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Sermons on the Card and Other Discourses by Hugh Latimer

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Quaeunque scripta sunt ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt.--Rom. xv.

"All things which are written, are written for our erudition and
knowledge. All things that are written in God's book, in the Bible
book, in the book of the holy scripture, are written to be our

I told you in my first sermon, honourable audience, that I purposed
to declare unto you two things. The one, what seed should be sown
in God's field, in God's plough land; and the other, who should be
the sowers: that is to say, what doctrine is to be taught in
Christ's church and congregation, and what men should be the
teachers and preachers of it. The first part I have told you in the
three sermons past, in which I have assayed to set forth my plough,
to prove what I could do. And now I shall tell you who be the
ploughers: for God's word is a seed to be sown in God's field, that
is, the faithful congregation, and the preacher is the sower. And
it is in the gospel: Exivit qui seminat seminare semen suum; "He
that soweth, the husbandman, the ploughman, went forth to sow his
seed." So that a preacher is resembled to a ploughman, as it is in
another place: Nemo admota aratro manu, et a tergo respiciens,
aptus est regno Dei. "No man that putteth his hand to the plough,
and looketh back, is apt for the kingdom of God." That is to say,
let no preacher be negligent in doing his office. Albeit this is
one of the places that hath been racked, as I told you of racking
scriptures. And I have been one of them myself that hath racked it,
I cry God mercy for it; and have been one of them that have believed
and expounded it against religious persons that would forsake their
order which they had professed, and would go out of their cloister:
whereas indeed it toucheth not monkery, nor maketh any thing at all
for any such matter; but it is directly spoken of diligent preaching
of the word of God.

For preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the
preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my
similitude, in that I compare preaching to the labour and work of
ploughing, and the preacher to a ploughman: ye may not be offended
with this my similitude; for I have been slandered of some persons
for such things. It hath been said of me, "Oh, Latimer! nay, as for
him, I will never believe him while I live, nor never trust him; for
he likened our blessed lady to a saffron-bag:" where indeed I never
used that similitude. But it was, as I have said unto you before
now, according to that which Peter saw before in the spirit of
prophecy, and said, that there should come after men per quos via
veritatis maledictis afficeretur; there should come fellows "by whom
the way of truth should be evil spoken of, and slandered." But in
case I had used this similitude, it had not been to be reproved, but
might have been without reproach. For I might have said thus: as
the saffron-bag that hath been full of saffron, or hath had saffron
in it, doth ever after savour and smell of the sweet saffron that it
contained; so our blessed lady, which conceived and bare Christ in
her womb, did ever after resemble the manners and virtues of that
precious babe that she bare. And what had our blessed lady been the
worse for this? or what dishonour was this to our blessed lady? But
as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they give not any
just occasion to be slandered and ill spoken of by the hearers, so
must not the auditors be offended without cause. For heaven is in
the gospel likened to a mustard-seed: it is compared also to a
piece of leaven; and as Christ saith, that at the last day he will
come like a thief: and what dishonour is this to God? or what
derogation is this to heaven? Ye may not then, I say, be offended
with my similitude, for because I liken preaching to a ploughman's
labour, and a prelate to a ploughman. But now you will ask me, whom
I call a prelate? A prelate is that man, whatsoever he be, that
hath a flock to be taught of him; whosoever hath any spiritual
charge in the faithful congregation, and whosoever he be that hath
cure of souls. And well may the preacher and the ploughman be
likened together: first, for their labour of all seasons of the
year; for there is no time of the year in which the ploughman hath
not some special work to do: as in my country in Leicestershire,
the ploughman hath a time to set forth, and to assay his plough, and
other times for other necessary works to be done. And then they
also maybe likened together for the diversity of works and variety
of offices that they have to do. For as the ploughman first setteth
forth his plough, and then tilleth his land, and breaketh it in
furrows, and sometime ridgeth it up again; and at another time
harroweth it and clotteth it, and sometime dungeth it and hedgeth
it, diggeth it and weedeth it, purgeth and maketh it clean: so the
prelate, the preacher, hath many diverse offices to do. He hath
first a busy work to bring his parishioners to a right faith, as
Paul calleth it, and not a swerving faith; but to a faith that
embraceth Christ, and trusteth to his merits; a lively faith, a
justifying faith; a faith that maketh a man righteous, without
respect of works: as ye have it very well declared and set forth in
the Homily. He hath then a busy work, I say, to bring his flock to
a right faith, and then to confirm them in the same faith: now
casting them down with the law, and with threatenings of God for
sin; now ridging them up again with the gospel, and with the
promises of God's favour: now weeding them, by telling them their
faults, and making them forsake sin; now clotting them, by breaking
their stony hearts, and by making them supplehearted, and making
them to have hearts of flesh; that is, soft hearts, and apt for
doctrine to enter in: now teaching to know God rightly, and to know
their duty to God and their neighbours: now exhorting them, when
they know their duty, that they do it, and be diligent in it; so
that they have a continual work to do. Great is their business, and
therefore great should be their hire. They have great labours, and
therefore they ought to have good livings, that they may
commodiously feed their flock; for the preaching of the word of God
unto the people is called meat: scripture calleth it meat; not
strawberries, that come but once a year, and tarry not long, but are
soon gone: but it is meat, it is no dainties. The people must have
meat that must be familiar and continual, and daily given unto them
to feed upon. Many make a strawberry of it, ministering it but once
a year; but such do not the office of good prelates. For Christ
saith, Quis putas est servus prudens et fidelis? Qui dat cibum in
tempore. "Who think you is a wise and faithful servant? He that
giveth meat in due time." So that he must at all times convenient
preach diligently: therefore saith he, "Who trow ye is a faithful
servant?" He speaketh it as though it were a rare thing to find
such a one, and as though he should say, there be but a few of them
to find in the world. And how few of them there be throughout this
realm that give meat to their flock as they should do, the Visitors
can best tell. Too few, too few; the more is the pity, and never so
few as now.

By this, then, it appeareth that a prelate, or any that hath cure of
soul, must diligently and substantially work and labour. Therefore
saith Paul to Timothy, Qui episcopatum desiderat, hic bonum opus
desiderat: "He that desireth to have the office of a bishop, or a
prelate, that man desireth a good work." Then if it be a good work,
it is work; ye can make but a work of it. It is God's work, God's
plough, and that plough God would have still going. Such then as
loiter and live idly, are not good prelates, or ministers. And of
such as do not preach and teach, nor do their duties, God saith by
his prophet Jeremy, Maledictus qui facit opus Dei fraudulenter;
"Cursed be the man that doth the work of God fraudulently,
guilefully or deceitfully:" some books have it negligenter,
"negligently or slackly." How many such prelates, how many such
bishops, Lord, for thy mercy, are there now in England! And what
shall we in this case do? shall we company with them? O Lord, for
thy mercy! shall we not company with them? O Lord, whither shall we
flee from them? But "cursed be he that doth the work of God
negligently or guilefully." A sore word for them that are negligent
in discharging their office, or have done it fraudulently; for that
is the thing that maketh the people ill.

But true it must be that Christ saith, Multi sunt vocati, pauci vero
electi: "Many are called, but few are chosen." Here have I an
occasion by the way somewhat to say unto you; yea, for the place I
alleged unto you before out of Jeremy, the forty-eighth chapter.
And it was spoken of a spiritual work of God, a work that was
commanded to be done; and it was of shedding blood, and of
destroying the cities of Moab. For, saith he, "Cursed be he that
keepeth back his sword from shedding of blood." As Saul, when he
kept back the sword from shedding of blood at what time he was sent
against Amaleck, was refused of God for being disobedient to God's
commandment, in that he spared Agag the king. So that that place of
the prophet was spoken of them that went to the destruction of the
cities of Moab, among the which there was one called Nebo, which was
much reproved for idolatry, superstition, pride, avarice, cruelty,
tyranny, and for hardness of heart; and for these sins was plagued
of God and destroyed.

