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Book 2; Homily 10

Homily 2.10, On Worthily Esteeming Holy Scripture Book 2; Homily 10

Homilies Appointed to Be Read in Churches

Second Book, Homily x.


AN HOMILY

OR INFORMATION FOR THEM WHICH TAKE OFFENCE

AT CERTAIN PLACES OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE.

The Former Part. The Greatness of Holy Scriptures

against which Ignorant Men Seek Quarrels.

T

HE great utility and profit that Christian men and women may take, if they will, by hearing and reading the holy scriptures, dearly beloved, no heart can sufficiently conceive, much less is my tongue able with words to express. Wherefore Satan our enemy, seeing the scriptures to be the very mean[s] and right way to bring the people to the true knowledge of God and that Christian religion is greatly furthered by diligent hearing and reading of them, he, also perceiving what an hindrance and let [barrier] they be to him and his kingdom, doeth what he can to drive the reading of them out of God's Church. And for that end he hath always stirred up in one place or other cruel tyrants, sharp persecutors, and extreme enemies unto God and his infallible truth to pull with violence the Holy Bibles out of the people's hands and have most spitefully destroyed and consumed the same to ashes in the fire, pretending most untruly that the much hearing and reading of God's word is an occasion of heresy and carnal liberty and the overthrow of all good order in all well ordered commonweals.

Holy scripture is the remedy against all error.

If to know God aright be an occasion of evil, then we must needs grant that the hearing and reading of the holy scriptures is the cause of heresy, carnal liberty, and the subversion of all good orders. But the knowledge of God and of ourselves is so far from being an occasion of evil that it is the readiest, yea the only mean to bridle carnal liberty and to kill all our fleshly affections. And the ordinary way to attain this knowledge is with diligence to hear and read the holy scriptures. For "the whole scriptures", saith St. Paul "were given by the inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3.16). And shall we Christian men think to learn the knowledge of God and of ourselves in any earthly man's work of writing sooner or better than in the holy scriptures, written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? The scriptures were not brought unto us by the will of man, but "holy men of God", as witnesseth St. Peter, "spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God" (2 Peter 1.21).

The Holy Ghost is the Schoolmaster of truth which leadeth his scholars [students] as our Saviour Christ saith of him, "into all truth" (John 16.13). And whoso is not led and taught by his Schoolmaster cannot but fall into deep error, how godly soever his pretence is, what knowledge and learning soever he hath of all other works and writings, or how fair soever a show or face of truth he hath in the estimation and judgement of the world. If some man will say, "I would have a true pattern and a perfect description of an upright life, approved in the sight of Go", can we find (think ye) any better or any such again as Christ Jesus is and his doctrine, whose virtuous conversation and godly life the scripture so lively painteth and setteth forth before our eye that we beholding that pattern might shape and frame our lives as nigh as may be agreeable to the perfection of the same!

"Follow ye me", saith St. Paul "as I follow Christ" (1 Corinthians 11.1). And St. John in his epistle saith, "Whoso abideth in Christ must walk even so as he hath walked before him" (1 John 2.6). And where shall we learn the order of Christ's life but in the scripture? Another would have a medicine to heal all diseases and maladies of the mind. Can this be found or gotten other where than out of God's own book, his sacred scriptures?

Christ taught so much when he said to the obstinate Jews, "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think to have eternal life" (John 5.39). If the scriptures contain in them everlasting life, it must needs follow that they have also present remedy against all that is an hindrance and let [barrier] unto eternal life. If we desire the knowledge of heavenly wisdom, why had we rather learn the same of man than of God himself, who as St. James saith is the Giver of wisdom (James 1.5)? Yea, why will we not learn it at Christ's own mouth, who promising to be present with his Church "till the world's end" (Matthew 28.20), doth perform his promise in that he is not only with us by his grace and tender pity, but also in this, that he speaketh presently unto us in the holy scriptures to the great and endless comfort of all them that have any feeling of God at all in them! Yea, he speaketh now in the scriptures more profitably to us than he did by the word of mouth to the carnal Jews when he lived with them here upon earth.

For they — I mean the Jews — could neither hear nor see those things which we may now both hear and see if we will bring with us those ears and eyes that Christ is heard and seen with; that is, diligence to hear and read his holy scriptures and true faith to believe his most comfortable [fortifying] promises. If one could show but the print of Christ's foot, a great number I think would fall down and worship it. But to the holy scriptures, where we may see daily (if we will), I will not say the print of his feet only but the whole shape and lively image of him, alas, we give little reverence or none at all.

