Comentario al Padrenuestro
PATER NOSTER, QUI ES IN COELIS
I have entered of late in the way of preaching, and spoken many things of prayer, and rather of prayer than of any other thing: for I think there is nothing more necessary to be spoken of, nor more abused than prayer was by the craft and subtilty of the devil; for many things were taken for prayer when they were nothing less. Therefore at this same time also I have thought it good to entreat of prayer, to the intent that it might be known how precious a thing right prayer is. I told you,
First, What prayer is.
Secondarily, To whom we ought to pray.
Thirdly, Where, and in what place we ought to pray. And,
Fourthly, I told you the diversity of prayer, namely, of the common prayer, and the private.
These and such like things I have dilated and expounded unto you in the open pulpit.
Now at the present time I intend as by the way of a lecture, at the request of my most gracious lady, to expound unto you, her household servants, and other that be willing to hear, the right understanding and meaning of this most perfect prayer which our Saviour himself taught us, at the request of his disciples, which prayer we call the Paternoster. This prayer of our Lord may be called a prayer above all prayers; the principal and most perfect prayer; which prayer ought to be regarded above all others, considering that our Saviour himself is the author of it; he was the maker of this prayer, being very God and very man. He taught us this prayer, which is a most perfect schoolmaster, and commanded us to say it: which prayer containeth great and wonderful things, if a learned man had the handling of it. But as for me, such things as I have conceived by the reading of learned men's books; so far forth as God will give me his grace and Spirit, I will shew unto you touching the very meaning of it, and what is to be understood by every word contained in this prayer; for there is no word idle or spoken in vain. For it must needs be perfect, good, and of great importance, being our Saviour's teaching, which is the wisdom of God itself. There be many other psalms and prayers in scripture very good and godly; and it is good to know them: but it is with this prayer; the Lord's Prayer, I say, like as with the law of love. All the laws of Moses, as concerning what is to be done to please God, how to walk before him uprightly and godly, all such laws are contained in this law of love, Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo, et do tota anima tua, et in tota mente tua, et proximum sicut teipsum: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." Even so is it with this prayer. For like as the law of love is the sum and abridgment of the other laws, so this prayer is the sum and abridgment of all other prayers: all the other prayers are contained in this prayer; yea, whatsoever mankind hath need of to soul and body.
This prayer hath two parts: it hath a preface, which some call a salutation or a loving entrance; secondarily, the prayer itself. The entrance is this: Cum oratis, dicite, Pater noster, qui es in coelis; "When ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven." As who should say, "You Christian people, you that bear the name of Christians, must pray so."
Before I go any further, I must put you in remembrance to consider how much we be bound to our Saviour Christ, that he would vouchsafe to teach us to pray, and in this prayer to signify unto us the goodwill which our heavenly Father beareth towards us. Now to the matter:
"Our Father." These words pertain not to the petitions they be but an entering, a seeking favour at God's hand: yet if we well weigh and consider them, they admonish us of many things and strengthen our faith wondrous well. For this word, "Father," signifieth that we be Christ's brothers, and that God is our Father. He is the eldest Son: he is the Son of God by nature, we be his sons by adoption through his goodness; therefore he biddeth us to call him our Father; which is to be had in fresh memory and great reputation. For here we are admonished how that we be reconciled unto God; we, which before-times were his enemies, are made now the children of God, and inheritors of everlasting life. This we be admonished by this word, "Father." So that it is a word of much importance and great reputation: for it confirmeth our faith, when we call him Father. Therefore our Saviour, when he teacheth us to call God "Father," teacheth us to understand the fatherly affection which God beareth towards us; which thing maketh us bold and hearty to call upon him, knowing that he beareth a goodwill towards us, and that he will surely hear our prayers. When we be in trouble, we doubt of a stranger, whether he will help us or not: but our Saviour commanding us to call God, "Father," teacheth us to be assured of the love and goodwill of God toward us. So by this word "Father," we learn to stablish and to comfort our faith, knowing most assuredly that he will be good unto us. For Christ was a perfect schoolmaster: he lacked no wisdom: he knew his Father's will and pleasure; he teacheth us, yea, and most certainly assureth us, that God will be no cruel judge, but a loving Father. Here we see what commodities we have in this word, "Father."
Seeing now that we find such commodities by this one word, we ought to consider the whole prayer with great diligence and earnest mind. For there is no word nor letter contained in this prayer, but it is of great importance and weight; and therefore it is necessary for us to know and understand it thoroughly, and then to speak it considerately with great devotion: else it is to no purpose to speak the words without understanding; it is but lip-labour and vain babbling, and so unworthy to be called prayer; as it was in times past used in England. Therefore when you say this prayer, you must well consider what you say: for it is better once said deliberately with understanding, than a thousand times without understanding: which is in very deed but vain babbling, and so more a displeasure than pleasure unto, God. For the matter lieth not in much saying, but in well saying. So, if it be said to the honour of God, then it hath his effect, and we shall have our petitions. For God is true in his promises: and our Saviour, knowing him to be well affected towards us, commandeth us therefore to call him Father.
Here you must understand, that like as our Saviour was most earnest and fervent in teaching us how to pray, and call upon God for aid and help, and for things necessary both to our souls and bodies; so the devil, that old serpent, with no less diligence endeavoureth himself to let and stop our prayers, so that we shall not call upon God. And amongst other his lets, he hath one especially wherewith he thinketh to keep us from prayer, which is, the remembrance of our sins. When he perceiveth us to be disposed to pray, he cometh with his craft and subtile conveyances, saying, "What, wilt thou pray unto God for aid and help? Knowest thou not that thou art a wicked sinner, and a transgressor of the law of God? Look rather to be damned, and judged for thy ill doings, than to receive any benefit at his hands. Wilt thou call him 'Father,' which is so holy a God, and thou art so wicked and miserable a sinner?" This the devil will say, and trouble our minds, to stop and let us from our prayer; and so to give us occasion not to pray unto God. In this temptation we must seek for some remedy and comfort: for the devil doth put us in remembrance of our sins to that end, to keep us from prayer and invocation of God. The remedy for this temptation is to call our Saviour to remembrance, who hath taught us to say this prayer. He knew his Father's pleasure; he knew what he did. When he commanded us to call God our Father, he knew we should find fatherly affections in God towards us. Call this, I say, to remembrance, and again remember that our Saviour hath cleansed through his passion all our sins, and taken away all our wickedness; so that as many as believe in him shall be the children of God. In such wise let us strive and fight against the temptations of the devil; which would not have us to call upon God, because we be sinners. Catch thou hold of our Saviour, believe in him, be assured in thy heart that he with his suffering took away all thy sins. Consider again, that our Saviour calleth us to prayer, and commandeth us to pray. Our sins let us, and withdraw us from prayer; but our Saviour maketh them nothing: when we believe in him, it is like as if we had no sins. For he changeth with us: he taketh our sins and wickedness from us, and giveth unto us his holiness, righteousness, justice, fulfilling of the law, and so, consequently, everlasting life: so that we be like as if we had done no sin at all; for his righteousness standeth us in so good stead, as though we of our own selves had fulfilled the law to the uttermost. Therefore our sins cannot let us, nor withdraw us from prayer: for they be gone; they are no sins; they cannot be hurtful unto us. Christ dying for us, as all the scripture, both of the new and old Testament, witnesseth, Dolores nostros ipse portavit, "He hath taken away our sorrows." Like as when I owe unto a man an hundred pound: the day is expired, he will have his money, I have it not, and for lack of it I am laid in prison. In such distress cometh a good friend, and saith, "Sir, be of good cheer, I will pay thy debts;" and forthwith payeth the whole sum, and setteth me at liberty. Such a friend is our Saviour. He hath paid our debts, and set us at liberty; else we should have been damned world without end in everlasting prison and darkness. Therefore, though our sins condemn us, yet when we allege Christ and believe in him, our sins shall not hurt us. For St John saith, Si quis peccaverit, advocatum habemus apud Patrem, Jesum Christum justum, "We have an advocate with God the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Mark that he saith, Advocatum, non advocatos. He speaketh singularly, not plurally. We have one advocate, not many; neither saints, nor anybody else, but only him, and none other, neither by the way of mediation, not by the way of redemption. He only is sufficient, for he only is all the doer. Let him have all the whole praise! Let us not withdraw from him his majesty, and give it to creatures: for he only satisfieth for the sins of the whole world; so that all that believe in Christ be clean from all the filthiness of their sins. For St John Baptist saith, Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." Doth the devil call thee from prayer? Christ calleth thee unto it again: for so it is written, In hoc apparuit Filius Dei, ut destruat opera diaboli; "To that end the Son of God appeared, to destroy the works of the devil."
But mark here: scripture speaketh not of impenitent sinners; Christ suffered not for them: his death remedieth not their sins. For they be the bondmen of the devil, and his slaves; and therefore Christ's benefits pertain not unto them. It is a wonderful saying that St John hath, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." The devil saith unto me; "Thou art a sinner." "No," saith St John, "the Lamb of God hath taken away thy sins." Item, Habentes igitur Pontificem magnum qui penetravit coelos, Jesum Filium Dei, accedamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae, ut consequamur misericordiam; "We therefore having a great high Priest, which hath passed through the heavens, even Jesus the Son of God, let us with boldness go unto the seat of his grace, that we may obtain mercy." O, it is a comfortable thing that we have an access unto God! Esay saith, In livore ejus sanati sumus; "The pain of our punishment was laid upon him, and with his stripes are we healed." Further, in the new Testament we read, Huic omnes prophetae testimonium perhibent, remissionem peccatorum accipere per nornen ejus omnes qui credunt in eum; "Unto the same bear all prophets witness, that all they do receive forgiveness of sins by his name, which believe on him."
Now you see how ye be remedied from your sins; you hear how you shall withstand the devil, when he will withdraw you from prayer. Let us therefore not give over prayer, but stick unto it. Let us rather believe Christ our Saviour than the devil, which was a liar from the beginning. You know now how you may prevent him, how you may put him off and avoid his temptations.
There is one other addition afore we come to the petitions, which doth much confirm our faith and increase the same: Qui es in coelis, "which art in heaven." These words put a diversity between the heavenly Father, and our temporal fathers. There be some temporal fathers which would fain help their children, but they cannot; they be not able to help them. Again, there be some fathers which are rich, and might help their children, but they be so unnatural, they will not help them. But our heavenly Father, in that we call him, "Father," we learn that he will help, that he beareth a fatherly love towards us.
"In heaven." Here we learn that he is able to help us, to give us all good things necessary to soul and body; and is mighty to defend us from all ill and peril. So it appeareth that he is a Father which will help; and that he being celestial, he is able to help us. Therefore we may have a boldness and confidence, that he may help us: and that he will help us, where and whensoever we call, he. saith, Coelum et terram impleo, "I fill heaven and earth." And again, Coelum mihi sedes est, et terra scabellum pedum meorum; "Heaven is my seat, and the earth is my footstool." Where we see, that he is a mighty God; that he is in heaven and earth, with his power and might. In heaven he is apparently, where face to face he sheweth himself unto his angels and saints. In earth he is not so apparently, but darkly, and obscurely he exhibiteth himself unto us; for our corrupt and feeble flesh could not bear his majesty. Yet he filleth the earth; that is to say, he ruleth and governeth the same, ordering all things according unto his will and pleasure. Therefore we must learn to persuade ourselves, and undoubtedly believe, that he is able to help; and that he beareth a good and fatherly will towards us; that he will not forget us. Therefore the king and prophet David saith, Dominus de coelo prospexit, "The Lord hath seen down from heaven." As far as the earth is from the heaven, yet God looketh down, he seeth all things, he is in every corner. He saith, The Lord hath looked down, not the saints. No, he saith not so; for the saints have not so sharp eyes to see down from heaven: they be pur-blind, and sand-blind, they cannot see so far; nor have not so long ears to hear. And therefore our petition and prayer should be unto him, which will hear and can hear. For it is the Lord that looketh down. He is here in earth, as I told you, very darkly; but he is in heaven most manifestly; where he sheweth himself unto his angels and saints face to face. We read in scripture, that Abel's blood did cry unto God. Where it appeareth that he can hear, yea, not only hear, but also see, and feel: for he seeth over all things, so that the least thought of our hearts is not hid from him. Therefore ponder and consider these words well, for they fortify our faith. We call him "Father," to put ourselves in remembrance of his good-will towards us. "Heavenly" we call him, signifying his might and power, that he may help and do all things according to his will and pleasure. So it appeareth most manifestly, that there lacketh neither goodwill nor power in him. There was once a prophet, which, when he was ill entreated of king Joash, said, Dominus videat et requirat; "The Lord look upon it, and requite it." There be many men in England, and other where else, which care not for God, yea, they be clean without God; which say in their hearts, Nubes latibulum ejus, nec nostra considerat, et circa cardines coeli ambulat: "Tush, the clouds cover him that he may not see, and he dwelleth above in heaven." But, as I told you before, Abel's blood may certify of his present knowledge. Let us therefore take heed that we do nothing that might displease his majesty, neither openly nor secretly: for he is every where, and nothing can be hid from him. Videt et requiret, "He seeth, and will punish it."
Further, this word "Father" is not only apt and convenient for us to strengthen our faith withal, as I told you; but also it moveth God the sooner to hear us, when we call him by that name, "Father". For he, perceiving our confidence in him, cannot choose but shew him like a Father. So that this word, "Father," is most meet to move God to pity and to grant our requests. Certain it is, and proved by holy scripture, that God hath a fatherly and loving affection towards us, far passing the love of bodily parents to their children. Yea, as far as heaven and earth is asunder, so far his love towards mankind exceedeth the love of natural parents to their children: which love is set out by the mouth of his holy prophet Esay, where he saith, Num oblivioni tradet mulier infantem suum, quo minus misereatur filii uteri sui? Et si obliviscatur illa, ego tamen tui non obliviscar: "Can a wife forget the child of her womb, and the son whom she hath borne? And though she do forget him, yet will I not forget thee." Here are shewed the affections and unspeakable love which God beareth towards us. He saith, Nunquid potest mulier, "May a woman?" He speaketh of the woman, meaning the man too; but because women most commonly are more affected towards their children than men be, therefore he nameth the woman. And it is a very unnatural woman, that hateth her child, or neglecteth the same. But, O Lord, what crafts and conveyances useth the devil abroad, that he can bring his matters so to pass, that some women set aside not only all motherly affections, but also all natural humanity, insomuch that they kill their own children, their own blood and flesh! I was a late credibly informed of a priest, which had taken in hand to be a midwife. O what an abominable thing is this! But what followed? He ordered the matter so, that the poor innocent was lost in the mean season. Such things the devil can bring to pass; but what then? God saith, "Though a woman do forget her children, though they kill them, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord God Almighty." Truth it is, there be some women very unnatural and unkind, which shall receive their punishments of God for it; but for all that we ought to beware and not to believe every tale told unto us, and so rashly judge. I know what I mean. There hath been a late such tales spread abroad, and most untruly. Such false tale-tellers shall have a grievous punishment of the Lord, when he shall come to reward every one according unto his deserts.
Here I have occasion to tell you a story which happened at Cambridge. Master Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death for God's word sake; the same Bilney was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge; for I may thank him, next to God, for that knowledge that I have in the word of God. For I was as obstinate a papist as any was in England; insomuch that when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and against his opinions. Bilney heard me at that time, and perceived that I was zealous without knowledge: and he came to me afterward in my study, and desired me, for God's sake, to hear his confession. I did so; and, to say the truth, by his confession I learned more than before in many years. So from that time forward I began to smell the word of God, and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries. Now, after I had been acquainted with him, I went with him to visit the prisoners in the tower at Cambridge; for he was ever visiting prisoners, and sick folk. So we went together, and exhorted them as well as we were able to do; moving them to patience, and to acknowledge their faults. Among other prisoners, there was a woman which was accused that she had killed her own child, which act she plainly and stedfastly denied, and could not be brought to confess the act; which denying gave us occasion to search for the matter, and so we did. And at the length we found that her husband loved her not; and therefore he sought means to make her out of the way. The matter was thus: a child of hers had been sick by the space of a year, and so decayed as it were in a consumption. At the length it died in harvest-time. She went to her neighbours and other friends to desire their help, to prepare the child to the burial; but there was nobody at home: every man was in the field. The woman, in an heaviness and trouble of spirit, went, and being herself alone; prepared the child to the burial. Her husband coming home, not having great love towards her, accused her of the murder; and so she was taken and brought to Cambridge. But as far forth as I could learn through earnest inquisition, I thought in my conscience the woman was not guilty, all the circumstances well considered. Immediately after this I was called to preach before the king, which was my first sermon that I made before his majesty, and it was done at Windsor; where his majesty, after the sermon was done, did most familiarly talk with me in a gallery. Now, when I saw my time, I kneeled down before his majesty, opening the whole matter; and afterwards most humbly desired his majesty to pardon that woman. For I thought in my conscience she was not guilty; else I would not for all the world sue for a murderer. The king most graciously heard my humble request, insomuch that I had a pardon ready for her at my return homeward. In the mean season that same woman was delivered of a child in the tower at Cambridge, whose godfather I was, and Mistress Cheke was godmother. But all that time I hid my pardon, and told her nothing of it, only exhorting her to confess the truth. At the length the time came when she looked to suffer: I came, as I was wont to do, to instruct her; she made great moan to me, and most earnestly required me that I would find the means that she might be purified before her suffering; for she thought she should have been damned, if she should suffer without purification. Where Master Bilney and I told her, that that law was made unto the Jews, and not unto us; and that women lying in child-bed be not unclean before God; neither is purification used to that end, that it should cleanse from sin; but rather a civil and politic law, made for natural honesty sake; signifying, that a woman before the time of her purification, that is to say, as long as she is a green woman, is not meet to do such acts as other women, nor to have company with her husband: for it is against natural honesty, and against the commonwealth. To that end purification is kept and used, not to make a superstitution or holiness of it, as some do; which think that they may not fetch neither fire nor anything in that house where there is a green woman; which opinion is erroneous and wicked. For women, as I said afore, be as well in the favour of God before they be purified as after. So we travailed with this woman till we brought her to a good trade; and at the length shewed her the king's pardon, and let her go.
This tale I told you by this occasion, that though some women be very unnatural, and forget their children, yet when we hear any body so report, we should not be too hasty in believing the tale, but rather suspend our judgments till we know the truth. And again, we shall mark hereby the great love and loving-kindness of God our loving Father, who sheweth himself so loving unto us, that notwithstanding women forget sometimes their own natural children, yet he will not forget us; he will hear us when we call upon him; as he saith by the evangelist Matthew: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," &c. Then he cometh and bringeth in a pretty similitude, saying: "Is there any man amongst you, which, if his son ask bread, will offer him a stone? If ye then," cum sitis mali, "being evil, can give your children good gifts," &c. In these words, where he saith, cum sitis mali, "which be evil," he giveth us our own proper name; he painteth us out, he pincheth us; he cutteth off our combs; he plucketh down our stomachs. And here we learn to acknowledge ourselves to be wicked, and to know him to be the well-spring and fountain of all goodness, and that all good things come of him. Therefore let every man think lowly of himself, humble himself and call upon God, which is ready to give us not only bread and drink, or other necessaries, but the Holy Ghost. To whom will he give the Holy Ghost? To lords and ladies, to gentlemen or gentlewomen? No, not so. He is not ruled by affections: he hath not respect unto personages. Poscentibus, saith he, ("unto those which call upon him," being rich or poor, lords or knights, beggars or rich; he is ready to give unto them when they come to him. And this is a great comfort unto those which be poor and miserable in this world, for they may be assured of the help of God, yea, and as boldly go unto him, and desire his help, as the greatest king in earth. But we must ask, we must inquire for it; he would have us to be importunate, to be earnest and diligent in desiring; then we shall receive when we come with a good faith and confidence. To whom shall we call? Not unto the saints. Poscentibus illum, saith he. Those that call upon him shall be heard. Therefore we ought to come to him only, and not unto his saints.
But one word is left, which we must needs consider; Noster, "our". He saith not "my," but "our". Wherefore saith he "our"? This word "our" teacheth us to consider that the Father of heaven is a common Father; as well my neighbour's Father as mine; as well the poor man's Father as the rich: so that he is not a peculiar Father, but a Father to the whole church and congregation, to all the faithful. Be they never so poor, so vile, so foul and despised, yet he is their Father as well as mine: and therefore I should not despise them, but consider that God is their Father as well as mine. Here may we perceive what communion is between us; so that when I pray, I pray not for myself alone, but for all the rest: again, when they pray, they pray not for themselves only, but for me: for Christ hath so framed this prayer, that I must needs include my neighbour in it. Therefore all those which pray this prayer, they pray as well for me as for themselves; which is a great comfort to every faithful heart, when he considereth that all the church prayeth for him. For amongst such a great number there be some which be good, and whose prayer God will hear: as it appeared by Abraham's prayer, which prayer was so effectuous, that God would have pardoned Sodome and Gomorre, if he might have found but ten good persons therein. Likewise St Paul in shipwreck preserved his company by his prayer. So that it is a great comfort unto us to know that all good and faithful persons pray for us.
There be some learned men which gather out of scripture, that the prayer of St Stephen was the occasion of the conversion of St Paul. St Chrysostom saith, that that prayer that I make for myself is the best, and is of more efficacy than that which is made in common. Which saying I like not very well. For our Saviour was better learned than St Chrysostom. He taught us to pray in common for all; therefore we ought to follow him, and to be glad to pray one for another: for we have a common saying among us, "Whosoever loveth me, loveth my hound." So, whosoever loveth God, will love his neighbour, which is made after the image of God.
And here is to be noted, that prayer hath one property before all other good works: for with my alms I help but one or two at once, but with my faithful prayer I help all. I desire God to comfort all men living, but specially domesticos fidei, "those which be of the household of faith." Yet we ought to pray with all our hearts for the other, which believe not, that God will turn their hearts and renew them with his Spirit; yea, our prayers reach so far, that our very capital enemy ought not to be omitted. Here you see what an excellent thing prayer is, when it proceedeth from a faithful heart; it doth far pass all the good works that men can do.
Now to make an end: we are monished here of charity, and taught that God is not only a private Father, but a common Father unto the whole world, unto all faithful; be they never so poor and miserable in this world, yet he is their Father. Where we may learn humility and lowliness specially great and rich men shall learn here not to be lofty or to despise the poor. For when ye despise the, poor miserable man, whom despise ye? Ye despise him which calleth God his Father as well as you; and peradventure more acceptable and more regarded in his sight than you be. Those proud persons may learn here to leave their stubbornness and loftiness. But there be a great many which little regard this: they think themselves better than other men be, and so despise and contemn the poor; insomuch that they will not hear poor men's causes, nor defend them from wrong and oppression of the rich and mighty. Such proud men despise the. Lord's prayer: they should be as careful for their brethren as for themselves. And such humility, such love and carefulness towards our neighbours, we learn by this word "Our." Therefore I desire you on God's behalf, let us cast away all disdainfulness, all proudness, .yea, and all bibble-babble. Let us pray this prayer with understanding and great deliberation; not following the trade of monkery, which was without all devotion and understanding. There be but few which can say from the bottom of their hearts, "Our Father;" a little number. Neither the Turks, neither the Jews, nor yet the impenitent sinners, can call God their Father. Therefore it is but vain babbling, whatsoever they pray: God heareth them not, he will not receive their prayers. The promise of hearing is made unto them only which be faithful arid believe in God; which endeavour themselves to live according unto his commandments. For scripture saith, Oculi Domini super justos; "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears open unto their prayers." But who are those righteous? Every penitent sinner, that is sorry from the bottom of his heart for his wickedness, and believeth that God will forgive him his sins for his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake. This is called in scripture "a just man," that endeavoureth himself to leave all wickedness. In such sort Peter and Paul were just, because they did repent, and believe in Christ, and so endeavoured themselves to live according unto God's laws. Therefore like as they were made just before God, so may we too; for we have even the self-same promise. Let us therefore follow their ensample. Let us forsake all sins and wickedness; then God will hear our prayers. For scripture saith, Dominus facit quicquid volunt timentes eum, et clamorem eorum exaudit ac servat eos: "The Lord fulfilleth the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and help them." In another place he saith, Si manseritis in sermone meo, et verba mea custodiveritis, quicquid volueritis petentes accipietis: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what ye will, and it shall be done for you." So we see that the promises pertain only to the faithful; to those which endeavour themselves to live according to God's will and pleasure; which can be content to leave their wickedness, and follow godliness: those God will hear at all times, whensoever they shall call upon him.
Remember now what I have said: remember what is meant by this word "our"; namely, that it admonisheth us of love and charity; it teacheth us to beware of stubbornness and proudness; considering that God loveth as well the beggar as the rich man, for he regardeth no persons. Again; what is to be understood by this word "Father"; namely, that he beareth a good will towards us, that he is ready and willing to help us. "Heavenly," that admonisheth us of his potency and ability, that he is ruler over all things. This, I say, remember, and follow it: then we shall receive all things necessary for this life; and finally everlasting joy and felicity. Amen.
SANCTIFICETUR NOMEN TUUM
These few words contain the first petition of the Lord's prayer: the other words which go before this be no part of this petition, but rather an introduction unto these petitions and they be like a preface, or learned entrance to the matter, that the petitions might be the sooner and with more favour heard. For our Saviour being a perfect schoolmaster, as a learned and an expert orator, teacheth us how we should begin our prayer that we might be speedily heard, and how to get favour at God's hand.
