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by the medium of the body, viz. that he cannot immediately know the thoughts of the soul. This is abundantly declared in the scripture, to be peculiar to the omniscient God. But it is not likely that the devil can immediately produce an effect, which is out of the reach of his immediate view. It seems unreasonable to suppose, that his immediate agency should be out of his own sight, or that it should be impossible for him to see what he himself immediately does. Is it not unreasonable to suppose, that any intelligent agent should by the act of his will produce effects, according to his understanding, or agreeable to his own thoughts, and that immediately, and yet the effects produced be beyond the reach of his understanding, or where he can have no immediate perception? But if the devil cannot produce thoughts in the soul immediately, or any other way than by the animal spirits, or by the body, then it follows, that he never brings to pass any thing in the soul, but by the imagination or phantasy, or by exciting external ideas. For we know that alterations in the body do immediately excite no other sort of ideas in the mind, but external ones, or those of the outward senses. As to reflection, abstraction, reasoning, &c. and those thoughts and inward motions which are the fruits of these acts of the mind, they are not the nearest effects of impressions on the body. So that it must be only by the imagination that Satan has access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, or suggest any thing to it.*. And this seems to be the reason why persons that are under the disease of melancholy,
The imagination is that room of the soul, wherein the devil doth often appear. Indeed, (to speak exactly,) the devil hath no efficient power over the rational part of a man: he cannot change the will, he cannot alter the heart of a man. So that the utmost he can do, in tempting a man to sin, is by suasion and suggestion only. But then how doth the devil do this? Even by working upon the imagination. He observeth the temper, and bodily constitution of a man: and thereupon suggests to his fancy and injects his fiery darts thereinto, by which the mind and will come to be wrought upon. The devil then, though he hath no imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because he can thus stir and move thy imagination, and thou being naturally destitute of grace, canst not withstand these suggestions; hence it is that any sin in thy imagination, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth quickly lay hold on all. And indeed, by this means do arise those horrible delusions, that are in many erroneous ways of religion: all is because their imaginations are corrupted. Yea, how often are these diabolical delusions of the imagination, taken for the gracious operations of God's Spirit? It is from hence that many have pretended to enthusiasms; they leave the scriptures, and wholly attend to what they perceive and feel within them.” (Burgess, on Original Sin, p. 369.)
The great Turrentine, speaking on that question, "What is the power of angels?" says, As to the bodies, there is no doubt, but that they can do a great deal upon all sorts of elementary and sublunary bodies, to move them locally and variously to agitate them. It is also certain, that they can act upon the external and internal senses, to excite them, or to bind them. But as to the rational soul itself, they can do nothing immediately upon that; for to God alone who knows and searches the hearts, and who has them in his hands, does it also appertain to bow and move them withersoever he will. But angels can act upon the rational soul, only mediately by imaginations." (Theolog. Elench. Loc. VII. Quest. 7.)
are commonly so visibly and remarkably subject to the suggestions and temptations of Satan; that being a disease which peculiarly affects the animal spirits, and is attended with weakness of that part of the body which is their fountain, even the brain, which is, as it were, the seat of the phantasy. It is by impressions made on the brain, that any ideas are excited in the mind, by the motion of the animal spirits, or any changes made in the body. The brain being thus weakened and diseased, it is less under the command of the higher faculties of the soul, and yields the more easily to extrinsic impressions, and is overpowered by the disordered motions of the animal spirits; and so the devil has greater advantage to affect the mind, by working on the imagination. And thus Satan, when he casts in those horrid suggestions into the minds of many melancholy persons, in which they have no hand themselves, does it by exciting imaginary ideas, either of some dreadful words or sentences, or other horrid outward ideas. And when he tempts other persons who are not melancholy, he does it by presenting to the imagination, in a lively and alluring manner, the objects of their lusts, or by exciting ideas of words, and so by them exciting thoughts; or by promoting an imagination of outward actions, events, circumstances, &c. Innumerable are the ways by which the mind might be led on to all kind of evil thoughts, by exciting external ideas in the imagination.
If persons keep no guard at these avenues of Satan, by which he has access to the soul to tempt and delude it, they will be likely to have enough of him. And especially, if instead of guarding against him, they lay themselves open to him, and seek and invite him, because he appears as an angel of light, and counterfeits the illuminations and graces of the Spirit of God, by inward whispers, and immediate suggestions of facts and events, pleasant voices, beautiful images, and other impressions on the imagination. There are many who are deluded by such things, are lifted up with them, and seek after them. They have a continued course of them, and can have them almost when they will; and especially when their pride and vain-glory has most occasion for them, to make a shew of them before company. It is with them, something as it is with those who are professors of the art of telling where lost things are to be found, by impressions made on their imaginations; they laying themselves open to the devil, he is always at hand to give them the desired impression.
