« السابقةمتابعة »
whereby it was distinguished from other ways of the discovery of the secrets of the Lord, I shall not now discuss. In general, visions are revelations of the mind of the Lord, concerning some hidden things, present or future, and not otherwise to be known. And they were of two sorts:
(1.) Revelations merely by word, or some other more internal species," without any outward sensible appearance, which, for the most part, was the Lord's way of proceeding with the prophets; which transient light, or discovery of things before unknown, they called a vision.°
(2.) Revelations accompanied with some sensible apparitions, and that either,
[1.] Of things, as usually among the prophets, rods and pots, wheels and trees, lamps, axes, vessels, rams, goats, and the like, were presented unto them.
[2.] Of persons, and those, according to the variety of them, of three sorts.
1st. Of the second person of the Trinity: and this either, (1st.) In respect of some glorious beams of his Deity, as to Isaiah, chap. vi. 1. with John xii. 41.; to Daniel, chap. x. ver. 5, 6. as afterward to John, Rev. i. 13-15. to which you may add the apparitions of the glory of God, not immediately designing the second person, as Ezek. i.
(2dly.) With reference to his humanity to be assumed, as to Abraham, Gen. xviii. 1, 2. to Joshua, chap. v. 13—15, &c. 2dly. Of angels, as unto Peter, Acts xii. 7. to the woman, Matt. xxviii. 2. to John, Rev. xxii. 8, &c.
3dly. Of men,' as in my text.
Now the several advancements of all these ways in dignity and pre-eminence, according as they clearly make out intellectual verity, or according to the honour and exaltation of that whereof apparition is made, is too fruitless a speculation' for this day's exercise.
Our vision is of the latter sort, accompanied with a sensible appearance, and is called öpaua. There be two words in the New Testament signifying vision, ὅραμα, and ὀπτασία, coming from different verbs, but both signifying to see. Some distinguish them, and say that oπraoía is a vision, кal'
in Isa. i. 1.
Jer. i. 11. 13.
Dan. vii. 8, 9.
n Amos i. 1.
• Vid. Aquin. 2. 2. q. 174. art. 3, 4. Scot. in dist. tert.
ὑπαρ, an appearance to a man awake; ὅραμα καθ ̓ ὄναρ, an appearance to a man asleep, called sometimes a dream, Job xxxiii. 15. like that which was made to Joseph, Matt. ii. 19. But this distinction will not hold, our Saviour calling that vision, which his disciples had at his transfiguration, when doubtless they were waking, Spaua, Matt. xvii. 9. So that I conceive Paul had his vision waking; and the night is specified as the time thereof, not to intimate his being asleep, but rather his watchfulness, seeking counsel of God in the night, which way he should apply himself in the preaching of the gospel. And such I suppose was that of latter days, whereby God revealed to Zuinglius a strong confirmation of the doctrine of the Lord's supper, from Exod. xii. 11. against the factors for that monstrous figment of transubstantiation. 2. For the second, or time of this vision, I need say no more, than what before I intimated.
3. The bringer of the message, ἀνήρ τις ἦν Μακεδὼν ἑστὼς, he was a man of Macedonia in a vision: the Lord made an appearance unto him, as of a man of Macedonia, discovering even to his bodily eyes a man, and to his mind, that he was to be conceived as a man of Macedonia. This was, say some, an angel; the tutelar angel of the place, say the popish expositors," or the genius of the place, according to the phrase of the heathens, of whom they learned their demonology; perhaps him, or his antagonist, that not long before appeared to Brutus" at Philippi. But these are pleasing dreams: us it may suffice, that it was the appearance of a man, the mind of Paul being enlightened to apprehend him as a man" of Macedonia; and that with infallible assurance, such as usually accompanieth divine revelations in them to whom they are made, as Jer. xxiii. 28. for upon it Luke affirmeth, ver. 10. they assuredly concluded, that the Lord called them into Macedonia.
4. The message itself is a discovery of the want of the Macedonians, and the assistance they required, which the Lord was willing should be imparted unto them. Their want is not expressed, but included in the assistance de
Mede. Apost. of later times ▾ A Lapide, Sanctius in locum, &c. u Plutarch, in vit. Bruti. Calvin. in locum. Dicebat se discernere, (nescio quo sapore, quem verbis explicare non poterat) quid interesset inter Deum revelantem, &c. Aug. confes.
sired, and the person unto whom for it they were directed. Had it been to help them in their estates, they should scarcely have been sent to Paul, who, I believe, might for the most part say with Peter, Silver and gold have I none." Or had it been with a complaint, that they, who from a province of Greece, in a corner of Europe, had on a sudden been exalted into the empire of the eastern world, were now enslaved to the Roman power and oppression, they might better have gone to the Parthians, then the only state in the world formidable to the Romans. Paul, though a military man, yet fought not with Nero's legions, the then visible devil of the upper world; but with legions of hell, of whom the earth was now to be cleared. It must be a soul-want, if he be intrusted with the supplying of it. And such this was, help from death, hell, Satan, from the jaws of that devouring lion. Of this the Lord makes them here to speak, what every one in that condition ought to speak, Help for the Lord's sake; it was a call to preach the gospel.
The words being opened, we must remember what was said before of their connexion with the verses foregoing; wherein the preachers of the gospel are expressly hindered, from above, from going to other places, and called hither. Whereof no reason is assigned, but only the will of him that did employ them; and that no other can be rendered, I am farther convinced, by considering the empty conjectures of attempters.
