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It would be contrary to that established way for the understanding of the Scripture, which God hath already settled and appointed for us till the end\
3. It is certain that God will give all his servants in their several measures, the help and illumination of his Spirit, for the understanding and applying of the Gospel. 4. It is possible that God may make new revelations to particular persons about their particular duties, events or matters of fact, in subordination to the Scripture, either by inspiration, vision, or apparition, or voice; for he hath not told us that he will never do such a thing. As to tell them, what shall befal them or others; or to say,'Go to such a place, or, Dwell in such a place, or, Do such a thing,' which is not contrary to the Scripture, nor co-ordinate, but only a subordinate determination of some undetermined case, or the circumstantiating of an action. 5. Though such revelation and prophecy be possible, there is no certainty of it in general, nor any probability of it to any one individual person, much less a promise. And therefore to expect it, or pray for it, is but a presumptuous tempting of Godb. 6. And all sober Christians should be the more cautious of being deceived by their own imaginations, because certain experience telleth us, that most in our age that have pretended to prophecy, or to inspirations, or revelations, have been melancholy cracked-brained persons, near to madness, who have proved deluded in the end; and that such crazed persons are still prone to such imaginations. 7. Therefore also all sober Christians must take heed of rash believing every prophet or pretended spirit, lest they be led away from the sacred rule, and before they are aware, be lost in vain expectations and conceits.
Quest, Clxi. Is not a third rule of the Holy Ghost, or more perfect kingdom of love to be expected, as different from the reign of the Creator and Redeemer?Answ. 1. The works 'ad extra' and the reign of the Father, Word and Spirit are undivided. But yet some things are more eminently attributed to one person in the Trinity, and some to anotherb.
» Eph.i. 18,19.
b Micah ii. II. 1 Kings xxii. 21, 22. 1 John iv. 1, 2. 1 Thess. ii. if.
2. By the law and covenant of innocency, the Creator eminently ruled omnipotently. And the Son ruled eminently sapientially, initially under the covenant of promise or grace from Adam till his incarnation and the descent of the Holy Ghost, and more fully and perfectly afterward by the Holy Ghost. And the Holy Ghost ever since doth rule in the saints as the Paraclete, Advocate or Agent of Christ, and Christ by him, eminently by holy love; which is yet but initially: but the same Holy Ghost by perfect love shall perfectly rule in glory for ever; even as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. We have already the initial kingdom of love by the Spirit, and shall have the perfect kingdom in heaven; and besides the initial and the perfect there is no other. Nor is the perfect kingdom to be expected before the day of judgment, or our removal unto heaven; for our kingdom is not of this world. And they that sell all and follow Christ, do make the exchange for a reward in heaven; and they that suffer persecution for his sake, must rejoice because their reward in heaven is great: and they that relieve a prophet or righteous man for the sake of Christ, and that lose any thing for him, shall have indeed an hundred fold (in value) in this life, but in the world to come eternal life. We shall be taken up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord: and those are the words with which we must comfort one another, and not Jewishly with the hopes of an earthly kingdom. And yet "we look for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, according to his promise." But who shall be the inhabitants, and how that heaven and earth shall differ, and what we shall then have to do with earth, whether to be overseers of that righteous earth (and so to judge or rule the world) as the angels are now over us in this world, are things which yet I understand notc. b John V. 22. 25. Prov. i. 20, 21.
c Malt, v, 11,12. Luke xviii.22,23. Matt. x. 41,42. Lukevi.23. xvi 20. 1 Cor. xii. 2, 3. v. 1.3. 8. Matt, xviii. 10. 1 Tliess. iv 17, 18. Mark xii. 25. t Pet. iii. 11—13. IPet. i. 4. Heb. x, 34. xii. 13. Col.i. 5. Phil,ui, 20,21. * Luke xxiii. 8. '1 Cor. xii. 28,29. Heb. ii.S, 4, John x. 41.
Quest, Clxii. May we not look for mirackt hereofter?
Answ. 1. The answer to Quest, clx. may serve to this. 1. God may work miracles if he please, and hath not told us that he never willd. 2. But he hath not promised to us that he will, and therefore we cannot believe such a promise, nor expect them as a certain thing. Nor may any pray for the gift of miracles. 3. But if there be any probability of them, it will be to those that are converting infidel nations, when they may be partly of such use as they were at first. 4. Yet it is certain, that God still sometimes worketh miracles: but arbitrarily and rarely, which may not put any individual person in expectation of them. Object. 'Is not the promise the same to us as to the apostles and primitive Christians, if we could but believe as they did?'
