Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Arminius on The Will of God, On The Various Distinctions

Disputation 19: On The Various Distinctions of The Will of God
1. Though the will of God be one and simple, yet it may be variously distinguished, from its objects, in reference to the mode and order according to which it is borne towards its objects. Of these distinctions the use is important in the whole of the Scriptures, and in explaining many passages in them. 

2. The will of God is borne towards its object either according to the mode of nature, or that of liberty. In reference to the former, God tends towards his own primary, proper and adequate object, that is, towards himself. But, according to the mode of liberty, he tends towards other things — and towards all other things by the liberty of exercise, and towards many by the liberty of specification; because he cannot hate things, so far as they have some likeness of God, that is, so far as they are good; though he is not necessarily bound to love them, since he might reduce them to nothing whenever it seemed good to himself.

3. The will of God is distinguished into that by which he absolutely wills to do any thing or to prevent it; and into that by which he wills something to be done or omitted by his rational creatures. The former of these is called "the will of his good pleasure," or rather "of his pleasure;" and the latter, "that of his open intimation." The latter is revealed, for this is required by the use to which it is applied. The former is partly revealed, partly secret, or hidden. The former employs a power that is either irresistible, or that is so accommodated to the object and subject as to obtain or insure its success, though it was possible for it to happen otherwise. To these two kinds of the divine will, is opposed the remission of the will, that is, a two-fold permission, the one opposed to the will of open intimation, the other to that of good pleasure. The former is that by which God permits something to the power of a rational creature by not circumscribing some act by a law; the latter is that by which God permits something to the will and capability of the creature, by not placing an impediment in its way, by which the act may in reality be hindered.

4. Whatever things God wills to do, he wills them (1.) either from himself, not on account of any other cause placed beyond him, (whether that be without the consideration of any act perpetrated by the creature, or solely from the occasion of the act of the creature,)

(2.) or on account of a preceding cause afforded by the creature. In reference to this distinction, some work is said to be "proper to God," some other "extraneous, strange and foreign." But there is a two-fold difference in those things which he wills to be done; for they are pleasing and acceptable to God, either in themselves, as in the case of moral works; or they please accidentally and on account of some other thing, as in the case of things ceremonial.

5. The will of God is either peremptory, or with a condition.

(1.) His peremptory will is that which strictly and rigidly obtains, such as the words of the gospel which contain the last revelation of God: "The wrath of God abides on him who does not believe;" "He that believes shall be saved;" also the words of Samuel to Saul: "The Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel."

(2.) His will, with a condition, is that which has a condition annexed, whether it be a tacit one, such as, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them," that is, unless he be delivered from this curse as it is expressed in Galatians 3:13. See also Jeremiah 18:7-10.

6. One will of God is absolute, another respective. His absolute will is that by which he wills any thing simply, without regard to the volition or act of the creature, such as is that about the salvation of believers. His respective will is that by which he wills something with respect to the volition or the act of the creature. It is also either antecedent or consequent.

(1.) The antecedent is that by which he wills something with respect to the subsequent will or act of the creature, as, "God wills all men to be saved if they believe."

(2.) The consequent is that by which he wills something with respect to the antecedent volition or act of the creature, as, "Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Better would it have been for that man if he had never been born! Both depend on the absolute will, and according to it each of them is regulated.

7. God wills some things, so far as they are good, when absolutely considered according to their nature. Thus he wills alms-giving, and to do good to man so far as he is his creature. He also wills some other things, so far as, all circumstances considered, they are understood to be good. According to this will, he says to the wicked man, "What hast thou to do, that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?" And he speaks thus to Eli: "Be it far from me that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." This distinction does not differ greatly from the antecedent will of God, which has been already mentioned.

8. God wills some things per se or per accidens. Of themselves, he wills those things which are simply relatively good. Thus He wills salvation to that man who is obedient. Accidentally, those things which, in some respect are evil, but have a good joined with them, which God wills more than the respective good things that are opposed to those evil. Thus he wills the evils of punishment, because he chooses that the order of justice be preserved in punishment, rather than that a sinning creature should escape punishment, though this impunity might be for the good of the creature.

9. God wills some things in their antecedent causes, that is, he wills their causes relatively, and places them in such order that effects may follow from them; and if they do follow, he wills that they, of themselves, be pleasing to him. God wills other things in themselves. This distinction does not substantially differ from that by which the divine will is distinguished into absolute and selective.


1. Is it possible for two affirmatively contrary volitions of God to tend towards one object which is the same and uniform? We answer in the negative.

2. Can one volition of God, that is, one formally, tend towards contrary objects? We reply, It can tend towards objects physically contrary, but not towards objects morally contrary.

3. Does God will, as an end, something which is beyond himself, and which does not proceed from his free will? We reply in the negative.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Arminius On The Free Will of Man and It's Powers

Disputation 11: On The Free Will Of Man And Its Powers
Respondent: Paul Leonards
1. The word, arbitrium, "choice," or "free will," properly signifies both the faculty of the mind or understanding, by which the mind is enabled to judge about any thing proposed to it, and the judgment itself which the mind forms according to that faculty. But it is transferred from the Mind to the Will on account of the very close connection which subsists between them. Liberty, when attributed to the will, is properly an affection of the will, though it has its root in the understanding and reason. Generally considered, it is various. 

