I Have had frequent occasion to mention Mr. Latimer as a preacher; as indeed he was of the most eloquent and po∣pular of the age, in which he lived; but at this time he appeared in that character in a more advantageous light than he had yet done; having been appointed, during the three first years of king Edward, to preach the lent sermons before the king. The choice of such a preacher was approved by all good men: great irregularities were known to pre∣vail; and Mr. Latimer was acknowledged to be as fit a man as any in the nation to detect and censure them.
The court of king Edward VI, and indeed the whole frame of his government, was in as great disorder as almost any court or any go∣vernment could be, in the worst of times. The example of the young king was noble and instructive, and would by degrees, no doubt, have had its influence; but as he was now only a boy, and in the hands of others, he had little weight. Nor was the protector a man qualified to curb licentious spirits. He Page 103was of an easy nature, and though he wished to see things in order, yet he could contribute little more than a good example to keep them so. As the principal springs were thus weak, it is no wonder if the inferior movements were irregular. A minority was thought the season for every one to make his claim; and such claims were made by all who had any pretensions to court-favours, as equally sur∣prised and scandalized all sober observers. The spoils of an hundred and sixty monaste∣ries, instead of satisfying, had increased the avarice of the courtiers. Having already pruned away all the superfluous parts, and much superfluity there was, from the re∣venues of the church, they began now to lop off those vital branches, which were ne∣cessary for its support. Insomuch, that there was scarce a benefice in the nation of any con∣siderable value, on which some greedy courtier was not pensioned. To this insatiable avarice was added a licentiousness of manners, be∣yond the example of former times.
A court thus corrupt, produced its necessa∣ry consequence, corruption in every order of the state. Never was justice worse admini∣stered: never were the dispensers of it more Page 104venal. The public offices too were equally corrupt, especially those of the revenue, where most scandalous depredations were made. Nor did the country retain its innocence. Here the gentry practised those arts of avarice and rapine which they had learned at court, and taught the people all those vices, to which indigence gives birth, While the clergy, in∣stead of qualifying in some degree this cor∣rupt mass, by a mixture of piety and devo∣tion, incorporated with it, and even increased its malignity by an addition of as bad, if not of worse ingredients.
This was the state of practical religion in the nation, when Mr. Latimer was called to the office of a court-preacher. As to his ser∣mons, which are still extant, they are far from being exact pieces of composition. Elegant writing was then little known. Some polite scholars there were, Cheek, Ascham, and a few others, who, from an acquaintance with classical learning, of which they were the re∣storers, began to think in a new manner, and could treat a subject with accuracy at least, if not with elegance. But in general, the writers of that age, and especially the church-men, were equally incorrect in their composition, and slovenly in their language. We must not, Page 105therefore, expect that Mr. Latimer's discourses will stand a critical inquiry: they are at best loose, incoherent pieces: yet his simplici∣ty, and low familiarity, his humour, and gibing drollery, were well adapted to the times; and his oratory, according to the mode of elo∣quence at that day, was exceeding popular. His manner of preaching too was very affect∣ing: and no wonder; for he spoke imme∣diately from his heart.
His abilities, however, as an orator, made only the inferior part of his character as a preacher. What particularly recommends him is, that noble and apostolic zeal, which he exerts in the cause of truth. And sure no one had an higher sense of what became his office; was less influenced by any sinister mo∣tive, or durst with more freedom reprove vice, however dignified by worldly distinctions.
It is in this light then, in which I would particularly recommend him; and shall there∣fore, in the following pages, give the reader some instances, in his own words, of that spi∣rit, with which he lashed the courtly vices of his time.
In his first sermon, which is addressed chiefly to the king, he opens his commission: "The preacher, says he, cannot correct the king, if Page 106he be a transgressor, with the temporal sword, but with the spiritual; fearing no man, set∣ting God only before his eyes, under whom he is a minister to root up vice. Let the preacher therefore, never fear to declare the message of God. And if the king will not hear, then let the preacher admonish him, pray for him, and so leave him unto God." He then pro∣ceeds to point out to the king his duty, in se∣veral instances.
