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

UTEL Home Page.

Almes deedes, and mercifulnesse toward
the poore and needy.

[II.11.1-1]  AMongst the manifold dueties that Al­
[II.11.1-2]  mighty GOD requireth of his faithfull
[II.11.1-3]  seruants the true Christians, by the
[II.11.1-4]  which hee would that both his name
[II.11.1-5]  should bee glorified, and the certaintie of
[II.11.1-6]  their vocation declared, there is none
[II.11.1-7]  that is either more acceptable vnto him,
[II.11.1-8]  or more profitable for them, then are the
[II.11.1-9]  workes of mercy and pity shewed vpon
[II.11.1-10]  the poore, which bee afflicted with any
[II.11.1-11]  kinde of misery. And yet this notwith­
[II.11.1-12]  standing (such is the slothfull sluggish­
[II.11.1-13]  nesse of our dull nature, to that which
[II.11.1-14]  is good and godly) that wee are almost in nothing more negligent and
[II.11.1-15]  lesse carefull then we are therein. It is therefore a very necessary thing,
[II.11.1-16]  that GODS people should awake their sleepie mindes, and consider
[II.11.1-17]  their duty on this behalfe. And meet it is, that all true Christians should
[II.11.1-18]  desirously seeke and learne what GOD by his holy word doeth heerein
[II.11.1-19]  require of them: that first knowing their duty (whereof many by their
[II.11.1-20]  slackenesse seeme to be very ignorant) they may afterwards diligently en­
[II.11.1-21]  deuour to performe the same. By the which both the godly charitable
[II.11.1-22]  persons may be encouraged to goe forwards and continue in their merci­
[II.11.1-23]  full deedes of almes giuing to the poore, and also such as hitherto haue
[II.11.1-24]  either neglected, or contemned it, may yet now at length (when they shall
[II.11.1-25]  heare how much it appertayneth to them) aduisedly consider it, and ver­
[II.11.1-26]  tuously apply themselues thereunto.

[II.11.1-27]  And to the intent that euery one of you may the better vnderstand
[II.11.1-28]  that which is taught, and also easilier beare away, and so take more
[II.11.1-29]  fruite of that shall be sayd, when seuerall matters are seuerally hand­
[II.11.1-30]  led: I minde particularly, and in this order, to speake and intreat of these
[II.11.1-31]  points.

[II.11.1-32]  First I will shew how earnestly Almighty GOD in his holy word,
[II.11.1-33]  doth exact the doing of almes deeds of vs, and how acceptable they bee
[II.11.1-34]  vnto him.

[II.11.1-35]  Secondly how profitable it is for vs to vse them, and what commo­
[II.11.1-36]  dity and fruite they will bring vnto vs.

[II.11.1-37]  Thirdly and lastly, I will shew out of GODS word, that who so is
[II.11.1-38]  liberall to the poore, and relieueth them plenteously, shall notwithstan­
[II.11.1-39]  ding haue sufficient for himselfe and euermore bee without danger of
[II.11.1-40]  penury and scarcitie.

[II.11.1-41]  Concerning the first, which is the acceptation and dignity, or price of
[II.11.1-42]  almes deedes before GOD: Know this, that to helpe and succour the
[II.11.1-43]  poore in their neede and misery, pleaseth GOD so much, that as the
[II.11.1-44]  holy Scripture in sundry places recordeth, nothing can bee more thanke­
[II.11.1-45]  fully taken or accepted of GOD. For first wee reade, that Almighty
[II.11.1-46]  GOD doth account that to be giuen and to bee bestowed vpon himselfe,
[II.11.1-47]  that is bestowed vpon the poore: For so doeth the holy Ghost testifie vnto
[II.11.1-48]  vs by the wise man, saying, Hee that hath pitie vpon the poore, lendeth

Prou 19.

[II.11.1-49]  vnto the Lord himselfe. And Christ in the Gospel auoucheth, and as a
[II.11.1-50]  most certaine trueth, bindeth it with an oath, that the almes bestowed
[II.11.1-51]  vpon the poore, was bestowed vpon him, and so shall be reckoned at the
[II.11.1-52]  last day. For thus he saith to the charitable almes giuers, when he sit­
[II.11.1-53]  teth as iudge in the doome, to giue sentence of euery man according to his
[II.11.1-54]  deserts: Verily I say vnto you, whatsoeuer good and mercifull deede you


[II.11.1-55]  did vpon any of the least of these my brethren, ye did the same vnto me. In
[II.11.1-56]  releeuing their hunger, yee releeued mine, in quenching their thirst, yee
[II.11.1-57]  quenched mine, in clothing them, yee clothed mee, and when yee har­
[II.11.1-58]  boured them, yee lodged me also, when yee visited them being sicke in
[II.11.1-59]  prison, yee visited mee. For as hee that hath receiued a Princes embas­
[II.11.1-60]  sadours, and entertaineth them well, doth honour the prince from whom
[II.11.1-61]  those embassadours doe come: So he that receiueth the poore and needy,
[II.11.1-62]  and helpeth them in their affliction and distresse, doeth thereby receiue
[II.11.1-63]  & honour Christ their Master, who as he was poore and needie himselfe
[II.11.1-64]  whilest hee liued here amongst vs, to worke the mysterie of our saluati­
[II.11.1-65]  on, at his departure hence he promised in his steed to send vnto vs those
[II.11.1-66]  that were poore, by whose meanes his absence should bee supplied: and
[II.11.1-67]  therefore that we would doe vnto him, wee must doe vnto them. And for


[II.11.1-68]  this cause doth the Almighty GOD say vnto Moses, The land where­
[II.11.1-69]  in you dwell, shall neuer bee without poore men: because he would haue
[II.11.1-70]  continuall triall of his people, whether they loued him or no, that in
[II.11.1-71]  shewing themselues obedient vnto his will, they might certainely assure
[II.11.1-72]  themselues of his loue and fauour towards them, and nothing doubt,
[II.11.1-73]  but that as his lawe and ordinance (wherein hee commanded them that
[II.11.1-74]  they should open their hand vnto their brethren that were poore and
[II.11.1-75]  needy in the land) were accepted of them and willingly performed: So
[II.11.1-76]  hee would on his part louingly accept them, and truely performe his
[II.11.1-77]  promises that he had made vnto them.

