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tents, a new revelation, not the less because certain words of scripture are made use of in the case. Here are propositions or truths entirely new, that are supposed now to be revealed, that those words do not contain in themselves, and that till now there was no revelation of any where to be found in heaven or earth. These propositions, That it is God's mind and will that such a person by name, should arise at such a time, and go. from such a place to such a place, and that there he should meet with discoveries, are entirely new propositions, wholly different from the propositions contained in that text of scripture, no more contained, or consequently implied in the words themselves, without a new revelation, than it is implied that he should arise and go to any other place, or that any other person should arise and go to that place. The propositions supposed to be now revealed, are as really different from those contained in that scripture, as they are from the propositions contained in that text, Gen. v: 6. "And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos.”
This is quite a different thing from the Spirit's enlightening the mind to understand the precepts or propositions of the word of God, and know what is contained and revealed in them, and what consequences may justly be drawn from them, and to see how they are applicable to our case, and circumstances; which is done without any new revelation, only by enabling the mind to understand and apply a revelation already made.
Those texts of scripture that speak of the children of God as led by the Spirit
, have been by some, brought to defend a being guided by such impulses; as particularly, those Rom. viii: 14. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And Gal. y: 18. “But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.)? But these texts themselves confute them that bring them; for it is evident that the leading of the Spirit that the apostle speaks of is a gracious leading, or what is peculiar to the children of God, and that natural men cannot have; for he speaks of it as a sure evidence of their being the sons. of God, and not under the law, But a leading or directing a person, by immediately revealing to him where he should go, or what shall hereafter come to pass, or what shall be the future consequence of his doing thus or thus, if there be any such thing in these days, is not of the nature of the gracious leading of the Spirit of God, that is peculiar to God's children; it is no more than a common gift; there is nothing in it but what natural men are capable of, and many of them have had in the days of inspiration. A man may have ten thousand such revelations and directions from the Spirit of God, and yet not have a jot of grace in his heart. It is no more than the gift of prophecy, which immediately reveals what will be, or should be Hereafter; but this is but a common gift, as the apostle expressly shews, 1 Cor. xiii: 2, 8. If a person has any thing revealed to him from God, or is directed to any thing, by a voice from heaven, or a whisper, or words immediately suggested and put into his n'ind, there is nothing of the nature of grace, merely in this; it is of the nature of a common influence of the Spirit, and is but dross and dung, in comparison of the excellency of that gracious leading of the Spirit that the saints have. Such a way of being directed where one shall go, and what he shall do, is no more than what Balaam had from God, who from time to time revealed to him what he should do, and when he had done one thing, then direct ed him what he should do next; so that he was in this sense led by the Spirit, for a considerable time. There is a more excellent way that the Spirit of God leads the sons of God, that natural men cannot have, and that is, by incliving them to do the will of God, and go in the shining path of truth and Christian holiness, from an holy, heavenly disposition, which the Spirit of God gives them, and enlivens in thern, which inclines them, and leads them to those things that are excellent, and agreeable to God's mind, whereby they are transformed, by the renewing of their minds, and prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, as in Rom. xii: 2. And so the Spirit of God does in a gracious manner teach the saints their duty; and teaches them in an higher manner than ever Balaam, or Saul, or Judas were taught, or any natural man is capable of while such.The Spirit of God enlightens them with respect to their. duty, by making their eye single and pure, whereby the whole body is full of light. The sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God rectifies the taste of the soul, whereby it savors those things that are of God, and naturally relishes and delights in those things that are holy and agreeable to God's mind, and like one of a distinguishing taste, chooses those things that are good and wholesome, and rejects those things that are evil; for the sanctified ear tries words, and the sanctified heart tries actions, as the mouth tastes meat. And thus the Spirit of God leads and guides the meek in his way; agreeably to his promises; he enables them to understand the commands and counsels of his word, and rightly to apply them. Christ blames the Pharisees that they had not this holy distinguishing taste, to discern and distinguish what was right and wrong. Luke xii: 57. “Yea, and why, even of your own selves, judge ye not what is right?
