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tradition is but the preaching of the word, and not a distinct way of
through the transcribers' or printers' oversight, is of no great moment, as long as it is certain, that the Scriptures are not de industria corrupted, nor any material doctrine, history, or prophecy thereby obscured or depraved. God hath not engaged himself to direct every printer to the world's end, to do his work without any error. Yet it is unlikely that this should deprave all copies, or leave us uncertain wholly of the right reading, especially since copies were multiplied, because it is unlikely that all transcribers, or printers, will commit the very same error. We know the true copies of our statute books, though the printer be not guided by an unerring spirit. See Usher’s ‘Epistle to Lud. Capell.' 27. Yet do all, or most of these, in my judgment, cast away a singular prop to their faith, and lay it open to dangerous assaults, and doubt of that which is a certain truth. 28. As the translations are no further Scripture, than they agree with the copies in the original tongues; so neither are those copies further than they agree with the autographs, or original copies, or with some copies perused and approved by the apostles. 29. Yet is there not the like necessity of having the autographs to try the transcripts by, as there is of having the original transcripts to try the translations by. For there is an impossibility that any translation should perfectly express the sense of the original. But there is a possibility, probability, and facility, of true transcribing, and grounds to prove it true, de facto, as we shall touch anon. 30. That part which was written by the finger of God, as also the substance of doctrine through the whole Scriptures, are so purely divine, that they have not in them any thing human. 31. The next to these, are the words that were spoken by the mouth of Christ, and then those that were spoken by angels. 32. The circumstantials are many of them so divine, as yet they have in them something human, as the bringing of Paul's cloak and parchments, and, as it seems, his counsel about marriage, &c. 33. Much more is there something human, in the method and phrase, which is not so immediately divine as the doctrine. 34. Yet is there nothing sinfully human, and therefore nothing false in all. 35. But an innocent imperfection there is in the method and phrase, which if we deny, we must renounce most of our logic and rhetoric. 36. Yet was this imperfect way, at that time, all things considered, the fittest way to divulge the Gospel. That is the best language which is best suited to the hearers, and not that which is best simply in itself, and supposeth that under
standing in the hearers which they have not. Therefore it was wisdom and mercy to fit the Scriptures to the capacity of all. Yet will it not, therefore, follow, that all preachers at all times, should as much neglect definition, distinction, syllogism, &c., as Scripture doth. 37. Some doctrinal passages in Scripture are only historically related, and therefore the relating them is not asserting them for truth; and therefore those sentences may be false, and yet not the Scriptures false: yea, some falsehoods are written by way of reproving them, as Gehazi's lie, Saul's excuse, &c. 38. Every doctrine that is thus related only historically, is therefore of doubtful credit, because it is not a divine assertion, except Christ himself were the speaker, and therefore it is to be tried by the rest of the Scripture. 39. Where ordinary men were the speakers, the credit of such doctrine is the more doubtful, and yet much more, when the speakers were wicked; of the former sort are the speeches of Job's friends, and divers others; of the latter sort are the speeches of the Pharisees, &c., and perhaps Gamaliel's counsels. (Acts v. 34.) 40. Yet where God doth testify his inspiration, or approbation, the doctrine is of divine authority, though the speaker be wicked, as in Balaam's prophecy. 41. The like may be said of matter of fact;k for it is not either necessary or lawful, to speak such words or do such actions, merely because men in Scripture did so speak or do; no, not though they were the best saints; for their own speeches or actions are to be judged by the law, and therefore are no part of the law themselves. And as they are evil where they cross the law, as Joseph's swearing, the ancients' polygamy, &c., so are they doubtful where their congruence with the law is doubtful. 42. But here is one most observable exception, conducing much to resolve that great doubt, whether examples bind; where men are designed by God to such an office, and act by commission, and with a promise of direction, their doctrines are of divine authority, though we find not where God did dictate; and their actions done by that commission are current and exemplary, so far as they are intended or performed for example; and so example may be equivalent to a law, and the argument, à facto ad jus, may hold. So Moses being appointed to the forming of the old church and commonwealth of the Jews, to the building of the tabernacle, &c. His precepts and examples in these works, though we could not find his particular direction, are to be taken as divine. So also the apostles, having commission to form and order the gospel-churches, their doctrine and examples therein, are by their general commission warranted; and their practices in establishing the Lord's day, in settling the offices and orders of churches, are to us as laws, still binding with those limitations as positives only, which give way to greater. 