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ternally helped, we can attain this knowledge; but that there is a special work of the Spirit in the supernatural illumination of our minds; and by this alone we obtain a full assurance of understanding in the knowledge of the mystery of God.'
The whole of our assertion is comprized in the prayer of the Psalmist (Ps. cxix. 18) Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderful things out of thy law.' In the law of God, that is in the revelation of God's will in the Scriptures, there are wonderful things,-things that have such an impression of divine wisdom and power upon them, that they are justly the objects of our admiration these it is our duty to behold, to discern, to understand. We are not able of ourselves to do this, without divine assistance; therefore the Psalmist prays that God would 'open his eyes,' uncover, unveil them. There is a sacred light in the word; but there is a covering,—a veil on the eyes of men, so that they cannot behold it aright. Now the removal of this veil is the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit.
The meaning of the Psalmist will better appear, if we consider the communication of the grace he prayed for unto others: Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures. Luke xxiv. 55.— A needless work, if some men may be believed! But Christ thought not so. The truths concerning him were revealed in the law, the prophets, and the psalms,'-ver. 44. These were constantly read; and the persons referred to were probably well skilled in the literal sense of those Scriptures; yet they could not rightly understand these wonderful things until Christ opened their minds.
There is another eminent passage to this purpose (Eph. i. 17, &c.) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened,' &c. Now, if men would acquiesce, by faith, in what is here declared, we need not plead the cause any further; for the expressions of the truth here used are more emphatic to a spiritual understanding than any we can find out.'
It is not a new, immediate, external revelation that is here prayed for. Believers are not directed to look for
such a revelation as their guide; but there is an internal, subjective revelation, whereby we are enabled to discern the things already revealed in the word; and the Holy Spirit is here called The Spirit of Revelation,' causally, as he is the author, a principal efficient cause of it; so, in his communication to Christ himself, he is called The Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Knowledge, that should make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.' Isa. xi. 2, 3.
What the Psalmist (Ps. cxix.) calls, in general, ( won derful things, the apostle particularizes the hope of God's calling, the riches of his glory, the exceeding greatness of his power in believers.' These are the wonderful things proposed to us in the Scripture; and we can have no understanding of them but as they are revealed to us: and the reason why some men judge it to be so easy to comprehend them is, because they do not think there is any thing great, wonderful, or glorious in them. They therefore love to corrupt and debase them, that they may suit their own low carnal apprehensions. This is the principle that works effectually in the whole system of Socinianism.
Concerning these things, the apostle prays that the Ephesians might know them.' It is said of the natural man' (1 Cor. ii. 14) he cannot know them;' that is by the use of outward means alone. But the apostle prays, with peculiar solemnity and earnestness, that they might understand them. But what reason was there for this earnestness? Where not the Ephesians rational men? Probably, they were as wise and learned as any in our days. Acts xix. 19. Yet to know the mind of God in the Scriptures aright, it was necessary that the eyes of their understanding should be enlightened;' and that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation' should be given them for that end.
For the same purpose did our Lord promise the Holy Spirit to believers (John xvi. 13): When the Spirit of Truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth.' He is the Spirit of truth, not only as he is absolute, divine, eternal verity, but as he is the Revealer of all divine, supernatural truth to the church. It is not all truth, absolutely, that is intended, as natural, civil, and histori
cal truth; but the mysteries of the gospel-kingdom,the counsel of God concerning the salvation of the church by Jesus Christ, together with their faith and obedience that is intended: he is promised to instruct in the knowledge of truths externally revealed in the word, in a spiritual manner and this promise was not to the apostles, or first disciples only: the residence of the Spirit in the church was to be for ever' (John xiv 16); and what Christ prayed for his apostles, he desired for all who should believe in him, through their word, unto the end of the world.' John xvii.-It is the same as is intended in that promise; they shall be all taught of God.' This is again affirmed concerning all believers, in 1 John ii. 20, 27, Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things: the same anointing teacheth you of all things. By this unction, the Holy Spirit and his work are doubtless intended, alluding to the anointing of kings and priests of old; and believers, who are partakers of the internal unction, in the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, are said to be 'kings and priests unto God.' The effect of this work is (1.) They know all things;' and (2.) They need not that any should teach them. They know all things; that is, all things necessary to their being ingrafted into Christ, and continuing in him. How ever, they may mistake in things of lesser moment, or have but an imperfect knowledge of some doctrines; yet, in all things necessary that they may believe unto righte ousness, and make confession unto salvation, they shall truly know the mind and will of God as revealed in the Scripture: and the special end of their obtaining this knowledge is, that they may be preserved from those errors and seducers which may be expected.
