Imágenes de páginas

the face of thy creatures, are like a veil that conceals thee from their distempered eyes. How, Lord! is this? Does the very light, that should illumine, serve only to dazzle and strike them blind' Do the rays of the sun hinder them from perceiving the sun himself In fine, because thou art a truth too pure and too elevated to past through the medium of our gross senses, men having debased themselves to a level with the beasts, cannot conceive thee. And yet thou daily, though man disregards it, givest him such instances of thy power and wisdom, as the evidences of sense could not demonstrate to him. For those divine virtues have neither sound, colour, odour, taste, figure, nor any sensible quality. Why then, O my God! do men doubt rather of thee, than of those other very real and manifest things, whose existence they receive as a cei-tain truth, in all the most serious affairs of lite, and which, nevertheless, as well as thou, escape their senses? O miserable state! O hideous night, that involves the children of Adam! O monstrous stupidity! O wretched desolation of God's whole image! Man hath eyes to behold only shadows, and truth appears to him as a phantom. That which in itself is nothing, is to him every tiling; that which, in truth, is all, seems to him as nothing. What do I see in the whole survey of nature? GOD. God every where; God ever present j and still only God. When ■ I think, O Lord! that all existence is in thee, all mv thoughts are exhausted and swallowed up in thy contemplation, O thou abyss of truth! 1 know not whither I soar, nor what I become. All that is not thou disappears, and myself scarce so much remains, as to discover to me, that I am. He who sees not thee, hath seen nothing. He who doth not feel thee, is a stranger to all true sentiment: he exists as though he existed not, and his life is no more than a dream. Arise, O Lord, arise! Let thy enemies melt like wax, and vanish like smoke before thy face. Wo to the impious soul, who, remote from thee, is without God, without hope, destitute of eternal consolation! Happy already is he, who searches after thee, who pants and thirsts to enjoy thee! But completely happy is he, upon whom the light of thy countenance shines, whose tears thou bast wiped away, and whose desires thy love has already accomplished! When, O Lord, wdl that time come? O glorious day, without cloud, without end! Thou thyself shalt be the Sun to enlighten it, and thy emans* lions shall How through my soul in a torrent of delight. In this pleasing hope my hones shiver, and cry out, Who is like unto thee, O Lord? My heart melts, and «»/ flesh faints, O God ofmy soul, and my eternal Portion! Amen.

[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]


YEAR 1562.

CONSIDERING how necessary it is, that the Word of God, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that vie must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God, their Prince, and their neighbours, according to the mind of the Holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures, and also to avoid the manifold enormities which heretofore by false doctrine have crept into the Church if God; and how that all they which are appointed Ministers have not the gift of preaching sufficiently to instruct the people, which it committed unto them, whereof great inconveniences might rise, and ignorance still be maintained, if so?ne honest remedy be not s/ieedily found and provided: the Queen's most excellent Majesty, tendering the souls' health of her loving subjects, and the quieting of their consciences in the chief and principal points of Christian religion, and willing also by the true setting forth and pure declaring of God's Word, which is the principal guide and leader unto all godliness and virtue, to expel and drive away as well corrupt, vicious, and ungodly living, as also erroneous andpoisontd doctrines, tending to superstition and idolatry, hath by the advice of her most honourable Counsellors, for her discharge in this , behalf, caused a Book of Homilies, which heretofore was set forth by her most loving Brother, a Prince of most worthy memory, Edward the Sixth, to be printed anew, wherein are contained certain wholesome and godly exhortations, to move the people to honour and worshi/i Almighty God, and diligently to serve him, every one according to their degree, state, and vocation. All which Honiliet her Majesty commandeth and straitly chargeth all Parsons, Vicars, Curates, and all others having spiritual cure, every Sunday and Holy-day in the year, at the ministering of the holy Communion, or if there be no Communion ministered that day, yet after the Gospel and Creed, in such order and place as is appointed in the Book of Common Prayers, to read and declare to their parishioners,plainly and distinctly, one of the said Homilies, in such order as they stand in the book, except there be a Sermon, according as it is enjoined in the book of her Highness''s Injunctions; and then for that cause only, and for none other, the reading of the fid Homily to be deferred unto the next Sunday or Holy-day folhvring. And when the foresaid Book of Homilies is read over, if Majesty's pleasure is, that the same be repeated and read

