HOMILY ON CHRISTIAN LOVE AND CHARITY

from Short-Title Catalogue 13675.
Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.2.
© 1994, 1997 Ian Lancashire
University of Toronto

UTEL Home Page.



A SERMON OF CHRI­
stian loue and charity.

[I.6.1-1]  OF all things that be good to bee taught
[I.6.1-2]  vnto Christian people, there is nothing
[I.6.1-3]  more necessary to be spoken of, and dayly
[I.6.1-4]  called vpon, then charity: aswell for that
[I.6.1-5]  all maner of workes of righteousnesse bee
[I.6.1-6]  contayned in it, as also that the decay
[I.6.1-7]  thereof is the ruine or fall of the world,
[I.6.1-8]  the banishment of vertue, and the cause
[I.6.1-9]  of all vice. And for so much as almost eue­
[I.6.1-10]  ry man, maketh and frameth to himselfe
[I.6.1-11]  charity after his own appetite, and how
[I.6.1-12]  detestable soeuer his life bee, both vnto
[I.6.1-13]  GOD and man, yet hee perswadeth
[I.6.1-14]  himselfe still that he hath charity: therfore you shall heare now a true and
[I.6.1-15]  plaine description or setting foorth of charity, not of mens imagination,
[I.6.1-16]  but of the very wordes and example of our Sauiour Iesus Christ. In
[I.6.1-17]  which description or setting foorth, euery man (as it were in a glasse) may
[I.6.1-18]  consider himselfe, and see plainely without errour, whether hee bee in the
[I.6.1-19]  true charity, or not.


[margin]
What chari­
tie is.
The loue of
God.
[margin]


[I.6.1-20]  Charity is, to loue GOD with all our heart, all our soule, and all
[I.6.1-21]  our powers and strength. With all our heart: That is to say, that our
[I.6.1-22]  heart, minde, and study be set to beleeue his word, to trust in him, and to
[I.6.1-23]  loue him aboue all other things that wee loue best in heauen or in earth.
[I.6.1-24]  With all our life: that is to say, that our chiefe ioy and delight be set vpon
[I.6.1-25]  him and his honour, and our whole life giuen vnto the seruice of him a­
[I.6.1-26]  boue all things, with him to liue and die, and to forsake all other things,

[margin]
Matth.10.
[margin]


[I.6.1-27]  rather then him. For he that loueth his father or mother, sonne or daugh­
[I.6.1-28]  ter, house, or land, more then me (sayth Christ) is not woorthy to haue
[I.6.1-29]  me. With all our power, that is to say, that with our hands and feete,
[I.6.1-30]  with our eyes and eares, our mouthes and tongues, and with all our
[I.6.1-31]  parts and powers, both of body and soule, we should be giuen to the kee­

[margin]
The loue of
thy neighbor.
[margin]


[I.6.1-32]  ping and fulfilling of his commandements. This is the first and princi­
[I.6.1-33]  pall part of charity, but it is not the whole: for charity is also to loue eue­
[I.6.1-34]  ry man, good and euill, friend and foe, and whatsoeuer cause be giuen to
[I.6.1-35]  the contrary, yet neuerthelesse to beare good will and heart vnto euery
[I.6.1-36]  man, to vse our selues well vnto them, aswell in wordes and counte­
[I.6.1-37]  nances, as in all our outward actes and deedes: for so Christ himselfe
[I.6.1-38]  taught, and so also hee performed indeed. Of the loue of GOD hee
[I.6.1-39]  taught in this wise vnto a doctour of the law, that asked him which was
[I.6.1-40]  the great and chiefe commandement in the Law, Loue thy Lord GOD,
[I.6.1-41]  (sayd Christ) with all thy heart, with all thy soule, and with all thy mind.

