OF THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN POLITIQUES
The Word Of God Delivered By Prophets Is The Main Principle Of Christian Politiques I have derived the Rights of Soveraigne Power, and the duty of Subjects hitherto, from the Principles of Nature onely; such as Experience has found true, or Consent (concerning the use of words) has made so; that is to say, from the nature of Men, known to us by Experience, and from Definitions (of such words as are Essentiall to all Politicall reasoning) universally agreed on. But in that I am next to handle, which is the Nature and Rights of a CHRISTIAN COMMON-WEALTH, whereof there dependeth much upon Supernaturall Revelations of the Will of God; the ground of my Discourse must be, not only the Naturall Word of God, but also the Propheticall.
Neverthelesse, we are not to renounce our Senses, and Experience; nor (that which is the undoubted Word of God) our naturall Reason. For they are the talents which he hath put into our hands to negotiate, till the coming again of our blessed Saviour; and therefore not to be folded up in the Napkin of an Implicate Faith, but employed in the purchase of Justice, Peace, and true Religion, For though there be many things in Gods Word above Reason; that is to say, which cannot by naturall reason be either demonstrated, or confuted; yet there is nothing contrary to it; but when it seemeth so, the fault is either in our unskilfull Interpretation, or erroneous Ratiocination.
Therefore, when any thing therein written is too hard for our examination, wee are bidden to captivate our understanding to the Words; and not to labour in sifting out a Philosophicall truth by Logick, of such mysteries as are not comprehensible, nor fall under any rule of naturall science. For it is with the mysteries of our Religion, as with wholsome pills for the sick, which swallowed whole, have the vertue to cure; but chewed, are for the most part cast up again without effect.
What It Is To Captivate The Understanding But by the Captivity of our Understanding, is not meant a Submission of the Intellectual faculty, to the Opinion of any other man; but of the Will to Obedience, where obedience is due. For Sense, Memory, Understanding, Reason, and Opinion are not in our power to change; but alwaies, and necessarily such, as the things we see, hear, and consider suggest unto us; and therefore are not effects of our Will, but our Will of them. We then Captivate our Understanding and Reason, when we forbear contradiction; when we so speak, as (by lawfull Authority) we are commanded; and when we live accordingly; which in sum, is Trust, and Faith reposed in him that speaketh, though the mind be incapable of any Notion at all from the words spoken.
How God Speaketh To Men When God speaketh to man, it must be either immediately; or by mediation of another man, to whom he had formerly spoken by himself immediately. How God speaketh to a man immediately, may be understood by those well enough, to whom he hath so spoken; but how the same should be understood by another, is hard, if not impossible to know. For if a man pretend to me, that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce, to oblige me to beleeve it. It is true, that if he be my Soveraign, he may oblige me to obedience, so, as not by act or word to declare I beleeve him not; but not to think any otherwise then my reason perswades me. But if one that hath not such authority over me, shall pretend the same, there is nothing that exacteth either beleefe, or obedience.
For to say that God hath spoken to him in the Holy Scripture, is not to say God hath spoken to him immediately, but by mediation of the Prophets, or of the Apostles, or of the Church, in such manner as he speaks to all other Christian men. To say he hath spoken to him in a Dream, is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him; which is not of force to win beleef from any man, that knows dreams are for the most part naturall, and may proceed from former thoughts; and such dreams as that, from selfe conceit, and foolish arrogance, and false opinion of a mans own godlinesse, or other vertue, by which he thinks he hath merited the favour of extraordinary Revelation. To say he hath seen a Vision, or heard a Voice, is to say, that he hath dreamed between sleeping and waking: for in such manner a man doth many times naturally take his dream for a vision, as not having well observed his own slumbering. To say he speaks by supernaturall Inspiration, is to say he finds an ardent desire to speak, or some strong opinion of himself, for which he can alledge no naturall and sufficient reason. So that though God Almighty can speak to a man, by Dreams, Visions, Voice, and Inspiration; yet he obliges no man to beleeve he hath so done to him that pretends it; who (being a man), may erre, and (which is more) may lie.
By What Marks Prophets Are Known How then can he, to whom God hath never revealed his Wil immediately (saving by the way of natural reason) know when he is to obey,
or not to obey his Word, delivered by him, that sayes he is a Prophet? (1 Kings 22) Of 400 Prophets, of whom the K. of Israel asked counsel, concerning the warre he made against Ramoth Gilead, only Micaiah was a true one.(1 Kings 13) The Prophet that was sent to prophecy against the Altar set up by Jeroboam, though a true Prophet, and that by two miracles done in his presence appears to be a Prophet sent from God, was yet deceived by another old Prophet, that perswaded him as from the mouth of God, to eat and drink with him. If one Prophet deceive another, what certainty is there of knowing the will of God, by other way than that of Reason? To which I answer out of the Holy Scripture, that there be two marks, by which together, not asunder, a true Prophet is to be known. One is the doing of miracles; the other is the not teaching any other Religion than that which is already established. Asunder (I say) neither of these is sufficient. (Deut. 13 v. 1,2,3,4,5 ) "If a Prophet rise amongst you, or a Dreamer of dreams, and shall pretend the doing of a miracle, and the miracle come to passe; if he say, Let us follow strange Gods, which thou hast not known, thou shalt not hearken to him, &c. But that Prophet and Dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to you to Revolt from the Lord your God." In which words two things are to be observed, First, that God wil not have miracles alone serve for arguments, to approve the Prophets calling; but (as it is in the third verse) for an experiment of the constancy of our adherence to himself. For the works of the Egyptian Sorcerers, though not so great as those of Moses, yet were great miracles. Secondly, that how great soever the miracle be, yet if it tend to stir up revolt against the King, or him that governeth by the Kings authority, he that doth such miracle, is not to be considered otherwise than as sent to make triall of their allegiance. For these words, "revolt from the Lord your God," are in this place equivalent to "revolt from your King." For they had made God their King by pact at the foot of Mount Sinai; who ruled them by Moses only; for he only spake with God, and from time to time declared Gods Commandements to the people. In like manner, after our Saviour Christ had made his Disciples acknowledge him for the Messiah, (that is to say, for Gods anointed, whom the nation of the Jews daily expected for their King, but refused when he came,) he omitted not to advertise them of the danger of miracles. "There shall arise," (saith he) "false Christs, and false Prophets, and shall doe great wonders and miracles, even to the seducing (if it were possible) of the very Elect." (Mat. 24. 24) By which it appears, that false Prophets may have the power of miracles; yet are wee not to take their doctrin for Gods Word. St. Paul says further to the Galatians, that "if himself, or an Angell from heaven preach another Gospel to them, than he had preached, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1. 8) That Gospel was, that Christ was King; so that all preaching against the power of the King received, in consequence to these words, is by St. Paul accursed. For his speech is addressed to those, who by his preaching had already received Jesus for the Christ, that is to say, for King of the Jews.
The Marks Of A Prophet In The Old Law, Miracles, And Doctrine Conformable To The Law And as Miracles, without preaching that Doctrine which God hath established; so preaching the true Doctrine, without the doing of Miracles, is an unsufficient argument of immediate Revelation. For if a man that teacheth not false Doctrine, should pretend to bee a Prophet without shewing any Miracle, he is never the more to bee regarded for his pretence, as is evident by Deut. 18. v. 21, 22. "If thou say in thy heart, How shall we know that the Word (of the Prophet) is not that which the Lord hath spoken. When the Prophet shall have spoken in the name of the Lord, that which shall not come to passe, that's the word which the Lord hath not spoken, but the Prophet has spoken it out of the pride of his own heart, fear him not." But a man may here again ask, When the Prophet hath foretold a thing, how shal we know whether it will come to passe or not? For he may foretel it as a thing to arrive after a certain long time, longer then the time of mans life; or indefinitely, that it will come to passe one time or other: in which case this mark of a Prophet is unusefull; and therefore the miracles that oblige us to beleeve a Prophet, ought to be confirmed by an immediate, or a not long deferr'd event. So that it is manifest, that the teaching of the Religion which God hath established, and the showing of a present Miracle, joined together, were the only marks whereby the Scripture would have a true Prophet, that is to say immediate Revelation to be acknowledged; neither of them being singly sufficient to oblige any other man to regard what he saith.
Miracles Ceasing, Prophets Cease, And The Scripture Supplies Their Place Seeing therefore Miracles now cease, we have no sign left, whereby to acknowledge the pretended Revelations, or Inspirations of any private man; nor obligation to give ear to any Doctrine, farther than it is conformable to the Holy Scriptures, which since the time of our Saviour, supply the want of all other Prophecy; and from which, by wise and careful ratiocination, all rules and precepts necessary to the knowledge of our duty both to God and man, without Enthusiasme, or supernaturall Inspiration, may easily be deduced. And this Scripture is it, out of which I am to take the Principles of my Discourse, concerning the Rights of those that are the Supream Govenors on earth, of Christian Common-wealths; and of the duty of Christian Subjects towards their Soveraigns. And to that end, I shall speak in the next Chapter, or the Books, Writers, Scope and Authority of the Bible.
OF THE NUMBER, ANTIQUITY, SCOPE, AUTHORITY, AND INTERPRETERS OF THE BOOKS OF HOLY SCRIPTURES
Of The Books Of Holy Scripture By the Books of Holy SCRIPTURE, are understood those, which ought to be the Canon, that is to say, the Rules of Christian life. And because all Rules of life, which men are in conscience bound to observe, are Laws; the question of the Scripture, is the question of what is Law throughout all Christendome, both Naturall, and Civill. For though it be not determined in Scripture, what Laws every Christian King shall constitute in his own Dominions; yet it is determined what laws he shall not constitute. Seeing therefore I have already proved, that Soveraigns in their own Dominions are the sole Legislators; those Books only are Canonicall, that is, Law, in every nation, which are established for such by the Soveraign Authority. It is true, that God is the Soveraign of all Soveraigns; and therefore, when he speaks to any Subject, he ought to be obeyed, whatsoever any earthly Potentate command to the contrary. But the question is not of obedience to God, but of When, and What God hath said; which to Subjects that have no supernaturall revelation, cannot be known, but by that naturall reason, which guided them, for the obtaining of Peace and Justice, to obey the authority of their severall Common-wealths; that is to say, of their lawfull Soveraigns. According to this obligation, I can acknowledge no other Books of the Old Testament, to be Holy Scripture, but those which have been commanded to be acknowledged for such, by the Authority of the Church of England. What Books these are, is sufficiently known, without a Catalogue of them here; and they are the same that are acknowledged by St. Jerome, who holdeth the rest, namely, the Wisdome of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobias, the first and second of Maccabees, (though he had seen the first in Hebrew) and the third and fourth of Esdras, for Apocrypha. Of the Canonicall, Josephus a learned Jew, that wrote in the time of the Emperor Domitian, reckoneth Twenty Two, making the number agree with the Hebrew Alphabet. St. Jerome does the same, though they reckon them in different manner. For Josephus numbers Five Books of Moses, Thirteen of Prophets, that writ the History of their own times (which how it agrees with the Prophets writings contained in the Bible wee shall see hereafter), and Four of Hymnes and Morall Precepts. But St. Jerome reckons Five Books of Moses, Eight of Prophets, and Nine of other Holy writ, which he calls of Hagiographa. The Septuagint, who were 70. learned men of the Jews, sent for by Ptolemy King of Egypt, to translate the Jewish Law, out of the Hebrew into the Greek, have left us no other for holy Scripture in the Greek tongue, but the same that are received in the Church of England.
As for the Books of the New Testament, they are equally acknowledged for Canon by all Christian Churches, and by all sects of Christians, that admit any Books at all for Canonicall.
Their Antiquity Who were the originall writers of the severall Books of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other History, (which is the only proof of matter of fact); nor can be by any arguments of naturall Reason; for Reason serves only to convince the truth (not of fact, but) of consequence. The light therefore that must guide us in this question, must be that which is held out unto us from the Bookes themselves: And this light, though it show us not the writer of every book, yet it is not unusefull to give us knowledge of the time, wherein they were written.
