THE DIGNITIE OF the Scripture togither with The Indignity which the vnthankfull world offereth therunto.

In three sermons vpon Hose. 8.12. By Samuel Hieron.

Psal. 119. v. 129.

Thy testimonies are wonderfull.



Printed by IOHN LEGAT Printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge. 1607. And are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Church-yard by Simon VVaterson.

TO THE RIGHT WOR­SHIPFVLL AND MY VERY REVE­rend freind M. Doctor Goad, Provost of the Kings Colledge in Cambridge.

WHen I remember the times and furtherances of my education, and consider with my selfe by whose free choise, I was preferred into that worthy societie (the head-ship whereof your worship hath so many yeares enioyed) I cannot but say to you as Hierome did to a freind of his, Tibi & quod possū debeo, Hiero. Sephron. & quod non possum: I am indebted to you both to the vtmost extent of my a­bility, and in much more then I can performe. Giue me leaue there­fore (I beseech you) not as by way of requitall (for I will not so much either vnder-value your fauour, or abridge my debt) but as by way of acknowledgement (leauing this, as it were a bill of my hand what I haue receiued, and how deepely I am engaged) to pre­sent you with these three sermons. They are of the Dignitie of the scripture, and therefore (their subiect considered) are not vnworthy your patronage, being so auncient and so indicious a professour of Theologie. The manner of handling, because, as it is liable to cen­sure in this taxing age, so it may perhaps through my want either of skill or care deserue reproofe, therefore I doe submit it wholly to your worships triall, that after, it may either step further into pub­like view, or els stop where it is, according as you shall please to dis­pose. How soeuer it be, albeit I must confesse, that I should much re­ioyce in your approouing furtherance, yet at the least I shall herein find contentment, that I haue endeuoured out of my vnfained sen­siblenes of your worships respectiue kindnesse, to make the world a witnes of my thankefullnes. And so in the fulnes of my desire, that he in whom all Fulnes dwelleth may so replenish you with spirituall blessings in heauenly things, Col. 1.19. Eph. 1.3. Psa. 92.13.14. that like the Trees planted in the house of the Lord, you may still euen in your Age bring forth fruit, and be fatte & flourishing, I humbly take my leaue.

Your worships euer in the Lord, Samuell Hieron.


Pag. 2. l. 10. for reserued, read referred. p. 3. l. 28. with with sicknes. p. 4. l. 15. after needfull matter, put in these words viz. not revea­led in it, hath added to it a packe and rable of unwritten traditions, concerning which it teacheth, that they are to be receiued & imbra­ced with the same affection, with the like zeale, with the same re­spect, as we doe p. 4. l. 37. after all the, read the first words of the 5. p. viz. authors of them &c. there be other smal faults escaped which would desire the gentle reader to amend as he read.

Hosea. 8.12.

J haue written to them the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.

The first Sermon.

THis verse is as it were the lords com­plainte touching the wretched care­lesnes of the sonnes of men, who in­ioying the greatest benefit, viz. the blessed liberty of this word, yet not­withstanding vtterly neglect it, and esteeme it as a thing not worthy the regarding. That I may both for your profitte, and myne owne helpe proceed in handling of it, with the better order, I will diuide it into two parts; the first may be not vnfitly called. Gods bounty, I haue written to them the great thinge of my law; the second may he termed. mans impiety, but they were counted as a strange thinge. God hath vouchsafed the free vse of his word; what greater bounty? Men passe by it as a thing not worth the looking to, what greater impiety? of these two points in order.

I haue &c: In the first part wee haue two things to con­sider, first the commendation of gods word; secondly the mercy of god in vouchsafeing it vnto vs: The word of god is commended vnto vs in these termes; The great things of the law; The word which is out of the Heb. translated heere (greate) signifieth, honorable, or pretious, or ample and plentifull: so that the word of God is cōmended heere, by two things, 1. the plenty, and abundance, and largenes of matter that is in it; 2. the price, and excellency, and worth of the matter. I wil speak of both seuerally & I pray you let vs wel obserue them, that the word of God may grow into greater credit with vs then it is.


[Page 2]Touching the largenes and amplenes of the word of god, I set down this point; That all necessary points either touch­ing faith or manners, are aboundantly contayned, and layed forth in the scriptures; for proofe whereof, that one saying of the Apostle is sufficient; The whole scripture is giuen by inspiration of God,2. Tim. 3.16.and is profitable, to teach, to improoue, to correct, and to in­struct in righteousnesse: now what spiritual occasion can there be deuised, which is not here mentioned? what matter is there in the whole body of religion, but it may well be reserued to one of these heads; either teaching, improouing, correcting, or instructing? so that the word of God being suf­ficient to all these, is not wanting in any necessary matter whatsoeuer.Ioh. 20.31. These things (saith Sainte Iohn) are written, that yee might haue life through his name; a plaine testimony that there is inough lefte written in the bible, for the begetting of faith, and for the guiding of the soule of euery faithfull beleeuer vnto life eternall. I gaue them my statutes (saith God) I declared my iudgements vnto them, Ezek. 20.11. which if a man doe he shall liue: the taking of that course which is prescribed to vs in the word, is all sufficient to saluation. They haue Mo­ses & the Prophets saith Abraham to the rich glutton in hell; meaning that then they want no needfull instruction,Luk. 16.31. for the bringing of them by repentāce vnto life. Infinite are the places of scripture to this end, shewing the absolutenesse of that doctrine, which is contained in the written word, vrging vs to rest our selues satisfied with that which is re­uealed, condemning al the inuentions and traditions of man that are added thereunto. And seeing it is a sure thing that the bookes of holy scripture, are penned by the speciall guidance of gods spirit,2. Pet. 1.21. as Sainte Peter affirmeth; it must needs follow that if there be any needfull matter omitted in them, it came to passe, ether because they which wrot, did not know it, or because, knowing it they would not reueale it, or because being willing to reueale it, they forgot it, or else because though they forgot it not, yet they knew not how, and in what manner to performe it. Now whichsoeuer of all these wee shall thinke, wee shall caste a very greate indignity and disgrace, not simply vpon the pen-men of the scripture, but vpon the spirit of God, by [Page 3] whose speciall direction, they wrote euery word and title, and vpon whome to lay any imputation, ether of weake­nes or vnwillingnes to performe any thinge for the good of Godes Churche, were no lesse then blasphemie. Adde hereto for the better opening of this point, that looke what is the spirituall necessitie of a christian vpon any occasion, either of his calling, or of his degree and proceeding and estate in his profession, the word of God is not wanting to giue him fulnes of direction. If he be a Magistrate, it teach­eth him how to gouerne, if a Mynister, it informeth him how to teach, if a master of a family, it instructeth him for the particular duties of his place, whether he be a husband, or a father, or a master, or son, or seruant, it sheweth him in euery of these, how to demeane himselfe as becomes a christian: It giues him direction for his apparrell, his speach, his diet, his company, his disports, his labour, his buying and selling, yea and for his very sleepe, and for those things which may be thought most arbitrary and indifferent. It is vnpossible for him to deuise any thing, touching which he may not fetch a needfull direction from the scripture. A­gaine, conceiue of him how you will in regard of the seue­rall degrees of Christianity, the word of God is still his coun­cellor: if he be ignorant, there be plaine principles of religi­on, as milke to feed him; if he be better grounded, there be points of greater depth to imploy him; if there be any case of conscience that troubles him, any scruple that disquiets him, there is vnfallible certainty to resolue him; if he be af­flicted either in body sicknesse, or in goods with los­ses, or in good name with vndeserued reproches, or in mind with the buffeting of Sathan, and his owne corruption; there is plenty of comfort to releeue him, there is store of rules to informe him, how to profit by his tryalls: if he be zealous, there is matter to encourage him: if cold and fal­ling backe; there is meanes to quicken him: if he be stub­borne and obstinate, there is iudgment to humble him: if he be broken hearted, there is a salue to restore him: if he be turned out of the way by some great sinne, there is as it were a bridle to stop him: whatsoeuer his occasion be, how euer his soule is affected, in what perplexitie soeuer he [Page 4] is, whether it be comfort or councell, or re­solution, or reprofe, or instruction that he needs; the word of God is a plentifull storehouse and meets to the full which euery spirituall necessitie, so then this is my reason, why the law of God, the word of God, is called greate, or large because looke of what extent & widenes our spirituall wants are, of the same are those holy directions which the Lord hath reuealed in his word.Psal. 19.96. I haue seene (saith Dauid) an end of all perfection, but thy law it exceeding large. Let vs now make vse of this doctrine. The vse of this pointe touching the largnes and amplenes of the word of God, ex­tending and stretching it selfe to all the spirituall occasions of all Gods people, is first to ouerthrow the iudgment and practise of the Churche of Roome, which, as though there were some defecte in the scripture, or some needfull matter receiue the writtē word it self, and must be beleeued also as profitable and necessary to saluation. Now this opinion and course is plaine against this place of scripture, in which the word of God is graced with this title, greate, or plentifull, or large, if there be any thing left out of it, which is necessary for the information of any mans soule vnto life eternall, sure it hath not deserued that honorable name where with it is stiled: I meane, if a Christian man either for the setling of his soule in a matter of faith, or the directing of his course in a matter of conuersation, should finde that scantnesse and barrennesse in the scripture, that he should be faine to goe seeke direction elsewhere: or if there were no want in the word of God, why should he be so heauily cursed that puts ought vnto it? wheras if there be any point needful to salua­tion, which is not mentioned in it, there must of necessity be some addition. And therefore wee must for euer sepa­rate our selues from that Church, which (when God hath written his word as a perfect direction, full and entire in e­uery respect) thrusts vpon vs the inventions of man, daring also to make them in authoritie equall to the scriptures.

