Page images

Lord are with them that fear Him, says Holy David. I have more. Understanding than all my Teachers, says the same Royal Prophet: but whence came all this divine Knowledge It immediately follows, Because I keep thy Precepts. But our Blessed Saviour's Promise is of all moft express and encouraging, John 7.17. If any Man will do His Wil, be Tall know of the Doctrine if it be of God.

I shall conclude this Head with an Answer full of Wisdom and Piety, which a great and pious Cardinal of our own Nation gave, when being consulted, What Method of Study was likely to be most effe&ual towards the understanding of the difficult and obscure Passages in Saint Paul's Epiftles, he gave this Advice: That the way likelieft to succeed was to begin at the End of those Epistles, to study diligently and practise faithfully those Rules, which he there with so much Plainness lays down relating to Chriftian Manners, a Holy Life, and Godly Conversation, and then, and not till then, to proceed to the former Part, where the doctrinal Points and Matters of Faith are more nicely and fubtilly and exactly handled. Without doubt a Mind exercis d in the plain Precepts, will of all other moft easily discover the more obscure Truths of Religion. Whereas on the contrary, They who neglect or despise the clear in

telligible telligible Commands, whatever Study or Application else they may use, are deservedly shut out, as Unholy and Profane, from the more hidden Venerable and Holy Mysteries of the Gospel.

o The last Requisite, which I shall mention, is constant and earnest Prayer to Almighty God, that That Spirit of Truth, which first did dictate to those that writ, may be present also and affiftant to us that read the Holy Scripture. This of all the other Qualifications is most necessary, for without this all the rest, and all our other Study and Endeavours will prove fruitless and vain. Prayer indeed without Study is Presumption, but Study without Prayer is Atheism. We find Holy David, who had made the Word of God bis Exercise Day and Night, who understood more of it than his Teachers, or the Aged ; yet continuing

still in Prayer, and in fundry Places with much Importunity and fervoar suing to God for further Light and Instruction in it. Let us therefore, in Imitation of that Man after God's own Heart, whatever Knowledge we have, ascribe all of it to the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and never cease to pray for greater Improvements and further Degrees of it; least even that should be taken from us, which'we have. Let us never take the Bible in our hands, never approach to consult those Oracles, without some of these devout Ejaculations of the Holy Psalmist in our Mouths or in our Hearts: Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Teach me Thy Statutes, Open Thou mine Eyes, that I may see the wondrous Things of thy Law. Teach me, O Lord, the Way of thy Statutes; give me Understanding, and I fall keep thy Law. Teach me Good Judgment and Knowledge, for I have believ'd thy Commandments. Deal with thy Servant according to thy Mercy, and teach me tby Statutes. And for the present let us conclude with that excellent Prayer of our Church:

Blessed Lord, who haft caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our Learning, Grant that We may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by Patience and Comfort of thy Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed Hope of everlasting Life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


Prov. XII. 21.

There shall no Evil happen to the Just.

T Had not been agreeable to the Infinite Goodness of God, when he had Created Man to be Immortal, and made

him the Image of his own Eternity, as the Book of Wisdom speaks (Wisd. 2. 23.) if he had not made him also perfectly HapPY 2

and the Image of his own Bliss and Felicity. He plac'd him therefore in Pa rădise, a Garden of Delight, resembling, as far as Earth was capable, his own Ever Bleft Habitation in the Heavens. No evil could happen to Fust Adam, for Evil yet had no being. The whole Creation made

« PreviousContinue »