Now what shall we say of these rich citizens of London? What shall
I say of them? Shall I call them proud men of London, malicious men
of London, merciless men of London? No, no, I may not say so; they
will be offended with me then. Yet must I speak. For is there not
reigning in London as much pride, as much covetousness, as much
cruelty, as much oppression, and as much superstition, as was in
Nebo? Yes, I think, and much more too. Therefore I say, repent, O
London; repent, repent. Thou hearest thy faults told thee, amend
them, amend them. I think, if Nebo had had the preaching that thou
hast, they would have converted. And, you rulers and officers, be
wise and circumspect, look to your charge, and see you do your
duties; and rather be glad to amend your ill living than to be angry
when you are warned or told of your fault. What ado was there made
in London at a certain man, because he said, (and indeed at that
time on a just cause,) "Burgesses!" quoth he, "nay, Butterflies."
Lord, what ado there was for that word! And yet would God they were
no worse than butterflies! Butterflies do but their nature: the
butterfly is not covetous, is not greedy, of other men's goods; is
not full of envy and hatred, is not malicious, is not cruel, is not
merciless. The butterfly glorieth not in her own deeds, nor
preferreth the traditions of men before God's word; it committeth
not idolatry, nor worshippeth false gods. But London cannot abide
to be rebuked; such is the nature of man. If they be pricked, they
will kick; if they be rubbed on the gall, they will wince; but yet
they will not amend their faults, they will not be ill spoken of.
But how shall I speak well of them? If you could be content to
receive and follow the word of God, and favour good preachers, if
you could bear to be told of your faults, if you could amend when
you hear of them, if you would be glad to reform that is amiss; if I
might see any such inclination in you, that you would leave to be
merciless, and begin to be charitable, I would then hope well of
you, I would then speak well of you. But London was never so ill as
it is now. In times past men were full of pity and compassion, but
now there is no pity; for in London their brother shall die in the
streets for cold, he shall lie sick at the door between stock and
stock, I cannot tell what to call it, and perish there for hunger:
was there ever more unmercifulness in Nebo? I think not. In times
past, when any rich man died in London, they were wont to help the
poor scholars of the Universities with exhibition. When any man
died, they would bequeath great sums of money toward the relief of
the poor. When I was a scholar in Cambridge myself; I heard very
good report of London, and knew many that had relief of the rich men
of London: but now I can hear no such good report, and yet I
inquire of it, and hearken for it; but now charity is waxen cold,
none helpeth the scholar, nor yet the poor. And in those days, what
did they when they helped the scholars? Marry, they maintained and
gave them livings that were very papists, and professed the pope's
doctrine: and now that the knowledge of God's word is brought to
light, and many earnestly study and labour to set it forth, now
almost no man helpeth to maintain them.

Oh London, London! repent, repent; for I think God is more
displeased with London than ever he was with the city of Nebo.
Repent therefore, repent, London, and remember that the same God
liveth now that punished Nebo, even the same God, and none other;
and he will punish sin as well now as he did then: and he will
punish the iniquity of London, as well as he did then of Nebo.
Amend therefore. And ye that be prelates, look well to your office,
for right prelating is busy labouring, and not lording. Therefore
preach and teach, and let your plough be doing. Ye lords, I say,
that live like loiterers, look well to your office; the plough is
your office and charge. If you live idle and loiter, you do not
your duty, you follow not your vocation: let your plough therefore
be going, and not cease, that the ground may bring forth fruit.

But now methinketh I hear one say unto me: Wot ye what you say? Is
it a work? Is it a labour? How then hath it happened that we have
had so many hundred years so many unpreaching prelates, lording
loiterers, and idle ministers? Ye would have me here to make
answer, and to show cause thereof. Nay, this land is not for me to
plough; it is too stony, too thorny, too hard for me to plough.
They have so many things that make for them, so many things to lay
for themselves, that it is not for my weak team to plough them.
They have to lay for themselves long customs, ceremonies and
authority, placing in parliament, and many things more. And I fear
me this land is not yet ripe to be ploughed: for, as the saying is,
it lacketh weathering: this gear lacketh weathering; at least way
it is not for me to plough. For what shall I look for among thorns,
but pricking and scratching? What among stones, but stumbling?
What (I had almost said) among serpents, but stinging? But this
much I dare say, that since lording and loitering hath come up,
preaching hath come down, contrary to the apostles' times: for they
preached and lorded not, and now they lord and preach not. For they
that be lords will ill go to plough: it is no meet office for them;
it is not seeming for their estate. Thus came up lording loiterers:
thus crept in unpreaching prelates; and so have they long continued.
For how many unlearned prelates have we now at this day! And no
marvel: for if the ploughmen that now be were made lords, they
would clean give over ploughing; they would leave off their labour,
and fall to lording outright, and let the plough stand: and then
both ploughs not walking, nothing should be in the commonweal but
hunger. For ever since the prelates were made lords and nobles, the
plough standeth; there is no work done, the people starve. They
hawk, they hunt, they card, they dice; they pastime in their
prelacies with gallant gentlemen, with their dancing minions, and
with their fresh companions, so that ploughing is set aside: and by
their lording and loitering, preaching and ploughing is clean gone.
And thus if the ploughmen of the country were as negligent in their
office as prelates be, we should not long live, for lack of
sustenance. And as it is necessary for to have this ploughing for
the sustentation of the body, so must we have also the other for the
satisfaction of the soul, or else we cannot live long ghostly. For
as the body wasteth and consumeth away for lack of bodily meat, so
doth the soul pine away for default of ghostly meat. But there be
two kinds of inclosing, to let or hinder both these kinds of
ploughing: the one is an inclosing to let or hinder the bodily
ploughing, and the other to let or hinder the holiday-ploughing, the

The bodily ploughing is taken in and inclosed through singular
commodity. For what man will let go, or diminish his private
commodity for a commonwealth? And who will sustain any damage for
the respect of a public commodity? The other plough also no man is
diligent to set forward, nor no man will hearken to it. But to
hinder and let it all men's ears are open; yea, and a great many of
this kind of ploughmen, which are very busy, and would seem to be
very good workmen. I fear me some be rather mock-gospellers, than
faithful ploughmen. I know many myself that profess the gospel, and
live nothing thereafter. I know them, and have been conversant with
some of them. I know them, and (I speak it with a heavy heart)
there is as little charity and good living in them as in any other;
according to that which Christ said in the gospel to the great
number of people that followed him, as though they had had any
earnest zeal to his doctrine, whereas indeed they had it not; Non
quia vidistis signa, sed quia comedistis de panibus. "Ye follow
me," saith he, "not because ye have seen the signs and miracles that
I have done; but because ye have eaten the bread, and refreshed your
bodies, therefore you follow me." So that I think many one now-a-
days professeth the gospel for the living's sake, not for the love
they bear to God's word. But they that will be true ploughmen must
work faithfully for God's sake, for the edifying of their brethren.
And as diligently as the husbandman plougheth for the sustentation
of the body, so diligently must the prelates and ministers labour
for the feeding of the soul: both the ploughs must still be going,
as most necessary for man. And wherefore are magistrates ordained,
but that the tranquillity of the commonweal may be confirmed,
limiting both ploughs?

But now for the fault of unpreaching prelates, methink I could guess
what might be said for excusing of them. They are so troubled with
lordly living, they be so placed in palaces, crouched in courts,
ruffling in their rents, dancing in their dominions, burdened with
ambassages, pampering of their paunches, like a monk that maketh his
jubilee; munching in their mangers, and moiling in their gay manors
and mansions, and so troubled with loitering in their lordships,
that they cannot attend it. They are otherwise occupied, some in
king's matters, some are ambassadors, some of the privy council,
some to furnish the court, some are lords of the parliament, some
are presidents, and comptrollers of mints.

Well, well, is this their duty? Is this their office? Is this
their calling? Should we have ministers of the church to be
comptrollers of the mints? Is this a meet office for a priest that
hath cure of souls? Is this his charge? I would here ask one
question: I would fain know who controlleth the devil at home in
his parish, while he controlleth the mint? If the apostles might
not leave the office of preaching to the deacons, shall one leave it
for minting? I cannot tell you; but the saying is, that since
priests have been minters, money hath been worse than it was before.
And they say that the evilness of money hath made all things dearer.
And in this behalf I must speak to England. "Hear, my country,
England," as Paul said in his first epistle to the Corinthians, the
sixth chapter; for Paul was no sitting bishop, but a walking and a
preaching bishop. But when he went from them, he left there behind
him the plough going still; for he wrote unto them, and rebuked them
for going to law, and pleading their causes before heathen judges:
"Is there," said he, utterly among you no wise man, to be an
arbitrator in matters of judgment? What, not one of all that can
judge between brother and brother; but one brother goeth to law with
another, and that under heathen judges? Constituite contemptos qui
sunt in ecclesia, &c. Appoint them judges that are most abject and
vile in the congregation." Which he speaketh in rebuking them;
"For," saith he, ad erubescentiam vestram dico--"I speak it to your
shame." So, England, I speak it to thy shame: is there never a
nobleman to be a lord president, but it must be a prelate? Is there
never a wise man in the realm to be a comptroller of the mint? I
speak it to your shame. I speak it to your shame. If there be
never a wise man, make a water-bearer, a tinker, a cobbler, a slave,
a page, comptroller of the mint: make a mean gentleman, a groom, a
yeoman, or a poor beggar, lord president.

