On Truth


Order of Contents

Article  1
Quotes  4
Latin  1





à Brakel, Wilhelmus – Proposition 1, ‘A Christian must have a great love for the truth; all splendid pretense void of love for the truth is deceit’  in 43. ‘A Warning Exhortation against Pietists, Quietists, & All who in a Similar Manner have Deviated to a Natural & Spiritless Religion under the Guise of Spirituality’  in The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 2  ed. Joel Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout  Buy  (1700; RHB, 1992/1999), pp. 644-48

a Brakel (1635-1711) was a contemporary of Voet and Witsius and a major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation.



Order of Quotes






Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries...  (London, 1644), ‘To the Reader’

“There be two happy things (worthy Reader), as one says, ‘The one is not to err, the other is to escape from the power of error.’ (Cassian, De incarnatione, bk. 1, ch. 4)  Time’s womb brings forth many truths, though truth be not a debtor to time, because time puts new robes on old Truth; but truth is God’s debtor and owes her being to Him only.

It is a great evil under the sun and the sickness of man’s vanity that the name of holy men should be a web to make garments of for new opinions, but the errors of holy men have no whiteness, nor holiness from men.  And it is a wrong that men’s praise should be truth’s prejudice, and men’s gain, truth’s loss.  Yet I shall heartily desire that men herein observe the art of deep providence, for the Creator commands darkness to bring forth her birth of light, and God does so over-awe, with a wise super-dominion, men’s errors, that contrary to nature’s way, from collision of opinions, results truth; and disputes, as stricken flint, cast fire for light, God raising out of the dust and ashes of errors a new living truth.

What mistakes, errors, or heresies have been anent Church government, that vigilant and never slumbering wisdom of providence has thence made to appear the sound doctrine of God’s Kingdom.  So here Satan shapes and God sews and makes the garment.  Error is but dregs, by the artifice of all compassing Providence, from whence are distilled strong and cordial waters.  And what Antichrist has conceived for a hierarchy and human ceremonies, has put Christ in his two witnesses in Britain to advocate for the truth and native simplicity of his own Kingdom.

But I heartily desire not to appear as an adversary to the holy, reverend and learned [congregationalist] Brethren who are sufferers for the truth, for there be wide marches betwixt striving and disputing.  Why should we strive? for we be brethren, the sons of one father, the born citizens of one mother Jerusalem.  To dispute is not to contend.  We strive as we are carnal, we dispute as we are men, we war from our lusts, we dispute from diversity of starlight and daylight.  Weakness is not wickedness, a roving of wit must not be deemed a rebellion of will, a broken engine may part with a dead child and yet be a mother of many healthy children.

And while our reverend and dear Brethren, fleeing the coast of Egypt and Babylon’s wicked borders, aim to shore upon truth, wind may deceive good sailors; natural land-motions (as when heavy bodies move downward toward their own (clay country) are upon a straight line.  But sea-motions of sailing are not by right lines, but rather by sea-circles.  We often argue and dispute as we sail.  Where grace and weight of Scripture make motion, we walk in a right line toward God.  But where opinion, a messenger only sent to spy the Land of lies and truth, usurps to conduct us, what marvel then we go about truth rather than lodge with truth.

And Christ his Kingdom, scepter, glory, Babylon’s fall, be the material object of opinions, on both sides; and yet the Word of God has a right lith [joint], that cannot suffer division.  In God’s matters there be not as in grammar the positive and comparative degrees: there are not here truth, and more true, and most true.  Truth is in an indivisible line, which has no latitude and cannot admit of splitting.  And therefore we may make use of the Philosopher’s word, amicus Socrates, amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas [Socrates a friend, Plato a friend, but most of all, truth is a friend].  Though Peter and Paul be our beloved friends, yet the truth is a dearer friend: The sons of Babylon make outcries of divisions and diversity of religions amongst us, but every opinion is not a new religion.

But I leave off, and beg from the Reader candor and ingenuous and fair dealing; from Formalists, men in the way to Babylon, I may wish this, I cannot hope it.  Farewell.”


Thomas Hooker

A Survey of the Sum of Church-Discipline…  (London: Bellamy, 1648), Preface, no page numbers

“Truth is the daughter of time, was the saying of old, and our daily experience gives in evidence and proof hereof, to every man’s ordinary observation.  Only as in other births, so here, the barrenness and fruitfulness of several ages, depend merely upon God’s good pleasure; who opens and shuts the womb of truth from bearing, as He sees fit, according to the counsel of his own will.