[II.11.1-78]  The holy Apostles and Disciples of Christ, who by reason of his day­
[II.11.1-79]  ly conuersation, saw by his deedes, and heard in his doctrine how much
[II.11.1-80]  he tendered the poore: the godly Fathers also, that were both before and
[II.11.1-81]  since Christ, indued without doubt with the holy Ghost, and most certain­
[II.11.1-82]  ly certified of GODS holy will: they both do most earnestly exhort vs,
[II.11.1-83]  and in all their writings almost continually admonish vs, that wee
[II.11.1-84]  would remember the poore, and bestow our charitable almes vpon them.


[II.11.1-85]  Saint Paul crieth vnto vs after this sort, Comfort the feeble minded, lift


[II.11.1-86]  vp the weake, and be charitable towards all men. And againe, To doe
[II.11.1-87]  good to the poore, and to distribute almes gladly, see that thou doe not for­


[II.11.1-88]  get, for with such sacrifices GOD is pleased. Esay the Prophet teach­
[II.11.1-89]  eth on this wise, Deale thy bread to the hungrie, and bring the poore
[II.11.1-90]  wandering, home to thy house. When thou seest the naked, see thou
[II.11.1-91]  cloth him, and hide not thy face from thy poore neighbour, neither despise


[II.11.1-92]  thou thine owne flesh. And the holy Father Tobie giueth this counsell,
[II.11.1-93]  Giue almes (sayth hee) of thine owne goodes, and turne neuer thy face
[II.11.1-94]  from the poore, eat thy bread with the hungry, and couer the naked with
[II.11.1-95]  thy clothes. And the learned and godly Doctour Chrysostome giueth this

Ad pop An­


[II.11.1-96]  admonition, Let mercifull almes be alwayes with vs as a garment, that
[II.11.1-97]  is, as mindefull as we will be to put our garments vpon vs, to couer our
[II.11.1-98]  nakednesse, to defend vs from the cold, and to shew our selues comely: So
[II.11.1-99]  mindefull let vs be at all times and seasons, that wee giue almes to the
[II.11.1-100]  poore, and shew our selues mercifull towards them. But what meane
[II.11.1-101]  these often admonitions and earnest exhortations of the Prophets. Apo­
[II.11.1-102]  stles, Fathers, and holy Doctours? Surely, as they were faythfull to
[II.11.1-103]  Godward, and therefore discharged their duty truly, in telling vs what
[II.11.1-104]  was GODS will: so of a singular loue to vs: ward, they laboured not
[II.11.1-105]  only to informe vs, but also to perswade with vs, that to giue almes, and
[II.11.1-106]  to succour the poore and needy, was a very acceptable thing, and an high
[II.11.1-107]  sacrifice to GOD, wherein he greatly delighted, and had a singular plea­


[II.11.1-108]  sure. For so doeth the Wise man the sonne of Sirach teach vs, saying, Who
[II.11.1-109]  so is mercifull and giueth almes, hee offereth the right thanke-offering.
[II.11.1-110]  And he addeth thereunto: The right thanke-offering, maketh the Altar
[II.11.1-111]  fat, & a sweet smell it is before the Highest, it is acceptable before GOD,
[II.11.1-112]  and shall neuer be forgotten.

[II.11.1-113]  And the truth of this doctrine is verified by the example of those holy
[II.11.1-114]  and charitable Fathers, of whom wee reade in the Scriptures, that they
[II.11.1-115]  were giuen to mercifull compassion towardes the poore, and charitable
[II.11.1-116]  releeuing of their necessities. Such a one was Abraham, in whom GOD
[II.11.1-117]  had so great pleasure, that he vouchsafed to come vnto him in forme of an
[II.11.1-118]  Angel, and to be intertayned of him at his house. Such was his kinse­
[II.11.1-119]  man Lot, whom GOD so fauoured for receiuing his messengers into
[II.11.1-120]  his house, which otherwise should haue lien in the street, that hee saued
[II.11.1-121]  him, with his whole family, from the destruction of Sodome and Go­
[II.11.1-122]  morrha. Such were the holy Fathers, Iob and Tobie, with many others,
[II.11.1-123]  who felt most sensible proofes of GODS speciall loue towards them.
[II.11.1-124]  And as all these by their mercifulnesse and tender compassion which they
[II.11.1-125]  shewed to the miserable afflicted members of Christ, in the relieuing, hel­
[II.11.1-126]  ping and succouring them with their temporall goodes in this life, obtay­
[II.11.1-127]  ned GODS fauour, and were deare, acceptable and pleasant in his
[II.11.1-128]  sight: so now they themselues take pleasure in the fruition of GOD, in
[II.11.1-129]  the pleasant ioyes of heauen, and are also in GODS eternall word set
[II.11.1-130]  before vs, as perfect examples euer before our eyes, both how wee shall
[II.11.1-131]  please GOD in this mortall life, and also how wee may come to liue
[II.11.1-132]  in ioy with them in euerlasting pleasure and felicitie. For most true is
[II.11.1-133]  that saying which Augustine hath, that the giuing of almes and releeuing
[II.11.1-134]  of the poore, is the right way to heauen, Via c_li pauper est, The poore
[II.11.1-135]  man (sayth hee) is the way to heauen, . They vsed in times past, to set
[II.11.1-136]  in hye wayes sides the picture of Mercurie, poynting with his finger which
[II.11.1-137]  was the right way to the Towne. And we vse in crosse wayes to set vp
[II.11.1-138]  a wodden or stone crosse, to admonish the trauayling man which way
[II.11.1-139]  he must turne when hee commeth thither, to directe his iourney aright.
[II.11.1-140]  But GODS word (as Saint Augustine sayth) hath set in the way to
[II.11.1-141]  heauen the poore man and his house, so that whoso will goe aright thi­
[II.11.1-142]  ther, and not turne out of the way, must goe by the poore. The poore
[II.11.1-143]  man is that Mercurie that shall set vs the ready way: and if wee looke well
[II.11.1-144]  to this marke, we shall not wander much out of the right path. The
[II.11.1-145]  maner of wise worldly men amongst vs is, that if they know a man of a
[II.11.1-146]  meaner estate then themselues to be in fauour with the Prince, or any
[II.11.1-147]  other noble man, whom they either feare or loue, such a one they will be
[II.11.1-148]  glad to benefite and pleasure, that when they haue neede they may be­
[II.11.1-149]  come their spokes man, either to obteine a commoditie, or to escape a dis­
[II.11.1-150]  pleasure. Now surely it ought to be a shame to vs, that worldly men for
[II.11.1-151]  temporall things that last but for a season, should be more wise and proui­
[II.11.1-152]  dent in procuring them, then wee in heauenly. Our sauiour Christ testi­
[II.11.1-153]  fieth of poore men, that they are deare vnto him, and that hee loueth them
[II.11.1-154]  especially: For hee calleth them his little ones, by a name of tender loue,
[II.11.1-155]  he sayth they be his brethren. And Saint Iames saith, that GOD hath
[II.11.1-156]  chosen them to be the heyres of his kingdome. Hath not GOD (sayth