It is also said, They need not that any should teach them;' that is, the things before mentioned, as to their initial knowledge of them, and the substance of the things themselves; but yet there are further degrees of knowledge to which all believers should aspire: Heb. vi. 1. But the principal thing is, they need not that any should teach them, so that they should depend on the light and authority of their instruction. Others may be helpers of their joy,' but none can be lords of their faith: they need no such teaching, because of the unction which they have received.
Here I shall only observe, what assurance a man, who is thus taught the truth, may have, that it is the truth which he is taught, and that he is not deceived in his apprehensions of it; for on this depends the use of this instruction, especially in a time of trial. It is not enough that we know the truth, but we must be assured that we do so. This the apostle calls The riches of the full assurance of understanding.' Col. ii. 2.-The assurance of mind, in other teaching, depends much on the authority of the teacher; so here:- The anointing is truth, and is no lie.' It is infallibly true: there is no possibility of deceit in what is taught by this unction. This assurance arises partly from the manner of the Spirit's teaching, and partly from the evidence of the things themselves which are taught. The manner of his teaching is by the Scriptures of the truth; and he gives a secret witness to what he teacheth;' for it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth' (1 John v. 6); and, with respect to the evidence, it is said, that the unction whereby we are taught is truth, and no lie.' It is impossible that any one should be deceived who is so taught. There is a peculiar power accompanying the teaching of God by his Spirit: Behold, God exalteth by his power; -who teacheth like him? Job xxxvi. 22. So our Saviour expounds that promise: They shall be all taught of God.' Every man,' he adds, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.' John vi. 45.There is such an efficacy accompanying the teaching of God, that whoever is so taught, doth certainly believe the things which he is taught, as having the evidence of their truth in himself; for he that believeth, hath the witness (or testimony) in himself.' 1 John v. 10. There is an evidence in the things themselves, to spiritual sense and judgment (Phil. i. 9. Heb. v. 24.) which gives the mind the highest assurance of which it is capable; for when it finds in itself the power and efficacy of the truth in which it is instructed, that it works, effects, and implants the things themselves upon it, then, I say, the mind hath the utmost assurance in the truth of it which it can desire.
There is another part of the work of the Spirit with respect to the illumination of our minds, which must be
In the use of these means, and to render them effectual, there are certain helps, which may be termed, 1. Spiritual -2. Disciplinary, and 3. Ecclesiastical.
The first thing required, as a spiritual means, is prayer, -fervent, earnest prayer, for the assistance of the Spirit; that he would enlighten our minds, and lead us into the knowledge of the truth. The importance of this grace to our faith and obedience, the multiplied promises of God concerning it, the necessity of it from our natural weakness and darkness, should render it a principal part of our daily supplications. This is indispensably necessary, and without this all other means will be insufficient. Nor do I believe that any one who thus prays, will ever be left to the final prevalence of any pernicious error, or the ignorance of any fundamental truth. None utterly miscarry in seeking after the mind of God, but those who are perverted by their own corrupt minds :-but faith, exercised in this duty, will expel that filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness,' which could prevent our receiving the ingrafted word with meekness, to the saving of our souls. It will produce in our minds those gracious qualifications of humility and meekness, unto which the teachings of God are promised; and our Saviour hath assured us, that his heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them
that ask him.'
Fervent prayer for divine teaching is more especially necessary from those who are called to declare the mind of God to others; and great are the advantages which a conscientious discharge of this duty brings along with it. Prejudices, preconceived opinions, engagements by secular advantages, human authority, the influence of societies, and of parties, will all be levelled before it; for it includes a prevailing resolution sincerely to receive the mind of God, whatever effects it may produce upon the inward or outward man. Indeed, for a man solemnly to undertake the interpretation of any portion of Scripture without invocation of God, to be taught and instructed by his Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the dis-covery of truth from any one who thus proudly engages in a work so much above his ability. But this is the sheetanchor of a faithful expositor in all difficulties: nor can he, without this, be satisfied that he hath attained the mind of the Spirit in any divine revelation. When all other helps