The Pentateuch Not Written By Moses And first, for the Pentateuch, it is not argument enough that they were written by Moses, because they are called the five Books of Moses; no more than these titles, The Book of Joshua, the Book of Judges, The Book of Ruth, and the Books of the Kings, are arguments sufficient to prove, that they were written by Joshua, by the Judges, by Ruth, and by the Kings. For in titles of Books, the subject is marked, as often as the writer. The History Of Livy, denotes the Writer; but the History Of Scanderbeg, is denominated from the subject. We read in the last Chapter of Deuteronomie, Ver. 6. concerning the sepulcher of Moses, "that no man knoweth of his sepulcher to this day," that is, to the day wherein those words were written. It is therefore manifest, that those words were written after his interrement. For it were a strange interpretation, to say Moses spake of his own sepulcher (though by Prophecy), that it was not found to that day, wherein he was yet living. But it may perhaps be alledged, that the last Chapter only, not the whole Pentateuch, was written by some other man, but the rest not: Let us therefore consider that which we find in the Book of Genesis, Chap. 12. Ver. 6 "And Abraham passed through the land to the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh, and the Canaanite was then in the land;" which must needs bee the words of one that wrote when the Canaanite was not in the land; and consequently, not of Moses, who dyed before he came into it. Likewise Numbers 21. Ver. 14. the Writer citeth another more ancient Book, Entituled, The Book of the Warres of the Lord, wherein were registred the Acts of Moses, at the Red-sea, and at the brook of Arnon. It is therefore sufficiently evident, that the five Books of Moses were written after his time, though how long after it be not so manifest.
But though Moses did not compile those Books entirely, and in the form we have them; yet he wrote all that which hee is there said to have written: as for example, the Volume of the Law, which is contained, as it seemeth in the 11 of Deuteronomie, and the following Chapters to the 27. which was also commanded to be written on stones, in their entry into the land of Canaan. (Deut. 31. 9) And this did Moses himself write, and deliver to the Priests and Elders of Israel, to be read every seventh year to all Israel, at their assembling in the feast of Tabernacles. And this is that Law which God commanded, that their Kings (when they should have established that form of Government) should take a copy of from the Priests and Levites to lay in the side of the Arke; (Deut. 31. 26) and the same which having been lost, was long time after found again by Hilkiah, and sent to King Josias, who causing it to be read to the People, renewed the Covenant between God and them. (2 King. 22. 8 & 23. 1,2,3)
The Book of Joshua Written After His Time That the Book of Joshua was also written long after the time of Joshua, may be gathered out of many places of the Book it self. Joshua had set up twelve stones in the middest of Jordan, for a monument of their passage; (Josh 4. 9) of which the Writer saith thus, "They are there unto this day;" (Josh 5. 9) for "unto this day", is a phrase that signifieth a time past, beyond the memory of man. In like manner, upon the saying of the Lord, that he had rolled off from the people the Reproach of Egypt, the Writer saith, "The place is called Gilgal unto this day;" which to have said in the time of Joshua had been improper. So also the name of the Valley of Achor, from the trouble that Achan raised in the Camp, (Josh. 7. 26) the Writer saith, "remaineth unto this day;" which must needs bee therefore long after the time of Joshua. Arguments of this kind there be many other; as Josh. 8. 29. 13. 13. 14. 14. 15. 63.
The Booke Of Judges And Ruth Written Long After The Captivity The same is manifest by like arguments of the Book of Judges, chap. 1. 21,26 6.24 10.4 15.19 17.6 and Ruth 1. 1. but especially Judg. 18. 30. where it is said, that Jonathan "and his sonnes were Priests to the Tribe of Dan, untill the day of the captivity of the land."
The Like Of The Bookes Of Samuel That the Books of Samuel were also written after his own time, there are the like arguments, 1 Sam. 5.5. 7.13,15. 27.6. & 30.25. where, after David had adjudged equall part of the spoiles, to them that guarded the Ammunition, with them that fought, the Writer saith, "He made it a Statute and an Ordinance to Israel to this day." (2. Sam. 6.4.) Again, when David (displeased, that the Lord had slain Uzzah, for putting out his hand to sustain the Ark,) called the place Perez-Uzzah, the Writer saith, it is called so "to this day": the time therefore of the writing of that Book, must be long after the time of the fact; that is, long after the time of David.
The Books Of The Kings, And The Chronicles As for the two Books of the Kings, and the two books of the Chronicles, besides the places which mention such monuments, as the Writer saith, remained till his own days; such as are 1 Kings 9.13. 9.21. 10. 12. 12.19. 2 Kings 2.22. 8.22. 10.27. 14.7. 16.6. 17.23. 17.34. 17.41. 1 Chron. 4.41. 5.26. It is argument sufficient they were written after the captivity in Babylon, that the History of them is continued till that time. For the Facts Registred are alwaies more ancient than such Books as make mention of, and quote the Register; as these Books doe in divers places, referring the Reader to the Chronicles of the Kings of Juda, to the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, to the Books of the Prophet Samuel, or the Prophet Nathan, of the Prophet Ahijah; to the Vision of Jehdo, to the Books of the Prophet Serveiah, and of the Prophet Addo.
Ezra And Nehemiah The Books of Esdras and Nehemiah were written certainly after their return from captivity; because their return, the re-edification of the walls and houses of Jerusalem, the renovation of the Covenant, and ordination of their policy are therein contained.
Esther The History of Queen Esther is of the time of the Captivity; and therefore the Writer must have been of the same time, or after it.
Job The Book of Job hath no mark in it of the time wherein it was written: and though it appear sufficiently (Exekiel 14.14, and James 5.11.) that he was no fained person; yet the Book it self seemeth not to be a History, but a Treatise concerning a question in ancient time much disputed, "why wicked men have often prospered in this world, and good men have been afflicted;" and it is the most probably, because from the beginning, to the third verse of the third chapter, where the complaint of Job beginneth, the Hebrew is (as St. Jerome testifies) in prose; and from thence to the sixt verse of the last chapter in Hexameter Verses; and the rest of that chapter again in prose. So that the dispute is all in verse; and the prose is added, but as a Preface in the beginning, and an Epilogue in the end. But Verse is no usuall stile of such, as either are themselves in great pain, as Job; or of such as come to comfort them, as his friends; but in Philosophy, especially morall Philosophy, in ancient time frequent.
The Psalter The Psalmes were written the most part by David, for the use of the Quire. To these are added some songs of Moses, and other holy men; and some of them after the return from the Captivity; as the 137. and the 126. whereby it is manifest that the Psalter was compiled, and put into the form it now hath, after the return of the Jews from Babylon.
The Proverbs The Proverbs, being a Collection of wise and godly Sayings, partly of Solomon, partly of Agur the son of Jakeh; and partly of the Mother of King Lemuel, cannot probably be thought to have been collected by Solomon, rather then by Agur, or the Mother of Lemues; and that, though the sentences be theirs, yet the collection or compiling them into this one Book, was the work of some other godly man, that lived after them all.
Ecclesiastes And The Canticles The Books of Ecclesiastes and the Canticles have nothing that was not Solomons, except it be the Titles, or Inscriptions. For "The Words of the Preacher, the Son of David, King in Jerusalem;" and, "the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's," seem to have been made for distinctions sake, then, when the Books of Scripture were gathered into one body of the Law; to the end, that not the Doctrine only, but the Authors also might be extant.
The Prophets Of the Prophets, the most ancient, are Sophoniah, Jonas, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Michaiah, who lived in the time of Amaziah, and Azariah, otherwise Ozias, Kings of Judah. But the Book of Jonas is not properly a Register of his Prophecy, (for that is contained in these few words, "Fourty dayes and Ninivy shall be destroyed," but a History or Narration of his frowardenesse and disputing Gods commandements; so that there is small probability he should be the Author, seeing he is the subject of it. But the Book of Amos is his Prophecy.
Jeremiah, Abdias, Nahum, and Habakkuk prophecyed in the time of Josiah.
Ezekiel, Daniel, Aggeus, and Zacharias, in the Captivity.
When Joel and Malachi prophecyed, is not evident by their Writings. But considering the Inscriptions, or Titles of their Books, it is manifest enough, that the whole Scripture of the Old Testament, was set forth in the form we have it, after the return of the Jews from their Captivity in Babylon, and before the time of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, that caused it to bee translated into Greek by seventy men, which were sent him out of Judea for that purpose. And if the Books of Apocrypha (which are recommended to us by the Church, though not for Canonicall, yet for profitable Books for our instruction) may in this point be credited, the Scripture was set forth in the form wee have it in, by Esdras; as may appear by that which he himself saith, in the second book, chapt. 14. verse 21, 22, &c. where speaking to God, he saith thus, "Thy law is burnt; therefore no man knoweth the things which thou has done, or the works that are to begin. But if I have found Grace before thee, send down the holy Spirit into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world, since the beginning, which were written in thy Law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the later days, may live." And verse 45. "And it came to passe when the forty dayes were fulfilled, that the Highest spake, saying, 'The first that thou hast written, publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it; but keep the seventy last, that thou mayst deliver them onely to such as be wise among the people.'" And thus much concerning the time of the writing of the Bookes of the Old Testament.
The New Testament The Writers of the New Testament lived all in lesse then an age after Christs Ascension, and had all of them seen our Saviour, or been his Disciples, except St. Paul, and St. Luke; and consequently whatsoever was written by them, is as ancient as the time of the Apostles. But the time wherein the Books of the New Testament were received, and acknowledged by the Church to be of their writing, is not altogether so ancient. For, as the Bookes of the Old Testament are derived to us, from no higher time then that of Esdras, who by the direction of Gods Spirit retrived them, when they were lost: Those of the New Testament, of which the copies were not many, nor could easily be all in any one private mans hand, cannot bee derived from a higher time, that that wherein the Governours of the Church collected, approved, and recommended them to us, as the writings of those Apostles and Disciples; under whose names they go. The first enumeration of all the Bookes, both of the Old, and New Testament, is in the Canons of the Apostles, supposed to be collected by Clement the first (after St. Peter) Bishop of Rome. But because that is but supposed, and by many questioned, the Councell of Laodicea is the first we know, that recommended the Bible to the then Christian Churches, for the Writings of the Prophets and Apostles: and this Councell was held in the 364. yeer after Christ. At which time, though ambition had so far prevailed on the great Doctors of the Church, as no more to esteem Emperours, though Christian, for the Shepherds of the people, but for Sheep; and Emperours not Christian, for Wolves; and endeavoured to passe their Doctrine, not for Counsell, and Information, as Preachers; but for Laws, as absolute Governours; and thought such frauds as tended to make the people the more obedient to Christian Doctrine, to be pious; yet I am perswaded they did not therefore falsifie the Scriptures, though the copies of the Books of the New Testament, were in the hands only of the Ecclesiasticks; because if they had had an intention so to doe, they would surely have made them more favorable to their power over Christian Princes, and Civill Soveraignty, than they are. I see not therefore any reason to doubt, but that the Old, and New Testament, as we have them now, are the true Registers of those things, which were done and said by the Prophets, and Apostles. And so perhaps are some of those Books which are called Apocrypha, if left out of the Canon, not for inconformity of Doctrine with the rest, but only because they are not found in the Hebrew. For after the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, there were few learned Jews, that were not perfect in the Greek tongue. For the seventy Interpreters that converted the Bible into Greek, were all of them Hebrews; and we have extant the works of Philo and Josephus both Jews, written by them eloquently in Greek. But it is not the Writer, but the authority of the Church, that maketh a Book Canonicall.
