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The Fifth Sermon preached before King Edward, April 5, 1549.
Quaecunque sunt, ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt. — Rom. xv. 4.
All things that are written, they are written to be our doctrine.
What doctrine is written for us in the parable of the judge and the widow, I have opened it to you, most honourable audience. Something as concerning the judge, I would wish and pray that it might be a little better kept in memory, that in the seat of justice no more iniquity and unrighteousness might reign. Better a little well kept, than a great deal forgotten. I would the judges would take forth their lesson, that there might be no more iniquity used, nor bribe-taking; for if there shall be bribing, they know the peril of it, they know what shall follow. I would also they should take an example of this judge, that did say, not that that he thought himself, but our Saviour Christ puts him to say that thing that was hid unto himself. Wherefore I would ye should keep in memory, how unsearchable a man’s heart is. I would ye should remember the fall of the angels, and beware thereby; the fall of the old world, and beware thereby; the fall of Sodome and Gomora, and beware thereby; the fall of Loth’s wife, and beware thereby; the fall of the man that suffered of late, and beware thereby.
I would not that miserable folk should forget the argument of the wicked judge, to induce them to prayer; which argument is this: If the judge, being a tyrant, a cruel man, a wicked man, which did not call her to him, made her no promise, nor in hearing nor helping of her cause, yet in the end of the matter, for the importunity’s sake, did help her; much more Almighty God, which is a father, who beareth a fatherly affection, as the father doth to the child, and is naturally merciful, and calleth us to him, with his promise that he will hear them that call upon him, that be in distress, and burdened with adversity. Remember this. You know where to have your remedy. You by your prayer can work great efficacy, and your prayer with tears is an instrument of great efficacy: it can bring many things to pass.
But what thing is that that maketh our prayer acceptable to God? Is it our babbling? No, no; it is not our babbling, nor our long prayer; there is another thing than it. The dignity and worthiness of our words is of no such virtue. For whosoever resorteth unto God, not in the confidence of his own merits, but in the sure trust of the deserving of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and in his passion; whosoever doth invocate the Father of heaven in the trust of Christ’s merits, which offering is the most comfortable and acceptable offering to the Father; whosoever, I say, offereth up Christ, which is a perfect offering, he cannot be denied the thing he desireth, so that it be expedient for him to have it. It is not the babbling of our lips, nor dignity of our words, but the prayer of the heart is the offering that pleaseth, through the only means of his Son. For our prayer profiteth us, because we offer Christ to his Father. Whosoever resorteth to God without Christ, he resorteth in vain. Our prayer pleaseth because of Jesus Christ, whom we offer. So that it is faith, faith, faith is the matter. It is no prayer that is without faith, it is but a lip-labouring and mockery, without faith; it is but a little babbling.
I spake also of lack of faith; and upon that also I said, The end of the world is near at hand; for there is lack of faith now; also the defection is come, and swerving from the faith. Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of iniquity, is revealed; the latter day is at hand. Let us not think his coming is far off. But whensoever he cometh, he shall find iniquity enough, let him come when he will. What is now behind? We be eating and drinking as they were in Noe’s time; and marrying, I think as wickedly as ever was. We be building, purchasing, planting, in the contempt of God’s word. He may come shortly, when he will, for there is so much mischief, and swerving from the faith, reigning now in our days, as ever was in any age. It is a good warning to us all, to make ready against his coming.
This little rehearsal I have made of the things I spake in my last sermon. I will now for this day return to my question, and dissolve it, whether God’s people may be governed by a governor that beareth the name of a king, or no? The Jews had a law, that when they should have a king, they should have him according to the election of God he would not leave the election of a king to their own brains. There be some busy brains, wanton wits, that say, the name of a king is an odious name; and wrest this text of the scripture, where God seemeth to be angry and displeased with the Israelites for asking a king; expounding it very evil and odiously: as who would say, a king were an odious thing. I coming riding in my way, and calling to remembrance wherefore I was sent, that I must preach, and preach before the king’s majesty, I thought it meet to frame my preaching according to a king. Musing of this, I remembered of myself a book that came from cardinal Pole, master Pole, the king’s traitor, which he sent to the king’s majesty. I never remember that man, methink, but I remember him with a heavy heart: a witty man, a learned man, a man of a noble house; so in favour, that if he had tarried in the realm, and would have conformed himself to the king’s proceedings, I heard say, and I believe it verily, that he had been bishop of York at this day. To be bidden by, he would have done much good in that part of the realm; for those quarters have always had great need of a learned man and a preaching prelate. A thing to be much lamented, that such a man should take such a way. I hear say, he readeth much St Hierome’s works, and is well seen in them; but I would he would follow St Hierome, where he expoundeth this place of scripture, “Exite de illa, populus meus:” Almighty God saith, “Get you from it, get you from Rome;” he calleth it the purple whore of Babylon. It had been more commendable to go from it, than to come to it. What his sayings be in his book, I do not well remember; it is in the farthest end of my memory. He declareth himself in it to have a corrupt judgment. I have but a glimmering of it, yet in general I remember the scope of it. He goeth about to dissuade the king from his supremacy. In his persuasions he is very homely, very quick, and sharp with the king, as these cardinals will take well upon them. He saith, that a king is an odious word, and toucheth the place how God was offended with the Israelites for calling for a king. Very lightly he seemeth to set forth the title of a king; as though he should mean: What is a king? What should a king take upon him to redress matters of religion? It pertaineth to our holy father of Rome. A king is a name and a title rather suffered of God as an evil thing, than allowed as a good thing. Calling this to remembrance, it was an occasion that I spake altogether before. Now I will answer to this. For the answer I must somewhat rip the eighth chapter of the first book of the Kings. And that I may have grace, &c.