(1.) It is a Freedom from the control or jurisdiction of one who commands, and from an obligation to render obedience.

(2.) From the inspection, care, and government of a superior.

(3.) It is also a freedom from necessity, whether this proceeds from an external cause compelling, or from a nature inwardly determining absolutely to one thing.

(4.) It is a freedom from sin and its dominion.

(5.) And a freedom from misery.

2. Of these five modes of liberty, the first two appertain to God alone; to whom also on this account, autexousia perfect independence, or complete freedom of action, is attributed. But the remaining three modes may belong to man, nay in a certain respect they do pertain to him. And, indeed, the former, namely, freedom from necessity always pertains to him because it exists naturally in the will, as its proper attribute, so that there cannot be any will if it be not free. The freedom from misery, which pertains to man when recently created and not then fallen into sin, will again pertain to him when he shall be translated in body and soul into celestial blessedness. But about these two modes also, of freedom from necessity and from misery, we have here no dispute. It remains, therefore, for us, to discuss that which is a freedom from sin and its dominion, and which is the principal controversy of these times.

3. It is therefore asked, is there within man a freedom of will from sin and its dominion, and how far does it extend? Or rather, what are the powers of the whole man to understand, to will, and to do that which is good? To return an appropriate answer to this question, the distinction of a good object, and the diversity of men’s conditions, must both enter into our consideration. The Good Things presented to man are three, natural, which he has in common with many other creatures; animal, which belong to him as a man; and spiritual, which are also deservedly called Celestial or Divine, and which are consentaneous to him as being a partaker of the Divine Nature. The States, or Conditions are likewise three, that of primitive innocence, in which God placed him by creation; that of subsequent corruption, into which he fell through sin when destitute of primitive innocence; and, lastly, that of renewed righteousness, to which state he is restored by the grace of Christ.

4. But because it is of little importance to our present purpose to investigate what may be the powers of free will to understand, to will, and to do natural and animal good things; we will omit them, and enter on the consideration of spiritual good, that concerns the spiritual life of man, which he is bound to live according to godliness, inquiring from the Scriptures what powers man possesses, while he is in the way of this animal life, to understand, to will, and to do spiritual good things, which alone are truly good and pleasing to God. In this inquiry the office of a Director will be performed by a consideration of the three states, of which we have already treated, [§ 3,] varied as such consideration must be in the relation of these powers to the change of each state.

5. In the state of Primitive Innocence, man had a mind endued with a clear understanding of heavenly light and truth concerning God, and his works and will, as far as was sufficient for the salvation of man and the glory of God; he had a heart imbued with "righteousness and true holiness," and with a true and saving love of good; and powers abundantly qualified or furnished perfectly to fulfill the law which God had imposed on him. This admits easily of proof, from the description of the image of God, after which man is said to have been created, (Genesis 1:26, 27,) from the law divinely imposed on him, which had a promise and a threat appended to it, (2:17,) and lastly from the analogous restoration of the same image in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10.)

6. But man was not so confirmed in this state of innocence, as to be incapable of being moved, by the representation presented to him of some good, (whether it was of an inferior kind and relating to this animal life, or of a superior-kind and relating to spiritual life,) inordinately and unlawfully to look upon it and to desire it, and of his own spontaneous as well as free motion, and through a preposterous desire for that good, to decline from the obedience which had been prescribed to him. Nay, having turned away from the light of his own mind and his chief good, which is God, or, at least, having turned towards that chief good not in the manner in which he ought to have done, and besides having turned in mind and heart towards an inferior good, he transgressed the command given to him for life. By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is Under The Dominion of Sin. For "to whom any one yields himself a servant to obey," (Romans 6:16,) and "of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage," and is his regularly assigned slave. (2 Peter 2:19.)

7. In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: "Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing." That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

8. The mind of man, in this state, is dark, destitute of the saving knowledge of God, and, according to the Apostle, incapable of those things which belong to the Spirit of God. For

"the animal man has no perception of the things of the Spirit of God;" (1 Corinthians 2:14;)

in which passage man is called "animal," not from the animal body, but from anima, the soul itself, which is the most noble part of man, but which is so encompassed about with the clouds of ignorance, as to be distinguished by the epithets of "vain" and "foolish;" and men themselves, thus darkened in their minds, are denominated "mad" or foolish, "fools," and even "darkness" itself. (Romans 1:21, 22; Ephesians 4:17, 18; Titus 3:3; Ephesians 5:8.) This is true, not only when, from the truth of the law which has in some measure been inscribed on the mind, it is preparing to form conclusions by the understanding; but likewise when, by simple apprehension, it would receive the truth of the gospel externally offered to it. For the human mind judges that to be "foolishness" which is the most excellent "wisdom" of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24.) On this account, what is here said must be understood not only of practical understanding and the judgment of particular approbation, but also of theoretical understanding and the judgment of general estimation.

9. To the darkness of the mind succeeds the perverseness of the affections and of the heart, according to which it hates and has an aversion to that which is truly good and pleasing to God; but it loves and pursues what is evil. The Apostle was unable to afford a more luminous description of this perverseness, than he has given in the following words:

"The carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7.)

For this reason, the human heart itself is very often called deceitful and perverse, uncircumcised, hard and stony." (Jeremiah 13:10; 17:9; Ezekiel 36:26.) Its imagination is said to be "only evil from his very youth;" (Genesis 6:5; 8:21;) and "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries," etc. (Matthew 15:19.)

