The Coming Down of the Holy Ghost
The Coming Down of the Holy Ghost and The Manifold Gifts of the Same
Before we come to the declaration of the great & manifold gifts, of the holy Ghost, wherewith the Church of God hath been evermore replenished, it shall first be needful, briefly to expound unto you, whereof this feast of Pentecost or Whitsuntide had his first beginning. You shall therefore understand, that the Feast of Pentecost, was always kept the fiftieth day after Easter, a great and solemn feast among the Jews, wherein they did celebrate the memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt, and also the memorial of the publishing of the Law, which was given unto them in the Mount Sinai upon that day. It was first ordained and commanded to be kept holy, not by any mortal man, but by the mouth of the Lord himself, as we read in Lev 23 & Deut 16. The place appointed for the observation thereof, was Jerusalem, where was great recourse of people from all parts of the world, as may well appear in the second Chapter of the Acts, wherein mention is made of Parthians, Medes, Elamites, inhabitors of Mesopotamia, inhabitors of Jewry, Capadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphilia, and divers other such places, whereby we may also partly gather, what great and royal solemnity was commonly used in that Feast.
Now as this was given in commandment to the Jews in the old law, so did our Saviour Christ, as it were, confirm the same in the time of the Gospel, ordaining (after a sort) a new Pentecost for his Disciples, namely when he sent down the holy Ghost visibly in form of cloven tongues like fire, and gave them power to speak in such sort, that every one might hear them, & also understand them in his own language (Acts 2). Which miracle, that it might be had in perpetual remembrance, the Church hath thought good to solemnize and keep holy this day, commonly called Whitsunday.
And here is to be noted, that as the Law was given to the Jews in the mount Sinai, the fiftieth day after Easter: so was the preaching of the Gospel, through the mighty power of the holy Ghost, given to the Apostles in the mount Zion, the fiftieth day after Easter. And hereof this feast hath his name, to be called Pentecost, even of the number of the days. For (as Saint Luke writeth in the Acts of the Apostles) When fifty days were come to an end, the Disciples being all together with one accord in one place, the holy Ghost came suddenly among them, and sate upon each of them, like as it had been cloven tongues of fire. Which thing was undoubtedly done, to teach the Apostles and all other men, that it is he which giveth eloquence and utterance in preaching the Gospel, that it is he which openeth the mouth to declare the mighty works of God, that it is he which engenders a burning zeal towards God’s word, and giveth all men a tongue, yea a fiery tongue, so that they may boldly and cheerfully profess the truth in the face of the whole world, as Isaiah was endued with this spirit. The Lord (saith Isaiah) gave me a learned and a skilful tongue, so that I might know to raise up them, that are fallen, with the word (Isaiah 50.4). The Prophet David crieth to have this gift, saying, Open thou my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise (Psalms 51.15). For our Saviour Christ also in the Gospel saith to his Disciples, It is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father which is within you (Matthew 10.20). All which testimonies of holy Scripture, do sufficiently declare, that the mystery in the tongues, betokeneth the preaching of the Gospel, and the open confession of the Christian faith, in all them that are possessed with the holy Ghost. So that if any man be a dumb Christian, not professing his faith openly, but cloaking and colouring himself for fear of danger in time to come, he giveth men occasion, justly, and with good conscience to doubt, lest he have not the grace of the holy Ghost within him, because he is tongue-tied, and doth not speak.
Thus then have ye heard the first institution of this feast of Pentecost or Whitsuntide, as well in the old Law, among the Jews, as also in the time of the Gospel among the Christians. Now let us consider what the holy Ghost is, and how consequently he worketh his miraculous works towards mankind.
The holy Ghost is a spiritual and divine substance, the third person in the deity, distinct from the Father and the Son, and yet proceeding from them both, which thing to be true, both the Creed of Athanasius beareth witness, and may be also easily proved by most plain testimonies of God’s holy word. When Christ was baptized of John in the river, we read that the holy Ghost came down in form of a Dove, and that the Father thundered from heaven, saying, This is my dear and well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3.17). Where note three divers and distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost, which all notwithstanding are not three God’s, but one God. Likewise, when Christ did first institute and ordain the Sacrament of Baptism, he sent his Disciples into the whole world, willing them to baptize all Nations, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost (Matthew 28.19). And in another place he saith: I will pray unto my Father, and he shall give you another comforter (John 14.16). Again, when the comforter shall come, whom I will send from my Father, &c (John 15.26). These and such other places of the new Testament, do so plainly and evidently confirm the distinction of the holy Ghost, from the other persons in the Trinity, that no man possibly can doubt thereof, unless he will blaspheme the everlasting truth of God’s word. As for his proper nature and substance, it is altogether one with God the Father, and God the Son, that is to say, Spiritual, Eternal, Uncreated, Incomprehensible, Almighty, to be short, he is even God and Lord everlasting. Therefore he is called the Spirit of the Father, therefore he is said to proceed from the Father, and the Son, and therefore he was equally joined with them in the Commission that the Apostles had to Baptize all Nations.
