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Q. Are not the People apt to wrest the Scriptures to their own Destruction; and hath not the promise cuous Use of them been the Occasion of Heresies?
A. This only proves, that the best Things may be abused; and though this very Inconvenience happened in the Time of St. Peter, yet, for the Cure of it, he no where forbids the Reading of them. And as to Heresies, they generally owe their Rise to Men of Learning and Parts, who have not Humility and Modesty enough to submit to the universal Belief of Christians, and who are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the Rest of Mankind,
Q. But how doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God
A. That the Scriptures were revealed by God,
and that the Things contained in them were not Rom. x 19, invented by Men, is evident from what the Authors
of the Books of Scripture assert themselves. They
profess that the Doctrine they taught was received Col. i. 25, from God himself: The Word spoken by them is Rom. xv. "styled the Word of God: The Witness they bear is
called the Testimony of God: their Preaching, the 13, 14, 26. Gospel of God. And that the Apostles might not
err in delivering to others what they had received from our Saviour, he promised them his Holy Spirit to guide them into all Truth; and that the Holy Ghost
should bring all those Things he had taught them to Acts ii. 4. their Remembrance. And accordingly the Holy Ghost
did descend upon the Apostles in miraculous Gifts 1 Pet. i. 12. and Graces upon the Day of Pentecost., St. Peter
affirms of them all. in general, that they preached the Gospel by the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven., St.
Paul is positive, that the great Things belonging to 1 Cor. ii. the Gospel, God revealed to them by the Spirit. And
declares moreover, that God had made known this Revelation, not only to him, but to the Apostles and i Prophets by the Spirit. Now, that the Books of Scripture were written bythose Persons whose Names they bear, and that they were received by the Church
vij. 16. &c. 1 Thess. ii. 13.
16. John xvi.
Eph. iii. 3, 5,
as inspired Writings in the Age wherein they were writ, we have the
general and uncontrolled Testimony of all Ages transmitted down to us, which is the utmost Proof a Thing of that Nature is capable of. And farther, to evidence that they who wrote those Books were faithful Historians, and unquestionable Witnesses, they reported the Things they had seen and heard, and gave the utmost Proof Men could do of their Integrity, in laying down their Lives in the Confirmation of the Truth of what they related. And, to shew that they were no Impostors, they wrought such Miracles as were Testimonies from Heaven, that they were divine Persons, and that what they said was to be credited As to the Old Testament, the Authors of the New attest the Divinity of it; particularly St. Paul, who 2 Tim jii. assures us, that all Scripture is given by Inspiration ; 16. the Books of the Old Testament being called so by Way of Eminency.
Q. Wherein consist the Perfection and Perspicuity of the Holy Scriptures?
A. In that whatever is necessary for us to know and believe, to hope for and practise in order to Salvation, is fully contained in those holy Volumes, And that those necessary Things are there treated with so much Plainness and Clearness, as to be sufficiently understood by those who make a right Use of their Reason, and bring a fit Temper and Disposition of Mind, for the understanding of them.
Q. With what Preparation of Mind ought we to read the Scriptures, who acknowledge the Divine Authority of them?
A. With that Respect and Reverence which is due to the Oracles of God; with Humility and Modesty, from a Sense of our own Weakness, and God's Perfection; and with earnest Prayer for the divine Assistance: with Minds free from Prepossession and Prejudice, from Vanity and Confidence in our own Abilities, and with an honest and pious Disposition of
John vii: Soul; for he that doth God's Will
, shall know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God.
Q. How may we make the Reading of the Holy Scriptures most beneficial to us?
Å. By diligently considering the Design of the Author of each Book of Scripture; and what is the Subject he chiefly handles, with the Occasion of his Writing. By explaining difficult Places by those that are more clear; distinguishing between literal and figurative Expressions; and never having Recourse to Metaphors and Figures, but when Something absurd results from their being taken in a proper and literal Sense. By confining ourselves to the natural Signification of Words, the usual Forms of Speech, and the Phraseology of Scripture. By acquainting ourselves with the common Usages and Customs of those Times in which they were writ, to which many Expressions allude. Not to make either Side of the Question in Dispute the Reason of our Interpretation; for this is to make it a Rule of interpreting Scripture, not a Question to be decided by it. Avd again, by applying general Rules to particular Cases ; it being impossible Scripture should comprehend all special Cases, wbich are infinite: And where there is any Difficulty, Nothing adds greater Light than the consulting those ancient and faithful Witnesses, who learnt the true Sense of Scripture from the Authors themselves. Without some such Method, no Author can well understood; and to this Purpose we have many Helps in our own English Tongue.
I. O ALMIGHTY God, who hast instructed thy Religion." holy Church with the heavenly Doctrine of thy
Evangelist St. Mark; give us Grace, that being not like Children who are carried away with every
Tor Stedfastness in
Blast of vain Doctrine, we may be established in the Truth of thy holy Gospel, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
II. o LORD, I beseech thee mercifully to receive the For the Prayers of thy People which call upon thee; and grant that I may both perceive and know what Prayer
. Things I ought to do, and also may have Grace and Power faithfully to fulfil the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
III. ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who makest for the me both to will and to do those Things that be assistance good and acceptable unto thy divine Majesty; letly Spirit. thy fatherly Hand, I beseech thee, be over me; let thy Holy Spirit be ever with me; and so lead me "into the Knowledge and Obedience of thy Word, that in the End I may obtain everlasting Life, through the Merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Amen.
IV. ALMIGHTY God, who hast not abandoned us for a right to the dim Light of our own Reason to conduct us to Happiness; but, when Mankind had miserably mistaken the Object of their Worship, and the right Manner of performing it, wert graciously pleased to reveal to us in the holy Scriptures whatever is necessary for us to believe and practise in order to our eternal Salvation; grant that I may with Care and Diligence apply myself to the Reading of those sacred Yolumes; and do thou open my Eyes, that I may see the wondrous Things of thy Law. Let me peruse them with that Reverence and Respect which is due to thy gracious Manifestations;
with an entire Submission of my Understanding to 7thy divine Authority, and with a sincere and stedfast Resolution of Mind, to govern my Life by the Maxims of thy holy Gospel, and to obey and sub
mit' to thy blessed Will in every Thing. Let thy precious Promises quicken my Obedience, and make me fruitful and abundant in the Work of the Lord. Let thy dreaded Threatenings fright me from my Sins, and make me speedily depart from all Iniquity: And thou, who workest in me to will and to do of thy good Pleasure, teach me to obey all thy Commandments, to believe all thy Revelations, and make me Partaker of all thy gracious Promises, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A. At Bethsaida, in Galilee, a Town near the Sea John i. 44.' of Tiberias. The Natives of this Place passed under
a very reproachful Character, as a People more rude and unpolished than any other in the Territories of Palestine.
Q. Why did our Saviour chuse his Disciples, the great Instruments to convert the World, from this Place?
A. To confound the Wisdom of the Wise, and by the Success of such contemptible Means to attest the Divinity of that Doctrine they preached.
Q. Of what Profession was St. Philip?
A. The Gospel takes no Notice of his parents and Way of Life, though probably he was a Fisherman, the general Trade of that place.
Q. What is thought by some to be his peculiar Privilege?
A. That he had the Honour of being first called to be a Disciple of our blessed Saviour; because