Holy scripture shows us Christ more than any image.

If any could let us see Christ's coat, a sort of us would make hard shift except we might come nigh to gaze upon it, yea and kiss it, too. And yet all the clothes that ever he did wear can nothing so truly nor so lively express him unto us as do the scriptures. Christ's images made in wood, stone, or metal some men for the love they bear to Christ do garnish and beautify the same with pearl, gold, and precious stone; and should we not, good brethren, much rather embrace and reverence God's holy books — the sacred Bible — which do represent Christ unto us more truly than can any image! The image can but express the form or shape of his body, if it can do so much, but the scriptures do in such sort set forth Christ that we may see both God and man. We may see him (I say) speaking unto us, healing our infirmities, dying for our sins, rising from death for our justification. And to be short, we may in the scriptures so perfectly see whole Christ with the eye of faith, as we, lacking faith, could not with these bodily eyes see him though he stood now present here before us.

Let every man, woman, and child therefore with all their heart thirst and desire God's holy scriptures, love them, embrace them, have their delight and pleasure in hearing and reading them, so as at length we may be transformed and changed into them. For the holy scriptures are God's treasure-house wherein are found all things needful for us to see, to hear, to learn, and to believe, necessary for the attaining of eternal life. Thus much is spoken, only to give you a taste of some of the commodities which ye may take by hearing and reading the holy scriptures. For as I said in the beginning, no tongue is able to declare and utter all. And although it is more clear than the noon day that to be ignorant of the scriptures is the cause of error; as Christ saith to the Sadduces, "Ye err, not knowing the scriptures" (Matthew 22.29), and that error doth hold back and pluck men away from the knowledge of God. And as Jerome saith, "Not to know the scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ."

Yet this notwithstanding, some there be that think it not meet for all sorts of men to read the scriptures, because they are as they think in sundry places stumbling blocks to the unlearned. First, for that the phrase of the scripture is sometime so simple, gross, and plain that it offendeth the fine and delicate wits of some courtiers. Furthermore, for that the scripture also reporteth even of them that have their commendation to be the children of God that they did divers acts, wher of some are contrary to the law of nature, some repugnant to the Law written, and other some seem to fight manifestly against public honesty. All which things (say they) are unto the simple an occasion of great offence and cause many to think evil of the scriptures and to discredit their authority.

Some are offended at the hearing and reading of the diversity of the rites and ceremonies of the sacrifices and oblations of the Law. And some worldly witted men think it a great decay to the quiet and prudent governing of their commonweals to give ear to the simple and plain rules and precepts of our Saviour Christ in his Gospel, as being offered that a man should be ready to turn his right ear to him that strake him on the left, and to him which would take away his coat to offer him also his cloak, with such other sayings of perfection in Christ's meaning. For carnal reason, being alway an enemy to God and not perceiving the things of God's Spirit, doth abhor such precepts which yet rightly understood infringeth no judicial policies nor Christian men's governments.

Against them that deride the speech of the Bible.

And some there be, which hearing the scriptures to bid us to live without carefulness, without study or forecasting do deride the simplicities of them. Therefore to remove and put away occasions of offence so much as may be, I will answer orderly to these objections.

First I shall rehearse some of those places that men are offended at for the simplicity and grossness of speech and will show the meaning of them. In the Book of Deuteronomy it is written that Almighty God made a law: if a man died without issue, his brother or next kinsman should marry his widow and the child that was firstborn between them should be called his child that was dead, that the dead man's name might not be put out in Israel. And if the brother or next kinsman would not marry the widow, then she before the magistrates of the city should pull off his shoe and spit in his face, saying, "So be it done to that man that will not build his brother's house" (Deuteronomy 25.9). Here, dearly beloved, the pulling off his shoe and spitting in his face were ceremony to signify unto all the people of that city that the woman was not now in fault that God's Law in that point was broken, but the whole shame and blame thereof did now redound to that man which openly before the magistrates refused to marry her.

