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while, is the Son of God acknowledged and magnified in his almighty power, both by earth and heaven. The sun, for three hours, hides his head in darkness; as hating to behold this tort of. fered to his Creator: the earth quakes to bear the weight of this suffering : the rocks rend in pieces: the dead rise from their graves to see, and wonder at, and attend their late dying, and now risen Saviour : the rail of the Temple tears from the top to the bottom, for the blasphemous indignity offered to the God of the Temple: and the Centurion, upon sight of all this, is forced to say, Truly, this was the Son of God; Matt. xxvii. 50—54.
And now, after all these irrefragable attestations, his Easter makes abundant amends for his passion. There could not be so much weakness in dying, as there was power in rising from death. His resurrection proves him the Lord of Life and Death: and shews that he died, not out of necessity, but will; since he, that could shake off the grave, could with niore ease have avoided death. Oh, then, the happy and glorious conquest of my Blessed Saviour, declared to be the Son of God wilh power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead! Rom. i. 4.
Go now, Wicked Spirit, and twit me with the Cross of my Saviour. That, which thou objectedst to me as my shame, is my only. glory : God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ; whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world ; Gal. vi. 14.
“ Still thou hast, upon all occasions, recourse to the Scriptures, as
some Divine Oracles; and thinkest thou mayest safely build thy soul upon every text of that written word, as inspired from heaven: whereas, indeed, this is nothing but a human device to keep men in awe; and never came nearer heaven, than the bruins of
those politicians that invented it :" Repelled. Wicked Spirit! when thou presumedst personally to tempt my Saviour, and hadst that cursed mouth stopped by him with an It is written, thou daredst not then to raise such a blasphemous suggestion against this word of truth. Success in wickedness hath made thee more impudent; and now, thou art bold to strike despitefully at the very root of religion. But know, that, after all thy malicious detractions, this word shall stand, when heaven and earth shall vanish; and is that, whereby both thou and all thy complices shall be judged at that great day:
It is not more sure that there is a God, than that this God ought to be served and worshipped by the creature. Neither is it more sure that God is, than that he is most wise, most just, most holy. This most wise, just, and holy God, then, requiring and expecting to be served and worshipped by his creature, must of necessity have imparted his will to his creature; how and in what manner
he would be served ; and what he would have man to believe, concerning himself and his proceedings : else, man should be left to utter uncertainties; and there should be a failing of those ends, which the Infinite Wisdom and Justice bath proposed to itself.
There must be therefore some word of God, wherein he hath revealed himself to man: and that this is and must be acknowledged to be that only word, it is clear and evident ; for that there neither was, nor is, nor can be any other word, that could or durst stand in competition or rivality with this word of the Eternal God : and, if any other have presumed to offer a contestation, it hath soon vanished into contempt and shame. Moreover, this is the only word, which God owns for his ; under no less style than Thus saith the Lord : which the Son of God hath so acknowledged for the genuine word of his Eternal Father, as that out of it, as such, he hath pleased to refell both thy suggestions, and the malicious arguments of his Jewish opposites.
It drives wholly at the glory of God; not sparing to disparage those very persons, whose pens are employed in it, in blazoning their own infirmities in what they have offended: which could not have been, if those pens had not been guided by a higher hand. It discovers and oppugns the corruptions of nature, which to mere men are either hid ; or, if revealed, are cherished and upheld. It lays forth the misery and danger of our estate under sin, and the remedies and means of our deliverance, which no other word hach ever pretended to undertake.
Besides that there is such a majesty in the style wherein it is written, as is unimitable by any human author whatsoever, the matter of it is wholly divine; aiming altogether at purity of worship and integrity of life : not admitting of any the least mixture, either of idolatry and superstition, or of any plausible enormities of life; but unpartially laying forth God's judgments against these, and whatever other wickednesses.
