The Pulpit of the Reformation;
No. 1, October 30, 1834.
The Last Judgment,
By John Welch.
The Day Of Judgment,
By Bishop Latimer.
No. 2, December 1, 1834.
The Parable Of The Householders,
Parable Of The Tares,
By Bishop Latimer.
No. 3, January 1, 1835, and No. 4, February 1, 1835.
A Sermon Preached Before Queen Mary
By John Knox
To Which Is Subjoined An Extract From Knox's Admonition To The People Of England.
George King, 28, St. Nicholas Street,
Robert King, Broad Street, Peterhead
The Last Judgment. By The Rev. John Welch, A. D. 1570-1622. The Day Of Judgment. Extracted From A Sermon By Hugh Latimer, Bishop Of Worcester, And Martyr, 1555. The Parable Of The Householder. A Sermon, By Bishop Latimer. The Parable Of The Tares, By Bishop Latimer, Preached On The 7th Of February, 1553. A Sermon On Isaiah XXVI. By John Knox. "It Is I, Be Not Afraid." Extracted From Knox's Admonition To England. Footnotes
THE LAST JUDGMENT. BY THE REV. JOHN WELCH, A. D. 1570-1622.
REV. xx. 11.—And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away.
The security of all flesh is wonderous great, for there is a fearful sleep fallen both upon the good and the evil. The foolish virgins are sound asleep, and the wise are asleep also. And suppose the Lord be at the door, and the hour of judgment at hand, and the seventh angel ready to blow the last trumpet, when time shall be no more; yet it is scarcely one of a thousand, yea, one of ten thousand, is to be found that is prepared, and busying themselves to meet the Lord, who is making speed to come in the clouds: and how soon that fire shall break forth, which shall kindle the heavens above your head, and the earth under your feet, and shall set all on fire; how soon the trumpet shall blow, and the shout shall cry, "Rise, Dead, and come to judgment," is only known to God, and to no mortal man. Will ye not then be wakened till this trumpet waken you? And will none of you take pains to look over the leaves of your conscience, and read what sins are written there, since ye came into the world, before that day of doom come upon you? O that ye knew that eternity, and that terror of the day of the Lord, when the heavens above you, and the earth beneath you, shall not be able to stand before the face of him that sits on the throne! Therefore I hope the Lord has made choice to me of this text, at this time, to give you warning before the judgment come. Ye know the watchman that the Lord takes from among the people, that he sets over the city or house to credit to them, "If ye see the sword and pestilence coming, and warn them not, the blood of them that perish under the judgment for lack of warning, will be required at his hand," that is, the watchman's; therefore it is time for me to be making warning to you, and, in the measure of strength that God will give me, I am to make warning not of a temporal judgment, but of an everlasting judgment that is coming on, (God waken you and warn you in time!) that when ye shall see the Judge sit on his throne, your hearts may not tremble at his awful countenance, having gotten your souls washed in his blood. But, to come to the purpose, there are many visions in this book, and there are many things done here, that the Son shews to his servant John. He shews him first the present state of the Church at that time in the world, under the name of seven stars, and he tells, "they are suffering, and had patience; and they laboured for his name's sake, and fainted not; but yet he had somewhat against them, because they had forsaken their first love." Some were in tribulation and poverty, but yet rich in God; some kept the name of Jesus, and denied not the faith, suppose they should had given their blood for it, as the faithful martyr Antipas did; but yet he had a few things against them, because they maintained the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing he hated. Some had love, service, faith, and patience, and their work was more at the last than at the first; but yet they suffered the false prophetess Jezebel to be among them, to whom he threatens he will cast her into a bed of affliction, and them that commit fornication with her, except they repent them of their works. There were some whose works were not found perfect before God; therefore he exhorts them to remember how they had heard, and received; he bids them hold fast and repent, otherwise, he tells, that he will come shortly against them. Some had a little strength, and kept his word, and denied not his name; therefore he promises to deliver them in the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the world to try the whole earth. Some were neither cold nor hot; and therefore, because they were lukewarm, he tells them that it would come to pass, that he would spew them out of his mouth; they thought they were rich and increased in goods, and had need of nothing, but they know not that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; and then he counsels them to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich, and white raiment, that they might be clothed, and eye-salve that they might see. So what is your case this day? Have ye not forsaken your first love? But as for tribulation, it is not yet come; for our days have been days of peace, of light, liberty, and glory; but as for tribulation it is not yet come; but as the Lord lives, the days of tribulation are not far off. As for false doctrine, God be praised, it is not among us yet, or, at least, if it be, it dare not be avowed yet; but I fear, that, who lives to see it, they shall see heresy and corruption in doctrine and religion creep in piece and piece, in this Church; and if our works be found perfect before God, or not, the Lord knows the contrary, and your own consciences bear witness to it; and if your life be answerable to your name, I leave it to your consciences to judge, if we have not a name that we are living, and yet are dead; and whether this be not the doleful state of the generation that is neither cold nor hot. It is clear, the zeal of the glory of God, being so worn out of the hearts of all, plainly declares the same. But I leave this. After he had shewed him the present state of the Church, at that time, then he tells him what shall be the state of the Church unto the end of the world.
And first, in the vision of a sealed book, containing these acts concerning the Church, which none could open but the Lion of the tribe of Judah, for it was sealed with seven seals. Now, what was contained in these seven seals? This will take a larger time to declare than now is meet to ware upon it.
Mark always of these things spoken, there are three consolations to the Church of God; howsoever it be that she be in tribulation, or poverty, and affliction; and albeit it come to pass, that the devil cast some of them in prison, that they may be tried, and some have tribulation ten days, which is but a short time; and howsoever it be that our adversary goes about continually like "a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour;" but yet, "he that rides on the white horse," with the badge at his belt, and the arrows at his side, he shall get the victory at the end of the world; and to them that are faithful to the death, he shall give them a crown of life.
Mark next, suppose the sword, the famine, the pestilence, these temporal judgments, be common to the godly as well as to the wicked, yet there is consolation to the "souls of them that are slain for the testimony of Jesus, they are lying under the altar, and they cry with a loud voice, Lord, how long, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood upon them that dwell on the earth?" Then it was said unto them, "that they should rest for a little season, until their fellow-servants and brethren, that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled."
Mark, thirdly, the sixth seal is opened, "and there was a great earthquake, and the sun was as black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon was like blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, and heaven departed away as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places; and then the kings of the earth, and the great men, and rich men, and the captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in dens and rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the presence of him that sits on the throne, and from the face of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" Then shall the Church of God be avenged on her enemies; then she shall have power over the nations, and shall rule them with a rod of iron, and as the vessels of a potter they shall be broken; then shall the saints of God be brought out of great tribulation, and have their long robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb; they shall be in the presence of the throne of God, and serve him both day and night in his temple; and he that sits on the throne shall live among them, and he that is in the midst of the throne shall govern them, and shall lead them to the lively fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Now, I go forward. After this, he tells him, before this day the Gospel shall be wonderfully restrained; "And the bottomless pit shall be opened, and the smoke of that pit shall arise as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air shall be made dark with that smoke: and out of that smoke shall come locusts upon the earth, and they shall have power as the scorpions of the earth have, and the pain of them shall be as the pain of a scorpion, when he have stung a man. And in these days men shall seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them." Then he tells two woes that shall come upon the earth, the one of the Antichrist, the other of the Turk, "who shall run through the world and slay the third part of men, and shall lead their great army of twenty times ten thousand horsemen of war, and there should be two witnesses raised up, and power should be given them to prophesy so many days clothed in sackcloth; and if any man should hurt them, fire should proceed out of their mouth and devour their enemies; and when they have fulfilled their testimonies, they should be slain by the beast that came out of the bottomless pit, but they should rise again; and the spirit of life coming up from God, should enter into them, and they should stand upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them that seized them, and then shall they ascend up to heaven in a cloud in the sight of their enemies."
And at last, "The seventh angel shall blow his trumpet, and the dead shall rise, and every man shall receive according to his works." This he does till he comes to the twelfth chapter, then he tells him, "The fights of the dragon with the woman, and her seed that kept the commands of her God, and kept the testimony of Jesus Christ." Then he tells him, "the two empires of the two beasts, Antichrist and the Turk, and the manner of every one of them." Then he tells, "The noble company of the Lamb that stands in mount Zion, even the hundred and forty and four thousand, having their Father's name written on their fore-heads; and how he heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters, and as the sound of a great thunder; and he heard the noise of harpers harping with their harps; they sung, as it were, a new song before the throne, and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were brought from the earth." He tells what they were, saying, "These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and these were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God, and to the Lamb: and in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without spot before the throne of God." Then he tells, "That another angel flew in the midst of heaven, with the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them which dwell on the earth;" and that is the same Gospel which I preach unto you, even this, "Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of judgment is come; and worship him that made the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Then he tells, "that another angel cried, It is fallen, it is fallen, Babylon that great city, she made all the nations to drink of the wine of her fornication. Ay, Rome, thou shalt be taken and burnt in a furnice of fire, and a mill-stone shall be bound about thy neck, and thou shalt be cast into the midst of the sea, and shalt be drowned; there thou shalt fall, and thy fall shall make heaven and earth, and all the angels and saints to rejoice at thy fall. Ay, God shall put it into the hearts of the kings to do it; we know not what kings they are; and then the bride shall prepare her for the bridegroom's coming in the clouds."