Thus I speak, not that I would have it so; but "to your shame," if
there be never a gentleman meet nor able to be lord president. For
why are not the noblemen and young gentlemen of England so brought
up in knowledge of God, and in learning, that they may be able to
execute offices in the commonweal? The king hath a great many of
wards, and I trow there is a Court of Wards: why is there not a
school for the wards, as well as there is a Court for their lands?
Why are they not set in schools where they may learn? Or why are
they not sent to the universities, that they may be able to serve
the king when they come to age? If the wards and young gentlemen
were well brought up in learning, and in the knowledge of God, they
would not when they come to age so much give themselves to other
vanities. And if the nobility be well trained in godly learning,
the people would follow the same train. For truly, such as the
noblemen be, such will the people be. And now, the only cause why
noblemen be not made lord presidents, is because they have not been
brought up in learning.

Therefore for the love of God appoint teachers and schoolmasters,
you that have charge of youth; and give the teachers stipends worthy
their pains, that they may bring them up in grammar, in logic, in
rhetoric, in philosophy, in the civil law, and in that which I
cannot leave unspoken of, the word of God. Thanks be unto God, the
nobility otherwise is very well brought up in learning and
godliness, to the great joy and comfort of England; so that there is
now good hope in the youth, that we shall another day have a
flourishing commonweal, considering their godly education. Yea, and
there be already noblemen enough, though not so many as I could
wish, able to be lord presidents, and wise men enough for the mint.
And as unmeet a thing it is for bishops to be lord presidents, or
priests to be minters, as it was for the Corinthians to plead
matters of variance before heathen judges. It is also a slander to
the noblemen, as though they lacked wisdom and learning to be able
for such offices, or else were no men of conscience, or else were
not meet to be trusted, and able for such offices. And a prelate
hath a charge and cure otherwise; and therefore he cannot discharge
his duty and be a lord president too. For a presidentship requireth
a whole man; and a bishop cannot be two men. A bishop hath his
office, a flock to teach, to look unto; and therefore he cannot
meddle with another office, which alone requireth a whole man: he
should therefore give it over to whom it is meet, and labour in his
own business; as Paul writeth to the Thessalonians, "Let every man
do his own business, and follow his calling." Let the priest
preach, and the noblemen handle the temporal matters. Moses was a
marvellous man, a good man: Moses was a wonderful fellow, and did
his duty, being a married man: we lack such as Moses was. Well, I
would all men would look to their duty, as God hath called them, and
then we should have a flourishing christian commonweal.

And now I would ask a strange question: who is the most diligentest
bishop and prelate in all England, that passeth all the rest in
doing his office? I can tell, for I know him who it is; I know him
well. But now I think I see you listening and hearkening that I
should name him. There is one that passeth all the other, and is
the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. And will ye
know who it is? I will tell you: it is the devil. He is the most
diligent preacher of all other; he is never out of his diocess; he
is never from his cure; ye shall never find him unoccupied; he is
ever in his parish; he keepeth residence at all times; ye shall
never find him out of the way, call for him when you will he is ever
at home; the diligentest preacher in all the realm; he is ever at
his plough: no lording nor loitering can hinder him; he is ever
applying his business, ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you.
And his office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition, to
set up idolatry, to teach all kind of popery. He is ready as he can
be wished for to set forth his plough; to devise as many ways as can
be to deface and obscure God's glory. Where the devil is resident,
and hath his plough going, there away with books, and up with
candles; away with bibles, and up with beads; away with the light of
the gospel, and up with the light of candles, yea, at noon-days.
Where the devil is resident, that he may prevail, up with all
superstition and idolatry; censing, painting of images, candles,
palms, ashes, holy water, and new service of men's inventing; as
though man could invent a better way to honour God with than God
himself hath appointed. Down with Christ's cross, up with purgatory
pickpurse, up with him, the popish purgatory, I mean. Away with
clothing the naked, the poor and impotent; up with decking of
images, and gay garnishing of stocks and stones: up with man's
traditions and his laws, down with God's traditions and his most
holy word. Down with the old honour due to God, and up with the new
god's honour. Let all things be done in Latin: there must be
nothing but Latin, not so much as Memento, homo, quod cinis es, et
in cinerem reverteris: "Remember, man, that thou art ashes, and
into ashes thou shalt return:" which be the words that the minister
speaketh unto the ignorant people, when he giveth them ashes upon
Ash-Wednesday; but it must be spoken in Latin: God's word may in no
wise be translated into English.

Oh that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good
doctrine, as Satan is to sow cockle and darnel! And this is the
devilish ploughing, the which worketh to have things in Latin, and
letteth the fruitful edification. But here some man will say to me,
What, sir, are ye so privy of the devil's counsel, that ye know all
this to be true? Truly I know him too well, and have obeyed him a
little too much in condescending to some follies; and I know him as
other men do, yea, that he is ever occupied, and ever busy in
following his plough. I know by St. Peter, which saith of him,
Sicut leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret: "He goeth about
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." I would have this
text well viewed and examined, every word of it: "Circuit," he
goeth about in every corner of his diocess; he goeth on visitation
daily, he leaveth no place of his cure unvisited: he walketh round
about from place to place, and ceaseth not. "Sicut leo," as a lion,
that is, strongly, boldly, and proudly; stately and fiercely with
haughty looks, with his proud countenances, with his stately
braggings. "Rugiens," roaring; for he letteth not slip any occasion
to speak or to roar out when he seeth his time. "Quaerens," he
goeth about seeking, and not sleeping, as our bishops do; but he
seeketh diligently, he searcheth diligently all corners, where as he
may have his prey. He roveth abroad in every place of his diocess;
he standeth not still, he is never at rest, but ever in hand with
his plough, that it may go forward. But there was never such a
preacher in England as he is. Who is able to tell his diligent
preaching, which every day, and every hour, laboureth to sow cockle
and darnel, that he may bring out of form, and out of estimation and
room, the institution of the Lord's supper, and Christ's cross? For
there he lost his right; for Christ said, Nunc judicium est mundi,
princeps seculi hujus ejicietur foras. Et sicut exaltarit Moses
serpentem in deserto, ita exaltari oportet Filium hominis. Et cum
exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum. "Now is the
judgment of this world, and the prince of this world shall be cast
out. And as Moses did lift up the serpent in the wilderness, so
must the Son of man be lift up. And when I shall be lift up from
the earth, I will draw all things unto myself." For the devil was
disappointed of his purpose: for he thought all to be his own; and
when he had once brought Christ to the cross, he thought all
cocksure. But there lost he all reigning: for Christ said, Omnia
traham ad meipsum: "I will draw all things to myself." He meaneth,
drawing of man's soul to salvation. And that he said he would do
per semetipsum, by his own self; not by any other body's sacrifice.
He meant by his own sacrifice on the cross, where he offered himself
for the redemption of mankind; and not the sacrifice of the mass to
be offered by another. For who can offer him but himself? He was
both the offerer and the offering. And this is the prick, this is
the mark at the which the devil shooteth, to evacuate the cross of
Christ, and to mingle the institution of the Lord's supper; the
which although he cannot bring to pass, yet he goeth about by his
sleights and subtil means to frustrate the same; and these fifteen
hundred years he hath been a doer, only purposing to evacuate
Christ's death, and to make it of small efficacy and virtue. For
whereas Christ, according as the serpent was lifted up in the
wilderness, so would he himself be exalted, that thereby as many as
trusted in him should have salvation; but the devil would none of
that: they would have us saved by a daily oblation propitiatory, by
a sacrifice expiatory, or remissory.

Now if I should preach in the country, among the unlearned, I would
tell what propitiatory, expiatory, and remissory is; but here is a
learned auditory: yet for them that be unlearned I will expound it.
Propitiatory, expiatory, remissory, or satisfactory, for they
signify all one thing in effect, and is nothing else but a thing
whereby to obtain remission of sins, and to have salvation. And
this way the devil used to evacuate the death of Christ, that we
might have affiance in other things, as in the sacrifice of the
priest; whereas Christ would have us to trust in his only sacrifice.
So he was, Agnus occisus ab origine mundi; "The Lamb that hath been
slain from the beginning of the world;" and therefore he is called
juge sacrificium, "a continual sacrifice;" and not for the
continuance of the mass, as the blanchers have blanched it, and
wrested it; and as I myself did once betake it. But Paul saith, per
semetipsum purgatio facta: "By himself," and by none other, Christ
"made purgation" and satisfaction for the whole world.

