The first Vse is of Thankfulness. God makes it his delight and praise to go new, and extraordinary waies with his Church, and with the world in order to his Church. Let us then raise our delights, and his praises from the sense of those new, and extraordinary paths, in which the Lord hath walked forth before our Eyes in the midst of al the nations round about us for our sake. That the Newness of the divine footsteps in our dais, and in our Land may leave the deeper print upon our spirits; let us consider it in these Six Particulars. 1. Our Changes: 2. The Quickness of our changes. 3. The Freshness upon our Changes. 4. The inward Life, whence our Changes spring. 5. The Seal upon our Changes from their Living Principle. 6. The Spirit of Grace evidencing it self, as the Principle, and the Seal.
First, The Changes, Which have been upon us, shew the Newness of the Lords way with us. Jerem 48. 11. The Lord complains. Moab, hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath setled on his Lees, and he hath not been emptyed from Vessel to Vessel: therefore his tast remained in him, and his sent is not changed. How often hath England been changed from Peace to Warr, from one Warr to another, from one form of Government to another, from Extremities to Enlargements, from Enlargements to Extremities again? These Changes have been, as so many Vessels, out of Page 21 which, and into which we have been emptyed. Are we stil upon the Lees of Carnality, and Corruption? If we discern not God in a new Glory; if we discern not Jesus Christ with his new name; if we discern not the Newness of the Operations of the Spirit in al these things; then doth our Earthly tast hitherto remain, and our fleshly sent is not changed. O for a refinedness of Soul now from the Lees of Earth to a pure wine of spi∣rituality! O for a heavenly tast, a heavenly sent! How should we rellish this feast of new delicacys, which the Lord sets forth for us? How should we love Jesus Christ for the Savor of his new, and good Oyntments; in which he powrs forth himself into the midst of us?
Revel. 6. 12. We reade of the Sun turning black, as Sack Cloath of Hair; the Moon, as blood. vers. 13. Stars of Heaven fel unto the Earth, even as a Fig-tree casteth her untimely Figs being shaken by a mighty winde Verse, 14. Heaven departed, as a Scroule, rolled together. Verse, 16. The rea∣son of al this, i. e. The Face of him, that sits on the Throne, and the wrath of the Lamb. Many times over in this our little world of these divided Islands we have seen, the Sun of our Religious Formes, our Church-state becomming black, as a Sack-Cloath of Hair, which is a mourning weed; the Moon of our Civil affayres, as Blood, Nay al Blood: we have seen the Heaven of the Supream power pass away, as a scrol of Parchment roled up, and laid by; our Emi∣nent Persons, which were, as Stars in the Heaven of that Power, shining with a Lustre, and ruling with an Influence of universal Authority, yet on a soden falling from this Heaven to the Earth of a common rank, and obscure condition. Do we not thorow al this perceive the Face of God sitting upon his Throne among us, a Throne of most exalted Grace, and loving kindness to Page 22 his people, but of the most exalted vengeance, and wrath to his enemy? observe those two things, the Face, and the Face of God sitting upon the Throne. What unvailings of new, and extraordinary glorys do these Expressions speak forth? Are not these the Seal, to which these Nations, as Wax are turned, and changed? Blessed are they, that stand within these Wheels, to be carryed a long by them, and move together with them. Over others, who see them not, these Wheels pass, and break them to pieces.
Joel. 2. 30. The Lord saith; I wil shew wonders in the Heavens and in the Earth, Blood, and Fire, and pillars of smoake. Verse, 31. The Sun shal be turned into darkness, and the Moon into blood before the great, and terrible day of the Lord come. There are three daies of the Lords comming: First, To a Particular Nation: Secondly, At his Incarnation: Thirdly, To the last Judgment. Al these are Capable of hav∣ing this Scripture applyed to them, especially where the first of these daies, the Comming of Christ to a Nation fol∣lows after the Second day of his Incarnation, and borders upon the Third day of his last comming. This Scripture hath been litterally fulfilled in our times, in our land. What frequent Eclypses of Sun, and Moon have we seen? What Comets? Concussions, and Prodigyes in al the Elements, Earth-quakes, Tydes changing their Courses, Meteors of al sorts in the Ayre, Devouring Fires? Be∣hold, the Earth, the Air, the Waters, the Fire, the Heavens see the Lord, and are troubled; shal his Saints be insensible of him? shal not they shout, and say: This is the day, which no Created, or usual light, but the Lord hath made by his shinings forth; It is wonder∣ful in our Eyes, beyond the whol Course of Nature; we wil rejoyce, and he glad in it.