Next again, of seven vials he sets down again almost the same things that he prophesied before; and now here, last of all, he lets him see the last judgment. Would you know then what is here? See ye yon great throne? Ye shall see the Judge standing on the throne; ye shall all see both heaven and earth flee away from his face, ye shall all see the dead, great and small, and yourselves among the rest, standing before God; and ye shall all see the books opened, and the dead judged according to their works, and death and hell cast into the lake of fire, even those that had their hands in his heart's blood, and those that pierced his side with a spear, and those that rivetted him with nails, both hands and feet, they shall see it also. The elect shall see it, as Job says, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the last day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet I shall see God in my flesh: whom myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins were consumed in me." And this was his consolation; even so those very eyes of yours, and no other, shall see with terror or with joy, either to your endless comfort, or to your endless condemnation. Now, what sees he? First, he sees a throne; ye know a throne is set for a judge to sit on; so he sees a throne whereon the Judge of the whole earth is to sit on; therefore he shall come to be a Judge. He came before, at his first coming, not to sit on a throne, nor to be a Judge, but to be judged before thrones and tribunals of men; for John says, "That he sent not his Son that he should condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." Christ himself says, "Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you?" And in another place, "The Son of man came not to judge, but be judged himself." In his first coming, he comes from high majesty to baseness and humility; he came from his Father's glory to shame and ignominy; he came from a palace to a crib; from the seat of his majesty to a tree; he came like a Lamb to be slain, and as a Saviour to save sinners: as the Apostle says, it was a true saying, "That Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief;" Christ himself says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" and therefore that is the name that the angel gives him, when he appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, and "thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins; and they shall call his name Emmanuel, that is, God with us," our God made flesh, our God manifested in the flesh. So I say, in his first testimony, he comes as a Saviour and Mediator between God and man; but in his last coming, he shall not come as a Lamb, but as a Judge, convoyed with all his angels and saints in heaven; he shall come in flaming fire, kindling the heavens before him, in melting the elements and earth beneath him; he shall come with a blast of the trumpet, with the archangel, to gather all people from the four corners of the earth; and he shall come with a peremptory sentence, from the which there shall be no appellation, and of which there shall be no revocation, ever again or again calling; and he shall come with his reward in his hand, to every man according to his works which he has done in this world, be they evil, be they good. Now, ye see he has a throne, he has a throne of grace; as the Apostle to the Hebrews says, "Let us go boldly to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace in time of need." Now he is sitting on a throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace in time of need; and now he holds the door of mercy open, and lets in every penitent sinner that comes; therefore I testify unto you, if ye will flee from your sins, if ye will cast away the works of darkness, if ye will hate and detest all sort of iniquity, and if thou wilt run to the throne of grace now, I will assure thee thou shalt find mercy, and grace in the time of need; so now is the throne of grace and mercy, but afterwards thou shalt see the throne of glory and justice. Now is the good Shepherd seeking his lost sheep, and finding them, to drink of the wells of the water of life, and to eat of the fat things of his own house; but afterwards, such as would not be gathered of him, he shall bind them hand and foot, and cast them into outer darkness. Now he pities them that will not come home, as he said to Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered thee, as a hen doth her birds under her wings, but thou wouldst not: behold, your habitation shall be made desolate." So wo to the souls that repine and refuse to be fetched within the sweet and loving arms of the Son of God, even those bloody arms which were stretched out upon a tree. Now, discern, I pray you, betwixt his first coming and his last coming; for now is the time of grace, and now is the spirit of grace offered, and now is the throne of grace set up, and now is the rainbow, which is the sign of the covenant of life, round about the throne, and now the twelve ports of that new Jerusalem are standing open, that all may come in; therefore, wo to the soul that shall sit till this time of grace pass over, and will not come in in time.
But I will go forward. Now, ye see two things in that throne, the one is a great throne, the other is a white throne. Let kings keep silence of their thrones, and speak of this throne. O ye kings, will ye look to the heavens above you, and see that white cloud, and upon the cloud one standing like the Son of man, having upon his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle, who thrusts his sharp sickle in the earth, and cuts down the vine of the vineyards of the earth, and casts them into the great wine-press of the wrath of God; so he calls it a great throne. Solomon's throne was great which he made of ivory, and had six steps, and twelve lions, two on every step, and the queen of the South was astonished when she saw it; and it is said in the Canticles, "Come forth, O daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his marriage, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." But will ye come out, ye daughters of Zion, and see here another throne nor Solomon's, another crown nor his crown? It is a great throne, so that all the monarchs' thrones under heaven, what are they in comparison with this throne? Nothing. Therefore no wonder that the twenty-four elders take their own crowns, and cast them down before his throne; and it is no wonder that they fall down before him that sits on the throne, and worship him that lives for evermore, saying, "Thou art worthy to receive glory, honour, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy will's sake they are created." O that the men of the world saw this throne! And, O that ye did see the greatness of the majesty of his throne!
Now he calls it great, because of him that sits on it; great, because of them that stand about it; great, because of them that shall be judged there; and last of all, great, because of the judgment itself. Now, who sits on it? O! the Judge of the whole world, God himself, that infinite Essence that men and angels have borrowed their being from, even he whose glorious face the seraphims and cherubims cannot behold for the brightness thereof; and therefore they have wings to cover their faces, because they cannot bear to see him, much less so then can any mortal man see his face and live; he that rides on his white horse, and tramples under foot all his enemies, and treads them in the wine-press of his wrath without the city; therefore rejoice, all ye whose garments are made white in the blood of the Lamb, for his throne shall not terrify you, because of the Judge that sits thereon: for he is thy brother, thy Advocate, and thy Saviour. O blessed for evermore is the soul of the righteous, and of such as are reconciled with the great God, before he come to sit on this throne.
Now, I said, it was great in respect of him that sits thereon; next, in respect of them that stand about it. Ye see a judge has his assizers that sit in judgment with him, and consent to his sentence; so this great Judge has his assizers, for there is not one of his angels shall be left in heaven, but all shall stand about this throne, and all the saints on earth shall be caught up in the air, and they shall all have thrones set about his throne. O the fairest parliament that ever was in the world! O! behold the King crowned with many crowns, standing in the midst, and all the King's servants with their crowns on their heads, and also the saints with palms in their hands, sitting on thrones about that throne.
Thirdly, Great is this throne, because great is the number of persons that shall be there. All men and women in the world must be judged here; there is never a reprobate that ever took life, but he shall be judged here, and all the elect and saints of God shall be judged here also, (so fair is this parliament,) six thousand years' generations shall all stand there, waiting to receive an eternal and final judgment.
Last of all, Great is this throne, because great shall be the judgment that shall come forth from this throne. Lords of the Session think their judgments great; but come out here, and see to whom the new city Jerusalem in heaven shall be given, and who shall be cast into the lake of fire. Now, compare all these together, and see if this throne be not great; great is he that sits on the throne, even the Prince of life, and God of glory, and the Judge of all the world; great is his synod, even all the elect angels and saints, from the beginning of the world to the end of the world; for ye that are in Christ shall be glorified in the clouds, and the sight of your glory shall aggravate the torment of the reprobates, because they might have had it, and would not take it; and then you shall rule them with a rod of iron, and as a potter's vessel they shall be broken; and great is the number of them that shall be judged; for let all flesh prepare them for it, even kings and emperors, those that wore many crowns on the earth, must appear naked before the throne. Alexander, thou worest many crowns, conquered many nations, but yet thou must stand up naked as thou was born, and thou must render a reckoning of thy conquests.
But I leave this. Again, you see this throne is white. What means this whiteness? It is innocency or righteousness, and full of shining brightness, of an unspeakable joy. Innocent and righteous; how so? Because the Judge is white, innocent, and righteous; all his assizers that shall sit round about him, they are white, innocent, white and righteous; all his citations, summonses and convictions, sentences and executions, are innocent and righteous; so all is white, the Judge, the unspotted innocent and undefiled Lamb of God, sitting on his throne of justice, and ordained deputy of his Father, to judge both the quick and the dead, he in whose heart was never found guile; therefore Abraham said, "Shall not the Judge of the world judge righteously?" So this Judge is white, innocent, and he is bright and glorious. Peter, James, and John, saw him white on the mount Tabor, when he was transfigured, "and his face shined as the sun, and his raiment white as the light; and when Peter said, Master, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Matth. xvii. 1, 2, 3. Ay, Peter, but this shall be a whiter appearing, and thou shalt think it better to be with him here. Ay, Lord, it is true, white wast thou upon mount Tabor, but whiter shalt thou be in the clouds.
