Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. I.

Of the Holy Scripture.


"IS the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary to salvation?"

No; 1 Cor. 1.21. and 1 Cor. 2.13,14.

Well then, do not the Socinians err, who maintain, That men living according to the law and light of nature may be saved?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because none can be saved, unless they be born by the incorruptible seed of the word, 1 Pet. 1.23.

2d, Because Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to the Father but by the Son, John 14.6.

3d, Because there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved, but by the name of Jesus, Acts 4.12.

4th, Because men cannot believe in Christ, without supernatural revelation: and therefore cannot be sanctified; because all justification, sanctification and remission of sins, are by God's grace, and faith in Jesus Christ, Rom. 3.24,25. Acts 26.18. Neither can men be so saved, viz. by living according to the light of nature, because salvation is promised only to believers in Christ, Acts 16.31. John 3.16.

5th, Because all that know not God will be punished eternally, 2 Thes. 1.8. But men without supernatural revelation cannot savingly know God, 1 Cor. 1.21. Mat. 11.27.

6th, Men destitute of supernatural revelation cannot know their own corruption and misery, by the first Adam, nor the remedy which is offered by Christ the second Adam. They are without God, without hope, without the promises, without the church, and covenant of God; and the mysteries of faith are hid, and unknown to them allenarly, that perish and are lost. Eph. 2.11,12. Rom. 9.4. 2 Cor. 4.3. Mat. 13.11,12. Mat. 11.25-27.

Quest. II. "Are the holy Scriptures most necessary to the church?"

Yes; 2 Tim. 3.15. 2 Pet. 1.19.

Well then, doth not the popish church err, that affirms, The true church to be infallible, in teaching and propounding articles of faith, both without, and against the Scripture; and that their unwritten traditions are of divine and equal authority with the canon of Scripture?


Do not likewise the Libertines and Quakers err, affirming, That God doth teach, and guide the elect into all truth, by the alone instinct and light of the Spirit, without any written word whatsoever?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the scriptures are the foundation upon which the church is built, Eph. 2.20.

2d, Because all things are to be examined by the rule of the word, as the noble Bereans did, Acts 17.11,12.

3d, Because unwritten traditions are subject and liable to many corruptions, and are soon and quickly forgotten.

4th, Because we have life eternal in the Scriptures, therefore they must be necessary to the church, John 5.39.

5th, Because the Scriptures are given that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works, 2 Tim. 3.16,17. and the Scriptures are written that men may believe, John 20.31.

Quest. III. "Are these former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people now ceased?


Well then, do not the enthusiasts and quakers err, who maintain, That the Lord hath not ceased yet to reveal his will as he did of old?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, Heb. 1.1,2. The apostle calls the time of the New Testament the last days, because under the same, there is no more alteration to be expected, but all things are to abide without adding, or taking away, as was taught and ordained by Christ, until the last day; See also Joel 2.18. Acts 2.17. The ways and manners of old were:

First, By inspiration. 2 Chron. 15.1. Isa. 59.21. 2 Pet. 1.21.
Secondly, By visions, Numb. 12.6,8.
Thirdly, By dreams, Job 33.14,15. Gen. 40. 8.
Fourthly, By Urim and Thummim, Num. 27.21. 1 Sam. 33.7,8.
Fifthly, By signs, Gen. 32.24. Exod. 13.21.
Sixthly, By audible voice, Exod. 20.1. Gen. 22.15.
All which do end in writing, Exod. 17,17,14. which is a most sure and infallible way of the Lord's revealing his will unto his people.

Quest. IV. "Do the books of the Old and New Testaments come under the name of the Holy Scripture, and Word of God?"


Well then, do not the Quakers err, who maintain, That the scriptures ought not to be called the Word of God?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ says, If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, John 10.35. Here it is evident, that the word of God and the Scriptures are the same.

2d, Because the predictions of the prophets are expressly called the word of God. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, 2 Chron. 36.22. Here we see it is evident, that the written prophesies of Jeremiah, which are part of the holy Scriptures, are called the word of God.

3d, Because what Christ calls the commandment of God, he calls the word of God, Mark 7.9,10. compared with v. 13.

4th, Because the apostle calls the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. This sword is the sword of the Holy Spirit, which he doth, as it were, put into our hands, to resist Satan, against all his temptations, Eph. 6.17. Therefore, by the sword of the Spirit must be understood the scripture, not the Spirit himself, as some Quakers affirm. It is evident also, from Mat. 4. where Christ being tempted by the devil, with three different temptations, resists him with three different places of Scripture. And being asked by the Pharisees, why his disciples did pluck the ears of corn upon the Sabbath day, answered by Scripture. Mat. 12.1-4. Teaching us, that Satan's temptations must be carefully answered, and that by Scripture, as the only mean to overcome him, and his instruments.