This is the first vse, euen to teach vs heartily and vnfai­nedly to detest, all additions to the word of God, and al the not reuealed in it, hath added to it a pack and rable of vn­written traditions, concerning which it teaceth, that they are to be receiued and embraced with the same affection, with the likezeale; with the same respect, as wee doe [Page 5] authors of them whatsoeuer: and yet with this caution, that wee must beware that wee be not deceiued in the right vn­derstanding of that which we call an Addition to the scrip­ture: wee must not thinke as some doe, that this ordinance of God which wee call preaching, is an adding to the scrip­ture; it being a course which God in his wisedome hath ap­pointed for the gathering of his Church, and for the ope­ning and discouering vnto the sonnes of men, the hid trea­sure: But that is called an Addition to the word of God, which being commended vnto men as a matter of religion cannot be iustified, nor warranted, nor made good by the written word, but is grounded onely either vpon carnall reason and conceipt, or vpon the will of him that vrgeth it; All and euery such addition wee must take heede of, and re­member what the Apostle saith: If any man deliuer any other (meaning any other for substance,Gal. 1.8. though in wordes and manner of deliuery it may differ) though he were an Angel, &c. let him be accursed.

2. The second vse of this pointe is to condemne the common neglect, and vniuersall contempte of the precepts and rules of holye scripture: what occasion soeuer wee haue the word of God is still at hand to counsell vs, and it is such a direction, as cannot deceiue vs yet in the most of our cases and spirituall needes, wee will seeke to any thinge rather then to the scripture. In the worship of god wee doe much more esteeme our owne humors and the traditions of our fathers, then the prescription of the word.

In matters of conuersation, wee preferre the examples & guises of the times, the course & practise of the multitude, before the principles of gods spirite: nay wee thinke it too much precisenesse, and a thing very ridiculous and childish, to tie a mans selfe so straite, as not willingly to swarue frō the direction, and warrant of the scriptures. If wee be sick, wee will goe first to carnall meanes, & last to the scripture: if wee be greiued in mind and touched in conscience, wee will looke for comfort any where, before we will seeke it in the scripture: if wee be wronged and iniured in the world, wee will runne after the eggings on of our owne corrupt heart, to be our owne auengers, before wee will aske coun­sell [Page 6] of the scripture. As in these few, so almost in all other things, any rules please vs better then the rules of the scrip­ture. In apparrell wee are led by the fashion, in meat and drinke by our sensuall appetite; in recreation by companie or by our owne in ordinate affections: in dealings with men, by our profit; in getting riches, by our vnsatiable desires; these be our rules: the precepts of the word of God either wee doe not know, or we doe not esteeme them, or wee thinke it a burden, and a kind of restraint to be tied to ob­serue them.Ier. 2.13. Thus we are like vnto those of whome God cō ­plaines by Ieremie, They haue forsaken me (saith he) the foun­taine of liuing waters, & digge themselues pittes, euen broken pits that can hold no water, so wee let goe the best aduise which cannot erre, and deuise rules and precepts to our selues, which must needes deceiue vs. To reforme this common e­uill, let vs remember what we haue heard, viz. that God hath furnished his word with varietie of directions, the pre­cepts of it are of equall largenes to our spirituall occasions: as many as walke according to this rule, peace shall be vpon them (saith the Apostle: but to euery other course whatsoeuer it be;Gal. 6.16. Pro. 14.12. wee may boldly apply the saying of Salomon: There is a way that seemeth right vnto a man, but the issues thereof are the waîes of death. And thus much of the commendation giuen to the law of God, it is large in matter, and abounding with varietie of doctrine.

Now followeth to speake of the next thing by which it commended; It is pretious, the value and price of the matter, doth equall the largenes and varietie of it. The pretiousnesse and excellencie may many waies be made knowne vnto vs; 1 first by the author of it,1. Pet. 1.25. Ps. 1.2. Act 20.27. Rom. 3.2. 2. Tim. 3, 16. 2 Pet. 1.21. which is God, for which cause it is so often called the worde of God: the law of God, the counsell of God, the oracles of God: The whole scripture was giuen (saith Paul) by inspiration of God: And it came (saith Saint Peter) not by the will of man, but of the holy Ghost: and I haue written it (saith he) heere in my text. So that it is no idle tale deuised as Atheists say by the witte of man to keepe the vulgar in subiection; but it is the very mind of God, & the very expresse patterne of that truth, which is originally in the foūtaine of al truth, which is the lord: secōdly by the matter of it; the matter of [Page 7] scripture is in a word, that great mistery of godlines of which 2 the Apostle speaketh, God manifested in the flesh &c. 1. Tim. 3.16. Col. 1.27. 1. Cor. 2.8. A glorious mistery: A hid mistery which non of the princes of this world could know; A mistery which no man by the witte of man is euer able to conceiue; A mysterie which the Angells in heauen do admire, and the Deuills in hell doe tremble at: A misterie which the Atheists in their mouthes doe scoffe at, but euen at the same time in their hearts doe quake to consider. This is the matter of the scripture, Iesus Christ, yesterday, to day, the same for euer: he is the yea, and the amen of all the promises,Heb. 13.8. 2. Cor. 1.20. Reuel. 1.11. the Alpha and the Omega, the first, and the last, the pith and marrow of the whole: thirdly by the stile of it; Fullnesse of 3 maiestie in simplicitie of words, the like temper no where else to be found in any humane writer whatsoeuer. I know that in sundry parcels of the scripture, there are to be seene ma­ny more then steppes or prints of eloquence, which the wisedome of God did to make vs know, that he could if it had pleased him, haue frettised (as it were) the whole volume of the booke with the excellencie of words; yet generally it is so carried, in such a low phrase of speache, which yet doth not sauour of any earthly mould, but makes a man euen as it were in despight of himselfe to admire it Thy testimonies are wonderfull (saith Dauid) yet in the next verse he saith, the entrance into them sheweth light, Psal. 119.129. & giueth vn­derstanding: so that there is a depth of misterie in plaines of words. Fourthly, the end of it; the end of the scripture is not to please idle humors with variety of delightfull matters,4 nether to exercise busy wits with subtilty of questions, nor to be as a matter of storie only to acquaint men with the course of times, nor to furnish mē with ability to discourse; the word of God aimes at none of these ends, (which yet notwithstanding are the cheife scope, and euen the happi­nesse of the most Authors,) but it driues at this one point, to make a man wise vnto saluation. To shew the path of life; 2. Tim. 3.15. Psal. 16.11. Luk. 1.79 Rom. 1.20. To guide our feete into the way of peace, we may read in the great booke of the creatures (as I may so call it,) the invisible things of god, his eternall power & godhead; yet the knowledge of God gotten there is of no power, but only to make vs in­excusable. And therefore Dauid haueing spoken of the [Page 8] maiesty of God which appeareth euen in the creation of things,Psal. 19. Ver. 7. comes at last, to this, The law of the lord is perfect con­uering the soule, to shew, that without the word of God, though man might gaine knowledge enough to condemne him, yet he could get none to saue him. And so many other places hauing declared the testimonies of the power of God which are to be seene euen in the very waues of the sea,Psal. 93. at last he concludes the psalme, O lorde thy testimonies are very sure, meaning that there is no certaine and comfortable knowledge of God to be gotten, but only from thence, And for the same cause Christ told the woman of Samaria, that they worshipped they knew not what; and that the true wor­ship was only among the Iewes,Ioh. 4.22. because they only had the scriptures. Now then looke how farre saluation, life eter­nall, euerlasting happinesse, doe exceed all other things, by so much is the doctrine of the scripture of greater price, then all other doctrines, then all other writings whatsoeuer. Thus you see the price and exellency of the word of God; pretious for the author, the God of truth; pretious for the matter, the glorious mystery of Christ; pretious for the frame and forme, plainnes of stile mixed with maiesty: pretious for the end, to make vs wise vnto saluation. Let vs indeauour now to make the best vse of this doctrine.

1. The first vse of it, is to admōish euery minister, (who by his office and calling is to handle the word of God) to to doe it with reuerence and humility, in as much as it is a thing of that exceeding price, and therefore a woe shalbe vnto him whosoeuer, that shall rashly, and vnaduisedly, and vnreuerently dispence it.Exod. 30.18. Wee shall read, that among other the holy things which God ordayned to be made in the ancient tabernacle he appointed a lauer of brasse, in which Aaron and his sonnes should wash their hands and their feete, so often as they went into the tabernacle, or did goe vnto the altar to minister; which outward washing cōman­ded to the preists (and that with such a strait penalty, that they must do it lest they dye, ver. [...]0.) serueth to teach all those that succeed them in the seruice of God, in the Church, to take heed how they do vnholily and without due preparing, and study, and an humble seeking of the lord, aduenture to med­dle [Page 9] with a thing of that heauenly price, as the word of God is. If any man speake, let him speake as the words of God (saith Saint Peter.1. Pet. 4.11.

2. Secondly it is an admonition also to all that come to heare,Eccles. 4.17. to take heed (as Solomon saith) to their feete before they come into the house of God. I may say to you touching the word of God, as Christ saied to the people touching Iohn baptist, Math. 11.7. what went ye out (saith he) into the wildernesse to see? so what is it that you come from your houses to the Church to be per­takers of? is it an idle song, or an old wiues tale, or a foolish history, or a friuolous enterlude ro be laughed at? or what is it that you come for; is it not the word of God? if you say it it is, know you not of what price it is, or doe you consider from whom it comes, of whom it treates, and to what end it aymes? if you doe, how do you dare to come vnto it with vnprepared, vnreformed, vnsanctified hearts? how is it that we make no more account of hearing it, then of any other vaine imployment? Alas who is there amongst vs, but ge­nerally he comes with as great preparation to his worke, or to his market, or to his play, as he doth to the grauest exer­cises of the most pretious word of God? nay our preparati­on vsually is greater vnto things of that nature, then to this: for whiles we are setting our selues to these occasions, we will busy our tongues, and our thoughts, about the things pertaining to them; but when we com to the word, we ne­uer seeke to disburthen our thoughts of all other matters; that we might be the more free to entertaine a thing of that exceeding price: Remēber what god said to Moses when he appeared vnto him; when Moses was comming towards the place, God called vnto him; put off thy shooes, Exod. 3.5. &c. meaning by that ceremony to strike a kind of awfull reuerence into Moses, when as he was now to come & stand before God: thereby also teaching vs, that when we come to the exerci­ses of Gods worshippe, (among which the vse of the word is the principal) wee must labour (as the Apostle saith) to cast away euery thing that presseth downe, & to ease our selues from euery vncleane, vnhallowed, worldly or needlesse thought,Heb. 12.1. from euery vnreuerent motion, which may be a clogge, or hinderance vnto vs, in the saueing heareing of Gods word. [Page 10] This is the second vse.

