Homily 1.6 - Of Christian Love and Charity

Discussion in 'Detailed Study' started by Botolph, Mar 5, 2017.

Tags:
  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    791
    Likes Received:
    969
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    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).
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    791
    Likes Received:
    969
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF CHARITY.

    You have heard a plain and a fruitful setting forth of charity, and how profitable and necessary a thing charity is: how charity stretches itself both to God and man, friend and foe, and that by the doctrine and example of Christ: and also who may certify himself whether he be in perfect charity, or not. Now as concerning the same matter, it follows.

    Against Carnal Folk that will not Forgive their Enemies.

    The perverse nature of man, corrupt with sin, and destitute of God's word and grace, thinks it against all reason, that a man should love his enemy, and has many persuasions which bring him to the contrary. Against all which reasons, we ought as well to set the teaching, as the living of our Saviour Christ, who loving us (when we were his enemies) does teach us to love our enemies. He did patiently take for us many reproaches, suffered beating, and most cruel death. Therefore we be no members of him, if we will not follow him. Christ (says St. Peter) suffered for us, leaving an example that we should follow him (1 Peter 2.21).

    Furthermore, we must consider, that to love our friends, is no more but that which thieves, adulterers, murderers, and all wicked persons do: in so much that Jews, Turks, Infidels, and all brute beasts, do love them that be their friends, of whom they have their living, or any other benefits. But to love enemies, is the proper condition of them that be the children of God, the disciples and followers of Christ. Notwithstanding, man's froward and corrupt nature weighs over deeply many times, the offence and displeasure done unto him by enemies, and thinks it a burden intolerable, to be bound to love them that hate him. But the burden should be easy enough, if (on the other side) every man would consider, what displeasure he has done to his enemy again, and what pleasure he has received of his enemy. And if we find no equal or even recompense, neither in receiving pleasures of our enemy, nor in requiting displeasures unto him again: then let us ponder the displeasures which we have done unto Almighty God, how often and how grievously we have offended him, whereof if we will have of God forgiveness, there is none other remedy, but to forgive the offences done unto us, which be very small, in comparison of our offences done against God. And if we consider that he which has offended us, deserves not to be forgiven of us, let us consider again, that we much less deserve to be forgiven of God. And although our enemy deserve not to be forgiven for his own sake, yet we ought to forgive him for God's love, considering how great and many benefits we have received of him, without our desserts, and that Christ has deserved of us, that for his sake we should forgive them their trespasses committed against us.

    A Question.

    But here may rise a necessary question to be resolved. If charity require to think, speak, and do well to every man, both good and evil: how can a Magistrate execute justice upon malefactors or evil doers with charity? How can they cast evil men in prison, take away their goods, and sometime their lives, according to laws, if charity will not suffer them so to do?

    Answer.

    Hereunto is a plain and a brief answer, that plagues and punishments be not evil of themselves, if they be well taken of the harmless. And to an evil man they are both good and necessary, and may be executed according to charity, and with charity should be executed.

    Charity has Two Offices.

    For declaration whereof, you shall understand that charity hath two offices, the one contrary to the other, and yet both necessary to be used upon all of contrary sort and disposition. The one office of charity is, to cherish good and harmless folk, not to oppress them with false accusations, but to encourage them with rewards to do well, and to continue in well doing, defending them with the sword from their adversaries: as the office of Bishops and Pastors is, to praise good people for well doing, that they may continue therein, and to rebuke and correct by the word of God, the offences and crimes of all evil disposed persons. The other office of charity is, to rebuke, correct, and punish vice, without regard of persons, and is to be used against them only that be evil people, and malefactors or evil doers. And that it is as well the office of charity to rebuke, punish, and correct them that be evil, as it is to cherish and reward them that be good and harmless. St. Paul declares (writing to the Romans ) saying, That the high powers are ordained of God, not to be dreadful to them that do well, but unto malefactors, to draw the sword to take vengeance of those that commit sin (Romans 13.1, 4). And St. Paul bids Timothy stoutly and earnestly to rebuke sin by the word of God (1 Timothy 5.20).

    So that both offices should be diligently executed, to fight against the kingdom of the devil, the Preacher with the word, and the Governors with the sword. Else they neither love God, nor them whom they govern, if (for lack of correction) they wilfully suffer God to be offended, and them whom they govern, to perish. For as every loving father corrects his natural son when he does amiss, or else he does not love him: so all Governors of Realms, Counties, Towns, and Houses, should lovingly correct those who are offenders, under their governance, and cherish them which live innocently, if they have any respect either to God and their office, or love for them of whom they have governance. And such rebukes and punishments of them that offend, must be done in due time, lest by delay, the offenders fall headlong into all manner of mischief, and not only be evil themselves, but also do hurt unto many folk, drawing other by their evil example, to sin and outrage after them.

    As one thief may both rob many men, and also make many thieves: and one seditious person may allure many, and annoy a whole Town or County. And such evil persons that be so great offenders to God, and the common good, charity requires to be cut from the body of the community, lest they corrupt other good and honest persons: like as a good Surgeon cuts away a rotted and festered member, for love of the whole body, lest it infect other members adjoining it. Thus it is declared to you what true charity or Christian love is, so plainly, that no one needs to be deceived. Which love, whosoever keeps, not only towards God (whom they are bound to love above all things) but also toward their neighbour, as well friend as foe, it shall surely keep them from all offence of God, and just offence of man.

    Therefore bears well away this one short lesson, that by true Christian charity, God ought to be loved, good, and evil, friend, and foe, and to all such, we ought (as we may) to do good: those that be good, of love to encourage and cherish, because they be good: and those that be evil, of love to procure and seek their correction and due punishment, that they may thereby either be brought to goodness, or at the least that God and the community may be less hurt and offended.

    And if we thus direct our life, by Christian love and charity, then Christ does promise and assure us that he loves us, that we be the children of our heavenly Father, reconciled to his favour, very members of Christ, and that after this short time of this present and mortal life, we shall have with him everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom of heaven. Therefore to him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.

Share This Page