« PreviousContinue »
Chap. IX. mediate Revelation. And what then? Will it follow, that God does the fame to all perfons, which he did to St. Paul? Can it be faid, that God has given the gift of Tongues to every Man, becaufe St. Paul enjoyed it? If this be the true sense of that phrafe, it imports a fpecial privilege granted to St. Paul (as it was in those times to many others alfo) which is by no means common to all Chriftians in thefe daies, any more than those other extraordinary favors, which were in the Primitive times very frequent.
But the truth on't is, the words & poi ought to be rendred, not in me, but to me; as the fame Apoftle ufes the phrafe, 1 Cor. 14. 11. he that speaketh fhall be a Barbarian iol (not in me, but) ta me. And accordingly here, it pleafed God to re veal his Son, that is, to make him known to the Apoftle, that he might preach him among the Heathen.
30. We are told, that there is one faith, Ephef. 4.5. that is, fay they, there is one Faith both un-, der the Law, and under the Gofpel. And if fo; then our Faith is now built upon immediate Revelation vouchfafed to every particular Believer, because the Faith of thofe that lived under the Law was fo built.
Now in answer to this I fhall not determine, whether it may be proved from this or any other Text, that our Faith under the Gofpel is properly the fame with theirs under the Law; but'l fay, that fuppofing it to be never fo properly the fame, yet it will not follow, that if theirs was built upon immediate Revelation vouchfafed to every particular Believer, ours must be fo built alfo. For a different Manner of receiving that Evidence which is the Foundation of Faith, does not make a diffe
rent Faith. For I may believe that upon mediate Evidence, which another believes upon immediate Evidence. St. Paul, for instance, believed that our Savior was the Christ, because our Savior himfelf told him fo: but I believe the fame Truth, because St. Paul affures me he received it from Chrift. The fame might be applied to other Truths of the Gofpel. Wherefore St. Paul's Faith and mine are the fame, because of our agreement in the belief of the fame Truths; altho' the Evidence upon which our Faith is built, be different, viz. the one immediate, and the other mediate. 'Tis true, God's uttering the Truth is the reafon both of St. Paul's believing, and of mine: but we were convinced, that God did utter it, by different methods, viz. the one by his own personal experience, and the other by the Teftimony of him who had that perfonal experience. Wherefore, altho' it were granted, that every perfon under the Law did enjoy immediate Revelation, and that his Faith was built upon it; yet it will not follow from thence, that the Faith of us under the Gofpel, because it is fuppofed to be the fame, is alfo built upon immediate Revelation vouchfafed to each Believer.
I must add, that what our Adverfaries think fo manifeft a Truth, viz, that every perfon under the Law did enjoy immediate Revelation, is a great miftake; of which I'fhall speak in my Answer to the next Objection.
31. 'Tis pretended that immediate Revelation was the ancient way of God's teaching Mankind his Will; and that if immediate Revelation be ceafed under the Gofpel, then the difpenfation of the Gofpel, is lefs glorious than that of the Law, under which immediate Revelation was
youchfafed to Mankind. But I anfwer, that immediate Revelation never was the privilege of all Perfons. For until the Coming of Chrift Men were taught God's Will by fome few Prophets and infpired Perfons. Mr. Barclay himself (a) tels us, that of Old (viz. before the times of the Gofpel) the People depended upon the Priests' for the knowledge of God. They were therefore. taught by fuch Perfons, as had the uncommon privilege of immediate Revelation vouchfafed to them. And thus we are now taught under the Gofpel. For Chriftians in all Ages did and do enjoy thofe Holy Books, which were dictated by God himself. And how then is Gofpel Difpenfation lefs glorious, than that of the Law? The fame method of teaching is ufed under both. The only difference is, that those infpired Perfons who do now teach us, are none of them living. But certainly the Writings of any Perfon Inftructed by immediate Revelation, are as glorious a method of teaching when he is dead, as his teaching by word of mouth was while he was living. But whatever becomes of this matter, the main difference between the glory of the Law, and that of the Gospel, may be difcerned by comparing the promises made to Man under both. And if thefe be duly confidered, the Gospel difpenfa tion is much more glorious than that of the Law. was, or than it could have been, even tho' every Perfon under the Law had enjoy'd immediate Revelation, and that the fame privilege had never been vouchfafed to any one Perfon befides the Apoftles, under the Gofpel.
If it be faid, that God gave the Jewish Na
(a) Apol. prop. 2. p. 286.
tion his good Spirit to inftruct them, Neh. 9. 20. and confequently he vouchfafed to teach every one of them by immediate Revelation; I anfwer, that God gave his Spirit to the Jewish Prophets to inftruct the People; fo that he taught them by mediate Revelation. For that Spirit wherewith he inftructed them, was the fame wherewith he testifyed against them; and that was the Spirit in the Prophets. For Nehemiah faies in the 30th Verfe of the fame Chapter, Thou teftifyedeft against them by thy Spirit in the Prophets.
32. 'Tis faid, that no Man can know his fpiritual Estate, viz. whether he fhall be happy in the Next World or no, without immediate Revelation, that is, unlefs God declare it unto him by immediate Revelation. And from hence our Adverfaries conclude, that there is a neceffity of immediate Revelation. But firft they ought to have proved, that a Man fhall not be happy hereafter, unless he be affured of it before-hand. Such an affurance is indeed very comfortable; but certainly 'tis no condition of Salvation. But farther, a Man may know his fpiritual Eftate without immediate Revelation. For it may be difcerned by comparing his Life and Actions with the Rules delivered in Holy Scripture. If he find upon Examination, that he is an Obedient Child of God, he may fecurely depend upon his being in God's favour: but if he find himself a Rebel, he must expect vengeance. And he that reads God's Laws, may as well determine, whether he be a dutiful Child of God, or a Rebel against him; as he that reads the Laws of the Land can tell whether or no he be an Obedient Subject. 33. 'Tis objected, that the Scriptures do not contain all truths, as they are applicable to par
ticulars and individuals; and confequently there is a neceffity of immediate Revelation to fupply the defect of the Scriptures. But can our Adverfaries fhew, either that God is obliged to give us, or that our neceffities do require, an immediate Revelation of the Will of God upon every particular and individual occafion? General Rules are delivered in Scripture; and there is no need of immediate Revelation, but only of good fenfe and an honeft heart, to apply them in all Cafes.
34. We are told, that all parties, when they are preft, do ultimately recur to immediate Revelation, and that this is a proof of the Neceffity of it. We are told fo, I confefs; and this is not the only falfhood which we have been told. The bare denyal of this affertion is an abundant confutation of it. Nor need we any other or better proof of the contrary, than the writings of numberlefs Perfons of the Established Church of England, who utterly disclaim immediate Revelation, and do never recur to it in the greatest difficulties.
'Tis true, Mr. Barclay (b) faies, Ask both ox either of them (viz. either Socinians or Proteftants, and doubtlefs the Members of our Established Church are Proteftants) Why they trust the Scriptures, and take them to be their Rule; their answer is, because we have in them the Mind of God delivered unto us by thofe, to whom those things were inwardly, immediately, and objectively revealed by the Spirit of God; and not because this or that Man wrote them, but because the Spirit of God dictated them. But this is foreign to the purpofe, and an impertinent proof of a grofs untruth, For granting that
(6) Apol. prop. 2. p. 294.