Preserved Purity: An Introduction

Christopher Thomas Providential Preservation Leave a Comment

In Garnet H. Milne’s book Has the Bible Been Kept Pure?, he quotes extensively from the writings of the Reformers. However, if you’re like me, you want to read the entire passage or even work that he mentions for one’s own personal edification. So this series will do just that! It will provide those extensive quotes, paragraphs, and chapters that Dr. Milne mentions on pages 107 – 151. For the most part this series will follow his table of contents. After this, we will move on to a series based upon Chapter 5.

Dr. Milne began by quoting Section 1.8 in his discussion of preserved purity. During this series, I will offer little commentary and merely post the sections referenced by Dr. Milne along with which pages each post covers. I will BOLD and ITALICIZE the portions upon which Dr. Milne focuses. This post covers pages 107 – 110.

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1, Section 8

8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;a so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them.b But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,c therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,d that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner,e and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.f

a. Mat 5:18. • b. Isa 8:20John 5:3946Acts 15:15. • c. John 5:39. • d. 1 Cor 14:6911-122427-28. • e. Col 3:16. • f. Rom 15:4.

Now, after this Dr. Milne quotes from Anthony Burgess and then the Westminster Larger Catechism. But I am going to put them one after another.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q4: How doth it appear that the scriptures are the word of God?
A4: The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by their majesty [1] and purity;[2] by the consent of all the parts,[3] and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God;[4] by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation:[5] but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.[6]

1. Hosea 8:121 Cor. 2:6-713Psa. 119:18129
2. Psa. 12:6119:140
3. Acts 10:4326:22
4. Rom. 3:1927
5. Acts 23:28Heb. 4:12James 1:18Psa. 19:7-9Rom. 15:4Acts 20:32
6. John 16:13-1420:311 John 2:2027

Anthony Burgess

The difficulty of and the encouragements to a reformation a sermon preached before the honourable House of Commons at the publick fast, Septem. 27, 1643

Doct. The Word of God is the only rule and principle in matters of Religion or Reformation.

6. And lastly, a rule must be first, and before the thing to be regulated; a rule is a measure, and therefore must be first in its kind; To question whether the Church should be before the Scripture, is to question whether man be before God: ‘Tis true, Divines do well observe, that the Scripture may be considered, either quoad formale externum, in respect of the outward form, as it is a writing; or quoad formale internum, in respect of the inward form and sense of it, as it is the Word of God: Now in the latter sense, God’s Word was always before a Church, because by the Word we are begotten again, and so made the Church: Hence it is that God’s Word is more ancient than Churches and Fathers, and this is the antiquity we should set up. It is true, the Church in regard of her Ministry, and leading us to believe, is before the Scripture, but we never put forth a Divine holy Faith till the Spirit of God work our assent to his Word, because it is his Word; so that to stay in the authority of the Church, is to stay in John Baptist, that did bear witness of Christ, and not go to Christ himself. Seeing therefore the Word of God is most ancient, why should men press us in faith or worship, to go and see what was done 5. or 600. or a thousand years ago, and not rather go to the Scripture which was before this? But as the Owl and Thief cannot endure the light, so neither can error or superstition the Word of God.

The Annotations

See the Annotations page and look up Psalm 12:6-7 & Psalm 119:140 in each one looking for the phrase “an absence of falsehood.”

The Belgic Confession of Faith

Article 3: The Written Word of God

We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered “by human will,” but that “men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God,” as Peter says.1 Afterward our God—with special care for us and our salvation commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing.
God, with his own finger, wrote the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings
holy and divine Scriptures.

