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SERM. First, a persuasion of the principles of natural reCCXXI. ligion, which are known by the light of nature.
Secondly, a persuasion of things supernatural, and revealed.
Thirdly, a persuasion of supernatural revelation.
The two former of these I have considered, and now proceed to the
Third sort of faith, which I call divine, or religious; viz. a persuasion concerning a divine revelation, that it is such ; which I distinguish from the former thus. The former is a persuasion concerning the things which are revealed from God, that they are true : this is a persuasion concerning the revelation it self, that it is divine and from God.
For the opening of this there are many things to be taken into consideration.
1. What we understand by a divine revelation.
III. Whether a persuasion concerning a divine revelation be properly faith.
IV. How we may come to be assured of a divine revelation, or by what arguinents a faith or persuasion of a divine revelation is wrought in us.
V. The degrees of this persuasion or assurance.
VII. In what sense it may be said to be a divine faith ; under which I shall speak something concern· ing the testimony of the Spirit.
I. What we are to understand by a divine revelation. Answ. A supernatural discovery, or manifestation of things to us. I say supernatural, because it may either be immediately by God, or by the mediation of angels; as most, if not all the revelations of the old testament were ; a fupernatural dilcovery, or manifestation, either immediately to our
'minds, and inward fáculties ;, (for I do not so well S ER M. understand the distinction between understanding and imagination, as to be careful to take notice of it ;) or else mediately to our understandings, by the mediation of our outward senses, 'as by an external appearance to our bodily eyes, or by a voice and sound to the sense of hearing. But of this I have discours'd in a former sermon *, and therefore shall add no more here.
II. For the several kinds of divine revelation ; of this also I have formerly + discours'd at large..
III. Whether a persuasion of a divine revelation may properly be called faith? To this I answer, that according to the strait and narrow notion of faith, which the schools have fixed, which is an assent to any thing grounded upon the testimony, and authority of God revealing it, a persuasion of a divine revelation cannot properly be called faith'; because it is irrational to expect that a man should have another divine revelation to assure him, that this is a divine. revelation : for then for the same reafon, I must expect another divine revelation to assure me of that, and so without end. But I have fufficiently shewn, that this is not the true notion of faith in general, but only of a particular kind of faith ; viz. that which is wrought by the argument, which we call testimony, or authority. But according to the true and general notion of faith, which is “ a persuasion of the “ mind concerning any thing," a persuasion of the mind concerning a divine revelation, may as properly be called faith, as any thing else, if men will but grant, that a man may be fo satisfied, concerning a divine revelation, as verily to believe and be perfuaded that it is fo. * See vol. VII. ferm. CXXVII. + See ibid.
SERM. IV. How we may come to be persuaded of a di
: vine revelation, that it is such ; or by what arguments
this persuasion is wrought in us? For answer to this, , it will be requisite distinctly to consider,
First, the persons to whom a divine revelation is imniediately made, what assurance they can have of it. And,
Secondly, what assurance other persons can have of it. I fiy, these are distinctly to be considered, because there is a very different account to be given of them.
First, as to those persons, to whom the revelation is immediately made, the question is, by what arguments or means they may come to be assured, that any revelation, which they have, is really and truly such, and not a delusion or imposture. The jewish doctors tell us, that some kind of divine revelations do not carry full assurance along with them, that they are divine ; such are dreams and visions, as they are distinguished from prophecy : and as to that kind of revelation, which they strictly call prophecy, they give several characteristical notes to distinguish true divine revelation from delusion; such as these ; that the spirit of delusion only works upon the imagination, and the lower faculties; the divine spirit of prophecy upon the understanding and reasonable part of the soul : that delusive inspiration, were accompanied with alienation of mind, which did discover it. self either in rage and fury, or melancholy; but the true prophetical spirit is always consistent with the use of reason and understanding. They distinguish them likewise by the manner of their seizing upon them; that in the beginning of inspirations the prophets used to have some apparition, or to hear some voice, either articulate in words, or inarticulate by
thunder, or the sound of a trumpet, which in the Re-S ER M. velations doth frequently precede St. John's visiòns;
no. CCXXI. and by these they were assured that they were divine. And lastly, that a divine inspiration did always carry along with it a strong evidence of it's original, and that by the vigor and strength of it's impression, they were fully assured and satisfied beyond all doubt and hesitation. Thus they. But all that I shall say by way of answer to this question, shall be in these two propofitions.
1. If we believe any such thing as divine revelati-! on, we cannot doubt but those who have it are fome way or other fully satisfied of it. The reason is evident; because otherwise it would be in vain and to no purpose, and could not possibly attain it's end. A divine revelation cannot possibly signify any thing, or : in reason have any effect upon a man, unless he be satisfied it is such: for so long as he does not know but that it is a delusion, he will not attend to it, or regard it. So that the distinction of the jewish doctors between dreams, and visions, and prophecy, that this carries always full assurance with it, the other : not, is vain and unreasonable.'
2. The means whereby this assurance of a divine revelation is wrought, is most probably the evidence it carries along with it, whereby it did fully satisfy the person that had it of it's divine original. That God can accompany his own revelations with such a clear and overpowering light as shall discover to us. the divinity of them, and satisfy us beyond all doubt and scruple, I think no man can doubt, that considers the vast power and influence which he inust needs have over our understandings, who made them, and knows the frame of them : and if this be granted, it is not necessary to explain the particular way how it
SERM. is done, it being a thing not to be exprest in words, CCXXI.
but to be felt and experienced. So that the argument, whereby this persuasion of a divine revelation is wrought in those that have it, is inward experience of the full satisfaction and assurance, which they find to be supernaturally wrought in them, that is, of which they give no account from themselves. · And this is not a stubborn belief, and an obstinate conceitl of a thing: but a good man, who is inspired, when he reflects upon himself, and this assurance which he finds in bimself, he can give a rational account of it to himself. Thus he finds that it is a foreign impresfion, and doch not spring from himself, nor hath it's risë.from thence; therefore he ascribes it to some fpirit without him. self; and he believes that there is a God that can communicate himself to the minds and spirits of men; and that his goodness is such, that he will not suffer them to be under a neceflity of delufion, which they must be, if when they have'the highest assurance and satisfaction that such a thing is a divine 'revelation, they may be deceived. And then likewise he considers the matter of the revelation, which if it do not contradict any effential and necessary fundamental notion of his understanding, he thinks himself bound to entertain it upon this assurance. K do i rinis.
I say, good men may give theinfelves this rational satisfaction : for I grant a wicked man, that rejects and disobeys the truth of God may so provoke him, as“ to give him up to strong delusions, to believe " lies;" and he may be as confident of a lie, as a good man is of truth. But as this is not unjust from God in reference to the persons, so it is rio prejudice to the assurance which good men may have of divine revelation.
: :0.95 .. .7" And this assurance is such, as it is not in the power