Homily 1.8 - How Dangerous it is To Fall From God.

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  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The First Book of Homilies - Homily 8

    How Dangerous it is To Fall From God.

    Of going from God, the wise say, that pride is the first beginning: for by it the heart turns from God our maker. Pride is the fountain of all sin: those with it are full of cursing, and in the end it will overthrow them (Ecclesiasticus 10.13). As by pride and sin we go from God, so shall God and all goodness go from us. The Prophet Hosea plainly affirms that those who go away from God by vicious living, and yet would seek to placate him by sacrifice to keep him onside, labour in vain. Despite all their sacrifice, he still goes away from them. As much as they do not apply their minds to return to God, even if they go about with whole flocks and herds to seek the Lord, they shall not find him: for he is gone away from them (Hosea 5.5-6, 6.6, 8.13).

    But as touching our turning from God, understand it may be done in many ways. Sometimes directly by idolatry, as Israel and Judah did: sometimes by lack of faith, and mistrusting God, which Esau spoke of, woe to them that go down into Egypt to seek for help, trusting in horses, having confidence in the number of chariots, and pursuing the power of horsemen. They have no confidence in the Holy God of Israel, nor seek for the Lord (Isaiah 31.1-3).

    But what follows? The Lord shall let his hand fall on them, and down shall come both the helper, and the helped: they shall be utterly destroyed. Sometimes folk go from God by neglecting his commandments concerning their neighbours, which command them to express hearty love towards everyone, as Zechariah said to the people on God's behalf. Give true judgement, show mercy and compassion to all, think no deceit towards widows or orphans, toward strangers or the poor, let no no one forge evil in their heart against another (Zechariah 7.9-10).

    These things are not passed off, they turned their backs, and went their way, they stopped their ears so they might not hear, they hardened their hearts like stone that they might not listen to the law, and the words the Lord sent through his Holy Spirit, by his ancient Prophets. So the Lord showed his great indignation on them. It came to pass, says the Prophet, as I told them: as they would not hear, so when they cried, they were not heard, but were scattered to kingdoms which they never knew, and their land was made desolate. And to be short, all they that do not live by God’s word, but follow the persuasions and stubbornness of their own hearts, go backward and not forward, as said in Jeremiah 7.24, they go and turn away from God.

    Insomuch, Origen says, those that with mind, with study, with deeds, with thought and care apply and give themselves to God's word, and think on his laws, day and night, give themselves wholly to God, and exercise his precepts and Commandments: they are turned to God. And on the other part he says, Those occupied with fables and tales, when the word of God is rehearsed, are turned from God. Those in time of reading God's word, are caring in their mind for worldly business, money, or gain, are turned from God: whoever is entangled with the cares of possessions, filled with covetousness of riches, whoever studies for the glory and honour of this world, they are turned from God.

    Whoever has not a special mind to things commanded or taught of God, who do not listen to it, embrace, and print it in their heart with the intent of fashioning their life thereafter, are plainly turned from God, even if they do other things of his own devotion and mind, which to him seem better, and more to God's honour.

    We are taught and admonished in the Holy Scripture by the example of King Saul, who being commanded of God by Samuel, that he should kill all the Amalekites, and destroy them with their goods and cattle (1 Samuel 15.3): yet he, moved partly with pity, and partly (as he thought) with devotion to God, saved Agag the King, and all the chief of their cattle to make sacrifice to God. So God was highly displeased, and said to the Prophet Samuel, I regret that I made Saul King, for he has forsaken me, and not followed my words, and so he commanded Samuel to show him, and when Samuel asked why, contrary to God's word, he had saved the cattle, he excused it partly by fear, saying, he did what the people wanted, and partly, because they were good beasts, and he thought God would be content, seeing it was done with good intent and devotion, to honour God with the sacrifice.

