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should fall into errour: but he diligently read, lest he should remain in ignorance, and through ignorance in errour. And if you will not know the truth of God, (a thing most necessary for you,) lest you fall into errour; by the same reason you may then lie still, and never go, lest, if you go, you fall into the mire; nor eat any good meat, lest you take a surfeit; nor sow your corn, nor labour in your occupation, nor use your merchandise, for fear you lose your seed, your labour, your stock, and so by that reason it should be best for you to live idly, and never to take in hand to do any manner of good thing, lest peradventure some evil thing may chance thereof. And if you be afraid to fall into errour by reading of holy Scripture, I shall show you how you may read without danger of errour. Read it humbly with a meek and lowly heart, to the intent you may glorify God, and not yourself, with the knowledge of it: and read it not without daily praying to God, that he would direct your reading to good effect; and take upon you to expound it no further than you can plainly understand it. For, as St. Augustin saith, the knowledge of holy Scripture is a great targe, and a high place; but the door is very low, so that the high and arrogant man cannot run in; but he must stoop low, and humble himself, that shall enter into it. Presumption and arrogancy are the mother of all errour; and humility needeth to fear no errour. For humility will only search to know the truth; it will search, and will bring together one place with another, and where it cannot find out the meaning, it will pray, it will ask of others that know, and will not presumptuously and rashly define any thing which it knoweth not. Therefore the humble man may search any truth boldly in the Scripture, without any danger of errour. And if he be ignorant, he ought the more to read and to search holy Scripture, to bring him out of ignorance. I say not nay, but a man may profit with only hearing; but he may much more profit with both hearing and reading. This have I said as touching the fear to read, through ignorance of the person. And concerning the hardness of Scripture; he that is so weak that he is not able to brook strong meat, yet he may suck the sweet and tender milk, and defer the rest until he wax stronger, and come to more knowledge. For God receiveth the learned and unlearned, and casteth away none, but is indifferent unto all. And the Scripture is full, as well of low valleys, plain ways, and easy for every man to use and to walk in; as also of high hills and mountains, which few men can climb unto. And whosoever giveth his mind to holy Scriptures with diligent study and burning desire, it cannot be, saith St. Chrysostom, that he should be left without help. For either God Almighty will send him some godly doctor to teach him, as he did to instruct the Eunuch, a nobleman of Ethiopia, and treasurer unto Queen Candace, who having affection to read the Scripture, (although he understood it not,) yet, for the desire that he had unto God's word, God sent his Apostle Philip to declare unto him the true sense of the Scripture that he read; or else, if we lack a learned man to instruct and teach us, yet God himself from above will give light unto our minds, and teach us those things which are necessary for us, and wherein we be ignorant. And in another place St. Chrysostom saith, that man's human and worldly wisdom or science is not needful to the understanding of Scripture, but the revelation of the Holy Ghost, who inspireth the true meaning unto them, that with humility and diligence do search therefor. He that asketh shall have, and he that seeketh shall find, and he that knocketh shall have the door opened.* If we read once, twice, or thrice, and understand not, let us not cease so, but still continue reading, praying, asking of others, and so by still knocking, at the last, the door shall be opened; as St. Augustin saith, Although many things in the Scripture be spoken in obscure mysteries, yet there is nothing spoken under dark mysteries in one place, but the selfsame thing in other places is spoken more familiarly and plainly, to the capacity both of learned and unlearned. And those things in the Scripture that be plain to understand, and necessary for salvation, every man's duty is to learn them, to print them in memory, and effectually to exercise them. And as for the dark mysteries, to be contented to be ignorant in them, until such time as it shall please God to open those things unto him. In the mean season, if he lack either aptness or opportunity, God will not impute it to his folly: but yet it behooveth not, that such as be apt should set aside reading, because some other be unapt to read; nevertheless, for the hardness of such places, the reading of the whole ought not to be set apart. And briefly to conclude, as St. Augustin saith, by the Scripture all men be amended, weak men be strengthened, and strong men be comforted. So that surely none be enemies to the reading of God's word, but such as either be so ignorant, that they know not how wholesome a thing it is; or else be so sick, that they hate the most comfortable medicine that should heal them; or so ungodly, that they would wish the pcople still to continue in blindness and ignorance of God.
Thus we have briefly touched some part of the commodities of God's holy word, which is one of God's chief and principal benefits, given and declared to mankind here on earth. Let us thank God heartily for this his great and special gift, beneficial favour, and fatherly providence; leť us be glad to receive this precious gist of our heavenly Father; let us hear, read, and know these holy rules, injunctions, and statutes of our Christian religion, and upon that we have made profession to God at our baptism; let us with fear and reverence lay up, in the chest of our hearts, these necessary and fruitful lessons; let us night and day muse, and have meditacon and contemplation in them; let us ruminate, and, as it were, chew the cud, that we may have the sweet juice, spiritual effect, marrow, honey, kernel, taste, comfort, and consolation of them; let.
us stay, quiet, and certify our consciences, with the most infallible certainty, truth, and perpetual assurance of them: let us pray to God, (the only Author of these heavenly studies,) that we may speak, think, believe, live, and depart hence, according to the wholesome doctrine and verities of them. And, by that means, in this world we shall have God's defence, favour, and grace, with the unspeakable solace of peace, and quietness of conscience; and after this miserable life we shall enjoy the endless bliss and glory of heaven: which he grants us all, that died for us all, Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, both now and everlastingly.
op In every number of this Magazine, one, at least, of the Homilies, will be inserted: and as they contain the opinions of the first reformers of the English Church, upon all doctrinal points, before any differences arose upon subjects of less importance, it is presumed they will prove acceptable to all Protestant Churches; and especially to that Church which formally and explicitly adopts them among its standards.
