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The Seventh Sermon upon the Lord’s Prayer
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. — Matthew vi. 13.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
In the petition afore, where we say, “Forgive us our trespasses,” there we fetch remedies for sins past. For we must needs have forgiveness; we cannot remedy the matter of ourselves; our sins must be remedied by pardon, by remission: other righteousness we have not, but forgiving of our unrighteousness; our goodness standeth in forgiving of our illness. All mankind must cry pardon, and acknowledge themselves to be sinners; except our Saviour, who was clean without spot of sin. Therefore when we feel our sins, we must with a penitent heart resort hither, and say: “Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” Mark well this addition, “as we forgive them that trespass”; for our Saviour putteth the same unto it, not to that end that we should merit any thing by it, but rather to prove our faith, whether we be of the faithful flock of God or no. For the right faith abideth not in that man that is disposed purposely to sin, to hate his even7171 Fellow-Christian. Christian, or to do other manner of sins. For whosoever purposely sinneth, contra conscientiam, “against his conscience,” he hath lost the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and finally Christ himself. But when we are fallen so, we must fetch them again at God’s hand by this prayer, which is a storehouse: here we shall find remission of our sins. And though we be risen never so well, yet when we fall again, when we sin again, what remedy then? What availeth it me to be risen once, and fall by and by into the self-same sin again, which is a renovation of the other sins? For whosoever hath done wickedly an act against God, and afterwards is sorry for it, crieth God mercy, and so cometh to forgiveness of the same sin; but by and by, willingly, and wittingly, doth the self-same sin again; — he renovateth by so doing all those sins which beforetimes were forgiven him. Which thing appeareth by the lord, that took reckoning of his servants, where he found one which owed him a great sum of money: the lord pitied him, and remitted him all the debts. Now that same man afterward shewed himself unthankful and wicked: therefore the lord called him, and cast him into prison, there to lie till he had paid the uttermost farthing, notwithstanding that he had forgiven him afore, &c. So we see the guiltiness of the former sins turn again, when we do the same sins again. Seeing then that it is so dangerous a thing to fall into sin again, then we had need to have some remedy, some help, that we might avoid sin, and not fall thereto again: therefore here followeth this petition, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Here we have a remedy, here we desire God that he will preserve us from falling into sin. Our Saviour, that loving school-master, knew whereof we had need; therefore he teacheth us to beg a preservation of God, that we fall not: “Lead us not, &c.”; that is to say, “Lord, lead us not into trial, for we shall soon be overcome, but preserve us; suffer us not to sin again; let us not fall; help us, that sin get not the victory over us.” And this is a necessary prayer; for what is it that we can do? Nothing at all but sin. And therefore we have need to pray unto God, that he will preserve and keep us in the right way; for our enemy, the devil, is an unquiet spirit, ever lying in the way, seeking occasion how to bring us to ungodliness. Therefore it appeareth how much we have need of the help of God: for the devil is an old enemy, a fellow of great antiquity; he hath endured this five thousand five hundred and fifty-two years, in which space he hath learned all arts and cunnings; he is a great practiser; there is no subtilty but he knoweth the same. Like as an artificer that is cunning and expert in his craft, and knoweth how to go to work, how to do his business in the readiest way; so the devil knoweth all ways how to tempt us, and to give us an overthrow; insomuch that we can begin nor do nothing, but he is at our heels, and worketh some mischief, whether we be in prosperity or adversity, whether we be in health or sickness, life or death; he knoweth how to use the same to his purpose. As for an ensample: When a man is rich, and of great substance, he by and by setteth upon him with his crafts, intending to bring him to mischief; and so he moveth him to despise and contemn God, to make his riches his God. Yea, he can put such pride into the rich man’s heart, that he thinketh himself able to bring all things to pass; and so beginneth to oppress his neighbour with his riches. But God, by his holy word, warneth us and armeth us against such crafts and subtilties of the devil, saying, Divitiae si affluant, nolite cor apponere; “If riches come upon you, set not your hearts upon them.” He commandeth us not to cast them away, but not to set our hearts upon them, as wicked men do. For to be rich is a gift of God, if riches be rightly used; but the devil is so wily, he stirreth up rich men’s hearts to abuse them. Again, when a man falleth into poverty, so that he lacketh things necessary to the sustentation of this bodily life; lo, the devil is even ready at hand to take occasion by the poverty to bring him to mischief. For he will move and stir up the heart of man that is in poverty, not to labour and calling upon God, but rather to stealing and robbing, notwithstanding God forbiddeth such sins in his laws; or else, at the least, he will bring him to use deceit and falsehood with his neighbour, intending that way to bring him to everlasting destruction. Further, when a man is in honour and dignity, and in great estimation, this serpent sleepeth not, but is ready to give him an overthrow. For though honour be good unto them which come lawfully by it, and though it be a gift of God; yet the devil will move that man’s heart which hath honour, to abuse his honour: for he will make him lofty, and high-minded, and fill his heart full of ambitions, so that he shall have a desire ever to come higher and higher; and all those which will withstand him, they shall be hated, or ill entreated at his hand: and at the length he shall be so poisoned with this ambition, that he shall forget all humanity and godliness, and consequently fall in the fearful hands of God. Such a fellow is the devil, that old doctor!
