A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man
Set forth by the King's Majesty of England
Introduction by the Reverend T.A. Lacey
London: R. Browning, 1895.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS of ALMIGHTY GOD.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE FIRST COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
|Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
THIS first commandment, like as it is first in order, so it is the most chief and principal among all the other precepts. For in this first commandment God requireth of us those things, in the which consisteth his chief and principal worship and honour, that is to say, perfect faith, sure hope, and unfeigned love and dread of God.
And therefore it is to be noted, that to have God, is not to have him as we have other outward things, as clothes upon our back, or treasure in our chests, nor also to have him in our mouth outwardly, or to worship him with kneeling, or such other gestures only: but to have him our God, is to conceive him in our hearts, to cleave fast and surely unto him with heart and mind, to put all out-trust and confidence in him, to set all our thoughts and care above all things to please him, and to depend wholly of him, taking him to be infinitely good and merciful unto us, being his creatures, and continuing in his flock.
Secondly, God commandeth us thus to do to him only, and to no creature, nor to no false and feigned God. For as a kind and loving man cannot be content that his wife should take any other husband; so cannot our most kind and most loving God and Creator be pleased if we should forsake him, and take any other gods. And surely he is more present with us, and more ready to shew us all kindness and goodness, than any creature is or can be. And already of his gift we have all that we have, meat, drink, clothe, reason, wit, understanding, discretion, and all good things that we have pertaining both to the soul and the body. And therefore he will not suffer unpunished so much ingratitude and unkindness at our hands, that we should forsake him, and fix our faith and godly trust in any other thing besides him.
Thirdly, by this precept God commandeth us not only to trust thus in him, but also to give him the whole love of our hearts above all worldly things, yea and above ourselves, so that we may not love ourselves, ne any other thing but for him, according as Moses saith in the book of Deuteronomy, Thy Lord God is one God, and thou shalt love him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength and power. And this love must bring with it a fear that even for very pure love we ought to be much ashamed and afraid to break the least of his commandments. Like as the child, the more he loveth his father, the more he is loath and afraid to displease him in any manner of case.
Fourthly, all they offend against this commandment, which set their hearts and minds upon any worldly thing above God. For whatsoever we love above God, so that we set our minds upon it more than we do upon God, or for it we will offend God, truly we make that for the time our god. For, as St. Paul saith, The covetous man maketh his goods his god. And, The gluttonous man maketh his belly his god. For the one setteth his mind upon his goods, the other upon his belly, more than they do upon God; and for them they will not stick to offend God.
Also, all they which have more confidence in the creatures of God than in God, do make the creatures of God their god. And how grievously God is offended therewith, we find in the book of Paralipomenon, where it is written, that when Asa king of Judah, being sore constrained by Baasha king of Israel, sent for help to Ben-hadad king of Syria, and gave him great treasure for to allure him to his aid, our Lord sent the prophet Hanani to Asa the king of Judah, who said unto him on this manner: Because thou hast trusted in the king of Syria, and not in thy Lord God, therefore the host of the king of Syria is escaped from thy hands. Were not they of Ethiopia and Libya of far greater power, both in chariots and horsemen, and in number and multitude, which were innumerable? and yet our Lord (as long as thou diddest put thy trust in him) did yield them into thy hands. The eyes of God do behold all the world, and giveth strength to them that trust in him with all their heart. In which words it doth appear, that it is laid to Asa's charge that he did not believe in our Lord, because he did more trust in Ben-hadad, the heathen prince, than in our Lord.
It is noted also in the same chapter, that whereas Asa had very great pain in his feet, he sought not to our Lord for remedy of his disease, but trusted more in the art and remedy of physic. Whereby we may learn, that it is one great part of perfect belief in our Lord God to put our trust and confidence most principally and above all other in him. Wherefore they that do otherwise do transgress this commandment, and make to them other gods.
Also, all they transgress this commandment, which either presume so much upon the mercy of God, that they fear not his justice, and by reason thereof do still continue in their sin, or else so much fear his justice that they have no trust in his mercy. Also they be of the same sort, which by lots, divination, chattering of birds, and looking of men's hands, or other unlawful or superstitious crafts, take upon them certainly to tell, determine, and judge beforehand of men's acts and fortunes, which be to come afterward. For what do they but make themselves gods in this behalf? As the prophet Esay saith, Tell us afore what shall come, and we shall say that ye be gods.
Also, all they which by charms and witchcrafts do use any prescribed letters, signs or characts, words, blessings, rods, crystal stones, sceptres, swords, measures, or for any superstitious intent, charms or witchcrafts, hang St. John's Gospel, or any other thing about their necks, or any other parts of their bodies, or use to drink holy water, or any other such vain observation, trusting thereby to continue in long life, to drive away sickness, to preserve them from sickness, fire, water, or any other peril, otherwise than physic or surgery doth allow, do also offend against this commandment.
But most grievously of all, and above all other, they do offend against this commandment, which profess Christ, and, contrary to their profession made at their baptism, do make secret pacts and covenants with the Devil; or do use any manner of conjurations to raise up devils for treasure, or any other thing hid or lost, or for any manner of cause, whatsoever it be; for all such commit so high offence and treason to God, that there can be no greater. For they yield the honour due unto God to the Devil, God's enemy. And not only all such as use charms, witchcrafts, and conjurations, transgress this chief and high commandment, but also all those that seek and resort unto them for any counsel or remedy, according to the saying of God, when he said, Let no man ask counsel of them that use false divinations, or such as take heed to dreams, or chattering of birds. Let there be no witch or enchanter amongst you, or any that asketh counsel of them that have spirits, nor of soothsayers, nor that seek the truth of them that be dead; for God abhorreth all these things.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE SECOND COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shall not have any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in earth beneath, or in the water under the earth, to the intent to do any godly honour and worship unto them.|
BY these words we be not forbidden to make or to have similitudes or images, but only we be forbidden to make or to have them to the intent to do godly honour unto them, as it appeareth in the 26th chapter of Leviticus.
And therefore, although images of Christ and his saints be the works of men's hands only, yet they be not so prohibited but that they may be had and set up both in churches and in other places, to the intent that we (in beholding and looking upon them, as in certain books and signs) may call to remembrance the manifold examples of virtues which were in the saints whom they do represent. And so may they rather be provoked, kindled, and stirred, to yield thanks to our Lord, and to praise him and his said saints, and to remember and lament our sins and offences, and to pray God that we may have grace to follow their goodness and holy living.
As for an example, the image of our Saviour hangeth on the cross in the rood, or is painted in clothes, walls, or windows, as an open book, to the intent, that besides the examples of virtues which we may learn at Christ, we may he also many ways provoked to remember his painful and cruel passion, and also to consider ourselves, when we behold the same image, and to condemn and abhor our sin, which was the cause of his so cruel death. And furthermore, considering what high charity was in him, that would die for us his enemies, and what great dangers we have escaped, and what high benefits we receive by his redemption, we may be provoked in all our distresses and troubles to run for comfort unto him. All these lessons, with many more, be brought to our remembrance by the book of the rood, if we being first well instruct and taught what is represented and meant thereby, do diligently behold and look upon it. And as our Saviour Christ is represented by this image of the rood, even so the holy saints which followed him be represented unto us by their images: and therefore the said images may well be set up in churches, to be as books for unlearned people, to put them in remembrance of those saints, of whom they may learn examples of faith, humility, charity, patience, temperance, and of all other their virtues and gifts of God, which were in them: for which causes images may be set in the church, and ought not to be despised, but to be used reverently, although we be forbidden to do any godly honour unto them. These lessons should be taught by every curate to their parish. And whereas we use to cense the said images, and to kneel before them, and to creep to the cross, with such other things; yet we must know and understand, that such things be not nor ought to be done to the image itself, but to God, and in his honour, although it be done afore the image, whether it be of Christ, of the cross, or of our lady, or of any other saint.