And it was not a reproach to him alone, but to all his posterity also: for they were called ever after, "The house of him whose shoe is pulled off." Another place out of the Psalms: "I will break", saith David, "the horns of the ungodly, and the horns of the righteous shall be exalted" (Psalm 75.10). By an horn in the scripture is understood power, might, strength, and sometime rule and government. The prophet then saying, "I will break the horns of the ungodly", meaneth that all the power, strength, and might of God's enemy shall not only be weakened and made feeble, but shall at length also be clean broken and destroyed, though for a time for the better trial of his people, God suffereth the enemies to prevail and have the upper hand. In the Psalm, it is said, "I will make David's horn to flourish" (Psalm 132.17). Here David's horn signifieth his kingdom. Almighty God therefore by this manner of speaking promiseth to give David victory over all his enemies and to stablish him in his kingdom, spite of all his enemies.

And in the threescore Psalm it is written: "Moab is my washpot, and over Edom will I cast my shoe", &c. (Psalm 60.8). In that place the prophet showeth how graciously God hath dealt with his people the children of Israel, giving them great victories upon their enemies on every side. For the Moabites and Idumeans, being two great nations, proud people, stout and mighty, God brought them under and made them servants to the Israelites, servants I say, to stoop down, to pull off their shoes, and wash their feet. Then "Moab is my washpot, and over Edom will I cast out my shoe" is as if he had said, "The Moabites and the Idumeans, for all their stoutness against us in the wilderness are now made our subjects, our servants, yea underlings to pull off our shoes and wash our feet." Now I pray you, what uncomely manner of speech is this, so used in common phrase among the Hebrews? It is a shame that Christian men should be so light-headed to toy as ruffians do with such manner of speeches, uttered in good, grave signification by the Holy Ghost. More reasonable it were for vain men to learn to reverence the form of God's words, than to sport at them to their damnation.

On the sins of the patriarchs of the Old Testament.

Some again are offended to hear that the godly fathers had many wives and concubines, although after the phrase of the scripture, a concubine is an honest name, for every concubine is a lawful wife, but every wife is not a concubine. And that ye may the better understand this to be true, ye shall note that it was permitted to the fathers of the Old Testament to have at one time more wives than one, for what purpose ye shall afterward hear. Of which wives some were free women born, some were bondwomen and servants. She that was freeborn had a prerogative above those that were servants and bondwomen. The freeborn woman was by marriage made the ruler of the house under her husband and is called the mother of the household, the mistress or the dame of the house after our manner of speaking and had by her marriage an interest, a right, and an ownership of his goods unto whom she was married.

Other servants and bondwomen were given by the owners of them, as the manner was then, I will not say always, but for the most part, unto their daughters at that day of their marriage to be handmaidens unto them. After such a sort did Pharao, king of Egypt, give unto Sara Abraham's wife Agar the Egyptian to be her maid. So did Laban give unto his daughter Lea, at the day of her marriage, Zilpha, to be her handmaid (Genesis 29.24). And to his other daughter Rachel, he gave another bondmaid, named Bilha. And the wives that were the owners of their handmaidens gave them in marriage to their husbands, upon divers occasions. Sara gave her maid Agar in marriage to Abraham (Genesis 16.3). Lea gave in like manner her maid Zilpha to her husband Iacob (Genesis 30.9). So did Rachel his other wife give him Bilha her maid, saying unto him, "Go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees" (Genesis 30.3); which is, as if she had said, "Take her to wife and the children that she shall bear, will I take upon my lap, and make of them as if they were mine own". These handmaidens or bondwomen, although by marriage they were made wives, yet they had not this prerogative to rule in the house but were still underlings; and in such subjection to their masters and were never called mothers of the household, mistresses, or dames of the house, but are called sometimes wives, sometime concubines. The plurality of wives was by a special prerogative suffered to the fathers of the Old Testament, not for satisfying their carnal and fleshly lusts, but to have many children because everyone of them hoped and begged oft times of God in their prayers that that blessed Seed which God promised should come into the world to break the serpent's head, might come and be born of his stock and kinred.

Now of those which take occasion of carnality and evil life by hearing and reading in God's book what God had suffered, even in those men whose commendation is praised in the scripture. As that Noë [Noah], whom St. Peter calleth the "eighth preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2.5), was so drunk with wine that in his sleep he uncovered his own privities [private matters] (Genesis 9.21). The just man Lot was in like manner drunken and in his drunkenness lay with his own daughters, contrary to the law of nature (Genesis 19.32). Abraham, whose faith was so great that for the same he deserved to be called of God's own mouth a "father of many nations", "the father of all believers" (Genesis 17.45, Roman's 4.17), besides with Sara his wife had also carnal company with Agar, Sara's handmaid. The patriarch Iacob had to his wives two sisters at one time (Genesis 29.30). The prophet David and King Salomon his son had many wives and concubines &c. Which things we see plainly to be forbidden us by the law of God and are now repugnant to all public honesty.