I have a manner of teaching, which is very tedious to them that be learned. I am wont ever to repeat those things which I have said before, which repetitions are nothing pleasant to the learned: but it is no matter, I care not for them; I seek more the profit of those which be ignorant, than to please learned men. Therefore I oftentimes repeat such things which be needful for them to know; for I would speak so that they might be edified withal.
I spake some things this day in the commendation of this prayer: and first I told you, that it was our Saviour's own making and handwork, which is a perfect schoolmaster, put in authority by God the heavenly Father himself, which saith, Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacitum est; ipsum audite: "This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I have pleasure; hear him."
This prayer is a perfect prayer, an abridgment and compendious sum of all other prayers. There is nothing that we have need of, neither to our souls or bodies, but it is contained in some of these petitions; nor nothing that God promiseth in his word to give us, but it is expressed in one of these seven petitions.
I shewed you this day why we call God "Father;" namely, because he beareth a loving and fatherly heart towards us. It is a sweet word, "Father;" and a word that pleaseth God much when it is spoken with a faithful heart, which above all things God requireth. This word "Father" moveth God's affection, in a manner, towards us, so that he, hearing the word "Father," cannot choose but shew himself a Father indeed. So that it is a word profitable to us in God's behalf, and, again, for our ownselves: for it moveth God to pity, and also helpeth our faith; so that we doubt not, but that we shall find him a Father, which will grant our requests and petitions made unto him in the name of Christ. Now what crafts and conveyances the devil useth to withdraw and let us from prayer, I told you today aforenoon. If you exercise prayers, you shall find the temptations of the devil, for he sleepeth not: he ever intendeth to withdraw us from prayer. But I told you what remedy you shall use against him; how you shall strive against him, namely, with faith; believing that our Saviour hath taken away our sins, so that they cannot hurt us. For they be no sins in the sight of God; for he hath taken away both the guiltiness of sins, and the pains and punishments which follow sins. Christ hath deserved that those which believe in him shall be quit from all their sins. These benefits of Christ are set out in scripture, in many places; and these be the weapons wherewith we must fight against the devil and his illusions; not with holy water: for I tell you, the devil is not afraid of holy water. It is Christ that hath gotten the victory over him; it is he that vanquisheth the serpent's head, and not holy water.
Further, in that we call him "Father," his will and fatherly affections are expressed: that we call him "heavenly Father," his might and power, his omnipotency, is expounded unto us. So that you perceive that he is both loving and kind towards us; that he beareth a goodwill, and also is able to help, able to defend us from all our enemies, spiritual, and temporal. Therefore let us put our trust and confidence in him: let us not despair of his help, seeing he is so loving, kind, and gentle towards us; and then so mighty, that he hath all things in his hands. This affection and love towards us passeth all motherly affections.
And here I brought in today a woman which was accused that she should have killed her child. I told you what business good Master Bilney and I had with her, afore we could bring her to a good trade. For she thought herself to be damned, if she should suffer before her purification. There I told you, that purification is continued in the church of God for natural honesty's sake, that man and wife should not company together afore that time; and not to that end, that it should cleanse from sin: for there is nothing that cleanseth from sin, neither in heaven nor in earth, saving only the blood of out Saviour Jesu Christ. For how can a woman having company with her husband, and bringing forth children according unto God's injunction, how can she be made an heathen woman, doing nothing but that God hath commanded her to do? Therefore against such foolish opinions that women have, thinking themselves out of the favour of God, lying in childbed, I spake today, and told you how that is no offence afore God; only let every man and wife take heed and use themselves honestly: for a man may sin deadly with his own wife, if he, contrary to God's order, misuse her.
Further, you have heard how the goodwill of God towards us is set out by this word "Father," and his power and omnipotency by this word "heavenly": but I would have you to consider well this word "our"; for it is a great help unto us, and strengtheneth much our faith, so that we may be assured that every good man in the whole world will pray for us and with us, whilst we have one Father and one manner of prayer. And this word "our" putteth us in remembrance that we be brethren in Christ where we be admonished to despise no man, be he never so miserable or poor; for we have all ore Father, which hath made us all of one metal of earth. So that the highest prince in the world is made as well of earth as the poorest; and so shall turn into the same again, as well as the poorest shepherd. Let these proud persons mark this well, which be ever ready to despise every man. Such proud persons say never the Lord's prayer with good mind: yea, God is not their Father, for he abhorteth all proudness. Therefore such stubborn fellows when they will pray, they should not say, "Our Father which art in heaven"; but rather, "Our Father which art in hell." God is their father, as concerning their substance, for he giveth them souls and bodies; but they make themselves the members of the devil, contrary unto God's will and pleasure. Therefore set aside all arrogancy and proudness; likewise all superstitious and hypocritical babbling, speaking many words to little purpose: as I heard say of some lawyers, which babble and prate, and pretend a great diligence and earnest desire to defend the poor man's cause; but in their hearts they be false, they seek money and nothig else; so that their hearts and mouth disagree. Let us, I say, not follow such lawyers; let us not make a shew of holiness with much babbling, for God hath no pleasure in it; therefore away with it: yea, not alone with this, but with all that may let us in our prayer. Set it aside, and come reverently to talk with God. Like as when you go to the communion, you must be prepared unto it, you must be in charity with your neighbour; so likewise, when you will talk with God, and pray to him, you must be prepared.
Here you may perceive, that all those persons that will not be corrected for their faults, that cannot bear godly admonitions, they talk never with God to his pleasure; they be not ruled by God's Spirit, and so not meet for him. All rebellious persons, all bloodthirsty persons, all covetous persons, all lecherous persons, all liars, drunkards, and such like, be not in the case to talk with God. God will not hear them; he cannot abide them; they stink before his face, as long as they come before him with such abominable sins, not intending to leave them. Remember now what a doctrine is contained in this preface. Weigh it; for it is better to say it sententiously one time, than to run it over an hundred times with humbling and mumbling.
Now, when we have begun as we ought to do, what shall we desire? Sanctificetur nomen tuum, "Hallowed be thy name." Thy name, "Father," be hallowed, be sanctified, be magnified. What is this? What meant our Saviour, when he commandeth us that we shall desire that God's name be hallowed? There is a great number of people which speak these words with their mouth, but not with their hearts, contrary to that saying, Quiquid petimus ardenter petamus, tanquam cupientes habere. But they say it without knowledge; therefore they say it not, ut oportet, as they ought to do. "Thy name": we require not that his name may be hallowed in him; for this is already done without our prayer: but we desire that he will give us grace, and assist us, that we in all our doings throughout our life may sanctify his name. And here we are admonished again of love and charity: for when we say, "Hallowed be thy name," we ask in all men's names. Where we may perceive what communion and fellowship is between the faithful flock of God; for every faithful man and woman requireth that the whole church may hallow and sanctify God's word.
What is it to be "hallowed"? We desire that the name of God may be revealed, opened, manifested, and credited throughout all the world. What is God's "name"? Marry, all that is spoken of him in holy scripture, that is his name. He is called Clemens, "Gracious"; Misericors, "Merciful"; Justus, "Righteous"; Puniens iniquitatem, "A punisher of wickedness"; Verax, "True"; Omnipotens, "Almighty"; Longanimis, "Long-suffering, patient"; Fortis, "Hardy"; Ignis consumens, "A consuming fire"; Rex omnis terrae, "the King over the whole earth"; Judex, "A Judge"; Salvator, "A Saviour". These and such like are the names of God. Now when I make my petition unto him, saying, "Hallowed be thy name"; I desire that his name may be revealed, that we may know what scripture speaketh of him, and so believe that same, and live after it. I do not desire that his name be hallowed of himself, for it needeth not; he is holy already: but I desire that he will give us his Spirit, that we may express him in all our doings and conversations; so that it may appear by our deeds, that God is even such one indeed as scripture doth report him. We are tried many times whether his name be hallowed amongst us or no. He sendeth us trouble and adversities to prove us, whether we will hallow his name or no. But he findeth us clean contrary. For some of us, when we be in trouble, do run hither and thither to sorcerers and witches, to get remedy. Some, again, swear and curse; but such fellows hallow not the name of God. But God is vindex severus, "a sharp punisher": he will punish sin, and those which blaspheme his holy name.
I heard of late that there be some wicked persons, despisers of God and his benefits, which say, "It is no matter whatsoever we do; we be baptized: we cannot be damned; for all those that be baptized, and be called Christians, shall be saved." This is a false and wicked opinion; and I assure you that such which bear the name of Christians, and be baptized, but follow not God's commandments, that such fellows, I say, be worse than the Turks and heathen: for the Turks and heathen have made no promise unto Christ to serve him. These fellows have made promise in baptism to keep Christ's rule, which thing they do not; and therefore they be worse than the Turks: for they break their promise made before God and the whole congregation. And therefore such Christians be most wicked, perjured persons; and not only be perjured, but they go about to make God a liar, so much as lieth in them. There be some again, which when they be in trouble they call upon God, but he cometh not by and by, minding to prove their patience; they, perceiving he cometh not at the first call, give over by and by, they will no more call upon him. Do they believe now, think ye? Do they sanctify God's holy name? God promiseth in his holy word, Omnis qui petit, "Every one that calleth or that desireth help of me shall have it." Item, Invoca me in die tribulationis, et exaudiam te, et glorificabis me; "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee, and thou shalt praise me." Likewise St Paul saith, Fidelis est Deus, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id quod potestis; "God is faithful, which will not suffer you to be tempted above it that ye be able." Now, when we give over prayer being in trouble, do we sanctify the name of God? No, no; we slander and blaspheme his holy name we make him a liar, as much as lieth in us. For he saith, Eripiam te, "I will deliver thee, I will help thee": we will call no more; for we say, he will not help. So we make him and his word a liar. Therefore God saith to Moses and Aaron, Quandoquidem non credidistis mihi, ut sanctificaretis me coram filiis Israel, non introducetis coetum istum in terram quam dedi eis; "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the sight of the children of Irsael, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Where it appeareth, what it is to hallow God's name; that is, to believe his words, to shew ourselves that he is true in his doings and sayings. He saith further, A terrore ejus ne formidetis, neque animo frangamini, quin potius Dominum exercituum ipsum sanctificate; "Fear them not, neither be afraid of them, but sanctify the Lord of hosts." Here you see what it is to sanctify his name; that is, to believe that all things be true that be spoken of him; that is, to believe that our enemies be not able to go further than it pleaseth God. And so did the apostles, when they suffered for God's sake: they believed that God would do with them according to his word and promise; and so they sanctified God; that is, they declared with their acts and deeds, that God is a true and faithful God. This did the martyrs of God; this did the three young men which would not worship the idol set up by the king, and therefore were cast into the burning oven, to which pain they were willing to go. "We know," said they, "that God is able to help and defend us, when it pleaseth him." So must we likewise offer ourselves unto the .cross, content to suffer whatsoever he shall lay upon us. We may call upon him, and desire his help; but we may not appoint unto him the manner and way, how he shall help, and by what means. Neither may we appoint him any time, but only sanctify his name; that is, to call upon him for deliverance, not doubting but when it is to his honour and our profit to be delivered, that he will help. But if he help not, but let us suffer death, happy are we; for then we be delivered from all trouble. And so these three young men sanctified the name of God; they believed that God was a helper: and so, according to their belief he helped them, marvellously shewing his power, and defending them from the power of the fire.
In such wise did Achior, that good man, when Holophernes, that sturdy captain, made great brags what he would do, and how he would handle the Jews. This Achior, knowing God, and believing him to be ruler over heaven and earth, stepped forward, and said to Holophernes: "If this people have done wickedness in the sight of their God, then let us go up against them; but if this people have not displeased their God, we shall not be able to withstand them; for God shall defend them." Here this Achior shewed himself to believe that which was spoken of God in scripture; namely, that God would be a deliverer and defender of those which believe in him. But for all that he suffereth: being before a great and mighty captain, he was now handled like a wild beast. But what then? Happy are those that suffer for God's sake. The prophet saith, Commenda Domino viam tuam, et ipse faciet; "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he shall bring it to pass": that is to say, When thou art in trouble, call upon the Lord, believe in him; and if it be good for thee, he will deliver thee. So to sanctify God's name is to believe in him.
Lady Judith, that good, godly, and holy woman, sanctified the name of the Lord. For she and her people being in great distress and misery, she put her hope in God. She fasted and prayed devoutly, and afterward, being moved or monished by a secret admonition, was not afraid to put herself in great danger, insomuch that she took in hand, being a woman, to kill the great captain of whom all men were afraid, Holophernes. I say, she was not afraid of him. I trow, she rebuked the priest, which would appoint God a time; as who say, "He shall be no more my God, except he come by that time": which was very wickedly done of them. For we ought to be at his pleasure: whensoever and whatsoever he will do with us, we ought to be content withal. If we were earnest and zealous as we should be, O how hot we should be in promoting God's honour and sanctifying his name! We would nor could not suffer that any body should go about to dishonest the holy name of God. But we be very cold, we care not for his honour. We ought to be patient in our own quarrels; when any body doth us wrong, we ought to bear and forbear it: but in God's behalf we ought to be hot and earnest to defend his honour, as much as lieth in us to do. But it is clean contrary with us: for in our own quarrel we be as hot as coals; but in God's cause, for his honour, we care not, we regard it as nothing, whereas it ought most above all to be regarded: for God he is just, righteous, faithful, and kind; and therefore we ought to take his part. But nothing maketh more for the sanctifying of God's holy name, than to be thankful for such gifts as we receive at his hands.
And this hallowing standeth in all things that may make for the furtherance of God's honour. To hear God's word, and highly to esteem the same, that is a hallowing of God's name. How hallow now they the name of God, which refuse to hear the word of God, or for lack of preachers cannot hear it? And how can they believe, when they hear it not? Therefore they that do somewhat for the furtherance of learning, for maintaining of schools and scholars, they sanctify God's holy name. At for those preachers which have been in my time, they go away. How shall now this office of preaching, the office of salvation, how shall it be maintained, except there be made some provision for the same? Here I could say much against those which let that office, which withdraw the goods wherewith schools should be maintained, and take it to themselves; but my audience is not thereafter. This office of preaching is the office of salvation; for St Paul saith, Visum est Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes: "It hath pleased God to save the believers by the foolishness of preaching." How can men then believe, but by and through the office of preaching? Preachers are Christ's vicars: legatione funguntur pro Deo. "They are Christ's ambassadors." St Paul saith, Evangelium est potentia Dei ad salutem omni credenti; "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for every believer." It is the mighty instrument of God.
When we say, "Hallowed be thy name"; we desire God that he, through his goodness, will remove and put away all things that may let and stop the honour of his name. But I fear me there be many which would not that it should be so. We desire here that God will remove all infidelity. We require that all witchcrafts be removed; that art, magic, and sorcery, be pulled out, necromancy taken away; and so nothing left but his holy word, wherewith we may daily praise the name of God. For I fear me there be a great many in England which use such sorceries, to the dishonour of God and their own damnation. We require here further, that all heresy, all popery may be abolished and extinguished. Further we require here, that all wicked living may be amended and reformed. Next, we require that all magistrates may do their duties. Finally, we require that every man in his vocation may do the work whereunto God hath called him. There be many vocations. The magistrates' vocation is to see that the commonwealth be well ordered; to see that the schools be maintained; to see that universities be well furnished; to see that justice be executed; that the wicked be punished, and the good rewarded; finally, to keep every one in good order. This is their duty. Further, we pray that the priests, the spirituality, or the churchmen, as they call them, do their duties: to preach God's word, to live godly, and to give a good ensample by their conversation; else they do against the honour of God, and their own honesty. Likewise, we pray that servants may do their duties: for to be a servant is an honest estate, and much commended in scripture; and scripture speaketh much to the comfort of them. And truly, those that live in the fear of God, considering that they serve not only their carnal masters, but God himself, they be in a good case: but they may not be eye-servants. St Paul noteth this fault, and saith, that they shall not be murmurers, nor froward answerers. St Paul would have them to live so, that they may ornate and sanctify the name of God. For that servant that doth the thing whereunto he is called, he doth adorn his estate. That servant is a good gospeller, that will not be an eye-servant. There be some servants, which do their duties as long as their master is in sight; but as soon as their master is gone, they play the lubbers. Unto such fellows I say, "Beware." For though your bodily master see you not, yet your great Master, God, seeth you, and will punish you. Quod agis, toto pectore agito; "What thou doest, do it from the bottom of thy heart," with a good will. Go not away with the devil's Paternoster, as some do. Do all things with a good mind. For I tell you, you be not forgotten in scripture; you are much commended in the same. St Paul speaketh very honourably of you, saying, Domino Christo servitis; "You serve the Lord Christ." It becometh not you to put a difference what business you be commanded to do. For whatsoever it be, do it with a good will, and it is God's service. Therefore you ought to do it, in respect that God would have you to do so: for I am no more assured in my preaching that I serve God, than the servant is in doing such business as he is commanded to do; scouring the candlesticks, or whatsoever it be. Therefore, for God's sake, consider the matter. Some of you think, if Christ were here, you would go with him and serve him. I tell you, when you follow your service, and do such things as your master and mistress shall command you, you serve him as well as if he were here bodily. He is not here bodily now, but his word is here. Domino Christo servitis, saith St Paul: "You serve the Lord Christ." Therefore I desire you in God's behalf to walk uprightly and godly. Consider what God saith unto you: Maledictus qui facit opus Domini negligenter; "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently." This scripture pertaineth to you as well as to me. For when you do your business negligently, you be cursed before the face of God. Therefore consider the goodness of God, that he would have you as well saved as your masters. Surely, methinketh it is a great benefit of God, to be a servant. For those that keep houses must make account afore God for their family; they must watch and see that all things be well. But if a servant can discern what standeth with God's commandment, and what is against it, it is enough for him. But he must know that he ought not to obey his master or mistress when they would command him to do against God; in such a case he may refuse and withstand them. For it is written, "We must more obey unto God, than man": we should not do against God, to please our masters. Again, masters and mistresses are bound to consider their duties; to pay unto their servants their wages, and meat and drink convenient. For it is a great sin to defraud the labourer of his wages; for it is written, "The cry of the labourers shall come before the Lord." It is a great fault afore God to defraud them. But there be some servants which be so wicked, that they will complain without a cause, when they cannot have that that they would have, nor bear all the rule themselves. But I say, it is a great thing for a master to defraud his servant. And, again, the servant which hath his whole wages, and doth but half his work, or is a sluggard, that same fellow, I say, is a thief afore God. For like as the master ought to pay the whole wages, so likewise the servant ought to do his whole work.
Here I might have occasion to shew how man and wife ought to live together; how they ought to be faithful, loving, and friendly one to the other; how the man ought not to despise the wife, considering that she is partaker with him of everlasting life. Therefore the man ought cohabitare, "to dwell with her"; which is a great thing. Again, see how the woman ought to behave herself towards her husband; how faithful she ought to be. Now when they both yield their duties the one to the other, then they sanctify the name of God; but when they do contrary to their calling then they slander the holy name of God. Therefore let every man and woman walk in their vocations.
We must have a good and earnest mind and will to sanctify the name of God: for that person that prayeth, and desireth of God that his name may be hallowed, and yet hath no will nor pleasure, to do it indeed, this is not the right sanctifying of the name of God. St Peter teacheth us how we shall sanctify God's name, saying, Conversationem inter genies habentes bonam; "Have a good and holy conversation, live uprightly in your calling; so that your light may so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and so glorify God."
I will trouble you no longer. It is better a little well perceived and borne away, than a great deal heard and left behind. Consider wherefore our Saviour commandeth us to call God "Our Father"; then afterward weigh this "which art in heaven." Then come to the petition, "Hallowed be thy name;" weigh and consider this. For now is the time wherein the name of God should be hallowed: for it is a pitiful thing to see what rule and dominion the devil beareth, how shameless men be; how the name of God is brought in derision. Therefore let us say from the bottom of our heart, sanctificetur, "hallowed": that is to say, "Lord God, through thy goodness remove all wickedness; give us grace to live uprightly!" And so consider every word; for it is better one word spoken with good affection, than an hundred without it. Yet I do not say this to let you from saying the whole Paternoster; but I say, one word well said is better than a great many else. Read throughout all the scripture, and ye shall find that all faithful men have made but short prayers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Hezekiah. Our Saviour himself in the garden saith, Pater, si possible est, transeat a me calix iste, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." This was but a short prayer. Again he saith, Pater, ignosce illis, quia nesciunt quid faciunt: "Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do." The publican praying in the temple made but a short prayer, saying, Propitius esto mihi peccatori; "Lord, be merciful unto me a sinner." So the thief hanging upon the cross saith, Domine, memento mei cum veneris in regnum tuum; "Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom." Here was not much babbling. But I speak not this to dissuade you from long prayer, when the spirit and the affections do serve; for our Saviour himself spent a whole night in prayer.
Sanctificetur, "Hallowed be thy name": that is to say, "Lord, remove away thy dishonour; remove away sin; move them that be in authority to do their duties; move the man and wife to live rightly; move servants to do well." And so it should be a great grief unto us, when we should see any body dishonour the name of God, insomuch that we should cry out, "Our Father, hallowed be thy name." This one thing bear away with you above all others: consider that when we will come to God and talk with him, we must be penitent sinners, we must abhor sins, purpose to leave them, and to live uprightly; which grant us God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.
ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM
This is the second petition of the Lord's prayer. I trust you have not forgotten the two lessons before rehearsed unto you. First, the beginning of the Lord's prayer, what a treasure of doctrine is contained in every word: "Our," what it signifieth: "Father," what it meaneth: and then, this addition, "which art in heaven": how many things is to be noted by every one of those words. And I trust also, you have remembered the contents of the first petition, Sanctificetur nomen tuum, "Hallowed be thy name." 'Here I told you wherein standeth the holiness of his name, and what it meaneth; namely, we require that his name may be sanctified in us, that is to say, we require that all our conversations may be to the honour of God, which followeth when we endeavour ourselves to do his pleasure; when we hear his word with great diligence and earnest reverence, and so walk in the works of our vocation, every man whereunto God hath appointed him. And because the word of God is the instrument and fountain of all good things, we pray to God for the continuance of his word; that he will send godly and well learned men amongst us, which may be able to declare us his will and pleasure; so that we may glorify him in the hour of our visitation, when God shall visit us, and reward every one according unto his desert. One thing we must well consider and not forget it, namely, that our Saviour teacheth us to pray and desire of God that his name may be hallowed. Where he painteth us in our own colour, and would have us to confess our own imperfections; that we be not able to do any thing according to God's will, except we receive it first at his hands. Therefore he teacheth us to pray, that God will make us able to do all things according to his will and pleasure.
Adveniat regnum tuum. This is our request, "Thy kingdom come. Thou Father, we beseech thee, let thy kingdom come to us." Here we pray that the kingdom of God come not to one only, but to us all. So that when I say this prayer, I require God that he will let his kingdom come to you as well as to me. Again, when you pray, you pray as well for me as for your own selves. "Let thy kingdom come." You must understand that, to speak properly, these words are not to be understood of God's inferior kingdom, of his earthly kingdom, as though it did hang upon our petitions, so that he could not be Lord and ruler over the earth except we pray for him. No: we pray not for his inferior kingdom to come, for it is come already: he ruleth and governeth all things. He is called in scripture Rex regum, "The King above all kings," Dominus dominantium, "the Lord above all lords." Therefore he ruleth and governeth all things according to his will and pleasure, as scripture saith, Voluntati ejus quis resistet, "Who will withstand his will?" So our Saviour reporteth, saying, Pater meus operator usque modo, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work also": What worketh he? He worketh the works of governance. For at the first beginning he did create all things but he left them not so: he assisteth them, he ruleth them, according to his will. Therefore our Saviour doth not teach us to pray for his worldly kingdom to come; for he ruleth already as Lord and King; yea, and all the kings and rulers rule by him, by his permission, as scripture witnesseth: Per me reges regnant, "Through me," that is, "by my permission, kings reign." I would wish of God that all kings and potentates in the world would consider this well, and so endeavour themselves to use their power to the honour and glory of God, and not to presume in their strength. For this is a good monition for them, when God saith, Per me reges regnant, "Through me kings do reign": yea, they be so under God's rule, that they can think nothing nor do any thing without God's permission. For it is written, Cor regis in manu Domini, et quo vult vertit illud; "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, and he turneth the same whithersoever it pleaseth him." This is good to be considered; and specially subjects should mark this text well. When the rulers be hard, and oppress the people, think ever, Cor regis in manu Domini, "The king's heart is in the governance of God." Yea, when thou art led to prison, consider that the governor's heart is in the hand of the Lord. Therefore yield obedience: make thy moan unto God, and he will help, and can help. Surely I think there be no place in scripture more pleasant than this, "The heart of the king is in the hand of God"; for it maketh us sure, that no man can hurt us without the permission of God, our heavenly Father. For all those great rulers, that have been from the beginning of the world till now, have been set up by the appointment of God; and he pulled them down when it pleased him. There have been principally four monarchies in the world: the first were the Babylonians, which had great and many nations underneath them: which was God's ordinance and pleasure, for he suffered them so to do. After those came the Persians, which were great rulers and mighty kings; as it appeareth by stories written of learned men at that time. Then came in the Greeks, and took the dominion from the Persians, and ruled themselves for awhile, till they were plucked down. At the last came the Romans, with their empire, which shall be the last: and therefore it is a token that the end of the world is not far off. But wherefore were those mighty potentates plucked down? Marry, for wickedness' sake. The Babylonians, Persians, and Grecians, and a good part of the Romans were cast down for wickedness' sake. What were their doings? They would not execute justice: the magistrates were wicked, lofty, and high-minded: the subjects, taking ensample of their magistrates, were wicked too, and so worthy to be punished together. Therefore the wisdom of God saith, Vidi sub sole in loco judicii impietatem et in loco justitiae iniquitatem: "In the place where poor men ought to be heard, there have I seen impiety; I have seen oppression and extortion; this I have seen: yea, and in the place of justice, there I have seen bearing and bolstering." So for these causes' sake, these great emperors were destroyed: so shall we, if we follow their wicked ensamples. Esay, that hearty prophet, confirmeth the same, saying, Exspectavi ut facerent judicium, et ecce iniquitas; exspectavi ut facerent justitiam et ecce clamor. "I looked they should execute justice, defend the good, and punish the ill; but there was nothing but crying." This is a great matter; clamor populi, "the cry of the people." When subjects be oppressed, so that they cry unto God for deliverance, truly God will hear them; he will help and deliver them. But it is to be pitied that the devil beareth so much rule, and so much prevaileth both in magistrates and subjects, insomuch that he beareth almost all the rule. Not that he ought to do so; for God he is the lawful ruler of the world; unto him we owe obedience: but the devil is an usurper; he cometh to his dominion by craft and subtilty, and so maketh himself the great ruler over the world. Now he, being the great ruler, would have all the other rulers to go after him, and follow his ensample, which commonly happeneth so. For you know there is a common saying, Similis simili gaudet, "Like to like." Therefore he useth all homely tricks to make all rulers to go after him: yea, he intendeth to inveigle even very kings, and to make. them negligent in their business and office. Therefore such kings and potentates were pulled down, because they followed the instructions of the, devil.