Answ. 1. The promise to be believed goeth before the faith that believeth it, and not that faith before the promise. 2. The promise of the Holy Ghost was for perpetuity, to sanctify all believers: but the promise of that special gift of miracles, was for a time, because it was for a special use; that is, to be a standing seal to the truth of the Gospel, which all after ages may be convinced of in point of fact, and so may still have the use and benefit of'. And providence (ceasing miracles), thus expoundeth the promise. And if miracles must be common to all persons and ages, they would be as no miracles. And we have seen those that most confidently believed they should work them, all fail. But I have written so largely of this point in a set disputation in my Treatise called " The Unreasonableness of Infidelity," fully proving those first miracles satisfactory and obligatory to all following ages, that I must thither now refer the reader.
Quest, Clxiii. Is the Scripture to be tried by the Spirit, or the Spirit by the Scripture, and which of them is to be prefer red f
Ansiv. I put the question thus confusedly, for the sake of those that use to do so, to shew them how to get out of their own confusion. You must distinguish, 1. Between the Spirit in itself considered, and the Scripture in itself. 2. Between the several operations of the Spirit. 3. Between the several persons that have the Spirit. And so you must conclude, 1. That the Spirit in itself is infinitely more excellent than the Scripture. For the Spirit is God, and the Scripture is but the work of God. 2. The operation of the Spirit in the apostles was more excellent than the operation of the same Spirit now in us; as producing more excellent effects, and more infallible. 3. Therefore the Holy Scriptures which were the infallible dictates of the Spirit in the apostles, are more perfect than any of our apprehensions which come by the same Spirit (which we have not in so great a measure f),
4. Therefore we must not try the Scriptures by our most spiritual apprehensions, but our apprehensions by the Scriptures: that is, we must prefer the Spirit's inspiring the apostles to indite the Scripture, before the Spirit's illuminating of us to understand them, or before any present inspirations, the former being the more perfect; because Christ gave the apostles the Spirit to deliver us infallibly his own commands, and to indite a rule for following ages; but he giveth us the Spirit but to understand and use that rule aright*.
5. This trying the Spirit by the Scriptures, is not a setting of the Scripture above the Spirit itself; but is only a trying the Spirit by the Spirit: that is, the Spirit's operations in ourselves and his revelations to any pretenders now, by the Spirit's operations in the apostles, and by their revelations recorded for our use. For they and not we are called foundations of the churchh.
'1 John iv. 1, 2. 6. John xviii. 37. viii. 47.
K Acts xvii. II, 12. Matt. v. 18. Rom. xvi. 26. Matt. xxviii. 20. Luke 1.16.
"Rev. ii. 2. Jude 17. 2 Pet. iii. 2. Ephes. iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29. Ephes. ii. 20.
Quest, Clxiv. How is a pretended prophet or revelation to be tried?Answ. 1. If it be contrary to the Scripture it is to be rejected as a deceit'. 2. If it be the same thing which is in the Scripture, we have it more certainly revealed already; therefore the revelation can be nothing but an assistance of the person's faith, or a call to obedience, or a reproof of some sin; which every man is to believe according as there is true evidence that indeed it is a Divine revelation or vision; which if it be not, the same thing is still sure to us in the Scripture. 3. If it be something that is only besides the Scripture (as about events and facts, or prophecies of what will befall particular places or persons) we must first see whether the evidence of a Divine revelation be clear in it or not; and that is known, 1. To the person himself, by the self-attesting and convincing power of a Divine revelation, which no man knoweth but he that hath it; (and we must be very cautious lest we take false conceptions to be such). 2. But to himself and others it is known, (1.) At presentby clear, uncontrolled miracles, which are God's attestation; which if men shew, we are bound (in this case) to believe them. (2.) For the future, by the event, when things so plainly come to pass, as prove the prediction to be of God. He therefore that giveth you not by certain miracles uncontrolled, a just proof that he is sent of God, is to be heard with a suspended belief; you must stay till the event shew whether he say true or not; and not act any thing in the mean time upon an unproved presumption either of the truth or falsehood of his wordsk. 4. If you are in doubt whether that which he speaketh be contrary to God's Word or not, you must hear him with a proportionable suspicion, and give no credit to him till you have tried whether it be so or not. 5. It is a dangerous snare and sin to believe any one's prophecies or revelations merely because they are very holy persons, and do most confidently aver or swear it. For
'Acts xvii. 11. 1 Cor. xv. 3, 4. John x. 35. xix. 24. 28. 36,37. k Johniii. t. xiii. 19. xiv. 20. Luke xxi. 7. 9. 28. 31.36. Matt. v. 18. xxiv. 34. xx\. 1.