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BOOK and value the Scriptures, which give us the truest re
presentation of the state and condition of our souls.
3. The scripture discovers to us the only way of pleasing God, and enjoying his favour. That clearly reveals the way (which man might have sought for to all eternity without particular revelation) whereby sins may be pardoned, and whatever we do may be acceptable unto God. It shews us that the ground of our acceptance with God is through Christ, whom he hath made a propitiation for the sins of the world, and who alone is the true and living way, whereby we may draw near to God with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. Through Christ we understand the terms on which God will shew favour and grace to the world; and by him we have ground of a naponcía, access with freedom and boldness unto God. On his account we may hope not only for grace to subdue our sins, resist temptations, conquer the Devil and the world, but, having fought this good fight, and finished our course by patient continuance in well-doing, we may justly look for glory, honour, and immortality, and that crown of righteousness which is laid up for those who wait in faith, holiness, and humility, for the appearance of Christ from heaven. Now what things can there be of greater moment and importance for men to know, or God to reveal, than the nature of God and ourselves, the state and condition of our souls, the only way to avoid eternal misery, and enjoy everlasting bliss ?
The Scriptures discover not only matters of importance, but of the greatest depth and mysteriousness. There are many wonderful things in the law of God; things we may admire, but are never able to comprehend. Such are the eternal purposes and decrees of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the
Son of God, and the manner of the operation of the Spi- CHAP. rit of God on the souls of men ; which are all things of great weight and moment for us to understand and believe that they are, and yet may be unsearchable to our reason as to the particular manner of them. What certain ground our faith stands on as to these things hath been already shewed, and therefore I forbear in-B. ii. c. 8.
sect. 5, 6, 7. sisting on them.
The Scripture comprehends matters of the most universal satisfaction to the minds of men; though many things do much exceed our apprehensions, yet others are most suitable to the dictates of our nature. As Origen bids Celsus see, Ει μη τα της πίστεως ημών, ταϊς Orig. cont. κοιναΐς εννοίαις αρχήθεν συναγορεύοντα, μετατίθησι τους ευγνωμό-β. 135. ed.
Spencer. wws akoúortas Tūv deyquévær, Whether it was not the agreeableness of the principles of faith with the common notions of human nature, which prevailed most upon all candid and ingenuous auditors of them. And therefore as Socrates said of Heraclitus's books, what he understood was excellent; and therefore he supposed that which he did not understand was so too : so ought we to say of the Scriptures, if those things which are within our capacity be so suitable to our natures and reasons, those cannot contradict our reason which yet are above them. There are many things which the minds of men were sufficiently assured that they were, yet were to seek for satisfaction concerning them, which they could never have had without Divine revelation. As the nature of true happiness, wherein it lay, and how to be obtained, which the philosophers were so puzzled with, the Scripture gives us full satisfaction concerning it. True contentment under the troubles of life, which the Scripture only acquaints us with the true grounds of, and all the prescriptions of heathen moralists fall as much short of, as the direc
tions of an empiric do of a wise and skilful physician. Avoiding the fears of death, which can alone be through a grounded expectation of a state of happiness which death leads men to, which cannot be had but through the right understanding of the word of God. Thus we see the excellency of the matters themselves contained in this revelation of the mind of God to the world.
As the matters themselves are of an excellent nature, so is the manner wherein they are revealed in the Scriptures; and that,
1. In a clear and perspicuous manner; not but there may be still some passages which are hard to be understood, as being either prophetical, or consisting of ambiguous phrases, or containing matters above our comprehension : but all those things which concern the terms of man's salvation, are delivered with the greatest evidence and perspicuity. Who cannot understand what these things mean, What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? that without faith it is impossible to please God; that without holiness none shall see the Lord; that unless we be born again, we can never enter into the kingdom of heaven. These and such like things are so plain and clear, that it is nothing but men's shutting their eyes against the light can keep them from understanding them. God intended these things as directions to men; and is not · he able to speak intelligibly when he pleases ? He that made the tongue, shall he not speak so as to be understood without an infallible interpreter; especially when it is his design to make known to men the terms of their eternal happiness? Will God judge men at the great day for not believing those things which they could not understand ? Strange, that ever men should judge the Scriptures obscure in matters necessary, when the
Scripture accounts it so great a judgment for men not CHAP. to understand them! If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath Cor. iv. blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them. Sure Lot's door was visible enough, if it were a judgment for the men of Sodom not to see it; and the Scriptures then are plain and intelligible enough, if it be so great a judgment not to understand them.
2. In a powerful and authoritative manner; as the things contained in Scripture do not so much beg acceptance as command it; in that the expressions wherein our duty is concerned are such as awe men's consciences, and pierce to their hearts and to their secret thoughts. All things are open and naked before Heb. iv. this word of God; every secret of the mind, and thought of the heart, lies open to its stroke and force: it is quick and powerful, sharper than a twoedged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The word is a telescope to discover the great luminaries of the world, the truths of highest concernment to the souls of men; and it is such a microscope as discovers to us the smallest atom of our thoughts, and discerns the most secret intent of the heart: and, as far as this light reacheth, it comes with power and authority, as it comes armed with the majesty of that God who reveals it, whose authority extends over the soul and conscience of man in its inost secret and hidden recesses.
3. In a pure and unmixed manner. In all other writings, how good soever, we see a great mixture of dross and gold together; here is nothing but pure gold, diamonds without flaws, suns without spots. The most current coins of the world have their alloys of baser
BOOK metals; there is no such mixture in Divine truths; as IU.
they all come from the same author, so they all have the same purity. There is a Urim and Thummim upon the whole Scripture; light and perfection in every part of it. In the philosophers we may meet, it may be, with some scattered fragments of purer metal, amidst abundance of dross and impure ore: here we have whole wedges of gold, the same vein of purity and holiness
running through the whole book of Scriptures. Hence 2 Tim. i. it is called the form of sound words ; here have been
no hucksters to corrupt and mix their own inventions with Divine truths.
4. In an uniform and agreeable manner. This I grant is not sufficient of itself to prove the Scriptures to be Divine, because all men do not contradict themselves in their writings : but yet there are some peculiar circumstances to be considered in the agreeableness of the parts of Scripture to each other, which are not to be found in mere human writings. 1. That this doctrine was delivered by persons who lived in different ages and times from each other. Usually one age corrects another's faults; and we are apt to pity the ignorance of our predecessors, when it may be our posterity may think us as ignorant as we do them. But in the sacred Scripture we read not one age condemning another; we find light still increasing in the series of times in Scripture, but no reflections in any time upon the ignorance or weakness of the precedent; the dim
mest light was sufficient for its age, and was a step to Quint. 1. i. further discovery. Quintilian gives it as the reason of
the great uncertainty of grammar rules, Quia non analogia dimissa cælo formam loquendi dedit: that which he wanted as to grammar, we have as to Divine truths ; they are delivered from heaven, and therefore are always uniform and agreeable to each other.