« PreviousContinue »
It has pleas'd Almighty God to endue Mankind with a certain faculty or power callid Understanding. By this we are enabled to distinguish Truch from Fálthood ; to believe the one, and reject the other.
Now that we may believe any thing for Truth, 'tis necessary that we perceive, not only the Thing it self, but also the Evidence of it; which Evidence to be perceiv'd by us, may be either immediate, or mediate.
That Evidence is immediate, which we our selves do perceive without the Mediation of another Man's perceiving it. But that Evidence which is first perceiv'd by another Man, and then communicated to us, is mediate Evidence. Thus for instance; if I my self do see the Sun shin. ing, I have an immediate Evidence of this Truth, that the Sun shines, But at the very same time, a Blind man has only a mediate Evidence of the fame Truth; that is, some person on whose Judgment and Veracity the Blind man thinks he may fafely rely, faies that the Sun shines; and the Evidence perceived by that person being communicated by Speech to the Blind man, the Blind man has a mediate Evidence of this Truth, that the Sun fhines. And the mediate Evidence of
any Truth, is what we call the Evidence of Authority.
But then there are diverse kinds of this Evin dence of Authority. For as the person differs upon whose Authority the Evidence is built, so the Evidence of Autbority, differs also. And consequently, since I may believe a Truth upon the Authority, either of a Man, or of some other Being ; therefore the Evidence of Authority is twofold, viz, either that of human Authority, or that of
fome other Authority which is not human; and the Evidence of that Authority which is not human, is the Evidence of Revelation. For when any other Being, besides Man, discovers any thing to Man, this
discovery or information is what we call Revelation.
Now if the Revelation proceed from God, 'tis call's Divine Revelation ; and this Divine Revelation is either immediate, or mediate.
If the Revelation be made to any person by God's speaking or declaring the Matter to that particular person; then the Revelation is immediate. But if that person who receiv'd the Revelation from God himself, do declare the Matter to a third person; then that third person does indeed know the Matter by Revelation; but this Revelation is mediate. Because, tho' his Knowledge of the Matter is indeed deriv'd Originally from God; yet 'tis deriv'd by the Mediation of the se. cond person, who receiv'd it immediately from God himself. Thus for instance, when Nebesa chadnezzar's Dream was interpreted by Daniel, Dan. 2. the Prophet knew the Interpretation by immediate Revelation ; but the King knew it by mediate Revelation only; because the Prophet, to whom it was immediately reveald, acquainted him with it.
But whatsoever kind of Truth a Man believes, or be the Evidence of it either immediate or me. diate ; 'tis the very fame Understanding with which he believes it. Wherefore, be the Truth such as relates to spiritual or corporeal Obje&s; be it Physical, Mathematical, Moral, or the like: and be the Evidence of that Truth either mediate, or immediate ; be it built upon the Authority of God, or Man; yet I say, 'tis the very fame Understand
ing with which a Man believes it. And therefore, thowe do sometime's use these Phrafes, the Natural Understanding, the Spiritual Understanding, ớc. and thereby feem to grant a plurality and difference of Understandings; yet we do in reality mean nothing more, than our Understanding (that is, perceiving or believing) Natural or Spiritual Truth, or our believing a Truth upon Natural or Spiritual Evidence, bo
For as 'tis absurd to suppofe, that we have see veral Senses of Seeing, either becaufe we look fometimes upon bright, and at other times upon dark ;- sometimes upon white, and at other times upon green, red, or yellow Objects; sometimes on those that are '
near, and at other times upon those afår off; or else because we fee fome. times with the Naked Eye, and at other times thro' a Glass, by which things very remote are brought near to us, and we can discover that which is infinitely beyond the Sphere of our utaffifted Sight: And as 'tis absurd to suppose that we have feveral Wills, because we chuse sometimes good, and at other times evil; fometimes material, and at other times immaterial Objects; sometimes fensual, and at other times intellectual Pleasures: I fay, as ’tis abfurd to fuppofe, that we have several Senses of Seeing, or several Wills, for these or the like Reasons; so ’ris also absurd to suppose, that we have several Understandings, becaufe we believe natural, Spiritual, and other kinds of Truth, upon either immediate Evidence, or that which is medi. ate, viz. Authority, either human, or of any other kind. For, as I have already faid, 'tis the very fame Understanding, wherewith we believe any kind of Truth upon any kind of Evidence whatfoever.
These things being premis'd, I shall now endeavor to state and determine this important Question, viz. Whether immediate Revelation be necessary in ore der to a faving Christian Faith.
Faith and Belief are one and the same thing. And consequently a Christian Faith is a Christian Belief, or a belief of those things which Jesus Christ has reveald. And a faving Christian Faith, is such a belief of those things which Jesus Christ has reveal'd, as is necessary in order to Salvation, or eternal happiness in the World to come.
Now 'tis confess'd on both sides, that some Revelation or other (viz. either immediate or mediate Revelation ) is absolutely necessary in order to a Saving Christian Faith. Because those Truths which
Jesus Christ has reveal'd, are such as we cou'd not have known, and consequently cou'd not have believ'd, had they not been reveald.
'Tis confess'd also on both sides, that 'tis possible for God immediately to reveal to any person now living, those Truths which Jesus Christ has reveald. For Jesus Christ, who is God himself, did immediately reveal those Truths to the Apostles; and what was poslible then, is also possible now. So that there is no doubt, but that immediate Revelation
may be even now made use of by Almighty God, if he pleases, in order to a saving Christian Faith.
But the Question is, not what may be now, or what formerly was; but what must be now, or what actually is. Some Revelation or other is even now absolutely necessary; and we confels, that either immediate or mediate Revelation may be even now us’d, if God pleases: but we contend, that God is not now pleas'd to make use of immediate Rever
lation; and therefore we do now enjoy a mediate Revelation only. Whereas our Adversaries say, that immediate Revelation is, and must be us’d now; and that a saving Christian Faith cannot, even in these daies, be had without it. For Mr. Barclay (a) assures us, that they make it absolutely necessary for the building up of true Faith, which in their Opinion can be obtain'd (b) by no
no other way, than the rward immediate Manifestation and Revelation of God's Spirit, shining in and upon the Heart, inlightning and opening the Understanding. So that according to our Adversaries (c) inward and imme. diate Revelation is the only sure and certain way to attain the true and saving knowledge of God.
(a) Apology, prop. 2. p. 269. Printed amongst his works at London 1692. (6) Ibid. p. 270. (c) Ibid, p. 273, The same Author has also written a Discourse (p. 892. of his Works) to prove not only the Possibility, but also the Necefity of the inward and immediate Revelation of the Spirit of God towards the foundation of a true Faith.