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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 spirit or 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 or discerning at all ? But if this be so, that the devil catsnot 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 ideas, or ideas of the outward senses, or ideas which are of the same outo ward nature. 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 next effects of impres. sions on the body. So that it must be only by the imagination, that Satan has access to the soul, tọ tempt and delude it, or suggest any thing to it.* And this seems to be the reason
*“ 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
So that the utmost he can do, in tempting a man to sin, is by suasion and suggestion only. But 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 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 operation of God's Spirit ? It is from hence that many
why persons that are under the disease of melancholy, are commonly so visibly and remarkably subject to the suggest, ions and temptations of Satan ; that being a disease which pe: culiarly affects the animal spirits, and is attended with weak, ness of that part of the body which is the fountain of the ani. mal spirits, 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 ani. mal spirits, or any changes made in the body. The brain being thus weakened and diseașed, 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, he 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.
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 Turretine, speaking on that question, What is the power of angels ? says,
" As to 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 whithersoever he will. But angels can act upon the rational soul, only mediately, by imaginations." Theolog. Elench. Loc. VII. Quest. 70
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 in. stead 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, and are lifted up with them, and seek after them, that 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 affecvions do not arise from the imagination, nor have any depend.
once 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.
V. Truly gracious affections are attended with a reasonable and spiritual conviction of the judgment, 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 those who are truly gracious persons have a solid, full, thorough and effectual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel ; I mean, that 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 indisputa. ble ; 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 res. pect to Christ's being the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, and the great things he has revealed concerning him: self, 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 Chris: has revealed, of God's eternal purposes and designs, concern. ing 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 measare answerable to their infinite importance.
That all true Christians have sach a kind of conviction of the truth of the things of the gospel, is abandantly manifest from the holy scriptures. I will mention a few places of many, Matth. xvi. 15, 16, 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 sard 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 are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. John xvii. 6, 7, 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 garést 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 mayst. 2. Cor. iv. 11, 12, 13, 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 shali present us with you. Together with ver. 16. For which cause we faint not. And ver. 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, 7, 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.