Page images
PDF
EPUB

CH A P. II.

Of Inspiration.

?

A

LL the Motion of Material things is deriv'd

from God, and the best account which those who have the most study'd the Nature of Motion have been able to give of it is only this, that it is an Effect of the Divine Power manifesting it self according to certain Laws or Rules, which God has been pleas’d to prescribe for the Communication of Motion from one Body to another. And it is at least as conceivable by us, that God doth act upon the Immaterial, as that he acts upon the Material part of the World, and highly reasonable to suppose , that he concerns himself with our Souls much more than with our Bodies. There is no doubt to be made, but that separate and unbody'd Spirits have ways of converfing, or communicating their Thoughts to one another : Indeed, all the, Communication and Discourse, that is among Men in this World, is properly between their Souls, which use their Bodies as Instruments for the Conveyance of their Thoughts and Notions froni one to another; and as their Bodies are more or less fit and serviceable to this end, so their Discourse is more or less easily convey'd ; and therefore Souls, when they are at liberty from these Bodies, 'must have a Power to communicate their ow12 Thoughts, in a way much more free and unconfin'd, than in this Life; as they have more Knowledge in a separate State, so they must have fitter means to communicate it. And since the Happiness of Heaven consists in the Vision of God, that is, in the Communications of the Divine Wisdom and Goodness, God certainly can as well act upon the Minds of Men in this mortal State, though we be less capable of receiving

[ocr errors]

or observing the Influences of his Spirit. Since finite Spirits can act one upon another, it is reasonable to believe that the Spirit of God, the God of the Spirits of all Flesh doth move, and work upon the Spirits of Men, that he enlightens their Understandings, and inclines their Wills by a secret Power and Influence in the methods of his ordinary Grace. That, when he reveals no New Objects of Faith to them, he disposes and enables them to believe those already reveal’d, and to live suitably to such a Belief. And he can likewise act upon the Wills and the Understandings of some Men with a clearer and niore powerful Light and Force, than he is pleas'd to do upon others, in such a manner as to render them infallible in receiving and delivering his Pleasure and Commandments to the World. He can so reveal himself to them, by the Operations of his Holy Spirit, as that they shall be infallibly assur'd of wliat is reveal'd to them, and as infallibly assure others of it. Which kind of Revelation is styld Inspiration, because God doth not only move and actuate the Minds of such Men ; but vouchsafes to 'em the extraordinary Communications of his Spirit ; the Spirit then more especially may be liken’d to the Wind, to which it is compared in Scripture: for by strong Convictions, and forcible, but gracious Impressions, he breaths upon their Souis, and infuses his Divine Truths into them. But upon those, to whom God did thus reveal himself by inward Light and Knowledge, he did moreover bestow a Power of giving external Evidence by miraculous Works, that their Pretences were real, and that what they spoke was not of themselves, but was reveal'd to them from God. This Inspiration the Apostles profefs’d to have, both in their Preaching and Writings, and this Evidence they gave of it.

In speaking of the Inspiration, by which the Scriptures were written, I. I shall shew wherein the Inspiration of the Writers of the Scriptures did confift, or

how far it extended. II. I shall from thence make such Inferences, as may afford a sufficient Anfwer to the Objections alledg’d upon this Subject.

