« הקודםהמשך »
MONDAY IN WHITSUN-WEEK.
Q. What shews the great solemnity of the Festival we commemorate at this time?
A. The particular care the church has taken to set apart this and the following day for the exercise of religious duties ; to the end that we might have leisure to offer up our praises and thanksgivings to God, for that perfect discovery he hath made of his will to mankind in the Christian revelation, which contains the best and surest means of serving him, and of performing those obligations we lie under to the divine majesty; and which hath been confirmed by the descent of the Holy Ghost.
Q. How is the knowledge of religion attained ?
A. Either by the light of nature, which discovers to us the being of a God, and the infinite perfections of the divine nature, particularly his goodness, which inclines him to reward those that serve him and diligently seek him; and his justice, which requires him to punish those that disobey him ; and that therefore consequently there is a part of man which will subsist in the next world, capable of these future rewards or punishments, which leads us to the immortality of the soul ; which system of principles, with a suitable practice deducible from them, we call natural religion; or else by supernatural revelation, which we call revealed religion.
Q. What do you mean by supernatural revelation ?
A. God's manifesting himself, or his will, to mankind some way or other, over and above what he hath made known to us by the light of nature ; in such a manner and in such instances, that all our own reasonings could never have attained unto; which manifestation was
sometimes made immediately by God, and sometimes by the mediation of angels, as were most of the revelations of the Old Testament.
Q. How does it appear that a revelation from God is possible ?
A. This is evident from the nature of God, and the capacities of men, as well as from that proof which is produced to satisfy us concerning a mission from God. An infinite being that created our souls capable of knowing him and loving him, can never want power to communicate farther light to our minds, and make farther discoveries of his will and pleasure ; and man thus made after his own image can use those faculties he is endowed with, both in receiving and delivering the matter of the revelation, especially when it offers itself in a manner suitable to those faculties. And when such things are discovered as by prophecy, which none but God could reveal, and such things done as by miracles, which none but an Almighty, at least a supernatural power, could effect, we are as sure such evidences are proofs of a supernatural revelation, as we are that the creation of the world is a demonstration of the existence of a Deity. Now this is a matter so evident, that it has been generally believed among all mankind, even among the Heathens, who were destitute of true revelations; and the consent of all nations, that there is such a principle as inspiration in the world, makes it plain, that it carries no repugnancy to natural light, supposing that there is a God, that he should reveal his mind by some particular persons to the world.
Q. Whence appears the necessity and expediency of divine revelation?
A. From the great ignorance and corruption of human nature, and that misery and guilt which mankind
had contracted, which was plain even to those that were unacquainted with the original of it; so that some extraordinary means became necessary for their recovery. And from the infinite goodness of God, whose providence not only extends his care to the bodies of men and their outward conditions in this world, but chiefly to their immortal souls and their happiness in another life; upon which account rational creatures plunged in misery, became fit objects of the divine care and compassion. For though natural light convinces us of the existence of a Deity, and shews us how reasonable it is to pay our adorations to that power that created and preserves us, yet it does not sufficiently direct us in the way and manner of performing it; though it gives us some hopes of pardon upon our repentance, from the general notion of God's goodness, yet it prescribes us no certain method for the obtaining our reconciliation. So that revelation was necessary both to relieve the wants of men in a natural state, and to recover the lustre and brightness of their natural principles, sullied and impaired by the degeneracy of mankind; and farther to add such improvements, as might be perfective of human nature, and instruct men in the method of appeasing an offended Deity.
Q. What do you mean by inspiration ?
A. Inspiration is a revelation which is insensibly communicated and breathed as it were into the soul of a man, so that the inspired person does not think his own thoughts, nor order his own conceptions, nor form his own notions so far as he is inspired. But this doth not exclude the exercise of his own reason in these opera
but these infusions not proceeding from any reasoning in themselves, but from an external and supernatural cause, it is by that cause determined to the matter that is inspired.
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