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sanctifying, to remove our natural enmity to the truth, and prejudice against it, which is no small hinderance to the believing of it; for all the hinderance lieth not in the bare intellect.
But it is another kind of testimony than this, which many great divines resolve their faith into : for when the question is of the objective cause of faith, how know you Scripture to be the word of God; or why do you believe it so to be? They finally conclude, by the testimony of the Spirit: but the Spirit’s illumination being only the efficient cause of our discerning, and the question being only of the objective cause or evidence, they must needs mean some testimony besides illuminating, sanctifying grace, or else not understand themselves : and, therefore, even great Chamier calleth this testimony 'the word of God,' and likens it to the revelations made to the prophets and apostles, dangerously, I think. (Tom. iii. lib. 13. c. 17.) To imagine a necessity, first, either of an internal proper testimony, which is argumentum inartificiale, as if the Spirit, as another person, spoke this truth within me, “The Scripture is God's word ;'or, secondly, of the Spirit's propounding that objective evidence internally in the soul, which is necessary to persuade by an artificial argument, without propounding it first ab extra; thirdly, or for the Spirit to infuse or create in a man's mind an actual persuasion that Scripture is God's word, the person not knowing how he is so persuaded, nor why; or of any the like immediate injection of the intelligible species; I say, to affirm that the Scriptures cannot be known to be God's word, without such a testimony of the Spirit as some of these, is, in my judgment, a justifying men in their infidelity, and a telling them that there is not yet extant any sufficient evidence of scripture truth, till the Spirit create it in ourselves, and, withal, to leave it impossible to produce any evidence for the conviction of an unbeliever, who cannot know the testimony of the Spirit in me: and, indeed, it is direct expectation of enthusiasm, and that is ordinary to every Christian. And it also infers that all men have the testimony of the Spirit, who believe the Scriptures to be God's word, which would delude many natural men, who feel that they do believe this, though some unsoundly tell us that an unregenerate man cannot believe it. I know that, savingly, he cannot; but undissemblingly, as the devil does, he may. But I leave this point, referring the reader that understands them, for full satisfaction about the nature of the Spirit's testimony, to learned
tareach, and he pagans and
Robert Baronius, 16 Apol. con. Turnebullum,' p. 733; and also to judicious Amyraldus, "Thes. de Testim. Spir. in Thes. Salmuriens.,' vol. i. p. 122: in both whom it is most solidly handled.
4. Doubtless, the first and chief work of preachers of the Gospel, is to endeavour the conversion of pagans and infidels, where inen live within their reach, and have opportunity to do it. And we all believe that the Jews shall be brought in ; and it must be by means. And how shall all this be done, if we cannot prove to them the divine authority of what we have to say to them, but naked affirmation? Or, how shall we maintain the credit of Christianity, if we be put to dispute the case with an infidel? I know somewhat may be done by tradition where Scripture is not; but that is a weaker, uncertain means : I know also that the first truths, and those that are known by the light of nature, may be evinced by natural demonstrations : and when we deal with pagans, there we must begin. But for all supernatural truth, how shall we prove that to them, but by proving first the certainty of the revelation? As Aquinas, ut in marg., m to tell them that the Spirit testifieth it, is no means to convince them that have not the Spirit. And if they have the Spirit already, then what need we preach to convince them? If the word must be mixed with faith in them that hear it, before it profit them further to salvation; then we cannot expect to find the Spirit in infidels. He that thinks an unholy person may not believe the Scriptures to be the word of God, doth not surely think that they may go so much further as our divines and the Scripture tell us they may do."
