CHAP. VIII. Of the Properties of the Scripture.
THe properties which the Scripture must have for the former end, are these:
- 1. Of Divine Authority.
- 2. True and Certain.
- 3. The rule of Faith and Manners.
- 4. Necess•ry.
- 5. Pure and Holy.
- 6. Sufficient and Perfect.
- 7. Perspicuous and Plain.
1. Its of Divine Authority, d we must believe it for its own sake. It is Divine.
1. In its Efficient cause and Original, which is God the Father dictating, in his Son declaring and publishing, by his holy Spirit confirming and sealing it in the hearts of the faithful. He wrote the Decalogue immediately with his own finger, and commanded the whole Systeme, and all the parts of Scripture, to be written by his servants the Prophets and Apostles, as the publique Actuaries and Pen-men thereof; therefore the authority of the Scripture is as great as that of the Holy Ghost, e who did dictate both the matter and words: Those speeches are frequent, The Lord said, and, The mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
2. In the subject matter, which is truth according to godliness, certain, power∣ful, of venerable antiquity, joyned with a sensible demonstration of the Spirit, and Divine presence, and with many other things attesting its Divine Au∣thority.
Whence it follows, that the Authority of the Holy Scriptures is
- 1. Infallible, f which expresseth the minde and will of God, to whom truth is essential and necessary.
- 2. Supreme and Independent into which at last all faith is resolved, from which it is not lawful to appeal.
By which singular authority the Scripture is distinguished, both from all pro∣phane and Sacred writings, and Paul honors it with this Elogie, A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, 1 Tim. 1. 15. A more sure word, 2 Pet. 1. 19. the Com∣parative for the Superlative, in which there is no doubting and uncertainty, but all things firm.
As God is Iehovah of himself, so is his word Authoritative of it self, and is true and to be obeyed, whether thou think it Scripture or no. There is no higher au∣thority for thee to appeal to, it is above opinions of men, conscience, and there∣fore it must determine all controversies.
Page 822. It is true g and certain, verity is affirmed of the Scriptures primarily, inter∣ternally, and by reason of it self, which is called the truth of the object; which is an absolute and most perfect agreement of all things delivered in the Scripture, with the first truth or divine will, of which the Scripture is a symbole and lively image, so that all things are delivered in it as the Holy Ghost hath dictated, whence those honorable Titles are given to it, the Scripture is called A sure word, 2 Pet. 1. 19. Psal. 19. 7. The Scripture of truth, Dan. 10. ult. words of truth, Eccles. 1•. 10▪ Yea, truth it self, Iohn 17. 17. having the God of truth for the Author, Christ Je∣sus the truth for the witness, the Spirit of truth for the Composer of it, and it worketh truth in the hearts of those which hear it, 2 Pet. 2. 2. The Apostle prefers the Scripture, before the revelation made by Angels, Gal. 1. 8. Christ commend• the certainty of it above all other sorts of revelation, 1 Pet. 1. 19. above informa∣tion from the dead, Luke 16. 31.
The word of God is not onely true, but eminently true, truth it self, Prim• veritas, and purahveritas.
The Scripture hath a twofold truth:
- 1. Of assection, it containeth no error.
- 2. Of promise, there is no unfaithfulness in it.
The first truth refer▪ to the matter which is signified, properly called Truth o• Verity.
The second refers to the in•ention of the Speaker, which is properly called vera∣city or fidelity, the latter is implyed, Psal. 19. Thy Testimonies are sure, and so th• sure mercies of David; the former is implyed, in that the word is purer then gold seven times refined.
There are two signs of truth in the Scripture:
- 1. The particularity of it, it names particulars in geneolagies, dolosus versat•r in generalibus.
- 2. Impartiality toward friends and their adversaries; the most holy men have their faults described, they give due commendation to their adversaries.
The truth of Scripture is, 1. More then any humane truth of sense or reason. 2. Above all natural reason; as the Doctrine of the Trinity, the •ncarnation of Christ, Justification by faith in Christ. 3. A truth which evidenceth it self. 4. The standard of all truth, nothing is true in Doctrine or Worship, which is not agree∣able to this.
3. The Scripture is the rule of faith and manners. It is termed Canonical ge∣nerally by the Fathers of the word Canon,i which signi•ieth a rule, because it con∣tains a worthy rule of Religion, faith and godliness, according whereunto the building of the house of God must be fitted.
These properties (saith Suarez) are required in a rule. 1. That it be known and easie, the Scripture is a light. 2. That it be first in its kinde, and •o the measure of all the rest. 3. It must be inflexible. 4. Universal.
1. It is a perfect rule of faith and obedience, able to instruct us sufficiently in all points of faith or doctrinals, which we are bound to believe, and all good duties or practicals, which we are bound to practise. Whatsoever is needful to be∣lieve or to do to please God, and save our souls, is to be found here; whatsoever Page 83 is not here found, is not needful to beleive and practise for felicity.
Christ proveth the resurrection of the dead, being an Article of our faith a∣gainst the Sadduces, Mat. 22. 32. and the use of the Sabbath being a rule of life against the Pharisees, by an inference made from the Scripture, Mat. 12. 7.
The heads of the Creed and Decalogue, are plainly laid down in Scripture, therefore there we have a perfect rule of faith and manners.
It is a rule, 1. For Faith. Ierome in his controversie with Helvidius saith, Credi∣mus*quia legimus, non credimus quia non legimus. We believe because we read, we do not believe because we do not read. Christ often saith, Have ye not read, is it not written, what is written in the Law? Luke 10. 26. Faith and the word of God must run parallel. This we first believe, when we do k believe (saith Tertullian) that we ought to believe nothing beyond Scripture. When we say all matters of Doctrine and Faith are contained in the Scripture, we understand as the Ancient Fathers did, not that all things are literally and verbally contained in the Sripture, but that all are either expressed therein, or by necessary consequence may be drawn from thence. All controversies about Religion are to be decided by the Scripture, Deut. 12. 32. and 4. 2. Iosh. 1. 7. Franciscus de Salis a Popish Bishop, saith, The Go∣spel was honored so much, that it was brought into the Councel, and set in the midst of them, and to determine matters of faith, as if Christ had been there.
Erasmus in his Epistles, tells us of a Dominican, that when in the Schools any man refuted his conclusion, by shewing it contrary to the words of Scripture, he would cry out, Ista est argumentatio Lutherana, protestor me non responsurum, This is a Lutheran way of arguing, I protest I will not answer to it.
2. It is a perfect rule for our lives and practice Psal. 19. 11. and lPsal. 119. 9. In Scriptures there are delivered remedies against all vices, and means are there laid down for the attaining of all vertues. We must follow the Scriptures exactly, and not swerve to the right hand or left; a metaphor taken from a way or rule, saith Chamier. When Linacer a learned English man, heard the beginning of the 5 of Matthew read, Blessed are the poor in spirit, &c. he broke forth into these words, Either these sayings are not Christs, or we are not Christians.
- 1. It is a perfect, not a partial and insufficient rule, as the Papists make it: As God is a perfect God, so his word is a perfect word; if it be but a partial rule, then it doth not perfectly direct, and he that should perfectly do the will of God revealed in Scripture, should not yet be perfect. Secondly, if the Scripture be a partial rule, then men are bound to be wise above that which is written; that is, above the Law and Gospel. Regula fidei debet esse adaequata fidei, aut regula non erit. Whitakerus.
- 1. All addition and detraction are forbidden to be made by any man to the word, Deut. 4. 2. and 12. 32. Deut. 5. 32. Gal. 1. 8.
- 2. The Scripture is said to be perfect, to beget heavenly and saving wisdom, Psal. 19. 8. 2 Tim. 3. 15, 16, 17.
- 3. Men in the matter of Faith m and Religion are sent to the Scripture onely.
- 2. The Scripture is an infallible rule, Luke 1. 4. of which thou hast had a full assent. Regula rectè definitur mensura infallibilis quae nullam vel additionem vel detractionem patitur.
- 3. It is a just rule.
Lastly, It is an universal and perpetual rule, both in regard of time and person; ever since the Scripture hath been, it hath been the onely rule: in the Old Testa∣ment, to the Law and the Testimony; in the New, they confirmed all things by the Old, it directs in every case. 2. To all persons, this is able to make a Minister, yea, a Councel, a Church wise to salvation; to reform a yong man whose lusts a•e unbridled, Psal. 119. 9. to order a King, Deut.n 17. 29, 30.
Object. Faith was before the Scripture, therefore the Scripture is not the rule of Faith.
Answ. The word of God is twofold. 1. Revealed, that preceded faith. 2. Writ∣ten, that did not.
Though it be a rule, yet first, it doth not exclude other Ministerial helps, as Prayer, Preaching, the knowledge of the Tongues, and the Ministery of the Church, these are means to use the rule, and subordinate to it, we need no more rules: Therefore it is a vain and absurd question of the Papists, Let a man be lockt up in a study with a Bible, what good will he get by it if he cannot read?
2. There must be reason and judgement to make use of it, and apply it: Iudge What I say, saith Paul, 1 Cor. 10. 15.
The Scripture should rule our hearts, thoughts, and inward cogitations, our words and actions; we should pray, hear, receive the Sacrament according to the directions of it, buy, sell, cloathe our selves, and carry our selves toward all, as that bids us, 2 Sam. 22. 23. the people of God wrote after this copy, followed this rule, Psal. 119. 5, 59, 111. because they desired in all which they did to please God (now God is pleased when his own will is done) and to glorifie him in their lives, and therefore they framed themselves according to his statutes. We cannot better express an high esteem of God and his excellencies, then by following him in all things. Every one esteems that person most excellent, to whom he gives up himself most to be ruled and ordered.
