HOMILY ON THE READING OF SCRIPTURE

from Short-Title Catalogue 13675.

Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.2.
© 1994, 1997 Ian Lancashire
University of Toronto

UTEL Home Page.

1
A FRVITFVLL
EXHORTATION TO
the reading and knowledge of holy
Scripture.




[I.1.1-1]  VNTO a Christian man there can bee
[I.1.1-2]  nothing either more necessarie or profi­
[I.1.1-3]  table, then the knowledge of holy

[margin]
The prayse of
holy Scrip­
ture.
[margin]


[I.1.1-4]  Scripture, forasmuch as in it is con­
[I.1.1-5]  teyned GODS true word, setting
[I.1.1-6]  foorth his glory, and also mans duety.
[I.1.1-7]  And there is no trueth nor doctrine ne­
[I.1.1-8]  cessarie for our iustification and euerla­

[margin]
The perfecti­
on of holy
Scripture.
[margin]


[I.1.1-9]  sting saluation, but that is ( or may
[I.1.1-10]  bee) drawne out of that fountaine and
[I.1.1-11]  Well of trueth. Therefore as many

[margin]
The know­
ledge of holy
Scripture is
necessary.
[margin]


[I.1.1-12]  as bee desirous to enter into the right
[I.1.1-13]  and perfect way vnto GOD, must ap­
[I.1.1-14]  plie their mindes to know holy Scripture, without the which, they
[I.1.1-15]  can neither sufficiently know GOD and his will, neither their office
[I.1.1-16]  and duty. And as drinke is pleasant to them that bee drie, and meate

[margin]
To whom the
knowledge of
holy Scrip­
ture is sweet
and pleasant.
Who be ene­
mies to holy
Scripture.
[margin]


[I.1.1-17]  to them that be hungrie: so is the reading, hearing, searching, and stu­
[I.1.1-18]  dying of holy Scripture, to them that bee desirous to know GOD or
[I.1.1-19]  themselues, and to doe his will. And their stomackes onely doe loathe
[I.1.1-20]  and abhorre the heauenly knowledge and food of GODS word, that
[I.1.1-21]  be so drowned in worldly vanities, that they neither fauour GOD,
[I.1.1-22]  nor any godlinesse: for that is the cause why they desire such vanities,
[I.1.1-23]  rather then the true knowledge of GOD. As they that are sicke of

[margin]
An apt simili­
tude, decla­
ring of whom
the Scripture
is abhorred.
[margin]


[I.1.1-24]  an ague, whatsoeuer they eate and drinke (though it bee never so plea­
[I.1.1-25]  sant) yet it is as bitter to them as wormewood, not for the bitternesse
[I.1.1-26]  of the meate, but for the corrupt and bitter humour that is in their own
[I.1.1-27]  tongue and mouth: euen so is the sweetnesse of GODS word bitter,
[I.1.1-28]  not of it selfe, but onely vnto them that haue their mindes corrupted
[I.1.1-29]  with long custome of sinne and loue of this world. Therefore forsaking

[margin]
An exhortati­
on vnto the
diligent rea­
ding and sear­
ching of the
holy Scripture
Matth. 4.
[margin]


[I.1.1-30]  the corrupt iudgement of fleshly men, which care not but for their car­
[I.1.1-31]  kasse: let vs reuerently heare and read holy Scriptures, which is the
[I.1.1-32]  foode of the soule. Let vs diligently search for the Well of Life in the
[I.1.1-33]  bookes of the New and Old Testament, and not runne to the stinking
[I.1.1-34]  puddles of mens traditions (deuised by mens imagination) for our iusti­
[I.1.1-35]  fication and saluation. For in holy Scripture is fully contayned what
[I.1.1-36]  we ought to doe, and what to eschew; what to beleeue, what to loue,

[margin]
The holy
Scripture is a
sufficient do­
ctrine for our
saluation.
What things
we may learne
in the holy
Scripture.
[margin]


