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it otherwife than by immediate Revelation; then
If it be asked, what is meant by a Believer's having a witness (or a thing that is attefted) in himself; I answer, that to receive a witness or a thing that is attefted, is in Scripture-phrafe to be lieve it. This is confeffed on all hands, and therefore: I need not prove it. Now to receive a witness or a thing that is attested, and to have it ones felf, in feem to be phrafes of the fame importance. And if fo, then to have a witness or a thing attefted in ones felf, is nothing else but to believe it.
I am fure, the Context does very well admit, if not require, this fenfe of the phrafe. For no fooner had the Apostle faid, if we receive, or believe, the Witness of Men, the Witness of God is greater; for this is the Witness of God, which he hath teftified of his Son; but he proceeds immediately to fhew, who did, and who did not, receive or believe the Witnefs of God, faying, He that believeth on (him whom I call) the Son of God (even our Savior Chrift) hath the Witness of God (concerning his Son Christ) in himself, that is, believes what God has attefted concerning our Savior's being his Son: whereas he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not, receiveth not, or hath not in himself, the record (ropeian) teftimony or witness, that God gave of his Son.
This interpretation of the Apoftles words feems very natural. And if it be admitted, and fuppofed true; then it appears, that to receive, to have
in ones felf, and to believe, a witness or thing that is attefted or born witness of, are one and the fame thing. Nay, I dare appeal to any unprejudiced perfon, whether the Apoftle does not feem to use thefe phrafes promifcuoufly; and especially, whether he that hath the Witness in himself in theformer part of the Verfe, be not oppofed to him who beleiveth not God, that is, who hath not the Witness in himself, in the next words.
Thus then have I fhewn, that this Text can by no means favor the Doctrine of our Adverfaries, if the Witness fignifies the thing attefted or born witness of by God concerning his Son. I fhall now fhew, that this Verfe does by no means favor the Doctrine of our Adverfaries, even tho' we suppose the Witness to fignify, not the thing attefted by God concerning his Son, but only his atteftation or bearing witness concerning Him.
For if the Witnefs fignifies Gods atteftation or bearing witness concerning his Son; then he that believes on the Son, has in himself Gods atteftation or bearing witnefs concerning Him. Now God did atteft or bear witnefs concerning his Son, by voices from Heaven, by enabling him and his. Difciples to work Miracles, and by raifing Himfrom the Dead. Nor do we read in the Holy Scriptures of any other way, whereby God teftifyed of his Son. Wherefore, if the witnefs fignifies Gods atteftation or bearing witnefs concerning his Son; then he that believes on the Son, muft have in himself one or more of these waies of Gods atteftation or bearing witnefs concerningHim.
But then, what fhall we understand by a Believers having in himself any of these waies of Gods atteftation or bearing witnefs concerning his Son? The Apoftle certainly fpeaks of all Believers in
general. For he faies, he that believeth, that is, every one that believeth in the Son, hath the witnefs in himself. But how can all Believers, efpecially in these daies, be faid to have in themfelves, either God's voices from Heaven, or that Power whereby God enabled Chrift and his Apoftles to work Miracles, or our Saviors Perfonal Refurrection from the Dead? 'Tis nonfense to fay, that every Believer has in himself by immediate Revelation, either thofe voices which were uttered near feventeen hundred years ago, or that Power by which Chrift and his Apoftles did at the fame diftance of time work Miracles, or that Restoration of Life which was made to our Saviors dead Body. And confequently, tho' all Believers have the witnefs in themfelves; and tho we grant that the witness they have in themfelves is Gods atteftation or bearing witness concerning Fefus, that he is his Son; yet it will by no means follow from hence, that Gods atteftation or bearing witness concerning our Saviors being his Son, is communicated to Believers by immediate Revelation.
But then, if by the Beleivers having the witness in himself, we understand his believing the witness or atteftation of God; the meaning of the Apoftle is very plain. For every one that believes on the Son, does believe that atteftation which God gave concerning him by voices from Heaven, by enabling him and his Difciples to work Miracles, and by railing him from the Dead. Thefe divine teftimonies, I fay, which are conveyed to us by mediate Revelation only, are the ground of every Believers faith; and confequently he receives them, and has them in himself, that is, believes them.
To conclude, one of thofe acceptations of the word witness, which have been mention'd, muft be allowed by our Adverfaries. I am content they should chufe for themselves. But I am perfuaded, it appears from what has been faid, that which acceptation foever they prefer, there is not not the leaft fhadow of the neceffity of immediate Revelation in the text I have been explaining.
17. St. Paul faies, the Spirit it felf beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God, Rom.8. 16. From hence our Adverfaries conclude, that the Holy Ghoft affures true Chriftians, that they are Gods Children, by immediate Revelation. But that nothing like this can be proved from thefe Words, will appear by the following explication of them.
There are two waies of rendring the former part of the Verfe. 1. as 'tis rendred in our Bibles, the Spirit it felf beareth witness with our Spirit, According to this tranflation og fignifies to bear witness with another. So that there are two Witneffes here fuppofed, viz. the Spirit it felf and our Spirit; which two Spirits do jointly atteft the fame truth, viz. that we are the Children of God. 2. The Original may be rendred thus, the Spirit it felf teftifies unto (or affures) our Spirit, that we are the Children of God. And then
waggé fignifies to testify unto or assure. Thus vaggio, which every body knows to be the fame with agrugia, fignifies, Rev. 22. 18. where St. John faies, og, I testify unta (or affure) every Man that heareth, &c. Now when the word is ufed in this fenfe, then one. witnefs only is fuppofed; and accordingly in this place the Spirit is the only witnefs; and our Spirit is not it felf a witnefs, but is teftify'd unto,
71 and affured of, that truth which the Spirit teftifies unto it, or affures it of; viz. that we are the Children of God.
Now that Spirit which beareth witness with, or testifies unto our Spirit, that we are the Children of God, is the Spirit of Adoption mentioned in the foregoing verfe. Te have not received, faies the Apostle, the Spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. and then it follows immediately, The Spirit it felf (or (e) this very Spirit, or that fame Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father) beareth witness with, or testifies unto, our Spirit that we are the Chil dren of God.
Now this Spirit of adoption does not bear witnefs with, or teftify unto, our Spirit, that we are the Children of God, by an immediate revelation of this truth, that we are the Children of God: but after a different manner as will appear, if we confider what the Spirit of adoption is.
And that may be learnt from the following paffage of St. Paul. The Heir, as long as he is a Child, differeth nothing from a Servant, tho he be Lord of all, Gal. 4. 1. But is under Tutors and Governors, until the time appointed of the Father, v. 2. Even so we, when we were Children, were in bondage under the Elements of the World, v. 3. But when the fulness of the time was come, God fent forth his Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law, v. 4. to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons, v. 5. In which words St. Paul compares the State of the Jews under the Law, and the
(e) αυτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα.