A Sermon of the chylde Iesus made by the most fam­ous clerke Doctour Erasmus of Roterdā.

¶ To be pronoūced and preached of a chy­lde vnto chyldren.

¶ A sermon of the chylde Ie­sus made by Erasmus to be pro­nounced and preached of a chylde vnto chyldren.

I A chylde goynge a­boute to speake before chyldren of the ineffable chylde Iesus wyll not wyshe the eloquence of Tullie / whiche myghte stryke the cares with shorte and vayne pleasure / for how much Chrystes wys­dom is in dystaunce from the wysdom of the worlde (the dystaunce is vnmea­surable) so much ought the christen eloquence dyfferre frō the eloquence of the worlde. But this I wolde ye myght with [...] vowes [...] with me of [...] so good a father of the good [...] [Page] fyte prayse / that lykewyse as our hole lyfe ought to expresse none other than the spirite Iesus Christ (of whom this daye we do entende to speake) so lyke­wyse this our sermon maye sauer on hym / represent hym / breath hym / whiche is both the worde of the father and hath all onely the wordes of lyfe / whose lyuely and workynge speche is more percyng then any .ii. edged swerd percynge to the very inwarde chaum­bers of the herte. And yt he / from whose body flodes of lyuyshe water do renne / wyll vouche salue by the instrument of my voyce as it were by the pype of a cō duyt to flowe into the myndes of all you / with the plenteous moysture of the heuenly grace to water them. This thynge so I truste shall come to passe (most derely beloued felows) if we wyll ioyne to the godly requestes / eares which be purged and true [...] thirsting. That is to say such eares as that eter­nall worde requyrynge in the gospell of sayntte Matthew the. xi. Chapitre saythe. Qui habit aures ad audien­dum audiat / that is to saye

[Page]☞ Who hath cares to the entente to heare / let hym heare. But as tou­ching me / why may I not be bold to en terpryse this thynge harde I wyll not denye / but yet godly / namely god hym selfe beynge my ayder and helper / in whome the lesse mans infirmyte trus­teth in his owne powers the more able it shalbe / and in whome Paule bosteth that he can do all thynges. Moreouer syth these persons do [...] with such feruent [...] and affection whiche haue wedded and appoynted themselues to the warfare of this worlde / that is to saye / of the deuyll that eche one of them shulde extolle / auaunce / and magnifie theyr captayne with all the [...] of prayse that can be ymagyned / howe muche better and soner ought we to magnifie euen auye who can do best with deuout hymnys and comminda­tions our mayster / redemer / & captayne Iesus / and the same also the prynce of all in generall / but of vs chyldren in es­pecial? Him fyrst & principaly to know let vs studie / knowen let vs prayse / praysed let vs loue / loued let vs expresse expressed let vs counterfet / counterfet­tynge [Page] lette vs enioye / enioynge let vs take immortal felicite. But in so plen­tyfull & so vnmeasurable copye of thyn ges from whens shal we take a begyn­nyng of our sermon / or where shall we fynde an ende? Syth he of whome we entēde to entreate is the very foūtayne or (to speake more truely) the occean see of all goodnes and good thynges. But as he hymselfe of nature incom­prehensible and infinyte / yet was con­tented to compasse and dryue his owne selfe (as who saythe) into a streyght. So lykewyse our sermon in expoun­dynge his prayses which be of them­selfes vnmeasurable / must of necessyte put a measure to it selfe. Ueryly I see that there be thre thynges principally whiche be wont to kyndle and enflame the hertes eyther of scolers or of soul­dyours to do valiauntly and manly / the fyrste is to be brought in to an admira / cyon of theyr guyde or captayne! the secounde to loue hym / the thyrd the re­warde. wherfore to thentent we myght with more feruent and cherefull coura­ges obey our master and captayne Ie­sus / go we to. Let vs consyder seuerally [Page] al these thre thynges with a deuout cu­riosite in hym. Fyrste of all howe won­derfull he is on euery syde and to be as­toyned at. After that howe greatly he is to be loued and for that cause also to be folowed. And last of all what hyghe profyte / frute / and auauntage shall ar­ryse vnto vs by this loue. Howe / it is the vsage of Khetoriciās in this kynd of oration to shewe ensamples of noble prynces / to this purpose and entēt that by the comparyson of hym whom they prayse with other / his nobles and ver­tues myght appere the greater. But our captayne so greatly and wonder­fully surmounteth all the heyth of hu­mane dignite / and hyghnes that whō soeuer a mā sheweth be he neuer so wor thy excellent and hygh / yet he shal seme to adde darkenes and not lyght. For whose progenye and noblenes shall not seme smoke if thou cōpareste hym with Iesus whiche by an vnspeakable / nay with an vnthynkable reason is borne god of god alwaye without tyme egall in all thynges to his eternall and most hyghe parent. Howe be it though we go no further than to his humane na­tiuitie / [Page] I pray you do it not easyly en­shadowe and obscure the clearnes of al other kynges & prynces in the worlde? as he whiche wonderfully aboue the course of nature / his father of heuen beyng the worker and authour / the ho­ly ghoste breathyng / the aungel beyng the massanger / without mans industrie was borne a virgyne / of a virgyne be­ynge pregnant and with chylde by the handworke of the heuenly father / and was borne a man / and in tyme. And a­gayne was so borne a man that nother be lefte to be god / nor yet he drew none of our fylthynes vnto hym at all. Now syr what can be ymagyned more am­ple than he whiche beynge infounded through all / yet restreyned in no place abydeth in hymselfe vncompassable & vnmcasurable? what is more ryche than he which is the very chyef & prin­cipall goodnes / from whome all good thynges do issue / and yet he is not ther­by dyminyshed? what is more renou­med than he whiche is the renoume of his fathers glorie / and whiche onely lyghtneth euery man commynge into this worlde? what is more myghty [Page] than he to whome the father almygh­ty hath gyuen all power in heuen and in earthe? what is of more force than he whiche with a symple becke made all / at whose commaundement the see falleth / the shappes of thynges be tur­ned / the dyseases flee / the armed fall downe / the deayls are dryuen awaye / the elementes they / the rockes of stone are cutte in sonder / the dead waxe a lyue agayne / the synners be conuerted / fynally all thynges be made new? who is of wyder imperye then he / whiche they in heuen magnifie / they in [...] tremble at / this mydde worlde hum­bly worshyppeth / to the comparyson of whome / the moste haut and hygh kyn­ges confesse themselues to be but wret­ched wormes? what is stronger and more victorious than he whiche alone / death whiche was to all other [...] ouercam with his owne death / and whiche layd downe and abated the ty­rannye of Satan by his heuenly pro­wes and vertue?

What is more triumphaunt than he whiche breakynge and spoylynge helle accompaynyed with so manye godly [Page] soules lyke a valiant conquerour ascended vp to heuen and there sytteth at the ryght syde of his father? What is wyser than he which with so wonderfull rea­son created al thynges that euen in the very lytle bees he hath lefte so many & so greate miracles of his wysdom? and which with so wonderful ordre of thynges and harmonye knytteth / contey­neth / admynistreth all whiche goyth rounde about all and yet departeth not from hymselfe mouyng all / beyng hym selfe vnmoued / shakyng all / hymselfe quyet / fynally yt which is most folyshe in hym / passeth by longe dystaunce the hole wysdom of the wyse men of the world / whose authorite ought so much the more be the greatter vnto vs / that the father hymselfe openly wytnesseth of hym saynge / ☞ here is my welbelo­ued sonne in whome is my pleasaunce / harken to hym. What is so reuerend as he to whose eyes all thynges be open? What is so to be drad as he which with his only becke can sende both soule and bodye into hell. What is more beauty­full than he whose countenaunce to be­holde is the hygh ioy? Fynally if many thynges be had precious for the anti­quitie? [Page] what is more auncient than he which neyther had begynnyng nor shal haue endyng? But it were perchaunce more conuenient that chyldern shulde wonder at the chyld / for here also he ap pereth wonderfull in so much that the lowest of hym is more hygh than those thynges which be moste hygh in men. Howe great was he whom beyng but a babe cryeng wrapped in cloutes caste lyke an abiecte thyng in the crybbe / yet the aungels from heuen magnifie with theyr songe / the shephardes worshyp / yea she that bare hym worshyppeth / the brute beastes acknowledge / the sterre sheweth / the wyse astronomers [...] / kynge Herode feareth / all Hie­rusalem tremble at / holy Symeon em­braceth / Anna prophesieth the well dis­posed people are brought into hope of saluation. Oh the low hyghnes & hygh lownes. If we wōder at new thynges what lyke thyng was euer outher done or herde / or thought? If we marueyle at greate thynges / what can be by all maner of meanes more ample than our Iesus whome no creature can outher expresse with the voyce / or conceyue [Page] with thought / whole greatnes who wyll compasse with wordes / he doth much folysher than if he went about to draw vp the wyde occean see with a [...] dysch / his immensytie is rather to be worshypped than expounded / at which we ought so much the more to wonder that we can not atteyne it / & why shulde we not so wrsyth that great purseuaūt Johan Baptist pronounceth hymselfe vnworthy to vnlose the latchettes of his [...] Bope to / then swete chyldrē let vs glorie with an holy pryde in this so noble a chylde Iesus our mayster / in this so worthy a captayn / let his hygh nes encourage vs to enterpryse deuout­ly / in hym onely let vs please our selfes that thynkyng all that is his to be com mon to vs all / we may iudge and count our selfes better than (beyuge ones ad­dicte to suche a captayne) to serue the world or vices / so vyle & fylthy masters

¶ The secounde part.