[I.1.1-37]  and what to looke for at GODS hands at length. In these Books
[I.1.1-38]  we shall finde the father from whom, the sonne by whom, and the holy
[I.1.1-39]  Ghost, in whom all things haue their being and keeping vp, and these
[I.1.1-40]  three persons to be but one GOD, and one substance. In these books
[I.1.1-41]  we may learne to know our selues, how vile and miserable we be, and
[I.1.1-42]  and also to know GOD, how good he is of himselfe, and how hee maketh
[I.1.1-43]  vs and all creatures partakers of his goodnesse. We may learne also
[I.1.1-44]  in these Bookes to know GODS will and pleasure, as much as (for
[I.1.1-45]  this present time) is conuenient for vs to know. And (as the great
[I.1.1-46]  Clerke and godly Preacher Saint Iohn Chrysostome sayth) whatsoeuer is
[I.1.1-47]  required to saluation of man, is fully contayned in the Scripture of
[I.1.1-48]  GOD. He that is ignorant, may there learne and haue knowledge.
[I.1.1-49]  He that is hard hearted, and an obstinate sinner, shall there finde euer­
[I.1.1-50]  lasting torments (prepared of GODS iustice) to make him afrayd,
[I.1.1-51]  and to mollifie or soften him. He that is oppressed with misery in this
[I.1.1-52]  world, shall there finde releefe in the promises of euerlasting life, to his
[I.1.1-53]  great consolation and comfort. He that is wounded by the Diuell on­
[I.1.1-54]  to death, shall finde there medicine whereby he may bee restored againe
[I.1.1-55]  vnto health. If it shall require to teach any trueth, or reprooue false
[I.1.1-56]  doctrine, to rebuke any vice, to commend any vertue, to giue good
[I.1.1-57]  counsell, to comfort or to exhort, or to doe any other thing requisite for
[I.1.1-58]  our saluation, all those things (sayth Saint Chrysostome) we may learne

[margin]
Holy Scrip­
ture mini­
streth suffici­
ent doctrine
for all degrees
and ages.
Matth. 4.
Luke 3.
Iohn 17.
Psal. 19.
What com­
modities and
profits, the
knowledge of
holy Scripture
bringeth.
[margin]


[I.1.1-59]  plentifully of the Scripture. There is (sayth Fulgentius) abundantly
[I.1.1-60]  enough, both for men to eat, and children to sucke. There is, whatsoe­
[I.1.1-61]  uer is meet for all ages, and for all degrees and sorts of men. These
[I.1.1-62]  Bookes therefore ought to bee much in our hands, in our eyes, in our
[I.1.1-63]  eares, in our mouthes, but most of all in our hearts. For the Scrip­
[I.1.1-64]  ture of GOD is the heauenly meat of our soules, the hearing and
[I.1.1-65]  keeping of it maketh vs blessed, sanctifieth vs, and maketh vs holy, it
[I.1.1-66]  turneth our soules, it is a light lanterne to our feet, it is a sure, stedfast,
[I.1.1-67]  and euerlasting instrument of saluation, it giueth wisedome to the
[I.1.1-68]  humble and lowly hearts, it comforteth, maketh glad, cheereth, and
[I.1.1-69]  cherisheth our conscience: it is a more excellent iewell or treasure, then
[I.1.1-70]  any gold or precious stone, it is more sweet then hony, or hony combe,

[margin]
Luke 10.
[margin]


[I.1.1-71]  it is called the best part, which Mary did choose, for it hath in it euerla­
[I.1.1-72]  sting comfort. The wordes of holy Scripture be called words of euer­

[margin]
Ion. 6.
[margin]


[I.1.1-73]  lasting life: for they bee GODS instrument, ordayned for the same
[I.1.1-74]  purpose. They haue power to turne through GODS promise, and
[I.1.1-75]  they be effectuall through GODS assistance, and (being receiued in

--> [I.1.1-76]  a faithfull heart (they haue euer an heauenly spirituall working in them:
[I.1.1-77]  they are liuely, quicke, and mighty in operation, and sharper then any

[margin]
Heb. 4.
[margin]


[I.1.1-78]  two edged sword, and entreth thorow, euen vnto the diuiding asunder
[I.1.1-79]  of the soule and the spirit, of the ioynts and the marrow. Christ calleth

[margin]
Matth. 7.
[margin]


[I.1.1-80]  him a wise builder, that buildeth vpon his word, vpon his sure and sub­
[I.1.1-81]  stantiall foundation. By this word of GOD, wee shall bee iudged: for

[margin]
Ioh. 12.
[margin]


