HOMILY ON THE RESURRECTION FOR EASTER DAY
AN HOMILIE OF THE
Resurrection of our Sauiour Iesus
For Easter Day.
IF euer at any time the greatnesse or excellency of any matter spirituall or temporall hath stirred vp your mindes to giue diligent care (good Christian people, and welbeloued in our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ) I doubt not but that I shall haue you now at this present season most diligent and ready hearers, of the matter which I haue at this time to open vnto you. For I come to declare that great and most comfortable Article of our Christian Religion and fayth, the Resurrection of our Lord Iesus. So great surely is the matter of this Article, and of so great wayght and importance, that it was thought worthy to keepe our sayd Sauiour still on earth forty dayes after hee was risen from death to life, to the confirmation and establishment thereof in the hearts of his Disciples. So that (as Luke clearely testifieth in the first Chapter Actes of the Apostles) he was conuersant with his Disciples by the space of forty dayes continually together, to the intent he would in his person, being now glorified, teach and instruct them, which should bee the teachers of other, fully and in most absolute and perfect wise, the trueth of this most Christian Article, which is the ground and foundation of our whole Religion, before he would ascend vp to his father into the heauens, there to receiue the glory of his most triumphant conquest and victory. Assuredly, so highly comfortable is this Article to our consciences, that it is euen the very locke and key of all our Christian Religion and fayth. If it were not true (sayth the holy Apostle Paul) that Christ rose againe: then our preaching were in vaine, your fayth which you haue receiued were but voyd, ye were yet in the danger of your sinnes. If Christ be not risen againe (sayth the Apostle) then are they in very euill case, and vtterly perished, that be entred their sleepe in Christ, then are wee the most miserable of all men, which haue our hope fixed in Christ, if he be yet vnder the power of death, and as yet not restored to his blisse againe. But now hee is risen againe from death (sayth the Apostle Paul) to be the first fruites of them that be asleepe, to the intent to rayse them to euerlasting life again (1 Corinthians 15.14-20): Yea if it were not true that Christ is risen againe, then were it neither true that he is ascended vp to heauen, nor that hee sent downe from heauen vnto vs the holy Ghost, nor that hee sitteth on the right hand of his heauenly Father, hauing the rule of heauen and earth, raigning (as the Prophet sayth) from sea to sea (Psalms 72.8), nor that he should after this world, be the Iudge aswell of the liuing as of the dead, to giue reward to the good, and iudgement to the euill. That these linkes therefore of our fayth should all hang together in stedfast establishment and confirmation, it pleased our Sauiour not straightway to withdraw himselfe from the bodily presence and sight of his Disciples, but he chose out forty dayes, wherein he would declare vnto them, by manifold and most strong arguments and tokens, that he had conquered death, and that he was also truly risen again to life. He began (sayth Luke) at Moses & all the Prophets, and expounded vnto them the Prophesies that were written in all the Scriptures of him (Luke 24.27), to the intent to confirme the trueth of his resurrection, long before spoken of: which he verified indeed, as it is declared very apparantly and manifestly, by his oft appearance to sundry persons at sundry times. First, he sent his Angels to the Sepulchre, who did shew vnto certaine women the empty graue, sauing that the buriall linnen remayned therein (Matthew 28.5-6). And by these signes were these women fully instructed, that hee was risen againe, and so did they testifie it openly. After this, Iesus himselfe appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20.16), and after that to certaine other women, & straight afterward he appeared to Peter, then to the two Disciples, which were going to Emaus (Luke 24.13-15). He appeared to the Disciples also, as they were gathered together, for feare of the Iewes, the doore shut. At another time hee was seene at the sea of Tiberias of Peter and Thomas, and of other Disciples, when they were fishing (John 21.1, 4). Hee was seene of more th en fiue hundred brethren in the mount of Galile, where Iesus appoynted them to bee by his Angel, when he sayd, Behold, he shall go before you into Galile, there shall ye see him as he hath sayd vnto you. After this hee appeared vnto Iames, and last of all he was visiblie seene of all the Apostles, at such time as he was taken vp into heauen (1 Corinthians 15.6-7, Acts 1.9). Thus at sundry times he shewed himselfe after he was risen againe, to confirme and stablish this Article. And in these reuelations