Secondly, The Quickness of our Changes. This is the SecondPage 23 thing, that argues the Newness of Gods way with us. I intreate you here to compare 2 Scriptures; Hagg. 2. 6. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once it is a little while, and I wil shake the Heavens, and the Earth, and the Sea, and the dry land, verse, 7. And I wil shake al Nations, and the desire of al the Nations sh•l come, and I wil fil this House with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. Hebr. 12. 26. Whose voyce then shook the Earth: but he hath promised saying; Yet once more I shake not the Earth only, but also the Heaven: Verse, 27. And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are made, that those things, which cannot be shaken, may re∣maine The comparing of these two Texts affords us these Particular Observations: First, This word, Once, signifies one continued act of shaking unto an universal, and Total Change. Secondly, That which maks this shaking is the Newness of Christs comming forth in the unchangable Glory of his Father, and of the Spirit. For, the Prophet Haggi seeming to speak of the first comming of Christ in the flesh, to fil that present Temple, which was then building, with the Glory of his Doctrine, and Miracles, is by the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews interpreted of the comming of Christ in Glory, as being the truth, and the end, to which the other comming was only a Type, and a Preparation. So also, that which the Prophet calls. The Desire of the Nations; is in the He∣brews, called, Those things, which cannot be shaken, in op∣position to things, that are made, and to be taken away. Both together cleerly describe Jesus Christ in the Newness of a Heavenly Glory, which can never fade. It is before this Newness of Christ, at it secretly beames forth into the Creation, that Old things shake, and fal away. Thirdly, Jesus Christ, comes first in his Desirablenesses, to belee∣vers, to those among the Nations, who desire him. This Page 24 seemes to be signified by that expression: The desire of al Nations shal come. He shal come under that formality, as the Desire of the Nations. The Saints in every Nation stand for the whol Nation in the esteem of God, they being the Corn in the heap, the rest of the nation, as the Chaffe. Esa. 43. 4. The Lord saith to his people: Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have Loved thee: therefore wil I give men for thee, and people for thy life, or as it is in the Margin, for thy person. Those whom the Lord loves in a Nation, are the only Figures there; the rest are Cyphers, which signifie nothing of themselves. James. 1. 14. The Children of God are said to be a Kind of first fruites of his Creatures. So are they the first fruits of every Nation. As the first fruits were presen∣ted to God every year at the Tabernacle, or Temple by the hands of the Preist in the stead of the whol Lump: so the beleevers are presented to God in the spirit by Jesus Christ, as filling up the place of the whol Nation.
Upon this account, when the prophet hath said: The desire of al Nations shal come; he adds; He shal fil this House with his Glory. Under the Gospel, and in the spiritual truth, which answers the Judaical Tipe, the Saints are the House of God. 1 Corin. 3. 16. Know ye not, that ye are the Temple of God? When the Lord comes to work his wonders in the world, he first comes into his Church, in∣to the spirits of his Saints, fills them with that spiritual Glory shining from his own person, which is the sign of his outward commings forth, before he comes; and the inside of them, when he is come. From hence, as from his Temple, he shines forth by degrees upon the world; from these, as the first fruites; he sends forth a blessing Page 25 to the whol Lump of the Creatures. Fourthly, When these shakings begin to break forth from the Spirits of the Saints into the World, they are swift, and spreading. Yet a little while: And I wil once more shake Heaven, and Earth. As when a stone fals into the Water, the Circles in the Water made round about it, do in a moment Multiply, and as they Multiply, grow wider each than other: So when Jesus Christ comes with the Newness of a spiritual Glory into his House, which is the heart of a Saint; from thence he spreads himself in the newness of his Power, and mighty works over the Nation round about; from thence enlargeth himself in a wider Circle to the Neygh∣bouring Nations; so he goes on, til he ouerspreade with his Changes not the Earth only, but also the Heavens; and al this in a very little space, as fire catcheth, or the lightning flyeth.
Now let us look home. Our Changes, since the be∣ginning of these times, have truely been so quick, and thick; that they may wel appear one continued shaking. You then in this Nation whose Souls love the Lord Je∣sus, is your Desire come? while others as Cyphers, do bear the empty shadow of the outward work in these new, and Extraordinary Motions; is his presence, his person, his operation precious, and of great value to you? Doth he fil you, who are his house, with the freshness of his light, and Glory; while others stand without, at a distance, seeing a throng of changes, and wonders; but know not, what is the matter? Where then are your cryes of Joy? The voyce of our beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the Hils, passing with swift changes over the powers of this world; he comes consuming al old things, the old Heaven and Earth with the heat of his presence; but changing his own and al things unto Page 26 them into the newness, and Immortality of the Spirit; making them new, together with a New Heaven, and a New Earth round about them.
