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Chapter V.

Of the several ways of extraordinary calling to the teaching of others — The first way.

Now, three ways may a man receive, and be assured that he hath received, this divine mission, or know that he is called of God to the preaching of the word; I mean not that persuasion of divine concurrence which is necessary also for them that are partakers of an ordinary vocation, but that which is required in extraordinary cases to them in whom all outward calling is wanting:— 1. By immediate revelation; 2. By a concurrence of Scripture rules directory for such occasions; 3. By some outward acts of Providence, necessitating him thereunto.

For the first, — not to speak of light prophetical, whether it consists 30in a habit, or rather in a transient irradiating motion, nor to discourse of the species whereby supernatural things are conveyed to the natural faculty, with the several ways of divine revelation (for St Paul affirmeth it to have been πολυτρόπως as well as πολυμερῶς), with the sundry appellations it received from the manner whereby it came, — I shall only show what assurance such a one as is thus called may have in himself that he is so called, and how he may manifest it unto others. That men receiving any revelation from God had always an assurance that such it was, to me seems most certain: neither could I ever approve the note of Gregory on Ezek. i.., — namely, “That prophets, being accustomed to prophesying, did oftentimes speak of their own spirit, supposing that it proceeded from the Spirit of prophecy.”3131   “Sciendum est quod aliquando prophetæ sancti dum consuluntur, ex magno usu prophetandi quædam ex suo spiritu proferunt, et se hoc ex prophetiæ spiritu dicere suspicantur.” — Greg. Hom. i. in Ezek. What is this but to question the truth of all prophetical revelations, and to shake the faith that is built upon it? Surely the prophet Jeremiah had an infallible assurance of the author of his message, when he pleaded for himself before the princes, “Of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears,” chap. xxvi. 15. And Abraham certainly had need of a good assurance whence that motion did proceed which made him address himself to the sacrificing the son of promise. And that all other prophets had the like evidence of knowledge concerning the divine verity of their revelations is unquestionable. Hence are those allusions in the Scripture, whereby it is compared unto things whereof we may be most certain by the assurance of sense. So Amos iii. 8, “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” and Jer. xx. 9, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones;” — things sensible enough. Haply Satan may so far delude false prophets as to make them suppose their lying vanities are from above; whence they are said to be “prophets of the deceit of their own heart,” Jer. xxiii. 26, being deceived as well as deceivers, thinking in themselves as well as speaking unto others, “He saith,” verse 31. But that any true prophets should not know a true revelation from a motion of their own hearts wants not much of blasphemy. The Lord surely supposes that assurance of discerning when he gives that command, “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” Jer. xxiii. 28. He must be both blind and mad that shall mistake wheat for chaff, and on the contrary. What some men speak of a hidden instinct from God moving the minds of men, yet so as they know not whether it be from him or no, may better serve 31to illustrate Plutarch’s discourse of Socrates’ demon than any passage in holy writ. St Austin says his mother would affirm, that though she could not express it, yet she could discern the difference between God’s revelation and her own dreams;3232   “Dicebat se discernere (nescio quo sapore quem verbis explicare non poterat) quid interesset inter Deum revelantem et animam suam somniantem.” — Aug. Conf. in which relation I doubt not but the learned father took advantage, from the good old woman’s words of what she could do, to declare what might be done of every one that had such immediate revelations. Briefly, then; the Spirit of God never so extraordinarily moveth the mind of man to apprehend any thing of this kind whereof we speak, but it also illustrateth it with a knowledge and assurance that it is divinely moved to this apprehension. Now, because it is agreed on all sides that light prophetical is no permanent habit in the minds of the prophets, but a transient impression, of itself not apt to give any such assurance, it may be questioned from what other principle it doth proceed. But, not to pry into things perhaps not fully revealed, and seeing St Paul shows us that, in such heavenly raptures, there are some things unutterable of them and incomprehensible of us, we may let this rest amongst those ἄῤῥητα. It appeareth, then, from the preceding discourse, that a man pretending to extraordinary vocation by immediate revelation, in respect of self-persuasion of the truth of his call, must be as ascertained of it as he could be of a burning fire in his bones, if there shut up.

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