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people in the hour of trial ; and it is to me a matter of no small consolation to reflect, that “the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;” and that God sometimes chooses “ the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.”
I have only one word more of a preliminary nature to offer, and that concerns our friends who have assembled to hear this discussion. My dear friends, let me entreat of you, in affection and in earnestness, that you would, on this important occasion, divest yourselves, as much as possible, of every thing that savours of prejudice; and that, believing we are going to discuss subjects of vital and eternal consequence, you would come to the consideration of them in that state of mind which their supreme importance demands.
The subject, Sir, which we are met to discuss on this, and the two following days, is one which lies at the foundation of the whole controversy ; and it is one, therefore, on which we ought to possess true and accurate ideas. It is the “ RULE OF FAITH," or, in other words, the standard by which we are to regulate our belief.
Now, before proceeding to the investigation of the subject itself, I shall, for our better understanding of the terms of it, take advantage of the clearness and perspicuity which I think has been displayed by Archbishop Tillotson in his definitions on this subject.
"A rule,” says he, " (when we speak of a rule of faith) is a metaphorical word, which, in its first and proper sense, being applied to material and sensible things, is the measure according to which we jud,e of the straightness and crookedness of things ; and from hence it is transferred by analogy to things moral or intellectual. A moral rule is the measure according to which we judge whether a thing be good or evil; and this kind of rule is thao which is commonly called a law, and the agreement or disagreement of our actions to this rule is, suitably to the metaphor, called rectitude or obliquity. An intellectual rule is the measure according to wbich we judge whether a thing be true or false ; and this is either general or more particular. Common notions, and the acknowledged principles of reason, are that gene".al rule, according to which we judge whether a thing he true or false. The particular principles of every science are the more particular rules accord; whether things in that science be true or false. So chat the general notion of
ng to which we judge a rule is, that it is a measure, by the agreement mpo disagreement to which we judge of all things of that kind to which it belong
And arguing upon this principle in reference to the faith, of a Christian, the Archbishon
“ A rule of faith is the measure, ac' we are to assent to, as revealed to
Riding to which we judge what matters ticularly, the rule of Christian fi
ag by God, and what not. And more parto judge what we ought to ass
with is the measure, according to which we are world, and what not."--Til
ont to, as the doctrine revealed by Christ to the rectson's Rule of Faith, Part I. Sect, i,
Says in conclusion:
Having thus given a definition of a rule generally; and of a rule of faith in particular, we come to ask the question (and, O my friends, it is an important question), WHAT IS THE RULE ? On this subject, as on many others, there is a vast difference of opinion between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic has a compound rule, namely, scripture and tradition, or what he calls the written and unwritten word, proposed and explained by the church. This is the definition which has been given by Dr. Milner and others; so that you will perceive that the Roman Catholic holds a two-fold rule, SCRIPTURE and TRADITION—and a Judge or Interpreter to explain it. The arguments upon this subject I shall have occasion to refer to in the course of the discussion. Protestants, on the other hand, hold the BIBLE ALONE-the written word alone (to the exclusion of those books which are commonly called Apocryphal) to be the rule of faith.
Now, Sir, let me here correct a mistake into which most Roman Catholic controversialists have fallen relative to the Protestant rule of faith. They conceive it to be the Bible alone, interpreted by each man's private judgment. At the outset of this discussion, and in order to remove difficulty, I beg leave at once to protest against such a definition of our rule; or if our friends on the other side will so explain our rule, then let them remember this, that I distinctly call for documentary evidence to shew their explanation to be correct. I maintain that the Protestant rule is not the Bible alone, interpreted by each man's private judgment, but it is simply the BIBLE ALONE: and private judgment is only that which is exercised on the rule, and is no more the rule itself, than the telescope through which we look at the heavenly bodies is to be confounded with the heavenly bodies themselves. that I am correct in this definition of the Protestant rule of faith, I shall refer to the standard documents of some of the Protestant Churches. The first I refer to is the 6th Article of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND:
“ Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation : so that whatsoever 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. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do undeystand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.”
Then it gives a list of the books, excluding the Apocry. pha. So far for the judgment of the Church of England
To prove upon the subject. Now I hold in my hand the Confession of Faith of the Church of SCOTLAND, and in it we read thus
“ Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable ; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church ; and afterwards for the better preserving and propa. gating the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing, which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. II. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these (giving the same list as the Church of England), all which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. III. The books commonly called A pocrypha, not being of Divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of the Scriptures, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.”—Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. i. sect. 1, 2, 3.