But, that this may appear more sensibly to the eyes of all men, it shall be requisite to come to the other part, namely to the wonderful and heavenly works of the holy Ghost, which plainly declare unto the world his mighty and divine power.
First it is evident, that he did wonderfully govern & direct the hearts of the Patriarchs, and Prophets, in old time, illuminating their minds with the knowledge of the true Messiah, and giving them utterance to prophesy of things that should come to pass long time after. For as Saint Peter witnesseth, the prophesy came not in old time by the will of man: But the holy men of God spake, as they were moved inwardly by the holy Ghost (2 Peter 1.21). And of Zachariah the high Priest, it is said in the Gospel, that he being full of the holy Ghost, prophesied and praised God (Luke 1.67). So did also Simeon, Anna, Marie, and divers other, to the great wonder and admiration of all men.
Moreover, was not the holy Ghost a mighty worker in the Conception and the Nativity of Christ our Saviour? Saint Matthew saith, that the blessed virgin was found with child of the holy Ghost, before Joseph and she came together (Matthew 1.18). And the Angel Gabriel did expressly tell her, that it should come to pass, saying: The holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most high shall overshadow the (Luke 1.35). A marvelous matter, that a woman should conceive and bear a childe, without the knowledge of man.
But where the holy Ghost worketh, there nothing is impossible, as may further also appear by the inward regeneration and sanctification of mankind. When Christ said to Nicodemus, unless a man be borne anew, of water and the spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God: he was greatly amazed in his mind, and began to reason with Christ, demanding how a man might be borne which was old? Can he enter (saith he) into his mothers womb again, and so be borne a new (John 3.4-6)? Behold a lively pattern of a fleshly and carnal man. He had little or no intelligence of the holy Ghost, and therefore he goeth bluntly to work, and asketh how this thing were possible to be true. Whereas otherwise if he had known the great power of the holy Ghost in this behalf, that it is he which inwardly worketh the regeneration and new birth of mankind, he would never have marveled at Christ’s words, but would rather take occasion thereby to praise and glorify God. For as there are three several and sundry persons in the Deity: So have they three several and sundry offices proper unto each of them. The Father to create, the Son to redeem, the holy Ghost to sanctify and regenerate. Whereof the last, the more it is hid from our understanding, the more it ought to move all men to wonder at the secret and mighty working of God’s holy Spirit which is within us. For it is the holy Ghost, and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring up good and Godly motions in their hearts, which are agreeable to the will and commandment of God, such as otherwise of their own crooked and perverse nature they should never have. That which is borne of the Spirit, is Spirit (John 3.6). As who should say: Man of his own nature is fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sinful and disobedient to God, without any spark of goodness in him, without any virtuous or Godly motion, only given to evil thoughts and wicked deeds. As for the works of the Spirit, the fruits of Faith, charitable and Godly motions, if he have any at all in him, they proceed only of the holy Ghost, who is the only worker of our Sanctification, and maketh us new men in Christ Jesus. Did not God’s holy Spirit miraculously work in the child David, when of a poor Shepherd, he became a Princely Prophet (1 Samuel 17.12)? Did not God’s holy Spirit miraculously work in Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, when of a proud Publican, he became an humble and lowly Evangelist (Matthew 9.9)? And who can choose but marvel to consider, that Peter should become of a simple fisher, a chief and mighty Apostle? Paul of a cruel and bloody persecutor, a faithful Disciple of Christ, to teach the Gentiles. Such is the power of the holy Ghost, to regenerate men, and as it were to bring them forth a new, so that they shall be nothing like the men that they were before.
