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į but the first we utterly deny. Once more, he (s)
saies, we never compared the Scriptures to a mutilated and dim Copy. They are a clear and perfet Copy as to all Esentials and Necessaries of Christian Religion. How consistent these Expressions are with his denying the Scriptures to be an adequate, that is, a complete Rule of Faith, 'tis worth our Adversaries while to thew. For my part I confess, I cannot but think, that that Body of divine Revelations, in which all the Doctrines of Christianity are contained, and besides the Doctrines contained in which no new Doctrines are revealed by God, and which is a clear and perfect Copy as to all Essentials and Necessaries of Christian Religion; I say, I cannot but think, that such a Body of divine Revelations is a complete Rule of Faith. For what I pray is wanting? Would a Man desire more than all, or more than is necessary? If so; he deserves to want what he already
enjoys: but if not ; his Rule is sufficient and complete already.
I hope it appears from what has been said that the Scriptures are the only, and adequate or complete, Rule of Faith. But there are some inconsiderable Objections against this Truth, which remain still to be taken notice of.
1. 'Tis said, that the Scriptures are not the Uni. versal Rule, and therefore are not the only and complete Rule of Faith. Now 'tis true, that the Scriptures are not a Rule to those that are ignorant of them : nor is there any necessity they should. They are the Universal Rule to all such as have had the Gospel outwardly preached to them, and that is sufficient. And to them they are, 1. the only,
(s) Quakerism confirmed, fe&t. 1. p.603.
because I have shewn they have no other, ź. añ adequate or complete Rule, because I have shewn that they are defective in no respect.
2. 'Tis said, that the Scriptures were not alwaies a Rule of Faith, for time was when they were not. And if they were not alwaies a Rule of Faith, then they are not now the only Rule of Faith. Now 'tis true the Scriptures once were not; and consequently were not a Rule of Faith : but what then? Were there not then divine Revelations? if so, then those divine Revelations were the Rule of Faith. And we do not account the Scriptures a Rule of Faith for any other reason, but only because they contain divine Revelations. And since they do contain all the divine Revelations which we now enjoy, there. fore they are to us the only Rule of Faith.
3. 'Íis said, that the Canon of Scripture is, 1. uncertain and imperfect, some inspired Books being lot, and probably abused in the transcribing, and the inspiration of some others questioned, 2. obscure ; and therefore the Scriptures are not the only adequate Rule of Faith. For answer to this Objection, I refer, not only to what I have elsewhere (t) said, but also to those Writers who treat of the Canon of Scripture, and the Integrity of our Modern Copies. For the present I fall only observe two Things.
First, that how uncertain, imperfect, and obscure soever our Rule be, yet 'tis the only one we have; and we must be content with what God has given us. But in my judgment the Consideration of God's readiness to furnish us with all things that tend to our real happiness, is a much better
(t) Confut. of Popery, part 1. ch. 10, 11. p. 61, doc.
Argument for us to depend upon our Rule, than all the Cayils of our Adversaries are to make us distrust it. And surely, by the way, 'tis no Credit for our Adversaries to join with professed Libertines and Deists in undervaluing the Scriptures, and to furbith up their vile Arguments to abate our Veneration for them. For I appeal to any understanding Person, whether any Libertine or Deist did ever argue more strenuously against the Authority of the Bible, than Mr. Penn does in what follows. I ask (saies (w) he) how are they assured, that they (viz. the Scriptures) are not MISERABLY ABUSED by carlesness or design? since we see, that (** fing utmost diligence) both Translation, Transcription, and Printing, are subject to numerous Mistakes, and those sometimes very Material, against which the Scripture can be no Fence.
But admit there were no ground for any such Objection, I further demand of our Adversaries, if they are well assured of those Men, that first collected, embodied, and auihenticated them by a Public Canon, which we read to have been in the Council of Laodicea, 360 Years after Christ, thoxot as they are now received; during which time they had been tofjed and tumbled, some received, fome rejected, doubtless many hundred times transcribed, and IT IS NOT IMPROBABLE THAT THEY WERE ALSO ABUSED. If they miss in their Iudgment here, they are gone, tillihey come to us. I say, how do they know, that these Men rightly discerned true from Spurious ? Either their Judgment was infallible in the matter, or it was not. If it were, then there was such a thing as infallibility since the Apostles daies,
(w) Christian Quaker, part 1. appen. p. 141, 142.
which is a Contradiction to your felves. But be it So, that they were infallible ; how came you to be afsured they were so? Not by Inspiration ; That is dana gerous Doctrine with you. Which way was it then? Not by Tradition. Was it by the Scripture? That were to say, that the Scripture tells
you, that those Men that collected it for true, were right, in their Judgment. But we are yet to find any such place, and ibat is to beg the Question. I cannot see any other ground, besides your very great kindness to their Choice; which you call Popery, and believing as the Church Believe, in other Folks. But it these Men are fallible, as your own Principle makes them, and their own Determinations prove them; what then? Doubtless your condition will be defpeNow certain it is, that some of the Scriptures taken
one Council for Canonical, were rejected by another as Apocryphal; and that which was left out by the former for Apocryphal, was taken in by the latter for Canonical. Now visible it is, that they contradicted each other; and as true, that they both erred, respecting the present Belief. For your Canon and Catalogue varies from theirs; and, let me say without Offence, from any Catalogue you can produce. Behold, the Labyrinth of uncertainties you run your felves into, who go from that heavenly Gift in your selves, by which the Holy Scriptures are truly discerned, relified, and distinruijbed from the Inventions and Abuses of Men.
Somewhat after the same strain Mr. Barclay speaks. Last of all (saies (w) he) there is no less difficulty even occurs to these skilled in the Origi
(70) Apol. prop. 3. p. 302, 303.
nal Languages, who cannot so immediately receive the mind of the Authors in these Writings, as that their Faith do not at least obliquely depend upon the Honesty and Credit of the Transcribers ; since i he Orio ginal Copies are granted by all not to be now ex
Of which Transcribers Jerom in his time complaina ed, saying, that they wrote not what they found, but what they understood. And Epiphanius faith, that in the good and correct Copies of Luke it was written, that Christ wept, and that Irenæus doth cite it; but that the Catholics blotted it out, fearing left Heretics fbould have abused it. Other Fathers also declare, that whole Verses were taken out of Mark bea cause of the Manichees.
But farther, the various Lections of the Hebrew Character by reason of the Points, which some plead for as coevons with the first Writings, which others with no less probability alledge to be a later inven. tion; the Disagreement of diverse Citations of Christ and the Apostles with those Passages in the old Testament; the appeal to the great great Controversy among
the Fathers, whereof some most highly approve the Greek Septuagint, decrying and rendring very doubtful the Hebrew Copy, as in many places vitiated and altered by the Jews ; othersome, particularly Jerom, exalting the certainty of the Hebrew, and rejecting, yea, even deriding the History of the Septuagint, which the Primitive Church chiefly made use of, and some Fathers that lived Centuries before him affirmed to be a most certain thing; and the many various Lectie ors in diverse Copies of the Greek, and the great Altercations among the Farbers of the thrce Centuries, who had greater Opportunity to be better informed, than we can now lay claim to, concerning the Books to be admitted or rejected, as above is observed; I say,