Their Scope And although these Books were written by divers men, yet it is manifest the Writers were all indued with one and the same Spirit, in that they conspire to one and the same end, which is the setting forth of the Rights of the Kingdome of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For the Book of Genesis, deriveth the Genealogy of Gods people, from the creation of the World, to the going into Egypt: the other four Books of Moses, contain the Election of God for their King, and the Laws which hee prescribed for their Government: The Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel, to the time of Saul, describe the acts of Gods people, till the time they cast off Gods yoke, and called for a King, after the manner of their neighbour nations; The rest of the History of the Old Testament, derives the succession of the line of David, to the Captivity, out of which line was to spring the restorer of the Kingdome of God, even our blessed Saviour God the Son, whose coming was foretold in the Bookes of the Prophets, after whom the Evangelists writt his life, and actions, and his claim to the Kingdome, whilst he lived one earth: and lastly, the Acts, and Epistles of the Apostles, declare the coming of God, the Holy Ghost, and the Authority he left with them, and their successors, for the direction of the Jews, and for the invitation of the Gentiles. In summe, the Histories and the Prophecies of the old Testament, and the Gospels, and Epistles of the New Testament, have had one and the same scope, to convert men to the obedience of God; 1. in Moses, and the Priests; 2. in the man Christ; and 3. in the Apostles and the successors to Apostolicall power. For these three at several times did represent the person of God: Moses, and his successors the High Priests, and Kings of Judah, in the Old Testament: Christ himself, in the time he lived on earth: and the Apostles, and their successors, from the day of Pentecost (when the Holy Ghost descended on them) to this day.
The Question Of The Authority Of The Scriptures Stated. It is a question much disputed between the divers sects of Christian Religion, From Whence The Scriptures Derive Their Authority; which question is also propounded sometimes in other terms, as, How Wee Know Them To Be The Word Of God, or, Why We Beleeve Them To Be So: and the difficulty of resolving it, ariseth chiefly from the impropernesse of the words wherein the question it self is couched. For it is beleeved on all hands, that the first and originall Author of them is God; and consequently the question disputed, is not that. Again, it is manifest, that none can know they are Gods Word, (though all true Christians beleeve it,) but those to whom God himself hath revealed it supernaturally; and therefore the question is not rightly moved, of our Knowledge of it. Lastly, when the question is propounded of our Beleefe; because some are moved to beleeve for one, and others for other reasons, there can be rendred no one generall answer for them all. The question truly stated is, By What Authority They Are Made Law.
Their Authority And Interpretation As far as they differ not from the Laws of Nature, there is no doubt, but they are the Law of God, and carry their Authority with them, legible to all men that have the use of naturall reason: but this is no other Authority, then that of all other Morall Doctrine consonant to Reason; the Dictates whereof are Laws, not Made, but Eternall.
If they be made Law by God himselfe, they are of the nature of written Law, which are Laws to them only to whom God hath so sufficiently published them, as no man can excuse himself, by saying, he know not they were his.
He therefore, to whom God hath not supernaturally revealed, that they are his, nor that those that published them, were sent by him, is not obliged to obey them, by any Authority, but his, whose Commands have already the force of Laws; that is to say, by any other Authority, then that of the Common-wealth, residing in the Soveraign, who only has the Legislative power. Again, if it be not the Legislative Authority of the Common-wealth, that giveth them the force of Laws, it must bee some other Authority derived from God, either private, or publique: if private, it obliges onely him, to whom in particular God hath been pleased to reveale it. For if every man should be obliged, to take for Gods Law, what particular men, on pretence of private Inspiration, or Revelation, should obtrude upon him, (in such a number of men, that out of pride, and ignorance, take their own Dreams, and extravagant Fancies, and Madnesse, for testimonies of Gods Spirit; or out of ambition, pretend to such Divine testimonies, falsely, and contrary to their own consciences,) it were impossible that any Divine Law should be acknowledged. If publique, it is the Authority of the Common-wealth, or of the Church. But the Church, if it be one person, is the same thing with a Common-wealth of Christians; called a Common-wealth, because it consisteth of men united in one person, their Soveraign; and a Church, because it consisteth in Christian men, united in one Christian Soveraign. But if the Church be not one person, then it hath no authority at all; it can neither command, nor doe any action at all; nor is capable of having any power, or right to any thing; nor has any Will, Reason, nor Voice; for all these qualities are personall. Now if the whole number of Christians be not contained in one Common-wealth, they are not one person; nor is there an Universall Church that hath any authority over them; and therefore the Scriptures are not made Laws, by the Universall Church: or if it bee one Common-wealth, then all Christian Monarchs, and States are private persons, and subject to bee judged, deposed, and punished by an Universall Soveraigne of all Christendome. So that the question of the Authority of the Scriptures is reduced to this, "Whether Christian Kings, and the Soveraigne Assemblies in Christian Common-wealths, be absolute in their own Territories, immediately under God; or subject to one Vicar of Christ, constituted over the Universall Church; to bee judged, condemned, deposed, and put to death, as hee shall think expedient, or necessary for the common good."
Which question cannot bee resolved, without a more particular consideration of the Kingdome of God; from whence also, wee are to judge of the Authority of Interpreting the Scripture. For, whosoever hath a lawfull power over any Writing, to make it Law, hath the power also to approve, or disapprove the interpretation of the same.
OF THE SIGNIFICATION OF SPIRIT, ANGEL, AND INSPIRATION IN THE BOOKS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
Body And Spirit How Taken In The Scripture Seeing the foundation of all true Ratiocination, is the constant Signification of words; which in the Doctrine following, dependeth not (as in naturall science) on the Will of the Writer, nor (as in common conversation) on vulgar use, but on the sense they carry in the Scripture; It is necessary, before I proceed any further, to determine, out of the Bible, the meaning of such words, as by their ambiguity, may render what I am to inferre upon them, obscure, or disputable. I will begin with the words BODY, and SPIRIT, which in the language of the Schools are termed, Substances, Corporeall, and Incorporeall.
The Word Body, in the most generall acceptation, signifieth that which filleth, or occupyeth some certain room, or imagined place; and dependeth not on the imagination, but is a reall part of that we call the Universe. For the Universe, being the Aggregate of all Bodies, there is no reall part thereof that is not also Body; nor any thing properly a Body, that is not also part of (that Aggregate of all Bodies) the Universe. The same also, because Bodies are subject to change, that is to say, to variety of apparence to the sense of living creatures, is called Substance, that is to say, Subject, to various accidents, as sometimes to be Moved, sometimes to stand Still; and to seem to our senses sometimes Hot, sometimes Cold, sometimes of one Colour, Smel, Tast, or Sound, somtimes of another. And this diversity of Seeming, (produced by the diversity of the operation of bodies, on the organs of our sense) we attribute to alterations of the Bodies that operate, & call them Accidents of those Bodies. And according to this acceptation of the word, Substance and Body, signifie the same thing; and therefore Substance Incorporeall are words, which when they are joined together, destroy one another, as if a man should say, an Incorporeall Body.
But in the sense of common people, not all the Universe is called Body, but only such parts thereof as they can discern by the sense of Feeling, to resist their force, or by the sense of their Eyes, to hinder them from a farther prospect. Therefore in the common language of men, Aire, and Aeriall Substances, use not to be taken for Bodies, but (as often as men are sensible of their effects) are called Wind, or Breath, or (because the some are called in the Latine Spiritus) Spirits; as when they call that aeriall substance, which in the body of any living creature, gives it life and motion, Vitall and Animall Spirits. But for those Idols of the brain, which represent Bodies to us, where they are not, as in a Looking-glasse, in a Dream, or to a Distempered brain waking, they are (as the Apostle saith generally of all Idols) nothing; Nothing at all, I say, there where they seem to bee; and in the brain it self, nothing but tumult, proceeding either from the action of the objects, or from the disorderly agitation of the Organs of our Sense. And men, that are otherwise imployed, then to search into their causes, know not of themselves, what to call them; and may therefore easily be perswaded, by those whose knowledge they much reverence, some to call them Bodies, and think them made of aire compacted by a power supernaturall, because the sight judges them corporeall; and some to call them Spirits, because the sense of Touch discerneth nothing in the place where they appear, to resist their fingers: So that the proper signification of Spirit in common speech, is either a subtile, fluid, and invisible Body, or a Ghost, or other Idol or Phantasme of the Imagination. But for metaphoricall significations, there be many: for sometimes it is taken for Disposition or Inclination of the mind; as when for the disposition to controwl the sayings of other men, we say, A Spirit Contradiction; For A Disposition to Uncleannesse, An Unclean Spirit; for Perversenesse, A Froward Spirit; for Sullennesse, A Dumb Spirit, and for Inclination To Godlinesse, And Gods Service, the Spirit of God: sometimes for any eminent ability, or extraordinary passion, or disease of the mind, as when Great Wisdome is called the Spirit Of Wisdome; and Mad Men are said to be Possessed With A Spirit.
Other signification of Spirit I find no where any; and where none of these can satisfie the sense of that word in Scripture, the place falleth not under humane Understanding; and our Faith therein consisteth not in our Opinion, but in our Submission; as in all places where God is said to be a Spirit; or where by the Spirit of God, is meant God himselfe. For the nature of God is incomprehensible; that is to say, we understand nothing of What He Is, but only That He Is; and therefore the Attributes we give him, are not to tell one another, What He Is, Nor to signifie our opinion of his Nature, but our desire to honor him with such names as we conceive most honorable amongst our selves.
The Spirit Of God Taken In The Scripture Sometimes For A Wind, Or Breath Gen. 1. 2. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters." Here if by the Spirit of God be meant God himself, then is Motion attributed to God, and consequently Place, which are intelligible only of Bodies, and not of substances incorporeall; and so the place is above our understanding, that can conceive nothing moved that changes not place, or that has not dimension; and whatsoever has dimension, is Body. But the meaning of those words is best understood by the like place, Gen. 8. 1. Where when the earth was covered with Waters, as in the beginning, God intending to abate them, and again to discover the dry land, useth like words, "I will bring my Spirit upon the Earth, and the waters shall be diminished:" in which place by Spirit is understood a Wind, (that is an Aire or Spirit Moved,) which might be called (as in the former place) the Spirit of God, because it was Gods Work.
Secondly, For Extraordinary Gifts Of The Understanding Gen. 41. 38. Pharaoh calleth the Wisdome of Joseph, the Spirit of God. For Joseph having advised him to look out a wise and discreet man, and to set him over the land of Egypt, he saith thus, "Can we find such a man as this is, in whom is the Spirit of God?" and Exod. 28.3. "Thou shalt speak (saith God) to all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the Spirit of Wisdome, to make Aaron Garments, to consecrate him." Where extraordinary Understanding, though but in making Garments, as being the Gift of God, is called the Spirit of God. The same is found again, Exod. 31.3,4,5,6. and 35.31. And Isaiah 11.2,3. where the Prophet speaking of the Messiah, saith, "The Spirit of the Lord shall abide upon him, the Spirit of wisdome and understanding, the Spirit of counsell, and fortitude; and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord." Where manifestly is meant, not so many Ghosts, but so many eminent Graces that God would give him.
Thirdly, For Extraordinary Affections In the Book of Judges, an extraordinary Zeal, and Courage in the defence of Gods people, is called the Spirit of God; as when it excited Othoniel, Gideon, Jeptha, and Samson to deliver them from servitude, Judg. 3.10. 6.34. 11.29. 13.25. 14.6,19. And of Saul, upon the newes of the insolence of the Ammonites towards the men of Jabeth Gilead, it is said (1 Sam.11.6.) that "The Spirit of God came upon Saul, and his Anger (or, as it is in the Latine, His Fury) was kindled greatly." Where it is not probable was meant a Ghost, but an extraordinary Zeal to punish the cruelty of the Ammonites. In like manner by the Spirit of God, that came upon Saul, when hee was amongst the Prophets that praised God in Songs, and Musick (1 Sam.19.20.) is to be understood, not a Ghost, but an unexpected and sudden Zeal to join with them in their devotions.