But our Saviour speaketh not of such worldly kingdoms, when he teacheth us to say, "Thy kingdom come." For these worldly kingdoms bring us not to perfect felicity; they be full of all manner of calamities and miseries, death, perditions, and destructions. Therefore the kingdom that he speaketh of is a spiritual kingdom; a kingdom where God only beareth the rule, and not the devil. This kingdom is spoken of every where in scripture, and was revealed long ago; and daily God hath his preachers, which bring us to knowledge of this kingdom. Now we pray here, that that kingdom of God may be increased, for it is God's fellowship; they are God's subjects that dwell in that kingdom; which kingdom doth consist in righteousness and justice; and it delivereth from all calamities, and miseries, from death and all peril. And in this petition we pray that God will send unto us his Spirit, which is the leader unto this kingdom; and all those which lack this Spirit shall never come to God. For St Paul saith, Qui Spiritum Christi non habet, non est ejus; "Whosoever hath not the Spirit of Christ, he pertaineth not unto him." Likewise our Saviour saith, Regnum Dei intra vos est; "The kingdom of God is within you:" signifying, that those which have the Spirit of God shall be sure of that kingdom: yea, it beginneth here in this world with them that be faithful.
The instrument wherewith we be called to this kingdom, is the office of preaching. God calleth us daily by preachers to come to this kingdom; to forsake the kingdom of the devil; to leave all wickedness. For customable sinners, those that be not content to leave sin, they pertain not to that kingdom; they are under the dominion of the devil; he ruleth them: like as our Saviour saith to the Jews, Vos ex patre diabolo estis; "The devil is your father." Item, Qui facit peccatum ex diabolo est; "He that doth sin is of the devil." Therefore by this petition we pray, that we may be delivered from all sin and wickedness, from the devil and his power. We desire God, that we may be his subjects; which is a very godly and needful prayer.
Further, by this petition we be put in remembrance what we be, namely, captives of the devil, his prisoners, and bondmen; and not able to come at liberty through our own power. Therefore we desire God's help and aid, as Christ hath taught us to call him Father. He knew his affections; therefore he commandeth us to call him Father, and to desire his help to be delivered out of the kingdom of the devil. Happy are those which are in this kingdom, for they shall lack nothing! And this kingdom cometh to us by preaching, by hearing of God's word. Therefore those that find scholars to school, they are helpers and furtherers toward this kingdom; and truly it is needful that there be made some provision for them. For except schools and universities be maintained, we shall have no preachers: when we have no preachers, when we have none which shew unto us God's word, how shall we come to that blessed kingdom which we desire? What availeth it when you have gotten many hundred pounds for your children, and lack God's word? Therefore I say, this office must needs be maintained: for it is a necessary office, which furthereth to this kingdom; of which our Saviour speaketh in the gospel to the Jews, saying, Instat regnum coelorum; "The kingdom of God is come near." Likewise he saith to one, Sequere me, et annuncia verbum Dei; "Follow me, and preach the kingdom of God." So ought all preachers to do: they ought to allure every man to come to this kingdom, that this kingdom may be replenished. For the more that be converted, the more is the kingdom of God. Again, those that be wicked livers, they help to multiply the kingdom of the devil. To this heavenly kingdom our Saviour exhorteth us, saying, Quaerite primum regnum Dei et justitiam ejus, et cetera omnia adjicientur vobis; "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all other things shall come upon you unlooked for." Jacta super Dominum curam tuam; "Cast all thy care upon God," as David saith. Then our principal study shall be to hear God's word, and when we have heard it, we shall believe it and follow it, every man in his vocation. Then servants shall yield their obedience to their masters, as God requireth of them. Then the parents shall bring up their children in the fear of God. Then the children shall be obedient to their parents. Then subjects shall be obedient to their king and prince, and all his officers under him. So go throughout all estates, every one shall live uprightly in his calling. Then God will bless us, so that we shall lack no necessaries in this world; and then, at the end, we shall come to that perfect felicity and joy, that God hath laid up and prepared for them that study here to live according to his will and commandment. But we must labour and travail; as long as we be in this world we must be occupied. For St Paul saith, Si quis non vult operari, nee manducet; "Whosoever will not labour, let him not eat." Likewise David saith, Labores manuum tuarum comedes, et bene tibi erit; "Thou shalt eat the labours of thy hand, and it shall go well with thee." For he that will labour, and is content to travail for his living, God will prosper him; he shall not lack. Let every man therefore labour in his calling; for so did our Saviour himself, which came into this world to teach us the way to heaven, and to suffer death for us. Now how diligent he hath been in his office, it appeareth every where. For the evangelist saith, Loquebatur illis de regno Dei; "He talketh with them of the kingdom of God." Mark here, he taught them of the kingdom of God, he taught them nothing of the kingdom of this world. For he saith, standing before Pilate, Regnum meum non et de hoc mundo; "My kingdom is not of this world." He reigneth by faith, through his Holy Ghost, in all those which pertain unto him. He is not an earthly king, as the Jews hope to have their Messias. Therefore when I feel such motions within me, then is it time to call upon God; for such motions come of the devil: therefore I must run to God, saying, "Thy kingdom come, most loving Father; help thou; fight thou for me against my enemies; suffer me not to be taken prisoner; let not my enemies have the victory over me." So we must call upon God without intermission. For you may be sure we shall never be without battle and travail; and we are not able to withstand our adversary by our own power: therefore it is most needful for us to call and cry unto him for help. When we do so, then we shall have grace to withstand the devil; for he cannot, neither is he able to strive with God, for all his craft. For the scripture saith, Non est consilium contra Dominum; "No wisdom, no craft can prevail against the Lord." He will help and deliver us when he seeth his time; for commonly the nature of God is to help when all man's help is past. When the devil thinketh himself cock-sure, then God cometh and subverteth his wicked intents; as it appeared in our Saviour himself: for when the devil had brought the Jews to such a madness that they went and crucified him, when this was done, the devil triumphed and made merry; he thought himself sure enough of him. But what was the end of it? His triumphing was turned to his own destruction. For Christ hanging upon the cross did by his death destroy the power of the devil. So we see how God suffereth the devil for awhile, and then when he seeth his time, he cometh with his gracious helping hand. But, as I told you before, the devil hath many inventions, many impediments and lets, wherewith he trappeth us. For we see there be a great many gospellers, which begun very well and godly, but now the most part of them become ambitious and covetous persons; all the world is full of such fellows. But what then? God will preserve his kingdom; he will wrestle with the devil's kingdom, and so shall prevail and pull it down to the bottom. Therefore all those which be in the kingdom of God must wrestle, strive, and fight with the devil: not as the carnal gospellers do, which commonly begin well at the first, but now having rest and tranquility, and all things going with them, they leave the gospel, and set their minds upon this naughty world. Therefore it is good and needful for us to have afflictions and exercises; for, as St Augustine saith, Sanguis Christianorum est veluti semen fructuum evangelicorum; "The blood of Christians is, as it were, the seed of the fruit of the gospel." For when one is hanged here, and another yonder, then God goeth a sowing of his seed. For like as the corn that is cast into the ground riseth up again, and is multiplied; even so the blood of one of those which suffer for God's word's sake stirreth up a great many. And happy is he to whom it is given to suffer for God's holy word's sake! For it is the greatest promotion that a man can have in this world, to die for God's sake, or to be despised And contemned for his sake: for they shall be well rewarded for their pains and labours. Merces vestra multa est in coelis: "Your reward," saith our Saviour, "shall be great in heaven."
Further, when we pray, Adveniat regnum tuum, "Thy kingdom come," we desire of God that there may come more and more to the knowledge of God's word. And secondarily, we desire of God to bring those which be come already to the perfect knowledge of his word, and so to keep them in it still to the very end: for not he that beginneth, but he that endureth shall be saved. This kingdom of God is double, regnum gratiae, et regnum gloriae, "The kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory, honour, joy, and felicity." As long as we be in this world, we be in the kingdom of grace; when we are gone, then we shall come to the kingdom of glory. For as long as we be here, God sheweth himself unto us by grace; he ascertaineth us through his Spirit of his favour, and so he reigneth within us by grace. But when we be once gone, then we shall see him face to face; which we cannot as long as we be here. For he exhibiteth himself unto us, not so plainly as he doth unto his angels, which be with him in the kingdom of glory. Therefore when we say, "Thy kingdom come," we desire of God that he will help us to this perfect kingdom, that he will deliver us out of this troublous world, and give us everlasting rest.
I fear there be a great number in England, which if they knew what they meant in speaking these words, "Thy kingdom come," they would never say them. For they are so given to the world, and so set their mind upon it, that they could be content that there should never be any end of it. Such worldlings, when they say these words, "Thy kingdom come," they pray against themselves: for they desire God to take them out of this world speedily, and yet they have all their delight in it. Therefore such worldlings when they say, "Thy kingdom come," either they mock God; or else they understand not the meaning of these words. But we ought not to trifle with God: we should not mock him: he will not be despised. Quicquid petimus, ardenter petamus, tanquam cupientes habere; "Let us pray heartily unto him, desirous to have the thing wherefore we pray." But the customable impenitent sinner cannot say from the bottom of his heart this prayer; for he would have no end of this worldly life; he would have his heaven here. Such fellows are not meet to say, "Thy kingdom come"; for when they do, they pray against themselves. Therefore none can say this petition, but such as be aweary of this world. Such faithful folk would have him to come speedily, and make an end of their miseries. It is with the Christians like as it is in a realm where there is a confusion, and no good order: those which are good would fain have a parliament; for then they think it shall be better with them, they trust all things shall be well amended. Sometimes the councils be good, but the constitutions like not the wicked, and so they begin to cry out as fast as they did before. Sometimes the councils be naught, then the good people cry out; and so they be never at rest. But there is one parliament that will remedy all the matters: be they never so weighty or heavy, it will despatch them clean. And this parliament will be sufficient for all realms of the whole world: which is the last day. Where our Saviour himself will bear the rule, there shall be nothing done amiss, I warrant you; but every one as he hath deserved, so he shall have: the wicked shall have hell, the good shall possess heaven. Now this is the thing that we pray for when we say, "Thy kingdom come:" and truly the faithful penitent sinners do desire that parliament, even from the bottom of their hearts. For they know that therein reformations of all things shall be had: they know that it shall be well with them in that day; and therefore they say from the bottom of their hearts, "Thy kingdom come." They know that there shall be a great difference between that parliament that Christ shall keep, and the parliaments of this world. For in this world this is the common rule, Quo sceleratior eo fortunatior; "The more wicked, the better luck." Which is a wonderful thing to consider how it cometh to pass, that for the most part wicked bodies have the best luck. They are in wealth and health; insomuch that a man may much marvel at it, as Esdras, David, and others do: specially considering that God curseth them in his laws, and threateneth them that they shall have none of his benefits: Si non audieris vocem Domini, maledictus in agro; "If thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God, thou shalt be cursed in the field, &c." These be the words of God, which he speaketh against the wicked; and it must needs be so, but yet we see by experience daily the contrary. Wherefore doth God suffer the wicked to subvert his order? The order is, that those which do well shall receive good things at God's hand; they shall be blessed, and all things shall go well with them. Now, how chanceth it that we see daily the wicked to be blessed of God, to have and possess his benefits, and the good to be cursed, which is a wonderful thing? God the Almighty, which is most true, yea, the Truth itself, doth it not without a cause. One cause is, that it is his pleasure to shew his benefits as well unto the wicked as to the good. For he letteth them have their pastime here, as it is written, Solem summ oriri sinit super justos et injustos; "He letteth his sun shine as well over the wicked as over the good." And I tell you, this is for the exercise of those which serve God with godly living: they are promised, that it shall go well with them, and yet have they all the ill. This maketh them to think that there is another world, wherein they shall be rewarded; and so giveth them occasion to hawk and hunt for the other world: whereas otherwise they would forget God, if they should have all things according to their hearts' desire, as the wicked have; which in very deed do forget God, their mind being so occupied with other business, that they can have no leisure to inquire for God or his kingdom. Again, he suffereth them to turn his order, to the intent that they may be brought to repentance, when they see his great goodness shewed unto them; in that, notwithstanding all their wickedness, he suffereth them to enjoy the good things of the world. And so by his benefits he would give them occasion to leave sin and wickedness: as St Paul saith, Dei bonitas te ad poenitentiam adducit; "The goodness of God allureth us to amendment of our life." But when they will not amend, then Cumulant sibi ipsis iram in die irae, "They heap up to themselves the wrath of God in the day of wrath."
Now you have heard the causes, wherefore God suffereth the wicked to enjoy his gifts. But I would will and desire you most heartily, for God's sake, to consider that the judgment of God at the latter day shall be right, according unto justice: it will then appear who hath been good or bad. And this is the only comfort of all christian people, that they know that they shall be delivered from all their troubles and vexations. Let us therefore have a desire that this day may come quickly. Let us hasten God forward. Let us cry unto him day and night, Adveniat regnum tuum; "Most merciful Father, thy kingdom come." St Paul saith, Non venfet Dominus nisi veniat defectio; "The Lord will not come till the swerving from faith cometh": which thing is already done and past. Antichrist is known throughout all the world. Wherefore the day is not far off. Let us beware, for it will one day fall upon our heads. St Peter saith. Finis omnium appropinquat; "The end of all things draweth very near." If St Peter said so in his time, how much more shall we say so! For it is a long time since St Peter spake these words. The world was ordained to endure, as all learned men affirm and prove it with scripture, six thousand years. Now of that number there be passed five thousand (five hundred) and fifty-two; so that there is no more left but four hundred and forty-eight. And furthermore, those days shall be shortened: it shall not be full six thousand years. Nam abbreviabuntur dies propter electos; "The days shall be shortened for the elect's sake." Therefore all those excellent learned men, which without doubt God hath sent into this world in these latter days to give the world warning; all those men do gather out of scripture that the last day cannot be far off. And this is most certain and sure, that whensoever he cometh, he cometh not too timely; for all things which ought to come before are passed now: so that if he come this night or tomorrow, he cometh not too early. Therefore, good people, let us make ready towards his coming. And though he cometh not at this time, yet let us make ready; for we are not sure when we shall be called to make account before the Lord. All good and godly people since the world began endeavoured themselves to make ready towards this day. But, O Lord, how wretched and miserable, yea, and how careless we be! Therefore it will be like as he saith: Cum dixerint, Pax et tranquillitas, "When they say, all thing is well and quiet," tunc repentinus superveniet illis interitus, "then they shall be suddenly taken, and perish"; like as dives epulo, that, rich glutton, did. He ate and drank, he builded a new barn, (for the old was too little for him,) then he said to himself, "Now my soul, now be merry and take thy pleasure; for thou hast riches enough for many years." But what said God? What said he? Stulte, hac nocte, "Thou fool, this night they will fetch thy soul from thee: whose shall those riches be then which thou hast heaped up?" And so shall all those be taken and trapped like this epulo, which will not make ready, which refuse the warnings of God; they shall be taken so suddenly to their everlasting wo. For scripture giveth warning unto every one, saying, Sicut in diebus Noah, &c. "Like as in the days of Noah, they will eat and drink, and marry, &c." To eat, and to drink, and marry, is godly and lawful; but to do it otherwise than God hath commanded, it is wicked and damnable. To eat without thanksgiving, or to eat other men's flesh, or to play the glutton more than sufficeth nature, this is wicked. Item, to marry upon other respects than God hath appointed and expressed in his most holy laws, is wicked and damnable: else, Honorabile conjugium inter omnes, "Marriage is honourable amongst all men"; but to marry for wantonness' sake, that is wicked. Viderunt filii Dei filias hominum; "The sons of God saw the daughters of men." This did Noah rebuke in his time, but they laughed at it. He prepared the ark, and went into it: at the length the flood fell upon their heads. Sicut in diebus Loth, "As in the days of Lot": what did they? Ingressus es advena, "Thou art come hither a stranger." Regarding nothing God's word, which was shewed unto them through that good man Lot, they were wicked, whoremongers, drunkards, covetous persons. But what followeth; what followeth, I say? Consider the end: "The fire from heaven fell upon them suddenly and consumed them all." At nos non sumus in tenebris; "We be not in darkness." We have the word of God, we know what is his will; therefore let us watch, for he will come like a thief in the night. Happy are we if he shall find us watching!
This is the effect of this petition, wherein we desire that God will send down faith from heaven; that he will continue in me my faith, and every man's, so that we may be ready to go with him when his kingdom shall come. Now as many as pertain to this kingdom of God, shall have one property amongst other things, they shall have an earnest mind and stedfast purpose to leave sin, according to St Paul's saying, Ne regnet igitur peccatum in vestro mortali corpore; "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies." God's kingdom shall reign in us, and not the devil's. Therefore when the devil tempteth thee, withstand him; give not over; let him not get the victory. As for an ensample: when thou seest a fair woman, an ill desire riseth up in thy heart towards her: this lust is of the devil. Call therefore for help; let him not occupy thy heart. Then surely God will help, for he hath promised, Nulla condemnatio iis qui sunt in Christo; "There is no condemnation to such as are in Christ Jesu"; when we do not allow sin, nor agree unto it. Therefore dispose yourselves so to live according unto his will, which can and will preserve us from the devil, and bring us into his kingdom. Which grant us God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! Amen.
FIAT VOLUNTAS TUA
After this form our Saviour, a perfect schoolmaster, taught Christian people to pray, "Our Father, which art in heaven; thy will be done." And here he teacheth us two things, as he did afore in the other petitions. First, he teacheth us to understand what we be of ourselves; namely, nothing at all, not able to do any thing pleasant to God: and so he plucketh us down, cutteth off our combs, bringeth us low; which else would be proud, as though we could do somewhat that we cannot do indeed: like as those merit-mongers do, which esteem themselves after their merits, think themselves perfect; insomuch that their works shall not only help themselves, but also others: therefore they take in hand to sell them for money. These fellows know not themselves, and therefore they do contrary unto this petition. Where our Saviour teacheth us, that we can do nothing of ourselves; they, contrary to that petition, will do all things alone, and with their merits bring to pass all matters. But our Saviour, contrary to that, teacheth us two things in this petition first, he pulleth down our stomachs, and teacheth us to know ourselves: secondarily, he sheweth us what we shall do; namely, call upon God our heavenly Father, that he will help us, that we may be able to do his will; for of our own selves we are not able to do any thing acceptable unto him. And this is a good doctrine, which admonisheth us to give all praise unto God, and not to ascribe it to our own selves for so did St Paul when he said, Omnia possum in eo qui comfortat me; "I am able to do all things that pertain to God's honour and glory, through him that strengtheneth me." He said not, "through mine own self"; but, "through God which helpeth me." And here appeareth the right humiliation and lowliness, which our Saviour teacheth us in this petition. For he would have us to know our own impossibility and unableness to do any thing; and then, again, he would have us to call for aid and help to God; therefore he teacheth us to say, Adveniat regnum tuum, "Thy kingdom come": so that though we be not able through our own selves to do any thing, yet when we call upon him he will help. For Christ knew his Father's will and loving affections towards us: he knew that he would help us, for he was a perfect schoolmaster; else he would not have commanded us to pray, Fiat voluntas tua, "Thy will be done."
Here we must understand, that the will of God is to be considered after two sorts. First, as it is omnipotent, unsearchable, and that cannot be known unto us. Now we do not pray that his will so considered be done. For his will so considered is and ever shall be fulfilled, though we would say nay to it. For nothing, either in heaven or in earth, is able to withstand his will. Wherefore it were but folly for us to pray to have it fulfilled, otherwise than to shew thereby that we give our consent to his will, which is to us unsearchable. But there is another consideration of God's will; and in that consideration we and all faithful Christians desire that it may be done: and so considered, it is called a revealed, a manifested, and declared will; and it is opened unto us in the bible, in the new and old testament: there God hath revealed a certain will; therefore we pray that it may be done and fulfilled of us. This will was opened by Moses and the holy prophets, and afterward by our Saviour himself and his apostles; which he left behind him to that end, that they should instruct the world and teach them his will: which apostles have done according to their master's commandment; for they not only spake it, but also wrote it to that end that it should remain to the world's end. And truly we are much bound to God, that he hath set out this his will in our natural mother tongue, in English, I say, so that now you may not only hear it, but also read it yourselves; which thing is a great comfort to every christian heart. For now you can no more be deceived, as you have been in times past, when we did bear you in hand that popery was the word of God which falsehood we could not have brought to pass, if the word of God, the bible, had been abroad in the common tongue: for then you might have perceived yourselves our falsehood and blindness. This I speak to that end, to move you to thankfulness towards him which so lovingly provideth all things necessary to our salvation.
Now to the matter. Almighty God, I say, set out his will by Moses and his prophets; and this will is contained in certain laws, which laws God commandeth that we should keep ever before our eyes, and look upon them as in a glass and so learn to order our lives according unto the same. And in case that a man swerve from the same, and so fall into the danger of damnation, God revealed further his will, how to remedy the matter, namely, by repentance and faith; so that whosoever from the bottom of his heart is sorry for his sins, and studieth to leave them and live uprightly, and then believeth in our Saviour, confessing that he came into this world to make amends for our sins, this man or woman shall not perish, but have forgiveness of sins, and so obtain everlasting life. And this will God revealeth specially in the new testament, where our Saviour saith, Qui credit in me habet vitam aeternam; "Whosoever believeth in me hath everlasting life": where we learn that out Saviour is ordained of God to bring us to heaven, else we should have been all damned world without end. So that in this prayer, when we say, "Thy will be done," we desire of God that he will help and strengthen us, so that we may keep his holy laws and commandments. And then again we desire of him, that he will endue us with the gift of faith; so that we may believe that all those things which we do contrary to his laws, be pardoned and forgiven unto us through his Son, for his passion's sake. And further, we desire him that he will fortify and strengthen us, so that we may withstand the devil's will and our own, which fight against God's will; so that we may be able to bear all tribulations and afflictions willingly and patiently, for his sake. This is the simple meaning of this petition, when we say, "Thy will be done."
I will go a little further, and shew you somewhat more of it: yet I intend not to tarry long, for I am not very well at ease this morning; therefore I will make it short. I have said now many times, and I say it yet again, Quod petimus, ardenter petamus tanquam cupientes habere; "Whatsoever we desire of God, let us desire it from the bottom of our hearts." But I fear me, there be many which say this prayer, and yet cannot tell what they say; or at the least their hearts are contrary disposed unto it. Such people I exhort on God's behalf to consider their duties, to consider that God will not be mocked withal, he will not be derided. We laugh God to scorn, when we say one thing with our mouth, and think another thing with our hearts. Take this for an ensample. Our rebels which rose about two years ago in Norfolk and Devonshire, they considered not this petition: they said it with their lips only, but not with their hearts. Almighty God hath revealed his will as concerning magistrates, how he will have them to be honoured and obeyed: they were utterly bent against it. He revealed this will in many places of the scripture; but specially by St Peter, where he saith, Subditi estote omni humanae, creaturae: that is thus much to say in effect, "Be ye subject to all the common laws made by men of authority; by the king's majesty, and his most honourable council, or by a common parliament: be subject unto them, obey them," saith God. And here is but one exception, that is, against God. When laws are made against God and his ward, then I ought more to obey God than man. Then I may refuse to obey with a good conscience: yet for all that I may not rise up against the magistrates, nor make any uproar; for if I do so, I sin damnably. I must be content to suffer whatsoever God shall lay upon me, yet I may not obey their wicked laws to do them. Only in such a case men may refuse to obey; else in all the other matters we ought to obey. What laws soever they make as concerning outward things we ought to obey, and in no wise to rebel, although they be never so hard, noisome and hurtful. Our duty is to obey, and commit all the matters unto God; not doubting but that God will punish them, when they do contrary to their office and calling. Therefore tarry till God correct them; we may not take upon us to reform them, for it is no part of our duty. If the rebels, I say, had considered this, think you they would have preferred their own will afore God's will? For, doing as they did, they prayed against themselves. But I think that ignorance was a great cause of it. Truly I think if this had been opened unto them, they would never have taken such an enterprise in hand.
