MATTHEW v. 1, 2, 3.
Videns autem Jesus turbas ascendit in montem, et cum consedeiset, & c.
When Jesus saw the people he went up into a mountain, and when he was set
down, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught
them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit.
DEARLY beloved in our Saviour Christ, I have to tell you at this present time of a certain pilgrimage, which may be called the Christian man’s pilgrimage, but ye shall not think that I will speak of the popish pilgrimage, which we were wont to use in times past, in running hither and thither to Mr. John Shorn, 1. or to our Lady of Walsingham. 2. No, no; I will not speak of such fooleries, but I will speak of such a pilgrimage, which our Saviour Christ himself taught us, being here present with us, with his own mouth. Therefore whosoever will come to the eternal felicity, must go that pilgrimage, else he shall never attain thereunto. Cum vidisset autem turbas, “When he saw the people.” It appeareth by the end of the fourth of Matthew, that our Saviour had walked throughout all Galilee, and had done many miracles, so that the fame of him went throughout all the country: And there gathered a great number of people together to hear him: he seeing the people how hungry they were, conveyed himself into a higher place, and his disciples came unto him, and he taught them; but not only the disciples, but also the whole people; for Luke saith, Docebat audiete populo, “He preached, the people hearing it;” Also, et turba admirabitur super doctrina illius, “and the people marvelled because of his doctrine:” How could they marvel, if they had not heard it! So it appeareth that Christ made his sermon not only to his disciples, but also to the whole people: yet specially he taught his disciples, to that end that they might teach afterwards to others; for he taught them such doctrine which he would have taught all the whole world, therefore he so diligently taught them; for though he made many sermons, yet these two sermons, the one in Matthew, and the other in John, ought to be regarded most above all others, for they contain the sum of a Christian man’s life.Now our Saviour seeing them so hungry, what doth he? The evangelist saith, Aperuit os suum, “He opened his mouth, and taught them.” Our Saviour did not only send out his apostles to preach and teach the people, but also he opened his own mouth, and taught the people his own self. Which act of our Saviour, is to the reproach of our lordly prelates; which in a manner disdain to preach themselves, in their own persons; but they think it to be enough to have one or two pertaining unto them, which preach in their dioceses; they themselves being occupied in worldly business: our Saviour did not so, he opened his own mouth, and taught the people.Certainly this ensample of our Saviour ought better to be considered of our prelates than it is: for they be not better than Christ was. Christ hath sent them, and given unto them a commission to preach; wherefore disdain they then to open their mouth, and teach the people? Seeing that our Saviour himself taught, how will they be excused when they shall make account for their doings? What shall be their reward for their slothfulness? No doubt, everlasting damnation hangeth over their heads.Now our Saviour opening his mouth, what taught he them? Marry, he taught them a pilgrimage, the christian man’s pilgrimage: and this is a good and true pilgrimage that he taught; for this pilgrimage standeth not in running hither and thither: No, no; this is a right pilgrimage, but there is strange gear in it; yea, such gear, that if I should say it of my own head, you would not believe me, you would say I lie: for it agreeth not with our mother wit, we cannot compass this gear with our natural wit: therefore we must consider who speaketh it, and so captivate our reason and wit to the wisdom of God.
Now Christ, the eternal Son of God, he teacheth us this pilgrimage: of which God the Father himself saith, Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacitum est, ipsum audite: “This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.” Seeing then that the Almighty God commanded us to hear him, we ought not to regard his doctrine little, to esteem and value it for nothing; but most highly esteem it as the unfallible word of God. Now what saith he? Beati pauperes spiritu quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum, ” Blessed be the poor in the spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” &c. I intend to be very short, else I could not have time to go through all things that pertain to this pilgrimage. This is a pilgrimage of eight miles, or of eight days’ journeys; all things that pertain unto it are comprehended in eight points.