10. Exactly correspondent to this darkness of the mind, and perverseness of the heart, is the utter weakness of all the powers to perform that which is truly good, and to omit the perpetration of that which is evil, in a due mode and from a due end and cause. The subjoined sayings of Christ serve to describe this impotence. "A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit." (Matthew 7:18.) "How can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (12:34.)

The following relates to the good which is properly prescribed in the gospel: "No man can come to me, except the Father draw him." (John 6:44.) As do likewise the following words of the Apostle:

"The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;" (Romans 8:7;.

therefore, that man over whom it has dominion, cannot perform what the law commands. The same Apostle says, "When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins wrought in us," or flourished energetically. (7:5.) To the same purpose are all those passages in which the man existing in this state is said to be under the power of sin and Satan, reduced to the condition of a slave, and "taken captive by the Devil." (Romans 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:26.)

11. To these let the consideration of the whole of the life of man who is placed under sin, be added, of which the Scriptures exhibit to us the most luminous descriptions; and it will be evident, that nothing can be spoken more truly concerning man in this state, than that he is altogether dead in sin. (Romans 3:10-19.) To these let the testimonies of Scripture be joined, in which are described the benefits of Christ, which are conferred by his Spirit on the human mind and will, and thus on the whole man. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-25; Ephesians 2:2-7; 4:17-20; Titus 3:3-7.) For, the blessings of which man has been deprived by sin, cannot be rendered more obviously apparent, than by the immense mass of benefits which accrue to believers through the Holy Spirit; when, in truth, nature is understood to be devoid of all that which, as the Scriptures testify, is performed in man and communicated by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" (2 Corinthians 3:17;) and if those alone be free indeed whom the Son hath made free;" (John 8:36;) it follows, that our will is not free from the first fall; that is, it is not free to good, unless it be made free by the Son through his Spirit.

12. But far different from this is the consideration of the free will of man, as constituted in the third state of Renewed Righteousness. For when a new light and knowledge of God and Christ, and of the Divine will, have been kindled in his mind; and when new affections, inclinations and motions agreeing with the law of God, have been excited in his heart, and new powers have been produced in him; it comes to pass, that, being liberated from the kingdom of darkness, and being now made "light in the Lord," (Ephesians 5:8,) he understands the true and saving good; that, after the hardness of his stony heart has been changed into the softness of flesh, and the law of God according to the covenant of grace has been inscribed on it, (Jeremiah 31, 32-35,) he loves and embraces that which is good, just, and holy; and that, being made capable in Christ, co-operating now with God, he prosecutes the good which he knows and loves, and he begins himself to perform it in deed. But this, whatever it may be of knowledge, holiness and power, is all begotten within him by the Holy Spirit; who is, on this account, called "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah," (Isaiah 11:2,) "the Spirit of grace," (Zechariah 12:10,) "of faith," (2 Corinthians 4:13,) "the Spirit of adoption" into sons, (Romans 8:16,) and "the Spirit of holiness;" and to whom the acts of illumination, regeneration, renovation, and confirmation, are attributed in the Scriptures.

13. But two things must be here observed. The First that this work of regeneration and illumination is not completed in one moment; but that it is advanced and promoted, from time to time, by daily increase. For "our old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed," (Romans 6:6,) and "that the inward man may be renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16.) For this reason, in regenerate persons, as long as they inhabit these mortal bodies, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit." (Galatians 5:17.)

Hence it arises, that they can neither perform any good thing without great resistance and violent struggles, nor abstain from the commission of evil.

Nay, it also happens, that, either through ignorance or infirmity, and sometimes through perverseness, they sin, as we may see in the cases of Moses, Aaron, Barnabas, Peter and David. Neither is such an occurrence only accidental; but, even in those who are the most perfect, the following Scriptures have their fulfillment: "In many things we all offend;" (James 3:9;) and "There is no man that sinneth not." (1 Kings 8:46.)

14. The Second thing to be observed is, that as the very first commencement of every good thing, so likewise the progress, continuance and confirmation, nay, even the perseverance in good, are not from ourselves, but from God through the Holy Spirit. For

"he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (Philippians 1:6;)


"we are kept by the power of God through faith." (1 Peter 1:5.)

"The God of all grace makes us perfect, stablishes, strengthens and settles us." (1:10.)

But if it happens that persons fall into sin who have been born again, they neither repent nor rise again unless they be raised up again by God through the power of his Spirit, and be renewed to repentance. This is proved in the most satisfactory manner, by the example of David and of Peter.

"Every good and perfect gift, therefore, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights," (James 1:17,)

by whose power the dead are animated that they may live, the fallen are raised up that they may recover themselves, the blind are illuminated that they may see, the unwilling are incited that they may become willing, the weak are confirmed that they may stand, the willing are assisted that they may work and may co-operate with God. "To whom be praise and glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!" "Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through preceding or preventing grace. And though the desire of man, which is called good, be assisted by grace when it begins to be; yet it does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him, concerning whom the Apostle writes thus, thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. If God incites any one to have ‘an earnest care’ for others, He will ‘put it into the heart’ of some other person to have ‘an earnest care’ for him." Augustinus, Contra. 2 Epist. Pelag. l. 2. c. 9.