To come to the opening of this matter, I must begin at the beginning of the chapter; that the unlearned, although I am sure here be a great many well learned, may the better come to the understanding of the matter: Factum est cum senuisset Samuel, fecit filios suos judices populo, “It came to pass when Samuel was stricken in age, he made his sons judges over Israel.” Of Samuel I might fetch a process afar off, of the story of Elcana, who was his father, and who was his mother. Elcana, his father, had two wives, Anna and Phenenna, and did not put them away as men do nowadays. There was debate between these two wives. Phenenna, in the doing of sacrifice, embraided Anna because she was barren and not fruitful. I might take here occasion to entreat of the duty between man and wife, which is a holy religion, but not religiously kept. But I will not enter into that matter at this time. Well, in process of time God made Anna fruitful through her devout prayer: she brought forth Samuel, who by the ordinance of God was made the high priest: father Samuel, a good man, a singular example, and singular pattern, a man alone, few such men as father Samuel was. To be short, he was now come to age, he was an old man, an impotent man, not able to go from place to place to minister justice; he elected and chose two suffragans, two coadjutors, two co-helpers. I mean not hallowers of bells, nor christeners of bells; that is a popish suffraganship. He made them to help him to discharge his office: he chose his two sons rather than other, because he knew them to be well brought up in virtue and learning. It was not for any carnal affection; he cared not for his renown or revenues, but he appointed them for the ease of the people, the one for to supply his place in Bethsabe, and the other in Bethlem; as we have now in England, for the wealth of the realm, we have two lords presidents. Surely it is well done, and a goodly order: I would there were a third in another place. For the ease of his people, good father Samuel, and to discharge his offices in places where he could not come himself, he set his two sons in office with him as his suffragans and as his coadjutors. Here I might take occasion to treat, what old and impotent bishops should do, what old preachers should do, when they come to impotency, to join with them preachers, (preachers, not bell-hallowers,) and to depart part of their living with them. I might have dilated this matter at large; but I am honestly prevented of this common-place, and I am very glad of it: it was very well handled the last Sunday. They that will not for the office sake receive other, regard more the fleece than the flock. Father Samuel regarded not his revenues. Our Lord give them grace to be affected as he was, and to follow him, &c.!
Though I say that I would wish more lords presidents, I mean not, that I would have prelates lords presidents; nor that lords bishops should be lords presidents. As touching that, I said my mind and conscience the last year. And although it is said, praesunt, it is not meant that they should be lords presidents. The office of a presidentship is a civil office and it cannot be that one man shall discharge both well.
It followeth in the text, Non ambulaverunt filii ejus in viis ejus, “His sons walked not in his ways.” Here is the matter, here ye see the goodness of Samuel, how when he was not able to take the pains himself, for their own ease, he appointed them judges near unto them, as it were in the further parts of his realm, to have justice rightly ministered. But what followed? Though Samuel were good, and his children well brought up, look what the world can do! Ah, crafty world! whom shall not this world corrupt and deceive at one time or other? Samuel thought his sons should have proved well, but yet Samuel’s sons walked not in their father’s way. Why? What then? Is the son always bound to walk in the father’s way? No, ye must not take it for a general rule. All sons are not to be blamed for not walking in their father’s ways. Ezekias did not follow the steps of his father Ahaz, and was well allowed in it. Josias, the best king that ever was in Jewry, reformed his father’s ways, who walked in worldly policy. In his youth he took away all idolatry, and purged his realm of it, and set a good order in all his dominions, and wrestled with idolatry. And although his father or his grandfather Manasses (it makes no matter whether) repented in the end, he had no time to reform things, he left it to his son to be done. Josias began, and made an alteration in his childhood; he turned all upside-down, he would suffer no idolatry to stand. Therefore you must not take it for a general rule, that the son must ever walk in his father’s ways. Here I will renew that which I said before of the stiff-necked Jews, the rebellious people, that is their title; they never spake so rebelliously as to say they would not receive any alteration till their king came to age. Much less we Englishmen, if there be any such in England, may be ashamed. I wonder with what conscience folk can hear such things, and allow it.