    But Samuel reproving all such intent and devotion, as not to God's honour, if they do not agree with his word, so we may be assured of his pleasure. He said ‘Would God have sacrifices and offerings? Or rather that his word be obeyed?’ To obey him, is better than offerings, and to listen to him is better than to offer the fat of rams: yes, to rebel against his voice is as evil as the sin of soothsaying: and not to agree to it is like abominable idolatry. And now as you have cast away the word of the Lord, he has cast you away, that you should not be king.


    The Turning of God From People.

    By these examples of Holy Scripture, we know as we forsake God, so will forsake us. And what miserable state consequently follows? We should consider how terrible it would be. And although we cannot consider all the said misery to the uttermost, as it is beyond anyone's capacity in this life sufficiently to understand: yet they shall soon see so much of it, if their heart is not more than stone, or harder than the most stubborn, they shall fear, tremble, and quake, to call this to mind.

    First the displeasure of God towards us is commonly expressed in the Scripture by these two things: by showing his fearful countenance on us, and by turning his face, or hiding it from us. By showing his dreadful countenance, is signified his great wrath: but by turning his face or hiding thereof is many times more signified, that is to say, that he clearly forsakes us, and gives us over. The which significations be taken of behaviour. For towards them whom we favour, we commonly bear a good, a cheerful, and a loving countenance: so that by our face or countenance, it commonly appears what will or mind we beareth towards others. So when God shows his dreadful countenance towards us, that is to say, sends dreadful plagues of sword, famine, or pestilence on us, it appears that he is angry with us. But when he withdraws from us his word, the right doctrine of Christ, his gracious assistance and aid (which is ever joined to his word) and leaves us to our own wit, our own will and strength: he declares then, that he begins to forsake us.

    For whereas God has shown to all who truly believe his Gospel, his face of mercy in Jesus Christ, which lightens their hearts, so they, if they see it as they should, will be transformed to his image, be made partakers of the heavenly light and his Holy Spirit, and be fashioned to him in all goodness to be children of God: so, if they after neglect the same, if they be unthankful to him, if they do not order their lives according to his example and doctrine, and to the setting forth of his glory, he will take away from them his kingdom, his holy word, so he should reign in them, because they do not bring forth the fruit that he looks for.

    Nevertheless, God is so merciful and so long suffering, that he does not show his great wrath suddenly. When we begin to shrink from his word, not believing it, not expressing it in our living: first he sends his messengers, true preachers of his word, to admonish and warn us of our duty: that as he for his part, for the great love he bears us, delivered his own Son to suffer death, that we by his death might be delivered from death, and be restored to life everlasting, evermore to dwell with him, and to be partakers and inheritors with him of his everlasting glory and kingdom of heaven: so that again we for our part should live a godly life, as becomes his children.

    And if this will not serve, and still we remain disobedient to his word and will, not knowing him, nor loving him, not fearing him, not putting our whole trust and confidence in him: and on the other side, to our neighbours behaving ourselves uncharitably, by disdain, envy, malice, or by committing murder, robbery, adultery, gluttony, deceit, lying, swearing, or other like detestable works, and ungodly behaviour, then he threatens us with great calamities, swearing in great anger, that whoever does these these, shall never enter his rest, which is the kingdom of heaven. (Hebrews 3.11, Psalms 15, 1 Corinthians 6).
     
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON ON FALLING FROM GOD.

    In the first part of this sermon, you heard of the many ways we fall from God: some by idolatry, some for lack of faith, some by neglecting their neighbours, some by not hearing God's word, some by the pleasure they take in the vanity of worldly things. You have also learned in what misery humanity is, when gone from God: and how God in his infinite goodness calls us from misery and uses first gentle admonitions by his preachers, after that he lays on terrible threatenings. Now if this gentle motivation and threatening together do not serve the purpose, then God will show his terrible countenance to us, he will send intolerable plagues on our heads, and after he will take away his aid and assistance, with which he formerly defended us from all such calamities.

