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is there speaking, not only to learned men and great divines, but to all believers, even to little children; to all that have the Spirit, which is common to all; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'
(4.) The things that are necessary to salvation are hid only to unbelievers, in whom the God of this world hath blinded their eyes; as for others, God himself hath taught them, 2 Cor. iv. 4, 6.
(5.) God hath promised to write his law in his people's hearts, and that he himself will teach them to know himself, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34.; therefore the scripture must needs be perspicuous and clear in things necessary to salvation ; for that which is written in our hearts cannot be but clear unto us; and that which God himself teacheth us cannot be obscure, for who teacheth like God?
(6.) If the scriptures be not clear in themselves to all believers, but that all its perspicuity depends on the interpretation of the church, then our faith is to be ultimately resolved into the testimony of mans but that cannot be, for human testimony is not infallible and authentic, and therefore cannot found divine faith and an infallible persuasion. The reason of the consequence is clear. Hearers are obliged, if they will not pin their faith on men's sleeves, to compare the interpretations given by men, with the scriptures themselves ; which is utterly unpracticable, unless the scriptures be clear in themselves in such things as are necessary to salvation.
(7.) The perspicuity of the scripture appears, if ye consider their author, who is God himself, the Father of lights; and the end for which he gave the scriptures unto the church, viz. that they might be a rule of faith and life. Of his power to speak plainly, who can doubt? and the end for which they are given may sufficiently satisfy as to his will to speak so; for how can they be a rule to us, if wrapt up so as we cannot understand them without the church's interpretation, in those things that are necessary to salvation ?
2. It is a perfect rule. There is nothing necessary to be believed or done, but what is to be found there. It is a perfecť rule for us to walk by in the way to heaven and glory, What can be more desired than that in the text, It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruc, tion in righteousness? The law of the Lord is perfect, Psal. xix. 7. The scriptures were written that men might havé life, John xx. 31. and comfort and hope in all conditions, Rom, xv. 4. But I insisted on this more fully in the preceding doctrine.
3. It is the only rule. Every doctrine taught any manner of way in religion must be brought to this rule, and if it agree not with it, must be rejected, Isa. viii. 20. Hereby traditions must be tried, Matth. xv. 3.; and spirits or revelations, 1 John iv. 1.; and nothing must be added to it, Prov. xxx. 6. Rev. xxii. 18. I shall shut up with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. The opinions of fathers, decrees of councils, acts of assemblies, covenants, and ministers sermons, are not the rule of faith to us ; nor can any of them vind us but in so far as they are agreeable to the word of God, by which all of them must be judged and examined, Isa. viii. 20.
2. Translations of the scriptures into the vulgar languages are most necessary and profitable. How otherwise should the unlearned read them, if they were not translated ? It was by the means of these translations that Romish Babel was brought down at the Reformation, as by the division of tongues the building of old Babel was hindered. And that makes the Papists such enemies to translations of the scriptures. We have reason to bless God for human learning, by which these translations are made, seeing the prophets and apostles wrote in languages which but few understand.
3. This may give us a just abhorrence of Popery, which alınost in every point on this head casts dust on the scriptures. The Papists deny the necessity of translations; will not allow the people the free reading of the Bible; cry out on it for its obscurity; accuse it of imperfection; and add their traditions to it, that it may not be the only rule. And thus they blaspheme both God and his word, and expose themselves to that direful threatening, Rev. xxii. 18.
4. This may also give us a just detestation of Quakerism, which sets up the light within men, which in very deed is nothing but a natural conscience, and the spirit without the scriptures, to be a rule to men. But their light is but darkness, and their spirit a spirit of darkness and delusion, if it agree not with the scriptures, Isa. viii. 20. and must be tried and examined by the scriptures, 1 John iv. 1. The Quakers are a dangerous set of people that overturn the foundation of true religion.
5. This may likewise give us a just abhorrence of the superstition and ceremonies of the church of England, wherewith they have corrupted the worship of God, rejecting the simplicity of gospel-worship, and regulating their worship in many things not by the scripture,
but the dregs of Antichrist : Deut. iv. 2. Ye shall not add unto the word that I command you.' What word ? Statutes, ver. 1. ceremonies and rites of worship. To baptize with water is Christ's command: but who has added the sign of the cross ? Christ instituted the sacrament of the supper : but who has added kneeling, to overturn the table-gesture, which we have from Christ's own example ? The Lord's day is of divine institution : but whose are the numerous holidays observed in the church of England ? Matth. xv. 9. What is all this but an accusing the scripture of imperfection, as if God had not laid down a sufficient rule to teach us how we may glorify him : as if they were ashamed of simple scripture-worship, but they must deck it up in the whorish garments made by their own brains ? God has a special zeal for his worship; and it becomes us to quicken our zeal for it, in a time when enemies are bringing in innovations in worship into this church, and setting up their Dagon beside the ark. But though God should, for our contempt of our pure worship, plague the land with this superstitious worship once more, yet as sure as Babylon shall fall, it shall fall and flee before the glory of the latter days.
