Like the great Augustine and many of the Fathers, Andrewes’ preaching and praying were full of quotations from Holy Writ. Often these were like a work of tapestry, woven together to present a particular theme. For him Scripture had to be the sole guide for the essential doctrines of belief. Indeed it was the foundation for building up the faith. Together with reason and tradition, a double storied house could be built successfully.
Andrewes of course believed that Scripture was the result of inspiration from the various authors under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It was this influence that made them wiser than the heathen writings. Thus in the third of his Temptation sermons he declared, "Whatsoever the heathen have spoken wisely, we have far more wisely uttered by the Holy Ghost in one place or other." Although Andrewes would never place the Scriptures in the life of the Christian above the Eucharist as did the Puritans, it was nevertheless held in very high regard by him. He viewed the reading of the bible as an important means of grace as suggested in this water imagery from a Genesis lecture. "Gods word is called verbum gratiæ, which doth contain heavenly grace as the clouds doe water which by the influence of Gods spirit is made aqua vitæ and vivificans John 6:35 for the word is as seed." He therefore insisted that every Christian should hear, know and understand Scripture, as it was one of the ways that God reveals the truth, and knowledge of Himself through the Holy Spirit. One of those truths is that he who tastes of "the bread of life and the water of life ... shall never thirst", and another "that He would have none to perish" but to have everlasting life.
The importance he attached to the Scriptures in the life even of the young was evident in his series of lectures at Westminster School. Andrewes was concerned that his students would fall into one of the sins of the age by not listening attentively enough to the readings of Scripture in order to absorb its various teachings. Hence he warned them if they did not attend to it they will never be persuaded nor "feared by the threatenings, that should deter us from sin". Moreover God will never bestow His graces "when men are not fit to receive them". How important then it was for them to hear with all reverence and then "apply them to our own use." He emphasised this by taking the every day example of doing "a great indignitie" to another person when "he is talking to us, we turn our backs, or looke another way. ... How much greater is the indignity, if when the Lord of Heaven speaketh to us, about the weighty affairs of our salvation, we turn from him, talk about other matters, sleight and neglect him. ... Let us hear his word whether read or preached, not as the word of man, but as the word of God, able to save our soules."
In these lectures he stated that there were four reasons for Scripture being called holy: firstly "in respect of the holy author, God Himself"; secondly "of the holy penmen, holy men of God"; thirdly "of the holy matter they contain, the holy will and council of God"; and fourthly "of the holy use to make us wise unto salvation." He also outlined why there was an Old and New Testament. The former contained the "histories, prophecies and doctrines" which were given "to our Fathers under the Law", while the New fulfilled the Law in Christ Jesus our Saviour. To those who doubted that the Scripture was the word of God, Andrewes declared that its antiquity and universal tradition, the "testimony of God's spirit" as well as reason all pointed to its authenticity. Hence he outlined how in the early Church the Fathers upheld the authority of the Scriptures by using the accepted arguments and reasons of their day, while the Spirit often led unbelievers to acknowledge its teachings. One of the most convincing arguments, for sceptics to accept the bible, Andrewes believed, was that most of the writers of the New Testament had either lived with Christ or, like Paul, had encounters with Him. "What glory, what profit ... could they reap from being so unfaithful from using their endeavours to deceive others and leading them into such a path as leads to destruction?"
As well as Scripture revealing God's truths it also contains all that is needed for living the Christian life. For instance, Scripture was edifying in helping all kinds of sinners to face the reality of sin. Thus it speaks, firstly to the obdurate sinner, secondly, to the "more tender hearted" who weeps for his sins, and thirdly to the newly converted. For the first kind, with their "stony" hearts, God has "but by continual battering to beat them to pieces, and to that end God's word is a hammer, that breaketh the Rocks in pieces [as illustrated by Jeremiah]. Jer. 23.29 There is nothing too hard for it; it shakes such as are most confident, awakens such as are most secure, breaks such hearts as are most obdurate." For the second, God's word "hath virtue in it, to heal the broken hearted, to restore such as are tender and pliable with the spirit of meekness.” Scripture enables all to “hear what comfortable and gracious expressions there are for all those who are cast down with the sense of their sins.” Sinners will discover that “the Lord is gracious, mercyful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evill; he hath motherly bowels, tender compassions; and let all that are weary and heavy laden come to him, and he will give them rest." For the third, the newly converted, Scripture "commands us to walk circumspectly, to walk, not stand still, not to lay up our talent in a napkin, but to improve it.” Hence in the words of Paul the new in Christ are to “to abound more and more” in what they have received 1Thes. 4.1. Indeed “You should every day, outdo yourselves, strive to abound, like a river that overflows the bankes, that the streames of your goodness may make glad your neighbours, your nation no less than yourselves." Thus the Scriptures exhorts the new in the faith to "abound more, and do more, and yet more, never leave; till ye become perfect men in Christ Jesus."
