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FRUITFUL EXHORTATION

TO THE

READING AND KNOWLEDGE OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.

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ledge of

Unto a Christian man there can be nothing either the praise of more necessary or profitable than the knowledge ture. Scripof holy Scripture ; forasmuch as in it is contained God's true word, setting forth his glory and also man's duty. And there is no truth nor doctrine The perfec. necessary for our justification and everlasting sal- Scripturely vation, but that is or may be drawn out of that fountain and well of truth. Therefore as many as The know. be desirous to enter into the right and perfect way Serípture is unto God must apply their minds to know holy necessary. Scripture ; without the which they can neither sufficiently know God and his will, neither their office and duty. And, as drink is pleasant to them to whom the that be dry, and meat to them that be hungry, holy seriptura so is the reading, hearing, searching, and study is sweet and

pleasant. ing of holy Scripture to them that be desirous to know God or themselves, and to do his will. And who he enetheir stomachs only do loathe and abhor the hea- ties tobuly

Scripture. venly knowledge and food of God's word, that be so drowned in worldly vanities, that they neither savour God nor any godliness : for that is the cause why they desire such vanities rather than the true knowledge of God. As they that are an apt similisick of an ague, whatsoever they eat or drink, ing or whoiu though it be never so pleasant, yet it is as bitter the seripture

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to them as wormwood, not for the bitterness of the meat, but for the corrupt and bitter humour that is in their own tongue and mouth; even so is the sweetness of God's word bitter, not of itself, but only unto them that have their minds corrupted with long custom of sin and love of this world.

Therefore, forsaking the corrupt judgment of diligent read. fleshly men, which care not but for their carcase, inge bearings, let us reverently hear and read holy Scriptures,

which is the food of the soul. Let us diligently search for the well of life in the books of the New and Old Testament, and not run to the stinking puddles of men's traditions, devised by

man's imagination, for our justification and salvaThe holy tion. For in holy Seripture is fully contained suficient doc. what we ought to do and what to eschew, what trive from our to believe, what to love, and what to look for at

God's hands at length. In those books we shall find the Father, from whom, the Son, by whom, and the Holy Ghost, in whom, all things have

their being and keeping up; and these three PerWhat things sons to be but one God and one substance. In we may dearn these books we may learn to know ourselves, how Scripture. vile and miserable we be; and also to know God,

how good he is of himself, and how he maketh us and all creatures partakers of his goodness. We may learn also in these books to know God's will and pleasure, as much as for this present time is convenient for us to know. And, as the great clerk and godly preacher St. John Chrysostom saith, “ whatsoever is required to salvation of man is fully contained in the Scripture of God. He that is ignorant may there learn and have knowledge. He that is hardhearted and an obstinate sinner shall there find everlasting torments prepared of God's justice, to make him afraid, and to mollify (or soften) him. He that is oppressed with misery in this world shall there find relief in the promises of everlasting life, to his great consolation and comfort. He that is wounded by the

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devil unto death shall find there medicine, whereby he may be restored again unto health.” “If it shall require to teach any truth or reprove false doctrine, to rebuke any vice, to commend any virtue, to give good counsel, to comfort, or to exhort, or to do any other thing requisite for our salvation; all those things,” saith St. Chrysostom, “we may learn plentifully of the Scripture. “ There is," saith Fulgentius, “abundantly enough Holy Serinboth for men to eat and children to suck. There is whatsoever is meet for all ages and for all doctrine for degrees and sorts of men.

These books therefore ought to be much in our hands, in our eyes, in our ears, in our mouths, but most of all in our hearts. For the Scrip- What comture of God is the heavenly meat of our souls :

profits the the hearing and keeping of it maketh us blessed, knowledge of sanctifieth us, and maketh us holy: it turneth ture bringeth. our souls : it is a light lantern to our feet: it is a Luke xi. 23. sure, steadfast, and everlasting instrument of salva- John xvii. 17 tion: it giveth wisdom to the humble and lowly- cxix. 105, 130. hearted: it comforteth, maketh glad, cheereth, and cherisheth our consciences: it is a more ercellent jewel or treasure than any gold or precious stone : it is more sweet than honey or honeycomb: it is called the best part, which Mary did choose; for it hath Lukex. 39, 41. in it everlasting comfort. The words of holy Scripture be called words of ererlasting life; for John vi, 6e. they be God's instrument, ordained for the same purpose. They have power to turn through God's promise, and they be effectual through God's Col. i. 5, 6, assistance; and, being received in a faithful heart, 25-28. they have ever an heavenly spiritual working in them. They are lively, quick, and mighty in opera- Heb. iv.12. tion, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and entereth through eren unto the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, of the joints and the marrow. Christ calleth him a wise builder that buildeth Matt. vii. 24. upon his word, upon his sure and substantial foundation. By this word of God we shall be judged; for the word that I speak, saith Christ, is John xii. 48.

Ps. xix, 7-10;

it that shall judge in the last day. He that keepeth John xiv, 23. the word of Christ is promised the love and favour

of God, and that he shall be the dwelling place or temple of the blessed Trinity. This word whosoever is diligent to read, and in his heart to print that he readeth, the great affection to the transitory things of this world shall be minished in him, and the great desire of heavenly things, that be therein promised of God, shall increase in him. And there is nothing that so much strengtheneth our faith and trust in God, that so much keepeth up innocency and pureness of the heart and also of outward godly life and conversation, as continual reading and recording of God's word. For that thing which, by continual use of reading of holy Scripture and diligent searching of the same, is deeply printed and graven in the heart, at length turneth almost into nature.

And moreover the effect and virtue of God's word is to illuminate the ignorant, and to give more light unto them that faithfully and diligently read it; to comfort their hearts, and to encourage them to perform that which of God is commanded. It teacheth patience in all adversity, in prosperity humbleness; what honour is due unto God, what

mercy and charity to our neighbour. It giveth 1 Sam. xiv.6- good counsel in all doubtful things. It sheweth 33: 2Chron, of whom we shall look for aid and help in all

perils, and that God is the only Giver of victory

in all battles and temptations of our enemies, Who profit bodily and ghostly. And in reading of God's ing God's

word he most profiteth not always that is most ready in turning of the book, or in saying of it without the book; but he that is most turned into it, that is most inspired with the Holy Ghost, most in his heart and life altered and changed into that thing which he readeth; he that is daily less and less proud, less wrathful, less covetous, and less desirous of worldly and vain pleasures; he that daily, forsaking his old vicious life, increaseth in virtue more and more. And, to be

. 1-30 : 1 Cor. XV. 57: 1 John V, 4.

most in read.

word.

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