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minate signification. By a principle of nature in this place, I mean that foundation which is laid in nature, either old or new, for any particular manner or kind of exercise of the faculties of the soul; or a natural habit or foundation for action, giving a person ability and disposition to exert the faculties in exercises of such a certain kind; so that to exert the faculties in that kind of exercises, may be said to be his nature. So this new spiritual sense is not a new faculty of understanding, but it is a new foundation laid in the nature of the soul, for a new kind of exercises of the same faculty of understanding. So that new holy disposition of heart that attends this new sense, is not a new faculty of will, but a foundation laid in the nature of the soul, for a new kind of exercises of the same faculty of will.
The Spirit of God, in all his operations upon the minds of natural men, only moves, impresses, assists, improves, or some way acts upon natural principles ; but gives no new spiritual principle. Thus when the Spirit of God gives a natural man visions, as he did Balaam, he only impresses a natural principle -the sense of seeing, immediately exciting ideas of that sense--but gives no new sense ; neither is there any thing supernatural, spiritual or divine in it. If the Spirit of God impresses on a man's imagination, either in a dream, or when he is awake, any outward ideas of any of the senses, either voices, or shapes and colours, it is only exciting ideas of the same kind that he has by natural principles and senses. So if God reveals to a natural man any secret fact; for instance, something thạt he shall hereafter see or bear; this is not infusing or exercising any new spiritual principle, or giving the ideas of any new spiritual sense; it is only impressing, in an extraordinary manner, the ideas that will hereafter be received by sight and hearing. So in the more ordinary infuences of the Spirit of God on the hearts of sinners, he only assists natural principles to do the same work to a greater degree, which they do of themselves by nature. Thus the Spirit of God by his common influences may assist men's natural ingenuity, as be assisted Bezaleel and Aholiab in the curious works of the tabernacle. He may assist men's natural abilities in political affairs, and improve their courage and other natural qualifications; as he is said to have put his spirit on the seventy elders, and on Saul, so as to give him another heart. God may greatly assist natural men's reason, in their reasoning about secular things, or about the doctrines of religion, and may greatly advance the clearness of tbeir apprehensions and notions in many respects, without giving any spiritual sense. So in those
awakenings and convictions that natural men may bare, God only assists conscience, which is a natural principle, to do that work in a further degree, which it naturally does. Conscience naturally gives men an apprehension of right and wrong, and suggests the relation there is between them and a retribution. The Spirit of God assists men's consciences to do this in a greater degree, and against the stupifying influence of worldly objects and their lusts. Many other ways might be mentioned, wherein the Spirit acts upon, assists and moves natural principles; but after all, it is no more than nature moved, acted, and improved; here is nothing supernatural and divine. But the Spirit of God in his spiritual influences on the hearts of his saints, operates by infusing or exercising new, divine and supernatural principles; principles which are indeed a new and spiritual nature, and principles vastly more noble and excellent than all that is in natural men.
From what has been said it follows, that all spiritual and gracious affections are attended with, and arise from some apprehension, idea, or sensation of mind, which is in its whole nature different, yea exceeding different from all that is or can be in the mind of a natural man. The natural man discerns nothing of it (1 Cor. ii. 14.) any more than a man without the sense of tasting can conceive of the sweet taste of honey; or a man without the sense of hearing can conceive of the melody of a tune; or a man born blind can have a notion of the beauty of the rainbow.
But here two things must be observed, in order to the right understanding of this.
1. On the one hand it must be observed, that not every thing which appertains to spiritual affections, is new and entirely different from what natural men experience; some things are common to gracious affections with other affections ; many circumstances, appendages, and effects are common. Thus a saint's love to God has a great many things appertaining to it, which are common with a man's natural love to a near relation. Love to God makes a man seek the honour of God, and desire to please him; so does a natural man's love to his friend make him desire his honour, and to please him. Love to God causes a man to delight in the thoughts of him, in his presence; to desire conformity to God, and the enjoyment of him; and so it is with a man's love to his friend. Many other things might be mentioned which are common to both. But yet, that idea which the saint has of the loveliness of God, and the kind of delight he has in that view, which is as
it were the marrow and quintessence of his love, is peculiar, and entirely diverse from any thing that a natural man has, or can have any notion of. And even in those things that seem to be common, there is something peculiar. Both spiritual love and natural, cause desires after the object beloved; but they are not the same sort of desires; there is a sensation of soul in the spiritual desires of one that loves God, which is entirely different from all natural desires. Both spiritual and natural love are attended with delight in the object beloved; but the sensations of delight are not the same, but entirely and exceedingly diverse. Natural men may have conceptions of many things about spiritual affections; but there is something in them which is as it were the nucleus, or kernel, of which they have no more conceptions, than one born blind has of colours.
