From “A Sermon of Christian Love and Charity” (1547).

Charity is to love God with all our heart, all our life, and all our powers and strength. With all our heart, that is to say, that our heart’s mind and study be set to believe his Word, to trust in him, and to love him above all other things that we love best in heaven or in earth. With all our life, that is to say, that our chief joy and delight be set upon him and his honor, and our whole life given to the service of God above all things, with him to live and die and to forsake all other things rather than him, for he who loves father or mother, son or daughter, house or land, more than me, says Christ, is not worthy to have me…

This is the first and principal part of charity, but it is not the whole, for charity is also to love every one, good and evil, friend and foe, and whatsoever cause be given to the contrary, yet nevertheless to bear good will and heart unto every one, to use ourselves well unto them as well in words and countenance and all our outward acts and deeds. For so Christ himself taught, and so also he performed in deed…

Christ taught that every man is bound to love God above all things, and to love every man, friend and foe. Thus likewise did he behave himself, exhorting his adversaries, rebuking his adversaries, and when he could not amend them, he prayed for them. First, he loved God his Father above all things…

He loved not only his friends but also his enemies which in their hearts bore exceedingly great hatred against him, and in their tongues spoke all evil of him, and in their acts and deeds pursued him with all their might and power even to death. Yet all this notwithstanding, he did not withdraw his favor from them, but still loved them, preached to them, of love rebuked their false doctrine… When they gave him evil words, he gave none evil again; when they did strike him, he did not smite again. And when he suffered death, he did not slay them nor threaten them, but prayed for them…

Christ said, if you love me, keep my commandments… he who loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will both come to him and dwell with him… And likewise, he who bears good heart and mind and uses well his tongue and deeds unto everyone, friend or foe, he may know thereby that he has charity. And then he is sure also that Almighty God takes him for his dear beloved son.

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 compiled and mostly written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the primary leader of the English Reformation, who also compiled the first Book of Common Prayer. The text is adapted from Gerald Bray, ed.,The Books of Homilies: A Critical Edition (London: James Clarke & Co., 2015).