And to tell an infidel that it is principium indemonstrabile,
1 Pessime, ni fallor, argumentatur vir doctiss. Keckermap. Systemate Theol. lib. p. 179: Soli electi habent fidem : ergo soli electi norunt quæ sit norma fidei. This will teach the vilest man to conclude that he is elect, because he knows the rule of faith.
m See also the Act of the Conference at Paris, 1565, July in the beginning.
n Ad primæ veritatis manifestationem per 'rationes demonstrativas proce. dendum est. Sed quia tales rationes (i.e. ab evidentia rei) ad secundam veritatem haberi non possunt, non debet esse ad hoc intentio, ut adversarius rationibus (i. e, a re) convincatur, sed ut ejus rationes quas coutra veritatem habet solvantur: cum veritati fidei ratio naturalis contraria esse non possit. Singularis vero modus convincendi adversarium contra hujusmodi veritatem, est ex authoritate Scripturæ divinitus confirmata miraculis. Quæ enim supra rationem humanam sunt; non credimus, nisi Deo revelante.--Aquin. Cont Gentil. lib. 1. c.9. Vid. etiam de hac re Spalatens, de Rep. Eccles. lib. 7. c. 9. sect. 17, 18, 21; et c. 2. sect. 8 et 22.
that Scripture is God's word, and that it is to believed, and not to be proved, as if the very revelation, Hoc esse testimonium divinum, and not only the thing testified, Hoc esse verum, were not objectum scientiæ, sed puræ fidei. This might sooner harden infidels, than convince them. Sure I am, that both Christ and his apostles used sufficient, in suo genere, convincing arguments to persuade men to believe, and dealt with men as rational creatures. Truly, saith Hooker, “It is not a thing impossible, nor greatly hard, even by such kind of proofs so to manifest and clear that point, that no man living shall be able to deny it, without denying some apparent principle, such as all men acknowledge to be true. And Scripture teacheth us that saving truth, which God hath discovered to the world by revelation; but it presumeth us taught otherwise, that itself is divine and sacred. And these things we believe, knowing by reason, that Scripture is the word of God.” Again, saith he, “ It is not required, nor can be exacted at our hands, that we should yield it any other assent, than such as doth answer the evidence.” Again, how bold and confident soever we may be in words, when it comes to the trial, such as the evidence is, which the truth hath, such is the assent; nor can it be stronger, if grounded as it should be.”
5. Is not faith a rational act of a rational creature? And so the understanding proceeds discursively in its production. And is not that the strongest faith which hath the strongest reasons to prove the testimony to be valid upon which it resteth, and the clearest apprehension and use of those reasons ?p And the truest faith which hath the truest reasons truly apprehended and used? And must not that, on the contrary, be weak or false faith which receives the verity and validity of the testimony from weak or false grounds, though the testimony, of itself, be the truest in the world ? Our divines use to say, concerning
• Hooker, Eccles, Pol. 3. pp. 102, 103. and lib. 2. pp, 73, 74. I pray read him there more fully opening this point.
p Religio omnis Christiana per apostolos 'tradita et scripta est, et super scripta prophetarum et apostolorum fundata.--Dr. Sutcliff. contra Bellar. de Monach. p. ll. See Dr. Jackson Of Saving Faith,' sect. 2. cap. 2. p. 143, &c. See since the first edition of this, a treatise put forth by Dr. Hammond, called “The Reasonableness of Christian Religion. As for those that cry out of our producing of reason in this case, as if it were Socinianism, their faith is unlike to be strong whose reason is so weak, or who renounce reason; else an infant, or a madman, would make the best Christian if reason were at such odds with faith as they imagine.
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love to Christ, that it is not to be measured by the degree of fervour so much as by the grounds and motives; so that if a man should love Christ upon the same reason as the Turk loves Mahomet, it were no true love: if he love him upon false grounds, it must needs be false love; and, if upon common grounds, it can be but a common love. I will not conclude, that to believe in Jesus Christ upon the grounds that a Turk believes in Mahomet, or to believe Scripture upon the same reasons that the Turks believe the Alcoran, is no true faith, supposing that both have the like verity of their reasons; but at best, it must be more weak and doubtful.