If it cometh to pass that a man fall into open ignominy and shame, so that he shall be nothing regarded before the world; then the devil is at hand, moving and stirring his heart to irksomeness, and at the length to desperation. If he be young and lusty, the devil will put in his heart, and say to him: “What! thou art in thy flowers, man; take thy pleasure; make merry with thy companions; remember the old proverb, ‘Young saints, old devils.’” Which proverb in very deed is naught and deceitful, and the devil’s own invention; which would have parents negligent in bringing up their children in goodness. He would rather see them to be brought up in illness and wickedness; therefore he found out such a proverb, to make them careless for their children. But, as I said afore, this proverb is naught: for look commonly, where children are brought up in wickedness, they will be wicked all their lives after; and therefore we may say thus, “Young devil, old devil; young saints, old saints.” Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem Testa diu; “The earthen pot will long savour of that liquor that is first put into it.” And here appeareth, how the devil can use the youth of a young man to his destruction, in exhorting him to follow the fond lusts of that age. Likewise when a man cometh to age, that old serpent will not leave him; but is ever stirring him from one mischief unto the other, from one wickedness to another. And commonly he moveth old folks to avarice and covetousness: for then old folk will commonly say, by the inspiration of the devil, “Now it is time for me to lay up, to keep in store somewhat for me, that I may have wherewith to live when I shall be a cripple.” And so under this colour they set all their hearts and minds only upon this world; forgetting their poor neighbour, which God would have relieved by them. But, as I told you before, this is the devil’s invention and subtilty, which blindeth their eyes so, and withdraweth their hearts so far from God, that it is scant possible for some to be brought again: for they have set all their hearts and phantasies in such wise upon their goods, that they cannot suffer any body to occupy their goods, nor they themselves use it not; to the verifying of this common sentence: Avarus caret quod habet, aeque ac quod non habet; “The covetous man lacketh as well those things which he hath, as those things which he hath not.” So likewise when we be in health, the devil moveth us to all wickedness and naughtiness, to whoredom, lechery, theft, and other horrible faults; putting clean out of our mind the remembrance of God and his judgments, insomuch that we forget that we shall die. Again, when we be in sickness, he goeth about like a lion to move and stir us up to impatiency and murmuring against God; or else he maketh our sins so horrible before us that we fall into desperation. And so it appeareth that there is nothing either so high or low, so great or small, but the devil can use that self-same thing as a weapon to fight against us withal, like as with a sword. Therefore our Saviour, knowing the crafts and subtilties of our enemy the devil, how he goeth about day and night, without intermission, to seek our destruction, teacheth us here to cry unto God our heavenly father for aid and help, for a subsidy against this strong and mighty enemy, against the prince of this world, as St Paul disdained not to call him; for he knew his power and subtile conveyances. Belike St Paul had some experience of him.