Thirdly, The freshness of our Changes. Prov. 25. 4, 5. Take away the dross from the Silver, there shall come forth a Vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from the King, and his Throne shal be established in Righteousness. The former of these verses is an Allegory explained in the latter. Both have a Mystical sense pertayning to every Saint; and Typical concerning Jesus Christ. Take away the Dross of Corruption out of the Heart from the Silver of Grace; and the Saint wil be a King in the Spirit upon a Throne of Glory founded on the Righteousness of God, and his Spirit in Jesus Christ; this King wil be a pure Silver Vessel for God the finer to set on his table, and fil with the Treasure of his Divinity. Take away the dross of Corruption from the Silver of the Divine Image in the Creature; then wil the whol Creation be a Vessel of honor for the Father to fil with his Wine; then wil it be a Throne founded on the Eternal Rock, on which Jesus Christ shal sit down, as a King. This extends it self to Nations, and Priuciples also. Let us take a view of our selves in the Glass of this Truth.
If we look to the great Parliament from the beginning of it: was there not a Silver there, a precious Mettal of excellent principles, and Eminent persons? But this Silver was mingled with the Dross of much Carnality, and Corruption. Hath not every change since that time been, as a fire, to take away the Dross from the Silver? Hath not every succeeding form of things when it hath come first out of the fire of the fore-going Change, bin as a Vessel for the finer, with a greater Preciousness, Purity, Beauty, Lustre, Life, and usefulness unto God? Page 27 How then is that day of the Lord risen upon us, which is to try al things? How should our mouths be filled with laughter, and praises for this New thing, which God doth, this New day, which God bringeth forth from Heaven? Say now to Hypocrites; Woe to you. But say to the Righteouss, It shal be wel with you. For the Beams of this day are a Manifesting light, a Refining fire to al: but they are withal to the Saints a covering gloy, and a Cherishing Love. Our King is come forth into our Land, not only to march through it with his troupes; but to establish his throne here in Righteonsness, and to sit down upon it. O Dross, Dross, melt away be∣fore the presence of the Lord. For his Eyes are a flame of fire. They are stil Kindling fresh Furnaces of Change.
Fourthly, The Life in these Changes from which they flow. Rom. 12. 11. you have the knot of a three-fold Precept held forth: Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. This is likewise a Divine Character upon the Newness of extraordinary Times, Works, and Persons. When the Lord hath any fresh, and peculiar piece of work, in which he is to be served, he fils men with a strange unwonted vigor in his business, to contrive, at∣tempt, and execute wonderful things. To this end, as a man puts fire under a pot, so he sends forth his Spirit after a new manner into their Hearts, that they boyl, and run over; they are no more in their own power, they can no longer contain themselves. Such a Description as this, David makes of himself, Psal. 39. 1. I said I will take heed to my wayes that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth as with a Bridle, while the wicked are in presence: I was dumb with silence, I held my peace from good, my sorrow was stirred: My heart was hot within me, while I was musing, Page 28 the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue. David, and Christ in him, were opprest by wicked men. He re∣solves to suffer in silence, and to suppress all Motions towards the outward advancement of Goodness. At length the Word of the Lord comes to him, first it warms his heart, by degrees it grows hotter, while he museth upon it, is irresolute, unwilling to come forth openly upon the Stage; it becomes a fire, it breaks forth, burns out like a mighty and irresistable flame.
You have an Example like to this in St. Paul; Acts, 20. 22. And behold now I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, &c. God had a new, and great work for St Paul to do, to te∣stifie to the Gospel of Christ, by preaching, and by suffe∣rings; at Jerusalem the chief City of the Jews; at Rome the Head City of the World, before Rulers and Princes. And now though afflictions, and death were Manifestly before his Eyes in this journey; though friends, Saints, Prophets, his own heart lay Weeping, Bleeding Brea∣king in his way, to stop him from going on in that course, from whence he should returne no more; as ye may see, verse, 23. 25. 27, 28. Chapter, 21. verse, 4. 11, 12, 13. Yet he shuts his Ears, and his Eyes to al these, treads them under his feet: goes over them al. Would you know the reason He was bound in Spirit. An extraordinary power of the Spirit came upon him, bound▪ up al his facultys in its heavenly chaines, and carryed him Captive to its Divin Force, and Wil.