Fourthly, For The Gift Of Prediction By Dreams And Visions. The false Prophet Zedekiah, saith to Micaiah (1 Kings 22.24.) "Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee?" Which cannot be understood of a Ghost; for Micaiah declared before the Kings of Israel and Judah, the event of the battle, as from a Vision, and not as from a Spirit, speaking in him.
In the same manner it appeareth, in the Books of the Prophets, that though they spake by the Spirit of God, that is to say, by a speciall grace of Prediction; yet their knowledge of the future, was not by a Ghost within them, but by some supernaturall Dream or Vision.
Fiftly, For Life Gen. 2.7. It is said, "God made man of the dust of the Earth, and breathed into his nostrills (spiraculum vitae) the breath of life, and man was made a living soul. There the Breath of Life inspired by God, signifies no more, but that God gave him life; And (Job 27.3.) "as long as the Spirit of God is in my nostrils;" is no more then to say, "as long as I live." So in Ezek. 1.20. "the Spirit of life was in the wheels," is equivalent to, "the wheels were alive." And (Ezek. 2.30.) "the spirit entred into me, and set me on my feet," that is, "I recovered my vitall strength;" not that any Ghost, or incorporeal substance entred into, and possessed his body.
Sixtly, For A Subordination To Authority In the 11 chap. of Numbers. verse 17. "I will take (saith God) of the Spirit, which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burthen of the people with thee;" that is, upon the seventy Elders: whereupon two of the seventy are said to prophecy in the campe; of whom some complained, and Joshua desired Moses to forbid them; which Moses would not doe. Whereby it appears; that Joshua knew not they had received authority so to do, and prophecyed according to the mind of Moses, that is to say, by a Spirit, or Authority subordinate to his own.
In the like sense we read (Deut. 34.9.) that "Joshua was full of the Spirit of wisdome, because Moses had laid his hands upon him: that is, because he was Ordained by Moses, to prosecute the work hee had himselfe begun, (namely, the bringing of Gods people into the promised land), but prevented by death, could not finish.
In the like sense it is said, (Rom. 8.9.) "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his: not meaning thereby the Ghost of Christ, but a Submission to his Doctrine. As also (1 John 4.2.) "Hereby you shall know the Spirit of God; Every Spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God;" by which is meant the Spirit of unfained Christianity, or Submission to that main Article of Christian faith, that Jesus is the Christ; which cannot be interpreted of a Ghost.
Likewise these words (Luke 4.1.) "And Jesus full of the Holy Ghost" (that is, as it is exprest, Mat. 4.1. and Mar. 1.12. "of the Holy Spirit",) may be understood, for Zeal to doe the work for which hee was sent by God the Father: but to interpret it of a Ghost, is to say, that God himselfe (for so our Saviour was,) was filled with God; which is very unproper, and unsignificant. How we came to translate Spirits, by the word Ghosts, which signifieth nothing, neither in heaven, nor earth, but the Imaginary inhabitants of mans brain, I examine not: but this I say, the word Spirit in the text signifieth no such thing; but either properly a reall Substance, or Metaphorically, some extraordinary Ability of Affection of the Mind, or of the Body.
Seventhly, For Aeriall Bodies The Disciples of Christ, seeing him walking upon the sea, (Mat. 14.26. and Marke 6.49.) supposed him to be a Spirit, meaning thereby an Aeriall Body, and not a Phantasme: for it is said, they all saw him; which cannot be understood of the delusions of the brain, (which are not common to many at once, as visible Bodies are; but singular, because of the differences of Fancies), but of Bodies only. In like manner, where he was taken for a Spirit, by the same Apostles (Luke 24.3,7.): So also (Acts 12.15) when St. Peter was delivered out of Prison, it would not be beleeved; but when the Maid said he was at the dore, they said it was his Angel; by which must be meant a corporeall substance, or we must say, the Disciples themselves did follow the common opinion of both Jews and Gentiles, that some such apparitions were not Imaginary, but Reall; and such as needed not the fancy of man for their Existence: These the Jews called Spirits, and Angels, Good or Bad; as the Greeks called the same by the name of Daemons. And some such apparitions may be reall, and substantiall; that is to say, subtile Bodies, which God can form by the same power, by which he formed all things, and make use of, as of Ministers, and Messengers (that is to say, Angels) to declare his will, and execute the same when he pleaseth, in extraordinary and supernaturall manner. But when hee hath so formed them they are Substances, endued with dimensions, and take up roome, and can be moved from place to place, which is peculiar to Bodies; and therefore are not Ghosts Incorporeall, that is to say, Ghosts that are in No Place; that is to say, that are No Where; that is to say, that seeming to be Somewhat, are Nothing. But if corporeall be taken in the most vulgar manner, for such Substances as are perceptible by our externall Senses; then is Substance Incorporeall, a thing not Imaginary, but Reall; namely, a thin Substance Invisible, but that hath the same dimensions that are in grosser Bodies.
Angel What By the name of ANGEL, is signified generally, a Messenger; and most often, a Messenger of God: And by a Messenger of God, is signified, any thing that makes known his extraordinary Presence; that is to say, the extraordinary manifestation of his power, especially by a Dream, or Vision.
Concerning the creation of Angels, there is nothing delivered in the Scriptures. That they are Spirits, is often repeated: but by the name of Spirit, is signified both in Scripture, and vulgarly, both amongst Jews, and Gentiles, sometimes thin Bodies; as the Aire, the Wind, the Spirits Vitall, and Animall, of living creatures; and sometimes the Images that rise in the fancy in Dreams, and Visions; which are not reall Substances, but accidents of the brain; yet when God raiseth them supernaturally, to signifie his Will, they are not unproperly termed Gods Messengers, that is to say, his Angels.
And as the Gentiles did vulgarly conceive the Imagery of the brain, for things really subsistent without them, and not dependent on the fancy; and out of them framed their opinions of Daemons, Good and Evill; which because they seemed to subsist really, they called Substances; and because they could not feel them with their hands, Incorporeall: so also the Jews upon the same ground, without any thing in the Old Testament that constrained them thereunto, had generally an opinion, (except the sect of the Sadduces,) that those apparitions (which it pleased God sometimes to produce in the fancie of men, for his own service, and therefore called them his Angels) were substances, not dependent on the fancy, but permanent creatures of God; whereof those which they thought were good to them, they esteemed the Angels of God, and those they thought would hurt them, they called Evill Angels, or Evill Spirits; such as was the Spirit of Python, and the Spirits of Mad-men, of Lunatiques, and Epileptiques: For they esteemed such as were troubled with such diseases, Daemoniaques.
But if we consider the places of the Old Testament where Angels are mentioned, we shall find, that in most of them, there can nothing else be understood by the word Angel, but some image raised (supernaturally) in the fancy, to signifie the presence of God in the execution of some supernaturall work; and therefore in the rest, where their nature is not exprest, it may be understood in the same manner.
For we read Gen. 16. that the same apparition is called, not onely an Angel, but God; where that which (verse 7.) is called the Angel of the Lord, in the tenth verse, saith to Agar, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly;" that is, speaketh in the person of God. Neither was this apparition a Fancy figured, but a Voice. By which it is manifest, that Angel signifieth there, nothing but God himself, that caused Agar supernaturally to apprehend a voice supernaturall, testifying Gods speciall presence there. Why therefore may not the Angels that appeared to Lot, and are called Gen. 19.13. Men; and to whom, though they were but two, Lot speaketh (ver. 18.) as but one, and that one, as God, (for the words are, "Lot said unto them, Oh not so my Lord") be understood of images of men, supernaturally formed in the Fancy; as well as before by Angel was understood a fancyed Voice? When the Angel called to Abraham out of heaven, to stay his hand (Gen. 22.11.) from slaying Isaac, there was no Apparition, but a Voice; which neverthelesse was called properly enough a Messenger, or Angel of God, because it declared Gods will supernaturally, and saves the labour of supposing any permanent Ghosts. The Angels which Jacob saw on the Ladder of Heaven (Gen. 28.12.) were a Vision of his sleep; therefore onely Fancy, and a Dream; yet being supernaturall, and signs of Gods Speciall presence, those apparitions are not improperly called Angels. The same is to be understood (Gen.31.11.) where Jacob saith thus, "The Angel of the Lord appeared to mee in my sleep." For an apparition made to a man in his sleep, is that which all men call a Dreame, whether such Dreame be naturall, or supernaturall: and that which there Jacob calleth an Angel, was God himselfe; for the same Angel saith (verse 13.) "I am the God of Bethel."
Also (Exod.14.9.) the Angel that went before the Army of Israel to the Red Sea, and then came behind it, is (verse 19.) the Lord himself; and he appeared not in the form of a beautifull man, but in form (by day) of a Pillar Of Cloud and (by night) in form of a Pillar Of Fire; and yet this Pillar was all the apparition, and Angel promised to Moses (Exod. 14.9.) for the Armies guide: For this cloudy pillar, is said, to have descended, and stood at the dore of the Tabernacle, and to have talked with Moses.
There you see Motion, and Speech, which are commonly attributed to Angels, attributed to a Cloud, because the Cloud served as a sign of Gods presence; and was no lesse an Angel, then if it had had the form of a Man, or Child of never so great beauty; or Wings, as usually they are painted, for the false instruction of common people. For it is not the shape; but their use, that makes them Angels. But their use is to be significations of Gods presence in supernaturall operations; As when Moses (Exod. 33.14.) had desired God to goe along with the Campe, (as he had done alwaies before the making of the Golden Calfe,) God did not answer, "I will goe," nor "I will send an Angel in my stead;" but thus, "my presence shall goe with thee."
To mention all the places of the Old Testament where the name of Angel is found, would be too long. Therefore to comprehend them all at once, I say, there is no text in that part of the Old Testament, which the Church of England holdeth for Canonicall, from which we can conclude, there is, or hath been created, any permanent thing (understood by the name of Spirit or Angel,) that hath not quantity; and that may not be, by the understanding divided; that is to say, considered by parts; so as one part may bee in one place, and the next part in the next place to it; and, in summe, which is not (taking Body for that, which is some what, or some where) Corporeall; but in every place, the sense will bear the interpretation of Angel, for Messenger; as John Baptist is called an Angel, and Christ the Angel of the Covenant; and as (according to the same Analogy) the Dove, and the Fiery Tongues, in that they were signes of Gods speciall presence, might also be called Angels. Though we find in Daniel two names of Angels, Gabriel, and Michael; yet is cleer out of the text it selfe, (Dan. 12.1) that by Michael is meant Christ, not as an Angel, but as a Prince: and that Gabriel (as the like apparitions made to other holy men in their sleep) was nothing but a supernaturall phantasme, by which it seemed to Daniel, in his dream, that two Saints being in talke, one of them said to the other, "Gabriel, let us make this man understand his Vision:" For God needeth not, to distinguish his Celestiall servants by names, which are usefull onely to the short memories of Mortalls. Nor in the New Testament is there any place, out of which it can be proved, that Angels (except when they are put for such men, as God hath made the Messengers, and Ministers of his word, or works) are things permanent, and withall incorporeall. That they are permanent, may bee gathered from the words of our Saviour himselfe, (Mat. 25.41.) where he saith, it shall be said to the wicked in the last day, "Go ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels:" which place is manifest for the permanence of Evill Angels, (unlesse wee might think the name of Devill and his Angels may be understood of the Churches Adversaries and their Ministers;) but then it is repugnant to their Immateriality; because Everlasting fire is no punishment to impatible substances, such as are all things Incorporeall. Angels therefore are not thence proved to be Incorporeall. In like manner where St. Paul sayes (1 Cor. 6.3.) "Knew ye not that wee shall judge the Angels?" And (2 Pet. 2.4.) " For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down into Hell." And (Jude 1,6.) "And the Angels that kept not their first estate, but left their owne habitation, hee hath reserved in everlasting chaines under darknesse unto the Judgement of the last day;" though it prove the Permanence of Angelicall nature, it confirmeth also their Materiality. And (Mat. 22.30.) In the resurrection men doe neither marry, nor give in marriage, but are as the Angels of God in heaven:" but in the resurrection men shall be Permanent, and not Incorporeall; so therefore also are the Angels.