3. Thirdly it is to be applied as an aduertisement to all those that Professe themselues to be knowers and doers of the word, to beware how by theire euill liues, they be a meanes to bring the precious word of God into disgrace, wee see by euery daies experience, how forward men of corrupt minds are, to pry into the actions and courses of those, which seeme to haue some more respecte vnto the word of God, and to religion, then they themselues haue, & how ioyfull a thing it is vnto them, when they can haue but any colour of occasion to say. Lo these be the men that be so ful of scripture that talke so much of Gods worde, beholde their fruites, marke If they be not as bad, or worse then any other: This is a game vnto such, and by this meanes, they wretchedly strengthen themselues in their contempt of all goodnes: woe to him whosoeuer, that shall giue iust cause to such people of exception, and to make Gods precious word, to become a byword in the mouthes of euill men: how often doeth the Apostle giue charge to professors of religion, to looke vnto it,Tit. 2.5. that the word of God be not euill spoken of? what a heauy accusatiō is it that is laied to the charge of the Iewes; the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you; Rom. 2.24. what a sharpe expostulation is that which is vsed by God him selfe againste dissembling hipocrites, which like a row­er in a boate, lookes one way, and puls another, to professe one thing,Psal. 50.19. and doe the contrary, what hast thou to doe to take my couenant in thy mouth &c. Dauid was a man deare vnto God, yet because by his adulterie and murder, he had made the enemies of God to blaspheme, the Lord would not suffer the fact to goe away without some testimony of his displeasure:2. Sam. 12. And sure what euer thou be, be sure the Lord will punishe thee, if thy euill life, thy not labouring to master thine owne affections, and to make thy conuersation such as becometh the Gosple, doe giue occasion to any profane person, to ieast at religion, and speake euill of the waies of Godlines. Remember it therfore yee that loue the word, remember it, I saie, that the word of God is precious, be not you a meanes to bring it into disgrace. This is the third vse.

[Page 11]4. A fourth vse is to cutt off all vaine and idle vseing of the scripture: It is a common grace of some to vse some words or sentences of scripture, in steed of ieasts and pro­uerbs, in their common talke, by which to delight them­selues and other. The word of God is Precious, and ought to be vsed with greate regard. I will looke vpon him that is of a coutrite hearte, and that trembleth at my words. Isay. 66.2. There is a great difference betwixt trembling at the word, and ma­king of a mans selfe merrie by playing and toying with the word, the Lord lookes vpon the one and pittieth it; he sets himselfe against the other and will reuenge it. Wee haue an example of the practise of it in the historie of the Church, in that wicked Emperour Iulian, his manner was to reach vnto the Christians boxes on the eare, and withall to bidde them turne the other; for (saith he) your master biddes you that whosoeuer smiteth you on the cheeke, you should turne to him the other also: And so whē he denied pay to the chri­stiā souldiers that were hired by him, and they complained therof vnto him; his answer was, that he did to make them fit for the kingdome of heauen; because Christ had said; Blessed are the poore in spirit, for theirs is the kingdome of heauen; thus this prophane wretch scoffed at the scripture: wee must labour to take heed of the like wretchednesse. Pi­late was but a Heathē, yet the text saith that when he heard but the name of the sonne of God, he was afraide. Ioh. 19.8. Wee that pro­fesse our selues Christians should much more reuerence the holy word of God, in euery title whereof,Exod. 30.32. the maiestie of God may be seene. You shall read that the oyle wherewith the tabernacle and the Arke, and the Priests were annoin­ted was holy, and therefore no man might put it to any o­ther vse, either to annoint his owne flesh with it, or to make a composition like vnto it: The like may be said of the holy doctrine of the scripture, it is appointed as an holy oile, to supple, and to refresh the soules and consciences of Gods people, and therefore may not be diuerted by vs, to any o­ther profane or idle vse whatsoeuer. It is a taking of the name of God in vaine, and a breach of the third commaun­dement. These are the vses I thought good to make of this that the things of the law of God are called honourable or [Page 12] pretious; And thus much touching the first part of this clause, the commendation of Gods word, the matter of it, is very large, and it is very pretious.

I come vnto the second part of the clause, touching the mercy of God in vouchsafeing his word vnto vs, in these words, I haue written vnto them; In the handling of this clause, sundry things are to be opened, as 1 how it can be said that God hath written his word: 2 why it was meete to write it: 3 when the word of God began first to be writtē, & how it was preser­ued for the Churches vse all that time: 4 how we shalbe assured, that that which among vs is now called the scripture, is the very same word and pretious will of God, which he hath written, for the vse and comfort of his people. These points are meete to be o­pened, both for the well vnderstanding of this place in hand, and for the setling of vs against Atheisme, and the perswading of vs of the authoritie of the scripture. Time will not suffer me to enter into them all now, I will proceed as farre as I can. First how it can be said that God hath written his word?

God is said to haue written his word in two respects, 1 because the 10 commandements (of which all the rest that is written in the volume of the booke, is but as it were a comment or exposition) these I say were written after a se­cret, vnknowne, and vnutterable manner by God him selfe, according as the scripture doth often mention it, it is cal­led the finger of God, by which according to the most ordi­nary interpretation of the anchient fathers, is meant, the spirit of God; Secondly God is said to haue written his word, because all the rest that was written (though men were the instruments) yet it was done by his appoint­ment, and by his assistance. As concerning Gods appoint­ment we read how Moses was commanded to write; so was Isay, so was Ieremie, so was Ezekiell, so was Habakuk, and so was Iohn as you shal read in the booke of the Reuelation: and when as Christ commanded his Apostles to be witnes­ses of him, and publishers of his truth and doctrine to the ends of the earth, and to deliuer that, of which the church should haue continuall vse to the worlds end, no doubt he did in that charge insinuat, that they should not only preach [Page 13] by word of mouth, but should commit the summe of their doctrine, to writing also; that the same might be preserued to all posterities. As it is plaine that God appointed the wri­ting of the scripture; so he assisted the pen-men of it, by the extraordinary, and immediate, and infallible guidance of his spirit;2. Pet. 1.21. for which we need no better proofe then that one of Peters, now once or twise already mentioned: so then be­cause God writte the law immediatly with his owne finger, and then both gaue commandement and order for the wri­ting of the rest, and directed the writers so, that they could not in any thing indited by them be mistaken; the word is said to haue bin written by the lord.

The vse hereof is first to be a confirmation to that which I said before, touching the perfection and price of the scripture; it must needs be an absolute & entire body, with­out any ether superfluity, or defect, and containe a most ne­cessary & exact form of doctrine, seing that god is the author of it, who both in his wisedome knew what was conueniāt, and in his loue would not keepe secret any thing which he knewe to be for the necessary behoofe of his own chosen.

Againe it can be no triuiall or base or vulgar matter, which is commended vnto vs, as it were out of the bosome of the Lord; and for the ratifying whereof, our Sauiour Christ spent his owne blood; and in framing whereof the spirit of God hath breathed so extraordinarily. But the principall and more proper vse which we are to make hereof, is to be an assurance to vs, of the irrevocable & vn­changeable certaintie of the scripture:Math. 5.28. and that as our Saui­our saith; Heauen and earth shall passe away before one title ther­of doe fall to the ground vnfullfilled. It is a good obseruation of one of the fathers; if Pilate (saith he) being but a man, af­ter he had set the title ouer Christs head vpon the crosse,Ioh. 19.22. & was dealt with by the Iewes to alter it, could say, quod scripsi scripsi, meaning that hauing set it downe vpon good aduise he would not change it: much more may we be sure that the Lord hauing written his will, and set it forth to the view of the world as an absolute rule vnto all, will neuer alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth. Men alter their wri­tings many times, because of some ouersight or mistaking, [Page 14] or because of some second thoughts wiser then their for­mer; it were blasphemie to impute any such thing vnto God. Againe there is much failing in the execution of mens lawes, either through the remissenes of those that are intrusted with them, or through want of power to goe tho­rough with them. The Lord is neither slacke as men count slackenes saith Saint Peter,2. Pet. 3.9. neither yet is his hand shortened that he should not be able to see euery parcell of his holy pleasure put in execution. It may seeme needles to insist vp­on this pointe, touching the vnfallible certaintie and fulfilling of the scripture, but if wee consider our times, wee shall see it is a needefull doctrine. For whatsoe­uer mens profession is, their conuersation is such, that a man may well thinke of them, that they imagin the word of God to be but an idle tale, a frightfull sound to amaze fooles: full of terrible threatnings, but yet lighter then va­nity in performance.Heb. 13.4. Gal 5.21. Psal. 15.2.5. Doth the vnchast person think it true, that whoremongers and adulterers God will iudge? doth the drū ­kard beleiue, that no such shall inherit the kingdome of God? doth the vsurer imagin that there is any certainty in that speach, that no such shalbe receiued into heauen? doth the contemner of Gods word suppose, that that shall come to passe which Paul saith VIZ: that the lord will in flaming fire, render ven­geance to them that do not obey the Gospell? doth the despiser of knowledge perswade himselfe, that Solomon spake with authoritie when he said,2. Th. 1.8. The lord would laugh at his dectructi­on? doe those that presume vpon Gods mercy, and thinke they may liue how they will, and repent when they will, giue credit to that where it is said,Prov. 1.22.26. that these which doe despise the riches of Gods bounty, and abuse his patience, do but heap vp wrath to themselues against the day of iudgement. And so I might say in many other things, Is it likely that mē think there is any truth in the words which are so flat against these courses of which their life is a continuall practise?Rom. 2. [...]. [...]. sure it is not: for out of all doubt, if they had any such con­ceipt, and did not rather say to themselues as they did in Ie­remies time,Ier. 5.13. it is but winde, they would humble themselues before the Lord, for their euills past, and their future refor­mation should manifest their reuerent perswasion of the [Page 15] certainite of those Iudgements which stand vpon record in in the scriptures. Therefore let vs remember this; this scripture, this word, is not a deuise of man, it was writ­ten by God; euery curse writtē in it, shall fall vpon the vnre­pentant, and euery blessing promised therein, shall be made good to the soule of euery true beleeuer.