"What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves.

Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties — one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it." Bernardus, De Libero Arbit. et Gratia.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Arminius on the Authority and Certainty of the Sacred Scriptures

Disputation 1: On The Authority And Certainty Of The Sacred Scriptures

Respondent: Bernard Vesukius

1. The authority of Scripture is nothing else but the worthiness according to which it merits

(1.) CREDENCE, as being true in words and true in significations, whether it simply declares anything; or also promises and threatens; and

(2.) as a superior, it merits OBEDIENCE through the credence given to it, when it either commands or prohibits anything. Concerning this authority two questions arise,

(i.) Whence does it belong to Scripture?

(ii.) Whence is it evident, or can be rendered evident to men, that this authority appertains to Scripture? These two questions shall be discussed in their proper order. (1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Peter 1:19; John 5:39; Hebrews 6:18. Romans 1:5; 2 Corinthians 10:5, 6; 13:3; 12:12; Galatians 1:1, 12, 13, etc.)

2. The authority of any word or writing whatsoever depends upon its author, as the word "authority" indicates; and it is just as great as the veracity and the power, that is, the auqenti

(i.) Totally, because He is the all sufficient Author, all-true and all-powerful.

(ii.) On Him alone, because He has no associate either in the truth of what he says, or in the power of his right. For all veracity and power in the creature proceed from him; and into his veracity and power are resolved all faith and obedience, as into the First Cause and the Ultimate Boundary. (Galatians. 3:8, 9; 1 John 5:9; Romans 3:4; Titus 1:2; Psalm 1:1-23; Galatians 1:1, 7, 8; John 5:34, 36; Romans 11:34-36; 13:1.)

3. This is proved by many arguments dispersed throughout the Scripture.

(1.) From the inscriptions of most of the prophetical books and of the apostolical epistles, which run thus, "The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, to Joe], to Amos," etc. "Paul, Peter, James, etc., a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ." (Hosea, Joel, Amos; Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1.)

(2.) From the introductions to many of the prophecies: "Thus saith the Lord," "That which I have received of the Lord, I have also delivered unto you." (Exodus 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:23.)

(3.) From the petitions, on the part of the ambassadors of God and of Christ, for Divine assistance, and from the promise of it which is given by God and Christ, such aid being necessary and sufficient to obtain authority for what was to be spoken. (Exodus 4:1; Acts 4:29, 30; Mark 16:17, 20.)

(4.) From the method used by God himself, who, when about to deliver his law, introduced it thus: "I am the Lord thy God!" And who, when in the act of establishing the authority of his Son, said, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him." (Exodus 20:1; Matthew 17:5.) This is acknowledged by the general consent of mankind. Minos, Numa, Lycurgus and Solon, were fully aware of it; for, to give some validity to their laws, they referred them to Gods or Goddesses, as the real authors.

4. When this authority is once known, it binds the consciences of all those to whom the discourse or the writing is addressed or directed, to accept of it in a becoming manner. But whoever they be that receive it as if delivered by God, that approve of it, publish, preach, interpret and expound it, that also distinguish and discriminate it from words or writings which are supposititious and adulterated; these persons add not a tittle of authority to the sayings or writings, because their entire authority, whether contemplated separately or conjointly, is only that of mortal men; and things Divine neither need confirmation, nor indeed can receive it, from those which are human. But this whole employment of approving, preaching, explaining and discriminating, even when it is discharged by the Church Universal, is only an attestation by which she declares, that she holds and acknowledges these words or writings, and these alone, as Divine. (John 15:22, 24; 8:24:; Galatians 1:8, 9; Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14; John 1:6, 7; 5:33-36; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.)

5. Therefore, not only false, but likewise implying a contradiction, foolish and blasphemous, are such expressions as the following, employed by Popish writers: "The Church is of greater antiquity than the Scriptures; and they are not authentic except by the authority of the Church." (ECCL Enchir. de Ecclesiastes) "All the authority which is now given to the Scriptures, is necessarily dependent on that of the Church." (PIGHIUS de Hierar. Eecles. lib. 2, c. 2.) "The Scriptures would possess no more validity than the Fables of Aesop, or any other kind of writing whatever, unless we believed the testimony of the Church." (HOSIUS de Author. Script. lib. 3.) But that "the Church is of greater antiquity than the Scriptures," is an argument which labors under a falsity in the antecedent and under a defective inference. For the Scriptures, both with regard to their significations and their expressions, are more ancient than the Church; and this former Church is bound to receive the latter sayings and writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., of Paul, Peter, etc., as soon as their Divine verity has been demonstrated by sufficient arguments according to the judgment of God. (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 10.)

6. But by the very arguments by which the Scriptures are Divine, they are also [proved to be] Canonical, from the method and end of their composition, as containing the rule of our faith, charity, hope, and of the whole of our living. For they are given for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction, for correction, and for consolation; that is, that they may be the rule of truth and falsehood to our understanding, of good and evil to our affections, either to do and to omit, or to have and to want. (Deuteronomy 27:26; Psalms 119:105,106; Romans 10:8, 17; Matthew 22:37-40; 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4.) For as they are Divine because given by God, not because they are "received from men;" so they are canonical, and are so called in an active sense, because they prescribe a Canon or rule, and not passively, because they are reckoned for a Canon, or because they are taken into the Canon. So far indeed is the Church from rendering them authentic or canonical, that no assemblage or congregation of men can come under the name of a Church, unless they account the Scriptures authentic and canonical with regard to the sum or substance of the Law and Gospel. (Galatians 6:16; 1 Timothy 6:3, 4; Romans 16:17; 10:8-10, 14-17.)