He is white again, in respect of his citations. O that our hearts were ravished with the consideration of thy righteous and just citing and summoning of all men, when thou shalt cause the earth, grave, hell, and the sea, and all places, thrust out of them all their dead; just shalt thou be in glorifying the souls and bodies of them that glorify thee on earth; and just shalt thou be in glorifying thyself, by tormenting the souls and bodies of them that dishonoured thee on earth.
He is white in respect of his accusations, for there shall be nothing read in thy ditty, but that which shall be found written either in one leaf of thy conscience or other; there the sins of thy conception, there the sins of thy youth, there the sins of thy ignorance, there the sins against the light of thy conscience, and there the sins against the law, and there the sins against the gospel, and all shall be presented to thy conscience. O! well is the soul and conscience that dare lift up the head with rejoicing, and can say, "Thou Lamb of God, thou takest away the sins of the world," thou tookest away my sins when thou wast on the tree. And can any body tell how ye will compear before this throne that were never cleansed with the blood of Jesus? O! that blackness and darkness, which is abiding that soul which never yet ran to the blood of the Lamb, to make itself white in it; so the raising of all, the compearing of all, the accusation of all, the conviction of all, shall be just, and God shall be glorified in all.
There is also the absolution of the righteous, and the condemnation of the wicked; and therefore the throne is called white, because of the innocency and righteousness of the Judge. Now, brethren, I will go no further at this time than this that follows or remains to be spoken of, the majesty and terror of the Judge sitting on his throne, "and him that sat on it." Many shall sit on thrones in that day, but one shall sit above all the rest, for the saints shall be caught up in the air, and shall all sit on thrones, and give out sentence both of absolution and condemnation, and they shall say, "Hallelujah, salvation, and glory, and power, be to the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments." I could never yet rightly consider the majesty of this Judge. O heavens! what aileth thee to flee from the face of this Judge. O earth! what aileth thee to flee, and why art thou chased away, and never seen again? What ails thee, O heavens, that never sinned, and, O earth, that never sinned neither, for they had never understanding to be capable of a law, nor to be subject to keep a law. What means this? O but I must leave this! for who can but wonder at this! Yet I will tell you the cause. You and I, and the generations before that this firmament has seen, and this earth seen or born, since the first day that God made the earth, and established this heaven and earth, and since that day that Adam eat of the forbidden tree, since that day heaven and earth have been eye-witnesses of our sins, and subject to vanity, and since that day they have been defiled with our iniquities, and since that time they have been subject to bondage and corruption, and therefore they groan with us also, and travail with pain together until this present; and therefore, in that great day, they cannot abide the face of the Judge.
Now, what is the fruit ye should make of this? I thank my God that I preach unto you so sure a gospel, even the oracles of the eternal God; the earth and the heavens shall pass away, but this word and oracles shall never pass away; therefore it is not a doubtsome message that I carry unto you, for it is surer than the heavens, and surer than the earth; and these eyes of yours, that have seen both the truth of this spoken here. O that the Lord would fill my heart, with this verity, that I might eat it and drink it, and feed upon it continually, and that he would fill me with the spirit of exhortation, that I might exhort you to meditate on this truth, both day and night, that the remembrance of that day might never go out of your hearts. O that you would do it, even for his sake that left you his heart's blood to slocken that fire which will burn both the heavens and the earth: therefore hear, hear! What should you hear? things of the last importance. Is hell, is heaven, is the terror of that day of any importance? And this is not the blessing of mount Gerizim, but that everlasting blessing which the Judge of all the world shall pronounce out of his mouth, saying, "Ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world." And it is nothing to the curse of the mount Ebal, but it is that everlasting curse and malediction which the Son of God shall pronounce, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (And what shall I say to you?) This day is coming, and the Lord is preparing himself to come down through the clouds, to sit on a great white throne, and the archangel is putting the trumpet to his mouth, and he is near to the blowing of it, and the rest of the angels are but waiting when they shall give the last shout, "Rise, dead, and come to judgment," the Bridegroom is coming, and the heaven and the earth are waiting when the Lord shall come in his glory, in flaming fire, to burn them up.
Now, brethren, what should ye do then? It is but this one thing that I will charge you with, hear what I am to say to you, I bear the message of God, and I preach the Gospel that shall judge you; and I am here sent of God to tell you what is his will towards you; therefore I charge you all before God, and his Son Christ Jesus, every man and woman, let this be your occupation this day, turn over the leaves of your conscience, and see there what is the ditty that thou hast pinned up against thyself, since the day that thou wast born, and look on thy sins before the Lord, and come and spread them before the Judge, and crave pardon of them, now in the day of grace; for he is ready to forgive thee and thy sins, were they never so great; for aye the redder that thy soul has been, the virtue of his blood shall appear the greater in cleansing thee from thy sins; therefore let none of you scare at the greatness of your sins; for here I testify unto you, that if any of you be condemned, it shall not be for your sins, but it shall be for contempt of that blood which shall condemn you. O God! full of mercy and goodness, and of fatherly care and providence, and never a greater providence found I in my lifetime, than I found this last time in my journey, I thank my God for it; and here I avow, if this blood of mine should go for it, it was acceptable service to God we did that day; I know there were many that sent up their prayers to God for the maintenance of his liberty, I am sure the Lord heard you; for I say to you, the room was never that I came to, but I found the Lord meeting me there, and confirming me that all was well and acceptable to him; so that I never found sweeter providence since I was born; I see the Lord's hand is not shortened. O Scotland! O that thou wouldst repent, and mourn for the contempt of this so great a light that has shined in thee; then thou shouldst see as glorious a day on God's poor Church within this land, as ever was seen in any church before from the beginning; then the Lord should be strong, and glorious, and wonderful in all the hearts of his own. What is it to him to run sixteen or eighteen score of miles to London, and then run to the hearts of kings, princes, and nobles of the land, and humble them, and subject them to the crown and kingdom of Jesus Christ; but, let them think of it what they will, I know who has approven of us, for it is the running of the Gospel through the whole land, and it is that the net of Christ may be spread over all, that if it were possible we may gather in a world in it, that they might not perish; it is that which we seek, and when I look to the eternity of wrath that is abiding the wicked of this world, then I may say, who would not pity a world of sinners? But I leave this, and I will give God the praise of his own glory, that he can begin and he can perfect his own work in you: therefore this is my petition to God, that ye may all be presented blameless before him in that great day. Therefore I beseech you all, for Christ's sake, that every one of you would come in time, by speedy repentance, and that you would take up Christ in the arms of your souls, and that ye would take a fill of his flesh and blood, that ye may never hunger and thirst any more; and, in like manner, he may know you in that great day to be his own sheep, marked with his own blood. Will ye have any pleasure at his coming, when ye have eaten and drunken, and taken your pleasure here, and then shall be flung into hell hereafter? So I would beseech you, in all lenity and meekness of mind, for Christ's cause, ye would not delay at least to mint at repentance; and if ye cannot get your hearts melted as ye would, yet run to God, and say, "Father have mercy upon me; Father, forgive me," and cause me to repent; Father, send down thy Spirit to soften my heart. Now, if ye would do this, ye should be welcome to him; for I assure you he delights to shew mercy on poor penitent sinners, that would "repent, and hunger, and thirst for righteousness." Now, I say no more now, but I commend you all to him that is able to give you repentance and remission of sins in the blood of his Son Jesus Christ: to Father and with the Holy Ghost, be all honour, Amen.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT. EXTRACTED FROM A SERMON BY HUGH LATIMER, BISHOP OF WORCESTER, AND MARTYR, 1555.(1)
As we die so we shall rise again. If we die in the state of damnation, we shall rise in that same state. Again, if we die in the state of salvation, we shall rise again in that state, and come to everlasting felicity, both of soul and body. For if we die now in the state of salvation, then at the last general day of judgment we shall hear this joyful sentence, proceeding out of the mouth of our Saviour Christ, when he will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess that kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world." (Matt. xxv.) And though we have much misery here in this world, though it goeth hard with us, though we must bite on the bridle, yet for all that, we must be content, for we shall be sure of our deliverance, we shall be sure that our salvation is not far off. And no doubt they that will wrestle with sin, and strive and fight with it, shall have the assistance of God; he will help them, he will not forsake them, he will strengthen them, so that they shall be able to live uprightly; and though they shall not be able to fulfil the law of God to the uttermost, yet for all that, God will take their doings in good part, for Christ his Son's sake, in whose name all faithful people do their good works, and so for his sake they are acceptable unto God, and in the end they shall be delivered out of all miseries and troubles, and come to the bliss of everlasting joy and felicity.
I pray God, that we may be of the number of those who shall hear this joyful and most comfortable voice of Christ our Saviour, when he will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom which is prepared for you before the foundation of the world was laid." There are a great number amongst the Christian people, who in the Lord's prayer, when they pray, "Thy kingdom come," pray that this day may come; but yet, for all that, they are drowned in the world, they say the words with their lips, but they cannot tell what is the meaning of it; they speak it only with their tongue: which saying indeed is to no purpose. But the man or woman that saith these words, "Thy kingdom come," with a faithful heart, no doubt he or she desires in very deed that God will come to judgment, and amend all things in this world, to pull down satan that old serpent under our feet.