43. The ground of this position is, because it is inconsistent with the wisdom and faithfulness of God; to send men to a work, and promise to be with them, and yet to forsake them, and suffer them to err in the building of that house, which must endure till the end of the world. 44. Yet if any of the commissioners do err in their own particular conversations, or in matters without the extent of their commis. sion, this may consist with the faithfulness of God; God hath not promised them infallibility and perfection; the disgrace is their own: but if they should miscarry in that wherein they are sent to be a rule to others, the church would then have an imperfect rule, and the dishonour would redound to God. 45. Yet I find not that ever God authorized any mere man to be a lawgiver to the church in substantials, but only to deliver the laws which he had given to interpret them, and to determine circumstantials not by him determined. 46. Where God owneth men's doctrines and examples by miracles, they are to be taken as infallibly divine; much more, when commission, promises, and miracles, do concur, which confirmeth the apostles'examples for current. 47. So that if any of the kings or prophets had given laws, and formed the church, as Moses, they had not been binding, because without the said commission; or if any other minister of the Gospel shall by word or action arrogate an apostolical privilege. 48. There is no verity about God, or the chief happiness of man written in nature, but it is to be found written in Scriptures. 49. So that the same thing may, in these several respects, be the object both of knowledge and of faith. 50. The Scripture being so perfect a transcript of the law of nature or reason, is inuch more to be credited in its supernatural revelations. 5). The probability of most things, and the possibility of all things contained in the Scriptures, may well be discerned by reason itself, which makes their existence or futurity the more easy to be believed. 52. Yet before this existence or futurity of any thing beyond the reach of reason
k A facto ad jus ad licitum vel debitum non valet argum.
1 As Peter, Gal. ii. 12, 13.
m Sufficiunt quidem sanctæ ac divinitus inspiratæ Scripturæ ad omnemin. structionem veritatis.-Athanas. lib. 1. cont, Gentil. initio.
can be soundly believed, the testimony must be known to be truly divine. 53. Yet a belief of scripture doctrine as probable, doth usually go before a belief of certainty, and is a good preparative thereto. 54. The direct, express sense, must be believed directly and absolutely as infallible, and the consequences where they may be clearly and certainly raised : but where there is danger of erring in raising consequences, the assent can be but weak and conditional. 55. A consequence raised from Scripture, being no part of the immediate sense, cannot be called any part of Scripture. 56. Where one of the premises is in nature, and the other only in Scripture, there the conclusion is mixed, partly known, and partly believed. That it is the consequence of those premises is known; but that it is a truth, is, as I said, apprehended by a mixed act. Such is a Christian's concluding himself to be justified and sanctified, &c. 57. Where, through weakness, we are unable to discern the consequences, there is enough in the express direct sense for salva. tion. 58. Where the sense is not understood, there the belief can be but implicit. 59. Where the sense is partly understood, but with some doubting, the belief can be but conditionally explicit; that is, we believe it, if it be the sense of the word. 60. Fundamentals must be believed explicitly and absolutely."
n Credere autem hæc talia debemus Deo, qui et nos fecit rectissime scientes, quia Scripturæ quidem perfectæ sunt; quippe a verbo Dei et spiritu ejus dictatæ. Nos autem secundum quod minores suinus, et novissimi à verbo Dei et spiritu ejus, secundum hoc et scientia mysteriorum ejus indigemus. Et non est anirum si in spiritualibus, celestibus, in his quæ habent reveJari, hoc patimur nos : quandoquidem etiam eorum quæ ante pedes sunt, (dico autem quæ sunt in hac creatura, quæ et conteruntur à nobis, et videutur, et sunt nobiscum) multa fugerunt nostram scientiam, et Deo hæc ipsa committimus. Oportet enim eum præ omnibus præcellare. Quid enim si tentemus exponere causam ascensionis Nili? Mulla quidem dicimus, et fortassis suasoria, fortassis autem non suasoria ; quod autem verum est et certum adjacet Deo. Sed et volantium animalium habitatio, eorum quæ veris tempore adveniunt ad nos, et autumni recedunt, cum in hoc mundo hoc ipsum liat, fugit nostram scientiam, &c.- Irenæus adv. Harcs. lib. 2.