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thynketh thus with himself, yf such a thing be taken away from me, yf such a greate man be angrye wyth me, yf I escape not suche a dawngier : then I am vtterly vndone, then I knowe not whether to runne for aide and succoure, whether then shall I goo? who shall saue or helpe me? yf thou haue any suche thought of any creature, trewly in thine harte thou makest it a god, althoughe wyth thy mouthe thou doest not call it God. And this affeccion lieth lurckyng so deaply hydde within many mens hartes, that they theymselfes scasely feale or perceaue it. But this feare oughte to be remoued farre from vs. For we must cleaue stedfastly by fayth to the trew and lyuynge God, and in all kynde of aduersitie reason on this faschion. Althoughe men of greate power be' myne enemyes, althoughe this or that perrell doeth presse me verye sore, although I see nothinge before myne eyes but present deathe or daunger, yet wyl I not despaire, yet will I not mystrust God, yet wyl I not hurt my soule with sinne. For I am sure that this creature whiche so sore persecuteth, vexeth or troubleth me, is no god, but is vnder the hand and power of the trew lyuinge God: I knowe that one heare of my heade can not be taken away from me, without the wyl of hym, that is onelye and alone the trew liuing God. He is my Maker my Lord and my God, him wil I feare more then the mighty power of any man, more then the crafty imaginations of myne enemyes, yea more then any creature in heauen or in earthe. Yf I be wrongfully entreated, and do suffer iniustli, he can easely delyuer me, and so preserue me, that no parrel shal touch me.
The second way is when men put their hole confidence in other thinges than in God, and have these or suche lyke thoughtes wythin themselfes. I woulde I hadde suche riches or landes, I woulde suche a man were my frende, then shoulde I be ryche, happye and blessed, then should I be sufficiently defended and armed agaynste all chaunces that maye happen vnto me in this worlde. They that thinke thus, haue such riches landes and creatures for a god, although with their tongue they say not so, yea althoughe this affection lye hidde in our hearte so secretly, that we our selfes should scantly knowe of it. But the godly maye not suffer any such thoughtes to entre in to their heartes, but ought thus to reason with theimselues. Although I haue veraye great aboundance of frendes and riches, although I flowe in pleasures honor and glorye, and in all worldely thinges whiche a man can desire, yet by these thinges I haue not true saluation. For these creatures are not God, wherfore they can not saue me, neyther delyuer me from the tyrannie of the Deuyl or the wrath of God. But the Lorde is God alone. Yf I shal displease him, he is able to take al my frendes and riches away from me, or elles otherwayes to brynge to passe that all these thynges shall worke my destruction. wherfore he alone is to be feared, and in him alone we must fasten the anker of our trust and confidence.
The thirde way is when a man so hartely loueth and delighteth in any thyng besydes God, that for it he doeth and suffereth willyngly al thinges that are to be donne or suffered, not greatly regardynge whether it pleaseth or dyspleaseth God, then this man maketh this creature (which he so feruently loueth) his God, although in wordes he doth not vtter it.
But let Christian people weede out from the botome of their hartes the rotes of suche inordinate loue of any creature. And let them thinke after this sorte, wherfore shoulde I offende God for this or that thing, I know that this lucre or this honor vpon the whiche I am tempted and do somuch set my harte, is not God, it is but a creature, which can not saue me, nether delyuer me from death, or any other aduersite. Wherfore I will loue only my God with all myne harte, I wyll do all thinges for his sake chiefly, and I wyll onely aboue all thynges obey him.