Our Saviour saith, Beati pauperes, “Blessed be the poor ;” this is contrary to our reason: for who would think poverty to be a blessedness? who is that would not rather be rich than poor? To be rich is a blessedness in our eyes; to be poor is an unhappiness in our minds: but we must subdue our judgments. We esteem it to be a cursedness to be poor: Well, our Saviour saith, “Blessed are the poor.” Luke hath no more but these words; Matthew addeth, Spiritu, “In the spirit.”These eight miles, or days’ journeys, may be called paradoxa; that is to say, inopinable, incredible, and unbelievable sayings: For if Christ had not spoken it himself, who should have believed it? for we see daily before our eyes what a miserable thing is poverty; therefore our nature is ever given to avoid poverty, and to come to riches. But Christ saith, Beati pauperes, “Blessed be the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”The kingdom of heaven is taken sometimes for the office of preaching; as when he compared the kingdom of heaven to “a net that catcheth good and bad fishes,” there he meaneth the office of preaching; sometimes it is taken for eternal felicity, which Christ our Saviour merited for us. When John Baptist sendeth his disciples unto Christ to ask him whether he be Christ or not, he told them what miracles he had done, and amongst other things he said, Pauperes evangelizant, “The poor hear the gospel;” meaning, that the poor be more willing to hear the gospel, they take more pain in hearing God’s word, than the rich do: for the rich commonly least regard the gospel. Look throughout all England, and you shall find it so. Likewise he saith by the prophet, Ad evangelizandum pauperibus misit me, “He hath sent me to preach the gospel unto the poor;” because the poor hath more pleasure in it: the rich men commonly regard it for nothing: therefore it is a wonderful thing that such terrible things are written of rich men, and yet we seek all to be rich, and call them blessed and happy that be so. But ye heard upon Sunday last, how that these rich farmers made their excuses: they would not come to the banquet which God had prepared for them, because their riches did let them: therefore riches are called thorns in scripture.
As for an ensample: There be two ways to a town, the one is plain and straight, the other is full of thorns. Now he that goeth the plain way shall sooner come to his journey’s end, than he that goeth the thorny way: So it is more easier without riches to come to heaven, than with riches: but our nature is so corrupt, that we ever desire that thing that may do us harm. I will not say but men may have riches, and many good men have had great riches; yet riches must be had, cum tremore, with fear: for it is a dangerous thing to have them: they be but burthens, they that have them be but bailiffs and stewards over them, they must make account for them. And therefore above all things rich men must have in fresh memory this scripture: Divitiae si affluant nolite cor apponere, “When riches come upon you, set not your hearts upon them:” use them to such end as God hath appointed: with your copiousness help the wants of the poor miserable people: and this is our duty to do. For he that hath riches, and helpeth not the poor withal, but layeth them up for himself, he is a thief before God, though he do come rightly and justly by his goods: for he doth not his duty: he withdraweth that from the poor that pertaineth unto them; for God requireth of the rich to relieve and help the poor with his riches: when he now doth it not, the writers call him a thief. Here ye see what a burthen it is to have riches, therefore let us not be so greedy over them: and when we have them, let us remember that we be but God’s stewards, and distributers of his treasures.
You must mark here that our Saviour when he saith: “Blessed be the poor;” he commendeth not the friar’s poverty, that same wilful poverty, but if you become to poverty for confessing of Christ, then thou art blessed. Again, I am a rich man, the fire cometh and taketh away my riches. As Job was a rich man, but what happened? His enemy came and took away all together: so we may this day be rich, and tomorrow we may be beggars: for the riches be chanceable unto us, but not unto God: for God knoweth when, and to whom he will give them, or take them away again. Now when I come to poverty by chance, so that God sendeth poverty unto me, then I am blessed; when I take poverty well, without grudging.
And therefore he addeth, Spiritu, “In spirit;” that is, to take it in good part with a faithful heart, knowing that God sendeth the same unto us: so that when we come to poverty by such chances, or by persecutions, so that I cast not away my goods wilfully as the friars did, which was a leaving of riches devised by their own minds: but else he that doth his business according unto his calling, and then God endueth him with poverty; let him take it with joy and gladness: for these blessings which Christ promised unto us here in this gospel, shall light upon him; therefore take it so, that poverty is a blessing, when she is taken with a faithful heart; else indeed it is to no purpose, except it proceed out of faith. Be not eager therefore to have riches, and when ye have them, that God sendeth them, set not too much by them. For Christ saith it is hard for a rich man to come to heaven; speaking of those which set their hearts upon riches: which men indeed be very idolaters: for they put their hope, trust, and confidence in them; so that whatsoever shall happen, they think they will escape, having money, and so they make money their God; which is a most wicked and abominable thing in the sight of the Lord. For God would have us to hang upon him, to trust in him, be we poor or rich: If we be rich, we should not set our hearts upon riches: if we be poor, we should comfort ourselves with this scripture, Non est inopia timentibus eum, ” They that fear him shall not lack.”Now the second mile, or day’s journey in this pilgrimage, is this; Beati qui lugent, quoniam ipsi consolabuntur, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall have comfort.” We after our reasons esteem them happy that can make merry in this world; but our Saviour, contrariwise, pronounceth them blessed that mourn and weep in this world. We seek all to be in that case, that we might laugh and