In his second sermon, he lashes the clergy. "It is a marvel, says he, if any mischief be in hand, if a priest be not at one end of it. — I will be a suitor to your grace, to give your bishops charge ere they go home, upon their allegiance to look better to their flock. And if they be found negligent, out with them: I require it in God's behalf, make them quon∣dams, all the pack of them; your majesty hath divers of your chaplains, well learned men, and of good knowledge, to put in their place: and yet you have some that are bad enough, hangers on of the court, I mean not these. But if your majesty's chaplains, and my lord protector's, be not able to furnish their places, there is in this realm, thanks be to God, a great sight of laymen, well-learned in the Page 107scriptures, and of a virtuous and godly con∣verstion, better learned than a great sight of us the clergy. This I move of conscience to your grace. And let them not only do the function of bishops, but live of the same: and not, as in many places, that one should have the name, and another the profit. What an enormity is this, for a man to serve in a civility, and have the profit of a provostship, and a deanery, and a parsonage. But I will tell you what is like to come of it: it will bring the clergy shortly into very slavery.—But I fear one thing, that for saving a little money, you will put chantry-priests into be∣nefices. Christ bought souls with his blood; and will you sell them for gold arid silver? I would not have you do with chantry-priests, as was done with abbots. For when their enormities were first read in the parliament, they were so abominable, that there was no∣thing but, Down with them: but within a while after, the same abbots were made bishops, as there be some of them yet alive, to save their pensions. O Lord! think you that God is a fool, and seeth it not?"
Afterwards, warning the king against flat∣terers, he tells him that God says, If the king Page 108shall do his will, he shall reign long, he and his children. "Wherefore, says he, I would have your grace remember this, and when any of these flatterers, and flibber-gibbers another day shall come, and claw you by the back, and say, Sir, trouble not yourself: what should you study for? why should you do this or that? your grace may answer them thus, What, sirrah? I perceive you are weary of us. Doth not God say in such a place, that a king should fear God, that he may reign long? I perceive now, that thou art a traytor. Tell him this tale once, and I warrant you he will come no more to you."
He then speaks of the delay of justice, and the abuses in the law. "I hear of many mat∣ters, says he, before my lord protector, and my lord chancellor, that cannot be heard. I must desire my lord protector's grace to hear me in this matter; and that your grace would likewise hear poor mens suits yourself. Put them to none other to be heard: let them not be delayed. The saying is now, that money is heard every where: if a man be rich, he shall soon have an end of his matter. Others are fain to go home with tears, for any help they can obtain at any judge's hand. Hear mens suits Page 109yourself, I require you, in God's behalf; and put them not to the hearing of these velvet-coats, and upskips. Now a man can scarce know them from ancient knights of the coun∣try.—A gentlewoman came to me, and told me, that a certain great man keepeth some lands of hers from her; and that in a whole year she could but get one day for the hear∣ing of her matter; and on that day the great man brought on his side, a sight of lawyers for his counsel, and that she had but one man of the law; and the great man so shakes him, that he cannot tell what to do; so that when the matter came to the point, the judge was a mean to the gentlewoman, that she would let the great man have a quietness in her land. I beseech your grace, that you will look to these matters. Hear them yourself. View your judges; and hear poor mens causes. And you, proud judges, hearken what God saith in his holy book: Hear the poor, saith he, as well as the rich. Mark that saying, thou proud judge. The devil will bring this sentence at the day of doom. Hell will be full of such judges, if they repent not and amend. They are worse than the wick∣ed judge, Christ speaketh of: for they will Page 110neither hear men for God's sake, nor fear of the world, nor importunity, nor any thing else. Yea, some of them will command them to ward, if they be importunate. I heard say, that when a suitor came to one of them, he said, What fellow is it that giveth these folks counsel to be so importunate? He should be committed to ward. Marry, Sir, com∣mit me then: it is even I that gave them that counsel. And if you amend not, I will cause them to cry out upon you still, even as long as I live."
