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Extraordinary Gifts of Prayer in the firft Ages :) And to preserve them from all dangerous and deftru&ive Errors, to furnish them with sufficient Powers to mortify and overcome all their evil Habits and corrupt Affections ; and finally, if they be compliant with his holy Motions, to bring them all at last to the Kingdom of Heaven. I do not say that they shall be secured againft all Errors, and against all Sins; but if they be Persons of Probity and Integrity, such as sincerely desire to know their Master's Will, . and to do it, they shall for ever be kept from all damning Errors, and for ever be secured from such Snares and Temptations to evil Practices, as, if they were exposed to, and left to themselves, they could not avoid falling under them.
But fourthly and lastly, While I am talking of the ordinary Grace of God, and the ordinary Instances of the Holy Ghoft's Advocateship in the World ; yet I would not exclude out of that Account even the extraordinary Communications of God's Grace and Spirit, when an extraordinary Occasion offers its self. When in our Days an unusual Case happens, that is to say, when a particular Church, or a particular Person, is put under such Difficulties, or Trials, or Temptations, that God Almighty sees they cannot be got over without a greater Afliftance of his divine Power than is ordinarily bestowed; in fuch a Cafe as
this, I say, God will bestow all the Aliftance that is needful: And that Aslistance of the Spirit, tho' it be more than is usual, yet, in our Case, comes under the Notion of ordinary Grace, or the ordinary Acts of the Spirit's Advocateship. Our Lord Jesus hath purchased the Holy Spirit for his Difciples, not only for those of one Age, but for all his Followers to the World's End
; and at the same Time that he promised to send the Holy Ghost for the Advocate, he promised that he should abide with us for ever, as my Text hath it. There were indeed greater Occasions of his appearing illustriously, visibly, and miraculously at the Beginning of Christianity, than there can be now. But if the same Occasions could happen again, he would, without doubt, appear suitably to those Occasions; for his Power is not shortened; and we may be certain that he will never leave us nor forfake us, unless we first leave and forsake him. In the mean Time let us not be dismayed at any Thing; let us not doubt of his constant Support and Asistance. Tho’ he do not inspire us to work Miracles, or speak Languages; yet he will for ever in. spire us both to believe aright, and to practise aright, if we use our Understandings as we ought to do, and do not wilfully depart from the known Rules of our Duty. And if ever it please God to expose us to extraordinary Temptations, his Spirit wilļ then
extraordinarily assist us, and we shall as cer-
I have been the more careful in diltin-
For Instance, I pray what is it that hath made so many Quakers and gifted Brethren amongst us, but the misinterpreting and misapplying those Texts which speak of the Gifts of the Spirit, which they so understand as to make no Distinction between the Times then and the Times now? They read, for Instance, a Prophecy in Joel, that when the last Days should come, God would pour Joel 2. 26. his Spirit upon all Flesh, and their young
Men Acts 2.17.
soould fee Vifions, and their old Men dream
Dreams. And again, that in those Days
mall no more teach his Neighbour, and every
Chriftians to whom he writes in these terms: 1 John 2. The anointing, says he, which
but the same unvinting
Warrant from human Authority, meerly upon the Impulse of the Spirit of God. These are the Consequences that have been drawn from these and Tuch Texts of Scripture. And so far have they been promoted and improved by several among us, that Reason and Pru
dence, and all acquired Learning, are rather accounted by them Hindrances to the Work of God's Church, than any ways contributing to the promoting of it. Nay, they are arrived to a Pitch above the Scriptures themselves, which they look upon as a dead Letter in Comparison of the Light within them, the Witness, the Anointing which they have received from above; which is the only Measure with them of Truth and Falsnood, and of Good and Evil.
I cannot deny but these Enthusiastick People, that talk at this rate, have some colour for this their Notion from the Letter of several Passages in the Old and New Teftament. But then, I say, that Colour would quite vanish, if they would but take Care to distinguish between the Effects of the Spirit that belonged to the converting of the World, and those which were to be his constant permanent Operations among such as were already Christians. There is no one will deny, but the Apostles, and those in their Times, had these Inspiracions, these Revelations they speak of; and the Texts that they produce, are some of them plain Promises and Predictions of them, and some of them plain Proofs that thofe Promises were made good. They did see Visions, and were endued with exi traordinary Talents of Wisdom and Knowledge without human Methods, and might