Against this commandment did offend generally, before the coming of Christ, all Gentiles and people that were of the nation of Israel. For they did godly honour unto images, and worshipped false gods, some one, some another, of the Which sort there was a great number. For besides their common gods, every country, every city or town, every house and family, had their proper gods; whereof is much mention made in authors, both Christian and heathen. And these Gentiles, though they had knowledge of a very God, yet (as St. Paul saith) they had idle and vain phantasies, which led them from the truth; and where they counted themselves wise, they became fools.
And against this commandment offended the Jews many and sundry times, and almost continually. For notwithstanding that they professed the knowledge and worshipping of the very true God, yet they fell to the adoration of images, idols, and false gods; as the holy scripture maketh mention in many places.
Also all they do greatly err, which put difference between image and image, trusting more in one than in another, as though one could help or do more than another, when both do represent but one thing, and, saving by way of representation, neither of them is able to work or do any thing.
And they also do err that be more ready with their substance to deck images gorgeously, than with the same to help poor Christian people, the quick and living images of God, which is the necessary work of charity commanded by God. And they also offend, that so dote in this behalf that they make vows and go on pilgrimages even to the images, and there do call upon the same images for aid and help, phantasying that either the image will work the same, or else some other thing in the image, or God for the image sake, as though God supernaturally wrought by images carved, engraven, or painted, brought once into churches, as he doth naturally work by other his creatures. In which things, if any person heretofore hath or yet doth offend, all good and learned men have great cause to lament such error and rudeness, and to put their studies and diligences for the reformation of the same.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE THIRD COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in vain.
IN this commandment God requireth of us to use his name with all honour and reverence. Whereupon you shall understand, that the right use of the name of God, and the true honour of the same, standeth chiefly in these things following; that is to say, in the constant confession of his name, and maintaining of his doctrine, in the right invocation of him, in the giving of due thanks unto him, as well in adversity as in prosperity. For Christ saith, He that openly confesseth me before men, I shall confess him before my Father in heaven; and he that is ashamed of me, to confess my name before men, I will be ashamed of him before my Father in heaven. In which words Christ teacheth us not only to profess the name of God, but also boldly and constantly to defend the same, and not to swerve from it for any manner of persecution or injury.
We must also, in our tribulation and necessity, and in all temptations and assaults of the Devil, invocate and call upon the name of God. For God accounteth his name to be hallowed, magnified, and worshipped, when we call upon him in our need. Call upon me, saith he, in the time of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt honour me. And again the Wise Man saith, The name of God is the most strong tower; the righteous man runneth to it, and he shall be holpen.
Furthermore, we may not seek our own name, laud, and fame, but utterly avoid and eschew the desire of all worldly honours, glory, and praise, and must give all laud, praise, and thanks unto God for his benefits, which be so many in number, and so great, that we ought never to cease from such lauds and thanks, like as the prophet David admonisheth us, saying, Offer unto God the sacrifice of laud and praise. And St. Paul commandeth us, whensoever we eat, drink, or do any manner business, to give honour, praise, and thanks unto God.
And finally, they that be appointed to be ministers of God's word, must also preach the word of God truly and purely, and set forth the name of God unto other, and reprove all false and erroneous doctrine, heresies, and idolatries. And although the bishops and priests only be specially called and deputed to be public ministers of God's Word, teachers, preachers, and interpreters of the same; yet every Christian man is bound particularly by good example of living, and according to the godly knowledge that he hath learned, to teach and order his family, and such as be under his governance within his house, when time and place requireth. So that as much as in him lieth, he suffer not sin to be used in his rule and family, but virtue to be used and exercised.
Secondly, by this precept we be commanded to use the name of God to all goodness and truth. And contrariwise, we be forbidden in the same to use his name to any manner of evil, as to lying, deceiving, or any untruth. And therefore against this commandment they do offend that swear in vain. They swear in vain that swear without lawful or just cause; for that they take the name of God in vain, although the thing which they swear be true. And likewise do all they which for every light and vain thing be ready to swear unprovoked, or provoked of light cause; and they that do glory in outrageous oaths, or of custom do use to swear, or that do swear a false oath, and be forsworn wittingly. And such an oath is not only perjury, but also a kind of blasphemy, and is high dishonour and injury to God, because such persons as make such oaths do wittingly bring God for a false witness, who is all truth, and hateth all untruth.
They also do take the name of God in vain, which swear any thing that is true or false, they being in doubt whether it be true or false, and do not afore well examine and discuss whether it be true or false; or that swear that thing to be false, which though indeed it be false, yet they think it to be true; or swear that thing to be true, which though indeed it be true, yet they think it to be false.
They also do swear in vain, which swear to do that thing which they intend not to do, or swear to forbear that which they intend not to forbear, or swear to do any thing which to do is unlawful, or swear to leave any thing undone which to omit or leave undone is neither right nor reasonable. And all such as swear to do things unlawful, not only offend in such swearing, but also they much more offend, if they perform the thing which they do swear.
They also break this commandment which make any oath contrary to their lawful oath or promise made before, so long as their promise standeth in strength, which in no wise it doth, if it be contrary to the laws of God, or to the due obedience to the princes and their laws.
They also break this commandment, which by rewards or fair promises, or by power or fear, do induce or constrain any man to be perjured.
They also break this commandment, which either by preaching or teaching, or by pretence of holy living, do abuse this holy name to their own vain glory, or to any other ungodly purpose. And generally all evil Christian men, which profess the name of Christ, and live not according to their profession, do also take the name of God in vain, in words confessing Christ, and denying him in deeds.
They also break this commandment, which in trouble do murmur or grudge, and do not call upon the name of God, nor do thank him in all things, both sweet and sour, good and evil, welfare and evil fare. For God doth send us many troubles and adversities, because we should run to him, cry to him for help, and call upon his holy name.
Thirdly, forasmuch as the gifts of health of body, health of soul, forgiveness of sins, the gift of grace or life everlasting, and such other, be the gifts of God, and cannot be given but by God; whosoever maketh invocation to saints for these gifts, praying to them for any of the said gifts, or any such like, which cannot be given but by God only, yieldeth the glory of God to his creature, contrary to this commandment. For God saith to his prophet, I will not yield my glory to any other. Therefore they that so pray to saints for these gifts, as though they could give them, or be givers of them, transgress this commandment; yielding to a creature the honour of God. Nevertheless, to pray unto saints to be intercessors with us and for us to our Lord in our suits which we make unto him, and for such things as we can obtain of none but of him, so that we esteem not or worship not them as givers of those gifts, but as intercessors for the same, is lawful, and allowed by the catholic church: and if we honour them any other ways than as the friends of God, dwelling with him, and established now in his glory everlasting, and as examples which were requisite for us to follow in holy life and conversation; or if we yield unto saints the adoration and honour which is due unto God alone, we do (no doubt) break this commandment.