sometime he shewed them his hands, his feet, and his side, and bade them touch him, that they should not take him for a ghost or a spirit. Sometime he also did eat with them, but euer hee was talking with them of the euerlasting kingdome of GOD, to assure the trueth of his resurrection. For then he opened their vnderstanding, that they might perceiue the Scriptures, and sayd vnto them: Thus it is written, and thus it behooued Christ to suffer, and to rise from death the third day, and that there should be preached openly in his name pardon and remission of sinnes to all the Nations of the world (Luke 24.45-47). Yee see (good Christian people) how necessary this Article of our faith is, seeing it was prooued of Christ himselfe by such euident reasons and tokens, by so long time and space. Now therefore as our Sauiour was diligent for our comfort and instruction to declare it: so let vs be as ready in our beliefe to receiue it to our comfort and instruction. As he died not for himselfe, no more did he rise againe for himselfe. He was dead (sayth Saint Paul) for our sinnes, and rose againe for our iustification (1 Corinthians 15.3-4). O most comfortable word, euermore to be borne in remembrance. He died (saith he) to put away sinne, hee rose againe to endow vs with righteousnesse. His death tooke away sinne and malediction, his death was the ransome of them both, his death destroyed death, and ouercame the deuill, which had the power of death in his subiection, his death destroyed hell, with all the damnation thereof. Thus is death swallowed vp by Christs victory, thus is hell spoyled for euer. If any man doubt of this victory, let Christs glorious resurrection declare him the thing. If death could not keepe Christ vnder his dominion and power, but that he arose againe, it is manifest that his power was ouercome. If death bee conquered, then must it follow that sinne, wherefore death was appoynted as the wages, must bee also destroyed. If death and sinne be vanished away, then is the deuils tyranny vanished, which had the power of death, and was the author and brewer of sinne, and the ruler of hell. If Christ had the victory of them all by the power of his death, and openly prooued it by his most victorious and valiant resurrection (as it was not possible for his great might to bee subdued of them) and it is true, that Christ dyed for our sinnes, and rose againe for our iustification: Why may not wee, that bee his members by true faith, reioyce and boldly say with the Prophet Osee, and the Apostle Paul, Where is thy dart, O death? Where is thy victory, O hell? Thankes be vnto GOD, say they, which hath giuen vs the victory by our Lord Christ Iesus.
This mighty conquest of his resurrection, was not onely signified before by diuers figures of the olde Testament, as by Sampson when hee slew the Lion, out of whose mouth came sweetenesse and hony, and as Dauid bare his figure when hee deliuered the lambe out of the Lyons mouth, and when he ouercame and slew the great Gyant Goliah (1 Samuel 17.35, 49), and as when Ionas was swallowed vp in the Whales mouth, and cast vp againe on land aliue (Jonas 1.17): but was also most clearely prophesied by the Prophets of the old Testament, and in the new also confirmed by the Apostles. He hath spoyled, saith Saint Paul, rule and power, and all the dominion of our spirituall enemies. Hee hath made a shew of them openly, and hath triumphed ouer them in his owne person (Colossians 2.15). This is the mighty power of the Lord, whom we beleeue on. By his death, hath hee wrought for vs this victory, and by his resurrection, hath hee purchased euerlasting life and righteousnes for vs. It had not beene enough to bee deliuered by his death from sinne, except by his resurrection wee had beene endowed with righteousnesse. And it should not auaile vs to be deliuered from death, except he had risen againe, to open for vs the gates of heauen, to enter into life euerlasting. And therefore Saint Peter thanketh GOD the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ for his aboundant mercy, because hee hath begotten vs (sayth hee) vnto a liuely hope by the resurrection of Iesus Christ from death, to enioy an inheritance immortall, that neuer shall perish, which is layd vp in heauen for them that bee kept by the power of GOD through faith (1 Peter 1:3-5). Thus hath his resurrection wrought for vs life and righteousnes. He passed through death & hell, to the intent to put vs in good hope, that by his strength we shall doe the same. He payd the ransome of sinne, that it should not be laid to our charge. He destroyed the deuill and all his tyranny, and openly triumphed ouer him, and tooke away from him all his captiues, and hath raised and set them with himselfe among the heauenly Citizens aboue (Ephesians 2.6). He dyed, to destroy the rule of the deuill in vs: and he rose againe, to send