6. Are the generality of Christians able to give any better than some such common reason, to prove the verity of Scripture: nay, are the more exercised, understanding sorts of Christians able by sound arguments to make it good, if an enemy or a temptation put them to it: nay, are the meaner sort of ministers in England able to do this ? Let them that have tried, judge.
7. Canthesuperstructure befirm, where the foundation is sandy; and can our affections and actions be sound and strong, when our belief of Scripture is unsound or inform ? Surely this faith will have influence into all. For my own part, I take it to be the greatest cause of coldness in duty, weakness in grace, boldness in sinning, and unwillingness to die, &c., that our faith is either unsound or infirm in this point ; P few Christians among us, for aught I find, have any better than the popish implicit faith in this point, nor any better? arguments than the papists have to prove Scripture the word of God. They have received it by tradition, godly ministers and Christians tell them so, it is impious to doubt of it, and therefore they believe it. And this worm, lying at the root, causeth the languishing and decay of the whole: yet it is usually undiscerned, for the root lieth secret under ground. But I am apt to judge, that though the
P Origen expoundeth the words of the apostles, Luke xvii. 5, “Lord, increase our faith," thus: Having that faith which is not according to knowledge, let us have that which is according to knowledge.- Origen, in cap. 10. ad Rom.; which Dr. Willet also citeth, and approveth in Comment. on Jud. sect. p. (inibi) 131.
See this more fully in Dr. Preston. On the Attributes,' pp. 61-64. I See the danger and ill effects of believing Scripture on unsound grounds, excellently manifested by that excellent man of God, Mr. Pemble; Vindic. Gratiæ, pp. 218-220. If I am able to judge any thing of the methods of Satan's temptations, I dare say that this weapon is reserved usually for the
most complain of their uncertainty of salvation, through want of assurance of their own interest, and of the weakness of the applying act of faith ; yet the greater cause of all their sorrows, and that which shakes the whole building, is the weakness of their faith about the truth of Scripture; though, perhaps, the other be more perceived, and this taken notice of by few. There may be great weakness and unsoundness of belief, where yet no doubtings are perceived to stir. Therefore though we could persuade people to believe ever so confidently, that Scripture is the very word of God, and yet teach them no more reason why they should believe this, than any other book to be that word; as it will prove in them no right way of believing, so is it in us no right way of teaching
8. There is many a one who feels his faith shake here, who never discovers it: to doubt of our evidence, is taken for no great disgrace, and therefore men more freely profess such doubts; nay, and some, perhaps, who are not much troubled with them, because they would be thought to be humble Christians. But to question the truth of Scripture, is a reproachful blasphemy, and therefore all that are guilty here, speak not their doubts.
9. Is not the greatest battery by all sorts of enemies, especia ally made against this foundation ? The first place that the papist assaults you in, is here ; How know you the Scripture to be the word of God? The seekers will accost you, with the like question ; How know you that your Scripture and your ministry is of God? The familists and libertines do spit their venom here : and some Christians, by experience, are able to testify, that Satan's temptations are most violent here. Yea,
last combat ; and that many a man's faith hath perished on this rock, both in life, and especially in the last agonies and conflicts with the power of death and darkness.-Pemble ubi supra.
s Yet we acknowledge it belongs to the church: first, to be a witness and keeper of the Scriptures, which are true and genuine, and which are false and superstitious, or apocryphal : secondly, to divulge and preach the Scriptures : thirdly, to expound and interpret them.-Dr. Whitaker de Sacra Scriptura, q.3. cont. 1. c. 2. pp. 203, 204.
I would fain know of any papist, why their church believes the Scripture to be the word of God; if the laity must believe it upon the authority of the church, and this church be the pope and his clergy, then it followeth that the pope and clergy helieve it on their own authority ; as Paræus in Themat. Secul. xv.: Et quia papa solus vel cum prælatis est ecclesia, ideo papa et prælati Scripturæ credunt propter seipsos. Laicos volunt credere Scripturis propter papam et prælatos.