That the Scriptures are a proposal of all these truths to our understandings in a way of most fair and full credibility, and that appears in these three things.
- The way of proposal is most credible.
- The things propounded are in themselves evidently true.
- The expressions in which they are laid down, are plain, and fairly intelligible.
No man can say, but when things are propounded so, he is fairly dealt withal.
First, the way of proposal is most credible. That whatsoever God says is true is the ground upon which this assertion sets its foot, and that is such a great Truth, that it is above the necessity or proof. He which believes there is a God, believes his veracity and he which believes not that there is a God hath no reason to believe anything. He hath no reason to believe anything, if there be not Truth. And if there be not a God, there is nothing, and so no truth.
But as that foundation is firm and unquestionable, what God saith is true, I must build two things upon it, and on them the credibility of the first particular is founded. Viz.
- That since, what God says is true, we ought to receive whatsoever, we have abundant reason to believe that God did say it.
- Whatsoever comes to us as God’s word, we ought by no means to reject it, without most weighty reasons to make us think that God did not say it.
As to the first, Scripture is the way of proposal, (i.e.) God hath written his mind to us; now we have two great reasons to make us believe this writing to be his word.
- Because writing was the fittest way to communicate his will to us.
- Because since all writings need witness, that we might not doubt this to be his, he hat sent it attested by the witness of all those that were worthy to be believed, (i.e.) the good men of all ages.
Because writing was the fittest way to communicate the Gospel or his will to us, that appears thus; all nations and ages of the world, could not be present at the birth of Christ, nor be eyewitnesses of his miracles, see him rise out of the grave, and ascend into heaven, put their finger in his side, etc., what then? Will they not believe unless they do? Shall Christ be crucified afresh in every age, that we may see him rise from the dead? But because Christ was not to remain always below, not come again in that manner, and it concerned the world to know the Gospel, God committed it to writing, and hath made the holy Scriptures the safe repositories of his Truth, that is, excellent preservatives against weakness of memory, and the rust of malicious designs, Monumentam Christi est divina Scriptura, in qua divinitatis humanitatis ejus mysteria densutate litera veluti quadam muniuntur Petra.
How much God was in love with this way appeared of old, for though he was pleased to converse familiarly with his plain friends the Patriarchs, yet lest his counsels should slip out of the frail minds of men, he commanded Moses to write them. Litera scripta manet. The Jews nice care of the letters was well made us use by God; for it became Septum Legis, while they looked to the words; God secured the sense: and how unsure all other ways are, we may perceive in that the Church hath not preserved the remembrance of Christ’s miracles which were unwritten. Language in the garb of truth, it comes not abroad till it be clothed in words; and since Christ was not to stay here to preach always, he enabled those whom he deputed to declare his will in several languages, that it might be understood by divers nations, when it was spoken and heard, and because the Apostles were to die too, he commanded them to write it, and hath enabled his Church to translate it into several languages of the world, and so they understand it being written and read.
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), 63-69