Here by this petition, when we say, “Lead us not into temptation,” we learn to know our own impossibility and infirmity; namely, that we be not able of our ownselves to withstand this great and mighty enemy, the devil. Therefore here we resort to God, desiring him to help and defend us, whose power passeth the strength of the devil. So it appeareth that this is a most needful petition: for when the devil is busy about us, and moveth us to do against God, and his holy laws and commandments, ever we should have in remembrance whither to go, namely, to God; acknowledging our weakness, that we be not able to withstand the enemy. Therefore we ought ever to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation.”
This petition, “lead us not into temptation,” the meaning of it is: “Almighty God, we desire thy holy majesty for to stand by and with us, with thy holy Spirit, so that temptation overcome us not, but that we, through thy goodness and help, may vanquish and get the victory over it: for it is not in our power to do it; thou, O God, must help us to strive and fight.” It is with this petition, “lead us not into temptation,” even as much as St Paul saith, Ne regnet igitur peccatum in vestro mortali corpore; “Let not sin reign in your corruptible body,” saith St Paul. He doth not require that we shall have no sin, for that is impossible unto us; but he requireth that we be not servants unto sin; that we give not place unto it, that sin rule not in us. And this is a commandment: we are commanded to forsake and hate sin, so that it may have no power over us. Now we shall turn this commandment into a prayer, and desire of God that he will keep us, that he will not lead us into temptation; that is to say, that he will not suffer sin to have the rule and governance over us; and so we shall say with the prophet, Domine, dirige gressus meos, “Lord, rule and govern thou me in the right way.” And so we shall turn God’s commandment into a prayer, to desire of him help to do his will and pleasure like as St Augustine saith, Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis; “Give that thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt.” As who say, “If thou wilt command only and not give, then we shall be lost, we shall perish.” Therefore we must desire him to rule and govern all our thoughts, words, acts, and deeds, so that no sins bear rule in us: we must require him to put his helping hand to us, that we may overcome temptation, and not temptation us. This I would have you to consider, that every morning, when you rise from your bed, you would say these words with a faithful heart and earnest mind: Domine, gressus meos dirige, ne dominetur peccatum in meo mortali corpore; “Lord, rule and govern me so, order my ways so, that sin get not the victory of me, that sin rule me not; but let thy Holy Ghost inhabit my heart.” And specially when any man goeth about a dangerous business, let him ever say, Domine, dirige gressus meos, “Lord, rule thou me; keep me in thy custody.” So this is the first point, which you shall note in this petition, namely, to turn the commandments of God into a prayer. He commandeth us to leave sins, to avoid them, to hate them, to keep our heart clean from them: then let us turn his commandment into a prayer, and say, “Lord, lead us not into temptation”; that is to say, “Lord, keep us, that. the devil prevail not against us, that wickedness get not the victory over us.”
You shall not think that it is an ill thing to be tempted, to fall into temptations. No, for it is a good thing; and scripture commendeth it, and we shall be rewarded for it for St James saith, Beatus vir qui suffert tentationem; “Blessed is that man that suffereth temptations patiently.” Blessed is he that suffereth; not he that followeth; not he that is led by them, and followeth the motions thereof. The devil moveth me to do this thing and that, which is against God; to commit whoredom or lechery, or such like things. Now this is a good thing: for if I withstand his motions, and more regard God than his suggestions, happy am I, and I shall be rewarded for it in heaven. Some think that St Paul would have been without such temptations, but God would not grant his request. Sufficit tibi gratia mea, Paule; “Be content, Paul, to have my favour.” For temptations be a declaration of God’s favour and might: for though we be most weak and feeble, yet through our weakness God vanquisheth the great strength and might of the devil. And afterward he promiseth us we shall have coronam vitae, “the crown of life”; that is to say, we shall be rewarded in everlasting life. To whom did God promise coronam vitae, everlasting life? Diligentibus se, saith St James, “Unto them that love him”; not unto them that love themselves, and follow their own affections. Diligentibus se: it is an amphibologia;7272 A sentence that will bear a double meaning. and therefore Erasmus turneth it into Latin with such words, A quibus dilectus est Deus, — non, diligentibus se; not, “they that love themselves,” but, “they of whom God is beloved”: for self-love is the root of all mischief and wickedness.
