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CHAPTER II.

How we may know assuredly the Scripture to be

the word of God.

Having laid the foundation that we are to build upon, I come now to the inquiry, whose resolution must thence be educed; that is, how we, and the rest of men in the world, who, through the merciful dispensation of God, have the book wherein the Scripture given out from him is contained, or said to be contained, who live so many ages from the last person who received any part of it immediately from God, may come to be ascertained, as to all the ends and purposes wherein we may be concerned, that the whole and entire written word in that book, hath the original, and consequently, the authority, that it. pleads and avows; namely, that it is from God, in the way and manner laid down, and not the invention of men, or “ cunningly-devised fables.”

, Now, seeing it is required of us by God himself, and that on the penalty of his eternal displeasure, if we fail in our duty (2 Thess. i. 8—10.), that we receive the Scripture not as we do other books, in relation to their author, with a firm opinion, built on prevailing probable arguments, but with divine and supernatural faith; it is especially inquired, What is the foundation and formal reason of our doing so ? Whatever that be, it gives an answer to this important question, -" Why, or on what account, do you believe the Scriptures, or books of the Old and New

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Testament, to be the word of God?" Now the formal reason of things being but one, whatever other inducements, or arguments, may tend to beget in us a persuasion that the Scripture is the word of God, yet they have no influence in that divine faith wherewith we are bound to believe them. They may indeed be of some use to repel the objections, that may be raised against the truth we believe; and so indirectly cherish and farther faith itself, but as concurring to the foundation, or formal reason of our believing, it is not capable of it.

Having, then, laid down the divine original of the Scriptures, and opened the manner of the words coming forth from God, an answer shall now, on that sole foundation, be returned to this inquiry. And this I shall do in the following position :

The authority of God, the supreme Lord of all, the first and only absolute truth, whose word is truth, speaking by the penmen of the Scriptures, evinced singly by the Scripture itself, is the sole foundation, or formal reason, of our assenting to those Scriptures as his word, and of our submitting our hearts and consciences to them, with that faith and obedience which is due to him alone.

God, speaking in the penmen of the Scripture, Heb. i. 1. his voice to them was accompanied with its own evidence, which gave assurance to them; and God, speaking by them, or their writings, to us, bis word is accompanied with its own evidence and assurance to us. His authority and veracity do so sufficiently manifest themselves, that men may quietly repose their souls upon them, in believing and obedience. Thus are we built “ on the foundation of the prophets and apostles,” in our believing.

for us.

That, then, which, to the establishment of the souls of believers, I shall labour to prove, is plainly this: that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament do abundantly and uncontrollably manifest themselves to be the word of the living God; so that, merely on the account of their own proposal of themselves to us, in the name and majesty of God, without assistance from tradition, church, or any thing else without themselves, we are obliged, upon the penalty of eternal damnation, to receive them with that subjection of soul which is due to the word of God. The authority of God shining in them, they afford to us all the divine evidence of themselves which God is willing to grant, or is any way needful

So, then, the authority of the written word is from itself, as the word of God, and the eviction of that authority to us is by itself.

The authority of the Scripture is strictly its power to command, and require obedience, in the name of God. To ask, then, whence it hath its authority, is to ask, whence it hath its power to command in the name of God. Surely men will not say, that the Scripture hath its power to command in the name of God from any thing but itself. And it is indeed a contradiction for men to say, “ They give authority to the Scriptures.” Why do they give this authority to that book rather than another? They must say,

" Because it is the word of God.” So the reason why they give authority to it, is the formal reason of all its authority, which it hath antecedently to their charter and concession of power : “ Thy word is truth."

Some say, indeed, that the Scripture hath its

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authority in itself, from its own divine original, but not in respect of us; and that we may know, understand, and submit to its authority, it must be testified to from some other person or thing appointed thereunto.

Ans. 1. But may not this be said of God himself, as well as of his word ? If God reveal himself to us, it must be by means; and if those means do not reveal him, unless they are testified to from somewhat else, God cannot reveal himself to us. If God and his word will keep themselves to themselves, they may be God and his word still, and keep their authority; but if they will put forth their commands to us, let them look that they get the church's testimonials, or, on this principle, they may be safely rejected. But,

2. Authority is a thing that no person can have in himself, without respect of others. nature, it relates to others that are subject to it. All authority arises from relation. The authority of God over his creatures, is from their relation to him as their Creator. A king's authority is in respect of his subjects. The authority of a minister relates to his flock; and he who hath no flock, hath no authority of a minister. If he have not a ministerial authority, in reference to a flock, a people, a church, he can have none in himself. So is it in this case: if the Scripture hath no authority, in respect of us, it hath none in itself, nor can have. If it hath it in itself, it hath it in respect of us. Such a right to command and oblige to obedience, is as inseparabl from authority, or a moral power, as heat is from fire. It is true, a man may have a lawful authority over

In its very

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those, whom, in practice, he cannot force or compel to obedience. But want of force doth not lessen authority. God looseth not his authority over men, though he put not forth towards them “ the greatness of his power, or the efficacy of the might of his strength,” to cause them to obey. It is foolish then to imagine, that a man should have an authority in himself, and yet not have that authority in respect of those who are subject to it.

That is not properly a law at all, which is not a law to some. Besides, all the evil of disobedience relates to the authority of him that requires the obediente. No action is disobedience, but from the subjection of him who performs, to him who requires obedience.. And therefore, if the Scripture hath not an authority in itself towards us, there is no evil in our disobedience to its commands. I speak of it as considered in itself, without the testimony pretended as necessary to give it an authority overus. Hitherto, then, have we carried this objection,—that to disobey the commands of the Scripture, before it receive a testimony from men, is no sin.

The sense, then, of our position, is evident and clear; and so our answer is given to the inquiry. The Scripture hath all its authority from its Author, both in itself, and in respect of us; and that it hath the author and original pleaded for, it declares itself, without any other assistance; the truth of which I shall now confirm, 1. By one general induction. 2.

. By testimonies. 3. By arguments, expressing the ways and means of its revelation of itself.

There are three ways, by which God, in several degrees, reveals himself, his properties, his mind, and will, to the sons of men.

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