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the consciences of natural men, without spiritual light, in this world. The same discoveries are in some measure given in the conscience of an awakened sinner in this world, which will be given more fully at the day of judgment. The same kind of apprehension, in a lesser degree, makes awakened sinners in this world sensible of the dreadful guilt of sin against so great and terrible a God, and of its amazing punishment-and fills them with fearful apprehensions of divine wrath-that will thoroughly convince all wicked men, of the infinitely dreadful nature and guilt of sin, and astonish them with apprehensions of wrath, when Christ shall come in the glory of his power and majesty, and every eye shall see him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. And in those common illuminations which are sometimes given to natural men, exciting in them some kind of religious desire, love and joy, the mind is only assisted to a clearer apprehension of the natural good that is in divine things. Thus sometimes, under common illuminations, men are raised with the ideas of the natural good that is in heaven; as its outward glory, its ease, its honour and advancement, being there the objects of the high favour of God, and the great respect of men and angels, &c. So there are many things exhibited in the gospel, concerning God and Christ, and the way of salvation, that have a natural good in them, which suits the natural principle of self-love. Thus in that great goodness of God to sinners, and the wonderful dying love of Christ, there is a natural good, which all men love, as they love themselves; as well as a spiritual and holy beauty, which is seen only by the regenerate. Therefore there are many things appertaining to the word of God's grace delivered in the gospel, which may cause natural men, when they hear it, anon with joy to receive it. All that love which natural men have to God and Christ, Christian virtues, and good men, is not from any sight of the amiableness, or true moral excellency of these things; but only for the sake of the natural good there is in them. All natural men's hatred of sin,
ich from principles of nature, as their hatred of a tiger rapaciousness, or their aversion to a serpent for his poison tfulness. Their love of Christian virtue, is from no higher principle than their love of a man's good nature, which appears amiable to natural men; but no otherwise than silver and gold appears amiable in the eyes of a merchant, or than the blackness of the soil is beautiful in the eyes of the farmer.
From what has been said it appears, that spiritual understanding does not consist in any new doctrinal knowledge, or in having suggested to the mind any new proposition, not before read or heard of: for it is plain, that this suggesting of new proposi-. tions, is a thing entirely diverse from giving the mind a new taste
or relish of beauty and sweetness*. It is also evident, that spiritual knowledge does not consist in any new doctrinal explanation of any part of the scripture; for still, this is but doctrinal knowledge, or the knowledge of propositions; the doctrinal explaining of any part of scripture, is only giving us to understand, what are the propositions contained or taught in that part of scrip
Hence it appears, that the spiritual understanding of the scripture, does not consist in opening to the mind the mystical meaning of the scripture, in its parables, types, and allegories; for this is only a doctrinal explication of the scripture. He that explains what is meant by the stony ground, and the seed springing up suddenly, and quickly withering away, only explains what propositions or doctrines are taught in it. So he that explains what is typified by Jacob's ladder, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it, or what was typified by Joshua's leading Israel through Jordan, only shews what propositions are hid in these passages. And many men can explain these types, who have no spiritual knowledge. It is possible that a man might know how to interpret all the types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the Bible, and not have one beam of spiritual light in his mind; because he may not have any spiritual sense of the holy beauty of divine things, and may see nothing of this kind of glory in any of these mysteries, or any other part of the scripture. It is plain, by what the apostle says, that a man might understand all such mysteries, and have no saving grace; 1 Cor. xiii. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. They therefore are very foolish, who are exalted in an opinion of their own spiritual attainments, from their notions of the mystical meaning of scripture passages, as though it was a spiritual understanding, immediately given them by the Spirit of God. Their affections may be highly raised; but what has been said, shews the vanity of such affections.
From what has been said, it is also evident, that it is not spiritual knowledge, for persons to be informed of their duty, by having it immediately suggested to their minds, that such and such outward actions or deeds are the will of God. If we suppose that it is truly God's manner thus to signify his will to his peo
* Calvin, in his Institutions, Book I. Chap. ix. 1, says, "It is not the office of the Spirit that is promised us, to make new and before unheard of revelations, or to coin some new kind of doctrine, which tends to draw us away from the received doctrine of the gospel; but to seal and confirm to us that very doctrine which is by the gospel." And in the same place he speaks of some, that in those days maintained the contrary notion, "pretending to be immediately led by the Spirit, as persons that were governed by a most haughty self conceit; and not so properly to be looked upon as only labouring under a mistake, as driven by a sort of raving madness."
ple, by immediate inward suggestions, such suggestions have nothing of the nature of spiritual light. Such knowledge would only be doctrinal; for a proposition concerning the will of God, is as properly a doctrine of religion, as a proposition concerning the nature or a work of God. Having any proposition declared to a man, either by speech, or inward suggestion, differs vastly from having the holy beauty of divine things manifested to the soul, wherein spiritual knowledge most essentially consists. Thus there was no spiritual light in Balaam; though he had the will of God immediately suggested to him by the Spirit, concerning the way that he should go, and what he should do and say.