be merry, for we think that to be a great blessedness: but our Saviour pronounceth them blessed that weep. And therefore Scripture saith, Melius est ite ad domum luctus, quam ad domum convivii, ” It is better to go to the mourning house, than to the house of banquetting:” For he that goeth to sick folks, it shall be a good admonition, it shall make him to consider the fragility and weakness of mankind, and so stir him up to make ready, and not to set much by this world. St. Paul speaketh of two manner of sorrowfulness, the one is worldly, the other is ghostly; the worldly sorrowfulness is without faith: as the wicked, when they weep, they are sorrowful: yet this comfort, of which Christ here speaketh, is not promised unto them. Esau wept when Jacob beguiled him, but his weeping was without faith. Truly happy are those that have much occasion to weep and wail: For, Vexatio dat intellectum, “Vexation and trouble maketh us to know ourselves, and teacheth us to leave sin and wickedness.” There be many which be in great miseries, shut out of their houses, or in sickness, or other trouble: they shall comfort themselves with this blessing, which Christ our Saviour promiseth unto them: namely, they shall be sure that they shall have comfort and relief of their miseries, for he will not suffer them to be further tempted than they shall be able to bear, and then in the end they shall have everlasting comfort.
It is a notable answer that Abraham maketh to the rich man, when he lay in hellish fire: My son, saith he, Recepisti, bona in vita, “Thou hast received thy good “days in thy life-time, now thou shalt be punished: But Lazarus hath had miseries and calamities; and therefore he shall be comforted now.” So we must learn to be content, to go from weeping to laughing, from sorrow to eternal felicity; but we must first suffer here; we may not go from the one felicity to the other; therefore, St. Jerome saith, that “he is a delicate soldier that will not suffer sometimes miseries and calamities.”Therefore let us be content with it, let us bear them with a faithful heart, else we shall not attain to this comfort; for the miseries that the godless have, Operantur mortem, “They work their own destruction, and everlasting perdition.” For they cannot bear them as they ought to do; they murmur and cry out against God: but the godly, when he is in miseries he taketh great profit by it, for miseries drive him to leave sin and wickedness, and to repent for that which he hath done against God. Here you may perceive now that they that will have comfort must go to that pilgrimage, they must taste miseries, and so at the end they shall have everlasting comfort.The third mile or day’s journey, is this; Beati mites quoniam inheritabunt terram, “Blessed be the meek, for they shall inherit the land.” This meekness is such a thing, that whosoever hath her can be quiet in all things; he that hath her will not avenge himself. But ye must know there be two manner of vengeance. There is a private vengeance, and there is a public vengeance: the public vengeance is allowed of God; the private is forbidden. For God saith to every private man, Mihi vindictam ego retribuam, “Let me have the vengeance; and I will reward it.” When any man doth me wrong, I shall or may not avenge me, nor yet desire in my heart to be avenged upon him; I being a private man, and not a magistrate.But there is a public vengeance, that is, the magistrates, they must see that wrong-doers be punished, and rewarded according to their misbehaviours. But I may not avenge myself. For I am blessed when my goods be taken from me wrongfully, and I take it well. For Christ saith, Inheritabunt terram, “They shall inherit the land:” he that for God’s sake leaveth his land, or his goods, he shall inherit the land: so he shall with leaving the land, inherit the land: but what shall I do when my goods be taken from me? Answer, go to God’s promises, which are, Centuplum accipiet, “He shall receive it again an hundred fold.” The public vengeance is committed unto the magistrates. God commandeth unto them to punish the transgressors: and again the law-breaker, or misdoer, ought to obey, and to suffer the punishment which the magistrates shall lay upon him: for so it is written, Auferes malum e medio populi, “Thou shalt take away the ill from amongst the people.” So ye hear how that we may not avenge ourselves when any man doth us wrong. Yet, for all that, this taketh, not away the liberty of the use of the law: for a christian man may go to the law, and seek remedy: yet we must take heed that we go not to avenge ourselves upon our neighbour, with a vengeable heart: nor yet should we go with a covetous heart, to get ought of our neighbour: else it is lawful to use the law, when it is done with a charitable heart. As it is lawful for me being sick to go to the physician, without breach of my faith to Godward: but if I should go to the physician in despair of God, then this going were a wicked going. So I say, when we will go to the law, we must beware that it be done charitably, not with a vengeable mind; for whosoever seeketh to be avenged, he shall not be blessed of God. Again, whosoever suffereth wrong at his neighbour’s hand, and taketh it willingly, he shall be blessed of God.An ensample we have in Joseph: his brethren sold him, and handled him most cruelly, and tyrannously: what did he? he took it willingly, without any revengement. What did God? Marry, he fulfilled his promise, Inheritabunt terram, “They shall inherit the land.” Therefore he made him lord over all Egypt; This did God, and so he will do unto us. But our heart is so poisoned with the poison of malice, that we think we should be undone” when we should not avenge ourselves; but they that have the Spirit of God, and to whom these blessings pertain, they will be charitable, and yet use the law when necessity shall require so; but they will do it with a godly mind. Terram, “They shall inherit the land:” some expound the land for eternal life, but it may be understood of this world too: for they that be patient and bear and suffer, God will reward them here in this world; and yonder too. Now ye have heard what we shall have when we be meek-spirited; let us therefore set aside all stubbornness, all vengeance, hatred, and malice, one against another; so that we may obtain that land which Christ promised us.
