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custom in Divine worship. As they wait, their thoughts go back to the beginning of the present series of sermons. At the outset they had been told that the preacher proposed to declare to them two things : God's seed, and God's sowers. He had shown them already that the seed to be sown in God's plough-land was God's word to be sown in the faithful congregation. What would he now say of the sowers ? The preacher-coming from Lambeth Palace—now enters the pulpit. All eyes gaze upon him. What a famous man he is! What a name he is in England! What had that man seen! What had he said! What had he done! What a fight he had waged for eight-and-twenty years against all forms of opposition, craft, and malice! Through how many examinations and trials he had passed! How often had he been in prison, daily expecting death by violence or torture! Preaching constantly when permitted, and standing there ready to preach, though convinced that the preaching of the Gospel would cost him his life, to the which thing he did most cheerfully arm and prepare himself. Yet there he stands, 'sore bruised,' indeed, older far in appearance than in age; yet there he stands, uncrippled and alive. What a merry wit he has ! What a kind and loving heart! What skill he has in attack and in defence! How he relishes the telling of a good story! Dauntless, incorruptible, despising wealth except for charity, an enthusiastic social Reformer, as well as a godly teacher, a lover of the people, Hugh Latimer stands there, and expounds unto them who be the ploughers.”*
He begins his sermon with the text, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” and then he goes on, “And now I shall tell you who be the ploughers, for God's word is a seed to be sown in God's
* Introduction to Latimer's “Sermon on the Ploughers" (Arber's English Reprints).
field, that is the faithful congregation, and the preacher is the sower. And it is in the Gospel ‘A sower went out to sow his seed ;' he that soweth, the husbandman, the ploughman, went forth to sow his seed, so that a preacher is resembled to a ploughman; for preaching the Gospel is one of God's plough works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. And well may the preacher and the ploughman be likened together. First, for their labour is at all seasons of the year. For there is no time of the year in which the ploughman hath not some special work to do, as in my country in Leicestershire the ploughman hath a time to set forth and to assay his plough, and other times for other necessary works to be done. And then they may also be likened together for the diversity of works and variety of offices that they have to do. the ploughman first setteth forth his plough, and then tilleth his land, and breaketh it in furrows, and sometimes ridgeth it up again, and at another time harroweth it, and hedgeth it, and diggeth it, and weedeth it, so the preacher hath many diverse offices to do. He hath first a busy work to bring his parishioners to a right faith, a faith that embraceth Christ and trusteth to His merits, a lively faith, a justifying faith. Now casting them down with the law and threatenings for sin, now ridging them up again with the Gospel and God's promises of favour. Now weeding them, by telling them their faults, and making them forsake sin. Now breaking the stones by making them to have soft hearts, apt for doctrine to enter in. Now teaching to know God rightly, and to know their duty to God and to their neighbours. Now exhorting them when they know their duty that they do it and be diligent in it. Thus they have a continual work to do. They have great labours, and therefore they ought to have good livings, for the preaching of the word of God unto the people is called meat, Scripture calleth it meat; not strawberries, that come but once a year and tarry not long but are soon gone, but it is meat.
It is no dainties. The people must have meat that must be familiar and continual and daily given unto them to feed upon. Many make a strawberry of it, ministering it but once a year, but such do not the office of good ministers."
Then Latimer goes on to speak of those prelates and clergymen who never taught their people, but passed their time in idleness and self-indulgence; and presently he asks, “Who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England that passeth all the rest in doing his office ?” Every one listens eagerly to hear which of the clergy Latimer will name, and then he says, “I will tell you ; it is the devil. He is never out of his diocese, he is never from his cure, ye shall never find him unoccupied, he is ever in his parish, he keepeth residence at all times : ye shall never find him out of the way, call for him when ye will ; he is ever at his plough: ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you. Oh, that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine as Satan is to sow cockle and darnel.” Latimer concludes his sermon with showing how the good King Hezekiah had put down idolatry in his kingdom; and then he says, “Howbeit, there is now very good hope that the king's majesty, being helped by good counsellors, and trained and brought up in learning and knowledge of God's word, will shortly provide a remedy and set an order herein, which thing that it may so be, let us pray for him. Pray for him, good people, pray for him; ye have great cause and need to pray for him.”
The hopes which Latimer placed on Edward VI. were not to be fulfilled by him. In Lent, 1550, Latimer preached his last sermon before the young king. It was against covetousness, and lasted three hours. Shortly afterwards Latimer left London, and went down into Lincolnshire. there at the time of the death of Edward VI., and Mary was
scarcely established on the throne when he was called up to London. He must have known quite well what he was wanted for; but he went up with a brave heart. Mary had resolved to unite the English Church again to Rome; and Latimer had been most earnest in striving to get the English Church purified from the evils and errors which had crept into the Church of Rome. Latimer was brought before the Council; but he steadily refused to sign the articles requiring him to profess faith in the Romish doctrines. Then the old man, now more than sixty years of age, was sent with Cranmer the Archbishop, and Ridley, Bishop of London, to the common gaol at Oxford. Here he remained for sixteen months, but at last was condemned to be burnt at the stake. On an autumn day, October 16, 1555, Latimer and Ridley were brought out of the prison and led to a spot near Baliol College. Here they were fastened to the stake, and the fagots heaped around them. Then some one brought a blazing fagot to set alight to the pile, and he threw this down just at Ridley's feet. Latimer saw this, and turning towards Ridley, he said, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” He then cried out, “O Father of Heaven, receive
soul ;” and bathing his hands a little, as it were in the fire, he soon died, as it appeared with very little pain, reminding one of what Cædmon had sung of the brave youths in the fiery furnace at Babylon
“ Therein they unhurt
Men who held Truth with such hearty faith and such loyal, tender love could not be moved by terror of such a death ; but not only the great minds, the leaders in the struggle to find out the true and right, held the treasure as worth more than life itself, but unlearned men, who 'had received the Truth from the teaching of men like Latimer, clung to it with an instinctive trust and love as strong as that founded on conviction ; and during the five years of Mary's reign, more than three hundred persons suffered death for holding the doctrines of the Reformers. This shows us how widely indifference and self-interest had given place to earnestness and deep concern for the things of God and for a pure and true life. We must notice this, because we shall see, when we come to the time of Queen Elizabeth, how much it has to do with the story of our English Literature. Before passing on to that time, we must also notice the work of two poets who wrote towards the end of the reign of Henry VIII. These are Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey. We have seen in Italy the rise of a bright, imaginative literature, careful and artistic in its outward form, written for the delight of Lorenzo de Medici and his Court. Both Sir Thomas Wyatt and Surrey were students of the Italian literature; and Wyatt is considered to be the first English writer of sonnets. a form of poem specially used in Italian literature ever since the time 'of Petrarch. The sonnet contains fourteen lines, of which the rhymes generally fall as follows :