In this third sermon he lashes the judges again. "Now-a-days, says he, the judges are afraid to hear a poor man against the rich: they will either pronounce against him, or drive off the suit, that he shall not be able to go through with it. But the greatest man in the realm cannot so hurt a judge as a poor widow; such a shrewd turn can she do him. The cries of the poor ascend to heaven, and call down vengeance from God. — Cambises was a great emperor, such another as our master is: he had many lord presidents, lord deputies, and lieutenants under him. It chanc∣ed he had under him, in one of his domini∣ons, a briber, a gift-taker, a gratifier of rich men. The cry of a poor widow came to Page 111the emperor's ears; upon which be •layed the judge quick, and laid his skin in the chair of judgment; that all judges, that should give judgment afterwards should sit in the same skin. Surely it was a goodly sign, the sign of the judge's skin: I pray God, we may once see the sign of the skin in England."
Before he concludes, he speaks of the pro∣gress of the reformation. "It was yet, he said, but a mingle-mangle, and a hotch-potch: I cannot tell what, says he, partly popery, and partly true religion mingled together. They say in my country, when they call their hogs to the swine-trough, Come to thy mingle-mangle, come pur, come. Even so do they make mingle-mangle of the gospel. They can clatter and prate of it, but when all com∣eth to all, they joined popery so with it, that they marred all together." — In this ser∣mon too he inveighs against debasing the coin, and shews the bad consequences of it. The passage is quoted at length by Mr. Folkes, in his treatise upon English coins.
In his fourth sermon, he again taxes the bishops. "Thou shalt not, says he, addres∣sing himself to the king, be partaker of other mens sins. So saith St. Paul. And what is Page 112it to be a partaker of other mens sins, if it be not so, to make unpreaching prelates, and to suffer them to continue still in their un∣preaching prelacy. If the king should suffer these things, and look through his fingers, and wink at them, should not the king be a par∣taker of other mens sins? And why? Is he not supreme head of the church? What? Is the supremacy a dignity, and nothing else? Is it not accountable? I think verily it will be a chargeable dignity, when account shall be asked of it. — If the salt is unsavoury, it is good for nothing. By this salt is understood preachers. And if it is good for nothing, it should be cast out. Out with them then, cast them out of their office. What should they do with cures, that will not look to them?—Oh that a man might have the con∣templation of hell; that the devil would al∣low a man to look into it, and see its state, as he shewed all the world, when he tempt∣ed Christ in the wilderness. On yonder side, would the devil say, are punished unpreaching prelates. I think verily a man might see as far as a kenning, as far as from Calais to Dover I warrant you, and see nothing but unpreach∣ing prelates.—As for them, I never look to Page 113have their good words as long as I live. Yet will I speak of their wickedness, as long as I shall be permitted to speak. No preacher can pass it over in silence. It is the original root of all mischief. As for me, I owe them no other ill-will, but to pray God to amend them. I would have them do their duty. I owe them no other malice than this, and this is none at all."
In his fifth sermon he again lashes the judges, and patrons of livings. "If a judge, ••ys he, should ask me the way to hell, I •••uld shew him this way: first let him be covetous man; then let him go a little ••rther, and take bribes, and lastly, let him pervert judgment. Lo, here is the mother, and the daughter, and the daughter's daugh∣ter 〈◊〉. Avarice is the mother; she brings i• th• bribe-taking, and bribe-taking pervert∣ing of judgment. There lacks a fourth thing to make up the mess, which, so God help 〈◊〉, if I were judge, should be a Tyburn tippit. Were it the judge of the king's-bench, my lord chief judge of England, yea, were it my lord chancellor himself, to Tyburn with him.—〈◊〉 one will say, peradventure, you speak un∣••••mly so to be against the officers, for taking Page 114of rewards: you consider not the matter to the bottom. Their offices be bought for great sums: now how should they receive their money again, but by bribing? you would not have them undone. Some of them give two hundred pounds, some five hun∣dred, some two thousand; and how can they gather up this money again, but by helping themselves in their office?—And is it so, trow ye? Are civil offices bought for money? Lord God! who would have thought it it! Oh! that your grace would seek through your realm for men, meet for offices, yea, and give them liberally for their pains, rather than that they should give money for them. This buying of offices is a making of bribery: for he that buyeth, must needs sell. You should seek out for offices wise men, and men of activity, that have stomachs to do their business; not milk-sops, nor white-livered knights; but fearers of God: for he that feareth God, will be no briber.—But perhaps you will say, we touch no bribes. No, marry; but my mistress, your wife, hath a fine finger; she toucheth it for you; or else you have a servant, who will say, if you will offer my master a yoke of oxen, you will fare never Page 115the worse: but I think my master will not take them: When he has offered them to the master, then comes another servant, and says, if you will carry them to the clerk of the kitchen, you will be remembered the bet∣ter. This is a frierly fashion: they will re∣ceive no money in their hands, but will have it put upon their sleeves."