Here you may perceive who are those which love God, namely, they that fight against temptations and assaults of the devil. For this life is a warfare, as St Job saith: Militia est vita hominis super terram, “The life of man is but a warfare.” Not that we should fight and brawl one with another: no, not so; but we should fight against the Jebusites that are within us. We may not fight one with another to avenge ourselves and to satisfy our irefulness; but we should fight against the ill motions which rise up in our hearts against the law of God. Therefore remember that our life is a warfare: let us be contented to be tempted. There be some, when they fall into temptations, they be so irksome that they give place, they will fight no more. Again, there be some so weary that they rid themselves out of this life; but this is not well done. They do not after St James’s mind; for he saith, “Blessed is he that suffereth temptation, and taketh it patiently.” Now, if he be blessed that suffereth temptation, then it followeth, that he that curseth and murmureth against God, being tempted, that that man is cursed in the sight of God, and so shall not enjoy coronam vitae, “everlasting life.”
Further, it is a necessary thing to be tempted of God; for how should we know whether we have the love of God in our hearts or no, except we be tried, except God tempt and prove us? Therefore the prophet David saith, Proba me, Domine, et tenta me; “Lord, prove me, and tempt me.” This prophet knew that to be tempted of God is a good thing: for temptations minister to us occasion to run to God, and to beg his help. Therefore David was desirous to have something whereby he might exercise his faith. For there is nothing so dangerous in the world as to be without trouble, without temptation. For look, when we be best at ease, when all things go with us according unto our will and pleasure, then we are commonly most farthest off from God. For our nature is so feeble, that we cannot bear tranquility; we forget God by and by: therefore we should say, Proba me, “Lord, prove me, and tempt me.”
I have read once a story of a good bishop, which rode by the way, and was weary, being yet far off from any town therefore seeing a fair house, a great man’s house, he went thither, and was very well and honourably received. There was great preparations made for him and a great banquet; all things were in plenty. Then the man of the house set out his prosperity, and told the bishop what riches he had; in what honour and dignities he was; how many fair children he had; what a virtuous wife God had provided for him; so that he had no lack of any manner of thing; he had no trouble nor vexations, neither inward nor outward. Now this holy man, hearing the good estate of that man, called one of his servants, and commanded him to make ready the horses; for the bishop thought that God was not in that house, because there was no temptation there: he took his leave, and went his ways. Now when he came two or three mile off, he remembered his book which he had left behind him: he sent his man back again to fetch that book; and when the servant came again, the house was sunken and all that was in it. Here it appeareth that it is a good thing to have temptation. This man thought himself a jolly fellow, because all things went with him: but he knew not St James’s lesson, Beatus qui suffert tentationem; “Blessed is he that endureth temptation.” Let us therefore learn here, not to be irksome when God layeth his cross upon us. Let us not despair, but call upon him; let us think we be ordained unto it. For truly we shall never have done; we shall have one vexation or other, as long as we be in this world. But we have a great comfort, which is this: Fidelis est Deus, qui non sinit nos tentari supra quam ferre possumus; “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength.” If we mistrust God, then we make him a liar: for God will not suffer us to be tempted further than we shall be able to bear. And, again, he will reward us; we shall have coronam vitae, “everlasting life.” If we consider this, and ponder it in our hearts, wherefore should we be troubled? Let every man, when he is in trouble, call upon God with a faithful and penitent heart, “Lord, let me not be tempted further than thou shalt make me able to bear.” And this is the office of every christian man; and look for no better cheer as long as thou art in this world: but trouble and vexations thou shalt have usque ad satientatem, “thy belly full.” And therefore our Saviour, being upon the mount Olivet, knowing what should come upon him, and how his disciples would forsake him, and mistrust him, taught them to fight against temptation, saying, Vigilate et orate. As who say, “I tell you what you shall do: resort to God, seek comfort of him, call upon him in my name; and this shall be the way how to escape temptations without your peril and loss.” Now let us follow that rule which our Saviour giveth unto his disciples. Let us “watch and pray”; that is to say, let us be earnest and fervent in calling upon him, and in desiring his help; and no doubt he will order the matter so with us that temptation shall not hurt us, but shall be rather a furtherance, and not an impediment to everlasting life. And this is our only remedy, to fetch help at his hands. Let us therefore watch and pray; let not temptations bear rule in us or govern us.