[I.1.1-82]  the word that I speake (sayth Christ) is it, that shall iudge in the last day.
[I.1.1-83]  Hee that keepeth the word of Christ, is promised the loue and fauour of

[margin]
Ion. 14.
[margin]


[I.1.1-84]  GOD, and that hee shall bee the dwelling place or temple of the blessed
[I.1.1-85]  Trinity. This word, whosoeuer is diligent to read, and in his heart to
[I.1.1-86]  print that he readeth, the great affection to the transitory things of this
[I.1.1-87]  world, shall be minished in him, and the great desire of heauenly things
[I.1.1-88]  (that be therein promised of GOD) shall increase in him. And there is
[I.1.1-89]  nothing that so much strengtheneth our faith and trust in GOD, that
[I.1.1-90]  so much keepeth vp innocency and purenesse of the heart, and also of out­
[I.1.1-91]  ward godly life and conuersation, as continuall reading and recording
[I.1.1-92]  of GODS word. For that thing, which (by continuall vse of reading
[I.1.1-93]  of holy Scripture, and diligent searching of the same) is deepely printed
[I.1.1-94]  and grauen in the heart, at length turneth almost into nature. And
[I.1.1-95]  moreouer, the effect and vertue of GODS word is, to illuminate the
[I.1.1-96]  ignorant, and to giue more light vnto them, that faithfully and diligent­
[I.1.1-97]  ly read it, to comfort their hearts, and to encourage them to performe
[I.1.1-98]  that, which of GOD is commanded. It teacheth patience in all aduer­
[I.1.1-99]  sity, in prosperity, humblenesse: what honour is due vnto GOD, what

[margin]
1. Reg. 14.
2. Par. 20.
1. Cor. 15.
1. Iohn. 5.
[margin]


[I.1.1-100]  mercy and charity to our neighbor. It giueth good counsell in all doubt­
[I.1.1-101]  full things. It sheweth of whom wee shall looke for ayde and helpe in
[I.1.1-102]  all perils, and that GOD is the onely giuer of victory, in all battels
[I.1.1-103]  and temptations of our enemies, bodily and ghostly. And in reading of

[margin]
Who profit
most in rea­
ding GODS
word.
[margin]


[I.1.1-104]  GODS word, hee most profiteth not alwayes, that is most ready in
[I.1.1-105]  turning of the booke, or in saying of it without the booke, but hee that is
[I.1.1-106]  most turned into it, that is most inspired with the holy Ghost, most in his
[I.1.1-107]  heart and life altered and changed into that thing which hee readeth: he
[I.1.1-108]  that is dayly lesse and lesse proud, lesse wrathfull, lesse couetous, and lesse
[I.1.1-109]  desirous of worldly and vaine pleasures: he that dayly (forsaking his old
[I.1.1-110]  vicious life) increaseth in vertue more and more. And to bee short, there
[I.1.1-111]  is nothing that more maintayneth godlinesse of the minde, and driueth
[I.1.1-112]  away vngodlinesse, then doeth the continuall reading or hearing of
[I.1.1-113]  GODS word, if it be ioyned with a godly minde, and a good affection,

[margin]
Esa. 5.
Matth. 22.
1. Cor. 14
What dis­
commodities
the ignorante
of GODS word
bringeth.
[margin]


[I.1.1-114]  to know and follow GODS will. For without a single eye, pure in­
[I.1.1-115]  tent, and good minde, nothing is allowed for good before GOD. And
[I.1.1-116]  on the other side, nothing more darkeneth Christ, and the glory of GOD,
[I.1.1-117]  nor bringeth in more blindnesse, and all kindes of vices, then doeth the
[I.1.1-118]  ignorance of GODS word.




[I.1.2-119]  ¶ The second part of the Sermon of the knowledge
[I.1.2-120]  of holy Scripture.


