, in convincing and converting Sinners, and also in his extraordinary & miraculous Gifts; yet what manifold Imprudences, and great and sinful Irregularities, and strange Confusion did they run into, at the Lord's Supper, and in the Exercise of Church Discipline, and their indecent Manner of attending other Parts of publick Worship, and in Jarring and Contention about their Teachers, and even in the Exercise of their extraordinary Gifts of Prophecy, speaking with Tongues, and the like, wherein they spake and acted by the imme­diate Inspiration of the Spirit of God?

And if we see great Imprudences, and even sinful Irregularities in some that are improved as great Instruments to carry on the Work, it won't prove it not to be the Work of God. The A­postle Peter himself, that was a great & eminently holy and inspired Apostle, and one of the chief [Page 30] Instruments of setting up the Christian Church in the World, and one of the Chief of the Apostles, when he was actually engaged in this Work, was guilty of a great and sinful Error in his Conduct; of which the Apostle Paul speaks, Gal. 2. 11, 12, 13. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the Face, because he was to be blamed; for before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles, but when they were come, he withdrew, and seperated himself, fearing them that were of the Circumcision; and the other Jews dissem­bled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their Dissimulation. If the great Pillar of the Christian Church, and he who was one of the Chief of those that are the very Foundations on which, next to Christ, the whole Church is said to be built, was guilty of such an Irregularity; is it any Wonder if other lesser Instruments, that have not that extraordinary Conduct of the divine Spirit that he had, should be guilty of many Irregularities?

And here in particular, it is no Evidence that a Work is not the Work of God, if many that are the Subjects of it, or are improved as Instru­ments to carry it on, are guilty of too great a forwardness to censure others as Unconverted, thro' Mistakes they have embraced concerning the Marks by which they are to judge of others Hy­pocrisy and Carnality; either not duly appre­hending the Latitude the Spirit of God uses in the Methods of his Operations, or for want of [Page 31] making due Allowance for that Infirmity and Corruption that may be left in the Hearts of the Saints; as well as thro' want of a due Sense of their own Blindness and Weakness, and remain­ing Corruption, whereby spiritual Pride may have a secret Vent, this Way, under some Dis­guise, and not be discovered.

If we allow that truly pious Men may have a great deal of remaining Blindness and Corruption, and may be liable to Mistakes about the Marks of Hypocrisy, as undoubtedly all will allow; then 'tis not unaccountable that they should sometimes run into such Errors as these: 'Tis as easy, and upon some Accounts, more easy to be accounted for, why the remaining Corruption of good Men should sometimes have an unobserved Vent this Way, then most other Ways, (tho' it be exceeding unhappy,) and without Doubt many holy Men have erred this Way.

Luke warmness in Religion is abominable, and Zeal an excellent Grace; yet above all other Christian Vertues, it need to be strictly watched and searched; for 'tis that with which Corrup­tion, and particularly Pride and human Passion, is exceeding apt to mix unobserved. And 'tis observable that there never was a Time of great Reformation, to cause a Revival of much of a Spirit of Zeal in the Church of God, but that it has been attended in some notable Instances, with Irregularity, running out some Way or other into an undue Severity. Thus in the Apostles Days, [Page 32] a great deal of Zeal was spent about unclean Meats, with heat of Spirit in Christians one a­gainst another, both Parties condemning and cen­suring one another, as not true Christians; when the Apostle had Charity for both, as influenced by a Spirit of real Piety: He that eats, says he, to the Lord he eats, and giveth God Thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and given God Thanks. So in the Church of Corinth, they had got into a Way of extolling some Mini­sters, and censuring others, and were puffed up for one against another: but yet these Things were no Sign that the Work that was then so wonderfully carried on, was not the Work of God. And after this, when Religion was still greatly flourishing in the World, and a Spirit of eminent Holiness & Zeal prevailed in the Christi­an Church, the Zeal of Christians run out into a very improper and undue Severity, in the Exer­cise of Church Discipline towards Delinquents; in some Cases they would by no Means admit them into their Charity and Communion, tho' they appeared never so humble and penitent. And in the Days of Constantine the Great, the Zeal of Christians against Heathenism, run out into a Degree of Persecution. So in that glorious Re­vival of Religion, in the Time of the Reformation, Zeal in many Instances appeared in a very impro­per Severity, and even a Degree of Persecution; [...] in some of the most eminent Reformers; as in the great Calvin in particular: and many in those [Page 33] Days of the flourishing of vital Religion, were guilty of severely censuring others that differed from them in Opinion in some Points of Divinity.

7. Nor are many Errors in Judgment, and some Delusions of Satan intermix'd with the Work, any Argument that the Work in general is not the Work of the Spirit of God. However great a pouring out of the Spirit there may be, 'tis not to be expected that the Spirit of God should be given now in the same Manner that it was to the Apostles, infallibly to guide them in Points of Christian Doctrine, so that what they taught might be relied on as a Rule to the Christian Church. And if many Delusions of Satan appear at the same Time that a great religious Concern prevails, it is not an Argument that the Work in general is not the Work of God, any more than it was an Argument in Egypt that there were no true Mi­racles wro't there, by the Hand of God, because Jannes and Jambres wrought false Miracles at the same Time by the Hand of the Devil. Yea the same Persons may be the Subjects of much of the Influences of the Spirit of God, and yet in some Things be led away by the Delusions of the Devil; and this be no more of a Paradox than many other Things that are true of real Saints, in the present State, where Grace dwells with so much Corruption, and the new Man and the old Man subsist together in the same Person; and the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the Devil remain for a while together in the same Heart. [Page 34] Many godly Persons have undoubtedly in this and other Ages, exposed themselves to woful Delusi­ons, by an Aptness to lay too much Weight on Impulses and Impressions, as if they were imme­diate Revelations from God, to signify something future, or to direct them where to go and what to do.

8. If some such as were thought to be wrought upon, fall away into gross Errors or scandalous Practices, 'tis no Argument that the Work in general is not the Work of the Spirit of God. That there are some Counterfeits, is no Argument that nothing is true: such Things are always ex­pected in a Time of Reformation. If we look into Church History, we shall find no Instance of great Revival of Religion, but what has been at­tended with many such Things: Instances of this Nature in the Apostles Days were innumerable, both of those that fell away into gross Heresies, and also vile Practices; that yet seemed to be the Subjects of that Work of the Spirit of God that was then, and were accepted for a while a­mongst those that were truly so, as their Brethren, and some of their Company, and were not sus­pected not to be of them, till they went out from them: And they were not only private Christians, but Teachers and Officers, and eminent Persons in the Christian Church; and some that God had endowed with miraculous Gifts of the Holy Ghost; as appears by the Beginning of the 6 Chapter of Hebrews. An Instance of these was Judas, who [Page 35] was one of the twelve Apostles, and had long been constantly united to, and intimately conver­sant with a Company of truly experienced Disci­ples, without being discovered or suspected, 'till he discover'd himself by his scandalous Practice; and had been treated by Jesus himself, in all ex­ternal Things, as if he had truly been a Disciple, even to the investing him with the Character of Apostle, and sending him forth to preach the Gospel, and induing him with miraculous Gifts of the Spirit: for tho' Christ knew him, yet he did not then cloath himself with the Character of Omniscient Judge, and Searcher of Hearts, but acted the Part of a Minister of the visible Church of God, (for he was his Father's Minister;) and therefore rejected him not, 'till he had discovered himself by his scandalous Practice; thereby giv­ing an Example to other Guides and Rulers of the visible Church, not to take it upon them to act the Part of Searcher of Hearts, but to be in­fluenced in their Administrations by what is vi­sible and open.

There were some Instances then of such A­postates, not only in some that for a while were thought true Christians, but some that were esteemed eminently full of the Grace of God's Spirit: An Instance of this Nature was Nicolas, one of the seven Deacons; who was looked upon by the Christians in Jerusalem, in the Time of that extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit, as a Man full of the Holy Ghost, and was chosen out of the [Page 36] Multitude of Christians to that Office, for that Reason; as you may see in Acts 6. 3, 5. yet he afterwards fell away, and became the Head of a Set of vile Hereticks, of gross Practices, called from his Name the Sect of the Nicolaitans, Rev. 2. 6, & 15.

So in the Time of the Reformation from Popery▪ how great was the Number of those that for a while seemed to join with the Reformers, that fell away into the grossest and most absurd Errors, and abominable Practices.

And 'tis particularly observable that in Times of great pouring out of the Spirit to revive Reli­gion in the World, a Number of those that for a while seemed to partake in it, have fallen off in­to whimsical and extravagant Errors, and gross Enthusiasm, boasting of high Degrees of Spiri­tuality and Perfection, censuring and condemning others as Carnal. Thus it was with the Gnosticks in the Apostles Times; and thus it was with the several Sects of Anabaptists in the Time of the Reformation, as Anthony Burgess observes, in his Book called Spiritual Refining, Part I. Serm. 23. P. 132. ‘The first worthy Reformers, and glo­rious Instruments of God found a bitter Conflict herein, so that they were exercised not only with Formalists, and traditionary Papists on the one Side, but Men that pretended themselves to be more inlightned than the Reformers were, on the other Side: Hence they called those that did adhere to the Scripture, & would try Revelations [Page 37] by it, Literists, and Vowelists, as Men acquainted with the Words and Vowels of the Scripture, having nothing of the Spirit of God: And wheresoever, in any Town, the true Doctrine of the Gospel brake forth to the displacing of Popery, presently such Opinions arose, like Tares that came up among the good Wheat; where­by great Divisions were raised, and the Refor­mation made abominable and odious to the World; as if that had been the Sun to give Heat and Warmth to those Worms & Serpents to crawl out of the Ground. Hence they in­veighed against Luther, and said he had only promulged a carnal Gospel.’ Some of the Leaders of those wild Enthusiasts, had been for a while, highly esteemed by the first Reformers, and peculiarly dear to them.

So in England at the Time when vital Religion did much prevail in the Days of King Charles 1. the Interregnum, and Oliver Cromwell, such Things as these abounded. And so in the beginning of New England, in her purest Days, when vital Piety flourished, such Kind of Things as these broke out. Therefore the Devil's sowing such Tares is no Proof that a true Work of the Spirit of God is not gloriously carried on.

9. 'Tis no Argument that a Work is not from the Spirit of God, That it seems to be promoted by Ministers insisting very much on the Terrors of God's holy Law, and that with a great deal of Pathos and Earnestness. If there be really a Hell of such [Page 38] dreadful, and never ending Torments, as is gene­rally supposed, that Multitudes are in great Danger of, and that the bigger Part of Men in Christian Countries do actually from Generation to Gene­ration fall into, for want of a Sense of the Terri­bleness of it, and their Danger of it, and so for want of taking due Care to avoid it; then why is it not proper for those that have the Care of Souls, to take great Pains to make Men sensible of it? Why should not they be told as much of the Truth as can be? If I am in Danger of going to Hell, I should be glad to know as much as possibly I can of the Dreadfulness of it: If I am very prone to neglect due Care to avoid it, he does me the best Kindness, that does most to repre­sent to me the Truth of the Case, that sets forth my Misery and Danger in the liveliest Manner.

I appeal to every one in this Congregation, whe­ther this is not the very Course they would take in Case of Exposedness to any great temporal Cala­mity? If any of you that are Heads of Families, saw one of your Children in an House that was all on Fire over it's Head, and in eminent Dan­ger of being soon consumed in the Flames, that seemed to be very insensible of it's Danger, and neglected to escape, after you had often spake to it, and called to it, would you go on to speak to it only in a cold and indifferent Manner? Would not you cry aloud, and call earnestly to it, and represent the Danger it was in, and it's own Folly in delaying, in the most lively Manner you was [Page 39] capable of? Would not Nature itself teach this, and oblige you to it? If you should continue to speak to it only in a cold Manner, as you are won't to do in ordinary Conversation about indifferent Matters, would not those about you begin to think you were bereft of Reason your self? This is not the Way of Mankind, nor the Way of any one Person in this Congregation, in temporal Affairs of great Moment, that require earnest Heed and great Haste, and about which they are greatly concerned, to speak to others of their Danger, and warn them but a little; and when they do it at all, do it in a cold indifferent Manner: Na­ture teaches Men otherwise. If we that have the Care of Souls, knew what Hell was, had seen the State of the Damned, or by any other Means, become sensible how dreadful their Case was; and at the same Time knew that the bigger Part of Men went thither; and saw our Hearers in emi­nent Danger, and that they were not sensible of their Danger, and so after being often warned neglected to escape, it would be morally impossi­ble for us to avoid abundantly and most earnestly setting before them the Dreadfulness of that Misery they were in Danger of, and their great Exposed­ness to it, and Warning them to fly from it, and even to cry aloud to them.