Beati qui esuriunt et sitiunt justitiam, quoniam ipsi saturabuntur, “Blessed be they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” These words be expounded diversely; it may be understood so, ” Blessed be they that hunger and thirst,” that is to say, that have so great a desire to righteousness, as a hungry man hath to his meat and drink. Some expound it of the justice of the soul: for the faithful be ever hungry, they ever think they be not well: they be sore behind the hand: and so do not the hypocrites, for they have opera supererogationis, they have so much that they are able to sell unto other men too, and bring them to heaven. But I will expound these words so: they that hunger be they that suffer wrong, for when a man suffereth wrong and injuries, he hungereth and thirsteth to have justice, to come to his right; for it is a common saying amongst the people, The law is ended as the man is friended.
Now he that is so injured and wronged, and hath a godly hunger and thirst to righteousness, he shall be satisfied in this world, and in the world to come he shall have everlasting life. Ensamples we have in scripture. Joseph, when he was sold to Potiphar, that great man, he was a fair young springold: now his master Potiphar’s wife, seeing his beauty, cast her love upon him, insomuch that he could be no where but she came after him; but Joseph fearing God, refused her, and would not commit with her the filthy act of lechery. “What followeth, she went by and by and made an outcry, and accused him, as though he would have ravished her. So at the length Joseph was cast into prison, where he hungered and thirsted after righteousness, after justice; that is, he was desirous to have his right: yet for all that he took the matter well and godly, he sought not for vengeance; we in our foolishness, and mother wits, esteem them blessed that can use the matter so, that the law may go with them, that they may have the overhand; they are called blessed which bear the swing, which are not exercised with trouble. I remember I read once a story of a bishop which came to a rich man’s house where he had good cheer, and the good man in the house shewed him all his riches and prosperities, his goodly wife and his fair children: in sum, they lacked nothing at all, he himself had never been sick: the bishop hearing that, thought in his mind, no doubt God is not here; and so commanded his servant to make ready the horses, and by and by went his way. When he came a little far off from the house, he sendeth his man back again to fetch a book, which was forgotten behind; when the servant came, the house was sunk.So we see that worldly prosperity maketh us to forget God, and in the end to be damned. Jacob, that holy man, when he served Laban his uncle and father-in-law, what wrongs had he! how unjustly dealt Laban with him! no doubt he had great hunger and thirst after righteousness, therefore God satisfied his appetite, for he blessed him, and enriched him wonderfully, against Laban’s mind. There be few of such servants nowadays as Jacob was, and though he had a wicked master, yet he served him truly: I wish all servants would follow the ensample of Jacob. This I speak to make you patient in tribulation, and to stir up in you a hunger and thirst after righteousness. You hear how Joseph was blessed in bearing the injuries which that foolish woman did unto him.David also, O what good service did he unto king Saul? yet Saul went about to destroy him; think ye not David hungred and thirsted after righteousness? No doubt he did; yet he might have avenged himself, but he would not: for he had this meekness of which Christ our Saviour speaketh here, and so consequently did inherit the land, according unto his promise.