The Scripture is necessary.
In respect of the substance thereof it was always necessary; in respect of the manner of revealing it is necessary, since the time that it pleased God after that manner to deliver his word, and shall be to the worlds end. It is not then ab∣solutely and simply necessary, that the word of God should be delivered to u• in writing, but onely conditionally, and upon supposition. God for a long time, for the space of 2400 years, unto the time of Moses, did instruct his Church with an immediate living voyce▪ and had he pleased still to go on in that way, there had been no necessity of Scripture now, more then in that age; there was a continual presence of God with them, but now there is a perpetual absence in that way; and the word of God was written.
- 1. For the brevity of mans life. See the 5 & the 11 Chapters of Genesis. The Patriarchs were long lived before and after the flood, to the times of Moses; they lived some centuries of years, therefore afterward the purity of the word could not fitly be preserved without writing. By writing we have the comfort of the holy word of God, which from writing receiveth his denomination, in being cal∣led Scripture, which is nothing else but Writingo.
- 2. That the Church might have a certain and true rule and Canon, whereby it might judge of all questions, doubts and controversies of Religion, Luke 1. 4. Eve∣ry mans opinion else would have been a Bible, and every mans lust a Law.
- 3. That the faith of men in Christ which was to come, might the better be con∣firmed, when they should see that written before their eyes, which was done by the M•ssias, and see all things that were foretold of him, verified in the event.
- 4. That the purity of Gods worship might be preserved from corruption, and the truth propagated among all Nations.
- 5. To take off excuses from men, that they did not know, Rom. 10. 18. Civil Laws are written and published that offenders may be inexcusable.
The Pen-men had a command from God. 1. A publike and outward command, as Ieremie 30. 2. and 36. 2. Moses, Exod. 17. 14. and 34. 17. and Iohn was command∣ed twelve times in the Revelation to write, Rev. 1. 11. and 2. 1. 8. 12, 18. and Page 85 3. Ch. 1. 7. and 14. and 14. 13. and 19. v. 9. & 21. 5. 2. an inward command by private inspiration and instinct, 2 Pet, 1. 21.
5. The Scripture is Pure and Holy, it commands all good, and forbids, reproves, and condemns all sin and p filthiness; it restrains not onely from evil words and actions, but thoughts, glances. Those are frequent adjuncts of the word of •od, holy, pure, and clean, Psal. 12. 6. and 18. 31. and 119. 40. Prov. 30. 5. It is pure in its narrations, it speaks purely of things evil and unclean.
It is termed holy, qRom. 1. 2. and 2 Tim. 3. 15. 1. From its efficient principal cause, God who is the holy of holies, holiness it self, Isa. 6. 3. Dan. 9. 24, he is the author and inditer of it, Luke 1. 67. 2. In regard of the instrumental cause, the Pen-men of it were holy men, 2 Pet 1. 21. Prophets and Apostles. 3. From its mat∣ter, the holy will of God, Acts 20. 27. the Scripture contains holy and Divine Mysteries, holy precepts of life, holy promises, Psal. 105. 42. holy Histories. 4. From its end or effect, the holy Ghost by the reading and meditation of the Scripture sanctifieth us, Iohn 17. 17. it sanctifieth likewise all the creatures to our use, so as we may use them with a good conscience, 1 Tim. 4. 5.
From the purity r of it, the Scripture is compared to a glass, Iames 1. 23. to fire, Ier. 23. 29. to light, Psal. 119. 105. The reason of it is, because God himself is pure, most pure, Psal. 92. ult. Hab. 1. 13.
It is pure. 1. Subjectively in it self, there is no mixture of falshood or error, no corruption or unsoundness at all in it, Psal. 12. 6. Prov. 8. 6, 7, 8. 2. Effectively, so as to make others pure, Iohn 15, 3. It begets grace, Iames 1. 18. 1 Pet. 1. 23. and preserves and increaseth it. Acts 20. 32. Ephes. 4. 11, 12.
The assertory part is pure; what it affirms to be, is; and what it denies to be, is not; Psal. 19. 7. and 93. 5. Iames 1. 18. 2. What it promiseth shall be performed, and what it threatneth shall be executed, Numb. 23. 19. 1 Sam.•. 30. Zach, 1. 6. 3 What it commandeth is good, and what it forbiddeth is evil. Deut. 4. 8. Psal. 119. 108. and 19. 8, 9. Rom. 7. 12.
In other Books some truth is taught, some good commmended, some kinde or* part of happiness promised: But in the inspired Oracles of God, all truth is taught, all goodness commanded, all happiness promised; nay, we may invert the words with Hugo de sancto victore, and say, Quicquid ibi docetur est veritas, quicquid pr•∣cipitur bonitas, quicquid promit•itur felicitas. All that is there taught is truth, all that is there commanded is goodnesse, all that is there promised is happinesse.
It is a wonderful thing, that all the particulars which the Canticles contain, be∣ing taken from marriage, s are handled so sincerely, that no blemish or spot can be found therein.
Therefore the Scriptures should be preached, read and heard with holy t affecti∣ons, and should be reverently mentioned.
The Jews in their Synagogues will not touch the Bible with unwashed hands, they kiss it as often as they open and shut it, they sit not on that seat where it is laid, and if it fall on the ground, they fast for a whole day. The Turk writes up∣on the outside of his Alcorar, Let no man touch this Book, but he that is pure: I would none might meddle with ours (Alcoran signifieth but the Scripture, you need not be afraid of the word) but such as indeed are, what other men do but think themselves.
6. The Scripture is Perfectu.
The perfection of the Scripture is considered two ways:
Page 861. In respect of the matter or the Books in which the holy doctrine was written,* all which (as many as are useful to our salvation) have been kept inviolable in the Church, so that out of them one most perfect and absolute Canon of faith and life was made, and this may be called the integrity of the Scripture.
2. In respect of the form, viz. Of the sense or meaning of these Canonical Books, or of Divine truth comprehended in them, which Books contain most fully and perfectly the whole tru•h necessary and sufficient for the salvation of the Elect, and therefore the Scriptures are to be esteemed a sole adequate, total and perfect measure and rule both of faith and manners, and this is the sufficiency of the Scriptures, which is attributed to it in a twofold respect.
1. Absolutely in it self, and that in a threefold consideration. 1. Of the princi∣ple; for every principle, whether of a thing or of knowledge, ought to be* perfect, since demonstration and true conclusions are not deduced from that which is imperfect, therefore it is necessary that the holy Scripture, being the first onely immediate principle of all true doctrine, should be most perfect.
2. Of the subject, for it hath all Essential parts, matter and form, and integral, Law and Gospel, and is wholly perfect: Both
1. Absolutely, because for the substance, it either expresly or Analogically con∣tains the doctrine concerning faith and manners, which is communicable and pro∣fitable for us to know; which may be proved also by induction, that all necessary opinions of faith, or precepts of life, are to be found in the holy Sc•ipture.
2. Relatively, because as it hath a perfection of the whole, so of the parts in the* whole; that perfection is called essential, this quantitative. For all the Books are sufficient with an essential perfection, although integrally they have not a suf∣ficiency of the whole, but onely their own, yet so that at distinct times every part sufficed for their times; but all the parts in the whole are but sufficient for us.
3. In its effect and operation it makes men perfect, 2 Tim. 3. 16, 17. Rom. 15. 4. Iohn 2. ult. & 5. 39.
2. As opposed to unwritten. Traditions, all which it excludes by its sufficiency; but we do not understand by Traditions generally a Doctrine delivered in Word and Writing; but specially all Doctrine not written by Prophets or Apostles, whe∣ther Dogmatical. Historical or Ceremonial; for a perfect reason of the primary opinions belonging to Faith and Manners, is delivered in Scripture; and those things which are out of, beside, or against the Scripture, do not binde the Conscience. 2. Historical, the Sayings and Deeds of Christ and the Apostles, are perfectly contained in the Scriptures, as many as suffice us for our salvation, Iohn 20. 30, 31. Those things which are delivered out of Scripture are to be esteemed mans writings. 3. Ceremonial or secondary opinions concerning Ecclesiastical Rites and Customs are for Essentials, Substantials and Fundamentals, generally contained in the word of God; the accidentals, accessaries, and circumstantials are free and mutable. If Traditions agree with the Scripture they are confirmed by it; if they oppose it, they are disproved by it.
The perfection of the Scriptures is not,
First, Infinite and unlimitted: That is an incommunicable property of God▪ every thing which is from another as the efficient cause, is thereby limitted both for the nature and qualities thereof.
Secondly, we do not understand such a perfection as containeth all and singular such things as at any time have been by Divine inspiration revealed to holy men▪ and by them delivered to the Church of what sort soever they were; for all the Sermons of the Prophets, of Christ and his Apostles, are not set down in so many Page 87 words as they used in the speaking of them; for of twelve Apostles, seven wrote* nothing, which yet preached, and did many things; neither are all the deeds of Christ and his Apostles written, for that is contradicted, Iohn 20. 30, 31. and 21. 25. but we mean onely a Relative perfection, which for some certain ends sake agreeth to the Scripture as to an instrument, according to which it perfectly comprehend∣eth all things which have been, are, or shall be necessary for the salvation of the Church.