This Josias made a notable alteration; and therefore take it not for a general rule, that the son shall always walk in his father’s ways. Think not because he was slain in battle, that God was displeased with him: for herein God shewed his goodness to him wonderfully; who would not suffer him to see the captivity that he would bring upon the Israelites. He would not have him to have the sight, the feeling, and the beholding of his plague; he suffered him to be taken away before, and to be slain of the king of Egypt. Wherefore a just man must be glad when he is taken from misery: Justus si morte praeoccupatus fuerit in refrigerio erit; “If a just man be prevented with death, it shall be to his relief: “he must think that he is one of those whom the world is not worthy to have. It came of a singular goodness of God, that he was by death delivered from the sight of that captivity. Therefore take it not for a general rule, that the son be always bound to walk in the father’s ways: Nolite in praeceptis patrum vestrorum incedere, “Walk not in the commandments of your fathers;” for so it is said in another place of scripture. It is spoken to the reproach of Samuel’s sons, that they walked not in his way, for he was a good man: a wonderful thing that these children, being so well brought up, should so fall and be corrupt. If the devil can prevail and hath power against them that had so godly education, what vantage hath he at them that be brought up in iniquity and covetousness? It is a proverb, that Magistratus virum commonstrat, “Office and authority sheweth what a man is.” A man knoweth not himself till he be tried. Many there be that being without office can rebuke magistrates, and find fault with men that be in office and pre-eminence: after, when it cometh to their chance to come to office themselves, then they have taken out a new lesson; Cum essem parvulus sapiebam ut parvulus, “When I was a child I savoured as a child.” They will do then as other men do; they are come to have experience, to be practitioners. The maid’s child is ever best taught: for he that standeth upright in office, he is the fellow. Samuel would never have thought that his sons should have been so corrupted. It is a perilous thing, a dangerous state to be a judge. they felt the smack of this world, a perilous thing and therefore Chrysostom saith, Miror si aliquis rectorum salvabitur; “I marvel,” saith he, “that any ruler can be saved.” If the peril were well considered, men would not be so desirous as they be. The world, the world hath many subtle sleights: it is a crafty thing; and very deceitful, a corrupter; and who is it whom the world doth not corrupt and blind at one time or other? What was the way they walked? Declinaverunt post avaritiam, that is one: they stooped after gains, turned aside after lucre. What followed? Acceperunt munera, they took rewards, gifts; bribes I should call them, for that is their right name. Perverterunt judicium, they turned justice upside down. Either they would give wrong judgment, or else put off and delay poor men’s matters. These were their ways, here is the devil’s genealogy; a gradation of the devil’s making: this is scala inferni, the ladder of hell.
I told you before of scala coeli, the ladder of heaven; I would you should not forget it. The steps thereof are set forth in the tenth to the Romans. The first is preaching, then hearing, then believing, and last of all salvation. Scala coeli is a preaching matter, I tell you, and not a massing matter. God’s instrument of salvation is preaching. Here I move you, my lords, not to be greedy and outrageous in enhancing and raising of your rents to the minishing of the office of salvation. It would pity a man’s heart to hear that that I hear of the state of Cambridge; what it is in Oxford, I cannot tell. There be few do study divinity, but so many as of necessity must furnish the colleges; for their livings be so small, and victuals so dear, that they tarry not there, but go other where to seek livings; and so they go about. Now there be a few gentlemen, and they study a little divinity. Alas! what is that? It will come to pass that we shall have nothing but a little English divinity, that will bring the realm into a very barbarousness and utter decay of learning. It is not that, I wis, that will keep out the supremacy of the bishop of Rome.