This word reveals those things, which never could be known to the world, by any human skill or industry ; as the creation of the world; and the order and decrees of it; and the course of God's administration of it from the beginning, thousands of years before any records of history were extant: as it was only the Spirit of the Most High God in Daniel, that could fetch back and give an account of a vision fore-passed : all the soothsayers and magicians confess this a work of no less than divine omniscience,
And, as for things future, the predictions of this word of things to be done after many hundreds, yea some thousands of years, the events having then no preexistence in their causes, being accordingly accomplished, show it to proceed from an absolute, unfailing, and therefore infinite prescience.
. And, whereas there are two parts of this word, the Law and the Gospel : the Law is more exact than human brains can reach unto; meeting with those aberrations, which the most wise and curious lawgivers could not give order for; extending itself to those very thoughts, which nature knows not to accuse or restrain : the Gospel
is made good, as by the signs and wonders wrought in all the primitive ages ; so by the powerful operation that it hath upon the soul, such, as the word of the most prudent man on earth, or of the greatest angel in heaven should in vain hope to parallel. And, whereas the penmen of both these were Prophets and Apostles ; the Prophets are sufficiently attested by the Apostles, to be men holy, and inspired by the Holy Ghost; 2 Pet. i. 21: the Apostles are abundantly attested by the Holy Ghost poured out upon them in their Pentecost; and, besides variety of tongues, enabling them to do such miraculous works, as astonished and convinced their very enemies. To these may be added the perfect harmony of the Law and the Gospel; the Law being a prefigured Gospel, and the Gospel a Law consummate : both of them lively setting forth Christ, the Redeemer of the World, both future and exhibited.
Neither is it lightly to be esteemed, that this word hath been by holy men in all ages received as of sacred and divine authority: men, whose lives and deaths have approved them eminent Saints of God; who have not only professed, but sealed with their blood, this truth, which they had learned from him, that was rapt into the third heaven, that all scripture is given by inspiration of God; 2 Tim. iii. 16. a truth which cannot but be attested by their own hearts, which have sensibly found the power of this word, convincing them of sin; working effectually in them a lively faith and unfeigned conversion, which no human means could ever have effected.
Lastly, it is a strong evidence to my soul, that this is no other than the word of a God, that I find it so eagerly opposed by thee, and all thy malignant instruments in all ages. Philosophers, both natural and moral and politic, have left large volumes behind them, in their several professions; all which are suffered to live in peace, and to enjoy their opinions with freedom and leave: but, so soon as ever this sacred book of God looks forth into the world, hell is in an uproar, and raises all the forces of malice and wit and violence against it. Wherefore would it be thus, if there were not some more divine thing in these holy leaves, than in all the monuments of learned humanity ? But the protection is yet more convictive than the opposition : that, notwithstanding all the machinations of the powers of darkness, this word is preserved entire ; that the simplicity of it prevails against all worldly policy; that the power of it subdues all nations, and triumphs over all the wickedness of men and devils; it is proof enough to me that the God of Heaven is both the author, and owner, and giver of it.
Shortly, then, let my soul be built upon this rocky foundation of the Prophets and Apostles : let thy storms rise, and thy floods come, and thy winds blow, and beat upon it; it shall mock at thy fury, and shall stand firm against all the rage of hell ; Matt. rü. 24, 25.
- Art thou so sottish to suffer thy understanding to be captivated to,
I know not what, divine authority ; proposing unto thee things contrary to sense and reason, and therefore absurd and impossible ? Be thou no other than thyself, a man; and follow the light and guidance of that, which makes thee so, right reuson : and, whatsoever disagrees from that, turn it off as no part of thy beliet, to those superstitious bigols, which are willing to lose their reason in their faith, and to bury their brains in their heart :"
Repelled. Wicked Tempter, thou wishest me to my loss. Woe were to me, if I were but a man and if I had no better guide to follow, than that which thou callest Reason.
