« PreviousContinue »
can be no effectual faith but that which is produced by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart, inclining and enabling us to believe what it reveals to us there, as well as those things which are recorded in the Scriptures of Truth. This faith is not an inherent principle or natural faculty of the human mind, which can be exercised when, and as a man pleases, though it will always be given to those who seek it in a humble and childlike spirit, of Him who is the author and giver of it. “ Whatsoever is born of God," saith the apostle, “overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” No faculty or principle natural to the mind of man, can give this victory. “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” This grace of God teaches us to deny all ungodliness, and the world's lusts; and where it is received and obeyed, it gives faith to believe that we shall be strengthened and enabled by it to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Thus we are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through faith in him; and as we continue to believe in and follow him to the end, we shall know him to be the finisher, as well as the author, of this living victorious faith.
“ He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself:” this witness is the Holy Spirit, by which the Son of God reveals himself to the soul, gives it faith to believe in his all-powerful name, and as he is obeyed and followed, he displays his almighty power and goodness, in pardoning its past sins-delivering it out of the bondage of corruption, and translating it into the liberty of the sons of God. Thus,
Christ is experimentally known as the Redeemer, Saviour and Sanctifier of his people; and those only have a right to call him so, whom he thus saves from their sins, by his own blessed Spirit. “Wherefore I give you to understand, saith the apostle, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Through living experience of his power in breaking up the strong holds of sin and satan; delivering them from worse than Egyptian bondage and darkness, and bringing them into the marvellous light of the Lord, these can truly say that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour; and while they keep under the government of his Spirit, they can never do or say any thing that derogates from his divine character or offices, nor from the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
After stating that some persons confess that the Holy Spirit now leads and influences the saints, but that he does it only by enlightening their understandings to understand and believe the truths delivered in the Scriptures; Robert Barclay further says, “ This opinion is not altogether according to the truth, neither does it reach the fulness of it. Because there are many truths, which, as they are applicable to individuals, and most needful to be known by them, are in no wise to be found in the Scriptures. Besides, the Spirit not only subjectively helps us to discern truths elsewhere delivered, but also objectively presents those truths to the mind. For that which teaches me all things, and is given me for that end, without doubt presents those things to my mind which it teaches me. It is not said, it shall teach you how to understand those things that are written [merely]; but it shall teach you all things. Again, that which brings all things to my remembrance must needs present them by way of object.” This is also evident from the nature of the New Covenant, which is expressed in divers places: “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.”_ “ The perpetuity of this promise is fully expressed ; and it was immediate, for there is no mention made of any medium. He says not, I shall by means of such writings or books convey such words into your mouths; but my words, I, even I, saith the Lord, have put into your mouths. This must be objectively, for the words put into the mouth are the object presented by him. He says not, the words which ye shall see written, my Spirit shall only enlighten your understandings to assent unto; but positively, my words which I have put into thy mouth: therefore upon whomsoever the Spirit remaineth always, and putteth words into his mouth, him dòth the Spirit teach immediately, objectively and continually."
· The nature of the New Covenant is yet more amply expressed in Jeremiah, and repeated by the apostle in these words; For this is the convenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord.; for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest.' The object here is God's law placed in the heart and written in the mind; from whence they become God's people, and are brought truly to know him. In this then the law is distinguished from the gospel : the law before was outward, written in tables of stone, but it is now inward, written in the heart. Of old, the people depended upon their priests for the knowledge of God; but now they all have a certain and sensible knowledge of him. How much then are they deceived, who, instead of making the gospel preferable to the law, have made the condition of such as are under the gospel far worse. For no doubt it is a far better and more desirable thing to converse with God immediately, than only mediately, as being a higher and more glorious dispensation; and yet these men acknowledge, that many under the law had immediate converse with God, whereas they now cry that it is ceased.”
“ Under the law there was the holy of holies, into which the high priest entered, and received the word of the Lord immediately from betwixt the cherubims; so that the people could then certainly know the mind of the Lord: but now, according to these men's judgment, we are in a far worse condition; having nothing but the outward letter of the Scriptures to guess and divine from. But Jesus Christ hath promised us better things, though many are so unwise as not to believe him, even to guide us by his own unerring Spirit; and he hath rent and removed the veil, whereby not only one, and that once a year, may enter; but all of us, at all times, have access unto him as often as we draw near unto him with pure hearts. He reveals his will unto us by his Spirit, and writes his law in our hearts. And where the knowledge of God is put into the mind and written in the heart, there the object of faith and revelation of the knowledge of God is inward, immediate and objective; and this is the situation of every true Christian under the New Covenant."
In replying to the objection, that if men be now immediately led and ruled by the Spirit of God, they may add new Scriptures of equal authority with the Bible, and that every one may bring in a new gospel according to his fancy,—Robert Barclay observes, “We have shut the door upon all such doctrine, affirming that the Scriptures give a full and ample testimony to all the principal doctrines of the Christian faith. For we do firmly believe that there is no other gospel or doctrine to be preached, but that which was delivered by the apostles; and do freely subscribe to that saying, Let him that preacheth any other gospel than that which has been already preached by the apostles, and according to the Scriptures, be accursed. So we distinguish between a revelation of a new gospel and new doctrines, and a new revelation of the good old gospel and doctrines; the last we plead for, but the first we utterly deny. For we firmly believe, that no other foundation can any man lay than that which is laid already."
William Penn, in writing on the same subject, says: “By revelation we understand the discovery and illumination of the Light and Spirit of God, relating to those things that properly and immediately concern the daily information and satisfaction of our souls, in the way of our duty to him and our neighbour. We