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LAST SERMON PREACHED BEFORE KING EDWARD THE SIXTH
A Most Faithful Sermon preached before the King’s Most Excellent Majesty
and his Most Honourable Council, in his Court at Westminster,
by the Reverend Father Master Hugh Latimer, in Lent Anno Domini, 1550.
Videte et cavete ab avaritia. — Luke xii. 15.
Take heed and beware of covetousness.
“TAKE heed and beware of covetousness.” — “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” — “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” And what and if I should say nothing else these three or four hours (for I know it will be so long, in case I be not commanded to the contrary) but these words, “Take heed and beware of covetousness?” It would be thought a strange sermon before a king, to say nothing else but Cavete ab avaritia, “Beware of covetousness.” And yet as strange as it is, it would be like the sermon of Jonas, that he preached to the Ninivites; as touching the shortness, and as touching the paucity or fewness of the words. For his sermon was, Adhuc quadraginta dies, et Ninive subvertetur; “There is yet forty days to come, and Ninive shall be destroyed.” Thus he walked from street to street, and from place to place round about the city, and said nothing else but, “There is yet forty days,” quoth he, “and Ninive shall be destroyed.” There is no great odds nor difference, at the leastwise in the number of words, no nor yet in the sense or meaning, between these two sermons, “There is yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed;” and these words that I have taken to speak of this day: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” For Ninive should be destroyed for sin, and of their sins covetousness was one, and one of the greatest; so that it is all one in effect. And as they be like concerning the shortness, the paucity of words, the brevity of words, and also the meaning and purpose; so I would they might be like in fruit and profit. For what came of Jonas’s sermon? What was the fruit of it? Ad praedicationem Jonae crediderunt Deo; “At the preaching of Jonas they believed God.” Here was a great fruit, a great effect wrought. What is the same? “They believed God.” They believed God’s preacher, God’s officer, God’s minister, Jonas; and were converted from their sin. They believed that, as the preacher said, if they did not repent and amend their life, the city should be destroyed within forty days. This was a great fruit: for Jonas was but one man, and he preached but one sermon, and it was but a short sermon neither, as touching the number of words; and yet he turned all the whole city great and small, rich and poor, king and all.
We be many preachers here in England, and we preach many long sermons, yet the people will not repent nor convert. This was the fruit, the effect, and the good that his sermon did, that all the whole city at his preaching converted, and amended their evil living; and did penance in sack-cloth. And yet here in this sermon of Jonas is no great curiousness, no great clerkliness, no great affectation of words, nor of painted eloquence; it was none other but, Adhuc quadraginta dies, et Ninive subvertetur, “Yet forty days, et Ninive subvertetur, and Ninive shall be destroyed: “it was no more. This was no great curious sermon, but this was a nipping sermon, a pinching sermon, a biting sermon; it had a full bite, it was a nipping sermon, a rough sermon, and a sharp biting sermon. Do you not here marvel that these Ninivites cast not Jonas in prison; that they did not revile him, and rebuke him? They did not revile him, nor rebuke him; but God gave them grace to hear him, and to convert and amend at this preaching. A strange matter, so noble a city to give place to one man’s sermon! Now England cannot abide this gear; they cannot be content to hear God’s minister, and his threatening for their sin, though the sermon be never so good, though it be never so true. It is, a naughty fellow, a seditious fellow; he maketh trouble and rebellion in the realm; he lacketh discretion. But the Ninivites rebuked not Jonas that he lacked discretion, or that he spake out of time, that his sermon was out of season made: but in England, if God’s preacher, God’s minister, be any thing quick, or do speak sharply, then he is a foolish fellow, he is rash, he lacketh discretion. Nowadays if they cannot reprove the doctrine that is preached, then they will reprove the preacher, that he lacketh due consideration of the times; and that he is of learning sufficient, but he wanteth discretion. “What a time is this, picked out to preach such things! He should have a respect and a regard to the time, and to the state of things, and of the commonweal.” It rejoiceth me sometimes, when my friend cometh and telleth me that they find fault with my discretion; for by likelihood, think I, the doctrine is true: for if they could find fault with the doctrine, they would not charge me with the lack of discretion; but they would charge me with my doctrine, and not with the lack of discretion, or with the inconveniency of the time. I will now ask you a question I pray you, when should Jonas have preached against the covetousness of Ninive, if the covetous men should have appointed him his time? I know that preachers ought to have a discretion in their preaching, and that they ought to have a consideration and respect to the place and the time that he preacheth in; as I myself will say here that I would not say in the country for no good. But what then? Sin must be rebuked; sin must be plainly spoken against. And when should Jonas have preached against Ninive, if he should have forborne for the respects of the times, or the place, or the state of things there? For what was Ninive? A noble, a rich, and a wealthy city. What is London to Ninive? Like a village, as Islington, or such another, in comparison of London. Such a city was Ninive, it was three days’ journey to go through every street of it, and to go but from street to street. There were noblemen, rich men, wealthy men; there were vicious men, and covetous men, and men that gave themselves to all voluptuous living, and to worldliness of getting riches. Was this a time well chosen and discreetly taken of Jonas, to come and reprove them of their sin; to declare unto them the threatenings of God; and to tell them of their covetousness; and to say plainly unto them, that except they repented and amended their evil living, they and their city should be destroyed of God’s hand within forty days? And yet they heard Jonas and gave place to his preaching. They heard the threatenings of God, and feared his stroke and vengeance, and believed God: that is, they believed God’s preacher and minister; they believed that God would be true of his word that he spake by the mouth of his prophet, and thereupon did penance, to turn away the wrath of God from them. Well, what shall we say? I will say this, and not spare: Christ saith, Ninive shall arise against the Jews at the last day, and bear witness against them; because that they, hearing God’s threatening for sin, ad praedicationam Jonae in cinere et sacco egerunt poenitentiam, “They did penance at the preaching of Jonas in ashes and sackcloth,” (as the text saith there:) and I say, Ninive shall arise against England, thou England; Ninive shall arise against England, because it will not believe God, nor hear his preachers that cry daily unto them, nor amend their lives, and especially their covetousness. Covetousness is as great a sin now as it was then: and it is the same sin now it was then: and he will as sure strike for sin now, as he did then.
But ah, good God, that would give them a time of repentance after his threatenings! First, to see whether they would amend or not, or he would destroy them. For even from the beginning of the world they fell to sin. The first age from Adam, which was about two thousand years, they fell ever to sin, and they had preachers, Noe and Enoch, and other holy fathers. And in that time a great multiplication was that grew in two thousand years; for that scripture saith, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives from among all that they had chosen.” This is a long matter to speak of all. But what meaneth this, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men?” Who were these sons of God? The sons of God were those that came of the good men, of the good preachers, of the holy fathers, that were God’s men; as they that came of Seth and Enos, that were good men, and of others. For our grandmother Eve, when Cain had killed Abel, and when she had another son by Adam, who was called Seth, what did she? She gave thanks to God for him; and acknowledged that God it was which had given him unto her; for she said, Dedit mihi Deus semen pro Abel quem occidit Cain: “God,” said she, “hath given me another seed instead of Abel whom Cain slew.” Here is a long matter to talk on. Some will say, Was this a natural mother, was this naturally done, to publish the sin of her own son? What needed she to speak of that matter, or to make any rehearsal of that matter, to open the sin of her son? What needed she this to do? Yes, she was now a good woman: when she believed the serpent, she was not good. But now she had repented that deed, and had taken hold of the promise of God, that there should come of her a seed that should tread down and destroy the head of the serpent. She had taken hold of this promise, and was now a good woman, and a godly woman; she opened the fault of her son, and hid it not. Here could I say somewhat to them, if I would, that spake so much against me for my preaching here the last year. But to return to Eve; and declare that the sons of God are to be understood those that came of good men, as of Seth and Enos, and the same good part of generation. And the daughters of men are to be understood of them that came of Cain and of his seed and therefore our grandmother Eve bade beware of marrying with Cain’s seed, for fear of falling from God to wickedness thereby.