When Ministers preach of Hell, and warn Sinners to avoid it, in a cold Manner, tho' they may say in Words that it is infinitely terrible; yet (if we look on Language as a Communication [Page 40] of our Minds to others) they contradict them­selves; for Actions, as I observed before, have a Language to convey our Minds, as well as Words; and at the same Time that such a Preacher's Words represent the Sinner's State as infinitely dreadful, his Behaviour and Manner of speaking contradict it, and shew that the Preacher don't think so; so that he defeats his own Pur­pose; for the Language of his Actions, in such a Case, is much more effectual than the bare Sig­nification of his Words.

Not that I think that the Law only should be preached: Ministers may preach other Things too little. The Gospel is to be preached as well as the Law, and the Law is to be preached only to make Way for the Gospel, and in order to an effectual preaching of that; for the main Work of Ministers of the Gospel is to preach the Gospel: it is the End of the Law; Christ is the End of the Law for Righteousness: So that a Minister would miss it very much if he should insist so much on the Terrors of the Law, as to forget his End, and neglect to preach the Gospel; but yet the Law is very much to be insisted on, and the preaching of the Gospel is like to be in vain without it.

And certainly such Earnestness and Affection in speaking is beautiful, as becomes the Nature and Importance of the Subject. Not but that there may be such a Thing as an indecent Boiste­rousness in a Preacher, that is something besides [Page 41] what naturally arises from the Nature of his Sub­ject, and in which the Matter and Manner don't well agree together.

Some talk of it as an unreasonable Thing to think to fright Persons to Heaven; but I think it is a reasonable Thing to endeavour to fright Persons away from Hell, that stand upon the Brink of it, and are just ready to fall into it, and are senseless of their Danger: 'tis a reasonable Thing to fright a Person out of an House on Fire. The Word Fright is commonly used for sudden causless Fear, or groundless Surprize; but surely a just Fear, that there is good Reason for, tho' it be very great, is not to be spoken against under any such Name.

Having thus shown, in some Instances, what are not Evidences that a Work that is wrought among a People, is not a Work of the Spirit of God,

I now proceed in the Second Place, as was pro­posed, to shew positively, What are the sure, distinguishing, Scripture Evidences and Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, by which we may proceed in judging of any Operation we find in our selves, or see among a People, without Danger of being misled.

And in this, as I said before, I shall confine my self wholly to those Marks which are given us by the Apostle in the Chapter wherein is my Text, where this Matter is particularly handled, and more plainly and fully than any where else in the Bible. And in speaking to these Marks, I [Page 42] shall take them in the Order in which I find them in the Chapter.

1. When that Spirit that is at work amongst a People is observed to operate after such a Man­ner, as to raise their Esteem of that Jesus that was born of the Virgin, and was crucified without the Gates of Jerusalem; and seems more to confirm and establish their Minds in the Truth of what the Gospel declares to us of his being the Son of God, and the Saviour of Men; 'tis a sure Sign that that Spirit is the Spirit of God. This Sign the Apostle gives us in the 2d & 3d Verses thereby know ye the Spirit of God; every Spirit that con­fesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh, is of God; and every Spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh, is not of God. This implies a confessing, not only that there was such a Person that appeared in Palestine, and did and suffered those Things that are recorded of him, but that that Person was CHRIST, i. e. the Son of God, the Anointed of God to be Lord and Saviour, as the Name Jesus Christ implies. That thus much is implied in the Apostle's Meaning, is confirmed by the 15th Verse, where the Apostle is still on the same Subject of Signs of the true Spi­rit, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

And 'tis to be observed that the Word confess, as it is often used in the New Testament, signifies more than meerly allowing: It implies an estab­lishing and confirming a Thing by Testimony, [Page 43] and declaring it with manifestation of Esteem and Affection: so Math. 10. 32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before Men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven. Rom. 15. 9. I will confess to [...] among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy N [...]e. And Phil. 2. 11. That every Tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father. And that this is the Force of the Expression, as the Apostle John uses it in this Place, is confirmed by that other Place in the same Epistle, in the next Chapter, at the first Verse, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him. And by that parallel Place of the Apostle Paul, where we have the same Rule given to distinguish the true Spirit from all Counterfeits, 1 Cor. 12. 3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no Man speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed, (or will shew an ill or mean Esteem of him) and that no Man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

So that if the Spirit that is at work among a People, is plainly observed to work after that Manner, as to convince them of Christ, and lead them to Christ; more to confirm their Minds in the Belief of the Story of Christ, as he appeared in the Flesh, and that he is the Son of God, and was sent of God to save Sinners, and that he is the only Saviour, and that they stand in great need of him; and seems to beget in them higher and more ho­nourable [Page 44] Thoughts of him than they used to have, and to incline their Affections more to him; it is a sure Sign that it is the true and right Spirit; and that whether we can determine whether that Conviction and Affection be in that Manner, or to that Degree, as to be saving or no.

But the Words of the Apostle are remarkable; The Person that the Spirit gives Testimony to and to whom he raises their Esteem and Respect, must be that Jesus that appeared in the Flesh, and not another Christ in his Stead; not any mystical, fantastical Christ; such as the Light within, which the Spirit of the Quakers extols, while it dimi­nishes their Esteem of, and Dependance upon an outward Christ, or Jesus as he came in the Flesh, and leads them off from him; but the Spirit that gives Testimony for that Jesus, and leads to Him, can be no other than the Spirit of God.

The Devil has the most bitter and implacable Enmity against that Person, especially in his Cha­racter of the Saviour of Men; he mortally hates the Story and Doctrine of his Redemption; he never would go about to beget in Men more ho­nourable Thoughts of him, and so to incline them more to fear him, and lay greater Weight on his Instructions and Commands. The Spirit that inclines Mens Hearts to the Seed of the Woman, is not the Spirit of the Serpent, that has such an irreconcileable Enmity against him. He that heightens Mens Esteem of the glorious Michael, that Prince of the Angels, is not the Spirit of the Dragon that is at War with him.

[Page 45] 2. When the Spirit that is at work operates against the Interest of Satan's Kingdom, which lies in encouraging and establishing Sin, and cherishing Mens worldly Lusts; this is a sure Sign that 'tis a true, and not a false Spirit. This Sign we have given us in the 4th & 5th Verses. Ye are of God, little Children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the World. They are of the World, therefore speak they of the World, and the World heareth them. Here is a plain Antithesis: 'Tis evident that the Apostle is still comparing those that are influenced by the two opposite Kinds of Spirits, the true and the false, and shewing the Difference; the one are of God, and overcome the Spirit of the World; the other are of the World, and speak and savour the Things of the World. The Spi­rit of the Devil is here called, He that is in the World. Christ says, My Kingdom is not of this World. But 'tis otherwise with Satan's Kingdom; he is the God of this World.

What the Apostle means by the World, or the Things that are of the World, we learn by his own Words, in the 2d Chapter of this Epistle 15th and 16th Verses. Love not the World, neither the Things that are in the World: If any Man love the World, the Love of the Father is not in him: For all that is in the World, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life, is not of the Father, but is of the World. So that by the World, the Apostle evidently means every [Page 46] Thing that appertains to the Interest of Sin, and comprehends all the Corruptions and Lusts of Men, and all those Acts and Objects by which they are gratified. In these Things lies the Inte­rest of his Kingdom, who is the Spirit that is in the World, and is the God of the World.

So that we may safely determine, from what the Apostle says, that the Spirit that is at work amongst a People, that is observed to work after such a Manner, as to lessen Mens Esteem of the Pleasures, Profits & Honours of the World, and to take off their Hearts from an eager Pursuit after these Things; and to engage them in a deep Concern about a future and eternal Happiness in that invisible World, that the Gospel reveals; and puts them upon earnest seeking the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness; and convinces them of the Dreadfulness of Sin, the Guilt that it brings, and the Misery that it exposes to: I say, the Spi­rit that operates after such a Manner, must needs be the Spirit of God.

It is not to be supposed that Satan would go about to convince Men of Sin, and awaken the Conscience; it can no Way serve his End, to make that Candle of the Lord shine the brighter, and to open the Mouth of that Vicegerent of God in the Soul: It is for his Interest, whatever he does, to lull Conscience asleep, and keep that quiet; to have that, with it's Eyes and Mouth open in the Soul, will tend to clog and hinder all his Designs of Darkness, and ever more to be [Page 47] disturbing his Affairs, and crossing his Interest in the Soul, and disquieting him, so that he can ma­nage nothing to his Mind without Molestation. Would the Devil when he is about to establish Men in a Way and State of Sin, take such a Course, in the first Place to enlighten and awaken the Conscience to see the Dreadfulness of Sin, and make them exceedingly afraid of Sin, and sensible of their Misery by Reason of their past Sins, and their great Need of Deliverance from the Guilt of them, and more careful, inquisitive and watchful to discern what is sinful; and to avoid future Sins; and so more afraid of the Devil's Temptations, and careful to guard against them? What do those Men do with their Reason, that suppose that the Spirit that operates thus, is the Spirit of the Devil?

Possibly some may say, That the Devil may even awaken Mens Consciences to deceive them, and make them think they have been the Subjects of a saving Work of the Spirit of God, while they are indeed still in the Gall of Bitterness. But to this it may be replied, That the Man that has an awakened Conscience is the least likely to be de­ceived of any Man in the World: 'Tis the drow­sy, insensible, stupid Conscience, that is most ea­sily blinded. The more sensible Conscience is in a diseased Soul, the less easily is it quieted with­out a real Healing. The more sensible Conscience is made of the Dreadfulness of Sin, & of the Great­ness of a Man's own Guilt of it, the less likely is [Page 48] he to rest in his own Righteousness, or to be pa­cified with nothing but Shadows. A Man that has been thoroughly terrified with a Sense of his Danger and Misery, is not easily flattered and made to believe himself safe, without any good Grounds.

To awaken Conscience, and convince of the Evil of Sin, can't tend to establish Sin, but cer­tainly tends to make Way for Sin & Satan's being cast out. Therefore this is a good Argument that the Spirit that operates thus, can't be the Spirit of the Devil; if Christ knew how to argue, who told the Pharisees, that supposed that the Spi­rit that he wro't by, was the Spirit of the Devil, that Satan would not cast out Satan, Math. 12. 25, 26.

And therefore if we see Persons made sensible of the dreadful Nature of Sin, and of the Displea­sure of God against it, and of their own miserable Condition as they are in themselves, by Reason of Sin, and earnestly concerned for their eternal Sal­vation, and sensible of their Need of God's Pity and Help, and engaged to seek it in the Use of the Means that God has appointed, we may cer­tainly conclude that it is from the Spirit of God, whatever Effects this Concern has on their Bodies; tho' it causes them to cry out aloud, or to shriek, or to faint, or tho' it throws them into Convul­sions, or whatever other Way the Blood and Spi­rits are moved.

The Influence of the Spirit of God is yet more abundantly manifest, if Persons have their Hearts [Page 49] drawn off from the World, and wean'd from the Objects of their worldly Lusts, and taken off from worldly Pursuits, by the Sense they have of the Ex­cellency of divine Things, and the Affection they have to those spiritual Enjoyments of another World, that are promised in the Gospel.

