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For in that account which the holy Scriptures have given us of the Requifites to a faving Chriftian Faith, no mention is made of immediate Revelation. We read indeed, that by the Ministry of the Word men are convinced of the Truths of the Gofpel, and confequently have a Chriftian Faith: and that if their Faith be accompanied with Obedience, it is then a faving Chriftian Faith, or fuch a belief of the Truths of the Gospel, as is neceffary in order to Salvation. But there is not the leaft hint in all the Bible of the Neceffity of immediate Revelation, in order either to the belief of the Truths of the Gofpel, or to that Obedience which makes the belief of them faving.
'Tis true, our Adverfaries pretend, that that Obedience which makes a Chriftian Faith faving, is an Obedience to the immediate Dictates or Teachings of the Spirit. This is fo manifeft to every Perfon that perufes their Books, that inftances of it are needlefs. And truly, if they could prove what they fo confidently affert, then it must be confeffed, that God has refolved and fo difpofed Matters, that a faving Chriftian Faith fhall be alwaies built upon immediate Revelation. Because fuch immediate Teachings or Dictates of the Spirit, as they fuppofe, would really be an immediate Revelation of the Will of God to Man. And if God has refolved and fo difpofed Matters, that that Obedience which makes a Chriftian Faith Saving, fhall alwaies be an Obedience to fuch immediate Dictates or Teachings of the Spirit; then he has made immediate Revelation neceffary in order to that Obedience, which makes a Christian Faith fao ving; and confequently he has made it neceffary in order to a faving Chriftian Faith.
But then we utterly deny, that God has refolved and fo difpofed Matters, that that Obedience which makes a Chriftian Faith Saving, fhall alwaies be an Obedience to fuch immediate Dictates or Teachings of the Spirit, as our Adverfaries pretend. For tho' we most readily grant, that God may, if he pleafe, immediately teach, and dictate to whomfoever he pleafes; yet we fay, that God has not declared in his Word, that he will immediately teach, and dictate to, all true Chriftians, and that he will reveal his Will to them after that manner. He has given them the Holy Bible to inftruct them in their Duty; and thereby he mediately teaches, leads, guides and directs his Servants; and those who are obedient to fuch his Orders, tho' mediately delivered to them, have a faving Chriftian Faith. But as for immediate Inftructions from the Mouth of God himfelf, there is no promise that the Saints Thall enjoy them; and therefore we are not to expect them, much lefs to account them neceffary in order to that Obedience which makes our Faith faving.
I fhall now proceed to eftablish the Doctrine I have laid down, and fhew, that God has not refolved and fo difpofed Matters, that a faving Chriftian Faith fhall be alwaies built upon immediate Revelation. This I fhall do, by answering all thofe "Arguments, which have been thought to prove, either that the Truths of the Gofpel must be immediately revealed to a Man, before he can believe them, or elfe that all true Chriftians are led and taught by immediate Revelation, and confequently that immediate Revelation is neceffary in order to that Obedience which makes their Faith Saving.
Thefe Arguments, I confefs, are numerous, and of different kinds. I fhall examine them in fuch an Order as I judge moft convenient, and with as much brevity as I am able.
1. Elihu faies, But there is a spirit in Man, and the infpiration of the Almighty giveth understanding, Job 32.8. From hence our Adverfaries conclude, that God gives Men the Knowledge of Religious Truths by immediate Revelation. Becaufe by InSpiration we generally understand God's difcovering a Truth by immediate Revelation. Thus we fay, Mofes writ by Infpiration; that is, God did immediately reveal to Mofes thofe Truths which he writ: and the Prophets prophecied by Infpiration; that is, they delivered fuch Truths as God did immediately reveal to them: and St. Paul faies, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, 2 Tim. 3.16. that is, the Pen-men of the Holy Scriptures writ what God did immediately reveal to them; or as St. Peter expreffes it, 2 Pet. 1. 21. holy men of God Spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost. And therefore, fince our understanding, that is, our knowledge of Religious Truths, is given by Inspiration; it comes, fay they, by immediate Revelation.
That the weakness of this Objection may appear, 'tis neceflary for me to obferve, First, That the word (N) which our Tranflators do here render But, ought to be render'd verily or truly. Secondly, That the word (now) which our Tranflators do here render inspiration, does never fignify the difcovery of a Truth by immediate Revelation; but denotes, 1. a breath in general, of what kind foever it be. 2. a Soul, because Gods giving a Soul to any Creature, is expreffed in Scripture by the Metaphor of breathing a Soul into
Thus it fignifics the Soul both of Man and
Beast, Gen. 7. 22. All in whofe noftrils was (n) the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died; and the foul of Man in particular, 1 Kings 15.29. and in diverse other places. Thirdly, That the word (1) which our Tranflators do here render Spirit, fignifies not only the holy Spirit of God, but also, 1. a Spirit or Breath in general, of what kind foever it be. Thus 1 Kings 19. 11. A great and frong (1) wind rent the 2. the Soul of Man or Beast. Thus Ecclef. 3. 21. who knoweth (1) the Spirit (or Soul) of Man, that goeth upward; and the (1) Spirit (or Soul) of the beast, that goeth down
These things being premifed, I anfwer, That tho' inspiration is generally understood to fignify God's discovering a Truth by immediate Revelation; yet that is not conftantly the meaning of it, and particularly it cannot be fo understood in this place. Because the word (2) which our Tranflators do here render inspiration, does never admit of that fenfe. And therefore this Text may much more properly be rendred thus, Verily, there is a Spirit in Man, and the Breath of the Almighty gi veth them understanding, or as the word (an) ought to be rendred, causes them to understand: And then the fenfe will be this, There is certainly a rational Soul in Man, and the breath of the Lord by which this rational Soul was given; or this rational Soul it felf, which is called the Breath of the Almighty, becaufe it was given by it; causes them to understand, or makes Men intelligent Creatures. And thus by fhewing the true meaning of the Text, I have anfwer'd that Objection of our Adverfaries, which is built upon a misunderstanding of it.
2. Our Saviour fays, If any Man will do his will (viz. the Will of the Father that fent him. v. 16.) he shall know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my felf, John 7. 17. The meaning of which words will beft be understood, by confidering to whom our Saviour fpake them, viz. the Jews, whofe hearts were hardened by their Lufts and Prejudices against his Perfon and Doarine; and therefore they would not believe that he came from God. Whereas, fays he, If any Man will do his will that fent me; or, as the words may more fitly be rendred, If any Man (fixy) be willing to do his will; he being fo far difintangled from his Luft and Prejudices, that he is ready to embrace the Truth, whenfoever it is proposed to him, ball know of the Doctrine which I preach, whether it be of God, or whether I Speak of my self. That is, the Man who has an honeft and good heart, defirous of doing whatfoever he perceives to be his duty, will not cavil at fuch Proofs of my Miffion as I have given you; but will foon and easily be convinced, that my Doctrine, which God has attefted by enabling me to work Miracles among you, is not a counterfeit Revelation, but the word of God from heaven.
It appears therefore, that our Saviour does not here fpeak one word of the manner of that Revelation, whereby the evidence of Chriftian Truths. is convey'd to the understanding of a well difpofed Perfon; but he fpeaks only of that frame of Spirit, which is neceffary in order to the embra cing of Chriftian Truths, after what manner fo ever they be revealed. And confequently, thefe words of our Saviour will by no means prove, that God has refolved and fo difpofed matters, that a faving Chriftian Faith muft of neceffity be built upon