Page images

hands had handled of the good word of life, and of the powers of the world to come: the Holy Scriptures were livingly and savingly opened to them by this divine anointing ; and their faith did not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God revealed in their hearts.

It is no marvel that to those who had been thus divinely gathered from the teachings and commentaries of men, to Christ Jesus, the minister of the sanctuary and true tabernacle, which God hath pitched, and not man, the doctrine of immediate divine revelation should be very precious, and should form a principal theme in their writings and discourses. They not only knew in whom they believed, but also that it was not of man, nor by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ in the soul, that they came to this saving knowledge. While other professors, too generally, were resting in a bare belief of what Christ had done for them, without them, and in a literal knowledge of the Holy Scriptures; these converted and regenerated witnesses of the truth as it is in Jesus, were made partakers of that faith which is produced by the testimony of the Spirit of Christ in the heart, by which they not only received him as their Redeemer and Saviour, in what he graciously did and suffered in the flesh, as the propitiation for sin, and as their mediator and intercessor; but likewise in his inward and spiritual appearance, to baptize and sanctify them; so as to prepare their souls to partake of the fulness of the blessings which the gospel confers.

In setting forth the belief of the Society respecting this important doctrine, Robert Barclay states that,

Seeing, 'no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him;' and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit;' therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed. As, by the moving of his own Spirit, he disposed the chaos of this world into that wonderful order in which it was in the beginning, and created man a living soul, to rule and govern it, so, by the revelation of the same Spirit, he hath manifested himself all along unto the sons of men, both patriarchs, prophets and apostles; which revelations of God by the Spirit, whether by outward voices and appearances, dreams, or inward objective manifestations in the heart, were of old the formal object of their faith, and remain yet so to be; since the object of the saints' faith is the same in all ages, though held forth under divers administrations. Moreover, these divine inward revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true faith, neither do nor can ever contradict the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or right and sound reason. Yet from hence it will not follow, that these divine revelations are to be subjected to the test, either of the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or of the natural reason of man, as to a more noble or certain rule and touchstone. For this divine revelation, and inward illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself, forcing, by its own evidence and clearness, the well-disposed understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto, even as the common principles of natural truths do. move and incline the mind to a natural assent."

With reference to the various outward sources of knowledge, he says, “I would not, however, be understood, as if I hereby excluded those other means of knowledge from any use or service to mañ; it is far from me so to judge, as concerning the Scriptures in the next proposition will more plainly appear."

Having laid down the position, that the knowledge of the Father is by and through the Son, he proceeds to show that the revelation of the Son is by the Spirit. “Where it is to be noted,” he says, “ that I always speak of the saving, certain, and necessary knowledge of God, which, that it cannot be acquired otherways than by the Spirit, doth also appear from many clear Scriptures. For Jesus Christ, in and by whom the Father is revealed, doth also reveal himself to his disciples and friends, in and by his Spirit. As his manifestation was outward when he testified for the truth in this world, and approved himself faithful throughout—so being now withdrawn as to the outward man, he teaches and instructs mankind inwardly by his own Spirit. He standeth at the door, and whoso heareth his voice and openeth, he comes in to such. Of this revelation of Christ in him, Paul speaks, in which he places the excellency of his ministry, and the certainty of his calling. And the promise of Christ to his disciples, confirms the same thing, Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;' for this is an inward and spiritual presence, as all acknowledge.”

Again, the apostle says, “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might

know the things that are freely given to us of God." From which Robert Barclay argues, “ If that which appertains properly to man, cannot be discerned by any lower principle than the spirit of man, then cannot those things which properly relate unto God and Christ, be known or discerned by any lower thing than the Spirit of God and Christ.” Again, “ that which is spiritual, can only be known and discerned by the Spirit of God; but the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the true and saving knowledge of him is spiritual, and therefore can only be known and discerned by the Spirit of God.” The same apostle also asserts, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; from which Robert Barclay argues, “ If no man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, then no man can know Jesus to be the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; and if no man can know him to be the Lord but through this medium, then there can be no certain knowledge or revelation of him but by the Spirit.”

“ That these revelations were the object of the saints' faith of old, will easily appear by the definition of faith, and considering what its object is. Paul describes it two ways: Faith, says he, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; which, as he illustrates it by many examples, is no other but a firm and certain belief of the mind, whereby it rests and in a sense possesses the substance of some things hoped for, through its confidence in the promise of God; and thus the soul has a most firm evidence by its faith, of things not yet seen nor come to pass. The object of this faith is the promise, word, or testimony of God speaking in the mind. Hence it has been generally affirmed, that the object of faith is God speaking; which is also manifest from all those examples deduced by the apostle throughout that chapter, whose faith was founded, neither upon any outward testimony, nor upon the voice or writing of man, but upon the revelation of God's will manifest unto, and in them; as in the example of Noah. Thus, by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. What was here the object of Noah's faith, but God speaking unto him? He had not the writings nor prophesyings of any going before, nor yet the concurrence of any church or people to strengthen him; and yet his faith in the word, by which he contradicted the whole world, saved him and his house. Of which also, Abraham is set forth as a singular example, being therefore called the father of the faithful, who is said, against hope to have believed in hope ; in that he not only willingly forsook his father's country, not knowing whither he went, in that he believed concerning the coming of Isaac; but above all, in that he refused not to offer him up, not doubting that God was able to raise him from the dead; of whom it is said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called. The object of Abraham's faith in all this, was no other but inward, immediate revelation, or God signifying his will unto him inwardly and immediately by his Spirit.”

In outward and natural things, we often rely upon probabilities and the testimony of others; but in matters which pertain to the salvation of the soul, there

« PreviousContinue »