Common Place IIII.
Of the Holy Scripture
What is the Scripture called?
The Scripture, putting one name for another is used for the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, which the company of the faithful doth religiously use for the instruction in godliness. And it is called holy, because, being delivered of God, it containeth holy things necessary unto eternal life. And in the same sense it is called the written word of God, and the unappealable Judge of all controversies of religion. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29-31.
Who is the Author of it?
God himself, who did commit his will unto writing by men called immediately of himself, and inspired by the Holy Ghost as his servants at hand, (as his penmen and public notaries) 2 Peter 1:21. For the Prophecy was not at any time brought by the will of man, but the holy men spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost. Hereupon all the Prophets do with one accord repeat this, The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it, Isa. 58:14. These things saith the Lord, Eze. 12:25, 28. 2 Tim. 3:16, The whole Scripture is given of God by inspiration. 1 Cor. 2:13, Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. Whereupon depend the adjuncts of the Scripture, as the authority, the excellency, the truth, and fulfilling of them, which is necessary, as it must needs be that God is true. Whence also it comes to pass, that the Scripture alone is to be believed, for its self of its self is worthy to be believed. Neither is it subject to the censure, addition, diminution, or alternation of angels or men, Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18. It alone is without all error, and we are bound to believe it alone upon the bare affirmation thereof. By it alone all opinions which men shall read, are to be confirmed and to be decided. This alone is perfect, and containeth all things necessary unto life eternal. Lastly, it is firm and constant, Deut, 17:9,10; Isa. 8:20; Mal. 2:7; Acts 17:2; Joshua 1:8; Job 5:39; Acts 17:11; Psalm 19:8; Luke 16:29; John 15:15; Acts 20:20, 27; 2 Tim. 23:16,17; 2 Peter 1:19.
How may it appear that the writings of the Prophets and Apostles were indicted of God?
Partly by testimonies, partly by reason. And the testimonies, partly inward, partly outward. The internal witness is one alone; namely of the holy Ghost inwardly speaking to our heart, and persuading us that those writings are inspired of God, and sealing them up in our hearts, Eph. 1:13; 1 John 2:20, 27, Ye have an anointment of the Lord, and this anointment teaching you all things. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, can easily discern his power speaking in the Scriptures. As it is said, 1 Cor. 2:15, The spiritual man discerneth all things, and Isa. 53:1, The arm of the Lord is not revealed to all men. So, Luke 8:10 and Mark 13:11, The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are not revealed to all men, but to whom it is given of God. And this testimony properly maketh for our confirmation, and this alone doth satisfy us, being known of them alone that are converted unto Christ, which doth evermore agree with the Scripture, without which the testimony of the Church can be no weight with us. For as none but God alone is a fit witness to testify of himself in his word, even so the word never findeth credit in our hearts, till such time as it be sealed up unto us by the inward testimony of the Spirit.*
*Note the continuity of Bucanus’ commentary with that of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647, Ch. 1.5., “yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with and by the Word in our hearts.”
William Bucanus, Body of Divinity or Institutions of the Christian Religion; framed out of the Word of God, and the writings of the best divines, methodically handled by was of questions and answers, fit for all such as desire to know and practice the will of God. Written in Latin. Translated into English by Robert Hill and Fellow at St. Johns College in Cambridge, for the benefit of the English Nation. (London: Printed for Daniel Pakeman, Abel Roper and Richard Tomlins, and are to be sold in Fleet-street, and at the Sun and Bible near Py-corner, 1659), 42, 45-46.