7. The Second Question is, How can a persuasion be wrought in men, that these Scriptures are Divine? For the application of this question some things must be premised, which may free the discussion from equivocations, and may render it more easy.

(1.) A distinction must be drawn between Scripture, (which, as a sign, consists of a word and of the writing of that word,) and the sense or meaning of Scripture; because it is not equally important which of the two is necessary to be known and believed, since it is Scripture on account of its meanings, and because there is a difference in the method of proof by which Divinity is ascribed to the writing itself and to its significations.

(2.) A distinction must likewise be drawn between the primary cause of Scripture, and the instrumental causes; lest it be thought, that the same necessity exists for believing some book of Scripture to have been written by this or that particular amanuensis, as there is for believing it to have proceeded from God.

(3.) The ratio of those meanings is dissimilar, since some of them are simply necessary to salvation, as containing the foundation and sum of religion; while others are connected with the former in no other way, than by a certain relation of explanation, proof, and amplification. (John 8:24; 5:39, 46, 36; 1 Corinthians 12:3. 2 Corinthians 2:4, 5; 3:7-9; Matthew 10:20; 2 Corinthians 3:11, 12; Philippians 3:15, 16; Colossians 2:16, 19.)

8. (4.) The persuasion of faith must be distinguished from the certainty of vision, lest a man, instead of seeking here for faith which is sufficiently powerful to prevail against temptations, should require certainty which is obnoxious to no temptation.

(5.) A difference must be made between implicit faith by which this Scripture without any understanding of its significations is believed to be Divine, and explicit faith which consists of some knowledge of the meanings, particularly of those which are necessary. And this historical knowledge, which has only asfaleian mental security, [or human certainty, Luke 1:4,] comes to be distinguished from saving knowledge, which also contains wlhroforian full assurance and wepoiqhsin confidence, on which the conscience reposes. This distinction must be made, that a correct judgment may be formed of those arguments which are necessary and sufficient for producing each of these kinds of faith.

(6.) A difference must also be made between those arguments which are worthy of God, and those which human vanity may require. And such arguments must not here be demanded as cannot fail to persuade every one; since many persons denied all credence to Christ himself, though he bore testimony to his own doctrine by so many signs and wonders, virtues and distributions of the Holy Ghost.

(7.) The external light, derived from arguments which are employed to effect suasion, must be distinguished from the internal light of the Holy Spirit bearing his own testimony; lest that which properly belongs to the latter, as the seal and the earnest or pledge of our faith, should be ascribed to the strength of arguments and to the veracity of external testimonies. (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12; Genesis 15:6, 8, with Romans 4:19-21; Judges 6:36- 39; Hebrews 11:32, 33; John 3:2, 10; James 2:19; John 5:32-36; Matthew 13:2; Hebrews 6:11; 10:22; Ephesians 3:12; Matthew 12:38, 39; 16:1; Luke 16:30, 31; Matthew 27:42; John 12:37; Luke 24:27, 44, 45; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 14; John 4:42.)

9. (8.) A distinction must be drawn between

(i.) those who heard God or Christ speaking to them Himself, or addressing them through angels, prophets, or apostles, and who first received the sacred books; and

(ii.) those who, as their successors, have the Scriptures through their delivery. (Judges 2:7, 10; Hebrews 2:3; John 20:29.) For the former of these classes, miracles and the actual fulfillment of predictions, which occurred under their own observations, were capable of imparting credibility to the words and writing. But to the latter class, the narration, both of the doctrine, and of the arguments employed for its confirmation, is proposed in the Scriptures, and must be strengthened by its own arguments. (Isaiah 44:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 14:22.)

(9.) A distinction may indeed be made between the truth of Scripture and its Divinity, that progress may be gradually made through a belief of the former to a belief in the latter. But these two can never be disparted; because, if the Scriptures be true, they are of necessity Divine. (John 4:39- 42; 1 Peter 1:21.)

(10.) Lastly. We must here reflect, that the secret things of God, and the doctrine of Christ in reference to its being from God, are revealed to little children, to the humble, to those who fear God, and to those who are desirous to do the will of the Father; (Matthew 11:25; James 4:6; Psalm 25:14; John 7:17; 1 Corinthians 1:20, 27;) and that, on the contrary, to the wise men of the world, to the proud, to those who reject the counsel of God against themselves and judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life, to foolish and perverse men, and to those who resist the Holy Ghost, the mystery of God and the Gospel of Christ are hidden and continue unrevealed; nay, to such persons they are a stumbling-block and foolishness, while they are in themselves the power and the wisdom of God. (Luke 7:30; Acts 13:46; 7:51; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24.)

10. These remarks being premised, let us see how we are or can be persuaded into a belief that the Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament are Divine, at least with regard to their essentials, that is, the sum or substance of the Law and Gospel, without faith in which, salvation can have no existence. Three things principally serve to produce this persuasion.

(i.) The external testimony of men.