Finally, it is to be considered, that because no temple, ne church, nor altar ought to be made but only to God, (for to whom we make temple, church, or altar, to him, as St. Augustine saith, we do sacrifice; and sacrifice we may do to none but to God;) therefore where we use in our English tongue to call the temples, churches, or altars by the name of any saint, as the church or altar of our lady, the church or altar of St. Michael, of St. Peter, of St. Paul, and so of other saints, the true meaning thereof is, and ought to be taken, that the said altars and churches be not dedicate to any saints, but to God only, and be of the saints but a memorial to put us in remembrance of them, that we may follow their example and living, and also to make a knowledge of diversity between one church or altar and another. And therefore, if we mean otherwise than here is declared when we call them churches or altars of saints, we yield the honour of God from him to the saints, and break this commandment.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.
AS touching this commandment, it is to be noted, that this word sabbote is an Hebrew word, and signifieth in English rest: so that the sabbath day is as much to say as the day of rest and quietness. And there is specially a notable difference between this commandment and the other nine commandments. For, as St. Austin saith, All the other nine be merely moral commandments, and belonged not only to the Jews, and all other people of the world in the time of the Old Testament, but also belong now to all Christian people in the New Testament. But this precept of the sabbath, as concerning rest from bodily labour the seventh day, is ceremonial, and pertained only unto the Jews in the Old Testament, before the coming of Christ, and pertaineth not unto us Christian people in the New Testament. Nevertheless, as concerning the spiritual rest which is figured and signified by this corporal rest, that is to say, rest from the carnal works of the flesh, and all manner of sin, this precept is moral, and remaineth still, and bindeth them that belong unto Christ; and not for every seventh day only, but for all days, hours, and times. For at all times we be bound to rest from fulfilling of our own carnal will and pleasure, and from all sins and evil desires, from pride, disobedience, ire, hate, covetous-ness, and all such corrupt and carnal appetites, and to commit ourselves wholly unto God, that he may work in us all things that be to his will and pleasure. And this is the true sabbath or rest of us that be christened, when we rest from our own carnal wills, and be not led thereby, but be guided by God and his Holy Spirit. And this is the thing that we pray for in the Paternoster, when we say, Father, let thy kingdom come to us. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Reign thou in us. Make that we may do thy will, and from our corrupt will we may rest and cease. And for this purpose God hath ordained fast, watch, and labour, to the end that by these and such other exercises we might mortify and kill the evil and sinful desires of the flesh, and attain this spiritual rest and quietness which is figured and Signified in this commandment.
Furthermore, besides this spiritual rest, which chiefly and principally is required of us, we be bound by this precept at certain times to cease from bodily labour, and to give our minds entirely and wholly unto God, to hear the divine service approved, used, and observed in the church, and also the word of God, to acknowledge our own sinfulness unto God, and his great mercy and goodness unto us, to give thanks unto him for his benefits, to make public and common prayer for all things needful, to visit the sick, to instruct every man his children and family in virtue and goodness, and such other like works. Which things, although all Christian people be bound unto by this commandment, yet the sabbath day, which is called the Saturday, is not now prescribed and appointed thereunto as it was to the Jews; but instead of the sabbath day succeedeth the Sunday, in the memory of Christ's resurrection. And also many other holy and festival days, which the church hath ordained from time to time, which be called holy days, not because that one day is more acceptable to God than another, or of itself more holy than another, but because the church hath ordained that upon those days we should give ourselves wholly without any impediment unto such holy works as be before expressed, whereas upon other days we may do and apply ourselves to bodily labour, and be thereby much letted from such holy and spiritual works.
And to the intent the ignorant people may be the more clearly instructed what holy and spiritual works they ought to do upon the holy day, here followeth a brief declaration thereof. First, let them make an account with themselves how they have bestowed the week past, remembering what evil minds and purposes they have had, what words they have spoken, what things they have done or left undone, to the dishonour and displeasure of God, and to the hurt of their neighbour, and what example or occasion of evil they have given unto other. And when they have thus recollected and considered all these things in their minds, then let them humbly knowledge their faults unto God, and ask forgiveness for the same, with unfeigned purpose in their hearts to convert and return from their naughty lives, and to amend the same; and let them also clearly and purely in their hearts remit and forgive all malice and displeasure which they bear to any creature. Then let them fall unto prayer, according to the commandment of Christ, where he saith, When you begin to pray, forgive whatsoever displeasure you have against any man. And when they be weary of prayer, then let them use reading of the word of God, or some other good or heavenly doctrine, so that they do it quietly, without disturbance of other that be in the church; or else let them occupy their minds with wholesome and godly meditations, whereby they may be the better; and they that can read may be well occupied upon the holy day, if, in time and place convenient, they read soberly and quietly unto other, such as they have charge of, such good books as be allowed, which may be unto them instead of a sermon: for all things that edify man's soul in our Lord God be good and wholesome sermons.
And truly if men would occupy themselves upon the holy days, and spend the same days holily after this form and manner, not only in the house of God, but also in their own houses, they should eschew thereby much vice, confound their ancient enemy the Devil, much edify both themselves and other, and finally attain much grace and high reward of Almighty God.
Also men must have special regard that they be not over scrupulous or rather superstitious in abstaining from bodily labour upon the holy day. For notwithstanding all that is afore spoken, it is not meant but we may upon the holy day give ourselves to labour for the speedy performance of the necessary affairs of the prince and the commonwealth, at the commandment of them that have rule and authority therein. And also in all other times of necessity, as for saving of our corn and cattle, when it is like to be in danger, or like to be destroyed, if remedy be not had in time. For this lesson our Saviour teacheth us in the gospel; and we need not to have any scruple or grudge in conscience, in such case of necessity, to labour on the holy days; but rather we should offend if we should for scrupulosity not save that God hath sent for the sustenance and relief of his people. And yet in such times of necessity (if their business be not very great and urgent) men ought to have such regard to the holy day that they do bestow some convenient time in hearing divine service, as is aforesaid.
Against this commandment generally do offend all they which will not cease from their own carnal wills and pleasures.
Also they, which, having no lawful impediment, do not give themselves upon the holy day to hear mass, to hear the word of God, to remember the benefits of God, to give thanks for the same, to pray, to exercise such holy works as be appointed for such days, but (as commonly is used) pass the time either in idleness, in gluttony, in riot, or other vain or idle pastime, do break this commandment. For surely such keeping of holy day is not according to the intent and meaning of this commandment, but after the usage and custom of the Jews, and doth not please God, but doth much more offend him, and provoke his indignation and wrath towards us. For, as St. Austin saith of the Jews, they should be better occupied labouring in their fields, and to be at plough, than to be idle at home. And women should better bestow their time in spinning of wool, than upon the sabbath day to lose their time in leaping or dancing, and other idle wantonness.
All they do also offend against this commandment, which do hear the word of God, and give not good heed thereunto that they may understand it, or if they do understand it, yet they endeavour not theirselves to remember it, or if they remember it, yet they study not to follow it.