There be divers other places out of which may be drawn the like conclusion. To men that understand the signification of these words, Substance, and Incorporeall; as Incorporeall is taken not for subtile body, but for Not Body, they imply a contradiction: insomuch as to say, an Angel, or Spirit is (in that sense) an Incorporeall Substance, is to say in effect, there is no Angel nor Spirit at all. Considering therefore the signification of the word Angel in the Old Testament, and the nature of Dreams and Visions that happen to men by the ordinary way of Nature; I was enclined to this opinion, that Angels were nothing but supernaturall apparitions of the Fancy, raised by the speciall and extraordinary operation of God, thereby to make his presence and commandements known to mankind, and chiefly to his own people. But the many places of the New Testament, and our Saviours own words, and in such texts, wherein is no suspicion of corruption of the Scripture, have extorted from my feeble Reason, an acknowledgement, and beleef, that there be also Angels substantiall, and permanent. But to beleeve they be in no place, that is to say, no where, that is to say, nothing, as they (though indirectly) say, that will have them Incorporeall, cannot by Scripture bee evinced.
Inspiration What On the signification of the word Spirit, dependeth that of the word INSPIRATION; which must either be taken properly; and then it is nothing but the blowing into a man some thin and subtile aire, or wind, in such manner as a man filleth a bladder with his breath; or if Spirits be not corporeal, but have their existence only in the fancy, it is nothing but the blowing in of a Phantasme; which is improper to say, and impossible; for Phantasmes are not, but only seem to be somewhat. That word therefore is used in the Scripture metaphorically onely: As (Gen. 2.7.) where it is said, that God Inspired into man the breath of life, no more is meant, then that God gave unto him vitall motion. For we are not to think that God made first a living breath, and then blew it into Adam after he was made, whether that breath were reall, or seeming; but only as it is (Acts 17.25.) "that he gave him life and breath;" that is, made him a living creature. And where it is said (2 Tim. 3.16.) "all Scripture is given by Inspiration from God," speaking there of the Scripture of the Old Testament, it is an easie metaphor, to signifie, that God enclined the spirit or mind of those Writers, to write that which should be usefull, in teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing men in the way of righteous living. But where St. Peter (2 Pet. 1.21.) saith, that "Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," by the Holy Spirit, is meant the voice of God in a Dream, or Vision supernaturall, which is not Inspiration; Nor when our Saviour breathing on his Disciples, said, "Receive the Holy Spirit," was that Breath the Spirit, but a sign of the spirituall graces he gave unto them. And though it be said of many, and of our Saviour himself, that he was full of the Holy Spirit; yet that Fulnesse is not to be understood for Infusion of the substance of God, but for accumulation of his gifts, such as are the gift of sanctity of life, of tongues, and the like, whether attained supernaturally, or by study and industry; for in all cases they are the gifts of God. So likewise where God sayes (Joel 2.28.) "I will powre out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your Sons and your Daughters shall prophecy, your Old men shall dream Dreams, and your Young men shall see Visions," wee are not to understand it in the proper sense, as if his Spirit were like water, subject to effusion, or infusion; but as if God had promised to give them Propheticall Dreams, and Visions. For the proper use of the word Infused, in speaking of the graces of God, is an abuse of it; for those graces are Vertues, not Bodies to be carryed hither and thither, and to be powred into men, as into barrels.
In the same manner, to take Inspiration in the proper sense, or to say that Good Spirits entred into men to make them prophecy, or Evill Spirits into those that became Phrenetique, Lunatique, or Epileptique, is not to take the word in the sense of the Scripture; for the Spirit there is taken for the power of God, working by causes to us unknown. As also (Acts 2.2.) the wind, that is there said to fill the house wherein the Apostles were assembled on the day of Pentecost, is not to be understood for the Holy Spirit, which is the Deity it self; but for an Externall sign of Gods speciall working on their hearts, to effect in them the internall graces, and holy vertues hee thought requisite for the performance of their Apostleship.
OF THE SIGNIFICATION IN SCRIPTURE OF KINGDOME OF GOD, OF HOLY, SACRED, AND SACRAMENT
The Kingdom Of God Taken By Divines Metaphorically But In The Scriptures Properly The Kingdome of God in the Writings of Divines, and specially in Sermons, and Treatises of Devotion, is taken most commonly for Eternall Felicity, after this life, in the Highest Heaven, which they also call the Kingdome of Glory; and sometimes for (the earnest of that felicity) Sanctification, which they terme the Kingdome of Grace, but never for the Monarchy, that is to say, the Soveraign Power of God over any Subjects acquired by their own consent, which is the proper signification of Kingdome.
To the contrary, I find the KINGDOME OF GOD, to signifie in most places of Scripture, a Kingdome Properly So Named, constituted by the Votes of the People of Israel in peculiar manner; wherein they chose God for their King by Covenant made with him, upon Gods promising them the possession of the land of Canaan; and but seldom metaphorically; and then it is taken for Dominion Over Sinne; (and only in the New Testament;) because such a Dominion as that, every Subject shall have in the Kingdome of God, and without prejudice to the Soveraign.
From the very Creation, God not only reigned over all men Naturally by his might; but also had Peculiar Subjects, whom he commanded by a Voice, as one man speaketh to another. In which manner he Reigned over Adam, and gave him commandement to abstaine from the tree of cognizance of Good and Evill; which when he obeyed not, but tasting thereof, took upon him to be as God, judging between Good and Evill, not by his Creators commandement, but by his own sense, his punishment was a privation of the estate of Eternall life, wherein God had at first created him: And afterwards God punished his posterity, for their vices, all but eight persons, with an universall deluge; And in these eight did consist the then Kingdome Of God.
The Originall Of The Kingdome Of God After this, it pleased God to speak to Abraham, and (Gen. 17.7,8.) to make a Covenant with him in these words, "I will establish my Covenant between me, and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee; And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession." And for a memoriall, and a token of this Covenant, he ordaineth (verse 11.) the Sacrament of Circumcision. This is it which is called the Old Covenant, or Testament; and containeth a Contract between God and Abraham; by which Abraham obligeth himself, and his posterity, in a peculiar manner to be subject to Gods positive Law; for to the Law Morall he was obliged before, as by an Oath of Allegiance. And though the name of King be not yet given to God, nor of Kingdome to Abraham and his seed; yet the thing is the same; namely, an Institution by pact, of Gods peculiar Soveraignty over the seed of Abraham; which in the renewing of the same Covenant by Moses, at Mount Sinai, is expressely called a peculiar Kingdome of God over the Jews: and it is of Abraham (not of Moses) St. Paul saith (Rom. 4.11.) that he is the "Father of the Faithfull," that is, of those that are loyall, and doe not violate their Allegiance sworn to God, then by Circumcision, and afterwards in the New Covenant by Baptisme.
That The Kingdome Of God Is Properly His Civill Soveraignty Over A Peculiar People By Pact This Covenant, at the Foot of Mount Sinai, was renewed by Moses (Exod. 19.5.) where the Lord commandeth Moses to speak to the people in this manner, "If you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my Covenant, then yee shall be a peculiar people to me, for all the Earth is mine; and yee shall be unto me a Sacerdotall Kingdome, and an holy Nation." For a "Peculiar people" the vulgar Latine hath, Peculium De Cunctis Populis: the English translation made in the beginning of the Reign of King James, hath, a "Peculiar treasure unto me above all Nations;" and the Geneva French, "the most precious Jewel of all Nations." But the truest Translation is the first, because it is confirmed by St. Paul himself (Tit. 2.14.) where he saith, alluding to that place, that our blessed Saviour "gave himself for us, that he might purifie us to himself, a peculiar (that is, an extraordinary) people:" for the word is in the Greek periousios, which is opposed commonly to the word epiousios: and as this signifieth Ordinary, Quotidian, or (as in the Lords Prayer) Of Daily Use; so the other signifieth that which is Overplus, and Stored Up, and Enjoyed In A Speciall Manner; which the Latines call Peculium; and this meaning of the place is confirmed by the reason God rendereth of it, which followeth immediately, in that he addeth, "For all the Earth is mine," as if he should say, "All the Nations of the world are mine;" but it is not so that you are mine, but in a Speciall Manner: For they are all mine, by reason of my Power; but you shall be mine, by your own Consent, and Covenant; which is an addition to his ordinary title, to all nations.
The same is again confirmed in expresse words in the same Text, "Yee shall be to me a Sacerdotall Kingdome, and an holy Nation." The Vulgar Latine hath it, Regnum Sacerdotale, to which agreeth the Translation of that place (1 Pet. 2.9.) Sacerdotium Regale, A Regal Priesthood; as also the Institution it self, by which no man might enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum, that is to say, no man might enquire Gods will immediately of God himselfe, but onely the High Priest. The English Translation before mentioned, following that of Geneva, has, "a Kingdome of Priests;" which is either meant of the succession of one High Priest after another, or else it accordeth not with St. Peter, nor with the exercise of the High Priesthood; For there was never any but the High Priest onely, that was to informe the People of Gods Will; nor any Convocation of Priests ever allowed to enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Again, the title of a Holy Nation confirmes the same: For Holy signifies, that which is Gods by speciall, not by generall Right. All the Earth (as is said in the text) is Gods; but all the Earth is not called Holy, but that onely which is set apart for his especiall service, as was the Nation of the Jews. It is therefore manifest enough by this one place, that by the Kingdome of God, is properly meant a Common-wealth, instituted (by the consent of those which were to be subject thereto) for their Civill Government, and the regulating of their behaviour, not onely towards God their King, but also towards one another in point of justice, and towards other Nations both in peace and warre; which properly was a Kingdome, wherein God was King, and the High priest was to be (after the death of Moses) his sole Viceroy, or Lieutenant.
But there be many other places that clearly prove the same. As first (1 Sam. 8.7.) when the Elders of Israel (grieved with the corruption of the Sons of Samuel) demanded a King, Samuel displeased therewith, prayed unto the Lord; and the Lord answering said unto him, "Hearken unto the voice of the People, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." Out of which it is evident, that God himself was then their King; and Samuel did not command the people, but only delivered to them that which God from time to time appointed him.
Again, (1 Sam. 12.12.) where Samuel saith to the People, "When yee saw that Nahash King of the Children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay, but a King shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your King:" It is manifest that God was their King, and governed the Civill State of their Common-wealth.
And after the Israelites had rejected God, the Prophets did foretell his restitution; as (Isaiah 24.23.) "Then the Moon shall be confounded, and the Sun ashamed when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem;" where he speaketh expressely of his Reign in Zion, and Jerusalem; that is, on Earth. And (Micah 4.7.) "And the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion:" This Mount Zion is in Jerusalem upon the Earth. And (Ezek. 20.33.) "As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and a stretched out arme, and with fury powred out, I wil rule over you; and (verse 37.) I will cause you to passe under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the Covenant;" that is, I will reign over you, and make you to stand to that Covenant which you made with me by Moses, and brake in your rebellion against me in the days of Samuel, and in your election of another King.
And in the New testament, the Angel Gabriel saith of our Saviour (Luke 1.32,33) "He shall be great, and be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord shall give him the throne of his Father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his Kingdome there shall be no end." This is also a Kingdome upon Earth; for the claim whereof, as an enemy to Caesar, he was put to death; the title of his crosse, was, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews; hee was crowned in scorn with a crown of Thornes; and for the proclaiming of him, it is said of the Disciples (Acts 17.7.) "That they did all of them contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there was another King, one Jesus. The Kingdome therefore of God, is a reall, not a metaphoricall Kingdome; and so taken, not onely in the Old Testament, but the New; when we say, "For thine is the Kingdome, the Power, and Glory," it is to be understood of Gods Kingdome, by force of our Covenant, not by the Right of Gods Power; for such a Kingdome God alwaies hath; so that it were superfluous to say in our prayer, "Thy Kingdome come," unlesse it be meant of the Restauration of that Kingdome of God by Christ, which by revolt of the Israelites had been interrupted in the election of Saul. Nor had it been proper to say, "The Kingdome of Heaven is at hand," or to pray, "Thy Kingdome come," if it had still continued.
