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same cunning. But the Holy Scriptures carry with them a holy oneness, which sounds in our ears with such forcé and majesty, even without any exertion of ours, that, leading captive and cutting up all the schemes of human cunning, it urges and compels us to acknowledge “ Never man spake like this man.” This is “ the finger of God," for " he teaches as one having authority, and not as the scribes and pharisees.” With which sentiments, when Stupitius willingly coincided, and expressed his commendation of them, he told me, that you put forth your hand and demanded his, and said, Promise me, I pray thee, that thou wilt always think so.'
And were not this sentiment and this request such as would become even a most holy and high Pope ? and the more so, as it may be clearly perceived, that they were not only expressed in word, but accompanied with a feeling sense of heart? Can we not, then, clearly discern who are the true theologians? Let shame, therefore, seize those theologians and lawyers especially, to whom the Holy Scriptures have become almost an object of ridicule, and who, tacking to them their infinite glosses, pestilently torment those, (as Hieronymus says) who, in every thing they say, wish to appeal to the Word of God. As if Christ had said to Peter, 'command,' or • lay injunctions on,' or teach,' and not rather, “feed, my sheep: that is, deliver to them that which will feed them. And such are fed by the Word of God only, and not by the opinions and traditions of men. And moreover, that nothing so acute can be brought forward, (as you justly observed,) which may not be rebutted by the same human cunning, is abundantly shown us in that miserable workhouse, in which the disciples of Scotus, Thomas, Albertus, Modernus, and all those others who have their peculiar followers, squander away their time.
I confess, most illustrious Prince, that by this sweet account of you which I heard, I was wholly captivated, and constrained to love you. For I know not how it is, but I cannot help loving all whom I hear to be lovers of the holy Scriptures; nor, on the other hand, hating those who are obstinate and despise them : so that, in each
respect, from the force of my feelings, I am filled with vehemence, and, as certain of my good friends say of me, am severe and vain-glorious. But let them criminate me as they will: they may affix, to me epithets both good and bad, of the first, second, or third kind, and impose them upon me, but they will never take away from me the grand essentials of theology, nor extinguish my love of them if Christ but continue to smile upon me. I know what scholastic theology did for me: I know also how much I owe to it: and I am glad that I am delivered from it, and give thanks for my deliverance to Christ the Lord. I have no need that they should teach me what it is, for I know what it is already: nor is it of any service for them to endeavour to reconcile me unto it, for I will have nothing to do with it.
Bear, therefore, most illustrious Prince, with my desiring to send forth this little work into the world with the name of your Highness affixed to it, and consider it as a token of my love. I now, for the second time, undertake the Exposition of the Psalms in your Wittemberg, being requested and urged so to do by my hearers, who are some of the best of men, and to whom I cannot deny that I am a debtor. But I so profess to undertake them, as being quite unwilling that any one should presume to expect that from me, which no one of the most holy and most learned of the fathers could ever yet pretend to,--that I should understand and teach the Psalms in all respects according to their real sense and meaning. It is enough that some men understand some parts of them. The Holy Spirit always reserves much to himself, in order that he may keep us learners under him. Many things he only holds out in order to allure us on: and many things he delivers to us that they may work effectually in us. And, as Augustine has greatly remarked, “No man ever yet so spoke as to be understood by all in all things :' which leaves that great truth the more manifest, that it is the Holy Ghost alone who has the understanding of all his own words.
Wherefore, it becomes me candidly to confess, that
I know not whether or not mine is, to a certainty, the true meaning of the Psalms, though I nevertheless hold no doubt, that what I have delivered is truth. For what Augustine, Hieronymus, Athanasius, Hilary, Cassiodorus, and others, have said upon the Psalms, is truth, though it is sometimes very far indeed from the literal meaning. And thus, this second exposition which I have undertaken, is very different from my first. And indeed there is not one book of the whole Bible in which I have been so much exercised as in the Psalms: till at last I came to this opinion,—that no man's interpretation, provided it be a godly one, should be rejected, unless he that rejects it submit himself to the same law of retaliation. One man may fall short in many things, and another in more. I may see many things which Augustine did not see. And I am persuaded that others will see many things which I do not see now.
What course then remains for us to pursue, but that we mutually assist each other, and pardon those who fail, knowing that we are liable to fail ourselves ? For let us not by any means follow the example of that most detestable and most vile race of men, who, though they cannot themselves perform one single thing that deserves not to be exposed, yet, when they find the least imperfection of a hair's or straw's value in the productions of another, immediately consider themselves worthy of being rewarded with all the triumphs of Pompey. I know it to be the most impudent height of temerity, for any one boldly to profess, that he understands any one book of the Scriptures fully in all its parts ! Nay, who will presume to maintain that he understands fully and perfectly any one single Psalm ? Our life is only a beginning, and a going on, and not a consummation. He rises the highest, who comes the nearest to the Holy Spirit. If I can touch the moon, I am not immediately to imagine that I have touched the sun also: nor am I to look with disdain upon the lesser stars. There are degrees in living and acting, and why not in understanding also ? The apostle says, that we are “changed from glory to glory.” And, to open my
design plainly,---I only write for the service of those, who know not these things, but wish to know them : and therefore, it will be at least a satisfaction to me to reflect, that I have hereby engaged myself and my hearers in a better employment of mind, than if I had been adding new clouds of darkness, and fresh toads and flies of corruption, to the books of human opinions.
This book of Psalms is, in my opinion, of a different nature from all the other books. For in the other books we are taught what we ought to do, both by precept and example. But this book not only teaches us, but shows us in what way and manner we may do the Word, and imitate the examples it contains. For it is not in our power or strength to fulfil the law of God, or to imitate Christ: all we can do, is, to desire and pray that we might be able to do the Word, and imitate Christ's example; and, when we have gained some power so to do, to praise, and give thanks unto God. What else then is the Psaltry, but praying to, and praising of, God? that is, a book of hymns ?
Therefore, the most gracious and blessed Spirit of God, the Father of his humble scholars, and the teacher of infants, well knowing that “we know not how to pray as we ought,” (as Paul saith,) in order to help our infirmities, (like schoolmasters who compose letters or subjects for their pupils to write home to their parents,) has prepared for us in this book words and feeling sensations, in which we may converse with our heavenly Father, and pray unto him concerning those things which he has taught us in the other books are to be done and imitated; that man may not want any thing that is necessary unto his eternal salvation. So great are the care of God over us, and his kindness to us!-Who is blessed for ever. And in whom, may your most gracious Highness live and prosper now and for evermore! Amen.
FIRST TWENTY-TWO PSALMS.
PSA L M I.
Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, and hath not sat in the seat of pestilence. There is a common inquiry among men concerning blessedness: and there is no one who does not wish that things may go well with him, and does not dread the thought that things should go ill with him. And yet all who have ever thus inquired have wandered from the knowledge of true blessedness : and they have wandered the most widely who have inquired with the greatest diligence: such as the philosophers: the greatest of whom have placed true blessedness in virtue, or in the actions of virtue : whereby, having rendered themselves more unhappy than the rest, they have deprived themselves of the blessings both of this life and of that which is to come. Whereas, the commonalty, though their ideas were the more grossly mad, by making blessedness to consist in carnal pleasure, enjoyed at least the good of this life.
This teacher, however, fetching his doctrine from heaven, detests all the devoted endeavours of
and gives this only true definition of blessedness which is