Here I will make a supplication, that ye would bestow so much to the finding of scholars of good wits, of poor men’s sons, to exercise the office of salvation, in relieving of scholars, as ye were wont to bestow in pilgrimage-matters, in trentals, in masses, in pardons, in purgatory-matters. Ye bestowed that liberally, bountifully; but this was not well spent. You had a zeal, but not secundum scientiam, “not according to knowledge.” You may be sure, if you bestow your goods on this wise, ye shall bestow it well, to support and uphold God’s word, wherein ye shall please God. I require no more but that ye bestow so much godly as ye were wont to bestow ungodly. It is a reasonable petition; for God’s sake look upon it. I say no more. There be none now but great men’s sons in colleges, and their fathers look not to have them preachers; so every way this office of preaching is pinched at. I will speak no more of scala coeli. But I am sure this is scala inferni, the right way to hell, to be covetous, to take bribes, and pervert justice. If a judge should ask me the way to hell, I would shew him this way: first, let him be a covetous man, let his heart be poisoned with covetousness; then let him go a little further and take bribes; and last, pervert judgment. Lo, here is the mother and the daughter, and the daughter’s daughter. Avarice is the mother, she brings forth bribe-taking, and bribe-taking perverting of judgment. There lacks a fourth thing to make up the mess, which, (so God help me!) if I were judge, should be hangum tuum, a Tyburn tippet to take with him, and it were the judge of the king’s bench, my lord chief judge of England; yea, and it were my lord chancellor himself, to Tyburn with him. There was within these thirty years a certain widow, which suddenly was attached, had to prison, indicted, condemned, and there were certain learned men that visited her in the prison. Oh, Í would ye would resort to prisons! A commendable thing in a Christian realm: I would wish there were curates for prisons, that we might say, the curate of Newgate, the curate of the Fleet, and I would have them waged for their labour. It is a holiday work to visit the prisoners, for they be kept from sermons. There was that resorted to this woman, who when she came to prison, was all on her beads, and nothing else, a popish woman, and savoured not of Jesu Christ. In process she was so applied, that she tasted quam suavis est Dominus; she had such a savour, such a sweetness and feeling, that she thought it long to the day of execution. She was with Christ already, as touching faith; she had such a desire that she said with St Paul, Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo, “I desire to be rid, and to be with Christ.” The word of God had so wrought in her. When she was brought to punishment, she desired to confess her fault: she took of her death, that she was guiltless in that thing she suffered for, and her neighbours would have borne her witness in the same. She was always an honest civil woman; her neighbours would have gone on her purgation a great way. They would needs have her confess. “Then,” saith she, “I am not guilty. Would ye have me make me guilty where I am not?” Yet for all this she was a trepasser, she had done a great offence. But before I go forward with this, I must first tell you a tale. I heard a good while ago a tale of one (I saw the man that told me the tale not long ago) in this auditory. He hath travelled in more countries than one. He told me that there was once a praetor in Rome, lord mayor of Rome, a rich man, one of the richest merchants in all the city, and suddenly he was cast in the castle Angel. It was heard of, and every man whispered in another’s ear, “What hath he done? Hath he killed any man? “No.” “Hath he meddled with alum, our holy father’s merchandise?” “No.” “Hath he counterfeited our holy father’s bulls?” “No.” For these were high treasons. One rounded another in the ear, and said, Erat dives, “He was a rich man:” a great fault. Here was a goodly prey for that holy father. It was in pope Julius’s time; he was a great warrior. This prey would help him to maintain his wars; a jolly prey for our holy father. So this woman was dives: she was a rich woman, she had her lands by the sheriff’s nose. He was a gentleman of a long nose. Such a cup, such a cover! She would not depart from her own. This sheriff was a covetous man, a worldly man. The judge, at the impanelling of the quest, had his grave looks, and charged them with this: “It was the king’s matter, look well upon it.” When it makes for their purpose, they have “The King, the King,” in their mouths. Well, somewhat there was, there was walking of angels between them. I would wish that of such a judge in England now we might have the skin hanged up. It were a goodly sign, the sign of the judge’s skin. It should be Lot’s wife to all judges that should follow after.
By this ye may perceive it is possible for a man to answer for himself, and be arraigned at the bar, and nevertheless to have wrong: yea, ye shall have it in form of law, and yet have wrong too. So it is possible, in a case, for a man that hath in his absence attaintment, to have right and no wrong. I will not say nay but it is a good law for a man to answer for himself: this is reasonable, allowable, and good. And yet such an urgent cause may be, such a respect to a commonwealth, that a man may rightly be condemned in his absence. There be such causes that a man may in his absence be condemned, but not oft, except they be such cases that the reason of the general law may be kept. I am provoked of some to condemn this law, but I am not able, so it be but for a time, and upon weighty considerations; so that it be used rarely, seldomly for avoiding disturbance in the commonwealth, such an epiky5555 ________ “Is that parte of justice called in Latine aequum and bonum: in English there is not any one word founden therefor; but that therby may be understand that equitee which omitteth parte of the rigour or extremitee of a law that is written, or conformeth justice to the occasion newly happened, which was not remembred of the makers of the lawe; applying it to the thing whereof leaste detriment may seeme to ensue.” Bibliothec. Eliotae, sub voc. Epiicia or Epiices. and moderation may be used in it. And nevertheless it is very meet and requisite that a man should answer for himself. We must consider the ground of the law: for Ratio legis anima legis, “The reason of the law is the soul of the law.” Why? What is the reason and end of the law? It is this, that no man should be injured. A man may in his attaintment have no more wrong done him than if he answered for himself. Ah! then I am not able to say, that in no wise an arraignment may be turned into attaintment. A man may have wrong, and that in open judgment and in form of law, and yet allowed to answer for himself; and even so is possible he may have right, though he never answer for himself. I will not say but that the parliament-houses, both high and low, may err, and yet they may do well, and christian subjects must take all things to the best, and expound their doings well, although they cannot yield a reason for it, except their proceedings be manifestly wicked. For though they cannot attain to see for what purpose things be done, it is no good reason that they be called evil done therefore. And is this a good argument, “He is not allowed to answer for himself in this place or that place, where he will appoint; ergo, he is not allowed to answer for himself?” No: he might have answered the best he could for himself before a great many, and have had more too if he had required them: yea, and was commanded upon his allegiance to speak for himself and to make answer; but he would not. Needs he would come out to judgment, and appoint the place himself. A man that answers for himself at the bar is not allowed his man of law to answer for him, but he must answer himself. Yet in the parliament, although he were not there himself, any friend he had had liberty to answer for him, frank and free. I know of the old manner: the tenor of the writs is this, — every man to speak the best he knoweth of his conscience, for the king’s majesty’s honour; and the wealth of the realm. There were in the parliament, in both houses, a great many learned men, conscionable men, wise men. When that man was attainted there, and they had liberty there to say nay to his attaintment if they would; sure I am the most allowed it, or else it could not have gone forward.
