From the Homily on the Reading of Scripture, First Book of Homilies (1547)
For the Scripture of GOD is the heavenly meat of our souls (Matthew 4.4), the hearing and keeping of it maketh us blessed (Luke 11.28), sanctifieth us (John 17.17), and maketh us holy, it turneth our souls (Psalms 19.7-10), it is a light lantern to our feet (Psalms 119.105), it is a sure, steadfast, and everlasting instrument of salvation, it giveth wisdom to the humble and lowly hearts, it comforteth, maketh glad, cheereth, and cherisheth our conscience: it is a more excellent jewel or treasure, than any gold or precious stone, it is more sweet then honey, or honey comb, it is called the best part, which Mary did choose, for it hath in it everlasting comfort (Luke 10.42). The words of holy Scripture be called words of everlasting life (John 6.68): for they be GOD’S instrument, ordained for the same purpose. They have power to turn through GOD’S promise, and they be effectual through GOD’S assistance, and (being received in a faithful heart) they have ever an heavenly spiritual working in them: they are lively, quick, and mighty in operation, and sharper than any two edged sword, and entereth through, even unto the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, of the joints and the marrow (Hebrews 4.12). Christ calleth him a wise builder, that buildeth upon his word, upon his sure and substantial foundation (Matthew 7.24). By this word of GOD, we shall be judged: for the word that I speak (saith Christ) is it, that shall judge in the last day (John 12.48). He that keepeth the word of Christ, is promised the love and favour of GOD, and that he shall be the dwelling place or temple of the blessed Trinity (John 14.23). This word, whosoever is diligent to read, and in his heart to print that he readeth, the great affection to the transitory things of this world, shall be diminished in him, and the great desire of heavenly things (that be therein promised of GOD) shall increase in him. And there is nothing that so much strengtheneth our faith and trust in GOD, that so much keepeth up innocency and pureness of the heart, and also of outward godly life and conversation, as continual reading and recording of GOD’S word. For that thing, which (by continual use of reading of holy Scripture, and diligent searching of the same) is deeply printed and graven in the heart, at length turneth almost into nature. And moreover, the effect and virtue of GOD’S word is, to illuminate the ignorant, and to give more light unto them, that faithfully and diligently read it, to comfort their hearts, and to encourage them to perform that, which of GOD is commanded. It teacheth patience in all adversity, in prosperity, humbleness: what honour is due unto GOD, what, mercy and charity to our neighbour. It giveth good counsel in all doubtful things. It showeth of whom we shall look for aid and help in all perils, and that GOD is the only giver of victory, in all battles and temptations of our enemies, bodily and ghostly (1 Sam 14.4-23, 2 Chronicles 20.7, 17, 29, 1 Corinthians 15.57, 1 John 5.4).
And in reading of GOD’S word, he most profiteth not always, that is most ready in turning of the book, or in saying of it without the book, but he that is most turned into it, that is most inspired with the holy Ghost, most in his heart and life altered and changed into that thing which he readeth: he that is daily less and less proud, less wrathful, less covetous, and less desirous of worldly and vain pleasures: he that daily (forsaking his old vicious life) increaseth in virtue more and more. And to be short, there is nothing that more maintaineth godliness of the mind, and driveth away ungodlinesse, than doth the continual reading or hearing of GOD’S word, if it be joyned with a godly mind, and a good affection, to know and follow GOD’S will.