Thirdly, The several Books of Scripture are indeed perfect, for their own par∣ticular ends, purposes, and uses, for which they were intended of the Lord; but yet not any one Book is sufficient to the common end; the whole Scripture is com∣pleat in all the parts thereof, one speaking of that which another doth wholly pass over in silence, one clearly delivering what was intric•te in another. Paul speaks much of Justification, and Predestination in the Epistle to the Romans, nothing of the Eucharist or Resurrection
Fourthly, Since God did reveal his will in writing those writings which by divine hand and providence were extant in the Church, were so sufficient for the Church in that age, that it needed not Tradition, neither was it lawful for any humane wight to adde thereto, or take therefrom; but when God did reveal more unto it, the former onely was not then sufficient without the latter.
Fifthly, The holy Scripture doth sufficiently contain and deliver all doctrines which are necessary for us to eternal salvation, both in respect of faith and good works, and most of these it delivereth to us expresly, and in so many words and* the rest by good and necessary consequence. The Baptism of Infants, and the consubstantiality of the Father and of the Son, are not in those words expressed in Scripture, yet is the truth of both clearly taught in Scripture, and by evident proof may thence be deduced: That Article of Christs descent into Hell, totidem verbis, is not in the Scripture, yet it may be deduced thence, Acts. 2 27. Some Papists hold, That we must not use the principles of Reason or Consequences in Divini∣ty, and require▪ that what we prove be exprest in so many words in scripture▪ These are opposed by Vedelius in his Rationale Theologicum, l▪ 1. c. 3. 4, 5. 8. and l. 2 c. 5. 6. and also by Daillè in his Book entituled, La•foy fondee sur les Sainctes Es∣critures, 1 Partie, He shews there, That Christ and his Apostles, and the Ancient Fathers in disputing against their Adversaries, used consequences drawn from the scripture, Mat. 12. 32. Acts 17. 2. 3. and 18, 23. Acts 17. 3. opening and alledging. St Luke there useth two words very proper for this subject; the first signifies to open, the other to put one thing neer another, to shew that the Apostle proved his conclusions by the scriptures, in clearing first the prophecies, and in shewing the true sense, and after in comparing them with the events; the figures with the things, and the shadows with the body, where the light of the truths of the Go∣spel of it self shined forth, Mat. 22. 29, 31, 32. He blames them for not having learned the Resurrection of the dead by this sentence of the scripture; therefore they ought to have learned it: Now the sentence which he alledgeth, saith nothing formally and expresly of the Resurrection of the dead, but infers it from what he had laid down, Hic Dominum uti principiis rationis & naturae adeo manifestum est, ut ne Veronius quidem Magister Artis negandi, negare illud possit, Vedel. Rat. Theol. l.•. c. 6. vide plura ibid. &c. 5.
The Ancient Fathers prove by consequences drawn from scripture, that God the Father is without beginning, against the Sabellians; and that the Son is consub∣stantial with the Father, against the Arrians; that Christ hath two Natures, against the Eutychians. The Papists will not be able to prove their Purgatory, and many other of their corrupt opinions by the express words of Scripture.
We shall now lay down some Propositions or Theoremes about the sufficiency of Scripture:
Page 88First, In every Age of the Church, the Lord hath revealed so much supernatural* truth as was for that age necessary unto salvation, his wayes he made known to Moses, Psal. 103. 7. and his statutes to Israel, Deut. 4. 6. Psal. 147. 20. Heb. 1. 1. Therefore that is an erroneous opinion, that before the Law written men were sa∣ved by the Law of nature, and in the time of the Law by the Law of Moses, and since in the time of the Gospel by the Word of grace.
Secondly, The substance of all things necessary to salvation, ever since the fall of Adam hath been, and is one and the same, as the true Religion hath been one and unchangeable.
1. The knowledge of God and Christ is the summe of all things necessary to sal∣vation, Ioh. 17. 3. Col. 2. 2. but this knowledge was ever necessary, Ier. 9. 23. Act. 4. 12. the fathers indeed saw Christ more obscurely and aenigmatically, we more clearly, di∣stinctly and perspicuously, but yet they knew him and believed in him unto salvati∣on,* as well as we, Ioh. 8. 56.
2. The Covenant of grace which God made with man is an everlasting Cove∣nant, therein the Lord hath revealed himself to be one and unchangeable; as in nature so in will, Heb. 13. 8. Rom. 3. 29. shewing that as God is one in nature, truth and constancy, and that as well toward the Gentiles as toward the Jews, so he would justifie both the Circumcision and Uncircumcision, the Jew and the Gen∣tile by one way of Religion; that is to say, through faith and belief in his Sonne Jesus Christ.
3. Christ and his Apostles professed and taught no new Religion, but the same which the Scriptures of the Old Testament did before instruct, Matth. 5. 17. Iohn 5. 39. Acts 10. 43. Luke 24. 25, 26, 27, 44, 45. Acts 18. 28. and 17. 7. and 26. 22. and 28. 23. Rom. 6. 26. Therefore the believing Jews and the converted Gentiles are stiled the children of faithfull Abraham, being justified by Faith as Abraham* was. Whence we may conclude, that before, under, and after the Law, since the fall of Adam, there was never but one true Catholick Religion, or way to Heaven and happiness.
Thirdly, The Word of God being uttered in old time sundry wayes, was at length made known by writing; the Lord stirring up, and by his holy Spirit inspiring his servants, to write his will and pleasure.
Fourthly, So long as there was any truth in any Age, necessary to be more fully and clearly known then was already revealed in the Books of Moses, it pleased God to stirre up holy men whom he divinely inspired, and sufficiently furnished to make the Truth known unto the Church; thus after Moses during the time of the Law, the Lord raised up Prophets, who opened the perfect way of life unto the Church of the Old Testament more clearly, then it was before manifested in the Books of Moses, the Time and Age of the Church requiring the same. The Church of the Jews in the several Ages thereof was sufficiently taught, and instructed in all things necessary to Salvation by the writings of Moses and the Prophets, which ap∣pears:
1. In that our Saviour being asked of one, What he should do that he might inherit*eternal life? answered, What is written in the Law and Prophets? How readest thou? Luke 10. 25, 26. and out of the Scripture he declared himself to be the Saviour of the world, fore-told and promised, Matth. 21. 44. and 26. 31. Luk 4. 21. and 24, 25, 26, 27, 44. Ioh. 3. 14.
2. The answer of Abraham to the rich man, sending his friends to Moses and the Prophets, sheweth that they sufficed to instruct the faithful Jews in all things ne∣cessary to Salvation, Luk. 16. 29, 30. by them they might learn how to obtain Life Page 89 and escape Death, when he saith, Let them hear them, he meaneth them only, as that place is meant, Mat. 17. 5.
The Jews themselves acknowledged the sufficiency of those writings, to lead them unto life and happiness, Ioh. 5. 39.
Fifthly, The Prophets did expound the Law of God, and speak more plainly, precisely and distinctly touching the coming of the Messias, then Moses did; but the last full and clear Will of God touching the Salvation of man was not manife∣••ed by them; that was together, and at once to be published and taught by the Messias, who also at his coming did establish that order in the Church of God, which was to continue therein for ever. For
1. Christ was ordained of the Father to be the great Doctor of his Church, a Prophet more excellent then the rest that were before him, both in respect of his Person, Office, Manner of receiving his Doctrine, and the excellency of the Doctrine which he delivered.
3. The time wherein God spake unto us by his Sonne, is called the last dayes or the last time, Heb. 1. 2. 1 Pet. 1. 20. to note that we are not hereafter to expect or look for any fuller or more clear Revelation of Divine Mysteries then that which was then delivered.
4. Christ is called a Mediator of the New Testament, or the New Covenant, Heb. 9. 15. because all things are established by him as they ought to continue for ever; for that which is old decayeth and is ready to vanish, but that which is new abideth, Heb. 8. 13.
5. It pleased the Lord in great wisdom to reveal the Covenant of grace to the Church that she might not despair; but obscurely at the first, that she might earnest∣ly long for the coming of that Messiah, who was to make known what he had heard and seen of the Father, which dispensation was needful, that the grace of God might not be contemned, as haply it would have been, if God had fully re∣vealed and made known his bounty unto man, before he had seen his misery, and the necessity thereof. Our Saviour Christ for substance of Doctrine necessary to Salvation, taught nothing which was not before in some sort contained in the wri∣tings* of Moses and the Prophets, out of whom he confirmed his Doctrine; but that which was in them more obscurely, aenigmatically and briefly, he explained more excellently, fully and clearly; the Apostles proved their Doctrine out of the Book of Moses and the Prophets, Act. 17. 11. and 26. 22. Luke 24. 27. Rom. 1. 2. Act. 28. 23.
Sixthly, All things necessary in that manner as we have spoken, were taught* and inspired to the Apostles by our Saviour Christ, and there were no new in∣spirations after their times; nor are we to expect further hereafter, which we prove,
1. By places of Scripture, Ioh. 14. 26. he that teacheth all things, omitteth no∣thing; Christ said all things to his Apostles, as appears, Iohn 15. 15. and 17. 8. Iohn 16. 13.
