A SERMON PREACHED AT St MA­RIES [...] OXFORD VPON TVESDAY IN EASTER VVEEKE, 1617.

CONCERNING THE ABVSES of obscure and difficult places of holy Scripture, and remedies a­gainst them.

By IOHN HALES, FELLOW OF ETON COLLEDGE, and Regius Professour of the Greeke tongue in the Vniversitie of Oxford.

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AT OXFORD Printed by Iohn Lichfield, and William Wrench, Printers to the famous Vniversitie. 1617.

2. PETER. 3. 16.‘Which the vnlearned and vnstable wrest, as they doe the other Scriptures, vnto their owne destruction.’

THE loue and favour which it pleased God to beare our Fathers before the law, so farre prevail'd with him, as that without any bookes & writings, by familiar and frendly conversing with thē, and communicating himselfe vnto them, he made them receaue and vnderstand his lawes: their in­ward conceits & intellectualls being after a won­derfull manner as it were Figured, In Psal. 28. and Characterd, (as St Basill expresses it) by his spirit, so that they could not but see, and consent vnto, and confesse the truth of them. Which way of manifesting his will, vnto many other gracious priviledges which it had, aboue that which in after ages came in place of it, had this added, that it brought with it vnto the man, to whom it was made, a preservati on against all doubt and hesitancy, a full assurance both who the author was, and how farre his in­tent [Page 2] and meaning reacht. Wee [...] their of­ [...]ng ought,Hom. 1. in Mat. as St Chrysostome tells vs, fo to haue demeand our selues, that it might haue been with vs as it was with them, that [...] might haue had no need of writing, no other [...] but the spi­rit, no other books but our hearts, no other means to haue beene taught the things of God Nisi inspi­rationis divinae internam [...], ubi sine sonis sermonum & sine elementis literarum, eo dulciùs quo secretiùs veritas loquitur; as saith Ful­gentius. [...],L. 3. Epist. 106. saith Isidorus Pe­l [...]siota: for it is a great argument of our shame & imperfection that the holy things are written in bookes. For as God in anger tells the Iewes, that he himselfe would not goe before them as hither­to he had done, to conduct them into the promi­sed land, but would leaue his Angell with them as his deputie: so hath he dealt with vs, the vnhappy posteritie degenerated from the ancient puritie of our forefathers. When himselfe refused to speake vnto our hearts because of the hardnesse of them, he then began to put his lawes in writing. Which thing for a long time amongst his owne people seemes not to haue brought with it any sensible inconvenience. For amongst all those acts of the Iewes, which God in his booke hath registred for our instruction, there is not one concerning any pretended ambiguitie or obscuritie of the Text & Letter of their Law, which might drawe them in­to faction and schisme; the Divell be like hauing o­ther [Page 3] sufficie [...] advantages on which he wrought. But ever since the Gospell was committed to w [...] ­ting, what age, what monument of the Churches acts is not full of debate and strife, concerning the force & meaning [...] [...] those writings, which the ho­ly Ghost hath left vs to be the law & rule of faith? St Paul, one of the first penmen of the holy Ghost, who in P [...]dise [...] wordes which it was not lawfull for man to vtter, hath left vs words in wri­ting, which it is not safe for any man to be too bu­sie to interpret. No sooner had hee laid downe his penne, almost ere the inke was drie, were there found Syllabarum aucupes, such as St Ambrose spake of, qui nescire aliquid erubescunt, & per occasionem obscuritatis tendunt laqueos deceptionis, who thought there could be no greater disparagement vnto them, then to seeme to bee ignorant of any thing and vnder pretense of interpreting obscure places laid gins to entrap the vncautelous: who ta­king advantage of the obscuritie of St Pauls text, made the letter of the Gospell of life and peace, the most forcible instrument of mortal quarrell & contention. The growth of which, the Holy Ghost by the Ministery of St Peter, hath indeavo­red to cut vp in the bud, and to strangle in the wombe, in this short admonition which but now hath founded in your eares. VVhich the learned &c. In which wordes, for our more orderly procee­ding, we will consider, First, the sinne it selfe that is heare reprehēded, wresting of Scripture: where [Page 4] we will breifly consider what it is and what cau­ [...] and motioners it findes in our corrupt vnder­standings, Secondly the persons guilty of this of­fence, discipher'd vnto vs in two Epithets, vnlear­ned, vnstable. Last of all the danger in the last words, vnto their owne damnation. And first of the sinne it selfe, together with some of the especiall causes of it.