The second Sermon.

THe next question to be handled in this place, touching that which God hath heere saied, that he had written the great things of his law, is, why it was meete that the word of God should be cōmitted to writing. As I haue pro­ued vnto you that it was not writtē at aduē ­tures out of the humors of som priuate mē, but by the spe­cial appointmēt & directiō of God; so it shall appeare that the writing of it was not vndertakē, but vpō very great rea­son, and for very exceeding good purpose. The maine and principall end, was the spirituall good and edification of Gods Church; that is not to be doubted, in asmuch as in all things the Lord hath a cheife respecte vnto the Glorie of his owne name in the good of his chosen: But how and in what manner, and for what respects, the writing of the word was necessary for the churches good; it shal be worth our labour to enquire. Vnderstand therfore that the writing of the word was, and is for the good of the Church in this respecte, euen that it may haue one certaine and vnfallible rule, by which all doctrine may be tryed, all controuersies in religion decided, all doubts resolued, and euery consci­ence firmely grounded and setled in Gods truth. For this cause we read that when there was no word written, but Moses law, the doctrine of the prophets was tried by it. Af­ter, when to the law of Moses were added the sermons of the prophets;Isay. 8.20. then euery thing was referred vnto them: so Christ cleared his doctrine and made it good by Moses and all the prophets:Luk. 24.27. & Pauls defence was this, that he had said no other things, then those which Moses and the prophets did say should come. And all the learned in the best times which followed,Acts 26.22. toke the same course, leauing themselues an ex­ample vnto vs, to make the written word, as it were the stan­dard or the kings beame, by which to try all doctrine that is tendred to vs, accepting none for sound & good, but only that which is agreeing therunto. So that looke what neces­sity ther was that the Church should haue a Iudge to decide [Page 17] doubts, and a true rule to find out, and to discern the truth; the same is there, that the word should be put in writing, for the common and perpetuall good of all posterity. If any man thinke that the word of God might as well and pro­fitably haue proceeded for the Churches good, from hand to hand, by liuely voice, as by writing, the father commend­ing it to his sonne, and so continuing it one after another to the end; he is much deceiued. For first the mind of man is very slippery and weake, and soone ready to forget the best things; secōdly mans nature is very prone to error, & apt ei­ther to entertaine, or to broch new religions: and therefore to preuent forgetfulnes, to auoid error, and to preserue the truth of God from corruption; it was meet the scripture should be written. It is worthy to be marked, the speach of Luke in the preface of his Gospel to that noble Theophilus, Luk. i. 4. he confesseth that he had been instructed, in the doctrine of religion; yet he thought to write vnto him from point to point, that he might haue the certainty of those things. So that though he had indifferent good knowledge before, yet writing the story was the meanes to beget certainty. This shalbe written for the generation to come, saith Dauid:Psal. 102.18. writing is the best meās euen (as we se by common course) to preserue a thing vnto posterity.

Besides as in a generallitie it was necessary the word of god should be written, that there might be one certaine rule to iudge the truth by so for one maine pointe of doctrine it was very behoofull, viz. to assure vs that Christe the sonne of Mary was the true Messias, who being once come, none other was to be looked for: To setle vs wherin, there could be deuised no more direct course then this, viz. that first the promises of his comming should be recorded, the nature and office and all other circumstances of his person discri­bed, and then the history of all his acts, his birth, doctrine, miracles, death exactlie registred; that so the following ages comparing both togeather, & seeing how euery pro­mise was fulfilled, & euery prophesie accomplished, might resolue vpon it, that hee indeed was the Christe; and that there is no name else giuen vnder heauen wherby wee may be saued. An example of this vse of the written word, wee [Page 18] haue in Christe himselfe, who falling into company after his resurrection with two of his disciples, who were in some doubt;Luk. 24.27. began at Moses (saieth the texte) and interpreted vnto them in all the scripture, the things which were written of him. And whosoeuer markes the course of the history of the Gospell shall often find, that when some speciall action of Christ is recorded,Marc 14 49. Ioh. 13.8 Ioh. 19.34.36. this, or the like is added to it; This was done that the scripture might be fulfilled; which sheweth how behoofull the writing of the promises, touching the Messi­as, was to be our ground in this maine pointe; that Christ Ie­sus is the onely appointed sauiour of mankind. Heere then is the issue of my speach: it was meete the word should be written, that the Church might neuer want a rule of religi­on, and in particular might be setled in this pointe, that the Christ in whom we beleeue, is that Sauiour, whome wee neede not doubt to depend vpon. Let vs make vse of this pointe.

The vse is this: our courses (considering the obedience that we owe vnto God) should be answerable to Gods in­tents; sith therfore the intent of God in giueing order for the writing of his word, was the grounding and setling of our hearts in the truth of religion; it becommeth vs to la­bour both to conceiue the doctrine of Godlines, so much as is necessary to saluation; and in matters that concerne the worship of God and our own soules health, not to build vpon opinion, conceipt, or the traditions of men whatso­euer they be, but only vpon the scriptures: because when we come to giue an account (as wee must) of our religion vnto God; it shall not goe for currant, I beleeued, or I thought this, because such a one perswaded me, or because the law of the times so commāded me, or because my fathers before me so thought, and from them I receiued it: but this answer onely shall be accepted, when a man shal be able to say this; This my heart hath embraced, ad vppon this haue I built my faith, because God blessing the ministerie of his holy word vnto me, I haue plainly perceiued, that it is the expresse do­ctrine of the written word, and the very same which God hath left vpon record for me to beleeue. This is the only answere that shall be then accepted of. As many therefore as [Page 19] doe desire to haue comfort of their religion at the day of iudgement, must giue great heed vnto the reading & prea­ching of the word, & so in humilitie by praier be prepared to it, that in their secret thoughts they may conceiue, how the word of God is a warrant of their beleefe. Men thinke this is a matter of impossibilitie, and cast many perils (the deuill helping them forward) with many shifts to nouzell themselues in ignorance; but still the saying of the spirit of God is true, knowledge is easie to him that will vnderstand, and God will alwaies giue a blessing,Prou. 14.6. Psal. 25.14. and reueale euen his secret (as Dauid saith) vnto those that feare him, and will be found of those that seeke him as they ought to doe. So much of this question and the vse of it, whie it was meete that Gods word should be written.

The next question necessarie for the clearing of this place, is, When the word of God began first to be written, & how tell that time it was preserued for the vse of Gods Church. Touch­ing which wee must hold,August. lib. de. ciui. dei 15. c. 23. that Moses was the first writer of the word of God that euer was. It is the opinion of some (I know) that Enoch the seauenth from Adam, wrot some­thing; and that they thinke may be proued out of the saying of Saint Iude, who alleageth some part of Enochs doctrine. But Iude saith, not, Enoch wrot, but Enoch prophesied: Iud. ver. 14. and it was possible for the summe of Enochs doctrine to be continued without writing. Besides one Iosephus,Iose. Antiq. l. 1. c 3. (who himselfe was a Iewe, and writ of antiquities,) saith that Adams offspring had erected two pillars, the one of brick the other of stone, in which they had engrauen many things; but these things are vncertaine.Rom. 3.2. And that there was no part of Gods word written before Moses, it may thus be gathered. First because the Iewes, to whome as Saint Paul saith the oracles of God were committed, had not in their canon, any holy writ more auncient then Moses: secondly our Sauiour labouring to prooue himselfe to be the Messias,Luk 24.27. the text saith he began at Moses: if there had beene any author of greater antiquitie then Moses, no doubt our sauiour would haue alleadged it, inasmuch as all the scripture that was before him, was to giue testimony of him. And it is likely that God himselfe by writing the 10. Commandements extraordinarily with [Page 20] his owne fingers, did acquaint Moses with the manner of writing and the vse of letters, which for ought wee can find to the contrarie, vntill that time, was vnknowne. If it be de­manded then, whether till then, the church and people of God were vtterly destitute or the word?

I answer no; for it was alwaies a truth, that God would ac­cept of no worship, but that which was according to his word; voluntarie religion was hatefull vnto him, euen from the very first beginning. Sith then it is apparent, that before the word was written, God was truly worshipped, as by A­dam, Abell, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, &c. it must needs be that there was some word, or some reuealed and knowne wil of God to direct them. If you aske how the will of God was then made knowne, and how preserued? I answere, that the Lord reuealed it by holy oracles, by visions, & ap­paritions of Angells, yea and of Christ himselfe, who is or­dinarily meant by the name of Angell throughout the old testament. At sundry times and in diuers manners God spake to our fathers in the old time, saith the Apostile. He spake to Mo­ses mouth to mouth: Heb. 1.2. Numb. 12.8. He vsed also the ministry of man for the spreading of that truth abroad to many, which by vision o­racle was reuealed to few.

Thus the father to the sonn, one to another made known the will of God. But when the Church was enlarged, and (hauing beene shut vp in some few families) began to spread it selfe into a greater compasse, and with all, corruption in religion encreased, and the people of God by conuersing with Idolaters were more subiect to be misled; the lord gaue order to write the law, & in processe of time added the the writings of the prophets as expositions of the law, and at the last, the new testament, to be a full and manifest dis­couerer of that mistery of Christ, which was more darkely (as it were) lapped in the types and figures and prophesies of the old. So that this is the answere then to this question; til Moses began there was no word written, yet the church was not destitute, but by other meanes, was made acquain­ted with Gods will, and was informed in such things as per­teined vnto life. We may make vse also of the clearing of this question.

[Page 21]First of all it giueth vs iust occasion to note and obserue, the continuall care and prouidence of God ouer his Church, in that he hath neuer left it vnsupplied, but in al times and a­ges from the beginning, hath taken a course for the right informing it, in such things as were behoofull and necessa­ry thereunto.