There are many witnesses, that the like unto this hath been heard, known, and felt often in our daies, and affaires. Supernatural Impressions, Divine and Ir∣resistible Impulsions, as gales of wind from Heavem, have filled the Spirits, affections, counsels, and actions of men, Page 29 like sails, by which the ship of this Common-wealth hath bin carryed on from port to port, from change to change. When the two disciples wer going to Emaus, & Jesus Christ in the midst of them; they said; did not our hearts burn with∣in us, while he talked with us? but their Eyes were held that they could not know him. If Jesus Christ have been in the midst of us, as a fire; if he have made the hearts of his Servants to burn within them, yea, to flame forth, to lick up all the water of opposition, to consume all the Damps of Discouragement, that have been cast upon this fire, from their own reason, reputation, affe∣ctions, purposes, former principles within; from diffi∣culties, dangers, disswasions of friends, combinations of of Enemies without: Shal our Eyes stil be held that we should not know him, who is thus a burning, and shining Light among us? or shal our spirits be held from rejoy∣cing, and dancing in this Light, while its season la∣steth?
Fiftly: The Inward Principle of Life being the Seal upon our Outward Changes. 2 Tim. 2. 16. Nevertheless the Foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this Seal; the Lord knoweth who are his. And let every one that nameth the Name of Christ, depart from iniquity. This word, Nevertheless, implies a tacite Objection arising from the foregoing words of the Apostle, verse 17, 18. Hymeneus and Philetus of eminent Beleevers, and Preachers of the Gospel, were become Hereticks, whose words did spread, and kil like a Gan∣grene; insomuch that they had overthrown the saith of some. Now might a poor Saint say; Good God! what way is there to attain to a sound and saving Faith, which cannot be overthrown? or when shal I know that my Faith is thus sound, and saving? Who can be sure of their Faith, that it shal not fail them, when it hath failed Page 30 these? The Apostle gives two Answers to this Objection: First, The Foundation of the Lord standeth sure. God the Father of our Lord Jesus, makes himself in the hearts of his Children, to be a sure Foundation unto their Faith, so that it can never be shaken. This Foundation he lay∣eth in the fair colors of his own Spirit, of a mystical, and peculiar Union in the Spirit, of an especial work of Grace flowing from this Union. Secondly, This sure Foundati∣on at the bottom of our hearts, and faith, is also the Seal of Assurance upon them both: Having this Seal, the Lord knoweth who are his. In Spiritual things, that which is the Life, is the only Light, which is therefore so called in the Gospel; the Light of Life; the Principle is the Seal; Ye mere sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, faith St. Paul, Ephes. 1. That Light of Knowledg which is Originally the Knowledg of the Lord in us, that Com∣municatively, by Vertue of the Union, is our Knowledg, and this Knowledg is our Seal. As in Natural things the Eye sees not alone, neither doth the Soul; but both concur in every act of sight. So is it in every act of Spi∣ritual Sence; The Spirit of the Lord witnesseth together with our Spirits, saith St. Paul, Rom. 8. The Spirit of the Lord, and our Spirit, like the Soul and the Eye, joyntly concur in every act of Spiritual Knowledg. The Lord knoweth in us, we know in the Lord that we are his. Thus this Union, which is the Principle of Life in us, is in like manner the Seal of Light.
The world hath often objected to the servants of the Lord in the great Works of our times: You plead in∣ward Principles, Power, and Light, for your Justification in extraordinary waies; that it is from the fervency of your spirit in the Service of the Lord; and of the pub∣lick Page 31 welfare: How shal we know this, that you do not Cloath contrary designes, and corrupt interests with these pretences? how can we, or you tel that your im∣pressions are not delusions?
What hath the answer been? Hath it not been, that of Jesus Christ to the Jews, when they refused to mourne to his weeping, or to dance to his Musick: Wisdom is justified of her Children, Matth. The Lord Jesus, as he is by his spirit the Power of God in us; from which we act and on which we stand, as on a sure Foundation. So is he in like manner the Wisdom of God in us, by which we know him, and his out-goings, by which we are also known of him, and owned by him. This is our Seal. As many, as have fellowship with us in the same principle of divine Wisom, wil according to the measure of it, so farr, as they are free from carnal prejudices, and tempta∣tions to exercise this Principle, know, and own this Seal. The Manifestations of God are in the Flesh; but the ju∣stification of those Manifestations is in the Spirit. And this is that, which makes, the whol way of Godliness a Mystery: 1 Tim. 3. 16.
But now it is necessary to interpose two Cautions for the removing of two Objections.
This Principle seems to make the Light of Reason use∣less even in Civil things; and to lay aside in Humane Affairs the common Principles of Natural Light, by which we should converse with men, as men, and ap∣prove our selves to them.