These and such like in God's book, good people, are not written that we should or may do the like following their examples, or that we ought to think that God did allow every of these things in those men. But we ought rather to believe and to judge that Noë in his drunkenness offended God highly. Lot lying with his daughters committed horrible incest. We ought then to learn by them this profitable lesson: that if so godly men, as they were which otherwise felt inwardly God's Holy Spirit enflaming in their hearts with the fear and love of God, could not by their own strength keep themselves from committing horrible sin, but did so grievously fall; that without God's great mercy they had perished everlastingly. How much more ought we, then, miserable wretches which have no feeling of God within us at all, continually to fear not only that we may fall as they did, but also be overcome and drowned in sin which they were not? And so by considering their fall, take the better occasion to acknowledge our own infirmity and weakness and therefore more earnestly to call unto Almighty God with hearty prayer incessantly for his grace to strengthen us and to defend us from all evil. And though through infirmity we chance at any time to fall, yet we may by hearty repentance and true faith speedily rise again and not sleep and continue in sin as the wicked doeth.

Thus, good people, should we understand such matters expressed in the divine scriptures that this holy table of God's Word be not turned to us to be a snare, a trap, and a stumbling stone to take hurt by the abuse of our understanding. But let us esteem them in a reverent humility that we may find our necessary food therein to strengthen us, to comfort us, to instruct us (as God of his great mercy hath appointed them) in all necessary works, so that we may be perfect before him in the whole course of our life. Which he grant us who hath redeemed us, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory for evermore. Amen.


THE SECOND PART OF THE INFORMATION

OF THE REVEREND ESTIMATION OF GOD'S WORD.

On Ungodly Wise Men who Cannot Profit from Scripture.

Y

E have heard, good people, in the Homily last read unto you the great commodity of holy scriptures. Ye have heard how ignorant men, void of godly understanding, seek quarrels to discredit them; some of their reasons have ye heard answered. Now we will proceed and speak of such politic wise men which be offended for that Christ's precepts should seem to destroy all order in governance as they do allege for example such as these be: "If any man strike thee on the right cheek, turn the other unto him also. If any man will contend to take thy coat from thee, let him have cloak and all" (Matthew 5.39-40); "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (Matthew 6.3);. if thine eye, thine hand, or thy foot offend thee, pull out thine eye, cut off thine hand, thy foot, and cast it from thee (Matthew 18.8-9); "If thine enemy", saith St. Paul "be an-hungered, give him meat; if he be thirsty, give him drink. So doing, thou shalt heap hot burning coals upon his head" (Roman's 12.20).

Ye must submit your worldly wisdom unto his divine wisdom.

These sentences, good people, unto a natural man seem mere absurdities, contrary to all reason. "For a natural man", as St. Paul saith, "understandeth not the things that belong to God" (1 Corinthians 2.14), neither can he, so long as old Adam dwelleth in him. Christ therefore meaneth that he would have his faithful servants so far from vengeance and resisting wrong that he would rather have him ready to suffer another wrong than by resisting to break charity and to be out of patience. He would have our good deeds so far from all carnal respects, that he would not have our nighest friends know of our well doing to win vain glory. And though our friends and kinsfolks be as dear as our right eyes and our right hands, yet if they would pluck us from God, we ought to renounce them and forsake them.

Thus if ye will be profitable hearers and readers of the holy scriptures, ye must first deny yourselves and keep under your carnal senses taken by the outward words, and search the inward meaning. Reason must give place to God's Holy Spirit; ye must submit your worldly wisdom and judgement unto his divine wisdom and judgement. Consider that the scripture in what strange form soever it be pronounced is the word of the living God. Let that always come to your remembrance which is so oft repeated of the prophet Esay: "The mouth of the Lord", saith he, "hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1.20, 40.5, 58.14, 62.2), and almighty and everlasting God, who with his only word created heaven and earth, hath decreed it; the Lord of hosts, whose ways are in the seas, whose paths are in the deep waters, that Lord and God by whose word all things in heaven and in earth are created, governed, and preserved, hath so provided it. The God of gods, and Lord of all lords; yea, God that is God alone, incomprehensible, almighty, and everlasting; he hath spoken it; it is his Word.

The three sorts of men to avoid.