[...]. They wrest. They deale with Scripture as Chimickes deale with naturall bodies, tortu­ring them to extract that out of them which God and nature never put in them. Scripture is a rule which will not fit it selfe to the obliquitie of our conceits, but our perverse and crooked discourse, must fit it selfe to the straightnesse of that rule. A learned writer in the age of our fathers,Fab [...]r. commen­ting vpon Scripture spake most truely when hee said, that his Comments gaue no light vnto the text, the text gaue light vnto his Comments. Other expo­sitions may giue rules & directions for vnderstan­ding their authors, but Scripture giues rules to ex­position it selfe, and interprets the interpreter. Wherefore when wee wade in Scripture, non pro sententia divinarum Scripturarum, as St Austine speakes, sed pro nostra ita dimicantes vt tam velimus Scripturarum esse quae nostra est: When we striue to giue vnto it, and not to receaue from it the sense: when wee factiously contend to fasten our con­ceits vpon God: and like the Harlot in the booke of Kings, take our dead and putrified fancies, and [Page 5] lay them in the bosome of Scripture as of a mo­ther, then are we guiltie of this great sinne of wre­sting of Scripture. The nature of which will the better appeare, if wee consider a little, some of those motioners which driue vs vpon it. One very potent and strong meane is the exceeding affecti­on and loue vnto our owne opinions & conceits. For growne wee are vnto extremities on both hands: we cannot with patience either admit of o­ther mens opinions, or endure that our owne should be withstood.Scholiast. in Thucyd. As it was in the Lacedaemoni­an army, almost all were Captaines: so in these dis­putes all will be leaders: and we take our selues to be much discountenanced, if others thinke not as we doe. So that the complaint which one makes, concerning the dissention of Physicians about the diseases of our bodies, is true likewise in these dis­putes which concerne the cure of our soules,Plinie. hinc illae circa agros miserae sententiarum concertationes, nullo idem censente, ne videatur accessio alterius. From hence haue sprong those miserable conten­tions about the distemper of our soules, singulari­tie alone, and that wee will not seeme to stand as cyphars to make vp the summe of other mens o­pinions, being cause enough to make vs disagree. A fault anciently amongst the Christians so appa­rant, that it needed not an Apostolicall spirit to discover it, the very heathen themselues to our shame and confusion, haue iustly, judiciously, and sharply taxt vs for it. Ammianus Marcellinus pas­sing [Page 6] his censure vpon Constanti [...] [...] Emperour: Christianam religionem absolutam & simplicē (saith he: and they are words very well worth your mar­king) Christianam religionem absolut [...] & simplicē anili superstitione confudit. In [...] scrutanda perplex­iùs quàm componenda grauiùs, excitauit dissidia plu­rima, quae progressa fusiùs alu [...]t concertati [...]ne verbo­rum, dum ritum omnem adsu [...] trahere conatur ar­bitrium. The Christian religion, a religion of great simplicitie and perfection, hee troubled with do­tage and superstition. For going about rather per­plexedly to search the controversies, then grauely to compose them, he raised great stirres, & by dis­puting spread them farre and wide, whilst he went about to make himselfe sole Lord & commander of the whole profession. Now (that it may appear wherefore I haue noted this) it is no hard thing for a man that hath wit, and is strongly possest of an opinion, and resolute to maintaine it, to finde some places of Scripture, which by good hand­ling will be woed to cast a favourable coūtenance vpon it. Pythagoras Schollers hauing beene bred vp in the doctrine of numbers, when afterward they diverted vpon the studies of nature, fancied vnto themselues somewhat in naturall bodies like vnto numbers, and therevpon fell into a conceit that numbers were the principles of them. So fares it with him that to the reading of Scripture comes forepossest with some opinion. As Anti­pheron Ori [...]tes in Aristotle thought that every [Page 7] where hee saw his owne shape and picture going afore him: so indivers parts of Scripture where these men walke, they will easily perswade them­selues that they see the image of their owne con­ceits. It was, & is to this day, a fashion in the hot­ter countries, at noone, when the sunne is in his strength, to retire themselues to their Closets or beds, if they were at home, to coole & shadie pla­ces if they were abroad, to avoid the inconveni­ence of the heat of it. To this the Spouse in the Canticles alluding, calls after her beloued, as after a shepheard: Shew me, O thou whom my soule loueth, where thou feedest thy flocke, where thou dost rest at noone. The Donatists conceiting vnto themselues that the Church was shut vp in them alone; be­ing vrged by the fathers to shew how the Church being vniversall, came on a suddaine thus to bee cōfinde to Africke: they had presently their Scrip­ture for it: for so they found it written in the Can­ticles: Indica, quem diligit anima mea, vbi pascas, vbi cubes in meridie. In which text, meridies doubtlesse as they thought, was their Southerne countrie of Africke, where the shepheard of Israell was, and no where else, to feed his flockes. I may not trou­ble you with instances in this kinde: little observa­tion is able to furnish the man of slendrest reading with abundance. The texts of Scripture which are especially subiect to this abuse, are those that are of ambiguous and doubtfull meaning. For as Thu­cydides obserues of the fat and fertile places of [Page 8] Greece, that they were evermore the occasions of stirres and seditions; the neighbouring nations every one striuing to make it selfe Lord of them: so is it with these places that are so fertile, as it were, of interpretation, and yeeld a multiplicity of sense: they are the Palastra for good wits to proue masteries in, where every one desires to bee Lord and absolute.

A second thing occasioning vs to transgresse a­gainst Scripture, and the discreet and sober hand­ling of it, is our too quicke and speedy entrance vpon the practise of interpreting it, in our young and greene yeares, before that time & experience haue ripened vs and setled our conceits. For that which in all other businesse, and here likewise doth most especially commend vs, is our cautelous and wary handling it. But this is a flower seldome seen in youths garden. Aristotle differencing age and youth, makes it a propertie of youth, [...], to suppose they knowe all things and to be bold in affirming: and the heathen Rhe­torician could tel vs, that by this so speedy entring vpon action, and so timely venting our crude and vnconcocted studies, quod est vbi (que) perniciosissimū, praevenit vires fiducia, a thing which in all cases is most pernicious, presumption is greater then strength, after the manner of those, who are lately recoverd out of some great sicknesse, in whome appetite is stronger then digestion. These are they who take the greatest mysteryes of Christian reli­gion [Page 9] to bee the fittest arguments to spend them­selues vpon. So Eckius in his Chrysopassus, a worke of his so tearmed, wherein he discusses the questi­on of predestination, in the very entrance of his worke tells vs, that hee therefore enterpris'd to handle this argument, because forsooth hee thought it to be the fittest question in which hee might luveniles calores exercere. The ancient Ma­sters of sence amongst the Romans were wont to set vp a post, and cause their young Schollers to practise vpon it, and to foine and fight with it, as with an adversarie. Insteed of a post, this young fencer hath set himselfe vp one of the deepest my­steries of our profession to practise his freshman­ship vpon. Which qualitie when once it findes Scripture for his obiect, how great inconveni­ence it brings with it, needs no large discourse to proue. St Ierome, a man not too easily brought on to acknowledge the errours of his writings, a­mongst those few things which hee doth retract, censures nothing so sharply as the mistake of his youth in this kinde. In adolescentia provocatus ardo­re & studio Scripturarum, allegoricè interpretatus sum Abdiam Prophetam, cuius historiam nesciebam. Hee thought it one of the greatest sinnes of his youth, that being carried away through an incon­siderate heate in his studies of Scripture, he advē ­tured to interpret Abdias the Prophet allegorical­ly, when as yet hee knewe not the historicall mea­ning. Old men, saith our best naturall master, by [Page 10] reason of the experience of their of [...]en mistakes, are hardly brought cōstantly to affirme any thing, [...], they will al­waies cautelously interline their speeches, with it may bees, and peradventures, and other such parti­cles of warines & circumspection. This old mens modestie of all other things best fits vs in pervsing those hard and obscure texts of holy Scripture. Out of which conceit it is that we see St Austine in his bookes de Genesi adlitteram, to haue written only by way of questions and interrogations, after the manner of Aristotle in his Problemes, that he might not, (for so he giues his reason by being over positiue preiudice others, and peradventure truer in­terpretations: that every one might choose according to his likeing, & vbi quid intelligere non potest, Scrip­turae Dei det honorem, sibi timorem: and where his vnderstanding cannot attaine vnto the sense of it, let him giue that honour and reverence which is due vnto the Scripture, and carry himselfe with that aw and respect which befits him. Wherefore not without especial providence it is, that the ho­ly Ghost by St Paul giuing precepts to Timothie, concerning the qualitie of those who were to be admitted to the distributing of Gods holy word, expresly prescribes against a young Scholler, least, saith he, he be puft vp. For as it hath beene noted of men, who are lately growne rich, that they dif­fer from other rich men only in this,Arist. Rbet. 2. [...] that com­monly [Page 11] they haue all the faults, that rich men haue and many more: so is it as true in those who haue lately attaind to some degree and mediocritie of knowledge. Looke what infirmities learned men haue, the same haue they in greater degree, & ma­ny more besides. Wherefore if Hippocrates in his Physician required these two things, [...], great industrie and long experi­ence, the one as tillage to sow the seed, the other as time and season of the yeare to bring it to ma­turitie: then certainely by so much the more are these two required in the spirituall Physician, by how much hee is the Physician to a more excel­lent part.