[II.11.1-157]  he) chosen the poore of this world to himselfe, to make them hereafter
[II.11.1-158]  the rich heires of that kingdome which hee hath promised to them that
[II.11.1-159]  loue him? And wee know that the prayer which they make for vs, shalbe
[II.11.1-160]  acceptable and regarded of GOD, their complaint shalbe heard also.
[II.11.1-161]  Thereof doeth Iesus the sonne of Syrach certainely assure vs, saying:
[II.11.1-162]  If the poore complaine of thee in the bitternesse of his soule, his prayer


[II.11.1-163]  shalbe heard, euen hee that made him shall heare him. Bee courteous
[II.11.1-164]  therefore vnto the poore. We know also, that hee who acknowledgeth
[II.11.1-165]  himselfe to bee their master and patrone, and refuseth not to take them
[II.11.1-166]  for his seruants, is both able to pleasure and displeasure vs, and that
[II.11.1-167]  we stand euery houre in neede of his helpe. Why should wee then bee
[II.11.1-168]  either negligent or vnwilling to procure their friendship and fauour, by
[II.11.1-169]  the which also we may bee assured to get his fauour that is both able and
[II.11.1-170]  willing to doe vs all pleasures that are for our commoditie and wealth?
[II.11.1-171]  Christ doth declare by this, how much he accepteth our charitable affecti­
[II.11.1-172]  on toward the poore, in that he promiseth a reward vnto them that giue
[II.11.1-173]  but a cup of cold water in his name to them that haue neede thereof, and
[II.11.1-174]  that reward is the kingdome of heauen. No doubt is it therefore that
[II.11.1-175]  GOD regardeth highly, that which he rewardeth so liberally. For he
[II.11.1-176]  that promiseth a Princely recompence, for a beggarly beneuolence, de­
[II.11.1-177]  clareth that he is more delighted with the giuing, then with the gift, and
[II.11.1-178]  that he as much esteemeth the doing of the thing, as the fruit and com­
[II.11.1-179]  modity that commeth of it. Whoso therefore hath hitherto neglected
[II.11.1-180]  to giue Almes, let him know that GOD now requireth it of him, and
[II.11.1-181]  he that hath beene liberall to the poore, let him know that his godly do­
[II.11.1-182]  ings are accepted, and thankefully taken at GODS hands, which
[II.11.1-183]  he will requite with double and treble. For so sayth the Wise man:
[II.11.1-184]  Hee which sheweth mercy to the poore, doeth lay his money in
[II.11.1-185]  banke to the Lord, for a large interest and gaine: the gaine be­
[II.11.1-186]  ing chiefly the possession of the life euerlasting, through
[II.11.1-187]  the merits of our Sauiour Iesus Christ, to whom
[II.11.1-188]  with the Father and the Holy Ghost, bee
[II.11.1-189]  all honour and glory for euer,
[II.11.1-190]  AMEN.

The second part of the Sermon of
Almes deedes.

[II.11.2-191]  YE haue heard before (dearely beloued) that to giue almes
[II.11.2-192]  vnto the poore, and to helpe them in time of necessity,
[II.11.2-193]  is so acceptable vnto our Sauiour Christ, that he coun­
[II.11.2-194]  teth that to bee done to himselfe, that we doe for his sake
[II.11.2-195]  vnto them. Yee haue heard also how earnestly both the
[II.11.2-196]  Apostles, Prophets, holy Fathers, and Doctours, doe ex­
[II.11.2-197]  hort vs vnto the same. And ye see how welbeloued and deare vnto GOD
[II.11.2-198]  they were, whom the Scriptures report vnto vs to haue bin good almes
[II.11.2-199]  men. Wherfore if either their good examples, or the wholsome counsell of
[II.11.2-200]  godly Fathers, or the loue of Christ, whose especiall fauour wee may be
[II.11.2-201]  assured by this meanes to obtaine may mooue vs, or doe any thing at all
[II.11.2-202]  with vs: let vs prouide vs that from hencefoorth wee shew vnto GOD­
[II.11.2-203]  ward this thankefull seruice, to bee mindfull and ready to helpe them
[II.11.2-204]  that bee poore and in misery.

