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they were assured that what the prophets spake was immediately revealed to them by God himself, without which assurance no faith could be expected from them. When God appeared unto Moses “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush,” (Exod. iii. 2.) and there immediately revealed to him first himself, saying, “ I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and then his will to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, Moses clearly believed God both in the revelation of himself and of his will, and was fully satisfied that the Israelites should be delivered, because he was assured it was God wbo promised their deliverance: yet notwithstanding still he doubted whether the Israelites would believe the same truth, when it should be delivered to them, not immediately by God, but by Moses; “ And Moses answered and said, But behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice; for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.” (Exod. iv. 1.) Which words of his first suppose, that if they had heard the voice of God, as he had, they would have assented to the truth upon a testimony Divine; and then as rationally affirm, that it was improbable they should believe, except they were assured it was God who promised, or think that God had promised by Moses, only because Moses said so. Which rational objection was clearly taken away, when God endued Moses with power of evident and undoubted miracles; for then the rod which he carried in his hand was as infallible a sign to the Israelites, that God had appeared unto him, as the flaming bush was to himself; and therefore they who saw in his hand God's omnipotency, could not suspect in his tongue God's veracity ; insomuch as when Aaron became to Moscs “instead of a mouth,” and Moses to Aaron “instead of God,” (Exod. iv. 16.)“ Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people, and the people believed.” (Exod. iv. 30, 31.) For being persuaded by a lively and active presence of omnipotency that God had appeared unto Moses, and what was delivered to them by him came to him from God, and being sufficiently assured out of the very sense and notion of a Deity, that whatsoever God should speak, must of necessity be true, they presently assented, “and believed the Lord and his servant Moses ;” (Exod. xiv. 31.) Moses, as the immediate propounder; God, as the original revealer: they believed Moses that God had revealed it, and they believed the promise, because God had revealed it. So that the faith both of Moses and the Israelites was grounded upon the same testimony or revelation of God, and differed only in the proposition or application of the testimony; Moses receiving it immediately from God himself, the Israelites mediately by the ministry of Moses.
In the like manner the succeeding prophets were the instru
ments of Divine Revelation, which they first believed as revealed to them, and then the people as revealed by them: for what they delivered was not the testimony of man, but the testimony of God delivered by man. It was “ he who spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began;” (Luke i. 70.) the mouth, the instrument, the articulation, was theirs; but the words were God's. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me (saith David), and his word was in my tongue.” (2 Sam. xxiii. 2.) It was the word of the Lord, which he spake " by the hand of Moses,” (1 Kings viii. 53.) and " by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.” (1 Kings xiv. 18.) The hand the general instrument of man, the mouth the particular instrument of speech, both attributed to the prophets as merely instrumental in their prophecies. The words which Balaam's ass spake were as much the ass's words, as those which Balaam spake were his; for “the Lord opened the mouth of the ass,” (Numb. xxii. 28.) and “the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth ;” (Numb. xxiii. 5.) and not only so, but a bridle with that word, “ only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.” (Numb. xxii. 35.) The prophets as they did not frame the notions or conceptions themselves of those truths which they delivered from God, so did they not loosen their own tongues of their own instinct, or upon their own motion, but as moved, impelled, and acted by God. So we may, in correspondence to the antecedent, and subsequent words, interpret those words of St. Peter, that “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any*private interpretation :" (2 Pet. i. 20.) that is, that no prophecy which is written did so proceed from the prophet who spake or wrote it, that he of himself, or by his own instinct, didi open his mouth to prophesy; but that all prophetical revelations came from God alone, and that whosoever first delivered them was antecedently inspired by him, as it followeth, “ for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were mored by the Holy Ghost." © Pet. i, 21.) That therefore which they delivered was the Word, the Rerelation of God; which they assented unto, as to a certain and intallible truth, credible upon the immediate testimony of Goi, and to which the rest of the believers assented upea the same testimony of God immediately delivered by the hands of the prophets.
Thus, " Gi, who at sundir times, and in divers mariners, puše in tizues past unto the fathers by the prophets," (Heb. Bil, and breaking propounded the object at faith both to the prophets and the failers, “harà in these last days sulauato us by his son," Hcb.i.) and br so speaking Being the clasat falch o us by hia, brwich means
the fata of Jesus (Rer, xir. 12. Thus the
only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father," (John i. 18.)“ the express image of his person,” (Heb. i. 3.) he “in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell,” (Col. i. 19.) he “ in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. ii. 9.) revealed the will of God to the apostles; who being “ assured that he knew all things,' and convinced that he " came forth from God,” (John xvi. 30.) gave a full and clear assent unto those things which he delivered, and grounded their faith upon his words, as upon the immediate testimony of God. “I have given unto them (saith Christ unto his Father) the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (John xvii. 8.) Besides this delivery of these words by Christ to the apostles, they received the promise of the “Spirit of truth, who should guide them into all truth,” (John xvi. 13.) and “teach them all things, and bring all things into their remembrance whatsoever Christ hath said unto them.” (John xiv. 26.) So clearly, so fully, so constantly, were they furnished with divine Mluminations, and Revelations from God, upon which they grounded their own faith ; that each of them might well make that profession of St. Paul, “ I know whom I have believed.” (2 Tim. i. 12.) Thus the faith of the apostles, as of Moses and the prophets, was grounded upon the immediate Revelations of God.