And here we have occasion to consider, how much we be bounden unto God, that he openeth unto us his word so plainly, and teacheth us so truly how we should behave ourselves towards the magistrates and their laws: but for all, that, I fear there be some of us which little regard their laws and statutes. Such despisers of magistrates, when they pray, they pray against themselves. There be laws made of diet, how we shall feed our bodies, what meat we shall eat at all times; and this law is made in policy, as I suppose, for victuals' sake, that fish might be uttered as well as other meat. Now as long as it goeth so in policy, we ought to keep it. Therefore all except those that be dispensed withal, as sick, impotent persons, women with child, or old folks, or licensed persons, all the rest ought to live in an ordinary obedience to those laws, and not do against the same in any wise. There be laws made for apparel, how we shall cover our nature. Is there not many which go otherwise than God and the magistrates command them to go? There is made a law for gaming, how we shall recreate our bodies; for we must have some recreation because of the weakness of our nature. In that law we be inhibited carding, dicing, tabling and bowling, and such manner of games, which are expressed in the same act. You may read it, and you ought to read it, and to know the acts: for how can you keep them when you know them not? Every faithful subject will not disdain to read the acts, and the king's majesty's proceedings, so that he may know what is allowed or forbidden in the same acts. And I myself read the acts, for it is meet so for us to do. Now again, this is a great matter that God is so kind towards us, that he disdaineth not to reveal his will, what order we shall keep in our diet, in our refreshing and garments. Therefore it is most meet for us to live in subjection, and not to prefer our own will before God's will. For when I do stubbornly against those acts set out by our natural king, and his most honourable counsellors; then I prefer my will afore God's will, and so sin damnably. These things ought well to be noted, for it is not a trifling matter; there hangeth damnation or salvation upon it. Therefore, as I said before, it is good to know the laws, and I call him a good man, and her a good woman, that are content to be ruled by the laws, and so declare their subjection and obedience unto God and the magistrates.
There be some men that say, "When the king's majesty himself comandeth me to do so, then I will do it, not afore." This is a wicked saying, and damnable: for we may not so be excused. Scripture is plain in it, and sheweth us that we ought to obey his officers, having authority from the king, as well as unto the king himself. Therefore this excuse will not, nor cannot serve afore God. Yet let the magistrates take heed to their office and duties; for the magistrates may not do all things according to their pleasures and minds. They have authority of God to do well, and not harm; to edify, and not to destroy; to punish the wicked and obstinate, and to comfort those which live well and godly; to defend the same from wrong and injuries of the wicked. So it appeareth that every one in his order, in his degree and calling, ought to do the will of God, and not our own will and pleasure. This is our duty, happy are we if we do it indeed! O that men in authority would consider whereunto God hath ordained them! St Paul saith the magistrate is Ultor ad iram, "He is God's ordinary minister, to punish malefactors and ill doers." God saith, Mihi vindicta, ego retribuam: "I will avenge myself," saith God; and so he doth by his magistrates: for that is his ordinary way, whereby he punishes malefactors. But magistrates must take heed they go no further than God alloweth them to do. If they do, they themselves shall be punished: as there be many ensamples in scripture, whereby appeareth, how grievously God hath punished wicked magistrates.
Finally, St Peter giveth a rule not only unto the magistrates, but also unto the subjects, saying, Haec est voluntas Dei, ut obturetis os adversariorum bene agendo: "It is the will of God," saith Peter, "that you with your good, godly, and honest conversation shall stop the mouth of your adversaries." What called St Peter well-doing? Well-doing is to live according to God's laws and commandments. God's commandment is, that we shall obey magistrates: therefore those which disobey and transgress the laws of the magistrates, they do not according to God's will and pleasure; they do but mock God, they stop not the mouth of the adversaries, as St Peter would have them to do; but they give rather occasion unto the wicked to slander and blaspheme the holy word of God. St Peter would have us to stop their mouth with well-doings. Many men, when they have been reproved of preachers because of their wicked living, they have gone about to stop their mouth with slanderous words: this stopping is an ill stopping. St Peter would have us to stop with well-doing. Now, will magistrates not be spoken ill of and reproved of preachers? Let them do well. Likewise saith St Paul of the subjects, Vis non timere potestatem? Benefac et habebis laudem: "Wilt thou not fear the higher power? Do well, and thou shalt be commended." Now even as it is with the temporal sword, so is it with the spiritual. There be some men which cannot away withal, if they be rebuked; they cannot bear when the preacher speaketh against their wickedness: unto them I say, Vis non timere praedicatorem? Benefac: "Will you not to be rebuked of the preacher? Then do well." Leave off your covetousness, your ambition, your irefulness, vengeance, and malice, your lechery and filthiness, your blood-shedding, and such like sins; leave them, amend your life, or else the preacher, according to his office, will rebuke and reprove you: be you never so great lords or ladies, he will rub you on the gall. For a good and godly preacher can do no less, seeing God dishonoured, perceiving him to be blasphemed, his will to be neglected, and not executed of them that ought with all their study and endeavour to apply themselves that his will might be done. For he is well worthy: he is the Lord; he created heaven and earth, and is therefore the right natural Lord over it. But for all that, the devil is lord more than he is: not by right or inheritance, but by conquest, by usurpation; he is an usurper. God, as I said before, is the natural and lawful Lord over the earth, because he made it: yet it pleased his divine majesty to make mankind, as ye would say, lieutenant over it; so that mankind should bear the rule over the whole earth. Therefore God said unto him, Dominamini, "Be ruler over it:" Item, Replete terram, et subjicite illam; also, "Replenish the earth, and subdue it." Here Adam and his wife, and so all his posterity, were by God made rulers over the earth, as God's high deputies, or his lieutenants. So, as concerning God's ordinance, mankind was the lawful inheritor of this kingdom. But now cometh in the devil with his crafty conveyances, and with his false subtilties. He inveigled first the woman, and afterward the man, persuading them to transgress God's holy commandments; with which so doing they lost the favour of God and. their dignities: and so the devil, through his false lies, substituted himself as an usurper or conqueror; and so he is a possessor, non per fas, sed nefas, not lawfully, but wrongfully. Though he did say to our Saviour, shewing him all the kingdoms of the world, Cuicunque volo do illa, "I may give them to whomsoever I will," he lieth falsely. God will destroy him at the length, for all his subtilties and lies: they shall not save him. Yet for all that he is a great ruler. For this is most certain and true, a great many more do the will of the devil than of God. Whatsoever they babble with their mouths, look upon their works, and you shall find it so. For all proud persons, all ambitious persons, which be ever climbing up, and yet never be well, all such do not the will of God, and therefore pertain not to his kingdom. All ireful, rebellious persons, all quarrelers and wranglers, all blood-shedders, do the will of the devil, and not God's will. God saith, Mihi vindicta, ego retribuam, "I Will avenge myself"; which he doth through the magistrate; and when the magistrate is slack, he doth it himself. Now those ireful, malicious persons, that hate their neighbours, they do not the will of God, but of the devil. Also these subtil, deceitful persons, which have no conscience to defraud and beguile their neighbours; that care not for breaking their promises, nor are not ashamed to utter false ware, they pertain all to the devil. Item, these that will not make restitution of goods ill gotten, they serve the devil. Scripture saith, Qui peccat ex diabolo est; "Whosoever sinneth is of the devil": which is a very hard word to be spoken of the Holy Ghost, and a fearful word, able to withdraw us from sin, if we had any fear of God in our hearts. Amongst these may be numbered all slothful persons, which will not travail for their livings; they do the will of the devil. God biddeth us to get our living with labour; they will not labour, but go rather about a begging, and spoil the very poor and needy. Therefore such valiant beggars are thieves before God. Some of these valiant lubbers, when they came to my house, I communed with them, burthening them with the transgression of God's laws. "Is this not a great labour," say they, "to run from one town to another to get our meat? I think we labour as hard as other men do." In such wise they go about to excuse their unlawful beggary and thievery. But such idle lubbers are much deceived; for they consider not that such labour is not allowed of God. We must labour so as may stand with godliness, according to his appointment; else thieves which rob in the night-time, do they not labour? Yea, sometimes they labour with great care, peril, and danger of their lives. Is it therefore godly, because it is a labour? No, no: we must labour as God hath appointed us, every man in his estate. Further, these drunkards, which abuse the gifts of God; also these lecherers and whoremongers, that live in adultery; these violators of holy matrimony, which live not according unto God's law; item, these swearers, forswearers, liars, all those do not the will of God. Therefore it is to be lamented of every christian heart, when they see how many servants the devil hath, and God so few. But all those which serve the devil are rebels against God. God was their Lord; they swerve from him through wicked living, and so become servants of the devil. Therefore those christian people that have a desire to live after God's will and commandments, they live amongst the wicked even as it were amongst the rebels. They that dwelled in Norfolk or Devonshire at the time of rebellion, they which were faithful to their king and prince, how think you they were entreated? Full miserably, God knoweth either they were constrained to help their wicked purposes, or else they must suffer all calamities which could be devised. Even so shall all those be entreated, which intend to live well, according to God's commandments. For the rebels, that is, the wicked which have forsaken their Lord God, and taken the devil to be ruler over them, they shall compel them to follow, or else to suffer all calamities and miseries. And so shall be verified the saying of our Saviour Christ, Non veni ut mittam pacem sed gladium: "I am not come," saith he, "to send peace, but the sword." Which is indeed a strange saying, but it hath his understanding: God is a God of peace and concord, he loveth unity and concord; but when he cannot have peace by the reason of the devil, then he will have the sword: that is to say, God loveth unity, he would have us all agree together, but because of the wicked we cannot: therefore he will rather have us to choose the sword, that is, to strive and withstand their wickedness, than to agree unto them. And therefore this doctrine is called a seditious doctrine: but who are those rebels? Even they themselves which call this doctrine seditious; they themselves, I say, are traitors against God. Wherefore our Saviour, seeing he can have no peace with the wicked, he will have us rather to withstand their wickedness, and so bring them to reformation: and this is the cause wherefore he will have his flock segregated from the wicked.
Therefore let us pray unto God our heavenly Father, Fiat voluntas tua; "Thy will be done." This is the prayer of all christian people, which have a will to do God's will: but those impenitent sinners, which are not yet weary of their sins, do never pray; for though they say the words, yet it is to no purpose. They say them without understanding: therefore it is but lip-labour, it is no prayer, it is but the devil's service. For a man may serve the devil with saying the Pater-noster, when he saith it with a defiled mind. Let us, therefore, order ourselves so that we may say it worthily, as it ought to be. Let us lay away all wickedness and ill living, so that we may say from the bottom of our heart, "Our Father, which art in heaven, thy will be done." And so did Susanna, that godly woman; so did lady Judith; so did queen Esther; so did all good saints of God: and though this prayer was not made at that time, by the reason they were a great while afore Christ's coming; yet they had this prayer in effect. For they believed in almighty God; they believed in Abraham's Seed, which was promised: which faith stood them in as good stead, and they were as well saved through that same belief, as we now through our belief. For it is no difference between their belief and ours, but this: they believed in Christ which was to come, and we believe in Christ, which is come already. Now their belief served them as well as ours doth us. For at that time God required no further at their hands than was opened unto them. We have in our time a further and more perfect knowledge of Christ than they had. Now Susanna, when the judges, the same wicked men, came unto her, and moved her with fearful threatenings to do their wills, that is, to sin against God in doing that filthy act of lechery, (for the same wicked judges bare a wicked damnable love towards her,) think you not she resorted unto God? Yes, yes, without doubt she said these words in effect, Pater noster, fiat voluntas tua; "Our Father, thy will be done," and not the will of the wicked men. Therefore she putting her hope and trust in God, having a respect that his will might be done, and not the devil's will, God, which is ever true, did not fail her; for you know how she was delivered through young Daniel. This is written to our instruction: for he is now the self-same God that he was at that time. He is as mighty as he was; he is as ready as he was. She was in anguish and great distress, she sought to hallow his holy name; therefore he did help her, he suffered her not to perish. So certainly he will do unto us too. Therefore when we be in trouble, let us hallow his name, and then we shall find his help like as Susan did. In such wise did Judith, when she was provoked of Holofernes to do wickedly. She sought rather to sanctify God's name, to do his will, than the will of the devil; therefore God gave her such a triumphant victory. So did queen Hester when Hammon, that wicked fellow, had power over her: she committed all the matter unto God with fasting and prayer. But Saint Peter, what did he? Marry, he forgat his Pater-noster; for when there came but a foolish wench, asking him, "Art not thou a Galilean? Art not thou one of this new learning? Art not thou a gospeler?" what did Peter? He was gone quite: he denied it: he forgat his Pater-noster. For if he had had grace to consider that he ought rather to suffer death, than forsake his master Christ, then he would have said, Pater noster, fiat voluntas tua, "Our Father, thy will be done. I am ready to suffer for thy sake whatsoever thou shalt lay upon me." But he did not so, he forgot himself. What did our Saviour? He turned back and looked upon him. Happy was Peter that our Saviour looked upon him again, for it was a gracious token!
Judas, that false man, that traitor, forgat this same petition, and remained so in his error still to the end. Surely he was a sorrowful and a heavy man. Insomuch that he made restitution, he was much better than a great many of us be, which, when they have injured and wronged poor men, will make no restitution. I tell you truth, Judas was much better than such fellows be. Poenitentia ductus, "Led to repentance," saith the text; but he lacked faith. And so between Peter and him, which were both two sorrowful men, this was the difference, - Peter had faith, Judas lacked it: yet he was exceeding sorrowful for his wickedness, insomuch that he went and hanged himself; therefore he forgat this petition. So likewise all voluntary sinners, all unrepentant sinners, none of them all saith this petition as they ought to do: they say not worthily nor profitably, for they have no will to do his will; their will is to do their own will and pleasure.
But above all things, these quest-mongers [Jurors.] had need to take heed; for there all things goeth by oath. They had need to say, "Our Father, thy will be done"; for they shall be moved to do this and that, which is Against God. They must judge by their oath, according to conscience, "Guilty," or "Not guilty." When he is guilty, in what case are those which say, "Not guilty?" Scripture doth shew what a thing it is, when a man is a malefactor, and the quest-mongers justify him, and pronounce him not guilty; saying, Et qui justificat impium, et qui condemnat justum, ambo abominabiles coram Domino: "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just man, they are both abominable before the Lord." Who is abominable? He that doth not the will of God: the will of God is, that the wicked should be punished. I myself did once know where there was a man slain of another man in anger: it was done openly, the man-killer was taken and put in prison. Suit was made to the quest-mongers: for it was a rich man that had done the act. At the length, every man had a crown for his goodwill: and so this open man-killer was pronounced not guilty. Lo, they sold their souls unto the devil for five shillings, for which souls Christ suffered death: and I dare pronounce, except they amend and be sorry for their faults, they shall be damned in hell world without end. They had clean forgotten this petition, "Thy will be done": for they did the will of the devil. It had been a good deed to cut off their crowns by their necks, to the ensample of all others. Therefore, I say, these quest-mongers had need to say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, thy will be done." For truly it is marvel that this realm sinketh not down to hell headlong. What perjuries, swearing and cursing is everywhere, in every corner! Therefore, I say, we had need to pray earnestly, that God's will may be done. And we should be content to lose our lives for righteousness' sake; for he that loseth his life, for because he will not agree to the dishonour of God, he seeketh that God's will may be done. Happy is that man, for he findeth his life, he loseth it not: for Christ will be his keeper.
Joab, that great and valiant captain, he knew well enough when David sent unto him good Urias with letters; he knew, I say, that the king's will was against God's will: yet he looked through his fingers; he winked at it; he would rather do the wicked will of the king than the will of God. Of such fellows there be a great number, which care not for the honour and will of God. These chaplains about the king, and great men, had need to say, Fiat voluntas tua, "Our Father, thy will be done." But they are very slow and slack; they wink commonly at all matters, be they never so bad. They be capellani ad manus, chaplains at hand. They will not arguere mundum de peccato, "They dare not rebuke the world of sin"; they dare not do as the prophet commandeth unto them to do, when he saith, Audiant montes judicia Domini, "Let the hills hear the judgments of the Lord"; though they smoke, as he saith, tange montes, et fumigabunt, "Touch the hills, and they will smoke." Yea, and though they smoke, yet strike them; spare them not, tell them their faults. But great men cannot suffer that, to be so rebuked; their chaplains must be taught discretion, if they will go so to work. They say commonly, magistrates should be brought out of estimation, if they should be handled so. Sirs, I will tell you what you shall do to keep your estimation and credit. Do well; handle uprightly and indifferently all matters; defend the people from oppressions; do your office as God has appointed you to do: when you do so, I warrant you, you shall keep your estimation and credit. And I warrant you again, the preacher will not strike nor cut you with his sword; but rather praise you, and commend your well-doings. Else, when you do naught, and wickedly oppress the poor, and give false judgments; when you do so, that is no godly preacher that will hold his peace, and not strike you with his sword that you smoke again. But it is commonly as the scripture saith, Laudatur impius in desideriis animae suae; "The wicked is praised in the desires of his wickedness." Chaplains will not do their duties; they will not draw their swords, but rather flatter; they will use discretion. But what shall follow? Marry, they shall have God's curse upon their heads for their labour: this shall be all their gains that they shall get by their flatterings. Another scripture saith, Qui potestatem exercent, hi benificia vocantur; "The great and mighty men be called benefactors, well-doers": but of whom be they called so? Marry, of flatterers, of those which seek not to do the will of God, but the pleasures of men.
St John Baptist, that hardy knight and excellent preacher of God, he said this petition right with a good faith; "Our Father, thy will be done": therefore he went to the king, saying, Non licet tibi; "Sir, it is not lawful for thee so to do." See what boldness he had! How hot a stomach in God's quarrel, to defend God's honour and glory! But our chaplains, what do they nowadays? Marry, they wink at it, they will not displease: for they seek livings, they seek benefices; therefore they be not worthy to be God's officers. Esay, that faithful minister of God, he is a good plain fellow; he telleth them the matter in plain, saying, Argentum tuum versum est in scoriam, principes tui infideles, socii forum: "Thy silver is turned to dross, thy princes are unfaithful, and fellows of thieves." He is no flatterer, he telleth them the truth. "Thy princes," said he, "are bribe-takers, subverters of justice." This Isaiah did, for he had respect to God's word: he perceived things amiss; he knew that it was his part to admonish, to cut them with his sword. Would God our preachers would be so fervent to promote the honour and glory of God, to admonish the great and the small to do the will of the Lord! I pray God they may be as fervent as our Saviour was, when he said to his disciples, Meus cibus est, ut faciam voluntatem Patris mei qui est in coelo; "My meat is to do the will of my Father which is in heaven": that is to say, "You are no more desirous to eat your meat when you be a-hungry, than I am to do my Father's will which is in heaven." By what occasion our Saviour saith these words, you shall perceive, when you consider the circumstances. I pray you read the chapter; it is the fourth of John. The story is this: he sendeth his disciples to a town to buy meat, (where it appeareth that our Saviour had money;) after their departure he setteth him down, which was a token he was a-weary, and I warrant you he had never a cushion to lay under him. Now as he was sitting so, there cometh a woman out of the town to fetch water; he desired her to give him drink. She made answer, "Will you drink with me which am a Samaritan?" So they went forward in their talk. At the length he bade her go call her husband. She made answer, "I have no husband." "Thou sayest well," said our Saviour; "for thou hast had five, and this that thou hast now is not thy husband." And so he revealed himself unto her. Some men, peradventure, will say, "What meaneth this, that our Saviour talketh alone with this woman?" Answer: his humility and gentleness is shewed therein: for he was content to talk with her, being alone, and to teach her the way to heaven. Again, some men may learn here, not to be so hasty in their judgments, that when they see two persons talk together, to suspect them; for in so doing they might suspect our Saviour himself. It is not good, it is against the will of God to judge rashly. I know what I mean; I know what unhappy tales be abroad; but I can do no more but to give you warning. Now the woman went her way into the city, making much ado, how she had found the Messiah, the Saviour of the world; insomuch that a great many of the Samaritans came out unto him. Now as the woman was gone, the disciples desired him to eat; he made them answer, Ego alium cibum habeo, "I have other meat": then they thought somebody had brought him some meat; at the length he breaketh out and saith, Hic est cibus meus ut faciam voluntatem Patris mei qui misit me; "I am as desirous to do my Father's will, as you be of meat and drink." Let us now, for God's sake, be so desirous to do the will of God, as we be to eat and drink. Let us endeavour ourselves to keep his laws and commandments: then whatsoever we shall desire of him, he will give it unto us, we shall have it.
We read oftentimes in scripture, that our Saviour was preaching according unto his vocation: I would every man would go so diligently about his business. The priests to go to their books, not to spend their times so shamefully in hawking, hunting, and keeping of ale-houses. If they would go to their books, in so doing they should do the will of God: but the most part of them do their own will, they take their pleasure: but God will find them out at length; he will mete with them when he seeth his time. On a time when our Saviour was preaching, his mother came unto him, very desirous to speak with him, insomuch that she made means to speak with him, interrupting his sermon, which was not good manners. Therefore, after St Augustine and St Chrysostom's mind, she was pricked a little with vainglory; she would have been known to be his mother, else she would not have been so hasty to speak with him. And here you may perceive that we gave her too much, thinking her to be without any sparkle of sin: which was too much: for no man born into this world is without sin, save, Christ only. The school doctors say she was arrogant. One came and told our Saviour, as he was teaching: "Sir, thy mother is here, and would speak with thee." He made answer, like as he did when he was but twelve years old, Oportet me esse, "I must be": so he saith now, stretching out his hands, "Who is my mother?" Qui facit voluntatem Patris mei qui est in coelis, "He that doth the will of my Father that is in heaven." Luke saith Qui audit verbum Dei et facit istud, "He that heareth the word of God, and doth it." Mark this well; he saith, "and doth it." Let us do; let us not only be hearers but doers; then we shall be, according to his promise, his brethren and sisters. We must hear his word, and do it: for truly, if Mary his mother had not heard his word and believed it, she should never have been saved. For she was not saved because she was his natural mother, but because she believed in him; because she was his spiritual mother. Remember therefore, that all that do his will are his kinsfolk. But remember that in another place he saith, Non omnes qui dicunt mihi, Domine, Domine, introibunt; "Not all that say, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Here you see that the matter standeth not in saying, but in doing: do his will, and then resort unto him, and thou shall be welcome. We read in Luke, where our Saviour said, Servus qui noscit voluntatem domini, et non facit, vapulabit multis; "That servant that knoweth the will of his master, and doth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." He that knoweth not shall be beaten, but not so much. We must first know, and then do. It is a good thing to know; but it is a heinous thing to know, and not to do: it is a great sin to slander God's word with wicked living, as it is commonly seen amongst men. But this fault, if it be not amended, shall have grievous punishment.
Now, some men will say, "Seeing it is so, that those which know God's word, and do not the same, shall be beaten with many stripes; then I will keep me from it, and so when I am damned I shall have the easier punishment." No, no, my friend: Ignorantia non excusat, praesertim voluntaria et affectata; "Wilful ignorance excuseth not." To say, "I will not hear it, for I intend to do as it shall please me"; this is not ignorance, brother, but rather contumacy, or despising of God's word. These which would fain know, but cannot, for that they have no teacher, they shall be excused somewhat; for they shall have easier pain than the others have; as he saith, Vae tibi, Chorazin, quia si in Sodoma, "Wo unto thee, Chorazin, because if in Sodom," &c., meaning that the Sodomites shall have easier judgment than the other: but as for those which refuse to hear when they might hear, they are in an ill case, and shall be punished with unspeakable pains. And I tell you, the very ignorant man is not all excused; for so saith God by his prophets, Si non annunciaveris ut convertatur a via sua mala, impius in iniquitate sua morietur; "The wicked," saith he, "shall die, though he hath had never warning before." So we see that ignorance excuseth not: but the ignorant are the less punished because of their ignorance; as there be degrees in hell, one shall be punished more grievously than the other, according to their deserts. There be some men in England which say, "No," say they, "I will hear none of them all, till they agree amongst themselves." Such fellows truly shall never come to the gospel: for there will be contentions as long as the devil is alive. He cannot suffer God's word to be spread abroad; therefore he doth, and will do till the world's end, what he can to let the word of God. Then it is like that those fellows shall never come to hear God's word, and therefore worthily be damned as despisers of God's most holy word.