Speaking of venal patrons, he cries but, "O Lord, in what case are we! I marvel the ground gapes not, and devours us. Surely, if they used their religion so in Turkey, the Turk used not to suffer it in his common∣wealth. Patrons are charged to see the office done, not to get lucre by his patronship. There was a patron in England, that had a benefice fallen into his hand, and a good brother of mine came unto him, and brought him thirty apples in a dish, which he gave to his man to carry to his master. Having presented them, he said, Sir, such a man hath sent you a dish of fruit, and desireth yon to be good to him for such a benefice. Tush, quoth he, this is no apple matter; I will have hone of his ap∣ples: I have as good as these in my own orchard. The man came to the priest again, and told him what his master said. Page 116Then, quoth the priest, desire but to prove one of them for my sake: he shall find them better than they look for. Upon this, he cut one of them, and found ten pieces of gold in it. Marry, quoth he, this is a good apple. The priest standing not far off, hearing what the gentleman said, cried out, they all grow on one tree, I warrant you, Sir, and have all one taste. Well, this is a good fellow; let him have the benefice, quoth the patron. Get you but a graft of this tree, and it will serve you in better stead, I warrant you, than all St. Paul's learning. But let patrons take heed; for they shall answer for all the souls that perish through their default; and yet this is taken for a laughing matter.—I desire your majesty to remedy these matters; and see re∣dress in this realm in your own person. Al∣though, my lord protector, I doubt not, and the rest of the council do, in the mean time, all that lieth in their power to redress things."
He begins his sixth sermon with taxing the fashionable vices of the age. He begins with duelling, and exclaims against the remissness of the law in punishing it. "I do not know, says he, what you call chance-medley in the law: the law is not my study. I am a scho∣lar Page 117in scripture, in God's book: I study that; and I know what is murder in the sight of God. I fall out with a man; he is angry with me, and I with him; and lacking op∣portunity and place, we put it off for that time. In the mean season I prepare my weapon, and sharp it against another time. I swell and boil in my mind against my adver∣sary: I seek him; we meddle together; it is my chance, by reason my weapon is better than his, and so forth, to kill him: I give him his death stroke in my vengeance. This I call voluntary murder from scripture: what it is in the law I cannot tell.—A searcher in London, executing his office, displeased a mer∣chant. They had words, and the merchant kills him. They that told me this tale, say, it is winked at: they look through their fin∣gers, and will not see it. Whether it is taken up with a pardon or not, I know not; but this I am sure of, that if you bear with such matters, the devil will bear you away to hell. — O Lord! what whoredom is used now-a-days! It is marvel that the earth gapeth not, and swalloweth us up. God hath suffered long of his great mercy; but he will punish sharply at length, if we do not repent.—There Page 118are such dicing-houses also, they say, as have not been wont to be; where young gentlemen dice away their thrift, and where dicing is, there are other follies also. For the love of God let remedy be had. Men of England, in time past, when they would ex∣ercise themselves, were wont to go abroad in the fields a shooting. The art of shooting hath been in times past much esteemed in the realm, in which we excel all other na∣tions. In my time, my poor father was as diligent to teach me to shoot, as to learn me any other thing; and so I think other men did their children. He taught me how to, draw, how to lay my body in my bow, and to draw not with strength of arm, as other na∣tions do, but with strength of body. But now we have taken up whoring in towns, instead of shooting in fields. I desire you, my lords, even as you have the honour of God at heart, and intend to remove his indignation, let there be sent forth some proclamation, some sharp proclamation, to the justices of peace; for they do not their duty. Justices now be no justices."