ON DIVINE REVELATION
(Part of the Collection, Kersey's Essays)
Taken From A Narrative of the Early Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of Jessey Kersey, Late of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851, pages 253-258.
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In a calm deliberate attention to the important doctrines which the scriptures contain, no man can fail to have impressions furnished differing from those produced by the reading of any other book: and hence he must conclude that those impressions and convictions of their superiority are proofs of a supernatural origin. [P. 255] If then we have clear evidence that divine revelations have been communicated to man,--surety we must admit that whatever has been may be again. Revelation has been and therefore may be again.
But what are the objections to a repetition of revelation ? Can it be said
that man is not the same now that he was when they were communicated ? Is
there any difference in the conformation of either his mind or body? Is the
nature of moral obligations changed? Or are the passions and appetites altered?
Wilt it be contended that the difficulty of such communications is rendered
insuperable? Or can it be said that because a revelation has been given,
that therefore all future communications from the Almighty would be useless?
If we take the testimony of the scriptures on the subject, we shall find
that they support a belief that revelation is to be expected as the common
privilege of the faithful. 1 John 2:27, "But the anointing which ye have
received of him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you, but
as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no
lie; and even as it hath taught you ye shall abide in him" Similar to this
testimony is that delivered by Paul in his epistle to Titus, chap. 2, 11,
12, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men
teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously and godly in this present world." And again, 1 Corinthians, 12:7,
"But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal."
I would ask, is it possible to understand those testimonies in any other
light, or as having any other direct and plain meaning, than that of continued
[P. 256] By them we are told of a principle which "is truth, and is no lie;" and which is able to teach us all things; that this principle is the grace of God, and that it "hath appeared to all men," and the manifestation of the spirit which is given to every man to profit withal. Now if we are not to understand this spirit as having the power to reveal to us the will of God, and consequently, to teach us of all things necessary to our salvation, I can conceive no kind of useful meaning in them. But such was the meaning conveyed by the apostles; and therefore according to their testimonies revelation is continued to man.
Again, if we consider what it is that makes a difference between truth and falsehood, between light and darkness as they alternately act upon us, I apprehend it will be impossible to explain this difference upon any other ground than that of the operation of the spirit which "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." But take away this spirit, and let the human race be left to the mere powers of our natural intelligence, or to the operation of that knowledge which is acquired by sensation and reflection--and let us examine what our qualifications would be under those circumstances. Sensation being outward, is manifestly excited by material objects and reflections upon those objects, would be reflections upon natural and material things;--hence there would only be produced in us corresponding ideas ;--and as those ideas would strictly agree with their exciting causes, of consequence there would he nothing spiritual in them. They would be the result of that natural sensation and reflection which constitutes the natural man who, according to Paul, "Receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, [P. 257] for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." Which clearly implies, that the ideas of all things are only excited in us by their proper objects;--those that are natural by the presentation of natural and visible things and those that are spiritual by a divine and spiritual cause. If then the ideas of all things can only he excited by their corresponding objects, it must be evident, that while the knowledge of natural things is acquired by the presentation of natural objects to the natural senses,--those that are spiritual have a spiritual mode of presentation, and are only known in consequence of being presented to a spiritual capacity in man. Take away this capacity, and leave him wholly subject to natural sensation and reflection, and he could no more understand spiritual subjects, than the natural man could understand sounds by sight or colors by hearing.
Hence we may surely conclude, that it has consisted with the order of perfect
wisdom to constitute man both a natural and a spiritual being; and that these
senses that are outward embrace the material and visible and the ideas thence
arising pertain to the natural world. But, on the other hand as he is not
only a being of temporal and material existence, but also a being of spiritual
and eternal duration, there are as well spiritual perceptions, as natural:
and hence it is plain that those which are of the spiritual class are the
perceptions which include the knowledge of divine and spiritual things. This
appears to be the doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. They everywhere
hold out the idea that God is a spirit--that man is made after his own image
and that temporal existence and [P. 258] objects belong to those capacities
that are temporal-that those that are spiritual and eternal have capacities
agreeing therewith--and that to these capacities are unfolded the revelations
of the will of God. That by the exercise of them man is brought into a state
capable of searching all things, yea, the deep things of God--and that through
the medium of this spiritual capacity, every revelation of the divine will
has been comprehended. But it may be said "these are assertions without
proof--and therefore will not do to be relied upon. Is there any evidence
that the human race ever did or ever can be certainly ascertained of any.
thing but what comes under the cognizance of the five corporeal senses? To
this we may reply that those who foretold future events which did certainly
come to pass, must have been led to this knowledge by something different
from the natural senses,--and this must have been a spiritual or divine