3. That Spirit that operates in such a Manner, as to cause in Men a greater Regard to the holy Scriptures, and establishes them more in their Truth and Divinity, is certainly the Spirit of God. This Rule the Apostle gives us in the 6th Verse: We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us: He that is not of God, heareth not us: Hereby know we the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit of Error. We are of God; that is, ‘We the Apostles, are sent forth of God, and appointed of him, to teach the World, and to deliver that Doctrine, those Instructions that are to be their Rule; therefore he that knoweth God, heareth us &c.—’ The Apostle's Argument in the Verse equally reaches all that in the same Sense are of God, that is, all those that God has appointed and inspired to deliver to his Church it's Rule of Faith and Practice; all the Prophets and Apostles, whose Doctrine God has made the Foundation on which he has built his Church, as in Eph. 2. 20; all the Penmen of the holy Scriptures. The Devil never would go about to beget in Persons a Regard to that divine Word, which God hath given to be the great and standing Rule for the Direction of his Church in all religious Matters and Concerns [Page 50] of their Souls, in all Ages. A Spirit of Delusion won't incline Persons to go to seek Direction at the Mouth of God. To the Law and to the Testi­mony, is never the Cry of those evil Spirits that have no Light in them; for 'tis God's own Di­rection to discover their Delusions, Isai. 8, 19, 20. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar Spirits, and unto Wizards that peep, and that matter: should not a People seek unto their God? for the Living to the Dead? To the Law, and to the Testimony; if they speak not accord­ing to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them. The Devil don't say the same as Abra­ham did, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them: Nor the same that the Voice from Heaven did concerning Christ, Hear ye him. Would the Spirit of Error, in order to deceive Men, beget in them an high Opinion of the in­fallible Rule, and incline them to think much of it, and be very conversant with it? Would the Prince of Darkness, in order to promote his King­dom of Darkness, lead Men to the Sun? The Devil has ever shewn a mortal Spite and Hatred towards that holy Book, the Bible: He has done all that has been in his Power to extinguish that Light, and to draw Men off from it: He knows that 'tis that Light by which his Kingdom of Darkness is to be overthrown. He has had for many Ages Experience of it's Power to defeat his Purposes, and baffle his Designs: It is his con­stant Plague: 'Tis the main Weapon which Mi­chael [Page 51] uses in his War with him: 'Tis the Sword of the Spirit, that pierces him, and conquers him: 'Tis that great, and sore, and strong Sword, with which God punishes Leviathan, that crooked Ser­pent: 'Tis that sharp Sword that we read of, Rev. 19. 15. that proceeds out of the Mouth of him that sat on the Horse, with which he finites his Enemies. Every Text is a Dart to torment the old Serpent: He has felt the stinging Smart thou­sands of Times; therefore he is enraged against the Bible, and hates every Word in it: And therefore we may be sure that he never will go about to raise Persons Esteem of it, or Affection to it. And accordingly we see it to be common in Enthusiasts, that they depreciate this written Rule, and set up the Light within, or some other Rule above it.

4. Another Rule to judge of Spirits may be drawn from those opposite Compellations given to the two opposite Spirits, in the last Words of the 6th Verse, The SPIRIT OF TRUTH, and the SPIRIT OF ERROR. These Words do exhibit the two opposite Characters of the spirit of God, and other Spirits that counterfeit his Operations. And therefore, if by observing the Manner of the Operation of a Spirit that is at work among a People, we see that it operates as a Sprit of Truth, leading Persons to Truth, con­vincing them of those Things that are true, we may safely determine that 'tis a right and true Spirit. As for Instance, if we observe that the [Page 52] Spirit that is at work, makes Men more sensible than they used to be, that there is a God, and that he is a great God, and a Sin-hating God; and makes them more to realize it, that they must die, and that Life is short, and very uncertain; and confirms Persons in it that there is another World, that they have immortal Souls, and that they must give Account of themselves to God; and convinces them that they are exceeding sin­ful by Nature and Practice; and that they are helpless in themselves; and confirms them in other Things that are agreeable to sound Doctrine: The Spirit that works thus, operates as a Spirit of Truth: He represents Things as they are indeed: He brings Men to the Light; for whatever makes Truth manifest, is Light; as the Apostle Paul ob­serves, Eph. 5. 13. But all Things that are reproved (or discovered, as it is in the Margin) are made ma­nifest by the Light; for whatsoever doth make mani­fest is Light. And therefore we may conclude that 'tis not the Spirit of Darkness, that doth thus discover, and make manifest the Truth. Christ tells us that Satan is a Liar, and the Father of Lies; and his Kingdom is a Kingdom of Darkness. 'Tis upheld and promoted only by Darkness & Error: Satan has all his Power and Dominion by Dark­ness. Hence we read of the Power of Darkness, Luk. 22. 53. & Col. 1. 13. And Devils are called the Rulers of the Darkness of this World What­ever Spirit removes our Darkness, and bring upto the Light; undeceives us, and convinces us of the [Page 53] Truth; does us a Kindness. If I am brought to a Sight of Truth, and am made sensible of Things as they be, my Duty is immediately to thank God for it, without standing first to inquire by what Means I have such a Benefit.

5. If the Spirit that is at work among a Peo­ple operates as a Spirit of Love to God and Man, 'tis a sure Sign that 'tis the Spirit of God. This Sign the Apostle insists upon from the 6th Verse to the End of the Chapter: Beloved, let us love one another; for Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love &c. Here 'tis evident, that the Apostle is still comparing those two sorts of Persons that are in­fluenced by the opposite Kinds of Spirits; and mentions Love as a Mark by which we may know who has the true Spirit: But this is especially evi­dent by the 12th & 13th Verses, If we love one ano­ther, God dwelleth in us, and his Love is perfected in us: Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. In these Verses Love is spoken of as if it were that wherein the very Nature of the Holy Spirit con­sisted; or as if divine Love dwelling in us, and the Spirit of God dwelling in us, were the same Thing; as it is also in the two last Verses of the foregoing Chapter; as also in the 16th Verse of this Chapter. Therefore this last Mark which the Apostle gives of the true Spirit, he seems to speak of as the most eminent; and so [Page 54] insists much more largely upon it, than upon all the rest; and speaks expresly of both Love to God and Men; of Love to Men, in the 7th, 11th and 12th Verses; and of Love to God, in the 17th, 18th & 19th Verses; and of both together, in the two last Verses; and of Love to Men, as arising from Love to God, in these two last Verses.

Therefore when the Spirit that is at work a­mongst a People, tends this Way, and brings many of them to high and exalting Thoughts of the divine Being, and his glorious Perfections; and works in them an admiring, delightful Sense of the Excellency of Jesus Christ; representing Him as the chief among ten Thousands, altoge­ther lovely, and makes him precious to the Soul; winning and drawing the Heart with those Motives and Incitements to Love, which the Apostle speaks of in that Passage of Scripture we are upon, viz. the wonderful, free Love of God in giving his only begotten Son to die for us, and the wonder­ful dying Love of Christ to us, who had no Love to him, but were his Enemies; as Ver. 9, 10. In this was manifested the Love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the World, that we might live through him. Herein is Love; not that we loved God, but that he loved as, and sent his Son to be the Prepitiation for our Sins. And Ver. 16. And we have known, and believed the Love that God hath to us. And Ver. 19. We Love him, because he first loved us. The Spirit excites to Love on these Motives, and makes the [Page 55] Attributes of God as revealed in the Gospel, and manifested in Christ, delightful Objects of Con­templation; and makes the Soul to long after God and Christ, after their Presence and Communion, and Acquaintance with them, and Conformity to them; and to live so as to Please & Honour them: And also quells Contentions among Men, and gives a Spirit of Peace and Good-will, excites to Acts of outward Kindness, and earnest Desires of the Salvation of others Souls; and causes a Delight in those that appear as the Children of God, and Followers of Christ: I say when a Spirit operates after this Manner among a People, there is the highest Kind of Evidence of the Influence of a true and divine Spirit.

Indeed there is a Counterfeit of Love, that often appears amongst those that are led by a Spirit of Delusion: There is commonly in the wildest En­thusiasts a Kind of Union and Affection that ap­pears in them one towards another, arising from Self-Love, occasioned by their agreeing one with another in those Things wherein they greatly differ from all others, and for which they are the Ob­jects of the Ridicule of all the rest of Mankind; which naturally will cause them so much the more to prize the Esteem they observe in each other, of those Peculiarities that make them the Objects of others Contempt: So the ancient Gnosticks and the wild Fanaticks, that appeared in the Beginning of the Reformation, boasted of their great Love one to another: One Sect of them in particular, [Page 56] calling themselves the Family of Love. But this is quite another Thing than that Christian Love that I have just described; 'tis only the work­ing of a natural Self-Love, and no true Benevo­lence, any more than the Union & Friendship which may be among a Company of Pirates, that are at War with all the rest of the World. There is sufficient said in this Passage of St. John, that we are upon, of the Nature and Motive of a truly Christian Love, thoroughly to distinguish it from all such Counterfeits. It is Love that arises from an Apprehension of the wonderful Riches of free Grace, and Sovereignty of God's Love to us, in Christ Jesus; being attended with a Sense of our own utter Unworthiness, as in our selves the Enemies and Haters of God & Christ, and with a Renunciation of all our own Excellency and Righteousness. See Ver. 9, 10, 11, & 19. The surest Character of true divine super-natural Love, distinguishing it from Counterfeits that do arise from a natural Self-Love, is that That Christian Vertue shines in it, that does above all others re­nounce and abase and annihilate Self, viz. Humility. Christian Love, or true Charity, is an humble Love, 1 Cor. 13. 4, 5. Charity vaunteth not it self; is not puffed up, doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked. When there­fore we see Love in Persons attended with a Sense of their own Littleness, Vileness, Weakness, and utter Insufficiency; and so with Self-Diffidence, Self-Emptiness, Self-Renunciation, and Poverty [Page 57] of Spirit, there are the manifest Tokens of the Spirit of God: He that thus dwells in Love, dwells in God, and God in him. The Love the Apostle speaks of as a great Evidence of the true Spirit, is God's Loove, or Christ's Love; as Ver. 12.—His Love is perfected in us. What Kind of Love that is, we may see best in what appeared in Christ, in the Ex­ample he set us, when he was here upon Earth. The Love that appeared in that Lamb of God, was not only a Love to Friends, but to Enemies, and a Love attended with a meek and humble Spirit. Learn of me, says he, for I am meek and lowly in Heart.

Love and Humility are two Things the most contrary to the Spirit of the Devil, of any Thing in the World; for the Character of that Evil Spirit, above all Things, consists in Pride and Malice.

Thus I have spoken particularly to the several Marks the Apostle gives us of a Work of the true Spirit. There are some of these Things the De­vil would not do if he could: Thus, he would not awaken the Conscience, and make Men sen­sible of their miserable State by Nature, by Rea­son of Sin, and sensible of their great Need of a Saviour: And he would not confirm Men in a Belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Sa­viour of Sinners, or raise Mens Value and Esteem of Him: He would not beget in Mens Minds an Opinion of the Necessity, Usefulness and Truth of the Holy Scriptures, or incline them to hearken [Page 58] to them, or make much Use of them; nor would he go about to shew Men the Truth, in Things that concern their Souls Interest; to undeceive 'em, and lead 'em out of Darkness into Light, and give 'em a View of Things as they are indeed. And there are other Things that the Devil neither can nor will do: He will not give Men a Spirit of Divine Love, or Christian Humility and Poverty of Spirit; nor could he if he would: He can't give those Things which he has not himself: These Things are as contrary as possible to his Nature. And therefore when there is an extra­ordinary Influence or Operation appearing on the Minds of a People, if these Things are found in it, we are safe in determining that 'tis the Work of God, whatever other Circumstances it may be attended with, whatever Instruments are improv­ed, whatever Methods are taken to promote it; whatever Means a sovereign God, whose Judg­ments are a great Deep, makes Use of to carry it on; and whatever Motions there may be of the animal Spirits, whatever Effects may be wrought on Mens Bodies. These Marks, that the Apostle has given us, are sufficient to stand alone, and sup­port themselves; and where-ever they be, they plainly shew the Finger of God, and are sufficient to outweigh a Thousand such little Objections, as many make from Oddities, Irregularities, and Er­rors in Conduct, and the Delusions and Scandals of some Professors.

[Page 59] Object. But here some may object against the Sufficiency of the Marks given, what the Apostle Paul says, in the 2 Cor. 11. 13, 14. For such are false Apostles, deceitful Workers, transforming them­selves into the Apostles of Christ; and no Marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light.

To which I Answer, That this can be no Ob­jection against the Sufficiency of these Marks to distinguish the true Spirit from the false Spirit, in those false Apostles and false Prophets, which the Apostle speaks of, in whom the Devil was trans­formed into an Angel of Light, because it is princi­pally with a View to them that the Apostle gives these Marks; as appears by the Words of the Text, Believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits, whether they are of God: And this is the Reason he gives, Because many false Prophets are gone out into the World: ‘There are many gone out into the World that are the Ministers of the Devil, that transform themselves into the Prophets of God, in whom the Spirit of the Devil is transformed into an Angel of Light; therefore try the Spirits by these Rules that I shall give you, that you may be able to distinguish the true Spirit from the false Spirit, under such a crafty Disguise.’ Those false Prophets the Apostle John speaks of, are doubtless the same Sort of Men with those false Apostles, and deceitful Workers, that the A­postle Paul speaks of, in that Place in the 2d of Corinthians, in whom the Devil was transformed into an Angel of Light: And therefore we may [Page 60] be sure that these Marks the Apostle gives, are es­pecially adapted to distinguish between the true Spirit, and the Devil transformed into an Angel of Light, because they are given especially for that End; that is the Apostle's declared Purpose and Design, to give Marks by which the true Spirit may be distinguished from that Sort of Counterfeits.

