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Reading and Knowledge of holy Scripture.
UNTO a Christian man there can be nothing either The praise more neceffary or prositable, than the knowledge of hoiy of holy Scripture, forasmuch as in it is contained Goof'sSer,Piuretrue word, letting forth his glory, and also man's duty. And there is no truth nor doctrine neceffary for our justi-The perfecsicarion and everlasting falvation, but that is, or may be,'j0" of ho|y drawn out of that fountain and well of truth. TheresoreT"eP5inr0!i,_ as many as be desirous to enter into the right and persectiedfieof howay unto God, must apply their minds to know holy!>'ScriP|u,c Scripture; without the which,they can neither sussicient-'9neecslaTly know God and his will, neither their ossice and duty. And as drink is pleafant to them that be dry, and meatTo whom to them that be hungry; so is the reading, hearing, £e knowsearching, and studying of holy Scripture, to them thatiy |^r°)iu°g be desirous to know God, or themselves, and to do his is sweei and will. And their stomachs only do loathe and abhor theP^asaniheavenly knowledge and food. of God's word, that be socneraiesio drowned in worldly vanities, that they neither favourhoiy ScripGod, nor any godliness: for that is the cause why theyiuredesire fuch vanities, rather than the true knowledge of God. As they that are sick of an ague, whatsoever they An apt sieat and drink, though it be never so pleafant, yet it is as^j!j"jde' bitter to them as wormwood; not for the bitterness of^"^1"!,? the meat, but for the corrupt and bitter humour that is Scripiure is in their own tongue and mouth: even so is the sweetnessabnorredof God's word bitter, not of itself, but only unto them that have their minds corrupted with long custom of sin and love of this world. Therefore forfaking the corrupt judgment of slesloly men, which care not but for their
An exhor- carcase; let us reverently hear and read holy Scripture, j"""^which is the food of the foul. Let us diligently search rcadingandf°r tne well of lise in the books of the New and Old Tessearchingoftament, and not run to the stirikine; puddles of men's traihe hoiy ditions, devised by men's imagination, for our justisication Mau".''^' and falvation. For in holy Scripture is fully contained The; hoiy what we ought to do, and what to eschew, what to be
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doarineeforat length. In these books we shall sind the Father from our satva- whom, the Son by whom, and the Holy Ghost in tion. whom, all things have their being and keeping up; and these three persons to be but one God, and one substance. What In these books we may learn to know ourselves, how vile ihings we and miserable we be, and also "to know God, how good he may iearn iS of himself, and how he maketh us and all creatures parScripiure. 5 takers of his goodness. We may learn also in these books to know God's will and pleafure, as much as, for this present time, is convenient for us to know. And, as the great clerk and godly preacher, St. John Chrysostom, faith, whatsoever Is required to the falvation of man, is fully contained in the Scripture of God. He that is ignorant may there learn and have knowledge. He that is hard-hearted, and an obstinate sinner, shall there sind everlasting torments, prepared of God's justice, to make him afraid, and to mollify or soften him. He that is oppreffed with misery in this world shall there sind relief m the promises of everlasting lise, to his great consolation and comfort. He that is wounded by the Devil unto death shall sind there medicine whereby he may be restored again unto health; if it shall require to teach any truth, or reprove any false doctrine, to rebuke any vice, to commend any virtue, to give good counsel, to comfort or exhort, or to do any other thing requisite for our falvation, all those things, faith St. Chrysostom, we may learn plentifully of the Scripture. There is, faith Fulgentius, abundantly enough, both for men to eat, and chil• t'ren to mc^- There is whatsoever is meet for all ages, iu°e5'p^'-f and for all degrees and sorts of men. These books thereftereihsuffi-fore ought to be much in our hands, in our eyes, in our cieni doc- ears, in our mouths, but most of all in our hearts. For deRrewandtne Sc"nture of God is the heavenly meat of our souls; ages. the hearing and keeping of it maketh us bleffed, fanctiMau. iv. sieth us, and maketh us holy; it turneth our souls, it is a John "v'i ''Snt intern to our seet; it is a sure, stedfast, and everPsajm lasting instrument of falvation; it giveth wisdom to the humble and lowly hearts; it comforteth, maketh glad,
cbeeretb, and cherisheth our conscience: it is a more ex- whai comcellent jewel or treafure than any gold or precious stone ; TM jd''j" ts it is more sweet than honey or honey-comb; it is called ^0^.* the besi fart, which Mary did choose, for it hath in itieJgeof everlasting comfort. The words of holy Scripture be ho'y Scripcalled words of everlajling life: for they be God's instru- ^u. "'m&' ment, ordained for the fame purpose. They have power Luke x. to turn through God's promise, and they be effectual . through God's affistance, and (being received in a faithful heart) they have ever an heavenly spiritual working in John vi. them: they are lively, quick, and mighty in operation, andjbarper than any two-edged sword, and ruler through, neb. iv. even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, of the joints and the marro%v. Christ calleth him a wiie builder, Mau. vii. that buildeth upon his word, upon his sure and substantial foundation. By this word of God we shall be judged: for the word tbat Ifbeak, faith Christ, is it, that John xii. fiall judge in the last day. He that keepeth the word of Christ, is promised the love and favour os God, and that he shall be the dwelling-place or temple of the bleffed John xiv, Trinity. This word whosoever is diligent to read, and in his heart to print that he readeth, the great affection to the transitory things of this world (hall be minishedin him, and the great desire of heavenly things (that be therein promised of God) shall increase in nim. And there is nothing that so much strengthened our faith and trust in God, that so much keepeth up innocency and pureness of tiie heart, and also of outward godly life and converfation, as continual reading and recording of God's word. For that thing, which (by continual ule of reading of holy Scripture, and diligent searching of the fame) is deeply printed and graven in the heart, at length turneth almost into nature. And moreover, the effect and virtue of God's word is to illuminate the ignorant, and to give more light unto them that faithfully and diligentlv read it, to comfort their hearts, and to encourage them to perform that, which of God is commanded. It teach- iKinpsxir. eth patience in all adversity, in prosperity humbleness; 2xChron' what honour is due unto God, what mercy aud charity x cor. xv. to our neighbour. It giveth good counsel in all doubtful < John v. things. It sheweth of whom we shall look for aid and help in all perils, and that God is the only giver of victory in all battles and temptations of our enemies, bodily and ghostly. And in reading of God's word, he not al- who profii ways most prositeth that is most ready in turning of themostin hook, or in saying of it without the book \ but he that God'swofd, is most turned into it, that is most inspired with the Holy Ghost, most in his heart and lise altered and changed into that thing which he readeth; he that is daily less and less proud, less wrathful, less covetous, and less desirous oF worldly and vain pleasures; he that daily (forfaking his old vicious lise) increaseth in virtue more and more. And, to be short, there is nothing that more maintaineth.