And here I would say a thing to your Majesty: I shall speak it of good will to your highness: I would I were able to do your Grace good service in any thing, ye should be sure to have it. But I will say this: for God’s love beware where you marry; choose your wife in a faithful stock. Beware of this worldly policy; marry in God: marry not for the great respect of alliance, for thereof cometh all these evils of breaking of wedlock, which is among princes and noblemen. And here I would be a suitor unto your majesty; for I come now rather to be a suitor and a petitioner, than a preacher; for I come now to take my leave, and to take my ultimum vale, at leastwise in this place; for I have not long to live, so that I think I shall never come here into this place again; and therefore I will ask a petition of your highness. For the love of God, take an order for marriages here in England. For here is marriage for pleasure and voluptuousness, and for goods; and so that they may join land to land, and possessions to possessions: they care for no more here in England. And that is the cause of so much adultery, and of so much breach of wedlock in the noblemen and gentlemen, and so much divorcing. And it is not now in the noblemen only, but it is come now to the inferior sort. Every man, if he have but a small cause, will cast off his old wife, and take a new, and will marry again at his pleasure; and there be many that have so done. I would therefore wish that there were a law provided in this behalf for adulterers, and that adultery should be punished with death; and that might be a remedy for all this matter. There would not be then so much adultery, whoredom, and lechery in England as there is. For the love of God take heed to it, and see a remedy provided for it. I would wish that adultery should be punished with death; and that the woman being an offender, if her husband would be a suitor for her, she should be pardoned for the first time, but not for the second time: and the man, being an offender, should be pardoned if his wife be a suitor for him the first time, but not for the second time, if he offend twice. If this law were made, there would not be so much adultery nor lechery used in the realm as there is. Well, I trust once yet, as old as I am, to see the day that lechery shall be punished: it was never more need, for there was never more lechery used in England than is at this day, and maintained. It is made but a laughing matter, and a trifle; but it is a sad matter, and an earnest matter; for lechery is a great sin: Sodome and Gomorre was destroyed for it. And it was one of the sins reigning in Ninive, for which it should have been destroyed. But think you that lechery was alone? No, no, coveteousness was joined with it. Covetousness followeth lechery, and commonly they go together. For why? They that be given to voluptuousness, and to the vice of lechery, must have wherewith to maintain it; and that must be gotten by covetousness. For at the first when men fell to sin, and chiefly to lechery, wherefore the world should be destroyed, the book saith, “There were giants in the earth in those days: and after that the sons of God had come to the daughters of men, and there had engendered with them, the same became mighty men of the world, and men of renown,” &c. This is covetousness; for the book saith, Terra erat repleta iniquitate, “The earth was replete with iniquity;” for they oppressed the poor. They made them slaves, peasants, villains, and bond-men unto them. These were giants, so called of the property of giants, for they oppress the weak, and take from them what they list by force, violence, and oppression. They were giants of the property of giants, not that they were greater men of stature and strength of body than other men were. For certain writers speaking of this matter say, that they were giants for their cruelty and covetous oppression, and not in stature or procerity of body. For there is no reason why Seth’s children could beget on Cain’s daughters greater men than others were in stature of body. But they were giants in the property of giants, for oppressing of others by force and violence. And this was covetousness, wherewith God was so displeased, that he repented that he had made men, and resolved utterly to destroy the world; and so called to Noe, and told him of it. “And I will not dispute the matter with them,” saith God, “from day to day, and never the near; but if they will not amend within an hundred and twenty years, I shall bring in an universal flood over their ears, and destroy them all.” This was preached by Noe to them; and so that God of his goodness, patience, and long-sufferance, gave them a time to repent and amend after his threatenings, because they should see their evil doings, and return to God. So they had an hundred and twenty years to repent. This Noe was laughed to scorn; they, like dodipoles, laughed their godly father to scorn.
Well, ye think little of the history: if ye will know the meaning of it, it is a great shew what anger God hath to sin. But how long time hast thou, England, thou England? I cannot tell, for God hath not revealed it unto me; if he had, so God help me, I would tell you of it; I would not be afraid, nor spare to tell it you, for the good-will I bear you but I cannot tell how long time ye have, for God hath not opened it unto me. But I can tell you, that this lenity, this long forbearing and holding of his hand, provoketh us to repent and amend. And I can tell, that whosoever contemneth this riches and treasure of God’s goodness, of his mercy, his patience and long-suffering, shall have the more grievous condemnation. This I can tell well enough; Paul telleth me this: and I can tell that ye have time to repent as long as you live here in this world; but after this life I can make no warrant of any further time to repent. Therefore repent and amend while ye be here; for when ye are gone hence, ye are past that. But how long that shall be, whether tomorrow or the next day, or twenty years, or how long, I cannot tell. But in the meantime ye have many Jonases to tell you of your faults, and to declare unto you God’s threatenings, except ye repent and amend.
Therefore, to return to my matter, I say as I said at the beginning, Videte et cavete ab avaritia. Videte, “see it”: first see it, and then amend it. For I promise you, great complaint there is of it, and much crying out, and much preaching, but none amendment that I see. But cavete ab avaritia, “Beware of covetousness.” And why of covetousness? Quia radix est omnium malorum avaritia et cupiditas, “For covetousness is the root of all evil and of all mischief.” This saying of Paul took me away from the gospel that is read in the church this day, and it took me from the epistle, that I would preach upon neither of them both at this time. I cannot tell what ailed me; but (to tell you my imperfection) when I was appointed to preach here, I was new come out of a sickness, whereof I looked to have died, and weak I was: yet nevertheless, when I was appointed unto it, I took it upon me, howbeit I repented afterward that I had so done. I was displeased with myself: I was testy, as Jonas was when he should go preach to the Ninivites. Well, I looked on the gospel that is read this day: but it liked me not. I looked on the epistle: tush, I could not away with that neither. And yet I remember I had preached upon this epistle once afore king Henry the Eighth; but now I could not frame with it, nor it liked me not in no sauce. Well, this saying of Paul came into my mind, and at last I considered and weighed the matter deeply, and then thought I thus with myself: Is covetousness the root of all mischief and of all evil? Then have at the root, and down with all covetousness. So this place of Paul brought me to this text of Luke, “See and beware of covetousness.” Therefore, you preachers, out with your swords and strike at the root. Speak against covetousness, and cry out upon it. Stand not ticking and toying at the branches nor at the boughs, for then there will new boughs and branches spring again of them; but strike at the root, and fear not these giants of England, these great men and men of power, these men that are oppressors of the poor; fear them not, but strike at the root of all evil, which is mischievous covetousness. For covetousness is the cause of rebellion. I have forgotten my logic, but yet I can jumble at a syllogism, and make an argument of it, to prove it by. Covetousness is the root of all evil: rebellion is an evil: ergo, covetousness is the root of rebellion. And so it was indeed. Covetousness was the cause of rebellion this last summer;6262 The rebellions in Norfolk and Devon. and both parties had covetousness, as well the gentlemen as the commons. Both parties had covetousness, for both parties had an inordinate desire to have that they had not: and that is covetousness, an inordinate desire to have that one hath not.
The commons would have had from the gentlemen such things as they desired: the gentlemen would none of it; and so was there covetousness on both sides. The commons thought they had a right to the things that they inordinately sought to have. But what then? They must not come to it that way. Now on the other side, the gentlemen had a desire to keep that they had, and so they rebelled too against the king’s commandment, and against such good order as he and his council would have set in the realm. And thus both parties had covetousness, and both parties did rebel. I heard say that there were godly ordinances devised for the redress of it. But the giants would none of it in no sauce. I remember mine ownself a certain giant, a great man, who sat in commission about such matters; and when the townsmen should bring in what had been inclosed, he frowned and chafed, and so near looked, and threatened the poor men, that they durst not ask their right.
I read of late in an Act of Parliament; and this act made mention of an Act that was in king Henry’s days, the third I trow it was; yea, and such another business there was in king Edward’s time, the second also. In this Parliament that I speak of, the gentlemen and the commons were at variance, as they were now of late. And there the gentlemen that were landlords would needs have away much lands from their tenants; and would needs have an Act of Parliament, that it might be lawful for them to inclose and make several from their tenants, and from the commons, such portions of their lands as they thought good. Much ado there was about this Act: at last it was concluded and granted that they might so do; provided alway, that they should leave sufficient to the tenant. Well; it was well that they were bound to leave sufficient for them. But who should be the judge to limit what was sufficient for them? Or who shall now judge what is sufficient? Well; I for my part cannot tell what is sufficient. But methought it was well that the tenants and poor commons should have sufficient. For if they had sufficient, thought I, they had cause to be quiet. And then fell I to make this argument within myself: if at that time it were put in their will and power that they might inclose, leaving to the tenant that were sufficient for him; if they had it then in their power, thought I, that they might this do, they would leave no more than sufficient. If they left to the tenants and poor commons no more in those days but sufficient; then if they had any more taken from them since that time, then had they now not sufficient.
They in Christ are equal with you. Peers of the realm must needs be. The poorest ploughman is in Christ equal with the greatest prince that is. Let them, therefore, have sufficient to maintain them, and to find them their necessaries. A plough-land must have sheep; yea, they must have sheep to dung their ground for bearing of corn; for if they have no sheep to help to fat the ground, they shall have but bare corn and thin. They must have swine for their food, to make their veneries or bacon of: their bacon is their venison, for they shall now have hangum tuum, if they get any other venison; so that bacon is their necessary meat to feed on, which they may not lack. They must have other cattle as horses to draw their plough, and for carriage of things to the markets; and kine for their milk and cheese, which they must live upon and pay their rents. These cattle must have pasture, which pasture if they lack, the rest must needs fail them: and pasture they cannot have, if the land be taken in, and inclosed from them. So, as I said, there was in both parts rebellion. Therefore, for God’s love, restore their sufficient unto them, and search no more what is the cause of rebellion. But see and “beware of covetousness”; for covetousness is the cause of rebellion. Well now, if covetousness be the cause of rebellion, then preaching against covetousness is not the cause of rebellion. Some say, that the preaching nowadays is the cause of all sedition and rebellion: for since this new preaching hath come in, there hath been much sedition; and therefore it must needs be that the preaching is the cause of rebellion here in England. Forsooth, our preaching is the cause of rebellion, much like as Christ was the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem. For, saith Christ, Si non venissem et locutus fuissem eis, peccatum non haberent, &c. “If I had not come,” saith Christ, “and spoken to them, they should have no sin.” So we preachers have come and spoken to you: we have drawn our swords of God’s word, and stricken at the roots of all evil to have them cut down; and if ye will not amend, what can we do more? And preaching is the cause of sedition here in England, much like as Elias was the cause of trouble in Israel; for he was a preacher there, and told the people of all degrees their faults, and so they winced and kicked at him, and accused him to Achab the king, that he was a seditions fellow, and a troublous preacher, and made much uproar in the realm. So the king sent for him, and he was brought to Achab the king, who said unto him, “Art thou he that troubleth all Israel?” And Elias answered, and said, “Nay, thou and thy father’s house are they that trouble all Israel.” Elias had preached God’s word; he had plainly told the people of their evil doings; he had shewed them God’s threatenings. In God’s behalf I speak: there is neither king, nor emperor, be they never in so great estate, but they are subject to God’s word; and therefore he was not afraid to say to Achab, “It is thou and thy father’s house that causeth all the trouble in Israel.” Was not this presumptuously spoken to a king? Was not this a seditious fellow? Was not this fellow’s preaching a cause of all the trouble in Israel? Was he not worthy to be cast in Bocardo or Little-ease? No, but he had used God’s sword, which is his word, and done nothing else that was evil; but they could not abide it. He never disobeyed Achab’s sword, which was the regal power: but Achab disobeyed his sword, which was the word of God. And therefore by the punishment of God much trouble arose in the realm for the sins of Achab and the people. But God’s preacher, God’s prophet, was not the cause of the trouble. Then is it not we preachers that trouble England.