[I.1.2-121]  IN the first part of this Sermon, which exhorteth to the
[I.1.2-122]  knowledge of holy Scripture, was declared wherefore
[I.1.2-123]  the knowledge of the same is necessary and profitable to
[I.1.2-124]  all men, and that by the true knowledge and vnderstan­
[I.1.2-125]  ding of Scripture, the most necessary points of our duty
[I.1.2-126]  towards GOD and our neighbours are also knowne.
[I.1.2-127]  Now as concerning the same matter, you shall heare
[I.1.2-128]  what followeth. If we professe Christ, why be we not ashamed to be ig­
[I.1.2-129]  norant in his doctrine? Seeing that euery man is ashamed to bee igno­

[margin]
GODS word
excelleth all
sciences.
[margin]


[I.1.2-130]  rant in that learning which he professeth. That man is ashamed to bee
[I.1.2-131]  called a Philosopher, which readeth not the bookes of Philosophie, and
[I.1.2-132]  to be called a Lawyer, and Astronomer, or Physition, that is ignorant
[I.1.2-133]  in the bookes of Law, Astronomie, and Physicke. Now can any man
[I.1.2-134]  then say that he professeth Christ and his religion, if hee will not applie
[I.1.2-135]  himselfe (as far foorth as he can or may conueniently) to read and heare,
[I.1.2-136]  and so to know the bookes of Christes Gospell and doctrine? Although
[I.1.2-137]  other sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man can denie, but this
[I.1.2-138]  is the chiefe, and passeth all other incomparably. What excuse shall wee
[I.1.2-139]  therefore make (at the last day before Christ) that delight to read or heare
[I.1.2-140]  mens fantasies and inuentions, more then his most holy Gospell? And
[I.1.2-141]  will finde no time to doe that which chiefly (aboue all things) wee should
[I.1.2-142]  doe, and will rather read other things then that, for the which we ought
[I.1.2-143]  rather to leaue reading of all other things. Let vs therefore applie our­
[I.1.2-144]  selues, as far forth as we can haue time and leasure, to know GODS
[I.1.2-145]  word, by diligent hearing and reading thereof, as many as professe
[I.1.2-146]  GOD, and haue faith and trust in him. But they that haue no good

[margin]
Vaine excu­
ses disswading
from the
knowledge of
GODS word.
The first.
The second.
[margin]


[I.1.2-147]  affection to GODS word (to colour this their fault) alledge common­
[I.1.2-148]  ly two vaine and feyned excuses. Some goe about to excuse them by
[I.1.2-149]  their owne frailenesse and fearefulnesse, saying that they dare not reade
[I.1.2-150]  holy Scripture, least through their ignorance, they should fall into any
[I.1.2-151]  errour. Other pretend that the difficulty to vnderstand it, and the hard­
[I.1.2-152]  nesse thereof is so great, that it is meet to be read only of Clarkes and lear­
[I.1.2-153]  ned men. As touching the first: Ignorance of GODS word, is the

[margin]
Matth. 22.
[margin]


[I.1.2-154]  cause of all errour, as Christ himselfe affirmed to the Saduces, saying
[I.1.2-155]  that they erred, because they knew not the Scripture. How should they
[I.1.2-156]  then eschew errour, that will be still ignorant ? And how should they
[I.1.2-157]  come out of ignorance, that will not reade nor heare that thing which
[I.1.2-158]  should giue them knowledge? He that now hath most knowledge, was at
[I.1.2-159]  the first ignorant, yet he forbare not to reade, for feare hee should fall into
[I.1.2-160]  errour: but he diligently read, lest he should remaine in ignorance, and
[I.1.2-161]  through ignorance in error. And if you will not know the truth of GOD
[I.1.2-162]  (a thing most necessary for you) lest you fall into errour, by the same rea­
[I.1.2-163]  son you may then lie still, and neuer goe, lest (if you goe) you fall in the
[I.1.2-164]  mire: nor eat any good meat, lest you take a surfet, nor sow your corne,
[I.1.2-165]  nor labour in your occupation, nor vse your merchandise, for feare you
[I.1.2-166]  lose your seed, your labour, your stocke, and so by that reason, it should be
[I.1.2-167]  best for you to liue idly, and neuer to take in hand to doe any manner of
[I.1.2-168]  good thing, lest peraduenture some euill thing may chance thereof. And
[I.1.2-169]  if you be afrayd to fall into errour, by reading of holy Scripture: I shall
[I.1.2-170]  shew you how you may read it without danger of error. Read it humbly

[margin]
How most
commodious­
lie and with­
out all perill
the holy Scri­
pture is to bee
read.
[margin]


