HOMILY ON GOOD WORKS
A SERMON OF GOOD
No good workes can bee done without faith. IN the last Sermon was declared vnto you, what the liuely and true fayth of a Christian man is, that it causeth not a man to bee idle, but to bee occupied in bringing foorth good workes, as occasion serueth. Now by GOD'S grace shall bee declared the second thing that before was noted of fayth, that without it can no good worke bee done, accepted and pleasant vnto GOD. For as a branch can not beare fruite of it selfe (sayth our Sauiour Christ) except it abide in the Vine: so can not you, except you abide in me. I am the Vine, and you bee the branches, he that abideth in me, and I in him, he bringeth foorth much fruit: for without me, you can doe nothing (John 15.4-5). And S. Paul prouueth that the Eunuch had fayth, because he pleased GOD. For without fayth (sayth he) it is not possible to please GOD (Hebrews 11.6). And againe to the Romans he sayth, whatsoeuer worke is done without fayth, it is sinne (Romans 14.23). Faith giueth life to the soule, and they be as much dead to GOD that lacke fayth, as they be to the world, whose bodies lacke soules. Without fayth all that is done of vs, is but dead before GOD, although the worke seeme neuer so gay and glorious before man. Euen as the picture grauen or painted, is but a dead representation of the thing it selfe, and is without life, or any maner of moouing: so be the workes of all vnfaythfull persons before GOD. They doe appeare to bee liuely workes, and indeed they bee but dead, not auayling to the euerlasting life. They be but shadowes and shewes of liuely and good things, and not good and liuely things indeed. For true fayth, doth giue life to the workes, and out of such fayth come good works, that be very good workes indeed, & without fayth, no worke is good before GOD, as sayth S. Augustine (Enarratio in Psalm. 31 2, 4 [PL 36.259]). We must let no good works before fayth, nor think that before fayth a man many doe any good works: for such workes, although they seeme vnto men to be prayse worthy, yet indeed they be but vaine, and not allowed before GOD. They bee as the course of an Horse that runneth out of the way, which taketh great labour, but to no purpose. Let no man therefore (sayth he) reckon vpon his good workes before his fayth: Where as fayth was not, good workes were not. The intent (sayth hee) maketh the good workes, but fayth must guide and order the intent of man. And Christ sayth, If thine eye be naught, thy whole body is full of darkenesse (Matthew 6.23). The eye doeth signifie the intent (sayth S. Augustine) wherewith a man doeth a thing. So that he which doth not his good works with a godly intent, and a true fayth, that worketh by loue: the whole body beside (that is to say) all the whole number of his workes, is darke, and there is no light in them. For good deedes bee not measured by the facts themselues, and so discerned from vices, but by the ends and intents for the which they were done. If a Heathen man clothe the naked, feed the hungrie, and doe such other like workes: yet because he doeth them not in fayth, for the honour and loue of GOD, they be but dead, vaine, and fruitlesse workes to him. Fayth is it that doeth commend the worke to GOD: for (as S. Augustine saith) whether thou wilt or no, that work that commeth not of faith, is naught: where the fayth of Christ is not the foundation, there is no good worke, what building so euer we make. There is one worke, in the which be all good workes, that is, faith, which worketh by charity: if thou haue it, thou hast the ground of all good workes. For the vertues of strength, wisedome, temperance, and iustice, be all referred vnto this same faith. Without this faith we haue not them, but onely the names and shadowes of them (as Saint Augustine sayth,) All the life of them that lacke the true faith, is sinne, and nothing is good, without him, that is the authour of goodnesse: where hee is not, there is but fained vertue, although it be in the best workes. And S. Augustine, declaring this verse of the Psalme, The turtle hath found a nest where shee may keepe her yong birds, saith, that Iewes, Heretickes, and Pagans doe good workes, they cloath the naked, feede the poore, and doe other good workes of mercy: but because they bee not done in the true