But here is now an argument to prove the matter against the preachers. Here was preaching against covetousness all the last year in Lent, and the next summer followed rebellion; ergo, preaching against covetousness was the cause of the rebellion. A goodly argument! Here now I remember an argument of Master More’s, which he bringeth in a book that he made against Bilney: and here by the way I will tell you a merry toy. Master More was once sent in commission into Kent, to help to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin sands, and the shelf that stopped up Sandwich haven. Thither cometh Master More, and calleth the country afore him, such as were thought to be men of experience, and men that could of likelihood best certify him of that matter concerning the stopping of Sandwich haven. Among others came in before him an old man, with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than an hundred years old. When Master More saw this aged man, he thought it expedient to hear him say his mind in this matter; for, being so old a man, it was likely that he knew most of any man in that presence and company. So Master More called this old aged man unto him, and said “Father,” said he, “tell me, if ye can, what is the cause of this great arising of the sands and shelves here about this haven, the which stop it up that no ships can arrive here? Ye are the eldest man that I can espy in all this company, so that if any man can tell any cause of it, ye of likelihood can say most in it; or at leastwise more than any other man here assembled.” “Yea, forsooth, good master,” quoth this old man, “for I am well-nigh an hundred years old, and no man here in this company any thing near unto mine age.” “Well then,” quoth Master More, “how say you in this matter? What think ye to be the cause of these shelves and flats that stop up Sandwich haven?” “Forsooth, sir,” quoth he, “I am an old man; I think that Tenterton steeple is the cause of Goodwin sands. For I am an old man, sir,” quoth he, “and I may remember the building of Tenterton steeple; and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there. And before that Tenterton steeple was in building, there was no manner of speaking of any flats or sands that stopped the haven; and therefore I think that Tenterton steeple is the cause of the destroying and decay of Sandwich haven.” And even so, to my purpose, is preaching of God’s word the cause of rebellion, as Tenterton steeple was cause Sandwich haven is decayed. And is not this a gay matter, that such should be taken for great wise men that will thus reason against the preacher of God’s word?
But here I would take an occasion by the way of a digression to speak somewhat to my sisters, the women, to do them some good too; because I would do all folks good if I could, before I take my ultimum vale, at leastwise here of this place: for I think I shall no more come here; for I think I have not long to live; so that I judge I take my leave now of the court for ever, and shall no more come in of this place. Achab was a king, but Jesabel, Jesabel she was the perilous woman. She would rule her husband, the king; she would bear a stroke in all things, and she would order matters as pleased her. And so will many women do; they will rule their husbands, and do all things after their own minds. They do therein against the order by God appointed them: they break their injunction that God gave unto them. Yea, it is now come to the lower sort, to mean men’s wives; they will rule and apparel themselves gorgeously, and some of them far above their degrees, whether their husbands will or no. But they break their injunction, and do therein contrary to God’s ordinance. God saith, Subdita eris sub potestate viri; “Thou shalt be subject under the power of thy husband.” Thou shalt be subject. Women are subjects; ye be subjects to your husbands. At the first, the man and the woman were equal. But after that she had given credit to the serpent, then she had an injunction set upon her: Subdita eris sub potestate viri, “Thou shalt be subject under the power of thy husband.” And as for one part of her injunction she taketh; and she taketh one part of her penance, because she cannot avoid it, and that is, In dolore paries, “Thou shalt bring forth children with pain and travail.” This part of their injunction they take, and yet is the same so grievous, that Chrysostom saith, if it were not for the ordinance of God, which cannot be made frustrate by man, they would never come to it again for no worldly good. But God hath provided herein and as Christ saith in the gospel, Mulier cum parit tristitiam habet, &c., “The woman when she beareth a child hath sorrow, but afterward she remembereth not the pain, because there is a soul brought forth into the world.” But as it is a part of your penance, ye women, to travail in bearing your children; so it is a part of your penance to be subjects unto your husbands: ye are underlings, underlings, and must be obedient. But this is now made a trifle and a small matter and yet it is a sad matter, a godly matter, a ghostly matter, a matter of damnation and salvation. And Paul saith, that “a woman ought to have a power on her head.” What is this, “to have a power on her head”? It is a manner of speaking of the scripture; and to have her power on her head is to have a sign and token of power, which is by covering of her head, declaring that she hath a superior above her, by whom she ought to be ruled and ordered: for she is not immediately under God, but mediately. For by their injunction, the husband is their head under God, and they subjects unto their husbands. But this “power” that some of them have is disguised gear and strange fashions. They must wear French hoods, and I cannot tell you, I, what to call it. And when they make them ready and come to the covering of their head, they will call and say, “Give me my French hood, and give me my bonnet, or my cap;” and so forth. I would wish that the women would call the covering of their heads by the terms of the scripture: as when she would have her cap, I would she would say, “Give me my power.” I would they would learn to speak as the Holy Ghost speaketh, and call it by such a name as St Paul doth. I would they would (as they have much pricking),6363 Dressing for shew, making a parade. when they put on their cap, I would they would have this meditation: “I am now putting on my power upon my head.” If they had this thought in their minds, they would not make so much pricking up of themselves as they do nowadays. But now here is a vengeance devil: we must have our power from Turkey, of velvet, and gay it must be; far fetched, dear bought; and when it cometh, it is a false sign. I had rather have a true English sign, than a false sign from Turkey. It is a false sign when it covereth not their heads as it should do. For if they would keep it under the power as they ought to do, there should not any such tussocks nor tufts be seen as there be; nor such laying out of the hair, nor braiding to have it open. I would marvel of it, how it should come to be so abused, and so far out of order; saving that I know by experience that many will not be ruled by their husbands, as they ought to be. I have been desired to exhort some, and with some I could do little in that matter. But there be now many Adams that will not displease their wives, but will in this behalf let them have all their own minds, and do as them listeth. And some others again there be nowadays that will defend it, and say it may be suffered well enough, because it is not expressed in scripture, nor spoken of by name. Though we have not express mention in scripture against such laying of the hair in tussocks and tufts, yet we have in scripture express mention de tortis crinibus, of wreathen hair; that is, for the nonce forced to curl. But of these tussocks that are laid out nowadays there is no mention made in scripture; because they were not used in scripture-time. They were not yet come to be so far out of order as to lay out such tussocks and tufts. But I will tell thee, if thou wilt needs lay it out, or if thou wilt needs shew thy hair, and have it seen, go and poll thy head, or round it, as men do; for to what purpose is it to pull it out so, and to lay it out? Some do it, say they, of a simplicity: some do it of a pride; and some of other causes. But they do it because they will be quarter-master with their husbands. Quarter-masters? Nay, half-masters; yea, some of them will be whole masters, and rule the roast as they list themselves.
But these defenders of it will not have it evil, because it is not spoken of in scripture. But there be other things as evil as this, which are not spoken of in scripture expressly; but they are implied in scripture, as well as though they were expressly spoken of. For the prophet Isaiah saith Vae qui consurgitis mane ad comessandum, ad ebrietatem sectandam et potando usque ad vesperam, ut vino aestuetis. “Wo unto you that arise early in the morning, and go to drinking until night, that ye may swim in wine.” This is the scripture against banqueting and drunkenness. But now they banquet all night, and lie a-bed in the daytime till noon, and the scripture speaketh nothing of that. But what then? The devil hath his purpose this way, as well as the other: he hath his purpose as well by revelling and keeping ill rule all night, as by rising early in the morning and banqueting all day. So the devil hath his purpose both ways. Ye noblemen, ye great men, I wot not what rule ye keep. For God’s sake, hear the complaints and suits of the poor. Many complain against you, that ye lie a-bed till eight, or nine, or ten of the clock. I cannot tell what revel ye have overnight; whether in banqueting, or dicing, or carding, or how it is; but in the morning when poor suitors come to your houses, ye cannot be spoken withal: they are kept sometimes without your gates, or if they be let into the hall, or some outer chamber, out cometh one or other, “Sir, ye cannot speak with my lord yet; my lord is asleep; or he hath had business of the king’s all night,” &c. And thus poor suitors are driven off from day to day, that they cannot speak with you in three, or four days, yea, a whole month: what shall I say more? yea, a whole year sometimes, ere they can come to your speech, to be heard of you. For God’s love look better to it. Speak with poor men when they come to your houses; and despatch poor suitors, as indeed some noblemen do; and would Christ that all noblemen would so do! But some do. I went one day myself betime in the morning to a great man’s house to speak with him in business that I had of mine own. And methought I was up betimes; but when I came thither, the great man was gone forth about such affairs as behoved him, or I came. Well; yet, thought I, this is well, I like this well: this man doth somewhat regard and consider his office and duty. I came too late for mine own matter, and lost my journey, and my early rising too: and yet I was glad that I had been so beguiled. For God’s love follow this example, ye great men, and arise in the mornings, and be ready for men to speak with them, and to despatch suitors that resort unto you. But all these I bring to disprove them; that defend evil things, because they be not expressly spoken against in the scripture. But what forceth that, when the devil hath his purpose, and is served as well one way as another way? Though it be not expressly spoken against in scripture, yet I reckon it plainly enough implied in the scripture.
