William Perkins, 1604, on the Inspiration, Preservation and Canonicity of Holy Scripture as the foundation for Preaching


Of the Word of God

The perfect and equal object of Preaching is the Word of God, (or, the word of God is the whole and only matter, about which preaching is exercised: it is the field in which the Preacher must contain himself). Luke 16:29, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. Matt. 23:2, The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses chair, that is, they teach the doctrine of Moses which they do profess. 3. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.

The Word of God is the wisdom of God concerning the truth, which is according unto godliness descending from above. James 3:17, But the wisdom, which is from above is first pure, etc. Titus 1:1, Paul a servant of God – according to the acknowledging of the truth, which is according to godliness.

Admirable is the excellency of the Word, which is evident partly by the nature thereof, partly by operation.

The excellency of the nature is either the perfection thereof, or the eternity.

The perfection is either the sufficiency or the purity. The sufficiency is that, whereby the word of God is so complete, that nothing may be either put to it, or taken from it, which appertaineth to the proper end thereof. Psalm 19:7, The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Deut. 12:32, Whatsoever I command you, take heed ye do it: thou shalt put nothing thereto, nor take aught therefrom. Rev. 22:18, 19.

The purity thereof is, whereby it remaineth entire in itself, void of deceit and error. Psalm 12:6, The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, fined seven times.

The eternity of the word is that, whereby it abideth inviolable and cannot pass until all, which it commandeth, be fully accomplished, Matt. 5:18.

The excellency of the operation is that, whereby it is endowed with virtue; first to discern the spirit of man, Heb, 4:12, For the word of God is lively, and mighty in operation, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and entereth through even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and discerneth the thoughts and intents of the heart. James 4:12, There is one Law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy. Isa. 33:21, The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Law-giver, the Lord is our King, he will save us. To bind the conscience is to constrain it either to accuse us or excuse of of sin before God.

The Word is in the holy Scripture.

The Scripture is the word of God written in the language fit for the Church by men immediately called to be Clerks or Secretaries of the holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:21, For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as there were carried and moved by the holy Ghost.

It is called Canonical, because it is as it were the Canon, that is to say, a Rule or Line, of the Master workman, by the help whereof the truth is both first and to be found out, and also afterwards to be examined. Gal. 6:16, And as many as walk according to this Canon or Rule. Therefore, the supreme and absolute determination and judgment of the controversies of the Church ought to be given unto it.

William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying: A Treatise Concerning the Sacred and Only True Manner and Method of Preaching (Imprinted at London by Felix Kyngston for E.E. and are to be sold in Pauls Church-yard at the sign of the Swan, 1607), 4-7.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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