Would Christ this word, "by himself," had been better weighed and
looked upon, and in sanctificationem, to make them holy; for he is
juge sacrificium, "a continual sacrifice," in effect, fruit, and
operation; that like as they, which seeing the serpent hang up in
the desert, were put in remembrance of Christ's death, in whom as
many as believed were saved; so all men that trusted in the death of
Christ shall be saved, as well they that were before, as they that
came after. For he was a continual sacrifice, as I said, in effect,
fruit, operation, and virtue; as though he had from the beginning of
the world, and continually should to the world's end, hang still on
the cross; and he is as fresh hanging on the cross now, to them that
believe and trust in him, as he was fifteen hundred years ago, when
he was crucified.

Then let us trust upon his only death, and look for none other
sacrifice propitiatory, than the same bloody sacrifice, the lively
sacrifice; and not the dry sacrifice, but a bloody sacrifice. For
Christ himself said, consummatum est: "It is perfectly finished: I
have taken at my Father's hand the dispensation of redeeming
mankind, I have wrought man's redemption, and have despatched the
matter." Why then mingle ye him? Why do ye divide him? Why make
you of him more sacrifices than one? Paul saith, Pascha nostrum
immolatus est Christus: "Christ our passover is offered;" so that
the thing is done, and Christ hath done it semel, once for all; and
it was a bloody sacrifice, not a dry sacrifice. Why then, it is not
the mass that availeth or profiteth for the quick and the dead.

Wo worth thee, O devil, wo worth thee, that hast prevailed so far
and so long; that hast made England to worship false gods, forsaking
Christ their Lord. Wo worth thee, devil, wo worth thee, devil, and
all thy angels. If Christ by his death draweth all things to
himself, and draweth all men to salvation, and to heavenly bliss,
that trust in him; then the priests at the mass, at the popish mass,
I say, what can they draw, when Christ draweth all, but lands and
goods from the right heirs? The priests draw goods and riches,
benefices and promotions to themselves; and such as believed in
their sacrifices they draw to the devil. But Christ is he that
draweth souls unto him by his bloody sacrifice. What have we to do
then but epulari in Domino, to eat in the Lord at his supper? What
other service have we to do to him, and what other sacrifice have we
to offer, but the mortification of our flesh? What other oblation
have we to make, but of obedience, of good living, of good works,
and of helping our neighbours? But as for our redemption, it is
done already, it cannot be better: Christ hath done that thing so
well, that it cannot be amended. It cannot be devised how to make
that any better than he hath done it. But the devil, by the help of
that Italian bishop yonder, his chaplain, hath laboured by all means
that he might to frustrate the death of Christ and the merits of his
passion. And they have devised for that purpose to make us believe
in other vain things by his pardons; as to have remission of sins
for praying on hallowed beads; for drinking of the bakehouse bowl;
as a canon of Waltham Abbey once told me, that whensoever they put
their loaves of bread into the oven, as many as drank of the pardon-
bowl should have pardon for drinking of it. A mad thing, to give
pardon to a bowl! Then to pope Alexander's holy water, to hallowed
bells, palms, candles, ashes, and what not? And of these things,
every one hath taken away some part of Christ's sanctification;
every one hath robbed some part of Christ's passion and cross, and
hath mingled Christ's death, and hath been made to be propitiatory
and satisfactory, and to put away sin. Yea, and Alexander's holy
water yet at this day remaineth in England, and is used for a remedy
against spirits and to chase away devils; yea, and I would this had
been the worst. I would this were the worst. But wo worth thee, O
devil, that has prevailed to evacuate Christ's cross, and to mingle
the Lord's supper. These be the Italian bishop's devices, and the
devil hath pricked at this mark to frustrate the cross of Christ:
he shot at this mark long before Christ came, he shot at it four
thousand years before Christ hanged on the cross, or suffered his

For the brasen serpent was set up in the wilderness, to put men in
remembrance of Christ's coming; that like as they which beheld the
brasen serpent were healed of their bodily diseases, so they that
looked spiritually upon Christ that was to come, in him should be
saved spiritually from the devil. The serpent was set up in memory
of Christ to come; but the devil found means to steal away the
memory of Christ's coining, and brought the people to worship the
serpent itself, and to cense him, to honour him, and to offer to
him, to worship him, and to make an idol of him. And this was done
by the market-men that I told you of. And the clerk of the market
did it for the lucre and advantage of his master, that thereby his
honour might increase; for by Christ's death he could have but small
worldly advantage. And so even now so hath he certain blanchers
belonging to the market, to let and stop the light of the gospel,
and to hinder the king's proceedings in setting forth the word and
glory of God. And when the king's majesty, with the advice of his
honourable council, goeth about to promote God's word, and to set an
order in matters of religion, there shall not lack blanchers that
will say, "As for images, whereas they have used to be censed, and
to have candles offered unto to them, none be so foolish to do it to
the stock or stone, or to the image itself; but it is done to God
and his honour before the image." And though they should abuse it,
these blanchers will be ready to whisper the king in the ear, and to
tell him, that this abuse is but a small matter; and that the same,
with all other like abuses in the church, may be reformed easily.
"It is but a little abuse," say they, "and it may be easily amended.
But it should not be taken in hand at the first, for fear of trouble
or further inconveniences. The people will not bear sudden
alterations; an insurrection may be made after sudden mutation,
which may be to the great harm and loss of the realm. Therefore all
things shall be well, but not out of hand, for fear of further
business." These be the blanchers, that hitherto have stopped the
word of God, and hindered the true setting forth of the same. There
be so many put-offs, so many put-byes, so many respects and
considerations of worldly wisdom: and I doubt not but there were
blanchers in the old time to whisper in the ear of good king
Hezekiah, for the maintenance of idolatry done to the brasen
serpent, as well as there hath been now of late, and be now, that
can blanch the abuse of images, and other like things. But good
king Hezekiah would not be so blinded; he was like to Apollos,
"fervent in spirit." He would give no ear to the blanchers; he was
not moved with the worldly respects, with these prudent
considerations, with these policies: he feared not insurrections of
the people: he feared not lest his people would bear not the glory
of God; but he, without any of these respects, or policies, or
considerations, like a good king, for God's sake and for conscience
sake, by and by plucked down the brasen serpent, and destroyed it
utterly, and beat it to powder. He out of hand did cast out all
images, he destroyed all idolatry, and clearly did extirpate all
superstition. He would not hear these blanchers and worldly-wise
men, but without delay followeth God's cause, and destroyeth all
idolatry out of hand. Thus did good king Hezekiah; for he was like
Apollos, fervent in spirit, and diligent, to promote God's glory.

And good hope there is, that it shall be likewise here in England;
for the king's majesty is so brought up in knowledge, virtue, and
godliness, that it is not to be mistrusted but that we shall have
all things well, and that the glory of God shall be spread abroad
throughout all parts of the realm, if the prelates will diligently
apply their plough, and be preachers rather than lords. But our
blanchers, which will be lords, and no labourers, when they are
commanded to go and be resident upon their cures, and preach in
their benefices, they would say, "What? I have set a deputy there;
I have a deputy that looketh well to my flock, and the which shall
discharge my duty." "A deputy," quoth he! I looked for that word
all this while. And what a deputy must he be, trow ye? Even one
like himself: he must be a canonist; that is to say, one that is
brought up in the study of the pope's laws and decrees; one that
will set forth papistry as well as himself will do; and one that
will maintain all superstition and idolatry; and one that will
nothing at all, or else very weakly, resist the devil's plough:
yea, happy it is if he take no part with the devil; and where he
should be an enemy to him, it is well if he take not the devil's
part against Christ.

But in the meantime the prelates take their pleasures. They are
lords, and no labourers: but the devil is diligent at his plough.
He is no unpreaching prelate: he is no lordly loiterer from his
cure, but a busy ploughman; so that among all the prelates, and
among all the pack of them that have cure, the devil shall go for my
money, for he still applieth his business. Therefore, ye
unpreaching prelates, learn of the devil: to be diligent in doing
of your office, learn of the devil: and if you will not learn of
God, nor good men, for shame learn of the devil; ad erubescentiam
vestrum dico, "I speak it for your shame:" if you will not learn of
God, nor good men, to be diligent in your office, learn of the
devil. Howbeit there is now very good hope that the king's majesty,
being of the help of good governance of his most honourable
counsellors trained and brought up in learning, and knowledge of
God's word, will shortly provide a remedy, and set an order herein;
which thing that it may so be, let us pray for him. Pray for him,
good people; pray for him. Ye have great cause and need to pray for



Simile factum est regnum coelorum homini regi qui fecit nuptias
filio suo.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which married his
son, and sent forth his servants to call them that, &c.

