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But now where is piety without truth? What is truth, what is saving truth, apart from the Word of God? Where is the Word of God, of which we may be sure, apart from the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search: JOH 5:39; ISA 8:20. Those were commended who searched and studied them: ACT 17:11; 8:28, 29. Those are reproved who are ignorant of them, or slow to believe them: MAT 22:29; LUK 24:25. They can make us wise unto salvation: 2TI 3:15. If we are ignorant, they will instruct us; if going astray, they will bring us home; if doing wrong, they will reform us; if in sorrow, they will comfort us; if depressed, they will make us alive; and if indifferent, they will excite us. "Take up and read, take up and read" (the Scriptures, for in them is the answer), it was said to Augustine by a supernatural voice [! - aal]. Again Augustine said, "Whatever is in the Scriptures, believe me, it is high and divine; there is truly truth, and doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of men’s minds, and truly so full, that everyone may receive from them that which is sufficient for him, if he come to receive with a devout and serious mind, as true religion requires." Jerome said, "Love the Scriptures, and wisdom will love you." Cyril against Julian said, "Even boys who are brought up learning the Scriptures, become most religious." But why do we mention three or four uses of the Scripture, knowing that whatever is to be believed, or practiced, or hoped for, is contained in them? Or why do we give three or four sentences from the Fathers, since whoever is worthy the name of a Father, from Christ’s time downward, has likewise written not only of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture? "I adore the fullness of the Scripture," said Tertullian against Hermogenes. And again, to Appeles a heretic of the like stamp he said, "I do not admit that which you teach of your own mind or experience apart from Scripture." Justin Martyr before him said, "We must know by all means that it is not possible to learn any thing about God or of right devotion to religious duties and practices, except only out of the Prophets, who teach us by divine inspiration." Basil after Tertullian said, "It is a manifest falling away from the faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reject any of those things that are written, or to bring in (objections against--epeisa,gein), any of those things that are not written." We omit to cite to the same effect Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem in his Four Catechisms; Jerome against Helvidius; or Augustine in his third book against the letters of Petilian, and in very many other places of his works. Also we do not appeal to the 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? Or how do we excuse ourselves of mere curiosity, if we are not content with them? Men talk much of eiresiwnh [an olive bow wrapped about with wool, upon which hang figs, bread, honey in a pot and oil] how many sweet and goodly things it had hanging on it. Or of the Philosopher’s stone, that it turns copper into gold. Or of Cornucopia, that it had all things necessary for food in it. Or of Panaceas the herb, that it was good for all diseases. Or of Catholicon the drug, that it is a remedy for all diseases. Or of Vulcan’s armor, that it was an armor of proof against all thrusts and all blows. Well, that which they falsely or vainly attributed to these for bodily good, we may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture for spiritual good. 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 a 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 food, 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 course or two; but as it were a shower of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it ever so great. It is as it were a whole cellar full of oil vessels whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts paid. In a word, it is a storehouse of wholesome food against moldy traditions. It is a physician’s shop (Basil called it) of preservatives against poison heresies. It is a complete collection of profitable laws against rebellious spirits. It is a treasury of most costly jewels against beggarly rudiments. Finally, it is a fountain of most pure water springing up to everlasting life. And why should it be thought a marvel? The original thereof is from Heaven, not from Earth. The author is God, not man. The one who composes, the Holy Spirit, not the wisdom of the Apostles or Prophets. The penmen are such as were sanctified from the womb, and given a principal portion of God’s Spirit. The matter is truth, devotion to religious duties and practices, purity, and righteousness. The object is God’s Word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the Word of truth, the Word of Salvation. The effects are light of understanding, used in producing belief, repentance from dead works, newness of life, holiness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Lastly, the end and reward of the study thereof is fellowship with the saints, participation of the heavenly nature, enjoyment of an inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that never shall fade away [1PE 1:4]. Happy is the man who delights in the Scripture, and thrice happy is he who meditates in it day and night.

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This Page Last Updated: 06/25/05 A. Allison Lewis