THE TEACHING OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. PART 2.
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT. (FROM THE EPISTLE.)
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”
As we have treated of above, there are two books which are written for our learning, the book of the Creation, which formed the subject of the former homily; and the book of Scripture, of which we have now to speak. This book teaches us two things, things good and things evil: the good, that we should perform them; the evil, that we should avoid them. There are three attributes which are taught us about the Good, (1) precepts, (2) counsels, and (3) promises; for the Good is threefold, and it is both honest, and pleasant, and profitable.
(1) The precepts teach us honest good, because they teach the worship of the One God, and fairness of manners and of virtues which make the honest man.
(2) In counsels there is the useful good. “If thou wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matt 19:21).
(3) The delightful or joyous good flows from promises. “I will see you
again, and your heart shall rejoice” (John 16:22). “Hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and the judgments which I teach you that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you” (Deut 4:1).
Likewise, concerning the evil things there are three points to be noticed prohibitions, dissuasions, and commiiiations, and they agree with the threefold nature of evil. There is (1) the evil of deadly sin, (2) of venial sin, and (3) of the sin of eternal punishment. The prohibitions (of Scripture) refer to the evil of deadly sin, “Neither shalt thou commit fornication,” &c., and so with regard to the other prohibitions. The dissuasions refer to venial sins, “He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little. Thou hast avoided grand things, be careful lest thou art overwhelmed in the sand” (Eccles 19:1) Comminations have respect to the evil of eternal punishment “For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched” (Isa 64:24). Rightly, therefore, does the Apostle say that whatever things were written in the book of Scripture were written for our instruction.