But now to come to my matter again: Videte et cavete ab avaritia; “See and beware of covetousness” and I shall desire you to consider four things: Quis dicat; quid dicat; cui dicat; et quare dicat: “Who speaketh it; what he speaketh; to whom he speaketh; and wherefore he speaketh it.” As here, Christ speaketh to a rich man against avarice. And why against avarice? What shall be the end of all covetous persons? Eternal damnation. “For the covetous persons,” saith Paul, “shall not possess nor enter into the kingdom of God.” Here therefore I shall desire you to pray, &c.
The Second Part of the Sermon.
Videte et cavet ab avaritia.
See and beware of covetousness.
First, who spake these words? Forsooth, Christ spake them. If I had spoken them of myself, it had been little worth; but Christ spake them, and upon a good occasion. The story is, Duo litigabant inter se, “There were two at strife between themselves;” and by this it appeareth that Christ spake them. Well, Christ spake these words at that time; and now he speaketh them by his preacher, whom ye ought to believe; and so it is all one. But upon what occasion did he speak it? There were two brethren at strife together for lands, wealthy men, as it appeareth, and the rich fellow would not tarry till Christ had ended his sermon, but interrupted it, and would needs have his matter despatched by and by. He was at Christ’s sermon, but yet he would not defer his worldly cause till Christ had made an end of his godly exhortation. This was a thorny brother; he was a gospeller; he was a carnal gospeller (as many be nowadays for a piece of an abbey, or for a portion of chantry-lands) to get somewhat by it, and to serve his commodity. He was a gospeller; one of the new brethren; somewhat worse than a rank papist. Howbeit, a rank papist nowadays shall sooner have promotion than a true gospeller shall have: the more is the pity. But this was a thorny gospeller: he heard Christ’s preaching and followed him for company, and heard his words; but he was never the better for it; but the care of the world so choked the word of God in him, that he could not hear the sermon to the end, but interrupted the sermon for his worldly matter, ere it were all done. And what was Christ then doing? Forsooth he was sowing of good seed, but it fell upon stony ground, so that it could not take any root in this fellow, to bring forth good fruit in him. And let me tell you of the seed that Christ was then sowing: bear with me awhile; and seeing that I come now to take my ultimum vale of this place, hear me patiently, and give me leave a little while, and let me take my leave honestly. At the time when this fellow interrupted Christ’s sermon, he was preaching a long sermon to his disciples, and to the people, being gathered together in a wonderful great multitude, as appeareth in the twelfth chapter of St Luke’s gospel: and there he first of all taught his disciples a good lesson, saying, Cavete vobis a fermento Pharisaeorum: “Beware in any wise,” saith he, “of the leaven of the Pharisees.” What is this leaven of the Pharisees? Leaven is sometimes taken for corrupt living, which infecteth others by the evil example thereof; and against such corrupt living God’s preacher must cry out earnestly; and never cease till it be rooted up. In the city of Corinth one had married his step-mother, his father’s wife and he was a jolly fellow, a great rich man; an alderman of the city; and therefore they winked at it, they would not meddle in the matter, they had nothing to do with it: and he was one of the head men, of such rule and authority, that they durst not, many of them. But St Paul, hearing of the matter, writ unto them, and in God’s behalf charged them to do away such abomination from among them. St Paul would not leave them till he had excommunicated the wicked doer of such abomination. If we should now excommunicate all such wicked doers, there would be much ado in England. Ye that are magistrates shew favour for affection to such, and will not suffer they may be rooted out or put to shame. Oh, he is such a man’s servant, we may not do him any shame. Oh, he is a gentleman, &c. And so the thing is not now any thing looked unto. Lechery is used throughout England, and such lechery as is used in none other place of the world. And yet it is made a matter of sport, a matter of nothing; a laughing matter, and a trifle; not to be passed on, nor to be reformed. But beware, ye that are magistrates their sin doth leaven you all. Therefore for God’s love beware of this leaven. Well, I trust it will be one day amended. I look not to live long, and yet I trust, as old as I am, to live so long as to see lechery punished. I would wish that Moses’s law were restored for punishment of lechery, and that the offenders therein might be punished according to the prescription of Moses’s law. And here I will make a suit to your Highness to restore unto the church the discipline of Christ, in excommunicating such as be notable offenders; nor never devise any other way. For no man is able to devise a better way than God hath done, which is excommunication, to put them from the congregation till they be confounded. Therefore restore Christ’s discipline for excommunication; and that shall be a means both to pacify God’s wrath and indignation against us; and also, that less abomination shall be used than in times past hath been, and is at this day. I speak this of a conscience, and I mean and move it of a good-will to your grace and your realm. Bring into the church of England open discipline of excommunication, that open sinners may be stricken withal.
Sometimes leaven is taken for corrupt doctrine: and so it is here taken in this place, when he saith, “Beware of the leaven of the pharisees.” For Christ intended to make his disciples teachers of all the world, and therefore to beware of corrupt doctrine. And that that he said to them, he saith also to us; receive no corrupt doctrine, no mingle-mangle; yet there be leaveners yet still, and mingle-manglers that have soured Christ’s doctrine with the leaven of the Pharisees. Yea, and where there is any piece of leaven, they will maintain that one piece, more than all the doctrine of Christ; and about that purpose they occupy and bestow all their wits. This was the first seed.
The second seed was, Nihil occultum, quod non revelabitur; “There is nothing privy or hidden that shall not be revealed and opened.” It pertaineth all to one purpose: for there he taught his disciples to beware of the leaven, which was hypocrisy; declaring unto them, that hypocrisy would not be always hidden, but such as were not sincere should be known at the last day, and all that was taught should at length be known. It hath also another meaning, for it is God’s proverb, “There is nothing so privy but it shall be opened”; at leastwise in the great day of reckoning, in the dreadful day of general account, in the day of revelation then shall it be openly known, whatsoever is done, be it never so privily done. These fellows that have their fetches and their far compasses to bring things to their purposes, work they never so privily, never so covertly, yet at the last day their doings shall be openly revealed, usque ad satietatem visionis, saith the prophet Esay, till all the world shall see it, to their shame and confusion that are the doers of it. As the prophet Jeremy saith, Sicut confunditur fur qui deprehenditur, “Even as a thief that is taken with the manner when he stealeth, so shall sinners be openly confounded, and their evil doings opened.” Yea, and though it be not known in this world, yet it shall be known at the last day to their damnation. Indeed God hath verified his proverb from time to time, “Nothing is so privy the which shall not be revealed.” When Cain had killed his brother Abel, he thought he had conveyed the matter so privily and so closely, that it should never have been known nor have come to light: but first, God knew it well enough, and called unto him saying, “Cain, where is thy brother Abel?” But he thought he could have beguiled God too; and therefore he answered, “I cannot tell.” “What,” quoth Cain, “am I set to keep my brother? I cannot tell where he is.” But at last he was confounded, and his murder brought to light; and now all the world readeth it in the bible. Joseph’s brethren had sold him away; they took his motley coat and besprinkled it over and over with blood; they thought all was cock-sure; they had conveyed the matter so secretly, that they thought all the world could never have espied it. And yet out it came to their great benefit. And now it is known to us all, as many as can read the bible. David saw a fair woman wash her naked. Then he was straightway ravished, he was clean gone by, and would needs have her. He sent for her; yea, he had gentlemen of his chamber about him, that went for her by and by and fetched her.
And here I have another suit to your Highness. When you come to age, beware what persons ye have about you for if ye be set on pleasure, or disposed to wantonness, ye shall have ministers enough to be furtherers and instruments of it. But David, by his wisdom and policy, thought so to have cloked the matter, that it should never have been known. He sent for her husband Uriah, and shewed him a fair countenance, and looked merrily on him, and sent him forth to war, that he might do his pleasure with Berseba afterward; and he thought he had wrought wondrous privily. He thought all the matter cock-sure. But the prophet of God, Nathan, came and laid his fault plain before his face; and who is now that knoweth it not?
Elizeus’ servant, Giezi, a bribing brother, he came colourably to Naaman the Syrian: he feigned a tale of his master Elizeus, as all bribers will do, and told him that his master had need of this and that, and took of Naaman certain things, and bribed it away to his own behoof secretly, and thought that it should never have come out; but Elizeus knew it well enough. The servant had his bribes that he sought, yet was he stricken with the leper, and so openly shamed.