I will add yet one third motioner to this abuse of Scriptures, and that is the too great presumpti­on vpon the strength and subteltie of our owne wits. That which the Romane Priest sometimes told an overpleasant and wirtie vestall Virgin, Coli Deos sanctè magis quam scitè, hath in this great worke of exposition of Scripture an especiall place. The holy things of God must bee handled sanctè, magis quàm scitè, with feare and reverence, not with wit and daliance. The dangerous effects of this haue appeared, not in the greene tree only, in young heads, but in men of constant age, and great place in the Church. For this was that which vndid Origen, a man of as great learning & industrie, as ever the Church had any; whilst in sublimitie of his wit, in his Comments on Scrip­ture, [Page 12] conceaving Meteors and aery speculations, he brought forth those dangerous errors, which drewe vpon his person the Churches heaviest cē ­sure; and vpon posteritie the losse of his workes. Subtile witted men in nothing so much miscarrie as in the too much pleasing themselues in the goodnesse of their owne conceits; where the like sometimes befals them which befell Xe [...]xis the painter, who hauing to the life pictured an old woman, so pleas'd himselfe with the conceit of his worke that he died with laughing at it. Heliodor Bishop of Tricca in Thessaly, Nicepho [...]. the author of the Ae­thiopick storie, a polite and elegant I confesse, but a loose and wanton worke, being summon'd by a provinciall Synod, was told, that which was true, that his worke did rather endanger the manners then profit the wits of his reader, as nourishing loose and wanton conceits in the heads of youth: and hauing his choice given him either to abolish his worke, or to leaue his Bishopricke; not willing to loose the reputation of wit, chose rather to re­figne his place in the Church, &, as I verily thinke, his part in heauen. And not in private persons a­lone, but even in whole nations, shall wee finde re­markable examples of miscarriage in this kinde. The Grecians, till barbarisme beganne to steale in vpon them, were men of wonderous subtletie of wit, and naturally over indulgent vnto themselues in this qualitie. Those deepe and subtile heresies concerning the Trinitie, the divinitie of Christ & [Page 13] of the holy Ghost, the vnion and division of the divine substance and persons, were all of them be­gottē in the heat of their wits: yea by the strength of them were they cōceaved, & borne & brought to that growth, that if it had beene possible for the gates of Hell to prevaile against the Church, they would haue prevailed this way. Wherefore as God dealt with his owne land, which being some­times the mirrour of the world for fertilitie and a­bundance of all things, now lies subiect to many curses, and especially to that of barrennesse: so at this day is it with Greece. Where sometimes was the flow and luxurie of wit, now is there nothing but extreame barbarisme and stupidity. It is in this respect so degenerated, that it scarsly for some hū ­dreth of years hath brought forth a child that car­ries any shew of his fathers coūtenance. God as it were purposely plaguing their miserable posterity with extreame want of that, the abundance of which their fathers did so wantonly abuse. The reason of all, that hetherto J haue in this point de­liuered, is this. Sharpnesse of wit hath commonly with it two ill companions, pride, and levitie. By the first it comes to passe that men know not how to yeeld to another mans reasonable positions; by the second, they knowe not how to keepe them­selues constant to their owne. It was an excellent observation of the wise Grecian,Th [...]yd. [...] &c. Sad and dull spirited men vsually mannage matters of state better then quicke and nimble wits. [Page 14] For such for the most part haue not learnt that lesson, the meaning of that voice that came to the Pythagorean, that was desirous to remoue the [...]shes of his dead frend out of his graue, [...] things lawfully setled and composed must not be mo [...]ed. [...] saith Iulian. Men over busy are by nature vnfit to governe. For they moue all things, & leaue nothing without question and innovation, [...] as Nazianzen speakes, out of desire to amend what is already well. And there­fore we see that for the most part such, if they bee in place of authoritie, by vnseasonable and vnne­cessary tampering put all things into tumult and combustion. Not the Commonwealth alone, but the Church likewise hath receau'd the like blowe from these kinde of men. Nazianzene in his six & twentieth Oration, discoursing concerning the disorders committed in the handling of Contro­versies; speakes it plainely: [...] &c. Great wits, hot and fierie dispositions haue raised these tumults. From these it is (saith he) that Christians are so divided. We are no lon­ger a tribe and a tribe, Israel and Iudah, two parts of a small nation: but we are diuided kindred against kin­dred, family against family, yea a man against himselfe. But I must hasten to my second generall part, the persons here accounted guiltie of abuse of Scripture.