It was not only to students that Andrewes preached on the Scriptural teaching on sin, but also to monarchs and courtiers. Accordingly he informed the court, which had gathered on Ash Wednesday, 1619, "Diversely and in sundry terms doth the Scripture set forth unto us the nature of repentance. Of renewing, as from a decay; of refining, as from a dross; of recovering, as from a malady; of cleansing, as from soil; of rising, as from a fall; in no one, either for sense more full, or for use more often than in this of turning." Thus it is not surprising to discover in his service of consecration when he came to the lectern he prayed: "Grant that by Thy holy word, which from this place shall be read, the hearers may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power to fulfil the same." Just as his Puritan brethren taught the necessity of scriptural meditation, so did Andrewes, but unlike them he placed it after the Sacrament and public prayer in importance. For meditative purposes Andrewes suggested in his Spital sermon that although "`every Scripture is profitable for our instruction'", there are some parts more inspirational and suitable than others for the needs and situations of all, for Prince, ... for rich, [and] for poor". For instance, psalm forty-one instructs the rich to judge "rightly of the poor", and do acts of charity towards them.
Andrewes also taught how to reap the most from meditating, by going "to the kernel and let the husk lie"; in other words, "let go the dead letter, and take we to us the spiritual meaning that has some life in it." One example he gave came from his 1623 Paschal sermon with its text "Who is this That cometh from Edom...?" in which he disclosed, "what care we for the literal Edom or Bozrah, what became of them; what are they to us? Let us compare spiritual things with spiritual things, that it must do us good." To do this, "I will give you a key." From the prophets we know that these two cities were "sworn enemies of the commonwealth of Israel." Yet there is more than this, "if the angel tells us right, Revelation the eleventh, there is `a spiritual Sodom and Egypt where our Lord was crucified'; and if they, why not a spiritual Edom too whence our Lord rose again?" For Andrewes there was quite a distinction in giving a spiritual understanding to Scripture and interpreting it allegorically as the former goes to the heart of the passage, while the latter, he believed, destroys its very substance.
The Puritans viewed the Holy Scripture as being the word of God, that is, through the written word, God has conveyed to His people the truths about Himself and man. They never conceived the Scriptures in that dynamic sense that Andrewes did. For him Scripture was not simply the written word of God but the revelation of the Word itself, the eternal Word, which has always existed within the Godhead, but at a certain point of time entered this world when the Son of God became the Son of Mary. This eternal Word is a co-worker with his Father and the Spirit in the act of creation, but more importantly He is still active in creation. He is the root which gives life to the branches. As the Word came not only as our Saviour as the "`the Only-begotten'" but also as our Teacher, "He discloseth to us all God's counsel", "the wisdom of the Father, and little by little "unfoldeth Himself." Hence in knowing God it must be "Verbum factum, `the performance'" as well as "verbum dictum, `the word spoken.'" So Scripture more importantly presents the living Word of God by whom comes both grace and truth; "grace referred to the Son, truth to the Word"; grace is to adopt us, truth to get us anew." It is only through grace that we discover the Word, and after "grace hath brought us to Him, truth will hold us with Him." So the written word and the Living Word, truth and grace cannot be separated, and indeed are united in the Sacrament of the altar where "all may resort to Him. For Andrewes then Scripture and Sacrament could not be parted. "To go to the word and flesh together. ... But at this now, we are not to content ourselves with one alone; but since He offereth to communicate Himself both ways, never restrain Him to one. The word we hear is the abstract of Verbum; the Sacrament is the antetype of caro, His flesh. What better way than where these are actually joined, actually to partake them both? Not either alone, the word or flesh; but the word and flesh both, for there they are both." In accordance with his universal teaching on redemption and grace, Andrewes emphasised that as the Scriptures revealed Christ as the Redeemer of the fallen world, “the bible is a book of hope for Christians. It is the general use of all our knowledge of the Scriptures, `Whatsoever is written for our learning, that we by patience and comfort in the Scriptures may have hope.' Generally of all, but above all of these, of Christ our Redeemer. He is our hope, and His rising, that is caput bonae spei, `our cape of good hope', the most hopeful of all other." As much as Andrewes encouraged knowing the Bible, he was very much against private interpretations. Perhaps he saw enough of what was happening amongst dissenters to force him to make such a stand. Thus Andrewes insisted that Scripture could only ever be taught in the context of the Church so that Christians could be guided to know the truths of God, beginning from the simple, and gradually proceeding into more complex doctrines. Otherwise they utter all kinds of untruths from lack of true understanding of the Scripture. How dangerous it was, even "folly and madness to venture at first to swim in ... water before we learn to wade." Indeed many "have been drowned in these deep waters." Nevertheless "we may see it every where, many reeds shaken with the wind, tossed to and fro with the wind of every doctrine, now whence proceed so many mishaps from errors."
