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cross, and his blood running from his wounds; and this they cali a spiritual sight of Christ crucified, and the way of salvation by his blood. Some have seen him with his arms open ready to embrace them; and this they call a discovery of the sufficiency of Christ's grace and love. Some have bad lively ideas of heaven, and of Christ on his throne there, and shining ranks of saints and angels; and this they call seeing heaven opened to them. Some from time to time have had a lively idea of a person of a beautiful countenance smiling upon them; and this they call a spiritual discovery of the love of Christ to their souls, and tasting the love of Christ. And they look upon it a sufficient evidence that these things are spiritual discoveries, and that they see them spiritually, because they say they do not see these things with their bodily eyes, but in their hearts; for they can see them wben their eyes are shut. And in like manner, the imaginations of some have been impressed with ideas of the sense of hearing; they have had ideas of words, as if they were spoken to them, sometimes the words of scripture, and sometimes other words. They have had ideas of Christ speaking comfortable words to them. These things they have called having the inward call of Christ, hearing the voice of Christ spiritually in their hearts, having the witness of the Spirit, the inward testimony of the love of Christ, &c.-
The common, and less considerate sort of people, are the more easily led into apprehensions that these are spiritual things, because, spiritual things being invisible, we are forced to use figurative expressions in speaking of them, and to borrow names from sensible objects by which to signify them. Thus we call a clear apprehension of things spiritual by the pame of light ; and having an apprebension of things, by the name of seeing such things. The conviction of the judgment, and the persuasion of the will by the word of Christ in the gospel, we signify by spiritually hearing the call of Christ. The scripture itself abounds with such like figurative expressions. Persons hearing these often used, and having pressed upon them the necessity of having their eyes opened, of having a discovery of spiritual things, seeing Christ in his glory, having the inward call, and the like, they ignorantly look and wait for some external discoveries, and imaginary views. And when they have them, they are confident that now their eyes are opened, now Christ bas discovered himself to them, and they are his children, and hence they are exceedingly affected and elevated with their deliverance,
and many kinds of affections are at once set in a violent motion.
But it is exceedingly apparent that such ideas have nothing in them which is spiritual and divine, in the sense wherein it has been demonstrated that all gracious experiences are spiritual and divine. These external ideas are in no wise entirely, and in their whole nature, diverse from all that men have by nature: so far from this, they are of the same sort which we have by the external senses, among the inferior powers of human nature. They are merely ideas of external objects, of the outward sensitive kind; the same sort of sensations of mind (differing not in degree, but only in circumstances) that we have by those natural principles which are common to us with the beasts. This is a low, miserable notion of spiritual sense, to suppose that it is only a conceiving or imagining that sort of ideas which we have by our animal senses, which senses the beasts have in as great perfection as we. Is this any thing better than, as it were, a turning of Christ, or the divine nature in the soul, into a mere animal? Is there any thing wanting in the soul, as it is by nature, to render it capable of being the subject of all these external ideas, without any new principles? A natural man is capable of having an idea, and a lively idea of shapes, and colours, and sounds, when they are absent, even as capable as a regenerate man is : so there is nothing supernatural in them. And it is known by abundant experience, that it is not the advancing or perfecting of human nature, which makes persons more capable of having such lively and strong imagioary ideas; but on the contrary, the weakness of body and mind, makes persons abundantly more susceptive of such impressions *.
As to a truly spiritual sensation, not only is the manner of its coming into the mind extraordinary, but the sensation itself is totally diverse from all that men have, or can have, in a state of nature, as has been shown. But as to these external ideas, though the way of their coming into the mind is sometimes unusual, yet the ideas in themselves are not the better for that; they are still of no different sort from what men have by their senses; they are of no higher kind, nor a whit better. For instance, the external idea a man has now of Christ hanging on the cross, and shedding his blood, is no better in itself, than the external idea that the Jews his enemies had, who stood round his cross, and saw this with their bodily eyes. The imaginary idea which men have now of an external brightness and glory of God, is no better than the idea the wicked congregation in the wilderness had of the external glory of the Lord at Mount Sinai, when they saw it with bodily eyes; or any better than that idea which millions of cursed reprobates will have of the external glory of Christ at the day of judgment, who shall see, and have a very lively idea of ten thousand times greater external glory of Christ, than ever yet was conceived in any man's innagination*. Is the image of Christ which men conceive in their imaginations, in its own nature, of any superior kind to the idea the Papists conceive of Christ, by the beautiful and affecting images of him which they see in their churches? Are the affections they have, if built primarily on such imaginations, any better than the affections raised in ignorant people, by the sight of those images, which oftentimes are very great; especially when these images, through the craft of the priests, are made to move, speak, weep, and the like t? Merely the way of persons receiving these imaginary ideas, does not alter the nature of the ideas themselves that are received: let them be received in what way they will, they are still but
** Conceits and wbimsies abound most in men of weak reason ; children, and such as are cracked in their understanding, have most of them ; strength of reason banishes them, as the sun does mists and vapours. But now the more rational any gracious person is, by so much more is he fixed and settlcd, and satisfied in the grounds of religion : yea, there is the highest and purest reason in relia gion; and when this change is wrought upon men, it is carried on in a rational way, Iselo 18. John xix. 9.” FLAVBL's Preparation for Sufferings, Chap. vi.