2. By reasons drawn from thence, 1. The plentiful pouring forth of the Spirit was deferred till the glorifying of Christ; he being glorified, it was no longer to be delayed; Christ being exalted on the right-hand of God, obtained the Spirit promised, and that was not according to measure, and poured the same in such abundance, as it could be poured forth and received by men, so that was fulfilled which was fore-told by Ioel 2. 28. Acts 2. 33. Iohn 3. 34, 35. Acts 2. 16, 17. 2. The Scripture and the Prophecies of the Old Testament do teach and declare, That all Page 90 Divine Truth should fully and at once be manifested by the Messias who is the only Prophet, high-Priest, and King of his Church; there is no other Revelation promi∣sed, none other needful besides that which was made by him, Isa. 11. 9. Act. 3. 23, 24. Ioel 2. 23. Vide Mercerum in loc. therefore the last inspiration was made to the Apostles, and none other to be expected. The Doctrine of the Law and the Pro∣phets did suffice to Salvation; yet it did send the Fathers to expect somewhat more perfect, 1 Pet. 1. 10. but to the preaching of the Gospel nothing is to be added, we are not sent to wait for any clearer vision.
3. So long as any truth needful to be known, was unrevealed or not plainly taught, the Lord did stir up some Prophet or other, to teach the same unto the Church; ther∣fore the Lord surceasing to speak since the publishing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the delivery of the same in writing, is unto us a manifest token, that the whole will of God is now brought to light, and that no new Revelation is to be expected.
Our seventh Proposition is, Christ and his Apostles were able to propound and teach by lively voice, that Doctrine which pertains to perfection, Iohn 1. 18. and 11. 11, 32. Iohn 8. 26 and the Apostles perfectly taught all things which are or shall be necessary for the Church, Acts 20. 27. Gal. 1. 7, 8, 9. The Doctrine of repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ, doth summarily contain all things ne∣cessarily to salvation, Act. 5. 31. and 11. 11. but this Doctrine the Apostles preached, Act. 13. 38, 39. Luke 24. 47.
The Word of God is not only Milk for Babes, but strong Meat for men of ripe years, 1 Cor. 3. 1, 2. Heb. 5. 14. and 6. 1, 2. therefore it containeth not only matter of preparation, but of perfection.
Our eighth Proposition is, The summe and substance of that heavenly Doctrine which was taught by the Prophets and Apostles, was by them committed to wri∣ting; the holy Ghost giving them a commandment, and guiding their hands there∣in, that they could not erre, so that the Word preached and written by them is one in substance, both in respect of matter, which is the will and word of God, and in∣ward form, viz. the Divine Truth immediatly inspired, though different in the ex∣ternal form and manner of delivery.
Our ninth Proposition is, That nothing is necessary to be known of Christian over and above that which is found in the Old Testament, which is not clearly an• evidently contained in the Books of the Apostles and Evangelists.
Our last Proposition is, that all things which have been, are, or shall be necessa∣ry to the salvation of the Church to the end of the world, are perfectly contained in the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, long since divinely inspired, writte• and published, and now received by the Church of God, so that no new Revelti∣on or Tradition beside * those inspired, published and comprehended in the Scripture are necessary for the salvation of the Church.
There are three opinions, 1. Of the Papists who altogether deny it. 2. Of the So∣cinians which would have all things expresly contained in Scripture, and if it be •••totidem verbis they reject it. 3. Of the Orthodox, who say it contains all things ex∣presly or by consequence.
Crocius in his Antiweigelius, cap. 1. Quaest. 8. shews, that private Revelation Dreams, Conferences with Angels are not to be desired and expected in matters •• faith, the Canon of the Scripture being now compleat. The Weigelians talk of ••Seculum Spiritus Sancti, as God the Father had his time, the time of the L•• Christ his time, the time of the Gospel; so (say they) the holy Ghost shall ••• his time, when there shall be higher dispensations, and we shall be wiser then the Apostles. See Mat. 24. 14. and 28. 20. 1 Cor. 11. 26. See Mr Gillesp. Miscel. c. 10.
Some say the Scriptures are but for the training up of Christians during their ••∣nority (as Grammar rules for boyes) and are not able to acquaint the soul •• the highest discoveries of God and truth. And most corruptly they serve themsel••• with that expression of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 13. 11. This Glasse (say they) is ••• Scriptures; through which we see something of God indeed (whilst we are ••••∣dren in understanding) but very obscurely and brokenly; and therefore (say the•••Page 91 if ye would discern of God clearly, and see him as he is, ye must break the Glasse, and look quite beyond Scriptures; when ye become men ye must put away these childish things. Blow at the Root, p. 82, 83.
The expresse testimonies of Scripture, forbidding even Angels to adde* any thing to those things which are commanded by the Lord, do prove the perfection of the Scripture, Deut. 4. 5, 12. and 12. 32. and 30. 10. and 5. 12, 13, 14. and 28. 58. Ioshua 1. 7, 8. Prov. 30. 5. wherefore the Apostle commands, That no man presume above that which is written, 1 Cor. 4. 6. 2 Tim. 3. 15, 16. Divers rea∣sons may be drawn from this last place to prove the perfection of the Scri∣pture.
2. The Scriptures are able to make the man of God, that is the Minister of the Word, perfect and compleat unto every work of his Ministery, whether it be by teaching true Doctrine, or confuting false, by exhorting and putting forward to that which is good, or dehorting from that which is evil.
Paul would not have us think that all and every writing, viz. of Plato, Aristo∣tle, is divinely inspired, for in ver. 15. he not only useth the plural number, calling them the holy writings; thereby to note the word of God, and not one sentence or Book, but all the sentences and Books of the Scripture, and also useth the Article, which hath force of an universal note, therefore the Greek words, the whole Scripture, signifieth the whole altogether, and not every part severally in this place. 2. No one part of holy Scripture is able to make the Minister perfect, therefore it must needs be understood of the whole body of holy Scripture, wherein this sufficiency is to be found. The Ancient Fathers and other Divines, have from this place proved the perfection and sufficiency of the Scripture in all things necessary to salvation.
We do not reason thus (as the Papists charge us) it is profitable, therefore it is sufficient; but because, 1. The Scripture is profitable for all these b ends (viz. to teach sound Doctrine, to refute false opinions, to instruct in holy life, and correct ill manners) therefore it is sufficient; c or it is profitable to all those functions of the Ministery, that a Minister of the Church may be perfect; therefore much more for the people. Argumentum non nititur unica illa voce (utilis) sed toto sententiae complexu. Chamierus.
Hitherto of the perfection of the Scripture absolutely considered, now follows the sufficiency thereof in opposition to unwritten traditions or verities, as the Papists speak.
D Davenant premiseth these things for the better understanding of the sufficien∣cy* of the Scripture.
1. We speak of the state of the Church (saith he) in which God hath ceased to speak to men by the Prophets or Apostles divinely inspired, and to lay open new Revelations to his Church.
2. We grant that the Apostles living and preaching, and the Canon of the New Testament being not yet sealed, their Gospel delivered Viva Voce, was no lesse a rule of Faith and Worship, then the writings of Moses and the Prophets.
3. We do not reject all the traditions d of the Church; for we embrace certain Historical and Ceremonial ones; but we deny that opinions of faith or precepts of Page 92 worship can be confirmed by unwritten traditions.
4. We call that an opinion of Faith; to speak properly and strictly, when a Pro∣position is revealed by God, which exceeds the capacity of nature, and is pro∣pounded to be believed, as necessary to be known to Salvation. Fundamentall opinions are those which by a usuall and proper name are called Articles of Faith.
5. What is not in respect of the Matter an Article of Faith, may be a Proposition to be believed with a Theological Faith, if you look to the manner of revealing, as that the Sun is a great light, the Moon a lesse, Gen. 1. 16. that Rachel was beautifull, Leah blear-eyed.
The Papists do not cease to accuse the Scripture of imperfectione and insufficiency, as not containing all things necessary to salvation. The Councel of Trent, Sess. 4. de∣cret. 1. saith, That the Truth and Discipline is contained in libris scriptis, & sine scripto traditionibus. The Papists f generally divide the word of God into the word written and traditions. They affirm, that there are many things belonging to Chri∣stian faith, which are neither contained in the Scriptures openly nor secretly. This opinion is maintained by the Papists, but it was not first invented by them. The Jewish Fathers did use the traditions of the Elders, and it hath been said of old, Mark 75. Matth. 5. 21. for their errors and superstitions, yea, at length they af∣firmed that God gave to Moses in Mount Sinai the Scripture and the Cabala, or a double Law, the one written, the other g unwritten. The Tridentin Fathers, S•s. 4. do command Traditions to be received with the same reverend affection and piety with which we imbrace the Scripture; and because one Bishop in the Councel of Trent refused this, he was excluded. In the mean space, they explain not what those Traditions are which must be so regarded, none of them would ever give us a List and Catalogue of those Ordinances, which are to be defended by the authority of unwritten Traditions, not of the Word committed to writing; onely they affirm in general, whatsoever they teach or do, which is not in the Scripture, that it is to be put into the number of Traditions unwritten. The cause of it self is manifest, That at their pleasure they might thrust what they would upon the Church, under the name of Traditions. Vide Whitak. de Script. contro. Quaest. 6. c. 5. See also Moulins Buckler of Faith, p. 51.
Lindan the Papist was not ashamed to say, That it had been better for the Church, if there had been no Scripture at all, but onely Traditions. For (saith he) we may do well enough with Traditions though we had no Scripture; but could not do well enough with Scripture, though we had no Traditions.
