Ralph Venning (1622-1674) on Scripture as the Infallible Rule

Of Venning’s style, John Edwards (1637-1716) remarks in “The Preacher ‘”(1705, i. 203): “He turns sentences up and down, and delights in little cadences and chiming of words.”

Of special interest in this short excerpt:

  1. Scripture is “our judge.”
  2. Scripture is “this rule” from which all opinions are judged “to see whether they be of God or no.”
  3. Scripture has a “divine right upon any opinion.”
  4. Scripture is an undoubted, perfect, and infallible rule. The same Scripture will judge the world in the last day.
  5. 1 John 5:7 is quoted as authentic.
  6. Scripture is to be believed “though reason cannot find out the reason of it.”
  7. The content of Scripture is a safeguard against the autonomous reason’s rejection of God.

“Seeing there is nothing to be practiced, believed, or taught, which is not agreeable to the mind of God, Let us make the Word of God our Judge.

The Scriptures (as is granted to all that I write to) are the touchstone by which all religious Principles and Acts are to be tried. To the Law and to the Testimony, if they speak not according to this rule, ‘tis because there is no light in them, Isa. 8:20. Let nothing pass for current coin, which hat not this stamp upon it.

Certainly no Christian will refuse to make the truth of God contained in the Scriptures the judge of all he holds and practices, it being the basis of both, if they be laid on their true foundation; tis the trial which tries all; and therefore bring your opinions to the light; to see whether they be of God or no.

If the Scriptures write jus divium, divine right upon any opinion, ‘tis then authentic; but all other authority is not sufficient to command either faith or practice. The Bereans [Acts 17:11] were called more noble than they of Thessalonica, because they did not take things upon trust, and believe implicitly, but searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. If any man or Angel from Heaven bring any other doctrine, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

Certainly these are the undoubted, perfect, and infallible rule, for all matters of faith and practice, or God could not judge the world by them in the last day.

Let us therefore as the wise me, when they saw the star, go up to Jerusalem, that is, the Law and the testimony, and willingly acquiesce in the Answer we receive from the Oracles of God….”

If Scripture speak it, believe it, though reason cannot find out the reason of it. The Scripture saith in Job 26:7 that the earth hangeth on nothing. The Scripture saith, that one is three, and three are one, 1 John 5:7. How can reason think this true? And yet ‘tis true, and speaks nothing but truth, saith ‘tis so.”

Yea, let me add, that could God be comprehended by our reason, we might think it reason to think he were not God.

Ralph Venning, Mysteries and Revelations of the Explication and Application of several Extra-essential and borrowed  names, allusions, and metaphors in the Scripture (London: Printed for John Rothwell at the Sunne and Fountain in Pauls Church-yard, 1652), 31-32, 39

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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