God foresaw that they would oppose the gospel, says our Beda. So, say I, might he of all nations in the world, had not he determined to send his effectual grace' for the removal of that opposition; besides, he grants the means of grace to despisers, Matt. xi. 21. They were not prepared for the gospel, says Oecumenius. As well, say I, as the Corinthians, whose preparations you may see, 1 Cor. vi. 9-11. or any other nation, as we shall afterward declare: yet to this foolish conjecture adhere the Papists and Arminians." God
x Acts iii. 6.
y Plutarch de defect. oracu.
Εβρᾶιος κέλεταί με παῖς μακάρεσσιν ἀνάσσων,
Τὸν δὲ δόμον προλιπεῖν καὶ ὅδον πάλιν αυθις ἱκέσθαι.
Respons. Apoll. apud Euseb. Niceph.
A nullo duro corde resistitur, quia cor ipsum emollit. Aug. Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Deut. xxx. 6. a Lapide. Sanctius in loc. Rom. Script. Synd. ar. 1.
would have those places left for to be converted by John, says Sedulius; yet the church at Ephesus, the chief city of those parts, was planted by Paul, says Ignatius and Irenæus.b He foresaw a famine to come upon those places, says Origen; from which he would deliver his own, and therefore, it seems, left them to the power of the devil. More such fancies might we recount, of men unwilling to submit to the will of God; but upon that, as the sole discriminating cause of these things, we rest, and draw these three observations:
I. The rule whereby all things are dispensed here below, especially in the making out of the means of grace, is the determinate will and counsel of God. Stay not in Asia, go not into Bithynia, but come to Macedonia, even so, O Father, for so,' &c.
II. The sending of the gospel to any nation, place, or persons, rather than others, as the means of life and salvation, is of the mere free grace, and good pleasure of God. not in Asia,' &c.
III. No men in the world want help, like them that want the gospel. Come and help us.'
I. Begin we with the first of these: The rule whereby, &c. All events and effects, especially concerning the propagation of the gospel, and the church of Christ, are in their greatest variety, regulated by the eternal purpose and counsel of God.d
All things below in their events are but the wax, whereon the eternal seal of God's purpose hath left its own impression; and they every way answer unto it. It is not my mind to extend this to the generality of things in the world, nor to shew how the creature can by no means deviate from that eternal rule of providence whereby it is guided; no more than an arrow can avoid the mark, after it hath received the impression of an unerring hand; or well-ordered wheels not turn, according to the motion given them by the masterspring; or the wheels in Ezekiel's vision move irregularly
b Ὑμεῖς μὲν οὖν ἐστὲ τοιοῦτοι, ὑπὸ τοιῶνδε παιδευτῶν στοιχειωθέντες Παύλᾳ τῷ Χριστοpop. Ignat. Epist. ad Ep. Iren. lib. 3. cap. 3.
Qui causam quæ sit voluntatis divinæ, aliquid majus eo quærit. Aug. Voluntas Dei nullo modo causam habet. Aquin. p. q. 12. a. 5.
d Θεία πάντων ἀρχὴ, δι ̓ ἧς ἅπαντα καὶ ἐστὶ, καὶ διαμένει. Theophrast. apud Picum.
• Providentia est ratio ordinis rerum ad finem. Th. p. q. 22. a. 1. 6.
f Ezek. i.
to the spirit of life that was in them. Nor yet, secondly, how that, on the other side, doth no way prejudice the liberty of second causes, in their actions, agreeable to the natures they are indued withal. He who made and preserves the fire, and yet hinders not, but that it should burn, or act necessarily agreeable to its nature; by his making, preserving, and guiding of men, hindereth not, yea, effectually causeth, that they work freely, agreeable to their nature. Nor yet, thirdly, to clear up what a strait line runs through all the darkness, confusion, and disorder in the world,h how absolutely, in respect of the first fountain, and last tendency of things, there is neither deformity, fault, nor deviation, every thing that is amiss consisting in the transgression of a moral rule, which is the sin of the creature, the first cause being free; as he that causeth a lame man to go, is the cause of his going, but not of his going lame; or the sun exhaling a smell from the kennel, is the cause of the smell, but not of its noisomeness; for from a garden his beams raise a sweet savour. Nothing is amiss but what goeth off from its own. rule; which he cannot do, who will do all his pleasure, and knows no other rule.
But omitting these things, I shall tie my discourse to that which I chiefly aimed at in my proposition, viz. to discover how the great variety which we see in the dispensation of the means of grace, proceedeth from, and is regulated by, some eternal purpose of God, unfolded in his word. To make out this, we must lay down three things.
1. The wonderful variety in dispensing of the outward means of salvation, in respect of them unto whom they were granted, used by the Lord since the fall: I say, since the fall, for the grace of preserving from sin, and continuing with God, had been general, universally extended to every creature; but for the grace of rising from sin, and coming again unto God, that is made exceeding various, by some distinguishing purpose.
Non tantum res, sed rerum modos.
Videtur ergo quod non sit aliqua deordinatio, deformitas, aut peccatum simpliciter in toto universo, sed tantummodo respectu interiorum causarum, ordinationem superioris causæ volentium, licet non valentium, perturbare. Brad. de caus. Dei. lib. 1. cap. 34.
1 Ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία.
Adeo summa justitiæ regula est Dei voluntas, ut quicquid vult, o ipso quod vult, justum habendum sit. Aug. Isa. xlvi. 10.