[I]f persons have the will of God concerning their actions, suggested to them by some text of Scripture suddenly brought to their minds—which text, as the words lay in the Bible before they came to their minds, related to the action and behaviour of some other person—it alters not the case. The suggestion being accompanied with an apt text of Scripture, does not make it to be of the nature of spiritual instruction.
For instance, suppose a person in New England, on some occasion, were at a loss whether it was his duty to go into some popish or heathenish land, where he was like to be exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and should pray to God that he would show him the way of his duty; and after earnest prayer, should have those words which God spake to Jacob, Gen. 46. suddenly and extraordinarily brought to his mind, as if they were spoken to him; “Fear not to go down into Egypt; and I will go with thee; and I will also surely bring thee up again.” In which words, though as they lay in the Bible before they came to his mind, they related only to Jacob and his behaviour; yet he supposes that God has a further meaning, as they were brought and applied to him; that by Egypt is to be understood this particular country he has in his mind, and that the action intended is his going thither, and the meaning of the promise is, that God would bring him back into New England again.
There is nothing of the nature of a spiritual or gracious leading of the Spirit in this; for there is nothing of the nature of spiritual understanding in it. Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is rightly to understand what is in the Scripture, and what was in it before it was understood: it is to understand rightly, what used to be contained in the meaning of it, and not the making a new meaning. When the mind is enlightened spiritually and rightly to understand the Scripture, it is enabled to see that which before was not seen, by reason of blindness. But if it was by reason of blindness, that is an evidence that the same meaning was in it before, otherwise it would have been no blindness not to see it: it is no blindness not to see a meaning which is not there. Spiritually enlightening the eyes to understand the Scripture, is to open the eyes, Psal. 119:18. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;” which argues, that the reason why the same was not seen in the Scripture before, was, that the eyes were shut; which would not be the case, if the meaning now understood was not there before, but is now newly added to the Scripture by the manner of the Scripture coming to the mind.
This making of a new meaning to the Scripture, is the same thing as making a new scripture: it is properly adding to the word, which is threatened with so dreadful a curse. Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is to have the eyes of the mind opened to behold the wonderful, spiritual excellency of the glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always were contained in it, ever since it was written; to behold the amiable and bright manifestations of the divine perfections, the excellency and sufficiency of Christ, the suitableness of the way of salvation by him, and the spiritual glory of the precepts and promises of the Scripture, &c. These things are, and always were in the Bible, and would have been seen before, if it had not been for blindness, without having any new sense added.
Jonathan Edwards, The works of Jonathan Edwards Volume One, (Banner of Truth, 1974), pg 285
[Taken from A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections originally published 1746, paragraphing added]