(ii.) The arguments contained in the Scriptures themselves.

(iii.) And the internal witness of God. The first of these, by procuring, after the manner of men, esteem and reverence to the Scriptures, prepares [or makes a way for] faith which is resolved into the two latter that are truly Divine, and, through them, is fully completed.

11. In adverting to human testimony, we shall omit all enemies, also the Mahometans who have embraced the dregs of a religion which is compounded of a corruption of Judaism, Christianity and Paganism. But the testimony of those who acknowledge the Scriptures is twofold. That of the Jews, who testify concerning the doctrine and the books of the Old Testament; and that of Christians who bear witness to those of the whole body of Scripture.

(1.) Two circumstances add strength to the testimony of the Jews.

(i.) The constancy of their profession in the very depths of misery, when, by the mere denial of it, they might be made partakers of liberty and of worldly possessions.

(ii.) Their hatred of the Christian religion, which transcribes its own origin, increase, and establishment from a good part of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and with so much confidence as to be prepared to stand and fall by their evidence and judgment alone. (Acts 26:22; 9, Peter 1:19, 20; Acts 17:11.)

(2.) The testimony of Christians. distinguished by the same mark of constancy, (Revelation 6:9; 12:11,) we will consider in three particulars:

(i.) That of the Church Universal, which, from her own foundation to the present age, having professed the Christian as a Divine religion, testifies that her religion is contained in these books, and that they have proceeded from God.

(ii.) That of each of the primitive Churches, which, being founded by the apostles, first received not only the whole of the Old Testament, but likewise the Epistles which were addressed either to them, to their pastors, or at least to men who were well known, and who delivered them by the same title to their successors and to other Churches. (Colossians 4:16.)

(iii.) That of the Representative Church, as it is called, consisting of pastors and teachers, who, possessing skill in languages and in Divine things, pronounce their judgment after having instituted an examination, and confirm it [by arguments] to the flocks that are severally committed to their care. (Ephesians 4:27.) On reviewing these diviunes, we place the Roman Pontiff below the lowest parochial priest in the Romish Church who may be more learned than his holiness.

12. The arguments contained in the Scripture are four, and those of the utmost importance. The quality of its doctrines, the majesty of its style, the agreement of its parts, and the efficacy of its doctrine. Each of these, separately considered, possesses much influence; but, when viewed conjointly, they are capable of inducing every one to give credit to them, if he is not blinded by a spirit of obstinacy, and by an opinion preconceived through inveterate habits. The Quality of the Doctrine is proved to be Divine.

(1.) By the precepts delivered in these books, which exhibit three marks of Divinity.

(i.) The high excellence of the actions prescribed, in self-denial, and in the regulation of the whole life according to godliness. (Matthew 16:24, 25; Romans 8:12, 13.)

(ii.) The wonderful uncommonness of some actions, which amount to folly in the estimation of the natural man; and yet they are prescribed with a fearless confidence. Such as,

"Unless thou believest on Jesus, who is crucified and dead, thou shalt be condemned; if thou wilt believe on him, thou shalt be saved." (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24; 2:2, 14; John 8:24; Romans 10:9.)

(iii.) The manner in which they are required to be performed, that they be done from conscience and charity; if otherwise, they will be adjudged as hypocritical. (Deuteronomy 6:5; 1 Corinthians 13:1; James 4:12; Romans 8:5; 1 Peter 2:19.) In the first of these three is perceived a sanctity, in the second an omnipotence, and in the third an omniscience, each of which is purely Divine.

(2.) By the promises and threatenings, which afford two tokens of Divine worth or validity.

(i.) The manifest evidence, that they could have been delivered by no one except by God.

(ii.) Their excellent accommodation, which is such that these promises and threatenings cannot possibly prove influential upon the conscience of any man, except upon his who considers the precepts, to which they are subjoined, to be Divine.

(3.) The admirable attempering of the justice of God by which he loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and of his equity by which he administers all things, with his mercy in Christ our propitiation. In this, the glory of God shines forth with transcendent luster. (Romans 5:15.)

Three particulars in it are worthy of notice.

(i.) That, except through the intervention of a reconciler and mediator, God would not receive into favor the sinner, through love for whom as his own creature he is touched with mercy.

(ii.) That his own dearly beloved Son, begotten by Himself and discharging an office of perfect righteousness, God would not admit as a deprecator and intercessor, except when sprinkled with his own blood. (2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:12, 16; Hebrews 8:5, 6; 9:7, 11, 12.)

(iii.) That he constituted Christ as a Savior only to those who repent and believe, having excluded the impenitent from all hope of pardon and salvation. (Hebrews 3:8, 19; 5:8, 9; Luke 24:26; Romans 8:29.)

(4.) A most signal and decisive proof, which serves to demonstrate the necessity and sufficiency of this doctrine, exists in this fact, that Jesus himself did not enter into his glory except through obedience and sufferings, that this was done for believers alone who were to be conformed to him, (Hebrews 10:21, 22; 4:14-16; John 17:2, 8,) and that, on being received into Heaven, He was constituted Governor over the house of God, the King of his people, and the dispenser of life eternal.