Think on this, ye that are bribers, when ye go so secretly about such things: have this in your minds, when ye devise your secret fetches and conveyances, how Elizeus’ servant was served, and was openly known. For God’s proverb will be true, “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.” He that took the silver basin and ewer for a bribe, thinketh that it will never come out: but he may now know that I know it; and I know it not alone, there be more beside me that know it. Oh briber and bribery! he was never a good man that will so take bribes. Nor I can never believe that he that is a briber shall be a good justice. It will never be merry in England, till we have the skins of such. For what needeth bribing, where men do their things uprightly, as for men that are officers, and have a matter of charge in their hands?
But now I will play St Paul, and translate the thing on myself. I will become the king’s officer for awhile. I have to lay out for the king twenty thousand pounds, or a great sum, whatsoever it be: well, when I have laid it out, and do bring in mine account, I must give three hundred marks to have my bills warranted. If I have done truly and uprightly, what should need me to give a penny to have my bills warranted? If I have done my office truly, and do bring in a true account, wherefore should one groat be given? yea, one groat, for warranting of my bills? Smell ye nothing in this? What needeth any bribes-giving, except the bills be false? No man giveth bribes for warranting of his bills, except they be false bills. Well, such practice hath been in England, but beware; it will out one day: beware of God’s proverb, “There is nothing hidden that shall not be opened;” yea, even in this world, if ye be not the children of damnation. And here now I speak to you, my masters, minters, augmentationers, receivers, surveyors, and auditors: I make a petition unto you; I beseech you all be good to the king. He hath been good to you, therefore be good to him: yea, be good to your own souls. Ye are known well enough, what ye were afore ye came to your offices, and what lands ye had then, and what ye have purchased since, and what buildings ye make daily. Well, I pray you so build, that the king’s workmen may be paid. They make their moan that they can get no money. The poor labourers, gun-makers, powdermen, bow-makers, arrow-makers, smiths, carpenters, soldiers, and other crafts, cry out for their duties. They be unpaid, some of them, three or four months: yea, some of them half a year: yea, some of them put up bills this time twelve months for their money, and cannot be paid yet. They cry out for their money, and, as the prophet saith, Clamor operariorum ascendit ad aures meas; “The cry of the workmen is come up to mine ears.” O, for God’s love, let the workmen be paid, if there be money enough; or else there will whole showers of God’s vengeance rain down upon your heads! Therefore, ye minters, and ye augmentationers, serve the king truly. So build and purchase, that the king may have money to pay his workmen. It seemeth evil-favouredly, that ye should have enough wherewith to build superfluously, and the king lack to pay his poor labourers. Well, yet I doubt not but that there be some good officers. But I will not swear for all.
I have now preached three Lents. The first time I preached restitution. “Restitution,” quoth some, “what should he preach of restitution? Let him preach of contrition,” quoth they, “and let restitution alone; we can never make restitution.” Then, say I, if thou wilt not make restitution, thou shalt go to the devil for it. Now choose thee either restitution or else endless damnation. But now there be, two manner of restitutions; secret restitution, and open restitution: whether of both it be, so that restitution be made, it is all good enough. At my first preaching of restitution, one good man took remorse of conscience, and acknowledged himself to me, that he had deceived the king; and willing he was to make restitution: and so the first Lent came to my hands twenty pounds to be restored to the king’s use. I was promised twenty pound more the same Lent, but it could not be made, so that it came not. Well, the next Lent came three hundred and twenty pounds more. I received it myself, and paid it to the king’s council So I was asked, what he was that made this restitution? But should I have named him? Nay, they should as soon have this wesant6464 Wind-pipe. of mine. Well, now this Lent came one hundred and fourscore pounds ten shillings, which I have paid and delivered this present day to the king’s council: and so this man hath made a godly restitution. “And so,” quoth I to a certain nobleman that is one of the king’s council, “if every man that hath beguiled the king should make restitution after this sort, it would cough the king twenty thousand pounds, I think,” quoth I. “Yea, that it would,” quoth the other,” a whole hundred thousand pounds.” Alack, alack; make restitution; for God’s sake make restitution: ye will cough in hell else, that all the devils there will laugh at your coughing. There is no remedy, but restitution open or secret; or else hell.
This that I have now told you of was a secret restitution. Some examples hath been of open restitution, and glad may he be that God was so friendly unto him, to bring him unto it in this world. I am not afraid to name him; it was Master Sherington, an honest gentleman, and one that God loveth. He openly confessed that he had deceived the king, and he made open restitution. Oh, what an argument may he have against the devil, when he shall move him to desperation! God brought this out to his amendment. It is a token that he is a chosen man of God; and one of his elected. If he be of God, he shall be brought to it; therefore for God’s sake make restitution, or else remember God’s proverb; “There is nothing so secret,” &c. If you do either of these two in this world, then are ye of God; if not, then for lack of restitution, ye shall have eternal damnation. Ye may do it by means, if you dare not do it yourselves; bring it to another, and so make restitution. If ye be not of God’s flock, it shall be brought out to your shame and damnation at the last day; when all evil men’s sins shall be laid open before us. Yet there is one way, how all our sins may be hidden, which is, repent and amend. Recipiscentia, recipiscentia, repenting and amending is a sure remedy, and a sure way to hide all, that it shall not come out to our shame and confusion.
Yet there was another seed that Christ was sowing in that sermon of his; and this was the seed: “I say to you, my friends, fear not him that killeth the body, but fear him that after he hath killed, hath power also to cast into hellfire,” &c. And there, to put his disciples in comfort and sure hope of his help, and out of all doubt and mistrust of his assistance, he bringeth in unto them the example of the sparrows, how they are fed by God’s mere providence and goodness; and also of the hairs of our heads, how that not so much as one hair falleth from our heads without him. “Fear him,” saith he, “that when he hath killed the body, may also cast into hell-fire.” Matter for all kinds of people here, but specially for kings. And, therefore, here is another suit to your Highness. “Fear not him that killeth the body.” Fear not these foreign princes and foreign powers. God shall make you strong enough. Stick to God: fear God, fear not them. God hath sent you many storms in your youth; but forsake not God, and he will not forsake you. Peradventure ye shall have that shall move you, and say unto you, “Oh, Sir! Oh, such a one is a great man, he is a mighty prince, a king of great power, ye cannot be without his friendship, agree with him in religion, or else ye shall have him your enemy,” &c. Well, fear them not, but cleave to God, and he shall defend you. Do not as king Ahaz did, that was afraid of the Assyrian king, and for fear lest he should have him to his enemy, was content to forsake God, and to agree with him in religion and worshipping of God and anon sent to Urias the high priest, who was ready at once to set up the idolatry of the Assyrian king. Do not your Highness so: fear not the best of them all; but fear God. The same Urias was capellanus ad manum, “a chaplain at hand,” an elbow chaplain. If ye will turn, ye shall have that will turn with you; yea, even in their white rochets. But follow not Ahaz. Remember the hair, how it falleth not without God’s providence. Remember the sparrows, how they build in every house, and God provideth for them. “And ye are much more precious to me,” saith Christ, “than sparrows or other birds.” God will defend you; that before your time cometh, ye shall not die nor miscarry.
On a time when Christ was going to Jerusalem, his disciples said unto him, “They there would have stoned thee, and wilt thou now go thither again?” What saith he again to them? Nonne duodecim sunt horae die, &c., “Be there not twelve hours in the day?” saith he: God hath appointed his times, as pleaseth him; and before the time cometh that God hath appointed, they shall have no power against you. Therefore stick to God and forsake him not; but fear him, and fear not men. And beware chiefly of two affections, fear and love: fear, as Ahaz, of whom I have told you, that for fear of the Assyrian king he changed his religion, and thereby purchased God’s high indignation to him and to his realm; and love, as Dina, Jacob’s daughter, who caused a change of religion by Sichem and Hemor, who were contented for lust of a wife to the destruction and spoiling of all the whole city. Read the chronicles of England and France, and ye shall see what changes of religion hath come by marriages, and for marriages. “Marry my daughter, and be baptized, and so forth, or else.” Fear them not. Remember the sparrows. And this rule should all estates and degrees of men follow; whereas now they fear men and not God. If there be a judgment between a great man and a poor man, then must there be a corruption of justice for fear. “Oh, he is a great man, I dare not displease him.” Fie upon thee! art thou a judge, and wilt be afraid to give right judgment? Fear him not, be he never so great a man; but uprightly do true justice. Likewise some pastors go from their cure; they are afraid of the plague, they dare not come nigh any sick body, but hire others; and they go away themselves. Out upon thee! The wolf cometh upon thy flock to devour them, and when they have most need of thee thou runnest away from them! The soldier also, that should go on warfare, he will draw back as much as he can. “Oh, I shall be slain! Oh, such and such went, and never came home again. Such men went the last year into Norfolk, and were slain there.” Thus they are afraid to go: they will labour to tarry at home. If the king command thee to go, thou art bound to go; and serving the king thou servest God. If thou serve God, he will not shorten thy days to thine hurt. “Well,” saith some, “if they had not gone, they had lived unto this day.” How knowest thou that? Who made thee so privy of God’s counsel? Follow thou thy vocation, and serve the king when he calleth thee. In serving him thou shalt serve God; and till thy time come, thou shalt not die. It was marvel that Jonas escaped in such a city: what then? Yet God preserved him, so that he could not perish. Take therefore an example of Jonas, and every man follow his vocation, not fearing men, but fearing God.