Baldwin saith, a Testament may be either Scriptum or Nuncupativum, set down in writing or uttered by word of mouth. But a Nuncupative Testament, or Will made by word of mouth without writing, must be proved by solemn witnesses. The solemn witnesses of Christs Testament are the Prophets and Apostles. Let Papists, if they can, prove by them, that part of the Testament of Christ is un∣written.
Any indifferent Reader will conceive, that the Scriptures make most for them, who stand most for their Authority and perfection, as all the reformed Divines do, not only affirming, but also confirming, that the Scripture is not only a most per∣fect, but the onely infallible rule of faith, Titus 1. 2. Rom. 3. 4. God cannot lie, and Let God be true, and every man a lier, that is, subject to errour and falshood. Every Page 93 Article of Divine Faith must have a certain and infallible ground, there is none such of supernatural truth but the Scripture.
Because our Adversaries h do contend for Traditions not written hotly and zeal∣ously, against the total perfection of the Scripture, that they might thrust upon us many points (by their own confession) not contained in Scripture; and usurp to themselves irrefragable authority in the Church, it shall not be amisse largely to consider of this matter: And first to enquire of the signification of the words Greek and Latine, which are translated Tradition; and then to come to the matter which is controverted between us and the Papists.
The Greek word signifying Tradition,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which in the New Testament is* used onely in these places, Matth. 15. 2, 3, 6. Mark 7. 3, 5, 8, 9, 13. 1 Cor. 11. 2. Gal. 1. 14. Colos 2. 8. 2 Thess. 2. 15. and 3. 6. and in the vulgar Latine is ren∣dred Traditio, Mat. 15. 2, 3, 6. Mark 7. 3, 5, 8, 9, 13. Gal. 1. 14. Col. 2. 6. 2 Thess. 2. 15. and 3. 6. and Praecepta, 1 Cor. 11. 2. Whereto the Rhemists translation (which seemeth to be but a bare translation of the Vulgar Latin) doth wholly agree, using the word Tradition every where, excepting 1 Cor. 11. 2. where they use the word P•e∣cepts, but set in the margent the word Tradition. Arias Montanus in his interlineal Translation doth render it Traditio. Beza doth commonly express it by the word tra∣ditio. In the English Geneva Bible, we translate it by the word Instruction, Tradition, calling mens precepts Traditions, the Apostles Doctrine, Ordinances or Instructions, not that we feared the word Tradition but because we would not have the simple de∣ceived, as though the unwritten verities of the Papists were thereby commended, or as though we had some honourable conceit of them; and what we did herein, the signification of the word doth give us free liberty to do; in our last English Tran∣slation we use the word Tradition, as often as the Vulgar Latine or the Rhemists have done; not that we were driven by fear or shame to alter what was done before, but because we would cut off all occasion of carping at our Translation, though ne∣ver so unjust.
First, We contend not about the name i Tradition, the word may lawfully be used, if the sense affixed thereto be lawful. 2. All Traditions unwritten are not simply condemned by us. 3. The Apostles delivered by lively voice many observa∣tions dispensable and alterable, according to the circumstances of time and persons, appertaining to order and comelinesse; only we say That they were not of the sub∣stance of Religion, that they were not general concerning all Churches. 4. We receive the number and names of the Authors of Books Divine and Canonical, as delivered by tradition; but the Divine Truth of those Books is in it self clear and evident unto us, not depending on the Churches Authority. The Books of Scri∣pture have not their Authority (quoad nos) from the approbation of the Church, but win credit of themselves, and yield sufficient satisfaction to all men of their Divine Truth, whence we judge the Church that receiveth them to be led by the Spirit of God; yet the Number, Authors and Integrity of the parts of those Books, we receive as delivered by Tradition. 5. The continued practice of such things as are neither expresly contained in Scripture, nor the example of such pra∣ctice expresly there delivered, though the Grounds, Reasons, and cause of the ne∣cessity of such practice be there contained, and the benefit and good that follow∣eth of it, we receive upon Tradition, though the thing it self we receive not for Tradition. Of this sort is the Baptism of Infants, which may be named a Traditi∣on, because it is not expresly delivered in Scripture, that the Apostles did baptize •nfants, nor any expresse precept there found that they should so do; yet is not this Page 94 so received by bare and naked Tradition, but that we finde the Scripture to deliver unto us the ground of it.
Bellarmine and Maldonatk both do confesse, That the Baptism of Infants may be proved by the Scripture; and therefore Maldonat concludes, Nobis verò tradi∣tio non est. Bellarminel (as Whitaker shews) contradicts himself; for first, he saith, That the Baptism of Infants is an unwritten Tradition; and after, That the Catho∣licks can prove Baptism of Infants from the Scriptures.
To this head m we may referre the observation of the Lords-day, the precept whereof is not found in Scripture, though the practice be. And if for that cause any shall name it a Tradition, we will not contend about the word, if he grant with∣all, that the example Apostolical hath the force of a Law, as implying a common equity concerning us no lesse then it did them.
If any man shall call the summary comprehension of the chief heads of Christian Doctrine contained in the Creed, n commonly called The Apostles Creed, a Tradi∣tion, we will not contend about it. For although every part thereof be contained in Scripture; yet the orderly connexion, and distinct explication of those princi∣pal Articles gathered into an Epitome, wherein are implied, and whence are in∣ferred all Conclusions Theological, is an Act humane, not divine, and in that sense may be called a Tradition. But let it be noted withall, that we admit it not to have that credit as now it hath, to be the Rule of Faith; for this is the priviledge of holy Scripture. The Creed it self was gathered out of Scripture, and is to be expounded by the Scripture; therefore it is not given to be a perfect Canon of faith and manners.
By Tradition is noted, 1. Whatsoever is delivered by men divinely inspired and* immediately called, whether it be by lively voice, or by writing. 2. In special it notes the word of God committed to writing, 1 Cor. 15. 3. 3. It signifies Rites ex∣presly contained in writing, Act. 6. 14. 4. It betokens that which is not committed to writing but only delivered by lively voice of the Apostles. 5. It signifieth that which is invented and delivered by men not immediately called. In Scripture Tra∣dition is taken, 1. In good part, for any Rite or Doctrine of God delivered to his Church either by word or writing, whether it concern faith and good works, or the external Government of the Church, 2 Thess. 2. 15. 1 Cor. 11. 15. and 23. 2. In ill part, it noteth the vain idle and unwarrantable inventions of men, whether Do∣ctrine or Rites, Mat. 15. 3. Mar. 7. 8, 9.
When the Fathers speak reverently of Traditions, by the word Tradition, either they understand the holy Scripture, which also is a Tradition, it is a Doctrine left unto us; o Or by Traditions, they understand observations touching Ecclesiastical policy. Du Moulin.
Reasons confirming the sufficiency of Scripture against Popish Traditions.
- 1. The whole Church is founded upon the Doctrine of the Prophets and Apo∣stles;* which were not true if any Doctrine was necessary to Salvation not revealed by the Prophets and Apostles.
2. The Prophets, and Christ and his Apostles condemn Traditions, Isa. 29. 13. Mat.* 15. 3, 6. Col. 2. 8. Therefore they are not to be received; Christ opposeth the Com∣mandment and Scriptures to Traditions, therefore he condemns Traditions not written.
If the Jews might not adde to the Books of Moses,* then much lesse may we adde to the Canon of Scripture so much increased since.
3. Those things which proceed from the will of God only, can be made known to us no other way but by the Revelation of the Scripture; all Articles of Faith and Precepts of Manners, concerning substance of Religion proceed from the will of God only, Mat. 16. 17. 1 Cor. 2. 9, 10, 11.
pGal. 1. 8. As in this place, the Apostle would have nothing received besides that which he preached, so 1 Cor. 4. 6. He will have nothing admitted above or more then that which is written. See Act. 26. 22.
Iohn 20. ult. Whence it is manifest, that all necessary things may be found in Scri∣pture, since full and perfect Faith ariseth from thence, which eternal salvation fol∣loweth.
Bellarmine saith, Iohn speaks only of the miracles of Christ, that he wrote not all, because those sufficed to perswade the world that Christ was the Son of God. Those words indeed in ver. 30. are to be understood of Christs miracles, but those in ver. 31. rather are to be generally interpreted; for the History only of the miracles sufficeth not to obtain Faith or Life.
The Question betwixt the Papists and us is, De ipsa Doctrina tradita,qnon de tra∣dendi modo, touching the substance of the Doctrine delivered, not of the manner of delivering it, and of Doctrine delivered as the Word of God, not of Rites and Ce∣remonies. They maintain that there be doctrinal Traditions, or Traditions contain∣ing Articles of Faith, and substantial matters of Divine Worship and Religion, not found in the holy Scriptures, viz. Purgatory, Invocation of Saints, Adoration of Images, Papal Monarchy.
Bellarmine (and before him rPeresius) distinguisheth Traditions both from the Authors and the Matter.
From the Authors, into Divine, Apostolical and Ecclesiastical.
From the Matter into those which are concerning Faith, and concerning Man∣ners, into perpetuall and temporall, universall and particular, necessary and free.
Divine Traditions, that is, Doctrines of Faith, and of the Worship and service* of God, any of which we deny to be but what are comprized in the written Word of God.