[I.1.2-171]  with a meeke and lowly heart, to the intent you may glorifie GOD, and
[I.1.2-172]  not your selfe, with the knowledge of it: and read it not without dayly
[I.1.2-173]  praying to GOD, that he would direct your reading to good effect: and
[I.1.2-174]  take vpon you to expound it no further, then you can plainely vnderstand
[I.1.2-175]  it. For (as Saint Augustine sayth) the knowledge of holy Scripture, is a
[I.1.2-176]  great, large, and a high place, but the doore is very low, so that the high
[I.1.2-177]  & arrogant man cannot run in: but he must stoope low, and humble him­
[I.1.2-178]  selfe, that shall enter into it. Presumption and arrogancy is the mother
[I.1.2-179]  of all error: and humility nedeth to feare no error. For humility will only
[I.1.2-180]  search to know the truth, it will search, and will bring together one place
[I.1.2-181]  with another, and where it cannot finde out the meaning, it will pray,
[I.1.2-182]  it will aske of other that know, and will not presumptuously and rashly
[I.1.2-183]  define any thing, which it knoweth not. Therefore the humble man
[I.1.2-184]  may search any trueth boldly in the Scripture, without any danger of
[I.1.2-185]  errour. And if he be ignorant, he ought the more to read and to search ho­
[I.1.2-186]  ly Scripture, to bring him out of ignorance. I say not nay, but a man
[I.1.2-187]  may prosper with onely hearing, but hee may much more prosper, with
[I.1.2-188]  both hearing and reading. This haue I sayd, as touching the feare to

[margin]
Scripture in
some places is
easie, and in
some places
hard to bee
vnderstood.
[margin]


[I.1.2-189]  reade, thorow ignorance of the person. And concerning the hardnesse of
[I.1.2-190]  Scripture, he that is so weake that he is not able to brooke strong meat,
[I.1.2-191]  yet he may sucke the sweet and tender milke, and deferre the rest, vntill
[I.1.2-192]  he wax stronger, and come to more knowledge. For GOD receiueth the
[I.1.2-193]  learned and vnlearned, and casteth away none, but is indifferent vnto all.
[I.1.2-194]  And the Scripture is full, as well of low valleyes, plaine wayes, and
[I.1.2-195]  easie for euery man to vse, and to walke in: as also of high hilles & moun­
[I.1.2-196]  taynes, which few men can climbe vnto. And whosoeuer giueth his

[margin]
GOD leaueth
no man vn­
taught, that
hath good
will to know
his word.
[margin]


[I.1.2-197]  minde to holy Scriptures, with diligent study and burning desire, it can
[I.1.2-198]  not bee (saith Saint Chrysostome) that hee should bee left without helpe.
[I.1.2-199]  For either GOD Almighty will send him some godly doctour, to teach
[I.1.2-200]  him, as hee did to instruct Eunuchus, a noble man of Aethiope, and Trea­
[I.1.2-201]  surer vnto Queene Candace, who hauing affection to reade the Scrip­
[I.1.2-202]  ture (although hee vnderstoode it not) yet for the desire that hee had
[I.1.2-203]  vnto GODS word, GOD sent his Apostle Philip to declare vn­
[I.1.2-204]  to him the true sense of the Scripture that he read: or else, if we lacke a
[I.1.2-205]  learned man to instruct and teach vs, yet GOD himselfe from aboue,
[I.1.2-206]  will giue light vnto our mindes, and teach vs those things which are ne­
[I.1.2-207]  cessary for vs, & wherin we be ignorant. And in another place Chrysostome

[margin]
How the
knowledge of
the Scripture
may be attay­
ned vnto.
Matt. 7.
[margin]


[I.1.2-208]  sayth, that mans humane and worldly wisedome or science, needeth not
[I.1.2-209]  to the vnderstanding of Scripture, but the reuelation of the holy Ghost,
[I.1.2-210]  who inspireth the true meaning vnto them, that with humility and dili­
[I.1.2-211]  gence doe search therefore. He that asketh, shall haue, and he that seeketh
[I.1.2-212]  shall finde, and he that knocketh, shall haue the doore open. If wee reade

[margin]
A good rule
for the vnder­
standing of
Scripture.
[margin]