Further, this petition hath an addition, Quemadmodum in coelo; "As it is in heaven." The writers make two manner of heavens; a spiritual heaven, and a temporal heaven. The spiritual heaven is where God's will is fully done; where the angels be, which do the will and pleasure of God without dilation. Now, when we say, "As it is in heaven," we pray God that we may do his will as perfectly as the angels do. Ensamples in scripture we have many, which teach us the diligent service which the angels do unto the Lord. When king David fell in a presumption, so that he commanded his captain Joab to number his people, (which thing was against the Lord, and Joab did naughtily in obeying the king in such things, but he went and numbered eight hundred thousand, and five hundred thousand men able to fight, beside women and children,) for this act God was angry with David, and sent his prophet, which told him that God would plague him; and bade him to choose whether he would have seven years' hunger, or that his enemies should prevail against him three months long, or to have three days' pestilence. He made answer, saying, "It is better to fall into the hands of God, than of men": and so chose pestilence. After that, within three days died threescore and ten thousand. This story is a great declaration how angry God is with sin. Now David, that good king, seeing the plague of God over the people, said unto God, "Lord, it is not they that have sinned, it is I myself: punish me, and let them alone." This was a good mind in David; there be but few kings now that would do so. Now at the length God was moved with pity, and said unto the angel, Sufficit, contine manum; "It is enough, leave off." By and by the plague ceased. Where you see how ready the angels of God be to do the Lord's commandment. After that David was minded to be thankful unto God, and offer a great sacrifice unto him, and so remove the wrath of God: and therefore he made suit to one of his subjects for certain grounds to build an altar upon. The same man was willing to give it unto the king freely; but David would not take it at his hands. Where kings may learn, that it is not lawful for them to take away other men's lands to their own use. This good king, David, would not take it when it was offered unto him. He did not as Achab, the wicked man, which did Naboth wrong in taking away his vineyard against his will. Another ensample, wherein appeareth how diligently the angels do God's commandments. Senacherib, king of the Assyrians, having a captain called Rabsacus; which captain, after he had besieged Jerusalem, spake blasphemous words against God the Almighty, saying to the Jews, "Think you that your God is able to help you, or to defend you from my hand?" Now Ezechias, that good king, hearing such blasphemous words to be spoken against God, fell to prayer; desired God for aid; sent for the prophet Esay, and asked him counsel. The end was, God sent his angels, which killed an hundred eighty and five thousand of the Assyrians in one night: the king himself scant escaped, and with great danger and fear gat him home. Here you see what a God our God is, whose will we ought to do. Therefore let us endeavour ourselves to do his will and pleasure; and when we are not able to do it, as we be not indeed, let us call unto him for help and aid.
The other heaven is called a corporal heaven, where the sun and the moon and the stars are; which heaven doth God's commandment too. As it appeareth in the books of Joshua, and the Kings, how the sun stood at the commandment of God: also, how the shadow went backward; like as job saith, Praecepisti soli, et non oritur, "Thou gavest commandment to the sun, and it arose not." Therefore at the commandment of God they kept their ordinary course, as God hath commanded them in the first beginning. Also the rain and the snow come at his commandment. Finally, nothing rebelleth in his estate wherein it was set at the first, but man. The man will not be ruled by him, all other things be obedient: rain cometh when God will have it, and snow at his time. We read in Achab's time, that Elias the prophet stopt the rain for three years and six months, for to punish the people; whereof followed a great dearth. Afterward, at the request of the same Elias, God sent rain, which tempered the ground to bring fruits. I think there be some Elias abroad at this time, which stoppeth the rain, we have not had rain a good while. Therefore let us pray to God that we may do his will, and then we shall have all things necessary to soul and body. For what was this Elias? Obnoxius affectibus, "A sinful man, born and conceived in sin": yet God, seeing his confidence, granted his requests. For he was a man that feared the Lord, and trusted in him; therefore God loved him, and heard his prayer. Therefore, I say, let us do as he did; then God will hear our prayers. But we are fleshly, we are carnal, we can do nothing perfectly, as we ought to do: wherefore we have need to say with St Augustine, Domine, fac quae praecipis, et praecipe quod vis; "Lord, do thou with me what thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt." For we of our own strength and power are not able to do his commandments; but that lack our Saviour will supply with his fulfilling, and with his perfectness he will take away our imperfectness.
Now since we have spoken much of prayer, I will desire you let us pray together, and so make an end: but you must pray with a penitent heart; for God will not hear the prayer that proceedeth from an impenitent heart; it is abominable in his sight. I desire you to say after me, "Our Father,". Amen.
PANEM NOSTRUM QUOTIDIANUM DA NOBIS HODIE
This is a very good prayer, if a body should say no more at one time, but that; for as we see our need, so we shall pray. When we see God's name to be dishonoured, blasphemed and ill spoken of then a man, a faithful man, should say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." When we see the devil reign, and all the world follow his kingdom, then we may say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, thy kingdom come." When we see that the world followeth her own desires and lusts, and not God's will and his commandments, and it grieveth us to see this, we be sorry for it; we shall make our moan unto God for it, saying, "Our Father, which art in heaven, Fiat voluntas tua, Thy will be done." When we lack necessaries for the maintenance of this life, every thing is dear, then we may say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread." Therefore as we see cause, so we should pray. And it is better to say one of these short prayers with a good faith, than the whole psalter without faith.
By this now that I have said, you may perceive that the common opinion and estimation which the people have had of this prayer (the Lord's prayer, I say) is far from that that it is indeed. For it was esteemed for nothing: for when we be disposed to despise a man, and call him an ignorant fool, we say, "He cannot say his Pater-noster;" and so we made it a light matter, as though every man knew it. But I tell you, it is a great matter; it containeth weighty things, if it be weighed to the very bottom, as a learned man could do. But as for me, that that I have learned out of the holy scripture and learned men's books, which expound the same, I will shew unto you: but I intend to be short. I have been very long before in the other petitions, which something expound those that follow: therefore I will not tarry so long in them as I have done in the other.
"Give us this day our daily bread." Every word is to be considered, for they have their importance. This word "bread" signifieth all manner of sustenance for the preservation of this life; all things whereby man should live are contained in this word "bread." You must remember what I said by that petition, "Hallowed be thy name." There we pray unto God that he will give us grace to live so that we may, with all our conversations and doings, hallow and sanctify him, according as his word telleth us. Now forasmuch as the preaching of God's word is most necessary to bring us into this hallowing, we pray in the same petition for the office of preaching. For the sanctifying of the name of God cannot be, except the office of preaching be maintained, and his word be preached and known: therefore in the same petition, when I say, Sanctificetur, "Hallowed be thy name," I pray that his word may be spread abroad and known, through which cometh sanctifying. So likewise in this petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," we pray for all those things which be necessary and requisite to the sustenance of our souls and bodies. Now the first and principal thing that we have need of in this life is the magistrates: without a magistrate we should never live well and quietly. Then it is necessary and most needful to pray unto God for them, that the people may have rest, and apply their business, every man in his calling; the husbandman in tilling and ploughing, the artificer in his business. For you must ever consider, that where war is, there be all discommodities; no man can do his duty according unto his calling, as appeareth now in Germany, the Emperor and the French king being at controversy. I warrant you, there is little rest or quietness. Therefore in this petition we pray unto God for our magistrates, that they may rule and govern this realm well and godly; and keep us from invasions of alienates and strangers; and to execute justice, and punish malefactors: and this is so requisite, that we cannot live without it. Therefore when we say, "Give us this day our daily bread"; we pray for the king, his counsellors, and all his officers. But not every man that saith these words understandeth so much; for it is obscurely included, so that none perceive it but those which earnestly and diligently consider the same. But St Paul he expresseth it with more words plainly, saying, "I exhort you to make supplications and prayers for all men, but specially pro regibus et qui in sublimitate constituti sunt, for the kings, and for those which be aloft." Whereto? Ut placidam et quietam vitam agamus, "That we may live godly and quietly, in all honesty and godliness." And when I pray for them, I pray for myself: for I pray for them that they may rule so, that I and all men may live quietly and at rest. And to this end we desire a quiet life, that we may the better serve God, hear his word, and live after it. For in the rebels' time, I pray you, what godliness was shewed amongst them? They went so far, as it was told, that they defiled other men's wives: what godliness was this? In what estate, think you, were those faithful subjects which at the same time were amongst them? They had sorrow enough, I warrant you. So it appeareth, that where war is, there is right godliness banished and gone. Therefore to pray for a quiet life, that is as much as to pray for a godly life, that we may serve God in our calling, and get our livings uprightly. So it appeareth, that praying for magistrates is as much as to pray for ourselves.
They that be children, and live under the rule of their parents, or have tutors, they pray in this petition for their parents and tutors; for they be necessary for their bringing up: and God will accept their prayer, as well as theirs which be of age. For God hath no respect of persons; he is as ready to hear the youngest as the oldest: therefore let them be brought up in godliness, let them know God. Let parents and tutors do their duties to bring them up so, that as soon as their age serveth, they may taste and savour God; let them fear God in the beginning, and so they shall do also when they be old. Because I speak here of orphans, I shall exhort you to be pitiful unto them; for it is a thing that pleaseth God, as St James witnesseth, saying, Religio pura, &c., "Pure religion."
It is a common speech amongst the people, and much used, that they say, "All religious houses are pulled down": which is a very peevish saying, and not true, for they are not pulled down. That man and that woman that live together godly and quietly, doing the works of their vocation, and fear God, hear his word and keep it; that same is a religious house, that is, that house that pleaseth God. For religion, pure religion, I say, standeth not in wearing of a monk's cowl, but in righteousness, justice, and well-doing, and, as St James saith, in visiting the orphans, and widows that lack their husbands, orphans, that lack their parents, to help them when they be poor, to speak for them when they be oppressed: herein standeth true religion, God's religion, I say: the other which was used was an unreligious life, yea, rather an hypocrisy. There is a text in scripture, I never read it but I remember these religious houses: Estque recta homini via, cujus tamen postremum iter est ad mortem; "There is a way, which way seemeth to men to be good, whose end is eternal perdition." When the end is naught, all is naught. So were these monks' houses, these religious houses. There were many people, specially widows, which would give over house-keeping, and go to such houses, when they might have done much good in maintaining of servants, and relieving of poor people; but they went their ways. What a madness was that! Again, how much cause we have to thank God, that we know what is true religion; that God hath revealed unto us the deceitfulness of those monks, which had a goodly shew before the world of great holiness, but they were naught within. Therefore scripture saith, Quod excelsum est hominibus, abominabile est coram Deo; "That which is highly esteemed before men is abominable before God." Therefore that man and woman that live in the fear of God are much better than their houses were.
I read once a story of a holy man, (some say it was St Anthony,) which had been a long season in the wilderness, neither eating nor drinking any thing but bread and water: at the length he thought himself so holy, that there should be nobody like unto him. Therefore he desired of God to know who should be his fellow in heaven. God made him answer, and commanded him to go to Alexandria; there he should find a cobler which should be his fellow in heaven. Now he went thither and sought him out, and fell in acquaintance with him, and tarried with him three or four days to see his conversation. In the morning his wife and he prayed together; then they went to their business, he in his shop, and she about her housewifery. At dinner time they had bread and cheese, wherewith they were well content, and took it thankfully. Their children were well taught to fear God, and to say their Pater-noster, and the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; and so he spent his time in doing his duty truly. I warrant you, he did not so many false stitches as coblers do nowadays. St Anthony perceiving that, came to knowledge of himself, and laid away all pride and presumption. By this ensample you may learn, that honest conversation and godly living is much regarded before God; insomuch that this poor cobler, doing his duty diligently, was made St Anthony's fellow. So it appeareth that we be not destituted of religious houses: those which apply their business uprightly and hear God's word, they shall be St Anthony's fellows; that is to say, they shall be numbered amongst the children of God.
Further, in this petition the man and wife pray one for the other. For one is a help unto the other, and so necessary the one to the other: therefore they pray one for the other, that God will spare them their lives, to live together quietly and godly, according to his ordinance and institution; and this is good and needful. As for such as be not married, you shall know that I do not so much praise marriage, that I should think that single life is naught; as I have heard some which will scant allow single life. They think in their hearts that all those which be not married be naught: therefore they have a common saying amongst them, "What!" say they, "they be made of such metal as we be made of"; thinking them to be naught in their living; which suspicions are damnable afore God: for we know not what gifts God hath given unto them; therefore we cannot with good conscience condemn them or judge them. Truth it is, "marriage is good and honourable amongst all men," as St Paul witnesseth; Et adulteros et fornicatores judicabit Dominus, "And the Lord shall and will judge," that is, condemn, "adulterers and whoremongers"; but not those which live in single life. When thou livest in lechery, or art a whore, or whoremonger, then thou shalt be damned: but when thou livest godly and honestly in single life, it is well and allowable afore God; yea, and better than marriage: for St Paul saith, Volo vos absque solicitudine esse, "I will have you to be without carefulness," that is, unmarried; and sheweth the commodities, saying, "they that be unmarried set their minds upon God, how to please him, and to live after his commandments. But as for the other, the man is careful how to please his wife; and again, the woman how to please her husband." And this is St Paul's saying of the one as well as of the other. Therefore I will wish you not to condemn single life, but take one with the other; like as St Paul teacheth us, not so extol the one, that we should condemn the other. For St Paul praiseth as well single life, as marriage; yea, and more too. For those that be single have more liberties to pray and to serve God than the other: for they that be married have much trouble and afflictions in their bodies. This I speak, because I hear that some there be which condemn single life. I would have them to know that matrimony is good, godly, and allowable unto all men: yet for all that, the single life ought not to be despised or condemned, seeing that scripture alloweth it; yea, and he affirmeth that it is better than matrimony, if it be clean without sin and offence.
Further, we pray here in this petition for good servants, that God will send unto us good, faithful, and trusty servants; for they are necessary for this bodily life, that our business may be done: and those which live in single life have more need of good trusty servants than those which are married. Those which are married can better oversee their servants. For when the man is from home, at the least the wife overseeth them, and keepeth them in good order. For I tell you, servants must be overseen and looked to: if they be not overseen, what be they? It is a great gift of God to have a good servant: for the most part of servants are but eye-servants; when their master is gone, they leave off from their labour, and play the sluggards: but such servants do contrary to God's commandment, and shall be damned in hell for their slothfulness, except they repent. Therefore, I say, those that be unmarried have more need of good servants than those which be married; for one of them at the least may always oversee the family. For, as I told you before, the most part of servants be eye-servants; they be nothing when they be not overseen.
There was once a fellow asked a philosopher a question, saying, Quomodo saginatur equus? "How is a horse made fat?" The philosopher made answer, saying, Oculo domini, "With his master's eye." Not meaning that the horse should be fed with his master's eye, but that the master should oversee the horse, and take heed to the horse-keeper, that the horse might be well fed. For when a man rideth by the way, and cometh to his inn, and giveth unto the hostler his horse to walk, and so he himself sitteth at the table and maketh good cheer, and forgetteth his horse; the hostler cometh and saith, "Sir, how much bread shall I give unto your horse?" He saith, "Give him two-penny worth." I warrant you, this horse shall never be fat. Therefore a man should not say to the hostler, "Go, give him"; but he should see himself that the horse have it. In like manner, those that have servants must not only command them what they shall do, but they must see that it be done: they must be present, or else it shall never be done. One other man asked that same philosopher this question, saying, "What dung is it that maketh a man's land most fruitful in bringing forth much corn?" "Marry," said he, Vestigia domini, "The owner's footsteps." Not meaning that the master should come and walk up and down, and tread the ground; but he would have him to come and oversee the servants tilling of the ground, commanding them to do it diligently, and so to look himself upon their work: this shall be the best dung, saith the philosopher. Therefore never trust servants, except you may be assured of their diligence; for I tell you truly, I can come nowhere but I hear masters complaining of their servants. I think verily, they fear not God, they consider not their duties. Well, I will burthen them with this one text of scripture, and then go forward in my matters. The prophet Jeremy saith, Maledictus gui facit opus Domini negligenter. Another translation hath fraudulenter, but is one in effect: "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently or fraudulently," take which you will. It is no light matter, that God pronounceth them to be cursed. But what is "cursed"? What is it? "Cursed" is as much to say as, "It shall not go well with them; they shall have no luck; my face shall be against them." Is not this a great thing? Truly, consider it as you list, but it is no light matter to be cursed of God, which ruleth heaven and earth. And though the prophet speaketh these words of warriors going to war, yet it may be spoken of all servants, yea, of all estates, but specially of servants; for St Paul saith, Domino Christo servitis: "You servants," saith he, "you serve the Lord Christ, it is his work." Then, when it is the Lord's work, take heed how you do it; for cursed is he that doth it negligently. But where is such a servant as Jacob was to Laban? How painful was he! How careful for his master's profit. Insomuch that when somewhat perished, he restored it again of his own. And where is such a servant as Eleazer was to Abraham his master? What a journey had he! How careful he was, and when he came to his journey's end, he would neither eat nor drink afore he had done his master's message; so that all his mind was given only to serve his master, and to do according to his commandments: insomuch that he would neither eat nor drink till he had done according to his master's will! Much like to our Saviour's saying, Cibus meus est ut faciam voluntatem ejus, qui misit me; "This is my meat, to do the will of him that sent me." I pray you servants, mark this Eleazer well; consider all the circumstances of his diligent and faithful service, and follow it: else if you follow it not you read it to your own condemnation. Likewise consider the true service which Joseph, that young man, did unto his master Potiphar, lieutenant of the Tower; how faithfully he served, without any guile or fraud: therefore God promoted him so, that he was made afterwards the ruler over all Egypt. Likewise consider how faithful Daniel was in serving king Darius. Alack, that you servants be stubborn-hearted, and will not consider this! You will not remember that your service is the work of the Lord; you will not consider that the curse of God hangeth upon your heads for your slothfulness and negligence. Take heed, therefore, and look to your duties.
Now, further: whosoever prayeth this prayer with a good faithful heart, as he ought to do, he prayeth for all ploughmen and husbandmen, that God will prosper and increase their labour; for except he give the increase, all their labour and travail is lost. Therefore it is needful to pray for them, that God may send his benediction by their labour; for without corn and such manner of sustenance we cannot live. And in that prayer we include all artificers; for by their labours God giveth us many commodities which we could not lack. We pray also for wholesome air. Item, we pray for seasonable weather. When we have too much rain, we pray for fair weather: again, when we lack rain, we pray that God will send rain. And in that prayer we pray for our cattle, that God will preserve them to our use from all diseases: for without cattle we cannot live; we cannot till the ground, nor have meat: therefore we include them in our prayer too.
So you see that this prayer containeth innumerable things. For we pray for all such things as be expedient and needful for the preservation of this life. And not alone this, but we have here good doctrine and admonitions besides. For here we be admonished of the liberality of God our heavenly Father, which he sheweth daily over us. For our Saviour, knowing the liberality of God our heavenly Father, commandeth us to pray. If he would not give us the things we ask, Christ would not have commanded us to pray. If he had borne an ill will against us, Christ would not have sent us to him. But our Saviour, knowing his liberal heart towards us, commandeth us to pray, and desire all things at his hands.
And here we be admonished of our estate and condition, what we be, namely, beggars. For we ask bread: of whom? Marry, of God. What are we then? Marry, beggars: the greatest lords and ladies in England are but beggars afore God. Seeing then that we all are but beggars, why should we then disdain and despise poor men? Let us therefore consider that we be but beggars; let us pull down our stomachs. For if we consider the matter well, we are like as they be afore God: for St Paul saith, Quid habes quod non accepisti? "What hast thou that thou hast not received of God?" Thou art but a beggar, whatsoever thou art: and though there be some very rich, and have great abundance, of whom have they it? Of God. What saith he, that rich man? He saith, "Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread": then he is a beggar afore God as well as the poorest man. Further, how continueth the rich man in his riches? Who made him rich? Marry, God. For it is written, Benedictio Dei facit divitem; "The blessing of God maketh rich." Except God bless, it standeth to no effect: for it is written, Comedent et non saturabuntur; "They shall eat, but yet never be satisfied." Eat as much as you will, except God feed you, you shall never be full. So likewise, as rich as a man is, yet he cannot augment his riches, nor keep that he hath, except God be with him, except he bless him. Therefore let us not be proud, for we be beggars the best of us.
Note here, that out Saviour bíddeth us to say, "us". This "us" lappeth in all other men with my prayer; for every one of us prayeth for another. When I say, "Give us this day our daily bread," I pray not for myself only, if I ask as he biddeth me; but I pray for all others. Wherefore say I not, "Our Father, give me this day my daily bread?" For because God is not my God alone, he is a common God. And here we be admonished to be friendly, loving, and charitable one to another: for what God giveth, I cannot say, "This is my own"; but I must say, "This is ours." For the rich man cannot say, "This is mine alone, God hath given it unto me for my own use." Nor yet hath the poor man any title unto it, to take it away from him. No, the poor man may not do so; for when he doth so, he is a thief afore God and man. But yet the poor man hath title to the rich man's goods; so that the rich man ought to let the poor man have part of his riches to help and to comfort him withal. Therefore when God sendeth unto me much, it is not mine, but ours; it is not given unto me alone, but I must help my poor neighbours withal.
But here I must ask you rich men a question. How chanceth it you have your riches? "We have them of God," you will say. But by what means have you them? "By prayer," you will say. "We pray for them unto God, and he giveth us the same." Very well. But I pray you tell me, what do other men which are not rich? Pray they not as well as you do? "Yes," you must say; for you cannot deny it. Then it appeareth that you have your riches not through your own prayers only, but other men help you to pray for them: for they say as well, "Our Father, give us this day our daily bread," as you do; and peradventure they be better than you be, and God heareth their prayer sooner than yours. And so it appeareth most manifestly, that you obtain your riches of God, not only through your own prayer, but through other men's too: other men help you to get them at God's hand. Then it followeth, that seeing you get not your riches alone through your own prayer, but through the poor man's prayer, it is meet that the poor man should have part of them; and you ought to relieve his necessity and poverty. But what meaneth God by this inequality, that he giveth to some an hundred pound; unto this man five thousand pound; unto this man in a manner nothing at all? What meaneth he by this inequality? Here he meaneth, that the rich ought to distribute his riches abroad amongst the poor: for the rich man is but God's officer, God's treasurer: he ought to distribute them according unto his Lord God's commandment. If every man were rich, then no man would do any thing. Therefore God maketh some rich and some poor. Again; that the rich may have where to exercise his charity, God made some rich and some poor: the poor he sendeth unto the rich to desire of him in God's name help and aid. Therefore, you rich men, when there cometh a poor man unto you, desiring your help, think none otherwise but that God hath sent him unto you; and remember that thy riches be not thy own, but thou art but a steward over them. If thou wilt not do it, then cometh in St John, which saith: "He that hath the substance of this world, and seeth his brother lack, and helpeth him not, how remaineth the love of God in him?" He speaketh not of them that have it not, but of them that have it: that same man loveth not God, if he help not his neighbour, having wherewith to do it. This is a sore and hard word. There be many which say with their mouth, they love God: and if a man should ask here this multitude, whether they love God or no; they would say, "Yes, God forbid else!" But if you consider their unmercifulness unto the poor, you shall see, as St John said, "the love of God is not within them." Therefore, you rich men, ever consider of whom you have your riches: be it a thousand pound, yet you fetch it out of this petition. For this petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," is God's store-house, God's treasure-house: here lieth all his provision, and here you fetch it. But ever have in remembrance that this is a common prayer: a poor man prayeth as well as thou, and peradventure God sendeth this riches unto thee for another man's prayers' sake, which prayeth for thee, whose prayer is more effectual than thine own. And therefore you ought to be thankful unto other men, which pray for you unto God, and help you to obtain your riches. Again, this petition is a remedy against this wicked carefulness of men, when they seek how to live, and how to get their livings, in such wise, like as if there were no God at all. And then there be some which will not labour as God hath appointed unto them; but rather give them to falsehood; to sell false ware, and deceive their neighbours; or to steal other men's sheep or conies: those fellows are far wide. Let them come to God's treasure-house, that is to say, let them come to God and call upon him with a good faith, saying, "Our Father, give us this day our daily bread; "truly God will hear them. For this is the only remedy that we have here on earth, to come to his treasure-house, and fetch there such things as we lack. Consider this word "daily". God promiseth us to feed us daily. If ye believe this, why use you then falsehood and deceit? Therefore, good people, leave your falsehood; get you rather to this treasure-house; then you may be sure of a living for God hath determined that all that come unto him, desiring his help, they shall be holpen; God will not forget them. But our unbelief is so great, we will not come unto him: we will rather go about to get our living with falsehood, than desire the same of him.
O what falsehood is used in England, yea, in the whole world! It were no marvel if the fire from heaven fell upon us, like as it did upon the Sodomites, only for our falsehood's sake! I will tell you of a false practice that was practised in my country where I dwell. But I will not tell it you to teach you to do the same, but rather to abhor it for those which use such deceitfulness shall be damned world without end, except they repent. I have known some that had a barren cow: they would fain have had a great deal of money for her; therefore they go and take a calf of another cow, and put it to this barren cow, and so come to the market, pretending that this cow hath brought that calf; and so they sell their barren cow six or eight shillings dearer than they should have done else. The man which bought the cow cometh home: peradventure he hath a many of children, and hath no more cattle but this cow, and thinketh he shall have some milk for his children; but when all things cometh to pass, this is a barren cow, and so this poor man is deceived. The other fellow, which sold the cow, thinketh himself a jolly fellow and a wise merchant; and he is called one that can make shift for himself. But I tell thee, whosoever thou art, do so if thou lust, thou shalt do it of this price,--thou shalt go to the devil, and there be hanged on the fiery gallows world without end: and thou art as very a thief as when thou takest a man's purse from him going by the way, and thou sinnest as well against this commandment, Non facies furtum, "Thou shalt do no theft." But these fellows commonly, which use such deceitfulness and guiles, can speak so finely, that a man would think butter should scant melt in their mouths.