These premises considered, I would have you to bear such a heart as it becometh christian subjects. I know what men say of me well enough. I could purge myself. There is that provokes me to speak against this law of attaintment they say I am not indifferent.
Surely I would have it to be done rarely, upon some great respect to the commonwealth, for avoiding of greater tumult and peril. St Paul was allowed to answer for himself: if Lysias the tribune had not plucked him away from shewing of his matter, it had cost him his life. Where he was saved by the magistrate, being but a private man; will ye not allow that something be done as well for saving of the magistrate’s life? It behoves them of the parliament to look well upon the matter: and I, for my part, think not but they did well; else I should not yield the duty of a subject. Some liken me to doctor Shaw, that preached at Paul’s Cross, that king Edward’s sons were bastards. An easy matter for one of the council to do as doctor Shaw did. Methink you, being the king’s servant and his officer, should think better on the king and his council, though I were light of belief. If he had been a true man to his master, he would never have spoken it. The council needs not my lie for the defence of that that they do. I can bear it of myself. Concerning myself, that which I have spoken hath done some good. You will say this: the parliament-house are wiser than I am, you might leave them to the defence of themselves. Although the men of the parliament-house can defend themselves, yet have I spoken this of a good zeal, and a good ground, of the admiral’s writing; I have not feigned nor lied one jot, I take God to witness. Use therefore your judgment and languages as it becometh christian subjects. I will now leave he honourable council to answer for themselves. He confessed one fact, he would have had the governance of the king’s majesty. And wot you why? He said he would not, in his minority, have him brought up like a ward. I am sure he hath been brought up so godly, with such schoolmasters, as never king was in England, and so hath prospered under them as never none did. I wot not what he meant by his bringing up like a ward, unless he would have him not to go to his book and learn as he doth. Now wo worth him! Yet I will not say so neither, but I pray God amend him, or else God send him short life, that would have my sovereign not to be brought up in learning, and would pluck him from his book. I advertise thee therefore, my fellow-subject, use thy tongue better, and expound well the doings of the magistrates.
Now to the purpose; for these things let me of my matter. Some say preachers should not meddle with such matters; but did not our Saviour Jesus Christ meddle with matters of judgment, when he spake of the wicked judge, to leave example to us to follow, to do the same? Ye see here that lady Covetousness is a fruitful woman, ever childing, and ever bringing forth her fruits. It is a true saying, Radix omnium malorum avaritia, “Covetousness is the root of all wickedness.” One will say, peradventure, “You speak unseemly and inconveniently, so to be against the officers for taking of rewards in doing pleasures. Ye consider not the matter to the bottom. Their offices be bought for great sums; now how should they receive their money again but by bribing? Ye would have them undone. Some of them gave two hundred pound, some five hundred pound, some two thousand pound: and how shall they gather up this money again, but by helping themselves in their office?” And is it so, trow ye? Are civil offices bought for money? Lord God, who would have thought that! Let us not be too hasty to credit it: for then we have the old proverb, Omnia venalia Romae, “All things are sold for money at Rome”; and Rome is come home to our own doors. If they buy, they must needs sell; for it is wittily spoken, Vendere jure potest, emerat ille prius, “He may lawfully sell it, he bought it before. God forfend that ever any such enormity should be in England, that civil offices should be bought and sold; whereas men should have them given them for their worthiness! I would the king’s majesty should seek through his realm for meet men, and able men, worthy to be in office, yea, and give them liberally for their pains; and rather give them money to take the office in hand, than they to give money for it. This buying of offices is a making of bribery; it is an inducing and enforcing and compelling of men to bribery. Holy scripture qualifieth the officers, and sheweth what manner of men they should be, and of what qualities, viros fortes, some translations have, viros sapientes, “wise men”; the English translation hath it very well, “men of activity,” that have stomachs to do their office: they must not be milksops, nor white-livered knights; they must be wise, hearty, hardy, men of a good stomach. Secondarily, he qualifieth them with the fear of God: he saith they must be timentes Deum, “fearing God.” For if he fear God, he shall be no briber, no perverter of judgment, faithful. Thirdly, they must be chosen officers, in quibus est veritas, “in whom is truth”; if he say it, it shall be done. Fourthly, qui oderunt avaritiam, “hating covetousness”: far from it; he will not come near it that hateth it. It is not he that will give five hundred pound for an office. With these qualities God’s wisdom would have magistrates to be qualified.