faith, therefore the birdes bee lost. But if they remaine in faith, then faith is the nest and safegard of their birdes, that is to say, safegard of their good workes, that the reward of them be not vtterly lost. And this matter (which Saint Augustine at large in many bookes disputeth) (Ambrosiaster, De Vocatione Gentium 1, 3 [PL 17.1078], De vocatione gentium, lib.cap.). Saint Ambrose concludeth in few wordes saying, Hee that by nature would withstand vice, either by naturall will, or reason, hee doeth in vaine garnish the time of this life and attaineth not the verie true vertues: for without the worshipping of the true GOD, that which seemeth to bee vertue, is vice. And yet most plainely to this purpose writeth Saint Chrysostome in this wise, (Pseudo-Chrysostom, De Fide et Lege Naturae 1 [PG 48. 1081-82], In sermone de fide, lege, & spiritu sancto). You shall finde manie which haue not the true faith, and bee not of the flocke of Christ , and yet (as it appeareth) they flourish in good workes of mercy: you shall finde them full of pitie, compassion, and giuen to iustice, and yet for all that they haue no fruit of their workes, because the chiefe worke lacketh. For when the Iewes asked of Christ what they should doe to worke good workes: hee answered, This is the worke of GOD, to beleeue in him whom hee sent (John 6.29): so that hee called faith the worke of GOD. And assoone as a man hath faith, anone hee shall florish in good workes: for faith of it selfe is full of good workes, and nothing is good without faith. And for a similitude, he saith that they which glister and shine in good workes without fayth in GOD, bee like dead men, which haue godly and precious tombes, and yet it auayleth them nothing. Faith may not bee naked without good workes, for then it is no true faith: and when it is adioyned to workes, yet it is aboue the workes. For as men that be verie men indeed, first haue life, and after bee nourished: so must our faith in Christ goe before, and after bee nourished with good workes. And life may bee without nourishment, but nourishment cannot bee without life. A man must needes bee nourished by good workes, but first hee must haue faith. Hee that doeth good deedes, yet without faith hee hath no life. I can shew a man that by faith without workes liued, and came to heauen: but without faith, neuer man had life. The thiefe that was hanged, when Christ suffered, did beleeue onely, and the most mercifull GOD iustified him. And because no man shall say againe that hee lacked time to doe good workes, for else he would haue done them: trueth it is, and I will not contend therein, but this I will surely affirme, that faith onely saued him. If hee had liued and not regarded faith and the workes thereof, hee should haue lost his saluation againe. But this is the effect that I say, that faith by it selfe saued him, but workes by themselues neuer iustified any man. Here yee haue heard the minde of Saint Chrysostome, whereby you may perceiue, that neither faith is without workes (hauing opportunity thereto) nor workes can auaile to euerlasting life, without faith.
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF GOOD WORKES.
OF three things which were in the former Sermon especially noted of liuely faith, two bee declared vnto you.
What works they are that spring out of faith. The first was, that faith is neuer idle, without good workes when occasion serueth. The second, that good workes, acceptable to GOD, cannot bee done without faith. Now to goe forward to the third part, that is, What maner of workes they be which spring out of true faith, and leade faithfull men vnto euerlasting life. This cannot bee knowen so well, as by our Sauiour Christ himselfe who was asked of a certain great man the same question;, What works shall I do (said a prince) to come to euerlasting life? To whom Iesus answered, if thou wilt come to euerlasting life, keepe the Commandements (Matthew 19.16-17). But the prince not satisfied herewith, asked farther, Which commandements? The Scribes and Pharisees had made so many of their owne lawes and traditions, to bring men to heauen, besides GOD'S commandements, that this man was in doubt whether he should come to heauen by those lawes and traditions or by the law of GOD, and therefore he asked Christ which commandements hee meant.
