« PreviousContinue »
all these, and much more which might be alledged, puts the Minds even of the Learned into infinite Doubts, Scruples, and inextricable Difficulties.
I shall not return an Answer to what is objected against the Scriptures in these passages, because I have already referr'd my Reader to those Books which treat of the Canon of Scripture, and the integrity of our present Copies. Besides, I observe,
Secondly, that our Adversaries themselves do at other times effectually answer this Obje&ion, by granting, not only that the Scriptures, viz. that Canon which we receive, were written by inspiration; but also that they (x) give a TRVE and FAITHFUL Testimony, and that (1) the Errors which may be supposed by the injury of Times to have sipt in, are not such, but that there is a SVFFICIENT CLEAR Testimony left to ALL the Essentials of the Christian Faith, and that (z) they are a CLEAR and PERFECT Copy, as to ALL Esentials and Necessaries of Christian Religion. And if so, then what need was there of such hideous Declamations concerning the obscurity, imperfection, and uncertainty of the Scriptures? How our Adversaries can reconcile these Quotations, will appear upon Trial: but for my part, as I think that fome of 'em are gross Abuses of the Holy Scriptures, fo I think others are a full Vindication of them.
CH A P. XVII. Of the Judge of Controversies, and
an infallible judgment in things necessary to Salvation. O what has been said concerning the Rule of
Faith, I shall annex. a few words concerning the Judge of Controversies; and an infallible judgment in things necessary to Salvation.
Mr. Penn (a) faies, that an infallible judgment in things necessary to Salvation is both possible and requie site; and that God communicates it by his Spirit to the fouls of Men. Now whether, and in what fense, and by what means, an infallible judgment in things necessary to Salvation is possible, I need not in. quire. But whether it be requisite or necessary, I think it advisable briefly to consider.
'Tis certain, that he whose judgment is infalli-, ble concerning those things which are necessary to Salvation, is an infallible Judge of those Controverlies which arise about them. And 'tis granted on all hands, that God is an infallible Judge of those Controverses which arise about Matters necessary to Salvation ; because his judgment concerning those Matters cannot but be infallible. 'Tis granted also, that the Spirit is an infallible Judge of those Controversies which arise about Matters necessary to Salvation; because the Spirit is God. Nor do our Adversaries assert, that there is any other infallible Judge of those Con, troversies, besides the Spirit and the Scriptures,
(6) Christian Quaker, part 1. append, p.159,
And consequently they do not assert, that Man is an infallible Judge of those Controversies, nay, they do rather assert the contrary. For Mr. Barclay (6) faies, We look upon them (viz. the Scriptures) as the only fit outward Judge of Controversies among Christians. Now if Man be a Judge of Controversies, he must be an outward Judge. And if the Scriptures be the only fit outward Judge of them; then Man cannot be an infallible Judge of them. Because if he be an infallible Judge, he is a fit. Judge. And since, If he be a Judge at all, he must be an outward one; therefore, if he be an infallible Judge, he must be an outward fit Judge. And if he be an outward fit Judge, then the Scriptures are not the only outward fit Judge of Controversies.
But then, tho' our Adversaries do not affirm, that Man is an infallible Judge of Controversies concerning Matters necessary to Salvation ; yet they affirm, that he may and must have an infallible Judgment in things necessary to Salvation, and that God communicates it by his Spirit to him. Now I have shewn, that God does not in these daies communicate any thing to us by the immediate Revelation of his Spirit; and consequently that the Spirit does in these daies communicate nothing to us otherwise than by the mediate Revelation of the Scriptures. And if so; then God does not communicate to Man an infallible Judge ment concerning those Controversies which arise about Matters neceffary to Saivation, unless. he does it by the Scriptures.
(6) Apolo prop. 3. P. 305.
Now Mr. Barclay declares, that God does not by the Scriptures communicate to Man an infallible Judgment concerning thosc Controversies, which arise about Matters necessary to Salvation. This appears from his own words, which follow. In short (faies (c) he) the Matter is easily driven into this narrow compass. We believe, either because of an outward, or inward Testimony; that is, be. cause it is ontwardly delivered to us, or inwardly revealed to us.
For my part, I think the Papists do wisely in pleading for Infallibility; for certainly the true Church never was nor can be without it: and the Protestants do honestly in not claiming it; becanje they are sensible they want it. I fould therefore defire the one to prove, that, they are infallible; and advise the other to believe, they may, and seek after it. But I am sure, neither the one is, nor the other cannot without immediate Divine Revelation, In this passage, what Mr. Barclay calls Infallibility, is most plainly the same with what Mr. Penn calls an Infallible fudgment. And when Mr. Barclay alserts the Neceility of Infallibility, he does the same as Mr. Penn, who asserts that an infallible Judgment in things necessary to Salvation is requisite. For, saies Mr.(d) Barclay, 7 be asserting of Infalli, bility in the Church of Christ, is not the Error of the Church of Rome; but the pretending to it, when they have it not, and placing it where ihey should not. Now 'tis plain from Mr. Barclay, that Man can, not in his opinion have any Infallibility, or infallible Judgment in things neceilary to Salvation, without immediate Revelation. And consequently, he cannot have it by the Scriptures.
(c) of the Posibility and Neceflity of inward immed. Revel. advertis. p. 893. (a) Ibid.
Now I shall not inquire, as I have already said, whether, and in what sense, and by what means, a Man may have an infallible Judgment in things necessary to Salvation. 'Tis sufficient to observe, that I have proved that he has it not at all, unless from the Scriptures; and that our Adversaries do declare that he cannot have it from thence : and consequently they must deny Man's having any Infallibility, or infallible Judgment concerning Matters necessary to Salvation. And if fo; then certainly such an infallible Judgment is not requisite or necessary. Because God has not given Men any other means of attaining it, besides the Holy Scriptures; which our Adversaries affirm to be insufficient for that purpose.
I know they talk much of the Spirit's deciding Controversies, and explaining the Sense of those Scriptures, about the Interpretation of which they disagree, not only with us of the Established Church, but also with other Christians. 'Twere easy to expose what they say upon these Heads : but I forbear. Because, lince I have confuted their pretences to immediate Revelation, and ved that the Scriptures are the only Divine Revelations which we enjoy; 'tis plain, that the Spirit does not decide Controversies otherwise than by the Scripturcs. Nor does he explain the Scriptures themselves, otherwise than by blessing Men's endevers to attain the true meaning of them by fuch helps as he has afforded, viz. by consulting the Original, comparing Texts, c. with a teachable and upright Mind.
I mult add, that Mr. Barclay faies, as has been already observed, that the Scriptures are the only fir ourward Judge of Controversies. This expresfion I tako to be very improper. For the Scriptures