13. The Majesty of Their Style is proved.

(1.) By the attributes which the Author of the Scriptures claims for himself; the transcendent elevation of his nature, in his omniscience and omnipotence; (Isaiah 44:7, 8; 41:12, 25, 26; Psalm 1:1,) the excellence of his operations, which they claim for Him as the Creator and Governor of all things; the preeminence of power, which they claim for Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

(2.) By the absence of all "respect of persons" which is not under the influence of favor and hatred, of hope and fear, and by which God declares himself to be the same towards all men, whatever station they may occupy, uttering his commands and prohibitions, his promises and threatenings, to monarchs, (Deuteronomy 18:15, 16; 1 Samuel 12:25,) as well as to the meanest among the people, to whole nations and to single individuals, and even to the rulers of darkness, the princes of this world, Satan and his angels, and thus to the whole universe of his creatures.

(3.) By the method which he employs in making a law and in giving it his sanction. It has no other introduction than, "I Jehovah am thy God;" no other conclusion than, "I Jehovah have spoken." "Be strong, for I am with thee; fear not, for I will deliver thee." Either He who speaks, truly claims these attributes for himself, and so his discourse is Divine, (Exodus 20:2; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:5; Jeremiah 1:8; Deuteronomy 4:5,) or (let no blasphemy adhere to the expression,) it is of all foolish speeches the most foolish. Between these two extremes no medium exists. But in the whole of the Scriptures not a single tittle occurs, which will not remove from them by an invincible argument the charge of folly.

14. The Agreement Between Each And Every Part of The Scriptures, prove with sufficient evidence, their Divinity, because such an agreement of its several parts can be ascribed to nothing less than the Divine Spirit. It will be useful for the confirmation of this matter to consider

(1.) The immense space of time which was occupied in the inditing of it, from the age of Moses, down to that of St. John, to whom was vouchsafed the last authentic revelation. (Malachi 4:4; Jeremiah 28:8; John 5:46.)

(2.) The multitude of writers or amanuenses, and of books.

(3.) The great distance of the places in which the books were severally written, that tendered it impossible for the authors to confer together.

(4.) Lastly and principally, the institution of a comparison between the doctrine of Moses and that of the latter Prophets, as well as between that of the Old and that of the New Testament. The predictions of Moses alone concerning the Messiah, the calling of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, when compared with the interpretations and with the addition of particular circumstances which are found in the Prophets and the Psalms, will prove that the perfect agreement which exists between the various writers is Divine. (Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 32:21; Daniel 9:25, 26; Malachi 1:10, 11; Psalm 2, 22, 110 132; Matthew 1, 2, 24, 27; Luke 1:55, 70; 24:27, 44.) To the Divinity of the agreement between the writings of the Old Testament and those of the New, abundant testimony will be afforded even solely by that sudden, unexpected and miraculously consentaneous accommodation and befitting aptitude of all the predictions respecting the Messiah, the gathering of the Gentiles to Him, the unbelief and rejection of the Jews, and lastly concerning the abrogation which was to be made of the ceremonial law, first by its being fulfilled, and afterwards by its forcible removal. Whether these predictions were foretold in words, or foreshown by types of things, persons, facts and events; their accommodation to the person, the advent, the state, the offices, and the times of Jesus of Nazareth, was consentaneous even to a miracle. (Psalm 118:22, 23; Matthew 21:42; Isaiah 65:1; Acts 11:18; Psalm 40:7, 8; Daniel 9:25, 26.) If the Old Testament alone, or only the New, were now extant, some doubts might be indulged concerning the Divinity of each. But their agreement together excludes all doubt respecting their Divinity, when both of them are thus completely in accordance, since it is impossible for such a perfect agreement to have been the fabrication of an angelic or of a human mind.

15. Lastly, the Divinity of Scripture is powerfully demonstrated by The Efficacy of Its Doctrine, which we place in two particulars. In the credit or belief which it has obtained in the world, and in the destruction of remaining religions and of the entire kingdom of Satan. Of this destruction two most signal tokens were afforded, in the silencing of the Heathen Oracles, and in the removal of Idols. (1 Timothy 3:15; Zechariah 13:2; Zephaniah 2:11; Acts 16:16, 17.) This efficacy is recommended,

(1.) By the peculiar genius of the doctrine, which, independently of the Divine power which accompanies and assists it, is calculated to repel every one from giving his assent to it, on account of the apparent absurdity in it, and the concupiscence of human passions which is abhorrent to it. For this is the manner in which it speaks:

"Unless thou dost believe in Jesus the Crucified, and art prepared to pour out thy life for him, thou shalt lose thy soul." (Isaiah 53:1; 2 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:12.)

(2.) By the persons through whom the doctrine was administered, and who, in the estimation of men, were few in number, mean in condition, and full of infirmities; while in God’s sight, they were possessed of invincible patience and mildness, which were so conspicuous in Him who was the Prince of all, that He asked some of his familiar disciples who were offended at his doctrine, "Will ye also go away?" (Luke 6:13; Matthew 4:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 4, 12:12; 2 Timothy 4:2; John 6, 67.)

(3.) By the multitude, the wisdom, the authority, and the power of the enemies who placed themselves in opposition to this doctrine. Also by their love for the religion of their own country, and their consequent hatred of this novel doctrine, and by the result of both these, in their infuriated and outrageous eagerness to extirpate the Christians and their doctrine. It was opposed by the Roman empire itself nearly three hundred years, during which the rest of the world lent their assistance. This continued opposition was excited by the Jews, nay by Satan himself, who had fixed his throne in that empire. (1 Corinthians 2:8; Acts 4:27; 9:2; Matthew 10:l 8-22; John 16:2; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 2:10, 13.)