And all they break this commandment which in mare time do occupy their minds with other matters, and like unkind people remember not the passion and death of Christ, nor give thanks unto him: which things in the mass time they ought specially to do. For the mass, wherein after the consecration is really present the very blessed body and blood of Christ, is celebrate in the church for a perpetual memory of his death and passion.
And likewise do all those, which in such time as the common prayers be made, or the word of God is taught, not only themselves do give none attendance thereunto, but also by reading, walking, talking, and other evil demeanour, let other that would well use themselves.
And likewise do all they which do not observe, but despise such laudable ceremonies of the church, as set forth God's honour, and appertain to good order to be used in the church. And therefore concerning such ceremonies of the church as have been institute by our forefathers, and be allowed by the princes or kings of the dominions, which next to God be the chief heads of the churches, although men ought not to have so fond opinion of the said ceremonies to think that they have power to remit sin, yet they be very expedient things, either to excite or stir up men's devotion, and to cause them to have the more reverence toward the sacraments; as the hallowing of the font, of the chalice, of the corporace, of the altar, and other like exorcisms and benedictions done by the ministers of Christ's church; or else to put us in continual remembrance of those spiritual things which be signified by them. As sprinkling of holy water doth put us in remembrance of our baptism, and of the blood of Christ, sprinkled for our redemption upon the cross. Giving of holy bread doth put us in remembrance of the sacrament of the altar, which we ought to receive in right charity; and also that all Christian men be one body mystical of Christ, as the bread is made of many grains, and yet but one loaf. Bearing the candles on Candlemas daf doth put us in remembrance of Christ, the spiritual light, of whom Simeon did prophesy, as is read in the church that day. Giving ashes on Ash-Wednesday doth put us in remembrance that every Christian man should consider that he is but ashes and earth, and thereunto he shall return. Bearing of palms on Palm-Sunday doth put us in remembrance of the receiving of Christ into Jerusalem a little before his death, and that we must have the same desire to receive him in our hearts. Creeping to the cross on Good Friday, and there offering unto Christ before the same, and kissing of it, declareth our humble submission and thanksgiving to Christ for our redemption, which he hath wrought for us upon the cross. And so finally the setting up of the sepulchre of Christ, whose body after his death was buried. And all other like laudable customs, rites, and ceremonies do put us in remembrance of some spiritual thing. And therefore they be not to be contemned and cast away, but obediently to be used and continued, as things good and laudable for the purposes abovesaid.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Honour thy father and mother.
IN this commandment, by these words father and mother, is understand not only the natural father and mother which did carnally beget us, and brought us up, but also princes and all other governors, rulers, and pastors, under whom we be nourished and brought up, ordered and guided.
And by this word honour, in this commandment, is not only meant a reverence and lowliness in words and outward gesture, which children and inferiors ought to exhibit unto their parents and superiors, but also a prompt and a ready obedience to their lawful commandments, a regard to their words, a forbearing and suffering of them, an inward love and veneration towards them, reverence, fear, and loathness to displease or offend them, and a good will or gladness to assist them, aid them, succour them, and help them with their counsel, with their goods and substance, and by all other means to their power, as hereafter is declared. This is the very honour and duty which not only the children do owe unto their parents, but also all subjects and inferiors to their heads and rulers.
And that children owe this duty to their fathers, it appeareth in many places of scripture. In the Proverbs it is written, Obey, my son, the chastisement of thy father, and be not negligent in thy mother's commandments. In the Book of Deuteronomy it is also written, Accursed be he that doth not honour his father and his mother. And in the Book of Leviticus it is said, Let every man stand in awe of his father and mother. And if any man have a stubborn and a disobedient son, which will not hear the voice of his father and mother, and for correction will not amend and follow them, then shall his father and mother take him and bring him to the judge of the city, and say, This our son is stubborn and disobedient, and despiseth our admonitions, and is a rioter and a drunkard. Then shall all the people stone him to death; and thou shalt put away the evil from thee, that all Israel may hear thereof, and be afraid. And in the Book of Exodus it is also written, He that striketh his father or mother, he shall be put to death. And likewise, He that curseth his father and mother shall be put to death. And in the Book of Proverbs the Wise Man also saith, He that stealeth any thing from his father or mother is to be taken as a murderer. And although these great punishments of disobedient children by death be not now in the new law in force and strength, but left to the order of princes and governors, and their laws; yet it evidently appeareth how sore God is aggrieved and displeased with such disobedience of children towards their parents, forasmuch as in the old law he did appoint thereunto so grievous punishments. And as Almighty God doth threaten these punishments unto those children which do break this commandment, so he doth promise great rewards to them that keep it. For he that honoureth his father (saith the Wise Man) his sins shall be forgiven him; and he that honoureth his mother is as one that gathereth treasures. Whosoever honoureth his father shall have joy in his own children; and when he maketh his prayer unto God, he is heard. He that honoureth his father shall have a long and a prosperous life.
And as the children by this commandment be bound to honour and obey their parents, according as is afore expressed, so it is implied in the same precept that the parents should nourish and godly bring up their children; that is to say, that they must not only find them meat and drink in youth, and also set them forward in learning, labour, and some other good exercise, that they may eschew idleness, and have some craft or occupation, or some other lawful mean to get their living; but also they must learn them to believe and trust in God, to love him, to fear him, to love their neighbours, to hate no man, to hurt no man, to wish well to every man, and, so much as they may, do good to every man; not to curse, not to swear, not to be riotous, but to be sober and temperate in all things; not to be worldly, but to set their minds upon the love of God and heavenly things more than upon temporal things of the world; and generally to do all that is good, and to eschew all that is evil. And this the parents ought to do, not by cruel entreating of their children, whereby they might discourage them, and provoke them to hate their parents, but by charitable rebuking, threatening, and charitable chastising and correcting of them when they do evil, and cherishing, maintaining, and commending them when they do well. This office and duty of the parents towards their children is witnessed in many places of scripture. First, St. Paul writeth thus, Fathers provoke not your children unto anger, but bring them up in the correction and doctrine of God. And in Deuteronomy Almighty God saith, Teach my laws and commandments to thy children. And the Wise Man saith, The rod of correction giveth wisdom: the child that is left to his own will shall be confusion to his mother. And in another place he saith, He that spareth the rod hateth his son; and he that loveth him will see him corrected. And in another place he saith, See thou withdraw not from thy child discipline and chastising; if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die: thou shalt strike him with a rod, and shalt thereby deliver his soul from hell. And on the other side it is written, The son untaught and unchastised is the confusion of his father. And for this cause we find in the Book of the Kings, how that our Lord conceived great indignation against Eli the chief priest, because he did not duly correct his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, when he knew that they did grievously offend God; and how, in revenging of their father's negligence and remiss-ness in correcting of his children, Almighty God took from Eli and all his issue and household for ever, the office of the high priesthood; and how his two sons Hophni and Phinehas were slain both upon a day, and Eli their father brake his neck. This example of Eli is necessary for fathers to imprint in their hearts, that they may see their children well taught and corrected, lest they run into the great indignation of Almighty God, as Eli did; and not only in this world have confusion, but also in the world to come have damnation for the misorder of their children through their default: and they must not think that it is enough to speak somewhat to them when they do amiss; for so did Eli to his sons, and yet our Lord was not pleased because he did not much more sharply correct them, and see them reformed: but when words will not serve, the fathers and mothers must put to sharper correction, and by such discipline save their souls, or else they shall answer to God for them. And truly they greatly deserve the indignation of God, that when they have received of him children do not bring them up to his service, but, without regard what cometh of them, suffer them to run into the service of the Devil. Wherefore all fathers ought diligently to consider and remember how much and how grievously they offend God, and of how many evils they be the cause, which either bring up their children in wantonness and idleness, and do not put them forth betime to some faculty, exercise, or labour, whereby they may after get their living, or occupy their life to the profit and commodity of the common weal; or else do suffer their children in youth to be corrupted for lack of good teaching and good bringing up in the true knowledge of God and of his will and commandments; or commit in word or deed such things in the presence of their children, whereof the young tender hearts of the said children (which like a small twig be inclinable every way, and by frailness of youth be inclined to evil) do take so evil example, and corruption of vices, and worldly affections, that hard it will be for them after to eschew the same.
