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HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL.

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ABSTRACT AND ARGUMENTATIVE PIECES.

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THE MOST DILIGENT PLOUGHMAN IN ENGLAND.

BISHOP LATIMER, 1485—1555. I TOLD you in my first sermon, honourable audience, that I proposed to declare unto you two things. The one, what seed should be sown in God's field, in God's plough-land. And the other, who should be the sowers.

Preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my similitude, in that I compare preaching to the labour and work of ploughing, and the preacher to a ploughman. Ye may not be offended with this my similitude, for I have been slandered of some persons for such things. But as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they give not any just occasion to be slandered and ill-spoken of by the hearers, so must not the auditors be offended without cause. For heaven is, in the gospel, likened to a mustard-seed ; it is compared also to a piece of leaven; and as Christ saith, that at the last day he will come like a thief; and what dishonour is this to God ? Or what derogation is this to heaven ? Ye may not then, I say, be offended with my similitude, for because I liken preaching to a ploughman’s labour, and a prelate to a ploughman. But now you will ask me whom I call a prelate. A prelate is that man, whatever he be, that hath a flock to be taught of him ; whosoever hath any spiritual charge in the faithful congregation, and whosoever he be that hath cure of souls. And well may the preacher and

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the ploughman be likened together : First, for their labour of all seasons of the year; for there is no time of the year in which the ploughman hath not some special work to do. country, in Leicestershire, the ploughman hath a time to set forth, and to assay his plough ; and other times for other necessary works to be done. And then they also may be likened together for the diversity of works and variety of offices that they have to do. For as the ploughman first setteth forth his plough, and then tilleth his land, and breaketh it in furrows, and sometimes ridgeth it up again ; and at another time, harroweth it and clotteth it, and sometime dungeth it, and hedgeth it, weedeth it and diggeth it, purgeth and maketh it clean ; so the prelate, the preacher hath many diverse offices to do. He hath first a busy work to bring his parishioners to a right faith, as Paul calleth it; and not a swerving faith, but to a faith that embraceth Christ, and trusteth to his merits ; a lively faith, a justifying faith ; a faith that maketh a man righteous without respect of works : as ye have it very

well declared and set forth in the homily. He hath then a busy work, I say, to bring his flock to a right faith, and then to confirm them in the same faith. Now casting them down with the law, and with threatenings of God for sin ; now ridging them up again with the gospel, and with the promises of God's favour. Now weeding them, by telling them their faults, and making them forsake sin ; now clotting them, by breaking their stony hearts, and by making them supple-hearted, and making them to have hearts of flesh, that is, soft hearts, and apt for doctrine to enter in. Now teaching to know God rightly, and to know their duty to God and their neighbours. Now exhorting them when they know their duty, that they do it, and be diligent in it ; so that they have a continual work to do.

By this, then, it appeareth that a prelate, or any that hath cure of souls, must diligently and substantially work and labour. Therefore saith Paul to Timothy, “He that desireth to have the office of a bishop, or a prelate, that man desireth a good work.” Then if it be a good work, it is work ; ye can make but a work of it. It is God's work, God's plough, and that plough God would have still going. Such then as loiter and live idly, are not good prelates or ministers. And of such as do not preach and teach, and do their duties, God saith by his prophet Jeremy, “Cursed be the man that doeth the work of God fraudulently, guilefully, or

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