It cannot therefore be but truth which proceedeth from the God of all Truth. It cannot be but wisely and prudently commanded what Almighty God hath devised, how vainly soever through want of grace we miserable wretches do imagine and judge of his most holy Word. The prophet David, describing an happy man, saith, "Blessed is the man that hath not walked after the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful" (Psalm 1.1). There are three sorts of people whose company the prophet would have him to flee and avoid, which shall be an happy man and partaker of God's blessing: first, he may not walk after the counsel of the ungodly; secondly, he may not stand in the way of sinners; thirdly, he must not sit in the seat of the scornful. By these three sorts of people, ungodly men, sinners, and scorners all impiety is signified and fully expressed.

(1) By the ungodly, he understandeth those which have no regard of Almighty God, being void of all faith, whose hearts and minds are so set upon the world that they study only how to accomplish their worldly practises, their carnal imaginations, their filthy lust and desire without any fear of God.

(2) The second sort he calleth sinners, not such as do fall through ignorance or of frailness, for then who should be found free? What man ever lived upon earth (Christ only excepted) but he hath sinned! "The just man falleth seven times and riseth again" (Proverbs 24.16). Though the godly do fall, yet they walk not on purposely in sin; they stand not still to continue and tarry in sin, they sit not down like careless men without all fear of God's just punishment for sin. But defying sin through God's great grace and infinite mercy, they rise again and fight against sin. The prophet then calleth them sinners whose hearts are clean turned from God and whose whole conversation of life is nothing but sin. They delight so much in the same that they choose continually to abide and dwell in sin.

(3) The third sort he calleth scorners; that is, a sort of men whose hearts are so stuffed with malice that they are not contented to dwell in sin and to lead their lives in all kind of wickedness, but also they do contemn and scorn in other all godliness, true religion, all honesty and virtue. Of the two first sorts of men, I will not say but they may take repentance and be converted unto God. Of the third sort, I think I may without danger of God's judgement pronounce that never any yet converted unto God by repentance, but continued still in their abominable wickedness, heaping up to themselves damnation against the day of God's inevitable judgement.

Examples of such scorners we read in the second Book of Chronicles. When the good King Ezechias in the beginning of his reign had destroyed idolatry, purged the temple, and reformed religion in his realm, he sent messengers into every city to gather the people unto Jerusalem to solemnize the feast of Easter in such sort as God had appointed. The posts went from city to city through the land of Ephraim and Manasses, even unto Zabulon (2 Chronicles 30.1-6). And what did the people, think ye? Did they laud and praise the name of the Lord which had given them so good a king, so zealous a prince to abolish idolatry and to restore again God's true religion? No, no. The scripture saith, "The people laughed them to scorn", and mocked the king's messengers (v. 10). And in the last chapter of the same book it is written that Almighty God, having compassion upon his people, sent his messengers the prophets unto them to call them from their abominable idolatry and wicked kind of living. But they mocked his messengers, they despised his words and misused his prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, and till there was no remedy. For he gave them up into the hands of their enemies, even unto Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, who spoiled them of their goods, burnt their city, and led them, their wives, and their children, captives unto Babylon.

The wicked people that were in the days of Noë made but a mock at the word of God when Noë told them that God would take vengeance upon them for their sins. The flood therefore came suddenly upon them and drowned them with the whole world. Lot preached to the Sodomites that except they repented, both they and their city should be destroyed. They thought his sayings impossible to be true, they scorned and mocked his admonition and reputed him as an old doting fool. But when God by his holy angels had taken Lot, his wife, and two daughters from among them, he rained down fire and brimstone from heaven and burnt up those scorners and mockers of his holy Word.

And what estimation had Christ's doctrine among the scribes and Pharisees? What reward had he among them? The Gospel reporteth thus: the Pharisees which were covetous did scorn him in his doctrine. O then ye see that worldly rich men scorn the doctrine of their salvation. The worldly wise men scorn the doctrine of Christ as foolishness to their understanding.

These scorners have ever been and ever shall be to the world's end. For St. Peter prophesied that such scorners should be in the world before the latter day (2 Peter 3.3). Take heed therefore, my brethren, take heed, be ye not scorners of God's most holy Word, provoke him not to power out his wrath now upon you as he did then upon those gibers and mockers. Be not wilful murderers of your own souls. Turn unto God while there is yet time of mercy, ye shall else repent it in the world to come when it shall be too late, for there shall be judgement without mercy. This might suffice to admonish us and cause us henceforth to reverence God's holy scriptures, but all men have not faith. This therefore shall not satisfy and content all men's minds; but as some are carnal, so they will still continue and abuse the scriptures carnally to their greater damnation. "The unlearned and unstable", saith St. Peter, "pervert the holy scriptures to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3.16). "Jesus Christ", as St. Paul saith, "is to the Jews an offence, to the gentiles foolishness. But to God's children, as well of the Jews as of the gentiles, he is the power and Wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1.23-24). The holy man Simeon saith that he is set forth for the fall and rising again of many in Israel (Luke 2.34).