This makes a Gap in the Hedg of all Civil Government for Licenciousness; and Confusion to break in; when Page 32 every man may alike pretend to an Inward Justificati∣on.
I intreat you therefore to keep your selves close to these Cautions, which I shal now add for the cleering of this matter from these Aspersions.
It is the duty of every person in every Affair, to pro∣vide for things honest, not only in the sight of God, but in the sight of all men. This is a Principle and Law in Christianity: Rom 12. 19. Provide for things honest in the sight of all men: Honest, or Beautiful and Comely; for so the word signifies; in the sight of all men; that is, in that Light of Nature, which shines universally in al men. The Natural Light in the Conscience, and Understanding of Man, is a Picture of the Spiritual Light, which is the Life. Reason is a Shadowy Figure of Jesus Christ. Now as the Life, and the Picture, if it be true, answer one another; and that which is beautiful in the one, will be so in the other too: so the Spirit, and Reason, mutually give their testimony each to other; what is comely in the eye of one, is so to both.
St. Paul prayes, 2 Thess. 2. 3. to be delivered from un∣reasonable men; for al men have not Faith. It is true that those, who are not Spiritual, are also unreasonable, the wordis 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Absurd, uncapable of any common place of Reason, any common Principles of Natural light. In another place. Tit. 1. 15. The same Apostle tels us, that to those, who are defiled, and unbeleeving al thing are impure, even their minds, and consciences are defiled. As a Poet cals the light of the Moon, when she is Ecclypsed by the in∣terposal of the Earth between the Sun, and her, that his beams cannot flow freely, and purely unto her, Lucem Malignam, a Malignant light: so is it in men meerly na∣tural; Page 33 the prince of darkness and a principle of Corrup∣tion inwardly; the world with carnal interests, and Humors outwardly, put in between the Face of God, the Fountaine of al light, and their Souls, to the mak∣ing of such an Eclypse, that the light of their Minds, the highest, and purest part of their spirits, the lights of their Consciences, the divinest part of their Minds, like the tops of the Mountaine which receive the beams of the Sun neerest, first, and fairest; the light of both these is defiled, and become Malignant. Upon this account, they either are unable to judg a right of that Testimo∣ny, which the light of Nature inwardly gives, or else unwilling outwardly to acknowledg this inward Testi∣mony; but do falsify, corrupt, deny it according to their fleshly lusts, and ends. They only for the most part, in most affaires, can understand, and submit to the light of Reason, and Nature, especially there, where Jesus Christ comes forth in new, and extraordinary waies upon the Face of Nature, and Civil things; who have the Spirit in them loosing their Reason, which Satan hath bowed down for so many years, like the Woman in the Gospel.
Yet notwithstanding al this, a Christian is in every thing to follow after, whatsoever is praise-worthy, of good report, comely, with God, and with men, in that, which is the true light of men, and right Reason. So, if their Minds be not altogether reprobate, and their Consci∣ences seared, if there be any spark of Natural light left alive in them, you shal approve your selves to the Con∣sciences, and minds of men inwardly; although they outwardly speak evil of you. As the Historian says of the Romans concerning that excellent Person, their deliver∣er Camillus; simul oderant, et Mirati sunt: they wil admire you, while they hate you.
Page 34Answ. 2.
Caut 2. Let every one, that nams the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. Whoever pleads a Spiritual life, and light for the Principle, and Seal of his actions, ought to beware that he sow not divers seeds in this field, that he mingle not Fleshly designes with Spiritual discoverys. Cursed be he, that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully. If you undertake the worke of the Lord to do your own work the better; If you make a shew of the work of the Lord, or make use of the work of the Lord so farr, to cover, and to bring forth the works of the Flesh: there lies a curse up∣on you. The Name of the Lord Jesus is like the water of Jealousie, which the suspected woman was to drink. If thou cal the name of the Lord Christ, and of his spirit to witness falsly, while thou art unchast, and untrue to thy spiritual principles, and ends; while thou knowest thy spirit to have plaid the harlot, and to live in unclean∣ness with this present world: this Name wil, like that Drink, make thy belly to Swel, and thy Bowels to rot within thee; it wil certainly bring thee to destruction with shame, and abhorrency.
He that sets upon Extraordinary things upon the ac∣count of an Extraordinary Principle, Seal, hath one of these two things to rely upon; First, A Divine Power in an irre∣sistable way to subdue the spirits, and Forces of men to him: Secondly, or else a Divine Presence in an unexpressi∣ble sweetness to support him, when he shal suffer in the thoughts of men, or at the Barr of Ordinary powers. How watchful ought we to be in affayres of so high a nature, or consequence, that neither Hypocricy, nor Delusion shut the Door to these Confidences in us?