Neither doeth he think it sufficient inwardly to work the Spiritual and new birth of man, unless he do also dwell and abide in him. Know ye not (saith Saint Paul) that ye are the Temple of God, and that his Spirit dwelleth in you (1 Corinthians 3.16)? Know ye not that your bodies are the Temples of the holy Ghost, which is within you (1 Corinthians 6.19)? Again he saith, You are not in the flesh, but in the spirit (Romans 8.9). For why? The Spirit of God dwelleth in you. To this agreeth the doctrine of St. John, writing on this wise, The anointing which ye have received (he meaneth the holy Ghost) dwelleth in you (1 John 2.27). And the doctrine of Peter saith the same, who hath these words: The spirit of glory, and of God, resteth upon you (1 Peter 4.14). O what comfort is this to the heart of a true Christian, to think that the holy Ghost dwelleth within him? If God be with us (as the Apostle saith) who can be against us (Romans 8.31)?
O but how shall I know that the holy Ghost is within me! Some man perchance will say, forsooth, as the tree is known by his fruit, so is also the holy Ghost. The fruits of the holy Ghost (according to the mind of S. Paul) are these: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, &c. Contrariwise, the deeds of the flesh are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, wantonness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, debate, emulation, wrath, contention, sedition, heresy, envy, murder, drunkenness, gluttony, and such like (Galatians 5.19-23).Here is now that glass, wherein thou must behold thy self, and discern whether thou have the holy Ghost within thee, or the spirit of the flesh. If thou see that thy works be virtuous and good, consonant to the prescript rule of God’s word, savouring and tasting not of the flesh, but of the spirit, then assure thy self that thou art endued with the holy Ghost: Otherwise in thinking well of thy self, thou doest nothing else but deceive thy self.
The holy Ghost doeth always declare himself by his fruitful and gracious gifts, namely, by the word of wisdom, by the word of knowledge, which is the understanding of the Scriptures, by faith, in doing of miracles, by healing them that are diseased, by prophesy, which is the declaration of God’s mysteries, by discerning of spirits, diversities of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. All which gifts, as they proceed from one spirit, and are severally given to man according to the measurable distribution of the holy Ghost: Even so do they bring men, and not without good cause, into a wonderful admiration of God’s divine power (1 Corinthians 12.7-11).
Who will not marvel at that which is written in the Acts of the Apostles, to hear their bold confession before the Council at Jerusalem? And to consider that they went away with joy and gladness, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer rebukes and checks for the Name and faith of Christ Jesus (Acts 5.29, 41 )? This was the mighty work of the holy Ghost, who because he giveth patience and joyfulness of heart in temptation and affliction, hath therefore worthily obtained this name in holy Scripture, to be called a comforter.
Who will not also marvel to read the learned and heavenly Sermons of Peter, and the disciples, considering that they were never brought up in school of learning, but called even from their nets, to supply rooms of Apostles? This was likewise the mighty work of the holy Ghost, who because he doeth instruct the hearts of the simple in the true knowledge of God and his word, is most justly termed by this name and title, to be the spirit of truth (John 14.17). Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical history, telleth a strange story of a certain learned and subtle Philosopher, who being an extreme adversary to Christ and his doctrine, could by no kind of learning be converted to the faith, but was able to withstand all the arguments that could be brought against him, with little, or no labour (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 11, Chap. 3). At length there started up a poor simple man of small wit, and less knowledge, one that was reputed among the learned as an idiot: And he on God’s name would needs take in hand to dispute with this proud Philosopher. The Bishops and other learned men standing by, were marvelously abashed at the matter, thinking that by his doings they should be all confounded and put to open shame. He notwithstanding goeth on, and beginning in the Name of the Lord Jesus, brought the Philosopher to such point in the end, contrary to all men’s expectation, that he could not choose but acknowledge the power of God in his words, and to give place to the truth. Was not this a miraculous work, that one silly soul of no learning, should do that which many Bishops of great knowledge and understanding were never able to bring to pass? So true is the saying of Bede: Where the holy Ghost doth instruct and teach, there is no delay at all in learning.
Much more might here be spoken of the manifold gifts and graces of the holy Ghost, most excellent and wonderful in our eyes, but to make a long discourse through all, the shortness of time will not serve. And seeing ye have heard the chiefest, ye may easily conceive and judge of the rest.
