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- SERMONS ON THE CARD - 6/17 -
"take the armour of God." Against the great captains, the devils, and against their artillery, their ministers, there can nothing defend us but the armour of God.
"Take therefore this armour," saith the text, "that ye may resist in the evil day, and in all things stand perfectly, or be perfectly strong." This evil day is not so called here, because any day or time is evil; for God made every day good, and all days be good: but St. Paul calleth it the "evil day," because of the misfortune that chanceth or cometh in that day. As we have a common saying, "I have had an evil day, and an evil night," because of the heaviness or evil that hath happened; so saith Paul, "that ye may resist in the evil day:" that is, when your great adversary hath compassed you round about with his potestates and rulers, and with his artillery, so that you be almost overcome, then, if you have the armour of God, you shall be strong, and need not to fear his assaults.
St. Paul hath spoken of this armour of God generally, and now declareth the parts and pieces of armour; and teacheth them how to apparel every part of the body with this armour. He beginneth yet again, saying, "Be strong, having your reins, or your loins girded about." Some men of war use to have about their loins an apron or girdle of mail, gird fast for the safeguard of the nether part of their body. So St. Paul would we should gird our loins, which betokeneth lechery or other sinfulness, with a girdle, which is to be taken for a restraint or continence from such vices. In "truth," or "truly gird:" it may not be feigned, or falsely girt, but in verity and truth. There be many bachelors, as yet men unmarried, which seem to be girt with the girdle of continence, and yet it is not in truth, it is but feignedly. And some religious persons make a profession of continence or chastity, and yet not in truth, their hearts be not truly chaste. Such feigned girding of the loins cannot make a man strong to resist the assaults of the great captain or enemy in the evil day. Yet some get them girdles with great knots, as though they would be surely girt, and as though they would break the devil's head with their knotted girdles. Nay, he will not be so overcome: it is no knot of an hempton girdle that he feareth; that is no piece of harness of the armour of God, which may resist the assault in the evil day; it is but feigned gear; it must be in the heart, &c.
"And be ye apparelled or clothed," saith Paul, "with the habergeon or coat-armour of justice, that is, righteousness." Let your body be clothed in the armour of righteousness: ye may do no wrong to any man, but live in righteousness; not clothed with any false quarrel or privy grudge. Ye must live rightly in God's law, following his commandments and doctrine, clothed righteously in his armour, and not in any feigned armour, as in a friar's coat or cowl. For the assaults of the devil be crafty to make us put our trust in such armour, he will feign himself to fly; but then we be most in jeopardy: for he can give us an after-clap when we least ween; that is, suddenly return unawares to us, and then he giveth us an after- clap that overthroweth us: this armour deceiveth us.
In like manner these men in the North country, they make pretence as though they were armed in God's armour, gird in truth, and clothed in righteousness. I hear say they wear the cross and the wounds before and behind, and they pretend much truth to the king's grace and to the commonwealth, when they intend nothing less; and deceive the poor ignorant people, and bring them to fight against both the king, the church, and the commonwealth.
They arm them with the sign of the cross and of the wounds, and go clean contrary to him that bare the cross, and suffered those wounds. They rise with the king, and fight against the king in his ministers and officers; they rise with the church, and fight against the church, which is the congregation of faithful men; they rise for the commonwealth, and fight against it, and go about to make the commons each to kill other, and to destroy the commonwealth. Lo, what false pretence can the devil send amongst us? It is one of his most crafty and subtle assaults, to send his warriors forth under the badge of God, as though they were armed in righteousness and justice.
But if we will resist strongly indeed, we must he clothed or armed with the habergeon of very justice or righteousness; in true obedience to our prince, and faithful love to our neighbours; and take no false quarrels in hand, nor any feigned armour; but in justice, "having your feet shod for [the] preparation of the gospel of peace."
Lo, what manner of battle this warrior St. Paul teacheth us, "to be shod on our feet," that we may go readily and prepare way for the gospel; yea, the gospel of peace, not of rebellion, not of insurrection: no, it teacheth obedience, humility, and quietness; it maketh peace in the conscience, and teacheth true faith in Jesus Christ, and to walk in God's laws armed with God's armour, as Paul teacheth here. Yea, if bishops in England had been "shod for the preparation of this gospel," and had endeavoured themselves to teach and set [it] forth, as our most noble prince hath devised; and if certain gentlemen, being justices, had executed his grace's commandment, in setting forth this gospel of peace, this disturbance among the people had not happened.