And if we look over what is said about these false Prophets, and false Apostles, (as there is much said about them in the New Testament) and take Notice in what Manner the Devil was transformed into an Angel of Light in them, we shall not find any Thing that in the least injures the Sufficiency of these Marks to distinguish the true Spirit from such Counterfeits. The Devil transformed him­self into an Angel of Light, as there was in them a Shew, and great Boasts of extraordinary Know­ledge in divine Things; Col. 2. 8. 1 Tim. 1. 6, 7. and Chap. 6. 3, 4, 5. 2 Tim. 2. 14, 16, 17, 18. Tit. 1. 10, 16. Hence their Followers called them­selves Gnosticks, from their great pretended Know­ledge: And the Devil in them mimicked the miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit, in Visions, Re­velations, Prophecies, Miracles, and the immedi­ate Conduct of the Spirit in what they did: Hence they are called false Apostles, and false Prophets: See Mat. 24. 24. Again, there was a false Shew of, and lying Pretences to great Holiness and Devo­tion in Words: Rom. 16. 17, 18. Eph. 4. 14. Hence they are called deceitful Workers, and Wells, and Clouds without Water. 2 Cor. 11. 13. 2 Pet. 2. 17. [Page 61] Jude 12. There was also in them a Shew of ex­traordinary Piety and Righteousness in their super­stitious Worship: Col. 2. 16, 17, 18. 21, 22, 23. So they had a false, proud, and bitter Zeal; Gal. 4. 17. 18. 1 Tim. 1. 6. and Chap.6. 4, 5. And like­wise a false Shew of Humility, in affecting an extra­ordinary outward Meanness and Dejection, when indeed they were vainly puffed up with their fleshly Mind; and made a Righteousness of their Hu­mility, and were exceedingly lifted up with their eminent Piety: Col. 2. 18, 23. But how do such Things as these, in the least injure those Things that have been mentioned as the distinguishing Evidences of the true Spirit?

Besides such vain Shews which may be from the Devil, there are common Influences of the Spirit, which are often mistaken for saving Grace: But these are out of the Question, because tho' they are not saving, yet are the Work of the true Spirit.

Having thus fulfil'd what I at first proposed, in considering what are the certain, distinguishing Marks, by which we may safely proceed in judg­ing of any Work that falls under our Observation, whether it be the Work of the Spirit of God or no. I now proceed to the APPLICATION.

I. From what has been said, I will venture to draw this Inference, viz. That that extraordinary Influence that has lately appeared on the Minds of [Page 62] the People abroad in this Land, causing in them an uncommon Concern and Engagedness of Mind about the Things of Religion, is undoubtedly, in the general, from the Spirit of God. There are but two Things that need to be known in order to such a Work's being judged of, viz. Facts and Rules. The Rules of the Word of God we have had laid before us; and as to Facts, there are but two Ways that we can come at them, so as to be in a Capacity to compare them with the Rules, either by our own Observation, or by Information from others that have had Opportunity to observe.

As to this Work that has lately been carried on in the Land, there are many Things concerning it that are notorious, and known by every Body, (unless it be some that have been very much out of the Way of observing and hearing indeed) that unless the Apostle John was out in his Rules, are sufficient to determine it to be in general, the Work of God. 'Tis notorious that the Spirit that is at work, takes off Persons Minds from the Vanities of the World, and engages them in a deep Concern about a future and eternal Happiness in another World, and puts them upon earnestly seeking their Salvation, and convinces them of the Dread­fulness of Sin, and of their own guilty and mise­rable State as they are by Nature. It is notorious that it awakens Mens Consciences, and makes 'em sensible of the Dreadfulness of God's Anger, and causes in them a great Desire, and earnest Care and Endeavour to obtain his Favour. It is notorious, [Page 63] that it puts them upon a more diligent Improve­ment of the Means of Grace which God has ap­pointed. It is also notorious, that, in general, it works in Persons a greater Regard to the Word of God, and desire of hearing and reading of it, and to be more conversant with the holy Scrip­tures than they used to be. And it is notoriously manifest that the Spirit that is at work, in general, operates as a Spirit of Truth, making Persons more sensible of what is really true, in those Things that concern their eternal Salvation: As that they must die, and that Life is very short and uncertain; that there is a Great, Sin-hating God, that they are accountable to, and will fix them in an eter­nal State in another World, and that they stand in great Need of a Saviour. It is furthermore notorious, that the Spirit that is at work makes Persons more sensible of the Value of that Jesus that was crucified, and their Need of him; and that it puts them upon earnestly seeking an Inte­rest in him. It can't be but that these Things should be apparent to People in general through the Land: for these Things ben't done in a Cor­ner; the Work that has been wrought has not been confined to a few Towns, in some remoter Parts of the Land, but has been carried on in many Places in all Parts of the Land, and in most of the principal, and most populous, & publick Places in it, (Christ in this Respect has wrought amongst us, in the same Manner that he wrought his Mira­cles in Judea) and has now been continued for a [Page 64] considerable Time; so that there has been a great deal of Opportunity to observe the Manner of the Work. And all such as have been much in the Way of observing the Work, & have been very conversant with those that have been the Subjects of it, do see a great deal more that, by the Rules of the Apostle, does clearly and certainly shew it to be the Work of God.

And here I would observe, That the Nature and Tendency of a Spirit that is at work, may be determined with much greater certainty, and less Danger of being imposed upon, when it is observed in a great Multitude of People of all Sorts, and in various different Places, than when it is only seen in a few, in some particular Place, that have been much conversant one with another. A few particular Persons may agree to put a Cheat upon others, by a false Pretence, and pro­fessing Things that they never were conscious to in their own Minds: But when the Work is spread over great Part of a Country, in Places distant one from another, among People of all Sorts, and all Ages, and in Multitudes of Persons, of sound Mind, good Understanding, and known In­tegrity; there would be the greatest Absurdity in supposing that, by all the Observation that can be made by all that is heard from them and seen in them, for many Months together, by those that are most intimate with them in these Affairs, and have long been acquainted with them, that yet it can't be determined what Kind of Influence [Page 65] the Operation they are under, has upon People's Minds, whether it tends to awaken their Consci­ences, or to stupify them; whether it tends to incline them more to seek their Salvation, or neg­lect it; whether it seems to confirm them in a Belief of the Scriptures, or to lead them to Deism; whether it makes them have more Regard to the great Truths of Religion, or less; and so in other Things. There is probably no particular Person here present, that thinks himself to have a Right to be treated as one of a sound Mind, and com­mon Sense, and Veracity, but would think him­self abused, if he should declare to others, that he had altered his Mind in these and those Particu­lars; he now found himself convinced of the Truth of this or that, that formerly he did not believe; and that he found in himself such and such Fears, that he don't use to have; or found a greater Aver­sion than he was won't to have, or a greater Esteem and Affection to such and such Things; and those that he made such a Profession to would not be­lieve him, tho' they had long been conversant with him, and tho' he persisted in this Profession for many Months together, and nothing appeared in him but what agreed thereto. But much more unreasonable it would be, when such Professions are made, not by a particular Person only, but a great Part of a People in a Land, to suppose that they all agree in professing what indeed they do not feel in their Souls.

[Page 66] And here it is to be observed, That for Persons to profess that they are convinced of these or those divine Truths; or that they esteem and love such divine Things, in a saving Manner; and for them to profess, that they are more convinced or confirmed in the Truth of them, than they used to be, and find that they have a greater Regard to them than before they had, are two very diffe­rent Things. Persons of Honesty and common Sense, have much greater Right to demand Cre­dit to be given to the latter Profession, than to the former; (tho' in the former it is vastly less likely that a People in general should be deceived, than some particular Persons.) But whether Per­sons Convictions, and the Alteration in their Dis­positions and Affections, be in a Degree & Man­ner that is saving, is beside the present Question. If there be such Effects on Peoples Judgments, Dispositions and Affections, as have been spoken of, whether they be in a Degree & Manner that is saving or no, it is nevertheless a Sign of the Influence of the Spirit of God. Scripture Rules serve to distinguish the common Influences of the Spirit of God, as well as those that are saving, from the Influence of other Causes.

And as I am One that, by the Providence of God, have for some Months past, been much a­mongst those that have been the Subjects of that Work, that has of late been carried on in the Land; and particularly, have been abundantly in the Way of seeing & observing those extraordinary Things [Page 67] that many Persons have been much stumbled at; such as Persons crying out aloud, shrieking, being put into great Agonies of Body, and deprived of their bodily Strength, and the like; and that in many different Towns; and have been very par­ticularly conversant with great Numbers of such, both in the Time of their being the Subjects of such extraordinary Influences, and afterwards, from Time to Time, and have seen the Manner and Issue of such Operations, and the Fruits of them, for several Months together; many of them be­ing Persons that I have long known, and have been intimately acquainted with them in Soul Concerns, before and since: So I look upon my self called on this Occasion to give my Testimony, that so far as the Nature and Tendency of such a Work is capable of falling under the Observation of a By-stander, to whom those that have been the Subjects of it have endeavour'd to open their Hearts, or can be come at by diligent and particular In­quiry, this Work has all those Marks that have been spoken of; in very many Instances, in every Article; and particularly in many of those that have been the Subjects of such extraordinary Ope­rations, all those Marks have appeared in a very great Degree.

Those in whom have been these uncommon Appearances, have been of two Sorts; either those that have been in great Distress, in an Apprehen­sion of their Sin and Misery; or those that have been overcome with a sweet Sense of the Great­ness, [Page 68] Wonderfulness and Excellency of divine Things. Of the Multitude of those of the for­mer sort, that I have had Opportunity to ob­serve, and have been acquainted with, there have been very few, but that by all that could be ob­served in them, in the Time of it, or afterwards, their Distress has arisen from real, proper Con­viction, and a being in a Degree sensible of that which was the Truth. And tho' I don't suppose, when such Things were observed to be common, that Persons have laid themselves under those violent Restraints, to avoid outward Manifesta­tions of their Distress, that perhaps they other­wise would have done; yet there have been very few in whom there has been any Appearance of feigning or affecting such Manifestations, and very many for whom it would have been undoubtedly utterly impossible for 'em to avoid them. Ge­nerally those that have been in these Agonies have appeared to be in the perfect Exercise of their Reason; and those of them that have been able to speak, have been well able to give an Account of the Circumstances of their Minds, & the Cause of their Distress, in the Time of it, and well able to remember, and give an Account afterwards. I have known a very few Instances of those, that in their great Extremity, have for a short Space been deprived, in some Measure of the Use of Reason; but among the many Hundreds, and it may be Thousands, that have lately been brought to such Agonies, I never yet knew one, lastingly [Page 69] deprived of their Reason. In some that I have known, Melancholly has evidently been mixt; and when it is so, the Difference is very apparent; their Distresses are of another Kind, and operate quite after another Manner, than when their Distress is from meer Conviction: 'Tis not Truth only that distresses them, but many vain Shadows and Notions, that won't give Place either to Scripture or Reason. Some in their great Distress, have not been well able to give an Account of themselves, or to declare the Sense they have of Things, or to explain the Manner & Cause of their Trouble to others, that yet I have had no Reason to think were not under proper Convictions, and in whom there has been manifested a good Issue. But this won't be at all wonder'd at, by those who have had much to do with Souls under spiritual Diffi­culties. Some Things that they are sensible of are altogether new to them, their Ideas and inward Sensations are new, and what they therefore knew not how to accommodate Language to, or to find Words to express. And some who on first In­quiry, say they know not what was the Matter with them, on being particularly Examined and Inter­rogated, have been able to represent their Case, tho' of themselves they could not find Expressions, and Forms of Speech to do it.