The leading of the Spirit which God gives his children, which is peculiar to them, is that teaching them his statutes, and causing them to understand the way of his precepts, which the Psalmist so very often prays for, especially in the 119th Psalm; and not in giving of them new statutes and new precepts. He graciously gives them eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts to understand; he causes them to understand the fear of the Lord, and so brings the blind by a way they knew not, and leads them in paths that they had not known, and makes darkness ligbe before them, and crooked things straight.
So the assistance of the Spirit in praying and preaching seems by some to have been greatly misunderstood, and they have sought after a miraculous assistance of inspiration, by immediate suggesting of words to them, by such gifts and influences of the Spirit, in praying and teaching, as the apostle speaks of, 1 Cor. xiv: 14, 26, (which many natural men had in those days) instead of a gracious holy assistance of the Spirit of God, which is
the far more excellent way; (as 1 Cor. xii: 31, and xiii: 1.) The gracious, and most excellent kind of assistance of the Spirit of God in praying and preaching, is not by immediate suggesting of words to the apprehension, which may be with a cold dead heart, but by warming the heart, and filling it with a great sense of those things that are to be spoken of, and with holy affections, that that sense and those affections may suggest words. Thus indeed the spirit of God may be said, indirectly and mediately to suggest words to us, to indite our petitions for us, and to teach the preacher what to say; he fills the heart, and that fills the mouth; as we know that when men are greatly affected in any matter, and their hearts are very full, it fills them with matter for speech, and makes them eloquent upon that subject; and much more have spiritual affections this tendency, for many reasons that might be given. When a person is in an holy and lively frame in secret prayer, it will wonderfully supply him with matter, and with expressions as every true Christian knows; and so it will fill his mouth in Christian conversation, and it has the like tendency to enable
person in public prayer and preaching. And if he has these holy influences of the Spirit on his heart in an high degree, nothing in the world will have. so great a ten-. dency to make both the matter and manner of his public performances excellent and profitable. But since there is no immediate suggesting of words from the Spirit of God to be expected or desired, they who reglect and despise study and premeditation, in order to a preparation for the pulpit; in such an expectation, are guilty of presumption; though doubtless it may be lawful' for some persons, in some cases, (and they may be called to it) to preach with very little study; and the Spirit of God, by the heavenly frame of heart that he gives them, may enable them to do it to excellent purpose.
Besides this most excellent way of the Spirit of God his assisting ministers in public performances, which (considered as the preacher's privilege) far excels inspiration, there is a common assistance which natural men may have in these days, and which the godly may
have intermingled with a gracious assistance, which is also very different from inspiration, and that is his assisting natural principles; as his assisting the natural apprehension, reason, memory conscience, and natural affection.
But to return to the head of impressions and inediate revelations; many lay themselves open to a delusion by expecting direction from Heaven in this way, and waiting for it. In such a case it is easy for persons to imagine that they have it. They are perhaps at a loss concerning something, undetermined what they shall do, or what course they should take in some affair, and they pray to God to direct them, and make known to them his mind and will; and then instead of expecting to be directed, by being assisted in consideration of the rules of God's word, and their circumstances, and God's providence, and enabled to look on things in a true light, and justly to weigh them, they are waiting for some secret inimediate influence on their minds, unaccountably swaying their mirds, and turning their thoughts or inclinations that way that God would have them go, and are observing their own minds, to see what arises, there, whether some texts of scripture do not come into the mind, or whether some ideas or inward motions and dispositions do not arise in something of an unaccountable manner, that they may call a divine direction. Hereby they are exposed to two things.
First, They lay themselves open to the devil, and give him a fair opportunity to lead them where he pleases; for they stand ready to follow the first extraordinary impulse that they shall have, groundlessly concluding it is from God.
And Secondly, They are greatly exposed to be deceived by their own imaginations; for such an expectation awakens and quickens the imagination; and that oftentimes is called an uncommon impression, that is no such thing; and they ascribe that to the agency of some invisible being, that is owing only to themselves.
Again, another way, that many have been deceived,