The persons are noted vnto vs in two Epi­the [...]s, vnlearned, vnstable. First, vnlearned. It was [Page 15] St [...] complaint, that practitioners of other arts could containe themselues within the bounds of their owne profession, Sola Scripturarum ars est, quam sibi omnes passim vendicāt. Hanc garrula anu [...], hanc delirus, senex hanc sophista verbosus, hanc vni­versi praesumu [...]t, lacerant, docent antequam discant: every one presumes much vpon his skil, and there­fore to be a reacher of Scripture: [...] (so Nazianzen speaks) as if this great mystery of Christianitie were but some one of the common, base, inferior, and con­temptible trades. I speake not this as if I envied that all even the meanest of the Lords people should prophecie: but only that all kinde of men may knowe their bounds, that no vnlearned beast touch the hill, least hee bee thrust through with a dart. It is true which we haue heard, surgunt indo­cti & rapiunt regnum coelorum: they arise indeed, but it is as St Paul speakes of the resurrection, eue­ry man in his owne order. Scripture is giuen to all, to learne: but to teach and to interpret, only to a few. This bold intrusion therefore of the vnlearned in­to the chaire of the teacher, is that which here with our blessed Apostle I am to reprehend. Lear­ning in generall is nothing else but the competent skill of any man in whatsoever he professes. Vsual­ [...] call by this name onely our polite and Aca­ [...] micall studies: but indeed it is common to euèry one, that is well skild, well practised in his owne my­stery. The vnlearned therefore, whom here our [Page 16] Apostle rebukes, is not hee that hath not reade multiplicitie of Authors: or that is not as Moses was, skilfull in all the learning of the AEgyptians: but he that taking vpon him to divide the word of God, is yet but raw and vnexperienced; or if hee haue had experience, wants iudgement to make vse of it. Scripture is never so vnhappy, as when it falls into these mens fingers. That which old Cato said of the Grecian Physicians, quandocun (que) ista gens literas suas debit, omnia corrumpet, is most true of these men. whensoever they shall begin to tam­per with Scripture, and vent in writing their raw conceits, they will corrupt & defile all they touch. Quid enim molestiae tristitiae (que) temerarij isti praesum­ptores, De Genesi ad literam. &c as S. Austine complaineth: for what trou­ble and anguish theserash praesumers (saith he) bring vnto the diereeter sort of the brethron, cannot suffici­ently be exprest: when being convinced of their rotten and vngrounded opinions; for the maintaining of that which with great levitie and open falshood they haue averd, they pretend the authoritie of these sacred books, and repeat much of them even by heart, as bearing wit­nesse to what they hold: whereas indeed they doe but pronounce the words, but vnderstand not either what they speake, or of what things they doe affirme. Belike as he that bought Orphem Harp, thought it would of it selfe make admirable melodie, how vnskilful­ly soever he toucht it: so these men suppose [...] Scripture will sound wonderfull musically, if they doe but strike it, with how great infelicitie or in­cōgruity [Page 17] soever it be. The reason of these mens of­fence against Scripture, is the same with the cause of their miscarriage in civill actions. [...] saith Th [...]cydides, [...] Rude men, men of little experience, are commonly most perempto­ry: but men experienced, and such as haue waded in bu­sinesse, are slowe of determination. Quintilian making a question, why vnlearned men seeme many times to he more copious then the learned (for com­monly such men never want matter of discourse) answeres that it is because whatsoever conceit comes into their heads, without care or choice they broach it, cum doctis sit electio & modus: where­as learned men are choice in their invention, and lay by much of that which offers it selfe, Wise hear­ted men, in whom the Lord hath put wisdome and vn­derstanding to knowe how to worke all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, like Bezaleel and A­holiab refuse much of the stuffe which is presented them. But this kinde of men whom here our Apo­stle notes, are naturally men of bold & daring spi­rits, quicquid dixerint, hoc legem Deiputant, as Saint Ierome speakes, whatsoever conceit is begotten in their heads, the spirit of God is presently the fa­ther of it: nec scire dignantur quid Prophetae, quid A­postoli senserint, sed ad suum sensum incongrua aptant [...]. But to leaue these men, and to speake a little more home vnto mine owne auditorie: Let vs a little consider, not the weaknesse of these men but the greatnesse of the businesse, the manage of [Page 18] which they vndertake. So great a thing as the skill of exposition of the word & Gospell is, so fra [...]ght with multiplicitie of authors, so full of varietie of opinion, must needs be confest to bee a matter of great learning, and that it cannot, especially in our daies, in short time with a mediocritie of industrie be attaind. For if in the Apostles times, when as yet much of Scripture was fearsly written, when God wrought with men miraculously to informe their vnderstanding, & supplied by revelatiō what mans industrie could not yeeld; if I say in these times St Paul required diligent reading, & expresly forbad greennesse of schollarship: much more thē are these conditions required in our times, where­in God doth not supply by miracle our natural de­fects, and yet the burden of our profession is infi­nitely increast. All that was necessary in the Apo­stles times is now necessary and much more. For if we add vnto the growth of Christian learning, as it was in the Apostles times, but this one cir­cumstance (to say nothing of all the rest) which naturally befals our times, and could not be requi­red at the hands of those who guided the first ages of the Church: that is, the knowledge of the state and succession of doctrine in the Church from time to time; a thing very necessary for the deter­mining the controversies of these our daies: how great a portion of our labour and industrie would this alone require? Wherefore if Quintilian thought it necessary to admonish young mē that [Page 19] they should not presume themselues satis instru­ctos, si qaem ex ijs, qui breves circumfernutur, [...] li­bell [...] edidicerint, & velut dicretis technicorum tu­tor put [...]nt: if he thought fit thus to doe in an a [...] of so inferiour and narrow a sphere; much more is it behoofefull that young students in so high, so spa­cious, so large a profession, be advised nor to think themselues sufficiently provided vpon their ac­quaintance with some Notitia, or systeme of some technicall divine. Looke vpon those sonnes of Anak, those Giant like voluminous writers of Rome; in regard of whom our little tractats and pocket volumes in this kinde, what are they but as Grashoppers? I speake not this like some seditious or factious spie, to bring weaknesse of hands, or melting of heart vpon any of Gods people: but [...], to stirre vp and kindle in you the spi­rit of industrie, to enlarge your conceite, and not to suffer your labours to bee copst and [...]ed vp within the poverty of some pretended method. I will speake as Ioshua did to his people, L [...]t vs not feare the people of that land, they are as m [...]t vnto vs, the [...] shadow is departed from them [...] the Lord is with vs, feare them not. Iivie. Only let vs not thinke, [...] & [...]ot is d [...]bellari posse, that the conquest will be gottē by sitting still and wishing al were well or that the walls of those strong [...], will f [...]ll downe if wee only walke about them, & blow rammes hornes, But as the voice of Gods people sometime was, by the s [...]rd of God and of Gedeon, so that which here [Page 20] giues the victory must bee the grace of God and our industrie. For by this circumcised, narrow and penurious forme of studie, wee shall be no more able to keepe pace with them, then a child cā with Hercules. But I forbeare and passe awaie vnto the second epithe [...], by which these rackers of Scrip­tures, are by St Peter stiled [...] Vnstable.

