First Book of Homilies - Homily 5 Of Good Works Annexed to Faith. No Good Works Can Be Done Without Faith. In the last Sermon it was declared what the lively and true faith of a Christian is, that it causes no-one to be idle, but to be occupied in good works, as occasion serves. Now by God's grace shall be declared the second thing that before was noted of faith, that without it can no good work be done, acceptable and pleasant to God. For as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself (says our Saviour Christ) except it abide in the vine: so can not you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, and you are the branches, he that abides in me, and I in him, he brings forth much fruit: for without me, you can do nothing (John 15.4-5). And St. Paul proves that the eunuch had faith, because he pleased God. For without faith (says he) it is not possible to please God (Hebrews 11.6). And again to the Romans he says, whatsoever work is done without faith, it is sin (Romans 14.23). Faith gives life to the soul, and they be as much dead to God that lack faith, as they be to the world, whose bodies lack souls. Without faith all that is done of us, is but dead before God, although the work seem never so happy and glorious before people. Even as the picture graven or painted, is but a dead representation of the thing, and is without life, or any manner of moving: so are the works of all unfaithful persons before God. They appear to be lively works however they are dead, not availing to the everlasting life. They are simply shadows and shows of lively and good things, not good life-giving things. For true faith, gives life to works, and out of such faith comes good works, that be very good works indeed, and without faith, no work is good before God, as says St. Augustine (Exposition on Psalm. 31 2, 4 [PL 36.259]). We must not allow good works before faith, nor think that before faith someone may do any good works: for such works, although they seem to people to be praiseworthy, yet indeed they are but vain, and not allowed before God. They are as the course of a horse that runs out of the way, which takes great labour, but to no purpose. Let no one therefore reckon upon their good works before faith: Where faith was not, good works were not. The intent (he says) makes the good works, but faith must guide and order the intent of all. And Christ says, If your eye is blind, your whole body is full of darkness (Matthew 6.23). The eye signifies the intent (says St. Augustine) wherewith someone does a thing. So that the good works they do without godly intent and true faith, works of love: the whole body beside (that is to say) all the whole number of those works, is dark, and there is no light in them. For good deeds be not measured by the facts themselves, and so discerned from vices, but by the ends and intents for the which they were done. If a heathen clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and do other such works: yet because they do them not in faith, for the honour and love of God, they are but dead, vain and fruitless works to them.