I tell you one other falsehood. I know that some husbandmen go to the market with a quarter of corn: now they would fain sell dear the worst as well as the best; therefore they use this policy: they go and put a strike [a bushel.] of fine malt or corn in the bottom of the sack, then they put two strikes of the worst they had; then a good strike aloft in the sack's mouth, and so they come to the market. Now there cometh a buyer, asking, "Sir, is this good malt?" "I warrant you," saith he, "there is no better in this town." And so he selleth all his malt or corn for the best, when there be but two strikes of the best in his sack. The man that buyeth it thinketh he hath good malt, he cometh home: when he putteth the malt out of the sack, the strike which was in the bottom covereth the ill malt which was in the midst; and so the good man shall never perceive the fraud, till he cometh to the occupying of the corn. The other man that sold it taketh this for a policy: but it is theft afore God, and he is bound to make restitution of so much as those two strikes which were naught were sold too dear; so much he ought to restore, or else he shall never come to heaven, if God be true in his word.
I could tell you of one other falsehood, how they make wool to weigh much: but I will not tell it you. If you learn to do those falsehoods whereof I have told you now, then take the sauce with it, namely, that you shall never see the bliss of heaven, but be damned world without end, with the devil and all his angels. Now go when it please you, use falsehood. But I pray you, wherefore will you deceive your neighbour, whom you ought to love as well as your own self? Consider the matter, good people, what a dangerous thing it is to fall into the hands of the ever-living God. Leave falsehood: abhor it. Be true and faithful in your calling. Quaerite regnum Dei, et justitiam ejus, et cetera omnia adjicientur vobis: "Seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, then all things necessary for you shall come unto you unlooked for."
Therefore in this petition, note first God's goodness, how gentle he is towards us; insomuch that he would have us to come unto him and take of him all things. Then again, note what we be, namely, beggars, for we beg of him; which admonisheth us to leave stoutness and proudness, and to be humble. Note what is, "our"; namely, that one prayeth for another, and that this storehouse is common unto all men. Note again, what we be when we be false;--the children of the devil, and enemies unto God.
There be some men which would have this petition not to import or contain these bodily things, as things which be too vile to be desired at God's hand; therefore they expound it altogether spiritually, of things pertaining unto the soul only: which opinion, truly, I do not greatly like. For shall I trust God for my soul, and shall I not trust him for my body? Therefore I take it, that all things necessary to soul and body are contained in this petition: and we ought to seek all things necessary to our bodily food only in this storehouse.
But you must not take my sayings after such sort, as though you should do nothing but sit and pray; and yet you should have your dinner and supper made ready for you. No, not so: but you must labour, you must do the work of your vocation. Quaerite regnum Dei, "Seek the kingdom of heaven": you must set those two things together, works and prayer. He that is true in his vocation, doing according as God willeth him to do, and then prayeth unto God, that man or woman may be assured of their living; as sure, I say, as God is God. As for the wicked, indeed God of his exceeding mercy and liberality findeth them; and sometimes they fare better than the good man doth: but for all that the wicked man hath ever an ill conscience; he doth wrong unto God; he is an usurper, he hath no right unto it. The good and godly man he hath right unto it; for he cometh by it lawfully, by his prayer and travail. But these covetous men, think ye, say they this prayer with a faithful heart, "Our Father, which art in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread?" Think ye they say it from the bottom of their hearts? No, no; they do but mock God, they laugh him to scorn, when they say these words. For they have their bread, their silver and gold in their coffers, in their chests, in their bags or budgets; therefore they have no savour of God: else they would shew themselves liberal unto their poor neighbours; they would open their chests and bags, and lay out and help their brethren in Christ. They be as yet but scorners: they say this prayer like as the Turk might say it.
Consider this word, "Give." Certainly, we must labour, yet we must not so magnify our labour as though we gat our living by it. For labour as long as thou wilt, thou shalt have no profit by it, except the Lord increase thy labour. Therefore we must thank him for it; he doth it; he giveth it. To whom? Laboranti et poscenti, "Unto him that laboureth and prayeth." That man that is so disposed shall not lack, as he saith, Dabit Spiritum Sanctum poscentibus illum; "He will give the Holy Ghost unto them that desire the same." Then, we must ask; for he giveth not to sluggards. Indeed, they have his benefits; they live wealthily: but, as I told you afore, they have it with an ill conscience, not lawfully. Therefore Christ saith, Solem suum oriri sinit super justos et injustos; "He suffers his sun to rise upon the just and unjust." Also, Nemo scit an odio vel amore sit dignus; "We cannot tell outwardly by these worldly things, which be in the favour of God, and which be not"; for they be common unto good and bad: but the wicked have it not with a good conscience; the upright, good man hath his living through his labour and faithful prayer. Beware that you trust not in your labour, as though ye got your living by it: for, as St Paul saith, Qui plantat nihil est, negue gui rigat, sed gui dat incrementum Deus; "Neither he that planteth is aught, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." Except God give the increase, all our labour is lost. They that be the children of this world, as covetous persons, extortioners, oppressors, caterpillars, usurers, think you they come to God's storehouse? No, no, they do not; they have not the understanding of it; they cannot tell what it meaneth. For they look not to get their livings at God's storehouse, but rather they think to get it with deceit and falsehood, with oppression, and wrong doings. For they think that all things be lawful unto them; therefore they think that though they take other men's goods through subtilty and crafts, it is no sin. But I tell you, those things which we buy, or get with our labour, or are given us by inheritance, or otherways, those things be ours by the law; which maketh meum and tuum, mine and thine. Now all things gotten otherwise are not ours; as those things which be gotten by crafty conveyances, by guile and fraud, by robbery and stealing, by extortion and oppression, by hand-making, or howsoever you come by it beside the right way, it is not yours; insomuch that you may not give it for God's sake, for God hateth it.
But you will say, "What shall we do with the good gotten by unlawful means?" Marry, I tell thee: make restitution; which is the only way that pleaseth God. O Lord, what bribery, falsehood, deceiving, false getting of goods is in England! And yet for all that, we hear nothing of restitution; which is a miserable thing. I tell you, none of them which have taken their neighbour's goods from him by any manner of falsehood, none of them, I say, shall be saved, except they make restitution, either in affect or effect; in effect, when they be able; in affect when they be not able in no wise. Ezekiel saith, Si impius egerit poenitentiam, et rapinam reddiderit; "When the ungodly doth repent, and restoreth the goods gotten wrongfully and unlawfully." For unlawful goods ought to be restored again: without restitution look not for salvation. Also, this is a true sentence used of St Augustine, Non remittetur peccatum, nisi restituatur ablatum; "Robbery, falsehood, or otherwise ill-gotten goods, cannot be forgiven of God, except it be restored again." Zacheus, that good publican, that common officer, he gave a good ensample unto all bribers and extortioners. I would they all would follow his ensample! He exercised not open robbery; he killed no man by the way; but with crafts and subtilties he deceived the poor. When the poor men came to him, he bade them to come again another day; and so delayed the time, till at the length he wearied poor men, and so gat somewhat of them. Such fellows are now, in our time, very good cheap; but they will not learn the second lesson.
They have read the first lesson, how Zachee was a bribe-taker; but they will not read the second: they say A, but they will not say B. What is the second lesson Si quem defraudavi, reddam quadruplum; "If I have deceived any man, I will restore it fourfold." But we may argue that they be not such fellows as Zacheus was, for we hear nothing of restitution; they lack right repentance.
It is a wonderful thing to see, that christian people will live in such an estate, wherein they know themselves to be damned: for when they go to bed, they go in the name of the devil. Finally, whatsoever they do, they do it in his name, because they be out of the favour of God. God loveth them not; therefore, I say, it is to be lamented that we hear nothing of restitution. St Paul saith, Qui furabantur non amplius furetur; "He that stale, let him steal no more." Which words teach us, that he which hath stolen or deceived, and keepeth it, he is a strong thief so long till he restore again the thing taken; and shall look for no remission of his sins at God's hand, till he hath restored again such goods. There be some which say, "Repentance or contrition will serve; it is enough when I am sorry for it." Those fellows cannot tell what repentance meaneth. Look upon Zacheus: he did. repent, but restitution by and by followed. So let us do too; let us live uprightly and godly; and when we have done amiss, or deceived any body, let us make restitution. And after, beware of such sins, of such deceitfulness; but rather let us call upon God, and resort to his storehouse, and labour faithfully and truly for our livings. Whosoever is so disposed, him God will favour, and he shall lack nothing: as for the other impenitent sluggards, they be devourers and usurpers of God's gifts, and therefore shall be punished, world without end, in everlasting fire.
Remember this word "our": what it meaneth I told you. And here I have occasion to speak of the proprieties of things: for I fear, if I should leave it so, some of you would report me wrongfully, and affirm, that all things should be common. I say not so. Certain it is, that God hath ordained proprieties of things, so that that which is mine is not thine ; and what thou hast I cannot take from thee. If all things were common, there could be no theft, and so this commandment, Non facies furtum, "Thou shalt not steal," were in vain. But it is not so: the laws of the realm make meum et tuum, mine and thine. If I have things by those laws, then I have them well. But this you must not forget, that St Paul saith, Sitis necessitatibus sanctorum communicantes; "Relieve the necessity of those which have need." Things are not so common, that another man. may take my goods from me, for this is theft; but they are so common, that we ought to distribute them unto the poor, to help them, and to comfort them with it. We ought one to help another; for this is a standing sentence: Qui habuerit substantiam hujus mundi, et viderit fratrem suum necessitatem habere, et clauserit viscera sua ab eo, quomodo caritas Dei manet in eo? "He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother to have need, and shutteth up his entire affection from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" There was a certain manner of having things in common in the time of the apostles. For some good men, as Barnabas was, sold their lands and possessions, and brought the money unto the apostles: but that was done for this cause,--there was a great many of christian people at that time entreated very ill, insomuch that they left all their goods: now, such folk came unto the apostles for aid and help; therefore those which were faithful men, seeing the poverty of their brethren, went and sold that that they had, and spent the money amongst such poor which were newly made Christians. Amongst others which sold their goods there was one Ananias and Saphira his wife, two very subtile persons: they went and sold their goods too; but they played a wise part: they would not stand in danger of the losing of all their goods; therefore they agreed together, and took the one part from the money, and laid it up; with the other part they came to Peter, affirming that to be the whole money. For they thought in their hearts, like as all unfaithful men do, "We cannot tell how long this religion shall abide; it is good to be wise, and keep somewhat in store, whatsoever shall happen." Now Peter, knowing by the Holy Ghost their falsehood, first slew him with one word, and after her too: which indeed is a fearful ensample, whereby we should be monished to beware of lies and falsehood. For though God punish thee not by and by, as he did this Ananias, yet he shall find thee; surely he will not forget thee. Therefore learn here to take heed of falsehood, and beware of lies. For this Ananias, this willful Ananias, I say, because of this willful lie, went to hell with his wife, and there shall be punished world without end. Where you see what a thing it is to make a lie. This Ananias needed not to sell his lands, he had no such commandment: but seeing he did so, and then came and brought but half the price, making a pretence as though he had brought all, for that he was punished so grievously. O what lies are made nowadays in England, here and there in the markets! truly it is a pitiful thin; that we nothing consider it. This one ensample of Ananias and Saphira, their punishment, is able to condemn the whole world.
You have heard now, how men had things in common, in the first church: but St Paul he teacheth us how things ought to be in common amongst us, saying, Sitis necessitatibus sanctorum communicantes; "Help the necessity of those which be poor." Our good is not so ours that we may do with it what us listeth; but we ought to distribute it unto them which have need. No man, as I told you before, ought to take away my goods from me; but I ought to distribute that that I may spare, and help the poor withal. Communicantes necessitatibus, saith St Paul; "Distribute them unto the poor," let them lack nothing; but help them with such things as you may spare. For so it is written, Cui plus datum est, plus requiretur ab illo; "He that hath much, must make account for much; and if he have not spent it well, he must make the heavier account." But I speak not this to let poor folks from labour; for we must labour and do the works of our vocation, every one in his calling for so it is written, Labores manuum tuarum manducabis, et bene tibi erit, "Thou shalt eat thy hand-labour, and it shall go well with thee." That is to say, every man shall work for his living, and shall not be a sluggard, as a great many be: every man shall labour and pray; then God will send him his living. St Paul saith, Qui non laborat, non comedat; "He that laboureth not, let him not eat." Therefore those lubbers which will not labour, and might labour, it is a good thing to punish them according unto the king's most godly statutes. For God himself saith, In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane tuo; "In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread." Then cometh in St Paul, who saith, Magis autem laboret, ut det indigentibus; "Let him labour the sorer, that he may have wherewith to help the poor." And Christ himself saith, Melius est dare quam accipere; "It is better to give than to take." So Christ, and all his apostles, yea, the whole scripture admonisheth us ever of our neighbour, to take heed of him, to be pitiful unto him: but God knoweth there be a great many which care little for their neighbours. They do like as Cain did, when God asked him, "Cain, where is thy brother Abel?" "What," saith he, "am I my brother's keeper?" So these rich franklings, [A man above a vassal; a freeholder.] these covetous fellows, they scrape all to themselves, they think they should care for nobody else but for themselves: God commandeth the poor man to labour the sorer, to the end that he may be able to help his poor neighbour: how much more ought the rich to be liberal unto them!
But you will say, "Here is a marvellous doctrine, which commandeth nothing but 'Give, Give:' if I shall follow this doctrine, I shall give so much, that at the length I shall have nothing left for myself." These be words of infidelity; he that speaketh such words is a faithless man. And I pray you, tell me, have ye heard of any man that came to poverty, because he gave unto the poor? Have you heard tell of such a one? No, I am sure you have not. And I dare lay my head to pledge for it, that no man living hath come, or shall hereafter come to poverty, because he hath been liberal in helping the poor. For God is a true God, and no liar: he promiseth us in his word, that we shall have the more by giving to the needy. Therefore the way to get is to scatter that that you have. Give, and you shall gain. If you ask me, "How shall I get riches?" I make thee this answer: "Scatter that that thou hast; for giving is gaining." But you must take heed, and scatter it according unto God's will and pleasure; that is, to relieve the poor withal, to scatter it amongst the flock of Christ. Whosoever giveth so shall surely gain: for Christ saith, Date, et dabitur vobis; "Give, and it shall be given unto you." Dabitur, "it shall be given unto you." This is a sweet word, we can well away with that; but how shall we come by it? Date, "Give." This is the way to get, to relieve the poor. Therefore this is a false and wicked proposition, to think that with giving unto the poor we shall come to poverty. What a giver was Loth, that good man: came he to poverty through giving? No, no; he was a great rich man. Abraham, the father of all believers, what a liberal man was he; insomuch that he sat by his door watching when anybody went by the way, that he might call him, and relieve his necessity! What, came he to poverty? No, no: he died a great rich man. Therefore let us follow the ensample of Loth and Abraham let us be liberal, and then we shall augment our stock. For this is a most certain and true word, Date, et dabitur vobis; "Give, and it shall be given unto you." But we believe it not; we cannot away with it. The most part of us are more given to take from the poor, than to relieve their poverty. They be so careful for their children, that they cannot tell when they be well. They purchase this house and that house; but what saith the prophet? Vae, qui conjungitis domum domui; "Woe be unto you that join house to house! the curse of God hangeth over your heads. Christ saith, Qui diligit patrem vel matrem vel filios plus quam me non est me dignus; "He that loveth his father or mother or children more than me, he is not meet for me." Therefore those which scrape and gather ever for their children, and in the mean season forget the poor, whom God would have relieved; those, I say, regard their children more than God's commandments: for their children must be set up, and the poor miserable people is forgotten in the mean season. There is a common saying amongst the worldlings, Happy is that child whose father goeth to the devil: but this is a worldly happiness. The same is seen when the child can begin with two hundred pound, whereas his father began with nothing: it is a wicked happiness, if the father gat those goods wickedly. And there is no doubt but many a father goeth to the devil for his child's sake; in that he neglected God's commandment, scraped for his child, and forgat to relieve his poor miserable neighbour. We have in scripture, Qui miseretur pauperis, foeneratur Deo; "Whosoever hath pity over the poor, he lendeth unto God upon usury:" that is to say, God will give it unto him again with increase: this is a lawful and godly usury.
Certain it is, that usury was allowed by the laws of this realm; yet it followed not that usury was godly, nor allowed before God. For it is not a good argument, to say, "It is forbidden to take ten pounds of the hundred, ergo, I may take five:" like as a thief cannot say, "It is forbidden in the law to steal thirteen-pence half-penny; ergo, I may steal sixpence, or three-pence, or two-pence." No, no; this reasoning will not serve afore God: for though the law of this realm hangeth him not, if he steal four-pence, yet for all that he is a thief before God, and shall be hanged on the fiery gallows in hell. So he that occupieth usury, though by the laws of this realm he might do it without punishment, (for the laws are not so precise,) yet for all that he doth wickedly in the sight of God. For usury is wicked before God, be it small or great; like as theft is wicked. But I will tell you how you shall be usurers to get much gain. Give it unto the poor; then God will give it to thee with gain. Give twenty pence, and thou shalt have forty pence. It shall come again, thou shalt not lose it; or else God is not God. What needeth it to use such deceitfulness and falsehood to get riches? Take a lawful way to get them; that is, to scatter this abroad that thou hast, and then thou shalt have it again with great gain: quadruplum, "four times," saith scripture. Now God's word saith, that I shall have again that which I laid out with usury, with gain. Is it true that God saith? Yes: then let me not think, that giving unto the poor doth diminish my stock, when God saith the contrary, namely, that it shall increase; or else we make God a liar. For if I believe not his sayings, then by mine infidelity I make him a liar, as much as is in me. Therefore learn here to commit usury: and specially you rich men, you must learn this lesson well; for of you it is written, "Whosoever hath much, must make account for much." And you have much, not to that end, to do with it what you lust; but you must spend it as God appointeth you in his word to do: for no rich man can say before God, "This is my own." No, he is but an officer over it, an almoner, God's treasurer. Our Saviour saith, Omnis qui reliquerit agrum, &c., centuplum accipiet; "Whosoever shall leave his field, shall receive it again an hundred fold." As, if I should be examined now of the papists, if they should ask me, "Believe you in the mass?" I say, "No; according unto God's word, and my conscience, it is naught, it is but deceitfulness, it is the devil's doctrine." Now I must go to prison, I leave all things behind me, wife and children, goods and land, and all my friends: I leave them for Christ's sake, in his quarrel. What saith our Saviour unto it? Centuplum accipiet; "I shall have an hundred times so much." Now though this be spoken in such wise, yet it may be understood of alms-giving too. For that man or woman that can find in their hearts for God's sake to leave ten shillings or ten pounds, they shall have "an hundred-fold again in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting." If this will not move our hearts, then they are more than stony and flinty; then our damnation is just and well deserved. For to give alms, it is like as when a man cometh unto me, and desireth an empty purse of me: I lend him the purse, he cometh by and by and bringeth it full of money, and giveth it me; so that I have now my purse again, and the money too. So it is to give alms: we lend an empty purse, and take a full purse for it. Therefore let us persuade ourselves in our hearts, that to give for God's sake is no loss unto us, but great gain. And truly the poor man doth more for the rich man in taking things of him, than the rich doth for the poor in giving them. For the rich giveth but only worldly goods, but the poor giveth him by the promise of God all felicity.
Quotidianum, "Daily." Here we learn to cast away all carefulness, and to come to this storehouse of God, where we shall have all things competent both for our souls and bodies. Further, in this petition we desire that God will feed not only our bodies, but also our souls; and so we pray for the office of preaching. For like as the body must be fed daily with meat, so the soul requireth her meat, which is the word of God. Therefore we pray here for all the clergy, that they may do their duties, and feed us with the word of God according to their calling.
Now I have troubled you long, therefore I will make an end. I desire you remember to resort to this storehouse whatsoever ye have need of, come hither; here are all things necessary for your soul and body, only desire them. But you have heard how you must be apparelled; you must labour and do your duties, and then come, and you shall find all things necessary for you: and specially now at this time let us resort unto God; for it is a great drought, as we think, and we had need of rain. Let us therefore resort unto our loving Father, which promiseth, that when we call upon him with a faithful heart, he will hear us. Let us therefore desire him to rule the matter so, that we may have our bodily sustenance. We have the ensample of Elias, whose prayer God heard. Therefore let us pray this prayer, which our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ himself taught us, saying, "Our Father, which art in heaven," Amen.
ET REMITTE NOBIS DEBITA NOSTRA, SICUT ET NOS REMITTIMUS DEBITORIBUS NOSTRIS
This is a very good prayer, if it be said in faith with the whole heart. There was never none that did say it with the heart, but he had forgiveness; and his trespasses and all his sins were pardoned and taken from him. As touching the former petitions, I told you that many things were contained in them; which you may perceive partly by that I have said, and partly by gatherings and conjectures. Truly there is a great doctrine in it; yet we think it to be but a light matter to understand the Lord's prayer: but it is a great thing. Therefore I would have you to mark it well: but specially keep in your remembrance, how our Saviour teacheth us to know the liberality of God, how God hath determined to help us; insomuch that we shall lack nothing, if we come to his treasure-house, where is locked up all things necessary for our souls and bodies. Farther, consider by the same petition that we be but beggars altogether. For the best of us hath need to say daily, "Our Father, give us this day our daily bread." I would these proud and lofty fellows would consider this, namely, that they be but beggars; as St Paul saith, Quid habes quod non accepisti? "What have ye, that you have not gotten with begging?" Yet most, above all things, I would have you to consider this word "our"; for in that word are contained great mysteries and much learning. All those that pray this prayer, that is to say, all christian people, help me to get my living at God's hand; for when they say "our," they include me in their prayers. Again, consider the remedy against carefulness; which is to trust in God, to hang upon him, to come to his treasure-house; and then to labour, and to do the works of our vocation: then undoubtedly God will provide for us, we shall not lack. Therefore learn to trust upon the Lord, and leave this wicked carefulness, whereof our Saviour monisheth us. Specially, I would have you to consider what a wicked opinion this is, to fantasy that giving to the poor is a diminishing of our goods. I told you of late of the proprieties of things, how things be ours, and how they be not ours. All those things which we have, either by labour or by inheritance, or else by gifts, or else by buying, all those things which we have by such titles be our own; but yet not so that we may spend them according to our own pleasure. They be ours upon the condition that we shall spend them to the honour of God, and the relieving of our neighbours. And here I spake of restitution; how we ought to make amends unto that man whom we have deceived, or taken goods wrongfully from him. There be some men which think there is no other theft but only taking of purses, and killing men by the way, or stealing other men's good. Those men are much deceived; for there be varia genera furti, "A great number of thieves." What was this but a theft, when Esay saith, Principes tui infideles, socii furum; "Thy princes are infidels, and are companions with thieves?" This was a theft, but it was not a common theft; it was a lordly theft. they could tell how to weary men, and so to take bribes of them. Such a one was Zachee: he robbed not men by the highway, but he was an oppressor, and forced men to pay more than they ought to pay; which his so doing was as well a theft, as if he had robbed men by the highway. There be many which follow Zachee in his illness, but there be but few, or none at all, which will follow him in his goodness: Si quem defraudavi, reddam quadruplum; "If I have deceived any man, I will pay it again fourfold." I would wish that all bribers and false tollers would follow his ensample. But I tell you, without restitution there is no salvation. This is a certain sentence, allowed and approved, first, by the holy scripture; secondarily, by all the writers that ever wrote upon scripture. Yea, the very school-doctors, as bad as they were, yet they never contraried in that, but said: Restitutiones famae ac rerum sunt opera debita; "We ought to make restitution of a man's good name, and of his goods taken from him wrongfully": that is to say, when we have slandered anybody, we ought to make him amends. Item, also, when we have taken any man's goods wrongfully, we ought to make him amends; else we shall never be saved: for God abhorreth me, and all things that I do are abominable before him.
Remitte. Who is in this world which hath not need to say, "Lord, forgive me?" No man living, nor never was, nor shall be, our Saviour only excepted: he was Agnus immaculatus, "An undefiled Lamb." I remember a verse which I learned almost forty years ago, which is this: Saepe precor mortem, mortem quoque deprecor idem; "I pray many times for death to come; and again I pray, that he shall not come." This verse doth put diversity in precor and deprecor: precor is, when I would fain have a thing; deprecor is, when I would avoid it. Like as Elias the prophet, when Jezabel had killed the prophets of the Lord; Elias, being in a hole in the mount, desired of God to die; and this is precor. Now deprecor is his contrarium; when I would avoid the thing, then I use deprecor. Now in the Lord's prayer, till hither we have been in precor; that is to say, we have desired things at God's hand. Now cometh deprecor; I desire him now to remove such things which may do me harm: as sin, which doth harm; therefore I would have him to take away my trespasses. Now who is in this world, or ever hath been, which hath not need to say this deprecor; to desire God to take from him his sins, to "forgive him his trespasses"? Truly, no saint in heaven, be they as holy as ever they will, yet they have had need of this deprecor; they have had need to say, "Lord, forgive us our trespasses." Now you ask, wherein standeth our righteousness? Answer: in that, that God forgiveth unto us our unrighteousness. Wherein standeth our goodness? In that, that God taketh away our illness; so that our goodness standeth in his goodness.