Before Moses he taught the world by visions, & oracles, speaking vnto the sons of mē frō heauē with his own mouth. In the following times he ordained, and with his owne fin­ger (as it were) consecrated the vse of writing, for the per­petuall perseruation of that truth, which otherwise in com­mon reason, ether time might haue worne out, or men of corrupt minds haue falsified, to the corrupting and poyso­ning of the church. So that God may truly say to his church in generall, as he did once to the Israelites, what could I haue done more, which I haue not done vnto you. Isa. 5.4. I haue spoken to you by visions, I haue reuealed my holy will by the ministry of Angells, I haue committed it to perpetuall record, that it might be turned into all languages, and read and perused by all men. God hath not ben wanting to vs, if we shal now be wanting to our selues, we shall bring vpon vs a greater measure of condemnation: we shall neuer be able to say; this and this we would haue done, if we had knowne it, it shall alwaies be replied vpon vs, as it was to the people of old, he hath shewed thee, O mā what is good: the lord was neuer sparing or close-handed towards his Church,Mic. 6.8. to secret any thing, which might be a means to bring it vnto life.

Secondly, this mutuall following each of other, I meane of the making known of the word of God vnto the Church, by visions, and reuelations, and then after in the appointed time by writing, serueth to shew vnto vs, that as before the word was written, the power of God was not to be doub­ted of, but that he was fully able to acquaint his Church with all needfull matter; so now the word being written, no visions, or reuelations must be looked for. Now the written text is our only guide; and whosoeuer he should be, that vn­der pretence of some speciall matter extraordinarily reuea­led to him, from heauen, should indeauour to perswade vs [Page 22] any thing besides that which is already written, though he should bring neuer so great probabilities & shews of like­lyhood, yet he were not to be beleeued. It is true, Christ pro­mised to send his spirit vnto his Church, and he hath and doth, still make good his promise, but yet, not that men vn­der a pretence of the spirit, should contemne the scripture, but that they should be better able to profit by the scrip­ture. For the proofe whereof we haue an excellent place in Luke, where it is said, that Christ comming among his disci­ples after his resurrection,cap. 24. 45. opened their vnderstanding, but to what end? what? that they should from that time despise the written word, and take vpon them to deliuer what they would, vnder a colour of being inspired from aboue? no; but he opened there vnderstanding, that they might vnder­stand the scripture.

So that the increase of the gift of Gods spirit in them, did not priuiledge them from tying themselues stil to the doc­trine of the scripture. But you will marueile perhaps to what end I speake this? you shall know therefore, that as there were in the elder times certaine Heretiques called Enthusiasts which pretended (I know not what) visions, and secret conferences with the spirit of God, and so contem­ned the written word: So out of their ashes haue risen in our daies, men of the same humor, knowne by the name of the Famely of loue, who despised the ordinary course of the mi­nistery of man, and of attaining to the knowledge of salua­tion by the written word, and stood vpon priuate reuelati­ons, and such other idle fancies, commēding vnto men their owne dreames, vnder the name of the speciall instincts of Gods spirit: and the dregges of this grossenes are remai­ning among some to this day. Now least at any time wee should be deceiued with such senslesse and foolish preten­ces, wee must vnderstand that since God committed his word to writing, either visions, and the courses of that na­ture haue beene very seldome, or els all those to whome God hath so reuealed any thing, haue beene tied to the iudgement of the scripture. Saint Paul was taken vp into the third heauen, and had strange things discouered to him, yet this was stil his plea for himselfe, and the thing he stood [Page 23] vpon, that he said no other things then those which Moses & the Prophets did say should come. And therfore if either Papists,Act. 26. [...]. or Familists, or any of the like stamp, shall vnder any colour of visions or voices from heauē, and the like perswade vs to any thing contrary to that wee haue beene taught, let vs straight vrge them, to make their matters good by the word written; and then shall wee find that true which an ancient Father hath said, viz. that if you bring them once to defend their questions by scripture alone, they cannot stand. It hath alwaies beene the badge of Heretiques, that they were (scripturarum Lucifugae) men that could not abide the light of the scripture. And thus much for this question,Tertul. when the word was written, and how the Church of God was instructed vntill then.

Now come wee to the last and waightiest, viz. that seeing God saieth heere in our texte, that he hath written his law vnto vs; how wee may be assured, that that which wee now haue, & is called by vs gods word, is indeed that holy will of his, which he commaunded to be written for the good & com­forte of his people? And this is a point of greate moment, because yf wee stagger therin, wee can haue no certainty of religion. Wherfore I pray you let us obserue it the rather, that wee may haue wherwith to stop the mouthes of A­theists and profane scoffers; and auoide also the doubtings & questiōs, which may sometimes arise in our owne hearts. Vnderstand therfore this first of all, that nothing is able to perswade a mās consciēce, that the scripture is the word of God, but only the spirit of God. The Apostle Paule saieth truly, that no man can say that Iesus is the Lorde, 1. Cor. 12 3. but by the holy Ghoste. Therfore my meaning is to speake only of such testi­monies which are of force to conuince the conscience, and to make men that thay shall not be able to deny the scrip­ture to be from God, though to frame their hearts to yeeld vnto it, is in the power of God only to effect. Now to come a degree neerer to the matter, wee must know also that the best proofes for the scripture that it is gods word, are to be fetched out of it selfe; for which cause it is called light, Ps. 119.105. &. v. 2.14.22. &c. be­cause it discouereth it selfe; and many times the testimonies of the Lorde, because it beares witnesse to it selfe. The papists would haue vs stand to the Iudgment of the Church, which [Page 24] is altogeather doubtfull; for there may be as greate questi­on made of the Church, whether it be the true Church of God, as of the scripture, whether it be the true word of God. The testimonie and authority of the Church may be some inducement to a man in this case, according as Saint Austine saieth it was to him; but it can be no certaine argu­ment. Know this then, that there is a certaine euidence of Gods spirite, as it were imprinted in the scripture, which sheweth the divine excellency therof, aboue all the writings 1 of men whatsoeuer. And this stands vpon sundry particu­lars;How the script is knowne to he the word of God. First, the purity of the law of God written by Moses, a­boue all the lawes that haue bene euer enacted and deuised by the wisest men. Wee read of many worthy law-giuers among the Heathen, that ordained statutes of greate wise­dome for the gouernment of their people: yet was ther ne­uer any law deuised by the wit of man, but it needed some reviewing, and for some respect was ether to be repealed, or abridged, or enlarged; besides that, scarce any law can be so wisely framed by a state, but some or other will find a shifte to doe the very thing, which the intente of the law was to forbidde, and yet free himselfe from the danger of the law, & stand vpon tearmes as if he had not brokē it. It is not so in the law of God, as it was first giuen out, so it stands, without any changing, nether was there euer any found, able to car­rie himselfe so cunningly in the practise of any euil, but this law in one respect or other would surely find him guiltie. Secondly, the qualitie of the matter in scripture: In the wri­tings 2 of the Heathen wee shall find some giuen here and there of the myserie of mankind, and some cold comforts taught for the releiuing it, but the true opening of the di­rect cause of mans miserie, to witte sinne, and the entring in of sinne into the world by Adams fall, and the perfect and full remedie for all this, namely Christs death, was neuer 3 knowne or heard of, but only from the scripture. Thirdly, the antiquitie of the scripture; for the bookes of Moses are more auncient, then any humane writers, in that they set downe a historie from the beginning of the world, a thing which other writers knew not of, or els borrowed from Moses, or els, corrupted with many fables, and ridiculous [Page 25] narrations. Besides there is no writer of any humane story, that can be prooued to be more ancient then Nehemias & Ezra, who were about the yeare of the world 3500. Fourth­ly, the admirable consent of the whole body of the scrip­ture 4 within it selfe, all conspiring together in this one point,Act. 10.43. that through the name of Christ all that beleeue in him, shall re­ceiue remission of sinnes. what shewes of vncertaintie and dif­ferences soeuer may appeare, either in numbring of yeares, or in any circumstance of historie, or in any point of do­ctrine; are so fully & apparently reconciled by those which haue laboured therein, that there can be no iust colour of exception. Fiftly, the certaine euents of the prophesies ther­of, as of the comming of the Messias, the calling of the gen­tiles,5 the reuealing of Antichrist, of the the going of the po­steritie of Abraham into Egypt, & their deliuerance thence, of the fower Monarchies by Daniel. And it is worth the no­ting which wee read in Isay, who speaking of the captiuity of the people of the Iewes in Chaldea, doth not only pro­phecie their deliuerance,Isay. 45.1. but names the very man by whom the Lord would saue them, Cyrus, and yet Isay liued at the least a thousand yeares before Cyrus was borne. Like vnto that was that prophecie of the man of God aginst the Altar of Bethell built by Ieroboam, he names the partie Iosiah, 1. King. 13.2. & relates the particulars what he should doe, and yet it was at least 330. yeares before Iosiah was borne. So Ieremy told the people the iust number of yeares in which they should be captiues vnder Babilon, (70. yeares).Ier. 25.11. And wee our selues if wee will obserue it, may see daily how the prophesies of the scripture are accomplished. Paul said in the last times men should broch doctrines of devills, viz. forbidding to marry, & commanding to abstaine from meates, 2 Tim. 3.2. we see it verefied in Popery: he saith againe, that in the last daies men shall be louers of themselues, &c. doe wee not perceiue a­mong our selues; how these euills daily doe increase? he saith further, the time will come when men wil not suffer wholesome doctrine▪ we may behold how this is made good euery day.2. Tim. 4 3. There is no doctrine more wholesome, then that which is applied to mens particular sinnes, & yet it is a thing which men will not endure Saint Peter prophesied, & so did Saint [Page 26] Iude,2. Pet. 3.3. Iud. 18. that in the last times, there should be mockers, men walk­ing after there owne lusts, we need nor goe farre to see the ac­complishment of this prophecy. How doe men despise the Iudgments of God; and scoffe at all goodnes, and prefer the satisfying of there owne lusts, before obedience to the will of God? Thus that which we our selues are witnesses of, declares the certaine euents of the foretelling of the 6 scripture, and it is an assurance vnto vs, that it is the word of God. Sixtly, the vnpartiall faithfullnesse of those that haue been enditors of the seueral books. In Moses it is worth the noting how he preferreth the relating of the truth of the story,Gen. 49. before the discrediting of his owne birth; he was borne of the tribe of Leui, yet if you read Gen. 49. you shall finde he doth not spare to report, the hard sentence that old Iacob gaue of Leui at his death,ver. 5. Simon and Leui, brethren in euill, instruments of cruelty, into their secret let not my soule come, &c: chap. 12. And in Numbers he doth not spare Aaron and Miryam his owne brother and sister, but hath left their sinne, and the displeasure of God against it, vpon perpetuall record: nay, he is not ashamed to reueale his owne error, and how much the lord was offended with him, and how for it he threatned him, that he should neuer come into the promised Canaan: he doth in the story many times make mention of it. It is said that Saint Marke wrot the gospell out of Peters mouth, and yet the denyall of Peter is more expresly laid downe by Marke, then by any other Euangelist. And Paul sets downe with his owne pen, his owne faults in more sharpe measure, then any other man would doe,1. Tim. 1.13. I was a blasphemer, a persecu­tor, an oppressor. This argueth that these men were guided by God, in that they were so free from flattery, that they spared not themselues. We know it is contrary in other writers: you shall see generally those that write histories, speake partiallie ether of some mē, or of their own natiue coūtries: as if a man should read the Chronicles of England, he would thinke that to be the only country. It sheweth the scripture to haue 7 been guided by some higher spirit, it being so free from all partiality. Seauenthly, the wonderfull preseruation of the bookes of the scripture: At the first, the two tables of the law which were written by Gods owne finger, were apoin­ted [Page 27] by the Lord to be laid vp in the Arke,Deut. 10, 2, 5, 6. and the whole Tribe of Leui commanded to attend it.

