First Book of Homilies - Homily 6 VI - Of Christian Love and Charity. Of all things that be good to be taught to 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 of it is the ruin or fall of the world, the banishment of virtue, and the cause of all vice. And for so much as almost everyone makes and frames to themselves charity after their own appetite, and no matter how detestable their life is, both to God and people, they persuade themselves still that they have charity: therefore you shall hear now a true and plain description or setting forth of charity, not of our imagination, but of the very words and example of our Saviour Jesus Christ. In which description or setting forth, everyone (as it were in a glass) may consider themselves and see plainly without error, whether they are 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 on 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 to the service of him above all things, with him to live and die, and to forsake all other things, other than him. For those that love father or mother, son or daughter, house, or land, more than me (says Christ) are 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 to everyone, to use ourselves well unto them, as well in words and attitudes, as in all our outward acts and deeds: for so Christ himself taught, and so also he performed. Of the love of God he taught in this wise to a doctor of the law, that asked him which was the great and chief commandment in the law, Love the Lord your God, says Christ, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22.37). And of the love, that we ought to have among ourselves each to other, he teaches us thus, You have heard it taught in times past, Thou shalt love your friend, and hate your foe: But I tell you, love your enemies, speak well of them that defame and speak evil of you, do well to those that hate you, pray for those who vex and persecute you, that you may be the children of your father in heaven. For he makes his Sun to rise both on 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? Do not the Publicans likewise? And if you speak well only of your brethren and dear beloved friends, what great matter is that? Do not the heathen do the same (Matthew 5.43-47)? These are 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 us to love those who love us, and hate our 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 everyone, both friend and foe, adding what to what we shall have, and what shall have not 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 he says we are 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 he could not amend them, yet he prayed for them. First he loved God his Father above all things, so much that he sought not his own glory and will, but the glory and will of his Father. I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me (John 5.30). Nor did he refuse to die, to satisfy his Father's will, saying, If it may be, let this cup of death pass from me: if not, your will be done, not mine (Matthew 26.39, 42). He loved not just 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 to 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 to them, patiently taking whatsoever they spake or did against him. When they gave him evil words, he gave no evil again. When they did strike him, he did not smite them again: and when he suffered death, he did not slay them, nor threaten them, but prayed for them, and did ett all things to his father's will. And as a sheep that is lead to the stables to be slain, and as a lamb that is shorn of his fleece, makes no noise or resistance, even so he went to his death, without any reluctance, 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 everyone may know without error themselves, what state and condition thee stand in, whether they be in charity, (and so the child of the father in heaven) or not. For although almost everyone persuades himself to be in charity, yet let them examine no one else, but their own heart, their life and conversation, and they shall not be deceived, but truly discern and judge whether they are in perfect charity or not. For they that follow not their own appetite and will, but gives themselves earnestly to God, to do all his will and commandments, they may be sure that they love God above all things, and else surely they loves him not, whatsoever they pretend: as Christ said, If you love me, keep my commandments. For we that know his commandments, and keep them, we may be sure that Christ loves us (John 14.15, 21). And again he says, Those that love me, will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them, and dwell with them: and those that love me not, will not keep my words. And likewise they that bear a good heart and mind, and uses well their tongue and deeds unto everyone, friend and foe, they may know by this they have charity. And when they are sure that Almighty God takes them 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 their brother, does not belong to God (1 John 3.10).