todliness of the mind, and driveth away ungodliness, than oth the continual reading or hearing of God's word, if Isa. v. it be joined with a godly mind, and a good affection to i Cor. x;". know and follow God's will. For without a single eye, Whai dis- pure intent, and good mind, nothing is allowed for good commodi- before God. And, on the other side, nothing more darknoranee'of enetn Christ and the glory of God, nor bringeth in more God's word blindness and all kinds of vices, than doth the ignorance biingcih. of God's word.
The Second Part of the Sermon of the Knowledge of holy Scripture.
IN the sirst part of this Sermon, which exhorteth to the knowledge of holy Scripture, was declared wherefore the knowledge of the fame is neceffary and prositable to ail men, and that by the true knowledge and understanding of Scripture, the most neceffary points of our duty towards God and our neighbours are also known. Now as Concerning the fame matter you shall hear what followed]. If we prosess Christ, why be we not ashamed to be ignorant in his doctrine? seeing that every man is ashamed to be ignorant in that learning which he proseffeth. That man is ashamed to be called a philosopher which readeth not the books of philosophy, and to be called a lawyer, an astronomer, or physician, that is ignorant in the books of law, astronomy, and physic. How can any man then fay that he prosesleth Christ and his religion, if he will not apply himself (as far forth as he can or may conveniently) to read and hear, and so to know Gotfs word the books of Christ's Gospel and doctrine? Although Scienees ot^cr sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man "can deny but this is the chief, and paffeth all other incomparably. What excuse shall we therefore make, at the last day before Christ, that delight to read or hear men's fantasies and inventions, more than his most holy. Gospel i and will siud no time to do that which chiesly,
ahore all things, we should do, and will rather read other things than that, for the which we ought rather to leave reading: of all other things. Let us therefore apply ourselves, as far forth as we can have time and leisure, to know God's word, by diligent hearing a.nd reading thereof, as many as prosess God, and have faith and trust in him. But they that have no good astection to God's Va'n exword_ (to colour this their fault) allege commonly two^fndis" vain and feigned excuses. Some go about to excuse themf>om'"he by their own frailness and searfulness, faying, that they knowiedge dare not read holy Scripture, lest through their iernorance of G?<is
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they should tall into any error. Others pretend that the The first. dissiculty to understand it and the hardness thereof is so The second, ereat, that it is meet to be read only of clerks and learned men. As touching the sirst: Ignorance of God's word is the cause of all error, as Christ himself assirmed to the Sadducees, faying, that they erred, hecause they Mau. xxii. inrci' not the Scripture. How should they then eschew error, that will be still ignorant? And how should they come out of ignorance, that will not read nor hear that thing which should give them knowledge? He that now hath most knowledge, was at the sirst ignorant; yet he fbrbare not to read, tor sear he should fall into error: but he diligently read, lest he should remain in ignorance, and through ignorance in error. And if you will not know the truth of God, (a thing most necefffary for you) lest you fall into error; by the fame reason you may then lie still, and never go, lest, if you go, you fall into the mire; nor eat any good meat, lest you take a surseit; nor sow your corn, nor labour in your occupation, nor use your merchandize, for sear you lose your seed, your labour, your stock, and so by that reason it should be best for you to lire idly, and never to take in hand to do any manner of good thing, lestperadventure some evil thing may chance thereof. And if you be afraid to fall into error hy reading of holy Scripture, I shall shew you how you may read without danger of error. Read it humbly with a meek I tow most and lowly heart, to the intent you may glorify God, and o°TMma°dd'" not yourself, with the knowledge of it: and read it notwjihoui aii •without daily praying to God, that he would direct your perii ihe reading to good effect; and take upon you to expound it ^'°r1JSci"^ no further than you can plainly understand it. For, as,^.'5 St. Augustin faith, the knowledge of holy Scripture is a great, large, and a high place; but the door is very low, so that the high and arrogant man cannot run in j but lie must stoop low, and humble himself, that shall enter into
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