But there are a great number of us who are not ready. Some have lived in this world fifty years, some sixty, but yet for all that they are not prepared for his coming; they ever think he will not come yet. But I tell you, that though his general coming be not yet, yet for all that he will come one day, and take us out of this world: and, no doubt, as he finds us, so we shall have; if he find us ready, and in the state of salvation, no doubt we shall be saved for ever, world without end. But, if he find us in the state of damnation, we shall be damned, world without end, there is no remedy after we are once past this world; no penance will help then, nor anything that man is able to do for us.
"And then shall they see the Son of man come in a cloud with power and great glory." St. Paul to the Thessalonians setteth out the coming of Christ and our resurrection; but he speaks in the same place only of the rising of the good and faithful that shall be saved. But the Holy Scripture in other places witnesses, that the wicked shall rise too, and shall receive their sentence from Christ, and so go to hell, where they shall be punished world without end. Now, St. Paul's words are these, "This say we unto you in the word of the Lord: that we which shall live and shall remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not come before them which sleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall arise first: then we which shall live, even we which shall remain, shall be caught up with them also in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord; wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thess. iv.
By these words of St. Paul it appears, that they which died in the beginning of the world shall be by Christ as soon saved, as they who shall be alive here at the time of his coming. I would have you to note well the manner of speaking which St. Paul uses; he speaks as if the last day should have come in his time. Now, when St. Paul thought that this day should have come in his time, how much more shall we think that it shall be in our time? For no doubt it will come, and it is not long thereunto; as it appears by all the scriptures which make mention of this day; it will come, but it shall come suddenly, unawares, as a thief in the night. For a thief when he intends a robbery, to rob a man's house, to break up his chests, and take away his goods, gives him not warning, he lets not the good man of the house know at what time he intends to come, but rather he intends to spy such a time, that no man shall be aware of him. So, no doubt, this last day will come one day suddenly upon our heads, before we are aware of it; like as the fire fell down from heaven upon the people of Sodom when unlooked for; they thought that all things were well, therefore they took their pleasures, till the time when fire fell down from heaven and burned them up all, with all their substance and goods.
"And he showed them a similitude, Behold the fig-tree and all the trees, when they shoot forth their buds, ye see and know of your ownselves that summer is then near at hand." So when you see the tokens which shall go before this fearful day, it is time to make ready. But here a man might ask a question, saying, I pray you wherein standeth this preparation? How shall I make ready? About this there has been great strife, for there have been an infinite number, and there are some yet at this time, who think that this readiness standeth in masses, in setting up candles, in going of pilgrimage; and in such things, they thought to be made ready for that day, and so to be made worthy to stand before the Son of man, that is, before our Saviour Christ. But I tell you, this was not the right way to make ready. Christ our Saviour showeth us how we shall make ourselves ready, saying, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcome with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this world, and so this day come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole world."
"Watch and pray:" as if he had said, Be ye ever in readiness, lest you be taken unawares. But those sluggards who spend their time vainly in eating and drinking, and sleeping, please not God, for he commands us to watch, to be mindful, to take heed to ourselves, lest the devil, or the world, or our own flesh, get the victory over us. We are allowed to take our natural sleep, for it is as necessary for us as meat and drink, and we please God as well in that, as we please him when we take our food. But we must take heed, that we do it according as he has appointed us; for like as he has not ordained meat and drink that we should play the glutton with it, so likewise sleep is not ordained that we should give ourselves to sluggishness, or over-much sleeping; for no doubt when we do so, we shall displease God most highly. For Christ saith not in vain, "Watch and pray." He would have us to be watchers, to have at all times in remembrance his coming, and to give ourselves to prayer, that we may be able to stand before him at this great and fearful day. Meaning, that we should not trust in ourselves but call unto God, saying, "Lord God Almighty, thou hast promised to come and judge the quick and the dead; we beseech thee give us thy grace and Holy Ghost, that we may live according unto thy holy commandments, that when thou comest, thou have not cause to bestow thy fearful anger, but rather thy lovingkindness and mercy upon us."
So likewise when we go to bed, we should desire God that we sleep not the sleep of sin and wickedness, but rather that we may leave them, and follow his will and pleasure; that we be not led with the desires of this wicked world. Such an earnest mind we should have towards him, so watchful we should be. For I tell you it is not a trifling matter, it is not a money matter: for our eternal salvation and our damnation hang upon it. Our nature is to do all that is possible for us to get silver and gold; how much more then should we endeavour to make ourselves ready towards this day, when it shall not be a money matter, but a soul matter, for at that day it will appear most manifestly who they are that shall enjoy everlasting life, and who shall be thrust into hell. Now as long as we are in this world, we have all one baptism, we go all to the Lord's Supper, we all bear the name of Christians, but then it will appear who are the right Christians; and again, who are the hypocrites or dissemblers.
Well, I pray God grant us such hearts, that we may look diligently about us, and make ready against his fearful and joyful coming—fearful to them that delight in sin and wickedness, and will not leave them; and joyful unto those who repent, forsake their sins, and believe in him; who, no doubt, will come in great honour and glory, and will make all his faithful like unto him, and will say unto them that are chosen to everlasting life, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess that kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world." But, to the wicked who will not live according unto his will and pleasure, but follow their own appetites, he will say, "Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." O what a horrible thing will this be, to depart from him who is the fountain of all goodness and mercy, without whom is no consolation, comfort, nor rest, but eternal sorrow and everlasting death! For God's sake I require you let us consider this, that we may be amongst those who shall hear, "Come to me;" that we may be amongst those who shall enjoy eternal life.
THE PARABLE OF THE HOUSEHOLDER. A SERMON, BY BISHOP LATIMER.
MATTHEW XX.—The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that was an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
This parable is written by the evangelist Matthew in the twentieth chapter, and is very dark and hard to be understood; yea, there is no harder piece of scripture written by any evangelist. Therefore it may well be called hard meat; not meat for mowers nor ignorant people, who are not exercised in the word of God. And yet there is no other diversity between this scripture and any other. For though many scriptures have diverse expositions, (as is well to be allowed of, so long as they keep in the tenour of the catholic faith,(3)) yet they pertain all to one end and effect, and they are all alike. Therefore although this parable is harder to understand than the others at the first hearing or reading, yet when we well advise and consider the same, we shall find it agreeable unto all the others.
Now to the principal cause, and to which our Saviour had respect in this parable, and that is, he teaches us hereby that all Christian people are equal in all things appertaining to the kingdom of Christ. So that we have one Christ, one Redeemer, one baptism, and one gospel, one Supper of the Lord, and one kingdom of heaven. So that the poorest man and most miserable that is in the world, may call God his Father, and Christ his Redeemer, as well as the greatest king or emperor in the world. And this is the scope of this parable, wherein Christ teacheth us this equality. And if this is considered, the whole parable will be easily and soon understood.(4)
Here is declared unto us that some laboured the whole day, which are hired for a penny, that is of our money ten pence: for like as we have a piece of money which we call a shilling, and is in value twelve pence, so the Jews had a piece that they called denarium, and that was in value ten of our pence. The first company wrought twelve hours, and the others wrought, some nine hours, some six hours, some three hours, and some but one hour. Now when evening was come, and the time of payment drew on, the householder said to his stewart, Go, and give to every man alike, and begin at those that came last. And when the others that came early in the morning perceived that they should have no more than those that had wrought but one hour, they murmured against the householder, saying, "Shall they which have laboured but one hour, have as much as we that have wrought the whole day?" The householder, perceiving their discontented mind, said to one of them, "Friend, wherefore grudgest thou? Is it not lawful for me to do with mine own what pleaseth me? Have I not given thee what I promised thee? Content thyself therefore, and go thy way, for it hath pleased me to give unto this man which hath wrought but one hour as much as unto thee." This is the sum of this parable, which Christ concludes with this sentence, "The first shall be the last, and the last first."
First consider who are these murmurers? The merit-mongers, who esteem their own works so much, that they think heaven scarcely sufficient to recompense their good deeds; namely, for putting themselves to pain with saying of our lady's psalter, and gadding on pilgrimage, and such like trifles. These are the murmurers; for they think themselves holier than all the world, and therefore worthy to receive a greater reward than all other men. But such men are much deceived and are in a false opinion, and if they abide and continue therein, it shall bring them to the fire of hell. For man's salvation cannot be gotten by any work: because the Scripture saith, "Life everlasting is the gift of God." (Rom. vi.) True it is, that God requires good works of us, and commands us to avoid all wickedness. But for all that, we may not do our good works that we should get heaven withal; but rather to show ourselves thankful for what Christ hath done for us, who with his sufferings hath opened heaven to all believers, that is, to all those that put their hope and trust, not in their deeds, but in his death and suffering, and study to live well and godly; and yet not to make merits of their own works, as though they should have everlasting life for them; as our monks and friars, and all our religious persons were wont to do, and therefore may rightly be called murmurers; for they thought they had so great a store of merits, that they sold some of them unto other men. And many men spend a great part of their substance to buy their merits, and to be a brother of their houses, or to obtain one of their coats or cowls to be buried in.