This cometh from the devil’s consistory, to pay five hundred pound for one office. If they pay so much, it must needs follow that they take bribes, that they be bribe-takers. Such as be meet to bear office, seek them out, hire them, give them competent and liberal fees, that they shall not need to take any bribes. And if ye be a selling civil offices, ye are as they which sell their benefices; and so we shall have omnia venalia, all things bought for money. I marvel the ground gapes not and devours us: howbeit, we ought not to marvel; surely it is the great lenity of God that suffers it. O Lord, in what case are we! If the great men in Turky should use in their religion of Mahomet to sell, as our patrons commonly sell benefices here, the office of preaching, the office of salvation, it should be taken as an intolerable thing; the Turk would not suffer it in his commonwealth. Patrons be charged to see the office done, and not to seek a lucre and a gain by their patronship. There was a patron in England, when it was that he had a benefice fallen into his hand, and a good brother of mine came unto him, and brought him thirty apples in a dish, and gave them his man to carry them to his master. It is like he gave one to his man for his labour, to make up the game, and so there was thirty-one. This man cometh to his master, and presented him with the dish of apples, saying, “Sir, such a man hath sent you a dish of fruit, and desireth you to be good unto him for such a benefice.” “Tush, tush,” quoth he, “this is no apple matter; I will have none of his apples; I have as good as these, or as he hath any, in mine own orchard.” The man came to the priest again, and told him what his master said. “Then,” quoth the priest, “desire him yet to prove one of them for my sake; he shall find them much better than they look for.” He cut one of them, and found ten pieces of gold in it. “Marry,” quoth he, “this is a good apple.” The priest standing not far off, hearing what the gentleman said, cried out and answered, “They are all one apple, I warrant you, sir; they grew all on one tree, and have all one taste.” “Well, he is a good fellow, let him have it,” quoth the patron. Get you a graft of this tree, and I warrant you it will stand you in better stead than all St Paul’s learning. Well, let patrons take heed; for they shall answer for all the souls that perish through their default. There is a saying, that there be a great many in England that say there is no soul, that believe not in the immortality of man’s soul, that think it is not eternal, but like a dog’s soul, that think there is neither heaven or hell. O Lord, what a weighty matter is this! What a lamentable thing in a Christian commonwealth! I cannot tell what they say; but I perceive by these works that they think so, or else they would never do as they do. These sellers of offices shew that they believe that there is neither hell nor heaven: it is taken for a laughing matter.
Well, I will go on. Now to the chapter. The children of Israel came to Samuel, and said, Senuisti; “Thou art grown into age, give us a king; thy sons walk not in thy ways.” What a heaviness was this to father Samuel’s heart, to hear that his sons, whom he had so well brought up, should swerve from his ways that he had walked in! Father Samuel goeth to God, to know his will and pleasure in this matter. God answered, “Let them have a king; they have not cast thee away, but me, that I should not reign over them.” This is their ground, that say a king is an odious thing, and not acceptable before the face of God. Thus they force and violate this place, to make it for their purpose; where no such thing is meant. “Shew the Israelites,” saith God, “and testify to them a king’s authority, and what a king is, and what a king will do. If that will not persuade them, I will not hear them hereafter when they shall cry unto me.”
