« EdellinenJatka »
of Heaven, to humble all mankind, and empty them of themselves, that God's grace may be all, and men themselves nothing, but entirely dependent on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ.
6. The full discovery it makes of the way of man's salvation. Who could ever have told of the Son of God his dying for the sins of the elect, and have made a discovery of the way of salvation by faith, which the scripture hath plainly set down?
7. The entire perfection of the scripture; that is, the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture.
There are two ways how matters of faith and life are set down in the scriptures. The one is when the thing is set down expressly in so many words; as the unlawfulness of murder, when it is said,
Thou shalt not kill;' the ordinance of baptism, as in that, 'Go and teach all nations, baptising them,' &c. The other is by good and necessary consequence, which is when the thing itself is not found in the scriptures in so many words, but doth evidently (in itself) and necessarily flow from the express words of scripture, as the baptising of infants is by good and necessary consequence drawn from that, 'Go ye, and baptise all nations.'
Here I shall first prove, that, besides what is to be found in express words in the scriptures, good and necessary consequences deduced therefrom are also to be admitted, as truly binding as what is declared in express words there, whether in fundamentals or in such things as are built on the foundation. If one can prove any thing by good and necessary consequence from the scripture, it is all one, as to the binding power on men's consciences, as if it were expressly set down in so many words.
(1.) Good and necessary consequences are such as the word is designed for. What is deduced from them, so is indeed the sense and meaning of the words; and if you have the words without the meaning of them, or without the full meaning of them, in so far ye come short of the true intent of the words. If I bid a man draw near the fire, do I not desire him to warm himself, though I speak not one word of his warming himself? Were not the scriptures written for that end, that we through patience and comfort of them might have hope ?' Rom. Xv. 4. But this cannot be obtained without the use of consequences. Are they not profitable for doctrine,—that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works?' 2 Tim. iii. 16. But can this be had without the use of consequences ?
(2.) The great fundamental article, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, before the New Testament was written, could not be proved to the Jews by express scripture testimony, but by good and necessary consequence; yet Christ tells them that there could be no salvation for them without the belief of this. If ye believe not that I am he (the Messiah),' says he,'ye shall die in your sins.' John viii. 24.
(3.) Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, while he would prove the fundamental article of the resurrection against the Sadducces, does not seek after a text that said in express words, that the dead shall rise again, but proves it by good consequence, yet no less firmly than if he had produced an express text for it, Matth. xxii. 32. And it is no less evident that the apostles follow him in this method; as in treating of the resurrection of Christ, Acts ii. 25. of the resurrection of all mankind, 1 Cor. xv. and of the justification of a sinner before God, in the epistles to the Romans and Galatians.
(4.) Such as reject all arguing from scripture by consequences, must either confess that by no scripture this way is condemned, or else they must adduce some express scripture text forbidding it. The last they can never do. If they say the first, then it is approved; otherwise the scripture is no perfect rule of faith and practice, which we shall immediately shew to be false.
If they say that the scripture leaves it indifferent, then I ask, how dare they condemn it?
(5.) Refusing to admit good and necessary consequences from scripture, overturns all religion, both law and gospel, faith and practice. For how shall it be proved, that John or James are obliged to obey the law, and believe the gospel but by consequence ? where will they find an express text for these? Only the law speaks to all, the gospel to every hearer of it, and consequently they oblige thee and me. This way, then, of any doctrine its being set down in the scripture being admitted, we are to prove next.
That the scriptures are a perfect rule of faith and manner; or that the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down therein, &c.
1. God hath expressly forbidden to add any thing unto his word; therefore it needs no addition, and so is perfect Dent. iv. 2. 'Ye shall not add unto the word that I command you.' Consider what ye speak of; even of statutes and judgments; statutes, ceremonies, and rites of worship; even to these he will have nothing added. So we have all additions prohibited, Prov. xxx. 6; and that under a severe penalty, Rev. xxii. 18.
2. The law of the Lord is perfect,' as is expressly asserted, Psal. xix. 8. There it is said of it, (1.) it converts the soul; (2.) makes wise the simple ; (3.) rejoiceth the heart; and (4.) enlightens the eyes. The apostle plainly asserts the perfection of it, while he tells us, 2 Tim. iii. 15. that it is able to make a man wise unto salvation.' How can it be so, unless it teach all things necessary to salvation? It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, &c. What can be desired more? And that ye may be sure there is nothing wanting in it, he tells you, it is given for that purpose, 'that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.' So Christ saith, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them,' Luke xvi. 29.; clearly importing, that in them is contained what is sufficient to salvation.
3. Consider the end for which the scriptures were written, even 'that believing men may have life,' John xx. 31.; that 'through patience and comfort of the scriptures they might have hope,' Rom. xv. 4. If any thing necessary to salvation were not in them, how would they answer the end for which they were written?