But there is a great difference between the judgment of God, and the judgment of this world. In this world they were accounted most holy above all men, and so most worthy to be first; but before God they shall be last, when their hypocrisy and wickedness shall be opened. And thus much I thought to say of murmurers.
Now I will not apply all the parts of this parable; for, as I said before, it is enough for us if we know the chief point and scope of the parable, which is, that there shall be an equality in all the things that appertain to Christ: insomuch, that the ruler of this realm hath no better a God, no better sacraments, and no better a gospel, than the poorest in the world; yea, the poorest man hath as good right to Christ and his benefits, as the greatest man in this world.
This is comfortable to every one, and especially to such as are in misery, poverty, or other calamities; which, if it were well considered, would not make us so desirous to come aloft, and to get riches, honour, and dignities in this world, as we now are, nor yet so malicious one against another as we are. For then we should ever make this reckoning with ourselves, each man in his vocation; the servant would think thus with himself, I am a poor servant, and must live after the pleasure of my master, I may not have my free will; but what then? I am sure that I have as good a God as my master hath; and I am sure that my service and business pleases God as much, when I do it with a good faith, as the preachers and curates, in preaching or saying of service. For we must understand that God esteems not the diversity of the works, but he hath respect unto the faith; for a poor man who does his duty in faith, is as acceptable unto God, and hath as good right to the death and merits of Christ, as the greatest man in the world.
So go through all states of men, whosoever applieth to his business with faith, considering that God willeth him so to do, surely the same is most beloved of God. If this were well considered and printed in our hearts, all ambition and desire of promotion, all covetousness and other vices, would depart out of our hearts. For it is the greatest comfort that may be unto poor people, especially such as are nothing regarded in this world—if they consider that God loves them as well as the richest in the world—it must needs be a great comfort unto them.
But there are some that say, that this sentence, "The first shall be last," is the very substance of the parable. And here you shall understand, that our Saviour Christ took occasion to put forth this parable, when there came a young man demanding of him, "What shall I do to come to everlasting life?" Our Saviour, after he had taught him the commandments of God, bade him, "Go, and sell all that he had, and give to the poor; and come and follow him." He hearing this, went away heavily, for his heart was cold. And then our Saviour spake very terribly against rich men, saying, "It is more easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven:"—a camel, or as some think, a great cable of a ship, which is more likely than the beast that is called a camel. The disciples hearing this, said, "Who then can be saved?" He made them answer, saying, "God is almighty, and that which is impossible to men, is possible with God;" signifying, that he condemns not all rich men, but only those who set their heart upon riches, who care not how they get them, and when they have them, who abuse them to the satisfying of their own carnal appetites and fleshly delights and pleasures, and use them not to the honour of God.
And again, such riches as are justly, rightly, and godly gotten, those are the good creatures of God, when rightly used to the glory of God, and comfort of their neighbours; not hoarding nor heaping them up, to make treasures of them. For riches are not evil of themselves; but they are made evil, when our hearts is set upon them, and we put hope in them; for that is an abominable thing before the face of God. Now after these words spoken by our Saviour Christ, Peter came forth, saying, "Lo, we have forsaken all that we had, what shall be our reward?" Peter had forsaken all that he had, which was but little in substance, but yet it was a great matter to him, for he had no more than that little: like the widow who cast into the treasury two mites, yet our Saviour praised the gift above all that gave before her. Here thou learnest, that when thou hast but little, yet give of the same little; for it is as acceptable unto God, as though it were a greater thing.
So Peter, in forsaking his old boat and net, was approved as much before God, as if he had forsaken all the riches in the world; therefore he shall have a great reward for his old boat; for Christ saith, that he shall be one of them that shall sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel; and to signify them to be more than others, he giveth them the name of judges; meaning, that they shall condemn the world: like as God speaketh of the queen of Sheba, that in the last day she shall arise and condemn the Jews who would not hear Christ, and she came so great a journey to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Then he answered and said, "Whosoever leaveth father, or mother, or brethren, for my sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Now what is this, to leave father and mother? When my father or mother would hinder me in any goodness, or would persuade me from the honouring of God and faith in Christ, then I must forsake and rather lose the favour and good-will of my father and mother, than forsake God and his holy word.
And now Christ saith, "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first," alluding to St. Peter's saying, which sounded as though Peter looked for a reward for his deeds; and that is it, which is the let of altogether,(5) if a man come to the Gospel and hears the same, and afterwards looks for a reward, such a man shall be "the last." If these sayings were well considered by us, surely we should not have such a number of vain gospellers as we now have, who seek nothing but their own advantage under the name and colour of the Gospel. Moreover, he teaches us to be meek and lowly, and not to think much of ourselves; for those that are greatly esteemed in their own eyes, are the least before God: "For he that humbleth himself shall be exalted;" according to the scripture, which saith, "God resisteth the proud, and advanceth the humble and meek." And this is what he saith, "The first shall be the last," teaching us to be careful and not to stand in our own conceit, but ever to mistrust ourselves; as St. Paul teacheth, saying, "Whosoever standeth let him take heed he fall not; and therefore we may not put trust in ourselves, but rather in God."
Further, in this saying of our Saviour is comprehended a great comfort; for those that are accounted by the world to be the vilest slaves and most abject, may by this saying have a hope to be made the first and the principal; for although they are ever so low, yet they may rise again, and become the highest. And so this is to us a comfortable sentence, which strengthens our faith, and keeps us from desperation and falling from God. And at the end he saith, "Many are called, but few are chosen." These words of our Saviour are very hard to understand, and therefore it is not good to be too curious in them, as some vain fellows, who seeking carnal liberty, pervert, toss and turn the word of God, after their own mind and purpose. Such, I say, when they read these words, make their reckoning thus; saying, "What need I to mortify my body with abstaining from all sin and wickedness? I perceive God hath chosen some, and some are rejected. Now if I be in the number of the chosen, I cannot be damned; but if I be accounted among the condemned number, then I cannot be saved: for God's judgments are immutable." Such foolish and wicked reasons some have; which bring them either to desperation, or else to carnal liberty. Therefore, it is as needful to beware of such reasons, or expositions of the scripture, as it is to beware of the devil himself.
But if thou art desirous to know whether thou art chosen to everlasting life, thou mayest not begin with God: for God is too high, thou canst not comprehend him; the judgments of God are unknown to man; therefore thou mayest not begin there: but begin with Christ, and learn to know Christ, and wherefore he came; namely, that he came to save sinners, and made himself subject to the law, and a fulfiller of the same, to deliver us from the wrath and danger thereof, and therefore was crucified for our sins, and rose again to show and teach us the way to heaven, and by his resurrection to teach us to arise from sin: so also his resurrection teaches and admonishes us of the general resurrection. He sitteth at the right hand of God and maketh intercession for us, and gives us the Holy Ghost, that comforts and strengthens our faith, and daily assures us of our salvation.
Consider, I say, Christ and his coming; and then begin to try thyself whether thou art in the book of life or not. If thou findest thyself in Christ, then thou art sure of everlasting life. If thou be without him, then thou art in an evil case. For it is written, "No man cometh unto the Father but through me." Therefore if thou knowest Christ, then thou mayest know further of thy election. But when we are about this matter, and are troubled within ourselves, whether we are elected or no; we must ever have this maxim, or principal rule before our eyes; namely, that God beareth a good-will towards us; God loveth us; God beareth a fatherly heart towards us.
But you will say, "How shall I know that? Or how shall I believe that?" We may know God's will towards us through Christ: God hath opened himself unto us by his Son Christ; for so saith John the Evangelist, "The Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed." (John i.)
Therefore we may perceive his good-will and love towards us; he hath sent his Son into this world, who suffered a most painful death for us. Shall I now think that God hates me? Or shall I doubt of his love towards me? Here you see how you shall avoid the scrupulous and most dangerous question of the predestination of God. For if thou wilt inquire his counsels, and enter into his consistory, thy wit will deceive thee; for thou shalt not be able to search the counsels of God. But if thou begin with Christ, and consider his coming into the world, and dost believe that God hath sent him for thy sake, to suffer for thee, and deliver thee from sin, death, the devil, and hell; then when thou art so armed with the knowledge of Christ, then, I say, this simple question cannot hurt thee; for thou art in the book of life, which is Christ himself.
Also we learn by this sentence, "Many are called," that the preaching of the gospel is universal; that it pertains to all mankind; that it is written, "Through the whole earth their sound is heard." Now seeing that the gospel is universal, it appears that he would have all mankind saved, and that the fault is not in him if we are damned. For it is written thus, "God would have all men to be saved:" his salvation is sufficient to save all mankind, but we are so wicked of ourselves that we refuse the same, for we will not take it when it is offered unto us; and therefore he saith, "Few are chosen;" that is, few have pleasure and delight in it; for the most part are weary of it, they cannot abide it. And there are some that hear it, but they will not abide any danger for it, they love their riches and possessions more than the word of God. And therefore few are elected, there are but a few that stick heartily unto it, and can find in their hearts to forgo this world for God's sake and his holy word.
