Page images



of the Scripture of the Old Testament, it is an easy PART III. metaphor, to signify, that God inclined the spirit or mind of those writers, to write that which should Inspiration, be useful, in teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing men in the way of righteous living. But where St. Peter, (2 Pet. i. 21) saith, that Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, by the Holy Spirit is meant the voice of God in a dream or vision supernatural, which is not inspiration. Nor, when our Saviour breathing on his disciples, said, Receive the Holy Spirit, was that breath the Spirit, but a sign of the spiritual graces he gave unto them. And though it be said of many, and of our Saviour himself, that he was full of the Holy Spirit ; yet that fulness is not to be understood for infusion of the substance of God, but for accumulation of his gifts, such as are the gift of sanctity of life, of tongues, and the like, whether attained supernaturally, or by study and industry; for in all cases they are the gifts of God. So likewise where God says (Joel ii. 28) I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions, we are not to understand it in the proper sense, as if his Spirit were like water, subject to effusion or infusion; but as if God had promised to give them prophetical dreams, and visions. For the proper use of the word infused, in speaking of the graces of God, is an abuse of it; for those graces are virtues, not bodies to be carried hither and thither, and to be poured into men as into barrels.



In the same manner, to take inspiration in the proper sense, or to say that good spirits entered into men to make them prophecy, or evil spirits into those that became phrenetic, lunatic, or epileptic, is not to take the word in the sense of the Scripture; for the Spirit there is taken for the power of God, working by causes to us unknown. As also (Acts ii. 2) the wind, that is there said to fill the house wherein the apostles were assembled on the day of Pentecost, is not to be understood for the Holy Spirit, which is the Deity itself; but for an external sign of God's special working on their hearts, to effect in them the internal graces, and holy virtues he thought requisite for the performance of their apostleship.



AND SACRAMENT. The kingdom of The Kingdom of God in the writings of divines, divines meta. and specially in sermons and treatises of devotion, phorically, but is taken most commonly for eternal felicity, after tures properly. this life, in the highest heaven, which they also

call the kingdom of glory, and sometimes for the earnest of that felicity, sanctification, which they term the kingdom of grace ; but never for the monarchy, that is to say, the sovereign power of God over any subjects acquired by their own consent, which is the proper signification of kingdom.

To the contrary, I find the KINGDOM OF GOD to signify, in most places of Scripture, a kingdom


properly so named, constituted by the votes of the PART III. people of Israel in peculiar manner; wherein they chose God for their king by covenant made with him, upon God's promising them the possession of the land of Canaan ; and but seldom metaphorically ; and then it is taken for dominion over sin ; (and only in the New Testament;) because such a dominion as that, every subject shall have in the kingdom of God, and without prejudice to the sovereign.

From the very creation, God not only reigned over all men naturally by his might; but also had peculiar subjects, whom he commanded by a voice, as one man speaketh to another. In which manner he reigned over Adam, and gave him commandment to abstain from the tree of cognizance of good and evil; which when he obeyed not, but tasting thereof, took upon him to be as God, judging between good and evil, not by his creator's commandment, but by his own sense, his punishment was a privation of the estate of eternal life, wherein God had at first created him: and afterwards God punished his posterity for their vices, all but eight persons, with an universal deluge; and in these eight did consist the then kingdom of God.

After this it pleased God to speak to Abraham, The original and (Gen.xvii. 7, 8) to make a covenant with him in dom of God: these words, I will establish my covenant between me, and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee; and I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. In this


PART III. seed exceedingly; that is, speaketh in the person

of God. Neither was this apparition a fancy Angel, what. figured, but a voice. By which it is manifest, that

angel signifieth there, nothing but God himself, that caused Agar supernaturally to apprehend a voice from heaven; or rather, nothing else but a voice supernatural, testifying God's special presence there. Why therefore may not the angels that appeared to Lot, and are called (Gen. xix. 12) men; and to whom, though they were two, Lot speaketh (verse 18) as but to one, and that one, as God, (for the words are, Lot said unto them, Oh not so my Lord), be understood of images of men, supernaturally formed in the fancy; as well as before by angel was understood a fancied voice? When the angel called to Abraham out of heaven, to stay his hand (Gen. xxii. 11) from slaying Isaac, there was no apparition, but a voice; which nevertheless was called properly enough a messenger or angel of God, because it declared God's will supernaturally, and saves the labour of supposing any permanent ghosts. The angels which Jacob saw on the ladder of Heaven, (Gen. xxviii. 12) were a vision of his sleep; therefore only fancy, and a dream; yet being supernatural, and signs of God's special presence, those apparitions are not improperly called angels. The same is to be understood, (Gen. xxxi. 11) where Jacob saith thus, The Angel of the Lord appeared to me in my sleep. For an apparition made to a man in his sleep, is that which all men call a dream, whether such dream be natural, or supernatural: and that which there Jacoh calleth an angel, was God himself; for the same angel saith, verse 13, I am the God of Bethel.

Also (Exod. xiv. 19) the angel that went before


the army of Israel to the Red Sea, and then came part nr. behind it, is, (verse 24) the Lord himself; and he appeared, not in the form of a beautiful man, but Angel, what. in form, (Exod. xiii. 21) by day, of a pillar of cloud, and, by night, in form of a pillar of fire ; and yet this pillar was all the apparition and angel promised to Moses, (Exod. xxxiii. 2) for the army's guide : for this cloudy pillar (Exod. xxxiii. 9) is said to have descended, and stood at the door of the Tabernacle, and to have talked with Moses.

There you see motion and speech, which are commonly attributed to angels, attributed to a cloud, because the cloud served as a sign of God's presence; and was no less an angel, than if it had had the form of a man, or child of never so great beauty; or wings, as usually they are painted, for the false instruction of common people. For it is not the shape; but their use that makes them angels. But their use is to be significations of God's presence in supernatural operations; as when Moses (Exod. xxxiii. 14) had desired God to go along with the camp, as he had done always before the making of the golden calf, God did not answer, I will go, nor, I will send an angel in my stead; but thus, My presence shall go with thee.

To mention all the places of the Old Testament where the name of angel is found, would be too long. Therefore to comprehend them all at once, I say, there is no text in that part of the Old Testament, which the Church of England holdeth for canonical, from which we can conclude, there is, or hath been created, any permanent thing, understood by the name of spirit or angel, that hath not quantity; and that may not be by the under

« PreviousContinue »