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OF IMMEDIATE REVELATION.
Seeing “no man knoweth the Father but the Son,
and he to whom the Son revealeth him ; Mat. xi. 27. and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be revealed; who, as by the moving of his own Spirit, he disposed the chaos of this world into that wonderful order in which it was in the beginning, and created man a living soul, to rule and govern it, so by the revelation of the same Spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the sons of men, both patriarchs, prophets, and apostles; which revelations of God by the Spirit, whether by outward voices and appearances, dreams, or inward objective manifestations in the heart, were of old the formal object of their faith, and remain yet so to be; since the object of the saints' faith is the same in all ages, though held forth under divers administrations.
It is very probable, that many carnal and natural Christians will oppose this proposition; who being wholly unacquainted with the movings and actings of God's Spirit upon their hearts, judge the same nothing necessary.
Whereas of old none were ever judged Christians, but such as had the Spirit of Christ, Rom. viii. 9.
But now many do boldly call themselves Christians, who make no difficulty of confessing they are without it, and laugh at such as say they have it. Of old they were accounted “the sons of God, who were led by the Spirit of God," ibid, ver. 14. But now many aver themselves sons of God, who know nothing of this leader; and he that affirms himself so led, is, by the pretended orthodox of this age, presently proclaimed a heretic. The reason hereof is very manifest, viz. because many in these days under the name of Christians, do experimentally find, that they are not acted nor led by God's Spirit; yea many great doctors, divines, teachers and bishops of Christianity, commonly so called) have wholly shut their ears from hearing, and their eyes from seeing, this inward guide, and so are become strangers unto it; whence they are, by their own experience, brought to this strait, either to confess they are as yet ignorant of God, and have only the shadow of knowledge, and not the true knowledge of him, or that this knowledge is acquired without immediate revelation.
For the better understanding then of this proposition, we do distinguish between the certain knowledge of God and the uncertain ; between the spiritual knowledge, and the literal; the saving heart knowledge, and the soaring airy head knowledge. The last, we confess, may be divers ways obtained; but the first by no other way than the inward immediate manifestation and revelation of God's Spirit, shining in and upon the heart, enlightening and opening the understanding.
The certainty of which truth is such, that it hath been acknowledged by some of the most refined and famous of all sorts of professors of Christianity in all ages. Whereof take these following testimonies of the ancients.
1. “It is the inward master,” saith Augustine, " that teacheth, it is Christ that teacheth, it is inspiration that teacheth ; where this inspiration and unction is wanting, it is in vain that words from without are beaten in." And thereafter ; For he that created us, and redeemed us, and called us by faith, and dwelleth in us by his Spirit, unless he speaketh unto us inwardly, it is needless for us to ery out.'
2. “How is it," saith Tertullian, “that since the devil always worketh and stirreth up the mind to iniquity, that the work of God should either cease, or desist to act? Since for this end the Lord did send the Comforter, that because human weakness could not at once bear all things, knowledge might be by little and little directed, formed, and
brought to perfection by the Holy Spirit, that vicar of the Lord. I have many things, saith he, to speak unto you, but ye cannot as yet bear them ; but when the Spirit of truth shall come, he shalt lead you into all truth, and shall teach those things that are to come. But of this his work we have spoken above. What is then the administration of the Comforter, but that discipline be directed, and the scriptures revealed ; &c."
3. The law,” saith Hierom, “is spiritual, and there is need of a revelation to understand it."* And in his Epistle 150, to Hedibia, Quest. 11, he saith, “ The whole Epistle to the Romans needs an interpretation, it being involved in so great obscurities, that for the understanding thereof we need the help of the Holy Spirit, who through the apostle dictated it."
4. “So great things,” saith Athanasius, " doth our Saviour daily : he draws unto piety, persuades unto virtue, teaches immortality, excites to the desire of heavenly things, reveals the knowledge of the Father, inspires power against death, and shews himself unto every one.”*
5. Gregory the Great, upon these words, “ He shall teach you all things,” saith, “That unless the same Spirit is present in the heart of the hearer, in vain is the discourse of the doctor ; let no man then ascribe' unto the man that teacheth what he *Hierom. Ep. Paulin. 103. tAthanasius de Incarn.