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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.

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.


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 Spokesman, 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.


A Miracle Is A Work That Causeth Admiration
By Miracles are signified the Admirable works of God: & therefore they are also called Wonders. And because they are for the most part, done, for a signification of his commandement, in such occasions, as without them, men are apt to doubt, (following their private naturall reasoning,) what he hath commanded, and what not, they are commonly in Holy Scripture, called Signes, in the same sense, as they are called by the Latines, Ostenta, and Portenta, from shewing, and fore-signifying that, which the Almighty is about to bring to passe.

And Must Therefore Be Rare, Whereof There Is No Naturall Cause Known
To understand therefore what is a Miracle, we must first understand what works they are, which men wonder at, and call Admirable. And there be but two things which make men wonder at any event: The one is, if it be strange, that is to say, such, as the like of it hath never, or very rarely been produced: The other is, if when it is produced, we cannot imagine it to have been done by naturall means, but onely by the immediate hand of God. But when wee see some possible, naturall cause of it, how rarely soever the like has been done; or if the like have been often done, how impossible soever it be to imagine a naturall means thereof, we no more wonder, nor esteem it for a Miracle.

Therefore, if a Horse, or Cow should speak, it were a Miracle; because both the thing is strange, & the Naturall cause difficult to imagin: So also were it, to see a strange deviation of nature, in the production of some new shape of a living creature. But when a man, or other Animal, engenders his like, though we know no more how this is done, than the other; yet because ’tis usuall, it is no Miracle. In like manner, if a man be metamorphosed into a stone, or into a pillar, it is a Miracle; because strange: but if a peece of wood be so changed; because we see it often, it is no Miracle: and yet we know no more, by what operation of God, the one is brought to passe, than the other.

The first Rainbow that was seen in the world, was a Miracle, because the first; and consequently strange; and served for a sign from God, placed in heaven, to assure his people, there should be no more an universall destruction of the world by Water. But at this day, because they are frequent, they are not Miracles, neither to them that know their naturall causes, nor to them who know them not. Again, there be many rare works produced by the Art of man: yet when we know they are done; because thereby wee know also the means how they are done, we count them not for Miracles, because not wrought by the immediate hand of God, but by mediation of humane Industry.

That Which Seemeth A Miracle To One Man, May Seem Otherwise To Another
Furthermore, seeing Admiration and Wonder, is consequent to the knowledge and experience, wherewith men are endued, some more, some lesse; it followeth, that the same thing, may be a Miracle to one, and not to another. And thence it is, that ignorant, and superstitious men make great Wonders of those works, which other men, knowing to proceed from Nature, (which is not the immediate, but the ordinary work of God,) admire not at all: As when Ecclipses of the Sun and Moon have been taken for supernaturall works, by the common people; when neverthelesse, there were others, could from their naturall causes, have foretold the very hour they should arrive: Or, as when a man, by confederacy, and secret intelligence, getting knowledge of the private actions of an ignorant, unwary man, thereby tells him, what he has done in former time; it seems to him a Miraculous thing; but amongst wise, and cautelous men, such Miracles as those, cannot easily be done.