    The evangelist, and the prophet Isaiah agree, Christ's parable teaches us saying, that God had made a goodly vineyard for his much loved children. He hedged it and walled it round about, he planted it with chosen vines, and made a turret in the middle, and a wine-press. When he looked that it should bring forth good grapes, it brought forth wild grapes (Isaiah 5.1-2, Matthew 21.33): and after it follows, “Now I will show you, says God, what I will do with my vineyard: I will tear down the hedges, and let it perish: I will break down the walls so it may be trodden under foot: I will let it lie waist, it shall not be pruned or worked, and briars and thorns will overgrow it, and I shall command the clouds to rain on it no more”.

    By these threats we are admonished and warned, that if we, who are the chosen vineyard of God, do not bring forth good grapes, that is to say good works, that may be delectable and pleasant in his sight, when he looks for them, when he sends his messengers to call on us for them, but rather yield wild grapes, that is to say, sour works, unsavoury, and unfruitful: then he will pluck away all dissent, and suffer grievous plagues of famine, battle, shortages, and death, to befall us.

    Finally, if these serve not, he will let us lie waste, he will give us over, he will turn away from us, he will dig and dwell around us no more, he will let us alone, and suffer us to bring forth whatever fruit we will, to bring forth brambles, briars, and thorns, all naughtiness and vice, and so abundantly that they shall overgrow us, choke, strangle, and utterly destroy us.

    But they in this world do not live for God, but after their own carnal liberty, perceive not this great wrath of God towards them, that he will not dig, nor dwell with them, he will leave them alone to themselves. They take this for a great benefit of God, to have all their own liberty: and so they live, as if carnal liberty were the true liberty of the Gospel. But God forbid,good people, that we should ever desire such liberty. For although God sometimes allows the wicked to have their pleasure in this world, yet the end of ungodly living at length is endless destruction.

    The murmuring Israelites had what they longed for, they had Quails enough, yes, till they were weary of them. But what was the end of it? Their sweet meat had sour sauce: even while the meat was in their mouths, the plague of God came to them, and suddenly they died (Numbers 11.31-33). So, if we live ungodly, and God suffers us to follow our own wills, to have our own delights and pleasures, and corrects us not with some plague: there is no doubt that he is almost utterly displeased with us. And although it is long before he strikes, yet many times when he strikes such folk, he strikes but once, forever. So that when he does not strike us, when he ceases to afflict us, to punish or beat us, and suffers us to run headlong into all ungodliness, and pleasures of this world that we delight in, without punishment and adversity, it is a dreadful token that he loves us no longer, that he cares no longer for us, but has given us over to our own selves.

    As long as a man prunes his vines, dig at the roots, and lays fresh earth on them, he has a care for them, he perceives some token of fruitfulness that may be recovered from them, but when he will bestow no more such cost and labour about them, that is a sign that he thinks they will never be any good.

    Any father, as long as he loves his child, looks angrily when he corrects them when they do wrong: but when that doesn’t work, and he ceases from correcting them, and allows them to do what they like, it is a sign that he intends to disinherit them and to cast them away for ever.

    So surely nothing should pierce our heart so surely, and put us in horrible fear, as when we know in our conscience, we have grievously offended God, and do so continue, and yet he strikes us not, but quietly allows us to continue in the naughtiness we delight in. Then specially it is time to cry, and to cry again, as David did: Cast me not away from your face, and take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalms 51.11). Lord turn not away your face from me, cast not your servant away in displeasure. Hide not your face from me, lest I be like them that go down to hell. The prayers of lament certify for us what horrible danger we are in, from whom God turns his face (for the time, and for as long as he does:) so should we move and stir us to cry on God with all our heart, that we may not be brought to that state, which doubtless is so sorrowful, so miserable and so dreadful, as no tongue can sufficiently express, nor any heart can think.

