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- SERMONS ON THE CARD - 2/17 -


science and knowledge, to work all goodness therewith: this said spirit was not given alonely unto him, but unto all his heirs and posterity. He had also delivered him the town of Calais; that is to say, paradise in earth, the most strong and fairest town in the world, to be in his custody. He nevertheless, by the instigation of these Frenchmen, that is to say, the temptation of the fiend, did obey unto their desire; and so he brake his promise and fidelity, the commandment of the everlasting King his master, in eating of the apple by him inhibited.

Now then the King, seeing this great treason in his captain, deposed him of the thousand pounds of possessions, that is to say, from everlasting life in glory, and all his heirs and posterity: for likewise as he had the spirit of science and knowledge, for him and his heirs; so in like manner, when he lost the same, his heirs also lost it by him and in him. So now this example proveth, that by our father Adam we had once in him the very inheritance of everlasting joy; and by him, and in him, again we lost the same.

The heirs of the captain of Calais could not by any manner of claim ask of the king the right and title of their father in the thousand pounds of possessions, by reason the king might answer and say unto them, that although their father deserved not of himself to enjoy so great possessions, yet he deserved by himself to lose them, and greater, committing so high treason, as he did, against his prince's commandments; whereby he had no wrong to lose his title, but was unworthy to have the same, and had therein true justice. Let not you think, which be his heirs, that if he had justice to lose his possessions, you have wrong to lose the same. In the same manner it may be answered unto all men and women now being, that if our father Adam had true justice to be excluded from his possession of everlasting glory in paradise, let us not think the contrary that be his heirs, but that we have no wrong in losing also the same; yea, we have true justice and right. Then in what miserable estate we be, that of the right and just title of our own deserts have lost the everlasting joy, and claim of ourselves to be true inheritors of hell! For he that committeth deadly sin willingly, bindeth himself to be inheritor of everlasting pain: and so did our forefather Adam willingly eat of the apple forbidden. Wherefore he was cast out of the everlasting joy in paradise into this corrupt world, amongst all vileness, whereby of himself he was not worthy to do any thing laudable or pleasant to God, evermore bound to corrupt affections and beastly appetites, transformed into the most uncleanest and variablest nature that was made under heaven; of whose seed and disposition all the world is lineally descended, insomuch that this evil nature is so fused and shed from one into another, that at this day there is no man nor woman living that can of themselves wash away this abominable vileness: and so we must needs grant of ourselves to be in like displeasure unto God, as our forefather Adam was. By reason hereof as I said, we be of ourselves the very children of the indignation and vengeance of God, the true inheritors of hell, and working all towards hell: which is the answer to this question, made to every man and woman, by themselves, "Who art thou?"

And now, the world standing in this damnable state, cometh in the occasion of the incarnation of Christ. The Father in heaven, perceiving the frail nature of man, that he, by himself and of himself, could do nothing for himself, by his prudent wisdom sent down the second person in Trinity, his Son Jesus Christ, to declare unto man his pleasure and commandment: and so, at the Father's will, Christ took on him human nature, being willing to deliver man out of this miserable way, and was content to suffer cruel passion in shedding his blood for all mankind; and so left behind for our safeguard laws and ordinances, to keep us always in the right path unto everlasting life, as the evangelists, the sacraments, the commandments, and so forth: which, if we do keep and observe according to our profession, we shall answer better unto this question, "Who art thou?" than we did before. For before thou didst enter into the sacrament of baptism, thou wert but a natural man, a natural woman; as I might say, a man, a woman: but after thou takest on thee Christ's religion, thou hast a longer name; for then thou art a christian man, a christian woman. Now then, seeing thou art a christian man, what shall be thy answer of this question, "Who art thou?"

The answer of this question is, when I ask it unto myself, I must say that I am a christian man, a christian woman, the child of everlasting joy, through the merits of the bitter passion of Christ. This is a joyful answer. Here we may see how much we be bound and in danger unto God, that hath revived us from death to life, and saved us that were damned: which great benefit we cannot well consider, unless we do remember what we were of ourselves before we meddled with him or his laws; and the more we know our feeble nature, and set less by it, the more we shall conceive and know in our hearts what God hath done for us; and the more we know what God hath done for us, the less we shall set by ourselves, and the more we shall love and please God: so that in no condition we shall either know ourselves or God, except we do utterly confess ourselves to be mere vileness and corruption. Well, now it is come unto this point, that we be christian men, christian women, I pray you what doth Christ require of a christian man, or of a christian woman? Christ requireth nothing else of a christian man or woman, but that they will observe his rule: for likewise as he is a good Augustine friar that keepeth well St. Augustine's rule, so is he a good christian man that keepeth well Christ's rule.

