תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

sonages and such like, and that under the pretence to make provision for their houses. What hurt and damage this realm of England doth sustain by that devilish kind of provision for gentlemen's houses, knights' and lords' houses, they can tell best that do travel in the countries, and see with their eyes great parishes and market-towns, with innumerable others, to be utterly destitute of God's word, and that because that these greedy men have spoiled the livings and gotten them into their hands; and instead of a faithful and painful teacher, they hire a Sir John*, which hath better skill in playing at tables, or in keeping of a garden, than in God's word, and he for a trifle doth serve the cure, and so help to bring the people of God in danger of their souls. And all those serve to accomplish the abominable pride of such gentlemen which consume the goods of the poor (the which ought to have been bestowed upon a learned minister) in costly apparel, belly-cheer, or in building of gorgeous houses. But let them be assured, that a day will come when it will be laid to their charge: Rapina pauperum in domibus vestris.And then they shall perceive that their fair houses are built in the place called “ Aceldama ;" they have a bloody foundation, an therefore cannot stand long. This matter also is so weighty, and the spiritual slaughter of the poor people so miserable and woeful, that except the magistrates speedily look thereunto, and redress the same, the Lord of Sabaoth himself will find out some remedy to deliver his people from such caterpillars, and require the blood of his people at their hands, by whose covetousness they were letted to come to the knowledge of Christ. And besides this, such ravening wolves as devour the livings of teachers and ministers of God's word, shall not be able to come in the presence of the Lord, to pray unto him or to praise him; for all that ever they do (yea even their prayers) is execrable before the Lord, so long as they turn their ear from the hearing of the law of the Lord : that is to say, so long as they do not eyen from the very bottom of their hearts, go about to redress these heinous faults with the which they be entangled. Let them repent, therefore, even speedily, before the wrathful indignation of the Lord fall upon them, and so destroy them in their sins. And these things ought to be considered of all them that pretend Christianity, of what estate or degree soever they be, as well lawyers (whose covetousness hath almost devoured England) as craftsmen, husbandmen, servants and others, remembering with themselves, that if their hearts be inclined to wickedness the Lord will not hear their prayers. Let them stand in awe of the Lord their God, and so behave themselves in their conversation and life, that they may have recourse unto him, and be encouraged to make their prayers confidently before him in the name of Jesus Christ, of whom they shall receive comfort of soul and body, as well in this world as in the world to come eternally. For this is most certain, that if they proceed in their wickedness and ungodliness, not passing whether they be ruled, moved, and stirred by the gracious Spirit of God to praise his name or not; then most assuredly, the Lord will pour out his plagues upon the whole realm, according to the saying of the Prophet: “ The Lord will pour out his wrath upon the kingdoms that have not called upon his name.”

* Curates were commonly so denominated before the Reformation, and especially chaplains in noblemen's and gentlemen's houses.

Now to the intent that they which are ignorant and unlearned may the better be instructed how to order themselves when they go about to present themselves before the majesty of God, and talk with him concerning those things which be needful for their souls' health, and preservation of their bodies; I thought it good (by the instant request of the godly learned) to put forth these sermons here following in print, which were preached in King Edward's time, before the Right Honourable Lady Katharine Duchess of Suffolk, her Grace, by that same reverend father and most constant martyr of Christ, Dr. Hugh Latimer, my most dear master. For whose most painful travels, faithful preachings, true carefulness for his country, patient imprisonment, and constant suffering, all the whole realm of England hath great cause to give unto the eternal God most high laud and praise. For who is he that is so ignorant that did not see the wonderful handy-work of God in that man? Did not God appoint him, even in King Henry's days, to be a singular instrument to set forth his truth, and by his preaching to open the eyes of such as were deluded by the subtle and deceitful crafts of the popish prelates ? How manifold ways was he troubled, tossed, and turmoiled from post to pillar, by the popish bishops; whose hands he could not have escaped if God had not moved the King's Majesty's heart (that then was) to assist him: by whose absolute power divers times he was delivered from the cruel lions And although it did please God, in process of time to suffer the King's Majesty to be deluded and circumvented by the subtle persuasions of those popish bishops to establish by law six ungodly articles, yet this faithful servant of Christ would rather put his own life in danger than forsake or depart from that, the which afore most faithfully he had taught out of God's word. Wherefore he was contented rather to be cast into the Tower, and there to look daily for death, than to be found a wavering reed, or to deceive his Prince. “ For they," said he, “ that do allow any thing disagreeing from God's word, in respect to fulfil the appetites of princes, are betrayers and murderers of their princes, because they provoke the wrath of God to destroy such princes; and these flatterers become guilty of the blood of their princes, and are the chief causes of their destructions." Wherefore this faithful man of God, knowing his prince to be deluded by the false priests, and being assured the things that were allowed to be contrary to God's word, was ready thus to adventure his life; at the which time God mercifully delivered him, to the great comfort of all godly hearts, and singular commodity of his church. Now when he was thus delivered, did he give himself up to the pleasures of the world ? to delicateness or idleness! No assuredly, but even then most of all he began to set forth his plough, and to till the ground of the Lord, and to sow the good corn of God's word, behaving himself as a faithful messenger of God, being afraid of no man, telling all degrees their duties faithfully and truly, without respect of persons, or any kind of flattery. In the which his painful travels he continued all King Edward's time, preaching for the most part every Sunday two sermons, to the great shame, confusion, and damnation, of a great number of our fat-bellied unpreaching prelates. For he being a sore bruised man, and above three-score and seven years of