Some say they think that the Terrors that such Persons are in, that have such Effects on their Bodies, is only a Fright. But certainly there ought to be a Distinction made between a very great [Page 70] Fear, and extream Distress, arising from an Ap­prehension of some dreadful Truth, that is a Cause that is fully proportionable to such an Effect, and a needless causless Fright: which is of two Kinds; either when Persons are terrified with that which is not the Truth; (of this I have seen very few Instances, unless in Case of Melancholy;) Or se­condly, when Persons are under a childish Fright, only from some terrible outward Appearance and Noise, and a general Notion thence arising, that there is something or other Terrible, they know not what; without having in their Minds the Apprehension of any particular terrible Truth whatsoever; of such a Kind of Fright I have seen very little Appearance, either among Old or Young.

Those that are in such Extremity, commonly ex­press a great Sense of their exceeding Wickedness, the Multitude and Aggravations of their actual Sins, and the dreadful Pollution, Enmity and Per­verseness of their Hearts, and a dreadful Obstinacy and hardness of Heart; a Sense of their great Guilt in the Sight of God; and the Dreadfulness of the Punishment that Sin exposes to: Very of­ten they have a lively Idea of the horrible Pit of eternal Misery; and at the same Time it appears to them, that a Great God that has them in his Hands, is exceeding Angry with them; his Wrath appears amazingly terrible to them: God appear­ing to them so much provoked, and his great Wrath so incensed, they are apprehensive of great Danger, that he will not bear with them any lon­ger; [Page 71] but will now, forthwith, cut 'em off, and send them down to the dreadful Pit they have in View; at the same Time seeing no Refuge: They see more and more of the Vanity of every Thing they used to trust to, and flatter themselves in; 'till they are brought wholly to despair in all, and to see that they are at the Disposal of the meer Will of the God that is so angry with them. Very many, in the midst of their Extremity, have been brought to an extraordinary Sense of their fully deserving that Wrath & Destruction, which is then before their Eyes; and at the same Time, that they have feared every Moment, that it would be executed upon them, they have been greatly convinced that it would be altogether just that it should, and that God is indeed absolutely Sove­reign: and very often, some Text of Scripture expressing God's Sovereignty, has been set home upon their Minds, whereby their Minds have been calm'd and they have been brought as it were to lie at God's Foot; and after great Agonies, a little before Light has arisen, they have been com­posed and quiet, in a Kind of Submission to a Just and Sovereign God; but their bodily Strength much spent; and sometimes their Lives, to Ap­pearance almost gone; and then Light has ap­peared, and a glorious Redeemer, with his won­derful, all-sufficient Grace, has been represented to them, often, in some sweet Invitation of Scrip­ture. Sometimes the Light comes in suddenly, sometimes more gradually, filling their Souls with [Page 72] Love, Admiration, Joy & Self-Abasement; draw­ing forth their Hearts in Longing after the ex­cellent lovely Redeemer, and Longings to lie in the Dust before him; and Longings that others might behold him, and embrace him, and be de­livered by him; and Longings to live to his Glory: but sensible that they can do nothing of themselves▪ appearing Vile in their own Eyes, and having much of a Jealousy over their own Hearts. And all the Appearances of a real Change of Heart have fol­lowed; and Grace has acted, from Time to Time, after the same Manner that it used to act in those that were converted formerly, with the like Diffi­culties, Temptations, Buffetings, and like Com­forts; excepting that in many, Light & Comfort has been in higher Degree than ordinary. Many very young Children have been thus wro't upon. There have been some Instances very much like those Demoniacks that we read of, Mar. 1. 26. and Chap. 9. 26. of whom we read, that when the Devil had cried with a loud Voice, and rent them sore, he came out of them. And probably those Instan­ces were designed for a Type of such Things as these. Some have several Turns of great Agonies, before they are delivered: and some have been in such Distresses, and it has passed off, and no Deliverance at all has followed.

Some object against it, as great Confusion, when there is a Number together, in such Circumstan­ces, making a Noise; and say, God can't be the Author of it, because he is the God of Order, not [Page 73] of Confusion. But let it be considered, what is the proper Notion of Confusion, but the breaking that Order of Things whereby they are properly disposed, and duly directed to their End, so that the Order and due Connection of Means being broken, they fail of their End; but Conviction and Conversion of Sinners is the obtaining the End of religious Means. Not but that I think that Persons that are thus extraordinarily moved shou'd endeavour to refrain from such outward Mani­festations, what they well can, and should refrain to their utmost, in the Time of the solemn Wor­ship. But if God is pleased to convince the Cons­ciences of Persons, so that they can't avoid great outward Manifestations, even to the interrupting, and breaking off those publick Means they were at­tending, I don't think this is Confusion, or an unhap­py Interruption, any more than if a Company should meet on the Field to pray for Rain, and should be broken off from their Exercise by a plentiful Shower. Would to God that all the publick Assemblies in the Land were broken off from their publick Exercises with such Confusion as this the next Sabbath Day! We need not be sorry for the breaking the Order of the Means, by obtain­ing the End to which that Order is directed: He that is going a Journey to fetch a Treasure, need not be sorry that he is stopped by meeting the Treasure in the midst of his Journey.

Besides those that are overcome with Conviction and Distress, I have seen many of late, that have [Page 74] had their bodily Strength taken away with a Sense of the glorious Excellency of the Redeemer, and the Wonders of his dying Love; with a very un­common Sense of their own Littleness, and exceed­ing Vileness attending it, with all Expressions and Appearances of the greatest Abasement & Abhor­rence of themselves: And not only new Converts, but many that were, as we hope, formerly con­verted, whose Love and Joy has been attended with a Flood of Tears, and a great Appearance of Contrition and Humiliation, especially for their having lived no more to God's Glory since their Conversion; with a far greater Sight of their Vile­ness, & the Evil of their Hearts than ever they had; with an exceeding Earnestness of Desire to live better for the Time to come, but attended with greater Self-Diffidence than ever: And many have been even overcome with Pity to the Souls of others, and longing for their Salvation.

And many other Things I might mention in this extraordinary Work, answering to every one of those Marks that have been insisted on. So that if the Apostle John knew how to give Signs of a Work of the true Spirit, this is such a Work.

Providence has cast my Lot in a Place where the Work of God has formerly been carried on: I had the Happiness to be settled in that Place two Years with the venerable STODDARD; and was then acquainted with a Number that, during that Season, were wro't upon, under his Ministry, and have been intimately acquainted with the Ex­periences [Page 75] of many others, that were wro't upon before under his Ministry, in a Manner agreeable to his Doctrine, and the Doctrine of all orthodox Divines; and of late that Work has been carried on there, with very much of these uncommon Opperations: but 'tis apparent to all to be the same Work, not only that was wro't there six or seven Years ago, but elder Christians there know it to be the same Work that was carried on there, in their former Pastor's Days, tho' there be some new Circumstances. And certainly we must throw by all the Talk of Conversion and Christian Expe­rience; and not only so, but we must throw by our Bibles, and give up revealed Religion, if this be not in general the Work of God, Not that I suppose that the Degree of the Influence of the Spirit of God, is to be determined by the Degree of Effect on Men's Bodies, or that those are al­ways the best Experiences, that have the greatest Influence on the Body.

And as to the Imprudences & Irregularities and Mixture of Delusion that have been; it is not at all to be wondered at that a Reformation, after a long continued, and almost universal Deadness, should at first when the Revival is new, be at­tended with such Things. In the first Creation God did not make a compleat World at once; but there was a great deal of Imperfection, Dark­ness, and Mixture of Chaos and Confusion, after God first said, Let there be Light, before the whole stood forth in perfect Form. When God at first [Page 76] began his great Work for the Deliverance of his People, after their long continued Bondage in Egypt, there were false Wonders mix'd with true, for a while; which harden'd the unbelieving Egyptians, and made 'em to doubt of the Divinity of the whole Work. When the Children of Israel first went about bringing up the Ark of God, after it had long been neglected, and had been long absent, they sought not the Lord after the due Order, 1 Chron. 15. 13. At the Time when the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them. And Solomon's Ships when they brought Gold and Silver and Pearls, also brought Apes and Peacocks. When Day Light first appears, after a Night of Darkness, we must expect to have Darkness mixt with Light, for a while, and not to have perfect Day, and the Sun risen at once. The Fruits of the Earth are first green before they are ripe, and come to their pro­per Perfection gradually; and so Christ tells us, is the Kingdom of God. Mark 4. 26, 27, 28. So is the Kingdom of God; as if a Man should cast Seed into the Ground, and should Sleep, and rise Night and Day; and the Seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how: for the Earth bringeth forth Fruit of her self; first the Blade; then the Ear; then the full Corn in the Ear.

The Imprudences and Errors that have attend­ed this Work, are the less to be wonder'd at, if it be considered, that it is chiefly young Persons that have been the Subjects of it, who have less Stea­diness [Page 77] and Experience, and are in the Heat of Youth, and much more ready to run to Extreams. Satan will keep Men secure as long as he can; but when he can do that no longer, he often en­deavours to drive them to Extreams, and so to dishonour God, and wound Religion that Way. And doubtless it has been one Occasion of much of the Misconduct there has been, that in many Places, People that are the Subjects of this Work of God's Spirit, see plainly that their Ministers have an ill Opinion of the Work; and therefore with just Reason, durst not apply themselves to 'em as their Guides in this Work; and so are without Guides: and no Wonder that when a People are as Sheep without a Shepherd, they wander out of the Way. A People, in such Cir­cumstances especially, stand in great and continual Need of Guides, and their Guides stand in conti­nual Need of much more Wisdom than they have of their own. And if a People have Ministers that favour the Work, and rejoyce in it, yet 'tis not to be expected that, either People or Ministers should know so well how to conduct themselves in such an extraordinary State of Things, while it is new, and what they never had any Experience of before, as they may, after they have had Ex­perience, and Time to see the Tendency, Con­sequences and Issue of Things. The happy In­fluence of Experience is very manifest at this Day, in the People among whom God has settled my Abode. The Work of God that has been carried [Page 78] on there this Year, has been much purer than that which was wrought there six Years before: It has seem'd to be more purely spiritual; freer from natural and corrupt Mixtures, and any Thing sa­vouring of enthusiastick Wildness & Extravagance: It has wrought more by deep Humiliation and Abasement before God and Men; and they have been much freer from Imprudences and Irregula­rities. And particularly there has been a remar­kable Difference in this Respect, That whereas many before, in their Comforts and Rejoycings, did too much forget their Distance from God, and were ready in their Conversation together of the Things of God, and of their own Experiences, to talk with too much of an Air of Lightness, and something of Laughter; now they seem to have no Disposition to it, but rejoyce with a more so­lemn, reverential, humble Joy; as God directs the Princes of the Earth, Psal. 2. 11. 'Tis not because the Joy is not as great, and in many of them much greater: There are many among us, that were wro't upon in that former Season, that have now had much greater Communications from Heaven than they had then; but their Rejoycing operates in another Manner: it only abases and solemnizes them; breaks their Hearts, and brings them into the Dust: Now when they speak of their Joys, it is not with Laughter, but a Flood of Tears. Thus those that laughed before, weep now; and yet, by their united Testimony, their Joy is vastly purer and sweeter than that which [Page 79] before did more raise their animal Spirits. They are now more like Jacob, when God appeared to him at Bethel, when he saw the Ladder that reached to Heaven, and said, How dreadful is this Place; and like Moses, when God shewed him his Glory on the Mount, when he made haste, and bowed himself unto the Earth.

II. Let us all be hence warned, by no Means to oppose, or do any Thing, in the least to clog or hinder that Work that has lately been carried on in the Land, but on the contrary, to do our utmost to promote it. Now Christ is come down from Hea­ven into this Land, in a remarkable & wonderful Work of his Spirit, it becomes all his professed Dis­ciples to acknowlege him, and give him Honour.