I must needs confess that the Jews trespassed against God in asking a king; but here is the matter, in what thing their offence stood, whether absolutely in asking a king, or in any other circumstance. It was in a circumstance: they said not, Ask us a king of God; but, Make us a king to judge us, as all other nations have. They would have a king of their own swing, and of their own election, as though they passed not of God. In another point there was pride; they would be like the heathen, and judged under kings, as they were. Thirdly, they offended God, because they asked a king to the injury and wrong of good father Samuel, to depose him; so this was a wrong toward Samuel. It was not with Samuel and his children, Idel and Abia, like as with Eli and his children, Ophnia and Phinees. They were cruel, who with hooks taking the flesh out of the pots, when that sacrifice was offered to God, brought the people into a contempt of God’s word. They were lecherers; their sin was manifestly and notoriously known: but their father Eli, knowing and hearing of it, did blame them, but nothing to the purpose; he did not earnestly and substantially chastise them, and therefore he was justly deposed of God. The sins of Samuel’s sons were not known; they were not so notorious: wherefore it was not with father Samuel as it was with Eli; his sons’ faults were taking of bribes, and perverting of judgments. Ye know that bribery is a secret fault, and therefore it was not known: it was done under a colour and a pretence of justice, hiddenly and covertly done therefore because it stood in bribes, it was not like in Samuel as in Eli. It is a dangerous thing to be in office; for qui attingit picem coinquinabitur ab ea; “He that meddleth with pitch is like to be spotted with it.” Bribes may be assembled5656 assimilated. to pitch; for even as pitch doth pollute their hands that meddle with it, so bribes will bring you to perverting of justice. Beware of pitch, you judges of the world; bribes will make you pervert justice. “Why,” you will say, “we touch none.” No, marry, but my mistress your wife hath a fine finger, she toucheth it for you: or else you have a servant, a muneribus; he will say, “If you will come to my master and offer him a yoke of oxen, you shall speed never the worse; but Í think my master will take none.” When he hath offered them to the master, then comes another servant and says, “If you will bring them to the clerk of the kitchen, you shall be remembered the better.” This is a friarly fashion, that will receive no money in their hands, but will have it put upon their sleeves; a goodly rag of popish religion. They be like Gray Friars, that will not be seen to receive bribes themselves, but have others to receive for them.
Though Samuel’s sons were privy bribers, and kept the thing very close, yet the cry of the people brought it to Samuel. It was a hid kind of sin: for men in this point would face it, and brazen it, and make a Shew of upright dealing, when they be most guilty. Nevertheless, this gear came out. O wicked sons, that brought both their father to deposition, and themselves to shame! When Samuel heard of their fault, he went not about to excuse their faults: he would not bear with his sons, he would not communicare peccatis alienis, be partaker with his sons’ offences: he said, Ego senui, ecce filii mei vobiscum sunt. As soon as he heard of it, he delivered his sons to the people to be punished. He went not about to excuse them, nor said not, “This is the first time, bear with them”; but presented them by and by to the people, saying, “Lo, here they be, take them, do with them according to their deserts.” Oh, I would there were no more bearers of other men’s sins than this good father Samuel was!
I heard of late of a notable bloodshed: “Audio,” saith St Paul; and so do I: I know it not, but I hear of it. There was a searcher in London which, executing his office, displeased a merchantman, insomuch that when he was doing his office they were at words: the merchantman threatened him; the searcher said the king should not lose his custom. The merchant goes me home, and sharpens his wood-knife, and comes again and knocks him on the head, and kills him. They that told me the tale say it is winked at; they look through their fingers, and will not see it. Whether it be taken up with a pardon, or no, I cannot tell; but this I am sure, and if ye bear with such matters, the devil shall bear you away to hell. Bloodshed and murder would have no bearing. It is a heinous thing bloodshedding, and especially voluntary murder and prepensed murder. For in Numbers God saith, it polluteth the whole realm: Polluitur illa terra, &c., et non potest expiari sine sanguine; “The land cannot be purified nor cleansed again, till his blood be shed that shed it.” It is the office of a king to see such murderers punished with death; for non frustra gestat gladium. What will you make of a king? He beareth a sword before him, not a peacock’s feather. I go not about to stir you now to cruelty; but I speak against the bearing of bloodshed: this bearing must be looked upon. In certain causes of murder such great circumstances may be, that the king may pardon a murder. But if I were worthy to be of counsel, or if I were asked mine advice, I would not have the king to pardon a voluntary murder, a prepensed murder.
I can tell where one man slew another in a township, and was attached upon the same: twelve men were impanelled: the man had friends: the sheriff laboured the bench: the twelve men stuck at it, and said, “Except he would disburse twelve crowns, they would find him guilty.” Means were found that the twelve crowns were paid. The quest comes in, and says “Not guilty.” Here was “not guilty” for twelve crowns. This is. a bearing, and if some of the bench were hanged, they were well served. This makes men bold to do murder and slaughter. We should reserve murdering till we come to our enemies, and the king bid us fight: he that would bestir him then were a pretty fellow indeed. Crowns! if their crowns were shaven to the shoulders, they were served well enough.
I know where a woman was got with child, and was ashamed at the matter, and went into a secret place, where she had no woman at her travail, and was delivered of three children at a birth. She wrung their necks, and cast them into a water, and so killed her children: suddenly she was gaunt again; and her neighbours suspecting the matter, caused her to be examined, and she granted all. Afterward she was arraigned at the bar for it, and despatched and found not guilty, through bearing of friends, and bribing of the judge: where, at the same sessions, another poor woman was hanged for stealing a few rags off a hedge that were not worth a crown.