again, in such like sort as was before prescribed. Furthermore, her Highness commandelh, that, notwithstanding this order, the Maid ecclesiastical fiersons shall read her Majesty's Injunctions at such times, and in such order, as in the book thereof appointed; and that the Lord's Prayer,! he Articles of the Faith, and the Ten Commandments, he openly read unto the people, as in the said Injunctions is specified, that all her people, of what degree or condition soever they be, may learn how to invocate and call upon the name of God, and know what duty they owe both to God and mdn: so that they may pray, believe, and work according to knowledge, while they shall live here, and after this life be with him that with liis blood hath bought us all. To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory for ever. Amen.

A fruitful Exhortation to the Reading and Knowledge of holy Scripture.

[ocr errors]

'NTO a Christian man there can be nothing either more necessary or profitable, than the knowledge of 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 necessary for our justification and everlasting salvation, but that is, or may be, drawn out of that fountain and well of truth. Therefore, as many as be desirous to enter into the right and perfect way unto God, must apply their minds to know holy Scripture; without the which, they can neither sufficiently know God and his wilj, neither their office and duty. And as drink is pleasant to them that be dry, and meat to them that be hungry; so is the reading, hearing, searching, and studying of holy Scripture, to them that be desirous to know God, or themselves, and to do his will. And their stomachs only do loathe and abhor the heavenly 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 sick of an ague, whatsoever they eat and drink, though it be never so pleasant, yet it is as bitter 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 fleshly men, which care not but for their carcass; let us reverently hear and read holy Scripture, 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 puddles #f men'? traditions, devised by men's imagination, for our justification and salvation. * For in holy Scripture is fully contained what we ought to do, and what to eschew, what to believe, what to love, and what to look for at God's hands at length. In these 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 persons to be but one God, and one substance. In these books we may learn to know ourselves, how 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 the salvation of man, is fully contained in the Scripture of God. He that is ignorant may there learn and have knowledge. He that is hard-hearted, 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 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 any false doctrine, to rebuke any vice, to commend any virtue, to give good counsel, to comfort or 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, both for men to eat, and children to suck. There is whatsoever is meet for all ages, and for all degrees and sorts of men. These books therefore t>ught to he much in our hands, in our eyes, in our ears, in our mouths, but most of all in our hearts, t For the Scripture of God is the heavenly meat of our souls; the hearing and keeping of it maketh us blessed, sanctifieth us, and maketh us holy; it turneth our souls; it is a light lantern to our feet; it is a sure, steadfast, and everlasting instrument of salvation; it giveth wisdom to the humble and lowly hearts; it comforteth, maketh glad, cheereth, and cherisheth our conscience; it is a more excellent jewel or treasure than any gold or precious stone; it is more sweet than honey or honey-comb; it is called the best fiart,. which Mary did choose, for it hath in it everlasting comfort. The words of holy Scripture be called words of everlasting life: for 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 assistance, and, (being received in a faithful heart,) they have ever an heavenly, spiritual working in them:§ they are lively, quick, and mighty in operation, and sharper than any two

[ocr errors]

edged sword, and enter through, even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, of the joints and the marrow.* Christ calleth him a wise builder, that buildeth upon his word, upon his sure and substantial foundation.t By this word of God we shall be judged: for the word that I speak, saith Christ, is it, that shall judge in the last datj.\ He that keepeth 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 greataffection 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 good counsel in all doubtful things. It showeth 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, bodily and ghostly. And in reading of God's word, he not always most profiteth 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 ^hich 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 short, there is nothing that more maintained* godliness of the mind, and driveth away ungodliness, than doth the continual reading or hearing of God's woid, if it be joined with * godly mind, and a good affection to know and follow God's will. K For without a single eye, pure intent, and good mind, nothing is allowed for good before God. And, on the other side, nothing more darkeneth Christ and the glory of God, nor bringeth in more blindness and all kinds of vices, than doth the ignorance of God's word.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »