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Sermons on the Card and Other Discourses by Hugh Latimer

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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1883 Cassell & Co. edition edition.


by Hugh Latimer


Hugh Latimer, a farmer's son, was born about the year 1491, at
Thurcaston, in Leicestershire. He was an only son, with six
sisters, who were all well cared for at home. He was a boy of
fourteen when sent to Clare College, Cambridge. When about twenty-
four years old, he had obtained a college fellowship, had taken the
degree of Master of Arts, and was ordained Priest of the Roman
Church at Lincoln. In 1524, at the age of about thirty, he
proceeded to the degree of B.D., and on the occasion of his doing so
he argued publicly for the Pope's authority against opinions of
Melancthon. Thomas Bilney went afterwards to Latimer's rooms, gave
him his own reasons for goodwill to the teaching of Melancthon, and
explained to him his faith as a Reformer in a way that secured
Latimer's attention. Latimer's free, vigorous mind, admitted the
new reasonings, and in his after-life he looked always upon "little
Bilney" as the man who had first opened his eyes.

With homely earnestness Latimer began soon to express his new
convictions. His zeal and purity of life had caused him to be
trusted by the University as a maintainer of old ways; he had been
appointed cross-bearer to the University, and elected one of the
twelve preachers annually appointed in obedience to a bull of Pope
Alexander VI. Now Latimer walked and worked with Bilney, visiting
the sick and the prisoners, and reasoning together of the needs of
Christendom. The Bishop of the diocese presently forbade Latimer's
preaching in any of the pulpits of the University. Robert Barnes,
prior of the Augustinian Friars at Cambridge, a man stirred to the
depths by the new movement of thought, then invited Latimer to
preach in the church of the Augustinians. Latimer was next summoned
before Wolsey, whom he satisfied so well that Wolsey overruled the
Bishop's inhibition, and Latimer again became a free preacher in

The influence of Latimer's preaching became every year greater; and
in December, 1529, he gave occasion to new controversy in the
University by his two Sermons on the Card, delivered in St. Edward's
Church, on the Sunday before Christmas, 1529. Card-playing was in
those days an amusement especially favoured at Christmas time.
Latimer does not express disapproval, though the Reformers generally
were opposed to it. The early statutes of St. John's College,
Cambridge, forbade playing with dice or cards by members of the
college at any time except Christmas, but excluded undergraduates
even from the Christmas privilege. In these sermons Latimer used
the card-playing of the season for illustrations of spiritual truth
drawn from the trump card in triumph, and the rules of the game of
primero. His homely parables enforced views of religious duty more
in accordance with the mind of the Reformers than of those who held
by the old ways. The Prior of the Dominicans at Cambridge tried to
answer Latimer's sermon on the cards with an antagonistic sermon on
the dice: the orthodox Christian was to win by a throw of cinque
and quatre--the cinque, five texts to be quoted against Luther; and
the quatre the four great doctors of the Church. Latimer replied
with vigour; others ranged themselves on one side or the other, and
there was general battle in the University; but the King's Almoner
soon intervened with a letter commanding silence on both sides till
the King's pleasure was further declared. The King's good-will to
Latimer was due, as the letter indicated, to the understanding that
Latimer "favoured the King's cause" in the question of divorce from
Katherine of Arragon.

In March, 1530, Latimer was called to preach before Henry VIII., at
Windsor. The King then made Latimer his chaplain, and in the
following year gave him the rectory of West Kington, in Wiltshire.
The new rector, soon accused of heresy, was summoned before the
Bishop of London and before Convocation; was excommunicated and
imprisoned, and absolved by special request of the King. When
Cranmer became Archbishop of Canterbury, Latimer returned into royal
favour, and preached before the King on Wednesdays in Lent. In
1535, when an Italian nominee of the Pope's was deprived of the
Bishopric of Worcester, Latimer was made his successor; but resigned
in 1539, when the King, having virtually made himself Pope, dictated
to a tractable parliament enforcement of old doctrines by an Act for
Abolishing Diversity of Opinion. From that time until the death of
Henry VIII. Latimer was in disgrace.

The accession of Edward VI. brought him again to the front, and the
Sermon on the Plough, in this volume, is a famous example of his use
of his power under Edward VI., as the greatest preacher of his time,
in forwarding the Reformation of the Church, and of the lives of
those who professed and called themselves Christians. The rest of
his story will be associated in another volume of this Library with
a collection of his later sermons.

H. M.



Tu quis es? Which words are as much to say in English, "Who art
thou?" These be the words of the Pharisees, which were sent by the
Jews unto St. John Baptist in the wilderness, to have knowledge of
him who he was: which words they spake unto him of an evil intent,
thinking that he would have taken on him to be Christ, and so they
would have had him done with their good wills, because they knew
that he was more carnal, and given to their laws, than Christ indeed
should be, as they perceived by their old prophecies; and also,
because they marvelled much of his great doctrine, preaching, and
baptizing, they were in doubt whether he was Christ or not:
wherefore they said unto him, "Who art thou?" Then answered St.
John, and confessed that he was not Christ.

Now here is to be noted the great and prudent answer of St. John
Baptist unto the Pharisees, that when they required of him who he
was, he would not directly answer of himself what he was himself,
but he said he was not Christ: by the which saying he thought to
put the Jews and Pharisees out of their false opinion and belief
towards him, in that they would have had him to exercise the office
of Christ; and so declared further unto them of Christ, saying, "He
is in the midst of you and amongst you, whom ye know not, whose
latchet of his shoe I am not worthy to unloose, or undo." By this
you may perceive that St. John spake much in the laud and praise of
Christ his Master, professing himself to be in no wise like unto
him. So likewise it shall be necessary unto all men and women of
this world, not to ascribe unto themselves any goodness of
themselves, but all unto our Lord God, as shall appear hereafter,
when this question aforesaid, "Who art thou?" shall be moved unto
them: not as the Pharisees did unto St. John, of an evil purpose,
but of a good and simple mind, as may appear hereafter.

Now then, according to the preacher's mind, let every man and woman,
of a good and simple mind, contrary to the Pharisees' intent, ask
this question, "Who art thou?" This question must be moved to
themselves, what they be of themselves, on this fashion: "What art
thou of thy only and natural generation between father and mother,
when thou camest into this world? What substance, what virtue, what
goodness art thou of, by thyself?" Which question if thou rehearse
oftentimes unto thyself, thou shalt well perceive and understand how
thou shalt make answer unto it; which must be made on this wise: I
am of myself, and by myself, coming from my natural father and
mother, the child of the ire and indignation of God, the true
inheritor of hell, a lump of sin, and working nothing of myself but
all towards hell, except I have better help of another than I have
of myself. Now we may see in what state we enter into this world,
that we be of ourselves the true and just inheritors of hell, the
children of the ire and indignation of Christ, working all towards
hell, whereby we deserve of ourselves perpetual damnation, by the
right judgment of God, and the true claim of ourselves; which
unthrifty state that we be born unto is come unto us for our own
deserts, as proveth well this example following:

Let it be admitted for the probation of this, that it might please
the king's grace now being to accept into his favour a mean man, of
a simple degree and birth, not born to any possession; whom the
king's grace favoureth, not because this person hath of himself
deserved any such favour, but that the king casteth this favour unto
him of his own mere motion and fantasy: and for because the king's
grace will more declare his favour unto him, he giveth unto this
said man a thousand pounds in lands, to him and his heirs, on this
condition, that he shall take upon him to be the chief captain and
defender of his town of Calais, and to be true and faithful to him
in the custody of the same, against the Frenchmen especially, above
all other enemies.

This man taketh on him this charge, promising his fidelity
thereunto. It chanceth in process of time, that by the singular
acquaintance and frequent familiarity of this captain with the
Frenchmen, these Frenchmen give unto the said captain of Calais a
great sum of money, so that he will but be content and agreeable
that they may enter into the said town of Calais by force of arms;
and so thereby possess the same unto the crown of France. Upon this
agreement the Frenchmen do invade the said town of Calais, alonely
by the negligence of this captain.

Now the king's grace, hearing of this invasion, cometh with a great
puissance to defend this his said town, and so by good policy of war
overcometh the said Frenchmen, and entereth again into his said town
of Calais. Then he, being desirous to know how these enemies of his
came thither, maketh profound search and inquiry by whom this
treason was conspired. By this search it was known and found his
own captain to be the very author and the beginner of the betraying
of it. The king, seeing the great infidelity of this person,
dischargeth this man of his office, and taketh from him and from his
heirs this thousand pounds of possessions. Think you not that the
king doth use justice unto him, and all his posterity and heirs?
Yes, truly: the said captain cannot deny himself but that he had
true justice, considering how unfaithfully he behaved him to his
prince, contrary to his own fidelity and promise. So likewise it
was of our first father Adam. He had given unto him the spirit of
science and knowledge, to work all goodness therewith: this said
spirit was not given alonely unto him, but unto all his heirs and
posterity. He had also delivered him the town of Calais; that is to
say, paradise in earth, the most strong and fairest town in the
world, to be in his custody. He nevertheless, by the instigation of
these Frenchmen, that is to say, the temptation of the fiend, did
obey unto their desire; and so he brake his promise and fidelity,
the commandment of the everlasting King his master, in eating of the
apple by him inhibited.

Now then the King, seeing this great treason in his captain, deposed
him of the thousand pounds of possessions, that is to say, from
everlasting life in glory, and all his heirs and posterity: for
likewise as he had the spirit of science and knowledge, for him and
his heirs; so in like manner, when he lost the same, his heirs also
lost it by him and in him. So now this example proveth, that by our
father Adam we had once in him the very inheritance of everlasting
joy; and by him, and in him, again we lost the same.

The heirs of the captain of Calais could not by any manner of claim
ask of the king the right and title of their father in the thousand
pounds of possessions, by reason the king might answer and say unto
them, that although their father deserved not of himself to enjoy so
great possessions, yet he deserved by himself to lose them, and
greater, committing so high treason, as he did, against his prince's
commandments; whereby he had no wrong to lose his title, but was
unworthy to have the same, and had therein true justice. Let not
you think, which be his heirs, that if he had justice to lose his
possessions, you have wrong to lose the same. In the same manner it
may be answered unto all men and women now being, that if our father
Adam had true justice to be excluded from his possession of
everlasting glory in paradise, let us not think the contrary that be
his heirs, but that we have no wrong in losing also the same; yea,
we have true justice and right. Then in what miserable estate we
be, that of the right and just title of our own deserts have lost
the everlasting joy, and claim of ourselves to be true inheritors of
hell! For he that committeth deadly sin willingly, bindeth himself
to be inheritor of everlasting pain: and so did our forefather Adam
willingly eat of the apple forbidden. Wherefore he was cast out of
the everlasting joy in paradise into this corrupt world, amongst all
vileness, whereby of himself he was not worthy to do any thing
laudable or pleasant to God, evermore bound to corrupt affections
and beastly appetites, transformed into the most uncleanest and
variablest nature that was made under heaven; of whose seed and
disposition all the world is lineally descended, insomuch that this
evil nature is so fused and shed from one into another, that at this
day there is no man nor woman living that can of themselves wash
away this abominable vileness: and so we must needs grant of
ourselves to be in like displeasure unto God, as our forefather Adam
was. By reason hereof as I said, we be of ourselves the very
children of the indignation and vengeance of God, the true
inheritors of hell, and working all towards hell: which is the
answer to this question, made to every man and woman, by themselves,
"Who art thou?"

And now, the world standing in this damnable state, cometh in the
occasion of the incarnation of Christ. The Father in heaven,
perceiving the frail nature of man, that he, by himself and of
himself, could do nothing for himself, by his prudent wisdom sent
down the second person in Trinity, his Son Jesus Christ, to declare
unto man his pleasure and commandment: and so, at the Father's
will, Christ took on him human nature, being willing to deliver man
out of this miserable way, and was content to suffer cruel passion
in shedding his blood for all mankind; and so left behind for our
safeguard laws and ordinances, to keep us always in the right path
unto everlasting life, as the evangelists, the sacraments, the
commandments, and so forth: which, if we do keep and observe
according to our profession, we shall answer better unto this
question, "Who art thou?" than we did before. For before thou didst
enter into the sacrament of baptism, thou wert but a natural man, a
natural woman; as I might say, a man, a woman: but after thou
takest on thee Christ's religion, thou hast a longer name; for then
thou art a christian man, a christian woman. Now then, seeing thou
art a christian man, what shall be thy answer of this question, "Who
art thou?"

The answer of this question is, when I ask it unto myself, I must
say that I am a christian man, a christian woman, the child of
everlasting joy, through the merits of the bitter passion of Christ.
This is a joyful answer. Here we may see how much we be bound and
in danger unto God, that hath revived us from death to life, and
saved us that were damned: which great benefit we cannot well
consider, unless we do remember what we were of ourselves before we
meddled with him or his laws; and the more we know our feeble
nature, and set less by it, the more we shall conceive and know in
our hearts what God hath done for us; and the more we know what God
hath done for us, the less we shall set by ourselves, and the more
we shall love and please God: so that in no condition we shall
either know ourselves or God, except we do utterly confess ourselves
to be mere vileness and corruption. Well, now it is come unto this
point, that we be christian men, christian women, I pray you what
doth Christ require of a christian man, or of a christian woman?
Christ requireth nothing else of a christian man or woman, but that
they will observe his rule: for likewise as he is a good Augustine
friar that keepeth well St. Augustine's rule, so is he a good
christian man that keepeth well Christ's rule.

Now then, what is Christ's rule? Christ's rule consisteth in many
things, as in the commandments, and the works of mercy, and so
forth. And for because I cannot declare Christ's rule unto you at
one time, as it ought to be done, I will apply myself according to
your custom at this time of Christmas: I will, as I said, declare
unto you Christ's rule, but that shall be in Christ's cards. And
whereas you are wont to celebrate Christmas in playing at cards, I
intend, by God's grace, to deal unto you Christ's cards, wherein you
shall perceive Christ's rule. The game that we will play at shall
be called the triumph, which, if it be well played at, he that
dealeth shall win; the players shall likewise win; and the standers
and lookers upon shall do the same; insomuch that there is no man
that is willing to play at this triumph with these cards, but they
shall be all winners, and no losers.

Let therefore every christian man and woman play at these cards,
that they may have and obtain the triumph: you must mark also that
the triumph must apply to fetch home unto him all the other cards,
whatsoever suit they be of. Now then, take ye this first card,
which must appear and be shewed unto you as followeth: you have
heard what was spoken to men of the old law, "Thou shalt not kill;
whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment: but I say unto
you" of the new law, saith Christ, "that whosoever is angry with his
neighbour, shall be in danger of judgment; and whosoever shall say
unto his neighbour, 'Raca,' that is to say, brainless," or any other
like word of rebuking, "shall be in danger of council; and whosoever
shall say unto his neighbour, 'Fool,' shall be in danger of hell-
fire." This card was made and spoken by Christ, as appeareth in the
fifth chapter of St. Matthew.

Now it must be noted, that whosoever shall play with this card, must
first, before they play with it, know the strength and virtue of the
same: wherefore you must well note and mark terms, how they be
spoken, and to what purpose. Let us therefore read it once or
twice, that we may be the better acquainted with it.

Now behold and see, this card is divided into four parts: the first
part is one of the commandments that was given unto Moses in the old
law, before the coming of Christ; which commandment we of the new
law be bound to observe and keep, and it is one of our commandments.
The other three parts spoken by Christ be nothing else but
expositions unto the first part of this commandment: for in very
effect all these four parts be but one commandment, that is to say,
"Thou shalt not kill." Yet nevertheless, the last three parts do
shew unto thee how many ways thou mayest kill thy neighbour contrary
to this commandment: yet, for all Christ's exposition in the three
last parts of this card, the terms be not open enough to thee that
dost read and hear them spoken. No doubt, the Jews understood
Christ well enough, when he spake to them these three last
sentences; for he spake unto them in their own natural terms and
tongue. Wherefore, seeing that these terms were natural terms of
the Jews, it shall be necessary to expound them, and compare them
unto some like terms of our natural speech, that we, in like manner,
may understand Christ as well as the Jews did. We will begin first
with the first part of this card, and then after, with the other
three parts. You must therefore understand that the Jews and the
Pharisees of the old law, to whom this first part, this commandment,
"Thou shalt not kill," was spoken, thought it sufficient and enough
for their discharge, not to kill with any manner of material weapon,
as sword, dagger, or with any such weapon; and they thought it no
great fault whatsoever they said or did by their neighbours, so that
they did not harm or meddle with their corporal bodies: which was a
false opinion in them, as prove well the three last other sentences
following the first part of this card.

Now, as touching the three other sentences, you must note and take
heed, what difference is between these three manner of offences: to
be angry with your neighbour; to call your neighbour "brainless," or
any such word of disdain; or to call your neighbour "fool." Whether
these three manner of offences be of themselves more grievous one
than the other, it is to be opened unto you. Truly, as they be of
themselves divers offences, so they kill diversly, one more than the
other; as you shall perceive by the first of these three, and so
forth. A man which conceiveth against his neighbour or brother ire
or wrath in his mind, by some manner of occasion given unto him,
although he be angry in his mind against his said neighbour, he will
peradventure express his ire by no manner of sign, either in word or
deed: yet, nevertheless, he offendeth against God, and breaketh
this commandment in killing his own soul; and is therefore "in
danger of judgment."

Now, to the second part of these three: That man that is moved with
ire against his neighbour, and in his ire calleth his neighbour
"brainless," or some other like word of displeasure; as a man might
say in a fury, "I shall handle thee well enough;" which words and
countenances do more represent and declare ire to be in this man,
than in him that was but angry, and spake no manner of word nor
shewed any countenance to declare his ire. Wherefore as he that so
declareth his ire either by word or countenance offendeth more
against God, so he both killeth his own soul, and doth that in him
is to kill his neighbour's soul in moving him unto ire, wherein he
is faulty himself; and so this man is "in danger of council."

Now to the third offence, and last of these three: That man that
calleth his neighbour "fool," doth more declare his angry mind
toward him, than he that called his neighbour but "brainless," or
any such words moving ire: for to call a man "fool," that word
representeth more envy in a man than "brainless" doth. Wherefore he
doth most offend, because he doth most earnestly with such words
express his ire, and so he is "in danger of hell-fire."

Wherefore you may understand now, these three parts of this card be
three offences, and that one is more grievous to God than the other,
and that one killeth more the soul of man than the other.

Now peradventure there be some that will marvel, that Christ did not
declare this commandment by some greater faults of ire, than by
these which seem but small faults, as to be angry and speak nothing
of it, to declare it and to call a man "brainless," and to call his
neighbour "fool:" truly these be the smallest and the least faults
that belong to ire, or to killing in ire. Therefore beware how you
offend in any kind of ire: seeing that the smallest be damnable to
offend in, see that you offend not in the greatest. For Christ
thought, if he might bring you from the smallest manner of faults,
and give you warning to avoid the least, he reckoned you would not
offend in the greatest and worst, as to call your neighbour thief,
whoreson, whore, drab, and so forth, into more blasphemous names;
which offences must needs have punishment in hell, considering how
that Christ hath appointed these three small faults to have three
degrees of punishment in hell, as appeareth by these three terms,
judgment, council, and hell-fire. These three terms do signify
nothing else but three divers punishments in hell, according to the
offences. Judgment is less in degree than council, therefore it
signifieth a lesser pain in hell, and it is ordained for him that is
angry in his mind with his neighbour, and doth express his malice
neither by word nor countenance: council is a less degree in hell
than hell-fire, and is a greater degree in hell than judgment; and
it is ordained for him that calleth his neighbour "brainless," or
any such word, that declareth his ire and malice: wherefore it is
more pain than judgment. Hell-fire is more pain in hell than
council or judgment, and it is ordained for him that calleth his
neighbour "fool," by reason that in calling his neighbour "fool," he
declareth more his malice, in that it is an earnest word of ire:
wherefore hell-fire is appointed for it; that is, the most pain of
the three punishments.

Now you have heard, that to these divers offences of ire and killing
be appointed punishments according to their degrees: for look as
the offence is, so shall the pain be: if the offence be great, the
pain shall be according; if it be less, there shall be less pain for
it. I would not now that you should think, because that here are
but three degrees of punishment spoken of, that there be no more in
hell. No doubt Christ spake of no more here but of these three
degrees of punishment, thinking they were sufficient, enough for
example, whereby we might understand that there be as divers and
many pains as there be offences: and so by these three offences,
and these three punishments, all other offences and punishments may
be compared with another. Yet I would satisfy your minds further in
these three terms, of "judgment, council, and hell-fire." Whereas
you might say, What was the cause that Christ declared more the
pains of hell by these terms than by any other terms? I told you
afore that he knew well to whom he spake them. These terms were
natural and well known amongst the Jews and the Pharisees:
wherefore Christ taught them with their own terms, to the intent
they might understand the better his doctrine. And these terms may
be likened unto three terms which we have common and usual amongst
us, that is to say, the sessions of inquirance, the sessions of
deliverance, and the execution-day. Sessions of inquirance is like
unto judgment; for when sessions of inquiry is, then the judges
cause twelve men to give verdict of the felon's crime, whereby he
shall be judged to be indicted: sessions of deliverance is much
like council; for at sessions of deliverance the judges go among
themselves to council, to determine sentence against the felon:
execution-day is to be compared unto hell-fire; for the Jews had
amongst themselves a place of execution, named "hell-fire:" and
surely when a man goeth to his death, it is the greatest pain in
this world. Wherefore you may see that there are degrees in these
our terms, as there be in those terms.

These evil-disposed affections and sensualities in us are always
contrary to the rule of our salvation. What shall we do now or
imagine to thrust down these Turks and to subdue them? It is a
great ignominy and shame for a christian man to be bond and subject
unto a Turk: nay, it shall not be so; we will first cast a trump in
their way, and play with them at cards, who shall have the better.
Let us play therefore on this fashion with this card. Whensoever it
shall happen the foul passions and Turks to rise in our stomachs
against our brother or neighbour, either for unkind words, injuries,
or wrongs, which they have done unto us, contrary unto our mind;
straightways let us call unto our remembrance, and speak this
question unto ourselves, "Who art thou?" The answer is, "I am a
christian man." Then further we must say to ourselves, "What
requireth Christ of a christian man?" Now turn up your trump, your
heart (hearts is trump, as I said before), and cast your trump, your
heart, on this card; and upon this card you shall learn what Christ
requireth of a christian man--not to be angry, nor moved to ire
against his neighbour, in mind, countenance, nor other ways, by word
or deed. Then take up this card with your heart, and lay them
together: that done, you have won the game of the Turk, whereby you
have defaced and overcome him by true and lawful play. But, alas
for pity! the Rhodes are won and overcome by these false Turks; the
strong castle Faith is decayed, so that I fear it is almost
impossible to win it again.

The great occasion of the loss of this Rhodes is by reason that
christian men do so daily kill their own nation, that the very true
number of Christianity is decayed; which murder and killing one of
another is increased specially two ways, to the utter undoing of
Christendom, that is to say, by example and silence. By example, as
thus: when the father, the mother, the lord, the lady, the master,
the dame, be themselves overcome by these Turks, they be continual
swearers, avouterers, disposers to malice, never in patience, and so
forth in all other vices: think you not, when the father, the
mother, the master, the dame, be disposed unto vice or impatience,
but that their children and servants shall incline and be disposed
to the same? No doubt, as the child shall take disposition natural
of the father and mother, so shall the servants apply unto the vices
of their masters and dames: if the heads be false in their
faculties and crafts, it is no marvel if the children, servants, and
apprentices do joy therein. This is a great and shameful manner of
killing christian men, that the fathers, the mothers, the masters,
and the dames shall not alonely kill themselves, but all theirs, and
all that belongeth unto them: and so this way is a great number of
christian lineage murdered and spoiled.

The second manner of killing is silence. By silence also is a great
number of christian men slain; which is on this fashion: although
that the father and mother, master and dame, of themselves be well
disposed to live according to the law of God, yet they may kill
their children and servants in suffering them to do evil before
their own faces, and do not use due correction according unto their
offences. The master seeth his servant or apprentice take more of
his neighbour than the king's laws, or the order of his faculty,
doth admit him; or that he suffereth him to take more of his
neighbour than he himself would be content to pay, if he were in
like condition: thus doing, I say, such men kill willingly their
children and servants, and shall go to hell for so doing; but also
their fathers and mothers, masters and dames, shall bear them
company for so suffering them.

Wherefore I exhort all true christian men and women to give good
example unto your children and servants, and suffer not them by
silence to offend. Every man must be in his own house, according to
St. Augustine's mind, a bishop, not alonely giving good ensample,
but teaching according to it, rebuking and punishing vice; not
suffering your children and servants to forget the laws of God. You
ought to see them have their belief, to know the commandments of
God, to keep their holy-days, not to lose their time in idleness:
if they do so, you shall all suffer pain for it, if God be true of
his saying, as there is no doubt thereof. And so you may perceive
that there be many a one that breaketh this card, "Thou shalt not
kill," and playeth therewith oftentime at the blind trump, whereby
they be no winners, but great losers. But who be those now-a-days
that can clear themselves of these manifest murders used to their
children and servants? I think not the contrary, but that many have
these two ways slain their own children unto their damnation; unless
the great mercy of God were ready to help them when they repent

Wherefore, considering that we be so prone and ready to continue in
sin, let us cast down ourselves with Mary Magdalene; and the more we
bow down with her toward Christ's feet, the more we shall be afraid
to rise again in sin; and the more we know and submit ourselves, the
more we shall be forgiven; and the less we know and submit
ourselves, the less we shall be forgiven; as appeareth by this
example following:

Christ, when he was in this world, amongst the Jews and Pharisees,
there was a great Pharisee whose name was Simon: this Pharisee
desired Christ on a time to dine with him, thinking in himself that
he was able and worthy to give Christ a dinner. Christ refused not
his dinner, but came unto him. In time of their dinner it chanced
there came into the house a great and a common sinner named Mary
Magdalene. As soon as she perceived Christ, she cast herself down,
and called unto her remembrance what she was of herself, and how
greatly she had offended God; whereby she conceived in Christ great
love, and so came near unto him, and washed his feet with bitter
tears, and shed upon his head precious ointment, thinking that by
him she should be delivered from her sins. This great and proud
Pharisee, seeing that Christ did accept her oblation in the best
part, had great indignation against this woman, and said to himself,
"If this man Christ were a holy prophet, as he is taken for, he
would not suffer this sinner to come so nigh him." Christ,
understanding the naughty mind of this Pharisee, said unto him,
"Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee." "Say what you please,"
quod the Pharisee. Then said Christ, "I pray thee, tell me this:
If there be a man to whom is owing twenty pound by one, and forty by
another, this man to whom this money is owing, perceiving these two
men be not able to pay him, he forgiveth them both: which of these
two debtors ought to love this man most?" The Pharisee said, "That
man ought to love him best, that had most forgiven him."
"Likewise," said Christ, "it is by this woman: she hath loved me
most, therefore most is forgiven her; she hath known her sins most,
whereby she hath most loved me. And thou hast least loved me,
because thou hast least known thy sins: therefore, because thou
hast least known thine offences, thou art least forgiven." So this
proud Pharisee had an answer to delay his pride. And think you not,
but that there be amongst us a great number of these proud
Pharisees, which think themselves worthy to bid Christ to dinner;
which will perk, and presume to sit by Christ in the church, and
have a disdain of this poor woman Magdalene, their poor neighbour,
with a high, disdainous, and solemn countenance? And being always
desirous to climb highest in the church, reckoning themselves more
worthy to sit there than another, I fear me poor Magdalene under the
board, and in the belfry, hath more forgiven of Christ than they
have: for it is like that those Pharisees do less know themselves
and their offences, whereby they less love God, and so they be less

I would to God we would follow this example, and be like unto
Magdalene. I doubt not but we be all Magdalenes in falling into sin
and in offending: but we be not again Magdalenes in knowing
ourselves, and in rising from sin. If we be the true Magdalenes, we
should be as willing to forsake our sin and rise from sin, as we
were willing to commit sin and to continue in it; and we then should
know ourselves best, and make more perfect answer than ever we did
unto this question, "Who art thou?" to the which we might answer,
that we be true christian men and women: and then, I say, you
should understand, and know how you ought to play at this card,
"Thou shalt not kill," without any interruption of your deadly
enemies the Turks; and so triumph at the last, by winning
everlasting life in glory. Amen.


Now you have heard what is meant by this first card, and how you
ought to play with it, I purpose again to deal unto you another
card, almost of the same suit; for they be of so nigh affinity, that
one cannot be well played without the other. The first card
declared, that you should not kill, which might be done divers ways;
as being angry with your neighbour, in mind, in countenance, in
word, or deed: it declared also, how you should subdue the passions
of ire, and so clear evermore yourselves from them. And whereas
this first card doth kill in you these stubborn Turks of ire; this
second card will not only they should be mortified in you, but that
you yourselves shall cause them to be likewise mortified in your
neighbour, if that your said neighbour hath been through your
occasion moved unto ire, either in countenance, word, or deed. Now
let us hear therefore the tenor of this card: "When thou makest
thine oblation at mine altar, and there dost remember that thy
neighbour hath any thing against thee, lay down there thy oblation,
and go first and reconcile thy neighbour, and then come and offer
thy oblation."

This card was spoken by Christ, as testifieth St. Matthew in his
fifth chapter, against all such as do presume to come unto the
church to make oblation unto God either by prayer, or any other deed
of charity, not having their neighbours reconciled. Reconciling is
as much to say as to restore thy neighbour unto charity, which by
thy words or deeds is moved against thee: then, if so be it that
thou hast spoken to or by thy neighbour, whereby he is moved to ire
or wrath, thou must lay down thy oblation. Oblations be prayers,
alms-deeds, or any work of charity: these be all called oblations
to God. Lay down therefore thine oblation; begin to do none of
these foresaid works before thou goest unto thy neighbour, and
confess thy fault unto him; declaring thy mind, that if thou hast
offended him, thou art glad and willing to make him amends, as far
forth as thy words and substance will extend, requiring him not to
take it at the worst: thou art sorry in thy mind, that thou
shouldest be occasion of his offending.

"What manner of card is this?" will some say: "Why, what have I to
do with my neighbour's or brother's malice?" As Cain said, "Have I
the keeping of my brother? or shall I answer for him and for his
faults? This were no reason--As for myself, I thank God I owe no
man malice nor displeasure: if others owe me any, at their own
peril be it. Let every man answer for himself!" Nay, sir, not so,
as you may understand by this card; for it saith, "If thy neighbour
hath anything, any malice against thee, through thine occasion, lay
even down (saith Christ) thine oblation: pray not to me; do no good
deeds for me; but go first unto thy neighbour, and bring him again
unto my flock, which hath forsaken the same through thy naughty
words, mocks, scorns, or disdainous countenance, and so forth; and
then come and offer thine oblation; then do thy devotion; then do
thy alms-deeds; then pray, if thou wilt have me hear thee."

"O good Lord! this is a hard reckoning, that I must go and seek him
out that is offended with me, before I pray or do any good deed. I
cannot go unto him. Peradventure he is a hundred miles from me,
beyond the seas; or else I cannot tell where: if he were here nigh,
I would with all my heart go unto him." This is a lawful excuse
before God on this fashion, that thou wouldest in thy heart be glad
to reconcile thy neighbour, if he were present; and that thou
thinkest in thy heart, whensoever thou shalt meet with him, to go
unto him, and require him charitably to forgive thee; and so never
intend to come from him, until the time that you both depart one
from the other true brethren in Christ.

Yet, peradventure, there be some in the world that be so devilish,
and so hard-hearted, that they will not apply in any condition unto
charity. For all that, do what lieth in thee, by all charitable
means, to bring him to unity. If he will in no wise apply
thereunto, thou mayest be sorrowful in thy heart, that by thine
occasion that man or woman continueth in such a damnable state.
This notwithstanding, if thou do the best that lieth in thee to
reconcile him, according to some doctors' mind, thou art discharged
towards God. Nevertheless St. Augustine doubteth in this case,
whether thy oblations, prayers, or good deeds, shall avail thee
before God, or no, until thy neighbour come again to good state,
whom thou hast brought out of the way. Doth this noble doctor doubt
therein? What aileth us to be so bold, and count it but a small
fault, or none, to bring our neighbour out of patience for every
trifle that standeth not with our mind? You may see what a grievous
thing this is, to bring another man out of patience, that per-
adventure you cannot bring in again with all the goods that you
have: for surely, after the opinion of great wise men, friendship
once broken will be never well made whole again. Wherefore you
shall hear what Christ saith unto such persons. Saith Christ, "I
came down into this world, and so took on me bitter passion for
man's sake, by the merits whereof I intended to make unity and peace
in mankind, to make man brother unto me, and so to expel the
dominion of Satan, the devil, which worketh nothing else but
dissension: and yet now there be a great number of you, that have
professed my name, and say you be christian men, which do rebel
against my purpose and mind. I go about to make my fold: you go
about to break the same, and kill my flock." "How darest thou,"
saith Christ, "presume to come unto my altar, unto my church, or
into my presence, to make oblation unto me, that takest on thee to
spoil my lambs? I go about like a good shepherd to gather them
together; and thou dost the contrary, evermore ready to divide and
lose them. Who made thee so bold to meddle with my silly beasts,
which I bought so dearly with my precious blood? I warn thee out of
my sight, come not in my presence: I refuse thee and all thy works,
except thou go and bring home again my lambs which thou hast lost.
Wherefore, if thou thyself intend to be one of mine, lay even down
by and by thine oblation, and come no further toward mine altar; but
go and seek them without any questions, as it becometh a true and
faithful servant."

A true and faithful servant, whensoever his master commandeth him to
do any thing, he maketh no stops nor questions, but goeth forth with
a good mind: and it is not unlike he, continuing in such a good
mind and will, shall well overcome all dangers and stops, whatsoever
betide him in his journey, and bring to pass effectually his
master's will and pleasure? On the contrary, a slothful servant,
when his master commandeth him to do any thing, by and by he will
ask questions, "Where?" "When?" "Which way?" and so forth; and so
be putteth every thing in doubt, that although both his errand and
way be never so plain, yet by his untoward and slothful behaviour
his master's commandment is either undone quite, or else so done
that it shall stand to no good purpose. Go now forth with the good
servant, and ask no such questions, and put no doubts. Be not
ashamed to do thy Master's and Lord's will and commandment. Go, as
I said, unto thy neighbour that is offended by thee, and reconcile
him (as is afore said) whom thou hast lost by thy unkind words, by
thy scorns, mocks, and other disdainous words and behaviours; and be
not nice to ask of him the cause why he is displeased with thee:
require of him charitably to remit; and cease not till you both
depart, one from the other, true brethren in Christ.

Do not, like the slothful servant, thy master's message with cautels
and doubts: come not to thy neighbour whom thou hast offended, and
give him a pennyworth of ale, or a banquet, and so make him a fair
countenance, thinking that by thy drink or dinner he will shew thee
like countenance. I grant you may both laugh and make good cheer,
and yet there may remain a bag of rusty malice, twenty years old, in
thy neighbour's bosom. When he departeth from thee with a good
countenance, thou thinkest all is well then. But now, I tell thee,
it is worse than it was, for by such cloaked charity, where thou
dost offend before Christ but once, thou hast offended twice herein:
for now thou goest about to give Christ a mock, if be would take it
of thee. Thou thinkest to blind thy master Christ's commandment.
Beware, do not so, for at length he will overmatch thee, and take
thee tardy whatsoever thou be; and so, as I said, it should be
better for thee not to do his message on this fashion, for it will
stand thee in no purpose. "What?" some will say, "I am sure he
loveth me well enough: he speaketh fair to my face." Yet for all
that thou mayest be deceived. It proveth not true love in a man, to
speak fair. If he love thee with his mind and heart, he loveth thee
with his eyes, with his tongue, with his feet, with his hands and
his body; for all these parts of a man's body be obedient to the
will and mind. He loveth thee with his eves, that looketh
cheerfully on thee, when thou meetest with him, and is glad to see
thee prosper and do well. He loveth thee with his tongue, that
speaketh well by thee behind thy back, or giveth thee good counsel.
He loveth thee with his feet, that is willing to go to help thee out
of trouble and business. He loveth thee with his hands, that will
help thee in time of necessity, by giving some alms-deeds, or with
any other occupation of the hand. He loveth thee with his body,
that will labour with his body, or put his body in danger to do good
for thee, or to deliver thee from adversity: and so forth, with the
other members of his body. And if thy neighbour will do according
to these sayings, then thou mayest think that he loveth thee well;
and thou, in like wise, oughtest to declare and open thy love unto
thy neighbour in like fashion, or else you be bound one to reconcile
the other, till this perfect love be engendered amongst you.

It may fortune thou wilt say, "I am content to do the best for my
neighbour that I can, saving myself harmless." I promise thee,
Christ will not hear this excuse; for he himself suffered harm for
our sakes, and for our salvation was put to extreme death. I wis,
if it had pleased him, he might have saved us and never felt pain;
but in suffering pains and death he did give us example, and teach
us how we should do one for another, as he did for us all; for, as
he saith himself, "he that will be mine, let him deny himself, and
follow me, in bearing my cross and suffering my pains." Wherefore
we must needs suffer pain with Christ to do our neighbour good, as
well with the body and all his members, as with heart and mind.

Now I trust you wot what your card meaneth: let us see how that we
can play with the same. Whensoever it shall happen you to go and
make your oblation unto God, ask of yourselves this question, "Who
art thou?" The answer, as you know, is, "I am a christian man."
Then you must again ask unto yourself, What Christ requireth of a
christian man? By and by cast down your trump, your heart, and look
first of one card, then of another. The first card telleth thee,
thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not be angry, thou shalt not be out
of patience. This done, thou shalt look if there be any more cards
to take up; and if thou look well, thou shalt see another card of
the same suit, wherein thou shalt know that thou art bound to
reconcile thy neighbour. Then cast thy trump upon them both, and
gather them all three together, and do according to the virtue of
thy cards; and surely thou shalt not lose. Thou shalt first kill
the great Turks, and discomfort and thrust them down. Thou shalt
again fetch home Christ's sheep that thou hast lost; whereby thou
mayest go both patiently and with a quiet mind unto the church, and
make thy oblation unto God; and then, without doubt, he will hear

But yet Christ will not accept our oblation (although we be in
patience, and have reconciled our neighbour), if that our oblation
be made of another man's substance; but it must be our own. See
therefore that thou hast gotten thy goods according to the laws of
God and of thy prince. For if thou gettest thy goods by polling and
extortion, or by any other unlawful ways, then, if thou offer a
thousand pound of it, it will stand thee in no good effect; for it
is not thine. In this point a great number of executors do offend;
for when they be made rich by other men's goods, then they will take
upon them to build churches, to give ornaments to God and his altar,
to gild saints, and to do many good works therewith; but it shall be
all in their own name, and for their own glory. Wherefore, saith
Christ, they have in this world their reward; and so their oblations
be not their own, nor be they acceptable before God.

Another way God will refuse thy voluntary oblation, as thus: if so
be it that thou hast gotten never so truly thy goods, according both
to the laws of God and man, and hast with the same goods not
relieved thy poor neighbour, when thou hast seen him hungry,
thirsty, and naked, he will not take thy oblation when thou shalt
offer the same, because he will say unto thee, "When I was hungry,
thou gavest me no meat; when I was thirsty, thou gavest me no drink;
and when I was naked, thou didst not clothe me. Wherefore I will
not take thy oblation, because it is none of thine. I left it thee
to relieve thy poor neighbours, and thou hast not therein done
according unto this my commandment, Misericordiam volo, et non
sacrificium; I had rather have mercy done, than sacrifice or
oblation. Wherefore until thou dost the one more than the other, I
will not accept thine oblation."

Evermore bestow the greatest part of thy goods in works of mercy,
and the less part in voluntary works. Voluntary works be called all
manner of offering in the church, except your four offering-days,
and your tithes: setting up candles, gilding and painting, building
of churches, giving of ornaments, going on pilgrimages, making of
highways, and such other, be called voluntary works; which works be
of themselves marvellous good, and convenient to be done. Necessary
works, and works of mercy, are called the commandments, the four
offering-days, your tithes, and such other that belong to the
commandments; and works of mercy consist in relieving and visiting
thy poor neighbours. Now then, if men be so foolish of themselves,
that they will bestow the most part of their goods in voluntary
works, which they be not bound to keep, but willingly and by their
devotion; and leave the necessary works undone, which they are bound
to do; they and all their voluntary works are like to go unto
everlasting damnation. And I promise you, if you build a hundred
churches, give as much as you can make to gilding of saints, and
honouring of the church; and if thou go as many pilgrimages as thy
body can well suffer, and offer as great candles as oaks; if thou
leave the works of mercy and the commandments undone, these works
shall nothing avail thee. No doubt the voluntary works be good and
ought to be done; but yet they must be so done, that by their
occasion the necessary works and the works of mercy be not decayed
and forgotten. If you will build a glorious church unto God, see
first yourself to be in charity with your neighbours, and suffer not
them to be offended by your works. Then, when ye come into your
parish-church; you bring with you the holy temple of God; as St.
Paul saith, "You yourselves be the very holy temples of God:" and
Christ saith by his prophet, "In you will I rest, and intend to make
my mansion and abiding-place." Again, if you list to gild and paint
Christ in your churches, and honour him in vestments, see that
before your eyes the poor people die not for lack of meat, drink,
and clothing. Then do you deck the very true temple of God, and
honour him in rich vestures that will never be worn, and so forth
use yourselves according unto the commandments: and then, finally,
set up your candles, and they will report what a glorious light
remaineth in your hearts; for it is not fitting to see a dead man
light candles. Then, I say, go your pilgrimages, build your
material churches, do all your voluntary works; and they will then
represent you unto God, and testify with you, that you have provided
him a glorious place in your hearts. But beware, I say again, that
you do not run so far in your voluntary works, that ye do quite
forget your necessary works of mercy, which you are bound to keep:
you must have ever a good respect unto the best and worthiest works
toward God to be done first and with more efficacy, and the other to
be done secondarily. Thus if you do, with the other that I have
spoken of before, ye may come according to the tenor of your cards,
and offer your oblations and prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ, who
will both hear and accept them to your everlasting joy and glory:
to the which he bring us, and all those whom he suffered death for.


Put on all the armour of God, that ye may stand, &c. [Ephes. vi.
10, et seq.]

Saint Paul, the holy apostle, writeth this epistle unto the
Ephesians, that is, to the people of the city of Ephesus. He
writeth generally, to them all; and in the former chapters he
teacheth them severally how they should behave themselves, in every
estate, one to another; how they should obey their rulers; how wives
should behave themselves towards their husbands; children towards
their parents; and servants towards their masters; and husbands,
parents and masters should behave them, and love their wives,
children, and servants; and generally each to love other.

Now cometh he forth and comforteth them, and teacheth them to be
bold, and to play the men, and fight manfully. For they must fight
with valiant warriors, as appeareth afterward in the text. And
against they come to fight he comforteth them, saying, "My
brethren." He calleth them brethren; for though he taught them
before to be subject to kings and rulers, and to be obedient to
their superiors, yet he teacheth them that in Christ we be all
brethren, according to the saying in this same chapter, "God is no
accepter of persons." "My brethren," saith he, "be ye comforted, be
ye strong;" not trusting to yourselves; no, but be bold, and
comforted "by our Lord, and by the power of his virtue:" not by your
own virtue, for it is not of power to resist such assaults as he
speaketh of hereafter. "Put on, or apparel you with, the armour of
God." Armour is an apparel to clothe a man, and maketh him seemly
and comely; setteth forth his body, and maketh him strong and bold
in battle. And therefore Saint Paul exhorteth generally his
brethren to be armed; and as the assaults be strong, and not small,
so he giveth strong armour, and not small: "Put on," saith he, "the
armour of God." He speaketh generally of armour, but afterwards he
speaketh particularly of the parts of armour, where he saith, be
armed complete, whole; be armed on every part with the armour of
God; not borrowed, nor patched, but all godly. And as armour
setteth forth a man's body, so this godly armour maketh us seemly in
the sight of God, and acceptable in his wars.

Be ye therefore "armed at all points with the armour of God, that ye
may stand strongly against the assaults of the devil." "That ye may
stand," saith he. Ye must stand in this battle, and not sit, nor
lie along; for he that lieth is trodden under foot of his enemy. We
may not sit, that is, not rest in sin, or lie along in sluggishness
of sin; but continually fight against our enemy, and under our great
Captain and Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, and in his quarrel, armed
with the armour of God, that we may be strong. We cannot be strong
unless we be armed of God. We have no power of ourselves to stand
against the assaults of the devil. There St. Paul teacheth what our
battle is, and wherefore we must be thus armed.

For, saith he, "we have not wrestling or strife against flesh and
blood:" which may be understood, against certain sins, which come of
the flesh only; but let us take it as it standeth, "against flesh
and blood," that is, against any corporal man, which is but a weak
thing in comparison, and with one stroke destroyed or slain: but we
have to do with strong, mighty princes and potentates; that mighty
prince, that great conqueror of this world, the devil, yea a
conqueror: for though our Saviour Jesus Christ conquered him and
all his, by suffering his blessed passion, yet is he a great
conqueror in this world, and reigneth over a great multitude of his
own, and maketh continual conflicts and assaults against the rest,
to subdue them also under his power; which, if they be armed after
St. Paul's teaching, shall stand strongly against his assaults.
"Our battle," saith St. Paul, "is against princes, potestates," that
is, against devils: for, after the common opinion, there fell from
heaven of every order of angels, as of potentates. He saith also,
"against worldly rulers of these darknesses:" for, as doctors do
write, the spirits that fell with Lucifer have their being in aere
caliginoso, the air, in darkness, and the rulers of this world, by
God's sufferance, to hurt, vex and assault them that live upon the
earth. For their nature is, as they be damned, to desire to draw
all mankind unto like damnation; such is their malice. And though
they hang in the air, or fall in a garden or other pleasant place,
yet have they continually their pain upon their backs. Against
these we wrestle, and "against spiritual wickedness in coelestibus,"
that is, in the air; or we fight against spiritual wickedness in
heavenly things.

Think you not that this our enemy, this prince with all his
potentates, hath great and sore assaults to lay against our armour?
Yea, he is a crafty warrior, and also of great power in this world;
he hath great ordnance and artillery; he hath great pieces of
ordnance, as mighty kings and emperors, to shoot against God's
people, to persecute or kill them; Nero, the great tyrant, who slew
Paul, and divers other. Yea, what great pieces hath he had of
bishops of Rome, which have destroyed whole cities and countries,
and have slain and burnt many! What great guns were those!

Yea, he hath also less ordnance evil enough, (they may be called
serpentines;) some bishops in divers countries, and here in England,
which he hath shot at some good christian men, that they have been
blown to ashes. So can this great captain, the devil, shoot his
ordnance. He hath yet less ordnance, for he hath of all sorts to
shoot at good christian men; he hath hand-guns and bows, which do
much hurt, but not so much as the great ordnance. These be
accusers, promoters, and slanderers; they be evil ordnance, shrewd
handguns, and bows; they put a man to great displeasure; oftentimes
death cometh upon that shot. For these things, saith the text,
"take the armour of God." Against the great captains, the devils,
and against their artillery, their ministers, there can nothing
defend us but the armour of God.

"Take therefore this armour," saith the text, "that ye may resist in
the evil day, and in all things stand perfectly, or be perfectly
strong." This evil day is not so called here, because any day or
time is evil; for God made every day good, and all days be good:
but St. Paul calleth it the "evil day," because of the misfortune
that chanceth or cometh in that day. As we have a common saying, "I
have had an evil day, and an evil night," because of the heaviness
or evil that hath happened; so saith Paul, "that ye may resist in
the evil day:" that is, when your great adversary hath compassed you
round about with his potestates and rulers, and with his artillery,
so that you be almost overcome, then, if you have the armour of God,
you shall be strong, and need not to fear his assaults.

St. Paul hath spoken of this armour of God generally, and now
declareth the parts and pieces of armour; and teacheth them how to
apparel every part of the body with this armour. He beginneth yet
again, saying, "Be strong, having your reins, or your loins girded
about." Some men of war use to have about their loins an apron or
girdle of mail, gird fast for the safeguard of the nether part of
their body. So St. Paul would we should gird our loins, which
betokeneth lechery or other sinfulness, with a girdle, which is to
be taken for a restraint or continence from such vices. In "truth,"
or "truly gird:" it may not be feigned, or falsely girt, but in
verity and truth. There be many bachelors, as yet men unmarried,
which seem to be girt with the girdle of continence, and yet it is
not in truth, it is but feignedly. And some religious persons make
a profession of continence or chastity, and yet not in truth, their
hearts be not truly chaste. Such feigned girding of the loins
cannot make a man strong to resist the assaults of the great captain
or enemy in the evil day. Yet some get them girdles with great
knots, as though they would be surely girt, and as though they would
break the devil's head with their knotted girdles. Nay, he will not
be so overcome: it is no knot of an hempton girdle that he feareth;
that is no piece of harness of the armour of God, which may resist
the assault in the evil day; it is but feigned gear; it must be in
the heart, &c.

"And be ye apparelled or clothed," saith Paul, "with the habergeon
or coat-armour of justice, that is, righteousness." Let your body
be clothed in the armour of righteousness: ye may do no wrong to
any man, but live in righteousness; not clothed with any false
quarrel or privy grudge. Ye must live rightly in God's law,
following his commandments and doctrine, clothed righteously in his
armour, and not in any feigned armour, as in a friar's coat or cowl.
For the assaults of the devil be crafty to make us put our trust in
such armour, he will feign himself to fly; but then we be most in
jeopardy: for he can give us an after-clap when we least ween; that
is, suddenly return unawares to us, and then he giveth us an after-
clap that overthroweth us: this armour deceiveth us.

In like manner these men in the North country, they make pretence as
though they were armed in God's armour, gird in truth, and clothed
in righteousness. I hear say they wear the cross and the wounds
before and behind, and they pretend much truth to the king's grace
and to the commonwealth, when they intend nothing less; and deceive
the poor ignorant people, and bring them to fight against both the
king, the church, and the commonwealth.

They arm them with the sign of the cross and of the wounds, and go
clean contrary to him that bare the cross, and suffered those
wounds. They rise with the king, and fight against the king in his
ministers and officers; they rise with the church, and fight against
the church, which is the congregation of faithful men; they rise for
the commonwealth, and fight against it, and go about to make the
commons each to kill other, and to destroy the commonwealth. Lo,
what false pretence can the devil send amongst us? It is one of his
most crafty and subtle assaults, to send his warriors forth under
the badge of God, as though they were armed in righteousness and

But if we will resist strongly indeed, we must he clothed or armed
with the habergeon of very justice or righteousness; in true
obedience to our prince, and faithful love to our neighbours; and
take no false quarrels in hand, nor any feigned armour; but in
justice, "having your feet shod for [the] preparation of the gospel
of peace."

Lo, what manner of battle this warrior St. Paul teacheth us, "to be
shod on our feet," that we may go readily and prepare way for the
gospel; yea, the gospel of peace, not of rebellion, not of
insurrection: no, it teacheth obedience, humility, and quietness;
it maketh peace in the conscience, and teacheth true faith in Jesus
Christ, and to walk in God's laws armed with God's armour, as Paul
teacheth here. Yea, if bishops in England had been "shod for the
preparation of this gospel," and had endeavoured themselves to teach
and set [it] forth, as our most noble prince hath devised; and if
certain gentlemen, being justices, had executed his grace's
commandment, in setting forth this gospel of peace, this disturbance
among the people had not happened.

But ye say, it is new learning. Now I tell you it is the old
learning. Yea, ye say, it is old heresy new scoured. Nay, I tell
you it is old truth, long rusted with your canker, and now new made
bright and scoured. What a rusty truth is this, Quodcumque
ligaveris, "Whatsoever thou bindest," &c. This is a truth spoken to
the apostles, and all true preachers their successors, that with the
law of God they should bind and condemn all that sinned; and
whosoever did repent, they should declare him loosed and forgiven,
by believing in the blood of Christ. But how hath this truth over-
rusted with the pope's rust? For he, by this text, "Whatsoever thou
bindeth," hath taken upon him to make what laws him listed, clean
contrary unto God's word, which willeth that every man should obey
the prince's law: and by this text, "Whatsoever thou loosest," he
hath made all people believe that, for money, he might forgive what
and whom he lusted; so that if any man had robbed his master, or
taken anything wrongfully, the pope would loose him, by this pardon
or that pardon, given to these friars or those friars, put in this
box or that box. And, as it were, by these means a dividend of the
spoil was made, so that it was not restored, nor the person rightly
discharged; and yet most part of the spoil came to the hands of him
and his ministers. What is this but a new learning; a new canker to
rust and corrupt the old truth? Ye call your learning old: it may
indeed be called old, for it cometh of that serpent which did
pervert God's commandment and beguiled Eve; so it is an old custom
to pervert God's word, and to rust it, and corrupt it.

We be a great many that profess to be true ministers of the gospel;
but at the trial I think it will come to pass as it did with Gideon,
a duke, which God raised up to deliver the children of Israel from
the Midianites, in whose hands they were fallen, because they had
broken God's commandment, and displeased God: yet at the length he
had compassion on them, and raised up Gideon to deliver them. When
they heard that they had a captain, or a duke, that should deliver
them, they assembled a great number, about thirty thousand: but
when it came to pass that they should fight, they departed all save
five hundred. So, I fear me, that at the trial we shall be found
but a few ministers of the true gospel of peace, and armed in the
true armour of God.

It followeth, "And in all things take the shield or buckler of
faith." The buckler is a thing wherewith a man most chiefly
defendeth himself: and that must be perfect faith in Jesus Christ,
in our Captain, and in his word. It must also be a true faith, it
is else no part of the armour of God: it may not be feigned, but a
buckler, which may stop or quench the violence of the flaming darts
of the most wicked.

"Take also the helmet or head-piece of health," or true health in
Jesus Christ; for there is no health in any other name: not the
health of a grey friar's coat, or the health of this pardon or that
pardon; that were a false helmet, and should not defend the violence
of the wicked.

"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Lo, St.
Paul teacheth you battle; to take in your left hand the shield of
faith, to defend and bear off the darts of the devil, and in the
other hand a sword to strike with against the enemy: for a good man
of war may not stand against, and defend only, but also strike
against his enemy. So St. Paul giveth us here a sword, "The word of
God." For this sword is it that beateth this great captain, our
enemy. Christ himself gave us ensample to fight with this sword;
for he answered the devil with the scripture, and said, "It is
written." With this sword he drave away the devil: and so let us
break his head with this sword, the true word of God, and not with
any word of the bishop of Rome's making; not with his old learning,
nor his new learning, but with the pure word of God.

The time passeth: I will therefore make an end. Let us fight
manfully, and not cease; for no man is crowned or rewarded but in
the end. We must therefore fight continually, and with this sword;
and thus armed, and we shall receive the reward of victory. And
thus the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all your spirits.


Filii hujus seculi, &c.--Luc. xvi.

Brethren, ye be come together this day, as far as I perceive, to
hear of great and weighty matters. Ye be come together to entreat
of things that most appertain to the commonwealth. This being thus,
ye look, I am assured, to hear of me, which am commanded to make as
a preface this exhortation, (albeit I am unlearned and far
unworthy,) such things as shall be much meet for this your assembly.
I therefore, not only very desirous to obey the commandment of our
Primate, but also right greatly coveting to serve and satisfy all
your expectation; lo, briefly, and as plainly as I can, will speak
of matters both worthy to be heard in your congregation, and also of
such as best shall become mine office in this place. That I may do
this the more commodiously, I have taken that notable sentence in
which our Lord was not afraid to pronounce "the children of this
world to be much more prudent and politic than the children of light
in their generation." Neither will I be afraid, trusting that he
will aid and guide me to use this sentence, as a good ground and
foundation of all such things, as hereafter I shall speak of.

Now, I suppose that you see right well, being men of such learning,
for what purpose the Lord said this, and that ye have no need to be
holpen with any part of my labour in this thing. But yet, if ye
will pardon me, I will wade somewhat deeper in this matter, and as
nigh as I can, fetch it from the first original beginning. For
undoubtedly, ye may much marvel at this saying, if ye well ponder
both what is said, and who saith it. Define me first these three
things: what prudence is; what the world; what light; and who be
the children of the world; who of the light: see what they signify
in scripture. I marvel if by and by ye all agree, that the children
of the world should be wiser than the children of the light. To
come somewhat nigher the matter, thus the Lord beginneth:

There was a certain rich man that had a steward, which was accused
unto him that he had dissipated and wasted his goods. This rich man
called his steward to him and said, What is this that I hear of
thee? Come, make me an account of thy stewardship; thou mayest no
longer bear this office.

Brethren, because these words are so spoken in a parable, and are so
wrapped in wrinkles, that yet they seem to have a face and a
similitude of a thing done indeed, and like an history, I think it
much profitable to tarry somewhat in them. And though we may
perchance find in our hearts to believe all that is there spoken to
be true; yet I doubt whether we may abide it, that these words of
Christ do pertain unto us, and admonish us of our duty, which do and
live after such sort, as though Christ, when he spake any thing,
had, as the time served him, served his turn, and not regarded the
time that came after him, neither provided for us, or any matters of
ours; as some of the philosophers thought, which said, that God
walked up and down in heaven, and thinketh never a deal of our
affairs. But, my good brethren, err not you so; stick not you to
such your imaginations. For if ye inwardly behold these words, if
ye diligently roll them in your minds, and after explicate and open
them, ye shall see our time much touched in these mysteries. Ye
shall perceive that God by this example shaketh us by the noses and
pulleth us by the ears. Ye shall perceive very plain, that God
setteth before our eyes in this similitude what we ought most to
flee, and what we ought soonest to follow. For Luke saith, "The
Lord spake these words to his disciples." Wherefore let it be out
of all doubt that he spake them to us, which even as we will be
counted the successors and vicars of Christ's disciples, so we be,
if we be good dispensers and do our duty. He said these things
partly to us, which spake them partly of himself. For he is that
rich man, which not only had, but hath, and shall have evermore, I
say not one, but many stewards, even to the end of the world.

He is man, seeing that he is God and man. He is rich, not only in
mercy but in all kind of riches; for it is he that giveth to us all
things abundantly. It is he of whose hand we received both our
lives, and other things necessary for the conservation of the same.
What man hath any thing, I pray you, but he hath received it of his
plentifulness? To be short, it is he that "openeth his hand, and
filleth all beasts with his blessing," and giveth unto us in most
ample wise his benediction. Neither his treasure can be spent, how
much soever he lash out; how much soever we take of him, his
treasure tarrieth still, ever taken, never spent.

He is also the good man of the house: the church is his household
which ought with all diligence to be fed with his word and his
sacraments. These be his goods most precious, the dispensation and
administration whereof he would bishops and curates should have.
Which thing St. Paul affirmeth, saying, "Let men esteem us as the
ministers of Christ, and dispensers of God's mysteries." But, I
pray you, what is to be looked for in a dispenser? This surely,
"That he be found faithful," and that he truly dispense, and lay out
the goods of the Lord; that he give meat in time; give it, I say,
and not sell it; meat, I say, and not poison. For the one doth
intoxicate and slay the eater, the other feedeth and nourisheth him.
Finally, let him not slack and defer the doing of his office, but
let him do his duty when time is, and need requireth it. This is
also to be looked for, that he be one whom God hath called and put
in office, and not one that cometh uncalled, unsent for; not one
that of himself presumeth to take honour upon him. And surely, if
all this that I say be required in a good minister, it is much
lighter to require them all in every one, than to find one any where
that hath them all. Who is a true and faithful steward? He is
true, he is faithful, that cometh no new money, but taketh it ready
coined of the good man of the house; and neither changeth it, nor
clippeth it, after it is taken to him to spend, but spendeth even
the self-same that he had of his Lord, and spendeth it as his Lord's
commandment is; neither to his own vantage uttering it, nor as the
lewd servant did, hiding it in the ground. Brethren, if a faithful
steward ought to do as I have said, I pray you, ponder and examine
this well, whether our bishops and abbots, prelates and curates,
have been hitherto faithful stewards or no? Ponder, whether yet
many of them be as they should be or no? Go ye to, tell me now as
your conscience leadeth you (I will let pass to speak of many
other), was there not some, that despising the money of the Lord, as
copper and not current, either coined new themselves, or else
uttered abroad newly coined of other; sometime either adulterating
the word of God or else mingling it (as taverners do, which brew and
utter the evil and good both in one pot), sometime in the stead of
God's word blowing out the dreams of men? while they thus preached
to the people the redemption that cometh by Christ's death to serve
only them that died before his coming, that were in the time of the
old testament; and that now since redemption and forgiveness of sins
purchased by money, and devised by men is of efficacy, and not
redemption purchased by Christ (they have a wonderful pretty example
to persuade this thing, of a certain married woman, which, when her
husband was in purgatory, in that fiery furnace that hath burned
away so many of our pence, paid her husband's ransom, and so of duty
claimed him to be set at liberty): while they thus preached to the
people, that dead images (which at the first, as I think, were set
up, only to represent things absent) not only ought to be covered
with gold, but also ought of all faithful and christian people (yea,
in this scarceness and penury of all things), to be clad with silk
garments, and those also laden with precious gems and jewels; and
that beside all this, they are to be lighted with wax candles, both
within the church and without the church, yea, and at noon days; as
who should say, here no cost can be too great; whereas in the mean
time we see Christ's faithful and lively images, bought with no less
price than with his most precious blood (alas, alas!) to be an
hungred, a-thirst, a-cold, and to lie in darkness, wrapped in all
wretchedness, yea, to lie there till death take away their miseries:
while they preached these will-works, that come but of our own
devotion, although they be not so necessary as the works of mercy,
and the precepts of God, yet they said, and in the pulpit, that
will-works were more principal, more excellent, and (plainly to
utter what they mean) more acceptable to God than works of mercy; as
though now man's inventions and fancies could please God better than
God's precepts, or strange things better than his own: while they
thus preached that more fruit, more devotion cometh of the beholding
of an image, though it be but a Pater-noster while, than is gotten
by reading and contemplation in scripture, though ye read and
contemplate therein seven years' space: finally, while they
preached thus, souls tormented in purgatory to have most need of our
help, and that they can have no aid, but of us in this world: of
the which two, if the one be not false, yet at the least it is
ambiguous, uncertain, doubtful, and therefore rashly and arrogantly
with such boldness affirmed in the audience of the people; the
other, by all men's opinions, is manifestly false: I let pass to
speak of much other such like counterfeit doctrine, which hath been
blasted and blown out by some for the space of three hours together.
Be these the Christian and divine mysteries, and not rather the
dreams of men? Be these the faithful dispensers of God's mysteries,
and not rather false dissipators of them? whom God never put in
office, but rather the devil set them over a miserable family, over
an house miserably ordered and entreated. Happy were the people if
such preached seldom.

And yet it is a wonder to see these, in their generation, to be much
more prudent and politic than the faithful ministers are in their
generation; while they go about more prudently to stablish men's
dreams, than these do to hold up God's commandments.

Thus it cometh to pass that works lucrative, will-works, men's
fancies reign; but christian works, necessary works, fruitful works,
be trodden under the foot. Thus the evil is much better set out by
evil men, than the good by good men; because the evil be more wise
than be the good in their generation. These be the false stewards,
whom all good and faithful men every day accuse unto the rich master
of the household, not without great heaviness, that they waste his
goods; whom he also one day will call to him, and say to them as he
did to his steward, when he said, "What is this that I hear of
thee?" Here God partly wondereth at our ingratitude and perfidy,
partly chideth us for them; and being both full of wonder and ready
to chide, asketh us, "What is this that I hear of you?" As though
he should say unto us, "All good men in all places complain of you,
accuse your avarice, your exactions, your tyranny. They have
required in you a long season, and yet require, diligence and
sincerity. I commanded you, that with all industry and labour ye
should feed my sheep: ye earnestly feed yourselves from day to day,
wallowing in delights and idleness. I commanded you to teach my
commandments, and not your fancies; and that ye should seek my glory
and my vantage: you teach your own traditions, and seek your own
glory and profit. You preach very seldom; and when ye do preach, do
nothing but cumber them that preach truly, as much as lieth in you:
that it were much better such were not to preach at all, than so
perniciously to preach. Oh, what hear I of you? You, that ought to
be my preachers, what other thing do you, than apply all your study
hither, to bring all my preachers to envy, shame, contempt? Yea,
more than this, ye pull them into perils, into prisons, and, as much
as in you lieth, to cruel deaths. To be short, I would that
christian people should hear my doctrine, and at their convenient
leisure read it also, as many as would: your care is not that all
men may hear it, but all your care is, that no lay man do read it:
surely, being afraid lest they by the reading should understand it,
and understanding, learn to rebuke our slothfulness. This is your
generation, this is your dispensation, this is your wisdom. In this
generation, in this dispensation, you be most politic, most witty.
These be the things that I hear of your demeanour. I wished to hear
better report of you. Have ye thus deceived me? or have ye rather
deceived yourselves? Where I had but one house, that is to say, the
church, and this so dearly beloved of me, that for the love of her I
put myself forth to be slain, and to shed my blood; this church at
my departure I committed unto your charge, to be fed, to be
nourished, and to be made much of. My pleasure was ye should occupy
my place; my desire was ye should have borne like love to this
church, like fatherly affection, as I did: I made you my vicars,
yea, in matters of most importance.

"For thus I taught openly: 'He that should hear you, should hear
me; he that should despise you, should despise me.' I gave you also
keys, not earthly keys, but heavenly. I left my goods that I have
evermore most highly esteemed, that is, my word and sacraments, to
be dispensed of you. These benefits I gave you, and do you give me
these thanks? Can you find in your hearts thus to abuse my
goodness, my benignity, my gentleness? Have you thus deceived me?
No, no, ye have not deceived me, but yourselves. My gifts and
benefits towards you shall be to your greater damnation. Because
you have contemned the lenity and clemency of the master of the
house, ye have right well deserved to abide the rigour and severity
of the judge. Come forth then, let us see an account of your
stewardship. An horrible and fearful sentence: Ye may have no
longer my goods in your hands. A voice to weep at, and to make men

You see, brethren, you see, what evil the evil stewards must come
to. Your labour is paid for, if ye can so take heed, that no such
sentence be spoken to you; nay, we must all take heed lest these
threatenings one day take place in us. But lest the length of my
sermon offend you too sore, I will leave the rest of the parable and
take me to the handling of the end of it; that is, I will declare
unto you how the children of this world be more witty, crafty, and
subtle, than are the children of the light in their generation.
Which sentence would God it lay in my poor tongue to explicate with
such light of words, that I might seem rather to have painted it
before your eyes, than to have spoken it; and that you might rather
seem to see the thing, than to hear it! But I confess plainly this
thing to be far above my power. Therefore this being only left to
me, I wish for that I have not, and am sorry that that is not in me
which I would so gladly have, that is, power so to handle the thing
that I have in hand, that all that I say may turn to the glory of
God, your souls' health, and the edifying of Christ's body.
Wherefore I pray you all to pray with me unto God, and that in your
petition you desire, that these two things he vouchsafe to grant us,
first, a mouth for me to speak rightly; next, ears for you, that in
hearing me ye may take profit at my hand: and that this may come to
effect, you shall desire him, unto whom our master Christ bad we
should pray, saying even the same prayer that he himself did
institute. Wherein ye shall pray for our most gracious sovereign
lord the king, chief and supreme head of the church of England under
Christ, and for the most excellent, gracious, and virtuous lady
queen Jane, his most lawful wife, and for all his, whether they be
of the clergy or laity, whether they be of the nobility, or else
other his grace's subjects, not forgetting those that being departed
out of this transitory life, and now sleep in the sleep of peace,
and rest from their labours in quietness and peaceable sleep,
faithfully, lovingly, and patiently looking for that that they
clearly shall see when God shall be so pleased. For all these, and
for grace necessary, ye shall say unto God God's prayer, Pater-


Filii hujus seculi, &c.--Luc. xvi. [8].

Christ in this saying touched the sloth and sluggishness of his, and
did not allow the fraud and subtlety of others; neither was glad
that it was indeed as he had said, but complained rather that it
should be so: as many men speak many things, not that they ought to
be so, but that they are wont to be so. Nay, this grieved Christ,
that the children of this world should be of more policy than the
children of light; which thing was true in Christ's time, and now in
our time is most true. Who is so blind but he seeth this clearly;
except perchance there be any that cannot discern the children of
the world from the children of light? The children of the world
conceive and bring forth more prudently; and things conceived and
brought forth they nourish and conserve with much more policy than
do the children of light. Which thing is as sorrowful to be said,
as it seemeth absurd to be heard. When ye hear the children of the
world, you understand the world as a father. For the world is
father of many children, not by the first creation and work, but by
imitation of love. He is not only a father, but also the son of
another father. If ye know once his father, by and by ye shall know
his children. For he that hath the devil to his father, must needs
have devilish children. The devil is not only taken for father, but
also for prince of the world, that is, of worldly folk. It is
either all one thing, or else not much different, to say, children
of the world, and children of the devil; according to that that
Christ said to the Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil:" where as
undoubtedly he spake to children of this world. Now seeing the
devil is both author and ruler of the darkness, in the which the
children of this world walk, or, to say better, wander; they
mortally hate both the light, and also the children of light. And
hereof it cometh, that the children of light never, or very seldom,
lack persecution in this world, unto which the children of the
world, that is, of the devil, bringeth them. And there is no man
but he seeth, that these use much more policy in procuring the hurt
and damage of the good, than those in defending themselves.
Therefore, brethren, gather you the disposition and study of the
children by the disposition and study of the fathers. Ye know this
is a proverb much used: "An evil crow, an evil egg." Then the
children of this world that are known to have so evil a father, the
world, so evil a grandfather, the devil, cannot choose but be evil.
Surely the first head of their ancestry was the deceitful serpent
the devil, a monster monstrous above all monsters. I cannot wholly
express him, I wot not what to call him, but a certain thing
altogether made of the hatred of God, of mistrust in God, of lyings,
deceits, perjuries, discords, manslaughters; and, to say at one
word, a thing concrete, heaped up and made of all kind of mischief.
But what the devil mean I to go about to describe particularly the
devil's nature, when no reason, no power of man's mind can
comprehend it? This alonely I can say grossly, and as in a sum, of
the which all we (our hurt is the more) have experience, the devil
to be a stinking sentine of all vices; a foul filthy channel of all
mischiefs; and that this world, his son, even a child meet to have
such a parent, is not much unlike his father.

Then, this devil being such one as can never be unlike himself; lo,
of Envy, his well-beloved Leman, he begat the World, and after left
it with Discord at nurse; which World, after that it came to man's
state, had of many concubines many sons. He was so fecund a father,
and had gotten so many children of Lady Pride, Dame Gluttony,
Mistress Avarice, Lady Lechery, and of Dame Subtlety, that now hard
and scant ye may find any corner, any kind of life, where many of
his children be not. In court, in cowls, in cloisters, in rochets,
be they never so white; yea, where shall ye not find them? Howbeit,
they that be secular and laymen, are not by and by children of the
world; nor they children of light, that are called spiritual, and of
the clergy. No, no; as ye may find among the laity many children of
light, so among the clergy, (how much soever we arrogate these holy
titles unto us, and think them only attributed to us, Vos estis lux
mundi, peculium Christi, &c. "Ye are the light of the world, the
chosen people of Christ, a kingly priesthood, an holy nation, and
such other,") ye shall find many children of the world; because in
all places the world getteth many children. Among the lay people
the world ceaseth not to bring to pass, that as they be called
wordly, so they are wordly indeed; driven headlong by worldly
desires: insomuch that they may right well seem to have taken as
well the manners as the name of their father. In the clergy, the
world also hath learned a way to make of men spiritual, worldlings;
yea, and there also to form worldly children, where with great
pretence of holiness, and crafty colour of religion, they utterly
desire to hide and cloak the name of the world, as though they were
ashamed of their father; which do execrate and detest the world
(being nevertheless their father) in words and outward signs, but in
heart and work they coll and kiss him, and in all their lives
declare themselves to be his babes; insomuch that in all worldly
points they far pass and surmount those that they call seculars,
laymen, men of the world. The child so diligently followeth the
steps of his father, is never destitute of the aid of his
grandfather. These be our holy holy men, that say they are dead to
the world, when no men be more lively in worldly things than some of
them be. But let them be in profession and name most farthest from
the world, most alienate from it; yea, so far, that they may seem to
have no occupying, no kindred, no affinity, nothing to do with it:
yet in their life and deeds they shew themselves no bastards, but
right begotten children of the world; as that which the world long
sithens had by his dear wife Dame Hypocrisy, and since hath brought
them up and multiplied to more than a good many; increased them too
much, albeit they swear by all he-saints and she-saints too, that
they know not their father, nor mother, neither the world, nor
hypocrisy; as indeed they can semble and dissemble all things; which
thing they might learn wonderful well of their parents. I speak not
of all religious men, but of those that the world hath fast knit at
his girdle, even in the midst of their religion, that is, of many
and more than many. For I fear, lest in all orders of men the
better, I must say the greater part of them be out of order, and
children of the world. Many of these might seem ingrate and unkind
children, that will no better acknowledge and recognise their
parents in words and outward pretence, but abrenounce and cast them
off, as though they hated them as dogs and serpents. Howbeit they,
in this wise, are most grateful to their parents, because they be
most like them, so lively representing them in countenance and
conditions, that their parents seem in them to be young again,
forasmuch as they ever say one thing and think another. They shew
themselves to be as sober, as temperate, as Curius the Roman was,
and live every day as though all their life were a shroving time.
They be like their parents, I say, inasmuch as they, in following
them, seem and make men believe they hate them. Thus grandfather
Devil, father World, and mother Hypocrisy, have brought them up.
Thus good obedient sons have borne away their parents' commandments;
neither these be solitary, how religious, how mocking, how monking,
I would say, soever they be.

O ye will lay this to my charge, that monachus and solitarius
signifieth all one. I grant this to be so, yet these be so solitary
that they be not alone, but accompanied with great flocks of
fraternities. And I marvel if there be not a great sort of bishops
and prelates, that are brethren germain unto these; and as a great
sort, so even as right born, and world's children by as good title
as they. But because I cannot speak of all, when I say prelates, I
understand bishops, abbots, priors, archdeacons, deans, and other of
such sort, that are now called to this convocation, as I see, to
entreat here of nothing but of such matters as both appertain to the
glory of Christ, and to the wealth of the people of England. Which
thing I pray God they do as earnestly as they ought to do. But it
is to be feared lest, as light hath many her children here, so the
world hath sent some of his whelps hither; amongst the which I know
there can be no concord nor unity, albeit they be in one place, in
one congregation. I know there can be no agreement between these
two, as long as they have minds so unlike, and so contrary
affections, judgments so utterly diverse in all points. But if the
children of this world be either more in number, or more prudent
than the children of light, what then availeth us to have this
convocation? Had it not been better we had not been called together
at all? For as the children of this world be evil, so they breed
and bring forth things evil; and yet there be more of them in all
places, or at the least they be more politic than the children of
light in their generation. And here I speak of the generation
whereby they do engender, and not of that whereby they are
engendered, because it should be too long to entreat how the
children of light are engendered, and how they come in at the door;
and how the children of the world be engendered, and come in another
way. Howbeit, I think all you that be here were not engendered
after one generation, neither that ye all came by your promotions
after one manner: God grant that ye, engendered worldly, do not
engender worldly: and as now I much pass not how ye were
engendered, or by what means ye were promoted to those dignities
that ye now occupy, so it be honest, good and profitable, that ye in
this your consultation shall do and engender.

The end of your convocation shall shew what ye have done; the fruit
that shall come of your consultation shall shew what generation ye
be of. For what have ye done hitherto, I pray you, these seven
years and more? What have ye engendered? What have ye brought
forth? What fruit is come of your long and great assembly? What
one thing that the people of England hath been the better of a hair;
or you yourselves, either more accepted before God, or better
discharged toward the people committed unto your cure? For that the
people is better learned and taught now, than they were in time
past, to whether of these ought we to attribute it, to your
industry, or to the providence of God, and the foreseeing of the
king's grace! Ought we to thank you, or the king's highness?
Whether stirred other first, you the king, that he might preach, or
he you by his letters, that ye should preach oftener? Is it
unknown, think you, how both ye and your curates were, in [a]
manner, by violence enforced to let books to be made, not by you,
but by profane and lay persons; to let them, I say, be sold abroad,
and read for the instruction of the people? I am bold with you, but
I speak Latin and not English, to the clergy, not to the laity; I
speak to you being present, and not behind your backs. God is my
witness, I speak whatsoever is spoken of the good-will that I bear
you; God is my witness, which knoweth my heart, and compelleth me to
say that I say.

Now, I pray you in God's name, what did you, so great fathers, so
many, so long a season, so oft assembled together? What went you
about? What would ye have brought to pass? Two things taken away--
the one, that ye (which I heard) burned a dead man; the other, that
ye (which I felt) went about to burn one being alive: him, because
he did, I cannot tell how, in his testament withstand your profit;
in other points, as I have heard, a very good man; reported to be of
an honest life while he lived, full of good works, good both to the
clergy, and also to the laity: this other, which truly never hurt
any of you, ye would have raked in the coals, because he would not
subscribe to certain articles that took away the supremacy of the
king:- take away these two noble acts, and there is nothing else
left that ye went about, that I know, saving that I now remember,
that somewhat ye attempted against Erasmus, albeit as yet nothing is
come to light. Ye have oft sat in consultation, but what have ye
done? Ye have had many things in deliberation, but what one is put
forth, whereby either Christ is more glorified, or else Christ's
people made more holy I appeal to your own conscience. How chanced
this? How came it thus? Because there were no children of light,
no children of God amongst you, which, setting the world at nought,
would study to illustrate the glory of God, and thereby shew
themselves children of light? I think not so, certainly I think not
so. God forbid, that all you, which were gathered together under
the pretence of light, should be children of the world! Then why
happened this? Why, I pray you? Perchance, either because the
children of the world were more in number in this your congregation,
as it oft happeneth, or at the least of more policy than the
children of light in their generation: whereby it might very soon
be brought to pass, that these were much more stronger in gendering
the evil than these in producing the good. The children of light
have policy, but it is like the policy of the serpent, and is joined
with doveish simplicity. They engender nothing but simply,
faithfully, and plainly, even so doing all that they do. And
therefore they may with more facility be cumbered in their
engendering, and be the more ready to take injuries. But the
children of this world have worldly policy, foxly craft, lion-like
cruelty, power to do hurt, more than either aspis or basiliscus,
engendering and doing all things fraudulently, deceitfully,
guilefully: which as Nimrods and such sturdy and stout hunters,
being full of simulation and dissimulation before the Lord, deceive
the children of light, and cumber them easily. Hunters go not forth
in every man's sight, but do their affairs closely, and with use of
guile and deceit wax every day more craftier than other.

The children of this world be like crafty hunters; they be misnamed
children of light, forasmuch as they so hate light, and so study to
do the works of darkness. If they were the children of light, they
would not love darkness. It is no marvel that they go about to keep
other in darkness, seeing they be in darkness, from top to toe
overwhelmed with darkness, darker than is the darkness of hell.
Wherefore it is well done in all orders of men, but especial in the
order of prelates, to put a difference between children of light and
children of the world, because great deceit ariseth in taking the
one for the other. Great imposture cometh, when they that the
common people take for the light, go about to take the sun and the
light out of the world. But these be easily known, both by the
diversity of minds, and also their armours. For whereas the
children of light are thus minded, that they seek their adversaries'
health, wealth, and profit, with loss of their own commodities, and
ofttimes with jeopardy of their life; the children of the world,
contrariwise, have such stomachs, that they will sooner see them
dead that doth them good, than sustain any loss of temporal things.
The armour of the children of light are, first, the word of God,
which they ever set forth, and with all diligence put it abroad,
that, as much as in them lieth, it may bring forth fruit: after
this, patience and prayer, with the which in all adversities the
Lord comforteth them. Other things they commit to God, unto whom
they leave all revengement. The armour of the children of the world
are, sometime frauds and deceits, sometime lies and money: by the
first they make their dreams, their traditions; by the second they
stablish and confirm their dreams, be they never so absurd, never so
against scripture, honesty, or reason. And if any man resist them,
even with these weapons they procure to slay him. Thus they bought
Christ's death, the very light itself, and obscured him after his
death: thus they buy every day the children of light, and obscure
them, and shall so do, until the world be at an end. So that it may
be ever true, that Christ said: "The children of the world be
wiser, &c."

These worldlings pull down the lively faith, and full confidence
that men have in Christ, and set up another faith, another
confidence, of their own making: the children of light contrary.
These worldlings set little by such works as God hath prepared for
our salvation, but they extol traditions and works of their own
invention: the children of light contrary. The worldlings, if they
spy profit, gains, or lucre in any thing, be it never such a trifle,
be it never so pernicious, they preach it to the people (if they
preach at any time), and these things they defend with tooth and
nail. They can scarce disallow the abuses of these, albeit they be
intolerable, lest in disallowing the abuse they lose part of their
profit. The children of the light contrary, put all things in their
degree, best highest, next next, the worst lowest. They extol
things necessary, Christian, and commanded of God. They pull down
will-works feigned by men, and put them in their place. The abuses
of all things they earnestly rebuke. But yet these things be so
done on both parties, and so they both do gender, that the children
of the world shew themselves wiser than the children of light, and
that frauds and deceits, lies and money, seem evermore to have the
upper hand. I hold my peace; I will not say how fat feasts, and
jolly banquets, be jolly instruments to set forth worldly matters
withal. Neither the children of the world be only wiser than the
children of light, but are also some of them among themselves much
wiser than the other in their generation. For albeit, as touching
the end, the generation of them all is one; yet in this same
generation some of them have more craftily engendered than the other
of their fellows.

For what a thing was that, that once every hundred year was brought
forth in Rome of the children of this world, and with how much
policy it was made, ye heard at Paul's Cross in the beginning of the
last parliament: how some brought forth canonizations, some
expectations, some pluralities and unions, some tot-quots and
dispensations, some pardons, and these of wonderful variety, some
stationaries, some jubilaries, some pocularies for drinkers, some
manuaries for handlers of relicks, some pedaries for pilgrims, some
oscularies for kissers; some of them engendered one, some other such
fetures, and every one in that he was delivered of, was excellent
politic, wise; yea, so wise, that with their wisdom they had almost
made all the world fools.

But yet they that begot and brought forth that our old ancient
purgatory pick-purse; that that was swaged and cooled with a
Franciscan's cowl, put upon a dead man's back, to the fourth part of
his sins; that that was utterly to be spoiled, and of none other but
of our most prudent lord Pope, and of him as oft as him listed; that
satisfactory, that missal, that scalary: they, I say, that were the
wise fathers and genitors of this purgatory, were in my mind the
wisest of all their generation, and so far pass the children of
light, and also the rest of their company, that they both are but
fools, if ye compare them with these. It was a pleasant fiction,
and from the beginning so profitable to the feigners of it, that
almost, I dare boldly say, there hath been no emperor that hath
gotten more by taxes and tallages of them that were alive, than
these, the very and right-begotten sons of the world, got by dead
men's tributes and gifts. If there be some in England, that would
this sweeting of the world to be with no less policy kept still than
it was born and brought forth in Rome, who then can accuse Christ of
lying? No, no; as it hath been ever true, so it shall be, that the
children of the world be much wiser, not only in making their
things, but also in conserving them. I wot not what it is, but
somewhat it is I wot, that some men be so loth to see the abuse of
this monster, purgatory, which abuse is more than abominable: as
who should say, there is none abuse in it, or else as though there
can be none in it. They may seem heartily to love the old thing,
that thus earnestly endeavour them to restore him his old name.
They would not set an hair by the name, but for the thing. They be
not so ignorant (no, they be crafty), but that they know if the name
come again, the thing will come after. Thereby it ariseth, that
some men make their cracks, that they, maugre all men's heads, have
found purgatory. I cannot tell what is found. This, to pray for
dead folks, this is not found, for it was never lost. How can that
be found that was not lost? O subtle finders, that can find things,
if God will, ere they be lost! For that cowlish deliverance, their
scalary losings, their papal spoliations, and other such their
figments, they cannot find. No, these be so lost, as they
themselves grant, that though they seek them never so diligently,
yet they shall not find them, except perchance they hope to see them
come in again with their names; and that then money-gathering may
return again, and deceit walk about the country, and so stablish
their kingdom in all kingdoms. But to what end this chiding between
the children of the world and the children of light will come, only
he knoweth that once shall judge them both.

Now, to make haste and to come somewhat nigher the end. Go ye to,
good brethren and fathers, for the love of God, go ye to; and seeing
we are here assembled, let us do something whereby we may be known
to be the children of light. Let us do somewhat, lest we, which
hitherto have been judged children of the world, seem even still to
be so. All men call us prelates: then, seeing we be in council,
let us so order ourselves, that we be prelates in honour and
dignity; so we may be prelates in holiness, benevolence, diligence,
and sincerity. All men know that we be here gathered, and with most
fervent desire they anheale, breathe, and gape for the fruit of our
convocation: as our acts shall be, so they shall name us: so that
now it lieth in us, whether we will be called children of the world,
or children of light.

Wherefore lift up your heads, brethren, and look about with your
eyes, spy what things are to be reformed in the church of England.
Is it so hard, is it so great a matter for you to see many abuses in
the clergy, many in the laity? What is done in the Arches? Nothing
to be amended? What do they there? Do they evermore rid the
people's business and matters, or cumber and ruffle them? Do they
evermore correct vice, or else defend it, sometime being well
corrected in other places? How many sentences be given there in
time, as they ought to be? If men say truth, how many without
bribes? Or if all things be well done there, what do men in
bishops' Consistories? Shall you often see the punishments assigned
by the laws executed, or else money-redemptions used in their stead?
How think you by the ceremonies that are in England, oft times, with
no little offence of weak consciences, contemned; more oftener with
superstition so defiled, and so depraved, that you may doubt whether
it were better some of them to tarry still, or utterly to take them
away? Have not our forefathers complained of the ceremonies, of the
superstition, and estimation of them?

Do ye see nothing in our holidays? of the which very few were made
at the first, and they to set forth goodness, virtue, and honesty:
but sithens, in some places, there is neither mean nor measure in
making new holidays, as who should say, this one thing is serving of
God, to make this law, that no man may work. But what doth the
people on these holidays? Do they give themselves to godliness, or
else ungodliness? See ye nothing, brethren? If you see not, yet
God seeth. God seeth all the whole holidays to be spent miserably
in drunkenness, in glossing, in strife, in envy, in dancing, dicing,
idleness, and gluttony. He seeth all this, and threateneth
punishment for it. He seeth it, which neither is deceived in
seeing, nor deceiveth when he threateneth.

Thus men serve the devil; for God is not thus served, albeit ye say
ye serve God. No, the devil hath more service done unto him on one
holiday, than on many working days. Let all these abuses be counted
as nothing, who is he that is not sorry, to see in so many holidays
rich and wealthy persons to flow in delicates, and men that live by
their travail, poor men, to lack necessary meat and drink for their
wives and their children, and that they cannot labour upon the
holidays, except they will be cited, and brought before our
Officials? Were it not the office of good prelates to consult upon
these matters, and to seek some remedy for them? Ye shall see, my
brethren, ye shall see once, what will come of this our winking.

What think ye of these images that are had more than their fellows
in reputation; that are gone unto with such labour and weariness of
the body, frequented with such our cost, sought out and visited with
such confidence? What say ye by these images, that are so famous,
so noble, so noted, being of them so many and so divers in England?
Do you think that this preferring of picture to picture, image to
image, is the right use, and not rather the abuse, of images? But
you will say to me, Why make ye all these interrogations? and why,
in these your demands, do you let and withdraw the good devotion of
the people? Be not all things well done, that are done with good
intent, when they be profitable to us? So, surely, covetousness
both thinketh and speaketh. Were it not better for us, more for
estimation, more meeter for men in our places, to cut away a piece
of this our profit, if we will not cut away all, than to wink at
such ungodliness, and so long to wink for a little lucre; specially
if it be ungodliness, and also seem unto you ungodliness? These be
two things, so oft to seek mere images, and sometime to visit the
relicks of saints. And yet, as in those there may be much
ungodliness committed, so there may here some superstition be hid,
if that sometime we chance to visit pigs' bones instead of saints'
relicks, as in time past it hath chanced, I had almost said, in
England. Then this is too great a blindness, a darkness too
sensible, that these should be so commended in sermons of some men,
and preached to be done after such manner, as though they could not
be evil done; which, notwithstanding, are such, that neither God nor
man commandeth them to be done. No, rather, men commanded them
either not to be done at all, or else more slowlier and seldomer to
be done, forasmuch as our ancestors made this constitution: "We
command the priests that they oft admonish the people, and in
especial women, that they make no vows but after long deliberation,
consent of their husbands and counsel of the priest." The church of
England in time past made this constitution. What saw they that
made this decree? They saw the intolerable abuses of images. They
saw the perils that might ensue of going on pilgrimage. They saw
the superstitious difference that men made between image and image.
Surely, somewhat they saw. The constitution is so made, that in
manner it taketh away all such pilgrimages. For it so plucketh away
the abuse of them, that it leaveth either none or else seldom use of
them. For they that restrain making vows for going of pilgrimage,
restrain also pilgrimage; seeing that for the most part it is seen
that few go on pilgrimage but vow-makers, and such as by promise
bind themselves to go. And when, I pray you, should a man's wife go
on pilgrimage, if she went not before she had well debated the
matter with herself, and obtained the consent of her husband, being
a wise man, and were also counselled by a learned priest so to do?
When should she go far off to these famous images? For this the
common people of England think to be going on pilgrimage; to go to
some dead and notable image out of town, that is to say, far from
their house. Now if your forefathers made this constitution, and
yet thereby did nothing, the abuses every day more and more
increased, what is left for you to do? Brethren and fathers, if ye
purpose to do any thing, what should ye sooner do, than to take
utterly away these deceitful and juggling images; or else, if ye
know any other mean to put away abuses, to shew it, if ye intend to
remove abuses? Methink it should be grateful and pleasant to you to
mark the earnest mind of your forefathers, and to look upon their
desire where they say in their constitution, "We COMMAND you," and
not, "We COUNSEL you." How have we been so long a-cold, so long
slack in setting forth so wholesome a precept of the church of
England, where we be so hot in all things that have any gains in
them, albeit they be neither commanded us, nor yet given us by
counsel; as though we had lever the abuse of things should tarry
still than, it taken away, lose our profit? To let pass the solemn
and nocturnal bacchanals, the prescript miracles, that are done upon
certain days in the west part of England, who hath not heard? I
think ye have heard of St. Blesis's heart which is at Malverne, and
of St. Algar's bones, how long they deluded the people: I am
afraid, to the loss of many souls. Whereby men may well conjecture,
that all about in this realm there is plenty of such juggling
deceits. And yet hitherto ye have sought no remedy. But even still
the miserable people are suffered to take the false miracles for the
true, and to lie still asleep in all kind of superstition. God have
mercy upon us!

Last of all, how think you of matrimony? Is all well here? What of
baptism? Shall we evermore in ministering of it speak Latin, and
not in English rather, that the people may know what is said and

What think ye of these mass-priests, and of the masses themselves?
What say ye? Be all things here so without abuses, that nothing
ought to be amended? Your forefathers saw somewhat, which made this
constitution against the venality and sale of masses, that, under
pain of suspending, no priest should sell his saying of tricennals
or annals. What saw they, that made this constitution? What
priests saw they? What manner of masses saw they, trow ye? But at
the last, what became of so good a constitution? God have mercy
upon us! If there be nothing to be amended abroad, concerning the
whole, let every one of us make one better: if there be neither
abroad nor at home any thing to be amended and redressed, my lords,
be ye of good cheer, be merry; and at the least, because we have
nothing else to do, let us reason the matter how we may be richer.
Let us fall to some pleasant communication; after let us go home,
even as good as we came hither, that is, right-begotten children of
the world, and utterly worldlings. And while we live here, let us
all make bone cheer. For after this life there is small pleasure,
little mirth for us to hope for; if now there be nothing to be
changed in our fashions. Let us say, not as St. Peter did, "Our end
approacheth nigh," this is an heavy hearing; but let us say as the
evil servant said, "It will be long ere my master come." This is
pleasant. Let us beat our fellows: let us eat and drink with
drunkards. Surely, as oft as we do not take away the abuse of
things, so oft we beat our fellows. As oft as we give not the
people their true food, so oft we beat our fellows. As oft as we
let them die in superstition, so oft we beat them. To be short, as
oft as we blind lead them blind, so oft we beat, and grievously beat
our fellows. When we welter in pleasures and idleness, then we eat
and drink with drunkards. But God will come, God will come, he will
not tarry long away. He will come upon such a day as we nothing
look for him, and at such hour as we know not. He will come and cut
us in pieces. He will reward us as he doth the hypocrites. He will
set us where wailing shall be, my brethren; where gnashing of teeth
shall be, my brethren. And let here be the end of our tragedy, if
ye will. These be the delicate dishes prepared for the world's
well-beloved children. These be the wafers and junkets provided for
worldly prelates--wailing and gnashing of teeth. Can there be any
mirth, where these two courses last all the feast? Here we laugh,
there we shall weep. Our teeth make merry here, ever dashing in
delicates; there we shall be torn with teeth, and do nothing but
gnash and grind our own. To what end have we now excelled other in
policy? What have we brought forth at the last? Ye see, brethren,
what sorrow, what punishment is provided for you, if ye be
worldlings. If ye will not thus be vexed, be ye not the children of
the world. If ye will not be the children of the world, be not
stricken with the love of worldly things; lean not upon them. If ye
will not die eternally, live not worldly. Come, go to; leave the
love of your profit; study for the glory and profit of Christ; seek
in your consultations such things as pertain to Christ, and bring
forth at the last somewhat that may please Christ. Feed ye
tenderly, with all diligence, the flock of Christ. Preach truly the
word of God. Love the light, walk in the light, and so be ye the
children of light while ye are in this world, that ye may shine in
the world that is to come bright as the sun, with the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost; to whom be all honour, praise, and glory.

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