Not that there is any change in the truth, but the alteration grows, according to men’s apprehensions, to whom it is more or less discovered, according to God’s most just judgment and their own deservings.

Sometimes God makes an eclipse of the truth at midday, that so He might express his wrath from Heaven against the unthankfulness, prophaness and atheism of a malignant world.

Sometimes when men entertain the truth in profession, but not in the love of it and that endeared affection that is due thereunto, the Lord gives men up to the activity of error, as the apostle speaks, because they did not love that the trutb should be truth, they embraced falsehood instead of truth, that so they might be deluded and damned…

He that will estrange his affection [to others] because of the difference of apprehension in things difficult, he must be a stranger to himself one time or other.  If men would be tender and careful to keep off offensive expressions, they might keep some distance in opinion, in some things, without hazard to truth or love.  But when men set up their sheaves (though it be but in a dream, as Joseph’s was) and fall out with every one that will not fall down and adore them, they will bring much trouble into the world, but little advantage to the truth or peace.

Again, the Reader must know for his direction in this inquiry, my aim only was, and is, to lay down, and that briefly, the grounds of our practice, according to that measure of light I have received, and to give answer to such reasons which might seem to weaken the evidence thereof: declining purposely, for the present, the examination of such answers which are made to the arguments alledged by some of our reverend Brethren touching the same subject: because I would neither prejudice nor prevent their proper defense, which I do suppose in the fittest season they will so present unto the world as shall be fully satisfactory to such as love and desire the knowledge of the truth.

The sum is, we doubt not what we practise, but it’s beyond all doubt that all men are liars and we are in the number of those poor feeble men; either we do, or may err, though we do not know it; what we have learned we do profess and yet profess still to live that we may learn.

And therefore the errand upon which this present discourse is sent, is summarily to show these two things unto the world:

1. That there must be more said (than yet it has been my happiness to see) before the principles we profess will be shaken, and consequently it cannot be expected, that we should be unsetled in our practice.

2. That I might occasion men eminently gifted to make further search, and to dig deeper, that if there be any vein of reason which lies yet lower, it might be brought to light, and we profess and promise, not only a ready ear to hear it, but a heart willing to welcome it.

It’s the perfection of a man, amidst these many weaknesses we are surrounded withal, by many changes to come to perfection.  It’s the honour and conquest of a man truly wise to be conquered by the truth: and he has attained the greatest liberty that suffers himself to be led captive thereby.

In the handling of all these particulars, so full of difficulty and obscurity, I am not such a stranger at home, but that I am easily sensible of the weight of the matter and mine own weakness: and therefore I can professe in a word of truth that against mine own inclination and affection I was haled by importunity to this so hard a task, to kindle my rush candle, to join with the light of others, at least to occasion them to set up their lamps.

Now He that is the way, the truth, and the life, pave out all the ways of his people and make their paths plain before them: Lead us all into that truth which will lead us unto eternall life: bring us once unto that impotency and impossibility that we can do nothing against the truth, but for it, that so our congregations may not only be styled as Ezekiel’s temple, but be really what was prophesied the Churches should be in these last days, Jehovah Shammah [the Lord is There].  In the arms of his everlasting mercy I leave thee…”



William B. Sprague

Lectures on Revivals of Religion  (1832), p. 83

“It is not at the option of God’s ministers to select one truth from the Bible and omit another; but they are required to preach the whole counsel of God.”


Charles Ross

The Inner Sanctuary  (1888)

“Truth is catholic; error is sectarian, and tends to divide.  For there is such a thing as Christian principle, and the force of conscience.  And he is the sectarian—not who adheres to fundamental truth and high Christian principle—but who deviates from the truth, and forsakes Christian principle.”



Latin Article


Leydekker, Melchior – ‘An Inaugural Oration on Eagerly Pursuing the Truth in Love’  appended at the end of The Power of Truth, or Disquisitions on Some Controversies which are now Greatly Moved in Belgium, on the Economy of the Covenants of God…  (Utrecht, 1679)

Leydekker, a Dutch reformed theologian, wrote numerous volumes elucidating the theological controversies in the Netherlands, yet while arguing against the Cocceians at each point.




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