It may be clearly illustrated thus: we will suppose two men; one, born without the sense of tasting, the other with it. The latter loves honey, because he knows the sweet taste of it; the other loves certain sounds and colours. The love of each has many things in common ; it causes both to desire, and delight in the object beloved, causes grief when it is absent, &c. but yet that sensation which he, who knows the taste of honey, has of its excellency and sweetness, as the foundation of his love, is entirely different from any thing the other has or can have. So both these persons may in some respects love the same object. The one may love a delicious kind of fruit, not only because he has seen its pleasant colours, but knows its sweet taste; the other, perfectly ignorant of the latter, loves it only for its beautiful colours. Many things seem, in some respect, to be common to both; both love, both desire, and both delight; but the love, desire, and delight of the one, is altogether diverse from that of the other. The dif. ference between the love of a natural and a spiritual man resembles this; but only it must be observed, that the kinds of excellency perceived in spiritual objects, by these different kinds of persons, are in themselves vastly more diverse than the different kinds of excellency perceived in delicious fruit, by a tasting and a tasteless man. In another respect, it may not be so great, viz. as the spiritual man may have a sense to perceive that divine and most peculiar excellency but in small beginnings, and in a very imperfect degree.
2. On the other hand, it must be observed, that a natural man may have religious apprehensions and affections, which may be, in many respects, very new and surprising to him i
and yet what he experiences, be nothing like the exercises of a new nature. His affections may be very new, in a very new degree, with a great many new circumstances, a new cooperation of natural affections, and a new composition of ideas. This may be from some extraordinary powerful influence of Satan, and some great delusion. There is nothing, however, but nature extraordinarily acted. As if a poor man who had always dwelt in a cottage, and had never looked beyond the obscure village where he was born, should, in a jest, be taken to a magnificent city and prince's court, and be there arrayed in princely robes, and set in the throne, with the crown royal on his head, peers and nobles bowing before him—and should be made to believe that he was now a glorious monarch-his ideas, and the affections he would experience, would in many respects be very new, and such as he had no imagination of before. Yet who would suppose, that what was done to him was any thing more than extraordinarily raising and exciting natural principles, and newly exalting, varying, and compounding such sort of ideas as he had by nature? Who would infer, that this was giving him a new sense ?
Upon the whole, I think it is clearly manifest, that all truly gracious affections arise from special and peculiar influences of the Spirit, working that sensible effect or sensation in the souls of the saints, which are entirely different from all that is possible a natural man should experience; different, not only in degree and circumstances, but in its whole nature. So that a natural man not only cannot experience that which is individually the same, but cannot experience any thing but what is exceedingly diverse, and immensely below it, in its kind; and that which the power of men or devils is not sufficient to produce, or any thing of the same nature.
I have insisted the more largely on this matter, because this view of the subject is evidently of great importance and use, in order to discover the delusions of Satan, in many kinds of false religious affections, by which multitudes are deluded, and probably have been in all ages of the Christian church; also in order to settle and determine many articles of doctrine, concerning the operations of the Spirit of God, and the nature of true grace.--Let us now, therefore, apply these things to the purpose of this discourse.
From hence it appears, that impressions which some have on their imagination-their imaginary ideas of God, or Christ, or heaven, or any thing appertaining to religion-have nothing Vol. IV.
in tliem that is spiritual, or of the nature of true grace. Though such things may attend what is spiritual, and be mixed with it, yet in themselves they are not any part of gracious experience.
Here, for the sake of the less informed, I will explain what is intended by impressions on the imagination, and imaginary ideas. The imagination is that power of the mind, whereby it can have a conception, or idea, of external things, or objects of the outward senses, when those things are not present, and therefore not perceived by the senses. It is called inagination, from the word image; because thereby a person can have an image of some external thing in his mind, when that thing is not present in reality, nor any thing like it. What we perceive by our five senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, are external things : and when a person has an image of these things in his mind, but does not really see, hear, smell, taste, nor feel them; that is to have an imagination of them, and these ideas are imagivary ideas. When such ideas are strongly impressed upon the mind, and the image is very lively, almost as if one saw, or beard them, &c. that is called an impression on the imagination. Thus colours and shapes, are outward things, objects of the outward sense of seeing : therefore, when any person has ia his mind a lively idea of any shape, or colour, or form of countenance; of light or dark ness, such as he perceives by the sense of seeing; of any marks made on paper, suppose letters and words written in a book : that is to have an imagigination, or an external and imaginary idea of such things as we sometimes perceive hy our bodily eres. And when we have the ideas of sounds, voices, or words spoken; this is only to have ideas of outward things, perceived by the esternal sense of hearing, and so that also is imagination. When these ideas are impressed with liveliness, almost as if they were really heard with the ears, this is to have an impression on the imagination. And so I might instance in the ideas of things appertaining to the other three senses of smelling, lasting, and feeling.
Many who have had such things, have ignorantly supposed them to be of the nature of spiritual discoveries. They have had lively ideas of some external shape, and beautiful form of countenance ; and this they call spiritually seeing Christ. Some have had impressed upon them ideas of a great outward light; and this they call a spiritual discovery of God's or Chris?'s glory. Some have had ideas of Christ hanging on the