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tence of the one or the other must be made void, we think it is very reasonable that the voice of her pretended unwritten word should be silenced by that more certain one of the lively oracles of God. But after all, if what I have endeavoured to prove be proved, viz. that the holy scriptures are a sufficient rule of faith and manners to conduct us to eternal life, this will be enough to evacuate all that is pretended for this unwritten word of God. For God and nature we know do nothing in vain ; and therefore, if one word of God be sufficient, viz. that which is written, what need have we of this other, which is unwritten? And so I have done with the first necessary property of a rule of faith, viz. that it be full; and shewn at large that the holy scripture is so as to all things necessary to salvation; and therefore shall now proceed to,
II. The second, viz. That it be clear and intelligible to those whose faith and manners are to be regulated by it.
I do not mean, when I say that the scripture is clear, and plain, and intelligible to all those to whom it is a rule of faith and manners, that it is throughout so in all its proposals. For it cannot be denied but there are many things, not only in St. Paul's Epistles, but also in other parts of scripture, hard to be understood, and such as do not only exceed the apprehension of common capacities, but also puzzle the understandings of the most acute and profound inquirers. But that which I assert is this, that all those doctrines of faith and rules of manners, which are necessary for men to believe and practise in order to their attainment of eternal life, are so plainly and clearly revealed in scripture, that there
is no honest teachable mind, that is capable of understanding common sense, but may from thence receive full information of them upon faithful and diligent inquiry. And though in some texts these necessaries are not so plainly proposed as in others, yet in some text or other they are all of them so plainly proposed, that no man can read the scripture and still be ignorant of them, without being wilfully blind; for which there is no remedy either in the scripture or out of it. And this I shall endeavour
1. From the express testimony of scripture.
2. From the avowed design of writing the scripture.
3. From the frequent commands God lays upon us to read the scripture.
4. From the obligation that lies upon us, under pain of damnation, to believe and receive all those necessaries to salvation contained in it.
1. From the express testimony of scripture it is evident, that, in all things necessary to salvation at least, the scripture is clear and plain. For to be sure if in any thing the scripture be plain, it is in those things that are most necessary to be believed and known; and therefore, if it be obscure in these things, we may reasonably presume it is plain in nothing: but that it is in many things plain and easy to be understood, is evident from its own testimony: for thus of the Mosaic law it is expressly affirmed by Moses, This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off, Deut. xxx. 11. where Moses speaks not only of the Ten Commandments, which consisting for the most part of laws of nature, are upon that ac
count more easy to be understood, but of all the commandments of Moses in general, whether ceremonial, judicial, or natural. For so, ver. 16. this commandment, we find, contains as well the statutes and judgments, as the commandments of the law, all which must take in the whole Mosaic institution. And accordingly, Psalm cxix. 105. David calls this word of God, a lamp unto his feet, and a light unto his path ; which how could it be, if it did not burn clear enough to guide and direct him? And if it did, then to be sure it burnt clear enough to direct him in those things wherein it was most necessary for him to be directed. Again, in the 19th Psalm, ver. 7, 8. we are told, that the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple : and that the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. But how can any law make the simple wise, or enlighten the eyes of men, unless it be so plainly and clearly delivered, as that the simple may be capable of apprehending, and the eyes of men of discerning the sense of it? I know it is objected by Bellarmine, that these words do only imply, that this law indeed being understood doth enlighten men's eyes, and direct their practice; but by no means that it is plain and easy to be understood. But this is a mere cavil; for it is plain, that it is by understanding the law that the simple are made wise, and the eyes of men enlightened. If therefore this law be so obscure in itself, as that it cannot make itself understood by all that sincerely inquire into it, how is it possible that it should make them wise, or enlighten the eyes of their minds ? But it is plain, that the intent of those passages of David was to excite and encourage men to study and observe the law : but
what though the law makes the simple wise, when they understand it; what encouragement is this for the simple to study it, if it be so obscure that they cannot understand it? And since they must understand it before they can observe it, what encouragement doth this consideration give them to observe it, that it will make them wise when they understand it, if it be not plain enough for them to understand it? But then that forecited passage of Moses doth in express words contradict this cavil of Bellarmine; for he tells the people, that the commandment he gave them was not hidden from them; whereas, if it had been so obscurely delivered to them by Moses, that upon their sincere and diligent inquiry they could not understand it, it is certain that it had been still hidden from them, how wise soever it might make them when they did understand it: and to say that such a proposition will make me wise when I do understand it, is no argument at all that it is not hidden from me, if it be so obscurely expressed, as that upon my sincere inquiry I am not capable of understanding it. But that the Old Testament, at least in all necessary matters, was plain enough even to common capacities, is evident from the frequent appeals our Saviour makes to it in his contests with the common people of the Jews. Thus in the text he bids them, Search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of me; and in other places, What saith the scripture? and, Doth not the scripture say so and so? Now how impertinent would it have been for our Saviour thus to appeal to it at the tribunal of the people, if he thought it so obscure that the people were not capable of understanding it! How trifling would it be
for a man to appeal to Suarez's Metaphysics in a controversy with a ploughman, or to refer him to Euclid's Elements for the determining the bounds and measures of a field !
And as, from what hath been said, it is apparent that the scriptures of the Old Testament were, at least in all necessaries, plain and clear to the Jews; so it is no less evident that the scriptures of the New Testament are so to Christians, since it gives the same testimony to itself of its own clearness as the Old Testament doth. For thus, 2 Cor. . iv. 2, 3, 4. the apostle tells us, that they did not handle the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending themselves to men's consciences in the sight of God. But if our gos. pel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. Supposing then that they wrote with the same plainness and clearness with which they spake, (which there is no shadow of reason to doubt of,) then from these words it is evident, first, That they did neither in their preaching nor writings affect to discourse dubiously or obscurely, but that their great design was so to manifest and make known the truth, as that by their plainness and simplicity they might recommend themselves to the consciences of all that heard or read them. Se condly, That in fact they had in their sermons and writings so clearly taught the gospel, that if, after all, it remained hidden or obscure to any, it was only to such as were lost and irrecoverable. Thirdly, That that which rendered the gospel which they had