4. The Lord Jesus taught his disciples all that he had heard of the Father, viz. necessary to their salvation, John xv. 15. He commissions them to teach all others, even to the end of the world, what he commanded them, Matth. xxviii. 20. But this they could not do viva voce; therefore they did it in their writings. And whoso considers how exact the apostles were of teaching things of lesser moment, as what day the collection for the poor should be made, &c. cannot think they would neglect any thing necessary to salvation, unless they could not through ignorance or forgetfulness; neither of which can be imputed to them in their writings, being led by the Spirit of God infallibly.
5. The nature of the scriptures teaches us their perfection. For if they be not perfect they cannot be a rule; for a rule must always be commensurable to the thing to be regulated. They are Christ's testament, to which nothing is to be added, being confirmed.
I shall now deduce some inferences from this subject.
1. The holy penmen of the scriptures had a command from God to write, and did not write only occasionally without a command. For that inspiration was an internal command, whereby the Spirit moved them to write, 2 Pet. i. 21.
2. The penmen of the scriptures were infallible in their writing, so that they were not mistaken in any thing, even of the least moment: far less is there any real contradiction among them, being all guided by the same Spirit, who inspired the very words, and kept them from all error, 2 Pet. i. 20, 21.
3. The authority of the scripture in itself, that is, the power it hath to bind the conscience, does not depend on the church, but wholly on God, the author of it. For,
(1.) The church is built upon the scriptures, Eph. ii. 20. Upon tho foundation of the prophets and apostles. This foundation is not personal; 'for other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ:' but it is doctrinal, the doctrine of the prophets and apostles. Now, it is clear, that the superstructure depends on the foundation, not the foundation on it.
(2.) If the authority of the scriptures depended on the church, then they behoved first of all to believe the authority of the church without the scriptures, and our faith should be built upon human testimony, which is fallible; but we believe the church for the scriptures, and no otherwise, Isa. viii. 20. and human testimony cannot found divine faith.
(3.) Whence can any prove that the church is to be believed but from the scripture ? and then to say, that the scriptures must be believed for the church's testimony, is a circle unworthy of men of
(4.) Either the church had reason to receive the scriptures or not. If they had no reason to receive them, they have as little reason to impose them on others. If they had, what was it, but that it was truth, and worthy to be received? Therefore their testimony does not make it truth, or worthy to be believed and obeyed.
(5.) The scripture is God's own word, 2 Tim. iii. 16. How blasphemous is it then to deny faith unto God in the scriptures, while he speaks to us in them, unless the testimony of men give authority to his word? This is as much as to say, that God hath his authority from the church, and that he ought not to be believed or obeyed, unless the church commanded it; which is most blasphemous. Of this blasphemy is the church of Rome guilty, who roundly assert that the authority of tho scripture depends on the church. I shall only add, that this is the high way to keep Christians off from convincing Turks, Pagans, and Jews, as to the New Testament, while we tell them that the authority of the scripture, wherein our religion is laid down, depends on the church, and that the scriptures are true, because the church says it.
4. The authority of the scripture as to us is not from the church, but from itself; that is, the reason why we receive the scripture as the word of God, it is not because the church says it is so, but because it evidences itself to be so. For as God's works do themselves tell their Maker, so his word declares the Speaker; so that a spiritual discerner must needs say, on the reading of it, though none
should recommend, it is the voice of God, not of men. discern an unlearned man's letter from that of a learned man? and doth not God's word bear a divine character? It is a light, a lamp, &c. the nature of which is to discover itself. Thus there is objective evidence enough in the scripture; though indeed the subjective evidence cannot be had but by the Spirit of God; so that to him bearing witness by and with the word, we owe the full assurance that it is God's word, 1 Cor. ii. 10, 14. And this is the reason why great scholars may be less persuaded of this truth, than the most unlearned peasants ; because, though the sun discovers itself sufficiently, yet blind men cannot see it.
Now, that the inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word, I shall prove by the following arguments.
1. The scripture makes this inward illumination of the Spirit of God necessary for understanding the scriptures, while it ascribes the same wholly unto the Spirit, Matth. xvi. 17. 'Flesh and blood hath not revealed it, [Christ's being the Son of the living God] unto thee, but my father which is in heaven;' 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, 12. 'God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth
. the things of a man, save the Spirit of man which is in hini? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.' If the Spirit of God take the same unto himself as his own proper work, how can any arrogate it to themselves, as if by the power of nature they were able for it?
2. There is an utter inability in man by nature to know savingly the things of God. They are above his capacity while he remains in his natural state, and nothing can act beyond the sphere of its activity. This is plain from 1 Cor. ii. 14. where not only the act of receiving them is denied to natural men, but the very power of discerning them; and the reason is given, because they are spiritually discerned,' and he wants the organ of discerning spiritually. And this discerning is appropriated to the spiritual man, ver. 15. Had not the Israelites in the wilderness very great external helps to gain the knowledge of the things of God, Deut. xxix.? but all was ineffectual. What was the want then? See ver. 4. ^ The Lord hath not given you (says Moses, to them) an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear.'
3. If it were not the spiritual illumination that gave this saving understanding of the things of God, then the greatest adepts in