The Example of the Jews in Christ's and the Apostles Times, is enough to beget in those that don't acknowlege this Work, a great Jealousy of themselves, and to make them exceeding cautious of what they say or do. Christ then was in the World, and the World knew him not: He came to his own professing People, and his own received him not. That coming of Christ had been much spoken of in the Prophecies of Scripture that they had in their Hands, and had been long expected, and yet because Christ came in a Manner that they did not expect, and that was not agreeable to their carnal Reason, they would not own him, but opposed him, counted him a Madman, and the Spirit that he wrought by the Spirit of the Devil. They stood and wondered at the great [Page 80] Things that were done, and knew not what to make of 'em; but yet they met with so many stumbling Blocks, that they finally could not ac­knowlege him. And when the Spirit of God came to be so wonderfully poured out in the A­postles Days, they looked upon it to be Confusion and Distraction. They were astonished by what they saw and heard, but not convinced. And es­pecially was the Work of God then rejected by those that were most conceited of their own Un­derstanding & Knowlege, agreeable to Isai. 29. 14. Therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous Work amongst this People, even a marvellous Work and a Wonder; for the Wisdom of their wise Men shall perish, and the Understanding of their prudent Men shall be hid. And many of them that had been in Reputation for Religion & Piety, had a great Spite against the Work, because they saw it tended to diminish their Honour, and to reproach their Formality and Luke warmness. Some upon these Accounts maliciously and openly opposed and repro [...]ed the Work of the Spirit of God, and called it the Work of the Devil, against in­ward Conviction; and so were guilty of the un­pardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost.

There is another Coming of Christ, a spiritual Coming, to set up his Kingdom in the World, that is as much spoken of in Scripture Prophecy, as that first Coming of Christ was, and that has been long expected by the Church of God; that we have Reason to think, from what is said of it, will [Page 81] be, in many Respects, parallel with the other. And certainly, that low State that the visible Church of God has lately been sunk into, is very parallel with the State of the Jewish Church, when Christ came: and therefore no Wonder at all, that when Christ comes, his Work should appear a strange Work to most; yea, it would be a Wonder if it should be otherwise. Whether the Work that is now wro't, be the Beginning of that great Coming of Christ to set up his Kingdom, that is so much spoken of, or no; yet it is evident from what has been said, that it is a Work of the same Spirit, and of the same Nature. And there is no Reason to doubt but that, for Persons to continue long to refuse to acknowlege Christ in the Work, especially those that are set to be Teachers in his Church, will be in like Manner provoking to God, as it was in the Jews of old to refuse to acknowlege Christ; and that notwithstanding what they may plead of the great stumbling Blocks that are in the Way, and the Cause they have to doubt of the Work. The Teachers of the Jewish Church found innu­merable stumbling Blocks, that were to them in­superable: there were many Things appeared in Christ, and in the Work of the Spirit after his Ascension, that were exceeding strange to 'em; they were assured that they had just Cause for their Scruples: Christ and his Work were to the Jews a stumbling Block: But blessed is he, says Christ, whosoever shall not be offended (or stumbled) in me. As strange and as unexpected as the Manner of [Page 82] Christ's Appearance was, yet he had not been long in Judea, working Miracles, before all those that had Opportunity to observe, and yet refused to acknowlege him, brought fearful Guilt upon them­selves in the Sight of God; and Christ condemned them, that tho' they could discern the Face of the Sky, and of the Earth, yet they could not discern the Signs of these Times: and why, says he, Even of your selves, judge ye not what is right? Luk. 12. at the latter End.

'Tis not to be supposed that the great JEHO­VAH has bowed the Heavens and come down into this Land, and appeared here now for so long a Time, in such a glorious Work of his Power and Grace, in so extensive a Manner, in the most publick Places of the Land, and almost all Parts of it, without giving such Evidences of his Pre­sence, that great Numbers, and even many Teach­ers in his Church, can remain guiltless in his Sight, without ever receiving and acknowledging him, and giving him Honour, and appearing to rejoyce in his gracious Presence; or without so much as once giving him Thanks for so glorious and blessed a Work of his Grace, wherein his Goodness does more appear, than if he had be­stowed on us all the temporal Blessings that the World affords. A long continued Silence in such a Case is undoubtedly provoking to God; espe­cially in Ministers: it is a secret Kind of Oppo­sition, that really tends to hinder the Work: such silent Ministers stand in the Way of the Work of [Page 83] God; as Christ said of old, He that is not with us is against us. Those that stand wondering at this strange Work of God, not knowing what to make of it, and refusing to receive it, and ready it may be sometimes to speak contemptibly of it, as it was with the Jews of old, would do well to con­sider and tremble at St. Paul's Words to them, Act. 13. 40, 41. Beware therefore least that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets, Behold ye Despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a Work in your Days, which you shall in no wise be­believe, tho' a Man declare it unto you. And those that can't believe the Work to be true, because of the extraordinary Degree and Manner of it, should consider how it was with the unbelieving Lord in Samaria, who said, Behold, if the Lord would make Windows in Heaven, might this Thing be? To whom Elisha said, Behold thou shalt see it with thine Eyes, but shall not eat thereof. Let all to whom this Work is a Cloud and Darkness, as the Pillar of Cloud & Fire was to the Egyptians, take heed that it ben't their Destruction, as that was theirs, while it gave Light to God's Israel.

I would pray those that quiet themselves with that, that they proceed on a Principle of Pru­dence, and are waiting to see what the Issue of Things will be, and what Fruits those that are the Subjects of this Work will bring forth in their Lives and Conversations, would consider, whether this will justify a long refraining from acknow­leging Christ when he appears so wonderfully and [Page 84] graciously present in the Land. 'Tis probable that many of those that are thus waiting, know not what they are waiting for: If they wait to see a Work of God without Difficulties & stum­bling Blocks, that will be like the Fool's waiting at the River Side to have the Water all run by. A Work of God without stumbling Blocks is ne­ver to be expected: It must needs be that Offences come. There never yet was any great Manifesta­tion that God made of himself to the World, without many Difficulties attending it. It is with the Works of God, as 'tis with the Word of God; they are full of those Things that seem strange and inconsistent and difficult to the carnal unbelieving Hearts of Men. Christ and his Work always was, and always will be a Stone of Stumbling, and Rock of Offence; a Gin and a Snare to many. The Prophet Hosea, in the last Chap. of his Pro­phecy, speaking of a glorious Revival of Religion in God's Church, when God would be as the Dew unto Israel, and he should grow as the Lilly, and cast forth his Roots as Lebanon, his Branches should spread, &c. concludes all thus, in the last Verse, Who is wise? and he shall understand these Things; prudent? and he shall know them. For the Ways of the Lord are right, and the Just shall walk in them, but the Transgressors shall fall therein.

'Tis probable that the stumbling Blocks that now attend this Work, will in some Respects be increased, and not diminished. Particularly, we probably shall see more Instances of Apostacy & gross [Page 85] Iniquity among Professors. And if one Kind of stumbling Blocks are removed, 'tis to be expect­ed that others will come. 'Tis with Christ's Works, as it was with his Parables: Things that are difficult to Men's dark Minds, are ordered of purpose, for the Trial of Person's Dispositions and spiritual Sense, and that Persons of corrupt Minds, and of an unbelieving, perverse, cavelling Spirit, seeing might see and not understand. Those that are now waiting to see the Issue of this Work, think they shall be better able to determine by and by; but they are probably, many of them, mistaken. The Jews that saw Christ's Miracles, waited to see better Evidences of his being the Messiah; they wanted a Sign from Heaven; but they waited in vain; their stumbling Blocks did not diminish, but increase; they found no End to 'em; and so were more and more hardned in their Unbelief. Many have been praying for that glorious Reformation spoken of in Scripture, that knew not what they have been praying for, (as it was with the Jews when they prayed for the Coming of Christ) if it should come, they would not acknowlege or receive it.

This pretended Prudence of Persons, in wait­ing so long before they acknowlege this Work, will probably in the End prove the greatest Im­prudence, in this Respect, that hereby they will fail of any Share of so great a Blessing, and will miss the most precious Opportunity of obtaining divine Light, Grace and Comfort, and heaven­ly [Page 86] and eternal Benefits, that ever God gave in New England: While the glorious Fountain is set open in so wonderful a Manner, and Multi­tudes flock to it, and receive a rich Supply of the Wants of their Souls, they stand at a Distance doubting and wondering, and receive nothing, and are like to continue thus till the precious Season is past.

It is to be wondered at, that those that have doubted of the Work that has been attended with such uncommon exten [...] Appearances, should be easy in their Doubts, without taking thorough Pains to inform themselves, by going where such Things have been to be seen, and narrowly ob­serving them, and diligently inquiring into them; not contenting themselves only with observing two or three Instances, nor resting till they were fully informed by their own Observation. I don't doubt but that if this Course had been taken, it would have convinced all whose Minds are not shut up against Conviction, in a great Degree in­deed. How greatly have they erred, who only from the uncertain Reports of others, have ven­tered to speak slightily of these Things? That Caution of an unbelieving Jew might teach them more Prudence, Act. 5. 38, 39. Refrain from these Men, and let them alone; for if this Counsel, or this Work be of Men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it: lest haply ye be found to fight against God. Whether what has been said in this Discourse be enough to convince all [Page 87] that have heard it, that the Work that is now carried on in the Land, is the Work of God, or not, yet I hope that for the future, they will at least hearken to the Caution of Gamaliel that has been now mentioned; for the future not to oppose it, or say any Thing against it, or any Thing that has so much as an indirect Tendency to bring it into Discredit, least they should be found to be Oppo­sers of the Holy Ghost. There is no Kind of Sins so hurtful and dangerous to the Souls of Men, as those that are committed against the Holy Ghost. We had better speak against God the Father, or the Son, than to speak against the Holy Spirit in his gracious Operations on the Hearts of Men: nothing will so much tend for ever to prevent our having any Benefit of his Operations in our own Souls.

If there are any that will still resolutely go on to speak contemptibly of these Things, I would beg of them to take heed that they ben't guilty of the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost. A Time when the Holy Spirit is much poured out, and Mens Lusts, Lukewarmness and Hypocrisy reproached by it's powerful Operations, is the most likely Time of any whatsoever, for this Sin to be committed. If the Work goes on, 'tis well if among the many that shew an Enmity against it, and reproach it, some ben't guilty of this Sin, if none have been already. Those that maliciously oppose and reproach this Work, and call it the Work of the Devil, want but one Thing of the [Page 88] unpardonable Sin, and that is doing it against in­ward Conviction. And tho' some are so prudent, as now openly to oppose and reproach the Work, yet 'tis to be feared, at this Day when the Lord is going forth [...] gloriously against his Enemies, that many that are silent and unactive, especially Ministers, will bring that Curse of the Angel of the Lord upon themselves, Judg. 5. 23. Curse ye Meroz, said the Angel of the Lord: curse ye bit­terly the Inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the Help of the Lord, to the Help of the Lord against the Mighty.

Since the Great God has come down from Hea­ven, and manifested himself in so wonderful a Manner in this Land, it is in vain for any of us to expect any other, than to be greatly affected by it in our spiritual State and Circumstances, respecting the Favour of God, one Way or the other. Those that don't become more happy by it, will become far more guilty and miserable. It is always so: such a Season that proves an ac­ceptable Year, and a Time of great Grace & Favour to them that will accept it and improve it, proves a Day of Vengeance to others. Isai. 61. 2. When God sends forth his Word it shall not return to him void; much less his Spirit. When Christ was upon Earth in Judea, many slighted and neg­lected him; but it proved in the Issue to be no Matter of Indifference to them: God made all that People to feel that Christ had been among them; those that did not feel it to their Comfort, [Page 89] felt it to their Sorrow with a Witness. When God only sent the Prophet Ezekiel to the Children of Israel, he declared that whether they would hear, or whether they would forbear, yet they should know that there had been a Prophet among them. How much more may we suppose that when God has appeared so wonderfully in this Land, that he will make every one to know that the great JEHO­VAH has been in New England.

I come now in the

III. and last Place, to apply my self to those that are the Friends of this Work, and have been Partakers of it, and are zealous to promote it. Let me earnestly exhort such to give diligent heed to themselves to avoid all Errors & Misconduct, and whatsoever may darken and obscure the Work, and give Occasion to those that stand ready to reproach it. The Apostle was careful to cut off Occasion from those that desired Occasion. The same Apostle exhorts Titus, to maintain that strict Care and Watch over himself, that both his Preaching and Behaviour might be such as could not be condemn­ed; that he that was of the contrary Part might be ashamed, having no evil Thing to say of them, Tit. 2. 7, 8. We had need to be wise as Serpents and harmless as Doves. 'Tis of no small Consequence that we should at this Day behave our selves inno­cently and prudently. We must expect that the great Enemy of this Work will especially try his utmost with us; and he will especially triumph if [Page 90] he can prevail against any of us, in any Thing to blind and mislead us: He knows it will do more to further his Purpose and Interest, than if he prevailed against an hundred others. We had need to watch and pray, for we are but little Chil­dren; this roaring Lion is too strong for us, and this old Serpent too subtil for us.

