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of the mind. And the voice that a man uttereth in speaking is nothing else but the meffenger of the mind, to bring abroad the knowledge of that which otherwiie Iieth secret in the heart, and cannot be known, according
i Cor. ii. to that which St. Paul writeth; What man, faith he, knoweth the things that appertain to man, saving only tbe spirit of man, ivhich is in man? He, theresore, that doth not understand the voices that his tongue doth utter, cannot properly be faid to speak, but rather to counterseit as parrots, and such other birds, use to counterseit men's voices. No man, therefore, that seareth to provoke the wrath of God against himself, will be so bold to speak of God unadvisedly, without regard of reverent understanding, in his presence, but he will prepare his heart before he presume to speak unto God. And therefore in our common Prayer the minister doth oftentimes lay, Let us pray, meaning thereby to admonish the people, that they should prepare their ears to hear what he should crave at God's hand, and their hearts to consent to the fame, and their tongues to fay Amen at the end thereof. On this sort did the Prophet David prepare his heart, when he faid,
Fsat. tvii. My heart is ready, 0 my God, my heart is ready, I will Jing and declare a psalm. The Jews also, when in the time of Judith they did with all their heart pray God to visit his people of Israel, had so prepared their hearts before they began to pray. After this fort had Manaffes prepared his
z Chron.iii.heart before he prayed, and faid, And now, 0 Lord, Jo I how the knees of my heart, asking of thee part of tby mereifid kindness. When the heart is thus prepared, the voice uttered from the heart is harmonious in the ears of God: otherwise he regardeth it not to accept it. But forasmuch as the person, that so babbleth his words without sense in the presence of God, sheweth himself not to regard the majesty of him that he speaketh to; he taketh him a» a contemner of his Almighty Majesty, and giveth him his reward among hypocrites, which make an outward shew of holiness, but their hearts are full of abominable thoughts, even in the time of their prayers. For it is the heart that the Lord looketh upon, as it is written
i Sam. zvi.in the history of Kings. If we therefore will that our prayers be not abominable before God, let us so prepare our hearts before we pray, and so understand the things that we ask when we pray, that both our hearts and voices may together sound m the ears of God's Alajesly; and then we shall not fail to receive at his hand the things that we ask, as good men which have been besore
us us did, and so have from time to time received that which, for their souls health, they did at any time desire. St. Augustine seemeth to bear in this matter; for he faith thus ot them, which being brought up in grammar and rhetoric, are converted to thrift, and lo must be instructed in Christian religion: "Let them know also (faith he) DeCaietliat it is not the voice, but the affection of the mind, tna* J^j^jJ,'* cometh to the ears of God." And so (hall it came to pass, that if haply they shall mark that some bishops or ministers in the church do call upon God, either with barbarous words, or with words disordered, or that they understand not, or do disorderly divide the words that they pronounce, they shall not laugh them to scorn. Hitherto he seemeth to bear with praying in an' unknown tongue. But in the next sentence he openeth his mind thus: Not for that these things ought not to be amended, that the people mav fay Amen to that which they do plainly understand. fiut yet these godly things must be borne withal of these catechists, or instructors of the faith, that they may learn, that as in the common place, where matters are pleaded, the goodness of an oration consisteth in found, so in the church it consisteth in devotion. So that he alloweth not the praying in a tongue not understood of him that prayeth: but he instructeth the skilful orator to bear with the rude tongue of the devout simple minister. To conclude: If the lack of understanding the words that are spoken in the congregation do make them unfruitful to the hearers, how should not the fame make the words read unfruitful to the reader? The merciful goodness of God grant us his grace to call upon him as we ought to do, to his glory and our endless selicity; which we shall do, if we humble ourselves in his sight, and in all our prayers, both common and private, have our minds fully sixed upon him. For the prayer of them that bum- Ecctus. ble themselvesshall pierce through the clouds, and till it draw x"vnifrh unto God, it will not he answered; and till the Mojl tiigb do regard it, it will not depart. And the Lord will not he jlack, but he will deliver the jujl, and execute judgment. To him therefore be all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
For them which take offence at certain Places of the holy Scripture.
TttE FIRST PART.