This commandment also containeth the honour and obedience which subjects owe unto their princes; and also the office of princes towards their subjects. For scripture taketh princes to be as it were fathers and nurses to their subjects. And by scripture it appeareth, that it appertaineth unto the office of princes to see that the right religion and true doctrine of Christ be maintained and taught, and that their subjects be well ruled and governed by good and just laws, and to provide and care that the people and common weal may increase, and to defend them from oppression and invasion, as well within the realm as without, their subjects aiding them thereunto j and to see that justice be ministered unto them indifferently; and to hear by themselves or by their ministers benignly all their complaints, and to shew toward them (although they offend) fatherly pity. And finally so to correct them that be evil, that they had yet rather save them than lose them, if it were not for respect of justice and maintenance of peace and good order in the common weal. And therefore all their subjects must again on their parts, and be bound by this commandment, not only to honour and obey the said princes, according as subjects be bound to do, and to owe their truth and fidelity unto them as unto their natural lords; but they must also love them as children do love their fathers, yea they must more tender the surety of their prince's person and his estate than their own or any others: even like as the health of the head is more to be tendered than the health of any other member.
And by this commandment also subjects be bound not to withdraw their said fealty, truth, love, and obedience towards their princes for any cause whatsoever it be, ne for any cause they may conspire against his person, ne do any thing towards the hinderance or hurt, thereof, nor of his estate.
And furthermore by this commandment they be bound to obey also all the laws, proclamations, precepts, and commandments, made by their princes and governors, except they be against the commandments of God. And likewise they be bound to obey all such as be in authority under their prince, as far as he will have them obeyed. They must also give unto their prince aid, help, and assistance, whensoever he shall require the same, either for surety, preservation, or maintenance of his person and estate, or of the realm, or of the defence of any of the same against all persons. And whensoever subjects be called by their prince unto privy-council, or unto the parliament, where is the general council of this realm, then they be bound to give unto their prince, as their learning, wisdom, or experience can serve them, the most faithful counsel they can, and such as may be to the honour of God, to the honour and surety of his regal person and state, and to the general wealth of this his whole realm.
And further, if any subject shall know of any thing which is or may be to the noyance or damage of his prince's person or estate, he is bound by this commandment to disclose the same with all speed to the prince himself, or to some of his council. For it is the very law of nature that every member shall employ himself to preserve and defend the head. And surely wisdom and policy will the same: for of conspiracy and treason cometh no goodness, but infinite hurt, damage, and peril to the common weal.
And that all subjects do owe unto their princes and governors such honour and obedience as is aforesaid, it appeareth evidently in sundry places of scripture, but specially in the Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter. For St. Paul saith in this manner: Every man must be obedient unto the high powers, for the powers be of God. And therefore whosoever resisteth the powers, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist the ordinance of God shall get to themselves damnation: for rulers are not fearful to them that be good, but to them that do evil. Wilt not thou fear the power? Do well, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God for thy wealth. But if thou do evil, then fear, for he beareth not the sword without cause; for he is the minister of God to punish the evil doer: therefore you must obey, not only for the fear of punishment, but also because of conscience. And for this cause ye pay tributes; for they be God's ministers, serving for the same purpose. Give therefore to all men that is due; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honour to whom honour is due. And St. Peter saith, Obey unto all sorts of governors for God's sake, whether it be unto the king as unto the chief head, or unto rulers as unto them that be sent of him to punish evil doers, and to cherish them that do well. And shortly after it followeth, Fear God, honour the king.
And there be many examples in scripture of the great vengeance of God that hath fallen upon rulers, and such as have been disobedient unto their princes. But one principal example to be noted is of the rebellion which Kore, Dathan, and Abiram made against their governors Moses and Aaron. For punishment of which rebels God not only caused the earth to open and to swallow them down, and a great number of other people with them, with their houses and all their substance, but caused also the fire to descend from heaven, and to burn up two hundred and fifty captains, which conspired with them in the said rebellion.
Moreover all Christian men be bound by this commandment to exhibit due honour and reverence unto the spiritual fathers and parents which have cure and charge of their souls, as unto those who be appointed by God to minister his sacraments unto the people, and to feed them with his word, and by the same to conduct and to lead them the straight way to the Father in heaven everlasting.
And our Saviour Christ in the gospel maketh mention as well of the obedience as of the corporal sustenance which all Christian people do owe unto their spiritual fathers. Of the obedience he saith, That whosoever receiveth you receiveth me. And in another place he saith, He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me. And St. Paul saith, Obey your prelates, and give place unto them: for they have much charge and much care for your souls, as they which must give an account therefore, that they may do it with joy and not with grief) that is to say, that they may gladly and with much comfort do their cure and charge when they do perceive that the people be obedient to their teaching. Like as contrariwise, although they be bound to do it, yet the people give them little comfort to do it, when they find them disobedient and repugnant.
And for the sustenance of their living, which is comprised in this word honour, as is before declared, Christ saith in the gospel, The workman is worthy his wages. And St. Paul saith, Who goeth on warfare upon his own stipend? And who planteth the vine, and eateth no part of the fruit? And who feedeth the flock, and eateth no part of the milk? And after followeth, Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. And therefore in another place it is written, Priests that rule well be worthy of double honour, specially they that labour in the ministration of the word of God and his doctrine. In which place the apostle meaneth by double honour, not only the reverence which is due unto the spiritual fathers, as is aforesaid, but also sufficiency of all things necessary and requisite, as well for their sustenance and finding, as for the quiet and commodious exercising and executing of their said office.
Finally, in this commandment is contained the honour and obedience of the servant unto his master, that is, to love his master, to be reverent and lowly to him in all his words and gesture, to suffer and forbear him, to be ready with a good will, without murmuration or grudging, to obey all his lawful and reasonable commandments, to fear him, and to be loath to displease him, to be faithful and true unto him, and to his power to procure and do that which is for his master's honesty and profit; and that as well in his master's absence and out of his sight, as when he is present and looketh upon him; according to the words of St. Paul, where he saith, Servants, be you obedient unto your masters with fear and trembling, with simple and plain hearts, as unto Christ, not serving only in their sight, as pleasers of men, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, and with good will, thinking that ye serve God, and not men: and be you sure that of all your good service you shall receive reward of God. And again to Titus he writeth thus: Exhort the servants to be obedient unto their masters, to please them well in all things, not to be patterers and praters against them, nor pickers, nor privy conveyers of their masters' goods; but to shew all truth and faithfulness. St. Peter also biddeth servants to obey their masters with all fear, not only if they be good and gentle, but also though they be froward.