5th, Because the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, Heb. 4.12. This cannot be understood of Christ, because Paul, in his other writings, doth not call the person of Christ by this name, and therefore must be understood of the word of the gospel, the power whereof is described, Rom. 1.16.

6th, See these following places of Scripture, Psalm 119.172. 1 Kings 16.12 and 2 Kings 9.36. and 23.16. Isaiah 28.13. Hos. 1.1,2. Isaiah 37.22. Prov. 30.5. By the Scripture, or the word of God, we do not understand the bare letters, or the several written words, of the holy Scripture, which the adversaries may imagine we call the word of God. These are only the vessels, which carry and convey that heavenly light unto us. But we understand thereby, the doctrine or will of God revealed unto reasonable creatures, teaching them what to do, believe, or leave undone, Deut. 19.29.

Quest. V. "Are the Scriptures given of God to be the rule of faith and life?"

Yes; Luke 16.29,31. Eph. 2.20. Rev. 20.18,19. 2 Tim. 3.10.

Well then, doth not the Popish church err, who maintain, Their unwritten traditions to be the rule of faith?


Do not likewise the Enthusiasts, and the Quakers err, who maintain, The Spirit within, that teaches the elect, to be the only rule of faith? And that the dictates of light within, are of as great authority as the Scriptures?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the Scriptures are called a rule, Gal. 6.16.

2d, Because nothing is to be added to the Scriptures, Deut. 4.2. and 12.32. Prov. 30.6. Rev. 22.19,20.

3d, Because we ought rather to follow the Scripture in this life, than a voice spoken from heaven, 2 Pet. 1.19,21.

4th, Because the Scripture is written, that we might believe, John 20.31.

5th, Because the Scripture is given for making the man of God perfect, 2 Tim. 3.17.

6th, Because we must betake ourselves in the whole of religion to the law, and to the testimony, Isaiah 8.20.

7th, Because Christ himself refers the greatest question that ever was, whether he be the son of God, or not, to the Scriptures, John 5.38,39. Search the Scriptures, says he, for they testify of me.

8th, Because the Holy Ghost did never give such a designation to his own word, as an historical rule, and dead letter; or as some Quakers call them, not the "principal fountain of truth and knowledge, not the first rule of faith and manners," but the regula secundaria, subordinate to the Spirit; whence, as they affirm, "the holy Scriptures have all their true worth, excellency, and certainty:" Whereas Paul says expressly, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, Rom. 10.14

9th, Because the spirits cannot be known by any other rule than by the written word. It is certain, that the devil transforms himself into an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11.14. There is a spirit of the world, 1 Cor. 2.12. A spirit that rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, Eph. 2.2. There is a lying spirit, 1 Kings 22.22. And a spirit of error and delusion, 1 John 4.6. How shall these be known to be such, or the Spirit, which the Quakers obtrude upon us, not to be one of them, but by the rule of the word?

Quest. VI. "Are the books commonly called Apocrypha, of divine inspiration?"

No; Luke 24.27,44. Rom. 3.2. and 2 Pet. 1.21.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who affirm, That the books called Apocrypha, are of divine inspiration, and of equal authority with the undoubted word?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because they were never written in the Hebrew tongue, nor by any of the prophets.

2d, Because they are never cited in the New Testament by Christ, or by any of the apostles, as books of the canonical scriptures are.

3d, Because they contain many fabulous, and impious doctrines and histories.

  1. Tobit 5.21. The angel says, He was Azariah, the son of Ananias. This was a manifest lie, which cannot be attributed to a good angel; and therefore the Spirit of God hath not dictated this history.
  2. It is reported, Tobit 6.6,7,16,17. that the heart and liver of a fish was good to make perfume to drive away the devil, if any man was troubled with him, or with any evil spirit. And it is said, Tobit 12.15. by the angel, I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, that present the prayers of the saints. This is only proper to Christ.
  3. Because the act of Simeon and Levi, condemned by Jacob, acted by the Spirit of God, Gen. 34.25. in killing the Shechemites, is commended by Judith, 9.2,3.
  4. Because you will read of an offering for the dead, prayers and reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin, 2 Maccab. 12.43-45. See what contradictions are in comparing together, 1 Maccab. 6.8. 2 Maccab. 15.16. 2 Maccab. 9.5.
Quest. VII. "Doth the authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depend upon the testimony of any man, or church?"

