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it, to comfort their hearts, and to encourage them to perform that which of God is commanded. It teacheth patience in all adversity, in prosperity humbleness; what honour is due unto God, what mercy and charity to our neighbour. It giveth good counsel in all doubtful 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 (1 Sam. xiv. 6, 12; 2 Chron. xx. 6, 15; 1 Cor. xv. 57; Who profit
1 John v. 4). And in the reading of God's most in reading word, he most profiteth not always that is
most ready in turning of the book, or in saying of it without the book; but he that is most turned into it, that is most inspired with the Holy Ghost, most in his heart and life 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 (forsaking his old vicious life) increaseth in virtue more and more. And to be short, there is nothing that more maintaineth godliness of the mind, and driveth away ungodliness, than doth the continual reading or hearing of God's word, if it be joined with a godly mind, and a good affection to know and follow
God's will. For without a single eye, pure modities the ig- intent, and good mind, nothing is allowed moram coepole God's for good before God. And on the other side,
nothing more darkeneth Christ and the glory of God, nor bringeth in more blindness and all kinds of vices, than doth the ignorance of God's word (Is. v. 24; Matt. xxii. 29; 1 Cor. xiv. 37).
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF THE KNOWLEDGE
OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.
In the first part of this sermon, which exhorteth to the knowledge of Holy Scripture, was declared wherefore the knowledge of the same is necessary and profitable to all men; and that by the true knowledge and understanding of Scripture, the most necessary points of our duty towards God and our neighbours are also known. Now as concerning the same matter you shall hear what followeth.
If we profess 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 professeth. 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 a physician, that is ignorant in the books of law, astronomy, and physic. How can any man then say that he professeth 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 the books of Christ's gospel and doctrine ? Although other sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man can deny but this is the excelleth all chief, and passeth all other incomparably. What excuse shall we therefore make, at the last day before Christ, that delight to read or hear men's fancies and inventions, more than his most holy gospel ? and will find no time to do that, which chiefly, above 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 and reading thereof, as many as profess God, and have faith and trust in him. But they that have no good affection to God's word (to Vain excuses colour this their fault) allege commonly two dissuadinge frem vain and feigned excuses. Some go about to of God's worå. excuse them by their own frailness and fearfulness, feigning that they dare not read Holy Scripture, lest through their ignorance they should fall into any error. Other pretend that the difficulty to understand it, and the hardness thereof is so great, that it is meet to be read only of clerks and learned men.
As touching the first: ignorance of God's word is the cause of all error, as Christ himself affirmed to the Sadducees, saying, that they erred because they knew not the Scripture (Matt. xxii. 29). 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 first ignorant; yet he forbare not to read, for fear 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 necessary for you) lest
without all peril,
ture is to be read.
you fall into error; by the same 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 surfeit; nor sow your corn, nor labour in your occupation, nor use your merchandise, for fear you lose your seed, your labour, your stock; and so by that reason it should be best for you to live idly, and never to take in hand to do any manner of good thing, lest peradventure some evil thing How most com. may chance thereof.
be afraid to modiously, and fall into error by reading of Holy Scripture, the Holy Scrip
I shall shew you how you may read it without danger of error. Read it humbly with a
meek and lowly heart, to the intent you may glorify God, and not yourself, with the knowledge of it: and read it not without daily praying to God, that he would direct your reading to good effect; and take upon you to expound it no further than you can plainly understand it. For, as St. Augustine saith, '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; but he must stoop low, and humble himself, that shall enter into it.' Presumption and arrogancy is the mother of all error; and humility needeth to fear no error. For humility will only search to know the truth: it will search, and will bring together one place with another; and where it cannot find out the meaning, it will pray, it will ask of others that know, and will not presumptuously and rashly define any thing which it knoweth not. Therefore the humble man may search any truth boldly in the Scripture, without any danger of error. And if he be ignorant, he ought the more to read and to search Holy Scripture, to bring him out of ignorance. I say not nay, but a man may prosper with only hearing ; but he may much more profit with both hearing and reading, This have I said as touching the fear to read, through ignorance of the person.