But those believers to whom the apostles preached, and whom they converted to their faith, believed the same truths which were revealed to the apostles, though they were not so revealed to them as they were unto the apostles, that is, immediately from God. But as the Israelites believed those truths which Moses spake to come from God, being convinced by the constant supply of miracles wrought by the rod which he carried in his hand : so the blessed apostles, being so plentifully endued from above with the power of miracles, gave sufficient testimony that it was God who spake by their mouths, who so evidently wrought by their hands. They who heard St. Peter call a lame man unto his legs, speak a dead man alive, and strike a living man to death with his tongue, as he did Ananias and Sapphira, might easily be persuaded that it was God who spake by his mouth, and conclude that where they found him in his omnipotency, they might well expect him in his veracity. These were the persons for whom our Saviour next to the apostles prayed, because by a way next to that of the apostles they believed.
“ Neither pray
I for these alone (saith Christ), but for them also who shall believe on me through their word.” (John xvii. 20.) Thus the apostles believed on Christ through his own word, and the primitive Christians believed on the same Christ through the apostles' word, and this distinction our Saviour himself hath
clearly made; not that the word of the apostles was really distinct from the word of Christ, but only it was called theirs, because delivered by their ministry, otherwise it was the same word which they had heard from him, and upon which they themselves believed, “ That which was from the beginning (saith St. John), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life, that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” (1 John i. 1. 3.) And this was the true foundation of faith in all them who believed, that they took not the words which they heard from the apostles to be the words of the men who spake them, no more than they did the power of healing the sick, or raising the dead, and the rest of the miracles, to be the power of them that wrought them; but as they attributed those miraculous works to God working by them, so did they also that saving word to the same God speaking by them. When St. Paul preached at Antioch, “ almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God ;” (Acts xiii. 44.) so they esteemed it, though they knew him a man whom they came to hear speak it. This the apostle commendeth in the Thessalonians, that, “when they received the word of God, which they heard of him, they received it not as the word of man, but (as it is in truth) the word of God;" (1 Thess. ii. 13.) and receiving it so, they embraced it as coming from him who could neither deceive nor be deceived, and consequently as infallibly true; and by so embracing it, they assented unto it, and by so assenting unto it, they believed it, ultimately upon the testimony of God, immediately upon the testimony of St. Paul, as he speaks himself, “ because our testimony among you was believed.” (2 Thess. i. 10.) Thus the faith of those which were converted by the apostles was an assent unto the word as credible upon the testimony of God delivered to them by a testimony apostolical. Which being thus clearly stated, we may at last descend into our own condition, and so describe the nature of our own faith, that
every one may know what it is to believe.
Although Moses was endued with the power of miracles, and conversed with God in the mount, and spake with him face to face at the door of the Tabernacle: although upon these grounds the Israelites believed what he delivered to them as the word of God; yet neither the miracles nor Moses did for ever continue with them; and notwithstanding his death, they and their posterity to all generations were obliged to believe the same truths. Wherefore it is observable which St. Stephen saith, he “received the lively oracles to give unto them ; (Acts vii. 38.) the Decalogue he received from the hand of God," written with the finger of God ;” (Exod. xxxi. 18.) the rest of the divine patefactions he wrote himself, and so delivered them not a mortal word to die with him, but living ora
cles,* to be in force when he was dead, and oblige the people to a belief, when his rod had ceased to broach the rocks and divide the seas. Neither did he only tie them to a belief of what he wrote himself, but by foretelling and describing the prophets which should be raised in future ages, he put a farther obligation upon them to believe their
prophecies as the revelations of the same God. Thus all the Israelites, in all
believed Moses : while he lived, by believing his words; after his death, by believing his writings. “ Had ye believed Moses (saith our Saviour), ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John v. 46, 47.) Wherefore the faith of the Israelites in the land of Canaan was an assent unto the truths of the law as credible upon the testimony of God delivered unto them in the writings of Moses and the prophets.
In the like manner is it now with us. For although Christ first published the Gospel to those "who beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;” (John i. 14.) although the apostles first converted those unto the faith who heard them speak with tongues they never learned, they never heard before, and discover the thoughts of men they never saw before ; who saw the lame to walk, the blind to see, the dead to revive, and the living to expire at their command : yet did not these apostles prolong their lives by virtue of that power which gave such testimony to their doctrine, but rather shortened them by their constant attestation to the truth of that doctrine farther confirmed by their death. Nor did that power of frequent and ordinary miraculous operations long survive them; and yet they left as great an obligation upon the Church in all succeeding ages to believe all the truths which they delivered, as they had put upon those persons who heard their words and saw their works; because they wrote the same truths which they spake, assisted in writing by the same Spirit by which they spake, and therefore require the same readiness of assent so long as the same truths shall be preserved by those writings. While Moses lived and spake as a mediator between God and the Israelites, they believed his words, and so the prophets while they preached. When Moses was gone up to Mount Nebo, and there died, when the rest of the prophets were gathered to their fathers, they believed their writings, and the whole object of their faith was contained in them. When the Son of God came into the world to reveal the will of his Father, when he “made known unto” the apostles, as his “ friends, all things that he had heard of the Father,” (John xv. 15.) then did the apostles believe the writings of Moses and the prophets, and the words of Christ, and in these taken together was contained the entire object of their faith, " and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had
* Λόγια ζώντα. .