—In the following part of his dis∣courses he ridicules an argument for the pope's supremacy, made use of by cardinal Pool, in Page 119his book against king Henry. "Jesus cometh, saith he, to Simon's boat: now come the papists, and they will make a mystery of it: they will pick out the supremacy of the bishop of Rome in Peter's boat. We may make alle∣gories enough of every part of scripture; but surely, it must needs be a simple matter, that standeth on so weak a ground. If you ask, why to Simon's boat, rather than to any other? I will answer, as I find by experience in my∣self, I came hither to-day from Lambeth in a wherry, and when I came to take my boat, the watermen came about me, as the manner is, and he would have me, and he would have me. I took one of them. Now you will ask me, why I came in that boat rather than any other? Why, because it was next me, and stood more commodiously for me. And so did Christ by Simon's boat: it stood nearer to him, or mayhap he saw a better seat in it.—It follow∣eth in the text, that he taught sitting. Preach∣ers, belike, were sitters in those days. I would our preachers would preach either sit∣ting or standing.— The text doth not tell us what he taught. If I were a papist now, I could tell you what he said; as pope Nicho∣las and bishop Lanfrank did, who tell us that Page 120Christ said thus. Peter, I do mean, by thus sitting in thy boat, that thou go to Rome, and be bishop there five and twenty years after mine ascension; and that all thy successors shall be rulers of the universal church after thee.—Well; it followeth in the text, launch out into the deep. Here Peter was made a great man, and all his successors after him, say the papists. And their argument is this, he spake to Peter only, and in the singular number; therefore he gave him pre-eminence above the rest. A goodly argument! I wene it to be a syllogismus. Well; I will make a like argument. Our Saviour Christ said to Judas, when he was about to betray him, What thou dost, do quickly. He spake in the singular number to him; therefore he gave him pre-eminence.—Belike, he made him a cardinal; and it might full well be, for they have followed Judas ever since.
In this sermon, likewise, he again attacks the clergy. "Christ tells us, saith he, it be∣hoved him to preach the gospel, for therefore was he sent. Is it a marvellous thing, that our unpreaching prelates can read this place, and yet preach so little as they do? I marvel that they can go quietly to bed.—The devil hath set up a state of unpreaching prelacy Page 121these seven hundred years, and hath made unpreaching prelates. — I heard of a bishop of England, that went on a visita∣tion, and when he should have been rung in∣to the town, as the custom is, the great bell's clapper was fallen down. There was a great matter made of this, and the chief of the pa∣rish were much blamed for it in the visitation; and the bishop was somewhat quick with them. They made their answers, and ex∣cused themselves as well as they could: it was a chance, they said; and it should be amend∣ed as shortly as it might be. Among them there was one wiser than the rest, who comes up to the bishop: "Why, my lord, says he, doth your lordship make so great a matter of the bell that lacketh a clapper? Here is a bell, saith he, and pointed to the pulpit, that hath lacked a clapper these twenty years." I war∣rant you, this bishop was an unpreaching pre∣late: he could find fault with the bell that wanted a clapper to ring him into town, but he could find no fault with the parson that preach∣ed not at his benefice. — I came once myself to a place, riding on a journey, and sent word over-night into the town, that I would preach there in the morning, because it was a holi∣day. The church stood in my way, and I took Page 122my horse, and rode thither, thinking I should have found a great company at church. When I came there, the church-door was fast lock∣ed. I tarried there half an hour and more: at last, one of the parish comes to me, and says, Sir, this is a busy day with us, we cannot hear you: it is Robin Hood's day: the parish are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood; I pray you hinder them not. And so I was fain to give place to Robin Hood. And all this cometh of unpreaching prelates: if the bishops had been preachers, there should never have been any such thing.—They upbraid the peo∣ple with ignorance, when they were the cause of it themselves."
