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Therein they differ vastly in their nature and kind from all that natural man can be the subject of, while he remains in a natural state; and also from all that of which men or devils can be the authors. It is a spiritual work in this high sense; and therefore above all other works is peculiar to the Spirit of God. There is no work so high and excellent; for there is no work wherein God doth so much communicate himself, and wherein the mere creature hath, in so high a sense, a participation of God; so that it is expressed in scripture by the saints being made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. and having God dwelling in them, and they in God, 1 John iv. 12, 15, 16. and chap. iii. 21, and having Christ in them, John xvii. 21. Rom. viii. 10. being the temples of the living God, 2 Cor. vi. 16. living by Christ's life, Gal. ii. 20. being made partakers of God's holiness, Heb. xii. 10. having Christ's love dwelling in them, John xvii. 26. having his joy fulfilled in them, John xvii. 13. seeing light in God's light, and being made to drink of the river of God's pleasure, Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9. having fellowship with God, or communicating and partaking with him, (as the word signifies), 1 John i. 3. Not that the saints are made partakers of the essence of God—or godded with God, and christed with Christ, according to the blasphemous language of some heretics-but, to use the scripture phrase, they are made partakers of God's fulness, (Eph. iii. 17-19. John i. 16.) that is, of God's spiritual beauty and happiness, according to the measure and capacity of a creature. So the word fulness signifies in scripture language. Grace in the hearts of the saints being therefore the most glorious work of God, wherein he communicates of the goodness of his nature, it is doubtless his ресиliar work, and in an eminent manner above the power of all creatures. And this is what I mean by those influences that are divine, when I say, that truly gracious affections arise from those influences that are spiritual and divine.
True saints only have that which is spiritual; others not only have not these communications of the Spirit in so high a degree as the saints, but have nothing of that nature or kind. For the apostle James tells us, that natural men have not the Spirit; and Christ teaches the necessity of a new birth, or a being born of the Spirit, from this, that he that is born of the flesh, has only flesh, and no spirit, John iii. 6. They have not the Spirit of God dwelling in them in any degree; for the apostle teaches, that all who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them are his, Rom. viii. 9-11. And having the Spirit of God is spoken of as a certain sign, that persons shall have the eternal inheritance; for it is the earnest of it, (2 Cor. i. 22. and v. 5. Eph. i. 14:) and having any thing of the Spirit is mentioned as a sure sign of being in Christ, 1 John iv. 13. Hereby know we that we dwell in
him, because he hath given us of his Spirit. Ungodly men, not only have not so much of the divine nature as the saints, but they they are not partakers of it; which implies that they have nothing of it; for a being partaker of the divine nature is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the true saints, 2 Pet. i. 4. Ungodly men are not partakers of God's holiness, Heb. xii. 10. A natural man has no experience of those things that are spiritual; he is so far from it, that he knows nothing about them, and is a perfect stranger to them. To talk about such things is all foolishness to him, he knows not what it means, 1 Cor. ii. 14. natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. And to the like purpose Christ teaches us that the world is wholly unacquainted with the Spirit of God, John xiv. 17. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. And it is further evident, that natural men have nothing in them of the same nature with the true grace of the saints, because the apostle teaches us, that those of them who go farthest in religion, have no charity, or true Christian love, (1 Cor. chap. xiii.) So Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion, that they had not the love of God in them, John v. 42. Hence natural men have no communion or fellowship with Christ, or participation with him, as these words signify, for this is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the saints, (1 John i. 3, 6, 7. and 1 Cor. i. 8, 9.) And the scripture speaks of the actual existence of a gracious principle in the soul, though in its first beginning, like a seed planted there, as inconsistent with a man's being a sinner, 1 John iii. 9. And natural men are represented in scripture, as having no spiritual light, no spiritual life, and no spiritual being; and therefore conversion is often compared to opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, and a work of creation, wherein creatures are made entirely new, and becoming new-born children.
From these things it is evident, that those gracious influences of the saints, and the effects of God's Spirit which they experience, are entirely above nature, and altogether of a different kind from any thing that men find in themselves by the exercise of natural principles. No improvement of those principles that are natural, no advancing or exalting of them to higher degrees, and no kind of composition will ever bring men to them; because they not only differ from what is natural, and from every thing that natural men experience, in degree and circumstances, but also in kind; and are of a nature vastly more excellent. And this is what I mean by supernatural, when I say, that gracious affections are from those influences that are supernatural.
From hence it follows, that in those gracious exercises and affections which are wrought in the saints, through the saving influences of the Spirit of God, there is a new inward perception or sensation of their minds, entirely different in its nature and kind, from any thing that ever their minds were the subjects of before they were sanctified. For, if God by his mighty power produces something that is new, not only in degree and circumstances, but in its whole nature-all that which could be produced by no exalting, varying, or compounding of what was there before, or by adding any thing of the like kind-then, doubtless, something entirely new is felt, or perceived. There is what some metaphysicians call a new simple idea. If grace be, in the sense above described, an entirely new kind of principle; then the exercises of it are also new. And if there be in the soul a new sort of conscious exercises, which the soul knew nothing of before, and which no improvement, composition, or management of what it was before could produce; then it follows that the mind has an entirely new kind of perception or sensation. Here is, as it were, a new spiritual sense, or a principle of new kind of perception or spiritual sensation, which is in its whole nature different from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other senses. And something is perceived by a true saint, in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely diverse from any thing that is perceived in them, by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by only looking on and feeling it. So that the spiritual perceptions which a sanctified and spiritual person has, are not only diverse from all that natural men have as the perceptions of the same sense may differ one from another, but rather as the ideas and sensations of different senses differ. Hence the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration is often in scripture compared to the giving of a new sense, eyes to see, ears to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, opening the eyes of them that were born blind, and turning from darkness unto light. And because this spiritual sense is immensely the most noble and excellent, and that without which all other principles of perception, and all our faculties are useless and vain; therefore the giving of this new sense, with the blessed fruits and effects of it in the soul, is compared to raising the dead, and to a new creation.
This new spiritual sense, and the new dispositions that attend it, are no new faculties, but new principles of nature, I use the word principles, for want of a word of a more determine 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 dis
position 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 the 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 that he shall hereafter see or hear; 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 influences 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 he 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 their apprehensions and notions in many respects, without giving any spiritual sense. So in those awakenings and convictions that natural men may have, 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 a 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 dif ferent 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 to 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 have conceptions of many things about spiritual affections; but there is something in them