Į. I shall shew wherein the Inspiration of the Writers of the Scriptures did consist, or how far it extended. And here we must consider both the Matter and the Words of Scripture. The Matter is either concerning things reveald, and which could not be known byt by Revelation, or it is something which was the object of Sense and Matter of fact, as when țlie Apostlės tęstify, that our Saviour was crucify'd, and rose again ; or lastly, it is matter of Reason, aś Discourses upon-Moral Subjects, and Inferences made from things reveald, or from matter of fact. God, who is a Spirit, can speak as intelligibly to the Spirits and Minds of Men, as Men can speak to the Ear, and in things which could not be known but by Revelation, the Notions were suggested and infused into the Minds of the Apostles and Prophets by the Holy Ghost, but they might be left to put them into their own a Words, being so directed in the use of them, as to give infallibly the Sense and full Importance of the Revelation. In matters of Fact, their Memories were, according to our Saviour's Promise, aflisted and confirin'd. In matters of Discourse or Reasoning, either from their own Natural Notions, or from things Reveal’d, or from Matters of Fact, their Understandings were enļightned, and their Judgments strengthned. And still in all cases their natural Faculties were so supported and guided both in their Notions and Words, as that nothing should come into their Wrițings, but what is infallibly true. They had always the Use of their Faculties, tho’ under the infallible Direction and Conduct of the Holy Ghost, and in www.Præterea icico, unumquemque Prophetam peculiare quid habere, & ca lingua, eaque loquendi ratione, quæ ipfi eft familiaris & contueta, iplum impelli à Prophetia fua ad loquendum ei, qui intelfigic ipfum, Mainon. More Nevoch. Part. 2. c. 29.

things that were the proper Objects of their Faculties, the Holy Ghost might only support and guide them, as in matters of Sense and natural Reason and Memory, and in their Words and Style to express all these. But in things of an higher Nature, which were above their Faculties, and which they could have no Knowledge of, but from Revelation, the things themselves were infused, though the Words in most cases might be their own, but they were preserv'd from Error in the use of them by that Spirit, who was to guide them into all truth.

For though the several Writers of the Scriptuses might be allow'd to use their own Words and Style , yet it was under the infallible Guidance and Influence of the Spirit, as when a Man is left to the use of his own Hand, or manner of Writing, but is directed in the Sense and Orthography by one who dictates to him, or assists him with his help, where it is needful. Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man. but holy men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost , 2 Pet. i. 21. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, 2 Tim. 3. 16. The Holy Ghost faith, by

, the Pfalmist, to day if ye will hear his voice, Heb. iii.7. David faith of himself, the Spirit of the Lord Spake by me , and his word was in my tongue, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2.

. And God is said to speak by the hand of Moses his seivant, and by the hand of his servant Ahijah the Prophet 1 Kings viii. 53. xiv. 18. By which it appears, that he used the Prophets as his Instruments in revealing his Will : For as Miracles were by the immediate Power of God, though wrought by the Hands of Men, fo the Revelations were of God, though spoken or written by the Prophets and Apostles. But though God used them as his Instruments, yet not as mechanical, but as rational Instruments; and as in working their Miracles, they were not always necessarily determind to the Place, or to the Persons on whom they were wrought, but in general were guided to work

[ocr errors]

them,

1

them, when they were proper and seasonable ; and the Actions, by which they wrought them, were their own, though the Power that accompany'd them, was of God; fo in their Doctrines, they might be permitted to use their own Words and Phrases, and to be guided by prudential Motives, as to Time, and Place, and Persons, with a directive Power only over them , to speak and write nothing but infallible Truth, upon such occasions, and in such circumstances, as might answer the end of their Million, with which they were entrusted.

God promis'd Mofes, when he fent him to Pharaoh, that he would be with his mouth, and with Aaron's mouth, and would teach them what they should say, Exod. iv. 12, 15. And our Saviour tells his Disciples, ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles : But when they deliver you up, take no thought, how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what yje" Mall Speak, Matt. X. 18, 19. And if Moses was inspired upon that particular occasion, and the Apostles were inspired in things which were personal, as in the defence that they made for themselves, they must much rather be inspired in their Writings, which concern the Church in all Ages. St. Luke had perfect understanding of all things from above, Luke i. 3. fo Doctor Lightfoot renders it with great Probability: for thus äventey is used for segvótev in many places of Scripture, John iii. 3, 31. xix. 2. Jam. i. 17. iii. 17. And this the Church of Corinth expected from St. Paul; they fought a proof of Christ speaking in him, 2 Cor. xiii. 3. as that Apostle tells them he did, and that not in a weak and obscure, but in a powerful and effectual manner. He writes for the same reason to the Theffalonians, ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus, i Thess. iv. 2. and he distinguisheth between his own Judgment ( assisted and enlightned, though not infallibly, by the Holy Ghost) and the

Com:

« PreviousContinue »