And of the other side, the office and duty of masters to their servants is to provide sufficiently for them of all things necessary, to see them instructed in the knowledge of the commandments of God, and that they observe the same, and not be over rigorous unto them, but with discretion to correct them when they do amiss, and to commend and cherish them when they do well; according to the saying of St. Paul, You that be masters, do unto your servants that is right and reason, knowing that yourselves have also a master in heaven. And in another place he saith, Be not rigorous unto your servants; for you have a master in heaven that regardeth all persons indifferently. And the Wise Man saith, Meat, correction, and work is due unto servants. Set thy servant unto labour, that he be not idle, for idleness bringeth much evil: set him to work, for that belongeth to him: if he be not obedient, correct him.
And in this commandment is also implied, that children and young folks should give due honour and reverence to old men, and to all such as be their masters and tutors to bring them up in learning and virtue, which be in this behalf as fathers unto them, and so as fathers must be honoured and obeyed.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt do no murder.
IN this commandment is forbidden not only bodily killing, and all manner of violent laying of hands upon any man, as striking, cutting, wounding, and all manner of bodily hurting, by act or deed; but also all malice, anger, hate, envy, disdain, and all other evil affections of heart, and also all slander, backbiting, scolding, banning, railing, scorning, or mocking, and all other evil behaviour of our tongue against our neighbours, which all be forbidden by this commandment, for they be roots and occasions of murder and other bodily hurt.
The contrary of all these things be commanded by this commandment, that is to say, that we should with our hearts love our neighbours, and with our tongues speak well of them and to them, and in our acts and deeds do good unto them, shewing towards them in heart, word, and deed, patience, meekness, mercy, and gentleness, yea though they be our adversaries and enemies. And that this is the true sense and meaning of this commandment, it appeareth by the exposition of our Saviour Christ in the Gospel, where he declareth that we should neither hurt any man in deed, nor speak of him or unto him maliciously or contemptuously with our tongues, nor bear malice or anger in our hearts; but that we should love them that hate us, say well by them that say evil by us, and do good unto them that do evil unto us. And according to the same saying of Christ, St. John saith also, that he that hateth his brother is a mankiller.
It is not forbidden by this commandment but that all rulers and governors, as princes, judges, fathers, masters, and such other, may, for the correction of them which be under their governance, use such manner of punishment, either by rebukeful or sharp words, or by bodily chastising, as the laws of every realm do permit. And not only they may do thus, but also they be bound so to do, (unless they see reasonable cause to the contrary,) and offend God if they do it not, as is before declared in the fifth commandment.
All rulers also must beware and take heed that in their corrections and punishments they do not proceed upon any private malice of their hearts, or displeasure towards any man, or for any lucre, favour, or fear of any person; but that they have their eye and consideration only upon the reformation and amendment of the person whom they do correct, or else upon the good order and quietness of the common weal, so that still there may remain in their hearts charity and love towards the person they punish. And like as the father loveth his child even when he beateth him, even so a good judge, when he giveth sentence of death upon any guilty person, although he shew outwardly sharpness and rigour, yet inwardly he ought to love the person, and to be sorry and heavy for his offences, and for the death which he himself by the law doth and must needs condemn him unto. And although inferior rulers and governors may correct and punish such as be under their governance, yet they may not punish by death, nor mutilate, maim, or imprison them, or use any corporal violence towards them, otherwise than is permitted by the high governor, that is to say, by the prince and his laws, from whom all such authority doth come. For no man may kill, or use such bodily coercion, but only princes, and they which have authority from princes; ne the said princes, nor any for them, may do the same, but by and according to the just order of their laws and ordinances.
Moreover no subjects may draw their swords against their prince for any cause, whatsoever it be, nor against any other (saving for lawful defence) without their prince's licence: and it is their duty to draw their swords for the defence of their prince and realm, whensoever the prince shall command them so to do. And although princes, which be the chief and supreme heads of their realms, do otherwise than they ought to do, yet God hath assigned no judges over them in this world, but will have the judgment of them reserved to himself, and will punish them when he seeth his time. And for amendment of such princes that do otherwise than they should do, the subjects may not rebel, but must pray to God, which hath the hearts of princes in his hands, that he so turn their hearts unto him, that they may use the sword which he hath given them unto his pleasure.
Against this commandment offend all they which do kill, maim, or hurt any man without just order of the law, and giveth counsel, aid, favour, provocation, or consent thereto.
And also all they which may (if they will) by their authority or lawful means deliver a man from wrongful death, mutilation, hurt, or injury, and will not do it, but will wink thereat, and dissemble it, be transgressors of this commandment.
And all judges, which, seeing no sufficient matter or cause of death, or upon light trial, without sufficient examination and discussion, give sentence of death; or when the matter or cause of death is sufficient, and the trial good, yet delight in the death of the person, be transgressors of this commandment.
And likewise, be all those which in causes of life and death being impannelled upon inquests, do lightly condemn or indict any person, without sufficient evidence, examination, and discussion of the informations given unto them. And moreover all those which either in such causes do give false evidence or information, either wittingly, contrary to their own conscience, or doubting of the truth of those informations, or without sufficient examination do promote, enforce, or maintain such evidences, informations, or indictments, do also break this commandment.
So do all they which willingly do kill themselves for any manner of cause: for so to do there can be no pretence of lawful cause ne of just order. And therefore he that so doth, killeth at once both body and soul.
Finally, all they which bear hatred and malice against their neighbours, and either maliciously speak words of contempt, despite, checking, cursing, and such other, or else publish their neighbours' offences to their slander rather than to their amendment: and generally all they that live in ire, malice, envy, and murmuring at other men's wealth, or rejoicing at other men's trouble or hurt, or such other like, they offend all against this precept.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
AS touching this word, adultery doth signify properly the unlawful commixtion of a married man with any other woman than with his own wife, or else of a married woman with any other roan than her own husband; yet in this commandment it is taken not only for that, but also for all manner unlawful copulation between man and woman, married and unmarried, and all manner of unlawful use of those parts which be ordained for generation, whether it be by adultery, fornication, incest, or any other mean.
And in lawful matrimony a man may break this commandment, and live unchaste with his own wife, if he do immeasurably or inordinately serve his or her fleshly appetite or lust. And of such the Devil hath power, as the angel Raphael said unto Thobit, They that marry in such wise that they exclude God out of their hearts, and give themselves unto their own carnal lusts, as it were an horse or a mule, which have no reason; upon such persons the Devil hath power.
Also all Christian people ought highly to regard the observation of this commandment, considering how much God is displeased, and what vengeance he hath always taken and ever will take for the transgression of the same. For confirmation whereof you shall understand, that God, in the time of Moses' law, commanded, that whosoever committed adultery should be stoned to death.
