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elevate them, and raise their joy and praise. This will be the natural effect of it, under the real or supposed receipt of some extraordinary mercy from God, by the influence of mere principles of nature. It has been shewn already, that the receipt of kindness may, by the influence of natural principles, affect the heart with gratitude and praise to God; but if a person, at the same time, has a sense of his infinite greatness, and that he is as nothing in comparison of him, surely this will naturally raise his gratitude and praise the higher, for kindness to one so much inferior. A sense of God's greatness had this effect upon Nebuchadnezzar, on that extraordinary favour of his restoration, after he had been driven from men, and had his dwelling with the beasts. A sense of God's exceeding greatness raises his gratitude very high; so that he does, in the most lofty terms, extol and magnify God, and calls upon all the world to do it with him. If a natural man, at the same time that he is greatly affected with God's infinite greatness and majesty, entertains a strong conceit that this great God has made him his child and special favourite, and promised him eternal glory in his highest love, will not this have a tendency, according to the course of nature, to raise his joy and praise to a great height?
Therefore, it is beyond doubt, that too much weight has been laid on discoveries of God's greatness, awful majesty, and natural perfection, operating after this manner, without any real view of the holy, lovely majesty of God. And experience does abundantly confirm, what reason and scripture declare as to this matter; there having been very many persons, who have seemed to be overpowered with the greatness and awful majesty of God, but have been very far from a Christian spirit and temper, in any proportion, or fruits in practice in any wise agreeable; nay, their discoveries have worked in a way contrary to the operation of truly spiritual discoveries.
Not that a sense of God's greatness and natural attributes is not useful and necessary. For, as I observed before, this is implied in a manifestation of the beauty of God's holiness. Though that be something beyond it, it supposes it, as the greater supposes the less. And though natural men may have a sense of the natural perfections of God, yet undoubtedly this is more frequent and common with the saints, than with them. Grace enables men to see these things in a better manner, than natural men do; and not only enables them to see God's natural attributes, but that beauty of those attributes which (according to our way of conceiving of God) is derived from his holiness.
Gracious affections arise from the mind being enlightened rightly and spiritually to apprehend divine things.
Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from some information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge. The child of God is graciously affected, because he sees and understands something more of divine things than he did before, more of God or Christ, and of the glorious things exhibited in the gospel. He has a clearer and better view than he had before, when he was not affected; either he receives some new understanding of divine things, or has his former knowledge renewed after the view was decayed; 1 John iv. 7. Every one that loveth, knoweth God. Phil. i. 9. I pray that your love may abound more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment.
Rom. xii. They have a seal of God, but not according to knowledge, Col. iii. 10. The new man, which is renewed in knowledge. Psal. xliii. 3, 4. O send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto thy holy hill. John vi. 45.
It is written
in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Knowledge is the key that first opens the hard heart, enlarges the affections, and opens the way for men into the kingdom of heaven; Luke xi. 52. Ye have taken away the key of knowledge.
Now there are many affections which do not arise from any light in the understanding, which is a sure evidence that these affections are not spiritual, let them be ever so high*. Indeed
"Many that have had mighty strong affections at first conversion, afterwards become dry, and wither, and consume, and pine, and die away: and now their hypocrisy is manifest, if not to all the world by open profaneness, yet to the discerning eye of living Christians, by a formal, barren, unsavoury, unfruitful (heart and course; because they never had light to conviction enough as yet. It is strange to see some people carried with mighty affection against sin and hell, and after Christ. And what is the hell you fear?-A dreadful place. What is Christ? They scarce know so much as devils do; but that is all. Oh! trust them not. Many have, and these will all away to some lust, or opinion, or pride, or world; and the reason is, they never had light enough, John v. 35. John was a burning and shining ligh', and they did joy in him for a season;' yet glorious as it was, they saw not Christ by it, especially not with divine light. It is rare to see Christians full both of light and affection. And therefore, cousider of this, many a man has been well brought up, and is of a sweet loving nature, mild and gentle, and harmless, likes and loves the best things, and his meaning, and mind, and heart is good, and has more in heart than in shew; and so hopes all shall go well with him. I say, there may lie greatest hypocrisy under greatest affections; especially if they want light. You shall be hardened in your hypocrisy by them I never liked violent affections and pangs, but only such as were dropped in by light; be
they have some new apprehensions which they had not before. Such is the nature of man, that it is impossible his mind should be affected, unless it be by something that he apprehends, or that his mind conceives. But in many persons those apprehensions or conceptions wherewith they are affected, have nothing of the nature of knowledge or instruction in them. For instance; when a person is affected with a lively idea, suddenly excited in his mind, of some shape, or beautiful pleasant form of countenance, a shining light, or other glorious outward appearance: here is something conceived by the mind; but nothing of the nature of instruction. Persons become never the wiser by such things, more knowing about God, a Mediator between God and man, the way of salvation by Christ, or any thing contained in the doctrines of the gospel. Persons by these external ideas have no further acquaintance with God, as to any of the attributes or perfections of his nature; nor have they any further understanding of his word, his ways, or works. Truly spiritual and gracious affections are not raised after this manner; these arise from the enlightening of the understanding, to understand the things taught of God and Christ, in a new manner. There is a new understanding of the excellent nature of God and his wonderful perfections, some new view of Christ in his spiritual excellencies and fulness; or things are opened to him in a new manner, whereby he now understands those divine and spiritual doctrines which once were foolishness to him. Such enlightenings of the understanding as these, are entirely different in their nature, from strong ideas of shapes and colours, outward brightness and glory, or sounds and voices. That all gracious affections arise from some instruction, or enlightening of the understanding, is therefore a further proof, that affections which arise from such an impression on the imagination, are not gracious.
