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examine the propriety of the appellation he gives the Scriptures; namely, the word of God.
The Scriptures are writings composed of words ; and words composed of letters are the marks and significations of things and not the very substance of the things, which they signify: thus, the Scriptures contain an account of the spirit by which the writers of them were inspired ; but they are not that spirit itself: they coultain a true record of the promise of eternal life ; but that eternal life is not in the Scriptures ; even
as Christ himself saith, " in them
have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me ;
will not come to me, that ye might have life." So they contain an account of the Gospel of Christ ; but they are not the gospel itself ; for “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” The Scriptures also contain an account of the word in different ages, according as it was delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners ; but the Scriptures themselves are not that word, they being a record of the operation of that word in different ages. The word of God is incorruptible, and liv, eth and abideth forever ; and, if the Scrip
• John, v. 29.
tures and all other books were consumed, the word of God would still remain an in corruptible quickening spirit.
I will therefore endeavour more fully to show what we call “ The Word of God;" even the same which the evangelist John testifier. “ In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God: All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men: and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not :”; again, “ That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”g
This testimony of the evangelist appears to me, if rightly understood, to be of itself sufficient to prove the impropriety of giving that appellation to the written book (however excellent) which ought only to be ascribed to Christ, the divine word, which was from the beginning, and by whom all things were made that were made. Now, the Scriptures were not from the beginning; neither was the world created by the Scriptures; but by the all creative power and
f. John, i. 1.
8 John, i. 9,
word of God; the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever ; in whom was, and is life, and that life is the only true light of men. The Scriptures bear full and ample testimony to this light, and ought, therefore, to be highly esteemed, as pointing the way, and directing us to Christ, the “ word of God," and true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, even as Christ saith of himself, “I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness; but shall have the light of life." But the scriptures have not enlightened every man that cometh into the world ; for, it is evident, from authentic accounts, that a great proportion of mankind have never had access to them ; and, perhaps, many have never heard of them ; whence then have they to look ; or where to find this true light that enlighteneth all men, but in the secret of their own hearts? agreeably to the declaration of the apostle, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”
Another apostle calls our attention to it, in that pathetic exhortation ; " receive with meekness the ingrafted word which is able to save your souls.” See the b John, viii. 12. i Rom. x. 8.
* James, i. 21.
power and virtue, here ascribed to this divine ingrafted word, as being able to save our souls; how coincident to the description elsewhere given of it; “ the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even 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 ; neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight.”! Such are not the Scriptures ; the spirit of discerning is not in the written book ; neither are all creatures manifest in its sight. The apostle John also says ;
“ I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you.”a Can any suppose the word of God here spoken of as abiding in them, could possibly be the Scriptures ? Surely, no such properties as these can be ascribed to the written book, but to Christ, the divine word, grace, or spirit in the heart; and they are beautifully descriptive of its operations upon the soul. Again, the the evangelist expressly tells us, that “the word was God.” Hence it is evident, that the Scriptures cannot be that word. I also
Heb. iv. 12, 13.
m 1 John, ii. 14.
conceive this declaration of the evangelist to be written purposely to shew that Christ is the word of God ;” and as it is evident, that the record of a thing is not the thing itself, so the Scriptures being a record of the operations of the word, are not the word itself.
We believe all respecting the Scriptures, that they themselves require us to believe ; that, according to apostolic doctrine, they are able to
“ make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. And * faith is the gift of God.”. Kemark, it is through this divine gift, that they are thus rendered efficacious, and by this alone, they become a profitable, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” As the Scriptures do not call themselves, “the word of God;" but are simply styled the Scriptures, or “the Scripture of truth ;'“9. we cannot admit the propriety of calling them by a name, which is not only in itself improper, but which they themselves do not authorize ; and, therefore, as Christ is the “ word of God," we style these writings, the Scriptures, as
n 2 Tim. iii. 15.
Eph. ii. 8. 9 Dan. X. 21.