Next, the bookes which Moses himselfe wrot,Exod. 24.27. Deut. 31.9. Iosh. 24.26. 1. Sam. 10.25. as he wrot them by the speciall appointment of god, (as appeares) so he deliuered it to the sonnes of Leui also to be kept. Ioshua tooke the same course for the preseruation of that which he had written: So did Samuell, yet this is nothing in respect of that which followed. The prophesy of Ieremy was bur­ned by king Iehoiakinne, therby thinking to abolish the whole memory of it; but the lord presently caused the same to be written againe, yea, and added thereunto many words.Ier. 30. When Manasses and Ammon, two wicked kings to the end they might the better draw the people to Idolatry, and to keep them in it, had suppressed the booke of the law;2. Chron. 34.14. 1. Macc, 1. yet in the daies of Iosias, it pleased God, that euen in the ruynes of the temple, the booke of the law was found againe. It is re­corded in the booke of Maccabees, how that king Antio­chus cut in peices, and burnt al the bookes of che law which he could find, and followed the matter so extreamely, that whosoeuer had a booke of the testament found by him, he should be put to death. And Eusebius an auntient writer of the story of the Church, reports how Dioclesian a heathen Emperour, and a cruell persecutor, both forbad the vse of the bookes of the prophets and Euangelists, and consumed them with fire also. So that indeed it is a very miracle, and an argument that the scripture is from aboue, in asmuch as notwithstanding the perpetuall enmity of the deuill against it, the indeauours of Heretiques to corrupt it, the practises of Tyrants vtterly to abolish it, and the many hazards which the Church hath been in, which could not chuse but endan­ger it; yet it hath ben preserued whole and entyre, yea, euē in the originall tongues, the old testament in the Hebrew, and the new in the Greek, euen vnto this day: we may well apply vnto it the words of the Psalme, It is the Lords doing, Ps 1.8.23. and it is marueilous in our eies. Eightly, the forme and dignity 8 of the stile, which is (as I said) Fulnes of maiesty in simplici­ty of words. There is no parte or tittle of it which sauoureth of any earthlines; the maiesty of the sentences is such, as it cannot be fully and wholly conceiued and vttered by any [Page 28] man; and yet it is alwaies more powerfull in matter, then in words. And we see the bookes called the Apochripha, who haue endeauoured to expresse the excellency of that holy stile; are yet so farre from it, that they are but cold, and euen 9 barbarous in comparison. Ninthly, if when we consider the excellency of the matter, and the heauenly Maiesty of the stile, we shall remember also what kind of men they were which wrot it, it will adde some strength vnto this proofe. For if we consider them simply in themselues,Exod. 3.1. Ier. 1.6. Math. 4.18. Math. 9.9. Col. 4.4. 1. Tim. 1.13. we shall see how vnfit they were by all likelihood for such a story. Moses first a shepheard, then a prophet; Ieremy a yery child by his own confession; Peter a fisherman, one that was neuer trayned vp in learning; Mathew a publican, a meere stran­ger to the things of God; Luke a phisitian, learned, but yet not accustomed in things of that quality; Paul a persecutor, a professed enemy to the doctrine of the gospell: It could not chuse but be some heauenly and spirituall power, that should call, & afterwards enable these mē vnto this waighty busines to be the penmē of that, in which so much admirable 10 excellēcy doth appeare. Tēthly, let vs cōsider also the power & efficacy of the scripture. There is no man but if he obserue it and hearken to it, shall finde the power of it, how it searcheth into the very secrets of a mans heart, and deuides asunder the soule and the spirit, Heb. 4.11. and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents; it striketh a terror into the very consciences of those, which are the greatest enemies vnto it, and would seeme to despite it: and that is the very thing, that hath cau­sed it to haue so many and greiuous aduersaries among men. We may behold also how it works to the reclaiming of many men from their euill waies; what fruits of holines it brings forth in the liues of diuers that professe it, with contempt of the world, what hatred of sinne, what duties of mercy; yea, and how the loue and sweetnes thereof hath so possessed the hearts of some, that they haue ben content not only to sacrifice, their wealth, their credit, their good name, their liberty for it, but euen their very liues, and to chuse rather to beare any torments, then to disclaime that holy truth, which by the teaching of the scripture, they haue once throughly entertained. Thus this power of the word [Page 29] in conuincing some, in conuerting others, in amazing some, in reioycing others, in drawing some earnestly to loue it, in prouoking others deeply and tiranously to detest it, this same secret and effectuall working of it (I say) vpon the se­cret powers of the soule, is a testimony for the scripture, that it is no deuise of man, but the very sacred will of God. These ten tokens, I haue thought good to commend vnto your care and consideration, by which it may be manifested vnto vs, that that which we call the Bible, and is dayly com­mēded vnto vs to be the word of god, is indeed that which it is said to be, and the very thing by which we shalbe iudged at the last day. 1. The purity of the law. 2. The matter of the scripture, the description of mans misery, and of the true remedy for it. 3. The antiquitie of it. 4. The consent of it with it selfe. 5. The certaine euent of all prophesies. 6. The vnpartiall dealing of those that write it. 7. The miraculous preseruation of it from the first writing till now. 8. The ma­iesticall stile wherein it is written. 9. The condition of the penmen before they were called to that seruice. 10. The power & efficacie of it in the working vpon mens conscien­ces. Howsoeuer (as I haue said) nothing is able to perswade the minde, but only the spirit of God, yet these particulars are of force to conuince, and to proue vnto men, whether they will or no; that the scripture is no humane history, but the oracle of God, ordayned by him, to be as it were, a light shining in a darke place, (as Saint Peters words are) that by the direction therof, our feet may be guided in the way of peace.

The world groweth to a ripenes and perfection in al kind of sinne, and the Lords long suffering hath made many to thinke, that religion is but a toy, and all scripture merely vanitie: and many hearing manifest testimonies alleadged out of the scripture against their lewdnes, are not afraid to say, that sure it is not all from God, which is saied to be his word. Besides that euery man by nature shall find a spice of Atheisme, euen in his owne bosome, and he shall find doub­tings arise sometimes euen in these maine Points, how he shall know scripture to be scripture, and that there is such a God, and a Christ, and a Hell, and a Heauen, as is there made mention of. And therfore for strengthning of vs, both a­gainste [Page 30] the Atheists, and scorners which wee shal meete with in the world, and the doubtings which may spring vp in our owne hearts, I haue thought good (my text giuing me so iust occasion), to discourse thus largely of this matter for wheras God saieth here he hath written to vs his law, wee cannot possibly make any true profitable vse of this speach, excepte wee be cleared in this pointe; That that which wee account Gods law, is that same doctrine which his will was should be committed to writing for our good.

The third Sermon.

BVt they were counted as a strange thing. This is the second parte of this verse, the former shewed the bounty of God vouchesafeing his law; this sheweth the vnthankfulnes and impiety of men in despising his law; sith that by the very course of the words, it is plaine that there is a faulte heare discouered, therfore in the handling of this part, I will follow this course. 1. I will shew the nature of the fault. 2. I will opē the greatnes of it. 3. I will declare what punishmēt is belōging to it. 4. I wil apply it to to see whether it be not also our fault fifthly, when it is ma­nifest that to count the word of God as a strange thing is a fault, and such a one as shalbe punished, and which is also our fault; I wil then teach of what vse all these points ought to be vnto vs, and what we must indeauour to learne there­by; these be the parts and points of this daies sermon, all ne­cessary to the profitable, handling of this clause. And first what the fault was, and wherein this people trespassed, when they are said to haue coūted the great matters of gods law, as a strange thing.