The workes that leade to heauen, bee workes of Gods commandements. Whereunto Christ made him a plaine answere, rehearsing the commandements of GOD, saying, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adulterie, Thou shalt not steale, Thou shalt not beare false witnesse, Honour thy father and thy mother, and loue thy neighbour as thy selfe (Matthew 19.18-19). By which wordes Christ declared that the lawes of GOD bee the very way that doeth leade to euerlasting life, and not the traditions and lawes of men. So that this is to be taken for a most true lesson taught by Christ's owne mouth, that the workes of the morrall commandements of GOD bee the very true workes of faith, which leade to the blessed life to come. But the blindnesse and malice of man, euen from the beginning, hath euer beene readie to fall from GOD'S Commandements.
Man from his first falling from Gods commandements hath euer beene ready to doe the like, and doeth deuise workes of his owne phantasy to please God withall. As Adam the first man, hauing but one commandement, that hee should not eate of the fruit forbidden: not withstanding GOD'S Commandement, hee gaue credit vnto the woman, seduced by the subtill perswasion of the Serpent, and so followed his owne will, and left GOD'S commandement. And euer since that time all that came of him, haue beene so blinded through originall sinne, that they haue beene euer readie to fall from GOD and his law, and to inuent a new way vnto saluation by workes of their owne deuice: so much that almost all the world, forsaking the true honour of the onely eternall liuing GOD, wandered about their owne phantasies, worshipping some the Sonne, the Moone, the Starres, some Iupiter, Iuno, Diana, Saturnus, Apollo, Neptunus, Ceres, Bacchus, and other dead men and women. Some therewith not satisfied, worshipped diuerse kindes of beastes, birdes, fish, foule, and serpents, euery countrie, town, and house in manner being diuided, and setting vp images of such things as they liked, and worshipping the same. Such was the rudenesse of the people, after they fell to their owne phantasies, and left the eternall liuing GOD and his commandements, that they deuised innumerable Images and gods. In which errour and blindnesse they did remaine, vntill such time as Almighty GOD, pitying the blindnesse of man, sent his true Prophet Moses into the world, to reprooue and rebuke this extreme madnesse, and to teach the people to know the onely liuing GOD and his true honour and worshippe. But the corrupt inclination of man, was so much giuen to follow his owne phantasie, and (as you would say) to fauour his owne byrde, that hee brought vp himselfe, that all the admonitions, exhortations, benefites, and threatenings of GOD, could not keep him from such his inuentions.
The deuises and idolatries of the Israelites. For not withstanding all the benefits of GOD shewed vnto the people of Israel, yet when Moses went vp into the mountaine to speake with Almighty GOD, he had taried there but a few dayes, when the people began to inuent new Gods. And as it came in their heads, they made a calfe of gold, & kneeled downe, & worshipped it (Exodus 32.1-6). And after that, they followed the Moabites, & worshipped Beelphegor the Moabits God. Read the book of Iudges, the book of the Kings, & the Prophets, and there you shall finde how vnstedfast the people were, how full of inuentions, and more ready to runne after their owne phantasies, then GOD'S most holy commandements. There shall you reade of Baal, Moloch, Chamos, Melchom, Baalpeor, Astaroth, Bell, the Dragon, Priapus, the brasen Serpent, the twelue signes, and many other vnto whose images the people with great deuotion inuented Pilgrimages, precious decking and sensing them, kneeling downe, and offering to them, thinking that an high merit before God, and to bee esteemed aboue the precepts and commandements of GOD, And where at that time GOD commanded no Sacrifice to be made but in Ierusalem only, they did cleane contrary, making Altars and sacrifices euery where, in hilles, in woodes, and in houses, not regarding GOD'S commandements, but esteeming their owne phantasies, and deuotions to bee better then they. And the error hereof was so spread abroad, that not only the vnlearned people, but also the Priestes, and teachers of the people, partly by glory and couetousnesse were corrupted, and partly by ignorance blindly deceiued with the same abominations. So much, that king Achab hauing but only Helias a true teacher and minister of God, there were eight hundred and fiftie Priestes, that perswaded him to honour Baal, and to doe sacrifice in the woods or groues. And so continued that horrible error, vntill the three noble Kings, as Iosaphat, Ezechias, and Iosias, GOD'S chosen Ministers, destroyed the same clearely, and brought againe the people from such their faigned inuentions, vnto the very commandements of GOD: for the which thing their immortall reward and glory, doeth, and shall remaine with GOD for euer.