This is a gospel that containeth very much matter; and there is
another like unto this in the fourteenth of Luke: but they be both
one in effect, for they teach both one thing; and therefore I will
take them both in hand together, because they tend to one purpose.
Matthew saith, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king,
which married his son;" Luke saith, "A certain man ordained a great
supper:" but there is no difference in the very substance of the
matter, for they pertain to one purpose. Here is made mention of a
feast-maker: therefore we must consider who was the feast-maker:
secondarily, who was his son: thirdly, we must consider to whom he
was married: fourthly, who were they that called the guests:
fifthly, who were the guests. And then we must know how the guest-
callers behaved themselves: and then, how the guests behaved
themselves towards them that called them. When all these
circumstances be considered, we shall find much good matters covered
and hid in this gospel.

Now that I may so handle these matters, that it may turn to the
edification of your souls, and to the discharge of my office, I will
most instantly desire you to lift up your hearts unto God, and
desire his divine Majesty, in the name of his only-begotten Son, our
Saviour Jesus Christ, that he will give unto us his Holy Ghost:-
unto me, that I may speak the word of God, and teach you to
understand the same; unto you, that you may hear it fruitfully, to
the edification of your souls; so that you may be edified through
it, and your lives reformed and amended; and that his honour and
glory may increase daily amongst us. Wherefore I shall desire you
to say with me, "Our Father," &c.

Dearly beloved in the Lord, the gospel that is read this day is a
parable, a similitude or comparison. For our Saviour compared the
kingdom of God unto a man that made a marriage for his son. And
here was a marriage. At a marriage, you know, there is commonly
great feastings. Now you must know who was this feast-maker, and
who was his son, and to whom he was married; and who were those that
should be called, and who were the callers; how they behaved
themselves, and how the guests behaved themselves towards them that
called them.

Now this marriage-maker, or feast-maker, is Almighty God. Luke the
Evangelist calleth him a man, saying, "A certain man ordained a
great supper." He calleth him a man, not that he was incarnate, or
hath taken our flesh upon him: no, not so; for you must understand
that there be three Persons in the Deity, God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Ghost. And these three Persons decked the Son
with manhood; so that neither the Father, neither the Holy Ghost,
took flesh upon them, but only the Son; he took our flesh upon him,
taking it of the Virgin Mary. But Luke called God the Father a man,
not because he took flesh upon him, but only compared him unto a
man; not that he will affirm him to be a man. Who was he now that
was married? Who was the bridegroom? Marry, that was our Saviour
Jesus Christ, the second person in the Deity; the eternal Son of
God. Who should be his spouse? To whom was he married? To his
church and congregation: for he would have all the world to come
unto him, and to be married unto him: but we see by daily
experience that the most part refuse his offer. But here is shewed
the state of the church of God: for this marriage, this feast, was
begun at the beginning of the world, and shall endure to the end of
the same: yet for all that, the most part refused it: for at the
very beginning of the world, ever the most part refused to come.
And so it appeareth at this time, how little a number cometh to this
wedding and feast: though we have callers, yet there be but few of
those that come. So ye hear that God is the feast-maker; the
bridegroom is Christ, his Son, our Saviour; the bride is the

Now what manner of meat was prepared at this great feast? For ye
know it is commonly seen, that at a marriage the finest meat is
prepared that can be gotten. What was the chiefest dish at this
great banquet? What was the feast-dish? Marry, it was the
bridegroom himself: for the Father, the feast-maker, prepared none
other manner of meat for the guests, but the body and blood of his
own natural Son. And this is the chiefest dish at this banquet;
which truly is a marvellous thing, that the Father offereth his Son
to be eaten. Verily, I think that no man hath heard the like. And
truly there was never such kind of feasting as this is, where the
Father will have his Son to be eaten, and his blood to be drunk.

We read in a story, that a certain man had eaten his son; but it was
done unawares: he knew not that it was his son, else no doubt he
would not have eaten him. The story is this: There was a king
named Astyages, which had heard by a prophecy, that one Cyrus should
have the rule and dominion over his realm after his departure; which
thing troubled the said king very sore, and therefore [he] sought
all the ways and means how to get the said Cyrus out of the way; how
to kill him, so that he should not be king after him. Now he had a
nobleman in his house, named Harpagus, whom he appointed to destroy
the said Cyrus: but howsoever the matter went, Cyrus was preserved
and kept alive, contrary to the king's mind. Which thing when
Astyages heard, what doth he? This he did: Harpagus, that nobleman
which was put in trust to kill Cyrus, had a son in the court, whom
the king commanded to be taken; his head, hands, and feet to be cut
off; and his body to be prepared, roasted, or sodden, of the best
manner as could be devised. After that, he biddeth Harpagus to come
and eat with him, where there was jolly cheer; one dish coming after
another. At length the king asked him, "Sir, how liketh you your
fare?" Harpagus thanketh the king, with much praising the king's
banquet. Now the king perceiving him to be merrily disposed,
commanded one of his servants to bring in the head, hands, and feet
of Harpagus's son. When it was done, the king showed him what
manner of meat he had eaten, asking him how it liketh him. Harpagus
made answer, though with an heavy heart, Quod regi placet, id mihi
quoque placet; "Whatsoever pleaseth the king, that also pleaseth
me." And here we have an ensample of a flatterer, or dissembler:
for this Harpagus spake against his own heart and conscience.
Surely, I fear me, there be a great many of flatterers in our time
also, which will not be ashamed to speak against their own heart and
consciences, like as this Harpagus did; which had, no doubt, a heavy
heart, and in his conscience the act of the king misliked him, yet
for all that, with his tongue he praised the same. So I say, we
read not in any story, that at any time any father had eaten his son
willingly and wittingly; and this Harpagus, of whom I rehearsed the
story, did it unawares. But the Almighty God, which prepared this
feast for all the world, for all those that will come unto it, he
offereth his only Son to be eaten, and his blood to be drunken.
Belike he loved his guests well, because he did feed them with so
costly a dish.

Again, our Saviour, the bridegroom, offereth himself at his last
supper, which he had with his disciples, his body to be eaten, and
his blood to be drunk. And to the intent that it should be done to
our great comfort; and then again to take away all cruelty,
irksomeness, and horribleness, he sheweth unto us how we shall eat
him, in what manner and form; namely, spiritually, to our great
comfort: so that whosoever eateth the mystical bread, and drinketh
the mystical wine worthily, according to the ordinance of Christ, he
receiveth surely the very body and blood of Christ spiritually, as
it shall be most comfortable unto his soul. He eateth with the
mouth of his soul, and digesteth with the stomach of his soul, the
body of Christ. And to be short: whosoever believeth in Christ,
putteth his hope, trust, and confidence in him, he eateth and
drinketh him: for the spiritual eating is the right eating to
everlasting life; not the corporal eating, as the Capernaites
understood it. For that same corporal eating, on which they set
their minds, hath no commodities at all; it is a spiritual meat that
feedeth our souls.

But I pray you, how much is this supper of Christ regarded amongst
us, where he himself exhibiteth unto us his body and blood? How
much, I say, is it regarded? How many receive it with the curate or
minister? O Lord, how blind and dull are we to such things, which
pertain to our salvation! But I pray you, wherefore was it ordained
principally? Answer: it was ordained for our help, to help our
memory withal; to put us in mind of the great goodness of God, in
redeeming us from everlasting death by the blood of our Saviour
Christ; yea, and to signify unto us, that his body and blood is our
meat and drink for our souls, to feed them to everlasting life. If
we were now so perfect as we ought to be, we should not have need of
it: but to help our imperfectness it was ordained of Christ; for we
be so forgetful, when we be not pricked forward, we have soon
forgotten all his benefits. Therefore to the intent that we might
better keep it in memory, and to remedy this our slothfulness, our
Saviour hath ordained this his supper for us, whereby we should
remember his great goodness, his bitter passion and death, and so
strengthen our faith: so that he instituted this supper for our
sake, to make us to keep in fresh memory his inestimable benefits.
But, as I said before, it is in a manner nothing regarded amongst
us: we care not for it; we will not come unto it. How many be
there, think ye, which regard this supper of the Lord as much as a
testoon? But very few, no doubt of it: and I will prove that they
regard it not so much. If there were a proclamation made in this
town, that whosoever would come unto the church at such an hour, and
there go to the communion with the curate, should have a testoon;
when such a proclamation were made, I think, truly, all the town
would come and celebrate the communion to get a testoon: but they
will not come to receive the body and blood of Christ, the food and
nourishment of their souls, to the augmentation and strength of
their faith! Do they not more regard now a testoon than Christ?
But the cause which letteth us from celebrating of the Lord's
Supper, is this: we have no mind nor purpose to leave sin and
wickedness, which maketh us not to come to this supper, because we
be not ready nor meet to receive it. But I require you in God's
behalf; leave your wickedness, that ye may receive it worthily,
according to his institution. For this supper is ordained, as I
told you before, for our sake, to our profits and commodities: for
if we were perfect, we should not need this outward sacrament; but
our Saviour, knowing our weakness and forgetfulness, ordained this
supper to the augmentation of our faith, and to put us in
remembrance of his benefits. But we will not come: there come no
more at once, but such as give the holy loaves from house to house;
which follow rather the custom than any thing else. Our Saviour
Christ saith in the gospel of St. John, Ego sum panis virus, qui de
coelo descendi; "I am the living bread which came down from heaven."
Therefore whosoever feedeth of our Saviour Christ, he shall not
perish; death shall not prevail against him: his soul shall depart
out of his body, yet death shall not get the victory over him; he
shall not be damned. He that cometh to that marriage, to that
banquet, death shall be unto him but an entrance or a door to
everlasting life. Panis quem ego dabo caro mea est; "The bread that
I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the
world." As many as will feed upon him, shall attain to everlasting
life: they shall never die; they shall prevail against death; death
shall not hurt them, because he hath lost his strength. If we would
consider this, no doubt we would be more desirous to come to the
communion than we be; we would not be so cold; we would be content
to leave our naughty living, and come to the Lord's table.