Before I finish what I would say on this head of imaginations, counterfeiting spiritual light, and affections arising from them, I would renewedly (to prevent misunderstanding of what has been said) desire it may be observed, that I am far from determining, that no affections are spiritual which are attended with imaginary
ideas. Such is the nature of man, that he can scarcely think of any thing intensely, without some kind of outward ideas. They arise and interpose themselves unavoidably, in the course of a man's thoughts; though oftentimes they are very confused, and are not what the mind regards. When the mind is much engaged, and the thoughts intense, oftentimes the imagination is more strong, and the outward idea more lively, especially in persons of some constitutions of body. But there is a great difference between these two things, viz. lively imaginations arising from strong affections, and strong affections arising from lively imaginations. The former may be, and doubtless often is, in case of truly gracious affections. The affections do not arise from the imagination, nor have any dependence upon it; but on the contrary, the imagination is only the accidental effect, or consequent of the affection, through the infirmity of human nature. But when the latter is the case, as it often is, that the affection arises from the imagination, and is built upon it as its foundation, instead of a spiritual illumination or discovery, then is the affection, however elevated, worthless and vain. And this is the drift of what has been now said, of impressions on the imagination. Having observed this, I proceed to another mark of gracious affections.
Truly gracious affections are attended with a conviction of the reality and certainty of divine things.
This seems to be implied in the text that was laid as the foundation of this discourse, Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet BELIEVING, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. All gracious persons have a solid, full, thorough and effectual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel. They no longer halt between two opinions; the great doctrines of the gospel cease to be any longer doubtful things, or matters of opinion, which, though probable, are yet disputable; but with them, they are points settled and determined, as undoubted and indisputable; so that they are not afraid to venture their all upon their truth. Their conviction is an effectual conviction; so that the great, spiritual, mysterious, and invisible things of the gospel, have the influence of real and certain things upon them; they have the weight and power of real things in their hearts; and accordingly rule in their affections, and govern them through the course of their lives. With respect to Christ's being the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, and the great things he has revealed concerning himself, and his Father, and another world, they have not only a
predominating opinion that these things are true, and so yield their assent, as they do in many other matters of doubtful speculation; but they see that it is really so: their eyes are opened, so that they see that really Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And as to the things which Christ has revealed, of God's eternal purposes and designs, concerning fallen man, and the glorious and everlasting things prepared for the saints in another world, they see that they are so indeed: and therefore these things are of great weight with them, and have a mighty power upon their hearts, and influence over their practice, in some measure answerable to their infinite importance.
That all true Christians have such a kind of conviction, is abundantly manifest from the holy scriptures. I will mention a few places out of many; Matth. xvi. 15-17. But whom say ye that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Barjona :-my Father which is in heaven hath revealed it unto thee. John vi. 68, 69. Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe, and art sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. John xvii. 6-8. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. Acts viii. 37. If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. 2 Cor. iv. 11-14. We which live, are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake.-Death worketh in us.We having the spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken: we also believe, and therefore speak: knowing, that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. Together with verse 16. For which cause we faint not. And verse 18. While we look not at the things which are seen, &c. And chap. v. 1. For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God.—And ver. 6-8. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. 2 Tim. i. 12. For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded thrt he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Heb. iii. 6. Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end? Heb. xi. 1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the
evidence of things not seen: together with that whole chapter, 1 John iv. 13-16. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. Chap. v. 4, 5. For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? Therefore truly gracious affections are attended with a conviction and persuasion of the truth of gospel declarations, and a sight of their evidence and reality.
There are many religious affections, which are not attended with such a conviction of the judgment. Many apprehensions and ideas which some call divine discoveriss, are affecting, but not convincing. Though for a little while, they may seem to be more persuaded of the truth of religion, than they used to be, and may yield a forward assent, like many of Christ's hearers, who believe for a while, yet they have no thorough and effectual conviction. There is no great abiding change in them in this respect, that whereas formerly they did not realize the great things of the gospel; now these things, with regard to reality and certainty, appear new to them, and they behold them quite in another view than they used to do. There are many persons who have been exceedingly raised with religious affections, and think they have been converted, but they do not seem any more convinced of the truth of the gospel, than they used to be; or at least, there is no remarkable alteration. They do not live under the influence and power of a realizing conviction of the infinite and eternal things which the gospel reveals; if they were, it would be impossible for them to live as they do. Because their affections are not attended with a thorough conviction of the mind, they are not at all to be depended on; however great a show and noise they make, it is like the blaze of tow, or crackling of thorns, or like the forward flourishing blade on stony ground, that has no root, nor deepness of earth to maintain its life.
Some persons, under high affections and a confident persuasion of their good estate, have what they very ignorantly call seeing the truth of the word of God, but which is very far from it. They have some text of scripture coming to their minds, in a sudden and extraordinary manner, immediately declaring unto them (as they suppose) that their sins are forgiven, or that God loves them, and will save them; and it may be have a chain of scriptures coming one after another, to the same purpose; and they are convinced that it is truth; i. e. they are confident that it