HOMILY ON THE PLACE AND TIME OF PRAYER
AN HOMILIE OF THE
place and time of Prayer.
GOD through his Almighty power, wisedome, and goodnesse, created in the beginning, heauen and earth, the sun, the moone, the starres, the foules of the ayre, the beastes of the earth, the fishes in the sea, and all other creatures, for the vse and commodity of man, whom also he had created to his owne image and likenesse, and giuen him the vse and gouernment ouer them all, to the end he should vse them in such sort as he had giuen him in charge and commandement, and also that hee should declare himselfe thankefull and kinde for all those benefits, so liberally and so gratiously bestowed vpon him, vtterly without any deseruing on his behalfe. And although we ought at all times, and in all places, to haue in remembrance, and to be thankefull to our gratious Lord, according as it is written, I will magnifie the Lord at all times. And againe, Wheresoeuer the Lord beareth rule, O my soule prayse the Lord (Psalm 103.22): Yet it appeareth to be GODS good will and pleasure, that wee should at speciall times, and in speciall places, gather our selues together, to the intent his name might bee renowned, and his glory set foorth in the congregation and assemblie of his Saints. As concerning the time which Almighty GOD hath appointed his people to assemble together solemnely, it doeth appeare by the fourth commandement of GOD: Remember, sayth GOD, that thou keepe holy the Sabbath day. Upon the which day, as is plaine in the Actes of the Apostles, the people accustomably resorted together, and heard diligently the Law and the Prophets read among them (Acts 13.14). And albeit this commandement of GOD doeth not binde Christian people so straitely to obserue and keepe the vtter ceremonies of the Sabbath day, as it was giuen vnto the Iewes, as touching the forbearing of worke and labour in time of great necessity, and as touching the precise keeping of the seuenth day, after the manner of the Iewes. For wee keepe now the first day, which is our Sunday, and make that our Sabbath, that is our day of rest, in the honour of our Sauiour Christ, who as vpon that day rose from death, conquering the same most triumphantly: Yet notwithstanding, whatsoeuer is found in the commandement appertaining to the law of nature, as a thing most godly, most iust, and needefull for the setting foorth of GODS glory, it ought to bee retained and kept of all good Christian people. And therefore by this commandement, wee ought to haue a time, as one day in the weeke, wherein wee ought to rest, yea from our lawfull and needefull workes. For like as it appeareth by this commandement, that no man in the sixe dayes ought to bee slothfull or idle, but diligently to labour in that state wherein GOD hath set him: Euen so, GOD hath giuen expresse charge to all men, that vpon the Sabboth day, which is now our Sunday, they should cease from all weekely and workeday labour, to the intent, that like as GOD himselfe wrought sixe dayes, and rested the seuenth, and blessed, and sanctified it, and consecrated it to quietnesse and rest from labour: euen so GODS obedient people should vse the Sunday holily, and rest from their common and dayly businesse, and also giue themselues wholly to heauenly exercises of GODS true religion and seruice. So that GOD doeth not onely command the obseruation of this holy day, but also by his owne example doeth stirre and prouoke vs to the diligent keeping of the same. Good naturall children will not onely become obedient to the commandement of their parents, but also haue a diligent eye to their doings, and gladly follow the same. So if we will be the children of our heauenly Father, wee must be carefull to keepe the Christian Sabboth day, which is the Sunday, not onely for that it is GODS expresse commandement, but also to declare ourselues to be louing children, in following the example of our gratious Lord and Father.