And that Almighty God, after the children of Israel had committed adultery with the women of Moab and Midian, commanded first that the heads and rulers of the people should be hanged, for that they suffered the people so to offend God; and afterward commanded also every man to slay his neighbour that had so offended. Insomuch that there was slain of that people the number of twenty-four thousand; and many mo should have been slain, had not Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the high priest, turned the indignation of God from the children of Israel. For this Phinehas, when he saw Zimri, chief of the tribe of Simeon, in the presence of Moses and all the people, go unto a nobleman's daughter of the Midianites, to commit fornication with her, he rose from among all the multitude, and taking a sword in his hand, went into the house where they were, and thrust them both through the bellies: whose fervent mind and zeal God did so much allow, that he did therefore both cease from the farther punishment of the Israelites, and also granted to Phinehas and his successors for ever the dignity of the high priesthood.
Also the tribe and stock of Benjamin was punished for the maintenance of certain persons of the city of Gibeah. which had, contrary to this commandment, shamefully abused a certain man's wife, that of twenty-five thousand and seven hundred men of arms, there remained on life but six hundred.
Moreover Almighty God, for the transgression of this commandment, caused brimstone and fire to rain down from heaven upon all the country of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so destroyed the whole region, both men, women, and beasts, and all that grew upon the earth, reserving only Lot and his two daughters.
These terrible examples, and many other like, Almighty God did shew in times past, to the intent we should have them in our continual remembrance, and should ever stand in awe and fear so to offend God. For though he doth not presently punish us here in this world, as he did the persons afore rehearsed, yet his long patience and forbearing is no allowance or forgiveness of our offences, if we continue still in them, but a sore accumulation and heaping together of God's wrath and indignation against the day of judgment: at which time, instead of this temporal pain, we shall receive everlasting pain; being (as St. Paul saith) excluded from the everlasting kingdom of heaven; and, as Christ saith in the Gospel, and St. John in the Apocalypse, We shall be cast into the burning lake of hell, where is fire, brimstone, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth without end.
Furthermore, in this commandment not only the vices before rehearsed be forbidden and prohibited, but also the virtues contrary to them be required and commanded; that is to say, fidelity, and true keeping of wedlock in them that be married, continence in them that be unmarried, and generally in all persons shamefastness and chasteness, not only of deeds, but of words and manners, countenance and thought; and moreover fasting, temperance, watching, labour, and all lawful things that conduce and help to chastity.
And therefore against this commandment offend all they which take any single woman, or other man's wife, or that in their hearts do covet or desire unlawfully to have them.
For, as Christ saith, Whosoever beholdeth a woman, coveting her unlawfully, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
They also offend this commandment that take in marriage or out of marriage any of their own kindred or affinity, within the degrees forbidden by the law of God.
They also offend this commandment which abuse themselves or any other persons against nature, or abuse their wives in the time of their menstrual purgation.
They also that do nourish, stir up, and provoke themselves or any other to carnal lusts and pleasures of the body, by uncleanly and wanton words, tales, songs, sights, touchings, gay and wanton apparel, and lascivious decking of themselves, or any such wanton behaviour and enticement; and also all those which procure any such act, or that minister house, licence, or place thereunto; and all counsellors, helpers, and consenters to the same, do grievously offend and transgress this commandment. Likewise all they that avoid not the causes hereof so much as they conveniently may, as surfeiting, sloth, idleness, immoderate sleep, and company of such, both men and women, as be unchaste and evil disposed, be guilty of the transgression of this commandment.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt not steal.
UNDER the name of theft or stealing, in this commandment, is understand all manner of unlawful taking away, occupying, or keeping of another man's goods, whether it be by force, extortion, oppression, bribery, usury, simony, unlawful chevisance or shifts, or else by false buying and selling, either by false weights, or by false measures, or by selling of a thing counterfeit for a true, as gilt copper for true gold, or glass for precious stones; and generally all manner of fraud and deceit.
And like as the vices before rehearsed be forbidden by this precept, even so sundry virtues, contrary to the said vices, be commanded by the same; as, to deal truly and plainly with our neighbours in all things, to get our own goods truly, to spend them liberally upon them that have need, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harborough the harbourless, to comfort the sick, to visit the prisoners; and, finally, to help our neighbours with our learning, good counsel, and exhortation, and by all other good mean that we can.
Against this commandment offend all they which by craft or violence, upon the sea or land, spoil, rob, or take away any other man's servant or child, land or inheritance, horse, sheep, or cattle, fish, fowl, conies, or deer, money, jewels, apparel, or any other thing which is not their own.
Likewise offend all they against this commandment which have goods given to an use, and put them not to the same use, but keep them to their own advantage, as masters of hospitals and false executors, which convert the goods given to the sustentation of the poor folks, and to other good and charitable uses, unto their own profit; and also all they which receive rent or stipend for any office, spiritual or temporal, and yet do not their office belonging thereunto, be transgressors of this commandment.
And so all they which take wages or fee, pretending to deserve it, and yet do not indeed, as labourers and hired servants, which loiter, and do not apply their business; and likewise advocates, proctors, attorneys, counsellors in any of the laws, which sometime for little pain take much stipend, or by their default and negligence mar good causes, or do any thing to the hinderance of speedy justice for their advantages, do transgress this commandment.
Also all idle vagabonds and sturdy beggars, which, being able to get their living by labour, take such alms wherewith the poor and impotent folks should be relieved and sustained, do offend against this commandment.
Moreover all they transgress this commandment which buy any stolen goods, knowing that they be stolen, or that buy things of them that have none authority to sell them, or alienate them, if they know the same: and likewise do they which withhold goods stolen, or that find things lost, and knowing the owner thereof, will not restore them, or will not do their diligence to know the owner.
They also which defraud their hired servants of their due wages, and they that borrow any thing, or retain any thing delivered unto them upon trust, and will not restore the same again; and they that use false weights or measures, or deceitful wares, or sell their own wares at an unreasonable price far above the just value.
And they that engross and buy up any kind of wares wholly into their own hands, to the intent that they may make a scarceness thereof in other men's hands, and sell it again as they list.
And generally all covetous men, which by any means unlawfully get or unmercifully keep their goods from them that have need, be transgressors and breakers of this commandment.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE NINTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
BY this commandment is forbidden all manner of lying, slandering, backbiting, false reporting, false accusing, evil counselling, and all such misusing of our tongue to the hurt of our neighbours, whether it be in their body or goods, or in their good name and fame. The apostle St. James likeneth the tongue of a man unto the bit of an horse mouth, which turneth the whole horse every way, as pleaseth him that sitteth on the horse back. And he compareth it also to the helm of a ship, whereby all the whole ship is ruled at the pleasure of him that governeth the helm. And, thirdly, he compareth it unto a spark of fire, which, if it be suffered, will burn up an whole town or city. And surely all these comparisons be very apt and meet. For the tongue of a man no doubt is the chief stay of all the whole body, either to do much good or to do much hurt. The voice of the tongue pierceth the hearts of hearers, and causeth them to conceive of other men good or evil opinion. It kindleth or quencheth contention. It disposeth men to war or peace, and moveth the hearers sundry ways to goodness or vice. And like as the great rageous flames that go from house to house come hut of one sparkle, which in the beginning might have been easily quenched, but by negligence and sufferance increaseth and waxeth so great, that no man can resist it; and like as fire is a great commodity many ways, if it be well and wisely used, and contrary an utter destruction, if it be suffered and not taken heed unto; even so of man's tongue, although it be a very small member of the body, yet there cometh exceeding great benefits both to himself and to others, if it be well and wisely governed. And contrariwise, if no heed be taken thereunto, but be suffered to run at large, then it is not one evil alone, but a root and occasion, or rather a heaping together of all evils.
