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but the first we utterly deny. Once more, he (s) faies, we never compared the Scriptures to a mutilated and dim Copy. They are a clear and perfect Copy as to all Effentials and Neceffaries of Christian Religion. How confiftent thefe Expreffions are with his denying the Scriptures to be an adequate, that is, a complete Rule of Faith, 'tis worth our Adverfaries while to thew. For my part I confefs, I cannot but think, that that Body of divine Revelations, in which all the Doctrines of Chriftianity 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 Effentials and Neceffaries of Chriftian Religion; I fay, I cannot but think, that fuch a Body of divine Revelations is a complete Rule of Faith. For what I pray is wanting? Would a Man defire more than all, or more than is necessary? If fo; he deserves to want what he already enjoys: but if not; his Rule is fufficient and complete already.
I hope it appears from what has been faid that the Scriptures are the only, and adequate or complete, Rule of Faith. But there are fome inconfiderable Objections against this Truth, which remain ftill to be taken notice of.
1. 'Tis faid, that the Scriptures are not the Univerfal Rule, and therefore are not the only and complete Rule of Faith. Now 'tis true, that the Scriptures are not a Rule to thofe that are ignorant of them nor is there any neceffity they should. They are the Univerfal Rule to all fuch as have had the Gospel outwardly preached to them, and that is fufficient. And to them they are, 1. the only,
(s) Quakerifm confirmed, sect. 1. p. 603.
because I have fhewn they have no other, 2. añ adequate or complete Rule, because I have fhewn that they are defective in no refpe&t.
2. 'Tis faid, 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 confequently were not a Rule of Faith: but what then? Were there not then divine Revelations? if fo, 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 fince they do contain all the divine Revelations which we now enjoy, therefore they are to us the only Rule of Faith.
3. 'Tis faid, that the Canon of Scripture is, 1. uncertain and imperfect, fome infpired Books being lot, and probably abused in the tranfcribing, and the infpiration of fome others questioned, 2. obfcure; 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 elfewhere (t) faid, but alfo to thofe Writers who treat of the Canon of Scripture, and the Integrity of our Modern Copies. For the prefent I shall only obferve two Things.
First, that how uncertain, imperfect, and obfcure foever 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 Confideration of God's readinefs 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, &c.
Argument for us to depend upon our Rule, than all the Cavils of our Adverfaries are to make us diftruft it. And furely, by the way, 'tis no Credit for our Adverfaries to join with profeffed Libertines and Deifts in undervaluing the Scriptures, and to furbish up their vile Arguments to abate our Veneration for them. For I appeal to any underftanding Perfon, whether any Libertine or Deift did ever argue more ftrenuously against the Authority of the Bible, than Mr. Penn does in what follows. I ask (faies (u) he) how are they assured, that they (viz. the Scriptures) are not MISERABLY ABUSED by carlefness or defign? fince we fee, that (nfing utmost diligence) both Translation, Transcription, and Printing, are fubject to numerous Miftakes, and thofe fometimes 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 Adverfaries, if they are well affured of thofe Men, that first collected, embodied, and authenticated them by a Public Canon, which we read to have been in the Council of Laodicea, 360 Years after Christ, tho' not as they are now received; during which time they had been tof fed and tumbled, fome received, fome rejected, doubtless many hundred times tranfcribed, and IT IS
NOT IMPROBABLE THAT THEY WERE ALSO ABUSED. If they miss in their Fudgment C here, they are gone, till they come to us. I fay, how do they know, that these Men rightly difcerned true from Spurious? Either their Fudgment was infallible in the matter, or it was not. If it were, then there was fuch a thing as infallibility fince the Apostles daies,
(u) Chriftian Quaker, part 1. appen. p.141,142.
which is a Contradiction to your felves. But be it fo, that they were infallible; how came you to be af fured they were fo? Not by Inspiration ; That is dangerous Doctrine with you. Which way was it then? Not by Tradition. Was it by the Scripture? That were to fay, 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 fuch place, and that is to beg the Question. I cannot see any other ground, befides your very great kindness to their Choice; which you call Popery, and believing as the Church Believes, in other Folks. But if thefe Men are fallible, as your own Principle makes them, and their own Determinations prove them; what then? Doubtless your condition will be defpe
Now certain it is, that fome 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 prefent Belief. For your Canon and Catalogue varies from theirs; and, let me fay 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 felves, by which the Holy Scriptures are truly difcerned, relifhed, and diftinguished from the Inventions and Abufes of Men.
Somewhat after the fame ftrain Mr. Barclay fpeaks. Laft of all (faies (w) he) there is no less difficulty even occurs to thefe skilled in the Origi
(w) Apol. prop. 3. p. 302, 303.
nal Languages, who cannot fo immediately receive the mind of the Authors in thefe Writings, as that their Faith do not at least obliquely depend upon Honesty and Credit of the Tranfcribers; fince the Original Copies are granted by all not to be now ex
Of which Tranfcribers Jerom in his time complain ed, faying, 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 Chrift wept, and that Irenæus doth cite it; but that the Catholics blotted it out, fearing left Heretics fhould have abused it. Other Fathers alfo declare, that whole Verfes were taken out of Mark be-. cause of the Manichees.
But farther, the various Lections of the Hebrew Character by reason of the Points, which fome plead for as coevous with the first Writings, which others with no lefs probability alledge to be a later invention; the Disagreement of diverse Citations of Chrift and the Apostles with thofe Paffages in the old Teftament; the appeal to the 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 Hiftory of the Septuagint, which the Primitive Church chiefly made use of, and fome Fathers that lived Centuries before him affirmed to be a moft certain thing; and the many various LeƐtions in diverfe Copies of the Greek, and the great Altercations among the Fathers of the three 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 obferved; I say,