THE great utility and prosit, that Christian^men and women may take, if they will, by hearing and reading the holy Scriptures, (dearly beloved) no heart can sussiciently conceive, much less is my tongue able with words to express. Wherefore Satan, our enemy, seeing the Scriptures to be the very mean and right way to bring the people to the true knowledge of God, and that Christian religion is greatly furthered by diligent hearing and reading of them, he also perceiving what an hindrance and let they be to him and his kingdom, doth what he can to drive the reading of them out of God's church. And for that end he hath always stirred up, in one place or other, cruel tyrants, sharp persecutors, and extreme enemies unto God and his infallible truth, to
(mil with violence the holy Bibles out of the people's lands, and have most spitefully destroyed and consumed the fame to ashes in the sire, pretending, most untruly, that the much hearing and reading of God's word is an occasion of heresy and carnal liberty, and the overthrow of all good order in all well-ordered commonweals. If to know God aright be an occasion of evil, then we must needs grant, that the hearing and reading of the holy Scriptures is the cause of heresy, carnal liberty, and the
subversubversion of all good orders. But the knowledge of God and of ourselves is so far from being an occasion of evil, that it is the readiest, yea, the only mean to bridle carnal liberty, and to kill all our sleshly affections. And the ordinary way to attain this knowledge is, with diligence to hear and read the holy Scriptures. For the whole Seriptures, faith St. Paul, were given by the inspiration of \ Tim. iii. God. And shall we Christian men think to learn the knowledge of God and of ourselves in any earthly man's work or writing, looner or better than in the holy Scriptures, written by the inspiration of the Holy.Ghost? The Scriptures were not brought unto us by the will of man: hut holy men of God, as witneffeth St. Peter, spake as they 2 P«. i. irere moved by the holy Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost is the schoolmaster of truth, which leadeth his scholars, as our Saviour faith of him, into all truth. And whoso isJohnxvi. not led and taught by this schoolmaster, cannot but fall into deep error, how godly soever his pretence is, what knowledge and learning soever he hath of all other works and writings, or how fair soever a shew or face of truth he hath in the estimation and judgment of the world. If some man will lay, I would have a true pattern and a persect description of an upright lise, approved in the sight of God; can we sind, think ye, any better, or any such again, as Christ Jesus is, and his docTrine? whose virtuous converfation and godlv lise the Scripture so lively painteth and setteth forth before our eyes, that we, beholding that pattern, might shape and frame our lives, as nigh as may be, agreeable to the persection of the fame. Follow you me, faith St. Paul, as I follow ' CorCbrijjl. And St. John in his Epistle faith, IVhofo abidetb 1 John ii. in Cbrijl mujl walk even so as he both walked hefore him. And where shall we learn the order of Christ's lise, but in the Scripture? Another would have a medicine to all diseases and maladies of the mind. Can this be found or gotten otherwhere than out of God's own book, his facred Scriptures? Christ taught so much, when he faid to the obstinate Jews, Search the Scriptures, for in John v. ye think to have eternal life. If the Scriptures contain in them everlasting lise, it must needs follow, that they have also present remedy against all that is an hindrance and let unto eternal lise. If we desire the knowledge of heavenly wisdom, why had we rather learn the fame of man than of God himself, who, as St. James faith, is James i. the giver of wisdom? Yea, why will we not learn it at Christ's own mouth, who, promising to be present with Mat. xxYhi,
his church till the world's end, doth perform his promise, in that he is not only with us by his grace and tender pity; but also in this, that he ipeaketh presently unto us in the holy Scriptures, to the great ana endless comfort of all them that have any seeling of God at all in them? Yea, he speaketh now in the Scriptures more prositably to us, than he did by word of month to the carnal Jews, when he lived with them here upon earth. For they (I mean the .lews) could neither hear nor see those things which we may now both hear and see, if we will bring with us those ears and eyes that Christ is heard and seen with; that is, diligence to hear and read his holy Scriptures, and true faith to believe his most comfortable promises. If one could shew but the print of Christ's loot, a great number, I think, would fall down and worship it: but to the holy Scriptures, where we may Ice daily, if we will, I will not lay the print of his seet only, but the whole shape and lively image of him, alas! we give little reverence, or none at all.
If any could let us see Christ's coat, a sort of us would make hard shift except we might come nigh to gaze upon it, yea, and kiss it too. And yet all the clothes,that ever he did wear can nothing so truly nor so lively express him unto us, as do the Scriptures. Christ's images, made in wood, stone, or metal, some men, for the love they bear to Christ, do gamish and beautify the fame with pearl, gold, and precious stones. And should we not, good brethren, much rather embrace and reverence God's noly books, the facred Bible, which do represent Christ unto us more truly than can any image. The image can but express the form or shape of his body, if it can do <o much : but the Scriptures do in such sort set forth Christ, that we may lee both God aud man; we may see him, I lay, speaking unto us, healing our inssirmities, dying tor our sins, rising from death for our justisication. And, to be short, we may in the Scriptures so persectly see whole Christ with the eye of faith, as we, lacking faith, could not with these bodily eyes ice him, though ne stood now present here before us. Let every man, woman, and child, therefore, with all their hearts thirst and desire God's holy Scriptures, love them, embrace them, have their delight and pleasure in hearing aud reading them, so as at length we may be transformed and changed into them. For the holy Scriptures are God's treafure-houle, wherein are found all things needful for us to see, to hear, to learn, and to believe, necefffary for the attaining