Hytherto you haue herde how by these thre wayes, by fearyng, by trustyng, and by louyng, we may easely make a god of a creature, whiche in dede is no God but rather an ydol, set vp by our awne phantasie. But this is an horrible synne agaynst the first commaundement of God, and so muche the more parrellous, because it lurketh in the corners of mannes harte most secretly. The worlde is ful of this synne, and specially they that haue hypocrite hartes, for all their paynted holynes, are infected with the rustenes of these vices. And to thentent that you maye the better knowe these haynous offenses against the first commaundement and the soner eschewe them, I wyll declare them vnto you, by a fewe and shorte examples. Some ther be that do so greatly feare the coniunctions and influencis of the heauenly planettes and bodies aboue, that when they iudge by their lernyng in astronomye, or heare say of other men, that the signes in heauen do threaten commen plages or calamities, by and by they tremble for feare, and not castynge theyr hope and trust in God, they be soo amased that they can not tel whether to runne to aduoyde the daunger. Other ther be that thinke, that when the sonne, moone, or any other planetes is in this or that signe, it is an vnlucky thing to enterprise this or that, and vpon suche dismolde daies (as they call them) they will begyn no new enterprise, because they thinke that it shulde not haue good successe or prosperous ende. And many like kyndes of ydolatrie is vsed euen amonge Christen people. But the prophet Hieremie doth expressely forbyd this in the x. chaptre, sayng. Feare not the signes of the skye, as the hethen do. Furthermore many ther be that stande in suche awe to tyrannes that for feare of them they denye the trew word of God. These men take tyrannes and rulers of this worlde for goddes. For they imagine, that yf suche men fauour them, then they shal be safe for euer. But the prophete Dauid in the cxlvi. Psalme doth gyue contrarye counsell sayng thus. Put not your confidence in princes, in the sonnes of men, in the whiche is no saluation.
Some men also put their hole affiance in money, and phantesye that they whiche haue plentie of money can lacke nothyng. Therfore they gyue themselfes holly to couetusnes and to the desier to hurde vp riches, they set their mynde vpon filthy lucre, they scratche what they can, not regardynge whether they get by right or by wrong.
Suche men wurship their riches for their God. But Sainct Paule in the iii. chapter to the Colossians saieth. Forsake couetusnes whiche is a seruice to ydolles.
Some set their trust in their owne wourkes, thinkyng that by them they may be deliuered from synne, reconcyled to the fauour of God, iustified before him, and by them also to attayne eternal saluacion.
These haue their merites and wourkes in the steade of God. This is the greatest ydolatrie that can be vnder the sunne, and a playne denyall of the faith in Christ, as here after it shall be declared ynto you at large in the treatise of fayth.
Other ther be that be seruauntes to their awne belies gyuynge them selues holly to eatynge and drynkyng, and bodely pleasures, so muche that in comparison of bodily pleasures they eyther dispise or elles forget God. Suche men make their belie their god, as Saint Paule writeth of them saying, Some ther be which sellyng the wourde of God do teache peruersely whose god is their belye. But that thyng where in they do now glorye, shalbe theyr confusion. By these examples you maye easelye perceaue, howe by to muche fearing, trustyng and louyng, we make a god of a creature, which in dede is not God.
And besides these abuses, ther is an other that maketh an ydoll of the trew and lyuyng God. And that is when we imagyn by our owne heades an other forme or shape of God and his wil, than is true in dede, and otherwise than he himself hath declared to vs in his wourde. As for an example, when we beleue that God is a bodely thyng hauynge handes, fete and other membres lyke a man, or that he is more pleased with wearynge of a gray fryars coule or halowed garmentes, than with any other semely apparell, or that he delighte with our wilworkes and wourshyppinges, whiche he neuer commaunded, but we of our braynes haue deuised them. Suche phantasie and false opinion, I saye, maketh an ydoll of the trewe God, and it is a great offense against the first and chefe commaundement. But of this you shal heare more in other sermons.
Wherfore good childerne take hede of suche imaginations that you frame not to your selues within the temple of your hartes any straunge god or ydoll. But suffer the Lorde to be your God, for he doth offer hymselfe very louingly and with a fatherly affection to be your God. Therfore he sayeth to eache of you, I am the Lorde thy God, that is to say, I am youre Lorde and your Father, and I woulde fayne that you should take me for your veray God onely. Yf I am your Lorde, wher is the feare dewe vnto me? Onely feare me as your Lorde, obey me with al your hart, trust in me, praye to me, call vpon me, and loue me good children as your Father.
Yt were our bounden dewtye, to praye vnto him with most feruent desier, that he woulde vouchesafe to be our God. But his goodnes is somuche inclyned towarde vs, that he preuentethe vs, and before we desiere him, he offereth hymselfe to vs, saying. I am the Lorde thy God, only acknowlege me for God. When he sayth I am thy God, it is asmuche as yf he shoulde saye, I wil powre all kindes of benefites vpon thee, whatsoeuer kynde of aduer