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declare unto you two things; the one, what seed should be sown in God's field, in God's plough land; and the other, who should be the
That is to say, what doctrine is to be taught in Christ's church and congregation, and what men should be the teachers and preachers of it. The first part I have told you in the three sermons past, in which I have assayed to set forth my plough, to prove what I could do. And now I shall tell you who be the ploughers; for God's word is a seed to be sown in God's field, that is, the faithful congregation, and the preacher is the sower. And it is in the gospel;. “ Exivit qui seminat seminare semen suum he that soweth, the husbandman, the ploughman, went forth to sow his seed. So that a preacher is resembled to a ploughman, as it is in another place;
" Nemo admotâ aratro manu, et a tergo respiciens, aptus est regno Dei.” No man that putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is apt for the kingdom of God. (Luke ix.) That is to say, let no preacher be negligent in doing his office. Albeit this is one of the places that hath been racked, as I told you of racking Scriptures. And I have been one of them myself thật hath racked it, I cry God mercy for it; and have been one of them that have believed and expounded it
THE PREACHER GOD'S PLOUGHMAN.
against religious persons that would forsake their order which they had professed, and would
out of their cloister: whereas indeed it toucheth not monkery, nor maketh any thing at all for any such matter ; but it is directly spoken of diligent preaching of the word of God.
For preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my similitude, in that I compare preaching to the labor and work of ploughing, and the preacher to a ploughman. Ye may not be offended with this
my similitude, for I have been slandered of some persons for such things. It hath been said of me, “Oh, Latimer, nay, as for him, I will never believe him while I live, nor never trust him, for he likened our blessed Lady to a saffron-bag:" where indeed I never used that similitude. But it was, as I have said unto you before now, according to that which Peter saw before in the spirit of prophecy, and said, that there should come afterward, men via veritatis maledictis afficeretur," there should come fellows by whom the way of truth should be evil spoken of, and slandered. But in case I had used this similitude, it had not been to be reproved, but might have been without reproach. For I might have said thus; as the
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saffron-bag that hath been full of saffron, or hath had saffron in it, doth ever after savour and smell of the sweet saffron that it contained; so our blessed Lady, which conceived and bare Christ in her womb, did ever after resemble the manners and virtues of that precious babe that she bare. And what had our blessed Lady been the worse for this? Or what dishonor was this to our blessed Lady? But as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they give not any just occasion to be slandered and ill spoken of by the hearers, so must not the auditors be offended without cause. For heaven is in the gospel likened to a mustardseed; it is compared also to a piece of leaven; and as Christ saith, that at the last day he will come like a thief; now what dishonor is this to God? Or what derogation is this to heaven? Ye may not then, I say, be offended with my similitude, for because I liken preaching to a ploughman's labor, and a prelate to a plough
But now you will ask me whom I call a prelate ? A prelate is that man, whosoever he be, that hath a flock to be taught of him ; whosoever hath any spiritual charge in the faithful congregation, and whosoever he be that hath cure of souls. And well may the preacher and the ploughman be likened to
THE PRELATE'S OFFICES.
gether. First, for their labor in 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 also may be likened together for the diversity of works, and variety of offices that they have to do. For as the ploughman first setteth forth his plough, and then tilleth his land, and breaketh it in furrows, and sometime ridgeth it up again ; and at another time harroweth it and clotteth it, and sometime dungeth it and hedgeth it, diggeth it and weedeth it, purgeth and maketh it clean: so the prelate, the preacher, hath many diverse offices to do. He hath first a busy work to bring his parishioners to a right faith, as Paul calleth it; and not a swerving faith, but to a faith that embraceth Christ, and trusteth to his merits ; a lively faith, a justifying faith ; a faith that maketh a man righteous, without respect of works : as ye have it very well declared and set forth in the Homily. He hath then a busy work, I say, to bring his flock to a right faith, and then to confirm them in the same faith. Now casting them down with the law, and with threatenings of God for sin; now raising them
up again with the gospel, and with the promises of God's favor. Now weeding them, by telling them their faults, and making them forsake sin ; now clotting them, by breaking their stony hearts, and by making them supplehearted, and making them to have hearts of flesh; that is, soft hearts, and apt for doctrine to enter in. Now teaching to know God rightly, and to know their duty to God and their neighbours ; then exhorting them when they know their duty, that they do it, and be diligent Lin it, so that they have a continual work to do.
Great is their business, and therefore great should be their hire. They have great labors, and therefore they ought to have good livings, that they may commodiously feed their flock; 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
* This expression which Latimer made use of to designate the non-residents of his day, who only visited their cures once a year, became proverbial. A bachelor of divinity, named Oxenbridge, in a sermon preached at St. Paul's Cross, Jan. 13, 1566, says, “ I will shew you the state and condition of this my mother Oxford; for a piteous case it is, that now in all Oxford, there is not past five or six preachers, I except strawberry preachers.”