[II.11.2-205]  Now will I this second time that I entreat of almes deedes, shew
[II.11.2-206]  vnto you how profitable it is for vs to exercise them, and what fruit ther­
[II.11.2-207]  by shall arise vnto vs, if we doe them faithfully, Our Sauiour Christ
[II.11.2-208]  in the Gospel teacheth vs, that it profiteth a man nothing to haue in pos­
[II.11.2-209]  session all the riches of the whole world, and the wealth or glory thereof,
[II.11.2-210]  if in the meane season hee lose his soule, or doe that thing whereby it
[II.11.2-211]  should become captiue vnto death, sin, and hell fire. By the which saying,
[II.11.2-212]  hee not onely instructeth vs how much the soules health is to bee prefer­
[II.11.2-213]  red before worldly commodities: but it also serueth to stirre vp our minds,
[II.11.2-214]  and to pricke vs forwards to seeke diligently, and learne by what meanes
[II.11.2-215]  we may preserue and keepe our soules euer in safety: that is, how we may
[II.11.2-216]  recouer our health, if it bee lost or impaired, and how it may be defended
[II.11.2-217]  and maintained, if once we haue it. Yea, he teacheth vs also thereby to
[II.11.2-218]  esteeme that as a precious medicine and an inestimable iewell, that hath
[II.11.2-219]  such strength and vertue in it, that can either procure or preserue so in­
[II.11.2-220]  comparable a treasure. For if we greatly regard that medicine or salue
[II.11.2-221]  that is able to heale sundry and grieuous diseases of the body: much more
[II.11.2-222]  will wee esteeme that which hath like power ouer the soule. And because
[II.11.2-223]  wee might be better assured both to know and to haue in readines that so
[II.11.2-224]  profitable a remedy: he, as a most faithfull & louing teacher, sheweth him­
[II.11.2-225]  selfe both what it is, and where we may finde it, and how we may vse and
[II.11.2-226]  apply it. For when both he & his disciples were grieuously accused of the


[II.11.2-227]  Pharisees, to haue defiled their soules in breaking the constitutions of the
[II.11.2-228]  Elders, because they went to meate, & washed not their hands before, ac­
[II.11.2-229]  cording to the custome of the Iewes: Christ answering their superstitious
[II.11.2-230]  complaint, teacheth them an especiall remedy how to keepe cleane their
[II.11.2-231]  soules, notwithstanding the breach of such superstitious orders: Giue
[II.11.2-232]  almes (saith hee) and behold all things are cleane vnto you. He teach­
[II.11.2-233]  eth them, that to bee mercifull and charitable in helping the poore, is
[II.11.2-234]  the meanes to keepe the soule pure and cleane in the sight of GOD. Wee
[II.11.2-235]  are taught therefore by this, that mercifull almes dealing, is profitable to
[II.11.2-236]  purge the soule from the infection and filthie spottes or sinne. The same
[II.11.2-237]  lesson doeth the holy Ghost also teach in sundry places of the Scripture,


[II.11.2-238]  saying, Mercifulnesse and almes giuing purgeth from all sinnes, and
[II.11.2-239]  deliuereth from death, and suffereth not the soule to come into darkenes.
[II.11.2-240]  A great confidence may they haue before the high GOD, that shewe


[II.11.2-241]  mercie and compassion to them that are afflicted. The wise preacher the
[II.11.2-242]  sonne of Sirach confirmeth the same, when hee saith, That as water
[II.11.2-243]  quencheth burning fire, euen so mercie and almes resisteth and recon­
[II.11.2-244]  cileth sinnes. And sure it is, that mercifulnesse quaileth the heate of
[II.11.2-245]  sinne so much, that they shall not take holde vpon man to hurte him,
[II.11.2-246]  or if yee haue by any infirmitie or weakenesse beene touched and annoyed
[II.11.2-247]  with them, straightwayes shall mercifulnesse wipe and wash away, as
[II.11.2-248]  salues and remedies to heale their sores and grieuous diseases. And
[II.11.2-249]  thereupon that holy father Cyprian taketh good occasion to exhort ear­
[II.11.2-250]  nestly to the mercifull worke of giuing almes and helping the poore, and
[II.11.2-251]  there he admonisheth to consider how wholsome and profitable it is to re­
[II.11.2-252]  leeue the needy, and helpe the afflicted, by the which wee may purge
[II.11.2-253]  our sinnes, and heale our wounded soules.