Another seed that Christ was sowing in the sermon was this: Qui confessus me fuerit hominibus, confitebor et ego illum coram Patre meo; “He that confesseth me before men, I shall also confess him before my Father.” We must confess him with mouth. It was of a bishop not long ago asked as touching this: “Laws,” saith he, “must be obeyed, and civil ordinance I. will follow outwardly; but my heart in religion is free to think as I will.” So said Friar Forest, half a papist, yea, worse than a whole papist.
Well, another seed was, “He that sinneth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.” What is this same sin against the Holy Ghost, an horrible sin that never shall be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come? What is this sin? Final impenitency: and some say, impugning of the truth. One came to me once, that despaired because of sin against the Holy Ghost. He was sore troubled in his conscience, that he should be damned; and that it was not possible for him to be saved, because he had sinned against the Holy Ghost. I said to him, “What, man,” quoth I, “comfort yourself in these words of the apostle, Christus est propitiatio pro peccatis nostris: and again; Ideo me misit Pater in mundum, ut qui credit in me non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam; ‘My Father hath for this purpose sent me into the world, that he which believeth in me may not perish, but may have the life everlasting.’ Also, Quacunque hora ingemuerit peccator salvus erit; ‘In what hour soever the sinner shall mourn for sin, he shall be saved.’” I had scriptures enough for me, as methought; but say what I could say, he could say more against himself, than I could say at that time to do him good withal. Where some say that the sin against the Holy Ghost is original sin; I alleged against that the saying of St Paul, Sicut per unius delictum, &c., and si quis egerat poenitentiam; “If a man had done all the sins in the world, and have true repentance, with faith and hope in God’s mercy, he shall be forgiven.” But whatsoever I said, he could still object against me, and avoid my reasons. I was fain to make another day, and did so. “Let me go to my book,” quoth I, “and go you to your prayers, for ye are not altogether without faith.” I got me to my study; I read many doctors, but none could content me; no expositor could please me, nor satisfy my mind in the matter. And it is with me as it was with a scholar of Cambridge, who being demanded of his tutor how he understood his lesson, and what it meant, “I know,” quoth he, “what it meaneth but I cannot tell it; I cannot express it.” So I understood it well enough, but I cannot well declare it. Nevertheless I will bungle at it as well as I can.
Now to tell you, by the way, what sin it was that he had committed: he had fallen from the truth known, and afterward fell to mocking and scorning of it; and this sin it was that he thought to be unforgiveable. I said unto him, that it was a vehement manner of speaking in scripture; “Yet,” quoth I, “this is not spoken universally; nor it is not meant that God doth never forgive it; but it is commonly called irremissible, unforgiveable, because that God doth seldom forgive it. But yet there is no sin so great but God may forgive it, and doth forgive it to the repentant heart, though in words it sound that it shall never be forgiven: as, privilegium paucorum non destruit regulam universalem, The privilege of a few persons doth not destroy an universal rule or saying of scripture. For the scripture saith, Omnes moriemur, ‘We shall die every one of us:’ yet some shall be rapt and taken alive, as St Paul saith; for this privilege of a few doth not hurt a generality. An irremissible sin, an unexcusable sin; yet to him that will truly repent, it is forgiveable; in Christ it may be remitted. If there be no more but one man forgiven, ye may be that same one man that shall be forgiven: Ubi abundavit delictum, ibi abundavit et gratia; Where iniquity hath abounded, there shall grace abound.’” Thus by little and little this man came to a settled conscience again, and took comfort in Christ’s mercy. Therefore despair not, though it be said it shall never be forgiven. Where Cain said, “My wickedness is so great that God cannot forgive it;” Nay, thou liest, saith Austin to Cain, Major est Dei misericordia, quam iniquitas tua; “The mercy of God is greater than thine iniquity.” Therefore despair not; but this one thing I say: beware of this sin that ye fall not into it; for I have known no more but this one man, that hath fallen from the truth, and hath afterward repented and come to grace again. I have known many since God hath opened mine eyes to see a little; I have known many, I say, that knew more than I, and some whom I have honoured, that have afterwards fallen from the truth; but never one of them, this man except, that have returned to grace and to the truth again. But yet, though God doth very seldom forgive this sin, and although it be one of the sins that God doth hate most of all others, and such as is almost never forgiven, yet it is forgiveable in the blood of Christ, if one truly repent; and lo! it is universal. As there is also another scripture, Vae terrae cujus rex puer est, “Wo be to the land, to the realm whose king is a child;” which some interpret and refer to childish conditions: but it is commonly true the other way too, when it is referred to the age and years of childhood. For where the king is within age, they that have governance about the king have much liberty to live voluptuously and licentiously; and not to be in fear how they govern, as they would be if the king were of full age; and then commonly they govern not well. But yet Josias and one or two more, though they were children, yet had their realms well governed, and reigned prosperously; and yet the saying, Vae terrae cujus rex puer est, is nevertheless true for all that. And this I gather of this irremissible sin against the Holy Ghost, that the scripture saith it is never forgiven, because it is seldom forgiven. For indeed I think that there is no sin, which God doth so seldom nor so hardly forgive, as this sin of falling away from the truth, after that a man once knoweth it. And indeed this took best place with the man that I have told you of, and best quieted his conscience.
Another seed was this: “Be not careful,” saith Christ, “what ye shall say before judge and magistrates, when ye are brought afore them for my name’s sake; for the Holy Ghost shall put in your minds, even at that present hour, what ye shall speak.” A comfortable saying, and a goodly promise of the Holy Ghost, that “the adversaries of the truth,” saith he, “shall not be able to resist us.” What? shall the adversaries of the truth be dumb? Nay; there be no greater talkers, nor boasters, and facers than they be. But they shall not be able to resist the truth to destroy it.
Here some will say, “What needeth universities then, and the preservation of schools? The Holy Ghost will give always what to say.” Yea, but for all that we may not tempt God; we must trust in the Holy Ghost, but we must not presume on the Holy Ghost. Here now should I speak of universities, and for preferring of schools: but he that preached the last Sunday spake very well in it, and substantially, and like one that knew the state and condition of the universities and schools very well. But thus much I say unto you, magistrates: if ye will not maintain schools and universities, ye shall have a brutality. Therefore now a suit again to your Highness. So order the matter, that preaching may not decay: for surely, if preaching decay, ignorance and brutishness will enter again. Nor give the preachers’ livings to secular men. What should the secular men do with the livings of preachers? I think there be at this day ten thousand students less than were within these twenty years, and fewer preachers; and that is the cause of rebellion. If there were good bishops, there should be no rebellion.
I am now almost come to my matter, saving one saying of Christ which was another seed: Date, et dabitur vobis; “Give, and it shall be given unto you,” &c. But who believeth this? If men believed this promise, they would give more than they do; and at leastwise they would not stick to give a little: but nowadays men’s study is set rather to take gifts, and to get of other men’s goods, than to give any of their own. So all other the promises are mistrusted and unbelieved. For if the rich men did believe this promise of God, they would willingly and readily give a little to have the overplus. So where Christ saith of injuries, or offences and trespasses, Mihi vindicta, et ego retribuam, &c., “Leave the avenging of wrongs alone unto me, and I shall pay them home,” &c.: if the rebels had believed this promise, they would not have done as they did. So all the promises of God are mistrusted. Noah also after the flood feared at every rain lest the world should be drowned and destroyed again; till God gave the rainbow. And what exercise shall we have by the rainbow? We may learn by the rainbow, that God will be true of his promises, and will fulfill his promises. For God sent the rainbow; and four thousand years it is, and more, since this promise was made, and yet God hath been true of his promise unto this day: so that now when we see the rainbow, we may learn that God is true of his promise. And as God was true in this promise, so is he and will be in all the rest. But the covetous man doth not believe that God is true of his promise; for if he did, he would not stick to give of his goods to the poor. But as touching that I spake afore, when we see the rainbow, and see in the rainbow that that is like water, and of a watery colour, and as we may and ought not only to take thereof hold and comfort of God’s promise, that he will no more destroy the world with water for sin; but also we may take an example to fear God, who in such wise hateth sin: likewise when in the rainbow we see that it is of a fiery colour, and like unto fire, we may gather an example of the end of the world, that except we amend, the world shall at last be consumed with fire for sin; and to fear the judgment of God, after which they that are damned shall be burned in hell-fire. These were the seeds that Christ was sowing, when this covetous man came unto him.