downe his holy Spirit to rule in our hearts, to endow vs with perfect righteousnesse. Thus it is true that Dauid sung, Veritas de terra orta est, & iustitia de caelo prospexit (Psalms 85.11). The trueth of GODS promise is in earth to man declared, or from the earth is the euerlasting veritie GODS Sonne risen to life, and the true righteousnesse of the holy Ghost looking out of heauen, and in most liberall larges dealt vpon all the world (Captiuam duxit captiuitatem., Ephesians 4.8). Thus is glory and prayse rebounded vpwards to GOD aboue, for his mercy & trueth. And thus is peace come downe from heauen to men of good and faithfull hearts (Luke 2.14). Thus is mercy and trueth as Dauid writeth, together mette, thus is peace and righteousnesse imbracing and kissing ech other (Misericordia & veritas obuiauerunt sibi., Psalms 85.10). If thou doubtest of so great wealth and felicity that is wrought for thee, O man, call to thy minde that therefore hast thou receiued into thine owne possession the euerlasting veritie our Sauiour Iesus Christ, to confirme to thy conscience the trueth of all this matter. Thou hast receiued him, if in true faith and repentance of heart thou hast receiued him: If in purpose of amendment, thou hast receiued him for an euerlasting gage or pledge of thy saluation. Thou hast receiued his body which was once broken, and his blood which was shedde for the remission of thy sinne. Thou hast receiued his body, to haue within thee the Father, the Sonne, and the holy Ghost, for to dwell with thee, to endow thee with grace, to strength thee against thine enemies, and to comfort thee with their presence. Thou hast receiued his body to endow thee with euerlasting righteousnesse, to assure thee of euerlasting blisse, and life of thy soule. For with Christ by true faith art thou quickened againe (saith Saint Paul, Ephesians 2.1-2) from death of sinne, to life of grace, and in hope translated from corporall and euerlasting death, to the euerlasting life of glory in heauen, where now thy conuersation should bee, and thy heart and desire set. Doubt not of the trueth of this matter, how great and high soeuer these things be. It becommeth GOD to doe no small deedes, how impossible soeuer they seeme to thee (Luke 18.27). Pray to GOD that thou mayest haue faith to perceiue this great mysterie of Christs resurrection: that by faith thou mayest certainely beleeue nothing to bee impossible with GOD. Onely bring thou faith to Christs holy word and Sacrament. Let thy repentance shew thy faith, let thy purpose of amendment & obedience of thy heart to GODS law, hereafter declare thy true beleefe. Endeuour thy selfe to say with Saint Paul, From hencefoorth our conuersation is in heauen, from whence wee looke for a Sauiour, euen the Lord Iesus Christ, which shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like his glorious body, which hee shall doe by the same power whereby he rose from death, and whereby he shall bee able to subdue all things vnto himselfe (Philippians 3.20-21). Thus (good Christian people) forasmuch as yee haue heard these so great and excellent benefites of Christes mighty and glorious resurrection, as how that hee hath ransomed sinne, ouercome the diuell, death, and hell, and hath victoriously gotten the better hand of them all, to make vs free and safe from them, and knowing that we bee by this benefite of his resurrection risen with him by our faith, vnto life euerlasting, being in full surety of our hope, that wee shall haue our bodies likewise raised againe from death, to haue them glorified in immortalitie, and ioyned to his glorious body, hauing in the meane while this holy spirit within our heartes as a seale and pledge of our euerlasting inheritance. By whose assistance we be replenished with all righteousnesse, by whose power we shall bee able to subdue all our euill affections, rising against the pleasure of GOD. These things, I say, well considered, let vs now in the rest of our life declare our faith that we haue in this most fruitfull article, by framing our selues thereunto, in rising dayly from sinne, to righteousnesse and holinesse of life. For what shall it auaile vs (saith Saint Peter) to bee escaped and deliuered from the filthinesse of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ, if wee be intangled againe therewith, and bee ouercome againe? Certainely it had beene better (saith hee) neuer to haue knowne the way of righteousnesse, then after it is knowne and receiued, to turne backe againe from the holy Commandement of GOD giuen vnto vs. For so shall the prouerbe haue place in vs, where it is said: The dogge is returned to his vomit againe, and the Sowe that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire againe (2 Peter 2.20-22). What a shame were it for vs, being thus so clearely and freely washed from our sinne, to returne to the filthinesse thereof