    For what deadly grief may we suppose it is to be under the wrath of God, to be forsaken of him, to have his Holy Spirit, author of all goodness taken from us, to be brought to so vile a condition that we shall be left meet for no better purpose than to be for ever condemned in hell? For not only such places as David shows, that on the turning of God's face from any persons, they shall be left bare from all goodness, and far from hope of remedy: but also the place quoted before from Isaiah, means the same, and shows that God at length does forsake his unfruitful vineyard, that he will not simply suffer it to bring forth weeds, briars, and thorns, but also further to punish the unfruitfulness of it.

    He says he will not cut it, he will not dwell in it, and he will command the clouds that they do not rain on it: whereby is signified the teaching of his holy word, which Saint Paul, in like manner, expressed by planting and watering, meaning that he will take that away from them, so that they shall be no longer of his kingdom, they shall be no longer governed by his Holy Spirit, they shall be put from the grace and benefits they had, and ever might have enjoyed through Christ, they shall be deprived of the heavenly light, and life which they had in Christ, while they lived in him: they shall be, as they were once, as people without God in this world. And to be short, they shall be given into the power of the devil, who rules all them that are cast away from God, as he did in Saul and Judas (1 Samuel 15.23, 16.14), and generally in all such who work after their own wills, the children of distrust and unbelief.

    Let us beware good Christian people, lest we rejecting or casting away God's word, by which we obtain and keep true faith in God, be not at length cast off so far, that we become as the children of unbelief, who are diverse and contrary, and very far from returning to God. The one sort, not weighing their sinful and detestable living, with the right judgement and straightness of God's righteousness, are so without counsel, and so comfortless, as they all must be from whom the spirit of counsel and comfort is gone, so they will not be persuaded in their hearts, so either God can not, or else he will not, take them again to his favour and mercy.

    The other sort, hearing the large loving promises of God's mercy, and not conceiving a right faith thereof, make those promises larger than ever God did, trusting, that although they continue in their sinful and detestable living ever so long, yet that God at the end of their life, will show his mercy on them, and that they will return. And both these two sorts of folk be in a damnable state, and yet nevertheless, God who wills not the death of the wicked has shown means, whereby both the same, if they take heed in due season, may escape (Ezekiel 18.32, 33.11).
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Against Desperation.

    The first, as they dread God's rightful justice in punishing sinners, whereby they should be dismayed, and should despair indeed, as touching any hope that may be in themselves, so if you would constantly or steadfastly believe, that God's mercy is the remedy appointed against such despair and distrust, not only for them, but generally for all that are sorry and truly repentant, and will stick to God's mercy. They may be sure they shall obtain mercy, and enter the port or haven of safeguard, in which whoever comes, be they before time never so wicked, they shall be out of the danger of everlasting damnation, as God by Ezekiel said, when a sinner returns, with earnest and true repentance, I will forget all their wickedness (Ezekiel 33.19).

    Against Presumption.

    The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should be as ready to believe the threatenings of God: as well they should believe the law, as the Gospel: as well that there is hell and everlasting fire, as that there is heaven and everlasting joy: as well they should believe damnation to be threatened to the wicked and evil doers, as salvation to be promised to the faithful in word and works, as well they should believe God to be true in the one, as in the other.

    And the sinners that continue in their wicked living, ought to think that the promises of God's mercy and the Gospel pertain not to them being in that state, but only the law, and those Scriptures which contain the wrath and indignation of God, and his threatenings, which should certify to them, that as they do over boldly presume on God's mercy, and live dissolutely: so does God still more and more withdraw his mercy from them, and he is so provoked thereby to wrath at length, that he destroys such presumers, many times suddenly.

    For of such St. Paul says, When they shall say it is peace there is no danger, then will sudden destruction come on them (1 Thessalonians 5.3). Let us beware of such naughty boldness to sin. God has promised his mercy to those who are truly repentant. He has not promised it to the presumptuous sinner a long life, or true repentance at the last. But for that purpose has he made everyone’s death uncertain, that we should not put off hope to the end and in the meantime, to God's high displeasure, live ungodly.

