1st Book of Homilies Homily 5 Of Good Works. Of all things that be good to be taught unto Christian people, there is nothing more necessary to be spoken of, and daily called upon, than charity: as well for that all manner of works of righteousness be contained in it, as also that the decay thereof is the ruin or fall of the world, the banishment of virtue, and the cause of all vice. And for so much as almost every man, makes and frames to himself charity after his own appetite, and however detestable his life be, both unto God and man, yet he persuades himself still that he has charity: therefore you shall hear now a true and plain description or setting forth of charity, not of man's imagination, but of the very words and example of our Saviour Jesus Christ. In which description or setting forth, every man (as it were in a glass) may consider himself, and see plainly without error, whether he be in the true charity, or not. What Charity is. The Love of God. Charity is, to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our powers and strength. With all our heart: That is to say, that our heart, mind, and study be set to believe his word, to trust in him, and to love him above all other things that we love best in heaven or in earth. With all our life: that is to say, that our chief joy and delight be set upon him and his honour, and our whole life given unto the service of him above all things, with him to live and die, and to forsake all other things, rather than him. For he that loveth his father or mother, son or daughter, house, or land, more than me (says Christ) is not worthy to have me (Matthew 10.37). With all our power, that is to say, that with our hands and feet, with our eyes and ears, our mouths and tongues, and with all our parts and powers, both of body and soul, we should be given to the keeping and fulfilling of his commandments. The Love of Your Neighbour. This is the first and principal part of charity, but it is not the whole: for charity is also to love every man, good and evil, friend and foe, and whatsoever cause be given to the contrary, yet nevertheless to bear good will and heart unto every man, to use ourselves well unto them, as well in words and countenances, as in all our outward acts and deeds: for so Christ himself taught, and so also he performed indeed. Of the love of God he taught in this wise unto a doctor of the law, that asked him which was the great and chief commandment in the Law, Love thy Lord God, (said Christ) with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22.37). And of the love, that we ought to have among ourselves each to other, he teacheth us thus, You have heard it taught in times past, Thou shalt love thy friend, and hate thy foe: But I tell you, Love your enemies, speak well of them that defame and speak evil of you, do well to them that hate you, pray for them that vex and persecute you, that you may be the children of your father that is in heaven. For he maketh his Sun to rise both upon the evil and good, and sends rain to the just and unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Doe not the Publicans likewise? And if you speak well only of them that be your brethren and dear beloved friends, what great matter is that? Do not the Heathen do the same (Matthew 5.43-47)? These be the very words of our Saviour Christ himself, touching the love of our neighbour. And forasmuch as the Pharisees (with their most pestilent traditions, and false interpretations, and glosses) had corrupted, and almost clearly stopped up this pure Well of God’s lively word, teaching that this love and charity pertained only to a man’s friends, and that it was sufficient for a man to love them which do love him, and hate his foes: therefore Christ opened this Well again, purged it and scoured it by giving unto his godly law of charity, a true and clear interpretation, which is this: that we ought to love every man, both friend and foe, adding thereto what commodity we shall have thereby, and what incommodity by doing the contrary. What thing can we wish so good for us, as the eternal heavenly father, to reckon, and take us for his children? And this shall we be sure of (says Christ) if we love every man without exception. And if we do otherwise (says he) we be no better than the Pharisees, Publicans, and Heathen, and shall have our reward with them, that is, to be shut out from the number of God’s chosen children, and from his everlasting inheritance in heaven. Thus of true charity, Christ taught that every man is bound to love God above all things, and to love every man, friend and foe. And this likewise he did use himself, exhorting his adversaries, rebuking the faults of his adversaries, and when be could not amend them, yet he prayed for them. First he loved God his Father above all things, so much that be sought not his own glory and will, but the glory and will of his Father. I seek not (said he) mine own will, but the will of him that sent me (John 5.30). Nor he refused not to die, to satisfy his Father’s will, saying, If it may be, let this cup of death pass from me: if not, thy will be done, and not mine (Matthew 26.39, 42). He loved not only his friends, but also his enemies, which (in their hearts) bare exceeding great hatred against him, and with their tongues spake all evil of him, and in their acts and deeds pursued him with all their might and power, even unto death, yet all this notwithstanding, he withdrew not his favour from them, but still loved them, preached to them in love, rebuked their false doctrine, their wicked living, and did good unto them, patiently taking whatsoever they spoke or did against him. When they gave him evil words, he gave none evil again. When they did strike him, he did not smite him again: and when he suffered death, he did not slay them, nor threaten them, but prayed for them, and did put all things to his father's will. And as a sheep that is lead unto the shambles to be slain, and as a lamb that is shorn of his fleece, makes no noise nor resistance, even so he went to his death, without any repugnance, or opening of his mouth to say any evil. Thus have I set forth unto you what charity is, as well by the doctrine, as by the examples of Christ himself, whereby also every man may without error know himself, what state and condition he stands in, whether he be in charity, (and so the child of the father in heaven) or not. For although almost every man persuaded himself to be in charity, yet let him examine none other man, but his own heart, his life and conversation, and he shall not be deceived, but truly discern and judge whether he be in perfect charity or not. For be that followeth not his own appetite and will, but gives himself earnestly to God, to do all his will and commandments, be may be sure that he loves God above all things, and else surely he loves him not, whatsoever he pretend: as Christ says, If you love me, keep my commandments. For he that knows my commandments, and keeps them, he it is (says Christ) that loves me (John 14.15, 21). And again he says, He that loves me, will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will both come to him, and dwell with him: and he that loves me not, will not keep my words. And likewise he that bears a good heart and mind, and uses well his tongue and deeds to every man, friend and foe, he may know thereby that he hath charity. And when he is sure that Almighty God takes him for his dear beloved son, as St. John says, Hereby manifestly are known the children of God, from the children of the devil: for whosoever does not love his brother, belongs not unto God (1 John 3.10).