The End Of Miracles
Again, it belongeth to the nature of a Miracle, that it be wrought for the procuring of credit to Gods Messengers, Ministers, and Prophets, that thereby men may know, they are called, sent, and employed by God, and thereby be the better inclined to obey them. And therefore, though the creation of the world, and after that the destruction of all living creatures in the universall deluge, were admirable works; yet because they were not done to procure credit to any Prophet, or other Minister of God, they use not to be called Miracles. For how admirable soever any work be, the Admiration consisteth not in that it could be done, because men naturally beleeve the Almighty can doe all things, but because he does it at the Prayer, or Word of a man. But the works of God in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, were properly Miracles; because they were done with intention to make the people of Israel beleeve, that Moses came unto them, not out of any design of his owne interest, but as sent from God. Therefore after God had commanded him to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage, when he said (Exod 4.1. &c.) “They will not beleeve me, but will say, the Lord hath not appeared unto me,” God gave him power, to turn the Rod he had in his hand into a Serpent, and again to return it into a Rod; and by putting his hand into his bosome, to make it leprous; and again by pulling it out to make it whole, to make the Children of Israel beleeve (as it is verse 5.) that the God of their Fathers had appeared unto him; And if that were not enough, he gave him power to turn their waters into bloud. And when hee had done these Miracles before the people, it is said (verse 41.) that “they beleeved him.” Neverthelesse, for fear of Pharaoh, they durst not yet obey him. Therefore the other works which were done to plague Pharaoh and the Egyptians, tended all to make the Israelites beleeve in Moses, and were properly Miracles. In like manner if we consider all the Miracles done by the hand of Moses, and all the rest of the Prophets, till the Captivity; and those of our Saviour, and his Apostles afterward; we shall find, their end was alwaies to beget, or confirm beleefe, that they came not of their own motion, but were sent by God. Wee may further observe in Scripture, that the end of Miracles, was to beget beleef, not universally in all men, elect, and reprobate; but in the elect only; that is to say, is such as God had determined should become his Subjects. For those miraculous plagues of Egypt, had not for end, the conversion of Pharaoh; For God had told Moses before, that he would harden the heart of Pharaoh, that he should not let the people goe: And when he let them goe at last, not the Miracles perswaded him, but the plagues forced him to it. So also of our Saviour, it is written, (Mat. 13. 58.) that he wrought not many Miracles in his own countrey, because of their unbeleef; and (in Marke 6.5.) in stead of, “he wrought not many,” it is, “he could work none.” It was not because he wanted power; which to say, were blasphemy against God; nor that the end of Miracles was not to convert incredulous men to Christ; for the end of all the Miracles of Moses, of Prophets, of our Saviour, and of his Apostles was to adde men to the Church; but it was, because the end of their Miracles, was to adde to the Church (not all men, but) such as should be saved; that is to say, such as God had elected. Seeing therefore our Saviour sent from his Father, hee could not use his power in the conversion of those, whom his Father had rejected. They that expounding this place of St. Marke, say, that his word, “Hee could not,” is put for, “He would not,” do it without example in the Greek tongue, (where Would Not, is put sometimes for Could Not, in things inanimate, that have no will; but Could Not, for Would Not, never,) and thereby lay a stumbling block before weak Christians; as if Christ could doe no Miracles, but amongst the credulous.

The Definition Of A Miracle
From that which I have here set down, of the nature, and use of a Miracle, we may define it thus, “A MIRACLE, is a work of God, (besides his operation by the way of Nature, ordained in the Creation,) done for the making manifest to his elect, the mission of an extraordinary Minister for their salvation.”

And from this definition, we may inferre; First, that in all Miracles, the work done, is not the effect of any vertue in the Prophet; because it is the effect of the immediate hand of God; that is to say God hath done it, without using the Prophet therein, as a subordinate cause.

Secondly, that no Devil, Angel, or other created Spirit, can do a Miracle. For it must either be by vertue of some naturall science, or by Incantation, that is, vertue of words. For if the Inchanters do it by their own power independent, there is some power that proceedeth not from God; which all men deny: and if they doe it by power given them, then is the work not from the immediate hand of God, but naturall, and consequently no Miracle.

There be some texts of Scripture, that seem to attribute the power of working wonders (equall to some of those immediate Miracles, wrought by God himself,) to certain Arts of Magick, and Incantation. As for example, when we read that after the Rod of Moses being cast on the ground became a Serpent, (Exod. 7. 11.) “the Magicians of Egypt did the like by their Enchantments;” and that after Moses had turned the waters of the Egyptian Streams, Rivers, Ponds, and Pooles of water into blood, (Exod. 7. 22.) “the Magicians of Egypt did so likewise, with their Enchantments;” and that after Moses had by the power of God brought frogs upon the land, (Exod. 8. 7.) “the Magicians also did so with their Enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt;” will not a man be apt to attribute Miracles to Enchantments; that is to say, to the efficacy of the sound of Words; and think the same very well proved out of this, and other such places? and yet there is no place of Scripture, that telleth us what on Enchantment is. If therefore Enchantment be not, as many think it, a working of strange effects by spells, and words; but Imposture, and delusion, wrought by ordinary means; and so far from supernaturall, as the Impostors need not the study so much as of naturall causes, but the ordinary ignorance, stupidity, and superstition of mankind, to doe them; those texts that seem to countenance the power of Magick, Witchcraft, and Enchantment, must needs have another sense, than at first sight they seem to bear.

That Men Are Apt To Be Deceived By False Miracles
For it is evident enough, that Words have no effect, but on those that understand them; and then they have no other, but to signifie the intentions, or passions of them that speak; and thereby produce, hope, fear, or other passions, or conceptions in the hearer. Therefore when a Rod seemeth a Serpent, or the Water Bloud, or any other Miracle seemeth done by Enchantment; if it be not to the edification of Gods people, not the Rod, nor the Water, nor any other thing is enchanted; that is to say, wrought upon by the Words, but the Spectator. So that all the Miracle consisteth in this, that the Enchanter has deceived a man; which is no Miracle, but a very easie matter to doe.