[II.11.2-254]  But yet some will say vnto mee, If almes giuing, and our charita­
[II.11.2-255]  ble workes towards the poore, be able to wash away sinnes, to reconcile
[II.11.2-256]  vs to GOD, to deliuer vs from the perill of damnation, and make vs the
[II.11.2-257]  sonnes and heires of GODS kingdome: then are Christes merits de­
[II.11.2-258]  faced, and his blood shed in vaine, then are we iustified by workes and by
[II.11.2-259]  our deeds may we merite heauen, then do we in vaine beleeue that Christ
[II.11.2-260]  dyed for to put away our sinnes, and that he rose for our iustification, as
[II.11.2-261]  Saint Paul teacheth. But yee shall vnderstand (dearely beloued) that
[II.11.2-262]  neither those places of the Scripture before alledged, neither the doctrine
[II.11.2-263]  of the blessed martyr Cyprian, neither any other godly and learned man,
[II.11.2-264]  when they, in extolling the dignity, profite, fruit, and effect of vertuous
[II.11.2-265]  and liberall almes, doe say that it washeth away sinnes, and bringeth vs
[II.11.2-266]  to the fauour of GOD, doe meane, that our worke and charitable deede,
[II.11.2-267]  is the originall cause of our acception before GOD, or that for the dignity
[II.11.2-268]  or worthines therof, our sinnes may be washed away, and we purged and
[II.11.2-269]  cleansed of all the spottes of our iniquitie: for that were indeede to deface
[II.11.2-270]  Christ, and to defraude him of his glory. But they meane this, and this
[II.11.2-271]  is the vnderstanding of those and such like sayinges: that GOD of
[II.11.2-272]  his mercy and speciall fauour towards them whom he hath appointed to
[II.11.2-273]  euerlasting saluation, hath so offered his grace especially, and they haue
[II.11.2-274]  so receiued it fruitfully, that although by reason of their sinfull liuing
[II.11.2-275]  outwardly, they seemed before to haue beene the children of wrath and
[II.11.2-276]  perdition, yet now the Spirit of GOD mightily working in them, vn­
[II.11.2-277]  to obedience to GODS will and commandements, they declare by their
[II.11.2-278]  outward deeds and life, in the shewing of mercy, and charity (which can­
[II.11.2-279]  not come but of the spirit of GOD, and his especiall grace) that they
[II.11.2-280]  are the vndoubted children of GOD, appointed to euerlasting life. And
[II.11.2-281]  so, as by their wickednesse and vngodly liuing, they shewed themselues
[II.11.2-282]  according to the iudgement of men, which follow the outward appea­
[II.11.2-283]  rance, to be reprobates and castawayes: So now by their obedience vn­
[II.11.2-284]  to GODS holy will, and by their mercifulnesse and tender pity (wher­
[II.11.2-285]  in they shew themselues to be like vnto GOD, who is the fountaine and
[II.11.2-286]  spring of all mercy) they declare openly and manifestly vnto the sight of
[II.11.2-287]  men, that they are the sonnes of GOD, and elect of him vnto saluation.
[II.11.2-288]  For as the good fruit is not the cause that the tree is good, but the tree
[II.11.2-289]  must first be good before it can bring foorth good fruite: so the good deeds
[II.11.2-290]  of man are not the cause that maketh men good, but he is first made good,
[II.11.2-291]  by the spirit and grace of GOD that effectually worketh in him, and
[II.11.2-292]  afterward he bringeth foorth good fruites. And then as the good fruite
[II.11.2-293]  doeth argue the goodnesse of the tree, so doeth the good and mercifull deed
[II.11.2-294]  of the man, argue and certainely prooue the goodnesse of him that doeth
[II.11.2-295]  it, according to Christes sayings: Yee shall know them by their fruites.
[II.11.2-296]  And if any man will obiect, that euill and noughty men doe sometimes
[II.11.2-297]  by their deeds appeare to bee verie godly and vertuous: I will answere,
[II.11.2-298]  so doeth the crab and choke peare seeme outwardly to haue sometime as
[II.11.2-299]  faire a redde, and as mellowe a colour, as the fruite that is good indeede.
[II.11.2-300]  But hee that will bite and take a taste, shall easily iudge betwixt the
[II.11.2-301]  sower bitternesse of the one, and the sweete sauorinesse of the other. And
[II.11.2-302]  as the true Christian man, in thankefulnesse of his heart, for the redemp­
[II.11.2-303]  tion of his soule purchased by Christes death, sheweth kindly by the fruite
[II.11.2-304]  of his faith, his obedience to GOD: so the other as a merchant with
[II.11.2-305]  GOD, doth all for his owne gaine, thinking to win heauen by the
[II.11.2-306]  merite of his workes, and so defaceth and obscureth the price of Christs
[II.11.2-307]  blood, who onely wrought our purgation. The meaning then of these
[II.11.2-308]  sayings in the Scriptures and other holy writings: Almes deedes doe
[II.11.2-309]  washe away our sinnes, and, mercie to the poore doth blot out our offences, is,
[II.11.2-310]  that we doing these things according to GODS will and our duetie,
[II.11.2-311]  haue our sinnes indeede washed away, and our offences blotted out: not
[II.11.2-312]  for the worthinesse of them, but by the grace of GOD which worketh
[II.11.2-313]  all in all, and that for the promise that GOD hath made to them that are
[II.11.2-314]  obedient vnto his commandement, that hee which is the trueth, might
[II.11.2-315]  be iustified in performing the trueth, due to his true promise. Almes
[II.11.2-316]  deedes do wash away our sinnes, because GOD doeth vouchsafe then
[II.11.2-317]  to repute vs as cleane and pure, when we doe them for his sake, and not
[II.11.2-318]  because they deserue or merit our purging, or for that they haue any such
[II.11.2-319]  strength and vertue in themselues. I know that some men, too much
[II.11.2-320]  addict to the aduancing of their workes, will not be contented with this
[II.11.2-321]  answere, and no maruaile, for such men can no answere content or suffice.
[II.11.2-322]  Wherefore leauing them to their owne wilfull sense, we will rather haue
[II.11.2-323]  regarde to the reasonable and godly, who as they most certainely know
[II.11.2-324]  and perswade themselues, that all goodnesse, all bountie, all mercie, all
[II.11.2-325]  benefites, all forgiuenesse of sinnes, and whatsoeuer can bee named good
[II.11.2-326]  and profitable, either for the body or for the soule, do come onely of GODS
[II.11.2-327]  mercie and meere fauoure, and not of themselues: So though they doe
[II.11.2-328]  neuer so many and so excellent good deedes, yet are they neuer puft vp
[II.11.2-329]  with the vaine confidence of them. And though they heare and read in
[II.11.2-330]  GODS word, and other where in godly mens works, that almes
[II.11.2-331]  deedes, mercie, and charitablenesse doth wash away sinne, and blot out
[II.11.2-332]  iniquitie: yet doe they not arrogantly and proudly sticke and trust vnto
[II.11.2-333]  them, or brag themselues of them, as the proud Pharisee did, lest with
[II.11.2-334]  the Pharisee they should bee condemned: but rather, with the humble
[II.11.2-335]  and poore Publicane confesse themselues sinfull wretches, vnworthy to
[II.11.2-336]  looke vp to heauen, calling and crauing for mercie, that with the Pub­
[II.11.2-337]  licane they may bee pronounced of Christ to bee iustified. The godly doe
[II.11.2-338]  learne that when the Scriptures say, that by good and mercifull works,
[II.11.2-339]  wee are reconciled to GODS fauour: wee are taught then to know
[II.11.2-340]  what Christ by his intercession and mediation obtaineth for vs of his Fa­
[II.11.2-341]  ther, when we be obedient to his will, yea, they learne in such maner of
[II.11.2-342]  speaking a comfortable argument of GODS singular fauour and loue,
[II.11.2-343]  that attributeth that vnto vs and to our doings, that hee by his spirit
[II.11.2-344]  worketh in vs, and through his grace procureth for vs. And yet this
[II.11.2-345]  notwithstanding, they cry out with Saint Paul, Oh wretches that wee
[II.11.2-346]  are: and acknowledge (as Christ teacheth) that when they haue all done,
[II.11.2-347]  they are but vnprofitable seruants: and with the blessed king Dauid, in
[II.11.2-348]  respect of the iust iudgements of GOD, they doe tremble, and say: Who
[II.11.2-349]  shall be able to abide it, Lord, if thou wilt giue sentence according to our
[II.11.2-350]  deserts? Thus they humble themselues, and are exalted of GOD: they
[II.11.2-351]  count themselues vile, and of GOD are counted pure and cleane: they
[II.11.2-352]  condemne themselues, and are iustified of GOD: they thinke them­
[II.11.2-353]  selues, vnworthy of the earth, and of GOD are thought worthy of hea­
[II.11.2-354]  uen. Thus by GODS word are they truely taught how to thinke
[II.11.2-355]  rightly of mercifull dealing of almes, and of GODS especiall mercy
[II.11.2-356]  and goodnesse are made pertakers of those fruites that his word hath
[II.11.2-357]  promised. Let vs then follow their examples, and both shew obediently
[II.11.2-358]  in our life those workes of mercy that wee are commanded, and haue
[II.11.2-359]  that right opinion and iudgement of them that we are taught, and
[II.11.2-360]  we shall in like maner, as they, be made partakers, and feele
[II.11.2-361]  the fruites and rewards that follow such godly li­
[II.11.2-362]  uing, so shall we know by proofe what
[II.11.2-363]  profit and commodity doth come
[II.11.2-364]  of giuing of almes, & succou­
[II.11.2-365]  ring of the poore.

