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poor worm, yet I am the work of his hands. God hath put his word in my mouth : I may not deny it; I may • not bear false witness against the LORD. My life is not . dear unto me in respect of the truth. I know if I should • deny him to save my life, I should lose it; and if I lose my life for his sake, I shall find it.
That which your authority shall lay upon me is not done without his • will: all the hairs of my head are numbered. I owe * you obedience; I will not resist your power; for if I • should resist, I should resist the ordinance of God. • I am subject to you for conscience sake ; I will forsake
my country, my goods, my children, and myself, at your • commandment; I will say to mine own flesh, I know “thee not; only I cannot forsake my LORD God. Dear
sir, you fight not against me. Alas! what am I ? what • can I do? You fight against God, against the Most
Holy, against Him which can cominand your life to 'go out of your body. It is a hard thing for you to • kick against the spur. It is no hard matter for you to • kill me ; for so mighty a prince to kill sa wretched a worm : but this I declare to you, that my blood which you shed is innocent, and shall be required at your • hands. It may please God to give unto you repentance, • and the knowledge of the truth. If my blood may soften * your heart, it could never be spent in a better cause :
blessed be the name of God, which hath made me his • instrument for your so happy conversion! This is the * only thing wherein I cannot yield. The Lord hath spoken unto me; I have heard his voice; my heart
hath felt it; my conscience knoweth it; I cannot deny .it; no sword can cut me from it; no water can drown • it; no fire can burn the love I bear unto it; there is • no creature in heaven or earth, that can carry from me that blessed hope I have conceived by his word.'
So constant is he that hath learned the word of God, and hath set his delight upon it, and is through it assured of the will of God. Heaven shall shake, the earth shall tremble, but the man of God shall stand upright. His feet shall not fail ; his heart shall not faint; he shall not be moved. Such a ground, such a foundation, such a rock is the word of God! Blessed is the man whose hope is in the name of the LORD!!
y Ps. cxlvi. 5.
He shall build upon a sure place : he layeth his foundation upon
the corner-stone :: he needeth no army to make him strong; he needeth no friends to comfort him in adversity ; his strength is within, the gates of hell shall not prevail against him; his comfort is inwardly within his heart: he speaketh to God, and God to him ; his eyes behold the kingdom, and the power, and the glory of God.
But what say we of the fathers, AUGUSTINE, AMBROSE, JEROME, CYPRIAN, &c. ? What shall we think of them? or what account shall we make of them? They be interpreters of the word of God. They were learned men, and learned fathers; the instruments of the mercy of God and vessels full of grace: we despise them not ; we read them, we reverence them, and give thanks unto God for them. They were witnesses unto the truth : they were worthy pillars and ornaments of the Church of God. Yet may they not be compared with the word of God. We may not build upon them ; we may not make them the foundation and warrant of our conscience; we may not put our trust in them. Our trust is in the name of the LORD.
And thus are we taught to esteem of the learned fathers of the Church, by their own judgment—by that which they have written, either for the credit of their own doings, or of the authority which they have thought due to the writings of others.
ST. AUGUSTINE said of the doctors and fathers of his time : “ Neither weigh we the writings of all men, be they never so worthy and catholic, as we weigh the canonical Scriptures ; but that, saving the reverence that is due unto them, we may mislike and refuse somewhat in their writings, if we find that they have thought otherwise than the truth may bear. Such am I in the writings of others, and such would I wish others to be in mine."
Some things I believe, and some
2 1 Cor. iii. 11. Eph. ii. 20.
“ Neque quorumlibet disputationes, quamvis catholicorum et laudatorum hominum, velut Scripturas canonicas habere debemus : ut nobis non liceat, salva honorificentia quæ eis debetur, aliquid in eorum scriptis improbare, aut respuere : si forte invenerimus quod aliter senserint quam veritas habet. " Talis sum ego in scriptis aliorum ; tales esse volo intellectores meorum." August, ad Fortunat. Ep. 111.
things which they write I cannot believe. I weigh them not as the holy and canonical Scriptures.
CYPRIAN was a doctor of the Church, yet he was deceived: JEROME was a doctor of the Church, yet he was deceived : AUGUSTINE was a doctor of the Church, yet he wrote a book of Retractations ; he acknowledged that he was deceived. God did therefore give to his Church many doctors, and many learned men, which all should search the truth, and reform one another, wherein they thought him deceived. ST. AUGUSTINE saith, “ Take away
from amongst us any of our own books. Let the book of God come amongst us. Hear what CHRIST saith : hearken what the truth speaketh.” b He is the wisdom of his Father ; he cannot deceive us. Again, he saith, “ Hear this, • The LORD saith :' hear not this, Donatus saith, or Rogatus, or Vincentius, or Hilarius, or Ambrose, or Augustine saith.”. All these were learned, most of them were holy : yet, saith AUGUSTINE, we may not yield to that which is said by learned men, but we must yield our full consent and belief to the word of God.