In the other petition we desire all things necessary for our bodily life, as long as we be here in this world: Unusquisque enim tempus certum habet praedefinitum a Domino; "For every man hath a certain time appointed him of God, and God hideth that same time from us." For some die in young age, some in old age, according as it pleaseth him. He hath not manifested to us the time, because he would have us at all times ready: else if I knew the time, I would presume upon it, and so should be worse. But he would have us ready at all times, and therefore he hideth the time of our death from us. And it is a common saying, "There do come as many skins of calves to the market, as there do of bulls or kine." But of that we may be sure, there shall not fall one hair from our head without his will; and we shall not die before the time that God hath appointed unto us: which is a comfortable thing, specially in time of sickness or wars. For there be many men which are afraid to go to war, and to do the king service, for they fear ever they shall be slain. Item, vicars and parsons be afraid when there cometh a sickness in the town; therefore they were wont commonly to get themselves out of the way, and send a friar thither, which did nothing else but rob and spoil them: which doings of the vicar was damnable; for it was a diffidence and a mistrust in God. Therefore, ye vicars, parsons, or curates, what name soever you bear, when there cometh any sickness in your town, leave not your flock without a pastor, but comfort them in their distress; and believe certainly, that with your well-doings you cannot shorten your lives. Likewise, thou subject, when thou art commanded by the king or his officers to go to war, to fight against the king's enemies; go with a good heart and courage, not doubting but that God will preserve thee, and that thou canst not shorten thy life with well-doing. Peradventure God hath appointed thee to die there, or to be slain: happy art thou when thou diest in God's quarrel. For to fight against the king s enemies, being called unto it by the magistrates, it is God's service: therefore when thou diest in that service with a good faith, happy art thou. There be some which say, when their friends are slain in battle, "Oh, if he had tarried at home, he should not have lost his life." These sayings are naught: for God hath appointed every man his time. To go to war in presumptuousness, without an ordinary calling, such going to war I allow not: but when thou art called, go in the name of the Lord; and be well assured in thy heart that thou canst not shorten thy life with well-doing.
Remitte, "Forgive us." Here we sue for our pardon; and so we acknowledge ourselves to be offenders: for the unguilty needeth no pardon. This pardon, or remission of sins, is so necessary, that no man can be saved without it. Therefore of remission standeth the Christian man's life: for so saith David, Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates, et quorum tecta suet peccata; "They are blessed of God whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." He saith not, Blessed be they which have never sinned, for where dwell such fellows which never sinned? Marry, nowhere; they are not to be gotten. Here the prophet signified that all we be sinners; for he saith, quorum peccata sunt remissa, "whose sins are pardoned." And here we be painted out in our colours, else we would be proud; and so he saith in the gospel, Cum sitis mali, "Forasmuch as ye be all evil." There he giveth us our own title and name, calling us wicked and ill. There is neither man nor woman that can say they have no sin; for we be all sinners. But how can we hide our sins? Marry, the blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ hideth our sins, and washeth them away. And though one man had done all the world's sins since Adam's time, yet he may be remedied by the blood of Jesus Christ: if he believe in him, he shall be cleansed from all his sins. Therefore all our comfort is in him, in his love and kindness. For St Peter saith, Caritas operit multitudinem peccatorum; "Charity covereth the multitude of sins." So doth indeed the love of our Saviour Jesu Christ: his love towards us covereth and taketh away all our sins; insomuch that the almighty God shall not condemn us, nor the devil shall not prevail against us. Our nature is ever to hide sin, and to cloak it; but this is a wicked hiding, and this hiding will not serve. Videt et requiret; "He seeth our wickedness, and he will punish it": therefore our hiding cannot serve us. But if you be disposed to hide your sins, I will tell you how you shall hide them. First, acknowledge them; and then believe in our Saviour Christ; put him in trust withal: he will pacify his Father; for "to that end he came into the world, to save sinners." This is the right way to hide sins; not to go and excuse them, or to make them no sins. No, no; the prophet saith, Beatus vir cui Dominus non imputat iniquitatem; "Blessed is that man to whom the Lord imputeth not his sins." He saith not, "Blessed is he that did never sin"; but, "Blessed is he to whom sin is not imputed."
And so here in this petition we pray for remission of our sins; which is so requisite to the beginning of the spiritual life, that no man can come thereto, except he pray for remission of his sins; which standeth in Christ our Redeemer: he hath washen and cleansed our sins; by him we shall be clean. But how shall we come to Christ? How shall we have him? I hear that he is beneficial, as scripture witnesseth: Copiosa est apud Deum redemptio; "There is full and plenteous redemption by him." But how shall I get that? how shall I come unto it? By faith. Faith is the hand wherewith we receive his benefits; therefore we must needs have faith. But how shall we obtain faith? Faith indeed bringeth Christ, and Christ bringeth remission of sins; but how shall we obtain faith? Answer: St Paul teacheth us this, saying: Fides ex auditu, "Faith cometh by hearing God's word." Then if we will come to faith, we must hear God's word: if God's word be necessary to be heard, then we must have preachers which be able to tell us God's word. And so it appeareth, that in this petition we pray for preachers; we pray unto God, that he will send men amongst us, which may teach us the way of everlasting life. Truly it is a pitiful thing to see schools so neglected, scholars not maintained: every true Christian ought to lament the same. But I have a good hope, since God hath done greater things in taking away and extirping out all popery, that he will send us a remedy for this matter too. I hope he will put into the magistrates' heart to consider these things; for by this office of preaching God sendeth faith. The office is the office of salvation; for "it hath pleased God" per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes, "by the foolishness of preaching to save the believers." So, I say, we pray for this office which bringeth faith. Faith bringeth to Christ; Christ bringeth remission of sins; remission of sins bringeth everlasting life.
O, this is a godly prayer, which we ought at all times to say, for we sin daily; therefore we had need to say daily, "Forgive us our trespasses"; and, as David saith, Ne intres in judicium cum servo tuo, "Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant"; for we be not able to abide his judgment. If it were not for this pardon, which we have in our Saviour Jesu Christ, we should all perish eternally. For when this word, Remitte, was spoken with a good faith and with a penitent heart, there was never man but he was heard. If Judas, that traitor, had said it with a good faith, it should have saved him; but he forgot that point. He was taught it indeed; our Saviour himself taught him to pray so, but he forgot it again. Peter, he remembered that point: he cried, Remitte, "Lord forgive me"; and so he obtained his pardon. And so shall we do: for we be ever in that case, that we have need to say, Remitte, "Lord, forgive us"; for we ever do amiss.
But here is one addition, one hanger on: "As we forgive them that trespass against us." What meaneth this? Indeed it soundeth after the words, as though we might or should merit remission of our sins with our forgiving. As for an ensample: That man hath done unto me a foul turn, he hath wronged me; at the length he acknowledgeth his folly, and cometh to me, and desireth me to forgive him; I forgive him. Do I now, in forgiving my neighbour his sins which he hath done against me, do I, I say, deserve or merit at God's hand forgiveness of my own sins? No, no; God forbid! for if this should be so, then farewell Christ: it taketh him clean away, it diminisheth his honour, and it is very treason wrought against Christ. This hath been in times past taught openly in the pulpits and in the schools; but it was very treason against Christ: for in him only, and in nothing else, neither in heaven nor in earth, is our remission; unto him only pertaineth this honour. For remission of sins, wherein consisteth everlasting life, is such a treasure, that passeth all men's doings: it must not be our merits that shall serve, but his. He is our comfort: it is the majesty of Christ, and his blood-shedding, that cleanseth us from our sins. Therefore, whosoever is minded contrary unto this, Factus est reus laesae majestatis; "he robbeth Christ of his majesty," and so casteth himself into everlasting danger. For though the works which we do be good outwardly, and God be pleased with them, yet they be not perfect: for we believe unperfectly, we love unperfectly, we suffer unperfectly, not as we ought to do; and so all things that we do are done unperfectly. But our Saviour, he hath so remedied the matter, and taken away our unperfectness, that they be counted now before God most perfect and holy, not for our own sake, but for his sake: and though they be not perfect, yet they be taken for perfect; and so we come to perfectness by him. So you see, as touching our salvation, we must not go to working to think to get everlasting life with our own doings. No, this were to deny Christ. Salvation, and remission of sins is his gift, his own and free gift. As touching our good works which we do, God will reward them in heaven; but they cannot get heaven. Therefore let every man do well, for it shall be well rewarded: but let them not think that they with their doings may get heaven; for so doing is a robbing of Christ.
What shall we learn, now, by this addition, where we say, "As we forgive them that trespass against us"? I tell you, this addition is put unto it not without great cause: for our Saviour, being a wise and perfect schoolmaster, would speak no words in vain. This addition is put unto it, to be a certain and sure token unto us, whether we have the true faith in our hearts or no. For faith, the right faith, I say, consisteth not in the knowledge of the stories, to believe the stories written in the new and old Testament; that is not the lively faith, which bringeth salvation with her. For the devil himself believeth the stories, and yet is, and shall be damned world without end. Therefore we must have the right faith, the lively faith, the faith that bringeth salvation; which consisteth in believing that Christ died for my sins' sake. With such a faith I draw him unto me with all his benefits. I must not stand in generalities, as to believe that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate: but I must believe that that was done for my sake; to redeem with his passion my sins, and all theirs which believe and trust in him. If I believe so, then I shall not be deceived. But this faith is a hard thing to be had; and many a man thinketh himself to have that faith, when he hath nothing less. Therefore I will tell you how you shall prove whether you have the right faith or no, lest you be deceived with a phantasy of faith, as many be. Therefore prove thyself on this wise: here is a man which hath done me wrong, hath taken away my living or my good name; he hath slandered me, or otherwise hurt me: now at the length he cometh unto me, and acknowledgeth his faults and trespasses, and desireth me to forgive him: if I now feel myself ready and willing to give him, from the bottom of my heart, all things that he hath done against me, then I may be assured that I have the lively faith; yea, I may be assured that God will forgive me my sins for Christ his Son's sake. But when my neighbour cometh unto me, confessing his folly, and desiring forgiveness; if I then be sturdy and proud, my heart flinty, and my stomach bent against him, insomuch that I refuse his request, and have an appetite to be avenged upon him; if I have such a sturdy stomach, then I may pronounce against myself, that I have not that lively faith in Christ which cleanseth my sins. It is a sure token that I am not of the number of the children of God, as long as I abide in this sturdiness.
There is no good body but he is slandered or injured by one mean or other; and commonly it is seen, that those which live most godly, have in this world the greatest rebukes: they are, slandered and backbitten, and divers ways vexed of the wicked. Therefore thou, whosoever thou art, that sufferest such wrongs, either in thy goods and substance, or in thy good name and fame; examine thyself, go into thy heart; and if thou canst find in thy heart to forgive all thy enemies whatsoever they have done against thee, then thou mayest be sure that thou art one of the flock of God. Yet thou must beware, as I said before, that thou think not to get to heaven by such remitting of thy neighbour's ill-doings; but by such forgiving, or not forgiving, thou shalt know whether thou have faith or no. Therefore if we have a rebellious stomach, and a flinty heart against our neighbour, so that we are minded to avenge ourselves upon him, and so take upon us God's office, which saith, Mihi vindicta, ego retribuam, "Yield unto me the vengeance, and I shall recompense them"; as I told you, we be not of the flock of Christ. For it is written, Si quis dixerit quoniam diligo Deum, et odio habet fratrem suum, mendax est: "Whosoever saith, I love God, and hateth his brother, that man or woman is a liar." For it is impossible for me to love God and hate my neighbour. And our Saviour saith, Si oraveritis, remittite; "When you will pray, forgive first"; else it is to no purpose, you get nothing by your prayer. Likewise we see in the parable of that king which called his servants to make an account and pay their debts, where he remitteth one of them a great sum of money: now that same fellow, whom the lord pardoned, went out and took one of his fellow-servants by the neck, and handled him most cruelly, saying, "Give me my money." He had forgotten, belike, that his lord had forgiven him. Now the other servants, seeing his cruelness, came unto the king, and told him how that man used himself so cruelly to his fellow: the lord called him again, and after great rebukes cast him into prison, there to lie till he had paid the last farthing. Upon that our Saviour saith, Sic et Pater meus coelestis faciet vobis, si non remiseritis unusquisque fratri suo de cordibus vestris: "Thus will my heavenly Father also do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother even from your hearts." Therefore let us take heed by that wicked servant, which would not forgive his fellow-servant when he desired of him forgiveness, saying, Patientiam habe in me, et omnia reddam tibi; "Have patience with me," saith he, "and I will pay thee all my debts." But we cannot say so unto God; we must only call for pardon. There be many folk, which when they be sick, they say, "O that I might live but one year longer, to make amends for my sins!" Which saying is very naught and ungodly; for we are not able to make amends for our sins; only Christ, he is "the Lamb of God which taketh away our sins." Therefore when we be sick, we should say: "Lord God, thy will be done; if I can do anything to thy honour and glory, Lord, suffer me to live longer: but thy will be done!" As for satisfaction, we cannot do the least piece of it.
You have heard now, how we ought to be willing to forgive our neighbours their sins, which is a very token that we be children of God: to this our Saviour also exhorteth us, saying, Si frater tuus habet aliquid adversum te, relinque, &c. "If thou offerest therefore thy gift before the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath somewhat against thee, leave thou thy gift there before the altar, and go first and be reconciled unto thy brother." "Leave it there," saith our Saviour, "if thy brother have any thing against thee: go not about to sacrifice to me, but first, above all things, go and reconcile thyself unto thy brother." On such wise St Paul also exhorteth us, saying, Volo viros orare absque ira et disceptatione; "I would have men to pray without anger and disceptation." There be many wranglers and brawlers nowadays, which do not well: they shall well know that they be not in the favour of God; God is displeased with them. Let us therefore give up ourselves to prayer, so that we may love God and our neighbour. It is a very godly prayer to say, "Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."
But there be peradventure some of you, which will say, "The priest can absolve me and forgive me my sins." Sir, I tell thee, the priest or minister, call him what you will, he hath power given unto him from our Saviour to absolve in such wise as he is commanded by him: but I think ministers be not greatly troubled therewith; for the people seek their carnal liberties; which indeed is not well, and a thing which misliketh God. For I would have them that are grieved in conscience to go to some godly man, which is able to minister God's word, and there to fetch his absolution, if he cannot be satisfied in the public sermon; it were truly a thing which would do much good. But, to say the truth, there is a great fault in the priests; for they for the most part be unlearned and wicked, and seek rather means and ways to wickedness than to godliness. But a godly minister, which is instructed in the word of God, can and may absolve in open preaching; not of his own authority, but in the name of God for God saith, Ego sum qui deleo iniquitates; "I am he that cleanseth thy sins." But I may absolve you, as an officer of Christ, in the open pulpit in this wise: "As many as confess their sins unto God, acknowledging themselves to be sinners; and believe that our Saviour, through his passion, hath taken away their sins, and have an earnest purpose to leave sin; as many, I say, as be so affectioned, Ego absolvo vos; I, as an officer of Christ, as his treasurer, absolve you in his name." This is the absolution that I can make by God's word. Again, as many as will stand in defence of their wickednesses, will not acknowledge them, nor purpose to leave them, and so have no faith in our Saviour, to be saved by him through his merit; to them I say, Ego ligo vos, "I bind you." And I doubt not but they shall be bound in heaven; for they be the children of the devil, as long as they be in such unbelief and purpose to sin. Here you see, how and in what wise a preacher may absolve or bind: but he cannot do it of fellowship, or worldly respect. No, in no wise; he must do it according as Christ hath commanded him. If God now command to forgive him, qui peccat contra me, "that sinneth against me"; how much more must I be reconciled to him whom I have offended! I must go unto him, and desire him to forgive me; I must acknowledge my fault, and so humble myself before him. Here a man might ask a question, saying: "What if a man have offended me grievously; and hath hurt me in my goods, or slandered me; and is sturdy in it, standeth in defence of himself and his own wickedness, he will not acknowledge himself; shall I forgive him?" Answer: Forsooth, God himself doth not so; he forgiveth not sins, except the sinner acknowledge himself, confess his wickedness, and cry him mercy. Now I am sure God requireth no more at our hands than he doth himself. Therefore I will say this: if thy neighbour or any man hath done against thee and will not confess his faults, but wickedly defendeth the same, I, for my own discharge, must put away all rancour and malice out of my heart, and be ready, as far forth as I am able, to help him; if I do so, I am discharged afore God, but so is not he. For truly that sturdy fellow shall make an heavy account afore the righteous judge.
Here I have occasion to speak against the Novatians, which deny remission of sins. Their opinion is, that he which cometh once to Christ, and hath received the Holy Ghost, and after that sinneth again, he shall never come to Christ again; his sins shall never be forgiven him: which opinion is most erroneous and wicked, yea, and clean against scripture. For if it should be so, there should nobody be saved; for there is no man but he sinneth daily. I told you how you should understand those two places of scripture, which seem to be very hard, Non est sacrificium, &c. "There is no sacrifice," &c. As concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost, we cannot judge aforehand, but after. I know now that Judas had sinned against the Holy Ghost; also Nero, Pharao, and one Franciscus Spira; which man had forsaken popery, and done very boldly in God's quarrel; at the length he was complained of, the Holy Ghost moved him in his heart to stick unto it, and not to forsake God's word; he, contrary to that admonition of the Holy Ghost, denied the word of God, and so finally died in desperation: him I may pronounce to have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost. But I will shew you a remedy for the sin against the Holy Ghost. Ask remission of sin in the name of Christ, and then I ascertain you that you sin not against the Holy Ghost. For gratia exsuperat supra peccatum; "The mercy of God far exceedeth our sins."
I have heard tell of some, which when they said this petition, they perceived that they asked of God forgiveness, like as they themselves forgive their neighbours; and again, perceiving themselves so unapt to forgive their neighbours' faults, came to that point, that they would not say this prayer at all; but took our Lady's Psalter in hand, and such fooleries; thinking they might then do unto their neighbour a foul turn with a better conscience, than if they should say this petition: for here they wish themselves the vengeance of God upon their heads, if they bear grudge in their hearts, and say this petition. But if we will be right Christians, let us set aside all hatred and malice; let us live godly, and forgive our enemy; so that we may from the bottom of our heart say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses." There be some when they say, "Forgive us our trespasses," they think that God will forgive culpam only, sed non poenam, guiltiness and not the pain; and therefore they believe they shall go into purgatory, and there to be cleansed from their sins: which thing is not so; they be liars which teach such doctrine. For God forgiveth us both the pain and the guiltiness of sins: like as it appeared in David when he repented; Nathan said unto him, Abstulit Dominus iniquitatem tuam, "The Lord hath taken away thy wickedness." But they will say, "God took away the guiltiness of his sins, but not the pain; for he punished him afterward." Sir, you must understand that God punished him, but not to the end that he should make satisfaction and amends for his sins, but for a warning. God would give him a Cave; therefore he punished him. So likewise, whosoever is a repentant sinner, as David was, and believeth in Christ, he is clean a poena et a culpa, both from the pain and guiltiness of his sins; yet God punisheth sins, to make us to remember and beware of sins.
Now to make an end: You have heard how needful it is for us to cry unto God for forgiveness of our sins: where you have heard, wherein forgiveness of our sins standeth, namely, in Christ the Son of the living God. Again, I told you how you should come to Christ, namely, by faith; and faith cometh through hearing the word of God. Remember then this addition, "As we forgive them that trespass against us;" which is a sure token, whereby we know whether we have the true faith in Christ or no. And here you learn, that it is a good thing to have an enemy; for we may use him to our great commodity: through him or by him we may prove ourselves, whether we have the true faith or no.
Now I shall desire you yet again to pray unto almighty God, that he will send such weather, whereby the fruits of the field may increase; for we think we have need of rain. Let us therefore call upon him, which knoweth what is best for us. Therefore say with me the Lord's prayer, as he himself hath taught us: "Our Father, which art,". Amen.
ET NE NOS INDUCAS IN TENTATIONEM, SED LIBERA NOS A MALO
In the petition afore, where we say, "Forgive us our trespasses," there we fetch remedies for sins past. For we must needs have forgiveness; we cannot remedy the matter of ourselves; our sins must be remedied by pardon, by remission: other righteousness we have not, but forgiving of our unrighteousness; our goodness standeth in forgiving of our illness. All mankind must cry pardon, and acknowledge themselves to be sinners; except our Saviour, who was clean without spot of sin. Therefore when we feel our sins, we must with a penitent heart resort hither, and say: "Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Mark well this addition, "as we forgive them that trespass"; for our Saviour putteth the same unto it, not to that end that we should merit any thing by it, but rather to prove our faith, whether we be of the faithful flock of God or no. For the right faith abideth not in that man that is disposed purposely to sin, to hate his even [Fellow-Christian.] Christian, or to do other manner of sins. For whosoever purposely sinneth, contra conscientiam, "against his conscience," he hath lost the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and finally Christ himself. But when we are fallen so, we must fetch them again at God's hand by this prayer, which is a storehouse: here we shall find remission of our sins. And though we be risen never so well, yet when we fall again, when we sin again, what remedy then? What availeth it me to be risen once, and fall by and by into the self-same sin again, which is a renovation of the other sins? For whosoever hath done wickedly an act against God, and afterwards is sorry for it, crieth God mercy, and so cometh to forgiveness of the same sin; but by and by, willingly, and wittingly, doth the self-same sin again;--he renovateth by so doing all those sins which beforetimes were forgiven him. Which thing appeareth by the lord, that took reckoning of his servants, where he found one which owed him a great sum of money: the lord pitied him, and remitted him all the debts. Now that same man afterward shewed himself unthankful and wicked: therefore the lord called him, and cast him into prison, there to lie till he had paid the uttermost farthing, notwithstanding that he had forgiven him afore, &c. So we see the guiltiness of the former sins turn again, when we do the same sins again. Seeing then that it is so dangerous a thing to fall into sin again, then we had need to have some remedy, some help, that we might avoid sin, and not fall thereto again: therefore here followeth this petition, "Lead us not into temptation."
Here we have a remedy, here we desire God that he will preserve us from falling into sin. Our Saviour, that loving school-master, knew whereof we had need; therefore he teacheth us to beg a preservation of God, that we fall not: "Lead us not, &c."; that is to say, "Lord, lead us not into trial, for we shall soon be overcome, but preserve us; suffer us not to sin again; let us not fall; help us, that sin get not the victory over us." And this is a necessary prayer; for what is it that we can do? Nothing at all but sin. And therefore we have need to pray unto God, that he will preserve and keep us in the right way; for our enemy, the devil, is an unquiet spirit, ever lying in the way, seeking occasion how to bring us to ungodliness. Therefore it appeareth how much we have need of the help of God: for the devil is an old enemy, a fellow of great antiquity; he hath endured this five thousand five hundred and fifty-two years, in which space he hath learned all arts and cunnings; he is a great practiser; there is no subtilty but he knoweth the same. Like as an artificer that is cunning and expert in his craft, and knoweth how to go to work, how to do his business in the readiest way; so the devil knoweth all ways how to tempt us, and to give us an overthrow; insomuch that we can begin nor do nothing, but he is at our heels, and worketh some mischief, whether we be in prosperity or adversity, whether we be in health or sickness, life or death; he knoweth how to use the same to his purpose. As for an ensample: When a man is rich, and of great substance, he by and by setteth upon him with his crafts, intending to bring him to mischief; and so he moveth him to despise and contemn God, to make his riches his God. Yea, he can put such pride into the rich man's heart, that he thinketh himself able to bring all things to pass; and so beginneth to oppress his neighbour with his riches. But God, by his holy word, warneth us and armeth us against such crafts and subtilties of the devil, saying, Divitiae si affluant, nolite cor apponere; "If riches come upon you, set not your hearts upon them." He commandeth us not to cast them away, but not to set our hearts upon them, as wicked men do. For to be rich is a gift of God, if riches be rightly used; but the devil is so wily, he stirreth up rich men's hearts to abuse them. Again, when a man falleth into poverty, so that he lacketh things necessary to the sustentation of this bodily life; lo, the devil is even ready at hand to take occasion by the poverty to bring him to mischief. For he will move and stir up the heart of man that is in poverty, not to labour and calling upon God, but rather to stealing and robbing, notwithstanding God forbiddeth such sins in his laws; or else, at the least, he will bring him to use deceit and falsehood with his neighbour, intending that way to bring him to everlasting destruction. Further, when a man is in honour and dignity, and in great estimation, this serpent sleepeth not, but is ready to give him an overthrow. For though honour be good unto them which come lawfully by it, and though it be a gift of God; yet the devil will move that man's heart which hath honour, to abuse his honour: for he will make him lofty, and high-minded, and fill his heart full of ambitions, so that he shall have a desire ever to come higher and higher; and all those which will withstand him, they shall be hated, or ill entreated at his hand: and at the length he shall be so poisoned with this ambition, that he shall forget all humanity and godliness, and consequently fall in the fearful hands of God. Such a fellow is the devil, that old doctor!