{P} The third part of the Homily of
Almes deedes.

[II.11.3-366]  YEe haue already heard two parts of this treatise of almes
[II.11.3-367]  deedes. The first, how pleasant and acceptable before
[II.11.3-368]  GOD the doing of them is, the second, how much it
[II.11.3-369]  behooueth vs, and how profitable it is to apply our selues
[II.11.3-370]  vnto them. Now in the third part will I take away
[II.11.3-371]  that let that hindereth many from doing them. There
[II.11.3-372]  be many that when they heare how acceptable a thing in
[II.11.3-373]  the sight of GOD the giuing of almes is, and how much GOD exten­
[II.11.3-374]  deth his fauour towards them that are mercifull, and what fruites and
[II.11.3-375]  commodities doeth come to them by it, they wish very gladly with them­
[II.11.3-376]  selues that they also might obteine these benefites, and be counted such of
[II.11.3-377]  GOD as whom he would loue or doe for. But yet these men are with
[II.11.3-378]  greedie couetousnesse so puld backe, that they will not bestow one halfe­
[II.11.3-379]  peny or one peece of bread, that they might be thought worthy of GODS
[II.11.3-380]  benefites, and so to come into his fauour. For they are euermore feare­
[II.11.3-381]  full, and doubting, lest by often giuing, although it were but a little at a
[II.11.3-382]  time, they should consume their goods, and so impouerish themselues, that
[II.11.3-383]  euen themselues at the length should not be able to liue, but should be dri­
[II.11.3-384]  uen to begge, and liue of other mens almes. And thus they seeke excuses
[II.11.3-385]  to withhold themselues from the fauour of GOD, and chuse with pin­
[II.11.3-386]  ching couetousnesse, rather to leane vnto the deuill, then by charitable
[II.11.3-387]  mercifulnesse, either to come vnto Christ, or to suffer Christ to come vnto
[II.11.3-388]  them. Oh that wee had some cunning and skilfull Physition that were
[II.11.3-389]  able to purge them of this so pestilent an humour, that so sore infecteth,
[II.11.3-390]  not their bodies, but their mindes, and so by corrupting their soules, brin­
[II.11.3-391]  geth their bodies and soules into danger of hell fire. Now lest there bee
[II.11.3-392]  any such among vs (dearely beloued) let vs diligently search for that Phy­
[II.11.3-393]  sition, which is Iesus Christ, and earnestly labour that of his mercy hee
[II.11.3-394]  will truely instruct vs, and giue vs a present remedy against so perillous
[II.11.3-395]  a disease. Hearken then, whosoeuer thou art that fearest lest by giuing to
[II.11.3-396]  the poore thou shouldest bring thy selfe to beggery. That which thou ta­
[II.11.3-397]  kest from thy selfe to bestow vpon Christ, can neuer be consumed and wa­
[II.11.3-398]  sted away. Wherein thou shalt not beleeue me, but if thou haue faith, and
[II.11.3-399]  be a true Christian, beleeue the holy Ghost, giue credite to the authoritie
[II.11.3-400]  of GODS word that thus teacheth. For thus sayth the holy Ghost by
[II.11.3-401]  Salomon: He that giueth vnto the poore, shall neuer want. Men suppose
[II.11.3-402]  that by hoording and laying vp still, they shall at length be rich, and that
[II.11.3-403]  by distributing and laying out, although it be for most necessary and god­
[II.11.3-404]  ly vses, they shalbe brought to pouerty. But the holy Ghost, which know­
[II.11.3-405]  eth all trueth, teacheth vs another lesson, contrary to this. Hee teacheth
[II.11.3-406]  vs that there is a kinde of dispending that shall neuer diminish the stocke,
[II.11.3-407]  and a kinde of sauing that shall bring a man to extreme pouertie. For
[II.11.3-408]  where he sayth, that the good almes-man shall neuer haue scarsitie, hee
[II.11.3-409]  addeth: But he that turneth away his eyes from such as be in necessity,
[II.11.3-410]  shall suffer great pouerty himselfe. How farre different then is the
[II.11.3-411]  iudgement of man, from the iudgement of the holy Ghost? The holy