Sixthly, The spirit of Grace, the principle, and Seal of these Changes. This is the last Argument of the Newness and Page 35Extraordinariness of the way of the Lord Jesus in the midst of us. There are five Marks of the Spirit of Grace.
First, The Spirit of Grace is a Spirit of Prayer. Zach. 12. 9, 10. And it shal come to pass in that day, that I wil seek to destroy al the Nations, that come against Jerusalem: And I wil poure upon the House of David, and upon the Inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of Grace, and Supplication. Two things are observable here: First, It is an Argument, that the Lord hath a designe by himself to destroy the enemies of his people, when he pours out a Spirit of Grace upon his people. Secondly, He alwaies, and more especially, when he is seeking the ruine of his enemies, joynes these two, a Spirit of Grace, and of Supplication. Are there not many, that can testifie by their own experience con∣cerning the works of these times; that the Heart of God, in a Spirit of Grace hath bin let down into the Bosom of his beloved ones; that thus their hearts have bin by a Spirit of Supplication drawn up into the Bosom of God, and have drawn forth these deliverances from the Wells of Salvation there? These Wells are Deep, the Deep things of God, his Love, his Wisdom, his Righteous∣ness, his power, his Glory, as these lie in the very depths of his Essence, and Divine Nature. But Saints have had their Buckets, their Hearts, to draw with; and a line, a Spirit of Supplication, long, and sure enough to let down their hearts into these deep Wels of Salvation, which are in the Heart of God. These Wells are stil ful of living Waters; and these Buckets are stil going. Saints keep your expectiations stil fresh.
Secondly, The spirit of Grace is a spirit of Prophecy. Esai. 43. 9. God challengeth al the Nations: Let them bring forth their witnesses, who among them can shew us former things? that is, things before they come to pass, or, things be∣fore Page 36 their times, before the world, by a spirit of Pro∣phesie. Verse, 12. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange God among you: there∣fore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God. Hath not the Lord many Witnesses in these Nations, yea, here present? I know, he hath. In the former daies, when ye were with him at your Banquets of spiritual enjoy∣ments, on your Bed of spiritual Loves; then did he by his spirit before hand signifie within you the snfferings of these times, and the Glory, which hath risen out of them. And as he hath declared, so hath he saved us, by the same Spirit. And now tel me, ye that are the Lords wit∣nesses; when ye are in your holyest seasons, when there is no strange God, or Love, but Jesus Christ alone shines in the midst of your spirit; doth he not stil shew you greater things, than these, which are yet to come?
Thirdly, The spirit of Grace is a spirit of Holiness. Ephes. 1. 13. It is called a Holy spirit. Ye were sealed with the Holy spirit of Promise. Holiness is the Character, and Seal of that spirit of Grace, which is promised to the Saints. Psal. 99. 8. Thou answeredst them, O Lord our God; thou wert a God that forgavest them, though thou takest Vengeance of their ini∣quities. The Lord testified his presence with the Jews in the Wilderness by his Holiness, in taking Vengeance of their Inventions.
There is a Three fold Vengance, which the Lord takes for Sin. First, On the Persons, and this three waies: 1. By Casting them off for ever: 2. By Cutting of the inward Beams of spiritual Communion between himself, and them for a season, perhaps for al their life long. 3. By Clouding their outward Man with trouble, and sorrow. God alwaies pardons iniquity to the Persons of his Chil∣dren in respect to the first of these Vengances; He cannot Page 37 give them over or cease to love them: sometimes also in respect to the second, and third. He continues the sweet∣ness of their Communion with him, and the Serenity of their natural comforts un-interrupted. Secondly, The Second Vengance for sin is on the publike Cause. Thus the Lord did forgive the Israelites in the Wilderness, and not take Vengeance on the publike Cause. For though they al died in the desert, yet the Lord kept his cause a live, carryed that Victoriously over Jordan into the Land of Canaan, and planted it to grow there for many generati∣ons. The Third Vengance on the Inventions, on the Corrup∣tions, and Idols of the Heart. In this sense the Lord never pardons any.