If it cometh to pass that a man fall into open ignominy and shame, so that he shall be nothing regarded before the world; then the devil is at hand, moving and stirring his heart to irksomeness, and at the length to desperation. If he be young and lusty, the devil will put in his heart, and say to him: "What! thou art in thy flowers, man; take thy pleasure; make merry with thy companions; remember the old proverb, 'Young saints, old devils.'" Which proverb in very deed is naught and deceitful, and the devil's own invention; which would have parents negligent in bringing up their children in goodness. He would rather see them to be brought up in illness and wickedness; therefore he found out such a proverb, to make them careless for their children. But, as I said afore, this proverb is naught: for look commonly, where children are brought up in wickedness, they will be wicked all their lives after; and therefore we may say thus, "Young devil, old devil; young saints, old saints." Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem Testa diu; "The earthen pot will long savour of that liquor that is first put into it." And here appeareth, how the devil can use the youth of a young man to his destruction, in exhorting him to follow the fond lusts of that age. Likewise when a man cometh to age, that old serpent will not leave him; but is ever stirring him from one mischief unto the other, from one wickedness to another. And commonly he moveth old folks to avarice and covetousness: for then old folk will commonly say, by the inspiration of the devil, "Now it is time for me to lay up, to keep in store somewhat for me, that I may have wherewith to live when I shall be a cripple." And so under this colour they set all their hearts and minds only upon this world; forgetting their poor neighbour, which God would have relieved by them. But, as I told you before, this is the devil's invention and subtilty, which blindeth their eyes so, and withdraweth their hearts so far from God, that it is scant possible for some to be brought again: for they have set all their hearts and phantasies in such wise upon their goods, that they cannot suffer any body to occupy their goods, nor they themselves use it not; to the verifying of this common sentence: Avarus caret quod habet, aeque ac quod non habet; "The covetous man lacketh as well those things which he hath, as those things which he hath not." So likewise when we be in health, the devil moveth us to all wickedness and naughtiness, to whoredom, lechery, theft, and other horrible faults; putting clean out of our mind the remembrance of God and his judgments, insomuch that we forget that we shall die. Again, when we be in sickness, he goeth about like a lion to move and stir us up to impatiency and murmuring against God; or else he maketh our sins so horrible before us that we fall into desperation. And so it appeareth that there is nothing either so high or low, so great or small, but the devil can use that self-same thing as a weapon to fight against us withal, like as with a sword. Therefore our Saviour, knowing the crafts and subtilties of our enemy the devil, how he goeth about day and night, without intermission, to seek our destruction, teacheth us here to cry unto God our heavenly father for aid and help, for a subsidy against this strong and mighty enemy, against the prince of this world, as St Paul disdained not to call him; for he knew his power and subtile conveyances. Belike St Paul had some experience of him.
Here by this petition, when we say, "Lead us not into temptation," we learn to know our own impossibility and infirmity; namely, that we be not able of our ownselves to withstand this great and mighty enemy, the devil. Therefore here we resort to God, desiring him to help and defend us, whose power passeth the strength of the devil. So it appeareth that this is a most needful petition: for when the devil is busy about us, and moveth us to do against God, and his holy laws and commandments, ever we should have in remembrance whither to go, namely, to God; acknowledging our weakness, that we be not able to withstand the enemy. Therefore we ought ever to say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation."
This petition, "lead us not into temptation," the meaning of it is: "Almighty God, we desire thy holy majesty for to stand by and with us, with thy holy Spirit, so that temptation overcome us not, but that we, through thy goodness and help, may vanquish and get the victory over it: for it is not in our power to do it; thou, O God, must help us to strive and fight." It is with this petition, "lead us not into temptation," even as much as St Paul saith, Ne regnet igitur peccatum in vestro mortali corpore; "Let not sin reign in your corruptible body," saith St Paul. He doth not require that we shall have no sin, for that is impossible unto us; but he requireth that we be not servants unto sin; that we give not place unto it, that sin rule not in us. And this is a commandment: we are commanded to forsake and hate sin, so that it may have no power over us. Now we shall turn this commandment into a prayer, and desire of God that he will keep us, that he will not lead us into temptation; that is to say, that he will not suffer sin to have the rule and governance over us; and so we shall say with the prophet, Domine, dirige gressus meos, "Lord, rule and govern thou me in the right way." And so we shall turn God's commandment into a prayer, to desire of him help to do his will and pleasure like as St Augustine saith, Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis; "Give that thou commandest, and then command what thou wilt." As who say, "If thou wilt command only and not give, then we shall be lost, we shall perish." Therefore we must desire him to rule and govern all our thoughts, words, acts, and deeds, so that no sins bear rule in us: we must require him to put his helping hand to us, that we may overcome temptation, and not temptation us. This I would have you to consider, that every morning, when you rise from your bed, you would say these words with a faithful heart and earnest mind: Domine, gressus meos dirige, ne dominetur peccatum in meo mortali corpore; "Lord, rule and govern me so, order my ways so, that sin get not the victory of me, that sin rule me not; but let thy Holy Ghost inhabit my heart." And specially when any man goeth about a dangerous business, let him ever say, Domine, dirige gressus meos, "Lord, rule thou me; keep me in thy custody." So this is the first point, which you shall note in this petition, namely, to turn the commandments of God into a prayer. He commandeth us to leave sins, to avoid them, to hate them, to keep our heart clean from them: then let us turn his commandment into a prayer, and say, "Lord, lead us not into temptation"; that is to say, "Lord, keep us, that. the devil prevail not against us, that wickedness get not the victory over us."
You shall not think that it is an ill thing to be tempted, to fall into temptations. No, for it is a good thing; and scripture commendeth it, and we shall be rewarded for it for St James saith, Beatus vir qui suffert tentationem; "Blessed is that man that suffereth temptations patiently." Blessed is he that suffereth; not he that followeth; not he that is led by them, and followeth the motions thereof. The devil moveth me to do this thing and that, which is against God; to commit whoredom or lechery, or such like things. Now this is a good thing: for if I withstand his motions, and more regard God than his suggestions, happy am I, and I shall be rewarded for it in heaven. Some think that St Paul would have been without such temptations, but God would not grant his request. Sufficit tibi gratia mea, Paule; "Be content, Paul, to have my favour." For temptations be a declaration of God's favour and might: for though we be most weak and feeble, yet through our weakness God vanquisheth the great strength and might of the devil. And afterward he promiseth us we shall have coronam vitae, "the crown of life"; that is to say, we shall be rewarded in everlasting life. To whom did God promise coronam vitae, everlasting life? Diligentibus se, saith St James, "Unto them that love him"; not unto them that love themselves, and follow their own affections. Diligentibus se: it is an amphibologia; [A sentence that will bear a double meaning.] and therefore Erasmus turneth it into Latin with such words, A quibus dilectus est Deus,--non, diligentibus se; not, "they that love themselves," but, "they of whom God is beloved": for self-love is the root of all mischief and wickedness.
Here you may perceive who are those which love God, namely, they that fight against temptations and assaults of the devil. For this life is a warfare, as St Job saith: Militia est vita hominis super terram, "The life of man is but a warfare." Not that we should fight and brawl one with another: no, not so; but we should fight against the Jebusites that are within us. We may not fight one with another to avenge ourselves and to satisfy our irefulness; but we should fight against the ill motions which rise up in our hearts against the law of God. Therefore remember that our life is a warfare: let us be contented to be tempted. There be some, when they fall into temptations, they be so irksome that they give place, they will fight no more. Again, there be some so weary that they rid themselves out of this life; but this is not well done. They do not after St James's mind; for he saith, "Blessed is he that suffereth temptation, and taketh it patiently." Now, if he be blessed that suffereth temptation, then it followeth, that he that curseth and murmureth against God, being tempted, that that man is cursed in the sight of God, and so shall not enjoy coronam vitae, "everlasting life."
Further, it is a necessary thing to be tempted of God; for how should we know whether we have the love of God in our hearts or no, except we be tried, except God tempt and prove us? Therefore the prophet David saith, Proba me, Domine, et tenta me; "Lord, prove me, and tempt me." This prophet knew that to be tempted of God is a good thing: for temptations minister to us occasion to run to God, and to beg his help. Therefore David was desirous to have something whereby he might exercise his faith. For there is nothing so dangerous in the world as to be without trouble, without temptation. For look, when we be best at ease, when all things go with us according unto our will and pleasure, then we are commonly most farthest off from God. For our nature is so feeble, that we cannot bear tranquility; we forget God by and by: therefore we should say, Proba me, "Lord, prove me, and tempt me."
I have read once a story of a good bishop, which rode by the way, and was weary, being yet far off from any town therefore seeing a fair house, a great man's house, he went thither, and was very well and honourably received. There was great preparations made for him and a great banquet; all things were in plenty. Then the man of the house set out his prosperity, and told the bishop what riches he had; in what honour and dignities he was; how many fair children he had; what a virtuous wife God had provided for him; so that he had no lack of any manner of thing; he had no trouble nor vexations, neither inward nor outward. Now this holy man, hearing the good estate of that man, called one of his servants, and commanded him to make ready the horses; for the bishop thought that God was not in that house, because there was no temptation there: he took his leave, and went his ways. Now when he came two or three mile off, he remembered his book which he had left behind him: he sent his man back again to fetch that book; and when the servant came again, the house was sunken and all that was in it. Here it appeareth that it is a good thing to have temptation. This man thought himself a jolly fellow, because all things went with him: but he knew not St James's lesson, Beatus qui suffert tentationem; "Blessed is he that endureth temptation." Let us therefore learn here, not to be irksome when God layeth his cross upon us. Let us not despair, but call upon him; let us think we be ordained unto it. For truly we shall never have done; we shall have one vexation or other, as long as we be in this world. But we have a great comfort, which is this: Fidelis est Deus, qui non sinit nos tentari supra quam ferre possumus; "God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength." If we mistrust God, then we make him a liar: for God will not suffer us to be tempted further than we shall be able to bear. And, again, he will reward us; we shall have coronam vitae, "everlasting life." If we consider this, and ponder it in our hearts, wherefore should we be troubled? Let every man, when he is in trouble, call upon God with a faithful and penitent heart, "Lord, let me not be tempted further than thou shalt make me able to bear." And this is the office of every christian man; and look for no better cheer as long as thou art in this world: but trouble and vexations thou shalt have usque ad satientatem, "thy belly full." And therefore our Saviour, being upon the mount Olivet, knowing what should come upon him, and how his disciples would forsake him, and mistrust him, taught them to fight against temptation, saying, Vigilate et orate. As who say, "I tell you what you shall do: resort to God, seek comfort of him, call upon him in my name; and this shall be the way how to escape temptations without your peril and loss." Now let us follow that rule which our Saviour giveth unto his disciples. Let us "watch and pray"; that is to say, let us be earnest and fervent in calling upon him, and in desiring his help; and no doubt he will order the matter so with us that temptation shall not hurt us, but shall be rather a furtherance, and not an impediment to everlasting life. And this is our only remedy, to fetch help at his hands. Let us therefore watch and pray; let not temptations bear rule in us or govern us.
Now peradventure there be some amongst the ignorant unlearned sort, which will say unto me, "You speak much of temptations; I pray you tell us, how shall we know when we be tempted?" Answer: When you feel in yourselves, in your hearts, some concupiscence or lust towards any thing that is against the law of God rise up in your hearts, that same is a tempting: for all manner of ill motions to wickedness are temptations. And we be tempted most commonly two manner of ways, a dextris et a sinistris, "on the right hand, and on the left hand." Whensoever we be in honours, wealth, and prosperities, then we be tempted on the right hand: but when we be in open shame, outlaws, or in great extreme poverty and penuries, then that is on the left hand. There hath been many, that when they have been tempted a sinistris, "on the left hand," that is, with adversities and all kind of miseries, they have been hardy and most godly; have suffered such calamities, giving God thanks amidst all their troubles: and there hath been many which have written most godly books in the time of their temptations and miseries. Some also there were which stood heartily, and godlily suffered temptations, as long as they were in trouble: but afterward, when they came to rest, they could not stand so well as before in their trouble: yea, the most part go and take out. a new lesson of discretion, to flatter themselves and the world withal; and so they verify that saying, Honores mutant mores, "Honours change manners." For they can find in their hearts to approve that thing now, which before time they reproved. Aforetime they sought the honour of God, now they seek their own pleasure. Like as the rich man did, saying, Anima, nunc ede, bibe, &c., "Soul, now eat, drink," &c. But it followeth, Stulte, "Thou fool." Therefore, let men beware of the right hand; for they are gone by and by, except God with his Spirit illuminate their hearts. I would such men would begin to say with David, Proba me, Domine, "Lord, prove me: spur me for ward; send me somewhat, that I forget not thee!" So it appeareth that a christian man's life is a strife, a warfare but we shall overcome all our enemies; yet not by our own power, but through God which is able to defend us.
Truth it is that God tempteth. Almighty God tempteth to our commodities, to do us good withal; the devil tempteth to our everlasting destruction. God tempteth us for exercise' sake, that we should not be slothful; therefore he proveth us diversely. We had need often to say this prayer, "Lord, lead us not into temptation." When we rise up in a morning, or whatsoever we do, when we feel the devil busy about us, we should call upon God. The diligence of the devil should. make us watchful, when we consider with what earnest mind he applieth his business: for he sleepeth not, he slumbereth not; he mindeth his own business, he is careful, and hath mind of his matters. To what end is he so diligent, seeking and searching like a hunter? Even, to take us at a vantage. St Peter calleth him a roaring lion, whereby is expressed his power: for you know, the lion is the prince of all other beasts. Circumit, "He goeth about." Here is his diligence. Non est potestas, &c. "There is no power to be likened unto his power": yet our hope is in God; for, as strong as he is, our hope is in God. He cannot hurt or slay us without the permission of God: therefore let us resort unto God, and desire him that he will enable us to fight against him. Further, his wiliness is expressed by this word "serpent." He is of a swift nature; he hath such compasses, such fetches, that he passeth all things in the world. Again, consider how long he hath been a practitioner. You must consider what Satan is, what experience he hath; so that we are not able to match with him. O, how fervently ought we to cry unto God, considering what danger and peril we be in! And not only for ourselves we ought to pray, but also for all others; for we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Seeing then that we have such an enemy, resist; for so it is needful. For I think that now in this hall, amongst this audience, there be many thousand devils, which go about to let us of the hearing of the word of God; to make hardness in our hearts, and to stir up such like mischief within us. But what remedy? Resistite, "Withstand"; withstand his motions. And this must be done at the first. For, as strong as he is, when he is resisted at the first, he is the weakest; but if we suffer him to come into our hearts, then he cannot be driven out without great labour and travail. As for an ensample: I see a fair woman, I like her very well, I wish in my heart to have her. Now withstand; this is a temptation. Shall I follow my affections? No, no: call to remembrance what the devil is; call God to remembrance and his laws; consider what he hath commanded thee: say unto God, "Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." For I tell thee, when he is entered once, it will be hard to get him out again. Therefore suffer him not too long: give him no mansion in thy heart, but strike him with the word of God, and he is gone; he will not abide. Another ensample: There is a man that hath done me wrong; taken away my living, or hurt me of my good name: the devil stirreth me against him, to requite him, to do him another foul turn, to avenge myself upon him. Now, when there riseth up such motions in my heart, I must resist; I must strive. I must consider what God saith, Mihi vindicta, "Let me have the vengeance": Ego retribuam, "I will punish. him for his ill doings."
In such wise we must fight with Satan; we must kill him with the word of God: Resistite, "Withstand and resist." "Away thou, Satan; thou movest me to that which God forbiddeth; God will defend me: I will not speak ill of my neighbour; I will do him no harm." So you must fight with him; and further remember what St Paul saith, "If thy enemy be hungry, let him have meat": this is the shrewd turn that scripture alloweth us to do to our enemies; and so we shall "cast hot coals upon his head"; which is a metaphorical speech. That ye may understand it, take an ensample. This man hath done harm unto thee: make him warm with thy benefits; bear patiently the injuries done unto thee by him, and do for him in his necessities: then thou shalt heat him; for he is in coldness of charity. At the length he shall remember himself, and say, "What a man am I! This man hath ever been friendly and good unto me; he hath borne patiently all my wickedness; truly I am much bound unto him: I will leave off my wrong doings, I will no more trouble him." And so you see that this is the way to make our enemy good, to bring him to reformation. But there be some, that when they be hurt, they will do a foul turn again. But this is not as God would have it. St Paul commandeth us to "pour hot coals upon our enemy's head"; that is to say, if he hurt thee, do him good, make him amends with well-doing; give him meat and drink, whereby is understood all things: when he hath need of counsel, help him; or whatsoever it is that he hath need of, let him have it. And this is the right way to reform our enemy, to amend him, and bring him to goodness; for so St Paul commandeth us, saying, Noli vinci a malo, "Be not overcome of the wicked." For when I am about to do my enemy a foul turn, then he hath gotten the victory over me; he hath made me as wicked as he himself is. But we ought to overcome the ill with goodness; we should overcome our enemy with well-doing.
When I was in Cambridge, Master George Stafford read a lecture, there I heard him; and in expounding the epistle to the Romans, coming to that place where St Paul saith, that "we shall overcome our enemy with well-doing, and so heap up hot coals upon his head"; now in expounding of that place, he brought in an ensample, saying, that he knew in London a great rich merchant, which merchant had a very poor neighbour; yet for all his poverty, he loved him very well, and lent him money at his need, and let him to come to his table whensoever he would. It was even at that time when Doctor Colet was in trouble, and should have been burnt, if God had not turned the king's heart to the contrary. Now the rich man began to be a scripture man; he began to smell the gospel: the poor man was a papist still. It chanced on a time, when the rich man talked of the gospel, sitting at his table, where he reproved popery and such kind of things, the poor man, being then present, took a great displeasure against the rich man; insomuch that he would come no more to his house, he would borrow no money of him, as he was wont to do before-times; yea, and conceived such hatred and malice against him, that he went and accused him before the bishops. Now the rich man, not knowing any such displeasure, offered many times to talk with him, and to set him at quiet; but it would not be: the poor man had such a stomach, that he would not vouchsafe to speak with him: if he met the rich man in the street, he would go out of his way. One time it happened that he met him so in a narrow street, that he could not avoid but come near him; yet for all that, this poor man had such a stomach against the rich man, I say, that he was minded to go forward, and not to speak with him. The rich man perceiving that, catcheth him by the hand, and asked him, saying: "Neighbour, what is come into your heart, to take such displeasure with me? What have I done against you? Tell me, and I will be ready at all times to make you amends." Finally, he spake so gently, so charitably, so lovingly, and friendly, that it wrought so in the poor man's heart, that by and by he fell down upon his knees and asked him forgiveness. The rich man forgave him, and so took him again to his favour; and they loved as well as ever they did afore. Many one would have said, "Set him in the stocks; let him have bread of affliction, and water of tribulation." But this man did not so. And here you see an ensample of the practice of God's words in such sort, that the poor man, bearing great hatred and malice against the rich man, was brought, through the lenity and meekness of the rich man, from his error and wickedness to the knowledge of God's word. I would you would consider this ensample well, and follow it.
"Lead us not into temptation." Certain it is that customable sinners have but small temptations: for the devil letteth them alone, because they be his already; he hath them in bondage, they be his slaves. But when there is any good man abroad, that intendeth to leave sin and wickedness, and abhorreth the same, the man shall be tempted. The devil goeth about to use all means to destroy that man, and to let him of his forwardness. Therefore all those which have such temptations, resort hither for aid and help, and withstand betimes: for I tell thee if thou withstandest and fightest against him betimes, certainly thou shalt find him most weak; but if thou sufferest him to enter into thy heart, and hath a delight in his motions, tunc actum est, then thou art undone; then he hath gotten the victory over thee. And here it is to be noted, that the devil hath no further power than God will allow him; the devil can go no further than God permitteth him to do: which thing shall strengthen our faith, insomuch that we shall be sure to overcome him.
St Paul, that excellent instrument of God, saith, Qui volunt ditescere, incident in multas tentationes; "They that go about to get riches, they shall fall in many temptations": in which words St Paul doth teach us to beware. For when we go about to set our minds upon this world, upon riches, then the devil will have a fling at us. Therefore, let us not set our hearts upon the riches of this world, but rather let us labour for our living; and then let us use prayer: then we may be certain of our living. Though we have not riches, yet a man may live without great riches: Habentes victum et vestitum, &c., "When we have meat, and drink, and clothing, let us be content," let us not gape for riches; for I tell you it is a dangerous thing to have riches. And they that have riches must make a great account for them: yea, and the most part of the rich men use their riches so naughtily and so wickedly, that they shall not be able to make an account for them. And so you may perceive how the devil useth the good creatures of God to our own destruction: for riches are good creatures of God, but you see daily how men abuse them; how they set their hearts upon them, forgetting God and their own salvation. Therefore, as I said before, let not this affection take place in your hearts, to be rich. Labour for thy living, and pray to God, then he will send thee things necessary: though he send not great riches, yet thou must be content withal; for it is better to have a sufficient living than to have great riches. Therefore Salomon, that wise king, desired of God that he would send him neither too much, nor too little: not too much, lest he should fall into proudness, and so despise God; not too little, lest he should fall to stealing, and so transgress the law of God.
Sed libera nos a malo: "But deliver us from evil." This evil, the writers take it for the devil; for the devil is the instrument of all ill; like as God is the fountain of all goodness, so the devil is the original root of all wickedness. Therefore when we say, "deliver us from evil," we desire God that he will deliver us from the devil and all his crafts, subtilties, and inventions, wherewith he intendeth to hurt us. And we of our own selves know not what might let or stop us from everlasting life: therefore we desire him that he will deliver us from all ill; that is to say, that he will send us nothing that might be a let or impediment unto us, or keep us from everlasting felicity. As for ensample: There be many which when they be sick, they desire of God to have their health; for they think if they might have their health they would do much good, they would live godly and uprightly. Now God sendeth them their health ; but they by and by forget all their promises made unto God before, and fall unto all wickedness, and horrible sins: so that it had been a thousand times better for them to have been sick still, than to have their health. For when they were in sickness and affliction, they called upon God, they feared him; but now they care not for him, they despise and mock him. Now therefore, lest any such thing should happen unto us, we desire him "to deliver us from evil"; that is to say, to send us such things which may be a furtherance unto us to eternal felicity, and take away those things which might lead us from the same. There be some, which think it is a gay thing to avoid poverty, to be in wealth, and to live pleasantly: yet sometimes we see that such an easy life giveth us occasion to commit all wickedness, and so is an instrument of our damnation. Now therefore, when we say this prayer, we require God, that he will be our loving Father, and give us such things which may be a furtherance to our salvation; and take away those things which may let us from the same.
Now you have heard the Lord's Prayer, which is, as I told you, the abridgment of all other prayers, and it is the store-house of God. For here we shall find all things necessary both for our souls and bodies. Therefore I desire you most heartily to resort hither to this store-house of God: seek here what you lack; and no doubt you shall find things necessary for your wealth.
In the Gospel of Matthew there be added these words: Quia tuum est regnum, et potentia, et gloria, in secula seculorum; "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, world without end. Amen." These words are added not without cause; for like as we say in the beginning, "Our Father," signifying that he will fulfill our request, so at the end we conclude, saying, "Thine is the power, &c." signifying, that he is able to help us in our distress, and to grant our requests. And though these be great things, yet we need not to despair; but consider that he is Lord over heaven and earth, that he is able to do for us, and that he will do so, being our Father and being Lord and king over all things. Therefore let us often resort hither, and call upon him with this prayer, in our Christ's name: for he loveth Christ, and all those which are in Christ; for so he saith, Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi hene complacitum est; "This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I have pleasure." Seeing then that God hath pleasure in him, he hath pleasure in the prayer that he hath made: and so when we say this prayer in his name, with a faithful penitent heart, it is not possible but he will hear us, and grant our requests. And truly it is the greatest comfort in the world to talk with God, and to call upon him, in this prayer that Christ himself hath taught us; for it taketh away the bitterness of all afflictions. Through prayer we receive the Holy Ghost, which strengtheneth and comforteth us at all times, in all trouble and peril.
Quia tuum est regnum, et potentia, et gloria; "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory." The kingdom of God is general throughout all the world; heaven and earth are under his dominion. As for the other kings, they are kings indeed, but to God-ward they be but deputies, but officers. He only is the right king; unto him only must and shall all creatures in heaven and earth obey, and kneel before his majesty. Therefore have this ever in your hearts, what trouble and calamities soever shall fall upon you for God's word's sake. If you be put in prison, or lose your goods, ever say in your hearts, Tuum est regnum; "Lord God, thou only art ruler and governor; thou only canst and wilt help and deliver us from all trouble, when it pleaseth thee; for thou art the king to whom all things obey." For, as I said before, all the other kings reign by him, and through him, as scripture witnesseth; Per me reges regnant, "Through me kings rule." To say this prayer with good faith and penitent heart is a sacrificium laudis, "a sacrifice of thanksgiving." We were wont to have Sacrificium missae, "The sacrifice of the mass"; which was the most horrible blasphemy that could be devised, for it was against the dignity of Christ and his passion; but this sacrifice of thanksgiving every one may make, that calleth with a faithful heart upon God in the name of Christ.
Therefore let us at all times, without intermission, offer unto God the sacrifice of thanksgiving; that is to say, let us at all times call upon him, and glorify his name in all our livings. When we go to bed-ward, let us call upon him; when we rise, let us do likewise. Item, when we go to our meat and drink, let us not go unto it like swine and beasts; but let us remember God, and be thankful unto him for all his gifts. But above all things we must see that we have a penitent heart, else it is to no purpose: for it is written, Non est speciosa laus in ore peccatoris; "God will not be praised of a wicked man." Therefore let us repent from the bottom of our hearts; let us forsake all wickedness, so that we may say this prayer to the honour of God, and our own commodities.
And, as I told you before, we may say this prayer whole or by parts, according as we shall see occasion. For when we see God's name blasphemed, we may say, "Our Father, hallowed be thy name": when we see the devil rule, we may say, "Our Father, thy kingdom come": when we see the world inclined to wickedness, we may say, "Our Father, thy will be done." Item, when we lack necessary things, either for our bodies or souls, we may say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread." Item, when I feel my sins, and they trouble and grieve me, then I may say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses." Finally, when we will be preserved from all temptations, that they shall not have the victory over us, nor that the devil shall not devour us, we may say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, world without end.". Amen.