Now ye have heard what shall be the chiefest dish at this marriage,
namely, the body and blood of Christ. But now there be other
dishes, which be sequels or hangings-on, wherewith the chief dish is
powdered: that is, remission of sins; also the Holy Ghost, which
ruleth and governeth our hearts; also the merits of Christ, which
are made ours. For when we feed upon this dish worthily, then we
shall have remission of our sins; we shall receive the Holy Ghost.
Moreover, all the merits of Christ are ours; his fulfilling of the
law is ours; and so we be justified before God, and finally attain
to everlasting life. As many, therefore, as feed worthily of this
dish, shall have all these things with it, and in the end
everlasting life. St. Paul saith, Qui proprio Filio suo non
pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit illum, quomodo non etiam
cum illo omnia nobis donabit? "He which spared not his own Son, but
gave him for us all, how shall he not with him give us all things
also?" Therefore they that be in Christ are partakers of all his
merits and benefits; of everlasting life, and of all felicity. He
that hath Christ hath all things that are Christ's. He is our
preservation from damnation; he is our comfort; he is our help, our
remedy. When we feed upon him, then we shall have remission of our
sins: the same remission of sins is the greatest and most
comfortable thing that can be in the world. O what a comfortable
thing is this, when Christ saith, Remittuntur tibi peccata, "Thy
sins are forgiven unto thee!" And this is a standing sentence; it
was not spoken only to the same one man, but it is a general
proclamation unto all us: all and every one that believeth in him
shall have forgiveness of their sins. And this proclamation is
cried out daily by his ministers and preachers; which proclamation
is the word of grace, the word of comfort and consolation. For like
as sin is the most fearful and the most horriblest thing in heaven
and in earth, so the most comfortablest thing is the remedy against
sin; which remedy is declared and offered unto us in this word of
grace and the power to distribute this remedy against sins he hath
given unto his ministers, which be God's treasurers, distributers of
the word of God. For now he speaketh by me, he calleth you to this
wedding by me, being but a poor man; yet he hath sent me to call
you. And though he be the author of the word, yet he will have men
to be called through his ministers to that word. Therefore let us
give credit unto the minister, when he speaketh God's word: yea,
rather let us credit God when he speaketh by his ministers, and
offereth us remission of our sins by his word. For there is no sin
so great in this world, but it is pardonable as long as we be in
this world, and call for mercy: for here is the time of mercy; here
we may come to forgiveness of our sins. But if we once die in our
sins and wickedness, so that we be damned, let us not look for
remission afterwards: for the state after this life is
unchangeable. But as long as we be here, we may cry for mercy.
Therefore let us not despair: let us amend our lives, and cry unto
God for forgiveness of our sins; and then no doubt we shall obtain
remission, if we call with a faithful heart upon him, for so he hath
promised unto us in his most holy word.

The holy scripture maketh mention of a sin against the Holy Ghost,
which sin cannot be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the
world to come. And this maketh many men unquiet in their hearts and
consciences: for some there be which ever be afraid, lest they have
committed that same sin against the Holy Ghost, which is
irremissible. Therefore some say, "I cannot tell whether I have
sinned against the Holy Ghost or not: if I have committed that sin,
I know I shall be damned." But I tell you what ye shall do:
despair not of the mercy of God, for it is immeasurable. I cannot
deny but that there is a sin against the Holy Ghost, which is
irremissible: but we cannot judge of it aforehand, we cannot tell
which man hath committed that sin or not, as long as he is alive;
but when he is once gone, then I can judge whether he sinned against
the Holy Ghost or not. As now I can judge that Nero, Saul, and
Judas, and such like, that died in sins and wickedness, did commit
this sin against the Holy Ghost: for they were wicked, and
continued in their wickedness still to the very end; they made an
end in their wickedness. But we cannot judge whether one of us sin
this sin against the Holy Ghost, or not; for though a man be wicked
at this time, yet he may repent, and leave his wickedness tomorrow,
and so not commit that sin against the Holy Ghost. Our Saviour
Christ pronounced against the scribes and Pharisees, that they had
committed that sin against the Holy Ghost; because he knew their
hearts, he knew they would still abide in their wickedness to the
very end of their lives. But we cannot pronounce this sentence
against any man, for we know not the hearts of men: he that sinneth
now, peradventure shall be turned tomorrow, and leave his sins, and
so be saved. Further, the promises of our Saviour Christ are
general; they pertain to all mankind: he made a general
proclamation, saying, Qui credit in me, habet vitam aeternam;
"Whosoever believeth in me hath everlasting life." Likewise St.
Paul saith, Gratia exsuperat supra peccatum; "The grace and mercies
of God exceedeth far our sins." Therefore let us ever think and
believe that the grace of God, his mercy and goodness, exceedeth our
sins. Also consider what Christ saith with his own mouth: Venite
ad me, omnes qui laboratis, &c. "Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are laden, and I will ease you." Mark, here he saith, "Come all
ye:" wherefore then should any body despair, or shut out himself
from these promises of Christ, which be general, and pertain to the
whole world? For he saith, "Come all unto me." And then again he
saith, Refocillabo vos, "I will refresh you:" you shall be eased
from the burdens of your sins. Therefore, as I said before, he that
is blasphemous, and obstinately wicked, and abideth in his
wickedness still to the very end, he sinneth against the Holy Ghost;
as St. Augustine, and all other godly writers do affirm. But he
that leaveth his wickedness and sins, is content to amend his life,
and then believing in Christ, seeketh salvation and everlasting life
by him, no doubt that man or woman, whosoever he or they be, shall
be saved: for they feed upon Christ, upon that meat that God the
Father, this feast-maker, hath prepared for all his guests.