[margin]
Matt 22.
[margin]


[I.6.1-42]  And of the loue, that wee ought to haue among our selues each to other,
[I.6.1-43]  he teacheth vs thus, You haue heard it taught in times past, Thou shalt

[margin]
Matt. 5.
[margin]


[I.6.1-44]  loue thy friend, and hate thy foe: But I tell you, Loue your enemies,

[margin]
Matt.5.
[margin]


[I.6.1-45]  speake well of them that defame and speake euill of you, doe well to them
[I.6.1-46]  that hate you, pray for them that vexe and persecute you, that you may be
[I.6.1-47]  the children of your father that is in heauen. For he maketh his Sunne
[I.6.1-48]  to rise both vpon the euill and good, and sendeth raine to the iust and vn­
[I.6.1-49]  iust. For if you loue them that loue you, what reward shall you haue?
[I.6.1-50]  Doe not the Publicanes likewise? And if you speake well onely of them
[I.6.1-51]  that be your brethren and deare beloued friends, what great matter is
[I.6.1-52]  that? Doe not the Heathen the same also? These bee the very wordes of
[I.6.1-53]  our Sauiour Christ himselfe, touching the loue of our neighbour. And
[I.6.1-54]  forasmuch as the Pharisees (with their most pestilent traditions, and
[I.6.1-55]  false interpretations, and glosses) had corrupted, and almost clearly stop­
[I.6.1-56]  ped vp this pure Well of GODS liuely word, teaching that this loue
[I.6.1-57]  and charity pertayned onely to a mans friends, and that it was sufficient
[I.6.1-58]  for a man to loue them which doe loue him, and hate his foes: therefore
[I.6.1-59]  Christ opened this Well againe, purged it and scoured it by giuing vnto
[I.6.1-60]  his godly law of charitie, a true and cleare interpretation, which is this:
[I.6.1-61]  that we ought to loue euery man, both friend and foe, adding thereto
[I.6.1-62]  what commodity we shall haue therby, and what incommodity by doing
[I.6.1-63]  the contrary. What thing can we wish so good for vs, as the eternall
[I.6.1-64]  heauenly father, to reckon, and take vs for his children? And this shall
[I.6.1-65]  we be sure of (sayth Christ) if we loue euery man without exception. And
[I.6.1-66]  if we doe otherwise (sayth he) we be no better then the Pharisees, Pub­
[I.6.1-67]  licanes, and Heathen, and shall haue our reward with them, that is, to
[I.6.1-68]  be shut out from the number of GODS chosen children, and from his
[I.6.1-69]  euerlasting inheritance in heauen.

[I.6.1-70]  Thus of true charitie, Christ taught that euery man is bound to loue
[I.6.1-71]  GOD aboue all things, and to loue euery man, friend and foe. And
[I.6.1-72]  this likewise hee did vse himselfe, exhorting his aduersaries, rebu­
[I.6.1-73]  king the faults of his aduersaries, and when hee could not amend them,
[I.6.1-74]  yet hee prayed for them. First hee loued GOD his Father aboue all
[I.6.1-75]  things, so much that hee sought not his owne glorie and will, but the
[I.6.1-76]  glorie and will of his Father. I seeke not (sayd hee) mine owne will,

[margin]
Iohn 6.
[margin]


[I.6.1-77]  but the will of him that sent mee. Nor hee refused not to die, to satisfie
[I.6.1-78]  his Fathers will, saying, If it may bee, let this cuppe of death passe

[margin]
Matt.26.
[margin]


