By Him All Good Things

“Exhortation Against the Fear of Death,” The First Book of Homilies (1547)

We ought to believe that death, being slain by Christ, cannot keep anyone who steadfastly trusts in Christ under his everlasting tyranny and subjection, but that he shall rise from death to glory at the last day, appointed by Almighty God, like as Christ our head did rise again…

St. Augustine says, “The head going before, the members trust to follow and come after.” And St Paul says, “If Christ is risen from the dead, we shall rise also from the same.” And to comfort all Christian persons here, Holy Scripture calls this bodily death a sleep, wherein man’s senses are, as it were, taken from him for a season, and yet when he wakes, he is more fresh than he was when he went to bed.

So, although we have our souls separated from our bodies for a season, yet at the general resurrection and rising again, we shall be more fresh, beautiful, and perfect than we are now. Now we are mortal; then we shall be immortal. Now we are infected with diverse infirmities; then we shall be clearly void of all immortal infirmities. Now we are subject to all carnal desires; then we shall desire nothing but God’s glory and things eternal…

St Paul says, “Our life is hidden with Christ in God, but when our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.”… If we have Christ, then we have with him and by him all good things, whatsoever we can in our hearts wish or desire, as victory over death, sin, and hell; we have the favor of God, peace with him, holiness, wisdom, justice, power, life, and redemption. We have by him everlasting health, wealth, joy, and bliss everlasting.

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 was compiled by Thomas Cranmer, and he is thought to be the author of many of its homilies.


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