Thus it may plainely appeare, that Gods will and commandement was to haue a solemne time and standing day in the weeke, wherein the people should come together, and haue in remembrance his wonderfull benefits, and to render him thankes for them, as appertaineth to louing, kinde, and obedient people. This example and commandement of GOD the godly Christian people beganne to follow immediatly after the assension of our Lord Christ, and began to chuse them a standing day of the weeke to come together in: Yet not the seuenth day, which the Iewes kept: but the Lords day, the day of the Lords resurrection, the day after the seuenth day, which is the first day of the weeke. Of the which day mention is made by Saint Paul on this wise, In the first day of the Sabboth, let euery man lay vp what hee thinketh good: meaning for the poore (1 Corinthians 16.2). By the first day of the Sabboth, is meant our Sunday, which is the first day after the Iewes seuenth day. And in the Apocalyps it is more plaine, where as Saint Iohn sayth, I was in the Spirit vpon the Lords day (Revelations 1.10). Sithence which time GODS people hath alwayes in all ages, without any gainesaying, vsed to come together vpon the Sunday, to celebrate and honor the Lords blessed Name, and carefully to keepe that day in holy rest and quietnesse, both man, woman, childe, seruant, and stranger. For the transgression and breach of which day, GOD hath declared himselfe much to bee grieued, as it may appeare by him, who for gathering of stickes on the Sabboth day was stoned to death (Numbers 15.32-36). But alasse, all these notwithstanding, it is lamentable to see the wicked boldnesse of those that will bee counted GODS people, who passe nothing at all of keeping and halowing the Sunday. And these people are of two sorts. The one sort if they haue any businesse to doe, though there bee no extreme neede, they must not spare for the Sunday, they must ride and iourney on the Sunday, they must driue and carry on the Sunday, they must rowe and ferry on the Sunday, they must buy and sell on the Sunday, they must keepe markets and fayres on the Sunday: finally, they vse all dayes alike, workedayes and holydayes all are one. The other sort is worse. For although they will not trauell nor labour on the Sunday as they doe on the weeke day, yet they will not rest in holinesse, as GOD commandeth: but they rest in vngodlinesse and filthinesse, prancing in their pride, pranking and pricking, pointing and painting themselues to bee gorgious and gay: they rest in excesse and superfluitie, in gluttony and drunkennesse, like rattes and swine: they rest in brawling and rayling, in quarrelling and fighting: they rest in wantonnesse, in toyish talking, in filthie fleshlinesse, so that it it doeth too euidently appeare that God is more dishonoured, and the deuill better serued on the Sunday, then vpon all the dayes in the weeke besides. And I assure you, the beasts which are commanded to rest on the Sunday, honour GOD better then this kinde of people: For they offend not GOD, they breake not their holy dayes. Wherefore, O yee people of GOD, lay your hands vpon your hearts, repent and amend this grieuous and dangerous wickednesse, stand in awe of the Commandement of GOD, gladly follow the example of GOD himselfe, be not disobedient to the godly order of Christs Church, vsed and kept from the Apostles time, vntill this day. Feare the displeasure and iust plagues of Almightie GOD, if ye be negligent and forbeare not labouring and trauailing on the Sabbath day or Sunday, and doe not resort together to celebrate and magnifie GODS blessed Name, in quiet holinesse and godly reuerence.
Now concerning the place where the people of GOD ought to resort together, and where especially they ought to celebrate and sanctifie the Sabboth day, that is the Sunday, the day of holy rest: That place is called GODS Temple or the Church, because the company and congregation of GODS people (which is properly called the Church) doeth there assemble themselues on the dayes appointed for such assemblies and meetings. And forasmuch as Almightie GOD hath appointed a speciall time to be honoured in, it is very meete, godly, and also necessarie, that there should be a place appointed where these people should meete and resort, to serue their gracious GOD and mercifull Father. Trueth it is, the holy Patriarchs for a great number of yeeres had neither Temple nor Church to resort vnto. The cause was, they were not stayed in any place, but were in a continuall peregrination and wandering, that they could not conueniently build any Church. But so soone as GOD had deliuered his people from their enemies, and set them in some libertie in the wildernesse, he set them vp a costly and curious Tabernacle, which was as it were the Parish Church, a place to resort vnto of the whole multitude, a place to haue his sacrifices made in, and other obseruances and rites to be vsed in. Furthermore, after that GOD according to the trueth of his promise, had placed and quietly setled his people in the land of Canaan, now called Iurie, hee commanded a great and magnificent Temple to be builded by King Solomon, as seldome the like hath beene seene: a Temple so decked and adorned, so gorgeously garnished, as was meete and expedient