And concerning the hardness of Scripture; Scriptore in some places is he that is so weak that he is not able to brook some places hard strong meat, yet he may suck the sweet and
tender milk, and defer the rest until he wax
stronger, and come to more knowledge. For God receiveth the learned and unlearned, and casteth away none, but is indifferent unto all.
And the Scripture
easy, and in
to be uuderstood.
God leareth no
is full, as well of low valleys, plain ways, and easy for every man to use and to walk in ; as also of high hills and mountains, which few men can climb unto. And whosoever giveth his mind to Holy man untaught, Scriptures with diligent study and burning good will to desire, it cannot be (saith St. John Chrysos- know his word. tom) that he should be left without help. For either God Almighty will send him some godly doctor to teach him, as he did to instruct the eunuch, a nobleman of Ethiopia, and treasurer unto queen Candace, who having a great affection to read the Scripture (although he understood it not) yet for the desire that he had unto God's word, God sent his apostle Philip to declare unto him the true sense of the Scripture that he read [Acts viji.]; or else, if we lack a learned man to instruct and teach us, yet God himself from above will give light unto our minds, and teach us those things which are necessary for us, and wherein we be ignorant.' And in another How the knowplace Chrysostom saith, that man's human ledge of Scripand worldly wisdom or science needeth not to attai:sed unto. the understanding of Scripture, but the revelation of the Holy Ghost, who inspireth the true meaning unto them that with humility and diligence do search therefor.' He that asketh shall hare, and he that seeketh shall find, and he that knocketh shall have the door open (Matt. vii. 7, 8).
If we read once, twice, or thrice, and understand not, let us not cease so, but still continue read
A good rule ing, praying, asking of other; and so by still for the underknocking, at the last the door shall be opened,' Scripture. as St. Augustin: saith Although many things in the Scripture be spoken in obscure mysteries, yet there is nothing spoken under dark mysteries in one place, but the self-same thing in other places is spoken more familiarly and plainly, to the capacity both of learned and unlearned. "And those things in the Scripture that be plain to understand, and necessary for salva. No man is extion, every man's duty is to learn them, to print cepted from the them in memory, and effectually to exercise God's will. them. And as for the dark mysteries, to be contented to be ignorant in them, until such time as it shall please God to open those things unto him. In the mean season, if he lack either aptness or opportunity, God will not impute it to his folly : but yet it behoveth not that such as be apt
one of God's chief benefits.
should set aside reading, because some other be unapt to read : nevertheless, for the hardness of such places, the reading of the whole ought not to be set apart. And briefly to conclude; as St. Augustine saith," By the Scripture all men be amended, weak men be strengthened, and What persons strong men be comforted.
So that surely would have igo none be enemies to the reading of God's word,
but such as either be so ignorant, that they know not how wholesome a thing it is; or else be so sick, that they hate the most comfortable medicine that should heal them;" or so ungodly, that they would wish the people still to continue in blindness and ignorance of God.
Thus we have briefly touched some part of the commoThe Holy
dities of God's holy word, which is one of Scripture is
God's chief and principal benefits, given and
declared to mankind here in earth. Let us thank God heartily for this his great and special gift, beneficial favour, and fatherly providence. Let_us be glad to revive this precious gift of our heavenly Father. The right read
Let us hear, read, and know these holy rules, ing, use, and
injunctions, and statutes of our Christian ing in Holy religion, and
that we have made proScripture. fession to God at our baptism. Let us with fear and reverence lay up, in the chest of our hearts, these necessary and fruitful lessons ; let us night and day muse, and have meditation and contemplation in them (Ps. i. 2). Let us ruminate, and, as it were, chew the cud, that we may have the sweet juice, spiritual effect, marrow, honey, kernel, taste, comfort, and consolation of them.' Let us stay, quiet, and certify our consciences, with the most infallible certainty, truth, and perpetual assurance of them. Let us pray to God (the only Author of these heavenly studies) that we may speak, think, believe, live, and depart hence, aceording to the wholesome doctrine and verities of them. And by that means, in this world we shall have God's defence, favour, and grace, with the unspeakable solace of peace, and quietness of conscience ; and after this miserable life, we shall enjoy the endless bliss and glory of heaven: which he grant us all, that died for us all, Jesus Christ: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, both now and everlastingly. Amen.