[I.6.1-79]  from mee: if not, thy will bee done, and not mine. Hee loued not onely
[I.6.1-80]  his friends, but also his enemies, which (in their heartes) bare excee­
[I.6.1-81]  ding great hatred against him, and with their tongues spake all euill of
[I.6.1-82]  him, and in their actes and deedes pursued him with all their might and
[I.6.1-83]  power, euen vnto death, yet all this notwithstanding, hee withdrew
[I.6.1-84]  not his fauour from them, but still loued them, preached vnto them in
[I.6.1-85]  loue, rebuked their false doctrine, their wicked liuing, and did good vn­
[I.6.1-86]  to them, patiently taking whatsoeuer they spake or did against him.
[I.6.1-87]  When they gaue him euill wordes, hee gaue none euill againe. When
[I.6.1-88]  they did strike him, hee did not smite him againe: and when hee suffred
[I.6.1-89]  death, hee did not slay them, nor threaten them, but prayed for them, and
[I.6.1-90]  did put all things to his fathers will. And as a sheepe that is lead vnto
[I.6.1-91]  the shambles to be slaine, and as a lambe that is shorne of his fleece, ma­
[I.6.1-92]  keth no noyse nor resistance, euen so hee went to his death, without any
[I.6.1-93]  repugnance, or opening of his mouth to say any euill. Thus haue I set
[I.6.1-94]  foorth vnto you what charity is, aswell by the doctrine, as by the exam­
[I.6.1-95]  ples of Christ himselfe, whereby also euery man may without errour
[I.6.1-96]  know himselfe, what state and condition hee standeth in, whether he bee
[I.6.1-97]  in charity, (and so the child of the father in heauen) or not. For although
[I.6.1-98]  almost euery man perswadeth himselfe to be in charity, yet let him exa­
[I.6.1-99]  mine none other man, but his owne heart, his life and conuersation, and
[I.6.1-100]  he shall not be deceiued, but truely discerne and iudge whether hee bee in
[I.6.1-101]  perfect charity or not. For hee that followeth not his owne appetite and
[I.6.1-102]  will, but giueth himselfe earnestly to GOD, to doe all his will and
[I.6.1-103]  commandements, hee may bee sure that hee loueth GOD aboue all
[I.6.1-104]  things, and else surely hee loueth him not, whatsoeuer hee pretend: as
[I.6.1-105]  Christ sayd, If yee loue mee, keepe my commandements. For hee that
[I.6.1-106]  knoweth my commandements, and keepeth them, he it is (sayth Christ)

[margin]
Iohn 14.
[margin]


[I.6.1-107]  that loueth mee. And againe he sayth, Hee that loueth me, will keepe my
[I.6.1-108]  word, and my Father will loue him, and we will both come to him, and
[I.6.1-109]  dwell with him: and hee that loueth mee not, will not keepe my words.
[I.6.1-110]  And likewise hee that beareth a good heart and minde, and vseth well
[I.6.1-111]  his tongue and deeds vnto euery man, friend and foe, he may know there­
[I.6.1-112]  by that he hath charitie. And when hee is sure that Almighty GOD
[I.6.1-113]  taketh him for his deare beloued sonne, as S. Iohn sayth, Heereby

[margin]
1.Iohn 3.
[margin]


[I.6.1-114]  manifestly are knowne the children of GOD, from the
[I.6.1-115]  children of the Diuell: for whosoeuer doeth
[I.6.1-116]  not loue his brother, belongeth not
[I.6.1-117]  vnto GOD.


[I.6.2-118]  YOU haue heard a plaine and a fruitfull setting foorth
[I.6.2-119]  of charity, and how profitable and necessary a thing cha­
[I.6.2-120]  ritie is: how charitie stretcheth it selfe both to GOD
[I.6.2-121]  and man, friend and foe, and that by the doctrine and
[I.6.2-122]  example of Christ: and also who may certifie himselfe
[I.6.2-123]  whether he be in perfect charity, or not. Now as con­
[I.6.2-124]  cerning the same matter, it followeth. The peruerse na­
[I.6.2-125]  ture of man, corrupt with sinne, and destitute of GODS word and

[margin]
Against
carnall men
that will not
forgiue their
enemies.
[margin]


[I.6.2-126]  grace, thinketh it against all reason, that a man should loue his enemie,
[I.6.2-127]  and hath many perswasions which bring him to the contrary. Against
[I.6.2-128]  all which reasons, wee ought aswell to set the teaching, as the liuing of
[I.6.2-129]  our Sauiour Christ, who louing vs (when we were his enemies) doeth
[I.6.2-130]  teach vs to loue our enemies. He did patiently take for vs many repro­
[I.6.2-131]  ches, suffered beating, and most cruell death. Therefore wee be no mem­
[I.6.2-132]  bers of him, if we will not follow him. Christ (saith S. Peter) suffered for

[margin]
1.Pet.2.
[margin]


[I.6.2-133]  vs, leauing an example that we should follow him.