Religions and sectes among the Iewes. And beside the foresaid inuentions, the inclination of man to haue his owne holy deuotions, deuised new sects, and religions, called Pharisees, Sadduces, and Scribes, with many holy and godly traditions and ordinances (as it seemed by the outward appearance, and goodly glistering of the workes) but in very deede all tending to idolatrie, superstition, & hypocrisie: their hearts within being full of malice, pride, couetousnesse, & all wickednesse. Against which sectes, and their pretended holinesse Christ cried out more vehemently, then hee did against any other persons, saying, and often rehearsing these wordes, Woe bee to you Scribes and Pharisees, yee hypocrites, for you make cleane the vessell without, but within yee bee full of rauine and filthinesse: thou blinde Pharisee, and hypocrite, first make the inward part cleane (Matthew 23.25-26). For not withstanding all the goodly traditions and outward shewes of good workes, deuised of their owne imagination, whereby they appeared to the world most religious and holy of all men, yet Christ (who saw their hearts) knew that they were inwardly in the sight of GOD, most vnholy, most abominable, and farthest from GOD of all men. Therefore sayd hee vnto them, Hypocrites, the Prophet Esai spake full truely of you, when hee sayd, This people honour mee with their lips, but their heart is farre from mee. They worship mee in vaine, that teach doctrines and commandements of men: for you leaue the commandements of GOD, to keepe your owne traditions (Matthew 15.7-9, Isaiah 29.13-14).
Mans lawes must be obserued and kept, but not as Gods Lawes. And though Christ sayd, They worship GOD in vaine, that teach doctrines and commandements of men: yet hee meant not thereby to ouerthrow all mens commandements, for he himselfe was euer obedient to the Princes and their lawes, made for good order and gouernance of the people, but hee reprooued the lawes and traditions made by the Scribes and Pharisees: which were not made onely for good order of the people, (as the Ciuill lawes were) but they were (set vp so high, that they were made to be right and pure worshipping of GOD, as they had beene equall with GOD'S Lawes, or aboue them: for many of Gods Lawes could not bee kept, but were faine to giue place vnto them. This arrogancie GOD detested, that man should so aduance his lawes, to make them equall with GOD'S Lawes, wherein the true honouring and right worshipping of GOD standeth, and to make his Lawes for them to be left off. GOD hath appointed his Lawes, whereby his pleasure is to be honoured. His pleasure is also, that all mens lawes, not being contrary vnto his Lawes, shalbe obeyed and kept, as good and necessary for euery Common-weale, but not as things wherein principally his honour resteth: and all Ciuill and mans lawes, either bee, or should be made, to bring men the better to keepe GOD'S Lawes, that consequently, or followingly, GOD should bee the better honoured by them.
Holy traditions were esteemed as Gods Lawes. Howbeit, the Scribes and Pharisees were not content that their lawes should bee no higher esteemed then other positiue and Ciuill lawes, nor would not haue them called by the name of other Temporall lawes: but called them holy and godly traditions, and would haue them esteemed not onely for a right and true worshipping of GOD (as GOD'S Lawes be in deede) but also for the most high honouring of GOD, to the which the commandements of GOD should giue place.
