« AnteriorContinuar »
For in that account which the holy Scriptures have given us of the Requisites 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 Gospel, and consequently have a Christian Faith : and that if their Faith be accompanied with Obedience, it is then a faving Christian Faith, or such a belief of the Truths of the Gospel, as is necesfary in order to Salvation. But there is not the least hint in all the Bible of the Necessity of immediate Revelation, in order either to the belief of the Truths of the Gospel, or to that Obedience which makes the belief of them saving:
'Tis true, our Adversaries pretend, that that O. bedience which makes a Christian Faith saving, is an Obedience to the immediate Dictates or Teachings of the Spirit. This is so manifest to every Person that peruses their Books, that instances of it are needless. And truly, if they could prove what they so confidently assert, then it must be confessed, that God has resolved and so disposed Matters, that a saving Christian Faith shall be alwaies built upon immediate Revelation. Because such immediate Teachings or Dictates of the Spirit, as they suppose, would really be an immediate Revelation of the Will of God to Man. And if God has resolved and so disposed Matters, that that 0. bedience which makes a Christian Faith saving, shall alwaies be an Obedience to such immediate Di&tates or Teachings of the Spirit; then he has made immediate Revelation necessary in order to that Obedience, which makes a Christian Faith sao ving; and consequently he has made it necessary in order to a faving Christian Faith.
But then we utterly deny, that God has resolved and fo disposed Matters, that that Obedience which makes à Christian Faith saving, shall alwaies be an Obedience to such immediate Dictates or Teachings of the Spirit, as our Adverfaries pretend. For tho' we most readily grant, that God may, if he please, immediately teach, and dictate to whomsoever he pleases; yet we say, that God has not declared in his Word, that he will immediately teach, and di&tate to, all true Christians, and that he will reveal his Will to them after that manner. He has given them the Holy Bible to instruct them in their Duty; and thereby he mediately teaches, leads, guides and dire&ts his Servants; and those who are obedient to such his Orders, tho' mediately delivered to them, have a faving Christian Faith. But as for immediate Instructions from the Mouth of God himself, there is no promise that the Saints Thall enjoy them; and therefore we are not to expect them, much less to account them necessary in order to that Obedience which makes our Faith saving.
I shall now proceed to establish the Doctrine I have laid down, and shew, that God has not resolved and so disposed Matters, that a saving Christian Faith shall be alwaies built upon immediate Revelation. This I shall do, by answering all those "Arguments, which have been thought to prove, either that the Truths of the Gospel must be im. mediately revealed to a Man, before he can believe them, or else that all true Christians are led and taught by immediate Revelation, and consequently that immediate Revelation is necessary in order to that Obedience which makes their Faith Saving
These Arguments, I confess, are numerous, and of different kinds. I shall examine them in such an Order as I judge most convenient, and with as much brevity as I am able.
1. Elihu faies, But there is a spirit in Man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding, Job 32.8. From hence our Adversaries conclude, ihat God gives Men the Knowledge of Religious Truths by immediate Revelation. Because by InSpiration we generally understand God's discovering à Truth by immediate Revelation. Thus we say, Mofes writ by Inspiration; that is God did immediately reveal to Moses those Truths which he writ: and the Prophets prophecied by Inspiration; that is, they delivered such Truths as God did immediately reveal to them: and St. Paul saies, 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, lince our understanding, that is, our knowledge of Religious Truths, is given by Inspiration; it comes, say they, by immediate Revelation.
that the weakness of this Objection may appear, 'tis necessary for me to observe, First, That the word (N) which our Translators do here render. But, ought to be render'd verily or truly. Secondly, That the word (nowi) which our Trandators do here render
inspiration, does never signify the discovery of a Truth by immediate Revelation; but denotes, I. a breath in general, of what kind foever it be. 2. a Soul, because Gods giving a Soul to any Creature, is expressed 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 whose nostrils was (D"news) the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died ; and the soul of Man in particular, 1 Kings 15.29. and in diverse other places. Thirdly, That the word (1717) which our Translators do here render Spirit, signifies not only the holy Spirit of God, but also, 1. a Spirit or Breath in general, of what kind soever it be. Thus i Kings 19. 11. A great and ftrong (797) wind rent the the mountains, 2. the Soul of Man or Beast. Thus Ecclef. 3. 21. who knoweth (117) tbe Spirit (or Soul) of Man, that goeth upward; and the (7717) Spirit (or Soul) of the beast, that goeth downward ?
These things being premised, I answer, That tho' inspiration is generally understood to signify God's discovering a Truth by immediate Revelation; yet that is not constantly the meaning of it, and particularly it cannot be so understood in this place. Because the word (w]) which our Tranflators do here render inspiration, does never admit of that sense. And therefore this Text may much more properly be rendred thus, Verily, there is a Spirit in Man, and the Breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding, or as the word (Jan) ought to be rendred, causes them to understand : And then the sense 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, because it was given by it ; causes them to understand, or makes Men intelligent Creatures. And thus by shewing the true meaning of the Text, I have answer'd that Objecti. on of our Adversaries, which is built upon a misunderstanding of it.
2. Our Saviour says, If any Man will do his will (viz. the Will of the Father that sent him. v. 16.) he all know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my self, John 7. 17. The meaning of which words will best be understood, by considering to whom our Saviour spake them, viz. the Jews, whose hearts were hardened by their Lusts and Prejudices against his Person and DoArine; and therefore they would not believe that he came from God. Whereas, says he, If any Man will do his will that sent me; or, as the words may more fitly be rendred, If any Man (lény) be willing to do his will; be being so far disintangled from his Lust and Prejudices, that he is ready to embrace the Truth, whensoever it is proposed to him, Mall 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 honest and good heart, desirous of doing whatsoever he perceives to be his duty, will not cavil at such Proofs of my Mission as I have given you; but will soon and easily be convinced, that my Doctrine, which God has attested 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 docs not here speak one word of the manner of that Reyelation, whereby the evidence of Christian Truths is convey'd to the understanding of a well disposed Person ; but he speaks only of that frame of Spirit, which is necessary in order to the embra, cing of Christian Truths, after what manner for ever they be revealed. And consequently, these words of our Saviour will by no means prove, that God has resolved and so disposed matters, that a faving Christian Faith must of cccllity be builç