And because that of the tongue cometh so much good or so much evil; therefore by this commandment is not only forbidden all evil use of the tongue, to the hurt of our neighbours, but also in the same is commanded all the good use of the tongue, to the benefit of our neighbours; as, to be true and plain in our words, to be faithful in covenants, bargains, and promises, to testify the truth in all courts, judgments, and other places, to report well of them that be absent, to give good counsel and exhortation to all goodness, to dissuade from all evil: and when we know any man to do amiss, not to publish his fault to other men to his slander, but rather to admonish him privily between him and us, and to seek his reformation; to speak well by our enemies, to pacify and set at one them that be enemies, to excuse them and to answer for them that be unjustly slandered; and generally in all other things to use our tongues in truth, to the wealth of our neighbours.
Against this commandment offend all they which by lying and uttering of false speech deceive and hurt any man: and such liars be the Devil's children. For, as St. John saith in his Gospel, the Devil is a liar, and father of liars. And therefore biddeth St. Paul, that we should put away lying, and speak truth every man to his neighbour.
They also offend against this commandment which be detracters, backbiters, and slanderers, whom the Wise Man doth liken unto serpents, that privily bite or sting men behind, when they be not ware thereof. And surely such men (whatsoever they pretend) go not about to heal and amend them that do amiss, but rather do satisfy their own malice and slanderous tongues. For like as the surgeon that will heal a wound doth cover it and bind it, that it take no open air, so if we intend the amendment of our neighbour's fault, we must not open it abroad to his hurt, but we must be sorry, and pray to God for him, and so taking him to us, we must privily counsel and exhort him. And this loving correction will make him beware and take heed that he offend no more. But if we tell his faults first to one and after to another, and charge every one to keep counsel, as though we had told it to no mo, this is no amendment of his fault, but a declaration of our own, and a reprehension of ourselves, in that we utter forth unto other that thing which we ourselves judge not to be uttered. And surely we condemn ourselves therein, for we should first have kept it secret to ourselves, if we would not another man should utter the same. And therefore the Wise Man saith, If thou have heard any thing against thy neighbour, let it die within thee, and be sure it will not burst thee. And in another place, As evil is he that backbiteth privily, as the serpent which stingeth unawares. And they also offend against this commandment which gladly give ears and be ready to hear such backbiters. For, as St. Bernard saith, Like as the backbiter carrieth the Devil in his mouth, so the hearer carrieth the Devil in his ear: for the detracter is not glad to tell but to him that is glad to hear. And the Wise Man saith, that like as the wind driveth away the rain, even so doth a sad and a displeasant countenance drive away the tongue of the backbiters, and maketh them abashed.
They also break this commandment which with flattering and double tongues go about to please such as be glad to hear complaints. Judges also which give sentence contrary to that which they know to be true, and they that in judgment do hide and suppress the truth, and they that make false pleas to the delay and hinderance of justice, or any otherwise do stop justice. And inquests which upon light grounds, or upon grounds not well examined or discussed, give verdict, be transgressors and breakers of this commandment. And above other, they do transgress this commandment, which in preaching or other ways do teach or maintain any false or erroneous doctrine, contrary to the word of God, or that do teach fables, or men's phantasies and imaginations, affirming them to be the word of God: and such be worse than false witnesses of worldly matters, for they bear false witness against God and his truth.
THE EXPOSITION OF THE TENTH COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
Thou shalt not unjustly desire thy neighbour's house, nor thy neighbour's wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
WHEREAS in the other commandments before rehearsed be forbidden all words and deeds which be against God's pleasure and the love of our neighbours; in this last precept is forbidden the inward consent of the heart to all unlawful motions, desires, delights, inclinations, and affections unto evil; which things be so rooted and planted in all us the children of Adam, even from the first hour of our birth, that although, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and the grace of God given unto us, we do intend never so well, and would most gladly eschew all evil, yet there remaineth in us a disposition and readiness unto such things as be contrary to the will and commandment of God: insomuch that if the grace of God did not help us to stay and resist our naughty thoughts and delight unto sin, the same our concupiscence and naughtiness should be so much, that we should run headlong into sin and mischief, our nature is so corrupt, and we be so far from the perfect obedience unto God's will, which obedience Adam had in the state of innocency. And of this corruption of our nature, and readiness unto evil, complaineth St. Paul, in his Epistle unto the Romans, where he declareth at length, that the nature of man is so full of concupiscence and evil affections, that no man doth or can of himself satisfy or fulfil the law of God: and that the law condemneth all men as transgressors; and that therefore every man for his salvation must have refuge unto the grace and mercy of God, obtained by our Saviour Jesu Christ.
Furthermore, like as in the fifth commandment, under the name of father and mother, is understand all superiors; and in the sixth commandment, under the name of killing, is understand all wrath and revenging; and in the seventh commandment, under the name of adultery, is understand all unchaste living; and in the eighth commandment, under the name of theft, is understand all deceitful dealing with our neighbours; and in the ninth commandment, under the name of false witness, is understand all misreport and untrue use of our tongue; so in this last commandment, under the name of desiring of another man's wife and goods, is understand all manner of evil and unlawful desire of any thing.
And like as in this precept be forbidden evil desires, even so in the same be commanded good desires, good affections, good inclinations to godly things, and the perfect obedience of our hearts unto God's will, which, although we shall not fully and absolutely attain unto whiles we be in this life; yet this commandment doth bind us to enforce and endeavour ourselves thereunto by continual fighting and resisting against the said corruption, concupiscence, and evil desires; forasmuch as by them man is continually tempted to evil deeds and vicious living; according whereunto St. James writeth, Let no man say, when he is tempted to evil, that he is tempted of God. For as God cannot be tempted to evil, so he tempteth no man to evil; but every man is tempted, drawn, and allured by his own concupiscence: then concupiscence, when she hath conceived, bringeth forth sin.
All they be transgressors of this commandment which by deliberation and full consent cast their minds and lusts to accomplish the concupiscence and desire which they have to obtain and get unlawfully another man's wife, child, servant, house, land, cattle, or any thing or goods that be his.
And they also be transgressors of this commandment, which by envy be sorry of their neighbours' wealth and prosperity, or be glad of their sorrow, hinderance, and adversity. And also all they which do not set their minds and studies to preserve, maintain, and defend unto their neighbours (as much as it is in them) their wives, children, servants, houses, lands, goods, and all that is theirs. For (as before is declared) this commandment not only forbiddeth us to desire unlawfully from our neighbour any thing that is his; but by the same we be also commanded gladly to wish and will unto him that he may quietly possess and enjoy all that God hath sent him, be it never so great abundance. And this mind we ought to bear unto every man by this commandment, not only if they be our friends and lovers, but also if they be our enemies and adversaries.