The effect and substance of the faulte in a word was this, that how be it the lord had committed and commended [Page 31] his word vnto them, for their necessary vses, intending that it should be familiar vnto them, and alwaies at hand with them as a Councellor in all their occasions to aduise them, yet they reputed it as a matter, not pertaining to them; so that, wherin they ought to haue bene most conuersant in it, they were the greatest strangers; neither were they lesse seene, or more slenderly experienced in any one thing, then the rules and precepts of the scripture. That is breifely the very true faulte, for which the vnthankfull Iewes are chal­lenged in this place, and that was my first pointe. Now lest when wee shall be found guilty of the same trespasse, it should seeme vnto vs but a slight offence; let me draw you to the next point, which is the greatnes of it, and how grosse a thing it is to counte the honorable matters of Gods law, as a strange thing. I will endeauour to make it manifest after as familiar a manner as I can. This is that therfore which I say of it, that it was a fault, compounded and made of 3. grosse euills; 1 is disobedience, 2 vnthankfulnes, 3 neglect of their owne priuate good, euen the good of soules. First it was disobedience; for the commaundement of God was very straite, that they should all, one and other acquainte themselues with the things of his law, wherof that one place which is in Deutronomy, is a sufficiēt witnes;chap. 6. 6, 7. And these words &c: Therfore besides the ordinarie course of teaching by the Leuits in the Temple, the Lord commaunded, to bind them as signes vpon their heads, and write them vpon the Postes of their house, & vpon their gates. & all to the end that the law of God by that means might become familiar vnto them: so that it was a manifest contempte of Gods com­maundement, to passe that by, as matter which concerned them not, which the Lords desire and will was by all meanes to accustome them vnto. As it was disobedience to the ex­presse will of God, (and so according to the saying of Samu­ell to Saule, as bad as sinne of witchcraft. 1. Sam. 15.23.) so it was vnthank­fulnes also, & a most odious abuse of gods kindnes. Con­sider how; marke the words of my text, I haue written to them &c saieth God, so that the written word is as it were an epistle or letter sent from the Lord vnto his Church. A letter I say of which the matter is waighty, and such as [Page 32] concernes all, euen in the hightest degree; so the carriage & frame of it, considering what the Lord is in respect of vs, is full of exceeding kindnes, many gracious promises, many kind entreaties, many fatherly aduertisements, euery word in a manner, sauouring of vnspeakeable loue. Now put case a king should write a letter to his meanest subiects, nay to such as being traytors to him, stood at his mercy to be disposed with at his pleasure (for so is the case betwixt God and vs) and should in all temperate manner speake gratiously vnto them, promising vpon their submission, a finall remitting of their misbehauiour, yea & a purpose to take them final­ly into his fauour; yf these men thus at the kings pleasure, and thus kindly written vnto, should throw the letter aside, not vouchsafeing to pervse it, what name would wee giue vnto this demeanor; we would say vnthankfullnes were too fauourable a terme, presumtion, villeny, vntollerable inso­lency; we would not know how to discribe it. How must it not needs then be vngratitude in a higher degree, that the lord writing to his enemies (as we are all by nature) such a gratious letter of reconcilement, sueing to win vs, when as it were meeter that we should euen with teares of bloud importune him: yet the sonnes of men whose breath is in their nosthrils, not waighing this vnutterable kindnes, should dare to set at naught such a message, and to let it flip as if it were some idle stuffe, not worth the looking on? A­gaine wheras it is often touched in the scripture, that the lord had a speciall regard ouer the Iewish nation, more then to any other vnder heauen; the liberty of enioying the law of god, is noted as the principal benefit which the lord vouch­safed them.Deut. 4.8. What nation is there so great (saith Moses) that hath ordinances and lawes so righteous, as all the law which I set before you this day. And Dauid in the Psalmes haueing spoken at large touching the prouidence of God ouer all mankind, cōmeth at last to shew wherin the Iewes had the preeminence aboue all other,Ps. 147.19, 20. in these words; He shewed his word vnto Iacob, his statutes and Iudgments vnto Israell, he hath not dealt so with euery nation: Rom. 3.1, 2. And Saint Paul propounding to himselfe this question, what is then the preferment of the Iew? answereth it thus, cheifly because vnto them were committed the [Page 33] oracles of God. So then seing among all the blessings that God bestowed vpon thē, this was the choise, that the great things of the law were committed vnto them, in it must needs be an argument of extreame vnthankfulnes in them to make so slight account of so great a fauour.

The third euill of which this euill here reproued in them, was compounded; was, neglect of their owne priuate good. For the lord had not commended to them, the things of his law, simply as a meanes by which they might shew their o­bedience vnto his authority,Eze. 20.11. but the intent of the lord ther­in was the furtherance of their good. I gaue them (saith God) statutes and ordinances, which if a man doe, he shall liue in them: the glory should haue returned to God by their obedience, but the cheife profit should haue beene their owne. and therfore for them to let the law lie, like some old booke out of vse, or some other forlorne or forraigne matter, it could not but argue a most miserable neglect, and bewray them to be men of a most profane and dissolute disposition: so then if you demaund what great matter this was, for which this people was so highly blamed in these words, They haue accounted the great things of the law, as a strange thing? I answere, it was an error comprising vnder it. 3. soule euills; 1. rebellious disobedience to Gods expresse cōmād­ment: 2. presumtuous contempt and base estimation of gods great kindnes. 3. the desperate neglect of the saluation of their owne soules. This is the second point. Now for the third.

Which is, touching the punishment due to this fault: if we haue obserued what hath beene said before touching the nature of the sinne, we cannot doubt, ether that it deserues a punishment, or that the lord will surely proceed against it in his due time: but yet if we shall consider what the scrip­ture saith of it in particular, it wil much more affect vs. Thus much therefore we may generally vnderstand that the lord punisheth no sinne more greiuously, then the contemning of his word; and thereof we haue no more full and pregnant example then this Iewish nation. For wheras sundry times before the comming of Christ in the flesh, the wrath of God came vpon them, that the iudgments wherwith they [Page 34] were visited, made euē their eares to tingle that heard them, and brought that very people, whome he had carried (as it were) in his armes out of Egipt, to become a hissing and a by-word to the whole world; whosoeuer obserueth the course of the prophets, shall finde that the principall ground of all this, was their slight account of the holy doctrine of God, their preferring the inuentions of men, the guises of other nations, and the traditions of their fathers; before the blessed will of the lord manifested and reuealed to them in his law. But lest we should thinke this is nothing to vs (though indeed it was left written to admonish vs) concer­ning this matter, there are two places of holy scripture e­specially to be considered, and they are both in the booke of the Prouerbs,Chap. 28. 9. the one is, he that turneth away his care from hearing the law: euen his prayer shalbe abhominable. marke I pray you; there is no duty in the holy scripture to which the lord hath promised a greater blessing then the duty of prayer;Ps. 65.2. the lord takes it as an honor vnto him, to haue this title, to be called the hearer of prayers; yet the neglect of Gods word, the making no account of the meanes to bring vs to the knowledge of it, turnes all a mans prayers into sinne, stops vp the eares of the lord vnto all his sutes, doth (as it were) barre vp the gate of heauen against him, that though his request be neuer so earnest, yet it is vnpossible for him to haue entrance. God will heare no prayer that proceeds from him which doth not esteeme the knowledge and vnderstanding of his word; a fearefull Iudgment.

Chap. 1. 22.The other place is, O you fooles, how long will you loue foolish­nes, & the fooles hate knowledge; ve [...] 25. and againe, you haue despised all my counsell, & would none of my aduice; mark now what fol­lowes, I will also laugh at their destruction, & mocke when their feare commeth. I beseech you in the feare of God, let vs con­sider it. The lord is often reported of, to vs in the scripture by the name of a mercifull God, a God that doeth not pu­nish willingly: a God that doeth not take delight in the death of him that dieth: what a grieuous sinne then must that needs be, which turneth that so sweete and gratious na­ture of God into that extremity, that he should euen reioice at mens destruction, & take pleasure in their tormente. And [Page 35] yet this reckoning the word of God as a strange thing, brings forth this strange effect, and makes that God who delights in mercy, to please himselfe in the feirce execution of his vengance.

Thus then wee end this pointe▪ if you aske what iudg­ment is due to this offence of not regarding the greate things of Gods law, I answere, in generall it sets open the very floodgate of Gods wrath as appeareth by the example of the Iewes; 2 in perticular, it makes all our praiers odious, and the torment of our soules,Luc. 14.28. a matter of reioyceing and pleasure to the Lord. It is truly saied of our Sauiour, To whom God giues much, of him he requires much. The liberty of his word is the greatest blessing, and therfore the contempt therof must needs bring vpon vs the greatest vengance.

Come wee now to the next point, to see whether this fault thus described, and thus deseruing to be punished; be not our faulte also, that so wee may by degrees make a way to that which is the vse and drift of the whole scripture.