The Larger and Shorter Catechisms, which I have here, and which are in use in the Church of Scotland, distinctly define the rule of faith in the same manner as does the Confession of Faith, and the 6th Article of the Church of England. I have also the “ HARMONY OF THE CONFes- 1 SION3" of the Protestant Churches of Saxony, Wirtemberg, Bohemia, and others, giving the same definition.
Thus I have stated what our rule is—I have given documentary evidence--and be it remembered that it is the BIBLE A LONE, not with the gratuitous addition “ interpreted by each man's private judgment."
Now I shall proceed to establish, so far as I can in the time allotted to me, the authority and sufficiency of this rule. I do not feel myself called upon at this moment to enter into the proofs which we may adduce for the genuineness, authenticity, and inspiration of the Scriptures, became I presume I am arguing with those who believe in all those things. It may happen, in the course of the discussion, that we shall be compelled to refer to the subject, and then I may be enabled to shew that we can receive the Bible as a divine revelation, independently of the infallible decisions, as they are called, of the Romish Church, or of any other Church. For the present, I shall content myself with this simple remarkThe Bible could not have been the production of bad men, because such men would have made a book more in unison with their own depraved tastes and inclinations; and it could not have been the production of good men, because
the very fact of the forgery would have been inconsistent with their goodness : therefore, as it could not have been the production either of good men or of bad men, it must have come from a source above man, and what other source can that be but GOD HIMSELF?
I proceed now to establish these two observations: First of all I shall endeavour to prove that the Scripturethe written word, without any addition-contains all things necessary to be believed for salvation, and therefore is a SUFFICIENT rule of faith; and,
Secondly, I shall endeavour to advance a few considerations which, in my judgment, naturally lead to the conclusion that the written word is not only a sufficient rule, but likewise THE ONLY rule of faith.
First of all, then, I shall endeavour to prove, as briefly as possible, that the written word of God contains within it every thing necessary to be believed for salvation, and therefore is A SUFFICIENT RULE OF FAITH.
At the present stage of the discussion, as there are several other texts on the same point, I shall refer only to two passages. The first will be found in the 20th chap. of the Gospel of St. John, verses 30 and 31:
Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.”
One would have supposed, if the passage stopped here, that the written word did not contain every thing necessary to be believed for salvation ; but, adds the Evangelist,
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name.”
Mark here what the Evangelist and the Apostle saysthat those things, which he had written, were written for the very purpose of their believing from them that “ Jesus was the Christ;" and the faith which they were thus to possess was a saving faith, because the result was that they were to “ have life in his name." Now, I say, that if even this single gospel of John contained within it sufficient truth respecting the way to eternal life--if in it alone is to be found a sufficiency, supposing we had no more, for a rule of faith-it follows, a fortiori, that in the whole written word all necessary truth is to be found.
Another passage to which I shall refer is in the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, 3rd chap. beginning at the 14th
" Continue thou in those things which thou bast learned, and which have
been committed to thee; knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and because from thy infancy thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which can instruct thee to sulvation, by the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Now, Sir, all we want is to be instructed unto salvation;" and this, that we all so much require, the Apostle says the Scripture, the written word, is able to effect for
Mark me, Sir, the Apostle here is speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, because the canon of the New Testament was not at this time completed. To argue, then, as I did on the other text--if the Old Testament Scriptures by themselves were able to make a man wise unto salvation, they were sufficient, for the time being, as a rule of faith-and, a fortiori, the Old Testament, with the New, contains all things necessary to salvation, and, therefore, is sufficient as a rule of faith.
But we proceed to the following verses, the 16th and 17th of the same chapter:
“ All Scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.”
Observe here the result of the reception of the truths contained in the Scriptures. By the reception of them the man of God is thus“ made perfect, and furnished unto every good work.” Mark the strength and the generality of the expression—“he is made perfect and furnished unto every good work ;” if, then, the Bible, the written word itself, and even the Old Testament Scriptures, could make the man of God thus “ perfect, and furnished unto every good work,” I cannot avoid the consequence, that it contains within it every thing necessary to be believed for salvation, and therefore is SUFFICIENT as a rule of faith.
So far for the first observation; and now I think these statements will acquire additional strength from a SECOND OBSERVATION which I said I should endeavour to establish, I said I should produce some considerations derived from the Scriptures which would, in my judgment, lead to the conclusion, that the written word is not merely a sufficient, but is THE ONLY rule of faith.
Here, I beg to observe, that, in strictness, I am not called upon to prove this, because it is in fact proving a negative; and we know that no person in argument is obliged to prove a negative. Sometimes it happens that a negative cannot be actually proved, though it may be perfectly true all the time. The onus rather rests on my friends at the other side to produce an additional rule, besides the written word, and if they can authenticate it