In the learning which the world teaches, it were almost a miracle to finde a man cōstant to his own tenents. For not to doubt in things in which wee are conversant, is either by reason of excellency & serenitie of vnderstanding throughly apprehen­ding the maine principles on which all things are grounded, together with the deserying of the se­verall passages from them vnto particular conclu­sions, and the diverticles and blind by-paths which Sophist [...]ie and deceit are wont to tread: and such a man cann [...]t [...]e never yeeld: or else it is through a senselesse stupiditie, like vnto that in the commō sort of men, who cōversing among the creatures, and beholding the course of heaven, and the hea­venly hoast, yet never attend them, neither ever s [...]kes into their heads to marvaile, or question these things so full of doubt and difficultie. Even such [...] [...], that learnes Theologie in the schoole of [...] to participate of a­ [...]y [...] composednesse of conscience. Either it never comes into his head to doubt of a­ny of those things; with which the world hath in­ [...] [...] if it doth, it is [...] great purpose, he [Page 21] may smother and strangle, he can never resolue his doubt. The reason of which is this. It lies not in the worlds power to giue in this case a text of sufficiēt authority to compose & fix the thoughts of a soule, that is dispos'd to doubt. But this great inconvenience which held the world in vncertain­tie, by the providence of God is prevented in the Church. For vnto it is left a certaine, vndoubted; and sufficient authority, able to exalt every valley, and lay low every hill, to smooth all rubs, & make our way so open and passable, that little enquirie serues. So that as it were a wonder in the schoole of nature to find one setled and resolued: so might it seeme a marvaile that in the Church any man is vnstable, vnresolued. Yet notwithstanding even here is the vnstable mā found too, & to his charge the Apostle laies this sinne of wresting of Scrip­ture. For since that it is confest at all hands, that the sense and meaning of Scripture is the rule and ground of our Christian tenents, whensoever we alter them, wee must needs giue a new sense vnto the word of God. So that the man that is vnstable in his religion can never be free from violating of Scripture. The especiall cause of this levitie and flitting disposition in the common and ordinary sort of men, is their disabilitie to discerne of the strength of such reasons, as may be fram'd against them. For which cause they vsually start, and many times fall awaie, vpon every obiection that is made. In which too suddaine entertainment of [Page 22] obiections, they resemble the state of [...], who are [...] recou [...]ed out of some long sicknesse▪ [...].Seneca. Who never more wrong themselues then by su­specting every alteration of their tempe [...], and be­ing affrighted at every little passion of heat, as if it were an ague fit. To bring these men therefore vnto an [...], and to purchase them a setlednes of minde; that temper that St Austine doth re­quire in him that reads his booke, tales meotum Scriptorum velim iudices, qui responsionem non sem­per desiderent, q [...]m [...] quae leg [...]ntur audier int ali quid contradict: the same temper must be found in e [...]ery reader of Scripture, hee must not bee a [...] a stand and require an answer to every obiectiō that is made against them. For as the Philosopher tels vs that mad and fantasticall men, are very appre­hensiue of all outward accidents, because their soule is inwardly emptie and vnfurnished of any thing of worth which might hold the inward at­tention of their minds: so when wee are so easily dord and amated with every Sophisme, it is a cer­taine argument of great defect of inward furni­ture and worth, which should as it were ballace the minde and keep it vpright against all outward occurrents whatsoever. And be it that many times the meanes to open such doubts bee not at hand, yet as St Austine sometime spake vnto his scholler [...] concerning such advise and counsaile as [Page 23] he had given him: Nolo te causas rationes (que) rim [...]ri, quae etiamsi reddi possint fides tamen, quae mihi credis non eas debeo: so much more must we thus resolue of those lessons which God teacheth vs: the rea­sons and grounds of them, though they might be giuen, yet it fits not that credit and trust which we owe him, once to search into, or call in question. And so I come to the third generall part, the dan­ger of wresting of Scripture, in the last wordes, vnto their owne damnation.

The reward of every sin is death. As the worme eates out the heart of the plant that bred it: so whatsoeuer is done amisse naturally workes no o­ther end, but the destruction of him that doth it. As this is true in generall, so is it as true, that whē the Scripture doth precisely note out vnto vs some sinne, and threatens death vnto it, it is com­monly an argument, that there is more then ordi­narie, that there is some especiall sinne, which shall drawe with it some especiall punishment. This sin of wresting of Scripture in the eie of some of the ancients seem'd so ougly, that they haue ranged it in the same ranke with the sinne against the ho­ly Ghost. And therefore haue they pronounced it a sinne [...],Isidorus Pelusi­ota. greater then can bee pardo­ned. For the most part of other sinnes, are sinns of infirmitie or simplicitie, but this is a sinne of wit and strength. The man that doth it, doth it with a high hand; he knowes, and sees, and resolues vpon it. Againe, Scripture is the voice of God: and it is [Page 24] confest by all that the sense is Scripture, rather thē the words. It cannot therefore be avoided, but hee that wilfully striues to faesten some sense of his owne vpon it, other then the very nature of the place will beare, must needs take vpon him the person of God, & become a new indi [...]e [...] of Scrip­ture: and all that applaud and giue con [...]en [...] vnto a­ny such, in effect cry the same that the people did to He [...]od, the voice of God, and not of man. If he then that abases the Princes come deserues to die, what is his desert that insteed of the tried silver of Gods word stamps the name and character of God vpō Ne [...]ushtan, vpon base brafen stuffe of his owne? Thirdly,2. Pet. 1. 20. No Scripture is of private interpretation, saith the Apostle. There can therfore be but two certaine and infallible interpreters of Scripture: ei­ther it selfe; or the holy Ghost the author of it. It selfe doth then expound it selfe, when the wordes & circumstances doe sound vnto vs the prime, and naturall, and principall sense. But when the place is obscure, involu'd and intricate, or when there is contain'd some secret and hidden mystery, beyond the prime sense; infallibly to shew vs this, there can be no interpreter but the holy Ghost that gaue it. Besides these two, all other interpretation is pri­vate. Wherefore as the Lords of the Philistines sometimes said of the kine that drew the arke vnto Bethshemesh: If they goe of themselues, then is this from God, but if they goe another way, then is it not from God, it is some chance that hath hapned vnto vs: [Page 25] so may it bee said of all pretended sense of Scrip­ture. If Scripture come vnto it of it selfe, then is it of God but if it goe another way, or if it bee vio­lently vrged and goaded on, then is it but a matter of chance, of mans wit & invention. As for those marvailous discourses of some, fram'd vpon pre­sumption of the spirits helpe in private, in iudging or interpreting of difficult places of Scripture, I must needs confesse I haue often wondred at the boldnesse of them. The spirit is a thing of darke & secret operation, the maner of it none can descrie. As vnderminers are never seene till they haue wrought their purpose; so the spirit is never per­ceaved but by its effects. The effects of the spirit (as farre as they concerne knowledge and instru­ction) are not particular information for resoluti­on in any doubtfull case (for this were plainely revelation) but as the Angell, which was sent vnto Cornelius informes him not, but sends him to Peter to schoole: so the spirit teaches not, but stirres vp in vs a desire to learne: Desire to learne makes vs thirst after the meanes: and pious sedulitie & care­fulnesse makes vs watchfull in the choice, and dili­gent in the vse of our meanes. The promise to the Apostles of the spirit which should lead them in­to all truth, was made good vnto them by private and secret informing their vnderstandings, with the knowledge of high and heavenly mysteries, which as yet had never entred into the conceit of any man. The same promise is made to vs, but ful­fil'd [Page 26] after another manner. For what was written by revelation in their hearts, for our instruction haue they written in their bookes. To vs for infor­mation, otherwise then out of these bookes, the spirit speaks not. Whē the spirit regenerats a mā, it infuses no knowledge of any point of faith, but sends him to the Church and to the Scriptures. When it stirres him vp to newnesse of life, it exhi­bits not vnto him an inventory of his sinnes, as hi­therto vnknowne; but either supposes thē knowne in the law of nature, of which no man can bee ig­norant; or sends him to learne them from the mouth of his teachers. More then this in the or­dinary proceeding of the holy spirit, in matter of instruction. I yet could never deserie. So that to speake of the helpe of the spirit in private, either in dijudicating, or in interpreting of Scripture, is to speake they knowe not what. Which I doe the rather note, first, because by experience we haue learnt, how apt-men are to call their private con­ceits, the spirit: And againe, because it is the espe­ciall errour, with which S. Austine long agoe char­ged this kinde of men: tantò sunt ad seditionem faci­liores, quantò sibi videntur spirit [...] excellere: by so much the more prone are they to kindle schisme and contention in the Church, by how much they seeme to themselues to bee endued with a more eminent measure of spirit then their brethren; whilst [...], (as St Basils speakes) vnder pretense of interpretati­on [Page 27] they violently broach their owne conceits. Great then is the danger in which they wade, which take vpon them this businesse of interpretation temeri­tas asserend [...] incertae dubiae (que) opinionis, saith St Au­stine, difficile sacrilegij crimen evitat: the rashnesse of those that averre vncertaine and doubtfull in­terpretations for Catholike and absolute, can hardly escape the sinne of sacrilege.