Now peradventure there be some amongst the ignorant unlearned sort, which will say unto me, “You speak much of temptations; I pray you tell us, how shall we know when we be tempted?” Answer: When you feel in yourselves, in your hearts, some concupiscence or lust towards any thing that is against the law of God rise up in your hearts, that same is a tempting: for all manner of ill motions to wickedness are temptations. And we be tempted most commonly two manner of ways, a dextris et a sinistris, “on the right hand, and on the left hand.” Whensoever we be in honours, wealth, and prosperities, then we be tempted on the right hand: but when we be in open shame, outlaws, or in great extreme poverty and penuries, then that is on the left hand. There hath been many, that when they have been tempted a sinistris, “on the left hand,” that is, with adversities and all kind of miseries, they have been hardy and most godly; have suffered such calamities, giving God thanks amidst all their troubles: and there hath been many which have written most godly books in the time of their temptations and miseries. Some also there were which stood heartily, and godlily suffered temptations, as long as they were in trouble: but afterward, when they came to rest, they could not stand so well as before in their trouble: yea, the most part go and take out. a new lesson of discretion, to flatter themselves and the world withal; and so they verify that saying, Honores mutant mores, “Honours change manners.” For they can find in their hearts to approve that thing now, which before time they reproved. Aforetime they sought the honour of God, now they seek their own pleasure. Like as the rich man did, saying, Anima, nunc ede, bibe, &c., “Soul, now eat, drink,” &c. But it followeth, Stulte, “Thou fool.” Therefore, let men beware of the right hand; for they are gone by and by, except God with his Spirit illuminate their hearts. I would such men would begin to say with David, Proba me, Domine, “Lord, prove me: spur me for ward; send me somewhat, that I forget not thee!” So it appeareth that a christian man’s life is a strife, a warfare but we shall overcome all our enemies; yet not by our own power, but through God which is able to defend us.
Truth it is that God tempteth. Almighty God tempteth to our commodities, to do us good withal; the devil tempteth to our everlasting destruction. God tempteth us for exercise’ sake, that we should not be slothful; therefore he proveth us diversely. We had need often to say this prayer, “Lord, lead us not into temptation.” When we rise up in a morning, or whatsoever we do, when we feel the devil busy about us, we should call upon God. The diligence of the devil should. make us watchful, when we consider with what earnest mind he applieth his business: for he sleepeth not, he slumbereth not; he mindeth his own business, he is careful, and hath mind of his matters. To what end is he so diligent, seeking and searching like a hunter? Even, to take us at a vantage. St Peter calleth him a roaring lion, whereby is expressed his power: for you know, the lion is the prince of all other beasts. Circumit, “He goeth about.” Here is his diligence. Non est potestas, &c. “There is no power to be likened unto his power”: yet our hope is in God; for, as strong as he is, our hope is in God. He cannot hurt or slay us without the permission of God: therefore let us resort unto God, and desire him that he will enable us to fight against him. Further, his wiliness is expressed by this word “serpent.” He is of a swift nature; he hath such compasses, such fetches, that he passeth all things in the world. Again, consider how long he hath been a practitioner. You must consider what Satan is, what experience he hath; so that we are not able to match with him. O, how fervently ought we to cry unto God, considering what danger and peril we be in! And not only for ourselves we ought to pray, but also for all others; for we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Seeing then that we have such an enemy, resist; for so it is needful. For I think that now in this hall, amongst this audience, there be many thousand devils, which go about to let us of the hearing of the word of God; to make hardness in our hearts, and to stir up such like mischief within us. But what remedy? Resistite, “Withstand”; withstand his motions. And this must be done at the first. For, as strong as he is, when he is resisted at the first, he is the weakest; but if we suffer him to come into our hearts, then he cannot be driven out without great labour and travail. As for an ensample: I see a fair woman, I like her very well, I wish in my heart to have her. Now withstand; this is a temptation. Shall I follow my affections? No, no: call to remembrance what the devil is; call God to remembrance and his laws; consider what he hath commanded thee: say unto God, “Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” For I tell thee, when he is entered once, it will be hard to get him out again. Therefore suffer him not too long: give him no mansion in thy heart, but strike him with the word of God, and he is gone; he will not abide. Another ensample: There is a man that hath done me wrong; taken away my living, or hurt me of my good name: the devil stirreth me against him, to requite him, to do him another foul turn, to avenge myself upon him. Now, when there riseth up such motions in my heart, I must resist; I must strive. I must consider what God saith, Mihi vindicta, “Let me have the vengeance”: Ego retribuam, “I will punish. him for his ill doings.”