Now were it expedient to discuss this question: Whether all they which boast and brag that they have the holy Ghost, do truly challenge this unto themselves, or no? Which doubt, because it is necessary and profitable, shall (God willing) be dissolved in the next part of this Homily. In the mean season, let us (as we are most bound) give hearty thanks to God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, for sending down his comforter, into the world, humbly beseeching him, so to work in our hearts by the power of this holy Spirit, that we being regenerate and newly borne Again in all goodness, righteousness, sobriety and truth, may in the end be made partakers of everlasting life in his heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our LORD and Saviour. Amen.
The second part of the Homily concerning the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost
Dissoling this doubt; whether all men rightly challenge to themselves the Holy Ghost, or no.
Our Saviour Christ departing out of the world unto his Father, promised his Disciples to send down another comforter, that should continue with them for ever, and direct them into all truth (John 14.16, John 15.26). Which thing to be faithfully and truly performed, the Scriptures do sufficiently bear witness. Neither must we think that this comforter was either promised, or else given, only to the Apostles, but also to the universal Church of Christ, dispersed through the whole world. For unless the holy Ghost had been always present, governing and preserving the Church from the beginning, it could never have sustained so many and great bunts of affliction and persecution, with so little damage & harm as it hath. And the words of Christ are most plain in this behalf, saying, that the spirit of truth should abide with them for ever, that he would be with them always (he meaneth by grace, virtue, and power) even to the worlds end (John 14.17, Matthew 28.20).Also in the prayer that he made to his Father a little before his death, he maketh intercession, not only for himself and his Apostles, but indifferently for all them that should believe in him through their words, that is to wit, for his whole Church (John 17.20-21). Again, Saint Paul saith: If any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is not his (Romans 8.9). Also in the words following, we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father (Romans 8.15). Hereby then it is evident and plain to all men, that the holy Ghost was given, not only to the Apostles, but also to the whole body of Christ’s congregation, although not in like form and majesty as he came down at the feast of Pentecost
But now herein standeth the controversy: Whether all men do justly arrogate to themselves the holy Ghost, or no? The Bishops of Rome have for a long time made a sore challenge thereunto, reasoning for themselves after this sort. The holy Ghost (say they) was promised to the Church, & never forsaketh the Church. But we are the chief heads, & the principal part of the Church, therefore we have the holy Ghost for ever, and whatsoever things we decree, are undoubted verities, & oracles of the holy Ghost.
That ye may perceive the weakness of this argument. It is needful to teach you, first what the true Church of Christ is, & then to confer the Church of Rome therewith, to discern how well they agree together.
The true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship of God’s faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner stone (Ephesians 2.20). And it hath always three notes or marks whereby it is known. Pure and sound doctrine, the Sacraments ministered according to Christ’s holy institution, and the right use of Ecclesiastical discipline. This description of the Church is agreeable both to the Scriptures of God, and also to the doctrine of the ancient fathers, so that none may justly find fault therewith.
Now if ye will compare this with the Church of Rome, not as it was in the beginning, but as it is presently, and hath been for the space of nine hundred years and odd: you shall well perceive the state thereof to be so far wide from the nature of the true Church, that nothing can be more. For neither are they built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, retaining the sound and pure doctrine of Christ Jesu, neither yet do they order the Sacraments, or else the Ecclesiastical keys, in such sort as he did first institute and ordain them: But have so intermingled their own traditions and inventions, by chopping and changing, by adding and plucking away, that now they may seem to be converted into a new guise. Christ commended to his Church a Sacrament of his Body and Blood: They have changed it into a Sacrifice for the quick and the dead. Christ did minister to his Apostles, and the Apostles to other men indifferently under both kinds: They have robbed the lay people of the cup, saying, that for them one kind is sufficient. Christ ordained no other element to be used in Baptism, but only Water, whereunto when the word is joined, it is made (as S. Augustine saith) a full and perfect Sacrament. They being wiser in their own conceit then Christ, think it is not well nor orderly done, unless they use conjuration, unless they hallow the water, unless there be oil, salt, spittle, tapers, and such other dumb Ceremonies, serving to no use, contrary to the plain rule of Saint Paul, who willeth all things to be done in the Church unto edification (1 Corinthians 14.5). Christ ordained the authority of the keys to excommunicate notorious sinners, and to absolve