There are some now-a-days that will not be reprehended by the gospel; they think themselves better than it. Some again are so stubborn, that they will rather forswear themselves, than confess their sins and wickedness. Such men are the cause of their own damnation; for God would have them saved, but they refuse it; like as did Judas the traitor, whom Christ would have had to be saved, but he refused his salvation; he refused to follow the doctrine of his master Christ. And so, whosoever heareth the word of God, and follows it, the same is elect by him. And again, whosoever refuses to hear the word of God, and to follow the same, is damned. So that our election is sure if we follow the word of God.
Here is now taught you how to try out your election, namely, in Christ, for Christ is the accounting book and register of God; even in the same book, that is, Christ, are written all the names of the elect. Therefore we cannot find our election in ourselves, neither yet in the high counsel of God; for "Secret things belong to the most High." (Deut. xxix.) Where then shall I find my election? In the counting book of God, which is Christ; for thus it is written, "God hath so entirely loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to that end, that all that believe in him should not perish, but have life everlasting." Whereby appears most plainly that Christ is the book of life, and that all that believe in him are in the same book, and so are chosen to everlasting life; for only those are ordained which believe.
Therefore when thou hast faith in Christ, then thou art in the book of life, and so art thou sure of thine election. And again, if thou art without Christ, and have no faith in him, neither art sorry for thy wickedness, nor have a mind and purpose to leave and forsake sin, but rather exercise and use the same, then thou art not in the book of life as long as thou art in such a case; and therefore shalt thou go into everlasting fire, namely, if thou die in thy wickedness and sin, without repentance.
But there are none so wicked but he may have a remedy. What is that? Enter into thine own heart, and search the secrets of the same. Consider thine own life, and how thou hast spent thy days. And if thou find in thyself all manner of uncleanness and abominable sins, and so seest thy damnation before thine eyes, what shalt thou then do? Confess the same unto the Lord thy God. Be sorry that thou hast offended so loving a Father, and ask mercy of him in the name of Christ, and believe steadfastly that he will be merciful unto thee in respect of his only Son, who suffered death for thee; and then have a good purpose to leave all sin and wickedness, and to withstand and resist the affections of thine own flesh, which ever fight against the Spirit; and to live uprightly and godly, after the will and commandment of thy heavenly Father. If thou go thus to work, surely thou shalt be heard. Thy sins shall be forgiven thee; God will show himself true in his promise, for to that end he sent his only Son into this world, that he might save sinners. Consider therefore, I say, wherefore Christ came into this world; consider also the great hatred and wrath that God beareth against sin; and again consider his great love, showed unto thee, in that he sent his only Son to suffer most cruel death, rather than that thou shouldst be damned everlastingly.
Consider therefore this great love of God the Father, amend thy life, fly all occasions of sin and wickedness, and be loath to displease him. And in doing this thou mayest be assured that though thou hadst done all the sins of the world, they shall neither hurt nor condemn thee; for the mercy of God is greater than all the sins of the world. But we sometimes are in such a case that we think we have no faith at all, or if we have any, it is very feeble and weak. And therefore these are two things; to have faith and to have the feeling of faith. For some men would fain have the feeling of faith, but they cannot attain unto it; and yet they may not despair, but go forward in calling upon God, and it will come at length: God will open their hearts, and let them feel his goodness.
And thus may you see who are in the book of life, and who are not. For all those that are obstinate sinners, are without Christ, and so not elect to everlasting life, if they remain in their wickedness. There are none of us all but we may be saved by Christ, and therefore let us stick hard unto it, and be content to forego all the pleasures and riches of this world for his sake, who for our sake forsook all the heavenly pleasures, and came down into this miserable and wretched world, and here suffered all manner of afflictions for our sake. And therefore it is right that we should do somewhat for his sake, to show ourselves thankful unto him; and so we may assuredly be found among the first, and not among the last; that is to say, among the elect and chosen of God, that are written in the counting book of God, who are those that believe in Christ Jesus; to whom, with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.—Amen.
THE PARABLE OF THE TARES, BY BISHOP LATIMER, PREACHED ON THE 7TH OF FEBRUARY, 1553.
MATTHEW XIII.—The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way, &c.
This is a parable or similitude wherein our Saviour compared the kingdom of God, that is, the preaching of his word, wherein consisteth the salvation of mankind, unto a husbandman who sowed good seed in his field.
But before we come unto the matter, you shall first learn to understand what this word parable, which is a Greek word, and used in the Latin and English tongue, means; that is to say, "A parable is a comparison of two things that are unlike outwardly;" while in effect they signify but one thing, for they appertain to one end; as in this place, Christ compared the word of God unto seed: which two things are unlike, but yet they teach one thing; for like as the seed is sown in the earth, so is the word of God sown in our hearts: and thus much of this word parable.
The sum of this gospel is, first he speaks of a husbandman that sowed good seed; after that he mentions an enemy that sowed evil seed. And these two manner of seeds, that is, the husbandman's seed that was good, and the enemy's seed which was naught, came up both together: so that the enemy was as busy as the other in sowing his evil seed. And while he was busy in sowing it, it was unknown. And at the first springing up, it all seemed to be good seed, but at length the servant of the husbandman perceived the evil seed sown amongst the good; therefore he came and told his master, showing him all the matter, and required leave to gather the evil seed from amongst the other. The husbandman himself said, "Our enemy hath done this. But for all that, let it alone until the harvest, and then will I separate the good from the evil." This is the sum of this gospel.
First, note that he saith, "When everybody was asleep, then he came and sowed his seed." Who are these sleepers? The bishops and prelates, the slothful and careless curates and ministers; they with their negligence give the devil leave to sow his seed, for they sow not their seed. That is, they preach not the word of God, they instruct not the people with wholesome doctrine, and so they give place to the devil to sow his seed. For when the devil cometh, and findeth the heart of man not weaponed nor garnished with the word of God, he forthwith possesses the same, and so getteth victory through the slothfulness of the spirituality, which they shall one day grievously repent. For the whole scripture, that is to say, both the Old and New Testament, is full of threatenings against such negligent and slothful pastors; and they shall make a heavy and grievous account one day, when no excuse shall serve, but extreme punishment shall follow, for a reward of their slothfulness.
This gospel gives occasion to speak of many things: for our Saviour himself expounded this parable unto his disciples after the people were gone from him, and he was come into the house. For the disciples were not so bold as to ask him of the meaning of this parable in the presence of the people; whereby we may learn good manners, to use in everything a good and convenient time. Also we may here learn to search and inquire earnestly, and with great diligence, for the true understanding of God's word. And when you hear a sermon and are in doubt of something, inquire about it, and be desirous to learn; for it is written, "Whosoever hath, unto him shall be given; and he shall have abundance." (Matt. xiii.) What means this saying?—When we hear the word of God, and have tasted somewhat thereof, and are afterwards desirous to go forward more and more, then shall we have further knowledge; for God will give us his grace to come to further understanding. And so the saying of our Saviour shall be fulfilled in us.
Now when our Saviour heard the request of his disciples, he performs their desire, and begins to expound unto them the parable, saying, "I am he that soweth good seed: the adversary, the devil, is he who soweth evil seed." Here our Saviour, good people, makes known that he goeth about to do us good; but the devil doth quite the contrary, and he seeks to spoil and destroy us with his filthy and naughty seeds of false doctrine. The field here is the whole world. The harvest is the end of the world. The reapers are the angels of God, who are his servants: for as every lord or master has his servants to wait upon him, and to do his commandments, so the angels of God wait upon Him to do his commandments. The angels at the time of the harvest shall gather first all such as have been evil and have given occasion of wickedness, and go forward in the same without repentance or amendment of their lives. All such, I say, shall be gathered together and cast into the furnace of fire, "where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For in the end of this wicked world, all such as have lived in the delights and pleasures of the same, and have not fought with the lusts and pleasures of their flesh, but are proud and stubborn, or bear hatred and malice unto their neighbours, or are covetous persons; also all naughty servants that do not their duties, and all those that use falsehood in buying and selling, and care not for their neighbours, but sell unto them false wares, or otherwise deceive them; all these are called "the offenders of this world," and all such shall be cast into the furnace where shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
In like manner, all idle persons that will not work for their living, but go about loitering and are chargeable unto others; and also drunken persons that abuse the benefits of God in dishonouring themselves, so that they lose the use of reason, and their natural wits wherewith God has endued them, and make themselves like swine and beasts; also those who break wedlock, and despise matrimony, which is instituted of God himself. Hereunto add all swearers, all usurers, all liars, and deceivers; all these are called the seed of the devil; and so they are the devil's creatures through their own wickedness.
But yet it is true that wicked men have their souls and bodies of God, for he is their Creator and Maker: but they themselves, in forsaking God and his laws, and following the devil and his instructions, make themselves members of the devil, and become his seed; therefore in the last day they shall be cast out into everlasting fire, when the trumpet shall blow, and the angels shall come and gather all those that offend from among the elect of God.