There be so many other places that confirm this interpretation, that it were a wonder there is no greater notice taken of it, but that it gives too much light to Christian Kings to see their right of Ecclesiastical Government. This they have observed, that in stead of a Sacerdotall Kingdome, translate, a Kingdome of Priests: for they may as well translate a Royall Priesthood, (as it is in St. Peter) into a Priesthood of Kings. And whereas, for a Peculiar People, they put a Pretious Jewel, or Treasure, a man might as well call the speciall Regiment, or Company of a Generall, the Generalls pretious Jewel, or his Treasure.
In short, the Kingdome of God is a Civill Kingdome; which consisted, first in the obligation of the people of Israel to those Laws, which Moses should bring unto them from Mount Sinai; and which afterwards the High Priest of the time being, should deliver to them from before the Cherubins in the Sanctum Sanctorum; and which kingdome having been cast off, in the election of Saul, the Prophets foretold, should be restored by Christ; and the Restauration whereof we daily pray for, when we say in the Lords Prayer, "Thy Kingdome come;" and the Right whereof we acknowledge, when we adde, "For thine is the Kingdome, the Power, and Glory, for ever and ever, Amen;" and the Proclaiming whereof, was the Preaching of the Apostles; and to which men are prepared, by the Teachers of the Gospel; to embrace which Gospel, (that is to say, to promise obedience to Gods government) is, to bee in the Kingdome of Grace, because God hath gratis given to such the power to bee the subjects (that is, Children) of God hereafter, when Christ shall come in Majesty to judge the world, and actually to govern his owne people, which is called the Kingdome of Glory. If the Kingdome of God (called also the Kingdome of Heaven, from the gloriousnesse, and admirable height of that throne) were not a Kingdome which God by his Lieutenant, or Vicars, who deliver his Commandements to the people, did exercise on Earth; there would not have been so much contention, and warre, about who it is, by whom God speaketh to us; neither would many Priests have troubled themselves with Spirituall Jurisdiction, nor any King have denied it them.
Out of this literall interpretation of the Kingdome of God, ariseth also the true interpretation of the word HOLY. For it is a word, which in Gods Kingdome answereth to that, which men in their Kingdomes use to call Publique, or the Kings.
The King of any Countrey is the Publique Person, or Representative of all his own Subjects. And God the King of Israel was the Holy One of Israel. The Nation which is subject to one earthly Soveraign, is the Nation of that Soveraign, that is, of the Publique Person. So the Jews, who were Gods Nation, were called (Exod. 19.6.) "a Holy Nation." For by Holy, is alwaies understood, either God himselfe, or that which is Gods in propriety; as by Publique is alwaies meant, either the Person of the Common-wealth it self, or something that is so the Common-wealths, as no private person can claim any propriety therein.
Therefore the Sabbath (Gods day) is a Holy Day; the Temple, (Gods house) a Holy House; Sacrifices, Tithes, and Offerings (Gods tribute) Holy Duties; Priests, Prophets, and anointed Kings, under Christ (Gods ministers) Holy Men; The Coelestiall ministring Spirits (Gods Messengers) Holy Angels; and the like: and wheresoever the word Holy is taken properly, there is still something signified of Propriety, gotten by consent. In saying "Hallowed be thy name," we do but pray to God for grace to keep the first Commandement, of "having no other Gods but Him." Mankind is Gods Nation in propriety: but the Jews only were a Holy Nation. Why, but because they became his Propriety by covenant.
Sacred What And the word Profane, is usually taken in the Scripture for the same with Common; and consequently their contraries, Holy, and Proper, in the Kingdome of God must be the same also. But figuratively, those men also are called Holy, that led such godly lives, as if they had forsaken all worldly designes, and wholly devoted, and given themselves to God. In the proper sense, that which is made Holy by Gods appropriating or separating it to his own use, is said to be Sanctified by God, as the Seventh day in the fourth Commandement; and as the Elect in the New Testament were said to bee Sanctified, when they were endued with the Spirit of godlinesse. And that which is made Holy by the dedication of men, and given to God, so as to be used onely in his publique service, is called also SACRED, and said to be consecrated, as Temples, and other Houses of Publique Prayer, and their Utensils, Priests, and Ministers, Victimes, Offerings, and the externall matter of Sacraments.
Degrees of Sanctity Of Holinesse there be degrees: for of those things that are set apart for the service of God, there may bee some set apart again, for a neerer and more especial service. The whole Nation of the Israelites were a people Holy to God; yet the tribe of Levi was amongst the Israelites a Holy tribe; and amongst the Levites, the Priests were yet more Holy; and amongst the Priests, the High Priest was the most Holy. So the Land of Judea was the Holy Land; but the Holy City wherein God was to be worshipped, was more Holy; and again, the Temples more Holy than the City; and the Sanctum Sanctorum more Holy than the rest of the Temple.
Sacrament A SACRAMENT, is a separation of some visible thing from common use; and a consecration of it to Gods service, for a sign, either of our admission into the Kingdome of God, to be of the number of his peculiar people, or for a Commemoration of the same. In the Old Testament, the sign of Admission was Circumcision; in the New Testament, Baptisme. The Commemoration of it in the Old Testament, was the Eating (at a certain time, which was Anniversary) of the Paschall Lamb; by which they were put in mind of the night wherein they were delivered out of their bondage in Egypt; and in the New Testament, the celebrating of the Lords Supper; by which, we are put in mind, of our deliverance from the bondage of sin, by our Blessed Saviours death upon the crosse. The Sacraments of Admission, are but once to be used, because there needs but one Admission; but because we have need of being often put in mind of our deliverance, and of our Allegeance, The Sacraments of Commemoration have need to be reiterated. And these are the principall Sacraments, and as it were the solemne oathes we make of our Alleageance. There be also other Consecrations, that may be called Sacraments, as the word implyeth onely Consecration to Gods service; but as it implies an oath, or promise of Alleageance to God, there were no other in the Old Testament, but Circumcision, and the Passover; nor are there any other in the New Testament, but Baptisme, and the Lords Supper.
OF THE WORD OF GOD, AND OF PROPHETS
Word What When there is mention of the Word of God, or of Man, it doth not signifie a part of Speech, such as Grammarians call a Nown, or a Verb, or any simple voice, without a contexture with other words to make it significative; but a perfect Speech or Discourse, whereby the speaker Affirmeth, Denieth, Commandeth, Promiseth, Threateneth, Wisheth, or Interrogateth. In which sense it is not Vocabulum, that signifies a Word; but Sermo, (in Greek Logos) that is some Speech, Discourse, or Saying.
The Words Spoken By God And Concerning God, Both Are Called Gods Word In Scripture Again, if we say the Word of God, or of Man, it may bee understood sometimes of the Speaker, (as the words that God hath spoken, or that a Man hath spoken): In which sense, when we say, the Gospel of St. Matthew, we understand St. Matthew to be the Writer of it: and sometimes of the Subject: In which sense, when we read in the Bible, "The words of the days of the Kings of Israel, or Judah," 'tis meant, that the acts that were done in those days, were the Subject of those Words; And in the Greek, which (in the Scripture) retaineth many Hebraismes, by the Word of God is oftentimes meant, not that which is spoken by God, but concerning God, and his government; that is to say, the Doctrine of Religion: Insomuch, as it is all one, to say Logos Theou, and Theologia; which is, that Doctrine which wee usually call Divinity, as is manifest by the places following (Acts 13.46.) "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you, and judge your selves unworthy of everlasting life, loe, we turn to the Gentiles." That which is here called the Word of god, was the Doctrine of Christian Religion; as it appears evidently by that which goes before. And (Acts 5.20.) where it is said to the Apostles by an Angel, "Go stand and speak in the Temple, all the Words of this life;" by the Words of this life, is meant, the Doctrine of the Gospel; as is evident by what they did in the Temple, and is expressed in the last verse of the same Chap. "Daily in the Temple, and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Christ Jesus:" In which place it is manifest, that Jesus Christ was the subject of this Word of Life; or (which is all one) the subject of the Words of this Life Eternall, that our saviour offered them. So (Acts 15.7.) the Word of God, is called the Word of the Gospel, because it containeth the Doctrine of the Kingdome of Christ; and the same Word (Rom. 10.8,9.) is called the Word of Faith; that is, as is there expressed, the Doctrine of Christ come, and raised from the dead. Also (Mat. 13. 19.) "When any one heareth the Word of the Kingdome;" that is, the Doctrine of the Kingdome taught by Christ. Again, the same Word, is said (Acts 12. 24.) "to grow and to be multiplied;" which to understand of the Evangelicall Doctrine is easie, but of the Voice, or Speech of God, hard and strange. In the same sense the Doctrine of Devils, signifieth not the Words of any Devill, but the Doctrine of Heathen men concerning Daemons, and those Phantasms which they worshipped as Gods. (1 Tim. 4.1.)
Considering these two significations of the WORD OF GOD, as it is taken in Scripture, it is manifest in this later sense (where it is taken for the Doctrine of the Christian Religion,) that the whole scripture is the Word of God: but in the former sense not so. For example, though these words, "I am the Lord thy God, &c." to the end of the Ten Commandements, were spoken by God to Moses; yet the Preface, "God spake these words and said," is to be understood for the Words of him that wrote the holy History. The Word of God, as it is taken for that which he hath spoken, is understood sometimes Properly, sometimes Metaphorically. Properly, as the words, he hath spoken to his Prophets; Metaphorically, for his Wisdome, Power, and eternall Decree, in making the world; in which sense, those Fiats, "Let there be light," "Let there be a firmament," "Let us make man," &c. (Gen. 1.) are the Word of God. And in the same sense it is said (John 1.3.) "All things were made by it, and without it was nothing made that was made; And (Heb. 1.3.) "He upholdeth all things by the word of his Power;" that is, by the Power of his Word; that is, by his Power; and (Heb. 11.3.) "The worlds were framed by the Word of God;" and many other places to the same sense: As also amongst the Latines, the name of Fate, which signifieth properly The Word Spoken, is taken in the same sense.
Secondly, For The Effect Of His Word Secondly, for the effect of his Word; that is to say, for the thing it self, which by his Word is Affirmed, Commanded, Threatned, or Promised; as (Psalm 105.19.) where Joseph is said to have been kept in prison, "till his Word was come;" that is, till that was come to passe which he had (Gen. 40.13.) foretold to Pharaohs Butler, concerning his being restored to his office: for there by His Word Was Come, is meant, the thing it self was come to passe. So also (1 King. 18.36.) Elijah saith to God, "I have done all these thy Words," in stead of "I have done all these things at thy Word," or commandement: and (Jer. 17.15.) "Where is the Word of the Lord," is put for, "Where is the Evill he threatened:" And (Ezek. 12.28.) "There shall none of my Words be prolonged any more:" by "Words" are understood those Things, which God promised to his people. And in the New Testament (Mat. 24.35.) "heaven and earth shal pass away, but my Words shall not pass away;" that is, there is nothing that I have promised or foretold, that shall not come to passe. And in this sense it is, that St. John the Evangelist, and, I think, St. John onely calleth our Saviour himself as in the flesh "the Word of God (as Joh. 1.14.) the Word was made Flesh;" that is to say, the Word, or Promise that Christ should come into the world, "who in the beginning was with God;" that is to say, it was in the purpose of God the Father, to send God the Son into the world, to enlighten men in the way of Eternall life, but it was not till then put in execution, and actually incarnate; So that our Saviour is there called "the Word," not because he was the promise, but the thing promised. They that taking occasion from this place, doe commonly call him the Verbe of God, do but render the text more obscure. They might as well term him the Nown of God: for as by Nown, so also by Verbe, men understand nothing but a part of speech, a voice, a sound, that neither affirms, nor denies, nor commands, nor promiseth, nor is any substance corporeall, or spirituall; and therefore it cannot be said to bee either God, or Man; whereas our Saviour is both. And this Word which St. John in his Gospel saith was with God, is (in his 1 Epistle, verse 1.) called "the Word of Life;" and (verse 2.) "The eternall life, which was with the Father:" so that he can be in no other sense called the Word, then in that, wherein he is called Eternall life; that is, "he that hath procured us Eternall life," by his comming in the flesh. So also (Apocalypse 19.13.) the Apostle speaking of Christ, clothed in a garment dipt in bloud, saith; his name is "the Word of God;" which is to be understood, as if he had said his name had been, "He that was come according to the purpose of God from the beginning, and according to his Word and promises delivered by the Prophets." So that there is nothing here of the Incarnation of a Word, but of the Incarnation of God the Son, therefore called the Word, because his Incarnation was the Performance of the Promise; In like manner as the Holy Ghost is called The Promise. (Acts 1.4. Luke 24.49.)
