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A. By the constant, universal, and undeniable testimony both of the Jewish and Christian church: from the former of which we have received the scriptures of the Old; from the latter, those of the New Testament.
5. Q. How do you know that these books were written by the assistance of the Holy Spirit?
A. 1. By the authors who wrote them; who were, doubtless, no less inspired in what they wrote, than in what they taught, of the Gospel of Christ. 2. By the design of God in stirring up those holy men to the composing of them; which was to leave thereby a constant, infallible rule of faith to the church, in all ages of it. 3. By the opinion which all Christians, from the time they were published and received by them, have had of them; and the deference which, upon that account, they have paid to them. And, lastly, by the subject matter of them, and those internal marks of Divine wisdom and piety, which are so conspicuous in all the parts of them.
Proofs Subjoined.—Luke, i. 1,2,3. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered ihem unto us, which from the beginning were eye witnesses antl ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus. John, xix. 35. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe, xx. 24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 2 Pet. i. 15, 16. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and comingof our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his Majesty. John, xx. 31. These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name. Luke, i. 4. That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed. 2 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 17. From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
6. Q. Do you look upon these Scriptures as the only present rule of your faith?
A. I do: nor is there any other certain foundation on which to build it.
7. Q. What think you of the tradition of the church?
A. Could I be sure that any thing not contained jo the Scriptures came down by a certain, uninterrupted tradition, from the apostles, I should not except against it: 'Nay, I do therefore receive the Holy Scriptures as the rxdeof my faith, because they have such a tradition to warrant me so to do. But because there is no such tradition for any thing that is not written, therefore neither do I build my faith npon.it: but> on the contrary, do suppose that by the Providence of God, the Holy Scriptures were purposely written to prevent those doubts, those mistakes, and, indeed, those forgeries and deceits which his infinite wisdom foresaw an oral tradition would always have been liable unto.
Proof Subjoined.—'Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
8. Q. Can the Holy Scriptures alone make your faith perfect?
A. They can: nor ought I to believe any thing as an article of my faith, which either is not contained in them, or cannot plainly be proved by them.
Proof Subjoined.—2 Tim. iii. I7. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
9. Q. What do you think of the Church's definitions?
A. That I ought to submit to them in whatsoever they define agreeably to the word of God: but if in any thing they require me to believe what is contrary to the word of God, or cannot be proved thereby, I ought absolutely to reject the one, and am under no obligation to receive the other.
10. Q. But is not this to make yourself wiser than the Church?
A. No, by no means; but only to make the word of God of more authority with me than the word of man: whilst I choose rather to regulate my faith by what God has delivered, than by what man defines.
11. Q. Are the Holy Scriptures so plain and easy to be understood, that every one may be able to judge for himself what he ought to believe?
A. In matters of necessary belief, they are very plain, even to the most ordinary Christian: yet we do not deny but that every man ought to hear the Church; and to attend to the instructions of those who are the pastors of it. Only, we say, that neither the Church nor its pastors ought to teach any thing as an article of faith, or require any man's assent to it as such; that cannot be shewn to have been either expressly delivered in the word of God; or by a plain and necessary cousequence be proved thereby.
Proofs Subjoined.—Psalm cxix. 105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. John, v. 39. Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they, which testify of me. xx. 31. These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. Rom. xv. 4. Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 1 '.
12. Q. But how shall the unlearned be able to know what the Scriptures propose; seeing they are written in a language which Buch persons do not understand?
A. By reading them in their own vulgar tongue, into which every church has, or ought to have them faithfully translated, for the benefit of those who do not understand the languages in which they were composed. ...
13. Q. Do you then think that the people ought to be suffered promiscuously to read the Holy Scriptures? .. ' ■ .
A. Who shall forbid them to read what was purposely designed by God for their instruction? The Scriptures are as much the voice of the Apostles and Evangelists, to us of these times, as their preaching .was to those of the age in which they lived. And it may, with as good reason, be asked, Whether we think the people ought to have been promiscuously suffered heretofore to hear the Apostles preach; as -whether they ought to be suffered promiscuously to read their writings now.
Proofs Subjoined.—Matt. xxii. 29. Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. John, v. 39. Search the Saiptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Acts, xvii. 2, 11. Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word of God with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.
14. Q. But amidst so many things as the Holy Scriptures deliver, how shall the people be able to judge what is necessary to be believed by them?
A. Let them believe all they meet with there, and then, to be sure, they will believe all that is necessary. But, for the sake of those who either want ability to read, or capacity to judge, what is most necessary (in point of faith) to be known, and professed by them; the Church has, from the beginning, collected it into a short summary; which every person of old was required both to know and assent to, before he was admitted into the communion of it.
Proofs Subjoined.—Acts,viii. 36,37. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the Eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hin