Apostolick Traditions (say they) are such Ordinances as the Apostles prescribed for ceremony and usage in the Church, as the observation of the memorial of the Nativity, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the alteration of the seventh day from the Jews Sabbath, to the day of Christs Resurrection.
Ecclesiastical, ancient Customs which by degrees through the Peoples consent* obtained the force of a Law.
Traditions concerning Faith, as the perpetuall Virginity of Mary the Mo∣ther of Christ, and that there are onely four Gospels; of Manners, as the sign of the Crosse made in the Fore-head, Fasts and Feastings to be observed on certain dayes.
Perpetual, which are to be kept to the end of the World.
Page 96Temporal for a certain time, as the observation of certain legal Ceremonies, even to the full publishing of the Gospel.
Universal Traditions, which are delivered to the whole Church to be kept, as the observation of Easter, Whit sontide and other great Feasts.
Particular, which is delivered to one or more Churches, as in the time of Augu∣stine fasting on the Sabbath-day, which was kept only at Rome.
Necessary Traditions, which are delivered in the form of a Precept, that Easter* is to be celebrated on the Lords Day.
Free, which are delivered in the form of a Councel, as sprinkling of holy Water.
Object. The Scripture is not perfect with a perfection of parts, because many parts are either defective or excessive.
1. Some labour with a defect, as Genes. 11. 12. a person is omitted in the* Genealogy of Canaan, which was the Sonne of Arphaxad, but it is reckoned* in Luke in Christs Genealogy, not in the Old Testament, therefore there is a defect.
Answ. Luke reckons it according to the vulgar opinion of the Jews; Iunius in* his Parallels would have the fault to be in the Septuagint, whom Luke followed, not approving of their errour, but yielding to the time, least the Gospel otherwise should have been prejudiced; but Beza's opinion is rather to be approved of, that this word is inserted from the Ignorance of those who undertook to correct this Text, according to the Translation of the Seventy Interpreters. For in an An∣cient Manuscript which Beza followed, this word Canaan was not to be found, therefore he omitted it in his Translation, and so hath our great Eng∣lish Bible.
Object. There is something found in the Scripture against the Commandment of God, Deut. 4. 2. therefore there is excess as well as defect; for many Books which we believe to be Canonical, are added.
Answ. He doth not forbid adding by Gods Command, but from the will of man, for God himself added afterward.
The Papists Arguments for Traditions answered.
Object. Bellarmine saith, Religion was preserved for two thousand years* from Adam to Moses onely by Tradition; therefore the Scripture is not simply necessary.
Ans. By the like reason I might argue, That Religion was long preserved, not only without the Pope of Rome, but also without Baptism and the Lords Supper, with the like Institutions; therefore they are not simply necessary; yet none of ours hold the Scriptures simply necessary. 2. It is false, that Religion was preserved all that while by ordinary Tradition only; for the living voice of God sounded most perpetually in the Church, and the Doctrine of Religion was conveyed successively from the Father to the Son; which living voice of God by little and little ceasing, writing afterward succeeded, and hath the same necessity now which Gods living voice had before.
Object. Whatsoever things are commended from Scripture are necessary, but so are Traditions, Ergò, They are necessary. Iohn 16. 12. I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now; therefore (say they) the Lord spake many things which are not written.*
Answ. 1. He saith not, that he had many things to tell them, which he had not Page 97 taught them before, but which they were not now so well capable of: For it ap∣peareth that he taught them that which they understood not, and therefore they needed to be further taught of them by the holy Ghost, which should not teach them any new thing that Christ had not taught, but one∣ly make them understand that which they had been taught of our Saviour Christ.
2. If the holy Ghost did teach them any thing which our Saviour Christ had not before spoke unto them of, yet that makes nothing for Traditions; seeing that which the holy Spirit taught them, he taught them out of the Scriptures.
3. If the holy Ghost should have taught the Apostles some things which neither Christ had told them of, nor the Scriptures had taught them, yet this is rather a∣gainst the Papists. For that which the holy Ghost taught them, they undoubtedly left in record unto the Church, as being faithful stewards, and revealing the whole counsel of God unto the people.
4. It hath been the practice of Hereticks (as Augustine affirmeth) at all times to cover their dreams and phantasies, with this sentence of our Saviour Christ.
Lastly, If it be asked, What were those grave and great mysteries, which the Apostles could not for their rudeness bear; they are forsooth oyl and spittle in Ba∣ptism; Candles light at noon dayes (which was not in the darker time of the Law) baptizing of Bels, and such like gue-gaws, as the grossest and carnallest men are fit∣test to receive.
Object. 2 Thess 2. 15. Therefore Brethron, stand fast, and hold the Traditions which*ye have been taught, whether by word, or our Epistle. From these words (say our Ad∣versaries) it appears that all things were not written, Et nullum Papistae in Scripturis locum probabiliorem inveniunt, saith Whitaker.
The Hereticks (say the Rhemists on this place) purposely, guilefully, and of ill conscience refrain in their Translations, from the Ecclesiastical and most usual word Tradition, evermore when it is taken in good part, though it expresse most exact∣ly the signification of the Greek word; but when it soundeth in their fond phanta∣sie against the Traditions of the Church (as indeed in true sense it never doth) there they use it most gladly. Here therefore and in the like places, that the Reader may not so easily like of Traditions unwritten, commended by the Apostle, they translate Instructions, Constitutions, Ordinances, and what they can invent else, to hide the Truth from the simple or unwary Reader, whose Translations have none other end, but to beguile such by Art and Convey∣ance.
Thus farre the Rhemists.
Paul taught the Thessalonians some things by word of mouth, which he taught* them not in his two Epistles which he wrote unto them; therefore he taught some Doctrins which he wrote not, as if that Paul wrote no more Epistles then these two; whereby that which he taught not them in writing unto them, he taught them by writing unto others.
Secondly, How followeth this Argument? Paul wrote not all the Doctrines of* God unto the Thessalonians, therefore they are not all written in the Prophetical and Evangelical writings: whereas it is plainly testified, that the Old Testament containeth a perfect Rule of the Doctrine of salvation; the New being writ∣ten for a Declaration of the fulfilling and further clearing of that in the Old Te∣stament.
Thirdly, It appeareth manifestly in the Acts, what was the summe of that which*Paul taught the Thessalonians by word of mouth. For there it is witnessed, that Paul taught out of the Scriptures, that it behoved Christ to suffer and rise again from the dead, and that Jesus was Christ; this teaching then by word is there li∣mited to the Scriptures of the Law and Prophets. Neither ought it to seem strange, that this was the summe of all which the Apostle taught at Thessalonica, where he he tarried so small a while, when amongst the Corinthians (where he remained long∣est*Page 98 of any place, and consequently taught most) he sheweth that he taught nothing but Christ and him crucified.
Fourthly, The Apostle himself, in this very place, calling (vers. 14.) what∣soever he taught by word, or wrote by the name of the Gospel, doth declare evi∣dently, that he taught nothing but that which is contained in Scripture, seeing the Apostle defineth the Gospel which he preached, to be that which is contained in the Scriptures.
Fifthly, That the Thessalonians had some part of Christian Doctrine, delivered* by word of mouth; that is, by the Apostles preaching at such time as he did write unto them, and some part by his Epistles, the Text enforceth us to grant. But that the Church at this day, or ever since the Testament was written, had any Tradition by word of mouth necessary to salvation, which was not con∣tained in the Old and New Testament, we will never grant. The Papists s do commonly abuse the name of Tradition, which signifieth properly a delivery, or a thing delivered; for such a matter as is delivered onely by word of mouth, and so received from hand to hand, that is, never put in writing, but hath his credit without the holy Scripture of God, as the Jews had their Cabala, and the Scribes and the Pharisees their Traditions besides the Law of God. For the justifying of our Translation, it is true, that we alter according to the cir∣cumstances of the place, especially considering that the word Tradition, which of it self is indifferent, as well to that which is written, as to that which is not written, hath been of us and them, appropriated to note forth onely unwrit∣ten Constitutions, therefore we must needs avoid in such places as this, the word Traditions, (though our last Translation useth it) where the simple might be deceived, to think that the Holy Gho•t did ever commend any such to the Church, which he would not have committed to writing in the holy Scri∣ptures, and in stead of the word so commonly taken (although it do not ne∣cessarily signifie any such matter) we doe use such words as doe truely ex∣presse the Apostles meaning, and the Greek word doth also signifie; there∣fore we use these words Ordinances, or Instructions, Institutions, or the Do∣ctrine* delivered, all which being of one or near sense, the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 doth signifie, and the same doth Tradition signifie, if it be rightly un∣derstood.
Object. 1 Timothy 6. 20. O Timothy, Keep that which is committed to thy trust. By the name of pledge (saith Bellarmine) not the Scripture, but the trea∣sure of unwritten Doctrine is understood. Depositum (say the Rhemists) is the whole Doctrine of Christianity, being taught by the Apostles, and delivered their Successors.
Answ. Though other learned men interpret this pledge or gage to be the gift* of the Holy Ghost, yet we willingly acknowledge, that it is to be understood of the Doctrine of Christianity, as that which hath best ground both by circumstance of this, and conference of other places. Whence we inferre, That the Doctrine of truth is not the Churches Decrees, but the Lords; given to the Church to keep only, wherewith the Title of a pledge cannot stand, unlesse one may lay to pledge a thing in his own hands, since in Popery the Church her self maketh the Doctrine which her self taketh to pledge: Herein they handle it like a pledge, that they lock it up fast, where the people of God, for whose use it is given to be kept, cannot come unto it.