Thirdly, For The Words Of Reason And Equity There are also places of the Scripture, where, by the Word of God, is signified such Words as are consonant to reason, and equity, though spoken sometimes neither by prophet, nor by a holy man. For Pharaoh Necho was an Idolator; yet his Words to the good King Josiah, in which he advised him by Messengers, not to oppose him in his march against Carchemish, are said to have proceeded from the mouth of God; and that Josiah not hearkning to them, was slain in the battle; as is to be read 2 Chron. 35. vers. 21,22,23. It is true, that as the same History is related in the first book of Esdras, not Pharaoh, but Jeremiah spake these words to Josiah, from the mouth of the Lord. But wee are to give credit to the Canonicall Scripture, whatsoever be written in the Apocrypha.
The Word of God, is then also to be taken for the Dictates of reason, and equity, when the same is said in the Scriptures to bee written in mans heart; as Psalm 36.31. Jerem. 31.33. Deut.30.11, 14. and many other like places.
Divers Acceptions Of The Word Prophet The name of PROPHET, signifieth in Scripture sometimes Prolocutor; that is, he that speaketh from God to Man, or from man to God: And sometimes Praedictor, or a foreteller of things to come; And sometimes one that speaketh incoherently, as men that are distracted. It is most frequently used in the sense of speaking from God to the People. So Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others were Prophets. And in this sense the High Priest was a Prophet, for he only went into the Sanctum Sanctorum, to enquire of God; and was to declare his answer to the people. And therefore when Caiphas said, it was expedient that one man should die for the people, St. John saith (chap. 11.51.) that "He spake not this of himselfe, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied that one man should dye for the nation." Also they that in Christian Congregations taught the people, (1 Cor. 14.3.) are said to Prophecy. In the like sense it is, that God saith to Moses (Exod. 4.16.) concerning "Aaron, He shall be thy Spokes-man to the People; and he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him in stead of God;" that which here is Spokes-man, is (chap.7.1.) interpreted Prophet; "See (saith God) I have made thee a God to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy Brother shall be thy Prophet." In the sense of speaking from man to God, Abraham is called a Prophet (Genes. 20.7.) where God in a Dream speaketh to Abimelech in this manner, "Now therefore restore the man his wife, for he is a Prophet, and shall pray for thee;" whereby may be also gathered, that the name of Prophet may be given, not unproperly to them that in Christian Churches, have a Calling to say publique prayers for the Congregation. In the same sense, the Prophets that came down from the High place (or Hill of God) with a Psaltery, and a Tabret, and a Pipe, and a Harp (1 Sam. 10.5,6.) and (vers. 10.) Saul amongst them, are said to Prophecy, in that they praised God, in that manner publiquely. In the like sense, is Miriam (Exod. 15.20.) called a Prophetesse. So is it also to be taken (1 Cor. 11.4,5.) where St. Paul saith, "Every man that prayeth or prophecyeth with his head covered, &c. and every woman that prayeth or prophecyeth with her head uncovered: For Prophecy in that place, signifieth no more, but praising God in Psalmes, and Holy Songs; which women might doe in the Church, though it were not lawfull for them to speak to the Congregation. And in this signification it is, that the Poets of the Heathen, that composed Hymnes and other sorts of Poems in the honor of their Gods, were called Vates (Prophets) as is well enough known by all that are versed in the Books of the Gentiles, and as is evident (Tit. 1.12.) where St. Paul saith of the Cretians, that a Prophet of their owne said, they were Liars; not that St. Paul held their Poets for Prophets, but acknowledgeth that the word Prophet was commonly used to signifie them that celebrated the honour of God in Verse
Praediction Of Future Contingents, Not Alwaies Prophecy When by Prophecy is meant Praediction, or foretelling of future Contingents; not only they were Prophets, who were Gods Spokesmen, and foretold those things to others, which God had foretold to them; but also all those Imposters, that pretend by the helpe of familiar spirits, or by superstitious divination of events past, from false causes, to foretell the like events in time to come: of which (as I have declared already in the 12. chapter of this Discourse) there be many kinds, who gain in the opinion of the common sort of men, a greater reputation of Prophecy, by one casuall event that may bee but wrested to their purpose, than can be lost again by never so many failings. Prophecy is not an art, nor (when it is taken for Praediction) a constant Vocation; but an extraordinary, and temporary Employment from God, most often of Good men, but sometimes also of the Wicked. The woman of Endor, who is said to have had a familiar spirit, and thereby to have raised a Phantasme of Samuel, and foretold Saul his death, was not therefore a Prophetesse; for neither had she any science, whereby she could raise such a Phantasme; nor does it appear that God commanded the raising of it; but onely guided that Imposture to be a means of Sauls terror and discouragement; and by consequent, of the discomfiture, by which he fell. And for Incoherent Speech, it was amongst the Gentiles taken for one sort of Prophecy, because the Prophets of their Oracles, intoxicated with a spirit, or vapour from the cave of the Pythian Oracle at Delphi, were for the time really mad, and spake like mad-men; of whose loose words a sense might be made to fit any event, in such sort, as all bodies are said to be made of Materia prima. In the Scripture I find it also so taken (1 Sam. 18. 10.) in these words, "And the Evill spirit came upon Saul, and he Prophecyed in the midst of the house."
The Manner How God Hath Spoken To The Prophets And although there be so many significations in Scripture of the word Prophet; yet is that the most frequent, in which it is taken for him, to whom God speaketh immediately, that which the Prophet is to say from him, to some other man, or to the people. And hereupon a question may be asked, in what manner God speaketh to such a Prophet. Can it(may some say) be properly said, that God hath voice and language, when it cannot be properly said, he hath a tongue, or other organs, as a man? The Prophet David argueth thus, "Shall he that made the eye, not see? or he that made the ear, not hear? But this may be spoken, not (as usually) to signifie Gods nature, but to signifie our intention to honor him. For to See, and Hear, are Honorable Attributes, and may be given to God, to declare (as far as our capacity can conceive) his Almighty power. But if it were to be taken in the strict, and proper sense, one might argue from his making of all parts of mans body, that he had also the same use of them which we have; which would be many of them so uncomely, as it would be the greatest contumely in the world to ascribe them to him. Therefore we are to interpret Gods speaking to men immediately, for that way (whatsoever it be), by which God makes them understand his will: And the wayes whereby he doth this, are many; and to be sought onely in the Holy Scripture: where though many times it be said, that God spake to this, and that person, without declaring in what manner; yet there be again many places, that deliver also the signes by which they were to acknowledge his presence, and commandement; and by these may be understood, how he spake to many of the rest.
To The Extraordinary Prophets Of The Old Testament He Spake By Dreams, Or Visions In what manner God spake to Adam, and Eve, and Cain, and Noah, is not expressed; nor how he spake to Abraham, till such time as he came out of his own countrey to Sichem in the land of Canaan; and then (Gen. 12.7.) God is said to have Appeared to him. So there is one way, whereby God made his presence manifest; that is, by an Apparition, or Vision. And again, (Gen. 15.1.) The Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a Vision; that is to say, somewhat, as a sign of Gods presence, appeared as Gods Messenger, to speak to him. Again, the Lord appeared to Abraham (Gen. 18. 1.) by an apparition of three Angels; and to Abimelech (Gen. 20. 3.) in a dream: To Lot (Gen. 19. 1.) by an apparition of Two Angels: And to Hagar (Gen. 21. 17.) by the apparition of one Angel: And to Abraham again (Gen. 22. 11.) by the apparition of a voice from heaven: And (Gen. 26. 24.) to Isaac in the night; (that is, in his sleep, or by dream): And to Jacob (Gen. 18. 12.) in a dream; that is to say (as are the words of the text) "Jacob dreamed that he saw a ladder, &c." And (Gen. 32. 1.) in a Vision of Angels: And to Moses (Exod. 3.2.) in the apparition of a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: And after the time of Moses, (where the manner how God spake immediately to man in the Old Testament, is expressed) hee spake alwaies by a Vision, or by a Dream; as to Gideon, Samuel, Eliah, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the rest of the Prophets; and often in the New Testament, as to Joseph, to St. Peter, to St. Paul, and to St. John the Evangelist in the Apocalypse.
Onely to Moses hee spake in a more extraordinary manner in Mount Sinai, and in the Tabernacle; and to the High Priest in the Tabernacle, and in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple. But Moses, and after him the High Priests were Prophets of a more eminent place, and degree in Gods favour; And God himself in express words declareth, that to other Prophets hee spake in Dreams and Visions, but to his servant Moses, in such manner as a man speaketh to his friend. The words are these (Numb. 12. 6,7,8.) "If there be a Prophet among you, I the Lord will make my self known to him in a Vision, and will speak unto him in a Dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithfull in all my house; with him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold." And (Exod. 33. 11.) "The Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend." And yet this speaking of God to Moses, was by mediation of an Angel, or Angels, as appears expressely, Acts 7. ver. 35. and 53. and Gal. 3. 19. and was therefore a Vision, though a more cleer Vision than was given to other Prophets. And conformable hereunto, where God saith (Deut. 13. 1.) "If there arise amongst you a Prophet, or Dreamer of Dreams," the later word is but the interpretation of the former. And (Joel 2. 28.) "Your sons and your daughters shall Prophecy; your old men shall dream Dreams, and your young men shall see Visions:" where again, the word Prophecy is expounded by Dream, and Vision. And in the same manner it was, that God spake to Solomon, promising him Wisdome, Riches, and Honor; for the text saith, (1 Kings 3. 15.) "And Solomon awoak, and behold it was a Dream:" So that generally the Prophets extraordinary in the old Testament took notice of the Word of God no otherwise, than from their Dreams, or Visions, that is to say, from the imaginations which they had in their sleep, or in an Extasie; which imaginations in every true Prophet were supernaturall; but in false Prophets were either naturall, or feigned.
The same Prophets were neverthelesse said to speak by the Spirit; as (Zach. 7. 12.) where the Prophet speaking of the Jewes, saith, "They made their hearths hard as Adamant, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of Hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former Prophets." By which it is manifest, that speaking by the Spirit, or Inspiration, was not a particular manner of Gods speaking, different from Vision, when they that were said to speak by the Spirit, were extraordinary Prophets, such as for every new message, were to have a particular Commission, or (which is all one) a new Dream, or Vision.