Holinesse of mans deuise, is commonly occasion that God is offended. And for this cause did Christ so vehemently speake against them, saying, Your traditions which men esteeme so high, be abomination before GOD. For commonly of such traditions, followeth the transgression or breaking of GOD'S commandements, and a more deuotion in keeping of such things, and a greater conscience in breaking of them, then of the commandements of GOD. As the Scribes and Pharises so superstitiously, and scrupulously kept the Sabboth, that they were offended with Christ , because he healed sicke men, and with his Apostles, because they being sore hungry, gathered the eares of corne to eate vpon that day, and because his disciples washed not their handes, so often as the traditions required: the Scribes and Pharises quarrelled with Christ, saying, Why doe they disciples breake the traditions of the Seigniours (Matthew 12.1-14)? But Christ layd to their charge, that they for to keepe their owne traditions, did teach men to breake the very commandements of GOD (Matthew 15.2). For they taught the people such a deuotion, that they offered their goods into the treasure house of the Temple, vnder the pretence of GOD'S honour, leauing their fathers and mothers (to whom they were chiefly bound) vnholpen, and so they brake the commandements of GOD, to keepe their owne traditions. They esteemed more an othe made by the golde or oblation in the Temple, then an othe made in the Name of GOD himselfe, or of the Temple. They were more studious to pay their tithes of small things, then to doe the greater things commanded of GOD, as works of mercy, or to doe iustice, or to deale sincerely, vprightly, and faithfully with GOD and man. These (saith Christ) ought to bee done, and the other not left vndone. And to bee short, they were of so blinde iudgement, that they stumbled at a straw, and leaped ouer a blocke. They would (as it were) nicely take a flie out of their cup, and drinke downe a whole Camell (Matthew 23.16-24). And therefore Christ called them blinde guides, warning his disciples from time to time to eschew their doctrine. For although they seemed to the world to bee most perfect men, both in liuing and teaching, yet was their life but hypocrisie, and their doctrine sowre leauen, mingled with superstition, idolatry, and ouerthwart iudgement, setting vp the traditions and ordinances of man, in stead of GOD'S commandements.
THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON OF GOOD WORKES.
THat all men might rightly iudge of good workes, it hath beene declared in the second part of this Sermon, what kinde of good workes they bee that GOD would haue his people to walke in, namely such as he hath commanded in his holy Scripture, and not such workes as men haue studied out of their owne braine, of a blind zeale and deuotion, without the word of GOD: And by mistaking the nature of good workes, man hath most highly displeased GOD, and hath gone from his will and commandements. So that thus you haue heard how much the world from the beginning vntill Christes time, was euer ready to fall from the commandements of GOD, and to seeke other meanes to honour and serue him, after a deuotion found out of their own heads: and how they did set vp their owne traditions, as high or aboue GOD'S commandements, which hath happened also in our times (the more it is to be lamented) no lesse then it did among the Iewes, and that by the corruption, or at least by the negligence of them that chiefly ought to haue preserued the pure and heauenly doctrine left by Christ . What man hauing any iudgement or learning, ioyned with a true zeale vnto GOD, doeth not see, and lament, to haue entred into Christes religion, such false doctrine, superstition idolatry, hypocrisie, and other enormities and abuses, so as by little and little, through the sowre leauen thereof, the sweete bread of GOD'S holy word hath bene much hindred and layed apart?
Sectes and religion amongst Christian men. Neuer had the Iewes in their most blindnesse, so many Pilgrimages vnto Images, nor vsed so much kneeling, kissing, and sensing of them, as hath bene vsed in our time. Sects and feigned religions were neither the fourtieth part so many among the Iewes, nor more superstitiously and vngodly abused, then of late dayes they haue been among vs. Which sects and religions, had so many hypocriticall and feigned workes in their state of religion (as they arrogantly named it) that their lampes (as they said) ran alwayes ouer, able to satisfie, not onely for their owne sinnes, but also for all other their benefactors, brothers, and sisters of religion, as most vngodly and craftily they had perswaded the multitude of ignorant people: keeping in diuers places (as it were) marts or markets of merites, being full of their holy reliques, images, shrines, and workes of ouerflowing abundance ready to be solde. And all things which they had were called holy, holy cowles, holy girdles, holy pardons, beades, holy shooes, holy rules, and all full of holinesse. And what thing can be more foolish, more superstitious, or vngodly, then that men, women, and children, should weare a Friers coat, to deliuer them from agues, or pestilence? or when they die, or when they be buried, cause it to be cast vpon them, in hope thereby to be saued? Which superstition, although (thankes bee to GOD) it hath beene little vsed in this Realme, yet in diuers other Realmes, it hath beene, and yet it is vsed among many both learned and vnlearned. But to passe ouer the innumerable superstitiousnes that hath bene in strange apparel, in silence, in Dormitory, in Cloyster, in Chapter, in choise of meates, and drinkes, and in such like things, let vs consider what enormities & abuses haue been in the three chiefe principall points, which they called the three essentials, or three chiefe foundations of religion, that is to say, obedience, chastitie, and wilfull pouertie.
