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- SERMONS ON THE CARD - 3/17 -


and that one killeth more the soul of man than the other.

Now peradventure there be some that will marvel, that Christ did not declare this commandment by some greater faults of ire, than by these which seem but small faults, as to be angry and speak nothing of it, to declare it and to call a man "brainless," and to call his neighbour "fool:" truly these be the smallest and the least faults that belong to ire, or to killing in ire. Therefore beware how you offend in any kind of ire: seeing that the smallest be damnable to offend in, see that you offend not in the greatest. For Christ thought, if he might bring you from the smallest manner of faults, and give you warning to avoid the least, he reckoned you would not offend in the greatest and worst, as to call your neighbour thief, whoreson, whore, drab, and so forth, into more blasphemous names; which offences must needs have punishment in hell, considering how that Christ hath appointed these three small faults to have three degrees of punishment in hell, as appeareth by these three terms, judgment, council, and hell-fire. These three terms do signify nothing else but three divers punishments in hell, according to the offences. Judgment is less in degree than council, therefore it signifieth a lesser pain in hell, and it is ordained for him that is angry in his mind with his neighbour, and doth express his malice neither by word nor countenance: council is a less degree in hell than hell-fire, and is a greater degree in hell than judgment; and it is ordained for him that calleth his neighbour "brainless," or any such word, that declareth his ire and malice: wherefore it is more pain than judgment. Hell-fire is more pain in hell than council or judgment, and it is ordained for him that calleth his neighbour "fool," by reason that in calling his neighbour "fool," he declareth more his malice, in that it is an earnest word of ire: wherefore hell-fire is appointed for it; that is, the most pain of the three punishments.

Now you have heard, that to these divers offences of ire and killing be appointed punishments according to their degrees: for look as the offence is, so shall the pain be: if the offence be great, the pain shall be according; if it be less, there shall be less pain for it. I would not now that you should think, because that here are but three degrees of punishment spoken of, that there be no more in hell. No doubt Christ spake of no more here but of these three degrees of punishment, thinking they were sufficient, enough for example, whereby we might understand that there be as divers and many pains as there be offences: and so by these three offences, and these three punishments, all other offences and punishments may be compared with another. Yet I would satisfy your minds further in these three terms, of "judgment, council, and hell-fire." Whereas you might say, What was the cause that Christ declared more the pains of hell by these terms than by any other terms? I told you afore that he knew well to whom he spake them. These terms were natural and well known amongst the Jews and the Pharisees: wherefore Christ taught them with their own terms, to the intent they might understand the better his doctrine. And these terms may be likened unto three terms which we have common and usual amongst us, that is to say, the sessions of inquirance, the sessions of deliverance, and the execution-day. Sessions of inquirance is like unto judgment; for when sessions of inquiry is, then the judges cause twelve men to give verdict of the felon's crime, whereby he shall be judged to be indicted: sessions of deliverance is much like council; for at sessions of deliverance the judges go among themselves to council, to determine sentence against the felon: execution-day is to be compared unto hell-fire; for the Jews had amongst themselves a place of execution, named "hell-fire:" and surely when a man goeth to his death, it is the greatest pain in this world. Wherefore you may see that there are degrees in these our terms, as there be in those terms.

These evil-disposed affections and sensualities in us are always contrary to the rule of our salvation. What shall we do now or imagine to thrust down these Turks and to subdue them? It is a great ignominy and shame for a christian man to be bond and subject unto a Turk: nay, it shall not be so; we will first cast a trump in their way, and play with them at cards, who shall have the better. Let us play therefore on this fashion with this card. Whensoever it shall happen the foul passions and Turks to rise in our stomachs against our brother or neighbour, either for unkind words, injuries, or wrongs, which they have done unto us, contrary unto our mind; straightways let us call unto our remembrance, and speak this question unto ourselves, "Who art thou?" The answer is, "I am a christian man." Then further we must say to ourselves, "What requireth Christ of a christian man?" Now turn up your trump, your heart (hearts is trump, as I said before), and cast your trump, your heart, on this card; and upon this card you shall learn what Christ requireth of a christian man--not to be angry, nor moved to ire against his neighbour, in mind, countenance, nor other ways, by word or deed. Then take up this card with your heart, and lay them together: that done, you have won the game of the Turk, whereby you have defaced and overcome him by true and lawful play. But, alas for pity! the Rhodes are won and overcome by these false Turks; the strong castle Faith is decayed, so that I fear it is almost impossible to win it again.