Humility and Self-Diffidence, and an intire De­pendance on our Lord Jesus Christ, will be our best Defence. Let us therefore maintain the strictest Watch against spiritual Pride, or a being lifted up with extraordinary Experiences & Com­forts, and high Favours of Heaven that any of us may have received. We had need after such Fa­vours, in a special Manner to keep a strict & jea­lous Eye upon our own Hearts, least there should arise Self-exalting Reflections upon what we have received, and high Thoughts of our selves as be­ing now some of the most eminent of Saints and peculiar Favourites of Heaven, and that the Secret of the Lord is especially with us, and that we a­bove all are fit to be improved as the great In­structors and Censors of this evil Generation: And in an high Conceit of our own Wisdom and Discerning, should as it were naturally assume to our selves the Airs of Prophets or extraordinary Ambassadors of Heaven. When we have great Discoveries of God made to our Souls, we should not shine bright in our own Eyes. Moses when he had been conversing with God in the Mount, tho' his Face shone so as to dazzle the Eyes of [Page 91] Aaron and the People, yet he did not shine in his own Eyes; he wist not that his Face shone. Let none think themselves out of Danger of this spi­ritual Pride, even in their best Frames. God saw that the Apostle Paul, (tho' probably the most eminent Saint that ever lived.) was not out of Dan­ger of it, no not when he had just been conver­sing with God in the third Heaven: See 2 Cor. 12. 7. Pride is the worst Viper that is in the Heart; it is the first Sin that ever entred into the Universe, and it lies lowest of all in the Foundation of the whole Building of Sin, and is the most secret, deceitful and unsearchable in its Ways of working, of any Lust whatsoever: it is ready to mix with every Thing; and nothing is so hateful to God, and con­trary to the Spirit of the Gospel, or of so dange­rous Consequence; and there is no one Sin that does so much let in the Devil into the Hearts of the Saints, and expose them to his Delusions. I have seen it in many Instances, and that in emi­nent Saints. The Devil has come in at this Door presently after some eminent Experience and ex­traordinary Communion with God, and has wo­fully deluded and led 'em astray, 'till God has mercifully open'd their Eyes and delivered them; and they themselves have afterwards been made sensible that it was Pride that betrayed them.

Some of the true Friends of the Work of God's Spirit have err'd in giving too much heed to Im­pulses and strong Impressions on their Minds, as tho' they were immediate Significations [Page 92] from Heaven, to them, of something that should come to pass, or something that it was the Mind & Will of God that they should do, which was not signified or revealed any where in the Bi­ble without those Impulses. These Impressions, if they are truly from the Spirit of God, are of a quite different Nature from the gracious Influences of the Spirit of God on the Hearts of the Saints; they are of the Nature of the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, and are properly Inspiration, such as the Prophets and Apostles, and others had of old; which the Apostle distinguishes from the Grace of the Spirit, in the 13th Chap. of the first of Co­rinthians.

One Reason why some have been ready to lay Weight on such Impulses, is an Opinion they have had, That the Glory of the approaching hap­py Days of the Church would partly consist in re­storing those extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit: which Opinion I believe arises partly thro' Want of duly considering & comparing the Nature and Value of those two Kinds of Influences of the Spi­rit viz. his ordinary gracious Influences, and his extraordinary Influences in Inspiration and mira­culous Gifts. The former are by far the most excellent and glorious; as the Apostle largely shews in the first of Corinthians beginning, with the 31st Verse of the 12th Chapter; speaking of the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, he says, But covet earnestly the best Gifts; and yet I shew you a more excellent Way. i. e. a more excellent Way [Page 93] of the Influence of the Spirit: And then he goes on in the next Chapter, to shew what that more excellent Way is, even that which is in the Grace of the Spirit, which summarily consists in Charity, or divine Love. And thro'out that Chapter he shews the great Preference of that above Inspira­tion. God communicates himself in his own Na­ture more to the Soul in saving Grace in the Heart, than in all maraculous Gifts: The blessed Image of God consists in that, and not in these: The Excellency, Happiness and Glory of the Soul, does immediately consist in that, and not in those: That is a Root that bears infinitely more excellent Fruit: Salvation and the eternal Enjoyment of God is promised to divine Grace, but not to In­spiration: A Man may have those extraordinary Gifts, and yet be abominable to God, and go to Hell: The spiritual and eternal Life of the Soul don't consist in the extraordinary Gifts of the Spi­rit, but the Grace of the Spirit: This, and not those, is that Influence of the Spirit of God which God bestows only on his Favourites and dear Children: He has sometimes thrown out the o­ther to Dogs and Swine, as he did to Balaam, Saul, and Judas; and some that in the primitive Times of the Christian Church committed the unpar­donable Sin, as Heb. 6. Many wicked Men at the Day of Judgment will plead, Have we not prophesied in thy Name, and in thy Name cast out Devils, and in thy Name done many wonderful Works. The greatest Privilege of the Prophets and A­postles, [Page 94] was not their being inspired and working Miracles, but their eminent Holiness. The Grace that was in their Hearts, was a thousand Times more their Dignity and Honour, than their miraculous Gifts. The Things that we find Da­vid comforting himself in, in the Book of Psalms, are not his being a King, or a Prophet, but the holy Influences of the Spirit of God in his Heart, communicating to him divine Light, Love & Joy. The Apostle Paul abounded in Visions and Reve­lations and miraculous Gifts, above all the Apostles; but yet he esteems all Things but Loss for the Excellency of the spiritual Knowlege of Christ. It was not the Gifts but the Grace of the Apostles, that was the proper Evidence of their Names be­ing written in Heaven, which Christ directs them to rejoyce in, much more, than in the Devils be­ing subject to them. To have Grace in the Heart is an higher Privilege than the blessed Virgin her self had, in having the Body of the second Person in the Trinity conceived in her Womb, by the Power of the Highest overshadowing her; Luk. 11, 27, 28. And it came to pass as he spake these Things, a cer­tain Woman of the Company lift up her Voice, and said unto them, Blessed is the Womb that bear thee, and the Paps that thou hast sucked! But he said, yea, rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it. See also to the same Purpose, Math. 12. 47, &c.

The Influence of the Holy Spirit, or divine Charity in the Heart, is the very greatest Privi­lege [Page 95] and Glory of the highest Arch-Angel in Hea­ven; yea, this is the very Thing by which the Creature has Fellowship with God himself, with the Father and the Son, in their Beauty & Hap­piness, and are made Partakers of the divine Na­ture, and have Christ's Joy fulfilled in themselves.

The ordinary sanctifying Influences of the Spi­rit of God are the End of all extraordinary Gifts, as the Apostle shews, Eph. 4: 11, 12, 13. They are good for nothing, any further than as they are subordinate to this End; they will be so far from profiting any without it, that they will only ag­gravate their Misery. This is as the Apostle ob­serves, the most excellent Way of God's com­municating his Spirit to his Church; 'tis the greatest Glory of the Church in all Ages. This Glory is what makes the State of the Church on Earth most like the State of the Church in Hea­ven, where Prophecy and Tongues, and other miraculous Gifts cease, and are vanished away, and God communicates his Spirit only in that more excellent Way that the Apostle speaks of, viz. Charity, or divine Love, which never faileth. Therefore the Glory of the approaching happy State of the Church don't at all require these ex­traordinary Gifts. As that State of the Church will be the nearest of any to its perfect State in Heaven, so I believe it will be like it in this, that all extraordinary Gifts shall have ceased and va­nished away; and all those Stars and Moon, with the reflected Light they gave in the Night, or a [Page 96] more dark Season, shall be swallowed up in the Sun of divine Love. The Apostle speaks of those Gifts of Inspiration as childish Things, in comparison of the Influence of the Spirit in di­vine Love, Things given to the Church only to support it in its Minority, 'till the Church should have a compleat, standing Rule established, and all the ordinary Means of Grace should be settled; but as Things that should cease; as the Church advanced above it's childish State, and should in­tirely vanish when the Church should come to the State of Manhood; which will be in the approach­ing glorious Times, above any other State of the Church on Earth. 1 Cor. 13. 11. When I was a Child, I spake as a Child, I understood as a Child, I thought as a Child: but when I became a Man, I put away childish Things: Compared with the three preceeding Verses.

When the Apostle in this Chapter, speaks of Prophecies, Tongues and Revelations ceasing and vanishing away in the Church, when the Christian Church should be advanced from a State of Mi­nority to a State of Manhood, he seems to have Respect to it's coming to an adult State in this World as well as in Heaven; for he speaks of such an adult State, or State of Manhood, where­in those three Things, Faith, Hope, and Charity, should abide or remain after Miracles and Reve­lations had ceased; as you may see in the last Verse, And now abideth ( [...] remaineth) Faith, Hope, Charity; these three. The Apostle's Man­ner, [Page 97] of speaking here shews an evident Reference to what he had just been saying before; and here is a manifest Antithesis between that remaining spo­ken of here, and that failing, ceasing, and vanishing away, spoken of in the 8th Verse. The Apostle had been shewing how that all those Gifts of In­spiration, that were the Leading-Strings of the Christian Church in it's Infancy, should vanish away, when the Church came to a State of Man­hood; and when he has done, then he returns to observe, what Things remain after those had fail'd and ceased; and he observes that those three Things shall remain in the Church, Faith, Hope, and Charity: And therefore the adult State of the Church he speaks of, is the more perfect State which it shall arrive at in this World, which will be above all in that glorious State it shall be bro't to in the latter Ages of the World. And this was the more properly observed to the Church of the Corinthians, upon two Accounts; Because the A­postle had before observed to that Church that they were in a State of Infancy, Chap. 3. 1, 2. And because that Church seems above all others to have abounded with miraculous Gifts.—When the expected glorious State of the Church comes, the Increase of Light shall be so great, that it will in some Respect answer what is said ver. 12. of seeing Face to Face. See Isai. 24. 23, & 25. 7.

Therefore I don't expect a Restoration of these miraculous Gifts in the approaching glorious Times of the Church, nor do I desire it: It appears to [Page 98] me that it would add nothing to the Glory of those Times, but rather diminish from it. For my Part, I had rather enjoy the sweet Influences of the Spirit, shewing Christ's spiritual divine Beauty, and infinite Grace, and dying Love, draw­ing forth the holy Exercises of Faith, and divine Love, and sweet Complacence, and humble Joy in God, one Quarter of an Hour, than to have prophetical Visions and Revelations for a whole Year. It appears to me much more probable that God should give immediate Revelations to his Saints in the dark Times of Popery, than now in the Approach of the most glorious & perfect State of his Church on Earth. It don't appear to me that there is any Need of those extraordinary Gifts, to introduce this happy State, and set up the Kingdom of God thro' the World: I have seen so much of the Power of God in a more ex­cellent Way, as to convince me that God can easily do it without.

I would therefore intreat the People of God to be very cautious how they give Heed to such Things. I have seen 'em fail in very many In­stances; and know by Experience that Impressi­ons being made with great Power, and upon the Minds of true Saints, yea eminent Saints; and presently after, yea in the midst of, extraordinary Exercises of Grace, and sweet Communion with God, and attended with Texts of Scripture strong­ly impress'd on the Mind, are no sure Signs of their being Revelations from Heaven: for I have [Page 99] known such Impressions fail, and prove vain by the Event, in some Instances attended with all these Circumstances. I know that they that leave the sure Word of Prophecy, that God has given us to be a Light shining in a dark Place, to follow such Impressions and Impulses, leave the Guidance of the Pole Star, to follow a Jack with a Lanthorn. And no wonder therefore that sometimes they are led a dreadful Dance, and into woful Extrava­gancies.

And seeing Inspiration is not to be expected, let us not despise human Learning. They that say human Learning is of little or no Use in the Work of the Ministry, don't consider what they say; if they did, they would not say it. By hu­man Learning I mean, and suppose others mean, that Improvement of that common Knowlege which Men have, by human and outward Means. And therefore to say that human Learning is of no Use, is as much as to say that the Education of a Child, or that the common Knowlege that a grown Man has, more than a little Child, is of no Use; and so that a Child of four Years old, is as fit for a Teacher in the Church of God, with the same Degree of Grace, and capable of doing as much to advance the Kingdom of Christ, by his In­struction, as a very understanding knowing Man of thirty Years of Age. If adult Persons have greater Ability and Advantage to do Service, be­cause they have more human Knowlege than a little Child, then doubtless if they have more hu­man [Page 100] Knowlege still, with the same Degree of Grace, they would have still greater Ability and Advantage to do Service. An increase of Know­lege, without doubt, increases a Man's Advantage either to do Good or Hurt, according as he is disposed. 'Tis too manifest to be denied, that God made great Use of human Learning in the Apostle Paul, as he also did in Moses & Solomon.