And now I am come to my matter. While Christ was thus preaching, this covetous fellow would not tarry till all the sermon was done, but interrupted the sermon; even suddenly chopping in, “Master,” quoth he, “speak to my brother, that he may divide the inheritance with me.” He would not abide till the end of the sermon; but his mind was on his halfpenny; and he would needs have his matter despatched out of hand. “Master,” quoth he, “let my brother divide with me.” Yet this was a good fellow: he could be contented with part, he desired not to have all together alone to himself, but could be content with a division, and to have his part of the inheritance. And what was the inheritance Ager; a field: so that it was but one piece of ground, or one farm. This covetous man could be content with the half of one farm, where our men nowadays cannot be satisfied with many farms at once. One man must now have as many farms as will serve many men, or else he will not be contented nor satisfied. They will jar nowadays one with another, except they have all. “Oh,” saith the wise man, “there be three things wherein my soul delighteth: Concordia fratrum, amor proximorum, et vir ac mulier bene sibi consentientes; the unity of brethren, the love of neighbours, and a man and wife agreeing well together.” So that the concord of brethren, and agreeing of brethren, is a gay thing. What saith Salomon of this matter? Frater qui adjuvatur a fratre quasi civitas firma et turris fortis; “The brother that is holpen of his brother, is a sure and well-fenced city, and a strong tower,” he is so strong. Oh, it is a great matter, when brethren love and hold well together! But if the one go about to pull down the other, then are they weak both of them; and when one pulleth down his fellow, they must needs down both of them; there is no stay to hold them up.
Mark in the chronicles of England. Two brethren have reigned jointly together, the one on this side Humber, and the other beyond Humber, in Scotland, and all that way. And what hath come of it? So long as they have agreed well together, so long they have prospered; and when they have jarred, they have both gone to wrack. Brethren that have so reigned here in England, have quarrelled one with another; and the younger hath not been contented with his portion, (as indeed the younger brother commonly jarreth first,) but by the contention both have fared the worse. So when there is any contention between brother and brother for land, commonly they are both undone by it. And that crafty merchant, whatever he be, that will set brother against brother, meaneth to destroy them both. But of these two brethren, whether this man here were the elder or the younger, I cannot say; scripture telleth me not whether of these two was the younger: but a likelihood this was the younger; for once it was a plain law, that primogenitus, that is to say, the elder brother, had duplicia; and therefore of likelihood it should be the youngest brother that found himself aggrieved, and was not content. But Christ said unto him, “Thou man, who hath made me a judge or a divider between you?” Christ answered him by a question; and mark this question of Christ, “Thou man,” Quis me constituit judicem aut divisorem super vos; “Who made me a judge,” &c. It is no small matter, saith Augustine, of what intention one asketh a question; as Christ in another place of the gospel asketh who was neighbour to the pilgrim that was wounded. “There was,” saith Christ, “a man that went from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, and they wounded him, and left him for dead. And a priest came by, that was his own countryman, and let him lie; a Levite came by, and would shew no compassion upon him: at last a Samaritan came by, and set him on his horse, and conveyed him to the city, and provided surgery for him, &c. Now who was neighbour to this wounded man?” saith Christ. Qui fecit illi misericordiam, quoth the lawyer; “He that shewed mercy unto him.” He that did the office of a neighbour, he was a neighbour. As ye may perceive by a more familiar example of the bishop of Exeter at Sutton in Staffordshire. Who is bishop of Exeter? Forsooth, Master Coverdale. What, do not all men know who is bishop of Exeter? What? He hath been bishop many years. Well, say I, Master Coverdale is bishop of Exeter: Master Coverdale putteth in execution the bishop’s office, and he that doth the office of the bishop, he is the bishop indeed: therefore say I, Master Coverdale is bishop of Exeter. Alack! there is a thing that maketh my heart sorry. I hear that Master Coverdale is poisoned. Alack! a good man, a godly preacher, an honest fatherly man; and, if it be true, it is a great pity and a lamentable case, that he feeding them with God’s word, they should feed him again with poison.
But to the purpose of Christ’s question, “Who made me a judge between you?” Here an Anabaptist will say, “Ah! Christ refused the office of a judge; ergo there ought to be no judges nor magistrates among christian men. If it had been a thing lawful, Christ would not have refused to do the office of a judge, and to have determined the variance between these two brethren.” But Christ did thereby signify that he was not sent for that office; but if thou will have a trial and a sentence of that matter according to the laws, thou must go to the temporal judge that is deputed therefor. But Christ’s meaning was, that he was come for another purpose; he had another office deputed unto him than to be a judge in temporal matters. Ego veni vocare peccatores ad poenitentiam; “I am come,” saith he, “to call sinners to repentance:” he was come to preach the gospel, the remission of sin, and the kingdom of God; and meant not thereby to disallow the office of temporal magistrates. Nay, if Christ had meant that there should be no magistrates, he would have bid him take all: but Christ meant nothing so. But the matter is, that this covetous man, this brother, took his mark amiss; for he came to a wrong man to seek redress of his matter. For Christ did not forbid him to seek his remedy at the magistrate’s hand; but Christ refused to take upon him the office that was not his calling. For Christ had another vocation than to be a judge between such as contended about matters of land. If our rebels had had this in their minds, they would not have been their own judges; but they would have sought the redress of their grief at the hands of the king, and his magistrates under him appointed. But no marvel of their blindness and ignorance; for the bishops are out of their dioceses that should teach them this gear. But this man perchance had heard, and did think that Christ was Messias, whose reign in words soundeth a corporal and a temporal reign; which should do justice and see a redress in all matters of worldly controversy: which is a necessary office in a christian realm, and must needs be put in execution for ministering of justice. And therefore I require you, as a suitor rather than a preacher, look to your office yourself, and lay not all on your officers’ backs; receive the bills of supplication yourself: I do not see you do so nowadays as ye were wont to do the last year. For God’s sake look unto it, and see to the ministering of justice your own self, and let poor suitors have answer. There is a king in Christendom, and it is the king of Denmark, that sitteth openly in justice thrice in the week, and hath doors kept open for the nones.6565 nonce, purpose. I have heard it reported of one that hath been there, and seen the proof of it many a time and oft: and the last justice that ever he saw done there, was of a priest’s cause that had had his glebe land taken from him, (and now here in England some go about to take away all;) but this priest had had his glebe land taken from him by a great man. Well; first went out letters for this man to appear at a day: process went out for him according to the order of the law, and charged him by virtue of those letters to appear afore the king at such a day. The day came: the king sat in the hall ready to minister justice. The priest was there present. The gentleman, this lord, this great man, was called, and commanded to make his appearance according to the writ that had been directed out for him. And the lord came, and was there; but he appeared not. “No,” quoth the king, “was he summoned as he should be? Had he any warning to be here?” It was answered, “Yea; and that he was there walking up and down in the hall; and that he knew well enough that that was his day; and also, that he had already been called; but he said, he would not come before the king at that time: alleging, that he needed not as yet to make an answer, because he had had but one summoning.” “No,” quoth the king, “is he here present?” “Yea, forsooth, sir,” said the priest. The king commanded him to be called, and to come before him: and the end was this, he made this lord, this great man, to restore unto the priest not only the glebe land which he had taken from the priest, but also the rent and profit thereof for so long time as he had withholden it from the priest; which was eight years or thereabout. Saith he, “When you can shew better evidence than the priest hath done, why it ought to be your land, then he shall restore it to you again, and the profits thereof that he shall receive in the mean time but till that day come, I charge ye that ye suffer him peaceably to enjoy that is his.”
This is a noble king; and this I tell for your example, that ye may do the like. Look upon the matter yourself. Poor men put up bills every day, and never the near. Confirm your kingdom in judgment; and begin doing of your own office yourself, even now while you are young, and sit once or twice in the week in council among your lords: it shall cause things to have good success, and that matters shall not be lingered forth from day to day. It is good for every man to do his own office, and to see that well executed and discharged.
Ozias. king in Juda, he would needs do the office of the priest, and he would needs offer incense in the sanctuary; which to do was the priest’s office. But he was suddenly stricken with the leprosy for his labour, and so continued a leper all the days of his life. St John’s disciples would have had their master to take upon him that he was Christ. But what said John? Nemo siai assumit quicquam nisi datum fuerit ei desuper; “No man may take any thing upon himself, except it be given unto him from above.” If the Devonshire men had well considered this, they had not provoked the plagues that they have had light upon them. But unpreaching prelacy hath been the chiefest cause of all this hurly-burly and commotions. But if Christ may challenge any kind of men for taking his office upon them, he may say to the mass-mongers, “Who gave you commission to offer up Christ? Who gave you authority to take mine office in hand?” For it is only Christ’s office to do that. It is a greater matter to offer Christ. If Christ had offered his body at the last supper, then should we do so too. Who is worthy to offer up Christ? An abominable presumption! Paul saith, Accepit panem; postquam gratias egisset, fregit, et dixit, Accipite, edite; “He took bread, and after that he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take ye, eat ye,” &c.: and so said, Hoc est corpus meum, “This is my body.” He gave thanks? Well then: in thanksgiving these is no oblation; and when he gave thanks, it was not his body.
When I was in examination, I was asked many questions, and it was said to me, What Christ did, that should we do: a bishop gathered that upon these words, Hoc facite in mei recordationem, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Then said he to me, “How know ye that they ate it, before he said, Hoc est corpus meum, ‘This is my body?’” I answered again and said, “How know ye that they did not it?” &c. So I brought unto him the place of Paul abovesaid; and that in thanksgiving is none oblation; and when he gave thanks it was not his body, for he gave thanks in the beginning of supper, before they eat any manner of thing at all; as his accustomed manner was to do. I wonder therefore, that they will or dare by this text take upon them to offer Christ’s body: they should rather say, Quisme constituit oblatorem, “Who made me an offerer?” But when Christ said, Quis me constituit judicem aut divisorem super vos, “Who hath made me a judge or a divider of lands among you?” Christ did refuse another man’s office; an office that he was not of his Father deputed unto. Christ’s kingdom was a spiritual kingdom, and his office was a spiritual office; and he was a spiritual judge. And therefore, when the woman taken in adultery was brought before him, he refused not to play the judge; but said, Quis te accusat, “Who accuseth thee?” And she said again, Nemo, Domine: “No man, Lord.” Then said he, Nec ego te condemno, “Nor I condemn thee not.” Vade et noli amplius peccare, “Go thy ways, and sin no more.” Here he took upon him his own office, and did his office; for his office was to preach, and bid sinners amend their evil living, and not to be a temporal judge in temporal causes. And here is another occasion of a suit to your highness, for the punishment of lechery; for lechery floweth in England like a flood.