The form of judgment shall be in this manner: Christ our Saviour at the day of judgment, being appointed of God, shall come down with great triumph and honour, accompanied with all his angels and saints that departed in faith out of this world before time: they shall come with him then, and all the elect shall be gathered to him, and there they shall see the judgment; but they themselves shall not be judged, but shall be like as judges with him. After the elect are separated from the wicked, he shall give a most horrible and dreadful sentence unto the wicked, commanding his angels to cast them into everlasting fire, where they shall have such torments as no tongue can express.
Therefore our Saviour, desirous to set out the pains of hell unto us, and to make us afraid thereof, calls it fire, yea, a burning and unquenchable fire. For as there is no pain so grievous to a man as fire is, so the pains of hell pass all the pains that may be imagined by any man. There shall be sobbing and sighing, weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, which are the tokens of unspeakable pains and griefs that shall come upon those that die in the state of damnation. For you must understand that there are but two places appointed by Almighty God, for all mankind, that is, heaven and hell. And in what state soever a man dieth, in the same he shall rise again, for there shall be no alteration or change. Those who die repentant and are sorry for their sins—who cry to God for mercy, are ashamed of their wickedness, and believe with all their hearts that God will be merciful unto them through the passion of our Saviour Christ; those who die in such a faith, shall come into everlasting life and felicity, and shall rise in the last day in a state of salvation. For look—as you die, so shall you arise. Whosoever departeth out of this world without a repentant heart, and has been a malicious and envious man, and a hater of the word of God, and so continues, and will not repent and be sorry, and call upon God with a good faith, or has no faith at all; that man shall come to everlasting damnation; and so he shall arise again at the last day. For there is nothing that can help a soul when departed out of its damnation, or hinder it of its salvation.
For when a man dies without faith in Christ, all the masses in the whole world are not able to relieve him; and so to conclude, all the travails that we have had in time past by seeking of remedy by purgatory, and all the great costs and expenses that may be bestowed upon any soul lying in the state of damnation, can avail nothing, neither can it do any good. For as I said before, the judgments of God are immutable, that is—as you die, so shall you rise. If you die in the state of salvation, you shall rise so again, and receive your body, and remain in salvation. Again, if you die in damnation, you shall rise in the same state, and receive your body, and return again to the same state, and be punished world without end, with unspeakable pains and torments. For our natural fire, in comparison to hell-fire, is like a fire painted on a wall; but that shall be so extreme, that no man is able to express the terrible horror and grief thereof.
O what a pitiful thing is it, that man will not consider this, and leave the sin and pleasure of this world, and live godly; but is so blind and mad, that he will rather have a momentary, and a very short and small pleasure, than hearken to the will and pleasure of Almighty God; who can take away everlasting pain and woe, and give unto him everlasting felicity! That a great many of us are damned, the fault is not in God, for "God would have all men be saved." But the fault is in ourselves, and in our own madness, who had rather have damnation than salvation. Therefore, good people, consider these terrible pains in your minds, which are prepared for the wicked and ungodly, avoid all wickedness and sin: set before your eyes the wonderful joy and felicity, and the innumerable treasures which God hath laid up for you that fear and love him, and live after his will and commandments; for no tongue can express, no eye hath seen, no heart can comprehend, nor conceive the great felicity that God hath prepared for his elect and chosen, as St. Paul witnesses. Consider, therefore, I say, these most excellent treasures, and exert yourselves to obtain the fruition of the same. Continue not, neither abide nor wallow too long in your sins, like as swine lieth in the mire. Make no delay to repent of your sin, and to amend your life, for you are not so sure to have repentance in the end. It is a common saying, "Late repentance is seldom sincere." Therefore consider this thing with yourself betimes, and study to amend your life: for what avails it to have all the pleasures of the world for a while, and after that to have everlasting pain and infelicity?
Therefore let every one examine his own conscience when he finds himself unready. For all such as through the goodness of God have received faith, and then wrestling with sin, consent not unto it, but are sorry for it when they fall, and do not abide nor dwell in the same, but rise up again forthwith, and call for forgiveness thereof, through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ—all such are called just: that is to say, all that die with a repentant heart, and are sorry that they have sinned, and are minded if God give them longer time to live, to amend all faults, and lead a new life; then are they just; but not through their own merits or good works. For if God should enter into judgment with us, none are able to stand before his face; neither may any of his saints be found just; neither St. John Baptist, St. Peter, nor St. Paul; no nor is the mother of our Saviour Christ herself just, if she should be judged after the rigour of the law. For all are and must be justified by the justification of our Saviour Christ, and so we must be justified, and not by our own well-doing, but our justice standeth in this, that our righteousness is forgiven us through the righteousness of Christ, for if we believe in him, then are we made righteous. For he fulfilled the law, and afterwards granted the same to be ours, if we believe that his fulfilling is our fulfilling; for the apostle Saint Paul saith, "He hath not spared his own Son, but hath given him up for us; and how then may it be, but that we should have all things with him?"
Therefore it must needs follow, that when he gave us his only Son, he gave us also his righteousness, and his fulfilling of the law. So that we are justified by God's free gift, and not of ourselves, nor by our merits: but the righteousness of Christ is accounted to be our righteousness, and through the same we obtain everlasting life, and not through our own doings; for, as I said before, if God should enter into judgment with us, we should be damned.
Therefore take heed and be not proud, and be humble and low, and trust not too much in yourselves; but put your only trust in Christ our Saviour. And yet you may not utterly set aside the doing of good works; but especially look that you have always oil in readiness for your lamps, or else you may not come to the wedding, but shall be shut out, and thrust into everlasting darkness. This oil is faith in Christ, which if you lack, then all things are unsavory before the face of God: but a great many people are much deceived, for they think themselves to have faith when indeed they have it not. Some peradventure will say, How shall I know whether I have faith or not? Truly you shall find this in you, if you have no mind to leave sin; then sin grieves you not, but you are content to go forward in the same, and you delight in it, and hate it not, neither do you feel what sin is: when you are in such a case, then you have no faith, and therefore are like to perish everlastingly. For that man who is sore sick, and yet feels not his sickness, he is in great danger, for he has lost all his senses; so that man who has gone so far in sin, that he feels his sin no more, is like to be damned, for he is without faith.
Again, that man is in good case, who can be content to fight and strive with sin, and to withstand the devil, and his temptations, and calls for the help of God, and believes that God will help him, and make him strong to fight. That man shall not be overcome by the devil. And whosoever feels this in his heart, and so wrestles with sin, may be sure that he has faith, and is in the favour of God.
But if you will have a trial of your faith, then do this—Examine yourself concerning your enemy; he does you harm, he slanders you, or takes away your living from you. How shall you conduct yourself towards such a man? If you can find in your heart to pray for him, to love him with all your heart, and forgive him with a good-will all that he has sinned against you—if you can find this readiness in your heart, then you are one of those who have faith, if you would have him to be saved as well as yourself. And if you can do this you may argue that your sin is forgiven, and that you are none of those that shall be cast out, but shall be received and placed among the number of the godly, and shall enjoy with them everlasting life. For St. Paul saith, "Those that are just," that is, those that are justified by faith, and exercise faith in their living and conversation, "they shall shine like unto the sun in the kingdom of God;" that is to say, they shall be in exceeding great honour and glory. For like as the sun exceeds in brightness all other works of God, and is beautiful in the eyes of every man; so shall all the faithful be beautiful and endued with honour and glory: although in this world they are but outcasts, and accounted as "The dross and filth of the world;" but in the other world, when the angels shall gather together the wicked, and cast them into the fire, then shall the elect shine as the sun in the kingdom of God. For no man can express the honour and glory that they shall have, who will be content to suffer all things for God's sake, and reform themselves after his will; or are content to be told of their faults, and glad to amend the same, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.
Also the householder said unto his servants, "Let them alone until harvest." Here you may learn that the preachers and ministers of the word of God, have not authority to compel the people with violence to goodness, although they are wicked. But they should admonish them only with the word of God, not pull the wicked out by the throat; for that is not their duty. All things must be done according as God has appointed. God has appointed the magistrates to punish the wicked; for so he saith, "Thou shalt take away the evil from amongst the people, thou shalt have no pity of him." If he be a thief, an adulterer, or a whore-monger, away with him. But when our Saviour saith, "Let them grow;" he speaks not of the civil magistrates, for it is their duty to pull them out; but he signifies that there will be such wickedness in spite of the magistrates, and teaches that the ecclesiastical power is ordained, not to pull out the wicked with the sword, but only to admonish them with the word of God, which is called "The sword of the Spirit." So did John Baptist, saying, "Who hath taught you to flee from the wrath of God that is at hand?"
So did Peter in the Acts of the Apostles; "Whom you have crucified," he said unto the Jews. What follows? "They were pricked in their hearts;" contrition and repentance followed as soon as the word was preached unto them. Therefore they said, "Brethren, what shall we do? How shall we be made clean from our sins, that we may be saved?" Then he sends them to Christ. So that it appears in this gospel, and by these examples, that the preacher has no other sword, but the sword of the word of God: with that sword he may strike them. He may rebuke their wicked living, and further he ought not to go. But kings and magistrates have power to punish with the sword the obstinate and vicious livers, and to put them to due punishment.