To Prophets Of Perpetuall Calling, And Supreme, God Spake In The Old Testament From The Mercy Seat, In A Manner Not Expressed In The Scripture. Of Prophets, that were so by a perpetuall Calling in the Old Testament, some were Supreme, and some Subordinate: Supreme were first Moses; and after him the High Priest, every one for his time, as long as the Priesthood was Royall; and after the people of the Jews, had rejected God, that he should no more reign over them, those Kings which submitted themselves to Gods government, were also his chief Prophets; and the High Priests office became Ministeriall. And when God was to be consulted, they put on the holy vestments, and enquired of the Lord, as the King commanded them, and were deprived of their office, when the King thought fit. For King Saul (1 Sam. 13. 9.) commanded the burnt offering to be brought, and (1 Sam. 14. 18.) he commands the Priest to bring the Ark neer him; and (ver. 19.) again to let it alone, because he saw an advantage upon his enemies. And in the same chapter Saul asketh counsell of God. In like manner King David, after his being anointed, though before he had possession of the Kingdome, is said to "enquire of the Lord" (1 Sam. 23. 2.) whether he should fight against the Philistines at Keilah; and (verse 10.) David commandeth the Priest to bring him the Ephod, to enquire whether he should stay in Keilah, or not. And King Solomon (1 Kings 2. 27.) took the Priesthood from Abiathar, and gave it (verse 35.) to Zadoc. Therefore Moses, and the High Priests, and the pious Kings, who enquired of God on all extraordinary occasions, how they were to carry themselves, or what event they were to have, were all Soveraign Prophets. But in what manner God spake unto them, is not manifest. To say that when Moses went up to God in Mount Sinai, it was a Dream, or Vision, such as other Prophets had, is contrary to that distinction which God made between Moses, and other Prophets, Numb. 12. 6,7,8. To say God spake or appeared as he is in his own nature, is to deny his Infinitenesse, Invisibility, Incomprehensibility. To say he spake by Inspiration, or Infusion of the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit signifieth the Deity, is to make Moses equall with Christ, in whom onely the Godhead (as St. Paul speaketh Col. 2.9.) dwelleth bodily. And lastly, to say he spake by the Holy Spirit, as it signifieth the graces, or gifts of the Holy Spirit, is to attribute nothing to him supernaturall. For God disposeth men to Piety, Justice, Mercy, Truth, Faith, and all manner of Vertue, both Morall, and Intellectuall, by doctrine, example, and by severall occasions, naturall, and ordinary.
And as these ways cannot be applyed to God, in his speaking to Moses, at Mount Sinai; so also, they cannot be applyed to him, in his speaking to the High Priests, from the Mercy-Seat. Therefore in what manner God spake to those Soveraign Prophets of the Old Testament, whose office it was to enquire of him, is not intelligible. In the time of the New Testament, there was no Soveraign Prophet, but our Saviour; who was both God that spake, and the Prophet to whom he spake.
To Prophets Of Perpetuall Calling, But Subordinate, God Spake By The Spirit. To subordinate Prophets of perpetuall Calling, I find not any place that proveth God spake to them supernaturally; but onely in such manner, as naturally he inclineth men to Piety, to Beleef, to Righteousnesse, and to other vertues all other Christian Men. Which way, though it consist in Constitution, Instruction, Education, and the occasions and invitements men have to Christian vertues; yet it is truly attributed to the operation of the Spirit of God, or Holy Spirit (which we in our language call the Holy Ghost): For there is no good inclination, that is not of the operation of God. But these operations are not alwaies supernaturall. When therefore a Prophet is said to speak in the Spirit, or by the Spirit of God, we are to understand no more, but that he speaks according to Gods will, declared by the supreme Prophet. For the most common acceptation of the word Spirit, is in the signification of a mans intention, mind, or disposition.
In the time of Moses, there were seventy men besides himself, that Prophecyed in the Campe of the Israelites. In what manner God spake to them, is declared in the 11 of Numbers, verse 25. "The Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto Moses, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the seventy Elders. And it came to passe, when the Spirit rested upon them, they Prophecyed, and did not cease, By which it is manifest, first, that their Prophecying to the people, was subservient, and subordinate to the Prophecying of Moses; for that God took of the Spirit of Moses, to put upon them; so that they Prophecyed as Moses would have them: otherwise they had not been suffered to Prophecy at all. For there was (verse 27.) a complaint made against them to Moses; and Joshua would have Moses to have forbidden them; which he did not, but said to Joshua, Bee not jealous in my behalf. Secondly, that the Spirit of God in that place, signifieth nothing but the Mind and Disposition to obey, and assist Moses in the administration of the Government. For if it were meant they had the substantial Spirit of God ; that is, the Divine nature, inspired into them, then they had it in no lesse manner than Christ himself, in whom onely the Spirit of God dwelt bodily. It is meant therefore of the Gift and Grace of God, that guided them to co-operate with Moses; from whom their Spirit was derived. And it appeareth (verse 16.) that, they were such as Moses himself should appoint for Elders and Officers of the People: For the words are, "Gather unto me seventy men, whom thou knowest to be Elders and Officers of the people:" where, "thou knowest," is the same with "thou appointest," or "hast appointed to be such." For we are told before (Exod. 18.) that Moses following the counsell of Jethro his Father-in-law, did appoint Judges, and Officers over the people, such as feared God; and of these, were those Seventy, whom God by putting upon them Moses spirit, inclined to aid Moses in the Administration of the Kingdome: and in this sense the Spirit of God is said (1 Sam. 16. 13, 14.) presently upon the anointing of David, to have come upon David, and left Saul; God giving his graces to him he chose to govern his people, and taking them away from him, he rejected. So that by the Spirit is meant Inclination to Gods service; and not any supernaturall Revelation.
God Sometimes Also Spake By Lots God spake also many times by the event of Lots; which were ordered by such as he had put in Authority over his people. So wee read that God manifested by the Lots which Saul caused to be drawn (1 Sam. 14. 43.) the fault that Jonathan had committed, in eating a honey-comb, contrary to the oath taken by the people. And (Josh. 18. 10.) God divided the land of Canaan amongst the Israelite, by the "lots that Joshua did cast before the Lord in Shiloh." In the same manner it seemeth to be, that God discovered (Joshua 7.16., &c.) the crime of Achan. And these are the wayes whereby God declared his Will in the Old Testament.
All which ways he used also in the New Testament. To the Virgin Mary, by a Vision of an Angel: To Joseph in a Dream: again to Paul in the way to Damascus in a Vision of our Saviour: and to Peter in the Vision of a sheet let down from heaven, with divers sorts of flesh, of clean and unclean, beasts; and in prison, by Vision of an Angel: And to all the Apostles, and Writers of the New Testament, by the graces of his Spirit; and to the Apostles again (at the choosing of Matthias in the place of Judas Iscariot) by lot.
Every Man Ought To Examine The Probability Of A Pretended Prophets Calling Seeing then all Prophecy supposeth Vision, or Dream, (which two, when they be naturall, are the same,) or some especiall gift of God, so rarely observed in mankind, as to be admired where observed; and seeing as well such gifts, as the most extraordinary Dreams, and Visions, may proceed from God, not onely by his supernaturall, and immediate, but also by his naturall operation, and by mediation of second causes; there is need of Reason and Judgement to discern between naturall, and supernaturall Gifts, and between naturall, and supernaturall Visions, or Dreams. And consequently men had need to be very circumspect, and wary, in obeying the voice of man, that pretending himself to be a Prophet, requires us to obey God in that way, which he in Gods name telleth us to be the way to happinesse. For he that pretends to teach men the way of so great felicity, pretends to govern them; that is to say, to rule, and reign over them; which is a thing, that all men naturally desire, and is therefore worthy to be suspected of Ambition and Imposture; and consequently, ought to be examined, and tryed by every man, before hee yeeld them obedience; unlesse he have yeelded it them already, in the institution of a Common-wealth; as when the Prophet is the Civill Soveraign, or by the Civil Soveraign Authorized. And if this examination of Prophets, and Spirits, were not allowed to every one of the people, it had been to no purpose, to set out the marks, by which every man might be able, to distinguish between those, whom they ought, and those whom they ought not to follow. Seeing therefore such marks are set out (Deut. 13. 1,&c.) to know a Prophet by; and (1 John 4.1.&C) to know a Spirit by: and seeing there is so much Prophecying in the Old Testament; and so much Preaching in the New Testament against Prophets; and so much greater a number ordinarily of false Prophets, then of true; every one is to beware of obeying their directions, at their own perill. And first, that there were many more false than true Prophets, appears by this, that when Ahab (1 Kings 12.) consulted four hundred Prophets, they were all false Imposters, but onely one Michaiah. And a little before the time of the Captivity, the Prophets were generally lyars. "The Prophets" (saith the Lord by Jerem. cha. 14. verse 14.) "prophecy Lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor spake unto them, they prophecy to you a false Vision, a thing of naught; and the deceit of their heart." In so much as God commanded the People by the mouth of the Prophet Jeremiah (chap. 23. 16.) not to obey them. "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, hearken not unto the words of the Prophets, that prophecy to you. They make you vain, they speak a Vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
All Prophecy But Of The Soveraign Prophet Is To Be Examined By Every Subject Seeing then there was in the time of the Old Testament, such quarrells amongst the Visionary Prophets, one contesting with another, and asking When departed the Spirit from me, to go to thee? as between Michaiah, and the rest of the four hundred; and such giving of the Lye to one another, (as in Jerem. 14.14.) and such controversies in the New Testament at this day, amongst the Spirituall Prophets: Every man then was, and now is bound to make use of his Naturall Reason, to apply to all Prophecy those Rules which God hath given us, to discern the true from the false. Of which rules, in the Old Testament, one was, conformable doctrine to that which Moses the Soveraign Prophet had taught them; and the other the miraculous power of foretelling what God would bring to passe, as I have already shown out of Deut. 13. 1. &c. and in the New Testament there was but one onely mark; and that was the preaching of this Doctrine, That Jesus Is The Christ, that is, the King of the Jews, promised in the Old Testament. Whosoever denyed that Article, he was a false Prophet, whatsoever miracles he might seem to work; and he that taught it was a true Prophet. For St. John (1 Epist, 4. 2, &c) speaking expressely of the means to examine Spirits, whether they be of God, or not; after he hath told them that there would arise false Prophets, saith thus, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every Spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God;" that is, is approved and allowed as a Prophet of God: not that he is a godly man, or one of the Elect, for this, that he confesseth, professeth, or preacheth Jesus to be the Christ; but for that he is a Prophet avowed. For God sometimes speaketh by Prophets, whose persons he hath not accepted; as he did by Baalam; and as he foretold Saul of his death, by the Witch of Endor. Again in the next verse, "Every Spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh, is not of Christ. And this is the Spirit of Antichrist." So that the rule is perfect on both sides; that he is a true Prophet, which preacheth the Messiah already come, in the person of Jesus; and he a false one that denyeth him come, and looketh for him in some future Imposter, that shall take upon him that honour falsely, whom the Apostle there properly calleth Antichrist. Every man therefore ought to consider who is the Soveraign Prophet; that is to say, who it is, that is Gods Viceregent on earth; and hath next under God, the Authority of Governing Christian men; and to observe for a Rule, that Doctrine, which in the name of God, hee commanded to bee taught; and thereby to examine and try out the truth of those Doctrines, which pretended Prophets with miracles, or without, shall at any time advance: and if they find it contrary to that Rule, to doe as they did, that came to Moses, and complained that there were some that Prophecyed in the Campe, whose Authority so to doe they doubted of; and leave to the Soveraign, as they did to Moses to uphold, or to forbid them, as hee should see cause; and if hee disavow them, then no more to obey their voice; or if he approve them, then to obey them, as men to whom God hath given a part of the Spirit of their Soveraigne. For when Christian men, take not their Christian Soveraign, for Gods Prophet; they must either take their owne Dreams, for the prophecy they mean to bee governed by, and the tumour of their own hearts for the Spirit of God; or they must suffer themselves to bee lead by some strange Prince; or by some of their fellow subjects, that can bewitch them, by slander of the government, into rebellion, without other miracle to confirm their calling, then sometimes an extraordinary successe, and Impunity; and by this means destroying all laws, both divine, and humane, reduce all Order, Government, and Society, to the first Chaos of Violence, and Civill warre.