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Egyptians at the word of Moses with plague after plague, while at the same time the Israelites were exempted ; if they believed what Moses said upon conviction from so extraordinary and miraculous a providence, it was a divine faith. They well knew that Moses by his own power could not produce such plagues, nor exempt the Israelites from them. They were fully assured that these things could not be accomplished but by the power or permission of the great Creator of the universe; that herein therefore God himself spake to them, and that as clearly as he did to Moses from the burning bush. There was no manner of necessity for Moses to prove that he was either infallible or impeccable; for God himself, by the miracles wrought at the word of Moses, gave the Israelites most convincing proof that he designed him to be their deliverer.
Did not God speak loudly and clearly by the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? Was not the doctrine taught by Moses with regard to the family and function of the priests hereby fully confirmed ? and all usurpation of the priesthood condemned ? and was not the Israelites' belief of this a divine faith? a faith in God, speaking clearly to them in his providence? We have this author's acknowledgment however, that when the person to whom the revelation is made is infallible and impeccable, he may communicate it to others, and it still continues a divine faith. Is not this evidently the case of all those who receive their faith from Christ?
He also says, “ They who in the apostolic times “ had these extraordinary gifts and powers, were “ left at liberty to exercise them upon the common
principles of reason and human prudence; and
“ from hence we find that some made a right use “ of them for edification, while others employed “ them only to serve the purposes of emulation and “ strife, which introduced great confusions and dis“ orders among them. And this is an evident proof “ that the persons invested with such extraordinary
gifts and powers were neither infallible nor impec
cable, i. e. they were not hereby made incapable “ either of deceiving others or being deceived them“ selves.” Our Saviour, who taught the Christian revelation, was both God and man, infallible and impeccable, incapable of deceiving others or being deceived himself. And his immediate disciples, though not in all things infallible and impeccable, yet had this promise made to them by him, that the Holy Spirit should bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them, and should lead them into all truth. This is our security, that in all things which they taught or wrote as the doctrine of Christ, they were infallibly directed, and neither could be deceived or deceive. And if we proceed further, to those who were converted by them, and on whom they conferred the gifts of the Spirit by laying on their hands, there is no doubt but whatever revelations were made to them were of great use and service at that time in the church, and carried with them sufficient conviction of their truth; but, as they are not come down to us, they noways concern us, nor can be the subjects of our faith. The imprudences and irregularities for which some of these persons in the church of Corinth were reproved by St. Paul cannot in the least affect or hurt us.
Does our faith depend upon any revelation made to them ? or do we receive any
doctrine because delivered by them? To what purpose therefore this is added, unless to confound and mislead the reader, I know not. The extraordinary and miraculous gifts, while the exercise of them continued in this church of Corinth, and other churches, were a standing proof of the power of Christ, and a great confirmation to the faith of all who received him as their Prince and Judge. But as to the particular ends for which revelations were made to any in this church, (for doubtless they had plain, obvious, and useful ends at the time when made,) history does not inform us.
The objections raised by Rabbi Isaac ben Abra
ham answered. I PROCEED now to the last thing proposed, which is, to answer all the objections that I can find have been at any time started, either with regard to the authority of this book, or the truth of any of the facts related in it. And herein I have in some measure prevented myself, by having obviated various objections, as they came in my way, in the preceding chapters. I shall begin with those raised by Rabbi Isaac the Jew, in his Chizzouk Emounah, or Munimen Fidei, published and translated by the learned Wagenseil, and at large confuted by Gussetius, who was professor of philosophy in the university of Groningen.
The first objection is taken from Acts i. 6, 7. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. “The persons who ask, you see, do hy this “ their question acknowledge that the kingdom of “ Israel was some time hereafter to be restored, con
trary to the opinion of Christians : but he that “ answers, does by his answer declare that he is not “ the expected Messiah which his followers take “ him for, since he does not say that he is the re“storer of the kingdom. He at the same time de“ clares, that it cannot be that any man should s know when this captivity will have an end, be6 fore the time of the end itself comes; and that “ God alone, of whose understanding there is no “ searching, knows it a.” This objection arises in part from the mistaken apprehensions of the apostles, in part from a wrong interpretation of our Saviour's answer, as also from the false idea which the Rabbi entertained of the Messiah's kingdom. We readily acknowledge that the disciples at that time expected a temporal kingdom to be erected. For which reason our Lord in his answer adds, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth ; intimating, that in a short time they should be fully instructed in the nature of his kingdom, and the powers they were to exercise. In the words quoted by the Rabbi he plainly reproves their curiosity, as having other business before them than that of a temporal kingdom, or the time of erecting it. It is not for you to know the times or the seasons ; there is business of another kind and nature lies before you. At the same time our Lord does not say that God had reserved the knowledge of the times and seasons to himself; for he had in some measure revealed these by the prophets; but what he says is, that he had put them in his own power, that they were in truth under his direction; and was as much as to say, that the disciples were to perform their duty, and leave all events entirely to God, because he alone had the power of disposing them.