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Here is a paradise full of delights ; po tongue is able to speak them, they are so many; no heart is able to conceive them, they be so great.
Here is a shop wherein is set out the wisdom, and knowledge, the power, the judgments, and mercies of God: which way soever we look, we see the works of his hands ; his works of creation, and preservation of all things ; his works of severe justice upon the wicked, and of gracious redemption to the believer.
If we desire pleasant music, or excellent harmonyit speaketh unto us the words of the Father, and the consent of the Son; the excellent reports of the prophets, apostles, angels, and saints of God, who have been all taught by the Holy Ghost.
If we would learn—it is a school; it " giveth understanding to the simple.” In it there is that may content the heart, the ear, the eye, the taste, and the smelling. It is a “savour of life unto life.”w 660 taste, and see how gracious the LORD is,” saith the prophet David. So manifold and marvellous are the pleasures which are given us in the word of God! God hath made them, and wrought them all for the sons
Thus have I performed promise, and simply and homely opened those four things which I took in hand, I have declared what weight and majesty the word beareth; what huge harvest of profit we may reap by it; how needful it is for us travelling through the wilderness of this life, and what repast and pleasure we may find in it.
III, But all this notwithstanding, some take exception, and say: 'The Scriptures are dark and doubtful; the matters are deep; the words are hard; few persons
can understand them. One taketh them in this sense, 6 another in a sense clean contrary. The best learned cannot agree about them; they are the occasion of
many great quarrels. John seeth this book sealed 6 with seven seals, and an angel preaching with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose
Ps. cxix. 130, « Ps. xxxiv. 8,
w 2 Cor. ii. 16.
'the seals thereof?” No man can open it, no man • can read it. St. Peter saith, among the epistles of • Paul “ are some things hard to be understood, which
they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do • also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." • And St. Paul saith, God dwelleth “in the light which no
man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor * can see." Therefore, although the majesty be never so weighty—the profit, the necessity, and the pleasure, never so great-yet it is not good for the people to • read them. Pearls must not be cast before swine, nor • the bread of children unto dogs. Thus they say.
Indeed the word of God is pearls, but the people are not swine. They may not read them,' say some;
they are not able to wield them: the Scriptures are • not for the people.? Hereof I will say something; and a word or two of the reverence and fear, with which we ought to come to the hearing of them.
They say the Scriptures are hard, and above the reach of the people. So said the Pelagian heretic, Julian, whom Št. AUGUSTINE therefore reproveth: “Ye enlarge and lay out with many words, how hard a matter the knowledge of the Scripture is, and meet only for a few learned men.
You say, • The Scriptures are hard, : who may open them? There is no evidence or trial to be taken by them; they are fit only for a few learned men ; they are in no wise fit for the people.' Thus said Julian, a heretic. But God himself, and the ancient fathers of the Church, said otherwise. God saith: “This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it :"d_thou needest · Rev. v. 2, 3. a 2 Pet. iii. 16,
1 Tim. vi. 16. < "Exaggeras quam sit difficilis paucisque conveniens eruditis, sanctarum cognitio literarum.”. AUGUST, Cont. Julian. Lib. V. c. i. à Deut. xxx. 11.-14.
not run hither and thither, nor wander over the sea, nor beat thy brains in searching what thou shouldest do, or by what means thou mayest live uprightly ; the word and commandment of God will teach thee sufficiently. The prophet David saith, “The commandment of the LORD is pure, and giveth light unto the
eyes :"e and, Thy word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my paths :"! thy word is not dark, it is a light unto my path, it giveth light unto the eyes. What is clear, if the light be dark ? Or what can he see, which cannot see the light?
Human knowledge is dark and uncertain : philosophy is dark; astrology is dark; and geometry is dark. The professors thereof oftentimes run a-muck ; they lose themselves, and wander they know not whither; they seek the depth and bottom of natural causes, the change of the elements, the impressions in the air, the causes of the rainbow, of blazing stars, of thunder and lightning, of the trembling and shaking of the earth, the motions of the planets, the proportion and the influence of the celestial bodies ; they measure the compass of heaven, and count the number of the stars; they go down, and search the mines in the bowels of the earth; they rip up the secrets of the sea. The knowledge of
. Ps. xix. 8.
f Ps. cxix. 105. 6 (On most of these subjects of inquiry, vast accessions to the stores of human knowledge have been made since the days of Jewell. Among his own acquaintance, a mind was then maturing, which should discover the key to unlock these secrets of nature. The son of the fair and accomplished translator of the Apology, the illustrious Bacon, did more perhaps than any other man before or since, towards removing the veil that hung over the physical operations of Providence. A mere schoolboy now knows more of the depth and bottom of natural causes' than the wisest philosophers of JEWELL's age.
