« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Gifts yet more abundantly, Spake with other Tongues, as the Spirit gave them Utterance'; difcerned the Secrets of Mens Hearts, foretold Things to come, performed the very greatest of Miracles, had frequent Revelations from above, seem to have done nothing of Moment without an especial Guidancé. Surely then, they, who were thus under God's Direction, did not write the New Testament without it: they who confirmed in this Manner what they. taught, were not capable of leaving unmentioned any fundamental Truth, and
less of teaching any Error.
Now two of these, Matthew and John, Apostles and Companions of our Lord, are also Evangelists. The latter was peculiarly beloved of our Saviour while on Earth, and afterwards faw in Vision and heard from his Mouth, and that of an Angel, all that is contained in the Book of Revelation : whence we not only infer its infallible Authority, but are strongly confirmed in our Belief, that the Spirit of Jesus was present with him in writing his Gospel and Epistles also. The two other Evangelists indeed, Mark and Lukë, were not Apostles : but theit Works were approved by St. Peter and St.
Paul, who were : and all the four Gospels have ever been held in equal Efteem. The Book of Afts is a Sequel of the third, whịch the Writer would not fail to lay before the fame Apostle, who had infpected his Gospel : especially as it principally relates to him, and ends at the Time, when they were together at Rome, and at full Leisure to revise it jointly,
It is true, St. Paul himself was not one of the twelve. But he was not a whit behind the the very chiefeft of them'; being miraculously called to see that just One, to hear the Voice of bis Mouth, and to receive his Gospel, not of Man, but by the immediate Revelation of Jesus Chrift". Certainly then he was not suffered either to mistepresent or fuppress any part of it, whether speaking or writing, or to deliver any Thing, as comprehended in it, which was not. But let us hear what he faith of his own Preacha ing. We speak-the Things given unto us of God, not in the Words, which Man's Wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth". When ye received the Word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it, not as the Word of Men, but as it is in Truth, the Word of God *. Let us hear
what he faith of his own Epiftles. If any Man think himself a Prophet or Spiritual,' that is, in dued with fupernatural Gifts, let him acknowledge, that the Things, which I write unto you, are the Commandments of the Lord'. He there, fore, that despiseth, despiseth not Man, but God, who hath alfo
, giyen unto us bis holy Spirit?. Yet we may be confident, that he did not boast of himself beyond his Measure", or dare to speak of any Thing, which Cbrift had not wrought by him, to make the Gentiles obedient, by Word and Deed, by mighty Signs and Wonders, by the Power of the Spirit of God': . And observe, he doth not, after all this, any where exalt himfelf above the other Apostles : but he places all the Apostles above the Prophets : which likewise in Effect St. Peter doth, when having first exhorted Christians to be mindful of the Words, which were Spoken before by the holy Prophets, he adds, in yet stronger Terms, and of the Commandment of us, the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour. St. John also, in his first Epistle, uses Language, in general, of the fame high Import. He that knoweth God, beareth us: be that is not of God, beareth not
y 1. Cor. xiv. 37. Rom. xv. 18, 19.
? 1 Thess. iv. 8. ci Cor. xii. 28.
a 2 Cor. x. 13;
us. Hereby know we the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit of Error. Could such eminent Saints, could any religious and humble, or commonly honest, Men, provoke God, and attempt to deceive their Fellow Creatures, by making such Claims as these, without Foundation? Would not he instantly have withdrawn his Gifts from them? Would not their Enviers and Rivals; for such there were, have exposed them? Would not all Christians by common Consent have rejected them? Certainly they would : yet certainly they did just the contrary.
The only two Writers of the New Testament, whom I have not yet named particularly, are St. James and St. Jude : of whom it may very sufficient to observe, that they were both Apostles, and near Kinsmen of our Lord, and therefore might well expect the fame Regard with the rest; which, by the whole Tenour of their Epistles, they appear to do, though without demanding it fo expressly, for which they had probably no Occasion.
Still we acknowledge, that some Christians at Antioch disputed one Part of what Paul and Barnabas taught there: and afterwards, when the Apostles held a Council at Jerusalem upon it,
1 John iv. 6.
certain Pharisees, who' were Believers, debated the same Point. But no Wonder, if new Converts, full of old Prejudices, were backward to part with them, where the Honour of the Law seemed to be impaired by it, confidering how obstinately refractory their Forefathers had been to known Prophets, and to Moses himself. However, being with great Condescension heard, then instructed by St. Jamesland St. Peter, they submitted. Yet, we own farther, in the Décree made on this Occafión, where the Apostles fay, It hatb. feemed: good to, the Holy Ghost and to us, they join the Elders and Brethren with them. But fo doth St. Paul join one or other with Him in no less than eight of his 'Epiftles's: and in both Cases the Meaning plainly is, not to allow them equal Authority, but merely to express their Concurrence.
Indeed the Apostles themselves were not ted into all Truth at once: but this is very corififtent with being secured from any Error. They were also liable to act imprudently : as St. Peter did, when he separated himself from the Gentiles at Antioch, - fearing to offend the beActs xv. 1, &c.
& 1 Cor. 1. j.
2 Cor. i. i. Gal. j. 1, 2.
Col. i. 1. i Theff. i. 1. Thess. i. i. Philem. ver. 1,
Phil. i. 1.