HOMILY ON REPAIRING AND KEEPING CLEAN THE CHURCH
from Short-Title Catalogue 13675. Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1.
copyright 1994 Ian Lancashire (ed.) University of Toronto
Screen design: Sian Meikle
Text input: Claire Smith
AN HOMILIE FOR REpayring and keeping cleane, and comely
adorning of Churches.
IT is a common custome vsed of all men, when they intend to haue their friends or neighbours to come to their houses to eat or drinke with them, or to haue any solemne assemblie to treat and talke of any matter, they will haue their houses, which they keepe in continuall reparations, to be cleane and fine, lest they should bee counted sluttish, or little to regard their friendes and neighbours. How much more then ought the house of GOD, which wee commonly call the Church, to be sufficiently repayred in all places, and to bee honourably adorned and garnished, and to be kept cleane and sweete, to the comfort of the people that shall resort thereunto.
It appeareth in the holy Scripture, how GODS house, which was called his holy Temple, and was the mother Church of all Iewrie, fell sometimes into decay, and was oftentimes prophaned and defiled, through the negligence and vngodlinesse of such as had the charge thereof. But when godly Kings and gouernours were in place, then commandement was giuen foorthwith, that the Church and Temple of GOD should be repayred, and the deuotion of the people to bee gathered, for the reparation of the same. We reade in the fourth Booke of the Kings, how that king Ioas, being a godly Prince, gaue commandement to the Priests, to conuert certaine offerings of the people, towards the reparation and amendment of GODS Temple (2 Kings 12.4-5).
Like commandement gaue that most godly King Iosias, concerning the reparation and reedification of GODS Temple, which in his time he found in sore decay (2 Kings 22.3-7). It hath pleased Almightie GOD, that these Histories touching the reedifying and repayring of his holy Temple, should be written at large, to the end wee should be taught thereby: First, that GOD is well pleased that his people should haue a conuenient place to resort vnto, and to come together, to praise and magnifie GODS holy Name. And secondly, hee is highly pleased with all those, which diligently and zealously goe about to amend and restore such places as are appointed for the Congregation of GODS people to resort vnto, and wherein they humbly and ioyntly render thankes to GOD for his benefits, and with one heart and voice praise his holy Name. Thirdly, GOD was sore displeased with his people, because they builded, decked, and trimmed vp their owne houses, and suffered GODS house to bee in ruine and decay, to lye vncomely and fulsomely. Wherefore GOD was sore grieued with them, and plagued them, as appeareth in the Prophet Aggeus. Thus saith the Lord: Is it time for you to dwell in your seeled houses, and the Lords house not regarded? Yee haue sowed much, and gathered in but little, your meat and your clothes haue neither filled you, nor made you warme, and hee that had his wages, put it in a bottomelesse purse (Haggai 1.4, 6). By these plagues which GOD laid vpon his people for neglecting of his Temple, it may euidently appeare & that; GOD will haue his Temple, his Church, the place where his Congregation shall resort to magnifie him, well edified, well repaired, and well maintained. Some neither regarding godlinesse, nor the place of godly exercise, will say, The Temple in the old Law was commaunded to bee built and repaired by GOD himselfe, because it had great promises annexed vnto it, and because it was a figure, a Sacrament, or a signification of Christ, and also of his Church. To this may bee easily answered: First, that our Churches are not destitute of promises, forasmuch as our Sauiour Christ saith, Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the middest among them. A great number therefore comming to Church together in the Name of Christ, haue there, that is to say in the Church, their GOD and Sauiour Christ Iesus present among the Congregation of his faithfull people, by his grace, by his fauour and godly assistance, according to his most assured and comfortable promises. Why then ought not Christian people to build them Temples and Churches, hauing as great promises of the presence of GOD, as euer had Salomon for the materiall Temple which hee did build? As touching the other point, that Salomons Temple was a figure of Christ: we know that now in the time of the cleare light of Christ Iesus the Sonne of GOD, all shadowes, figures, and significations are vtterly gone, all vaine and vnprofitable ceremonies, both Iewish and Heathenish, fully abolished. And therefore our Churches are not set vp for figures, and significations of Messias and Christ to come, but for other godly and necessary purposes, that is to say, That like as euery man hath his owne house to abide in, to refresh himselfe in, to rest in, with such like commodities: So Almightie GOD will haue his house and place whither the whole Parish and Congregation shall resort, which is called the Church and Temple of GOD, for that the Church, which is the company of GODS people, doth there assemble and come together to serue him. Not meaning hereby, that the Lord whom the heauen of heauens is not able to holde or comprise, doth dwell in the Church of lime and stone, made with mans hands, as wholly and onely conteined there within, and no where els, for so he neuer dwelt in Salomons Temple. Moreouer, the Church or Temple is counted and called holy, yet not of it selfe, but because GODS people resorting thereunto, are holy, and exercise themselues in holy and heauenly things. And to the intent yee may vnderstand further, why Churches were built among Christian people, this was the greatest consideration: that GOD might haue his place, and that GOD might haue his time, duely to be honoured and serued of the whole multitude in the parish. First there to heare and learne the blessed word and will of the euerlasting GOD. Secondly, that there the blessed Sacraments, which our Lord and Sauiour Christ Iesus hath ordained and appointed, should be duely, reuerently, and decently ministred. Thirdly, that there the whole multitude of GODS people in the Parish, should with one voice and heart call vpon the Name of GOD, magnifie and praise the Name of