The three chiefe vowes of religion. First, vnder pretence or colour of obedience to their Father in religion (which obedience they made themselues) they were made free by their rule and Canons, from the obedience of their natural father and mother, and from the obedience of Emperour and King, and all temporall power, whom of very duetie by GOD'S lawes they were bound to obey. And so the profession of their obedience not due, was a forsaking of their due obedience. And how their profession of chastitie was kept, it is more honestly to passe ouer in silence, and let the world iudge of that which is well knowen, then with vnchaste wordes, by expressing of their vnchaste life, to offend chaste and godly eares. And as for their wilfull pouertie, it was such, that when in possessions, iewels, plate, and riches, they were equall or aboue merchants, gentlemen, Barons, Earles, and Dukes: yet by this subtill sophisticall terme, Proprium in commune, that is to say, Proper in common, they mocked the world, perswading, that not withstanding all their possessions, and riches, yet they kept their vow, and were in wilfull pouertie. But for all their riches, they might neuer helpe father nor mother, nor other that were in deede very needy and poore, without the licence of their father Abbot, Prior, or Warden, and yet they might take of euery man, but they might not giue ought to any man, no not to them whom the lawes of GOD bound them to helpe. And so through their traditions and rules, the lawes of GOD could beare no rule with them. And therefore of them might be most truely sayd, that which Christ spake vnto the Pharisees, You breake the commandements of GOD by your traditions: you honour GOD with your lips, but your hearts be farre from him (Matthew 15.3, 8). And the longer prayers they vsed by day and by night, vnder pretence or colour of such holinesse, to get the fauour of widowes, and other simple folkes, that they might sing Trentalles and seruice for their husbands and friends, and admit or receiue them into their prayers: the more truely is verified of them the saying of Christ, Woe bee vnto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you deuoure widowes houses, vnder colour of long prayers, therefore your damnation shall bee the greater (Matthew 23.14-15). Woe bee to you Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, for you goe about by sea and by land to make moe Nouices, and new brethren, and when they be let in, or receiued of your sect, you make them the children of hell, worse then your selues bee. Honour bee to GOD, who did put light in the heart of his faithfull and true minister, of most famous memorie King Henry the eight, and gaue him the knowledge of his word, and an earnest affection to seeke his glory, and to put away all such superstitious, and Pharisaicall sectes by Antichrist inuented, and set vp against the true word of GOD, and glory of his most blessed Name, as he gaue the like spirit vnto the most noble and famous Princes, Iosaphat, Iosias, and Ezechias. GOD grant all vs the Kings Highnesse faithfull and true Subiects, to feed of the sweete and sauoury bread of GOD'S owne worde, and (as Christ commanded) to eschew all our Pharisaicall and Papisticall leauen of mans fained religion. Which, although it were before GOD most abominable, and contrary to Gods commandements, and Christ's pure Religion, yet it was praysed to be a most godly life, and highest state of perfection: as though a man might bee more godly, and more perfect by keeping the rules, traditions, and professions of men, then by keeping the holy commandements of GOD.