He concludes his sermon with an address to the king. "I know no man, saith he, that hath greater labour than the king. What is his labour? To study God's book: to see that there be no unpreaching prelates in his realm, nor bribing judges; to see to all estates; to provide for the poor; to see that victuals are good and cheap. And is not this a labour, trow ye?—Christ teacheth us by his example, that he abhorreth all idleness; when he was a carpenter, he did the work of his calling; and when he was a preacher, he did the work Page 123of that calling: he was no unpreaching pre∣late,"
His seventh sermon was preached upon Good-friday, and is adapted to the day. It affords little opportunity, therefore, of dwelling upon the corruptions of the age. He begins with recapitulating the subjects of his former discourses, "I have intreated, says he, of such matters as I thought fit for this auditory. I have had ado with many estates, even with the highest of all. I have intreated of the duty of kings, of the duty of magistrates, and judges, and of the duty of prelates: and I think there is none of us, neither preacher nor hearer, but may be amended, and redress our lives. We may all say, yea, all the pack of us, we have sinned with our fathers, and done wickedly.—You that be of the court, and espe∣cially the sworn chaplains, beware of a lesson, which a great man taught me upon my first coming to court. He told it me for good-will, and thought it well. You must beware, said he, however you do, not to contrary the king: let him have his sayings, and go with him. Marry, out upon this, counsel: shall I say, as he saith? ay your conscience, or else what a worm shall you feel gnawing? Page 124what remorse shall you have, when you re∣member how you have slacked your duty?"
In this sermon he gives his opinion of the fathers. Having found fault with an inter∣pretation, which Origen hath given of a pas∣sage of scripture; "These doctors, says he, we have great cause to bless God for; but I would not have them always allowed. They have handled many points of our faith very godly; and we may have a great stay upon them in many things: we might not well lack them. But yet, I would not have men to be sworn to them, and so addict, as to take hand over head whatsoever they say: it were a great inconvenience so to do."
In his last sermon, which he acquaints his audience, shall be the last be will ever preach in that place, he touches upon all the parti∣cular corruptions of the age. He begins it thus: "Take heed, and beware of covetous∣ness: take heed and beware of covetousness; take heed and beware of covetousness: take heed and beware of covetousness: and what if I should say nothing else these three or four hours, but these words?— Great complaints there are of it, and much crying out, and much preaching; but little amendment, that Page 125I can see—Covetousness is the root of all evil. Then have at the root: out with your swords, ye preachers, and strike at the root. Stand not ticking and toying at the branches, for new branches will spring out again, but strike at the root, and fear not these great men; these men of power; these oppressors of the needy; fear them not, but strike at the root."
In this sermon he addresses himself fre∣quently, and with great freedom to the king. "I come now, says he, rather as a suiter to your majesty, than a preacher: for I come to take my last farewel in this place: and here I will ask a petition. For the love of God take an order for marriages here in Eng∣land. There is much adultery now-a-days, not only in the nobility, but among the in∣ferior sort. I could wish, therefore, that a law might be provided in this behalf, and that adulterers might be punished with death. If the husband, or wife should become suiter, they might be pardoned the first time, but not the second.—And here I have another suit to your majesty: when you come to age, be∣ware what persons you have about you. For if you be set on pleasure, or disposed to wan∣tonness, you shall have ministers enough to Page 126be fartherers and instrumentss of it.—Fear not foreign princes, and foreign powers. God shall make you strong enough: fear him; fear not them. Peradventure you shall have that shall move you, and say unto you; "oh, Sir, such a one is a mighty prince, and a king of great power: you cannot be without his friendship: agree with him in religion, or else you shall have him your enemy." Well; fear them not; cleave to God; and he shall defend you: though you should have that would turn with you, yea, even in their white rochets.—Beware, therefore, of two affections, fear, and love. And I require you, look to your office yourself, and lay not all on the of∣ficers backs. Receive bills of supplication yourself. I do not see you do now-a-days, as you were wont to do last year. Poor men put up bills every day, and never the nearer. Begin, therefore, doing of your office your∣self, now when you are young; and sit once or twice in the week in council among your lords: it will cause things to have good suc∣cess, and matters will not be so lingered from day to day."