Beati misericordes, quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur, “Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” I will not tarry long herein, you know which be the works of mercy. ” I was hungry, saith Christ, I was naked,” &c. (Matthew xxv.) There is a ghostly mercy, which is to admonish them that be in errors, to bring them to the right way. Item, also to forgive them that do me wrong, this is a mercy, and a needful mercy; and therefore they that will be cruel here, so that they will not forgive unto their neighbours their faults, let them not look for mercy at God’s hands. For we must be merciful, loving, and comfortable towards our neighbour, when we will obtain mercy at God’s hands. But this seemeth now as though malefactors ought not to be put to death, because God requireth mercy. Sir, you must understand, that God requireth private mercy; so that private men one shall forgive unto the other: but it is another matter with the magistrates; the king, and all other magistrates, are God’s officers, they must do according as God requireth them to do; he saith, Auferes malum e medio populi, nec misereberis ei, “Thou shalt take away, thou shalt root out the ill, (them that be malefactors) from amongst the people: and shew not mercy unto them.” Here were a place to entreat of ministering of justice, if the audience were thereafter: how justices of peace and other magistrates ought not to be bolsterers, and bearers with wickedness, but punish the malefactors according to their deserts: Vae qui justificatis impium, “Wo be unto you that justify the wicked.” To justify the wicked, is not to punish them: Et qui justificat impium, et qui condemnat justum, ambo abominabiles coram Domino, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just; they are both wicked and abominable before the Lord.” So that magistrates ought to punish sin and wickedness; but private men, one ought to shew mercy unto another: that is, he ought to forgive when any man hath done him harm, and so he shall have mercy at God’s hand.
Beati mundi corde quoniam ipsi videbunt Deum, “Blessed be the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” By these words we may perceive that we shall not look to see God, to see our felicity, when we be impure of heart. We cannot come to that unspeakable joy and felicity which God hath prepared for his, except we be clean in our hearts: therefore David, knowing that lesson, saith unto God, Cor mundum crea in me, Deus, “O God, make clean my heart within me.” But ye will ask, how shall our hearts be purified and cleansed? Answer, Fide purificantur corda, “Through faith the hearts of men must be cleansed.” They that hear God’s word; and believe that same to be true, and live after it, their hearts shall be purified, and so they shall see God.There be two manner of seeing God; as long as we be here, we must see him by faith, in believing in him: yonder we shall see him face to face, how he is; therefore believe here, and see there. And so it appeareth, that he that will not hear God’s word, and believe the same, that his heart may be cleansed, he shall not see God.
Beati pacificae quoniam ipsi filii Dei vocabuntur, ” Blessed be the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Here is another journey. There is a law in Deuteronomy, where God saith, Non erit susurro nec calumniator in populo, ” There shall not be a slanderer or whisperer, amongst you, which are my people.” But I tell you this law is not kept: for there be a great many of those which speak fair with their tongues, as though they would creep into a man’s bosom, but behind his back, or before other men, they betray him, they lie upon him, and do all they can to bring him out of estimation: these whisperers be peace-breakers, and not peace-makers; for the devil bringeth his matters to pass through such fellows: there be many such in England, which tell false tales of others to promote themselves withal; these be the children of the devil, and no doubt the devil hath many children in the world.I will shew you an ensample: There was one Doeg an Idumean, a servant of Saul the king, he was Princeps pastorum, ” the master “Over his herdmen :” When David flying from Saul, came to the priest Ahimelech, very hungry and weary, and therefore desired some meat, the priest having none other bread but panis propositionis, “the holy bread;” of that he gave David; and after that he gave him the sword of Goliath, whom David had killed before. Now this Doeg being there at that time, what doeth he? Like a whisperer, or man-pleaser, he goeth to Saul the king, and told him, how the priest had refreshed David in his journey, and had given unto him the sword of Goliath. Saul hearing that, being in a great fury, sent for all the priests, and their wives, and their children, and slew them all.This Doeg now, that whisperer, was not a peace-maker, but a peace-breaker; and therefore not a child of God, but of the devil. I could tell you of some other Doegs, of other whisperers; for I have known some in my time, but all such are the children of the devil, they are not God’s children; for Christ our Saviour called those God’s children that are peace-makers, not them that cut their neighbour’s throat. Seeing now that it is so good a thing to be a peace-maker, let all them that be in superiority endeavour themselves to be peace-makers: let the landlords shew themselves to be peace-makers; when they hear of contentions and strifes between their tenants, send for them, and hear their matters, and make him that is faulty to be punished; and so let them be peace-makers. But there be some gentlemen in England, which think themselves