Print it on His Heart

From “Of the Declining from God,” The First Book of Homilies (1547)

Sometimes people neglect God’s commandments concerning their neighbors, the commandments which direct them to express hearty love towards everyone, as Zechariah said to the people on God’s behalf: “Give true judgment, show mercy and compassion every one to his brother, imagine no deceit towards widows or children fatherless and motherless, towards stranger or the poor; let no man forge evil in his heart against his brother” But they ignored these things. They turned their backs and went away, they stopped their ears that they might not hear, they hardened their hearts as an adamant stone that they might not listen to the Law and the words that the Lord has sent through his Holy Spirit by the ancient prophets… And, in short, all those who do not abide the Word of God but, following the persuasions and stubbornness of their own hearts, “go backward and not forward,” as it is written in Jeremiah, they go and turn away from God… He who does not listen to the word, embrace it and print it on his heart so that he might fashion his life thereafter, he plainly turns from God.

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 sermons within The First Book of Homilies are anonymous, but scholars believe that most are the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who led the Reformation in England and compiled the first Books of Common Prayer.

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