With equal spirit he taxes the inferior or∣ders of men. "Ye noblemen, says he, I Page 127wot not what rule ye keep, but for God's sake, hear the complaints of the poor. Many complain against you, that ye lie in bed till eight, nine, or ten o'clock. I cannot tell what revel ye have over night, whether banquet∣ing, dicing, carding, or how it is: but in the morning, when poor suiters come to your houses, ye cannot be spoke with. They are kept sometimes without your gates; or if they be let into the hall, or some outer chamber, out cometh one or other; Sir, you cannot speak with my lord yet, he is asleep. And thus poor suiters are driven from day to day, that they cannot speak with you. For God's love, look better to it; speak with poor men, when they come to your houses, and dispatch poor suiters. I went one day myself betimes in the morning to a great man's house, to speak with him of business. And methought, I was up betimes: but when I came thither, the great man was gone forth about such affairs as be∣hoved him. Well, thought I, this is well: I like this. This man doth somewhat regard his duty. I came too late for my own mat∣ter, and lost my journey; but I was glad to be so beguiled. For God's sake, ye great men, follow this example: rise in the mornings: Page 128be ready for suiters that resort to you; and dispatch them out of hand.—In the city of Corinth, one had married his step-mother: he was a jolly fellow, a great rich man, belike an alderman of the city, and so they winked at it, and would not meddle with the matter. But St. Paul hearing of it, wrote unto them, and in God's behalf, charged them to do away such abomination from among them: nor would he leave them, till he had excommu∣nicated that wicked person. If ye now should excommunicate all such wicked persons, there would be much ado in England. But the magistrates shew favour to such, and will not suffer them to be rooted out, or put to shame. Oh! he is such a man's servant, we may not meddle with him. Oh! he is a gentleman, we may not put him to shame. And so lechery is used throughout all England; and such le∣chery as is used in no other part of the world. And yet it is made a matter of sport, a laugh∣ing matter, not to be heeded. But beware, ye magistrates; for God's love beware of this leaven. I would wish that Moses's law might be restored for punishment of lechery.—Fear not man, but God. If there be a judg∣ment between a poor man, and a great man, Page 129what, must there be a corruption of justice? Oh! he is a great man, I dare not displease him. Fie upon thee! art thou a judge, and wilt be afraid to give right judgment? Fear him not, be he never so great a man, but up∣rightly do true justice. Likewise some pastors go from their cure: they are afraid of the plague: they dare not come nigh any sick body; but hire others, and they go away themselves. Out upon thee: the wolf cometh upon thy flock to devour them, and when they have most need of thee, thou runnest away from them. The soldier also, that should go to war, will draw back as much as he can. Oh! I shall be slain! Oh! such and such went, and never came back! such men went into Norfolk, and were slain there. But if the king commandeth thee to go, thou art bound to go. Follow thy occupation: in serving the king, thou shalt serve God.