What had become of the Law of God, if others had not been more faithful keepers of it then the Priests, to whom the principal Copy thereof written with* the finger of God himself was committed?
There are some points of faith not contained in the Scripture, neither in the Old nor New Testament; therefore it is not perfect. In the Old Testament, no doubt but the females had some remedy, whereby they might be purged from original sin as well as the males; circumcision was instituted only for the males, the Scri∣pture mentions not what was instituted for the females.
Page 99In the New Testament, the perpetual virginity of Mary the mother of Christ.
Two things are considered in circumcision, t 1. Signum. 2. Res signata, or the end and use of the sign.
Answ. The thing signified or efficacy of the outward sign of circumcision, was common both to Males and Females; the very institution of circumcision teacheth that; for it was a sign of the Covenant, the Covenant belonged to all which were of the seed of Abraham, if they renounced it not.
Although there were no decision of the other point out of the Scripture, yet would it not thence follow which the Jesuites pretend, that some necessary point of Christianity wanted the ground of holy Scripture, it being sufficient for us to know, that she was a Virgin when our Savio•r Christ was born of her, as the Pro∣phets did foretel. Yet (as Chamier said well) we believe that she continued a Vir∣gin all her life time, for in those things (said he) which are not properly de side, we hold the authority of the Church is great, if it contradict not Scripture, or produce no other absurdity. Vide Riveti Apolog•am pro Virgine Maria, l. 1. c. 15.
Helvidius would gather from those words, Matth. 1. 25. until, and first-born, that Mary after u had Children by her Husband: The word till doth not import so much. See Gen. 8. 7. and 28. 15, 1 Sam. 15. 35 Sam. 6. 23. Matth. 28. 20. He is called the first-born in Scripture, which first opens the womb, whether others fol∣low or no.
7. The Scripture is plain and Perspicuous.
The Perspicuity of the Scripture is a clear and evident manifestation of the truth delivered in it.
It is Perspicuous * both in respect of it self and us.
- 1. In respect of it self, as appears:
- 1. In the things delivered, which although they seem obscure for their majesty and dignity, yet they carry the light of truth before them, y therefore the Scri∣pture is frequently termed a light, Psal. 19. 8. and 119. 105. Deni. 30. 11. Prov. 6. 2. 2 Pet. 1. 19. 2 Cor. 4. 3, 4, 6. the Scripture is a most bright light: The nature of a light is first to discover it self, then all things else. There are two things in Gods revealed will, verbum rei, the word, and res verbi, the mystery. The Scriptures are hard, if we look to the mystery, but not if we look to the word; as for ex∣ample, the Scripture teacheth that there is one God in three persons, the words are plain and easie: every man understands them, but the mystery contained in those words pas•eth the reach of man; we may well discern these things to be so, though we cannot fully conceive how these should be so.
- 2. In the manner of delivering, or kinde of stile, which is fitted to the things and persons; shewing the greatest simplicity both in words, either proper or figu∣rative; and in the clear sense and most perspicuous propriety of signification; viz. That one which is called Literal and Grammatical.
- 2. In respect of us, because the Scripture is to us the principal means and in∣strument of faith; every Principle ought to be by it self, and in its own nature known and most intelligible; and there being three degrees of faith, knowledge, assent, and full assurance, these cannot consist without the perspicuity of the Page 100 Scripture; the divine promises also of writing the Law in our heart, and concern∣ing the spreading abroad, and clear light of the Gospel, should be to no purpose, if the Scriptures should not be plain in things necessary to Salvation.
All difficulty z in understanding the Scripture ariseth not from the obscurity of it, but from the weakness of our understanding, corrupted by natural ignorance, or blinded by divine punishment and curse; therefore it no more follows from thence, that the Scripture cannot be an infallible and onely rule of faith and life, (because some obscure things are found in it, not understood of all) then that the Books of Euclide are not perfect elements of Geometry, because there are some abstruse Theoremes in them, which every vulgar Geometrician cannot demonstrate; or that Aristotles Organon is not a perfect Systeme of Logick, because a fresh So∣phister understands not all its subtilties. More distinctly we say, that the Scriptures are plain, and obscure in a threefold respect.
- 1. They are plain and easie to be understood by all men in Fundamentals, and the special points necessary to salvation, as the Decalogue, the Apostles Creed, the Lords Prayer, and the like, unless by those whose mindes the God of this world hath blinded; if they be obscure in some less principal and circumstantial mat∣ters, there is need of interpretation, that the meaning may be more clearly un∣folded.
- 2. A difference of persons is to be considered, either more generally, or more specially.
- 1. More generally, as they are elect and regenerate, or reprobate and unrege∣nerate;* to those the Scripture is plain and perspicuous, to whom alone it is desti∣nated, and whose mindes the Holy Ghost will inlighten by the Scripture, Iohn 7. 17. Rom. 12. 2. 1 Cor. 12. 15. Psal. 19 7. Matth. 11. 5. and 25. 25. Psal. 9. 10, 12, 13, 14. Yet the flesh and unregenerate part in them puts in impediments, but that ignorance is removed at last, Luke 8. 10. The reprobates continue involved in per∣petual darkness and blinded with ignorance, hypocrisie, covetousness, pride and contempt of divine learning, even seeing they see not, Psal. 36. 3. Isa. 29. 9. Ier. 5. 21. Isa. 6. 9. 2 Cor. 3. 14. there is a vail over their hearts, 2 Cor. 4. 3, 4. which is the cause why in so many ages under the Papacy, the Scriptures were not under∣stood, because they preferred a lye before the love of the truth. 2 Thess. 10▪ whose ignorance is a deserved punishment of that contempt, which they shewed to the Scriptures and their authority.
- 2. More specially, the persons are distinguished according to the di∣versity.*
- 1. Of Conditions of life and vocations, for so many places of Scripture are hard to this sort of men, which are more easie to another, neither is it required that all things be understood of all men; the knowledge of more places is ne∣cessary in a Minister, then a Trades-man and Husbandman; yet it is an infallible rule to every one in his vocation.
- 2. Of capacities and wits, for every one hath his measure of Gifts; so among Mi∣nisters, some understand the Word more obscurely, some more plainly, yet it is to all a perfect Rule according to the measure of Gifts.
- 3. Of Times, all things are not equally obscure or perspicuous to all Ages, ma∣ny things are better understood now then in times past; as the Prophecies and Predictions of Christ, and the times of the Gospel: so in the Mysteries of the Re∣velation the exposition rather of modern Interpreters then Fathers is to be received; because in our times, not theirs, there is an accomplishment of those Prophecies, and many things were more clearly known by them in those days, the Ceremonies and Types of Moses his Law were better perceived by the Jews then us.
Page 101God the Author of the Scripture, could speak perspicuously; for he is wisdom* it self; and he would speak so, because he caused the Scripture to be written to instruct us to our eternal salvation, Rom. 15. 4. and he commands us to seek in the Scripture eternal life.
We do not account the prophecy of Isaiah touching Christ, which the Eunuch read, to be a dark and obscure prediction; but we know it was clear and plain enough, though the Eunuch, a raw Proselyte, understood not the meaning of it.
The Fathers proved their opinions out of the Scriptures, therefore the Scri∣ptures are more clear then the writings and Commentaries of the Fathers.
To every one which readeth (with humility and invocation of God) the Book of the Apocalipse, the obscurest * and hardest Book to understand of all other, blessedness is promised, when it cannot befal to any that understandeth nothing, it is manifest that the promise of blessedness includeth a warrant of understanding of it, so much as is necessary to salvation.
We affirm, that many places a in the Scripture are very obscure, and that either from the obscurity of the things, as in the Prophecies of future things, the event must interpret them, as Daniels Prophecies of the four Monarchies were in times past very dark, but easier since, when all things were fulfilled; so the coming of Antichrist in the New Testament, drew the Fathers into divers opi∣nions; so even yet there are many things obscure in the Revelationb which are not accomplished. So those things which are spoken of the Messiah in the Old Testament are either not understood, or not fully without the New Testament. Sometimes the ambiguity of words breeds a difficulty, as I and the Father are one, the Arians understood it of a union of will, as when Christ prayed, Iohn 17. that the Disciples might be one. Hitherto may be referred those places which are to be understood allegorically, as the Canticles, the first Chapter of Ezekiel, 3. Some places are obscure from the ignorance of ancient Rites and Customs, as that place, 1 Cor. 15. 29. * of Baptizing for the dead is diversly explained by Interpreters, both old and new. There are six Interpretations of it in Bellarmine l. 1. de purgatorio c. 8. Viginti praeter hujus loci expositiones deprehendo, saith one in a Theolo∣gical disputation, De baptismo veterum. Ambrose saith, Paul had a respect to that custom of some, who baptized the living for the dead. Piscator and Bucane say, The custom of the ancient Church is noted here, who baptized Christians at the Graves, that so it might be a symbole of their belief and confession of the Re∣surrection of the Dead: Tarnovius proves that that rite was not in use in the Apostles time; Calvin interprets it of those who were baptized, when they were Page 102 ready to die; but Beza thinks by Baptizing is understood the Rite of Washing the bodies before the Burial, that ablution used upon the dead, as if the Apostle should thence confirm the Resurrection of the dead, q. d. that that is a cold, vain and foolish Ceremony, if the dead should not rise again. And truly it is certain,* that those words 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 being considered in themselves, may as well be ren∣dred Super mortuos, as pro mortuis. Andreas Hy••rius sheweth in a particular Tract what various opinions there are about this place. Voetius hath written a Tract D• insolubilibus Scripturae. Estius and Dr Hall on the hard places of Scripture. Divers reasons may be rendred, why God would have many things in the Scripture obscure and difficult.