* " If any man should see, and behold Christ really, immediately, this is not the saving knowledge of bim. I know the saints do know Christ as if immediately present ; they are not straogers by their distance : if others have seen him more immediately, I will not dispute it. But if they have seen the Lord Jesus as immediately as if here on earth, yet Capernaum saw bim so; nav some of them were disciples for a time, and followed him, John vi. And yet the Lord was hid from their eyes. Nay, all the world shall see him in his glory, which sball amaze them: and yet this is far short of having the saving knowledge of him, which the Lørd doth communicate to the elect. So that though you see the Lord so really, as that you become familiar with him, yet Luke xiii. 26. Lord have we not eat and drank, &c.—and so perish.” SHEPARD's Parable of the ten virgins, P. I. p. 197, 198.
+ “Satan is transformed into an angel of light: and hence we have heard that some have heard voices; some have seen the very blood of Christ dropping on them, and his wounds in his side ; some have seen a great light shining in the chamber; some wonderfully affected with their dreams; some in great distress have had inward witness, Thy sins are forgiven; and bence liberty and joy, that they are ready to leap up and down the ehamber. O adulterous generation ! this is natural and usual with men, they would fain see Jesus, and have bim present to give them peace; and hence Papists bave his images-Woe to them that have no other manifested Christ, but such an one.” SHBPARD's Parable of the ten virgins, P. 1
external ideas, or ideas of outward appearances, and so are not spiritual. Yea, if men should actually receive such external ideas by the immediate power of the most high God upon their minds, they would not be spiritual, they should be no more than a common work of the Spirit of God; as is evident in fact, in the instance of Balaam, who had impressed on his mind, by God himself, a clear and lively outward representation or idea of Jesus Christ, as the Star rising out of Jacob, when he heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, and saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, Numb xxiv. 16, 17. But Balaam had no spiritual
. discovery of Christ; that day star never spiritually rose in his heart, he being but a natural man.
And as these external ideas have nothing divine or spiritual in their nature, and nothing but what natural men, without any new principles, are capable of; so there is nothing in their nature which requires that peculiar inimitable and unparalJelled exercise of the glorious power of God, in order to tbeir production, which it has been shown there is in the production of true grace. There appears to be nothing in their nature above the power of the devil. It is certainly not above the power of Satan to suggest thoughts to men; because otherwise he could not tempt them to sin, And if he can suggest any thoughts or ideas at all, doubtless imaginary ones, or ideas of things external, are not above his power#; for these are the lowest sort of ideas. These ideas may be raised only by impressions made on the body, by moving the animal spirits, and impressing the brain. Abundant experience certainly shows, that alterations in the body will excite imaginary ideas in the mind; as in a high fever, melancholy, &c. These external ideas are as much below the more intellectual exercises of the soul, as the body is a less noble part of man than the soul.
Again, there is not only nothing in the nature of these imaginations of outward appearances, from whence we can infer that they are above the power of the devil; but it is certain also that the devil can excite, and often bath excited such ideas. They were external ideas which he excited in the dreams and visions of the false prophets of old, who were under the influence of lying spirits F. And they were external
*" Consider how difficult, yea and impossible it is to determine that such a voice, vision, or revelation is of God, and that Satan cannot feign or counterfeit it; seeing he hath left no certain marks by which we may distinguish one spirit from another.” PLAVEL's Causes and cures of mental errors, Cause 14.
+ See Deat. xiii, 1. 1 Kings xxii, 22. Is. xxviii. 7. Ezek. xiii. 7. Zech. xiij, 4.
ideas that he often excited in the minds of the heathen priests, magicians and sorcerers, in their visions and ecstasies; and they were external ideas that he excited in the mind of the man Christ Jesus, when he shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, with the glory of them, when those kingdoms were not really in sight.
And if Satan, or any created being, has power to impress the mind with outward representations, then no particular sort of outward representions can be any evidence of a divine power. Is almighty power any more requisite to represent the shape of man to the imagination, than the shape of any thing else? Is there any higher kind of power necessary to form in the brain one bodily shape or colour than another? Does it need a power any more glorious to represent the form of the body of man, than the form of a chip or block; though it be of a very beautiful human body, with a sweet smile in his countenance, or arms open, or blood running from hands, feet, and side? May not that sort of power which can represent blackness or darkness to the imagination, also represent white and shining brightness ? May not the power and skill which can well and exactly paint a straw, or a stick, on a piece of paper or canvass, only perhaps further improved, be sufficient to paint the body of a man, with great beauty and in royal majesty, or a magnificent city, paved with gold, full of brightness, and a glorious throne? So it is no more than the same sort of
power, that is requisite to paint one as the other of these on the brain. The same sort of power that can put ink upon paper, can put on leaf-gold. So that it is evident to a demonstration, if we suppose it to be in the devil's power to make any sort of exter. nal representation at all on the fancy-and never any one questioned it who believed there was a devil, that had any agency with mankind—that a created power may extend to all kiods of external appearances and ideas in the mind.
From hence it again clearly appears, that no such things have any thing in them that is spiritual, supernatural, and din vine, in the sense in which it has been proved that all truly gracious experiences have. And though external ideas, through man's make and frame, ordinarily in some degree attend spiritual experiences; yet these ideas are no part of their spiritual experience, any inore than the motion of the blood, and beating of the pulse. And though, undoubtedly, through men's infirmity in the present state, and especially through the weak constitution of some persons, gracious affections which are very strong, do excite lively ideas in the imagination; yet it is also