Obrazy na stronie

men, for the work of the tabernacles, And thus Samuel knew which of the sons of Jesse should be the Lord's anointed.

On this occasion I would step so far out of my way as to observe, that I do not find, that God revealed to the prophets the wickedness and malignity, that would arise in the hearts of some of those who were appointed to some ministry in the church. But as Christ him. self, though he fully knew what was in man, chose one of the twelve who had a devil; so he suffered the church sometimes to appoint persons from whom great mischiefs should arise to it; as, particularly, Nicolas, one of the seven deacons (if the doctrines and fect of the Nicolaitans came from him, mentioned Rev. ii. 6. as many of the fathers thought with great probability); suffering them to come into stations of service in the church for its trial; that is, for the discovery of hypocrites, and the confirmation of those who were sincere.

2. The discernment of spirits: for this seems to be ascribed to the prophet', and is reckoned as a gift of the Spirit, among other gifts : and in the former of those places, St. Paul says, that if “ they all prophesy, and “ there come in one that believeth not (or an

heathen), or one unlearned (or ignorant), • Exod. xxxv. 30. XXXVi, 1. • 1 Sam. xvi. ti Cor. xiv. 24, 25.

u Ibid. xii, 10. Vol. I.


" he

a dif

" he is convinced (or discovered) of all. He “ is judged (or discerned) of all; and thus are “ the secrets of his heart made manifeft; and 6 fo falling down on his face, he will worship

God; and report, that God is in you of a “ truth w.” And in the epistle to the Hebrews we find, that the word of God (ó róz@ TĞ 038) which is the word spoken by the revelation of Christ, or by the gifts of the Spirit, is, among other things, said to be “

cerner of the thoughts of the heart x;" as it had been of old y; and as it now was. We have a particular instance of this gift of difcernment in Peter 2: the same may be observed in Elisha a ; and in Ahijah b. And by this discernment of Spirits they were not only to judge of the heathen, or the ignorant ; or of the faith and hypocrisy of particular perfons; but of the prophets too: for St. Paul says, “ Let the prophets speak, two or three, “ and let the rest judge (Si cxevétwar)?” And he says, that “the spirits of the prophets are

subject to the prophets d.” And likewise, that “ the spiritual man (wveupatixòs, the “ man that hath the Spirit) judgeth (evæxpiver) “ all things c." And he directs the Thetla

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

lonians, that they should not despise prophecyings; but should prove all things (discerning between the true and false prophecyings); and whilst they rejected that which is false, that they should hold fast that which is good. And those to whom St. John writes, who had received an unction from the Holy One (that is, the internal unction, or gifts of the Spirit, which the external unction under the law represented), and knew all things & ; and they on whom that anointing abode h ; (and, no doubt, the lower gift of prophecying among others, that being the gift which all the members of the church generally enjoyed in one kind or another), were not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits i: and as there were general rules given them to try the spirits by; as, that “no man can say that

Jesus is the Lord but by the Spirit; and no “ man speaking by the Spirit calleth Christ 66 accursed k.” So if any person pretended to a new discovery, which, what was already known by them, did not enable them to judge of; they had reason to hope, that God would reveal even that unto them; and that they Tould, through the Spirit, know also whether that was of God. So Clement says, 6 that “ the apostles did ordain the first fruits of such


f Thess. v. 20, 21.

& Johnii. 20. h Ibid. ver. 27:

i Ibid. iv. 1. ki Cor. xüi. 3. I John iv. 1-6.

K 2


I am

as believed, making trial (dexipiec avles) of is them by the Spirit T;" the same word that is made use of i Thefl. v. 20. and 1 John by. 1.

inclined to think, that these two kinds of prophecying (at least the last) are what St. Paul cails a revelation, 1 Cor. xiv, 26. (as it stands distinguished from a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, and an interpretation), and which he ascribes there to this kind of

prophet, as well as a psalm, a doctrine, and the reft, which I am now going to consider. For,

3. There seems to be yet a lower degree of prophecying than either of these: it appearing to me, that all the public performances in the church, by single persons, through the illumination of the Holy Ghost, were called prophecying : for so I apprehend St. Paul calls every such public action done in the church, by a single person, to edification, and exhortation, and comfort ; in opposition to speaking any thing in the assembly in a tongue that was not understood m. And there feems to me to be these different actions of this kind, to which prophecying is applied in that chapter.

The first is a doctrine. And therefore to these prophets, or to those that prophecy in this sense, belongs a doctrine "; which, perhaps, ! Epist. ad Cor. § 42.

Cor. xiv. I-4 • Ibid. ver. 26.

may be any truch about faith or manners : and in this sense these prophets would be the same thing with teachers; of which I shall say more presently. And because in this sense it would coincide with the gift of teaching, and for other reasons, it may much more pro. bably mean an exhortation, or a forcible way of convincing men of what is wrong in their conduct, reproving them for it, admonishing them to amend it; and confirming and cftablishing them in what was right in it; and comforting them under any of the difficulties or afflictions they fell under for it, or in the practice of it. For we often find the first Christian prophets in the New Testament employed in all these ways. So Barnabas, who appears to have been a prophet before he was an apostle o, is said to have “ exhorted the 66 Grecians at Antioch, that with full purpose 6 of heart they should cleave unto the 56 Lord ?." And so Judas and Silas, being prophets, exhorted the brethren at Antioch, with many words, and confirmed them 4. Thus St. Paul directs some among the Romans, who had the gift of exbortation, to wait on exhortation': and he afterwards tells some of them, that he is persuaded, that they, 4 being full of goodness, and filled with all “ knowledge, are able, to admonish one ano

Aēts xiji. I.
Ibid. xv. 32

Rom, xij. 8.
K 3

46 ther,"

Ibid. xi. 23.

« PoprzedniaDalej »