But whereas our Apostle saith, their owne de­struction, is the destruction onely their owne? this were well if it stretched no farther. The ancients much complaine of this offence, as an hinderer of the salvation of others. There were in the daies of Isidorus Pelusiota some that gaue out that all in the old Testament was spoken of Christi belike out of extreame oppositiō to the Manichees, who on the otherside taught, that no text in the old Testament did foretell of Christ. That Father therefore dea­ling with some of that opinion, tels them how great the danger of their tenent is. [...] for if, saith he, we striue with violence to drawe and apply those texts to Christ, which appa­rantly pertaine not to him, we shall gaine nothing but this, to make all the places that are spoken of him su­spected; and so discredite the strength of other testimo­nies, which the Church vsually vrges for the refutation of the Iewes. For in these cases a wrosted proofe is like vnto a suborn'd witnesse. It never doth helpe so much whilest it is presumed to bee strong, [Page 28] as it doth [...] when it is discouered to bee weake. St Austine in his bookes de Genesi ad litteram sharp­ly [...]proues some Christians, who out of some places of Scripture misvnderstood, fram'd vnto themselues a kinde of knowledge in Astronomie and Physiologie, quite contrary vntosome parts of heathen learning in this kinde, which were true and evident vnto sense. A man would thinke that this were but a small errour, and yet hee doubts not to call it [...], & pernicios [...] & maxi [...] cavendum. His reason warrants the roundnesse of his reproofe. For he charges such to haue beene a scandall vnto the word, and hinderers of the con­version of some heathen men that were schollars. For how, saith he, shall they beleeue our bookes of Scrip­ture perswading the resurrection of the dead, the king­dome of heauen, and the rest of the mysteries of our pro­fession, if they finde them faultie in these things, of which themselues haue vndeniable demonstration? yea though the cause wee maintaine bee never so good, yet the issue of diseas'd and crazie proofes brought to maintaine it, must needs bee the same. For vnto all causes, be they never so good, weake­nesse of proofe, when it is discovered, brings great prejudice, but vnto the cause of religion most of all. St Austine obseru'd that there were some qui [...] de aliquibus, qui [...]anctum nomen profitentur ali­quid [...], velveri putuerit, [...] vt de omnibus hoc cred [...] ­tur [...] [...] with religion it selfe, thē [Page 29] it doth with the professors of it. Diverse malig­nants there are, who lie in wait to espie where our reasons on which we build are weake, and ha­uing deprehended it in some, will earnestly solicit the world to beleeue that all are so, if meanes were made to bring it to light: [...], as Nazianzen speaks: vsing for advantage against vs no strength of their owne, but the vice and im­becillitie of our defence. The booke of the Revela­tion is a booke full of wonder and mystery: the an­cients seeme to haue made a religion to meddle with it, and thought it much better to admire it with silence, then to adventure to expound it: and therefore amongst their labours in exposition of Scripture, scarsly is there any one found that hath touch [...] it. But our age hath taken better heart, and scarsly any one is there who hath entertained a good conceit of his owne abilities, but he hath ta­ken that booke as a fit argument to spend his paines on. That the Church of Rome hath great cause to suspect her selfe, to feare least shee haue a great part in the prophecies of that booke, I think the most partiall wil not deny. Yet vnto the ex­positors of it, I will giue this advise, that they look that that befall not them, which Thueydides ob­serues to befall the common sort of men: who though they haue good meanes to acquit them­selues like men, yet when they thinke their best hopes faile them, and beginne to despaire of their [Page 30] strength, comfort themselues with interp [...]ati [...] of [...] & abscure prophecies. Ma­ny plaine [...] of Scripture are very pregnant, & of sufficient strength to overthrowe the points maintained by that Church against vs. If we leaue these, and ground our selues vpon our priuate ex­positions of this booke; wee shall instly see [...]e in the povertie of better proofes, to rest our selues vpon those prophecies; which, though in them­selues they are most certaine, yet our expositions of them must, [...] except God giue yet further light vnto his Church) necessarily bee mixt with much vncertaintie, as being at the best but vnpro­bable coniectures of our owne. Scarsly can there be found a thing more harmefull to religion, then to ven [...] thus our own conceits, and obtrude them vpon the world for necessary and absolute. The Physicians skill as I conceaue of it; stands as much [...]n opinion, as any that I knowe, whatsoever. Yet their greatest master Hippocrates tells them direct­ly [...], &c. then the Physicians prae­sumption vpon opinion, there is not one thing that bringes either more blame to himselfe or danger to his patient. If it be thus in an art which opinion taken away, must needs fall; how little roome then must opinion haue in that knowledge, where nothing can haue place but what is of eternal truth? where if once we admit of opinion all is overthrowne? But I conclude this point, adding onely this gene­rall admonition, that we be not too peremprorie [Page 31] in our positions, where expresse text of Scripture faile [...] vs: that we lay not our owne collections & conclusions with too much praecipitancie. For ex­perience hath shewd vs, that the error and weake­nesse of them being afterwards discovered brings great disadvantage to Christianitie, and trouble to the Church. The Easterne Church before St Basils time, had entertained generally a conceit, that those greeke particles [...] and the rest, were so divided among the Trinitie, that each of the persons had his particle which was no way ap­pliable to the rest. St Basil hauing discovered this to be but a nicenesse and needlesse curiositie, be­ginning to teach so, rais'd in the Church such a tumult, that hee brought vpon himselfe a great la­bour of writing many tracts in apologie for him­selfe, with much adoe, eare matters could againe be setled. The fault of this was not in Basil, who re­ligiously fearing what by way of consequence might ensue vpō an error, taught a truth; but in the Church, who formerly had with too much facili­tie admitted a conclusion so iustly subiect to ex­ception. And let this suffice for our third part.