In such wise we must fight with Satan; we must kill him with the word of God: Resistite, “Withstand and resist.” “Away thou, Satan; thou movest me to that which God forbiddeth; God will defend me: I will not speak ill of my neighbour; I will do him no harm.” So you must fight with him; and further remember what St Paul saith, “If thy enemy be hungry, let him have meat”: this is the shrewd turn that scripture alloweth us to do to our enemies; and so we shall “cast hot coals upon his head”; which is a metaphorical speech. That ye may understand it, take an ensample. This man hath done harm unto thee: make him warm with thy benefits; bear patiently the injuries done unto thee by him, and do for him in his necessities: then thou shalt heat him; for he is in coldness of charity. At the length he shall remember himself, and say, “What a man am I! This man hath ever been friendly and good unto me; he hath borne patiently all my wickedness; truly I am much bound unto him: I will leave off my wrong doings, I will no more trouble him.” And so you see that this is the way to make our enemy good, to bring him to reformation. But there be some, that when they be hurt, they will do a foul turn again. But this is not as God would have it. St Paul commandeth us to “pour hot coals upon our enemy’s head”; that is to say, if he hurt thee, do him good, make him amends with well-doing; give him meat and drink, whereby is understood all things: when he hath need of counsel, help him; or whatsoever it is that he hath need of, let him have it. And this is the right way to reform our enemy, to amend him, and bring him to goodness; for so St Paul commandeth us, saying, Noli vinci a malo, “Be not overcome of the wicked.” For when I am about to do my enemy a foul turn, then he hath gotten the victory over me; he hath made me as wicked as he himself is. But we ought to overcome the ill with goodness; we should overcome our enemy with well-doing.
When I was in Cambridge, Master George Stafford read a lecture, there I heard him; and in expounding the epistle to the Romans, coming to that place where St Paul saith, that “we shall overcome our enemy with well-doing, and so heap up hot coals upon his head”; now in expounding of that place, he brought in an ensample, saying, that he knew in London a great rich merchant, which merchant had a very poor neighbour; yet for all his poverty, he loved him very well, and lent him money at his need, and let him to come to his table whensoever he would. It was even at that time when Doctor Colet was in trouble, and should have been burnt, if God had not turned the king’s heart to the contrary. Now the rich man began to be a scripture man; he began to smell the gospel: the poor man was a papist still. It chanced on a time, when the rich man talked of the gospel, sitting at his table, where he reproved popery and such kind of things, the poor man, being then present, took a great displeasure against the rich man; insomuch that he would come no more to his house, he would borrow no money of him, as he was wont to do before-times; yea, and conceived such hatred and malice against him, that he went and accused him before the bishops. Now the rich man, not knowing any such displeasure, offered many times to talk with him, and to set him at quiet; but it would not be: the poor man had such a stomach, that he would not vouchsafe to speak with him: if he met the rich man in the street, he would go out of his way. One time it happened that he met him so in a narrow street, that he could not avoid but come near him; yet for all that, this poor man had such a stomach against the rich man, I say, that he was minded to go forward, and not to speak with him. The rich man perceiving that, catcheth him by the hand, and asked him, saying: “Neighbour, what is come into your heart, to take such displeasure with me? What have I done against you? Tell me, and I will be ready at all times to make you amends.” Finally, he spake so gently, so charitably, so lovingly, and friendly, that it wrought so in the poor man’s heart, that by and by he fell down upon his knees and asked him forgiveness. The rich man forgave him, and so took him again to his favour; and they loved as well as ever they did afore. Many one would have said, “Set him in the stocks; let him have bread of affliction, and water of tribulation.” But this man did not so. And here you see an ensample of the practice of God’s words in such sort, that the poor man, bearing great hatred and malice against the rich man, was brought, through the lenity and meekness of the rich man, from his error and wickedness to the knowledge of God’s word. I would you would consider this ensample well, and follow it.