Other deuises and superstitions. And briefly to passe ouer the vngodly and counterfait religion, let vs rehearse some other kindes of Papisticall superstitions & abuses, as of Beades, of Lady Psalters, and Rosaries, of fifteene Oes, of Saint Barnards verses, of Saint Agathes letters, of Purgatorie, of Masses satisfactory, of Stations, and Iubilees, of fained Reliques, or hallowed Beades, Belles, Bread, Water, Psalmes, Candels, Fire, and such other: of superstitious fastings, of fraternities or brotherheads, of pardons, with such like merchandise, which were so esteemed and abused to the great preiudice of Gods glory and Commaundements, that they were made most high and most holy things, whereby to attaine to the euerlasting life, or remission of sinne:
Decrees and decretals. Yea also vaine inuentions, vnfruitfull ceremonies, and vngodly lawes, decrees, and councels of Rome, were in such wise aduanced, that nothing was thought comparable in authoritie, wisedome, learning, and godlinesse vnto them. So that the lawes of Rome, (as they sayd) were to be receiued of all men, as the foure Euangelists, to the which all lawes of Princes must giue place. And the lawes of GOD also partly were left off, and lesse esteemed, that the said lawes, decrees and councels, with their traditions and ceremonies, might be more duely kept, and had in greater reuerence. 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 holinesse, a more perfect seruice and honouring of GOD, and more pleasing to GOD, then the keeping of Gods commandements. Such hath bene the corrupt inclination of man, euer superstitiously giuen to make new honouring of GOD of his owne head, and then to haue more affection and deuotion to keepe that, then to search out Gods holy commandements, and to keepe them. And furthermore, to take GOD'S commandements for mens commandements, and mens commandements for Gods commandements, yea, and for the highest and most perfect and holy of all GOD'S commandements. And so was all confused, that scant well learned men, and but a small number of them knew, or at the least would know, and durst affirme the trueth, to separate or seuer GOD'S Commandements from the commandements of men. Whereupon did grow much errour, superstition, idolatrie, vaine religion, ouerthwart iudgement, great contention, with all vngodly liuing.
An exhortation to the keeping of Gods commandements. Wherefore, as you haue any zeale to the right and pure honouring of GOD, as you haue any regard to your owne soules, and to the life that is to come, which is both without paine, and without ende, apply your selues chiefly aboue all things, to reade and heare GOD'S worde, marke diligently therein what his will is you shal doe, and with all your endeuour apply your selues to follow the same.
A briefe rehearsall of Gods commandements. First you must haue an assured faith in GOD, and giue your selues wholly vnto him, loue him in prosperitie and aduersitie, and dread to offend him euermore. Then for his sake loue all men, friends and foes, because they bee his creation and image, and redeemed by Christ , as ye are. Cast in your mindes, how you may doe good vnto all men, vnto your powers, and hurt no man. Obey all your superiours, and gouernours, serue your Masters faithfully and diligently, as well in their absence, as in their presence, not for dread of punishment onely, but for conscience sake, knowing that you are bound so to doe by Gods Commandements. Disobey not your Fathers and Mothers, but honour them, helpe them, and please them to your power. Oppresse not, kill not, beate not, neither slaunder, nor hate any man: but loue all men, speake well of all men, helpe and succour euery man, as you may, yea, euen your enemies that hate you, that speake euill of you, and that doe hurt you. Take no mans goods, nor couet your neighbours goods wrongfully, but content your selues with that which yee get truely, and also bestow your owne goods charitably, as neede and case requireth. Flee all idolatrie, witchcraft, and periury, commit no maner of adulterie, fornication, or other vnchastnesse, in will, nor in deede, with any other mans wife, widdow, or mayde, or otherwise. And trauayling continually, (during this life) thus in keeping the commandements of GOD (wherein standeth the pure, principall, and right honour of GOD, and which wrought in faith, GOD hath ordeined to bee the right trade and path way vnto heauen) you shall not faile, as Christ hath promised, to come to that blessed and euerlasting life, where you shall liue in glory and ioy with GOD for euer: to whom be praise, honour and emperie, for euer and euer. Amen.
The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.