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perience the fulfilment of the promise, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children."
“ Search the Scriptures, said our blessed Lord, to the unbelieving Jews, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me; but ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” It is our sincere engagement that we may be individually concerned to hold and use all the gifts, and the means, which our hea. venly Father has graciously provided for our conversion and furtherance in the way of life and salvation, in due reverence and esteem. That to Him, and to his beloved Son, and to the word of his grace, the first and highest place and honour, may ever, with all humility, obedience and fear, be ascribed; and to the Holy Scriptures the second place, as a means for which we are bound to be humbly thankful to him, and diligently to improve by the assistance of his Spirit, to our everlasting advantage.
Impressed with the importance of these views, and with the danger of being drawn away from a clear and full acknowledgment of our doctrine herein, we are engaged to revive the following passages from the Apology, viz:
"From these revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints, have proceeded the Scriptures of Truth, which contain a faithful historical account of the actings of God's people in divers ages, with many singular providences attending them; a prophetical account of several things, whereof some are already past and some yet to come; also an ample account of all the chief principles of the doctrine of Christ, held forth in divers precious declarations and exhortations, which,
by the moving of God's Spirit, were upon sundry occasions spoken and written unto some churches and their pastors. Nevertheless, because they are only a declaration of the Fountain and not the Fountain itself, they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all-truth and knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary rule of faith and manners. Yet because they give a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are, and may be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty. For as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify that the Spirit is that guide by which the saints are led into all truth; therefore according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader. Seeing then we do receive and believe the Scriptures, because they proceeded from the Spirit, for the same reason is the Spirit more originally and principally the rule.
“ Though then we do acknowledge the Scriptures to be very heavenly and divine writings, and the use of them to be very comfortable and necessary to the church of Christ; and admire, and give praises to the Lord for his wonderful providence in preserving these writings so pure and uncorrupted as we have them, through so long a night of apostacy, to be a testimony of his truth against the wickedness and abominations even of those whom he made instrumental in preserving them, so that they have kept them to be a witness against themselves; yet we may not call them the principal Fountain of all truth and knowledge, nor yet the first adequate rule of faith and manners, because the principal Fountain of truth, must be the Truth
itself, whose certainty and authority depend not upon another.
“If by the Spirit we can only come to the true knowledge of God ;-if by the Spirit we are to be led into all truth, and so be taught of all things; then the Spirit and not the Scriptures, is the foundation and ground of all truth and knowledge, and the primary rule of faith and manners. The very nature of the gospel declareth that the Scriptures cannot be the only and chief rule of Christians, else there would be no difference between the law and the gospel.”
“ There are numberless things with regard to their circumstances which particular Christians may be concerned in, for which there can be no particular rule had in the Scriptures; therefore the Scriptures cannot be a rule to them [in those things.] As for instance, some are called to the ministry of the word: Paul says there was à necessity laid upon him to preach the gospel, and woe is unto me if I preach it not. If it be necessary that there be now ministers of the church as well as then, there is the same necessity upon some more than upon others to occupy this place; which necessity, as it may be incumbent upon some particular persons, the Scriptures neither doth nor can declare.
“ If it be said the qualifications of a minister are found in the Scriptures, and by applying these qualifications to myself I may know whether I be fit for such a place or not, I answer; The qualifications of a bishop or minister, as they are mentioned both in the Epistle to Timothy and that to Titus, are such as may be found in a private Christian, yea, which ought in some measure to be in every true Christian; so that this giveth a man no certainty. Every capacity to an office gives me not a sufficient call to it. Again; by what rule shall I judge if I be so qualified ? How do I know that I am sober, meek, holy, harmless ? Is it not the testimony of the Spirit in my conscience that must assure me hereof? And suppose I was qualified and called, yet what Scripture rule shall inform me whether it be my duty to preach in this or in that place, in France or England, Holland or Germany? Whether I shall take up my time in confirming the faithful, reclaiming heretics, or converting infidels, as also in writing epistles to this or that church? The general rules of the Scriptures to be diligent in my duty; to do all to the glory of God, and for the good of his church, can give me no light in this thing; seeing two different things may both have a respect to that way; yet I may commit a great error and offence in doing the one, when I am called to the other. If Paul, when his face was turned by the Lord toward Jerusalem, had gone back to Achaia or Macedonia, he might have supposed he could have done God more acceptable service in preaching and confirming the churches, than in being shut up in prison in Judea ; but would God have been pleased herewith? Nay-certainly. Obedience is better than sacrifice, and it is not our doing that which is good simply, that pleaseth God, but that good which he willeth us to do.
“Moreover, that which, of all things, is most needful for a Christian to know, viz: whether he really be in the faith and an heir of salvation or not, the Scripture can give him no certainty in, neither can it be a rule to him. That this knowledge is exceedingly desirable and comfortable all do unanimously acknowledge; besides, it is especially commanded, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ? Wherefore the rather, brethren, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.' Now I say, what Scripture rule can assure me that I have true faith, and that my calling and election are sure ?"
After examining various suggestions he says;
“ Moreover the Scripture itself, wherein we are so earnestly pressed to seek this assurance, does not at all affirm itself a rule sufficient to give it, but wholly ascribeth it to the Spirit. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.' •Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.' • And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.' »
“ If it then be asked whether I think hereby to render the Scriptures altogether uncertain and useless, I answer, not at all: Provided, that to the Spirit, from which they came, be granted that place which the Scriptures themselves give it, I do freely concede to the Scriptures the second place, even whatsoever they say of themselves, which the apostle Paul chiefly mentions in two places, viz: •Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.' The Holy Scriptures are able to make 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