“Lead us not into temptation.” Certain it is that customable sinners have but small temptations: for the devil letteth them alone, because they be his already; he hath them in bondage, they be his slaves. But when there is any good man abroad, that intendeth to leave sin and wickedness, and abhorreth the same, the man shall be tempted. The devil goeth about to use all means to destroy that man, and to let him of his forwardness. Therefore all those which have such temptations, resort hither for aid and help, and withstand betimes: for I tell thee if thou withstandest and fightest against him betimes, certainly thou shalt find him most weak; but if thou sufferest him to enter into thy heart, and hath a delight in his motions, tunc actum est, then thou art undone; then he hath gotten the victory over thee. And here it is to be noted, that the devil hath no further power than God will allow him; the devil can go no further than God permitteth him to do: which thing shall strengthen our faith, insomuch that we shall be sure to overcome him.
St Paul, that excellent instrument of God, saith, Qui volunt ditescere, incident in multas tentationes; “They that go about to get riches, they shall fall in many temptations”: in which words St Paul doth teach us to beware. For when we go about to set our minds upon this world, upon riches, then the devil will have a fling at us. Therefore, let us not set our hearts upon the riches of this world, but rather let us labour for our living; and then let us use prayer: then we may be certain of our living. Though we have not riches, yet a man may live without great riches: Habentes victum et vestitum, &c., “When we have meat, and drink, and clothing, let us be content,” let us not gape for riches; for I tell you it is a dangerous thing to have riches. And they that have riches must make a great account for them: yea, and the most part of the rich men use their riches so naughtily and so wickedly, that they shall not be able to make an account for them. And so you may perceive how the devil useth the good creatures of God to our own destruction: for riches are good creatures of God, but you see daily how men abuse them; how they set their hearts upon them, forgetting God and their own salvation. Therefore, as I said before, let not this affection take place in your hearts, to be rich. Labour for thy living, and pray to God, then he will send thee things necessary: though he send not great riches, yet thou must be content withal; for it is better to have a sufficient living than to have great riches. Therefore Salomon, that wise king, desired of God that he would send him neither too much, nor too little: not too much, lest he should fall into proudness, and so despise God; not too little, lest he should fall to stealing, and so transgress the law of God.
Sed libera nos a malo: “But deliver us from evil.” This evil, the writers take it for the devil; for the devil is the instrument of all ill; like as God is the fountain of all goodness, so the devil is the original root of all wickedness. Therefore when we say, “deliver us from evil,” we desire God that he will deliver us from the devil and all his crafts, subtilties, and inventions, wherewith he intendeth to hurt us. And we of our own selves know not what might let or stop us from everlasting life: therefore we desire him that he will deliver us from all ill; that is to say, that he will send us nothing that might be a let or impediment unto us, or keep us from everlasting felicity. As for ensample: There be many which when they be sick, they desire of God to have their health; for they think if they might have their health they would do much good, they would live godly and uprightly. Now God sendeth them their health; but they by and by forget all their promises made unto God before, and fall unto all wickedness, and horrible sins: so that it had been a thousand times better for them to have been sick still, than to have their health. For when they were in sickness and affliction, they called upon God, they feared him; but now they care not for him, they despise and mock him. Now therefore, lest any such thing should happen unto us, we desire him “to deliver us from evil”; that is to say, to send us such things which may be a furtherance unto us to eternal felicity, and take away those things which might lead us from the same. There be some, which think it is a gay thing to avoid poverty, to be in wealth, and to live pleasantly: yet sometimes we see that such an easy life giveth us occasion to commit all wickedness, and so is an instrument of our damnation. Now therefore, when we say this prayer, we require God, that he will be our loving Father, and give us such things which may be a furtherance to our salvation; and take away those things which may let us from the same.