Now to make an end, with this one lesson, which is, If you dwell in a town where are some wicked men that will not be reformed, nor in anywise amend their lives, as there are commonly some in every town; run not therefore out of the town, but tarry there still, and exercise patience amongst them, exhort them, whensoever occasion serves, to amendment. And do not as the fondness of the monkery first did, for they at the first made so great account of the holiness of their good life, that they could not be content to live and abide in cities and towns where sinners and wicked doers were, but thought to amend the matter; and therefore ran out into the wilderness, where they fell into great inconveniences. For some despised the communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, and so fell into other errors, so God punished them for their foolishness and uncharitableness. We are born into this world, not for our own sakes only, but for every Christian's sake. They forgetting this commandment of love and charity, ran away from their neighbours, like beasts and wild horses, that cannot abide the company of men. So there have been some in our time who follow their example, separating themselves from the company of other men, and therefore God gave them a perverted judgment. Therefore when you dwell in any evil town or parish, follow not these examples; but remember that Lot, dwelling in the midst of Sodom, was nevertheless preserved from the wrath of God, and such will be preserved in the midst of the wicked. But for all that, you must not flatter them in their evil doings and naughty livings, but rebuke their sins and wickedness, and in nowise consent unto them. Then it will be well with you here in this world, and in the world to come you shall have life everlasting: which grant both to you and me, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.—Amen.
A SERMON ON ISAIAH XXVI. BY JOHN KNOX.
[In the Prospectus of our Publication it was stated, that one discourse, at least, would be given in each number. A strict adherence to this arrangement, however, it is found, would exclude from our pages some of the most talented discourses of our early Divines; and it is therefore deemed expedient to depart from it as occasion may require. The following Sermon will occupy two numbers, and we hope, that from its intrinsic value, its historical interest, and the illustrious name of its author, it will prove generally acceptable to our readers. For the information of those who may not be acquainted with the circumstances attending its delivery, we subjoin the following extract from a late edition of the select works of Knox:—
"Henry Darnley (king of Scotland by his marriage with queen Mary,) went sometimes to mass with the queen, and sometimes attended the protestant sermons. To silence the rumours then circulated of his having forsaken the reformed religion, he, on the 19th of August, 1565, attended service at St. Giles's church, sitting on a throne which had been prepared for him. Knox preached that day on Isaiah xxvi. 13, 14, and happened to prolong the service beyond the usual time. In one part of the sermon, he quoted these words of scripture, 'I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them: children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.' In another part he referred to God's displeasure against Ahab, because he did not correct his idolatrous wife Jezebel. No particular application of these passages was made by Knox, but the king considered them as reflecting upon the queen and himself, and returned to the palace in great wrath. He refused to dine, and went out to hawking.
That same afternoon Knox was summoned from his bed to appear before the council. He went accompanied by several respectable inhabitants of the city. The secretary informed him of the king's displeasure at his sermon, and desired that he would abstain from preaching for fifteen or twenty days. Knox answered, that he had spoken nothing but according to his text, and if the church would command him either to preach or abstain, he would obey so far as the word of God would permit him. The king and queen left Edinburgh during the week following, and it does not appear that Knox was actually suspended from preaching."
The following are Knox's reasons for the publication of this Sermon, extracted from his preface to the first edition.
"If any will ask, To what purpose this sermon is set forth? I answer, To let such as satan has not altogether blinded, see upon how small occasions great offence is now conceived. This sermon is it, for which, from my bed, I was called before the council; and after long reasoning, I was by some forbidden to preach in Edinburgh, so long as the king and queen were in town. This sermon is it, that so offends such as would please the court, and will not appear to be enemies to the truth; yet they dare affirm, that I exceeded the bounds of God's messenger. I have therefore faithfully committed unto writing whatsoever I could remember might have been offensive in that sermon; to the end, that the enemies of God's truth, as well as the professors of the same, may either note unto me wherein I have offended, or at the least cease to condemn me before they have convinced me by God's manifest word."]
A SERMON ON ISAIAH XXVI.
ISAIAH XXXVI. 13, 14, 15, 16, &c.—O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise; therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation, thou art glorified; thou hast removed it far unto the ends of the earth.
Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them, &c.
As the skilful mariner (being master,) having his ship tossed with a vehement tempest, and contrary winds, is compelled oft to traverse, lest that, either by too much resisting to the violence of the waves, his vessel might be overwhelmed; or by too much liberty granted, might be carried whither the fury of the tempest would, so that his ship should be driven upon the shore, and make shipwreck; even so doth our prophet Isaiah in this text, which now you have heard read. For he, foreseeing the great desolation that was decreed in the council of the Eternal, against Jerusalem and Judah, namely, that the whole people, that bare the name of God, should be dispersed; that the holy city should be destroyed; the temple wherein was the ark of the covenant, and where God had promised to give his own presence, should be burnt with fire; and the king taken, his sons in his own presence murdered, his own eyes immediately after be put out; the nobility, some cruelly murdered, some shamefully led away captives; and finally, the whole seed of Abraham rased, as it were, from the fate of the earth. The prophet, I say, fearing these horrible calamities, doth, as it were, sometimes suffer himself, and the people committed to his charge, to be carried away with the violence of the tempest, without further resistance than by pouring forth his and their dolorous complaints before the majesty of God, as in the 13th, 17th, and 18th verses of this present text we may read. At other times he valiantly resists the desperate tempest, and pronounces the fearful destruction of all such as trouble the church of God; which he pronounces that God will multiply, even when it appears utterly to be exterminated. But because there is no final rest to the whole body till the Head return to judgment, he exhorts the afflicted to patience, and promises a visitation whereby the wickedness of the wicked shall be disclosed, and finally recompensed in their own bosoms.
These are the chief points of which, by the grace of God, we intend more largely at this present to speak;
First, The prophet saith, "O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have ruled us."
This, no doubt, is the beginning of the dolorous complaint, in which he complains of the unjust tyranny that the poor afflicted Israelites sustained during the time of their captivity. True it is, that the prophet was gathered to his fathers in peace, before this came upon the people: for a hundred years after his decease the people were not led away captive; yet he, foreseeing the assurance of the calamity, did before-hand indite and dictate unto them the complaint, which afterward they should make. But at the first sight it appears, that the complaint has but small weight; for what new thing was it, that other lords than God in his own person ruled them, seeing that such had been their government from the beginning? For who knows not, that Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, the judges, Samuel, David, and other godly rulers, were men, and not God; and so other lords than God ruled them in their greatest prosperity.
For the better understanding of this complaint, and of the mind of the prophet, we must, first, observe from whence all authority flows; and, secondly, to what end powers are appointed by God: which two points being discussed, we shall better understand, what lords and what authority rule beside God, and who they are in whom God and his merciful presence rules.
The first is resolved to us by the words of the apostle, saying, "There is no power but of God." David brings in the eternal God speaking to judges and rulers, saying, "I have said, ye are gods, and sons of the Most High." (Psal. lxxxii.) And Solomon, in the person of God, affirmeth the same, saying, "By me kings reign, and princes discern the things that are just." From which place it is evident, that it is neither birth, influence of stars, election of people, force of arms, nor finally, whatsoever can be comprehended under the power of nature, that makes the distinction betwixt the superior power and the inferior, or that establishes the royal throne of kings; but it is the only and perfect ordinance of God, who willeth his terror, power, and majesty, partly to shine in the thrones of kings, and in the faces of judges, and that for the profit and comfort of man. So that whosoever would study to deface the order of government that God has established, and allowed by his holy word, and bring in such a confusion, that no difference should be betwixt the upper powers and the subjects, does nothing but avert and turn upside down the very throne of God, which he wills to be fixed here upon earth; as in the end and cause of this ordinance more plainly shall appear: which is the second point we have to observe, for the better understanding of the prophet's words and mind.
The end and cause then, why God imprints in the weak and feeble flesh of man this image of his own power and majesty, is not to puff up flesh in opinion of itself; neither yet that the heart of him, that is exalted above others, should be lifted up by presumption and pride, and so despise others; but that he should consider he is appointed lieutenant to One, whose eyes continually watch upon him, to see and examine how he behaves himself in his office. St. Paul, in few words, declares the end wherefore the sword is committed to the powers, saying, "It is to the punishment of the wicked doers, and unto the praise of such as do well." Rom. xiii.
Of which words it is evident, that the sword of God is not committed to the hand of man, to use as it pleases him, but only to punish vice and maintain virtue, that men may live in such society as is acceptable before God. And this is the true and only cause why God has appointed powers in this earth.
For such is the furious rage of man's corrupt nature, that, unless severe punishment were appointed and put in execution upon malefactors, better it were that man should live among brutes and wild beasts than among men. But at this present I dare not enter into the description of this common-place; for so should I not satisfy the text, which by God's grace I purpose to explain. This only by the way—I would that such as are placed in authority should consider, whether they reign and rule by God, so that God rules them; or if they rule without, besides, and against God, of whom our prophet hero complains.