But now to make an end in temporal causes. He said, Quis me constituit judicem, &c., “Who made me a judge of temporal causes among you, and of worldly matters?” Thus came this fellow in here with interrupting of Christ’s sermon, and received the answer which I have rehearsed. “Thou man, thou fellow,” quoth he, “who hath made me a judge among you?” And he said unto all the audience, Videte et cavete ab avaritia; “See and beware of covetousness.” Why so? Quia non in abundantia cujusquam vita ejus est ex his quae possidet; “For no man’s life standeth in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” We may have things necessary, and we may have abundance of things; but the abundance doth not make us blessed. It is no good argument, Quo plus quisque habet, tanto beatius vivit; “The more riches that a man hath, the more happily and the more blissfully he liveth.” For a certain great man, that had purchased much lands, a thousand marks by year, or I wot not what; a great portion he had: and so on the way, as he was in his journey towards London, or from London, he fell sick by the way; a disease took him, that he was constrained to lie upon it. And so being in his bed, the disease grew more and more upon him, that he was, by his friends that were about him, godly advised to look to himself, and to make him ready to God; for there was none other likelihood but that he must die without remedy. He cried out, “What, shall I die?” quoth he. “Wounds! sides! heart! Shall I die, and thus go from my goods? Go, fetch me some physician that may save my life. Wounds and sides! Shall I thus die?” There lay he still in his bed like a block, with nothing but, “Wounds and sides, shall I die?” Within a very little while he died indeed; and then lay he like a block indeed. There was black gowns, torches, tapers, and ringing pf bells; but what is be come of him, God knoweth, and not I.
But hereby this ye may perceive, that it is not the abundance of riches that maketh a man to live quietly and blissfully. But the quiet life is in a mediocrity. Mediocres optime vivunt: “They that are in a mean do live best.” And there is a proverb which I read many years ago, Dimidium plus toto; “The half sometimes more than the whole.” The mean life is the best life and the most quiet life of all. If a man should fill himself up to the throat, he should not find ease in it, but displeasure; and with the one half he might satisfy his greedy appetite. So this great riches never maketh a man’s life quiet, but rather troublous. I remember here a saying of Salomon, and his example: Conservavi mihi argentum et aurum, “I gathered silver and gold together,” saith he; “I provided me singers, and women which could play on instruments, to make men mirth and pastime; I gat me psalteries and songs of music, &c., and thus my heart rejoiced in all that I did.” But what was the end of all this? Cum convertissem me ad omnia &c., “When I considered,” saith Salomon, “all the works that my hands had wrought, &c., lo! all was but vanity and vexation of mind; and nothing of any value under the sun.” Therefore leave covetousness; for, believe me, if I had an enemy, the first thing that I would wish to him should be, that he might have abundance of riches; for so I am sure he should never be in quiet. But think ye there be not many that would be so hurt? But in this place of the gospel Christ spake and declared this unquietness and uncertainty of great riches by a similitude and parable of a great rich man, who had much land, that brought forth all fruits plentifully; and he being in a pride of the matter, and much unquiet by reason that he had so much, said to himself, “What shall I do, because I have not room enough wherein to bestow my fruits, that have grown unto me of my lands? I will thus do,” saith he; “I will pull down my barns, and build greater barns; and I will say to my soul, My soul, thou hast much goods laid up in store for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, Stulte, hac nocte animam tuam repetunt abs te: “Thou fool! thou fool! this night will they take thy soul from thee again, and then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? Even so it is with him,” saith Christ, “that gathereth riches unto himself, and is not rich toward God,” &c. But yet the covetous man can never be content. I walked one day with a gentleman in a park, and the man regarded not my talk, but cast his head and eye this and that way, so that I perceived he gave no great ear to me; which when I saw, I held my peace. At last, “Oh,” quoth the gentleman, “if this park were mine, I would never desire more while I lived.” I answered and said, “Sir, and what if ye had this park too?” For there was another park even hard by. This gentleman laughed at the matter. And truly I think he was diseased with the dropsy: the more he had, the more covetous he was to have still more and more. This was a farmer that had a farm hard by it; and if he might have had this park to it, he would never have desired more. This was a farmer, not altogether so covetous a man as there be many nowadays, as for one gentleman to rake up all the farms in the country together into his hands all at once.
And here one suit more to your highness: there lacketh one thing in this realm, that it hath need of; for God’s sake make some promoters.6666 A species of informers who prosecuted offenders against the laws, and received part of the pecuniary fines that were levied. There lack promoters, such as were in king Henry the Seventh’s days, your grandfather. There lack men to promote the king’s officers when they do amiss, and to promote all offenders. I think there is great need of such men of godly discretion, wisdom, and conscience, to promote transgressors, as rent-raisers, oppressors of the poor, extortioners, bribers, usurers. I hear there be usurers in England, that will take forty in the hundred; but I hear of no promoters to put them up. We read not, this covetous farmer or landed man of the gospel bought corn in the markets to lay it up in store, and then sell it again. But, and if it please your highness, I hear say that in England we have landlords, nay, step-lords I might say, that are become graziers; and burgesses are become regraters; and some farmers will regrate and buy up all the corn that cometh to the markets, and lay it up in store, and sell it again at a higher price, when they see their time. I heard a merchantman say, that he had travailed all the days of his life in the trade of merchandise, and had gotten three or four thousand pounds by buying and selling; but in case he might be licensed or suffered so to do, he would get a thousand pound a year by only buying and selling of grain here within this realm. Yea, and (as I hear say) aldermen nowadays are become colliers: they be both woodmongers and makers of coals. I would wish he might eat nothing but coals for awhile, till he had amended it. There cannot a poor body buy a sack of coals, but it must come through their hands. But this rich man that the gospel speaketh of was a covetous man: God had given him plenty, but that made him not a good man: it is another thing that maketh a good man. God saith, Si non audieris votem meam, “If thou obey not my voice,” &c. And therefore worldly riches do not declare the favour or disfavour of God. The scripture saith, Nemo scit an sit amore dignus an odio. God hath ordained all things to be good; and the devil laboureth to turn all things to man’s evil. God giveth men plenty of riches to exercise their faith and charity, to confirm them that be good, to draw them that be naught, and to bring them to repentance; and the devil worketh altogether to the contrary. And it is an old proverb, “the more wicked, the more fortunate.” But the unquietness of this covetous rich man declareth the unquietness of the mind, that riches bringeth with it. First, they are all in care how to get riches; and then are they in more care how to keep it still. Therefore the Apostle saith, Qui volunt ditescere incidunt in tentationes varias; “They that study to get great riches do fall into many divers temptations.” But the root of all evil is covetousness. “What shall I do?” saith this rich man. He asked his own brainless head what he should do: he did not ask of the scripture; for if he had asked of the scripture, it would have told him; it would have said unto him, Frange esurienti panem tuum, &c.; “Break thy bread unto the hungry.” All the affection of men nowadays is in building gay and sumptuous houses; it is in setting up and pulling down, and never have they done building. But the end of all such great riches and covetousness is this: “This night, thou fool, thy soul shall be taken from thee.” It is to be understood of all that rise up from little to much, as this rich man that the gospel spake of. I do not despise riches, but I wish that men should have riches as Abraham had, and as Joseph had. A man to have riches to help his neighbour, is godly riches. The worldly riches is to put all his trust and confidence in his worldly riches; that he may by them live here gallantly, pleasantly, and voluptuously. Is this godly riches? No, no, this is not godly riches. It is a common saying nowadays among many, “Oh he is a rich man: he is well worth five hundred pounds.” He is well worth five hundred pounds, that hath given five hundred pounds to the poor; otherwise it is none of his. Yea, but who shall have this five hundred pounds? For whom hast thou gotten this five hundred pounds? What saith Salomon? Ecclesiastes v. Est alia infirmitas pessima quam vidi sub sole, divitiae conservatae in malum domini sui: “Another evil (saith he) and another very naughty imperfection, riches hoarded up and kept together to the owner’s own harm”: for many times such riches do perish and consume away miserably. “Such a one shall sometime have a son,” said he, “that shall be a very beggar, and live all in extreme penury.” O goodly riches, that one man shall get it, and another come to devour it! Therefore, Videte et cavete ab avaritia; “See and beware of covetousness.” Believe God’s words, for they will not deceive you nor lie. “Heaven and earth shall perish, but Verbum Domini manet in aternum; the word of the Lord abideth, and endureth for ever.” O this leavened faith, this unseasoned faith! Beware of this unseasoned faith. A certain man asked me this question, “Didst thou ever see a man live long that had great riches?” Therefore saith the wise man, “If God send thee riches, use them.” If God send thee abundance, use it according to the rule of God’s word; and study to be rich in our Saviour Jesus Christ: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.
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