Ye bribers, that go secretly about taking bribes, have in your minds, when ye devise your secret fetches, how Elizeus's servant was served, and was openly known. For God's proverb will be true: there is nothing hid, that shall not be revealed. He that took the silver bason and ewer for a bribe, think∣eth Page 130that it will never come out; but he may now know that I know it; and not only I, but there be many more that know it. It will never be merry in England, till we have the skins of such. For what needeth bribing, where men do their business uprightly. I have to lay out for the king three thousand pounds: well, when I have laid it out, and bring in mine account, I must give three hundred marks to have my bills warranted. If I have done truly and uprightly, what need I give a penny to have my bills warranted? If I do bring in a true account, wherefore should one groat be given? Smell ye nothing in this? What need any bribes be given, except the bills be false?—Well, such practice hath been in England; but beware, it will out one day.—And here now I would speak to you, my mas∣ters minters, augmentationers, receivers, sur∣veyors, and auditors: ye are known well enough what ye were afore ye came to your offices, and what lands ye had then, and what ye have purchased since, and what buildings ye make daily. Well: I doubt not but there be some good officers among you, but I will not swear for all.— And for the love of God, let poor workmen be paid. They make their Page 131moan, that they can get no money. The poor labourers, gun-makers, powder-men, bow-makers, arrow-makers, smiths, carpenters and other crafts cry for their wages. They be un∣paid, some of them, three or four months, some of them half a year, yea, some of them put up bills this time twelve month for their money, and cannot be paid yet.— The first lent I preached here, I preached of restitu∣tion: Restitution, quoth some, what should he preach of restitution? let him preach of contrition, and let restitution alone: we can never make restitution. Then say I, if thou wilt not make restitution, thou shalt go to the devil. Now choose thee either restitution, or damnation. There be two kinds of restitu∣tion, secret and open: and whether of the two be used, if restitution be made, it is well enough. At my first preaching of restitution, one man took remorse of conscience, and ac∣knowledged to me, that he had deceived the king; and was willing to make restitution: so the first lent, twenty pounds came to my hands for the king's use. I was promised twenty pounds more the same lent, but it could not be made up, so that it came not. Well, the next lent came three hundred and twenty Page 132pounds more: I received it myself, and paid it to the king's council. There I was asked, what he was that had thus made restitution? But should I have named him? nay, they should as soon have had this wesand of mine. Well; now this lent came one hundred and eighty pounds more, which I have paid this present day to the king's council. And so this man hath made a goodly restitution. If every one who hath beguiled the king (said I to a certain nobleman, who is one of the king's council) should make restitution after this sort, it would cough up the king, I warrant you, twenty thousand pounds. Yea, quoth the other, a whole hundred thousand pounds. Alack, alack! make restitution; for God's sake make restitution: you will cough in hell else, that all the devils will laugh at your coughing. There is no remedy: restitution or hell. Now this is of secret restitution. Some examples have been of open restitution. I am not afraid to name one: it was master Sherington, an honest gentleman, and one that God loveth. He openly confessed, that he had deceived the king, and made open restitution. Oh, what an argument may he have against the devil!"
Page 133I will conclude these extracts, with his own apology for his free speaking. "England, says he, cannot abide this geer; it cannot hear God's minister, and his threatning against sin. Though the sermon be never so good, and never so true, strait, he is a seditious fellow, he maketh trouble and rebellion in the realm, he lacketh discretion. The Ninevites re∣buked not Jonas, that he lacked discretion, or that he spake out of time. But in England, if God's preacher be any thing quick, or speak sharply, then he is a foolish fellow, and lack∣eth discretion. Now-a-days, if they cannot reprove the doctrine, they will reprove the preacher: what! preach such things now! He should have respect to the time, and the state of things. It rejoiceth me, when my friends tell me, that people find fault with my discretion: for by likelihood, think I, the doctrine is true: for if they could find fault with the doctrine, they would not charge me with the lack of discretion, or the inconve∣niency of the time. I will ask you a question: I pray you, when should Jonas have preached against the covetousness of Nineveh, if the co∣vetous men should have appointed him his time? I know that preachers ought to have Page 134discretion in their preaching; and that they ought to have a consideration, and respect to the place and the time, where and when they preach: and I say here what I would not say in the country for no good. But what then? Sin must be rebuked: sin must be plainly spo∣ken against."
Thus far Mr. Latimer: superior to all cor∣ruption himself, he kept in awe a licentious court. Nor will the reader take offence at my multiplying upon him so many large quo∣tations. I not only thought them very va∣luable remains, but a very necessary ornament likewise to this part of my history. For it would have been impossible to have given a true idea, in any words but his own, of that noble zeal in the cause of truth, which upon all occasions he exerted, and which makes so principal a part of his character. Nor can we wonder at the effect of his preaching, when we consider its freedom. He charged vice so home upon the consciences of the guilty, that he left no room for self-deceit, or misapplica∣tion: it being a more necessary part, in his opinion, of the preacher's office, to rouze men into a sense of their guilt, than to discourse them merely in the didactic strain; inasmuch as most men know more than they practise.