No; 2 Pet. 1.19,21. 2 Tim. 3.16. 1 Thes. 1.13.

Well then, do not the Popish writers err, who maintain, The authority of the Scriptures, to depend upon the testimony of the church, as to us?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the word is to be received by us, not as the word of man, but as the word of God. 1 Thes. 2.13.

2d, Because the doctrine of Christ, to be received by believers, dependeth not on man's testimony, John 5.34.

3d, Because God only is true and infallible, and all men are liars, Rom. 3.4. Heb. 6.18. He is of incomprehensible wisdom, Psalm 147.5. Of great goodness, Exod. 18.7. Rom. 11.12. Psalm 34.8. Of absolute power and dominion, Gen. 17.1. Psalm 50.1,2. Of infallible truth, who can neither deceive or be deceived, Rom. 3.4. Titus 1.2. Heb. 6.18. Therefore he ought to be credited in all his narrations, promises, threatenings, and prophesies, and obeyed in all his commands allenarly, because he himself hath said so.

Quest. VIII. "Is the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and love, either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence, may be deducted from it?"

Yes; 2 Tim. 3.15. Gal. 1.8,9. 2 Thes. 2.2.

Well then, do not the Popish church err, who maintain, The Scripture to be an imperfect rule, and therefore to stand in need of a supply of unwritten traditions?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because all Scripture is given, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works, 2 Tim. 3.16,17.

2d, Because the psalmist says expressly, the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, Psalm 19.7,8.

3d, Because nothing is to be added to the word of God, Deut. 4.2. Prov. 30.6. Therefore the Scriptures must be a complete and perfect rule of faith, and not an imperfect rule, or but partly a rule, as they teach.

Quest. IX. "Is it warrantable to argue in articles, or matters of faith, by consequences natively deduced from scripture?


Well then, do not the Socinians, Quakers, Anabaptists, and Arminians err, who maintain, That all matters of faith are set down expressly, and in so many words in Scripture, and that no matters of faith, at least necessary to salvation, can be built upon consequences drawn from the Scriptures?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ himself proves, that necessary point of faith, the resurrection of the dead, from scripture by a consequence, Mat. 23.29,31,32. To be any one's God, is to give one eternal life, Psalm 33.12. Psalm 144.15. Whence followeth, that those patriarchs lived still with God, in respect of their souls, which these Sadducees also denied, Acts 23.8. and should also rise in respect of their bodies, and live eternally: Seeing he is called a God, not of one part of them only, but of their whole persons. And in that same chapter, v. 43,45. Christ proves his deity by consequence from Scripture, against the Pharisees.

2d, So doth Apollos, Acts 18.28. and Paul, Acts 19.22. prove from the Old Testament, Jesus to be the Christ: But it is not expressly said in the Old Testament, that he is the Christ. Is not that which necessarily follows from scripture, contained in it implicitly, and implicitly revealed by God, infallibly true?

Quest. X. "Is the inward illumination of the Spirit of God necessary, for the saving understanding of such things, as are revealed in the word?"

Yes; John 6.45. 1 Cor. 2.9-12.

Well then, do not the Socinians and Arminians err, who maintain, That men without the revelation of the Spirit, are able to understand the Scriptures for their salvation?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the disciples of Christ were not able to understand the Scripture, before he opened their eyes, Luke 24.45.

2d, Because the Jews to this day cannot understand the Scriptures of the Old Testament, until the vail, by the Spirit of God, be taken away, 2 Cor. 3.14,15,16,18.

3d, Because the psalmist David seeketh from God, the opening of his eyes, that he may behold wondrous things out of his law, Psalm 119.18.

Quest. XI. "Are all these things, which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture, or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them, for their salvation?"

Yes; Psalm 119.105,130.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, That things necessary to salvation, are obscurely and darkly set down in Scripture; and that without the help of unwritten traditions, and the infallible expounding of the church, the Scriptures cannot be understood?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths, Psalm 119. 105.

2d, Because the Scripture is a light which shineth in a dark place, 2 Pet. 1.19.

3d, Because the Scripture enlighteneth the eyes, and maketh the simple wise, Psalm 19.7,8.

Quest. XII. "Hath not the Lord, by his singular providence and care kept pure in all ages the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek?"