You have heard now who is the maker of this feast or banquet: and
again, you have heard what meat is prepared for the guests; what a
costly dish the house-father hath ordained at the wedding of his
son. But now ye know, that where there be great dishes and delicate
fare, there be commonly prepared certain sauces, which shall give
men a great lust and appetite to their meats; as mustard, vinegar,
and such like sauces. So this feast, this costly dish, hath its
sauces; but what be they? Marry, the cross, affliction,
tribulation, persecution, and all manner of miseries: for, like as
sauces make lusty the stomach to receive meat, so affliction
stirreth up in us a desire to Christ. For when we be in quietness,
we are not hungry, we care not for Christ: but when we be in
tribulation, and cast in prison, then we have a desire to him; then
we learn to call upon him; then we hunger and thirst after him; then
we are desirous to feed upon him. As long as we be in health and
prosperity, we care not for him; we be slothful, we have no stomach
at all; and therefore these sauces are very necessary for us. We
have a common saying amongst us, when we see a fellow sturdy, lofty,
and proud, men say, "This is a saucy fellow;" signifying him to be a
high-minded fellow, which taketh more upon him than he ought to do,
or his estate requireth: which thing, no doubt, is naught and ill;
for every one ought to behave himself according unto his calling and
estate. But he that will be a christian man, that intendeth to come
to heaven, must be a saucy fellow; he must be well powdered with the
sauce of affliction, and tribulation; not with proudness and
stoutness, but with miseries and calamities: for so it is written,
Omnes qui pie volunt vivere in Christo persecutionem patientur;
"Whosoever will live godly in Christ, he shall have persecution and
miseries:" he shall have sauce enough to his meat. Again, our
Saviour saith, Qui vult meus esse discipulus, abneget semetipsum et
tollat crucem suam et sequatur me; "He that will be my disciple must
deny himself and take his cross upon him, and follow me." Is there
any man that will feed upon me, that will eat my flesh and drink my
blood? Let him forsake himself. O this is a great matter; this is
a biting thing, the denying of my own will!' As for an ensample: I
see a fair woman, and conceive in my heart an ill appetite to commit
lechery with her; I desire to fulfil my wanton lust with her. Here
is my appetite, my lust, my will: but what must I do? Marry, I
must deny myself, and follow Christ. What is that? I must not
follow my own desire, but the will and pleasure of Christ. Now what
saith he? Non fornicaberis, non adulteraberis; "Thou shalt not be a
whoremonger, thou shalt not be a wedlock-breaker." Here I must deny
myself, and my will, and give place unto his will; abhor and hate my
own will. Yea, and furthermore I must earnestly call upon him, that
he will give me grace to withstand my own lust and appetite, in all
manner of things which may be against his will: as when a man doth
me wrong, taketh my living from me, or hurteth me in my good name
and fame, my will is to avenge myself upon him, to do him a foul
turn again; but what saith God? Mihi vindicta, ego retribuam; "Unto
me belongeth vengeance, I will recompense the same." Now here I
must give over my own will and pleasure, and obey his will: this I
must do, if I will feed upon him, if I will come to heaven. But
this is a bitter thing, a sour sauce, a sharp sauce; this sauce
maketh a stomach: for when I am injured or wronged, or am in other
tribulation, then I have a great desire for him, to feed upon him,
to be delivered from trouble, and to attain to quietness and joy.

There is a learned man which hath a saying which is most true: he
saith, Plus crux quam tranquillitas invitat ad Christum; "The cross
and persecution bring us sooner to Christ than prosperity and
wealth." Therefore St. Peter saith, Humiliamini sub potenti manu
Dei; "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." Look, what
God layeth upon you, bear it willingly and humbly. But you will
say, "I pray you, tell me what is my cross?" Answer: This that God
layeth upon you, that same is your cross; not that which you of your
own wilfulness lay upon yourselves: as there was a certain sect
which were called Flagellarii, which scourged themselves with whips
till the blood ran from their bodies; this was a cross, but it was
not the cross of God. No, no: he laid not that upon them, they did
it of their own head. Therefore look, what God layeth upon me, that
same is my cross, which I ought to take in good part; as when I fall
in poverty, or in miseries, I ought to be content withal; when my
neighbour doth me wrong, taketh away my goods, robbeth me of my good
name and fame, I shall bear it willingly, considering that it is
God's cross, and that nothing can be done against me without his
permission. There falleth never a sparrow to the ground without his
permission; yea, not a hair falleth from our head without his will.
Seeing then that there is nothing done without his will, I ought to
bear this cross which he layeth upon me willingly, without any
murmuring or grudging.

But I pray you, consider these words of St. Peter well: Humiliamini
sub potenti manu Dei; "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of
God." Here St. Peter signifieth unto us that God is a mighty God,
which can take away the cross from us when it seemeth him good; yea,
and he can send patience in the midst of all trouble and miseries.
St. Paul, that elect instrument of God, shewed a reason wherefore
God layeth afflictions upon us, saying: Corripimur a Domino, ne cum
mundo condemnemur; "We are chastened of the Lord, lest we should be
condemned with the world." For you see by daily experience, that
the most part of wicked men are lucky in this world; they bear the
swing, all things goeth after their minds; for God letteth them have
their pleasures here. And therefore this is a common saying, "The
more wicked, the more lucky:" but they that pertain to God, that
shall inherit everlasting life, they must go to the pot; they must
suffer here, according to that scripture, Judicium a domo Dei
incipit; "The judgment of God beginneth at the house of God."
Therefore it cometh of the goodness of God, when we be put to taste
the sauce of tribulation: for he doth it to a good end, namely,
that we should not be condemned with this wicked world. For these
sauces are very good for us; for they make us more hungry and lusty
to come to Christ and feed upon him. And truly, when it goeth well
with us, we forget Christ, our hearts and minds are not upon him:
therefore it is better to have affliction than to be in prosperity.
For there is a common saying, Vexatio dat intellectum; "Vexation
giveth understanding." David, that excellent king and prophet,
saith, Bonum est mihi quod humiliasti me, Domine: "Lord," saith he,
"it is good for me that thou hast pulled down my stomach, that thou
hast humbled me." But I pray you, what sauce had David, how was he
humbled? Truly thus: his own son defiled his daughter. After
that, Absalom, one other of his sons, killed his own brother. And
this was not enough, but his own son rose up against him, and
traitorously cast him out of his kingdom, and defiled his wives in
the sight of all the people. Was not he vexed? had he not sauces?
Yes, yes: yet for all that he cried not out against God; he
murmured not, but saith, Bonum est mihi quod humiliasti me; "Lord,
it is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that thou hast brought
me low." Therefore when we be in trouble, let us be of good
comfort, knowing that God doth it for the best. But for all that,
the devil, that old serpent, the enemy of mankind, doth what he can
day and night to bring us this sauce, to cast us into persecution,
or other miseries: as it appeareth in the gospel of Matthew, where
our Saviour casting him out of a man, seeing that he could do no
more harm, he desired Christ to give him leave to go into the swine;
and so he cast them all into the sea. Where it appeareth, that the
devil studieth and seeketh all manner of ways to hurt us, either in
soul, or else in body. But for all that, let us not despair, but
rather lift up our hearts unto God, desiring his help and comfort;
and no doubt, when we do so, he will help: he will either take away
the calamities, or else mitigate them, or at the leastwise send
patience into our hearts, that we may bear it willingly.

Now you know, at a great feast, when there is made a delicate
dinner, and the guests fare well, at the end of the dinner they have
bellaria, certain subtleties, custards, sweet and delicate things:
so when we come to this dinner, to this wedding, and feed upon
Christ, and take his sauces which he hath prepared for us, at the
end cometh the sweetmeat. What is that? Marry, remission of sins,
and everlasting life; such joy, that no tongue can express, nor
heart can think, which God hath prepared for all them that come to
this dinner, and feed upon his Son, and taste of his sauces. And
this is the end of this banquet. This banquet, or marriage-dinner,
was made at the very beginning of the world. God made this marriage
in paradise, and called the whole world unto it, saying, Semen
mulieris conteret caput serpentis; "The Seed of the woman shall
vanquish the head of the serpent." This was the first calling; and
this calling stood unto the faithful in as good stead as it doth
unto us, which have a more manifest calling. Afterward Almighty God
called again with these words, speaking to Abraham: Ego ero Deus
tuus et seminis tui post te; "I will be thy God, and thy seed's
after thee." Now what is it to be our God? Forsooth to be our
defender, our comforter, our deliverer, and helper. Who was
Abraham's seed? Even Christ the Son of God, he was Abraham's seed:
in him, and through him, all the world shall be blessed; all that
believe in him, all that come to this dinner, and feed upon him.
After that, all the prophets, their only intent was to call the
people to this wedding. Now after the time was expired which God
had appointed, he said, Venite, parata sunt omnia; "Come, all things
are ready."

But who are these callers? The first was John Baptist, which not
only called with his mouth, but also shewed with his finger that
meat which God had prepared for the whole world. He saith, Ecce
Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi; "Lo, the Lamb of God, that
taketh away the sins of the world." Also Christ himself called,
saying, Venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis; "Come to me, all ye that
travail and labour, and I will refresh you." Likewise the apostles
cried, and called all the whole world; as it is written, Exivit
sonus eorum per universam terram; "Their sound is gone throughout
all the world." But, I pray you, what thanks had they for their
calling, for their labour? Verily this: John Baptist was beheaded;
Christ was crucified; the apostles were killed: this was their
reward for their labours. So all the preachers shall look for none
other reward: for no doubt they must be sufferers, they must taste
of these sauces: their office is, arguere mundum de peccato, "to
rebuke the world of sin;" which no doubt is a thankless occupation.
Ut audiant montes judicia Domini, "That the high hills," that is,
great princes and lords, "may hear the judgments of the Lord:" they
must spare no body; they must rebuke high and low, when they do
amiss; they must strike them with the sword of God's word: which no
doubt is a thankless occupation; yet it must be done, for God will
have it so.