born to nothing else but to have good cheer in this world, to go a hawking and hunting. I would wish they would endeavour themselves rather to be peace-makers, to counsel and help poor men, and when they hear of any discord to be between neighbours and neighbours, to set them together at unity; this should be rather their exercise than banquetting, and spending their time in vain. But they will say, it is a great pain and labour to meddle in matters, to be a peace-maker. Sir, you must consider, that it is a great matter to be a child of God, and therefore we ought to be content to take pains to be peace-makers, that we may be the children of God. But in matters of religion, we must take heed that we have such a peace which may stand with God and his word; for it is better to have no peace at all, than to have it with the loss of God’s word,In the time of the six articles, there was a bishop which ever cried unity, unity; but he would have a popish unity. St. Paul to the Corinthians saith, Sitis unanimes, “Be of one mind:” But he addeth, Secundum Jesum Christum, ” According to Jesus Christ;” that is, according to God’s holy word; else it were better war than peace: we ought never regard unity, so much that we would or should forsake God’s word for her sake. When we were in popery we agreed well, because we were in the kingdom of the devil, we were in blindness. In Turkey we hear not of any dissension amongst them for religion’s sake. The Jews that now be have no dissension amongst them, because they be in blindness. When the rebels were up in Norfolk and Devonshire, they agreed all, there was no dissension: but there peace was not, secundum Jesum Christum, ” according to Jesus Christ.” Therefore St, Hilary hath a pretty saying: Speciosum quidem nomen est pacis et pulchra opinio unitatis: sed quis dubitat eam solam unicam Ecclesiae pacem esse quae Christi est; ” It is a goodly word, Peace, and a fair thing Unity; but who doubts but this to be the only right peace of the church, which peace is after Christ; according to his words?” Therefore let us set by unity, let us be given to love and charity: but so that it may stand with godliness. For peace ought not to be redeemed, Jactura veritatis, with loss of the truth; that we would seek peace so much, that we should lose the truth of God’s word.
Beati qui persecutionem patiunter propter justitiam, “Blessed be they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is the last journey, when we be demanded of our faith, and examined, and afterward be forced to believe as they will: when we come to that point, blessed are we when we suffer rather all extremities than forsake the truth, yea, we shall esteem it to be a great blessedness when we be in such trouble. And not only this, but whosoever suffereth any thing for any manner of righteousness’ sake, blessed is he: the questmonger doing uprightly his duty in discharging of his conscience; now he shall have displeasure, happy is he, and he shall have his reward of God.
Beati estis quum maledixerint vobis homines, &c. “Blessed are ye when men speak ill of you;” Gaudete, quoniam merces vestra copiosa est, &c., “Be merry, because your reward is great in heaven.” Now ye have heard which is the way to heaven, what manner a pilgrimage we must go: namely, first by spiritual poverty, by hunger and thirst after righteousness, by meekness and lenity, by weeping and wailing, by pity and mercifulness, also we must have a clean heart, and we must be peace-makers, and we must suffer tribulation and affliction.Then shall the end be, Merces vestra erit capioso est in caelis, “Your reward shall be great in heaven.” Merces,” Reward,” this word soundeth as though we should merit somewhat by our own works, for reward and merit are correspondent, one followeth the other: when I have merited, then I ought to have my reward. But we shall not think so; for ye must understand, that an our works are imperfect; we cannot do them so perfectly as the law requireth, because of our flesh, which ever letteth us. Wherefore is the kingdom of God called then a reward? because it is merited by Christ: for as touching our salvation and eternal life, it must be merited, but not by our own works, but only by the merits of our Saviour Christ. Therefore believe in him, trust in him; it is he that merited heaven for us: yet for all that, every man shall be rewarded for his good works in everlasting life, but not with everlasting life: For it is written, Vita aeterna donum Dei, “The everlasting life is a gift of God.” Therefore we should not esteem our works so perfect as though we should or could merit heaven by them: yet God hath such pleasure in such works which we do with a faithful heart, that he promiseth to reward them in everlasting life.Now to make an end, I desire you in God’s behalf, remember this pilgrimage, which I have taught you: set not light by it, for it is our Saviour’s own doctrine, he with his own mouth taught us this pilgrimage. When we will now follow him, and do according as he teacheth us, then all these blessings, of which mention is made, shall light upon us; and in the end we shall obtain everlasting life: which grant both you and me, God the Father through his only Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. This saint, as Lord Herbert informs us, was also styled Saint John of Ossulston, who was said to shut up the devil in a boot. – STOW, p. 575.
2. In the Monastery at Walsingham in Norfolk, was a stately and beautiful image of the Virgin Mary, which for the miracles done by it was famed all over England. Erasmus has a humorous account of this place of superstitious resort in his Colloquies.