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).