[I.1.2-213]  once, twice, or thrice, and vnderstand not, let vs not cease so, but still con­
[I.1.2-214]  tinue reading, praying, asking of other, and so by still knocking (at the
[I.1.2-215]  last) the doore shall be opened (as Saint Augustine sayth.) Although many
[I.1.2-216]  things in the Scripture be spoken in obscure mysteries, yet there is no­
[I.1.2-217]  thing spoken vnder darke mysteries in one place, but the selfe same thing
[I.1.2-218]  in other places, is spoken more familiarly and plainly, to the capacity
[I.1.2-219]  both of learned and vnlearned. And those things in the Scripture that

[margin]
No man is
excepted
from the
knowledge of
GODS will.
[margin]


[I.1.2-220]  be plaine to vnderstand, and necessary for saluation, euery mans duty is
[I.1.2-221]  to learne them, to print them in memory, and effectually to exercise them.
[I.1.2-222]  And as for the darke mysteries, to bee contented to bee ignorant in them,
[I.1.2-223]  vntill such time as it shall please GOD to open those things vnto him.
[I.1.2-224]  In the meane season, if he lacke either aptnesse or opportunity, GOD
[I.1.2-225]  will not impute it to his folly: but yet it behoueth not, that such as bee
[I.1.2-226]  apt, should set aside reading, because some other be vnapt to read: neuer­
[I.1.2-227]  thelesse, for the hardnesse of such places, the reading of the whole ought
[I.1.2-228]  not to be set apart. And briefly to conclude, (as Saint Augustine sayth) by

[margin]
What persons
would haue
ignorance to
continue.
[margin]


[I.1.2-229]  the Scripture, all men be amended, weake men bee strengthened, and
[I.1.2-230]  strong men be comforted. So that surely, none bee enemies to the rea­
[I.1.2-231]  ding of GODS word, but such as either bee so ignorant, that they
[I.1.2-232]  know not how wholesome a thing it is: or else be so sicke, that they hate
[I.1.2-233]  the most comfortable medicine that should heale them: or so vngodly,
[I.1.2-234]  that they would wish the people still to continue in blindnesse and igno­
[I.1.2-235]  rance of GOD.

[margin]
The holy
Scripture is
one of GODS
chiefe bene­
fits.
[margin]


[I.1.2-236]  Thus wee haue briefly touched some part of the commodities of
[I.1.2-237]  GODS holy word, which is one of GODS chiefe and principall
[I.1.2-238]  benefits, giuen and declared to mankinde heere in earth. Let vs thanke
[I.1.2-239]  GOD heartily, for this his great and speciall gift, beneficiall fauor, and
[I.1.2-240]  fatherly prouidence. Let vs bee glad to reuiue this precious gift of our

[margin]
The right
reading, vse,
and fruitfull
studying in
holy Scrip­
ture.
Psal. 50.
[margin]


[I.1.2-242]  heauenly Father. Let vs heare, reade, and know these holy rules, in­
[I.1.2-243]  iunctions, and statutes of our Christian religion, and vpon that we haue
[I.1.2-244]  made profession to GOD at our baptisme. Let vs with feare and reue­
[I.1.2-245]  rence lay vp (in the chest of our hearts) these necessary and fruitfull les­
[I.1.2-246]  sons. Let vs night and day muse, and haue meditation and contempla­
[I.1.2-247]  tion in them. Let vs ruminate, and (as it were) chew the cudde, that
[I.1.2-248]  we may haue the sweet iuice, spirituall effect, marrow, hony, kirnell, taste,
[I.1.2-249]  comfort and consolation of them. Let vs stay, quiet, and certifie our con­
[I.1.2-250]  sciences, with the most infallible certainty, trueth, and perpetuall assu­
[I.1.2-251]  rance of them. Let vs pray to GOD (the onely authour of these hea­
[I.1.2-252]  uenly studies) that wee may speake, thinke, beleeue, liue and depart
[I.1.2-253]  hence, according to the wholesome doctrine, and verities of them. And
[I.1.2-254]  by that meanes, in this world we shall haue GODS defence, fauour,
[I.1.2-255]  and grace, with the vnspeakeable solace of peace, and quietnesse of con­
[I.1.2-256]  science, and after this miserable life, we shall enioy the endlesse blisse and
[I.1.2-257]  glory of heauen: which he grant vs all that died for vs all, Iesus Christ,
[I.1.2-258]  to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost, bee all honour and glory,
[I.1.2-259]  both now and euerlastingly.