Page images
PDF
EPUB

or learning, joined with a true zeal unto God, doth not see and lament to have entered into Christ's religion, such false doctrine, superstition, idolatry, hypocrisy, and other enormities and abuses, so as by little and little, through the sour leaven thereof, the sweet bread of God's holy word hath been much hindered and laid apart? Neither had the Jews in their most blindness so many pilgrimages unto images, nor used so much kneeling, kitting, and cenfSects and ing of them, as hath been used in our time. Sects and reiigions sejgneci religions were neither the fortieth part so many Christian among the Jews, nor more superstitiously and ungodlily fa*en. abused, than of late days they have been among us: which setts and religions had so many hypocritical and seigned works in their state of religion, as they arrogantly named it, that their lamps, as they faid, ran always over, able to fatisfy not only for their own sins, but also for all other their benefactors, brothers, and sisters of religion, as most ungodlily and craftily they had persuaded the multitude of ignorant people; keeping in divers places, as it were, marts or markets of merits, being full of their holy relicks, images, slirines, and works of overslowing abundance ready to be sold; and all things which they had were called holy, holy cowls, holy girdles, holy pardons, beads, holy shoes, holy rules, and all full of holiness. And what thing can be more foolish, more superstitious, or ungodly, than that men, women, and children, mould wear a friar's coat to deliver them from agues or pestilence? or when they die, or when they be buried, cause it to be cast upon them, in hope thereby to be faved? Which superstition, although (thanks be to God) it hath been little used in this realm, yet in divers other realms it hath been and yet is used among many, both learned and unlearned. But, to pass over the innumerable superstitiousnese that hath been in strange apparel, in silence, in dormitory, in cloister, in chapter, in choice of meats and drinks, and in such like things, let us consider what enormities and abuses have been in the three chief principal points, which they called the three effentials, or three chief foundations of religion, that is to fay, obedience, chastity, and wilful poverty. The three First, under pretence or colour of obedience to their Fachief vows ther in religion, (which obedience they made themselves) 0i reiigion. t|iev Were made free, by their rule and canons, from the obedience of their natural father aud mother, and from the obedience of emperor and king, and all temporal power, whom of very duty by God's laws they were bound to obey. And so the prosession of their obedience not due

was

.*-æ a forfaking of their due obedience. And how their prosession of chastity was kept, it is more honesty to pass orer in silence, and let the world judge of that which is well known, than with unchaste words, by expressing of their unchaste lise, to ofsend chaste and godly ears. And as for their wilful poverty, it was such, that when in possessions, jewels, plate, and riches, they were equal or above merchants, gentlemen, barons, earls, and dukes; yet by this fubtile sophistical term, Proprium in commune, that is to fay, Proper in common, they mocked the. world, persuading, that notwithstanding all their poffessions and riches, yet they kept their vow, aud were in wilful poverty. But for all their riches, they might neither help father or mother, nor other that were indeed very needy and poor, without the licence of their f ather Abbot, Prior, or Warden; and yet they might take of every man, but they might not give aught to any man, no not to them whom the laws of God bound them to help: and so, through their traditions and rules, the laws of God could bear no rule with them: and therefore of them might be most truly faid that which Christ spake unto the Pharisees, You Mau. xt. Iriak the commandments of God by j our traditions : you honour God with jour lips, but jour hearts he far from him. And the longer prayers they used by day and by night, under pretence or colour of such holineis, to get the favour of widows and other simple folks, that they might sing Trentalles and service for their husbands and friends, and admit or receive them into their prayers; the more truly is verisied of them the faying of Christ, Wo he unto Mtn. xxitt, you, Scrihes and Pharisees, bypocrites !for you devour widows' houses under colour of long prayers; therefore your damnation shall he the greater. Wo he to you, Scrihes and Pharisees, bypocrites !for you go ahout by sea and by land to make more novices, and new brethren; and when they he let in, or received of your fe£t, you make them the children of hell worse than yourselves he. Honour be to God, who did put light in the heart of his faithful and true minister of most famous memory, King Henry VIII. and gave him the knowledge or his word, and an earnest afsection to seek his glory, and to put away all iiich superstitions and pharifaical sects, by Antichrist invented, and set up against the true word of God, and glory of his most bleffed name, as he gave the like spirit unto the most noble and famous princes, Jofaphat, Josias, and Ezecliias. God grant all us the King's Highness faithful and true subjects, to seed of the sweet and favoury bread of God's own word, and (as