Yes; Mat. 5.18.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, The Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, which are the fountains, to be corrupted, and that their common Latin version is authentic?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ says, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled, Mat. 5.18.

2d, Because there can be no urgent necessity shown, why the fountains are corrupted.

3d, If any such corruption had been in the Scripture, Christ, and his apostles, and the orthodox fathers had declared so much.

4th, Because they never have nor can make out any manifest corruptions in the fountains, albeit, most manifest and undeniable demonstrations are given of the corruptions of their Latin version, which they make authentic.

Quest. XIII. "Are the original tongues, viz. the Hebrew and the Greek, to be translated in the vulgar language of every nation into which they come?"


Are we commanded in the fear of God to read and search the scriptures?

Yes; John 5.39. 1 Cor. 14.6,9,11,12,14,24,27,28.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, There is no necessity of translating the original tongues, the Hebrew, and the Greek, into the vulgar language of every nation, unto which they come, but rather a very great hazard, and danger of errors and heresies?


Do not likewise the same Papists err, who forbid the reading of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongues?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the Scriptures were given long since to the Jews, in their own vulgar language, that they might be read publicly and privately by all. Deut. 31.10-12. Deut. 11.18-20.

2d, Because the New Testament was written in the Greek language, which at that time was most generally known to all nations.

3d, Because Christ bids all, promiscuously, search the Scriptures, John 5.29.

4th, Because the prophets and apostles preached their doctrines to the people and nations in their known languages, Jer. 46.15,16. Acts 2.6.

5th, Because immediately after the apostles times, many translations were extant.

6th, Because all things must be done in the congregation unto edifying, 1 Cor. 14.26. but an unknown tongue doth not edify.

7th, Because all are commanded to try the spirits, 1 Thes. 5.21. 1 Cor. 10.15.

8th, Because the Scriptures teach the way of life, Prov. 2.9. Luke 16.19. Acts 24.14.

9th, Because the Scriptures set forth the duty of every man in his place, and estate of his life, Deut. 17.8,19,20. Josh. 1.8. Psalm 119.24. 2 Chron. 23.11.

10th, Because they are the grounds of faith, Rom. 4.20. 2 Chron. 20.20.

11th, Because they are the epistle of God sent to his church, Hos. 8.12. Rev. 2.1,8,12.

12th, Because they are his Testament, wherein we may find what legacies he hath bequeathed unto us, 2 Cor. 3.14,16. Heb. 10.16. John 14.16.

13th, Because they are the sword of the Spirit, Eph. 6.17.

14th, Because being embraced and known, they make a man happy, Psalm 119.97,98. Luke 10.42. Luke 16.29. Psalm 1.2. Rev. 1.3.

15th, Because when the Scriptures are neglected or contemned, they plunge men into all misery, Heb. 2.3. Mat. 22.29. Psalm 50.16.

Quest. XIV. "When there is a question about the true meaning, and full sense of any Scripture, must it be known and searched by other places which speak more clearly?"

Yes; 2 Pet. 1.21. Acts 15.15,16.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, The Scripture not to be a sufficient interpreter of itself, and that the sense of it cannot be gathered infallibly, when the text is doubtful, from other places which speak more clearly, but only from the magisterial traditions and unwritten opinions of the church of Rome?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the noble Bereans compared scripture with Scripture, for finding out the true and sure sense of it, Acts 17.11.

2d, Because the apostle Paul did the same, Acts 28.23.

3d, Because the same was done by the council of the apostles and elders, Acts 15.15-17.

Quest. XV. "Is the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture, the supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest?"

Yes; Matth. 22.29,31. Eph. 2.20. Acts 28.25.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, That the Church of Rome, and the Pope, are the supreme judges of all controversies of faith: And that his decrees and determinations are to be believed without examination, and implicitly to be believed by all believers?


Do not likewise the Quakers err, who maintain, That the light within, which teacheth the elect, is the only judge of all controversies of faith.


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because God commands all men to go to the law and to the testimony, in doubtful matters, Isa. 8.20.

2d, Because all doubts in religion are to be examined by the rule of the word, Acts 17.11. Gal. 6.16.

3d, Because Christ and his apostles did always dispute and reason from the Scriptures against the enemies of the truth, Mat. 22.31. Gal. 3.13.

4th, Because the church of God is founded on the writings of the prophets and apostles, Eph. 2.20.

5th, Because we are commanded to prove all things, and to try the spirits, 1 Thes. 5.2. 1 John 4.1,6.