Servants, Scholars, Sheep, Soldiers

From “Homily for the Nativity of Christ,” The Second Book of Homilies (1563) 

Therefore dearly beloved, let us not forget this exceeding love of our Lord and Savior. Let us not show ourselves unmindful or unthankful toward him, but let us love him, fear him, obey him, and serve him. Let us confess him with our mouths, praise him with our tongues, believe on him with our hearts, and glorify him with our good works.  

Christ is the light, let us receive the light. Christ is the truth, let us believe the truth. Christ is the way, let us follow the way. And because he is our only master, our only teacher, our only shepherd, and chief captain, therefore let us become his servants, his scholars, his sheep, and his soldiers.  

As for sin, the flesh, the world, and the devil, whose servants and bondslaves we were before Christ’s coming, let us utterly cast them off, and defy them as the chief and only enemies of our soul. And seeing we are once delivered from their cruel tyranny by Christ, let us never fall into their hands again, lest we chance to be in a worse case then ever we were before.  

“Happy are they,” says the scripture, “who continue to the end.” “Be faithful,” says God, “until death, and I will give you a crown of life.” Again he says in another place, “he that puts his hand to the plough, and looks back, is not meet for the kingdom of God.”  

Therefore let us be “strong, steadfast, and immovable, abounding always in the works of the Lord.” Let us receive Christ, not for a time, but forever. Let us believe his word, not for a time, but forever. Let us become his servants, not for a time, but forever, in consideration that he has redeemed and saved us, not for a time, but forever, and will receive us into his heavenly kingdom, there to reign with him, not for a time, but forever.  

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.  

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