Now you have heard the Lord’s Prayer, which is, as I told you, the abridgment of all other prayers, and it is the store-house of God. For here we shall find all things necessary both for our souls and bodies. Therefore I desire you most heartily to resort hither to this store-house of God: seek here what you lack; and no doubt you shall find things necessary for your wealth.
In the Gospel of Matthew there be added these words: Quia tuum est regnum, et potentia, et gloria, in secula seculorum; “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, world without end. Amen.” These words are added not without cause; for like as we say in the beginning, “Our Father,” signifying that he will fulfill our request, so at the end we conclude, saying, “Thine is the power, &c.” signifying, that he is able to help us in our distress, and to grant our requests. And though these be great things, yet we need not to despair; but consider that he is Lord over heaven and earth, that he is able to do for us, and that he will do so, being our Father and being Lord and king over all things. Therefore let us often resort hither, and call upon him with this prayer, in our Christ’s name: for he loveth Christ, and all those which are in Christ; for so he saith, Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi hene complacitum est; “This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I have pleasure.” Seeing then that God hath pleasure in him, he hath pleasure in the prayer that he hath made: and so when we say this prayer in his name, with a faithful penitent heart, it is not possible but he will hear us, and grant our requests. And truly it is the greatest comfort in the world to talk with God, and to call upon him, in this prayer that Christ himself hath taught us; for it taketh away the bitterness of all afflictions. Through prayer we receive the Holy Ghost, which strengtheneth and comforteth us at all times, in all trouble and peril.
Quia tuum est regnum, et potentia, et gloria; “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.” The kingdom of God is general throughout all the world; heaven and earth are under his dominion. As for the other kings, they are kings indeed, but to God-ward they be but deputies, but officers. He only is the right king; unto him only must and shall all creatures in heaven and earth obey, and kneel before his majesty. Therefore have this ever in your hearts, what trouble and calamities soever shall fall upon you for God’s word’s sake. If you be put in prison, or lose your goods, ever say in your hearts, Tuum est regnum; “Lord God, thou only art ruler and governor; thou only canst and wilt help and deliver us from all trouble, when it pleaseth thee; for thou art the king to whom all things obey.” For, as I said before, all the other kings reign by him, and through him, as scripture witnesseth; Per me reges regnant, “Through me kings rule.” To say this prayer with good faith and penitent heart is a sacrificium laudis, “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” We were wont to have Sacrificium missae, “The sacrifice of the mass”; which was the most horrible blasphemy that could be devised, for it was against the dignity of Christ and his passion; but this sacrifice of thanksgiving every one may make, that calleth with a faithful heart upon God in the name of Christ.
Therefore let us at all times, without intermission, offer unto God the sacrifice of thanksgiving; that is to say, let us at all times call upon him, and glorify his name in all our livings. When we go to bed-ward, let us call upon him; when we rise, let us do likewise. Item, when we go to our meat and drink, let us not go unto it like swine and beasts; but let us remember God, and be thankful unto him for all his gifts. But above all things we must see that we have a penitent heart, else it is to no purpose: for it is written, Non est speciosa laus in ore peccatoris; “God will not be praised of a wicked man.” Therefore let us repent from the bottom of our hearts; let us forsake all wickedness, so that we may say this prayer to the honour of God, and our own commodities.
And, as I told you before, we may say this prayer whole or by parts, according as we shall see occasion. For when we see God’s name blasphemed, we may say, “Our Father, hallowed be thy name”: when we see the devil rule, we may say, “Our Father, thy kingdom come”: when we see the world inclined to wickedness, we may say, “Our Father, thy will be done.” Item, when we lack necessary things, either for our bodies or souls, we may say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread.” Item, when I feel my sins, and they trouble and grieve me, then I may say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses.” Finally, when we will be preserved from all temptations, that they shall not have the victory over us, nor that the devil shall not devour us, we may say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, world without end.” Amen.
Here endeth the Sermons upon the Lord’s Prayer, made by the right reverend Father in God, Master Doctor Latimer, before the right virtuous and honourable lady Katharine Duchess of Suffolk, at Grymsthorpe, the year of our Lord 1552.
Excerptae per me, Augustinum Bernerum, Helvetium.
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