them which are truly penitent: They abuse this power at their own pleasure, as well in cursing the Godly, with bell, book and candles, as also in absolving the reprobate, which are known to be unworthy of any Christian society: Whereof they that lust to see examples, let them search their lives. To be short, look what our Saviour Christ pronounced of the Scribes and Pharisees, in the Gospel, the same may be boldly and with safe conscience pronounced of the Bishops of Rome, namely that they have forsaken, and daily do forsake the Commandments of God, to erect and set up their own constitutions. Which thing being true, as all they which have any light of God’s word must needs confess, we may well conclude according to the rule of Augustine: That the Bishops of Rome and their adherents, are not the true Church of Christ, much less then to be taken as chief Heads and Rulers of the same. Whosoever (saith he) do dissent from the Scriptures concerning the head, although they be found in all places where the Church is appointed, yet are they not in the Church: a plain place, concluding directly against the Church of Rome (Augustine, Contra Petilian Donatist Epi., Chap. 4). Where is now the holy Ghost which they so stoutly do claim to themselves? Where is now the spirit of truth, that will not suffer them in any wise to err? If it be possible to be there, where the true Church is not, then is it at Rome: otherwise it is but a vain brag, and nothing else. Saint Paul (as ye have heard before) saith: If any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is not his. And by turning the words, it may be truly said: If any man be not of Christ, the same hath not the spirit. Now to discern who are truly his, and who not, we have this rule given us, that his sheep do always hear his voice (John 10.3). And Saint John saith, He that is of God, heareth God’s word (John 8.47). Whereof it followeth, that the Popes in not hearing Christ’s voice, as they ought to doe, but preferring their own decrees before the expresse word of God, do plainly argue to the world, that they are not of Christ, nor yet possessed with his spirit. But here they will alledge for themselves, that there are divers necessary points not expressed in holy Scripture, which were left to the revelation of the holy Ghost. Who being given to the Church, according to Christ’s promise, hath taught many things from time to time, which the Apostles could not then bear (John 16.7). To this we may easily answer by the plain words of Christ, teaching us that the proper office of the holy Ghost is, not to institute and bring in new ordinances, contrary to his doctrine before taught: but shall come and declare those things which he had before taught: so that it might be well and truly understood. When the holy Ghost (saith he) shall come, he shall lead you into all truth (John 16.13). What truth doth he mean? Any other then he himself had before expressed in his word? No. For he saith, He shall take of mine, and show unto you. Again, he shall bring you in remembrance of all things that I have told you (John 16.15). It is not then the duty and part of any Christian, under pretence of the holy Ghost, to bring in his own dreams and fantasies into the Church: but he must diligently provide that his doctrine and decrees be agreeable to Christ’s holy Testament. Otherwise in making the holy Ghost the author thereof, he doeth blaspheme and belie the holy Ghost, to his own condemnation.Now to leave their doctrine, and come to other points. What shall we think or judge of the Popes intolerable pride? The Scripture saith, that God resisteth the proud, and sheweth grace to the humble. Also it pronounceth them blessed, which are poor in spirit, promising that they which humble themselves, shall be exalted (Matthew 5.3). And Christ our Saviour willeth all his to learn of him, because he is humble and meek (Matthew 11.29). As for pride, Saint Gregory saith, it is the root of all mischief. And Saint Augustines judgment is this, that it maketh men devils. Can any man then, which either hath or shall read the Popes lives, justly say that they had the holy Ghost within them? First, as touching that they will be termed universal Bishops and heads of all Christian Churches through the world, we have the judgment of Gregory expressly against them, who writing to Mauricius the Emperor, condemneth John, Bishop of Constantinople, in that behalf, calling him the prince of pride, Lucifers successor, and the fore-runner of Antichrist (Gregory, Bk. 3, Epistle 76.78). Saint Bernard also agreeing thereunto, saith, What greater pride can there be, then that one man should prefer his own judgment before the whole congregation, as though he only had the spirit of God (Bernard, Serm. 3, De Resurrect. Domini)? And Chrysostom pronounceth a terrible sentence against them, affirming plainly, that whosoever seeketh to be chief in earth, shall find confusion in heaven, and that he which striveth for the supremacy, shall not be reputed among the servants of Christ (Chrysostom, Dialogorum, Bk. 3). Again he saith: To desire a good work, it is good, but to covet the chief degree of honour, it is mere vanity (Chrysostom, Super Matt.). Do not these places sufficiently convince their outrageous pride, in usurping to themselves a superiority above all other, as well ministers and Bishops, as Kings also and Emperors? But as the Lion is known by his claws, so let us learn to know these men by their deeds. What shall we say of him that made the noble King Dandalus to be tied by the neck with a chain, and to lie flat down before his table, there to gnaw bones like a Dog (Sabelli, Ennead. 