ORIGEN saith, “ We must needs call to witness the Holy Scriptures ; for our judgments and expositions without those witnesses carry no credit.”d Mark well; our words, and expositions, and constructions, unless they be warranted by the Scriptures, are not enough, they carry not credit.
AUGUSTINE saith, “We offer no wrong to St. Cyprian, when we sever any of his letters or writings from the canonical authority of the Holy Scriptures.". Thus speaketh AUGUSTINE, a doctor of the Church, of Cyprian, another doctor of the Church. CYPRIAN was a bishop, a learned father, a holy man, and a martyr of Christ: yet saith AUGUSTINE, his word is not the Gospel ; his word is not the word of God; there is no wrong done
D "Auferantur de medio chartæ nostræ : procedat in medio codex Der. Audi CHRISTUM dicentem : audi veritatem loquentem.” AUGUST. in Ps. 57.
C "Audi, Dicit DOMINUS : non, Dicit Donatus, aut Rogatus, aut Vincentius, aut Hilarius, aut Ambrosius, aut Augustinus." AUGUST, Epist. 48. d In Hierem. cap. 1.
“Nos nullam Cypriano facimus injuriam, cum ejus quaslibet literas," &c. AUGUST, cont. Cresc, c. 29,
to him, though his writings carry not like credit as the Holy Scriptures.
I could show many the like speeches of the ancient fathers, wherein they reverence the Holy Scriptures, as to which only they give consent without gainsaying ; which can neither deceive nor be deceived. In this sort did ORIGEN, and AugusTINE, and other doctors of the Church speak of themselves, and of theirs, and the writings of others, that we should so read them, and credit them, as they agreed with the word of God. “ This kind of writings-is to be read, not with a necessity of believing them, but with a liberty to judge of them.”
St. Paul saith, " Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Out of which place St. AugustiNE speaketh thus : " Whether it be of Christ, or of his Church, or of any thing else whatsoever, pertaining either to our life, or to our faith, I will not say if I myself, but if an angel from heaven shall teach us otherwise than ye have received in the books of the Law, and in the Gospels, hold him accursed.” h
Now to conclude this matter, the same father saith, “ The judges or doctors of the Church, as men, are often deceived." They are learned, they have preeminence in the Church, they are judges, they have the gifts of wisdom and understanding; yet they are often deceived. They are our fathers; but not fathers unto God: they are stars, fair, and beautiful, and bright; yet they are not the sun : they bear witness of the light, they are not the light.
Christ is the sun of righteousness. Christ is the
f. "Hoc genus literarum, non cum credendi necessitate, sed cum judicandi libertate, legendum est.” AUGUST.cont. Faust. Lib. XII. cap.v.
& Gal. i. 8. h "Sive de CHRISTO, sive de ejus Ecclesia; sive de re quacunque alia, quæ pertinet ad fidem vitamque nostram; non dicam, si nos, sed si angelus de cælo nobis annunciaverit præterquam in ripturis legalibus et evangelicis accepistis, anathema sit.” AUGUST. cont. Lit. Petil. Lib. III. c. vi.
i "Ecclesiastici judices, ut homines, plerique falluntur.” August, cont. Cresc. Lib. II. cap. ii.
* Mal. iv, 2.
light, which lighteneth every man that cometh into this world. His word is the word of truth. He is the day-spring which hath visited us from on high ;" he came down from the bosom of his Father;" he shall guide our feet into the way of peace. Of him God the Father spake, “ This is my well beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; hear ye him.”q He is the Lamb without spot. Out of his mouth goeth a twoedged sword. This is he in whom all the ends of the world shall be blessed : hear him ; give heed to his saying; embrace his Gospel ; believe his word.
Thus much touching the credit and authority which is to be given to the writings of ancient fathers.
St. Paul, speaking of the word of God, saith, “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Again : “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of CARIST; for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.” St. Basil saith, “The Scripture of God is like an apothecary's shop, full of medicines of sundry sorts, that every man may there choose a convenient medicine for his disease." W There are salves and ointments to cure all maladies. Whosoever cannot be cured by the word of God, his disease is grown desperate, and past cure.
Many think the apostle's speech is hardly true of the whole Scriptures--that all and every part of the Scripture is profitable. Much is spoken of genealogies and pedigrees, of lepers, of sacrificing goats and oxen, &c. These seem to have little profit in them, but to be vain and idle.—If they show vain in thine eyes, yet hath not the LORD set them down in vain. “ The words of the LORD are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.' There is no sentence, no clause, no word, no syllable, no letter, but it is written for thy instruction; there is not one jot, but it
1 John i. 9.
m John xvii. 17. n Luke i. 78. o John i. 18. p Luke i. 79.
4 Matt. xvii. 5. r John i. 29, 36. 1 Pet. i. 19,
• Rev. i. 16. · Gen. xii. 3. Acts iii. 25, 26. Gal. iii. 8, 9. Eph. i. 3. u 2 Tim. ii. 15.
✓ Rom. i. 16. w Basil. Præf. in Psalm.
* Ps. xii. 6.