For such is the ignorance, and aptitude to error generally of all men, but especially of them that have not much knowledge of naturall causes, and of the nature, and interests of men; as by innumerable and easie tricks to be abused. What opinion of miraculous power, before it was known there was a Science of the course of the Stars, might a man have gained, that should have told the people, This hour, or day the Sun should be darkned? A juggler by the handling of his goblets, and other trinkets, if it were not now ordinarily practised, would be thought to do his wonders by the power at least of the Devil. A man that hath practised to speak by drawing in of his breath, (which kind of men in antient time were called Ventriloqui,) and so make the weaknesse of his voice seem to proceed, not from the weak impulsion of the organs of Speech, but from distance of place, is able to make very many men beleeve it is a voice from Heaven, whatsoever he please to tell them. And for a crafty man, that hath enquired into the secrets, and familiar confessions that one man ordinarily maketh to another of his actions and adventures past, to tell them him again is no hard matter; and yet there be many, that by such means as that, obtain the reputation of being Conjurers. But it is too long a businesse, to reckon up the severall sorts of those men, which the Greeks called Thaumaturgi, that is to say, workers of things wonderfull; and yet these do all they do, by their own single dexterity. But if we looke upon the Impostures wrought by Confederacy, there is nothing how impossible soever to be done, that is impossible to bee beleeved. For two men conspiring, one to seem lame, the other to cure him with a charme, will deceive many: but many conspiring, one to seem lame, another so to cure him, and all the rest to bear witnesse; will deceive many more.

Cautions Against The Imposture Of Miracles
In this aptitude of mankind, to give too hasty beleefe to pretended Miracles, there can be no better, nor I think any other caution, than that which God hath prescribed, first by Moses, (as I have said before in the precedent chapter,) in the beginning of the 13. and end of the 18. of Deuteronomy; That wee take not any for Prophets, that teach any other Religion, then that which Gods Lieutenant, (which at that time was Moses,) hath established; nor any, (though he teach the same Religion,) whose Praediction we doe not see come to passe. Moses therefore in his time, and Aaron, and his successors in their times, and the Soveraign Governour of Gods people, next under God himself, that is to say, the Head of the Church in all times, are to be consulted, what doctrine he hath established, before wee give credit to a pretended Miracle, or Prophet. And when that is done, the thing they pretend to be a Miracle, we must both see it done, and use all means possible to consider, whether it be really done; and not onely so, but whether it be such, as no man can do the like by his naturall power, but that it requires the immediate hand of God. And in this also we must have recourse to Gods Lieutenant; to whom in all doubtfull cases, wee have submitted our private judgments. For Example; if a man pretend, that after certain words spoken over a peece of bread, that presently God hath made it not bread, but a God, or a man, or both, and neverthelesse it looketh still as like bread as ever it did; there is no reason for any man to think it really done; nor consequently to fear him, till he enquire of God, by his Vicar, or Lieutenant, whether it be done, or not. If he say not, then followeth that which Moses saith, (Deut. 18. 22.) “he hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not fear him.” If he say ’tis done, then he is not to contradict it. So also if wee see not, but onely hear tell of a Miracle, we are to consult the Lawful Church; that is to say, the lawful Head thereof, how far we are to give credit to the relators of it. And this is chiefly the case of men, that in these days live under Christian Soveraigns. For in these times, I do not know one man, that ever saw any such wondrous work, done by the charm, or at the word, or prayer of a man, that a man endued but with a mediocrity of reason, would think supernaturall: and the question is no more, whether what wee see done, be a Miracle; whether the Miracle we hear, or read of, were a reall work, and not the Act of a tongue, or pen; but in plain terms, whether the report be true, or a lye. In which question we are not every one, to make our own private Reason, or Conscience, but the Publique Reason, that is, the reason of Gods Supreme Lieutenant, Judge; and indeed we have made him Judge already, if wee have given him a Soveraign power, to doe all that is necessary for our peace and defence. A private man has alwaies the liberty, (because thought is free,) to beleeve, or not beleeve in his heart, those acts that have been given out for Miracles, according as he shall see, what benefit can accrew by mens belief, to those that pretend, or countenance them, and thereby conjecture, whether they be Miracles, or Lies. But when it comes to confession of that faith, the Private Reason must submit to the Publique; that is to say, to Gods Lieutenant. But who is this Lieutenant of God, and Head of the Church, shall be considered in its proper place thereafter.