for people of that time, which would be allured and stirred with nothing so much, as with such outward goodly gay things. This was now the Temple of GOD, endued also with many giftes and sundry promises. This was the publike Church, and the mother Church of all Iurie. Here was God honoured and serued. Hither was the whole Realme of all the Israelites bound to come at three solemne feasts in the yeere, to serue their Lord GOD heere. But let vs proceed further. In the time of Christ and his Apostles, there were yet no Temples nor Churches for Christian men. For why? they were alwayes for the most part in persecution, vexation and trouble, so that there could be no liberty nor licence obtayned for that purpose. Yet GOD delighted much that they should often resort together in a place, and therefore after his ascension they remayned together in an vpper chamber, sometime they entred into the Temple, sometime into the Synagogues, sometimes they were in prison, sometimes in their houses, sometimes in the fields, &c. And this continued so long till the fayth of Christ Iesus began to multiply in a great part of the world. Now when diuers Realmes were established in GODS true Religion, and GOD had giuen them peace and quietnesse: then began Kings, Noble men, and the people also, stirred vp with a godly zeale and feruentnesse, to build vp Temples and Churches, whither the people might resort, the better to doe their dutie towards GOD, and to keepe holy their Sabboth day, the day of rest. And to these Temples haue the Christians customably vsed to resort from time to time, as vnto meet places where they might with common consent prayse and magnifie GODS name, yeelding him thankes for the benefits that he dayly powreth vpon them, both mercifully and abundantly, where they might also heare his holy word read, expounded, and preached syncerely, and receiue his holy Sacraments ministred vnto them duely and purely. True it is that the chiefe and speciall Temples of GOD, wherein he hath greatest pleasure, and most delighteth to dwell, are the bodies and mindes of true Christians, and the chosen people of GOD, according to the doctrine of holy Scriptures, declared by Saint Paul. Know ye not (sayth hee) that yee bee the temple of GOD, and that the spirit of GOD doeth dwell in you? The Temple of GOD is holy, which ye are (1 Corinthians 3.16-17). And againe in the same Epistle: Know ye not that your body is the temple of the holy Ghost dwelling in you, whom you haue giuen you of GOD, and that yee bee not your owne (1 Corinthians 6.19)? Yet this notwithstanding, GOD doeth allow the materiall Temple made with lime and stone (so oft as his people come together into it, to prayse his holy name) to be his house, and the place where hee hath promised to be present, and where he will heare the prayers of them that call vpon him. The which thing both Christ and his Apostles, with all the rest of the holy Fathers, doe sufficiently declare by this: That albeit they certainely knew that their prayers were heard in what place soeuer they made them, though it were in caues, in woodes, and in deserts, yet (so oft as they could conueniently) they resorted to the materiall Temples, there with the rest of the congregation, to ioyne in prayer and true worship.
Wherefore (dearely beloued) you that professe your selues to be Christians, and glory in that name, disdaine not to follow the example of your master Christ, whose schollers you say you bee, shew you to bee like them whose schoolemates you take vpon you to bee, that is, the Apostles and Disciples of Christ. Lift vp pure hands, with cleane hearts, in all places and at all times. But doe the same in the Temples and Churches vpon the Sabbath dayes also. Our godly predecessours, and the ancient Fathers of the Primitiue Church, spared not their goods to build Churches, no they spared not their liues in time of persecution, and to hazard their blood, that they might assemble themselues together in Churches. And shall we spare a little labour to come to Churches? Shall neither their example, nor our duety, nor the commodities (that thereby should come vnto vs) moue vs? If wee will declare our selues to haue the feare of GOD, if we will shew our selues true Christians, if wee will bee the followers of Christ our master, and of those godly Fathers that haue liued before vs, and now haue receiued the reward of true and faithfull Christians, we must both willingly, earnestly, and reuerently come vnto the material Churches and Temples to pray, as vnto fit places appointed for that vse, and that vpon the Sabboth day, as at most conuenient time for GODS people, to cease from bodily and worldly businesse, to giue themselues to holy rest, and godly contemplation pertayning to the seruice of Almighty GOD: Whereby wee may reconcile our selues to GOD, be partakers of his holy Sacraments, and be deuout hearers of his holy word, so to be established in faith to Godward, in hope against all aduersity, and in charity toward our neighbours. And thus running our course as good Christian people, wee may at the last attaine the reward of euerlasting glory, through the merits of our Sauiour Iesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen.
THE SECOND PART OF THE HOMILIE OF THE PLACE AND TIME OF PRAYER.