And first heare, to the end that it may appeare, that this is our fault to neglect Gods word, we must necessarily enquire, whether the lord hath not afforded vs the same blessing, I meane the liberty of his word. It is a thing that cannot be denied, that the kindnes of God in his behalfe towards vs, is no whit inferior to that which in former times he shewed to the Iewes, I do thinke that no man can name any one par­ticular tending to the discouery and making manifest of the law: of God, which is not graunted to vs in as great a measure, as it was to them: Nay looke by how much the ministery of the gospell doth exceed the ministery of the law, by so much is the mercy of God greater vnto vs, then vnto them; because it is free for vs to behold the substance of that, wherof they saw but the shadowes only. So that the lord may euery way and in euery respect, say to vs as truly, as euer he might say to them, I haue written to you the great things of my law It is manifest then I thinke to euery one that vnderstandeth any thing, that we are nothing inferior to the Iewes in respect of the blessing, I doubt not but it shall also appeare, that we do fully match them, nay I beleeue, go farre beyond them in the contempt. And to the end I may [Page 36] make good that which I say, let me shew it in particulars how he word of God, the holy will of God reuealed in the sripture is a meere stranger vnto vs; a thing that is farre, from being so well knowne, and so familiar vnto vs as it ought to be; and let that which I say be credited, onely so farre, as your owne consciences shall find it to be true. The word of God is a strange thing to our iudgments, a strange thing to our thoughts, strange to our affections, strange to our tongues and speaches, strang to our courses and to our ordinary conuersation, if this be true, how shall we be able to shift of the like challenge from the lord, which is heere made against the Iewes; vz: that we haue accounted the great things of Gods law as a strange thing. First it is straung to our iudgments; that appeareth by our exceeding igno­rance in the things of God, and by that extreame dulnes of conceipt which is still to be seene in vs: There is scarcely any one thing of those which doe necessarily & generally con­cerne men, wherein the greatest parte of our people are lesse seene, then the doctrine of Gods word; there is nothing which they heare spoken of in any company, or vpon any occasion, the meaning course, and scope wherof they doe lesse apprehend, then the rules & precepts and instructiōs of the scripture: men of yeares and great experience, skill­full in the courses of the world, wise in their affaires and very pollitique, well seeme in matters of law, able to speake well and with good aduise about outward things, a man would wonder to heare their weaknes and simplicity in re­ligiō. This shewes that the law of god is a strange thing to our Iudgments; there is nothing lesse knowne, there is nothing lesse conceiued. Secondly, it is strange to our thoughts; Truth is, Thoughts are knowne only vnto God, who is the sole searcher of mens hearts; but yet (if our consciences being appealed vnto) wee will speake the truth as it is, I beleeue that wee must (whether wee will or no) confesse, that our mindes are so (in a manner) wholly taken vp with couetous, ambitious, ydle, wanton, reuengfull thoughts, rising out of our corrupt hearts, as from a continuall spring, that there is scarcely any roome or time for any priuate questionings or communings wich our selues touching the words of eternall [Page 37] life, and the greate things of Gods law.Ioh. 6.68. Such meditations may sometimes (perhaps) knock at the outward doore of our hearts, or (it may be) find, vpon a fit some sodaine and superficiall entertainement, but (alas) they are quickly va­nished; and like a serpent vpon a stone, Pro. 30.19. Coss. 3.16. or a shippe in the middes of the sea, leaue no print behind them; and by that meanes neuer come to pitch with vs or to dwell plenteously in our heartes Thirdly there is as small acquaintance betwixt the word of God and our affections: I neede say no more to proue it but this, namely, that there is nothing which doeth sooner tire vs aut, and make our spirits dull & lumpish, then the exercises of the word, in what kind soeuer. In other things wee are like to the Horsele aches daughters, which crie, Pro. 30.25. giue, giue, and we are seldome heard to say it is enough: but in matters of religion we are very moderate; compendious sermons, breife discourses, short prayers, hasty meditations, these please vs best. Indeed were it not for very shame, we would haue none at all. Thus Gods word is not to vs as a beloued freind, of whose sweet acquaintance we could ne­uer be weary, but as some vnwelcome stranger, who (it may be) by importunity, getteth a nights lodging with vs, but his departure pleaseth vs better then his comming. Now fourthly for our tongues and speaches, let vs call to minde our ordinarie conferences, at home, at worke, in iour­nies, in meetings, in going and coming too and from the church, and then saie truly, whether if our sauiour Christ should suddainly chop in amongst vs, as he did to see the two disciples traueling to Emaus,Luk. 24.15. and should saie to vs as he did to them, what manner of communications are these that you haue one to another? we should be able to answere him for on time of a thousand, that we are reuerentlie and soberlie communing together of good things, conferring of the things in which publiquelie we haue beene taught, that so we might both edify our selues in our most holy faith, and might also prouoke and stirre vp one another. to good workes. doubt­les (as it was said to Peter) our very speach would bewray vs, Iud uer. 10. Arb. 10.24. and the barrennes of our talke, would discouer the drines and deadnes of our hearts. But now lastlie although the word of God doe now and then twang vpon some mens [Page 38] tongues, and be made a matter of discourse and table-talke, to take vp the time, or to shew wit, or els be called in by some profaine ones,Iudg. 16.25. as Sampson was by the Philistins, to make them pastime, yet it is most vniuersally a stranger to mens liues and conuersations. It is madnes in the worlds account for a man in all things (with Dauid) to make the testimonies of the lord,Psal. 19.24. his councellors, and to stand vpon these strict and nice termes of consience, as not to aduenture vp­on any thing, but that which he may warrant vnto his owne soule therby. Shall it not hinder my profit? will it be no blemish to my reputation, may I thereby further such & such purposes? are ther any examples of men of some note and fashion in the world running the same courses? Here is the ordinary religion of the world; but as for laying the pre­cepts of the word as precise rules for the ordering of al our waies, and the guiding of our liues in the lords path, it is a thing so ridiculous, & vnreasonable in common Iudgment, and through discontinuance of these euill times so out of vse, that when as the word challengeth that right of gouer­ning vs which the Lord hath giuen it, men forth with (so strange a thing is it vnto them to beare the yoke) snuffe and are not afraid to expostulate with it, as the Sodomits did with Lot,Gen. 19.9. shall it, being a stranger iudge & rule ouer vs? Thus I haue by particulars confirmed this pointe; viz that wee are as deseruedly liable to this reproofe, as the Iewes were. The Lord wrote vnto them the greate things of his law; so he hath done to vs; they accounted them as a strange thing, wee are very equall to them in contempt.

Now for the last pointe propounded, namely the vse of all that hath beene saied, it must needs be this: viz: That seeing to account the greate things of Gods law as a strange thing, is 1 a faulte, 2 a greuious fault, 3 a faulte liable to so extreame punishment, and 4 our faulte: there is no remedy (vnlesse by a bold persisting in an apparent euill wee will prouoke God) but wee must henceforth giue all diligence, that the word of God may be no more a stranger vnto vs, but a dweller with vs, and may become familiar vnto vs. That this is a dutie from which no man is exempted, the scripture is manifest, in which (if the whole body of it [Page 39] throughout be examined (there is no releasement or dispen­sation giuen vnto any to neglect the searching of Gods booke; nether was it euer maintayned by any doctrine; but by doctrine of Popery, that ordinary men need not seeke to be made acquainted with the scripture. Wee read that when the Philistins had the Israelits in bondage,1. Sam. 13. one pollecy to keepe them vnder, and to detaine them in perpetuall thral­dome, was this; they left them neuer a smith throughout all the land, and what was their reason, least (saied they) the Hebrewes make them sworde & speares. 19. ver. if they tooke away their weapons from them, it was an easie thing to oppresse them. The very like pollicy was vsed in the dayes of Pope­ry, to the end to continue the people in blindnes, that they might not descriy the abhomination of that religion, by the light of the scripture. They tooke the bible from them, and shutt it vp in Colledges and libraries, and suffered it not to passe, but in a language which the vulgar vnderstood not. And as in that bondage of the Israelites vnder the Phi­listins, no man could shearpen his mattock, his axe,20. ver. and his weeding hooke, but they must be beholding to the Phi­listins, and take of them such helpe, as they would vouch­safe to afford them; So in the daies of Popishi blindnes, no common man wanting the helpes of learning and know­ledge in the tongues, could enioy the benefite of any spiri­tuall sharpening, any comforte for his soule, but as it plea­sed those tirants ouer Gods heritage to bestow vpon them. So that the contempte of the scripture of God (which is the common sicknes of the country) is naught else, but a very dregg of popery; ignorance being the scepter of that king­dome; and the reasons which euen the most learned papstis alleadge for the discharging of the Laity, from conuerting with the scripture, being the very same which euery pro­faine ignorant person, is able by the priuate teaching of his owne corrupt hearte, to pleade on the behalfe of his owne carelesnes. Well, the scope of this place (which is a parte of that holy truth by which wee must be iudged at the last day (requireth at our hands better things: and if wee be any whit a shamed of our former neglect, and thinke our selues bounde in conscience, to grow into a farther degree of fa­miliarity [Page 40] with the word of God, the vseing of these helpes shalbe a greate furtherance.

1 An humble setting our selues to schole to the publique mi­nistery. In Christe are hid all the treasures of wisedome & know­ledge; and in the sound and a sincere preaching of the word, there is plainely set out vnto vs the very mistery of Christ. To this course is the blessing promised, that it shall saue them that beleiue, Col. 2 3. 1. Cor. 1.21. especially when it is yeelded to with humility, & with a holy disclaiming of a mans owne seeming wise­dome. For the Lord will guide the meeke in Iudgment, & teach the humble his way, yea his very secret is reuealed vnto such: according as on the contrary he catcheth the wise in their owne craftiues, Psal. 25.9.14. 1. Cor. 3.19. Rom. 1.22. and maketh them become fooles, when they professe the greatest wisedome. If wee would then grow in­to more & more acquaintance with the scripture, wee must weare out the threshold of the Lords howse, and wacth daily at his gates, Pro. 8.33. Pro. 2.2, 5. & giue attendance at the postes of his doores: For if thou cause thine eares to hearken vnto wisedome, and en­cline thine heart: then shalt thou vnderstand the feare of the lord, and finde the the knowledge of God. if in our affections and care we be strangers to publique teaching, we may perhaps haue some smattering and superficiall knowledge, but can neuer haue any true tast of the marrow and sweetnes of the scripture. 2 priuate exercise, namely an aduised, intentiue, 2 and well prepared reading (if we be able) or a hearing o­thers read. This rubs vp the memory of things heard pub­liquely, confirmes the iudgment, makes fit to depend vpon the church instruction, and inures to the phrase and lan­guage of the scripture: 2 a busy and secret meditating and exercising the thoughts about such things as we haue re­ceiued. This doth (as the Apostles speakes) deliuer, and (as it were) cast vs into the forme, Rom. 6.17. and mould of doctrine which we heare, and seasoneth the inner man, euen the spirit of the minde, with that holy truth which we haue learned. 3. A re­uerent and discreet conference touching heauenly things as occasion falleth sometime with our minister,Mar. 4.10. Heb. 3.13. Chap. 310.24. Deut. 6.7. Luk. 24.13.14. sometimes with our neighbours, sometimes at home with our fame­lies, sometimes abroad euen as we walke by the way. This is a notable quickning for our selues, and a great help to o­thers. [Page 41] The lips of the wise doe spread abroade knowledge; Pro. 5.7. Pro. 10.21. and feed many.

At the lest some of these priuate exercises should daily be performed, for miserable is that man who for one whole day togeather, doeth nether busie his tounge, nor em­ploy his thoughts, nor apply his eares to some holy vse, to heare, or talke, or muse about something by which he may be built vp in Christ Iesus. 3 Carefull and stedfast practise 3 proceeding from a resolute vow, and as it were a soleume oath taken betwixt God and a mans owne soule, to keepe the Lords righteous Iudgments and to haue respect to all his commaundements. Vse in all things breeds cunning,Psal. 119.106. uer. 6. and he which makes it his care to Put in execution such good du­ties, as he heares taught, praying the Lord to establish him in euery word & good worke, will in time grow so perfect in good things, that he shall euen with a kind of pleasure, (for the Lords yoake is easie) walke in the law of the Lord neuer be­ing idle nor vnfruitfull in the knowledge of Christ, 2. Thes. 2.17. Heb. 13.21. Math. 11.30. Ps 1.119.1. 2. Pet. 1.8. Tit. 2.10. but adorning the doctrine of God our sauiour in all things. The conscionable practise of these duties shall by the blessing of God, re­forme our common fault of being strangers in Gods, booke and shall by making Christs word dwell with vs, fit, and make vs ready to dwell with him for euer in his kingdome.

The ende of the third Sermon.

Let God alone haue the glorie.

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