(4.) By the infinite multitude of men of every description, nation, age, sex and condition, who have believed this doctrine, and confirmed their belief by enduring intolerable torments even unto death. This cannot be ascribed, except through an ambitious insanity, either to ambition or to fury in such a multitude of persons of various descriptions. (Revelation 6:9-11.)

(5.) By the short time in which, like lightning, it pervaded a great part of the habitable world; so that Paul alone filled all the places between Jerusalem and Illyricum with the Gospel of Christ. (Colossians 1:6; Romans 15:19.)

16. These suasions are of themselves alone sufficient to produce an historical faith, but not that which is saving. To them, therefore, must be added the internal suasion of God by his Holy Spirit, which has its scope of operations,

(1.) In the illumination of the mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God; that we may knew the things which are freely given to us of God, and that Jesus Christ is the wisdom and the power of God. (1 Corinthians 3:7; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1:24; 12:3.)

(2.) In inscribing the laws of God upon our hearts, which consists of the infusion of a desire and of strength for their performance. (Hebrews 8:10.)

(3.) In sealing the promises of God on our hearts; under which term, that by which we are sealed to the day of redemption is called a seal, and an earnest. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13,14.) In this manner he who inspired the sacred Scriptures into holy men of God, who constituted in the Church, Bishops, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, who put the word of reconciliation into their mouths, is the Author of that faith by which this doctrine is apprehended unto righteousness and eternal salvation. (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 8:16.) Since his testimony is distinct from that of a man’s own spirit, and since it is said to be concerning those things which are necessary to salvation, and not concerning words, letters, or writing, the Papists act most perversely in confounding these testimonies, and in requiring through the witness of the Spirit [of God] the distinction between an apocryphal verse, and one that is canonical, though the former may in reality agree with the canonical Scriptures.

17. But, that we may comprise in few words the force of these three proofs, we declare, 1. concerning the force of human testimony which ascribes our Scriptures to God, that the author of no composition which ever was published or is now extant can be proved with such lucid evidence as the author of these Scriptures; and that the importance of all other compositions sinks far beneath the dignity of this, not only with regard to the multitude, the wisdom and the integrity of the witnesses, but likewise with regard to the uninterrupted evenness, the constancy and the duration of the testimony. The reason this is, that the religion contained in these Scriptures has been preached to immense numbers and varieties of people, and for a very long period; which circumstance, in itself, contains no small argument of Divinity. For it is most equitable, that religion, which alone is truly Divine, and which, without any respect of nations, it is God’s will that men should receive, ought also to be preached generally to all mankind. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15; Romans 10:12-18.)

18. We assert, that the arguments which, contained in the Scriptures, prove the Divinity of the religion prescribed in them, are so full and perfect, that no arguments can be derived for the defense of any religion which are not comprehended in these, and in a more excellent degree. (2 Corinthians 4:2- 6.) They are indeed of such high value that the truth of the Christian religion is established by them as strongly, as it is possible by any other arguments to prove that there is any true religion at all, or that a true one is possible. So that to a man who is desirous of proving, that there is any religion which is true, or that such a religion is possible, no way is more compendious and easy than to do so by these arguments, in preference to any other which can be deduced from general notions. But the most wonderful of all is, that the very thing in the Christian religion which seems to be one of the greatest absurdity, affords the most certain proof of its Divinity, it being allowed to be a very great truth — that this religion has been introduced into the consciences of men by a mild suasion, and not by the power of the sword. (1 Corinthians 1:29-24:; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Luke 9:54, 55.) Of a similar tendency is the argument formerly used by St. Augustine: "If the Christian religion was established by the miracles which are related in the Scriptures, it is true; but if it was not, the greatest of all miracles is, that it has been able to obtain credit without miracles." For the internal suasion of Him who alone can work miracles, ought to stand in the place of miracles outwardly performed, and to be equally potent. (Revelation 2:17.) And thus the very narration, contained in these books, of the miracles which were performed in the early ages in proof of the doctrine, is now, through a most beautiful vicissitude of circumstances, proved to be true by the Divinity of the doctrine when subjected to examination.

19. Although the inward witness of the Holy Spirit is known to him alone to whom it is communicated, yet, since there is a mutual relation between the veracity of the Testifier, and the truth of the thing which is proved, an examination may be instituted respecting the testimony itself. This is so far from being injurious or displeasing to the Holy Ghost, that by this method His veracity is rendered in all possible directions more eminently conspicuous, as being the Author not only of the internal testimony and the external word, but likewise of the significations concerning which he bears witness to both; on this account also, he has commanded us to "try the spirits whether they be of God," and has added a specimen of such a "trying." (1 John 4:1, 2.) It will therefore be as easy to confute the man who falsely boasts of having the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, as to be able to destroy that religion to which he professes himself to be devoted. From this it is apparent, that the inward witness of the Spirit is calculated to impart assurance to him to whom it is communicated, but not to convince any other person. Wherefore those who reckon this among the causes why they account the Scriptures Divine, are foolishly said by the Papists to beg the question, since they never employ it themselves in convincing others.