READ THE SCRIPTURES
Bishop John Jewel [1522-71]
Are you a king? Read the scriptures; you shall find who has established your estate, and what duty you owe to God. God there tells you: “By me kings rule, and princes decree justice.” I have given you authority: you carry my sword: I have put a crown upon your head: you are my servant: walk before me, let your heart be perfect in my sight.
Are you a subject? Read the scriptures; they will teach you to know your duty. There Paul bids you, “Give tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour is due.” “Ye must be subject, not because of wrath only, but for conscience’ sake.” “For he beareth not the sword for nought: for he is the minister of God to take vengeance on him that doth evil.”
Are you a minister? Read the scriptures; they will teach you your duty. The prophet says to you: “Cry aloud, spare not: lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions.” The apostle says unto thee: “Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season.” “Watch in all things, do the work of an evangelist, make thy ministry fully known.” You shall give an account for the souls of the people: their blood shall be required at your hands.
Are you a father? Have you children? Read the scriptures; they will teach you, “If thou hast sons, instruct them.” Again: “He that teacheth his son grieveth the enemy, and before his friends he shall rejoice of him.” “Give him no liberty in his youth, and wink not at his folly.” “Chastise thy child, and be diligent therein, lest his shame grieve thee.” Eli the prophet, by sparing his wanton children, cast away himself and his children. They were slain: the ark of God was taken; and old Eli fell down and broke his neck.
Are you a child? Have you a father? Read the scriptures; they will teach you, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on earth.” And again: “Children, obey your parents in all things; for it is well-pleasing unto the Lord.” The wise man warns you: “The eye that mocketh his father, and despiseth the instruction of his mother, let the ravens of the valley pluck it out, and the young eagles eat it.”
Has God blessed you in wealth? Are you rich? Read the scriptures; they will teach you, “Be not high-minded, and trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, which giveth us abundantly all things to enjoy.” Again: “Trust not in oppression and robbery: be not vain: if riches increase, set not your heart thereon.”
You shall depart, and leave them behind you: they shall forsake you. You shall die, but you don’t know how soon. Solomon shows you, “Riches avail not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death.”
Are you poor, and suffer scarcity in this world? Read the scriptures; they will teach you. Say with Job: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return again.” Learn of Solomon: “Better is little with righteousness, than great revenues without equity.” And again: “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that perverteth his ways, though he be rich.” Paul said: “Godliness is great gain, if a man be content with that he hath; for we brought nothing into the world, and it is certain that we carry nothing out.” And again: “Let him that is poor labour, and work with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
Are you a merchant? Do you buy and sell? Read the scriptures;
they will teach you, “This is the will of God,. .. that no man oppress or defraud his brother in any matter.” Thou shalt learn that “divers weights and divers measures are abomination unto the Lord; and deceitful balances are not good.”
Are you an usurer? Your case is hard: yet hear the scriptures;
they will teach you. God commandeth you thus: “If thou lend money to my people, to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be as an usurer unto him: ye shall not oppress him with usury.” Again: “If thy brother be impoverished, and fallen in decay with thee, thou shalt relieve him . . . thou shalt take no usury of him, nor vantage:
thou shalt not lend him thy victuals for increase; but thou shalt fear thy God, that thy brother may live with thee.” And, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye to them.” And, “He that giveth his money unto usury shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Are you a fornicator and live in adultery? Read the scriptures;
they will teach you: “He that committeth fornication,” saith Paul, ‘sinneth against his own body. Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” “Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.” “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation,” said Peter. The reason is set down by Paul: “For this is the will of God, even your holiness, and that you should abstain from fornication,” that you may “be holy both in body and in spirit.” and, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” They “shall have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Are you a servant? Read the scriptures; they will teach you, ‘Servants, be obedient unto them that are your masters according
to the flesh in all things, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.” Again: “Please your masters, not answering again: but shew all good faithfulness, that ye may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
Are you proud? Read the scriptures; they will teach you, “Be not high-minded, but fear.” “What hast thou that thou hast not received? If thou hast received it, why rejoicest thou as though thou hadst not received it?” And, “Learn of me that I am meek and humble in heart.” And, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
Are you in adversity? Read the scriptures: “Great are the troubles of the righteous; but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.” And, “He shall call upon me, and I will hear him: I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and glorify him.” And Peter tells you: “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers.” “God is faithful, which will not suffer you to be tempted above that you be able, but will give the issue with the temptation, that ye may be able to bear it.” “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon him, yea, to all that call upon him in truth.”
Are you a sinner? Have you offended God?” Read the scriptures;
they will teach you, “Hate the evil, and love the good.” And again:
“Fly from evil, and do good, and dwell for ever.” Rise up and go to your Father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and against thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”
Do you despair of the mercy of God? Read the scriptures; they will teach you. Christ tells you: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Again: “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and laden; and I will ease you.” “At what hour soever a sinner doth repent him of his sin from the bottom of his heart, I will put all wickedness out of my remembrance, saith the Lord.” Again: “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.” And, “The Lord is good to all; and his mercies are over all his works.”
Are you going out of this life? Read the scriptures; they will teach you. Christ says to you: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Say with Paul: “Christ is to me both in life and in death advantage … I desire TO be loosed, and to be with Christ.”
What more should I say of the scriptures, how profitable and comfortable they are in all cases and parts of our life? in adversity, in prosperity, in life, and in death, they are our especial comfort. If we -must fight, they are a sword; if we hunger, they are meat; if we thirst, they are drink; if we have no dwelling-place, they are a house;
if we be naked, they are a garment; if we be in darkness, they be light unto our going.
They are comfortable to kings, to subjects, to old men, to young men, to man and to wife, to father and to child, to master and to servant, to captain and soldier, to preacher and people, to the learned, to the unlearned, to the wise, and to the simple.
They are comfortable in peace, in war, in heaviness, in joy, in health, and sickness, in abundance, in poverty, in the day-time, in the night-season, in the town, in the wilderness, in company, and when you are alone. For they teach faith, hope, patience, charity, sobriety, humility, righteousness, and all godliness. They teach us to live, and they teach us to die.
Therefore has Paul said well: “The whole scripture is profitable.” It is full of great comfort. It maketh the man of God absolute, and perfect unto all good works; perfect in faith, perfect in hope, perfect in the love of God and of his neighbour, perfect in his life, and perfect in his death. So great, so large and ample, and heavenly, is the profit which we do reap by the word of God.
* The quotations he makes from the scriptures are necessarily from a version prior to the King James version published in 1611.