« ElőzőTovább »
This promise, "When the Spirit of Truth is come, he win guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and shew you things to come: he shall glorify me; for he shall receive mine, and shew it unto you." I say, agreeably to these promises, and others of a like nature, the Holy Ghost, by inspiration, directed the Apostles, both as to the matter, and manner, in committing to record the Gospel, as we have it in the New Testament; which is the storehouse of gracious truth, and is the glass of spiritual perception; the light by which the mind looks at things not seen; and is the only mean of ameliorating the human character; and indeed of civilization, properly speaking; as it is by the principles of the Gospel that humanity is assimilated into a resemblance of the divine Redeemer. From this record, the world derives all the correct information upon divine subjects. It is by reason of its having been thus indicted, that it is called the Word of God, and Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was by reason of the character which the Apostles sustained, as above described, that they were the depositories of the divine gifts, and graces. Christ said, that, as God had sent him, his disciple to the world, so he sent them, his disciples to the world. In the mediatorial prayer of the Redeemer to his Father, he said, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world;—I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them that thou gavest me. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name. I have given them thy word, &c. Neither pray I for these alone, (the Apostles) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have giv
en them, that they may be one: I in them, and thou in ́më, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loyed me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am. I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17. In correspondence with Christ's expression, "the glory which thou gavest me I have given them
that the world may know that thou hast sent me, Paul, in 2 Corinth. 4. 5-7. saith, (in the language of Macknight's translation, and commentary,) Now, though we Apostles are the images of Christ, (chapt. 3. 18.) we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, as your Lord, and ourselves, who are his images, we preach as your servants, for the purpose of teaching you the Gospel of Jesus. And we are well qualified to do so-For God, who, at the creation, commanded light to shine out of darkness, he hath shined, not upon our faces, but into our hearts, to give you, not a corporeal light, but the LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God; not as it appeared in Moses' face, but as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. But we Apostles, who have this treasure of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, are earthen vessels, that the excellency of the porver by which the world is enlightened, and converted, and we ourselves are preserved, might be known to be God's, and not belonging to us."
The Apostles, in manifesting the knowledge of the glory of God, did it by the exercise of the glory which Christ gave to them, displayed in miracles, and signs, and wonders, and the inspirations of the Spirit; so that their teaching, and preaching, should not be with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstrations of the Spirit, and of power; that the faith of those who believed by their teaching should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the pow er of God. 1 Corinth. 2. 4. 5. According to these gifts, and graces, John was in the Spirit when in the Isle of Patmos; he was commanded to write the things which he had seen, the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. All that the Apostles wrote was of divine inspi
ration; as the miracles which they wrought were by the Holy Ghost. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3. 16. No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation; or, as it is more consistently rendered, in connexion with the subsequent verse; no prophecy of scripture is of private, or of the prophets own invention. For never, at any time, was a prophecy brought by the will of man, but holy men of God spake, being moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Pet. 1. 20. 21. Christ wrote nothing, himself, when in our world; that task he imposed upon the Apostles, who were, in the execution of it, directed by the Holy Ghost, who brought all things to their remembrance that Christ had told them before his death, during the three years of his instruction, and minis. try; he shewed them the things of Christ, as they related to him in his glorified, and exalted character, and taught them things to come, which we call prophesies. These things are written, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; and hence they are called the words of God. Nothing is derived from nature in the record-it is all supernatural, and divine; and, as written, it is the light of the world, and the light of lifethe light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We may very readily perceive the relation that all suc ceeding ages have borne to the gifts, and graces of the Apostles, in the establishment of the Gospel. The word of God, which is the mean, as well as the rule of faith, is whol ly committed to record, unto which nothing is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men; for "if any man shall add unto, or take away from the words of the book of God, God will take away his part out of the book of life." The preaching of the Gospel, since the canon of scripture closed, has consisted in nothing more nor less than in teaching what is written, and relying on the evidence there given for the belief of its truths. The Spirit has given no other revelations of God, nor has he tendered any other evidence of divine truth, than what we have in the record. Every part of the system was come. pleted, and indicted, more than seventeen hundred year
ago; and are the means ordained of God, through all suc ceeding ages, for producing the same spiritual ideas, knowledge, perception, and faith, which they produced during the ministry of Christ, and the Apostles. Every portion of the human family, who inhabits the globe, are as necessari ly dependent upon this original record, and the earlier revelations, and the light which has emanated from them, for spiritual knowledge; and particularly upon the Gospel, as written, for faith in Jesus Christ, as they are dependent upon the matter, its principles, and laws, which were created near six thousand years ago, for natural, and material operations, and effects. Hence the necessity of communicating or teaching out of the record, the ideas which its stipulated signs, or the words, and sentences of which it is composed, contains, in order to the extension, and perpetuation, in the minds of men, of the truths of the Gospel; and hence the use of bibles, of missionaries, of preachers, and teachers, &c. It is by the spiritual knowledge, and the faith thus derived, and produced, that those who possess them are said to build upon the Apostles, and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The experience of all ages since the Apostles; and the necessity under which every person is born into the world, of being instructed from the scriptures, in acquiring a knowledge of the supernatural, and divine things which they contain, in order to their influence upon the intellectual, and moral character of men, and nations, can leave but one opinion as to the truth of the above remarks. No person is born with hereditary knowledge and, least of all, with that which is supernatural, and spiritual; nor does nature afford any of the means by which it. can be originated. From the nature, and necessity of things, in the order established by divine wisdom, as they relate to the human mind, in regard to spiritual ideas, and which is proven by the experience, and observation of all ages, and countries, since the time of the Apostoles, we are authorised to draw the following conclusions: (viz.) that, with the Apostles, the Deity sustained a three-fold relation in respect to his presence; with the christians who have succeeded them, he has sustained a two-fold relation; and with the atheist *one. With the Apostles he was essentially present, and
Supported their natural existences by grace, as he has been with the christians, and atheists since. He was present with the Apostles, in a miraculous, and supernatural point of view, by which he revealed to them, and those to whom they ministered his essential presence in a gracious character, and, without which, his existence, presence, and grace, were not known. To the christians, since the miraculous days, he is present by faith; that is, his presence is perceived by the eye of the mind through the revelations he gave to the Apostles, and by which the knowledge of him, and his character, is acquired. To the atheist, although present, and graciously so too, as it is owing to grace that he is not destroyed, he is neither seen or known. This was the case with the Athenians when Paul preached unto them the unknown God, who giveth to all life, and-breath, and all things; it being in him they lived, and moved, and had their being, although ignorant of it. Some, by Paul's teaching, were instructed, and believed. Of the same character were the Gentiles, who were without God in the world-atheists -unto whom Paul was sent to preach; to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. The way in which he accomplished these ends, consisted in doing those things which Christ wrought by him, to make the Gentiles obedient in WORD, and DEED, through mighty signs, and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; and explaining the things of God by spiritual words, or the words of the Spirit; and thus he begat them in Christ by his Gospel; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God-for, having willed it, God begat them through Paul by the Gospel.
The same subject continued; with a more particular exami nation of the gifts of the Spirit to common believers in the churches in the Apostolic day; and their use in the gov ernment of the churches by the Apostles.
The most fruitful source of error, perhaps, of all others, since the days of the Apostles, has been, in not distinguish