[I.6.2-134]  Furthermore, wee must consider, that to loue our friends, is no more
[I.6.2-135]  but that which theeues, adulterers, homicides, and all wicked persons
[I.6.2-136]  doe: in so much that Iewes, Turkes, Infidels, and all bruite beasts, doe
[I.6.2-137]  loue them that be their friends, of whom they haue their liuing, or any
[I.6.2-138]  other benefites. But to loue enemies, is the proper condition of them
[I.6.2-139]  that bee the children of GOD, the disciples and followers of Christ.
[I.6.2-140]  Notwithstanding, mans froward and corrupt nature weigheth ouer
[I.6.2-141]  deepely many times, the offence and displeasure done vnto him by ene­
[I.6.2-142]  mies, and thinketh it a burden intolerable, to bee bound to loue them
[I.6.2-143]  that hate him. But the burden should be easie ynough, if (on the other
[I.6.2-144]  side) euery man would consider, what displeasure hee hath done to his e­
[I.6.2-145]  nemie againe, and what pleasure hee hath receiued of his enemie. And if
[I.6.2-146]  we finde no equall or euen recompence, neither in receiuing pleasures of
[I.6.2-147]  our enemie, nor in requiting displeasures vnto him againe: then let vs
[I.6.2-148]  ponder the displeasures which we haue done vnto Almightie GOD, how
[I.6.2-149]  often and how grieuously wee haue offended him, whereof if wee will
[I.6.2-150]  haue of GOD forgiuenesse, there is none other remedy, but to forgiue
[I.6.2-151]  the offences done vnto vs, which be very small, in comparison of our of­
[I.6.2-152]  fences done against GOD. And if we consider that he which hath offen­
[I.6.2-153]  ded vs, deserueth not to bee forgiuen of vs, let vs consider againe, that we
[I.6.2-154]  much lesse deserue to bee forgiuen of GOD. And although our enemie
[I.6.2-155]  deserue not to be forgiuen for his owne sake, yet we ought to forgiue him
[I.6.2-156]  for GODS loue, considering how great and many benefits we haue re­
[I.6.2-157]  ceiued of him, without our desertes, and that Christ hath deserued of vs,
[I.6.2-158]  that for his sake wee should forgiue them their trespasses committed a­

[margin]
A question.
[margin]


[I.6.2-159]  gainst vs. But heere may rise a necessary question to bee dissolued. If cha­
[I.6.2-160]  ritie require to thinke, speake, and doe well vnto euery man, both good
[I.6.2-161]  and euill: how can Magistrates execute iustice vpon malefactors or euill
[I.6.2-162]  doers with charitie? How can they cast euill men in prison, take away
[I.6.2-163]  their goods, and sometime their liues, according to lawes, if charitie

[margin]
Answere.
[margin]


[I.6.2-164]  will not suffer them so to doe? Hereunto is a plaine and a briefe answer,
[I.6.2-165]  that plagues and punishments be not euill of themselues, if they be well
[I.6.2-166]  taken of the harmelesse. And to an euill man they are both good and ne­
[I.6.2-167]  cessarie, and may bee executed according to charity, and with charitie
[I.6.2-168]  should be executed. For declaration whereof, you shall vnderstand that

[margin]
Charity
hath two
offices.
[margin]


[I.6.2-169]  charitie hath two offices, the one contrary to the other, and yet both ne­
[I.6.2-170]  cessary to bee vsed vpon men of contrary sort and disposition. The one of­
[I.6.2-171]  fice of charitie is, to cherish good and harmelesse men, not to oppresse them
[I.6.2-172]  with false accusations, but to encourage them with rewards to doe well,
[I.6.2-173]  and to continue in well doing, defending them with the sword from their
[I.6.2-174]  aduersaries: as the office of Bishopes and Pastours is, to praise good men
[I.6.2-175]  for well doing, that they may continue therein, and to rebuke and cor­
[I.6.2-176]  rect by the word of GOD, the offences and crimes of all euill disposed
[I.6.2-177]  persons. The other office of charity is, to rebuke, correct, and punish
[I.6.2-178]  vice, without regard of persons, and is to be vsed against them onely that
[I.6.2-179]  be euill men, and malefactours or euill doers. And that it is aswell
[I.6.2-180]  the office of charitie to rebuke, punish, and correct them that bee e­
[I.6.2-181]  uill, as it is to cherish and reward them that bee good and harmelesse.

