this post is provided by SEA member, Roy Ingle
ON THE RULE OF RELIGION, THE WORD OF GOD, AND THE SCRIPTURES IN PARTICULAR
I. As religion is the duty of man towards God, it is necessary that it should be so prescribed by God in his sure word as to render it evident to man that he is bound by this prescript as it proceeds from God; or, at least, it may and ought to be evident to man.
II. This word is either endiaqeton, [an inward or mental reasoning,] or wroforikon, [a spoken or delivered discourse] the former of them being engrafted in the mind of man by an internal inscription, whether it be an increation or a superinfusion; the latter being openly pronounced.
III. By the engrafted word, God has prescribed religion to man, first by inwardly persuading him that God ought, and that it was his will, to be worshipped by man; then, by universally disclosing to the mind of man the worship that is pleasing to himself, and that consists of the love of God and of one’s neighbour; and, lastly, by writing or sealing a remuneration on his heart. This inward manifestation is the foundation of all external revelation.
IV. God has employed the outward word, First, that he might repeat what had been engrafted — might recall it to remembrance, and might urge its exercise. Secondly, that he might prescribe to him other things besides, which seem to be placed in a four-fold difference.
(1.) For they are either such things as are homogeneous to the law of nature, which might easily be raised up on the things engrafted, or which man could not with equal ease deduce from them.
(2.) Or they may appear to be such things as these, yet such as it has pleased God to circumscribe, lest, from the things engrafted, conclusions should be drawn that were universally, or at least for that time, repugnant to the will of God.
(3.) Or they are merely positive, having no communion with these engrafted things, although they rest on the general duty of religion.
(4.) Or, lastly, according, to some state of man, they are suitable to him, particularly for that into which man was brought by the fall from his primeval condition.
V. God communicates this external word to man, either orally, or by writing. For, neither with respect to the whole of religion, nor with respect to its parts, is God confined to either of these modes of communication; but he sometimes uses one and sometimes another, and at other times both of them, according to his own choice and pleasure. He first employed oral enunciation in its delivery, and afterwards, writing, as a more certain means against corruption and oblivion. He has also completed it in writing; so that we now have the infallible word of God in no other place than in the Scriptures, which are therefore appropriately denominated “the instrument of religion.”
VI. These Scriptures are contained in those books of the Old and the New Testament which are called “canonical:” They consist of the five books of Moses; the books of Joshua, Judges, and of Ruth; the First and Second of Samuel; the First and Second of Kings; the First and Second of Chronicles; the books of Ezra and of Nehemiah, and the first ten chapters of that of Esther; fifteen books of the prophets, that is, the three Major and the twelve Minor Prophets; the books of Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticles, Daniel, and of the Lamentations of Jeremiah: All these books are contained in the Old Testament. Those of the New Testament are the following: The four Evangelists; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; thirteen of St. Paul’s Epistles; the Epistle to the Hebrews; that of St. James; the two of St. Peter; the three of St. John; that of St. Jude; and the Apocalypse by St. John. Some of these are without hesitation accounted authentic; but about others of them doubts have been occasionally entertained. Yet the number is quite sufficient of those about which no doubts were ever indulged.
VII. The primary cause of these books is God, in his Son, through the Holy Spirit. The instrumental causes are holy men of God, who, not at their own will and pleasure, but as they were actuated and inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote these books, whether the words were inspired into them, dictated to them, or administered by them under the divine direction.
VIII. The matter or object of the Scriptures is religion, as has already been mentioned. The essential and internal form is the true intimation or signification of the will of God respecting religion. The external is the form or character of the word, which is attempered to the dignity of the speaker, and accommodated to the nature of things and to the capacity of men.
IX. The end is the instruction of man, to his own salvation and the glory of God. The parts of the whole instruction are doctrine, reproof, institution or instruction, correction, consolation, and threatening.
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