William Perkins, 1558-1602, on Galatians and Scripture’s Preservation

Willet’s Cambridge classmate William Perkins reiterated his high view of Scripture in his commentary on Galatians. This was Perkins’s last book, posthumously edited by Ralph Cudworth.[1] In The Epistle Dedicatorie Cudworth writes this of the word of God:

They being of such perfection that nothing may be added unto them, nor anything taken away from them: of such infallible certainty, that heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one tittle fall to the ground.[2]

            Located within Perkins’ commentary on Galatians 1:11 is one of the 55 “Commonplaces Handled in this Commentarie,” entitled “How a man may be assured that the Scripture is the word of God.” The term “common places” or “common-places” is a translation of the Latin loci communes, which is “the collection of the basic scriptural loci and their interpretations into an ordered body of Christian doctrine.”[3]

            The first point of two made by Perkins is that “it is a thing most necessary, that men should be assured and certified that the doctrine of the Gospel, and of the Scripture, is not of man, but of God.”[4] In the tradition of Calvin, Perkins states that assurance of this truth comes by the testimony of the Holy Spirit “imprinted and expressed” in the Scriptures and the “excellency of the word of God.”[5] Under the heading of the excellencies of the word of God, Perkins lists thirteen points, the ninth point being “the protection and preservation of it [Scripture], from the beginning to this hour, by a special providence of God.”[6]

[1]William Perkins, A Commentary on Galatians, ed. Gerald T. Sheppard (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989).

[2]Perkins, Galatians, The Epistle Dedacatorie.

[3]Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), 179.

[4]Perkins, Galatians, 27.

[5]Calvin, Institutes, 1.9.3. For a parallel to “imprinted,” Calvin writes, “and we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word.”

[6]Perkins, Galatians, 28.

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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