Hence also it appears, that affections arising from texts of scripture coming to the mind, are vain, when no instruction received in the understanding from those texts, or any thing taught in them, is the ground of the affection, but the manner of their coming to the mind. When Christ makes the scripture a means of the heart's burning with gracious affection, it is by opening the scriptures to their understandings; Luke xxiv. 32. Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? It appears also that the affection which is occasioned by the coming of a text of scripture must be vain, when the affection is founded on something supposed to be taught by it, which really is not contained in it, nor in
cause those come from an external principle, and last not, but these do.—Men are not affrighted by the light of the sun, though clearer than lightning."-(Shepard's Parable, Part I. p. 146.)
any other scripture; because such supposed instruction is not real instruction, but a misapprehension of the mind. For instance, when persons suppose that they are expressly taught by some scripture coming to their minds, that they in particular are beloved of God, that their sins are forgiven, that God is their father, and the like; this is a misapprehension; for the scripture no where reveals the individual persons who are beloved, expressly, but only by revealing the qualifications of persons beloved of God.- -Therefore this matter is not to be learned from scripture any other way than by consequence, from these qualifications; for things are not to be learned from the scripture any other way than they are taught in the scripture.
Affections really arise from ignorance, rather than instruction, in the instances which have been mentioned; as likewise in some others that might be mentioned. Some, when they find themselves free of speech in prayer, call it God's being with them; this affects them, and their affections are increased; when they look not into the cause of this freedom of speech, which may So some arise many other ways besides God's spiritual presence. are much affected with apt thoughts that come into their minds about the scripture, and call it the Spirit of God teaching them. They ascribe many of the workings of their own minds, of which they have a high opinion, to the special, immediate influences of God's Spirit; and so are mightily affected with their privilege.And there are some instances of persons, in whom it seems manifest, that the first ground of their affection is some bodily sensation. The animal spirits, by some cause, (and probably sometimes by the devil,) are suddenly and unaccountably put into a very agreeable motion, causing persons to feel pleasantly in their bodies; the spirits being put into such a motion as is wont to be connected with the exhilaration of the mind; and the soul, by the laws of its union with the body, hence feels pleasure. This motion of the animal spirits does not first arise from any apprehension of the mind whatsoever; but the very first thing felt, is an exhilaration and a pleasant external sensation, it may be in their breasts. Hence, through ignorance, the person being surprised, begins to think, surely this is the Holy Ghost coming into him. And then the mind begins to be affected and raised; there is first great joy, and then many other affections, in a very tumultuous manner, putting all nature, both body and mind, into a mighty ruffle. For, though, as I observed before, it is the soul only that is the seat of the affections, yet this hinders not but that bodily sensations may, in this manner, be an occasion of affections in the mind.
And though men's religious affections truly arise from some instruction, or light in the understanding, yet the affection is not
gracious, unless the light which is the ground of it be spiritual. Affections may be excited by what they obtain merely by human teaching, with the common improvement of their faculties. Men may be much affected by knowledge of religious things obtained this way; as some philosophers have been mightily affected, and almost carried beyond themselves, by the discoveries they have made in mathematics and natural philosophy. So men may be much affected from common illuminations of the Spirit of God, in which he assists their faculties to a greater degree of that kind of understanding of religious matters, which they have by the ordinary exercise and improvement of their own faculties. Such illuminations may much affect the mind; as in many whom we read of in scripture, that were once enlightened: but these affections are not spiritual.
There is, if the scriptures are of any use to teach us any thing, a spiritual, supernatural understanding of divine things, peculiar to the saints. 1 Cor. ii. 14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. It is certainly a kind of seeing spiritual things peculiar to the saints, which is spoken of in 1 John iii. 6. Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. 3 John 11. He that doeth evil, hath not seen God. And John vi. 40. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life. Chap. xiv. 19. The world seeth me no more; but ye see me. Chap. xvii. 3. This is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Matth. xi. 27. No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. John xii. 45. He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. Psal. ix. 10. They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee. Phil. ii. 8. Ï count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord :- -ver. 10. That I may know him.Innumerable other places there are, all over the Bible, which shew the same. And that there is an understanding of divine things, which in its nature and kind is wholly different from all knowledge that natural men have, is evident from this, that there is what the scripture calls spiritual understanding; Col. i. 9. do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. It has been already shown, that what is spiritual, in the ordinary use of the word in the New Testament, is entirely different in nature and kind, from all which natural men are, or can be the subjects of.