6. Lastly, Be exhorted to study the holy scriptures. Read them in your families, and read them in secret, and cry for the Holy Spirit, who dictated them, to make you understand them. Lock them not up in your chests, and let them not lie dusty in your windows, as too many do to their shame and disgrace, lest the dust of them witness against you. Prefer the Bible to all other books, as the book whereof God himself is the author. Prize and esteem ir, as shewing you the way to salvation, as a lamp to your feet, and a light to your paths.
THE SCOPE OF THE SCRIPTURES.
1 Tim. 1. 13.-Hold fast the form of sound words-in faith
IN these words there is, (1.) The character of scripture
doctrine ; it is sound words; sound and pure in itself, and sound in its effects, being of a soul-healing virtue, Ezek. xlvii. 9. (2.) The sum of it, faith, shewing what we are to believe; and love, what we are to do, 1 John v. 3. John xiv. 15. This love has a particular relation to Christ, all our obedience being to be offered unto God through him, as our faith fixes on God through him. This was what the apostle preached. (3.) Our duty with respect to it; to hold fast the form of sound words. This signifies, [1.] To have a pattern of the doctrine in our minds, to which all that ministers teach must be comformable. (2.) To hold it fast; to cleave to, and keep hold of it, without flinching from it, whatever dangers or difficulties may attend the doing so. Both these senses are implied in the words.
The text affords the following doctrinal proposition. Doct. “ The scriptures principally teach what man is to
believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man." As to the matter of scripture-doctrine,
1. Some things are taught in the scriptures less principally; that is, the main design of the scriptures is not to teach these things; neither are they taught for themselves, but for the respect they have to other things. Thus in the scripture we may learn the knowledge of several natural things, as of the nature of some trees, birds, beasts, &c. of husbandry, the customs of several nations, especially of the Jews, &c. But these and such like things are only taught in the scripture, as having some respect to our faith and obedience. So the vine tree is described, Ezek. xv. to hold forth the uselessness of barren professors, &c. However, whatsoever is taught in the scriptures, seeing the scripture is God's word, is all to be received by divine faith, though all scripture-truths are not of equal importance.
2. The scripture teaches some things chiefly. And these
are faith and obedience. These are the two parts of the doctrine of the Bible. Whatsoever concerns religion, or the salvation of souls, in the Old and New Testament, may be reduced to one of these two heads: It is either an article of faith, or a point of obedience.
Here I shall consider,
1. The nature of faith and obedience, and the connection betwixt the two.
II, The manner of the scripture's teaching.
IV. Shew that the Spirit of God speaking in the scriptures is the supreme judge of controversies in religion.
1. Let us consider the nature of that faith and obedience which the scripture teaches, with the connection betwixt the two.
First, As to faith. Divine faith is a believing of what God has revealed, because God has said it, or revealed it. People may believe scripture-truths, but not with a divine faith, unless they believe it on that very ground, the authority of God speaking in his word. And this divine faith is the product of the Spirit of God in the heart of a sinner, implanting the habit or principle of faith there, and exciting it to a hearty reception and firm belief of whatever God reveals in his word. And the faith which the scripture teaches, is what a man is to believe concerning God.' This may be reduced to four heads: What God is, the persons in the Godhead, the decrees of God relating to every thing that comes to pass, and the execution of them in his works of creation and providence. Now, though the works of creation and providence shew that there is a God, yet that fundamental truth, that God is, and the doctrines relating to the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Divine Essence, God's acts and purposes, the creation of all things, the state of man at his creation, his fall, and his recovery by the mediation and satisfaction of Christ, are only to be learned from the holy scriptures. Hence we may infer,
1. That there can be no right knowledge of God acquired in an ordinary way without the scriptures, Matt. xxij. 29. “ Ye do err (said Christ to the Sadducees), not knowing the scriptures.” As there must be a dark night where the