In his parish church of St. Giles’ he gave a scathing sermon, entitled Of Imaginations in which he complained of those who were wringing from the Scriptures meanings which were “never meant”, and suggested they do as he does, to turn to the Fathers who made “sureties” against “strange senses to places of Scriptures”.
That Andrewes practised as he preached we know from observations of his life in Cambridge when he attended a weekly study of the Scriptures with other divines similar to the former White Horse circle. During his life Andrewes was recognized in Europe as being one of the foremost scholars of his time with a great understanding and knowledge of the Scriptures. Undoubtedly he was, but to-day he would be described as a fundamentalist as he believed, for example, that Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch and these books were amongst the oldest ever written. Indeed he believed that the last of the books of the Old Testament to be written was that of Esdras whom he believed was a contemporary of Cyrus, the great Persian king who invaded Greece at the beginning of the sixth century B.C. Of course we know to-day that the compilation of the Old Testament was a long process, undergoing many editions of editing by different schools such as the Deuteronomistic in the 6thC. B.C. and the priestly in the 5th.
He took the creation narrative as being literally true. Thus he did not take kindly to those of his time who interpreted parts of the Scriptures as allegorical. Thus in one of his creation lectures he complained, "There are with us and in our age which draw everything to a figurative sense", and as a result they turn "Gods Paradise" into a "fools Paradise". He maintained that this was certainly not the thoughts of the Fathers such as Epiphanius and Chrysostom who opposed such allegorizing of God's paradise. Here Andrewes overlooked the teaching of the Alexandrian school and the mediæval tradition! So did Cosin, who on the same subject emphasised "that there was a tree, forbidden tree, whereof this woman did really eat; and that there was a serpent, a deceiving serpent, by whom she was really beguiled." However there are some of "licentious wits" who take all these as allegories. They have made "an imaginary doctrine of their own ... which came first either from the fancy of the heathen poets, ... or from Julian the apostate and his master Porphyry."
For Andrewes as with Hooker understanding of Scripture could never be separated from reason and enlightened knowledge which "is a virtue of the reasonable part". The former stated that "as the sun giveth light to the body, so God hath provided light for the soul; and that is, first, the light of nature, ... from this light we have ... knowledge. ... With this light `every one that cometh into the world' is enlightened." Through this enlightenment we can come to see that "the bible is the perfect rule of knowledge." This is not unlike what the Puritans called "inner light" which "makes us see in the Scriptures more cleere .. than we see the Sunne light with our own eyes." However for the Puritans this enlightenment always followed faith; it could never be given before. Hence they maintained that the heathens could not possess reason or true enlightenment. Not so, argued Andrewes, reason is a gift from God given to the "natural man", and so even in him it is not "so repugnant from Faith". This he believed was manifested in the "Heathenist Philosophers" who in their writings also acknowledged God as the creator of the universe.
By using our gift of reason Andrewes also showed how it aided "to find out the true sense of the Scriptures". This, he suggested, was accomplished by following six basic steps. The first is prayer; the second is comparing places; the third is examining the original tongue (i.e. Hebrew for the Old and Greek for the New Testament); the fourth is a knowledge of the dialect in which they were written; the fifth is a consideration of the intent of the sacred writer; and the sixth is a study of the circumstances involved.
Brightman did a most splendid service to posterity when he edited a version of the Preces Privatæ in 1903, and gave the text references for Andrewes’ prayers. When one prays or studies these I don’t think there is one prayer that is not almost a collection of verses from holy writ. He must have known his bible almost as we know our ABC. I know when I was working on Ms. 3707 in Lambeth Palace Library, a collection of sermons and catechetical lectures a decade ago, he put in parenthesis biblical references for quotations. Just occasionally one would be wrong, but usually only by a verse or two.
Furthermore when Andrewes prayed daily he intertwined people of the bible with his own spiritual needs. Let’s have a look at his Morning Prayers. On Monday he prays with Moses and Job, on Tuesday with David and Solomon, on Wednesday with Isaiah, Jeremiah and St. Paul, on Thursday with John and Daniel, on Friday from some of the prophets and Saturday from Ezra and the Apocrypha.