There was a certain gentleman, a professor of the word of God, (he sped never the better for that, ye may be sure,) who was accused for murdering of a man, whereupon he was cast into prison; and by chance, as he was in prison, one of his friends came unto him for to visit him; and he declared to his friend that he was never guilty in the murdering of the man: so he went his ways. The gentleman was arraigned and condemned; and as he went to his execution, he saw his friend’s servant, and said unto him, “Commend me to thy master, and I pray thee tell him, I am the same man still I was when he was with me; and if thou tarry awhile, thou shalt see me die.” There was suit made for this man’s pardon, but it could not be gotten. Belike the sheriffs or some other bare him no good will: but he died for it. And afterward, I being in the Tower, having leave to come to the lieutenant’s table, I heard him say, that there was a man hanged afterward that killed the same man for whom this gentleman was put to death. O Lord, what bearing, what bolstering of naughty matters is this in a christian realm! I desire your Majesty to remedy the matter, and God grant you to see redress in this realm in your own person. Although my lord Protector, I doubt not, and the rest of the council do, in the mean while, all that lieth in them to redress things; I would such as be rulers, noblemen, and masters, should be at this point with their servants, to certify them on this sort: If any man go about to do you wrong, I will do my best to help you in your right; but if ye break the law, ye shall have justice. If ye will be man-quellers, murderers, and transgressors, look for no bearing at my hands. A strange thing! What need we in the vengeance to burden ourselves with other men’s sins? Have we not sins enow of our own? What need have I to burden myself with other men’s sins? I have burdens and two heaps of sins, one heap of known sins, another of unknown sins. I had need to say, Ab occultis meis munda me, Domine; “O Lord, deliver me from my hidden and my unknown sins.” Then if I bear with other men’s sins, I must say: Deliver me from my other men’s sins. A strange saying: from my other men’s sins! Who beareth with other folks’ offences, he communicateth with other folks’ sins. Men have sins enough of their own, although they bear not and bolster up other men in their naughtiness. This bearing, this bolstering, and looking through their fingers, is naught. What the fair hap should I, or any else, increase my burden? My other men’s sins forgive me, O Lord: a strange language! they have hid sins of their own enough, although they bear not with guiltiness of other men’s sins.
Oh, father Samuel would not bear his own sons; he offered his own sons to punishment, and said, Ecce filii me vobiscum sunt: even at the first time he said, “Lo, here they be: I discharge myself; take them unto you: and as for my part, Praesto sum loqui coram Domino et Christo ejus; “I am here ready to answer for myself before the Lord, and his anointed. Behold, here I am, record of me before the Lord, utrum cujusquam bovem, &c., whether I have taken any man’s ox, any man’s ass, or whether I have done any man wrong, or hurt any man, or taken any bribes at any man’s hand.” I can commend the English translation, that doth interpret munera, bribes, not gifts. They answered, “Nay, forsooth, we know no such things in you.” Testis est, mihi Deus, saith he, “God is witness,” quod nihil inveneritis in manu mea, “that you have found nought in my hands.” Few such Samuels are in England, nor in the world. Why did Samuel this? Marry, to purge himself; he was enforced to it, for he was wrongly deposed.
Then by this ye may perceive the fault of the Jews, for they offended not God in asking of a king, but in asking for a king to the wronging and deposition of good father Samuel. If after Samuel’s death the people had asked of God a king, they had not faulted: but it is no small fault to put an innocent out of his office. King David likewise commanded his people to be numbered, and therewith offended God grievously. Why, might he not know the number of his people? Yes, it was not the numbering of the people that offended God, for a king may number his people; but he did it of a pride, of an elation of mind, not according to God’s ordinance, but as having a trust in the number of his men this offended God. Likewise the Jews asked a king, and therewith they offended not God, but they asked him with such circumstances, that God was offended with them. It is no small fault to put a just man out of his office, and to depose him unworthily. To choose a king contrarying the ordinance of God, is a casting away of God, and not of a king. Therefore doubt not but the title of a king is a lawful thing, is a lawful title, as of other magistrates. Only let the kings take heed that they do as it becometh kings to do, that they do their office well. It is a great thing, a chargeable thing. Let them beware that they do not communicare peccatis alienis, that they bear not with other men’s faults; for they shall give a strait account for all that perisheth through their negligence. We perceive now what this text meaneth. It is written in the last of Judges, In diebus illis non erat rex in Israel: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which seemed right in his own eyes.” Men were then allowed to do what they would. When men may be allowed to do what they will, then it is as good to have no king at all. Here is a wonderful matter, that unpreaching prelates should be suffered so long. They can allege for themselves seven hundred years. This while the realm had been as good to have no king. Likewise these bribing judges have been suffered of a long time: and then it was quasi non fuisset rex in Anglia. To suffer this is as much as to say, “There is no king in England.” It is the duty of a king to have all states set in order to do their office.
I have troubled you too long, I will make an end. “Blessed be they that hear the word of God,” but so that they follow it, and keep it in credit, in memory, not to deprave it and slander it, and bring the preachers out of credit, but that follow it in their life and live after it. He grant you all that blessing, that made both you and me! Amen.
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