An Exhortation, Part 1.3

Here is the final section from the homily shared on Sunday.  Again, this was a somewhat-updated-language version of a Church of England classic.  In an age when doctrine and theology were in flux, the homilies that this is representative of were anchors for the church.  Rather than setting dogma from which one could never stray, they set the tone for world in which Christian life is lived.

“Scripture should, therefore, be in our hands and our eyes and our ears and our mouths, but most of all it should be in our hearts.  The Scripture of God is the heavenly nourishment for our souls: hearing and keeping it makes us blessed, sanctifies us, and makes us holy; Scripture turns our souls; it is a lamp to our feet; it is a sure, steadfast, and everlasting instrument of salvation; it gives wisdom to the humble and lowly-hearted; it comforts, brings joy, cheers, and cherishes our consciences; it is a greater treasure than any gold or precious stone; it is more sweet than honey or the honeycomb; it is called the best part which Mary chose; it has everlasting comfort in it.
“The words of holy Scripture are called the words of everlasting life because they are God’s instrument, ordained by him for this purpose.  By God’s promise, they have the power to turn, and are effective in this through God’s assistance; being received into a faithful heart, they form the spirit for heaven.  They are alive, quick, strong in operation, and mightier than a two-edged sword; they even divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow.  Jesus calls the one who builds upon Scripture a wise builder, using sure and substantial foundations.  We will one day be judged by the Word of God, for Jesus says, “…the words that I speak are those that shall judge in the last day.”  The one who keeps Christ’s word is promised the love and favour of God, and also that he will be the temple, or dwelling-place, of the Holy Trinity.
“Whoever is diligent to read, and to imprint what is read upon his heart, will find affection for the transitory things of the world to diminish and the desire for things heavenly, which Scripture promises, to increase.  There is nothing that strengthens our faith and trust in God, nothing that maintains innocency and pureness of heart – and also of outward godly life and living witness, as to constantly and continually read and record God’s Word on one’s heart.  Those things which are engraven upon the heart by continual reading and diligent searching through Scripture, those things, over time, turn into nature.  The effect and strength of God’s Word is to enlighten the ignorant, and to give yet more light to those who read it faithfully and diligently; it’s effect is to comfort their hearts and to encourage them to perform God’s commands.  Scripture teaches patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, honour to God, mercy and love to neighbours, good counsel in all doubt.  It shows us who to look to for aid and help in all perils, physical and spiritual.
The one who profits most from reading God’s word is not always the one who is most familiar with searching for particular passages, or the one who has the most verses memorized; rather, the one who is most transformed by it, who is most inspired by the Holy Spirit, who is most altered and changed in his heart and life into what he reads.  This one is daily less and less proud, less wrathful, less covetous, less desiring of the world’s pleasures; this one daily forsakes the old carnal lifestyle and increases in virtue more and more.
“There is nothing that maintains godliness of the mind, and drives away ungodliness, more than the continual reading and hearing of God’s Word, if it is joined with a godly mind and pure intention to know and follow God’s will.  Without a single eye, pure intent, and clear mind there is nothing that is counted good before God; nothing more obscures Christ and the glory of God, nothing brings blindness and all kinds of vices moreso than ignorance of God’s Word.”

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