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Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead :” and on the other, that heavy judgment mentioned by the apostle ; “ because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe lies.” The woful experience whereof, we may see daily before our eyes in this poor nation: where, such as are slow of heart to believe the saving truth of God delivered by the prophets and apostles, do with all greediness embrace, and with a most strange kind of credulity entertain those lying legends, wherewith their monks and friars in these latter days have polluted the religion and lives of our ancient saints.
I do not deny but that in this country, as well as in others, corruptions did creep in by little and little, before the devil was let loose to procure that seduction which prevailed so generally in these last times : but as far as I can collect by such records of the former ages as have come unto my hands (either manuscript or printed) the religion professed by the ancient bishops, priests, monks, and other Christians in this land, was for substance the very same with that which now by public authority is maintained therein, against
bo 2 Thess. chap. 2. ver. 10, 11.
the foreign doctrine brought in thither in latter times by the bishop of Rome's followers. I speak of the more substantial points of doctrine, that are in controversy betwixt the Church of Rome and us at this day, by which only we must judge whether of both sides hath departed from the religion of our ancestors : not of matters of inferior note, much less of ceremonies and such other things as appertain to the discipline rather than to the doctrine of the Church.
And whereas it is known unto the learned, that the name of Scoti in those elder times (whereof we treat) was common to the inhabitants of the greater and the lesser Scotland (for so heretofore they have been distinguished), that is to say, of Ireland, and the famous colony deduced from thence into Albania: I will not follow the example of those that have of late laboured to make dissension betwixt the daughter and the mother, but account of them both, as of the same people.
Tros Rutulusve fuat, nullo discrimine habebo.
The religion doubtless received by both, was the self same; and differed little or nothing from that which was maintained by their neighbours the Britons: as by comparing the evidences
that remain, both of the one nation and of the other, in the ensuing discourse more fully shall appear
of the Holy Scriptures.
Two excellent rules doth St. Paul prescribe unto Christians for their direction in the ways of God: the one, that they “ be not unwise, but understanding what the will of God is;" the other, that they “ beb not more wise than behoveth to be wise, but be wise unto sobriety:" and that we might know the limits, within which this wisdom and sobriety should be bounded; he elsewhere declareth, that not to be more wise than is fitting, is “ not to be wise above that which is written.” Hereupon Sedulius, one of the most ancient writers that remaineth of this country birth, delivereth this for the meaning of the former rule; “ Search the law, in which the will of God
a Ephes. cap. 5. ver. 17. b Rom. cap. 12. ver. 3. μή υπερφρονείν παρ' ό δεί φρονείν αλλά φρονείν εις το σωφρονείν.
c 1 Cor. cap. 4. ver. 6. Moj unipo yéypantai opoveiv. d Scrutamini legem, in qua voluntas ejus continetur. Sedul. in Ephes.
is contained;" and this for the latter: “ He would be more wise than is meet, who searcheth those things that the law doth not speak of.” Unto whom we will adjoin Claudius, another famous divine, counted one of the founders of the university of Paris, who for the illustration of the former, affirmeth that men " thereforef err, because they know not the Scriptures; and because they are ignorant of the Scriptures, they consequently know not Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God :" and for the clearing of the latter, bringeth in that known canon of St. Hierome, “ Thiss, because it hath not authority from the Scriptures, is with the same facility contemned, wherewith it is avowed.”
Neither was the practice of our ancestors herein different from their judgment. For as Bede touching the latter, recordeth of the successors of Colum-kille the great saint of our country, that they “ observed" only those works of piety and chastity, which they could learn in the prophetical, evangelical, and apostolical writings:" so for the former, he specially noteth of one of the principal of them, to wit, bishop Aidan; that “alli such as went in his company, whether they were of the clergy, or of the laity, were tied to exercise themselves, either in the reading of Scriptures, or in the learning of psalms." And long before their time, it was the observation which St.
e Plus vult sapere, qui illa scrutatur quæ lex non dicit.
Id. in Rom.
Propterea errant, quia scripturas nesciunt : et quia scripturas ignorant, consequenter nesciunt virtutem Dei, hoc est, Christum, qui est Dei virtus et Dei sapientia. Claud. in Matth. lib. 3. Habetur MS. Romæ in bibliotheca Vallicellana ; et Cantabrigiæ, in bibliothec. Colleg. Benedict. et Aulæ Pembrochianæ.
8 Hoc, quia de scripturis non habet authoritatem, eadem facilitate contemni. tur qua probatur. Id. ib.
h Tantum ea quæ in propheticis, evangelicis et •apostolicis literis discere poterant, pietatis et castitatis opera diligenter observantes. Bed. lib. 3. histor. Ecclesiast. cap. 4.
i In tantum autem vita illius a nostri temporis segnicia distabat; ut omnes qui cum eo incedebant, sive adtonsi, sive laici, meditari deberent, id est, aut legendis scripturis, aut psalmis discendis operam dare. Id. ibid. cap. 5.