Yet with all the advancement of science which the inductive philosophy haş occasioned, our author's complaint of the darkness and uncertainty of human knowledge still holds good. The improvements of successive ages upon the sciences and arts received from their predecessors, have been so far from lessening the range of inquiry and the number of obstacles to perfect knowledge, that every new discovery has opened some fresh field of investigation, some new problem to be solved, some ulterior improvement to be made. The wonderful advances of the past and present age in physical science have only multiplied the instances in which we are compelled to confess our ignorance, and own that 'known to God'-and to God alone-'are all his works', in their true essences, relations, causes, and effects.]
these things is hard : it is uncertain : few are able to reach it: it is not fit for every man to understand it.
But the Holy Spirit of God, like a good teacher, applieth himself to the dulness of our wits : he leadeth not us by the unknown places of the earth, nor by the air, nor by the clouds; he astonisheth not our spirits with natural vanities; he “writeth his law in our hearts ;' he teacheth us to know him and his CHRIST; he “ teacheth us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;" he teacheth us to look for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour JESUS CHRIST."i This matter is good, and it is plain : the words are plain, and the utterance is plain.
CHRYSOSTOM saith, “ Therefore hath the grace of the Holy Spirit disposed and tempered them so, that publicans, and fishers, and tentmakers, shepherds, and the apostles, and simple men, and unlearned, might be saved by these books; that none of the simpler sort might make excuse by the hardness of them; and that such things as are spoken might be easy for all men to look on; that the labouring man, and the servant, the widow-woman, and whosoever is unlearned, may take some good, when they are read. For they whom God ever from the beginning endued with the grace of his Spirit, have not gathered all these things for vain glory, as the Heathen writers use, but for the salvation of the hearers."
Some things in the Scriptures are hard :-I deny it not. It is very expedient that somewhat should be covered, to make us more diligent in reading, more desirous to understand, more fervent in prayer, more willing to ask the judgment of others, and to presume the less of our own judgment.? GREGORY saith, “ The hardship which is in the word of God is very profitable ; for it causeth a man to take that profit by pains, which he could not take with negligence. If the understanding
Jer. xxxi. 33.
i Tit. ii. 12, 13. k CHRYSOST. Hom. 3 de Lazaro.
1 (See three able sermons on the reasons and uses of the difficulties in Scripture, by ATTERBURY; Sermons xxvii., xxix., XIX., Vol. 11.1
were open and manifest, it would be little set by.”m Cyril saith, “ All things are plain and straight to them that have found knowledge; but to such as are fools, the most easy places seem hard.”n
And again : “Those things which are plain are hard unto heretics ; for how can wisdom enter into a wicked heart?".
It is true St. Peter hath said, "Some things are hard to be understood.” But it is also true, that they which "wrest them unto their own destruction" are “ unlearned and unstable :"p that is, they to whom they are hard, have not their eyes opened, that they may see the light of the word; or they be wicked, and turn the truth of God into lies, and abuse the Scriptures to their own damnation. The howlet seeth not by the brightness of the sun, not because the sunbeams are dark, but for that his eyes are weak, and cannot abide so clear light. It is, therefore, but a pretence and colour for their ignorance, and a means to deceive the people more boldly with their errors, when they charge the word of God with darkness and hardness.
For how many hundred places are there which be as clear as noon-day? God saith, I am the LORD thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them."q Again he saith, " That is cursed that is made with hands, both it, and he that made it; he because he made it, and it, because it was called god, being a corruptible thing." Again, “ Confounded be all they that worship carved images, and that delight in vain gods."s–This is the word of God. What darkness is in any of these sayings?
God saith, “ If thou lend money to any of my people
m “Magnæ utilitatis est ipsa obscuritas eloquiorum Dei. Facit enim,' &c. GREG. Mag. in Ezech. Hom. 6. Lib. n CYRIL. in Johan. Lib. IV. c. xüi.
Id. ibid. in Johan, 14. p 2 Pet. iii. 16.
9 Exod. xx. 1-4. r Wisdom xiv. 8, 9. (JEWELL again inadvertently quotes the Apocrypha as though it were the word of God.) o Ps. xcvii. 7.