    So let us follow the counsel of the wise, let us waste no time to turn to the Lord: let us not put it off from day to day, for suddenly his wrath will come, and in a time of vengeance he will destroy the wicked. Let us turn in this time, and when we turn let us pray to God, as Hosea teaches, saying, Forgive all our sins, receive us graciously (Hosea 14.2).

    And if we turn to him with an humble and a very penitent heart, he will receive us to his favour and grace for his Holy Name's sake, for his promise sake, for his truth and mercies sake, promised to all faithful believers in Jesus Christ his only natural Son: who is the only Saviour of the world, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, and power, world without end. Amen.
     
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  4. apologetic

    apologetic Member

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    I admit I didn't read all of this, read most though. I thought I'd offer my two cents on this subject, hopefully I won't be accused of heresy this time. The following is the typological account Jesus gives to us:

    1. There are those that understand God and the metaphysics or theology of God but do not have a true relationship with God, though they "hear" they do not "see"... These people are separated from God even though they believe that they are amongst the elect, hence "depart from me I never knew you", and elsewhere St Paul states: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing"..

    2. There are those that "see" but do not "hear", that is to say, they do not comprehend the metaphysics of God or true theology but they understand the love of God in a visceral sense, hence why Jesus states: ""I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." They feel more than they understand, and they are children of God since they know love and love constantly, like "little children".

    3. There are those that neither "see" nor "hear" God or the teachings of Jesus, they had the potential to either "see" or "hear" or "see" and "hear", however something impeded them from doing so. Jesus states that these people are "the seeds along the path" and that "the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved". Jesus also says this in reference to this type of spiritual impediment: "Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?"

    4. Finally there are those that "see" and "hear", these are sons and daughters of God. They understand God and have a profound intellectual relationship with God, but far more importantly they love God and their neighbours even those neighbours that judge or persecute them. They are mature Christians. They are the elect. I don't know for sure, however I think Phillip that you likely belong to this category.

    5. There also seems to be a fifth category, those that can never see or hear irrespective of the circumstance, "so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: 'When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.'..“‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”.. whether these people can ever be saved, I don't know.

    My concern is that many Christians today either "hear" but not really "see" or "see" but not really "hear".. hopefully my concern is not warranted.. In terms of salvation Jesus is clear that it is better to see than to hear, since God is a God of love, not philosophy, Jesus states " "I entered this world [not] to render judgment--to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.". Many think that Christianity is about theology, about debate, true belief, about creed and doctrine... but Christ did not come to Earth to preach metaphysics, we have Kant and Aristotle for that. He came to save the world through his crucifixion, and triumph over death.

    So Jesus gives us a typological account of Christians and non-Christians, all people fall into one of these four categories. It is clear that if you have fallen away from God it was either because you never really could either "see" or "hear" God, only those that "see" and "hear" are completly firm in their conviction and faith, otherwise they are like the 12 disciples before the Lord's Crucifixion and before they were imbued with the Holy Spirit. I would also add, that growing in faith isn't something that happens overnight, it is a gradual process that takes years, even decades, sometimes lifetimes. We go from different stages throughout life, sometimes we hear but do not see, sometimes we see but do not hear, until finally we become affluent enough in faith and love that we can see and hear, just as the 12 grew gradually in their relationship with Christ and the Father overtime.

    I doubt very much that God is the vindictive God described by most bible bashers, he is the God of love and I believe even his justice will simply be an expression of his eternal love - that is not to say I think that universal salvation is true either, simply that whatever God's judgement will be it will be perfectly just, beyond what we know and comprehend. When we presume to know if someone is heretical or if someone is damned or even speculate as to whether they are damned, we are sitting in the throne of judgement which is reserved for God alone, and in regards to this Jesus says: "Judge not and you will not be judged" - further still, when we judge a Christian we potentially judge the spirit that dells within him, namely God.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
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