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phets, evangelists and apostles, under the inspiration of God? Every rational being on earth, possessing the volume of Divine Revelation, should habitually pray to its gracious Author, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law !"
EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
Divine Revelation must possess infallible and exclusive authority
Difference between Protestants and Romanists—Testimony of
Receiving the Holy Scriptures as the oracles of God, we must admit their infallible and exclusive authority in all things that they are designed to teach. And these things include every principle that relates to the religious belief and to the moral practice of every human being. This religious sentiment forms the grand foundation of Protestantism ; it is, in reality, the sacred basis of pure Christianity. It must be admitted, therefore, that this is a subject which deeply concerns every Christian ; indeed, every human being must be personally interested in the inquiry, “WHAT IS THE INFALLIBLE RULE AND STANDARD FOR MAN IN MATTERS OF RELIGION ?”
Every one will perceive that this is a vital question. It concerns the present state of every man, as it involves his eternal welfare; it enters into all his moral relations ; it influences his principles of action; and it affects his most sacred duties, relating both to his fellow-men and to his Creator, God.
Protestants hold that they possess this rule, supreme, exclusive and divine, in the volume of the Holy Scriptures. They regard the Bible as the complete collection of the oracles of God; they acknowledge them as designed to make men“ wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus," and prize them next to the Saviour himself, as the most precious gift of infinite grace.
Roman Catholics practically reject this rule of religion ; for while they profess to receive the Holy Scriptures as divine oracles, they incorporate with them apocryphal books, and add to them uncertain traditions, which they pretend to have received by a succession of their priesthood. Nor is this a mere theory with them; for, in contending for their traditions, they have, by every conceivable form of cruelty, persecuted and murdered millions of the saints of God, whom they had condemned as heretics on account of their having opposed and rejected corrupt impositions, the doctrines of men, appealing for the truth of their own religion exclusively to the word of God.
Moses, the first inspired writer, the commissioned lawgiver of Israel, required the people to pay supreme deference to the written oracles of God, and to make them familiar to their households. He enjoins—". These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart : and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”—Deut. vi. 6, 7. David describes the person who is truly happy, the “ Blessed man, whose delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”—(Ps. i. 1, 2.) Hence the prophet Isaiah, reproving the Jews for regarding the traditions and lying oracles of false prophets and impostors, makes this appeal to the Scriptures, “ To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”—(Is. viii. 20.)
On this admirable principle, the Old Testament abounds with injunctions to the study of the Word of God; and our blessed Lord also, in His character of Messiah, the “ Teacher sent from God,” condemned “the traditions of the elders," as making void the divine law. He made all His appeals, even for the support of His own doctrines, to the testimony of “Moses, the prophets and psalms.” He enjoins, therefore, on all His followers, the duty and privilege of " searching the Scripture,” as the sole and supreme rule in all things relating to true religion. Before He sent forth His apostles on their extraordinary mission to teach all nations, “He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures ”—(Luke xxiv. 45); and thei manner of teaching both the Jews and the converts from the Gentiles was, to “reason with them out of the Scriptures” concerning the kingdom of God, and salvation with eternal glory by Jesus Christ.
Every man possessing the word of God is required, therefore, to read and regard it so as to believe the Scriptures for himself, that he may become “ wise unto salvation ” as a private Christian ; and more especially that he may become furnished for his responsible duties in giving instruction to others, if he be a minister of the Gospel of Christ. Every Protestant, by his professed principles, is laid under the strongest obligations to become acquainted with the divine oracles, for his own spiritual edification ; while the Romish priest labours that, if possible, he may keep his followers in ignorance of the Scriptures ; and he requires the few who with difficulty obtain permission to look into the Bible, to receive the divine testimony in that sense only in which it is pretended to be interpreted by the church, by which is meant the Popish priesthood.
Martyrs and confessors of Christ, in every age, have acted on this sacred principle of Protestantism. Martin Luther rested' his claim upon this foundation, in opposing the Pope's pretensions, and in accomplishing all his mighty triumphs in the glorious work of the Reformation. “ Setting aside an implicit dependence on human writings," says that great champion for the doctrine of Christ, “ let us strenuously adhere to the Scriptures alone. The primitive church acted thus—she must have acted so, for she had no writings of the fathers. Let the fathers be allowed to be holy men; still they were only holy men, and men inferior to prophets and apostles. It is enough that we have learned from them the duty of studying and diligently labouring in the Scriptures ; it is not necessary that we should approve of all their works.”
Protestant reformers have unanimously held this principle as sacred, especially in their controversies with the Romish priesthood; disallowing all pre