Matthew xvi. 21. From that time forth, began Jesus to show unto
his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
THE saying of the prophet, that “ the ways and thoughts of God are not like those of men," was never more remarkably verified than in that great event which we this day commemorate, the death and passion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. « Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness!” Wonderful in every part, but chiefly in the last acts of it, was the scheme of man's redemption! That the author of life should himself be made subject unto death that the Lord of glory should be clothed with shame that the Son of God's love should become a curse for sinful man—that his sufferings and humiliation should be made the manifestation of his glory--that by stooping to death he should conquer death-that the cross should lift him to his throne--that the height of human malice should but accomplish the purposes of God's mercy-that the devil, in the persecutions he raised against our Lord, should be the instrument of his own final ruin, these were mysteries in the doctrine of the cross, so contrary to the confirmed prejudices of the Jewish people, and so far above the reach of philosophical investigation, that they rendered the preaching of a crucified Saviour « a stumbling block to the Jews, and to the Greeks foolishness." God foreseeing how improbable this doctrine would appear to men, was pleased in various ways to typify and predict our Saviour's passion, ages before it happened, that the thing, when it should come to pass, might be known to be his work and counsel; and our Lord himself omitted not, at the proper season, to give his disciples the most explicit warning of it, that an event so contrary to every thing they had expected, (for they were involved in the common errour of the Jewish nation concerning the Messiah,) might not come upon them by surprise. “ From that time forth,” saith the evangelist, “ Jesus began to show to his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
“ From that time forth.”—The fact last mentioned was that conrersation of our Lord with his disciples, in which Peter declared, in the name of all, that while the people in general were in doubt who Jesus might be whether Elias, or Jeremias, or some other of the ancient prophets revived--they, his constant followers, believed him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. “ From that time forth," it seems, and not before, Jesus began to adverrise his disciples of his approaching death. It was a thing not to be disclosed till their faith had attained to some degree of constancy and firmness, but when once it appeared that they not only esteemed and loved their Master as a wise and virtuous manthat they not only revered him as an inspired teacher of righteousness, but that they believed in him as the Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of Israel, it then became seasonable to remove the prejudices in which they had been educated, and to show them plainly what that deliverance was which the promised Messiah was to work--for whom, and by what means, it was to be effected. It was time to extinguish their hopes of sharing in the splendours of an earthly kingdom, and to prepare and fortify their minds against all that 6 contradiction of sinners" which they, with their Master, were in this world destined to endure. Now, therefore, he begins to show them how that he must go to Jerusalem, and, after much malicious persecution from the leaders of the Jewish people, he must be killed. The form of expression here is very remarkable in the original; and it is well preserved in our English translation. He must go he must suffer--he must be killed-he must be raised again on the third day, all these things were fixed and determined-must inevitably be nothing could prevent them; and yet the greater part of them were of a kind that might seem to depend entirely upon man's free agency. To go or not to go to Jerusalem was in his own power; and the persecution he met with there, arising from the folly and the malice of ignorant and wicked men, surely depended upon human will: yet, by the form of the sentence, these things are included under the same necessity of event as that which was evidently an immediate effect of divine power, without the concurrence of any other cause, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The words which in the ori. ginal express the going the suffering--the being killed--the being raised again--are all equally subject to the verb which ans swers to the word must of our language, and in its first and proper meaning predicates necessity. As he must be raised on the third day, so he must go, he must suffer, he must be killed. Every one of these events, his going to Jerusalem, his suffering, and his death there and that these sufferings and that death should be brought about by the malice of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes-every one of these things is plainly announced, as no less unalterably fixed than the resurrection of our Saviour, or the time of his resurrection that it was to happen on the third day.
The previous certainty of things to come is one of those truths which are not easily comprehended. The difficulty seems to arise from a habit that we have of measuring all intellectual powers by the standard of human intellect. There is nothing in the nature of certainty, abstractedly considered, to connect it with past time or with the present, more than with the future; but human knowledge extends in so small a degree to future things, that scarce any thing becomes certain to us till it is come to pass, and therefore we are apt to imagine that things acquire their certainty from their accomplishment. But this is a gross fallacy. The proof of an event to us always depends either upon the testimony of others or the evidence of our own senses; , but the certainty of events in themselves arises from their natural connexion with their proper causes. Hence, to that great Being who knows things, not by testimony, not by sense, but by their causes, as being himself the First Cause, the source of power and activity to · all other causes-to Him, every thing that shall ever be, is at all times infinitely more certain than any thing either past or present can be to any man, except perhaps the simple fact of his own existence, and some of those necessary truths which are evidenced to every man, not by his bodily senses, but by that internal perception which seems to be the first act of created intellect.
This certainty, however, is to be carefully distinguished from a true necessity inherent in the nature of the thing. A thing is necessary when the idea of existence is included in the idea of the thing as an inseparable part of it. Thus, God is necessary;-the mind cannot think of him at all without thinking of him as existent. The very notion and name of an event excludes this necessity, which belongs only to things uncaused. The events of the created universe are certain, because sufficient causes do, not because they must, act to their production. God knows this certainty, because he knows the action of all these causes, inasmuch as he himself begins it, and perfectly comprehends those mutual connexions between the things he hath created, which render this a cause, and that its effect.
But the mere certainty of things to come, including in it even human actions, is not all that is implied in the terms of our Lord's prediction; which plainly intimate that the actions of men, even their worst actions, are in some measure comprised in the design