Christ commanded) to eschew all our Pharifaical and Papistical leaven of man's seigned religion : which, although it were before God most abominable, and contrary to God's commandments and Christ's pure religion, yet it was praised to be a most godly lise, and highest state of persection: as though a man might be more godly, and more persect, by keeping the rules, traditions, and prosessions of men, than by keeping the holy commandments of oiher de- God. And briesly to pass over the ungodly and countervices and sejt religion, let us rehearse some other kinds of Papistical iions.'" superstitions and abuses, as of Beads, of Lady Pfalters, and Rofaries,of sifteen Oes, of St. Bernard's Verses, of St.Agathe's Letters; of purgatory, of maffes fatisfactory, of stations and jubilees, of seigned relicks, of hallowed beads, bells, bread, water, pfalms, candles, sire, and such other; of superstitious fastings, of fraternities or brotherhoods, of pardons,with suchlike merchandize,which were so esteemed and abused to the great prejudice of God's glory and commandments, that they were made most high and most holy things, whereby to attain to the everlasting lise, or remission of sin: yea also vain inventions, unfruitful cereDecrees monies, and ungodly laws, decrees, and councils of Rome, anddecre- were in such wise advanced, that nothing was thought comparable in authority, wisdom, learning, and godliness, unto them; so that the laws of Rome, as they laid, were to be received of all men as the four Evangelists, to the which all laws of princes must give place: and the laws of God also partly were left off and less esteemed, that the faid laws, decrees, and councils, with their traditions and ceremonies, might be more duly kept, and had in greater reverence. Thus was the people through ignorance so blinded with the godly shew and appearance of those things, that they thought the keeping of them to be a more holiness, a more persect service and honouring of God, and more pleasing to God, than the keeping of God's commandments. Such hath been the corrupt inclination of man, ever luperstitiously given to make new honouring of God of his own heasl, and then to have more afsection and devotion to keep that, than to search out God's holy commandments, and to keep them. And furthermore, to take God's commandments for men's commandments, and men's commandments for God's commandments, yea, and for the highest and most persect and holiest of all God's commandments. And so was all confused, that leant well learned men, and but a small number ot them knew, or at the least would know, and durst assirm

the

Cati.

the truth, to separate or sever God's commandments from the commandments of men. Whereupon did grow much error, fuperstition, idolatry, vain religion, overthwart judgment, great contention, with all ungodly living.

Wherefore, as you have any zeal to the right and pure An exhorihonouring of God, as you have any regard to your own aii°nio *e fouls, and to the lise that is to come, which is both with- ^"cornout pain and without end, apply yourselves chiesly above mandall things, to read and hear God's word, mark diligently mans. therein what his will is you shall do, and with all your endeavour apply yourselves to follow the fame. First, you A brief remust have an affured faith in God, and give yourselves j^f.^"^ ivhoUy unto him, love him in prosperity and adversity, and man<i. dread to ofsend him evermore: then, for his fake, love all menu. men, friends and foes, because they be his creation and image, and redeemed by Christ, as ye are. Cast in your minds, how you may do good unto all men unto your powers, and hurt no man. Obey all your superiors and governors; serve your masters faithfully and diligently, as well in their absence as in their presence, not for dread of punishment only, but for conscience fake, knowing that you are bound so to do by God's commandments. Disobey not your fathers and mothers, but honour them, help them, and please them to your power. Oppress not, kill not, beat not, neither slander, nor hate any man; but love all men, speak well of all men, help and succour every man as you may, yea, even your enemies that hate you, that speak evil or you, and that do hurt you. Take no man's goods, nor covet your neighbour's goods wrongfully; but content yourselves with that which ye get truly; and also bestow your own goods charitably, as need and case requireth. Flee all idolatry, witchcraft, and perjury; commit no manner of adultery, fornication, or other unchasteness, in will nor in deed, with any other man's wise, widow or maid, or otherwise. And travelling continually (during this life) thus in keeping the commandments of God (wherein standeth the pure, principal, and right honour of God, and which wrought in faith, God hath ordained to be the right trade and path-way unto heaven) you shall not fail, as Christ hath promised, to come to that bleffed and everlasting lise, where you shall live in glory and joy with God for ever: to whom be praise, honour, and empery, for ever and ever. Amen.

ASER

A

SERMON

or

Christian Love and Charity.

OF all things that be good to be taught unto Christian ■ people, there is nothing more neceffary to be spoken of, and daily called upon, than charity; as well for that all manner of works of righteousness be contained in it, as also that the decay thereof is the ruin or fall of the world, the banishment of virtue, and the cause of all vice. And forsomuch as almost every man maketh and frameth to himself charity after his own appetite, and how detestable soever his lise be both unto God and man, yet he persuadeth himself still that he hath charity: therefore you shall hear now a true and plain description or setting forth of charity, not of men's imagination, but of the very words and example of our Saviour Jesus Christ: in which description or setting forth, every man (as it were in a glass) may consider himself, and see plainly without error, whether he be in the true charity or not. Whaicha- Charity is, to love God with all our heart, all our foul, riiy is. The an(j an our powers and strength. With all our heart; that Oveo 'is to fay, that our heart, mind, and study be set to believe his word, to trull in him, and to love him above all other things that we love best in heaven or in earth. With all our lise; that is to fay, that our chief joy and delight be set upon him and his honour, and our wnole lise given unto the service of him above all things, with him to live and Mwt. x. die, and to forfake all other things rather than him: for he that lovetb bis father or mother, son or daughter, house or land, more than me, faith Christ, u not worthy to have me. With all our power j that is to fay, that with our hands

« PreviousContinue »