Who can tell how often he offends? Cleanse me from my secret faults. Ps.19-12-3 Above all keep your servant from presumptious sins let them not get dominion over me. For your name's sake, O Lord, forgive my sin for it is great. Ps. 40.15-6 Innumerable troubles have crowded upon me; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me, O Lord, make haste to help me. Show me your marvellous loving kindness, Ps.17.7 O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand. I said, Lord, be merciful to me, Ps.41.4 heal me, for I have sinned against you. but I am ashamed 2Ch. 7.14 and I turn from my sinful ways and I turn to my heart and I return to you with all my heart Bar.2.30 and seek your face2Ch,.6.38 and pray to you saying2Ch. 7.14 I have sinned, I have done wrong, I am wicked. 2Ch.6.31 I know, O Lord, the plague of my heart 1Kg.8.38 and look! I turn to you with all my heart 2Ch. 6.37 and with all my strength And now O Lord, from where you dwell 2Ch..6.30 and from the throne of the glory Wis. 9.10 of your Kingdom in heaven, hear the cries and the prayers of your servant1Kg. 8.38 and forgive him, 2Ch. 6.19. and heal his soul. Ps.41-4
When you showed your anger, we sinnedIs. 64.5 and in spite of it, We have all become like something unclean and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy rag, we all wither like leaves and our iniquities carry Yet, Lord, your are our Father; We are the clay, you are the potter 64.8. And all of us are your handiwork.
Do not let your anger pass all abounds, Lord, and do not remember our sins.
Look on us all, look on your people. Though our sins testify against us, 14.7 yet take action, Lord, for your own name's sake. Our disloyalties indeed are many; we have sinned against you. You are in our midst, Lord, and we bear your name. Do not forsake us. 14.9 Hope of Israel, their saviour in time of trouble 14. 3, 9 must you be like a man suddenly overcome, like a warrior powerless to save himself. Forgive, O Lord, our wrongdoing, and call to mind our sin no more. 31. 34 I listened intently; Ephraim was rocking in his grief: 31.18-9 'I was like a calf unbroken to the yoke; Bring me back and let me return, Though I broke away I have repented: now that I am submissive I beat my breast; in shame and remorse. Lord, I am unspiritual Rom. 7.14 Sold as a slave to sin nothing good dwells Rom. 7.18 in me (that is, in my flesh) I do not even acknowledge my own actions as mine Rom.7.15-6 for what I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest. But if what I do is against my will, then clearly agree with the law and hold it to be admirable I delight in the law of God fighting against a law that my mind approves and making me a prisoner Wretched creature that I am! Rom. 7.24 Who is there to rescue me from this state of death? Who but God? Thanks be to Him through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Rom. 7.25 (that) where sin was multiplied Rom.7.25. grace immeasurably succeeded it. Rom.5. 20 O Lord, your kindness leads me to repentance Rom.2.4 God, grant me a change of heart trapped, and held at his will.
I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have done wickedly Dan.9.4 from thy precepts and from thy judgements. 0 Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto me confusion of face because of the rejection wherewith Thou hast rejected us.v.7 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face and to our princes, because we have sinned against Thee. v. 8. O Lord, in all things is thy righteousness :
let then thine anger and thy fury be turned away, and cause thy face to shine
O my God, incline thine ear and hear : open thine eyes and behold my desolations. v. 18 O Lord, hear : o Lord, forgive: o Lord, hearken : hearken, o Lord, and do and defer not, for thy servant is called by thy Name. v. 19. If I claim to be sinless, I am self deceived I Jn. 1.8 and the truth is not in me: but I confess my sins, many and grievous,I Jn. 1.9
and you Lord, when I confess, are just and may be trusted to forgive
And for this I have an Advocate with you, and to you, Let him be the sacrifice to atone for my sins and not mine only
I have rebelled against Thee, o Lord, but I return unto Thee: 13. 16, 14.1. I have fallen by mine iniquity : but I take with me words and I turn unto Thee saying Forgive sin and receive prayer : and so will I render Thee the calves of my lips. 14.2. Spare, o Lord, spare, and give not thine heritage to reproach unto thine enemies. l2. 17 0 Lord, Lord, forgive : cease, I beseech Thee :7. 2 by whom shall Jacob arise ? for he is small. Repent, o Lord, for this :v.3 this also shall not be.v.6 Observing lying vanities 2. 8 I forsook my own mercy, and I was cast out of thy sight :v. 4 when my soul fainted in me I remembered the Lord.v.7 I will look yet again towards thy holy temple,v. 4 and it is Thou that shalt bring up my life from the pit. v. 6 Who is a God. like unto Thee, that passest by the iniquity of the remnant of thine heritage ? 7. 18 Thou wilt not hold fast thine anger for ever, because Thou delightest in mercy. Turn again, have compassion upon us, o Lord v. 9: subdue our iniquities, and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea, after thy truth and after thy mercy. V. 20.
Perhaps as we ponder on how Andrewes used Scripture for his prayer life he may inspire us to do likewise.