Plenteous Redemption

From “Homily on the Misery of All Mankind,” The First Book of Homilies (1547).

Blessed St. John the Evangelist, in the name of himself and all other holy men, be they ever so just, makes this open confession: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.”…

Whoever has a true, earnest, and deep contemplation of his sins and yet not coming to the bottom of them, makes supplication to God to forgive him his secret, hidden sins… Christ says he came to save the sheep who were utterly lost and cast away. Therefore few of the proud, just, learned, wise, perfect, and holy Pharisees were saved by him, because they justified themselves by their counterfeit holiness before others…

To God therefore must we flee, or else shall we never find peace, rest, and quietness of conscience in our hearts. For he is the Father of mercies and God of all consolation. He is the Lord with whom is plenteous redemption… And all these heavenly treasures are given us not for our own deserts, merits, or good deeds – which within us we have none – but of his mere mercy, freely.

And for whose sake? Truly for Jesus Christ’s sake. That pure and undefiled Lamb of God. He is that dearly beloved son for whose sake God is fully pacified, satisfied, and set at one with humanity. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, of whom only it may be spoken that he did all things well… He is that high and everlasting priest who has offered himself once for all upon the altar of the cross… He is the only mediator between God and humanity, who paid our ransom to God with his own blood, and with that he has cleansed us all from sin. He is the physician who heals all our diseases. He is that savior who saves his people from all their sins. In short, he is that flowing and most plenteous fountain of whose fullness we all have received…

In him and by him we have from God the Father all good things pertaining either to the body or the soul… What thanks worthy and sufficient can we give to him? Let us all with one accord burst out without joyful voices, ever praising and magnifying this Lord of mercy for his tender kindness shown to us in his dearly beloved son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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 First Book of Homilies was mostly the work of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556, the primary drafter of the first and second Books of Common Prayer and the primary church leader during the beginning of the English Reformation.


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