Those Who Behold Christ Crucified

From Homily XII, “On the Passion, for Good Friday,” The Second Book of Homilies (1571)

All as those who beheld steadfastly the bronze serpent were healed and delivered by the very sight thereof from their corporal diseases and bodily stings, even so all those who behold Christ crucified with a true and lively faith shall undoubtedly be delivered from the grievous wounds of the soul, however deadly and many in number. Therefore, dearly beloved, if we chance at any time through frailty of the flesh to fall into sin, as we do often fall, and if we feel the heavy burden thereof to press our souls, tormenting us with the fear of death, hell, and damnation; let us use that mean which God has appointed in his word, that is, the mean of faith, which is the only instrument of salvation now left unto us.

Let us steadfastly behold Christ crucified with the eyes of our heart. Let us only trust to be saved by his death and passion, that in the end of the world when he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead, he may receive us into his heavenly kingdom and place us in the number of his elect and chosen people, there to be partakers of that immortal and everlasting life which he has purchases unto us by virtue of his bloody wounds.

The two Books of Homilies (1547 & 1571) were written to teach the reformed doctrine of the Church of England in local congregations, and were originally appointed to be read out during worship by parish priests, few of whom originally had licenses to preach. The Second Book of Homilies was mostly the work of Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury (1522-1571), a noted polemical theologian, who wrote the first major defense of the Church of England’s structure and worship. The text used here is taken from Gerald Bray, ed., The Books of Homilies: A Critical Edition (London: James Clarke & Co., 2015).


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