There be many men, which be not so cruel as to persecute or to kill
the preachers of God's word; but when they be called to feed upon
Christ, to come to this banquet, to leave their wicked livings, then
they begin to make their excuses; as it appeared here in this
gospel, where "the first said, I have bought a farm, and I must
needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused. Another said, I
have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee
have me excused. The third said, I have married a wife, and
therefore I cannot come." And these were their excuses. You must
take heed that you mistake not this text: for after the outward
letter it seemeth as though no husbandman, no buyer or seller, nor
married man shall enter the kingdom of God. Therefore ye must take
heed that ye understand it aright. For to be a husbandman, to be a
buyer or seller, to be a married man, is a good thing, and allowed
of God: but the abuse of such things is reproved. Husbandman, and
married man, every one in his calling, may use and do the works of
his calling. The husbandman may go to plough; they may buy and
sell; also, men may marry; but they may not set their hearts upon
it. The husbandman may not so apply his husbandry to set aside the
hearing of the word of God; for when he doth so, he sinneth
damnably: for he more regardeth his husbandry than God and his
word; he hath all lust and pleasure in his husbandry, which pleasure
is naught. As there be many husbandmen which will not come to
service; they make their excuses that they have other business: but
this excusing is naught; for commonly they go about wicked matters,
and yet they would excuse themselves, to make themselves faultless;
or, at the least way, they will diminish their faults, which thing
itself is a great wickedness; to do wickedly, and then to defend
that same wickedness, to neglect and despise God's word, and then to
excuse such doings, like as these men do here in this gospel. The
husbandman saith, "I have bought a farm; therefore have me excused:
the other saith, I have bought five yoke of oxen; I pray thee have
me excused:" Now when he cometh to the married man, that same
fellow saith not, "Have me excused," as the others say; but he only
saith, "I cannot come." Where it is to be noted, that the
affections of carnal lusts and concupiscence are the strongest above
all the other: for there be some men which set all their hearts
upon voluptuousness; they regard nothing else, neither God nor his
word; and therefore this married man saith, "I cannot come;" because
his affections are more strong and more vehement than the other
men's were.

But what shall be their reward which refuse to come? The house-
father saith, "I say unto you, that none of those men which were
bidden shall taste of my supper." With these words Christ our
Saviour teacheth us, that all those that love better worldly things
than God and his word shall be shut out from his supper; that is to
say, from everlasting joy and felicity: for it is a great matter to
despise God's word, or the minister of the same; for the office of
preaching is the office of salvation; it hath warrants in scripture,
it is grounded upon God's word. St. Paul to the Romans maketh a
gradation of such-wise: Omnis quicunque invocaverit nomen Domini
salvabitur: quomodo ergo invocabunt in quem non crediderunt, aut
quomodo credent ei quem non audisrunt? that is to say, "Whosoever
shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved: but how shall
they call upon him, in whom they believe not? How shall they
believe on him of whom they have not heard? How shall they hear
without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be
sent?" At the length he concludeth, saying, Fides ex auditu; "Faith
cometh by hearing." Where ye may perceive, how necessary a thing it
is to hear God's word, and how needful a thing it is to have
preachers, which may teach us the word of God: for by hearing we
must come to faith; through faith we must be justified. And
therefore Christ saith himself, Qui credit in me, habet vitam
aeternam; "He that believeth in me hath everlasting life." When we
hear God's word by the preacher, and believe that same, then we
shall be saved: for St. Paul saith, Evangelium est potentia Dei ad
salutem omni credenti; "The gospel is the power of God unto
salvation to all that believe; the gospel preached is God's power to
salvation of all believers." This is a great commendation of this
office of preaching: therefore we ought not to despise it, or
little regard it; for it is God's instrument, whereby he worketh
faith in our hearts. Our Saviour saith to Nicodeme, Nisi quis
renatus fuerit, "Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the
kingdom of God." But how cometh this regeneration? By hearing and
believing of the word of God: for so saith St. Peter, Renati non ex
semine mortali corruptibili; "We are born anew, not of mortal seed,
but of immortal, by the word of God." Likewise Paul saith in
another place, Visum est Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos
facere credentes; "It pleased God to save the believers through the
foolishness of preaching." But, peradventure, you will say, "What,
shall a preacher teach foolishness?" No, not so: the preacher,
when he is a right preacher, he preacheth not foolishness, but he
preacheth the word of God; but it is taken for foolishness, the
world esteemeth it for a trifle: but howsoever the world esteemeth
it, St. Paul saith that God will save his through it.

Here I might take occasion to inveigh against those which little
regard the office of preaching; which are wont to say, "'What need
we such preachings every day? Have I not five wits? I know as well
what is good or ill, as he doth that preacheth." But I tell thee,
my friend, be not too hasty; for when thou hast nothing to follow
but thy five wits, thou shalt go to the devil with them. David,
that holy prophet, said not so: he trusted not his five wits, but
he said, Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum, Domine; "Lord, thy word
is a lantern unto my feet." Here we learn not to despise the word
of God, but highly to esteem it, and reverently to hear it; for the
holy day is ordained and appointed to none other thing, but that we
should at that day hear the word of God, and exercise ourselves in
all godliness. But there be some which think that this day is
ordained only for feasting, drinking, or gaming, or such
foolishness; but they be much deceived: this day was appointed of
God that we should hear his word, and learn his laws, and so serve
him. But I dare say the devil hath no days so much service as upon
Sundays or holy days; which Sundays are appointed to preaching, and
to hear God's most holy word. Therefore God saith not only in his
commandments, that we shall abstain from working; but he saith,
Sanctificabis, "Thou shalt hallow:" so that holy day keeping is
nothing else but to abstain from good works, and to do better works;
that is, to come together, and celebrate the Communion together, and
visit the sick bodies. These are holy-day works; and for that end
God commanded us to abstain from bodily works, that we might be more
meet and apt to do those works which he hath appointed unto us,
namely, to feed our souls with his word, to remember his benefits,
and to give him thanks, and to call upon him. So that the holy-day
may be called a marriage-day, wherein we are married unto God; which
day is very needful to be kept. The foolish common people think it
to be a belly-cheer day, and so they make it a surfeiting day:
there is no wickedness, no rebellion, no lechery, but she hath most
commonly her beginning upon the holy-day.

We read a story in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Numbers,
that there was a fellow which gathered sticks upon the sabbath-day;
he was a despiser of God's ordinances and laws, like as they that
now-a-days go about other business, when they should hear the word
of God, and come to the Common Prayer: which fellows truly have
need of sauce, to be made more lustier to come and feed upon Christ
than they be. Now Moses and the people consulted with the Lord,
what they should do, how they should punish that fellow which had so
transgressed the sabbath-day. "He shall die," saith God: which
thing is an ensample for us to take heed, that we transgress not the
law of the sabbath-day. For though God punish us not by and by, as
this man was punished; yet he is the very self-same God that he was
before, and will punish one day, either here, or else in the other
world, where the punishment shall be everlasting.

Likewise in the seventeenth chapter of the prophet Jeremy God
threateneth his fearful wrath and anger unto those which do profane
his sabbath-day. Again, he promiseth his favour and all prosperity
to them that will keep the holy-days; saying, "Princes and kings
shall go through thy gates," that is to say, Thou shalt be in
prosperity, in wealth, and great estimation amongst thy neighbours.
Again: "If ye will not keep my sabbath-day, I will kindle a fire in
your gates;" that is to say, I will destroy you, I will bring you to
nought, and burn your cities with fire. These words pertain as well
unto us at this time, as they pertained to them at their time: for
God hateth the disallowing of the sabbath as well now as then; for
he is and remaineth still the old God: he will have us to keep his
sabbath, as well now as then: for upon the sabbath-day God's seed-
plough goeth; that is to say, the ministry of his word is executed;
for the ministering of God's word is God's plough. Now upon the
Sundays God sendeth his husbandmen to come and till; he sendeth his
callers to come and call to the wedding, to bid the guests; that is,
all the world to come to that supper. Therefore, for the reverence
of God, consider these things: consider who calleth, namely, God;
consider again who be the guests; all ye. Therefore I call you in
God's name, come to this supper; hallow the sabbath-day; that is, do
your holy-day work, come to this supper; for this day was appointed
of God to that end, that his word should be taught and heard.
Prefer not your own business therefore before the hearing of the
word of God. Remember the story of that man which gathered sticks
upon the holy day, and was put to death by the consent of God:
where God shewed himself not a cruel God, but he would give warning
unto the whole world by that man, that all the world should keep
holy his sabbath-day.

The almighty ever-living God give us grace to live so in this
miserable world, that we may at the end come to the great sabbath-
day, where there shall be everlasting joy and gladness! Amen.

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