7 Cogent Arguments Which Prove the Bible to be the Word of God — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)

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Thomas Watson,

Q.II: WHAT RULE HAS GOD GIVEN TO DIRECT US HOW WE MAY GLORIFY AND ENJOY HIM?

A: The Word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

2 Tim 3:16. ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’By Scripture is understood the sacred Book of God. It is given by divine inspiration; that is, the Scripture is not the contrivance of man’s brain, but is divine in its origin. The image of Diana was had in veneration by the Ephesians, because they supposed it fell from Jupiter. Acts 19:95. The holy Scripture is to be highly reverenced and esteemed, because we are sure it came from heaven. 2 Pet 1:11. The two Testaments are the two lips by which God has spoken to us.

How does it appear that the Scriptures have a Jus Divinum, a divine authority stamped upon them?

Because the Old and New Testament are the foundation of all religion. If their divinity cannot be proved, the foundation on which we build our faith is gone. I shall therefore endeavour to prove this great truth, that the Scriptures are the very word of God. I wonder whence the Scriptures should come, if not from God. Bad men could not be the authors of it. Would their minds be employed in inditing such holy lines? Would they declare so fiercely against sin? Good men could not be the authors of it. Could they write in such a strain? or could it stand with their grace to counterfeit God’s name, and put, Thus saith the Lord, to a book of their own devising? Nor could any angel in heaven be the author of it, because the angels pry and search into the abyss of gospel mysteries, I Pet 1:12, which implies their nescience of some parts of Scripture; and sure they cannot be the authors of that book which they themselves do not fully understand. Besides, what angel in heaven durst be so arrogant as to personate God and, say, ‘I create,’ Isa 65:17, and, ‘I the Lord have said it,? Numb 14:45. So that it is evident, the pedigree of Scripture is sacred, and it could come from none but God himself.

Not to speak of the harmonious consent of all the parts of Scripture, there are seven cogent arguments which may evince it to be the Word of God.

[1] Its antiquity. It is of ancient standing. The grey hairs of Scripture make it venerable. No human histories extant reach further than Noah’s flood: but the holy Scripture relates matters of fact that have been from the beginning of the world; it writes of things before time. That is a sure rule of Tertullian, ‘That which is of the greatest antiquity, id verum quod primum, is to be received as most sacred and authentic.’

[2] We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by its miraculous preservation in all ages. The holy Scriptures are the richest jewel that Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost. The Word of God has never wanted enemies to oppose, and, if possible, to extirpate it. They have given out a law concerning Scripture, as Pharaoh did the midwives, concerning the Hebrew women’s children, to strangle it in the birth; but God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven. Nor has the church of God, in all revolutions and changes, kept the Scripture that it should not be lost only, but that it should not be depraved. The letter of Scripture has been preserved, without any corruption, in the original tongue. The Scriptures were not corrupted before Christ’s time, for then Christ would not have sent the Jews to them. He said, ‘Search the Scriptures.’ He knew these sacred springs were not muddied with human fancies.

[3] The Scripture appears to be the Word of God, by the matter contained in it. The mystery of Scripture is so abstruse and profound that no man or angel could have known it, had it not been divinely revealed. That eternity should be born; that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle; that he who rules the stars should suck the breasts; that the Prince of Life should die; that the Lord of Glory should be put to shame; that sin should be punished to the full, yet pardoned to the full; who could ever have conceived of such a mystery, had not the Scripture revealed it to us? So, for the doctrine of the resurrection; that the same body which is crumbled into a thousand pieces, should rise idem numero, the same individual body, else it were a creation, not a resurrection. How could such a sacred riddle, above all human disquisition, be known, had not the Scripture made a discovery of it? As the matter of Scripture is so full of goodness, justice and sanctity, that it could be breathed from none but God; so the holiness of it shows it to be of God. Scripture is compared to silver refined seven times. Psa 12:2. The Book of God has no errata in it; it is a beam of the Sun of Righteousness, a crystal stream flowing from the fountain of life. All laws and edicts of men have had their corruptions, but the Word of God has not the least tincture, it is of meridian splendour. Psa 119:940. ‘Thy word is very pure,’ like wine that comes from the grape, which is not mixed nor adulterated. It is so pure that it purifies everything else. John 17:17. ‘Sanctify them through thy truth.’ The Scripture presses holiness, so as no other book ever did: it bids us live ‘soberly, righteously, and godly;’ Titus 2:12; soberly, in acts of temperance; righteously, in acts of justice; godly, in acts of zeal and devotion. It commends to us, whatever is ‘just, lovely, and of good report.’ Phil 4:4. This sword of the Spirit cuts down vice. Eph 6:67. Out of this tower of Scripture is thrown a millstone upon the head of sin. The Scripture is the royal law which commands not only the actions, but affections; it binds the heart to good behaviour. Where is there such holiness to be found, as is digged out of this sacred mine? Who could be the author of such a book but God himself?