It is manifest therefore, that being led and directed in this manner, is not that holy and spiritual leading of the Spirit of God, which is peculiar to the saints and a distinguishing mark of the sons of God, spoken of Rom. viii. 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God. Gal. v. 18. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
And if persons have the will of God concerning their actions, suggested to them by some text of scripture suddenly brought to their minds which text, as the words lay in the Bible, before they came to their minds, related to the action and behaviour of some other person-it alters not the case. The suggestion being accompanied with an apt text of scripture, does not make it to be of the nature of spiritual instruction. For instance, suppose a person in New-England, on some occasion, were at a loss whether it was his duty to go into some popish or heathenish land, where he was like to be exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and should pray to God that he would shew him the way of his duty; and after earnest prayer, should have those words which God spake to Jacob, Gen. xlvi. suddenly and extraordinarily brought to his mind, as if they were spoken to him; Fear not to go down into Egypt, and I will go with thee; and I will also surely bring thee up again. In which words, though as they lay in the Bible before they came to his mind, they related only to Jacob and his behaviour; yet he supposes that God has a further meaning, as they were brought and applied to him; that by Egypt is to be understood this particular country he has in his mind, and that the action intended is his going thither, and the meaning of the promise is, that God would bring him back into New-England again. There is nothing of the nature of a spiritual or gracious leading of the Spirit in this; for there is nothing of the nature of spiritual understanding in it. Spiritually to understand the scripture, is rightly to understand what is in the scripture, and what was in it before it was understood: it is to understand rightly, what used to be contained in the meaning of it, and not the making a new meaning. When the mind is enlightened spiri
tually and rightly to understand the scripture, it is enabled to see that which before was not seen, by reason of blindness. But if it was by reason of blindness, that is an evidence that the same meaning was in it before, otherwise it would have been no blindness not to see it; it is no blindness not to see a meaning which is not there. Spiritually enlightening the eyes to understand the scripture, is to open the eyes, Psal. cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law; which argues, that the reason why the same was not seen in the scripture before, was, that the eyes were shut; which would not be the case, if the meaning now understood was not there before, but is now newly added to the scripture by the manner of the scripture coming to the mind. This making of a new meaning to the scripture, is the same thing as making a new scripture; it is properly adding to the word, which is threatened with so dreadful a curse. Spiritually to understand the scripture, is to have the eyes of the mind opened to behold the wonderful, spiritual excellency of the glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always were contained in it, ever since it was written; to behold the amiable and bright manifestations of the divine perfections, the excellency and sufficiency of Christ, the suitableness of the way of salvation by him, and the spiritual glory of the precepts and promises of the scripture, &c. These things are, and always were in the Bible, and would have been seen before, if it had not been for blindness, without having any new sense added.
And as to a gracious leading of the Spirit, it consists in two things; partly in instructing a person in his duty by the Spirit, and partly in powerfully inducing him to comply with that instruction. But so far as the gracious leading of the Spirit lies in instruction, it consists in a person's being guided by a spiritual and distinguishing taste of that which has in it true moral beauty. I have shewn that spiritual knowledge primarily consists in a taste or relish of the amiableness and beauty of that which is truly good and holy this holy relish discerns and distinguishes between good and evil, between holy and unholy, without being at the trouble of a train of reasoning. As he who has a true relish of external beauty, knows what is beautiful by looking upon it; he stands in no need of a train of reasoning about the proportion of the features, in order to determine whether that which he sees be a beautiful countenance or no; he needs nothing, but only the glance of his eye. He who has a rectified musical ear, knows whether the sound he hears be true harmony; he does not need first to be at the trouble of the reasonings of a mathematician, about the proportion of the notes. He that has a rectified palate, knows what is good food, as soon as he tastes it, without the rea
soning of a physician about it. There is a holy beauty and sweetness in words and actions, as well as a natural beauty in countenances and sounds, and sweetness in food; Job. xii. 11. Doth not the ear try words, and the mouth taste his meat? When a holy and amiable action is suggested to the thoughts of a holy soul, that soul, if in the lively exercise of its spiritual taste, at once sees a beauty in it, and so inclines to it, and closes with it. On the contrary if an unworthy, unholy action be suggested, its sanctified eye sees no beauty in it, and is not pleased with it; its sanctified taste relishes no sweetness in it, but on the contrary, it is nauseous. Yea, its holy taste and appetite leads it to think of that which is truly lovely, and naturally suggests it; as a healthy taste and appetite naturally suggests the idea of its proper object. Thus a holy person is led by the Spirit, as he is instructed and led by his holy taste, and disposition of heart; whereby, in the lively exercise of grace, he easily distinguishes good and evil, and knows at once what is a suitable, amiable behaviour towards God, and towards man, in this case and the other; and judges what is right, as it were spontaneously, without a particular deduction, by any other arguments than the beauty that is seen, and goodness that is tasted. Thus Christ blames the Pharisees, that they did not, even of their ownselves, judge what was right, without needing miracles to prove it, Luke xii. 57. The apostle seems plainly to have respect to this way of judging of spiritual beauty, in Rom. xii. 2. Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and perfect, and acceptable will of
There is such a thing as good taste of natural beauty, (of which learned men often speak), exercised about temporal things, in judging of them; as about the justness of a speech, the goodness of style, the beauty of a poem, the gracefulness of deportment, &c. A late great philosopher of our nation, writes thus upon it; "To have a taste, is to give things their real value, to be touched with the good, to be shocked with the ill; not to be dazzled with false lustres, but in spite of all colours, and every thing that might deceive or amuse, to judge soundly. Taste and judgment then, should be the same thing; and yet it is easy to discern a difference. The judgment forms its opinions from reflection the reason on this occasion fetches a kind of circuit, to arrive at its end; it supposes principles, it draws consequences, and it judges; but not without a thorough knowledge of the case; so that after it has pronounced, it is ready to render a reason of its decrees. Good taste observes none of these formalities; ere it has time to consult, it has taken its side; as soon as ever the
Chambers' Dictionary, under the word TASTE.