Nathaniel Ingelo, 1659, on the Certainty of the Christian Religion

Upon the plainness of God’s revelation, depends the certainty of the Christian Religion. This Pillar had need be firm, for the best thing in the world rests upon it. What is acceptable to Christ, and what he will do for us, is to be known by revelation which he hath made of his mind to us; but if the revelation conceal his sense it doth not deserve its name, nor benefit us. For notwithstanding the assistance we receive from it, we are left to acknowledge him with blind conceptions, to worship him with uncertain expresses, and depend upon him with a very infirm expectation.

But, O blessed Savior, we have no reason to think ourselves at a loss! Thou hast told us plainly of the Father, thou hast explained the two Great commandments, and in them the substance of the Law and the Prophets. Thy Gospel holds forth to us all particular duties of Faith and Love and Righteousness and Mercy. Thou hast shewn us what kind of worship and worshippers thou dost regard, having commanded us to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, with all true apprehensions and worthy affections; to serve God in all good conscience and with purity of heart, and hast rejected the vanities and superstition, though they ever be so gay or costly, all exterior shows, which want the correspondency of inward goodness; so that now we may well say thou shewed us men what is good, and what the Lord our God requires of us, even to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Thou hast taught us, how in all religious addresses we may come acceptably before the Lord, and what Mediator we are to use, we need no longer ask, for thou hast shewed us the one Mediator between God and man, and told us for whom he will intercede, even all that come to God by him, and make themselves like unto him. Thou hast shewn us how thou didst converse with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Prophets and Apostles, and that we also upon the same terms may become the friends of God by Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever; so that all good Christians may say, and concluded that are certain of their way to God, the Scripture having reveled it a clearly as sun-beams. The Scripture given by inspiration is so profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God, (teacher or learner} is perfectly furnished with direction to all good works.

Now, if any shall say the force of these arguments may be avoided, though the Scripture be not plain, if we have an infallible Interpreter to resolve their doubtfulness and clear their obscurity. I answer. There is no question of that; but where is the Interpreter? It is harder to find him, than the sense of the most difficult Scripture. What will be answered, if we ask these few questions concerning him? What is his name? what countryman is he? Where doth he dwell? If his commission be not in the Scripture, how came he by it? If it be, in what words is it set down.

We read but of one infallible Interpreter of God’s mind, Jesus Christ, and he hath required all his servants, that they presume not to take any Mastership at this point. And call no man your Father upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven; Neither be ye called Masters, for one is your Master, even Christ. These words are justly interpreted by most learned men as a command of Christ, directed against men’s usurpation of authority to impose upon others, what we are to believe. The chief Master in the school of the Jewish Prophets had such authority, that no man might contradict what he said, and in this sense we are to call no man Father, but God who hath taught us by him, whom he appointed to be our only Master, (i.e.) Christ Jesus.

How much more those are deceived, that assume to themselves to be infallible guides, and indeed Dictators to God’s Church, hath been shown abundantly by themselves, and many learned ,men have forced them to take notice of their errors, and therefore I will insist no further upon this point.

And now we see with what reason our Savior closed his discourse, saying, If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, those one rose from the dead. With which I shall also close the doctrinal part of this discourse.

Those which are not satisfied with God’s truth so fairly propounded in Scriptures, may pray to Abraham to send one from the dead to preach to them, if their ears itch for such teachers, but when he comes, would they believe him? No, they would rather accost him thus. Art thou come out of the Grave to fright us? Where is thy Certificate that thou wast in the other world? We do not know thou wast dead, or if thou art a Ghost; we know not whether thou comest from heaven or from hell, whither thy design is to teach us or to disturb us. They say good spirits do not walk. That thou hast some money somewhere. If thou comest to discover any murder, tell us. People talk of Goblins to fright children and fools, but dost thou think that we will leave our profits or pleasures for a shade? That this is too true, we have an instance in the Jews, to whom our Savior preached this point. For they had Lazarus (whether Christ alluded to his name or no) raised from the grave, and he discoursed with the Pharisees; but as soon as he asserted the truth, that crossed their humor, they would have killed him, and sent him to the other world again, a messenger of their unbelief. When men have no mind to do their duty, they will quarrel with the Messenger, and ask for another; not that they will then obey, but to gain a truce for disobedience, and in the mean time they will seek for that which no doubt they will find, (i.e.) something to make themselves believe, that the next will be not so sent neither, but that they shall be able to except against him.

Nathaniel Ingelo, The Perfection, Authority, and Credibility of the Holy Scriptures. Discoursed in a sermon before the University of Cambridge at the Commencement, July 4, 1658 (London: Printed by E. T. for Luke Fawn at the sign of the Parrot in Pauls Church-yard, 1659), 138-147.

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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