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SELF-EVIDENCING LIGHT AND POWER
The divine original of the Scripture the sole foun
dation of its authority.
That the whole authority of the Scripture depends solely on its divine original, is confessed by all who acknowledge its authority. The evincing and declaration of that authority being the thing at present aimed at, the discovery of its divine original, is, in the first place, necessarily to be premised.
As to the original of the Scripture of the Old Testament, it is said, 'God spake of old,' or formerly, ' in the prophets.' So God spake from the days of Moses the lawgiver, and downwards, to the consignation and bounding of the canon delivered to the Judaical church, in the days of Ezra and his companions, the “men of the great congregation.”
. This being done only among the Jews, they, as his church, were “intrusted with the oracles of God." God spake “ by the prophets,” or, as Luke i. 70.
“ by the mouth of the holy prophets ;" but there seems to be somewhat farther intended in this expression.
In the exposition, or giving out the eternal counsel of the mind and will of God to men, there is to be considered, his speaking to the prophets, and his speaking by them to us. In this expression, it seems to be that voice from heaven, that came to the prophets, which is understood. So God spake in the prophets, and in reference thereto, there is propriety in that expression, " in the prophets.” Thus the Psalms are many of them said to be, To this, or that man. “ A golden psalm to David;" that is, from the Lord; and from thence their tongue was as the or
of a writer." So God spake in them, before he spake by them.
The various ways of special revelation, by dreams, visions, audible voices, inspirations, with that peculiar one of the lawgiver under the Old Testament, called “face to face;" with that which is compared with it, and exalted above it, in the New, by the Son, “ from the bosom of the Father;" are not of my present consideration, all of them belonging to the manner of the thing inquired-after, not the thing itself.
By the assertion, then, laid down, of God“ speaking in the prophets of old,” from the beginning to the end of that long tract of time, consisting of one thousand years, wherein he gave out the writings of
, the Old Testament; two things are ascertained to us, which are the foundation of our present dis
1. That the laws they made known, the doctrines they delivered, the instructions they gave, the stories they recorded, the promises of Christ, the prophecies of Gospel-times they gave out and revealed, were not their own, not conceived in their minds, not formed by their reasonings, not retained in their memories from what they heard, not by any means beforehand comprehended by them, but were all of them immediately from God; there being only a passive concurrence of their rational faculties in their reception.
2. God was so with them, and, by the Holy Ghost, so spake in them, as to their receiving of the word from him, and their delivering of it to others, by speaking or writing, as that they were not themselves enabled by any habitual light, knowledge, or conviction of truth, to declare his mind and will, but only acted, as they were immediately moved by him. Their tongue in what they said, or their hand in what they wrote, was no more at their own disposal, than the pen is, in the hand of an expert writer.
Hence, as far as their own personal concerns, as saints and believers, lay in them, they are said to make a diligent inquiry into the things which the
Spirit of Christ, that spake in them, did signify." Without this, though their visions were express, so that their eyes were said to be open, yet they understood them not. Therefore, also, they studied the writings and prophecies of one another: Dan. ix. 2. Thus they attained a saving, useful, habitual knowledge of the truths delivered by themselves and others, by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, through the study of the word, even as we. But as to the receiving of the word from God, as God
spake in them, they obtained nothing by study or meditation, by inquiry or reading.
Whether we consider the matter or manner of what they received and delivered, they were but as an instrument of music, giving a sound according to the hand, intention, and skill of him that strikes it.
This is variously expressed. Generally it is said, the “word was” to this or that prophet, which we have rendered 66 the word came unto them. Ezek. i. 3. it “came expressly;" it had a subsis
. tence given to it, or an effectual in-being, by the Spirit's entering into him; ver. 14. Now this coming of the word to them, bad oftentimes such a greatness and expression of the majesty of God upon it, as it filled them with dread and reverence of him, Hab. iii. 16. and also greatly affected even their outward man, Dan. viii. 27. But this dread and terror, was peculiar to the Old Testament. The Spirit, in the declaration of the New Testament, gave out his mind and will in a way of more liberty and glory, 2 Cor. iii. The expressness and immediacy of revelation was the same, but the manner of it related more to that glorious liberty, in fellowship and communion with the Father, to which believers had then an access provided them by Jesus Christ. So our Saviour tells his apostles, Matt. x. 20. “ You are not the speakers” of what you deliver, as other men are, the imagination of whose hearts is the fountain of all that they speak; and he adds this reason, “ The Spirit of the Father is he that speaketh in you.” Thus the word that came to them, was a book which they took in and gave out, without any alteration of one tittle or syllable.
Moreover, when the word was thus come to the prophets, and God had spoken in them, it was not in their power to conceal it, the hand of the Lord being strong upon them. They were not only, on a general account, to utter the truth they were made acquainted with, and to speak the things they had heard and seen, which was their common preachingwork; but also the very individual words that they had received, were to be declared. When the word was come to them, it was as a fire within them, that must be delivered, or it would consume them, Psal. xxxix. 3. Jer. xx. 9. Amos iii. 8. vii. 15, 16. So Jonah found his attempt to hide the word that he had received, to be altogether vain.
Now, because these things are of great importance, and the foundation of all that follows; namely, the discovery that the word is come forth to us from God, without the least mixture or intervenience of any medium liable to fallibility, (as is the wisdom, truth, integrity, knowledge, and memory, of the best of all men,) I shall farther consider it from one full and eminent declaration thereof, given unto us, 2 Pet. i. 20, 21. The words of the Holy Ghost are,
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." That which he speaks of is, the “ prophecy of
' Scripture," or written prophecy.
There were then traditions among the Jews, to whom Peter wrote, exalting themselves into competition with the written word, which not long after