againe? What a follie were it, thus endowed with righteousnesse, to loose it againe? What madnesse were it to loose the inheritance that wee bee now set in, for the vile and transitorie pleasure of sinne? And what an vnkindnesse should it bee, where our Sauiour Christ of his mercie is come to vs, to dwell with vs as our ghest, to driue him from vs, and to banish him violently out of our soules, and in stead of him in whom is all grace and vertue, to receiue the vngracious spirit of the diuell, the founder of all naughtinesse and mischiefe. How can wee finde in our heartes to shew such extreme vnkindnesse to Christ, which hath now entred within vs? yea, how dare wee be so bold to renounce the presence of the Father, the Sonne and the holy Ghost? (For where one is, there is GOD all whole in Maiestie, together with all his power, wisedome, and goodnesse) and feare not I say the danger and perill of so traiterous a defiance and departure? Good Christian brethren and sisters, aduise your selues, consider the dignity that yee bee now set in, let no folly loose the thing that grace hath so preciously offered and purchased, let not wilfulnesse and blindnesse put out so great light that is now shewed vnto you. Onely take good heartes vnto you, and put vpon you all the armour of GOD, that yee may stand against your enemies, which would againe subdue you, and bring you into their thraldome (Ephesians 6.11). Remember ye bee bought from your vaine conuersation, and that your freedome is purchased neither with gold nor siluer, but with the price of the precious Blood of that innocent Lambe Iesus Christ, which was ordained to the same purpose before the world was made. But hee was so declared in the latter time of grace, for your sakes which by him haue your faith in GOD, who hath raised him from death, and hath giuen him glory, that you should haue your faith and hope towards GOD (1 Peter 1.18-20). Therefore as you haue hitherto followed the vaine lustes of your mindes, and so displeased GOD, to the danger of our soules: So now, like obedient children thus purified by faith, giue your selues to walke that way which GOD mooueth you to, that ye may receiue the end of your faith, the saluation of your soules (1 Peter 1.9). And as yee haue giuen your bodies to vnrighteousnesse, to sinne after sinne: so now giue your selues to righteousnesse, to bee sanctified therein (Romans 6.19). If yee delight in this Article of our faith, that Christ is risen againe from the death to life: then follow you the example of his resurrection, as Saint Paul exhorteth vs, saying: As we be buried with Christ by our Baptisme into death, so let vs dayly die to sinne, mortifying and killing the euill desires and motions thereof (Romans 6.4). And as Christ was raysed vp from death by the glory of the Father, so let vs rise to a new life, and walke continually therein, that wee may likewise as naturall children liue a conuersation to mooue men to glorifie our Father which is in heauen (Matthew 5.16). If wee then be risen with Christ by our faith to the hope of euerlasting life: let vs rise also with Christ, after his example, to a new life, & leaue our olde. We shall then be truely risen, if we seeke for things that be heauenly, if we haue our affection on things that be aboue, and not on things that bee on the earth. If yee desire to know what these earthly things bee which yee should put off, and what bee the heauenly thinges aboue, that yee should seeke and ensue, Saint Paul in the Epistle to the Colossians declareth, when he exhorteth vs thus. Mortifie your earthly members and old affection of sinne, as fornication, vncleannesse, vnnaturall lust, euill concupiscence, and couetousnes, which is worshipping of idolles, for the which thinges, the wrath of GOD is wont to fall on the children of vnbeliefe, in which things once yee walked, when yee liued in them (Colossians 3.1-2, 5-9). But now put yee also away from you, wrath fiercenesse, maliciousnesse, cursed speaking, filthy speaking, out of your mouthes. Lye not one to another, that the olde man with his workes be put off, and the new bee put on. These bee the earthly thinges which Saint Paul mooued you to cast from you, and to plucke your heartes from them. For in following these, yee declare your selues earthly and worldly. These bee the fruites of the earthly Adam. These should you dayly kill, by good diligence, in withstanding the desires of them, that yee might rise to righteousnesse. Let your affection from hencefoorth bee set on heauenly things, sue and search for mercie, kindenesse, meekenesse, patience, forbearing one another, and forgiuing one another. If any man haue a quarell to another, as Christ forgaue you, euen so doe yee. If these and such other heauenly vertues ye ensue in the residue of your life, ye shal shew plainely that yee bee risen with Christ, and that ye bee the heauenly