The great occasion of the loss of this Rhodes is by reason that christian men do so daily kill their own nation, that the very true number of Christianity is decayed; which murder and killing one of another is increased specially two ways, to the utter undoing of Christendom, that is to say, by example and silence. By example, as thus: when the father, the mother, the lord, the lady, the master, the dame, be themselves overcome by these Turks, they be continual swearers, avouterers, disposers to malice, never in patience, and so forth in all other vices: think you not, when the father, the mother, the master, the dame, be disposed unto vice or impatience, but that their children and servants shall incline and be disposed to the same? No doubt, as the child shall take disposition natural of the father and mother, so shall the servants apply unto the vices of their masters and dames: if the heads be false in their faculties and crafts, it is no marvel if the children, servants, and apprentices do joy therein. This is a great and shameful manner of killing christian men, that the fathers, the mothers, the masters, and the dames shall not alonely kill themselves, but all theirs, and all that belongeth unto them: and so this way is a great number of christian lineage murdered and spoiled.

The second manner of killing is silence. By silence also is a great number of christian men slain; which is on this fashion: although that the father and mother, master and dame, of themselves be well disposed to live according to the law of God, yet they may kill their children and servants in suffering them to do evil before their own faces, and do not use due correction according unto their offences. The master seeth his servant or apprentice take more of his neighbour than the king's laws, or the order of his faculty, doth admit him; or that he suffereth him to take more of his neighbour than he himself would be content to pay, if he were in like condition: thus doing, I say, such men kill willingly their children and servants, and shall go to hell for so doing; but also their fathers and mothers, masters and dames, shall bear them company for so suffering them.

Wherefore I exhort all true christian men and women to give good example unto your children and servants, and suffer not them by silence to offend. Every man must be in his own house, according to St. Augustine's mind, a bishop, not alonely giving good ensample, but teaching according to it, rebuking and punishing vice; not suffering your children and servants to forget the laws of God. You ought to see them have their belief, to know the commandments of God, to keep their holy-days, not to lose their time in idleness: if they do so, you shall all suffer pain for it, if God be true of his saying, as there is no doubt thereof. And so you may perceive that there be many a one that breaketh this card, "Thou shalt not kill," and playeth therewith oftentime at the blind trump, whereby they be no winners, but great losers. But who be those now-a-days that can clear themselves of these manifest murders used to their children and servants? I think not the contrary, but that many have these two ways slain their own children unto their damnation; unless the great mercy of God were ready to help them when they repent there-for.

Wherefore, considering that we be so prone and ready to continue in sin, let us cast down ourselves with Mary Magdalene; and the more we bow down with her toward Christ's feet, the more we shall be afraid to rise again in sin; and the more we know and submit ourselves, the more we shall be forgiven; and the less we know and submit ourselves, the less we shall be forgiven; as appeareth by this example following:

Christ, when he was in this world, amongst the Jews and Pharisees, there was a great Pharisee whose name was Simon: this Pharisee desired Christ on a time to dine with him, thinking in himself that he was able and worthy to give Christ a dinner. Christ refused not his dinner, but came unto him. In time of their dinner it chanced there came into the house a great and a common sinner named Mary Magdalene. As soon as she perceived Christ, she cast herself down, and called unto her remembrance what she was of herself, and how greatly she had offended God; whereby she conceived in Christ great love, and so came near unto him, and washed his feet with bitter tears, and shed upon his head precious ointment, thinking that by him she should be delivered from her sins. This great and proud Pharisee, seeing that Christ did accept her oblation in the best part, had great indignation against this woman, and said to himself, "If this man Christ were a holy prophet, as he is taken for, he would not suffer this sinner to come so nigh him." Christ, understanding the naughty mind of this Pharisee, said unto him, "Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee." "Say what you please," quod the Pharisee. Then said Christ, "I pray thee, tell me this: If there be a man to whom is owing twenty pound by one, and forty by another, this man to whom this money is owing, perceiving these two men be not able to pay him, he forgiveth them both: which of these two debtors ought to love this man most?" The Pharisee said, "That man ought to love him best, that had most forgiven him." "Likewise," said Christ, "it is by this woman: she hath loved me most, therefore most is forgiven her; she hath known her sins most, whereby she hath most loved me. And thou hast least loved me, because thou hast least known thy sins: therefore, because thou hast least known thine offences, thou art least forgiven." So this proud Pharisee had an answer to delay his pride. And think you not, but that there be amongst us a great number of these proud Pharisees, which think themselves worthy to bid Christ to dinner; which will perk, and presume to sit by Christ in the church, and have a disdain of this poor woman Magdalene, their poor neighbour, with a high, disdainous, and solemn countenance? And being always desirous to climb highest in the church, reckoning themselves more worthy to sit there than another, I fear me poor Magdalene under the board, and in the belfry, hath more forgiven of Christ than they have: for it is like that those Pharisees do less know themselves and their offences, whereby they less love God, and so they be less forgiven.

I would to God we would follow this example, and be like unto Magdalene. I doubt not but we be all Magdalenes in falling into sin and in offending: but we be not again Magdalenes in knowing ourselves, and in rising from sin. If we be the true Magdalenes, we


SERMONS ON THE CARD - 3/17

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