|RPM, Volume 12, Number 37, September 12 to September 18, 2010|
Sect. XXXVI. NOW let us come to the New Testament. Paul saith, (Rom. i. 2,) that the Gospel was promised "by the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures." And, (Rom. iii. 21,) that the righteousness of faith was testified "by the law and the Prophets." But what testimony is that, if it be obscure? Paul, however, throughout all his epistles makes the Gospel, the word of light, the Gospel of clearness; and he professedly and most copiously sets it forth as being so, 2 Cor. iii. and iv.; where he treats most gloriously concerning the clearness both of Moses and of Christ.
Peter also saith, (2 Pet. i. 19,) "And we certainly have more surely the word of prophecy; unto which, ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place." Here Peter makes the Word of God a clear lamp, and all other things darkness: whereas, we make obscurity and darkness of the Word.
Christ also often calls Himself, the "light of the world;" (John viii. 12. ix. 5,) and John the Baptist, a "burning and a shining light," (John v. 35.) Certainly, not on account of the holiness of his life, but on account of the word which he ministered. In the same manner Paul calls the Philippians shining "lights of the world." (Phil. ii. 15), because (says he,) ye "hold forth the word of life." (16.) For life without the word is uncertain and obscure.
And what is the design of the apostles in proving their preaching by the Scriptures? Is it that they may obscure their own darkness by still greater darkness? What was the intention of Christ, in teaching the Jews to "search the Scriptures" (John v. 39,) as testifying of Him? Was it that He might render them doubtful concerning faith in Him? What was their intention, who having heard Paul, searched the Scriptures night and day, "to see if these things were so?" (Acts xvii. 11.) Do not all these things prove that the Apostles, as well as Christ Himself, appealed to the Scriptures as the most clear testimonies of the truth of their discourses? With what face then do we make them ‘obscure?'
Are these words of the Scripture, I pray you, obscure or ambiguous: "God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. i. 1). "The Word was made flesh." (John i. 14,) and all those other words which the whole world receives as articles of faith? Whence then, did they receive them? Was it not from the Scriptures? And what do those who at this day preach? Do they not expound and declare the Scriptures? But if the Scripture which they declare, be obscure, who shall certify us that their declaration is to be depended on? Shall it be certified by another new declaration? But who shall make that declaration? — And so we may go on ad infinitum.
In a word, if the Scripture be obscure or ambiguous, what need was there for its being sent down from heaven? Are we not obscure and ambiguous enough in ourselves, without an increase of it by obscurity, ambiguity, and darkness being sent down unto us from heaven? And if this be the case, what will become of that of the apostle, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction?" (2 Tim. iii. 16.) Nay, Paul, thou art altogether useless, and all those things which thou ascribest unto the Scripture, are to be sought for out of the fathers approved by a long course of ages, and from the Roman see! Wherefore, thy sentiment must be revoked, where thou writest to Titus, (chap. i. 9) ‘that a bishop ought to be powerful in doctrine, to exhort and to convince the gainsayers, and to stop the mouths of vain talkers, and deceivers of minds.' For how shall he be powerful, when thou leavest him the Scriptures in obscurity — that is, as arms of tow and feeble straws, instead of a sword? And Christ must also, of necessity, revoke His word where He falsely promises us, saying, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist," (Luke xxi. 15.) For how shall they not resist when we fight against them with obscurities and uncertainties? And why do you also, Erasmus, prescribe to us a form of Christianity, if the Scriptures be obscure to you!
But I fear I must already be burdensome, even to the insensible, by dwelling so long and spending so much strength upon a point so fully clear; but it was necessary, that that impudent and blasphemous saying, ‘the Scriptures are obscure,' should thus be drowned. And you, too, my friend Erasmus, know very well what you are saying, when you deny that the Scripture is clear, for you at the same time drop into my ear this assertion: ‘it of necessity follows therefore, that all your saints whom you adduce, are much less clear.' And truly it would be so. For who shall certify us concerning their light, if you make the Scriptures obscure? Therefore they who deny the all-clearness and all-plainness of the Scriptures, leave us nothing else but darkness.
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