Now because it is apparant that the end of this our Apostles admonition is to giue the Church a caveat how shee behaue her selfe in handling of Scripture, giue me leaue a little, insteed of the vse of such doctrines as I haue formerly laid downe, to shew you, as farre as my conceit can stretch, what course any man may take to saue himselfe [Page 32] from off [...]ing violence vnto Scripture, and reasona­bly settle himselfe, any pretended obscuritie of the text whatsoever notwithstanding. For which pur­pose the diligent obseruing of two rules shall bee throughly availeable. First, The litter all plaine, and vncontroversable meaning of Scripture without any addition or supply by way of interpretation, is that a­lone which for ground of faith we are necessarily bound to accept, except it bee there where the holy Ghost him­selfe treads vs out another waie. I take not this to bee any peculiar conceit of mine, but that vnto which our Church stands necessarily bound. When wee receded from the Church of Rome, one motiue was, because she added vnto Scripture her glosses as Canonicall, to supply what the plaine text of Scripture could not yeeld. If in place of hers, wee set vp our owne glosses, thus to doe, were nothing else but to pull downe Baal, and set vp an Ephod; to runne round, and meet the Church of Rome a­gaine in the same point, in which at first wee left her. But the plaine, evident and demonstratiue ground of this rule, is this. That authoritie which doth warrant our faith vnto vs, must every way be free from all possibilitie of errour. For let vs but once admit of this, that there is any possibility that any one point of faith should not be true; if it bee once granted that I may bee deceaued in what I haue beleeued; how can I be assur'd that in the end I shall not be deceaued? If the author of faith may alter: or if the evidence and assurance that hee [Page 33] hath left vs be not pregnant, and impossible to bee defeated, there is necessarily opened an inlet to doubtfulnesse and wauering, which the nature of faith excludes. That saith therefore may stand vn­shaken, two things are of necessitie to concurre. First, that the author of it bee such a one, as can by no meanes be deceaued, and this can bee none but God. Secondly that the words and text of this au­thor vpon whom we ground, must admit of no ambiguitie, no vncertainetie of interpretation. If the trumpet giue an vncertaine sound, who shall pro­vide himselfe to battle. If the words admit a double sense, and I follow one, who can assure mee that that which I followe is the truth? For infallibility either in iudgement, or interpretation, or whatso­ever, is annext neither to the sea of any Bishop, nor to the Fathers, nor to the Councells, nor to the Church, nor to any created power whatsoe­ver. This doctrine of the litterall sense was never greivous or prejudiciall to any, but onely to those who were inwardly conscious, that their positions were not sufficiently grounded. When Cardi­nall Caietan in the daies of our grandfathers had forsaken that vaine of postilling and allegorising on Scripture, which for a long time had prevailed in the Church, and betaken himselfe vnto the li­terall sense: it was a thing so distastfull vnto the Church of Rome, that hee was forc'd to finde out many shifts, & make many apologies for himselfe. The truth is (as it will appeare to him that reads [Page 34] his writings) this sticking close to the litteral sense was that alone, which made him to shake many of those tenents, vpon which the Church of Rome and the reformed Churches differ. But when the importunitie of the reformers, and the great cre­dit of Calvins writings in that kinde, had forced the divines of Rome to levell their interpretations by the same line: when they saw that no paines, no subtletie of wit was strong enough to defeat the literall evidence of Scripture: it draue them on those desperate shelfes, on which at this daie they sticke, to call in question, as farre as they durst, the credit of the Hebrew text, & countenance against it a corrupt translation; to add traditions vnto Scripture; and to make the Churches interpreta­tion, so pretended, to bee aboue exception. As for that restriction which is vsually added to this rule, that the literall sense is to be taken, if no absurdity follow, though I acknowledge it to be sound and good, yet my advise is that we entertaine it warily. St Basil thought the precept of Christ to the rich man in the Gospell, Goe sell all thou hast and giue vn­to the poore; to be spoken as a command vniversally and eternally binding all Christians without exception. And making this obiection, how possibly such a life could bee amongst Christians, since where all are sellars, none could be buyers: [...] (saith he) [...], &c. Aske not me the sense of my Lords commands. He that gaue the law, can provide to giue it possibilitie of [Page 35] being kept without any absurditie at all. Which speech, howsoever we may suppose the occasion of it to be mistaken; yet is it of excellent vse, to re­presse our boldnesse, whereby many times, vnder pretence of some inconvenience, we hinder Scrip­ture from that latitude of sense, of which it is natu­rally capable. You knowe the story of the Ro­mane captaine in Gellius, and what hee told the shipwright, that chose rather to interpret, then to execute his Lords command: Corrumpi at (que) dissol­vi omne imperantis officium, si quis ad id quod facere iussus est non obsequio debito, sed consilio non desidera­to respondeat. It will certainely in the end proue sa­fer for vs to entertaine Gods Commandements obsequio debito, then to interpret them acumine non desiderato. Those other waies of interpretation, whether it be by allegorizing, or allusion or what­soever, the best that can bee said of them is that which Basil hath pronounced: [...]. We account of them as of trimme, elegant, and wittie speeches, but we refuse to accept of them, as of vndoubted truthes. And though of some part of these that may bee said which one said of his owne worke, quod ad v­sum lusi, Ausonius in monosyl. quod ad molestiam laboravi, in respect of a­ny profit comes by them, they are but sport, but in respect of the paines taken in making of them they are labour and travaile: yet much of them is of excellent vse in private, either to raise our affe­ctions, or to spend our meditations, or (so it bee [Page 36] with modestie) to practise our gifts of wit to the honour of him that gaue them. For if wee abso­lutely condemne these interpretations, then must we condemne a great part of antiquitie, who are very much conversant in this kinde of interpre­ting. For the most partiall for antiquitie cannot chuse but see and confesse thus much, that for the litterall sense the Interpreters of our owne times, because of their skill in the originall languages, their care of pressing the circumstances and cohe­rence of the text, of comparing like places of Scripture with like, haue generally surpast the best of the ancients. Which I speake not to discounte­nance antiquitie, but that all ages, all persons may haue their due. And let this suffice for our first rule.