[4] That the Scripture is the Word of God is evident by its predictions. It prophesies of things to come, which shows the voice of God speaking in it. It was foretold by the prophet, ‘A virgin shall conceive,’ Isa 7:14, and, the ‘Messiah shall be cut off.’ Dan 9:96. The Scripture foretells things that would fall out many ages and centuries after; as how long Israel should serve in the iron furnace, and the very day of their deliverance. Exod 12:2I. ‘At the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day, it came to pass that the host of the Lord went out of Egypt.’ This prediction of future things, merely contingent, and not depending upon natural causes, is a clear demonstration of its divine origin.

[5] The impartiality of those men of God who wrote the Scriptures, who do not spare to set down their own failings. What man that writes a history would black his own face, by recording those things of himself that might stain his reputation? Moses records his own impatience when he struck the rock, and tells us, he could not on that account enter into the land of promise. David relates his own adultery and bloodshed, which stands as a blot in his escutcheon to succeeding ages. Peter relates his own pusillanimity in denying Christ. Jonah sets down his own passions, ‘I do well to be angry to the death.’ Surely had their pen not been guided by God’s own hand, they would never have written that which reflects dishonour upon themselves. Men usually rather hide their blemishes than publish them to the world; but the penmen of holy Scripture eclipse their own name; they take away all glory from themselves, and give the glory to God.

[6] The mighty power and efficacy that the Word has had upon the souls and consciences of men. It has changed their hearts. Some by reading Scripture have been turned into other men; they have been made holy and gracious. By reading other books the heart may be warmed, but by reading this book it is transformed. 2 Cor 3:3. ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.’ The Word was copied out into their hearts, and they were become Christ’s epistle, so that others might read Christ in them. If you should set a seal upon marble, and it should make an impression upon the marble, and leave a print behind, there would be a strange virtue in that seal; so when the seal of the Word leaves a heavenly print of grace upon the heart, there must needs be a power going along with that Word no less than divine. It has comforted their hearts. When Christians have sat by the rivers weeping, the Word has dropped as honey, and sweetly revived them. A Christian’s chief comfort is drawn out of these wells of salvation. Rom 15:5. ‘That we through comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.’ When a poor soul has been ready to faint, it has had nothing to comfort it but a Scripture cordial. When it has been sick, the Word has revived it. 2 Cor 4:17. ‘Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ When it has been deserted, the Word has dropped in the golden oil of joy. Lam 3:3I. ‘The Lord will not cast off for ever.’ He may change his providence, not his purpose; he may have the look of an enemy, but he has the heart of a father. Thus the Word has a power in it to comfort the heart. Psa 119:90. ‘This is my comfort in mine affliction; for thy word has quickened me.’ As the spirits are conveyed through the arteries of the body, so divine comforts are conveyed through the promises of the Word. Now, the Scriptures having such an exhilarating, heart-comforting power in them, shows clearly that they are of God, and it is he that has put the milk of consolation into these breasts.

[7] The miracles by which Scripture is confirmed. Miracles were used by Moses, Elijah, and Christ, and were continued, many years after, by the apostles, to confirm the verity of the holy Scriptures. As props are set under weak vines, so these miracles were set under the weak faith of men, that if they would not believe the writings of the Word, they might believe the miracles. We read of God’s dividing the waters, making a pathway in the sea for his people to go over, the iron swimming, the oil increasing by pouring out, Christ’s making wine of water, his curing the blind, and raising the dead. Thus God has set a seal to the truth and divinity of the Scriptures by miracles. (excerpted from the Introduction to A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson)

♦ Thomas Watson was one of the greatest of the English Puritan Ministers and authors. To learn more about him read Charles Spurgeon’s Brief Memoir Of Thomas Watson.

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1 thought on “7 Cogent Arguments Which Prove the Bible to be the Word of God — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)

  1. Pingback: 7 Cogent Arguments Which Prove the Bible to be the Word of God — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686) | Reformed Biblical Studies

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