1632 By George Herbert

The Parsons Knowledg.

THe Countrey Parson is full of all knowledg. They say,
it is an ill Mason that refuseth any stone: and there is
no knowledg, but, in a skilfull hand, serves either positively
as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge. He con-
descends even to the knowledge of tillage, and pastorage,
and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by
what they understand, are best led to what they understand
not. But the chief and top of his knowledge consists in the
book of books, the storehouse and magazene of life and com-
fort, the holy Scriptures. There he sucks, and lives. In the
Scriptures hee findes four things; Precepts for life, Doctrines
for knowledge, Examples for illustration, and Promises for
comfort: These he hath digested severally. But for the
understanding of these; the means he useth are first, a holy
Life, remembring what his Master saith) that if any do Gods
will, he shall know of the Doctrine, John 7[:17]
. and assuring
himself, that wicked men, however learned, do not know
the Scriptures, because they feel them not, and because they
are not understood but with the same Spirit that writ them.
The second means is prayer, which if it be necessary even
in temporall things, how much more in things of another
world, where the well is deep, and we have nothing of our
selves to draw with? Wherefore he ever begins the reading
of the Scripture with some short inward ejaculation, as,
Lord open mine eyes, that I may see the wondrous things of thy
Law. &c.
The third means is a diligent Collation of Scrip-
ture with Scripture. For all Truth being consonant to it
self, and all being penn'd by one and the self-same Spirit,
it cannot be, but that an industrious, and judicious com-
paring of place with place must be a singular help for the
right understanding of the Scriptures. To this may be added
the consideration of any text with the coherence thereof,
touching what goes before, and what follows after, as also the
scope of the Holy Ghost. When the Apostles would have
called down fire from Heaven, they were reproved, as
ignorant of what spirit they were. For the Law required one
thing, and the Gospel another: yet as diverse, not as repug-
nant: therefore the spirit of both is to be considered, and
weighed. The fourth means are Commenters and Fathers,
who have handled the places controverted, which the Parson
by no means refuseth. As he doth not so study others, as to
neglect the grace of God in himself, and what the Holy
Spirit teacheth him; so doth he assure himself, that God in
all ages hath had his servants, to whom he hath revealed his
Truth, as well as to him; and that as one Countrey doth not
bear all things, that there may be a Commerce; so neither
hath God opened, or will open all to one, that there may be
a traffick in knowledg between the servants of God, for the
planting both of love, and humility. Wherfore he hath one
Comment at least upon every book of Scripture, and plough-
ing with this, and his own meditations, he enters into the
secrets of God treasured in the holy Scripture.

Editor's Note: On Herbert's interpretation of Scripture see "H. Scripture II" from The Temple.

Next Chapter Table of Chapter Contents Bible Refenence Table George Herbert & The Temple Home Page