But ye say, it is new learning. Now I tell you it is the old learning. Yea, ye say, it is old heresy new scoured. Nay, I tell you it is old truth, long rusted with your canker, and now new made bright and scoured. What a rusty truth is this, Quodcumque ligaveris, "Whatsoever thou bindest," &c. This is a truth spoken to the apostles, and all true preachers their successors, that with the law of God they should bind and condemn all that sinned; and whosoever did repent, they should declare him loosed and forgiven, by believing in the blood of Christ. But how hath this truth over- rusted with the pope's rust? For he, by this text, "Whatsoever thou bindeth," hath taken upon him to make what laws him listed, clean contrary unto God's word, which willeth that every man should obey the prince's law: and by this text, "Whatsoever thou loosest," he hath made all people believe that, for money, he might forgive what and whom he lusted; so that if any man had robbed his master, or taken anything wrongfully, the pope would loose him, by this pardon or that pardon, given to these friars or those friars, put in this box or that box. And, as it were, by these means a dividend of the spoil was made, so that it was not restored, nor the person rightly discharged; and yet most part of the spoil came to the hands of him and his ministers. What is this but a new learning; a new canker to rust and corrupt the old truth? Ye call your learning old: it may indeed be called old, for it cometh of that serpent which did pervert God's commandment and beguiled Eve; so it is an old custom to pervert God's word, and to rust it, and corrupt it.
We be a great many that profess to be true ministers of the gospel; but at the trial I think it will come to pass as it did with Gideon, a duke, which God raised up to deliver the children of Israel from the Midianites, in whose hands they were fallen, because they had broken God's commandment, and displeased God: yet at the length he had compassion on them, and raised up Gideon to deliver them. When they heard that they had a captain, or a duke, that should deliver them, they assembled a great number, about thirty thousand: but when it came to pass that they should fight, they departed all save five hundred. So, I fear me, that at the trial we shall be found but a few ministers of the true gospel of peace, and armed in the true armour of God.
It followeth, "And in all things take the shield or buckler of faith." The buckler is a thing wherewith a man most chiefly defendeth himself: and that must be perfect faith in Jesus Christ, in our Captain, and in his word. It must also be a true faith, it is else no part of the armour of God: it may not be feigned, but a buckler, which may stop or quench the violence of the flaming darts of the most wicked.
"Take also the helmet or head-piece of health," or true health in Jesus Christ; for there is no health in any other name: not the health of a grey friar's coat, or the health of this pardon or that pardon; that were a false helmet, and should not defend the violence of the wicked.
"And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Lo, St. Paul teacheth you battle; to take in your left hand the shield of faith, to defend and bear off the darts of the devil, and in the other hand a sword to strike with against the enemy: for a good man of war may not stand against, and defend only, but also strike against his enemy. So St. Paul giveth us here a sword, "The word of God." For this sword is it that beateth this great captain, our enemy. Christ himself gave us ensample to fight with this sword; for he answered the devil with the scripture, and said, "It is written." With this sword he drave away the devil: and so let us break his head with this sword, the true word of God, and not with any word of the bishop of Rome's making; not with his old learning, nor his new learning, but with the pure word of God.
The time passeth: I will therefore make an end. Let us fight manfully, and not cease; for no man is crowned or rewarded but in the end. We must therefore fight continually, and with this sword; and thus armed, and we shall receive the reward of victory. And thus the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all your spirits. Amen.
THE SERMON THAT THE REVEREND FATHER IN CHRIST, M. HUGH LATIMER, BISHOP OF WORCESTER, MADE TO THE CONVOCATION OF THE CLERGY, BEFORE THE PARLIAMENT BEGAN, THE 9 DAY OF JUNE, THE 28 YEAR OF THE REIGN OF OUR LATE KING HENRY THE 8. TRANSLATED OUT OF LATIN INTO ENGLISH, TO THE INTENT THAT THINGS WELL SAID TO A FEW MAY BE UNDERSTOOD OF MANY, AND DO GOOD TO ALL THEM THAT DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH.
Filii hujus seculi, &c.--Luc. xvi.
Brethren, ye be come together this day, as far as I perceive, to hear of great and weighty matters. Ye be come together to entreat of things that most appertain to the commonwealth. This being thus, ye look, I am assured, to hear of me, which am commanded to make as a preface this exhortation, (albeit I am unlearned and far unworthy,) such things as shall be much meet for this your assembly. I therefore, not only very desirous to obey the commandment of our Primate, but also right greatly coveting to serve and satisfy all your expectation; lo, briefly, and as plainly as I can, will speak of matters both worthy to be heard in your congregation, and also of such as best shall become mine office in this place. That I may do this the more commodiously, I have taken that notable sentence in which our Lord was not afraid to pronounce "the children of this world to be much more prudent and politic than the children of light in their generation." Neither will I be afraid, trusting that he will aid and guide me to use this sentence, as a good ground and foundation of all such things, as hereafter I shall speak of.
Now, I suppose that you see right well, being men of such learning,
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