The praise of the Holy Scriptures

But now what piety without truth? what truth (what saving truth) without the word of God? What word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search, John 5:39, Isa. 8:20. They are commended that searched and studied them, Acts 17:11 and 8:28-29. They are reproved that were unskillful in them, or slow to believe them, Matt. 22:29, Luke 24:25. They can make us wise unto salvation, 2 Tim. 3:15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. Tolle, lege; tolle, lege, "take up and read, take up and read" the Scriptures (for unto them was the direction), it was said unto St. Augustine by a supernatural voice [S. August. confess. lib 8 cap 12]. "Whatsoever is in the Scriptures, believe me," saith the same St. Augustine, "is high and divine; there is verily truth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing of men's minds, and truly so tempered, that everyone may draw from thence that which is sufficient for him, if he come to draw with a devout and pious mind, as true religion requireth" [S. August. de utilit. credendi cap. 6]. Thus St. Augustine. And St. Jerome: Ama scripturas, et amabit te sapientia, etc. [S. Hieronym. ad Demetriad], "Love the Scriptures, and wisdom will love thee." And St. Cyril against Julian: "Even boys that are bred up in the Scriptures, become most religious, etc." [S. Cyril. 7o contra Iulianum]. But what mention we three or four uses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoever is to be believed or practiced, or hoped for, is contained in them? or three or four sentences of the Fathers, since whosoever is worthy the name of a Father, from Christ's time downward, hath likewise written not only of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture? "I adore the fulness of the Scripture," saith Tertullian against Hermogenes [Tertul. advers. Hermo.]. And again, to Apelles, an heretic of the like stamp, he saith, "I do not admit that which thou bringest in (or concludest) of thine own (head or store, de tuo) without scripture." [Tertul. de carne Christi.] So St. Justin Martyr before him: "We must know by all means," saith he, "that it is not lawful (or possible) to learn (anything) of God or of right piety, save only out of the prophets, who teach us by divine inspiration" [Justin προτρεπτ. προς ελλην. οιον τε.]. So Saint Basil after Tertullian, "It is a manifest falling way from the faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reject any of those things that are written, or to bring in (upon the head of them, epeisagein) any of those things that are not written" [S. Basil περι πιστεως. ιπερηφανιας κατηγορια.]. We omit to cite to the same effect, St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, in his Fourth Cataches, St. Jerome against Helvidius, St. Augustine in his third book against the letters of Petilian, and in very many other places of his works. Also we forebear to descend to later Fathers, because we will not weary the reader. The Scriptures then being acknowledged to be so full and so perfect, how can we excuse ourselves of negligence, if we do not study them? of curiosity, if we be not content with them? Men talk much of eiresion´┐Ż ["Ειρεσιωνη συκα φερει, και πιονας αρτους, και μελιεν κοτυλη, και ελαιον, etc."; an olive bow wrapped about with wood, whereupon did hang figs, and bread, and honey in a pot, and oil], how many sweet and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the Philosopher's Stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of cornucopia, that it had all things necessary for food in it; of Panaces the herb, that it was good for diseases; of Catholicon the drug, that it is in stead of all purges; of Vulcan's armor, that it was an armor of proof against all thrusts and all blows, etc.. Well, that which they falsely or vainly attributed to these things for bodily good, we may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture, for spiritual. It is not only an armor, but also a whole armory of weapons, both offensive and defensive, whereby we may save ourselves and put the enemy to flight. It is not an herb, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring forth fruit every month, and the fruit thereof is for meat, and the leaves for medicine. It is not a pot of manna, or a cruse of oil, which were for memory only, or for a meal's meat or two, but as it were a shower of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it never so great; and as it were a whole cellar full of oil vessels; whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a panary of wholesome food against finewed traditions; a physician's shop (St. Basil calleth it) ["κοινον ιατρειον.," S. Basil in Psal. primum.] of preservatives against poisoned heresies; a pandect of profitable laws against rebellious spirits; a treasury of most costly jewels against beggarly rudiments; finally, a fountain of most pure water springing up unto everlasting life. And what marvel? The original thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the Author being God, not man; the Inditer, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the apostles or prophets; the penmen such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principal portion of God's spirit; the matter, verity, piety, purity, uprightness; the form, God's word, God's testimony, God's oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, etc.; the effects, light of understanding, stableness of persuasion, repentance from dead works, newness of life, holiness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the study thereof, fellowship with the saints, participation of the heavenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that never shall fade away. Happy is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth in it day and night.