Yet Christ is Worthy

From “Homily for Good Friday,” Second Book of Homilies (1562).

Let us forgive our neighbors their small faults, as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us our great faults. It is not fitting that we should crave forgiveness of our great offences at God’s hands and yet will not forgive the small trespasses of our neighbors against us. We do call for mercy in vain if we will not show mercy to our neighbors. For if we will not put away wrath and displeasure in our hearts toward our Christian brother, no more will God forgive the displeasure and wrath that our sins have deserved before him.

For under this condition does God forgive us, if we forgive others. It does not become Christians to be hard to one another, nor to think their neighbors unworthy to be forgiven. For however unworthy he is, yet Christ is worthy to have you do this much for his sake. He has deserved it from you, that you should forgive your neighbor. And God is also to be obeyed who commands us to forgive if we will have any part of the pardon which our Savior Christ purchased once of God the Father by shedding his precious blood. Nothing becomes Christ’s servants so much as mercy and compassion.

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. This text is adapted from Gerald Bray, ed., The Books of Homilies: A Critical Edition (London: James Clarke & Co., 2015).

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