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shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by his Son ?” What then? “ Therefore we ought to give the more heed to the things we have heard, lest we let them slip.” Why? For if we be unstedfast, yet the word of God is stedfast. The word that God spake by Moses was stedfast, and established upon them that disobeyed; so now, much more, says he, if you be not stedfast and established by the word, it shall be established upon you unto your destruction. Oh, what infinite reason is there then, that we should take heed thereunto.
But the text saith, “ That we shall do well to take heed thereunto, until the day dawn, and day-star arise in our hearts:" but the day hath dawned on me, and the day-star hath arisen in my heart; and therefore now, what need I take heed to the Scripture or the written word any longer?
I answer, Yea, still you have need to do it: for did not the day dawn, and the day star arise on the hearts of the apostles and christians in their days, according to your sense and meaning? yet they still attended on the written word of God. Surely, therefore, the meaning of the text is not according to that conjecture. Some therefore would have the words to be read thus: “ Until the day star arise on your hearts;" and so think they are spoken of the day of judgment, concerning which time Paul says, 1 Cor. iv. 5, “ that Christ will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.” But as ye have heard in the explication of the text, the word until, in Scripture phrase, is not always taken exclusively: for example, David saith, Ps. lvii. 1, “My soul trusteth in thee, O God, and in the shadow of thy wings will I trust, until this calamity be overpast."* What, would David trust in God no longer ? Yes, but he would do it especially whilst that calamity continued. So in the cxxiiird Psalm he saith, “ Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us." What would they wait on God no longer? Yes, but in their distress especially. So Cant. ii. 16, 17, “ I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, he feedeth among the lilies, until the day break.”
yy emphatice solet sumi pro qui etiam donec et continuitatem significare seu consecutionem non exceptionem vel exclusionem futuri temporis.-Genebrad, in Psalm cix.
What, doth Christ feed among the lilies no longer ; will he not feed among the lilies after the day break? Yes, but the word till, or until, is not always to be taken exclusively. And I will give you but one scripture for it, amongst many in the New Testament, Matt. xii. 20, “ A bruised reed will he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench, until he bring forth judgment unto victory.” What, will Christ break the bruised reed then, and quench the smoking flax after be hath brought judgment to victory? No, but the word until, in Scripture phrase, is not always to be taken exclusively. And so here in this text, “ Ye do well that ye take heed to the word of prophecy, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts :" not that then you should cease taking heed to the word, but because you are now in the dark, now, and now especially ýe are to take heed thereunto.*
But why are the saints and people of God to take heed unto the Scripture and the written word of God especially in their dark times and seasons ?
I answer, Because they are then in most danger of stumbling and falling: he that walketh in the dark, stumbleth ; and who is not then apt to fall ? But by taking heed to this sure light, they shall be kept from the power of their darkness. The Scripture tells us of darkness and of the power of darkness. A good man may be in the dark, but he is kept from the power of it by taking heed unto this great and most sure light; yea, though he be in the darkness of some error, for the greatest errors lie nearest the sweetest truths; and though he do not see that truth for the present, yet, if he do take heed unto the word, the sweetness of that truth shall ooze through the error, and preserve and keep him from the
But if ye look into 2 Tim. iii., ye shall find the apostle doth inform Timothy of very sad and dark times, that shall be in the latter days : verse 1, “ In the last days, perilous times shall come.” 1. He tells him wherein the peril of these times shall consist. 2. He tells him the signs thereof. 3. He comforts him under it. 4. He shews how he and we may be kept from the power of that darkness : “ In the last days, perilous times shall come; for (saith he) men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud,
* Hac enim particular 7 y donec Scriptura atque adeo lingua Hebraica affirmat quod in dubitationem possit incidere.-Genebrad. in Psalm cix.
power of it.
blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, having a form of godliness,” &c. verses 2–5. It seems, then, that men may be thus wicked, yet may bear up to a form of godliness. 2. He tells Timothy the signs of these perilous times, and who these persons are; “Such as creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with divers lusts; (verse 6) who also shall resist the truth in the ministry, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,” verse 8. 3. He comforts him against the evil of these dark times; verse 9, “But they shall proceed no further, for their folly or madness shall be manifest to all men.' 4. He directs him, and us by him, how to stand and hold fast, verse 14, and that is two ways: First, by avoiding and turning away from these corrupt men: verse 5, “ From such turn away," speak not to them or with them; go not to them, but turn away from them. Secondly, By taking heed to the word of God preached and written: verse 14, “ But continue thou in the things that thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them, and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise to salvation.” So that here the apostle doth refer him both to the word preached and written; as if he should say, The only way to be kept from seducers (verse 13, “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith,”) is to take heed unto the Scripture. And indeed, what is the reason that so many in these days of ours are deceived, but because they do not take heed unto this great and most sure light. This is that great and most excellent light which we are to take heed unto at all times, but especially in our dark times and places, and thus we shall be preserved.
