The Philadelphia Confession, 1742
The Holy Scripture is the only
sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience;1 although the light of nature, and the works of creation and
providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men
unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will, which
is necessary unto salvation.2 Therefore it pleased the Lord at
sundry times, and in divers manners to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto
His church;3 and afterwards for the better preserving and
propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment, and comfort of the church
against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and the world, to commit the
same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those
former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.4
Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the
Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which
Of the Old Testament:
|Joshua||Judges||Ruth||1 Samuel||2 Samuel|
|1 Kings||2 Kings||1 Chronicles||2 Chronicles||Ezra|
|Ecclesiastes||Song of Solomon||Isaiah||Jeremiah||Lamentations|
Of the New Testament:
|Romans||1 Corinthians||2 Corinthians||Galatians||Ephesians|
|Philippians||Colossians||1 Thessalonians||2 Thessalonians||1 Timothy|
|1 Peter||2 Peter||1 John||2 John||3 John|
The books commonly called Apocrypha,
not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon (or rule) of the Scripture, and
therefore are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or
made use of than other human writings.5
The authority of the Holy Scripture,
for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church,
but wholly upon God, (who is truth itself) the author thereof; therefore it is to be
received, because it is the Word of God.6
We may be moved and induced by the
testimony of the church of God, to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and
the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the
style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory
to God) the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other
incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth
abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding our full
persuasion, and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from
the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.7
The whole counsel of God concerning all
things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly
set down, or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time
is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.8 Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the
Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed
in the Word,9 and that there are some circumstances concerning
the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies;
which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the
general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.10
All things in Scripture are not alike
plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all;11 yet those
things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are 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 ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient
understanding of them.12
The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was
the native language of the people of God of old),13
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; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them.14 But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto; and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read15 and search them,16 therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar [ie. common] language of every nation, unto which they come,17 that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may hope.18
The infallible rule of interpretation
of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore when there is a question about the
true and full sense of any Scripture, (which is not manifold but one) it must be searched
by other places, that speak more clearly.19
The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.20
1. 2Ti 3:15-17; Isa 8:20; Lk 16:29,31; Eph 2:20.
2. Ro 1:19-21; 2:14-15; Ps 19:1-3.
3. Heb 1:1.
4. Pr 22:19-21; Ro 15:4; 2Pe 1:19-20.
5. Lk 24:27,44; Ro 3:2.
6. 2Pe 1:19-21; 2Ti 3:16; 2Th 2:13; 1Jn 5:9.
7. Jn 16:13-14; 1Co 2:10-12, 1Jn 2:20,27.
8. 2Ti 3:15-17; Gal 1:8-9.
9. Jn 6:45; 1Co 2:9-12.
10. 1Co 11:13-14; 14:26,40.
11. 2Pe 3:16.
12. Ps 19:7; 119:130.
13. Ro 3:2.
14. Isa 8:20.
15. Ac 15:15.
16. Jn 5:39.
17. 1Co 14:6,9,11-12,24,28.
18. Col 3:16.
19. 2Pe 1:20-21; Ac 15:15-16.
20. Mt 22:29,31-32; Eph 2:20; Ac 28:23.
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