12 Pet. 1:21

Robert Baillie

The Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie, 1637-1662 by Baillie, Robert, 1599-1662Laing, David, 1793-1878 Vol 2, p. 109

If two or three stand up at once, then the divines confusedly calls on his name whom they desyre to hear first : On whom the loudeft and maniefl voices calls, he fpeaks. No man fpeaks to any bot to the Proloqutor. They harangue long and very learnedlie. They ftudie the queftions well before hand, and prepares their fpeeches ; but withall the men are exceeding prompt, and well fpoken. I doe marvell at the very ac curate and extemporall replyes that many of them ufuallie doe make. When, upon every proportion by itfelf, and on everie text of Scripture that is brought to confirme it, every man who will hes faid his whole minde, and the replyes, and duplies, and triplies, are heard ; then the mod part calls, To the queftion. Byfield the fcribe rifes from the table, and comes to the Proloqutor’ s chair, who, from the fcribe’ s book, reads the propofition, and fays, as many as are in opinion that the queftion is well ftated in the propofition, let them fay I ; when I is heard, he fays, as many as think otherwife, fay No. If the differ ence of I’s and No’s be cleare, as ufuallie it is, then the queftion is ordered by the fcribes, and they go on to debate the firft Scripture alleadged for proof of the propofition.

William Perkins

Of the calling of the Ministrie. p. 4

Religious Knowledge be grounded upon the absolute certainty of Scriptures as the Word of God

First, if every true Minister must be

God’s Interpreter to the people, and the people’s to God, then hence we learn that every one, who either is or intends to be a minister, must have that tongue of the learned, whereof is spoken in Isaiah 50:4, where the Prophet saith (first in the name of Christ, as hear the great Prophet and teacher of his Church, and secondarily in the name of himself, and all true Prophets while the world endureth) The Lord God hath given me a tongue of the learned, that I should know to speak a word in season to him that is weary: where note the weary soul, or troubled conscience, must have word in season spoken to him for his comfort, and that cannot be spoken without the tongue of the learned, and lastly that tongue of the learned must bee given of God: Now to have this tongue of the learned, which Isaiah speaks of, what is it but to be this Interpreter, which the holy Ghost here saith a minister must be: But to be able to speak with this tongue is, first to be furnished with (unknown word) and learning. Secondly, with divine knowledge, as far as it may by outward means be taught from man to man: but besides these, he that will speak this tongue aright, must (unknown word) inwardly learned, and taught by the spirit of God: the two first he must learn from men, but the third from God, a true Minister must be inwardly taught by the spiritual scholler, and the holy Ghost: Saint John in Revelation must take the book, that is the Scripture, and eat it, and when he hath eaten it, then (saith the Angell) he must go preach to nations, tongues, people, and to Kings: which was done not that Saint John had not eaten that book, in the coming down of the holy Ghost, the very end of whose coming was to teach them spiritually: but that in him Christ might teach his Church for ever, that no minister is fit to preach, to nations and to Kings, until they have eaten the book of God: that is, till after and besides all the learning that man can teach them, they be also taught by the spirit of God himself, and this teaching is it that makes a man a true interpreter, and without this he cannot be, for (unknown word) can a man be God’s interpreter to his people unless he know the mind of God himself, and how can he know the mind of God, but by the teaching, of the spirit of God: Indeed we be man’s interpreter by human teaching, and may interpret the Scriptures, truly and soundly, as a human book or story for the increase of knowledge, but the divine and spiritual Interpretation, which shall pierce the heart, and astonish the soul of man, must be taught by the inward teaching of the holy Ghost.

Let no man think I here give the least allowance to Anabaptistical fancies, and revelations, which are nothing, but either dreams of their own, or illusions of the devil, for they contemn both humane learning, and the study of the scripture, and trust wholly to revelations of the spirit; but God’s Spirit worketh not but upon the foundation of the word: only I teach this, that a Minister must be a divine Interpreter, an Interpreter of God’s meaning. And therefore he must not only read the book, but eat it, that is, not only have the knowledge of divine things flowing in his brain but engraven in his heart, and printed in his soul by the spiritual finger of God: and therefore for this end, after all his own study, meditation, conference, Commentaries, & after all human helps, he must pray with David, Open thou mine eyes, that I may see the wonders of thy law. The discerning of those wonders requires a spiritual illumination, and the opening of them requires the tongue of the learned. Therefore after all the study which flesh and blood, and human reason can yield, pray with the Prophet, Lords give me the tongue of the learned, that I may be a right Interpreter of thy holy will.

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