The Iewish Rabbines in their Comments on Scripture so oft as they met with hard and intri­cate texts, out of which they could not wrest thē ­selues, were wont to shut vp their discourse with this, Elias cum venerit, solvet dubia: Elias shall an­swer this doubt when he comes. Not the Iewes only, but the learned Christians of all ages haue found many things in Scripture which yet expect Elias. For besides those texts of Scriptures, which by reason of the hidden treasures of wisdome, and depth of sense & mysterie laid vp in them, are not yet conceau'd, there are in Scripture of things that are [...], seemingly confus'd, [...], carry­ing semblance of contrarietie, anachronismes, meta­chronismes, [Page 37] and the like, which bring infinite ob­scuritie to the text: there are I say in Scripture more of them, then in any writing that I knowe secular or divine. If wee meane not to settle our selues till all these things are answered, let vs take heed least the like be said to vs, which St Austine said to some of the Gentiles, who refused to be­leeue till all obiections were satisfied: sunt enim in­numerabiles quae non sunt finiendae ante fidem, ne vi­ta finiatur sine fide. The Areopagites in Athens, whē they were troubled in a doubtfull case in which they durst not proceed to sentence, were wont causam in diem longissimam differre, to put it off till a day of hearing for some hundreth yeares after, a­voiding by this meanes the further being impor­tun'd with the suit. To quiet our selues in these doubts it will be our best way in diem longissimam differre, to put them to some day of hearing a farre off, even till that great day, till Christ our true Elias shall come, who at his comming shal answer all our doubts, and settle all our waverings. Meane while till our Elias come, let vs make vse of this se­cond rule. In places of ambiguous and doubtfull, or darke and intricate meaning, it is sufficient if we reli­giously admire and acknowledge and confesse: vsing that moderation of Austine: Neutram partem affir­mantes siue destruentes, sed tantummodo ab audaci af­firmandi praesumptione revocantes. Qui credit, saith one, satis est illi quod Christus intelligat. To vnder­stand belongs to Christ the author of our faith to [Page 38] vs is sufficient the glory of beleeuing. Wherefore we are to advise, not so much how to attaine vnto the vnderstanding of the mysteries of Scripture; as how it best fits vs to carry our selues when ei­ther the difficultie of the text, or varietie of opini­ons shall distract vs. In the sixth generall Councell Honorius Bishop of Rome is condemned for a Mo­nothelite. Two Epistles there are of his which are produc'd to giue evidence against him. For the first I haue nothing to say. For the second) I speak with submission to better iudgement) notwith­standing the sharpe proceeding of the Councell against him, I vrerily suppose that hee giues vnto the Church the best counsaile, that ever yet was giuen for the setling of doubts, and finall decision of controversie. For that which he teaches in that Epistle, at least in those parts of it, which there are brought, sounds to no other purpose but this: That whereas there was lately raised in the Church a controversie concerning the dualitie or vnitie of wils in Christ; since that hitherto nothing in the Church concerning either part hath beene expresly taught, his counsaile was that men would rather cease to doubt, then to be curious to search for any solution of their doubtings; and so abstaine from teaching doctrinally either part, and content themselues with that ex­presse measure of faith, with which the Church hath hitherto rest satisfied. This to my conceit is the drift of his Epistle. How this advise of the Bishops was appliable or how it fitted the question then in cō ­troversie; [Page 39] or what reason moued the Councell to thinke that it was absolutely necessary for them, to giue an expresse decision, and determine for the one part, belongs not to me to discusse. But I veri­ly perswade my selfe, that if it had pleased those, who in all ages haue beene set to governe the Church of God; betimes to haue made vse of this advise, to haue taught men rather not to haue doubted, then to haue expected still solution of their doubtings: to haue stopt and damm'd vp the originals and springs of controversies, rather then by determining for the one part, to giue them as it were a pipe and conduit to convaie them to po­steritie, I perswade my selfe the Church had not suffred that invndation of opinions, with which at this day it is overrunne. Is it not St Pauls owne practise, when hauing brought in a question con­cerning Gods iustice in predestination, hee giues no other answere but this, O man, who art thou that disputest with God? Is it not his plaine purpose to advise the disputer rather not to make the questi­on, then to require a determination of it at his hands? How many of the questions even of our owne times, even of those that are at home a­mongst vs, might by this way long since haue beene determind? I haue, I confesse, the same dis­ease that my first parents in Paradise had, a desire to knowe more then I need. But I alwaies thought it a very iudicious commendation, which is given to I. Agri [...]ola, that hee knewe how to bridle his de­sire [Page 40] in pursui [...] of knowledge, [...], qu [...]d est dif­ficillimum, ex scientia m [...]um. Mallem quidem (as St Austine saith) eorum qua à me quaestni [...]i habere sci­entiam, quàm ignorantiam; sed qui [...] id nondum po [...] [...]i, magis eligocantam ignorantiam confiteri, quam fal­sam scientiam profiteri. It shall well befit our Chri­stian modestie to participate somewhat of the Sceptike, and to vse their [...], till the [...] and remainder of our knowledge bee supplied by Christ: In quem sic credimus, vt si alique nobis non apa [...]i [...]t et [...]m puls [...]ntibus, nullo modo advers [...]s eum mu [...]murare debeamus. To conclude. St Austine in his eightieth Epistle discoursing of the speedie or slow comming of our Saviour to iudgement, to shew that it is the safest waie to teach neither, but to suspend our beleefe, & confesse our ignorance, ranging himselfe with men of this tēper, obsecrote (saith he to Hes [...]chtus, to whō he writes that Epi­stle) obsecrote vt me talem non spernas. So giue me leaue to cōmence the same suit to you: obs [...]cro vos vt me talem nō spernatis. Let me request you beare with me, if I be such a one, as I haue St Austine for example. For it is not depth of knowledge, nor knowledge of antiquitie, or sharpnesse of wit, nor authority of Coūcels, nor the name of the church can settle the restlesse conceits, that possesse the mindes of many doubtfull Christians: onely to ground for faith on the plaine vncontroversable text of Scripture, and for the rest to expect and pray for the comming of our Elias, this shall com­pose [Page 41] our waverings, and giue finall rest vnto our soules.

Thus insteed of a discourse which was due vn­to this time, concerning the glorious resurrection of our blessed Saviour, and the benefits that come vnto vs by it, I haue diverted my selfe vpon ano­ther theame, more necessary as I thought for this auditorie, though lesse agreeable with this solem­nitie. Those who haue gone afore mee in that ar­gument haue made so copious a harvest, that the issue of my gatherings must needs haue beene but small, except I had with Ruth gleand out of their sheaues, or straind my industrie which is but small, and my wits which are none, to haue held your at­tentiuenesse with new and quaint conceits. In the meane time, whether it be I or they, or whatsoe­ver hath beene deliuered out of this place, God grant that it may bee for his ho­nour, and for the Churches good, to whom both it & wee are dedicate. To God the Father, &c.

FINIS.

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