IT hath beene declared vnto you (good Christian people) in the former Sermon read vnto you, at what time and into what place ye shall come together to prayse GOD. Now I intend to set before your eyes, first how zealous and desirous ye ought to be to come to your Church. Secondly, how sore GOD is grieued with them that doe despise or little regard to come to the Church vpon the holy restfull day. It may well appeare by the Scriptures, that many of the godly Israelites, being now in captiuity for their sinnes among the Babylonians, full often wished and desired to bee againe at Hierusalem. And at their returne, through GODS goodnesse (though many of the people were negligent) yet the fathers were maruellous deuout to build vp the Temple, that GODS people might repayre thither, to honour him. And king Dauid when he was a banished man out of his countrey, out of Hierusalem the holy city, from the Sanctuary, from the holy place and from the Tabernacle of GOD: What desire, what feruentnesse was in him toward that holy place? what wishings and prayers made hee to GOD to be a dweller in the house of the Lord? One thing (sayth hee) haue I asked of the Lord, and this will I still craue, that I may resort and haue my dwelling in the house of the Lord, so long as I liue. Again, Oh how I ioyed when I heard these words, Wee shall goe into the Lords house (Psalms 122.1, 9). And in other places of the Psalmes hee declareth for what intent and purpose he hath such a feruent desire to enter into the Temple and Church of the Lord: I will fall downe (sayth he) and worship in the holy Temple of the Lord. Againe, I haue appeared in thy holy place, that I might behold thy might and power, that I might behold thy glory and magnificence (Psalms 63.1-2). Finally he sayth: I will shew foorth thy name to my brethren, I will prayse thee in the middest of the congregation. Why then had Dauid such an earnest desire to the house of GOD? First because there he would worship and honour GOD. Secondly, there he would haue a contemplation and a sight of the power and glory of GOD. Thirdly, there he would prayse the name of GOD, with all the congregation and company of the people. These considerations of this blessed Prophet of GOD ought to stirre vp, and kindle in vs the like earnest desire to resort to the Church, especially vpon the holy restfull dayes, there to doe our duties, and to serue GOD, there to call to remembrance how GOD euen of his meere mercy, and for the glory of his name sake, worketh mightily to conserue vs in health, wealth and godlinesse, and mightily preserueth vs from the assault and rages of our fierce and cruell enemies, and there ioyfully in the number of his faithfull people to praise and magnifie the Lords holy Name.
Set before your eyes also that ancient father Simeon, of whom the Scripture speaketh thus, to his great commendation, and an encouragement for vs to doe the like. There was a man at Hierusalem named Simeon, a iust man, fearing GOD: he came by the Spirit of GOD into the Temple, and was told by the same Spirit that hee should not dye before hee saw the Annointed of the Lord. In the Temple his promise was fulfilled, in the Temple hee saw Christ, and tooke him in his armes, in the Temple hee brake out into the mighty prayse of GOD his Lord. Anna a prophetesse, an olde widdow departed out of the Temple, giuing herselfe to prayer and fasting day and night: And she, comming about the same time, was likewise inspired, and confessed, and spake of the Lord, to all them that looked for the redemption of Israel (Luke 2.25-38). This blessed man, and this blessed woman, were not disappointed of wonderfull fruit, commodity and comfort, which GOD sent them, by their diligent resorting to GODS holy Temple. Now yee shall heare how grieuously GOD hath beene offended with his people, for that they passed so little vpon his holy Temple, and foulely either despised or abused the same. Which thing may plainely appeare by the notable plagues and punishments which GOD hath layd vpon his people, especially in this, that he stirred vp their aduersaries horribly to beate downe, and vtterly to destroy his holy Temple with a perpetuall desolation. Alasse, how many Churches, Countreys, and Kingdomes of Christian people, haue of late yeeres beene plucked downe, and ouerrunne, and left waste, with grieuous and intolerable tyranny and cruelty of the enemie of our Lord Christ the great Turke, who hath so vniuersally scourged the Christians, that neuer the like was heard or read of? Aboue thirtie yeeres past, the great Turke had ouerrunne, conquered, and brought into his dominion and subiection, twenty Christian kingdomes, turning away the people from the faith of Christ, poysoning them with the diuelish religion of wicked Mahomet, and either destroying their Churches vtterly, or filthily abusing them with their wicked & detestable errours. And now this great Turke, this bitter and sharpe scourge of GODS vengeance, is euen at hand in this part of Christendome, in Europe, at the borders of Italy, at the borders of Germanie, greedily gaping to deuoure vs, to ouerrunne our countrey, to destroy our Churches also, vnlesse wee repent our sinfull life, and resort more diligently to the Church to honour GOD, to learne his blessed will, and to fulfill the same. The Iewes in their time prouoked iustly the vengeance of GOD, for that partly they abused his holy Temple with the detestable idolatry of the heathen, and superstitious vanities of their own inuentions contrary to GODS commandement, partly they resorted vnto it as hypocrites, spotted, imbrewed, and fouly defiled with all kinde of wickednesse and sinfull life, partly many of them passed little vpon the holy Temple, and cared not whether they came thither, or no. And haue not the Christians of late dayes, and euen in our dayes also, in like maner prouoked the displeasure and indignation of Almighty GOD? partly because