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against turning aside to the traditions of men, and St. Peter in a notable passage declares the Christian's salvation to be a redemption from the vanity of such traditions as Rome would make a very condition of doctrinal soundness. A single passage only is necessary to establish the positive side of the argument. It is part of St. Paul's commendation of the young Bishop of Ephesus: "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.''3 If to this be added the curse pronounced upon the corrupter of Scripture in the book of Revelation, the Scriptures have declared and vindicated their own sufficiency.
1. “The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation.” The potent word in this declaration is salvation. The Scriptures are a means to an end. They were spoken and recorded to advance and complete human redemption. Their use will be fulfilled only when the race has completed the cycle of its perfection. “All things necessary.” It contains nothing that is not necessary; or if so, it contains that thing in the most incidental way. Agreeably to this declaration, it may be said that the Bible is not a treatise on the natural sciences, yet it contains much that is valuable to those sciences. It is not a system of philosophy, yet it contains much that is profoundly philosophical. It is not primarily literature, and yet it transcends in that field. It is the embodiment of moral and spiritual truth. It is a manual of, a guide to, salvation.
* i Peter i. 18. 32 Timothy iii. 15. 'Revelation xxii. 18, 19.
2. "Whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” The only sure defense against erroneous doctrine is the Bible itself. Creeds are not a certain defense; they are too often a snare, and for that reason their language should be brief, guarded, and inclusive only of absolute verities. The full appeal should be made to the Written Word. This is the strong position of Methodism. Doctrines repugnant to the Word or plainly not supported by it should be reprobated with confidence and spirit. No matter how enticing these doubtful teachings appear on their face or in their immediate results, there should be no cause in us for hesitancy in opposing them, nor any lack of courage or sincerity in declaring our belief concerning them. The Written Word is such a rule that, when believed and fully accepted, it gives certain confidence.
3. “In the name of the Holy Scriptures we do understand those canonical books of the Old and the New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." In the early Church there was little difference as to what was Scripture. From the writings of the Church Fathers we learn that from the second century the accepted canonical books were almost exactly as we have them to-day. In fact, there was no variation except in the case of the Revelation, the Epistle of James, and the Second Epistle of Peter, and possibly one other. But where one list omitted one, another contained it, so that the omissions are
considered to be accidental. St. Jerome translated some of the Apocryphal books into the Latin Vulgate; but the earlier Church, both East and West, gave to them a secondary value. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1546), however, for the reason that these Apocryphal Scriptures gave color to some popish superstitions, declared them canonical and anathematized all who should disallow the claim. The Anglican Articles which were written soon afterwards contained what are now our Fifth and Sixth Articles on the canon, which are in fact the first historic Protestant statement of what is very Scripture. On its completeness as a confessional writing we have already remarked. We dare affirm that the world contains none other so good nor that an improvement upon it can ever be fashioned.
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and the New Testament everlasting life is offered
S“Tertullian, 'the first father of the Western Church, who lived near the end of the second century—that is, a little more than one hundred years after the close of the canonis one of our chief witnesses to the truth of the order and number of the books as we now have them. He mentions all the books of the Old Testament except five. He catalogues a number of the Apocryphal Books, and refers to all the books of the New Testament by name, excepting Second Peter, Third John, and James. The names of the books wanting are believed to have been lost or omitted in the copying of his manuscripts.” (See “Life and Writings of Tertullian," by the Bishop of Bristol.)
to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
This Article is a reaffirmation of the canonical integrity of the Old Testament in its entirety. There was once, as there is now, a diversion in some quarters against the authority and value of the Old Testament. The Methodist Church does not in its Confession stand for that idea. It has no syllable of sympathy with it. The Scriptures are one, of equal authority and burdened with one thought-namely, Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. The New Testament is of one substance with the Old, bearing to it the same relation that the ripened fruit does to the tree.
1. “The Old Testament is not contrary to the New." Both Christ and the New Testament writers quoted freely from the Old Testament, and always with unquestioning indorsement of its validity and pertinence. More than once the Master declared his own life and ministry to be the fulfillment of the Scriptures, meaning the Hebrew Scriptures. There is no conflict in the moral teachings of the Old and the New. The ceremonial law so fully set forth in the Pentateuch was a "schoolmaster” to bring the world to Christ. The sacrifices of the old dispensation were types of the “one oblation and satisfaction” made by Christ on the cross. His life was a perfect keeping of the Ten Commandments.
2. “Both in the Old and the New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ.” Christ was the “Angel of the covenant” who was with Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness. He was the “Shiloh" to come; he was the “Seed of the woman” who should bruise the serpent's head. He was the “Daysman” of Job and the “Redeemer” who should stand upon the earth in the latter days. He was the “Messiah” of the prophets, the “Son of David,” the "King of Israel," the "Desire of the Nations." St. Matthew's story of the Nativity proves that the world was in a state of expectancy at the coming of the Babe because of the Old Testament types and the specific promise of a Messiah. The sordid attached a political significance to the Messianic office, but the devout saw in it the salvation of God—the means of giving everlasting life to the world. So Simeon and
. Anna in the temple blessed him as "a light to lighten" and a comfort to those who "looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Peter likewise confessed him as the One who alone had “the words of eternal life.” All this was an echo of the teachings of the Old Testament and before the first syllable of the New had been written.
3. “They are not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises.” It has been much the fashion of a certain school of criticism to decry the state of doctrinal development illustrated in the Old Testament. Especially is this true with reference to the doctrine of the future life. No