9. Bk. 7)? Shall we think that he had God’s holy spirit within him, and not rather the spirit of the devil? Such a tyrant was Pope Clement the sixth. What shall we say of him that proudly and contemptuously trod Frederick the Emperor under his feet, applying the verse of the Psalm unto himself: Thou shalt go upon the Lion and the Adder, the young Lion and the Dragon thou shalt tread under thy foot (Psalms 91.13)? shall we say that he had God’s holy spirit within him, and not rather the spirit of the devil? Such a tyrant was Pope Alexander the third. What shall we say of him that armed and animated the Son against the father, causing him to be taken, and to be cruelly famished to death, contrary to the law both of God, and also of nature? Shall we say that he had God’s holy spirit within him, and not rather the spirit of the devil? Such a tyrant was Pope Pascal the second. What shall we say of him that came into his Popedom like a Fox, that reigned like a Lion, and died like a Dog? Shall we say that he had God’s holy spirit within him, and not rather the spirit of the devil? Such a tyrant was Pope Boniface the eight. What shall we say of him that made Henry the Emperor, with his wife and his young childe, to stand at the gates of the City in the rough winter, bare footed and bare legged, only clothed in linsey woolsey, eating nothing from morning to night, and that for the space of three days? Shall we say that he had God’s holy spirit within him, and not rather the spirit of the devil? Such a tyrant was Pope Hildebrand, most worthy to be called a firebrand, if we shall term him as he hath best deserved.
Many other examples might here be alleged. As of Pope Joan the harlot, that was delivered of a Childe in the high street, going solemnly in procession. Of Pope Julius the second, that willfully cast S. Peters keys into the river Tiberis. Of Pope Urban the sixth, that caused five Cardinals to be put in sacks, and cruelly drowned. Of Pope Sergius the third, that persecuted the dead body of Formosus his predecessor, when it had been buried eight years. Of Pope John the fourteenth of that name, who having his enemy delivered into his hands, caused him first to be stripped stark naked, his beard to be shaven, and to be hanged up a whole day by the hair, then to be set upon an ass with his face backward toward the tail, to be carried round about the city in despite, to be miserably beaten with rods, last of all, to be thrust out of his country, and to be banished for ever. But to conclude & make an end, ye shall briefly take this short lesson, wheresoever ye find the spirit of arrogance and pride, the spirit of envy, hatred, contention, cruelty, murder, extortion, witchcraft, necromancy, &c. assure yourselves that there is the spirit of the devil, and not of God, albeit they pretend outwardly to the world never so much holiness. For as the Gospel teacheth us, the spirit of Jesus is a good spirit, an holy spirit, a sweet spirit, a lowly spirit, a merciful spirit, full of charity and love, full of forgiveness and pity, not rendering evil for evil, extremity for extremity, but overcoming evil with good, and remitting all offence even from the heart. According to which rule, if any man live uprightly, of him it may be safely pronounced, that he hath the holy Ghost within him: If not, then it is a plain token that he doeth usurp the name of the holy Ghost in vain.
Therefore (dearly beloved) according to the good counsel of Saint John, believe not every spirit, but first try them whether they be of God, or no (1 John 4.1). Many shall come in my Name (saith Christ) and shall transform themselves into Angels of light, deceiving (if it be possible) the very elect. They shall come unto you in sheep clothing, being inwardly cruel and ravening Wolves (Matthew 24.5, 24). They shall have an outward show of great holiness and innocence of life, so that ye shall hardly or not at all discern them. But the rule that ye must follow, is this, to judge them by their fruits (Matthew 7.20). Which if they be wicked and naught, then is it impossible that the tree of whom they proceed should be good. Such were all the Popes and Prelates of Rome for the most part, as doeth well appear in the story of their lives, and therefore they are worthily accounted among the number of false Prophets, and false Christs, which deceived the world a long while (Luke 21.8). The Lord of heaven and earth defend us from their tyranny and pride, that they never enter into his vineyard Again, to the disturbance of his silly poor flock: but that they may be utterly confounded and put to flight in all parts of the world: and he of his great mercy so work in all men’s hearts, by the mighty power of the holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of his Son Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed in all places, to the beating down of sin, death, the Pope, the Devil, and all the kingdom of Antichrist, that like scattered and dispersed sheep being at length gathered into one fold, we may in the end rest all together in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there to be partakers of Eternal and everlasting life through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
In what points the true ornaments of the Church or Temple of God do consist and stand, hath been declared in the two last Homilies, entreating of the right use of the Temple or house of God, and of the due reverence that all true Christian people are bound to give unto the same.