And if Knowlege, obtain'd by human Means, is not to be despised, then it will follow that the Means of obtaining it are not to be neglected, viz. Study; and that this is of great Use in order to a Preparation for a publick instructing others. And tho' undoubtedly, an having the Heart full of the powerful Influences of the Spirit of God, may at some Times enable Persons to speak pro­fitably, yea very excellently, without Study; yet this will not warrant us needlesly to cast our selves down from the Pinnacle of the Temple, depend­ing upon it that the Angel of the Lord will bear us up, and keep us from dashing our Foot against a Stone, when there is another Way to go down, tho' it ben't so quick. And I would pray that Method in publick Discourses, which tends greatly to help both the Understanding and Memory, mayn't be wholly neglected.

And another Thing I would beg the dear Chil­dren of God more fully to consider of, is; How far, and upon what Grounds, the Rules of the holy Scriptures will truly justify their passing Censures upon others that are professing Christians, as Hy­pocrites [Page 101] and ignorant of any Thing of real Reli­gion. We all know that there is a judging and censuring of some Sort or other, that the Scrip­ture very often, and very strictly forbids. I de­sire that those Rules of Scripture may be looked into, and thoroughly weighed [...] that it may be considered whether or no [...] it upon us to discern the State of the Soul of others, and to pass Sentence upon them as wicked Men, that are professing Christians, and of a good visible Con­versation, be not really forbidden by Christ in the New Testament: If it be, then doubtless the Disciples of Christ ought to avoid it, however sufficient they may think themselves for it; or however needful, or of good Tendency, they may think it. 'Tis plain that that Sort of Judging is forbidden, that God claims as his Prerogative, whatever that be. We know that there is a cer­tain Judging of the Hearts of the Children of Men, that is often spoken of as the great Prerogative of God, and which belongs only to him; as in 1 Kin. 8. 39. Forgive, and do, and give to every Man ac­cording to his Ways, whose Heart thou knowest: for thou, even thou only, knowest the Hearts of all the Children of Men. And if we examine, we shall find that that Judging of Hearts that is spoken of as God's Prerogative, is not only the judging of the Aims and Disposition of Mens Hearts in par­ticular Actions, but chiefly a judging the State of the Hearts of the Professors of Religion, with Re­gard to that Profession. This will appear very [Page 102] manifest, by looking over the following Scriptures; 1 Chron. 28. 9. Psal. 7. 9, 10, 11. Psal. 26. thro'out. Prov. 16. 2. & 17. 3. & 21. 2. Joh. 2. 23, 24, 25. Rev. 2. 22, 2 [...] That Sort of Judging which is God's prope [...] [...], is forbidden, as Rom. 14. 4. Who art thou [...] judgest another Man's Servant? to his own [...] standeth [...] falleth. Jam. 4. 12. There is one lawgiver that is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another? 1 Cor. 4. 3, 4. But with me it is a very small Thing, that I should be judged of you, or of Man's Judgment; yea I judge not mine own self; but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Again; Whatsoever Kind of Judging is the pro­per Work and Business of the Day of Judgment, is a Judging that we are forbidden, as in 1 Cor. 4. 5. Therefore judge nothing before the Time, until the Lord come; who both will bring to Light the hidden Things of Darkness, and will make manifest the Counsels of the Hearts; and then shall every Man have Praise of God. But to distinguish Hypo­crites, that have the Form of Godliness, and the visible Conversation of godly Men, from true Saints; to seperate the Sheep from Goats, is the proper Business of the Day of Judgment; yea, is repre­sented as the main Business and End of that great Day. They therefore do greatly err that take it upon them positively to determine who are sin­cere, and who not, and to draw the dividing Line between true Saints and Hypocrites, and to se­perate between Sheep and Goats, setting the one on [Page 103] the Right and the other on the Left, and to dis­tinguish and gather out the Tares from amongst the Wheat: Many of the Servants of the Owner of the Field are very ready to think themselves sufficient for this, and are forward to offer their Service to this End; but their Lord says Nay, least while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up the Wheat also Let both grow together until the Har­vest; and in the Time of the Harvest I will take Care to see a thorough Seperation made; as Mat. 13. 28, 29, 30. Agreably to that foremention'd Prohi­bition of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 4. 5. Judge nothing before the Time. In this Parable by the Servants that have the Care of the Fruit of the Field, is doubtless meant the same with the Servants that have the Care of the Fruit of the Vineyard, Luke 20. and those that are elsewhere represented as Servants of the Lord of the Harvest, that are ap­pointed as Labourers in his Harvest, which we know are Ministers of the Gospel. Now that Parable in the 13th of Math. is fulfilled; While Men slept, (during that long sleepy, dead Time that has been in the Church,) the Enemy has sowed Tares; and now is the Time when the Blade is sprung up, and Religion is reviving; now some of the Servants that have the Care of the Field, say, Let us go and gather up the Tares.—I know by Experience that there is a great Aptness in Men, that think they have had some Experience of the Power of Religion, to think themselves sufficient to discern and determine the State of [Page 104] others Souls, by a little Conversation with them; and Experience has taught me that 'tis an Error. I once did not imagine that the Heart of Man had been so unsearchable as I find it is. I am less charitable, and less uncharitable than once I was. I find more Things in wicked Men that may Counterfeit, and make a fair Shew of Piety, and more Ways that the remaining Corruption of the Godly may make them appear like carnal Men, Formalists and dead Hypocrites, than once I knew of. The longer I live, the less I wonder that God challenges it as his Prerogative to try the Hearts of the Children of Men, and has directed that this Business should be let alone till the Harvest. I find that God is wiser than Men. I desire to adore the Wisdom of God, and his Goodness to me and my fellow Creatures, that he has not committed this great Business into the Hands of such poor, weak, dim-sighted a Creature as I am; of so much Blindness, Pride, Partiality, Prejudice, and Deceitfulness of Heart; but has committed it into the Hands of one infinitely fitter for it, and has made it his Prerogative.

The Talk of some Persons, and the Account they give of their Experiences is exceeding satis­fying, and such as forbids and banishes the least Thought of their being any other, than the pre­cious Children of God; it obliges and as it were forces full Charity: But yet we must allow the Scriptures to stand good, that speak of every Thing in the Saint, that belongs to the spiritual and di­vine [Page 105] Life, as hidden. Their Life is said to be hid­den, Col. 3. 3, 4. Their Food is the hidden Man­na; they have Meat to eat that others know not of; a Stranger intermeddles not with their Joys: The Heart in which they possess their divine distin­guishing Ornaments, is the hidden Man, and in the Sight of God only, 1 Pet. 3. 4. Their new Name, that Christ has given them, No Man knows but he that receives it, Rev. 2. 17. The Praise of the true Israelites, whose Circumcision is that of the Heart, is not of Men but of God, Rom. 2. 29. that is; they can be certainly known and discerned to be Israelites, so as to have the Honour that be­longs to such, only of God; as appears by the Use of the like Expression by the same Apostle, 1 Cor. 4. [...]. speaking there of it's being God's Prerogative to judge who are upright Christians, and that which he will do at the Day of Judg­ment, he adds, and then shall every Man have Praise of God.

The Instance of Judas is remarkable; who tho' he had been so much amongst the rest of the Disciples, who were all Persons of true Ex­perience, yet never seem'd to have entertain'd a Thought of his being any other than a true Dis­ciple, till he discover'd himself by his scandalous Practice.

And the Instance of Achitophel is also very re­markable; whom David did not discern, tho' [Page 106] he was so wise and holy a Man, a Person of such great Experience, and so great a Divine, and had such great Acquaintance with the Scriptures, and knew more than all his Teachers, and more than the Ancients; and was grown old in Experi­ence, and was in the greatest Ripeness of his Judgment, and was a great Prophet; and tho' he was so intimately acquainted with Achitophel, he be­ing his familiar Friend, and most intimate Compa­nion in religious and spiritual Concerns: yet David not only never discovered him to be an Hypocrite, but relied upon him as a true Saint, thought he relished and felt his religious Discourse, it was sweet to him, and he counted him an eminent Saint; so that he made him above any other Man his Guide and Counseller in Soul Mat­ters: but yet he was not only, no Saint, but a no­toriously wicked Man, a murderous, vile Wretch. Psal. 55. 11, 12, 13, 14. Wickedness is in the midst thereof; Deceit and Guile depart not from her Streets: For it was not an Enemy that reproached me, then I could have born it; neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me, then I would have hid my self from him: But it was thou, a Man mine Equal, my Guide and mine Acquaintance: We took sweet Counsel together, and walked unto the House of God in Company.

To suppose that Men have Ability and Right to determine the State of the Souls of visible Christians, and so to make an open Separation [Page 107] between Saints and Hypocrites, that true Saints may be of one visible Company, and Hypocrites of another, separated by a Partition that Men make, carries in it an Inconsistency: for it sup­poses that God has given Men Power to make another visible Church, within his visible Church; for by visible Christians, or those that are of God's visible Church, can be understood nothing else, than that Company that are Christians or Saints, visibly so; i. e. that have a Right to be received as such, in the Eye of a publick Charity. None can have Right to exclude any one of this visible Church, but in the Way of that regular ecclesi­astical Proceeding, which God has established in his visible Church.

I beg of those that have a true Zeal for pro­moting this Work of God, that God has begun in the Land, well to consider these Things. I am perswaded that as many of them as have much to do with Souls, if they don't hearken to me now, yet will be of the same Mind when they have had more Experience.

And another Thing that I would intreat the zealous Friends of this glorious Work of God to avoid, is managing the Controversy with Oppo­sers with too much Heat, and Appearance of an angry Zeal; and particularly insisting very much in publick Prayer and Preaching, on the Persecu­tion of Opposers. If their Persecution were ten [Page 108] Times so great as it is, methinks it would not be best to say so much about it. It becomes Christi­ans to be like Lambs, not to be apt to complain and cry when they are hurt; to be dumb and not open their Mouth, after the Example of our dear Redeemer; and not to be like Swine, that are apt to scream aloud when they are touch'd. We should not be ready presently to think and speak of Fire from Heaven, when the Samari­tans oppose us, and won't receive us into their Villages. God's zealous Ministers would do well to think of the Direction the Apostle Paul gave to a zealous Minister, 2 Tim. 24. 25, 26. And the Servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gen­tle unto all Men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God per­adventure will give them Repentance, to the acknow­ledging of the Truth. Aud that they may recover themselves out of the Snare of the Devil, who are taken Captive by him at his Will.

And another Thing that I would humbly re­commend to those that Love the Lord Jesus Christ, and would advance his Kingdom, is a good At­tendance to that excellent Rule of Prudence Christ has left us, Math. 9. 16, 17. No Man putteth a Piece of new Cloth into an old Garment; for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the Gar­ment, and the Rent is made worse. Neither do Men put new Wine into old Bottles; else the Bot­tles [Page 109] break, and the Wine runneth out, and the Bot­tles perish. But they put new Wine into new Bottles, and both are preserved. I am afraid that the Wine is now running out in some Parts of this Land, for want of attending to this Rule. For tho' I believe we have confined our selves too much to a certain stated Method & Form in the Management of our religious Affairs; which has had a Tendency to cause all our Religion to de­generate into meer Formality; yet whatsoever has the Appearance of a great Innovation, that tends much to shock and surprize Peoples Minds, and to set them a talking and disputing, tends greatly to hinder the Progress of the Power of Religion, by raising the Opposition of some, and diverting the Minds of others, and perplex­ing the Minds of many with Doubts & Scruples, and causing People to swerve from their great Business, and turn aside to vain Jangling. There­fore that which is very much beside the common Practice, unless it be a Thing in it's own Nature of considerable Importance, had better be avoided. Herein we shall follow the Example of one, who had the greatest Success in propagating the Power of Religion in the World, of any Man that ever lived, that he himself gives us an Ac­count of, 1 Cor. 9. 20, 21, 22, 23. Unto the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain them that are under the Law: [Page 110] To them that are without Law, (being not without Law to God, but under Law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without Law: To the weak, be­came I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all Things to all Men, that I might by all Means, save some. And this I do for the Gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.



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