But if this be such a preservative against the power of darkness, why then are so many men in the dark, who do not run to Scripture? What heretic is there, or ever was, who did not plead and lay claim to Scripture ?
I answer, All heretics do not lay claim to Scripture : some deny the Scripture, some do not: some, as Theodoret observes of the heretics in his time, will make use of those scriptures which seem to make for them, but as for those scriptures which are plainly against them they reject, and if
close pressed, will deny the very body of the Scripture as any rule to them.*
But it is one thing to cite Scripture and another thing to take heed thereunto. The devil cited Scripture to our Saviour Christ, but he did not take heed unto it as to his rule of life. If we take heed thereto, then we shall be kept and preserved by it, even from the power of that darkness which we may labour under. And thus now I have done with the fourth general thing propounded, and have cleared the doctrine.
If this doctrine be true, then what cause have we to bless God and not to despise human learning. Mistake not, I shall not go about to preach up human learning in the church of God; but though I do not preach up the excellency of meat, drink and clothing, or outward blessings, yet I may call upon you and myself not to despise the same, but to bless God for them. So though I do not preach up the excellency of human learning, yet I may call upon you and myself not to despise the same, but to bless God for it. For if Scripture light be so excellent a light, and the word of God written, that whereunto we are all to take heed; then what a mercy and blessing is it, that this word and Scripture is translated into the English tongue. It was not first written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek; it could not have been brought forth into English, but by the help of human learning; and will ye then despise human learning, and not bless God for it? Oh, ye wanton hearts, remember how the poor martyrs in Queen Mary's time, did bless God for the English translation ; and how could that be without human learning ? Then let us bless God for it, and not despise it.
If this doctrine be true, namely, that Scripture light is so great a light, which all are to take heed unto; then what a sad condition are those in, who do deny and forsake the Scripture ? they are in the dark indeed. I confess a good man may be tempted, as to other sins, so to this, to doubt of the truth of the Scripture. But do I hear a man that hath been a professor, one that hath known God and his
* ΟΙαν ειδωσι μεν την εαυθων κφεοφροσυνην.
Si videant petitis e Scripturæ demonstration stultitiam suam constringi, tum Scripturæ recusant et scopum et usum ; si quando vero putant sibi favere nudum aliquod effatum a genuina recisum orationis serie ad suum propositum accommodant suis confirmandis.—Theod. Opus. contra Hereses quæ sunt, in 2 tom. oper. Athanas.
ways, one that is under no temptation ; do I hear such an one denying the Scripture as any rule to him ? Write that man childless, write him faithless, without Christ, and without God in this world. Ah, poor soul, here is one whose foundations are plucked up, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Oh, the sad condition of this poor creature, he hath forsaken the light, and now is under the power of darkness. Whither should he go, for he hath left the words of eternal life? yet, Lord, how many have these times brought forth, that are come to this height of wickedness! But, beloved, I do not only hope, but am assured better things of you; only hear the word of exhortation, and that is,
Take heed and attend to the Scriptures, for they are our great and most sure light, whereunto ye do well if ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place. Oh, then take heed thereunto.
What must we do, that we may take heed and attend unto Scripture ?
Ye must do three things. I. Ye must attend to know and understand it. II. Ye must attend to keep it. And, III. Ye must attend to walk by the same. And,
1. For your knowledge in and understanding of the Scripture, and the written word of God, ye must,
1. Observe, keep, and hold fast the letter of it; for though the letter of the Scripture be not the word alone, yet the letter with the true sense and meaning of it, is the word. The body of a man is not the man; but the body and soul together, make up the whole man : the soul alone or the body alone is not the man. So here, though the letter of the Scripture alone, do not make up the word; yet the letter and sense together do. And if ye destroy the body, ye destroy the man; so if ye destroy the letter of the Scripture, you do destroy the Scripture: and if you deny the letter, how is it possible that you should attain to the true sense thereof, when the sense lies wrapped up in the letters and the words thereof? *
But if I attend to the letter in my practice, then I shall be a professor of the letter; and if a preacher do attend to the letter, then he shall be a minister of the letter.
nyina in lego sine Scripturis non est litera a qua non pendent magni montes doctrinarum.-Rabbini.