The reprobate's incredulity of the holy Word is his damnation.

As Christ Jesus is a fall to the reprobate which yet perish through their own default, so is his word, yea the whole book of God, a cause of damnation unto them through their incredulity. And as he is a rising up to none other than those which are God's children by adoption, so is his word, yea the whole scripture, the power of God to salvation to them only that do believe it. Christ himself, the prophets before him, the apostles after him, all the true ministers of God's holy Word, yea every word in God's book, is unto the reprobate the savour of death unto death. Christ Jesus, the prophets, the apostles, and all the true ministers of his word, yea every jot and tittle in the holy scripture, have been, is, and shall be for evermore, the savour of life unto eternal life unto all those whose hearts God hath purified by true faith.

Let us earnestly take heed that we make no jesting stock of the books of holy scriptures. The more obscure and dark the sayings be to our understanding, the further let us think ourselves to be from God and his Holy Spirit, who was the Author of them. Let us with more reverence endeavour ourselves to search out the wisdom hidden in the outward bark of the scripture. If we cannot understand the sense and the reason of the saying, yet let us not be scorners, jesters, and deriders, for that is the uttermost token and show of a reprobate, of a plain enemy to God and his wisdom. They be not idle fables to jest at which God doth seriously pronounce, and for serious matters let us esteem them. And though in sundry places of the scriptures, be set out divers rites and ceremonies, oblations and sacrifices, let us not think strange of them; but refer them to the times and people for whom they served, although yet to learned men they be not unprofitable to be considered, but to be expounded as figures and shadows of things and persons, afterward openly revealed in the New Testament. Though the rehearsal of the genealogies and pedigrees of the fathers be not to much edification of the plain ignorant people, yet is there nothing so impertinently uttered in all the whole book of the Bible, but may serve to spiritual purpose in some respect to all such as will bestow their labours to search out the meanings. These may not be condemned, because they serve not to our understanding, nor make to our edification. But let us turn our labour to understand, and to carry away such sentences and stories as be more fit for our capacity and instruction.

And whereas we read in divers Psalms how David did wish to the adversaries of God sometimes shame, rebuke, and confusion, sometime the decay of their offspring and issue, sometime that they might perish and come suddenly to destruction, as he did wish to the captains of the Philistines. "Cast forth", saith he "thy lightning, and tear them, shoot out thine arrows and consume them" (Psalm 144.6), with such other manner of imprecations. Yet ought we not to be offended at such prayers of David, being a prophet as he was, singularly beloved of God and rapt in spirit with an ardent zeal to God's glory. He spake not of a private hatred and in a stomach against their persons, but wished spiritually the destruction of such corrupt errors and vices which reigned in all devilish persons set against God. He was of like mind as St. Paul was when he did deliver Himenæus and Alexander with the notorious fornicator to Satan, to their temporal confusion, that their spirit might be saved against the day of the Lord. And when David did profess in some places that he hated the wicked, yet in other places of his Psalms he professeth that he hated them with a "perfect hate", not with a malicious hate to the hurt of the soul (Psalms 97.10, 139.32).

Which perfection of spirit, because it cannot be performed in us, so corrupted in affections as we be, we ought not to use in our private causes the like words in form, for that we cannot fulfil the like words in sense. Let us not therefore be offended, but search out the reason of such words before we be offended that we may the more reverently judge of such sayings, though strange to our carnal understandings, yet to them that be spiritually minded, judged to be zealously and godly pronounced.

God therefore for his mercy's sake, vouchsafe to purify our minds through faith in his son Jesus Christ and to instil the heavenly drops of his grace into our hard stony hearts to supple the same, that we be not contemnors and deriders of his infallible word. But that with all humbleness of mind and Christian reverence we may endeavour ourselves to hear and to read his sacred scriptures and inwardly so to digest them as shall be to the comfort of our souls sanctification of his holy Name; to whom with the Son and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one living God, be all laud, honour, and praise forever and ever. Amen.


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