- 1. To make us diligent both in Prayer to him, to open to us the meaning of the* Scriptures, and likewise in Reading, Meditating, searching and comparing the Scri∣ptures.
- 2. To remove disdain from us; we quickly slight those things that are easie.
- 3. That we might more prize heavenly Truths gotten with much labor.
- 4. To tame our arrogance and reprove our ignorance, Ioh. 16. 12.
- 5. God would not have the holy Mysteries of his Word prostituted to Dogs and Swine; therefore many a simple godly man understands more here then the great Rabbies.
- 6. That order might be kept in the Church, some to be Hearers, some Teachers and Expounders, by whose diligent search and travel, the harder places may be open∣ed to the people.
Here the Lamb may wade, and the Elephant may swimme, saith Gregory. The Scriptures have both Milk for Babes, and strong Meat for Men, saith Au∣gustine.
It is a note of a learned Interpreter, That the benefit of knowing the Prophecies con∣cerning*the Church, Christ before he was slain had it not so as he had after his death; it was the purchase of the blood of Christ to have those things opened.
We do not therefore hold, that the Scripture is every where so plain and evi∣dent, that it needs no interpretation, as our Adversaries do slander us, and here* they fight with their own shadow. We confesse, that the Lord in the Scriptures hath tempered hard and easie things together. But this we affirm against the Pa∣pists:
First, That all points of Faith necessary to Salvation, and weighty matters per∣taining to Religion are plainly set forth in the Scriptures.
Secondly, That the Scriptures may with great profit and to good edification be read of the simple and unlearned, notwithstanding the hardnesse of some places, which in time also using the means they may come to the understanding of.
Therefore I might save that labour in answering the Arguments of our Adversa∣ries, since they are of no force against us, nor indeed touch our cause, proving onely that some places in the Scripture are difficult which we deny not; But I shall first take off their Answers, whereby they would evade the strength of our Reasons for the perspicuity of the Scripture, and then refute their own Ob∣jections.
First, When we urge divers places to prove the Scripture to be a Light,* the use of which is to dispell darknesse, which it would not if it self were ob∣scure.
Bellarmine answereth, That those places are not to be understood of all the Scri∣pture, but only of the Commandments: and that these also are called a Light, not because they are easily understood (although that be true) but because being un∣derstood and known, they direct a man in working. 2. If it be understood of all the Scriptures, they are called Light, not because they are easily understood, but* because they illustrate the minde when they are understood. But the Apostle Pe∣ter speaks not only of the Precepts of the Decalogue, but of all the Scripture of the Old Testament: which, if it be Light, much more shall the Scripture of the New Testament, and therefore the whole body of Scriptures which the Christians now have▪ shall be Light.
Page 103Secondly, That place, Psal. 119. 130. doth not speak of the Precepts alone▪ [Of thy words] by which is signified the whole c Scripture; in Psal. 19. David speaketh of the word of God in general, which he adorneth with many Titles, The Law or Doctrine of the Lord, The Testimony of the Lord, The Statutes of the Lord, The Precepts of the Lord, The Fear of the Lord; It is so called Metonymically, because it teacheth us the Fear and Reverence of the Lord, he saith, this Doctrine is perfect, converts the soul, and makes wise the simple, therefore he understands the whole Scripture, the teacher of true and perfect wisdom. 2. It is called a light, because it hath light in it self, and because it illightneth others, unless they be quite blinde or willingly turn away their eyes from this light.
Thirdly, If the Commandments be easie, the rest of the Scriptures is likewise, as the Prophets and historical Books, being but Commentaries and Expositions of the Decalogue.
That evasion of the Papists will not serve their turns, That the Scripture is a Light in it self, but not Quoad nos (as if the Scripture were a light under a Bushell) for that the Scipture is Light effectivè, as well as formaliter, appears by the addition, Giving understanding to the simple. It was a smart answer, which* a witty and learned Minister of the Reformed Church of Paris gave to a Lady of* suspected Chastity, and now revolted; when she pretended the hardnesse of the Scripture; why, said he, Madam, what can be more plain, then Thou shalt not com∣mit Adultery?
The Scriptures and Reasons answered, which the Papists bring for the obscurity of the Scripture.
Object. 2 Pet▪ 3. 16. Peter saith there, That in the Epistles of Paul there are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlear∣ned aend unstable wrest, as they doe also the other Scriptures unto their own de∣struction.
Answ. First, Peter restraineth the difficulty of Pauls writings to that point him∣self* then wrote of, touching the end of the world; therefore it is unreasonable that for one hard point in the Epistles the people should be debarred the reading of all the rest.
Secondly, Even in that point he affirmeth, That some things only are hard, and not all.
Thirdly, The understanding of the Scriptures dependeth not principally on the sharpnesse of mens wits for their learning, but on the Spirit of God which is given to the simple that humbly seek it by Prayer; therefore though the whole Scripture were hard to be understood, yet that is no good cause to bereave the people of God from reading of his Word.
Fourthly, Peter assigning the true cause of errour and abuse of the Scri∣pture, to be the unstability and unleardnesse of such as deal with them, can∣not thereby be understood to speak that of the body of the Church, and of the people.
Laurentius in his Book intituled, S. Apostolus〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, hoc est, explicatio locorum difficilium in Epistolis Paulinis, reckons up fourty hard places in Pauls Epistles.
Rom. 1. 19, 20, 28. and 2. 12, 13, 14, 15. and 4, 5. and 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20. and 7. 9, 14, and 8. 3, 4, 19, 20, 21, 22. and 9. 3, 11, 12, 13, 18. and 11. 25, 26. 1 Cor. 2. 15. 1 Cor. 3. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. 1 Cor. 4. 9. and 5. 11. and 6. 2, 3. 1 Cor. 7. 1, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. 1 Cor. 11. 7, 10. and 15. 29, 51. 2 Cor. 2. 15, 16. and 3. 6, 15, 16. Galat. 1. 8. and 2. 14. and 3. 10. 1 Thess. 4. 15, 16, 17. 1 Tim. 1. 9. Heb. 6. 4, 5, 6. and 10. 26.
They say the Scriptures are difficult also in the manner of writing as well as in the* matter, for which they alledge Psal. 119. 18. the Eunuch, and Luk. 24. 45. also the divers expositions of old and new Writers.
Page 104The first place is directly against them: for teaching that it is the gift of Gods holy Spirit obtained by Prayer to understand the Scripture, the Spirit through Prayer, being as well obtained by the simple as learned sort, yea, rather by them then the others, it followeth that the reading of them belongeth to the simple as well as unto the learned.
The like answer serveth for the place of Luk. 24 45. for by that abuse of the place, they may wring the reading of the Scriptures from all men, even Ministers of the Word commanded to attend the reading of them, since they of whom they say, that they understood not the Scriptures, were Ministers of the Word, and that in the highest and most excellent degree of Ministery in the world, which was the Apostleship. The cause of want of understanding then was this, the Spirit of God was not given because Christ was not glorified, which can have now no place. Besides that, in saying they understood not the Scriptures concerning the suffering and glory of Christ, it must needs be understood comparatively, that they did not clearly, particularly, and sufficiently know them. For that place Act 8. it is to be understood comparatively, viz. That a man faithfull and already gained to the truth, as this Eunuch was, cannot understand the Scriptures by the bare reading of them, so well and throughly, as when he hath one to expound them. The Lord which helped the endeavour of the Eunuch searching the Scriptures by sending of Philip▪ will n•ver suffer those which seek him in careful reading of his Word, to go away ashamed without finding that which they seek for, in directing unto him some lawful and sufficient Ministery to instruct him by. The Mystery of the Go∣spel then (indeed) fulfilled, remained notwithstanding unpublished to the world by the Apostles, which is now by their preaching and writings laid open and made more manifest. The Eunuch which professed that he could not under∣stand the Scripture without an Interpreter, did notwithstanding busie himself in reading of it.
The multitude of Commentaries * was not so necessary (because the Scripture might have been understood without them) although they deserve singular respect amongst all those that are desirous to understand the Scripture, who write learned and elaborate Expositions on the Scripture.
That was a witty speech of Maldonates on Luk. 2. 34. Nescio an facilior hi• locus fu•sset, si nemo eum exposuisset; sed fecit multitudo & varietas interpretationis, ut diffi∣cilis videretur.
Secondly, These Commentaries are publisht, that the Scriptures may better and more easily be understood.
Thirdly, The Papists confesse that the Articles of the Apostles Creed being ne∣cessary for all, are easie; Yet there are many Commentaries of the Ancients upon the Creed, as Russinus, Augustine, Cyril, Chrysostome, Chrysologus; and of Pa∣pists also.
Some Scriptures are hard for the matter which they handle, as are the Books of*Daniel, Ezekiel, Zachary; or throng of much matter in few words, as are in the Old Testament the Poetical Books, wherein no doubt the verse hath caused some cloud, and amongst them the Proverbs from the tenth Chapter, and the Prophecie of Hosea.