[margin]
Rom.13.
[margin]


[I.6.2-182]  S. Paul declareth (writing to the Romans) saying, That the high pow­
[I.6.2-183]  ers are ordeined of GOD, not to be dreadfull to them that doe well, but
[I.6.2-184]  vnto malefactors, to draw the sword to take vengeance of him that com­
[I.6.2-185]  mitteth the sinne. And S. Paul biddeth Timothy stoutly and earnestly to

[margin]
1.Tim.1.
[margin]


[I.6.2-186]  rebuke sinne by the word of GOD. So that both offices should be di­
[I.6.2-187]  ligently executed, to fight against the kingdome of the Diuell, the Prea­
[I.6.2-188]  cher with the word, and the Gouernours with the sword. Else they nei­
[I.6.2-189]  ther loue GOD, nor them whom they gouerne, if (for lacke of correction)
[I.6.2-190]  they wilfully suffer GOD to be offended, and them whom they gouerne,
[I.6.2-191]  to perish. For as euery louing father correcteth his naturall sonne when
[I.6.2-192]  he doeth amisse, or else he loueth him not: so all gouernours of Realmes,
[I.6.2-193]  Countreys, Townes, and Houses, should louingly correct them which
[I.6.2-194]  bee offendours, vnder their gouernance, and cherish them which liue in­
[I.6.2-195]  nocently, if they haue any respect either vnto GOD and their office, or
[I.6.2-196]  loue vnto them of whom they haue gouernance. And such rebukes and
[I.6.2-197]  punishments of them that offend, must be done in due time, lest by delay,
[I.6.2-198]  the offenders fall headlong into all manner of mischiefe, and not onely be
[I.6.2-199]  euill themselues, but also doe hurt vnto many men, drawing other by
[I.6.2-200]  their euill example, to sinne and outrage after them. As one theefe may
[I.6.2-201]  both robbe many men, and also make many theeues: and one seditious
[I.6.2-202]  person may allure many, and annoye a whole Towne or Countrie. And
[I.6.2-203]  such euill persons that bee so great offenders to GOD, and the common
[I.6.2-204]  weale, charitie requireth to bee cut from the body of the common weale,
[I.6.2-205]  least they corrupt other good and honest persons: like as a good Surgion
[I.6.2-206]  cutteth away a rotten and festered member, for loue he hath to the whole
[I.6.2-207]  body, lest it infect other members adioyning vnto it. Thus it is decla­
[I.6.2-208]  red vnto you what true charitie or Christian loue is, so plainely, that no
[I.6.2-209]  man neede to be deceiued. Which loue, whosoeuer keepeth, not onely to­
[I.6.2-210]  wards GOD (whom he is bound to loue aboue all things) but also to­
[I.6.2-211]  ward his neighbour, as well friend as foe, it shall surely keepe him from
[I.6.2-212]  all offence of GOD, and iust offence of man. Therefore bears well away
[I.6.2-213]  this one short lesson, that by true Christian charitie, GOD ought to be
[I.6.2-214]  loued, good, and euill, friend, and foe, and to all such, wee ought (as wee
[I.6.2-215]  may) to doe good: those that be good, of loue to encourage and cherish,
[I.6.2-216]  because they be good: and those that be euill, of loue to procure and seeke
[I.6.2-217]  their correction and due punishment, that they may thereby either bee
[I.6.2-218]  brought to goodnesse, or at the least that GOD and the common wealth
[I.6.2-219]  may be lesse hurt and offended. And if we thus direct our life, by Christi­
[I.6.2-220]  an loue and charitie, then Christ doeth promise and assure vs that hee lo­
[I.6.2-221]  ueth vs, that we be the children of our heauenly Father, reconciled to his
[I.6.2-222]  fauour, very members of Christ, and that after this short time of this pre­
[I.6.2-223]  sent and mortall life, wee shall haue with him euerlasting life in his euer­
[I.6.2-224]  lasting kingdome of heauen. Therefore to him with the Father and the
[I.6.2-225]  holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for euer. Amen.