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the Use of any Means on our parts. He asserts^ that this Influence of the Spirit is promised to abide with all Christians to the end of the World* to guide them infallibly in all Truth, so that they mould not be left liable one Moment to a Possibility of Error and Imposition. That it is universal} it is the Light which enlightneth every Man that comet h into the World: That it causes Men to think all alike j and that on this Scheme alone, Men may be justly puniflied for Heresy and for Unbelief; since this must be owing to a rebellious Opposition of the Influence of the Spirit, and a wilful rejecting his Sollicitations, and a Refusal of bis offered Grace.
But I do not see how our Author can consistently talk of Persons resisting the Spirit, or what room there is left upon his Scheme for Unbelief, or for Heresies at all. For since he supposes this Influence to be an irresistible Light, instantaneous in its Effects, infallible in its Guidance, and the Effect of it to be the completing Faith at once, and infusing the whole Creed in an instant, engaging Men to think all alike, and freeing them from all Possibility of Error end Jmpojition; and since he at the fame time supposes this Influence of the Spirit and infallible Inspiration to be universal, imparted to every Individual, and extending to every Man that cometh into the World j it manifestly follows, that every Christian, yea, every Man that cometh into the World, is irresistibly enlightned, has his Faith absolutely completed, is free from all Possibility of Error, and thinks exactly in all Points of Faith the fame way with every other Man ; and that therefore there can be no Unbelief, no Error, no Heresy, no Difference of Sentiment among Men or Christians.
Nothing can be more contrary to plain and undeniable Fact, more contradictory in all its Parts, and more evidently subversive of itself, than the Scheme here advanced by this Writer. I am sensible this Gentleman will be ready to sneer at the Charge. For undoubtedly he does not intend that the World should look upon it as a thing which he himself believes. It is the true scriptural and revealed Account os the Matter, and the Scripture alone must answer for it. And therefore the more Contradictions arc proved upon his Scheme, the better it will answer his Design, which is to expose Christianity to the Derision and Contempt of Mankind.
But if it be made appear, that this is all grols Misrepresentation 5 that the Account he is pleased to give us is as contrary to Scripture, as it is to Reason and Common Sense, then the Contradictions and Absurdities are to be charged upon the Author himself, and he is justly accountable for them. And this Attempt of his must only pass for a Proof of his readiness to take any Methods, how unfair or disingenuous soever, to expose the Religion of jsesus.
In order to answer his Design, he heaps together a number of Texts, without any regard to their particular Meaning and Intention, as they" lie in the sacred Writings, and applies them all promiscuously the lame way. He every where confounds the extraordinary and ordinary Influence of the Holy Spirit; that which was peculiar to the Apostles, or to the first Age, he applies to Christians in every Age; and if any thing extraordinary was done in some particular Cases, he urges it as if it was designed to be the standing Rule in every Case. Thus, to (hew that the Holy Ghost operates without delay, by an irresistible Light from Heaven, that jlashes Conviction in a moment; he instances in the happy Metamorphosis of an officious Persecutor into as zealous an Apostle; p. 58, 59. Buttho' the Conversion of St. Pault taken in all its Circumstances, was a signal Attestation to the Truth of Christianity, it would be very absurd to pretend to draw an Argument from such an extraordinary Instance, to shew what are the ordinary Methods of God's dealings with Men in bringing them to the Faith of Christ. That Apostle declares concerning himself, that he did not receive the Gospel, which he preached, of Man, neither was he taught it, but by the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Gal. i. 12. But can it be concluded from thence, that every Christian receives the Gospel in the same immediate way from Christ himself, without any human Instruction? As well might it be said, that when he declares concerning himself, that he was an Apostle, not of Man, nor by Man, his Intention was to signify, that all others were.
Apostles Apostles as well as he. Yet this is the Course of our Author's reasoning, than which nothing can be more absurd and ridiculous. And even with regard to this Cafe of the Conversion of St. Paul, his Faith in Christ though suddenly wrought was not unreasonable, or without Evidence. His Understanding and Reason was fully convinced by what he heard and law of the divine Power and Glory of a risen Jesus. And the Influence of the Holy Spirit upon his Mind, enduing him with extraordinary Gifts and Powers, was not a blind Impulse to engage him to believe he knew not why (which is the Representation this Gentleman is pleas'd to make of the Influence of the Spirit) but enabling him dearly to discern the Gospel-evidence, and giving him a right Knowledge of the Christian Religion, the whole Scheme of its Doctrines and Laws, its Proofs and Evidences, so that his Faith was in the strictest Sense rational.
It is readily granted, that there was an extraordinary Influence of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, who were chosen to be the first authorized Witnesses of Christianity, and had an immediate Commission from Christ himself to publish his Religion to the WorldI fay, there was an extraordinary Influence of the Holy Ghost upon them, both for enabling them to perform the most illustrious Miracles, and for , enduing them with spiritual Gifts, and infallibly guiding them in the Doctrines and Laws they were to deliver tp the Church in the Name
Lett. II. I of cf Christ. And there is nothing in this but what is highly reasonable. For supposing God to give an extraordinary Revelation of his Will for the Instruction and Direction of Mankind, it was very proper that those to whom he originally gave that Revelation to be by them published to the World in his Name, should have their Minds extraordinarily illuminated in the Knowledge of the Doctrines and Laws they were to deliver as from him, so as to be kept from Error in delivering them; and that they should also be enabled to produce sufficient Credentials of their divine Mission, to convince Mankind that he sent them. God's doing this in the Cafe of the Christian Revelation has a manifest Propriety in it, and is an Instance of his great Wildom and Goodness. And it would be a strange thing to pretend to argue from this that Christianity is not on a rational Foundation, or that the Faith of the Gospel cannot be an Assent founded on rational Conviction; when this very Thing is part of the Evidence on which Christianity is founded, and which makes the Assent to it reasonable. And yet this extraordinary Influence of the Holy Ghost, promised to and conserred upon the Apostles for these valuable Purposes, is what several of the Texts mentioned by this Writer refer to. Particularly those Texts which he produces with so much Pomp, p. 57. The Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father and the Son, bejhall tejiify of me. And again, The Spirit