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strength given to the faculty of minute or microscopic vision-on which, the arcana of a hidden region, now beneath the perception of the natural eye would come into view, and still on the same evidence of ocular demonstration. And thus too we might imagine of the Spirit of God, whom it is not for us to limit as if we indeed comprehended the whole of His way—that He gives to the mind of the inquirer, to the eye of his intellect, a powerful and penetrating discernment into the matters of Scripture; and that he is made in consequence to behold a character of majesty and sacredness, and to hear a voice of authority which tells him irresistibly of God. Whether such signatures of the Godhead as these be actually in Scripture, or what the things to be discerned are which lie in reserve for our discernment there, can only be told by him who has the faculty of discernment, not by him who wants it—in like manner as the objects of a telescopic region can only be told by him who has the enlarged vision of the telescope, not by him who possesses but the limited vision of the natural eye.
Certain it is, that if such tokens of the divinity exist in the Bible, and it is by an augmentation in the visual faculties of the mind that we are enabled to behold them—there might be as much reason and philosophy in the convictions of those by whom the truth as it is in Jesus is spiritually discerned, as there is in the confidence of the astronomer, when he tells of the satellites of Jupiter; or of the naturalist, when he tells of the atoms and animalcules that are beneath the ken of our unaided eyesight. The reader of the Bible, when thus gifted, might have as legitimate an assurance of the new meaning he is now made to behold—as, with only his old faculties, he had of the mind or meaning of any ordinary author.* The very process whereof he is conscious in his own mind, and by which he has been ushered into this new and impressive manifestation of the Deity, adds a peculiar evidence of its own to that of the outward manifestation itself; and rivets still more the conviction, that the same God, who thus supernaturally teaches him to understand this Bible, is verily in the Bible of a truth.
15. It is thus that the veriest babe in natural knowledge might be made to perceive God in the scriptures, and there be revealed to him things hidden from the wise and the prudent. When, in virtue of this spiritual revelation, the scales are made to fall from his eyes—he might recognize, in the sentences which the Bible gives forth, the divinity of Him who utters them, directly announcing itself to be the voice of God clothed in majesty. Yet he is informed of nothing but what the word tells him; but to his mind, now opened and clarified, it tells what it never told before; and he can now say with him in the Gospel whom a miracle had cured, “I was once blind but now I see.” In the whole of this wondrous record, from first to last, from the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old to the Apostles of the New Testament; he descries throughout, the purity and the wisdom and the sustained loftiness of the Godhead. As in personal converse we might recognize at once both the dignity and wisdom of him to whose spoken language we are at the time giving ear—so, in the perusal of written language, the same attributes might be discernible; and be so enhanced as to impress on the awakened reader, the sense and the rightful conviction that God Himself had broken silence. He feels it to be the language not of earth, but of Heaven's august sanctuary. The evidence of this in the Bible beams direct upon him from its own pages; and, however difficult or perhaps incapable of analysis it may be, this hinders not its being his rational and well-grounded faith-when to him the reading of Scripture is an act of felt and immediate fellowship with God.
* We cannot conceive how reason should be prejudiced by the advancement of the rational faculties of our souls with respect into their exercise toward their proper objects ; which is all we sign unto the work of the Holy Spirit in this matter."--Dr. in the Spirit,
† Matt. xi. 25.
16. This evidence, however distinctly felt by him who is the subject of it or who has had the experience of its manifestation, it is extremely difficult to speak of discursively or to the satisfaction of others. Dr. Owen, in his treatise on “the divine original authority self-evidencing light and power of the scriptures, with an answer to that inquiry how we know the scriptures to be the word of God,” has with all his efforts failed, we think, in describing to others, what we have no doubt he genuinely experienced himself—and so leaves the subject in great obscurity. Our own Halyburton, whose book on Deism in reply to Lord Herbert, *
*" Natural Religion insufficient, and Revealed necessary to Man's happiness in his present state; or a rational inquiry inte
and whose little tract, or “ Essay concerning the Nature of Faith, or the grounds upon which it assents to the Scriptures," place him in a high rank among our philosophical theologians is the most successful expounder of it whom we have yet met with. In this latter performance, the running title of which is an “ Essay concerning the Reason of Faith,” he controverts the opinion of the rationalists on this subject, and especially of Mr. Locke in his book on the Human Understanding. The following are a few extracts :-“This impress, those characters, prints and vestiges of the infinite perfections of the Deity, that unavoidably must be allowed to be stamp'd on, and shine, not merely or only or principally in the matter, but in that as spoken or written, and in the writings or words, in their style, the spirit running through them, the scope, tendency, &c. This EON CETTEI or Godbecoming impress of majesty, sovereignty, omniscience, independence, holiness, justice, goodness, wisdom, and power, is not only a sufficient and real, but in very deed, the greatest objective light and evidence imaginable. And where one has an understanding given to know him that is true, and is made thereby to entertain any suitable notion of the Deity, upon intuition of this objective evidence, without waiting to reason on the matter, his assent will be carried, and unavoidably determined to rest on it as the highest ground of assurance. the principles of the Modern Deists, &c. ;" by the Rev. Thomas Halyburton, Professor of Divinity in the University of St. Andrew's. He flourished at the beginning of the last century ; and is author of a most valuable practical work—"The Great Concern."
And this assent founded on this impress of the Deity in his own word, is indeed an assent of the highest degree. And thus far faith resembles our intuitive knowledge, with this difference, not as to the manner of the mind's acting, but as to the ability whence it acts; that in our intuitive knowledge, as Mr. Locke, and those of his opinion, restricts it, the evidence or objective light is such as not only is immediately without reasoning discern'd, but such as lies open to, and is discernible by our understandings, without any subjective light, any work of the Spirit of God either repairing disabled faculties, or elevating and guiding them to the due observation, or fixing their attention, or freeing their minds of the power and present influence of aversion of will, disorder of affections and prejudices that obstruct the discerning power. Whereas this is really necessary in this case, and though the objective evidence is great, and still the same; yet according to the greater or lesser degree of this assistance, our assent must be stronger or weaker, more fixed or wavering.
- When this objective evidence is actually observant to, and under the view of the mind thus enabled, disposed, and assisted, there doth arise from it, and there is made by it, an Impression on the whole soul corresponding thereto. The beaming of God's sovereign authority aws conscience. The piercing evidence of his omniscience increases that regard, the view of goodness, mercy, love, and grace operates on the will, and leaves a relish on the affections, and this truly resembles sensible evidence, tho' it is of spiritual things, and of a