Home > Hermeneutics > The logical rule that “unto immediate contraries contrary attributes may certainly be ascribed, so that he who affirms the one at the same time denies the other; and on the contrary, he that denies the one affirms the other”

The logical rule that “unto immediate contraries contrary attributes may certainly be ascribed, so that he who affirms the one at the same time denies the other; and on the contrary, he that denies the one affirms the other”

Arthur PinkSo, too, the apostle when exhorting believers to flee from idolatry added:

“I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:15).

In his masterly exposition of Hebrews 4:3, Owen pointed out that the apostle’s argument there rested upon the logical rule that “unto immediate contraries contrary attributes may certainly be ascribed, so that he who affirms the one at the same time denies the other; and on the contrary, he that denies the one affirms the other. He that saith it is day, doth as really say it is not night, as if he had used those formal words.” His whole design in 4:1-11, was to demonstrate by various testimonies and examples that unbelief cuts off from the rest of God, whereas faith gives an entrance thereinto. In verse 3 he affirms, “For we which have believed do enter into rest,” in substantiation of which he adds, “as He said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into My rest.” There the apostle again quoted from Psalm 95 (see Hebrews 3:7, 11, 15, 18). From the sad experience of Israel’s failure to enter into God’s rest because of their unbelief and disobedience Paul drew the obvious and inescapable conclusion that believers “do enter” therein.

We repeat, it is only by that principle of logic that the apostle’s argument in Hebrews 4:3, can be understood. If any of our readers be inclined to take issue with that statement, then we would respectfully urge them to turn to and carefully ponder that verse, and see if they can perceive how the proof-text cited supplies any confirmation of the proposition laid down in its opening clause. From that exposition Owen pointed out, “And here by the way we may take notice of the use of reason, or logical deductions, in the proposing, handling and confirming of sacred supernatural truths and articles of faith. For the validity of the apostle’s proof in this place depends upon the certainty of the logical maxim before mentioned, the consideration of which removes the whole difficulty. And to deny this liberty of deducing consequences, or one thing from another, according to the just rules of ratiocination, is quite to take away the use of the Scripture, and to banish reason from those things wherein it ought to be principally employed.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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