[II.11.3-412]  Apostle Paul, a man full of the holy Ghost, and made priuie euen of the se­
[II.11.3-413]  cret will of GOD teacheth: that the liberall almes-giuer shall not
[II.11.3-414]  thereby bee impouerished. He that ministreth (saith he) seede vnto the
[II.11.3-415]  sower, will minister also bread vnto you for foode, yea, he will multiply
[II.11.3-416]  your seede, and encrease the fruits of your righteousnesse. He is not con­
[II.11.3-417]  tent to aduertise them that they shall not lacke, but he sheweth them also
[II.11.3-418]  in what sort GOD wil prouide for them. Euen as he prouided seed for the
[II.11.3-419]  sower in multiplying it, and giuing great increase: so he wil multiply
[II.11.3-420]  their goods, and increase them, that there shall be great abundance. And
[II.11.3-421]  lest we should thinke his sayings to be but words and not trueth, we haue
[II.11.3-422]  an example thereof in the third booke of Kings, which doth confirme and
[II.11.3-423]  seale it vp as a most certaine trueth. The poore widow that receiued the
[II.11.3-424]  banished Prophet of GOD, Elias, when as she had but a handfull of meale
[II.11.3-425]  in a vessel, and a little oyle in a cruse, whereof she would make a cake for
[II.11.3-426]  her selfe and her sonne, that after they had eaten that, they might die, be­
[II.11.3-427]  cause in that great famine there was no more foode to bee gotten: yet
[II.11.3-428]  when she gaue part thereof to Elias, and defrauded her owne hungry belly
[II.11.3-429]  mercifully to relieue him, she was so blessed of GOD, that neither the
[II.11.3-430]  meale nor the oyle was consumed all the time while that famine did last,
[II.11.3-431]  but thereof both the Prophet Elias, shee, and her sonne, were sufficiently
[II.11.3-432]  nourished and had enough.

[II.11.3-433]  Oh consider this example yee vnbeleeuing and faithlesse couetous per­
[II.11.3-434]  sons, who discredite GODS worde, and thinke his power dimi­
[II.11.3-435]  nished! This poore woman, in the time of an extreme and long
[II.11.3-436]  dearth had but one handefull of meale and a little cruse of oyle, her
[II.11.3-437]  onely sonne was readie to perish before her face for hunger, and shee
[II.11.3-438]  her selfe like to pine away: and yet when the poore Prophet came and
[II.11.3-439]  asked part, she was so mindefull of mercifulnesse, that she forgate her
[II.11.3-440]  owne miserie, and rather then shee would omit the occasion giuen to
[II.11.3-441]  giue almes, and worke a worke of righteousnesse, shee was content pre­
[II.11.3-442]  sently to hazard her owne and her sonnes life. And you, who haue great
[II.11.3-443]  plenty of meates and drinkes, great store of motheaten apparel, yea, many
[II.11.3-444]  of you great heapes of gold and siluer, and he that hath least, hath more
[II.11.3-445]  then sufficient, now in this time, when (thankes bee to GOD) no
[II.11.3-446]  great famine doeth oppresse you, your children being well clothed and
[II.11.3-447]  well fed, and no danger of death for famine to bee feared, will rather cast
[II.11.3-448]  doubts and perils of vnlikely penury, then you will part with any peece
[II.11.3-449]  of your superfluities, to helpe and succour the poore, hungry, and naked
[II.11.3-450]  Christ, that commeth to your doores a begging. This poore & seely wi­
[II.11.3-451]  dow neuer cast doubts in all her miserie what wants she her selfe should
[II.11.3-452]  haue, shee neuer distrusted the promise that GOD made to her by the
[II.11.3-453]  Prophet, but straightway went about to relieue the hungry Prophet of
[II.11.3-454]  GOD, yea, preferring his necessity before her owne. But we, like vn­
[II.11.3-455]  beleeuing wretches, before we will giue one mite, wee will cast a thou­
[II.11.3-456]  sand doubtes of danger, whether that will stand vs in any stead, that we
[II.11.3-457]  giue to &the; poore, whether we should not haue need of it at any other time, &
[II.11.3-458]  whether heere it would not haue been more profitably bestowed. So that
[II.11.3-459]  it is more hard to wrench a strong nayle (as the prouerbe sayth) out of a
[II.11.3-460]  poste, then to wring a farthing out of our fingers. There is neither the
[II.11.3-461]  feare nor the loue of GOD before our eyes, we will more esteeme a mite,
[II.11.3-462]  then we either desire GODS kingdome, or feare the Diuels dungeon.
[II.11.3-463]  Hearken therefore ye mercilesse misers, what will bee the end of this your
[II.11.3-464]  vnmercifull dealing. As certainely as GOD nourished this poore wi­
[II.11.3-465]  dow in the time of famine, and increased her little store, so that shee had
[II.11.3-466]  enough, and felt no penury when other pined away: so certainely shall
[II.11.3-467]  GOD plague you with pouerty in the middest of plenty. Then when
[II.11.3-468]  other haue abundance and be fed at full, you shall vtterly waste and con­
[II.11.3-469]  sume away your selues, your store shall bee destroyed, your goods pluckt
[II.11.3-470]  from you, all your glory and wealth shall perish: and that which when
[II.11.3-471]  you had, you might haue enioyed your selfe in peace, and might haue be­
[II.11.3-472]  stowed vpon other most godly, yee shall seeke with sorrow and sighes, and
[II.11.3-473]  no where shall finde it. For your vnmercifulnesse towards other, ye shall
[II.11.3-474]  finde no man that will shew mercy towards you. You that had stony
[II.11.3-475]  hearts towards other, shall finde all the creatures of GOD, to youward
[II.11.3-476]  as hard as brasse and yron. Alas, what fury and madnesse doth possesse
[II.11.3-477]  our mindes, that in a matter of trueth and certainety, wee will not giue
[II.11.3-478]  credit to the trueth, testifying vnto that which is most certaine. Christ
[II.11.3-479]  sayth, that if wee will first seeke the kingdome of GOD, and doe the
[II.11.3-480]  workes of righteousnesse thereof, we shall not be left destitute, all other
[II.11.3-481]  things shalbe giuen to vs plenteously. Nay say we, I will first looke that
[II.11.3-482]  I be able to liue my selfe, and bee sure that I haue enough for mee and
[II.11.3-483]  mine, and if I haue any thing ouer, I will bestow it to get GODS
[II.11.3-484]  fauour, and the poore shall then haue part with me.