The Spirit, which hath bin our guide, hath Signally declared it self a Spirit of Grace by its abundant Forgive∣nesses, and a Spirit of Holiness by the Vengance, which it hath taken for Sin. When any have risen up against him, his Purity, his Progress, from the Enmity of the Serpent; he hath made the Earth to open, and swallow them up into the darknesses below by a Natural, or Civil Death: he hath made fire to come down from Heaven, a spirit∣ual fire of Divine judgement, and wrath, by which they have bin so withered, dryed, and burnt up; that they have lost al that Greenness of Religion, Honor, Honesty, Morality, Natural light, which they seemed before to have; and have fallen to open Perfidiousness, to ranting Profanenesses, to a reprobate Sense, a stupid Atheisti∣calness. But, when the Children of the Kingdom have transgressed by temptations of Covetousness, Ambi∣tion, Fleshliness, Passion, Delusions, Spiritual Pride, have fallen to Murmurings, Divisions, Sensuality, Worldly Designs: although this Spirit may have par∣doned all this to their Persons, hiding them in the cleft Page 38 of the Rock, in the wounds of Christ, there preserving their Outward, their Inward Life, and Peace, while he hath passed by: yet hath he taken open Vengeance of their Inventions, by manifest, eminent Disappointments in their Expectations, and endless confusions in the way of their Designs. Yet all this while hath the Holy Spirit pardoned the sins of all Parties to the Cause. He hath not suffered that to fall, but hath gone on when it seems to faint, renewing its strength, carrying it up on high, as on an Eagles wing, enlarging it in Victory, Peace, Spiri∣tual Liberties at home; spreading its Branches over the Seas, and to Forraign, far distant Lands; breaking the Head of the Leviathan, the chief strength of Antichrist in the deep Waters.
Fourthly: The Spirit of Grace is a Spirit of Vnity. Ephel. 4. 3. Endeavoring to keep the Vnity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. Vnity is the Character, the most immediate and inseparable Property of the Spirit. The Bond of Peace hath its strength, and root in the Vnity of the Spirit: as the Sympathy and Vnion of all the Fellow members in the Body arise from, and is preserved by One Soul, by the V∣nity of the Soul.
There is a Twofold Vnity. First, of Inward Affection. Secondly, of Outward Effect. As to the Latter of these, I had rather much speak in silent Groans to God, than by words to men; bleed inwardly, than breath forth out∣ward Complaints for the Breaches of the Daughter of my People. But so far, as concerns the First of these, the Inward Affection to Vnity, let me call forth you, who have the Testimony in your selves, that it hath been the Spirit in the Living Creatures in the Hearts of the Saints, quickened by the Life of Christ, which hath been in the Wheels, that have turned about, and carried on this whol Page 39 work from the beginning hitherto; I appeal to you. What are the Meltings, the Weepings over the Divisions among the Saints? What Yearnings, and turnings of Bowels after a Re∣union? Do you not in the secret of your hearts, in your secret Mee∣tings, bleed forth your souls before the feet of your Savior, at every breach in his Body; as at a Wound, or the Cutting off of some Member in your own Body? As Jacob lamented over the loss of his Children: Joseph is not, Simeon is taken away from me, you would have Benjamin also; all these things are against me: So you mourn; such Brethren left us at such a change; these Saints are not with us in this change; and there are others ready to divide them∣selves from us at the next turn of affairs: al these things are against us. As the spirit of God spreads it self over the deep of darkness at the beginning of the Creation, like a Bird over her naked yong ones, till they be hatcht up, and fledged, to form it to a beautiful, and har∣monious World, Light and Order: Do you not after the same manner perceive the Spirit of Vnity on your souls stretch forth it self over all your fellow Members, that lie in a Chaos, in a Deep of Darkness, Division, and Confusion? As Iesus Christ once wept forth these Words over Jerusalem: As a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her wings; How often would I have gathered thee, but thou would'st not? So he weeps, so he speaks the same words in your Souls to all his divided Brethren in these Nations: as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her wing; how long have I called and waited, and longed to gather you up into the Vnity of my Spirit, that you might not by your scatterings become a prey to the Kite? but hitherto you will not. Joseph when he thought fit to speak roughly, and deal severely with his Brethren; with much difficulty concealed his affections, was forced to make hast into a private room to weep. Hath this been your temper, when the wisdom of State, or the season hath made it seem necessary to you to handle any one of Christs Flock roughly? have your Bowels been turned within you? hath it been hard, and grievous to you to act this strange part, and to hide your affections? have you inwardly, and privately melted into tears while you have openly thundered out hard speeches? Do you not much more contend with God by Spiritual Wrastlings to have the hearts of all his People, that dif∣fer from you; than you do by outward force, or policy, with them, to have the upper hand of them?