It is from nature, that I am a man: it is from grace, that I am a man regenerate. Nature holds forth to me as a man, the dim and weak rush-candle-light of carnal reason : the grace of regeneration shows me the bright torch-light, yea, the sun of divine illumination.
Thou biddest me, as a man, to follow the light of reason : God bids me, as a regenerate man, to follow the light of faith: whether should I beliere? whether should I listen to ?
It is true, that reason is the great gift of my Creator; and that, which was intended to distinguish us from brute creatures : but where is it, in the original purity, to be found under heaven? Surely, it can now appear to us in no other shape, than either as corrupted by thy depravation, or by God's renovating grace restored. As it is marred by thee, even natural truths are too high for it: as it is renewed by God, it can apprehend and embrace supernatural verities.
It is regenerate reason, that I shall ever follow; and that will teach me to subscribe to all those truths, which the unerring Spirit of the Holy God hath revealed in his Sacred Word, however contrary to the ratiocination of flesh and blood. Only this is the right reason, which is illuminated by God's Spirit, and willingly subjected to faith ; which represents to nie those things, which thou suggestest to me for unreasonable and impossible, as not feasible only, but most certain. That, in one Deity, there are three most glorious persons, distinguished in their subsistences, not divided in their substance; that, in one person of Christ the Mediator, there are two natures, divine and human, not converted into each other, not confounded each with other; that the Creator of all things should become a creature; that a creature should be the mother of him, that is her God: however they be points, which carnal reason cannot put over ; yet they are such, as reason illuminate and regenerate can both easily and most comfortably digest. Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh; 1 Tin iii. 16. What mystery were there in godliness, if the deepest secrets of religion did lie open to the common apprehension of nature ?
My Saviour, who is Truth itself, hath told me, that no man knoweth the Father ; but the Son ; and he, to whom the Son will reveal him; Matt. xi. 27: and, with the same breath, gives thanks to his Heavenly Father, that he hath hid these things from the wise and prudent, who were most likely, if reason might be the meet judge of spiritual matters, to attain the perfect knowledge of them; and hath revealed them to babes ; v. 25.
It is therefore God's revelation, not the ratiocination of man, that must give us light into these divine mysteries. Were it a matter of human disquisition, why did not those sages of nature, the learned philosophers of former times, reach unto it? But now a more learned man than they, the great Doctor of the Gentiles, tells us, that the Gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ yields forth the revelation of the mysteries, which were kept secret since the world began; but are now manifested by the Scriptures of the Prophets; and, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith; Rom. xvi. 25, 26. Lo, he saith not to the obedience of reason; but of faith : and that faith doth more transcend reason, than reason doth sense.
Thou urgest me, therefore, to be a man: I profess myself to be a Christian man. It is reason, that makes me a man: it is faith, that makes me a Christian.
The wise and bountiful God hath vouchsafed to hold forth four several lights to men; all which move in four several orbs, one above another; the light of sense, the light of reason, the light of faith, the light of ecstatical or divine vision. And all of these are taken up with their own proper objects : sense is busied about these outward and material things: reason is confined to things intelligible : faith is employed in matters spiritual and supernatural: divine vision, in objects celestial, and infinitely glorious.
None of these can exceed their bounds; and extend to a sphere above their own, What can the brute creature, which is led by mere sense, do or apprehend in matters of understanding and discourse? What can mere man, who is led by reason, discern in spiritual and supernatural things? What can the Christian, who is led by faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, attain unto in the clear vision of God and heavenly glory?
That God, who is a God of Order, hath determined due limits to all our powers and faculties: thou, that art a Spirit of Confusion, goest about to disturb and disorder all those just ranks; labouring to jumble together those distinct orbs of reason and faith, and, by the light of reason, to extinguish the light of faith; and wouldst have us so to put on the man, as that we should put off the Christian : but I have learned in this case to defy thee; grounding myself upon that word, which is mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds ; casting down imaginations, and every high thing thut exalts itself against the knowledge of God; and