age, took notwithstanding all these pains in preaching, and besides this, every morning ordinarily, winter and summer, about two of the clock in the morning, he was at his book most diligently; and besides this how careful he was for the preservation of the church of God, and for the good success of the gospel, they can bear record, which at that time were in authority, whom continually by his letters he admonished of their duties, and assisted with his godly counsel. But when the time approached, the which God had appointed for the punishment of the carnal gospellers and hypocrites which most wickedly abused the same, how faithfully he did admonish, both privately and openly, all kinds of men, they that were then about him can bear record. But one thing amongst others is principally to be noted, that God not only gave unto him his Spirit most plenteously and comfortably, to preach his word unto his church, but also by the same Spirit he did most evidently prophesy of all those kinds of plagues, which in very deed afterwards ensued, so plainly I say, as though he had seen them before his eyes : so that, if England ever had a prophet, he was one; and amongst other things he ever affirmed that the preaching of the gospel would cost him his life, to the which thing he did most cheerfully arm and prepare himself, being certainly persuaded that Winchester * was kept in the tower for the same purpose. Therefore not long after Queen Mary was proclaimed, a pursuivant was sent down into the country for to call him up ; of whose coming when he was made ware about six hours be. fore, by a faithful man of God, John Careless t, (a man worthy of everlasting memory,) he prepared himself towards his journey before the said pursuivant came to his house, at the which thing when the pursuivant marvelled, seeing him so prepared towards his journey, he said unto him, “ My friend, you be a welcome messenger to me, and be it known unto you and to the whole world, that I go as willingly to London at this present, being called by my prince to render a reckoning of my doctrine, as ever I was to any place in the world ; and I do not doubt, but that God, as he hath made me worthy to preach his word before two excellent princes, so he will able me to witness the same unto the third, either to her comfort, or discomfort eternally, &c. At the which time the pursuivant, when he had delivered his letters, departed, affirming that he had commandment

* Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester.

† John Careless was a weaver of Coventry, and a man full of zeal for the gospel. He died in the prison of the King's Bench, so that though he was a martyr in effect, he escaped the fiery trial to which, but for that deliverance he was doomed. Fox has preserved many of his letters, by which it appears that his piety exceeded his learning. Writing to a fellow-prisoner Green, he says “Oh! blessed Green, thou meek and living lamb of the Lord! How happy art thou to be appointed to die for his sake! A full dainty dish art thou for the Lord's own tooth! Fresh and green shalt thou be in the house of the Lord, and thy fruits shall never wither nor decay.” Again, in a letter to the martyr Philpot, he says, Oh my good master Philpot, which art a principal pot indeed, filled with most precious liquor, as it appeareth by the plenteous pouring forth of the same ! Oh pot, most happy of the high Potter, ordained to honour, which dost contain such heavenly treasures in the earthen vessel! Oh pot, thrice happy!"

« הקודםהמשך »