children of your Father in heauen, from whom, as from the giuer, commeth these graces and giftes (James 1.17). Yee shall prooue by this maner, that your conuersation is in heauen, where your hope is: and not on earth, following the beastly appetites of the flesh (Philippians 3.20). Yee must consider that yee be therefore cleansed and renued, that ye should from hencefoorth serue GOD in holinesse and righteousnesse all the dayes of your liues, that yee may raigne with them in euerlasting life (Luke 1.74-75). If ye refuse so great grace, whereto ye bee called, what other thing doe ye, then heape to you damnation more and more, and so prouoke GOD to cast his displeasure vnto you, and to reuenge this mockage of his holy Sacraments in so great abusing of them? Apply your selues (good friendes) to liue in Christ, that Christ may still liue in you, whose fauour and assistance if ye haue, then haue yee euerlasting life already within you, then can nothing hurt you (John 5.24). Whatsoeuer is hitherto done and committed, Christ yee see hath offered you pardon, and clearely receiued you to his fauour againe, in full suretie whereof, yee haue him now inhabiting and dwelling within you. Onely shew your selues thankeful in your liues, determine with your selues to refuse and auoyde all such thinges in your conuersations as should offend his eyes of mercy (Colossians 3.5). Endeuour your selues that way to rise vp againe, which way ye fell into the well or pitte of sinne. If by your tongue you haue offended, now thereby rise againe, and glorifie GOD therewith, accustome it to laude and prayse the Name of GOD, as ye haue therewith dishonoured it.
Restitution. And as yee haue hurt the name of your neighbour, or otherwise hindered him, so now intend to restore it to him againe. For without restitution, GOD accepteth not your confession, nor yet your repentance. It is not enough to forsake euill, except you set your courage to doe good. By what occasion soeuer you haue offended, turne now the occasion to the honouring of GOD, and profite of your neighbour. Trueth it is that sinne is strong, and affections vnruly. Hard it is to subdue and resist our nature, so corrupt and leauened with the sower bitternesse of the poyson which we receiued by the inheritance of our old father Adam (Psalms 36.1). But yet take good courage, saith our Sauiour Christ, for I haue ouercome the world, and all other enemies for you (John 16.33). Sinne shall not haue power ouer you, for yee bee now vnder grace, saith Saint Paul. Though your power bee weake, yet Christ is risen againe to strengthen you in your battaile, his holy Spirit shall helpe your infirmities (Romans 6.9, Romans 8.26). In trust of his mercy, take you in hand to purge this olde leauen of sinne, that corrupteth and sowreth the sweetenesse of our life before GOD, that yee may bee as newe and fresh dow, voyde of all sower leauen of wickednesse, so shall yee shew your selues to bee sweete bread to GOD, that hee may haue his delight in you (1 Corinthians 5.7). I say kill & offer you vp the worldly and earthly affections of your bodies. For Christ our Easter Lambe is offered vp for vs, to slay the power of sinne, to deliuer vs from the danger thereof, and to giue vs example to die to sinne in our liues. As the Iewes did eate their Easter Lambe, and keepe their feast in remembrance of their deliuerance out of Egypt: Euen so let vs keepe our Easter feast in the thankefull remembrance of Christes benefites, which he hath plentifully wrought for vs by his resurrection and passing to his Father, whereby we are deliuered from the captiuity and thraldome of all our enemies. Let vs in like maner passe ouer the affections of our olde conuersation, that we may be deliuered from the bondage thereof, and rise with Christ. The Iewes kept their feast in abstaining from leauened bread, by the space of seuen dayes (Exodus 12.15). Let vs Christian folke keepe our holy day in spirituall maner, that is, in absteining, not from materiall leauened bread, but from the olde leauen of sinne, the leauen of malitiousnesse and wickednesse. Let vs cast from vs the leauen of corrupt doctrine, that will infect our soules. Let vs kepe our feast the whole terme of our life, with eating the bread of purenesse of godly life, and trueth of Christes doctrine. Thus shall wee declare that Christes giftes and graces haue their effect in vs, and that wee haue the right beliefe and knowledge of his holy resurrection: where truely if wee apply our faith to the vertue thereof in our life, and conforme vs to the example and signification meant thereby, wee shall be sure to rise hereafter to euerlasting glory, by the goodnesse and mercy of our Lord Iesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost bee all glorie, thankesgiuing, and prayse, in infinita seculorum secula, Amen.
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