[II.11.3-485]  See I pray you the peruerse iudgement of men, we haue more care to
[II.11.3-486]  nourish the carcasse, then wee haue feare to see our soule perish. And as
[II.11.3-487]  Cyprian sayth, whilest we stand in doubt lest our goods fayle, in being o­

Sermon. de


[II.11.3-488]  uer liberall, we put it out of doubt, that our life and health fayleth, in
[II.11.3-489]  not being liberall at all. Whilest wee are carefull for diminishing of our
[II.11.3-490]  stocke, we are altogether carelesse to diminish our selues. We loue Mam­
[II.11.3-491]  mon, and loose our soules. Wee feare least our patrimony should perish
[II.11.3-492]  from vs, but we feare not lest we should perish for it. Thus doe wee per­
[II.11.3-493]  uersly loue that, which we should hate, and hate that we should loue, we
[II.11.3-494]  be negligent where we should bee carefull, and carefull where wee neede
[II.11.3-495]  not. Thus vaine feare to lacke our selues if we giue to the poore, is much
[II.11.3-496]  like the feare of children and fooles, which when they see the bright glim­
[II.11.3-497]  mering of a glasse, they doe imagine straightway that it is the lightning
[II.11.3-498]  and yet the brightnesse of a glasse neuer was the lightning. Euen so, when
[II.11.3-499]  we imagine that by spending vpon the poore, a man may come to pouer­
[II.11.3-500]  ty, we are cast into a vaine feare, for we neuer heard or knew, that by that
[II.11.3-501]  meanes any man came to misery, and was left destitute, and not conside­
[II.11.3-502]  red of GOD. Nay we read to the contrary in the Scripture (as I
[II.11.3-503]  haue before shewed, and as by infinite testimonies and examples may
[II.11.3-504]  bee prooued) that whosoeuer serueth GOD faithfully and vnfeinedly
[II.11.3-505]  in any vocation, GOD will not suffer him to decay, much lesse to perish.


[II.11.3-506]  The holy Ghost teacheth vs by Salomon, that the Lord will not suffer the
[II.11.3-507]  soule of the righteous to perish for hunger. And therefore Dauid sayth
[II.11.3-508]  vnto all them that are mercifull: O feare the Lord yee that bee his
[II.11.3-509]  Saints, for they that feare him lacke nothing. The Lions doe lack and
[II.11.3-510]  suffer hunger, but they which seeke the Lord shall want no manner of
[II.11.3-511]  thing that is good. When Elias was in the desert, GOD fed him by the
[II.11.3-512]  ministery of a Rauen, that euening and morning brought him sufficient

3 King.17.

[II.11.3-513]  victualles. When Daniel was shut vp in the Lions denne, GOD pre­
[II.11.3-514]  pared meat for him, and sent it thither to him: And there was the saying
[II.11.3-515]  of Dauid fulfilled, The Lions doe lacke and suffer hunger, but they which
[II.11.3-516]  seeke the Lord, shall want no good thing. For while the Lions, which
[II.11.3-517]  should haue beene fed with his flesh, roared for hunger and desire of their
[II.11.3-518]  pray, whereof they had no power, although it were present before them,
[II.11.3-519]  he in the meane time was fresh fed from GOD, that should with his
[II.11.3-520]  flesh haue filled the Lions. So mightily doth GOD worke to preserue
[II.11.3-521]  and maintaine those whom he loueth, so carefull is hee also to feede them
[II.11.3-522]  who in any state or vocation doe vnfeinedly serue him. And shall we now
[II.11.3-523]  thinke that he will be vnmindfull of vs, if wee bee obedient to his word,
[II.11.3-524]  and according to his will haue pity on the poore? He giueth vs all wealth
[II.11.3-525]  before we doe any seruice for it: and will he see vs lacke necessaries when
[II.11.3-526]  we doe him true seruice? Can a man thinke that he that feedeth Christ,
[II.11.3-527]  can be forsaken of Christ, and left without food? Or will Christ denie
[II.11.3-528]  earthly things vnto them whom he promiseth heauenly things for his
[II.11.3-529]  true seruice? It cannot be therefore (deare brethren) that by giuing of
[II.11.3-530]  almes, we should at any time want our selues, or that we which releeue
[II.11.3-531]  other mens need, should our selues bee oppressed with penury. It is con­
[II.11.3-532]  trary to GODS word, it repugneth with his promise, it is against Christs
[II.11.3-533]  property and nature to suffer it, it is the crafty surmise of the Diuell to
[II.11.3-534]  perswade vs it. Wherefore sticke not to giue almes freely, and trust not­
[II.11.3-535]  withstanding, that GODS goodnesse will minister vnto vs sufficiency
[II.11.3-536]  and plenty, so long as we shall liue in this transitory life, and after our
[II.11.3-537]  dayes heere well spent in his seruice, and the loue of our brethren, we
[II.11.3-538]  shalbe crowned with euerlasting glory, to raigne with Christ
[II.11.3-539]  our Sauiour in heauen, to whom with the Father
[II.11.3-540]  and the holy Ghost, be all honour and
[II.11.3-541]  glory for euer. Amen.