Now then, what is Christ's rule? Christ's rule consisteth in many things, as in the commandments, and the works of mercy, and so forth. And for because I cannot declare Christ's rule unto you at one time, as it ought to be done, I will apply myself according to your custom at this time of Christmas: I will, as I said, declare unto you Christ's rule, but that shall be in Christ's cards. And whereas you are wont to celebrate Christmas in playing at cards, I intend, by God's grace, to deal unto you Christ's cards, wherein you shall perceive Christ's rule. The game that we will play at shall be called the triumph, which, if it be well played at, he that dealeth shall win; the players shall likewise win; and the standers and lookers upon shall do the same; insomuch that there is no man that is willing to play at this triumph with these cards, but they shall be all winners, and no losers.

Let therefore every christian man and woman play at these cards, that they may have and obtain the triumph: you must mark also that the triumph must apply to fetch home unto him all the other cards, whatsoever suit they be of. Now then, take ye this first card, which must appear and be shewed unto you as followeth: you have heard what was spoken to men of the old law, "Thou shalt not kill; whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment: but I say unto you" of the new law, saith Christ, "that whosoever is angry with his neighbour, shall be in danger of judgment; and whosoever shall say unto his neighbour, 'Raca,' that is to say, brainless," or any other like word of rebuking, "shall be in danger of council; and whosoever shall say unto his neighbour, 'Fool,' shall be in danger of hell- fire." This card was made and spoken by Christ, as appeareth in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew.

Now it must be noted, that whosoever shall play with this card, must first, before they play with it, know the strength and virtue of the same: wherefore you must well note and mark terms, how they be spoken, and to what purpose. Let us therefore read it once or twice, that we may be the better acquainted with it.

Now behold and see, this card is divided into four parts: the first part is one of the commandments that was given unto Moses in the old law, before the coming of Christ; which commandment we of the new law be bound to observe and keep, and it is one of our commandments. The other three parts spoken by Christ be nothing else but expositions unto the first part of this commandment: for in very effect all these four parts be but one commandment, that is to say, "Thou shalt not kill." Yet nevertheless, the last three parts do shew unto thee how many ways thou mayest kill thy neighbour contrary to this commandment: yet, for all Christ's exposition in the three last parts of this card, the terms be not open enough to thee that dost read and hear them spoken. No doubt, the Jews understood Christ well enough, when he spake to them these three last sentences; for he spake unto them in their own natural terms and tongue. Wherefore, seeing that these terms were natural terms of the Jews, it shall be necessary to expound them, and compare them unto some like terms of our natural speech, that we, in like manner, may understand Christ as well as the Jews did. We will begin first with the first part of this card, and then after, with the other three parts. You must therefore understand that the Jews and the Pharisees of the old law, to whom this first part, this commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," was spoken, thought it sufficient and enough for their discharge, not to kill with any manner of material weapon, as sword, dagger, or with any such weapon; and they thought it no great fault whatsoever they said or did by their neighbours, so that they did not harm or meddle with their corporal bodies: which was a false opinion in them, as prove well the three last other sentences following the first part of this card.

Now, as touching the three other sentences, you must note and take heed, what difference is between these three manner of offences: to be angry with your neighbour; to call your neighbour "brainless," or any such word of disdain; or to call your neighbour "fool." Whether these three manner of offences be of themselves more grievous one than the other, it is to be opened unto you. Truly, as they be of themselves divers offences, so they kill diversly, one more than the other; as you shall perceive by the first of these three, and so forth. A man which conceiveth against his neighbour or brother ire or wrath in his mind, by some manner of occasion given unto him, although he be angry in his mind against his said neighbour, he will peradventure express his ire by no manner of sign, either in word or deed: yet, nevertheless, he offendeth against God, and breaketh this commandment in killing his own soul; and is therefore "in danger of judgment."

Now, to the second part of these three: That man that is moved with ire against his neighbour, and in his ire calleth his neighbour "brainless," or some other like word of displeasure; as a man might say in a fury, "I shall handle thee well enough;" which words and countenances do more represent and declare ire to be in this man, than in him that was but angry, and spake no manner of word nor shewed any countenance to declare his ire. Wherefore as he that so declareth his ire either by word or countenance offendeth more against God, so he both killeth his own soul, and doth that in him is to kill his neighbour's soul in moving him unto ire, wherein he is faulty himself; and so this man is "in danger of council."

Now to the third offence, and last of these three: That man that calleth his neighbour "fool," doth more declare his angry mind toward him, than he that called his neighbour but "brainless," or any such words moving ire: for to call a man "fool," that word representeth more envy in a man than "brainless" doth. Wherefore he doth most offend, because he doth most earnestly with such words express his ire, and so he is "in danger of hell-fire."

Wherefore you may understand now, these three parts of this card be three offences, and that one is more grievous to God than the other,


SERMONS ON THE CARD - 2/17

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