GOD, render earnest and heartie thankes to our heauenly Father for his heape of benefits dayly and plentifully powred vpon vs, not forgetting to bestow our almes vpon GODS poore, to the intent GOD may blesse vs the more richly. Thus yee may well perceiue and vnderstand wherefore Churches were built and set vp amongst Christian people, and dedicated & appointed to these godly vses, and wholly exempted from all filthy, prophane, & worldly vses. Wherefore all they that haue little mind or deuotion to repaire and build GODS Temple, are to be counted people of much vngodlinesse, spurning against good order in Christes Church, despising the true honour of GOD, with euill example offending and hindering their neighbours otherwise well and godly disposed. The world thinketh it but a trifle to see their Church in ruine and decay. But who so doth not lay to their helping handes, they sinne against GOD & his holy congregation. For if it had not been sin to neglect & slightly regard the reedifying and building vp againe of his Temple, GOD would not haue been so much grieued, and so soone haue plagued his people, because they builded and decked their owne houses so gorgeously, and despised the house of GOD their Lord. It is sinne and shame to see so many Churches, so ruinous, and so fouly decayed, almost in euery corner. If a mans priuate house wherein hee dwelleth, bee decayed, he will neuer cease till it bee restored vp againe. Yea, if his barne where he keepeth his corne be out of reparations, what diligence vseth he to make it in perfect state againe? If his stable for his horse, yea, the stie for his swine, be not able to hold out water and wind, how carefull is he to doe cost thereon? And shall we be so mindfull of our common base houses, deputed to so vile employment, & be forgetfull toward that house of GOD, wherin be intreated the words of our eternall saluation, wherin be ministred the Sacraments and mysteries of our redemption? The fountaine of our regeneration is there presented vnto vs, the partaking of the Body and Blood of our Sauiour Christ, is there offered vnto vs: And shall we not esteeme the place where so heauenly things are handled? Wherefore if ye haue any reuerence to the seruice of GOD, if ye haue any common honesty, if ye haue any conscience in keeping of necessary and godly ordinances, keepe your Churches in good repaire, whereby ye shall not onely please GOD, and deserue his manifold blessings, but also deserue the good report of all godly people.
The second point, which appertaineth to the maintenance of GODS house, is, to haue it well adorned, & comely, and cleane kept. Which things may bee the more easily refourmed, when the Church is well repayred. For like as men are well refreshed and comforted, when they finde their houses hauing all things in good order, and all corners cleane and sweete: so when GODS house the Church is well adorned, with places conuenient to sit in, with the Pulpit for the preacher, with the Lords table, for the ministration of his holy supper, with the Font to Christen in, and also is kept cleane, comely, and sweetly, the people are more desirous, and the more comforted to resort thither, and to tarry there the whole time appointed them. With what earnestnesse, with what vehement zeale did our Sauiour Christ driue the buyers & sellers out of the temple of GOD, and hurled downe the tables of the changers of money, and the seates of the Doue-sellers, & could not abide any man to carry a vessell through the Temple (Matthew 21.12)? He told them that they had made his Fathers house a den of theeues, partly through their superstition, hypocrisie, false worship, false doctrine, and insatiable couetousnesse, and partly through contempt, abusing that place with walking and talking, with worldly matters without all feare of God, and due reuerence to that place. What dennes of theeues the Churches of England haue beene made by the blasphemous buying & selling the most precious body and blood of Christ in the Masse, as the world was made to beleeue, at diriges, at monthes minds, at trentalles, in abbeyes & chantries, beside other horrible abuses (GODS holy name be blessed for euer) which we now see & vnderstand. All these abominations, they that supplie the roome of Christ, haue cleansed and purged the Churches of England of, taking away all such fulsomnesse and filthinesse, as through blinde deuotion and ignorance hath crept into the Church these many hundred yeeres. Wherefore, O yee good Christian people, ye dearely beloued in Christ Iesu, yee that glory not in worldly and vaine religion, in phantasticall adorning and decking, but reioyce in heart to see the glory of GOD truly set foorth, and the Churches restored to their ancient and godly vse, render your hearty thankes to the goodnesse of Almighty GOD, who hath in our dayes stirred vp the hearts, not onely of his godly Preachers and Ministers, but also of his faithfull and most Christian magistrates and gouernours, to bring such godly things to passe.
And forasmuch as your Churches are scoured and swept from the sinfull and superstitious filthinesse wherewith they were defiled and disfigured: Doe yee your partes, good people to keepe your Churchs comely and cleane, suffer them not to bee defiled with raine and weather, with doung of doues, and owles, stares, and choughs, and other filthinesse, as it is foule and lamentable to behold in many places of this countrey. It is the house of prayer, not the house of talking, of walking, of brawling, of minstrelsie, of hawkes, of dogs. Prouoke not the displeasure and plagues of GOD, for despising & abusing his holy house, as the wicked Iewes did. But haue GOD in your heart, be obedient to his blessed will, bind your selues euery man and woman, to your power, toward the reparations and cleane keeping of the Church, to the intent that yee may be partakers of GODS manifold blessings, and that yee may be the better encouraged to resort to your parish Church, there to learne your duetie towards GOD and your neighbour, there to be present and partakers of Christs holy Sacraments, there to render thankes to your heauenly Father for the manifold benefits which hee daily powreth vpon you, there to pray together, and to call vpon GODS holy Name, which be blessed world without end. Amen.
The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.