Almighty GOD, to the intent his most holy Name should be had in honour, and evermore be magnified of the people, commandeth that no man should take his Name vainly in his mouth, threatening punishment unto him that irreverently abuseth it by swearing, forswearing, andblasphemy. To the intent therefore that this commandment may be the better known and kept, it shall bee declared unto you, both how it is lawful for Christian people to swear, and also what peril and danger it is vainly to swear, or to be forsworn.
Unto a Christian man, there can be nothing either more necessary or profitable, than the knowledge of Holy Scripture; forasmuch as in it is contained God’s true word, setting forth his glory, and also man’s duty. And there is no truth nor doctrine, necessary for our justification and everlasting salvation, but that is, or may be, drawn out of that fountain and well of truth. Therefore, as many as be desirous to enter into the right and perfect way unto God, must apply their minds to know Holy Scripture; without the which, they can neither sufficiently known God and his will, neither their office and duty. And as drink is pleasant to them that be dry, and meat to them that be hungry; so is the reading, hearing, searching, and studying of Holy Scripture, to them that be desirous to know God, or themselves, and to do his will. And their stomachs only do loathe and abhor the heavenly knowledge and food of God’s word, that be so drowned in worldly vanities, that they neither saviour God, nor any godliness: for that is the cause why they desire such vanities, rather than the true knowledge of God. As they that are sick of an ague, whatsoever they eat and drink, though it be never so pleasant, yet it is as bitter to them as wormwood; not for the bitterness of the meat, but for the corrupt and bitter humour that is in their own tongue and mouth; even is the sweetness of God’s word bitter, not of itself, but only unto them that have their minds corrupted with long custom of sin and love of this world.
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, then 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, maketh and frameth to himself charity after his own appetite, and how detestable soever his life be, both unto God and man, yet he persuadeth himself still that he hath charity: therefore you shall hear now a true and plain description or setting forth of charity, not of men’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.
Among all the creatures that God made in the beginning of the world most excellent and wonderful in their kind, there was none (as the Scripture beareth witness) to be compared almost in any point unto man, who as well in body and soul exceeded all other no less, then the Sun in brightness and light exceedeth every small and little star in the firmament. He was made according to the image and similitude of God, he was endued with all kind of heavenly gifts, he had no spot of uncleanness in him, he was found and perfect in all parts, both outwardly and inwardly, his reason was incorrupt, his understanding was pure and good, his will was obedient and godly, he was made altogether like unto God, in righteousness, in holiness, in wisdom, in truth, to be short in all kind of perfection.
In the last Sermon was declared unto you, what the lively and true faith of a Christian man is, that it causeth not a man to be idle, but to be occupied in bringing forth good works, as occasion serveth.
Of our going from God, the wise man saith, that pride was the first beginning: for by it mans heart was turned from God his maker. For pride (saith he) is the fountain of all sin: he that hath it, shall be full of cursings, and at the end it shall overthrow him. (Ecclus 10) And as by pride and sin we go from God, so shall God and all goodness with him go from us. And the Prophet Hosea doth plainly affirm (Hos 5), that they which go a way still from God by vicious living, and yet would go about to pacify him otherwise by sacrifice, and entertain him thereby, they labour in vain. For, notwithstanding all their sacrifice, yet he goeth still away from them. For so much (saith the Prophet) as they do not apply their minds to return to God, although they go about with whole flocks and herds to seek the Lord, yet they shall not find him: for he is gone away from them.
A Sermon of the Misery of all Mankind and of his Condemnation to Death Everlasting, by his own Sin.
Because all men be sinners and offenders against God, and breakers of his law and commandments, therefore can no man by his own acts, works, and deeds (seem they never so good) be justified, and made righteous before God: but every man of necessity is constrained to seek for another righteousness or justification, to be received at God’s own hands, that is to say, the forgiveness of his sins and trespasses, in such things as he hath offended. And this justification or righteousness, which we so receive of God’s mercy and Christ’s merits. embraced by faith, is taken, accepted and allowed of God, for our perfect and full justification.