Page 40If these things be thus, go on, and prosper. When Esau came with an Army against Jacob his Brother, Jacob wrastled with God, at Penuel, which signifies the Face, or Vision of God, he conquered his Brother the most excel∣lent way, like a Prince, in conquering God, and carrying away a Blessing by Conquest. Esau, when he met him, instead of drawing his Sword upon Jacob, embraced him, and offers him those Bands for his Guard, which came forth Enemies. Could one Jacob thus subdue the Heart of rough Esau? and shal not many Jacobs by their strong cries in the Ears of God, and tears in his Bosom, prevail with God for a Victory of Love over the Hearts of many Jacobs, only disguised, and concealed under the rough hairy Garments of Esau? Yes, the hour is coming, in which you shall come forth hand in hand in Spiritual Dances, and answer one another with Spiritual Songs, saying; These our Brethren were lost, but now are they found in our arms: These Brethren were dead one to another, but now behold they live together in the Vnity of the Spirit. As Joseph, and his Brethren; so shal you after long Concealments be discovered one to another, in a Light of Heavenly Love; then shal ye fal one upon anothers Necks, and weep for joy; then shal you say, We meant evil, but it was the Lords contrivance, who hath turned all to good. Thus shal ye receive one another into the Glory of God, as Christ hath received you.
Fiftly, The Spirit of Grace is a spirit of love to Jesus Christ. It makes his person alone, and the Glory of that to be the Mark, and Price of our calling: Phil. 3. 14. As water wil ascend as high, as it first descends: so the spirite, which is often compared to water, is like water in this, if it come down from Christ, it wil carry the ayme, and affections of the soul to Christ. That which is the first Page 41 Principle, is the last end. If it be Jesus Christ, who hath been the first principle of motion in our hearts, he wil be our only End, we shal terminate, and rest no where, but in him. When Jacob had served an Apprentice-ship of seven years for the Love of beautiful Rachel, he was marryed by Laban to bleare-eyed Leah. Did this satissie Jacob? No, He chose to endure the hardship of another service for seven years more, to suffer the heats by day, and frosts by night in the open fields, that he might gain his first Love. If it were a Conjugal Love to the person of Christ, which moved us to undertake, and under∣go the hard service of so many years in difficulty, dan∣ger; in a field of warre, Blood, and Death: we can∣not now lie down, and take up our rest in the Embraces of the blear-eyed Beavty of this World, though it be given to us in marriage, and be exceedingly fruitful to us. No, We shal begin another service of as many years more in prayers, in conflicts, in sufferings of al sorts, til he, whom our Souls love, come, and give his own person into our Armes. As the Spouse in the Canticles; Cant. 3, 4. We shal never cease, til we hold his glorifi∣ed person in our Marriage-Embraces, never to let him go more, until we bring him into our Mothers house, into this visible World, to make al things new, and to raigne here as he doth in Heaven. It is not this that a Saint seeks thorow Seas of water and Blood, to rob the Nations of their Gold, but to communicate to them this God. It is not this, which is his joy, and tryumph, to see his enemys drowned in the Floods: but to let in the Rivers of Christs blood upon them to over flow them, and that they may die the Death of Christ only.
When Alexander drew neer to Jerusalem with his con∣quering Army, he was met by the High Priest in all his Page 42 Ornaments, his Garment, his Girdle, his Ephod, his Urim, and Thummim, of Gold, Silk, Sky-color, Purple, White, all sorts of precious Stones, with the most Holy Crown upon his Head, which was the Figure of the Glory of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, as he is our true High Priest. Alexander seeing him, said; In this very form did that God appear to me in a Dream by night in Macedonia, who commanded me to pass over into Asia, and undertake this War. Upon this account he used the Jews with all Kindness and Ho∣nor. My end in bringing in this Story, is to make this Ap∣plication of it: If we have had any glimpses in our Spi∣rits of our dear Savior in the Heavenly Beauty and Glory of his Person; if we have been carryed on to this Work by his Spiritual Appearances, and Power in us: then wil not our work be at an end, til we see him shining forth in the ful Glory of his Person and Spirit, not upon us only, but upon the whol Earth. The Vow of Christ is upon us, not to give sleep to our Eyes, til we have found a setled Habitation for our Lord Jesus, as he is cloathed with al his Spiritual Glories, in our own hearts, and with men. I have done now with the last Evidence of the Presence of our God with us in the New way of his Son, and Spirit; which Evidence is this, That the Spirit of Grace hath been the Principle, and Seal of these great Works and Changes in the midst of us. The Vse that I would make of it, is to enlarge us in our Praises, that we may now see, and say with joy; The Lord Jesus goes up on high in our Land, he carries Captivity captive, he gives Gifts to men, even to the rebellious, that him∣self may dwel among them. I have done with the First Vse.