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FROM ARCHBISHOP SANDYS *.
PSALM lxxxvi. 11.
Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in
This sentence, though short, consists partly of a petition, and partly of a promise.
The royal Psalmist, in praying to be taught, confesses his ignorance. And if the great Prophet of God, plead ignorance, who is he that dare boast of knowledge? If St. Paul, also, after so long study, and after so many revelations, confessed that We know but in part; then, surely, the most learned well may learn. No man, indeed, has attained to the knowledge of any thing, who will not confess with Socrates, that he knows nothing. Brethren, says the Apostle, I would not that ye should be ignorant. Ignorance is the mother, not
* Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, was born 1519, and died 1588.
of devotion, but of superstition, not of truth, but of sin and error. If we desire rather to walk in light, than to dwell in darkness; with Solomon we must prefer knowledge and wisdom before riches, honour, and long life.
God has appointed the most effectual means to lead us to knowledge. He has caused the Scriptures to be written for our learning. David made the volume of the law his continual study. And the wisest governors of Israel would never undertake any enterprise of moment till they had first unrolled the volume of this book ; thence to take advice for their better direction. Yes, my brethren, the Bible is a most precious jewel, infinitely to be prized above all other treasure. If thou be hungry, it is meat to satisfy thee; if thou be thirsty, it is drink to refresh thee; if thou be sick, it is a present remedy ; if thou be weak, it is a staff to lean on; if thine enemy assault thee, it is a sword to fight with : if thou be in darkness, it is a lantern to thy feet ; if thou be doubtful of thy way, it is a shining star to direct thee; if thou be in displeasure with God, it is the message of reconciliation ; if thou study to save thy soul, receive with meekness the engrafted word; for that is able to effect it. In fine, it is the word of life. Whoso loveth salvation, will love this word ; love to read it, love to hear it : and, such as will neither read nor hear it, Christ says plainly, they are not of God.
But, alas ! there is not that desire in us to know the wisdom of Christ, which was in the queen of Sheba to hear the wisdom of Solomon. The servants of Solomon were thought happy that they might stand daily in his presence to hear his wisdom. Happy were it for the servants of Solomon, (nay even for Solomon himself) if but each Sabbath, they would hear Him who is both greater and wiser than Solomon. There is no want, except it be of willingness : for we have leisure to hear, and many are they whom God has enabled to speak, Blessed are they that hear the word, and keep it. Attentively and carefully heard, it would convert our souls, correct our lives, soften our hearts, and inflame our minds with the love of God. It would root out vice and engraft virtue; banish vain, and cherish good, desires. It would lay our sins before our faces, humble our proud and haughty looks, bring us to sincere repentance, throw us down with godly sorrow, and raise us up again with heavenly comfort, in the merits and mercies of Christ Jesus. It would make us altogether perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Inflamed with a desire of knowledge, the Psalmist saw no other way to attain it, but by joining, with continual meditation, earnest prayer.
Teach me thy ways, O Lord :
Give me understanding : Shew me thy law. And as he desired to be taught, so is it more especially to be noted, that his desire is to be taught of God. There is no one that can
open the sealed book, but the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the lamb of God. THOU art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. It is He that hath the key of David, which openeth, and no man shutteth; shutteth, and no man openeth. For the outward reading of the word, without the inward working of his Spirit, is nothing. The precise Pharisees, the learned Scribes, not only read the Scriptures, but wore them on their garments. They were not only taught, but were able to teach others. And yet, because they were not instructed by this heavenly teacher, their understanding was darkened, their knowledge was but vanity, and they were altogether ignorant of that saving truth which the Prophet David was so desirous to learn. Nay, the mysteries of salvation were so hard to be conceived even by the Apostles themselves, that their Lord and Master frequently rebuked them for their dulness. And had he not himself removed it, by opening the eyes of their minds, they could never have attained to the knowledge of such salvation. As many as learn, they are taught of God; and no man knoweth the Father but he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Now, though Christ only opens the book of knowledge, gives us understanding, and reveals to us the will of his Father ; though the Spirit only is the school-master that inwardly directs the heart in the
way of truth: yet, (with some rash enthusiasts,) we may not think that God has revealed to us whatsoever we vainly imagine in our heated and visionary
minds. For, as there is a Spirit of truth, so is there also a lying Spirit. St. John, therefore, gives us a caution not to credit every Spirit, but to try the Spirits whether they are of God. We are to be taught of God; yet by such means as God hath appointed. The rich man, being in torment, solicited a particular revelation to his brethren : but what was the answer? They have Moses and the Prophets : let them hear them. God teaches inwardly; but by outward means. He spake in times past by angels, dreams, visions, and revelations, But now, in these latter days, he hath spoken to us by his Son; and He, by his ministers. He taught the Eunuch, but it was by Philip; he taught Cornelius, but it was by Peter ; he taught St. Paul, but it was by Ananias.
Now, what we should desire to learn, the Prophet shows us by the following words, Thy way. The word way, by a translation or metaphor, has sundry significations in Scripture. But the way which the Prophet here would learn of God is true religion-the doctrine of his holy will revealed in his holy word; but chiefly the promised Messiah, the Way of truth itself: He only being the Way, the truth, and the life; having given us an example that we should follow his steps.
To this petition the Psalmist adds a promise ;