they haue prophaned and defiled their Churches with heathenish and Iewish abuses, with images and idoles, with numbers of Altars, too too superstitiously and intolerably abused, with grosse abusing and filthy corrupting of the Lords holy supper, the blessed Sacrament of his body and blood, with an infinite number of toyes and trifles of their owne deuises, to make a goodly outward shew, and to deface the plaine, simple, and sincere religion of Christ Iesus, partly they resort to the Church like hypocrites, full of all iniquity and sinfull life, hauing a vaine and dangerous fansie and perswasion, that if they come to the Church, besprinckle them with holy water, heare a masse, and bee blessed with the chalice, though they vnderstand not one word of the whole seruice, nor feele one motion of repentance in their hearts, all is well, all is sure. Fie vpon such mocking and blaspheming of GODS holy ordinance. Churches were made for another purpose, that is, to resort thither, and to serue GOD truely, there to learne his blessed will, there to call vpon his mighty Name, there to vse the holy Sacraments, there to trauaile how to bee in charitie with thy neighbour, there to haue thy poore and needy neighbour in remembrance, from thence to depart better and more godly then thou camest thither. Finally GODS vengeance hath beene, and is dayly prouoked, because much wicked people passe nothing to resort to the Church, either for that they are so sore blinded that they vnderstand nothing of GOD and godlinesse, and care not with diuilish example to offend their neighbours, or else for that they see the Church altogether scoured of such gay gazing sights, as their grosse phantasie was greatly delighted with, because they see the false religion abandoned, and the true restored, which seemeth an vnsauory thing to their vnsauory taste, as may appeare by this that a woman said to her neighbour: Alas gossip, what shall wee now doe at Church, since all the Saints are taken away, since all the goodly sights wee were wont to haue, are gone, since wee cannot heare the like piping, singing, chaunting, and playing vpon the organes that we could before. But (dearely beloued) we ought greatly to reioyce and giue GOD thankes, that our Churches are deliuered out of all those things which displeased GOD so sore, and filthily defiled his holy house and his place of prayer, for the which hee hath iustly destroyed many nations, according, to the saying of S. Paul: If any man defile the Temple of GOD, GOD will him destroy (1 Corinthians 3.17). And this ought we greatly to praise GOD for, that such superstitious & idolatrous maners as were vtterly nought and defaced GODS glory, are vtterly abolished, as they most iustly deserued: and yet those things that either GOD was honoured with, or his people edified, are decently retained, and in our Churches comely practised. But nowe forasmuch as yee perceiue it is GODS determinate pleasure ye should resort vnto your Churches vpon the day of holy rest, seeing yee heare what displeasure GOD conceiueth, what plagues hee powreth vpon his disobedient people, seeing yee vnderstand what blessings GOD are giuen, what heauenly commodities come to such people as desirously and zealously vse to resort vnto their Churches, seeing also ye are now friendly bidden and ioyntly called, beware that ye slacke not your duetie, take haede that you suffer nothing to let you hereafter to come to the Church at such times as you are ordinarily appoynted and commanded. Our Sauiour Christ telleth in a parable, that a great supper was prepared, gestes were bidden, many excused themselues and would not come: I tell you (sayth Christ) none of them that were called shall tast of my supper. This great Supper, is the true religion of Almighty GOD, wherewith hee will bee worshipped in the due receiuing of his Sacraments, and sincere preaching and hearing of his holy word, and practising the same by godly conuersation. This feast is now prepared in GODS banqueting house the Church, you are thereunto called and ioyntly bidden: if you refuse to come, and make your excuses, the same will bee answered to you that was vnto them. Now come therefore (dearely beloued) without delay, and chearefully enter into GODS feasting house, and become pertakers of the Benefites prouided and prepared for you. But see that yee come thither with your holyday garment, not like hypocrites, not of a custome and for manners sake, not with lothsomenesse, as though ye had rather not come then come, if ye were at your liberty. For GOD hateth and punisheth such counterfet hypocrites, as appeareth by Christes former parable. My friend (saith GOD) how camest thou in without a wedding garment? And therefore commanded his seruants to binde him hand and foote, and to cast him into vtter darkenesse, where shall bee weeping, and wayling, and gnashing of teeth. To the intent that yee may auoyd the like danger at GODS hand, come to the Church on the holy day, and come in your holy day garment, that is to say, come with a chearefull and a godly minde, come to seeke GODS glory, and to bee thankefull vnto him, come to bee at one with thy neighbour, and to enter in frendship and charity with him. Consider that all thy doings stincke before the face of GOD, if thou bee not in charity with thy neighbour. Come with an heart sifted and cleansed from worldely and carnall affections and desires, shake off all vaine thoughtes which may hinder thee from GODS true seruice. The bird when she will flee, shaketh her wings: Shake and prepare thy selfe to flee higher then all the birdes in the ayre, that after thy duety duelie done in this earthly Temple and Church, thou mayest flee vp, and be receiued into the glorious Temple of GOD in heauen through Christ Iesus our Lord, to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost bee all glorie and honour. Amen.
The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.