BUt the deuyls do wonder & also tremble at hym / onely good men loueth hym / wherfore the other parte of this sermon as it goeth more nyghe vnto vs / so it is to be herde with more [Page] attentyfe cares that is to wyte for how many causes Iesus is to beloued of vs / nay to be reloued rather / for he loued vs not yet created before all tyme in hym felfe in whom euen than were all thyn­ges. And therfore by his natyue good­nes whan we were nought / he formed vs / and he formed vs / not any maner beste / but man / and he formed to his owne lykenes / that is to wyse / receyua ble of the hyghe ioy and with the holy breath of his mouth he dyd put into vs the breath of lyfe. Besyde this all other beastes and fowles commaunded to be obedyent at our cōmaundement / more ouer the aungels appoynted out to pro tecte and defende vs / he assygned and gaue all this moste wyde and goodly buyldyng of the worlde to our vses and behoues / in whiche he hath set vs in a certayne wonderfull stage to the [...] that in the thynges created we myght wonder vpon the wysdom of the makee loue the goodnes / haue in reuerence and veneration the power / and that we myght the more do thus / be hathe furnyshed vs with so many helpes of senses / and hath garnyshed vs with [Page] so many good qualities of mynde and hath decked vs with so bryght & quycke lyght of wytte. what can be ymagyned outher / more wonderfull / or happyer / than this creature? But oh cursed en­uye alway the compaygnion of welth / agayne by the subtyltie of the serpent he fell wretchedly into synne that is to wyte into worse thā naught. But here agayue thou oh good Jesu with what vnspecable [...] /with what vnherd an example / with what incomparable charite haste thou restored that worke yt thou dydest creater for on suche wyse thou dydest restore it yt i maner it auay led them that they felle / and this faute there is one person whiche not without cause calleth it an happy fautewe were / al yt myght be / bound to hym that crea ted vs / but to hym that repared vs we owe more than all. wylfully thou keste thy selfe downe from the kyngdō of the father into this our exile to the entente thou myghtest make vs which were be fore banyshed and dryuen out of para­dyse the cytyzens of heuen / thou tokest vpon the our humanite to call vs to the felowshyp of thy diuinitye / thou dydest [Page] put vpon the this our flyme to the en­tent thou myghtest cladde vs with the glorie of immortalitie / beynge couered in our shappe / thou woldest lyue many yeres with vs in this wretched worlde that thou myght bryng vs yea thus in to the loue of the / naked thou crepst vp into this lyght nay nyght rather / with vs nay for vs thou [...] crye lyke a ba be / thou dydst hūgre / thurst / suffer heate cold / labour / werynes / neade / watchyng fastynge / and to so many euyls of ours thou woldeste be thrall / to the entente thou shuldest bryng vs exempted front all cuyls into the communion of the / that is to say of the hygh ioy. Further­more through out al the hole proces of thy most holy lyfe with how lyuely en­samples wyst thou enflame our [...] ? with how holsom preceptes doyst thou nourture and forme vs? with how won derfull miracles doyste thou awaken vs? with howe fayre monitions doyste thou drawe vs? with how sure promis­ses doyst thou muyte? so that there is none more cōmodious way to the than by thy owne selfe whiche onely art the waye / the trouth / & lyfe. But thou hast [Page] not onely shewd the way / but also thou haūe opened it whyle thou woldest for vs be bounde / drawē / damned / skorned / whypped / bespytted / be bete / be reuyled and at laste also vpon the rode of the crosse / lyke a lambe without spotte be offcred / that by thy bondes thou mygh­test loseu vs / by thy woundes heale vs / with thy bloud wesh vs / with thy death brynge vs to immortalite. Brefly thou bestowedst thyselfe holly vpon vs / that by the losse of the (if it were possyble) thou myght saue vs whiche were lost / when thou wert restored agayne to lyfe thou apearedst so often to thy disciples / and in theyr syght dydest stye vp to he­uen that they myght trust to com thy­thee wher they sawe theyr hede to haue gone before them. This done to the en­tent thou myghtest yet more conferme thy frendes / thy father pacified / thou dydest sende that noble pledge of thy perpctuall loue / the holy ghoste / that dead to the worlde we myght lyue now in the farre more truely and blessedly than we lyueby this our owne spirite. I beseche you / what can be added to these proues of hygh charite. Nor these [Page] so many and so greate coulde not satys­fye thy most brennyng loue toward vs. For who can reherse with howe many deathes of martyrs thou doyst encou­rage vs to despyse this worlde? with how many ensamples of virgyns doyst thou kyndle vs to chastitie? with howe many monumentes of saynctes doyst thou attyse vs to deuoutnes of mynde? with how wonderful sacramētes of thy churche doyst thou fortifie and enryche vs? howe doyst thou comforte / left vp / arme / teache / monyshe / drawe / rauyshe / chaunge / transforme vs with thy my­sticall and diuyne wrytynges / in which thou woldest certayne lyuyshe sparkes of the to be hydde / whiche myght styre vs a greate enkyndyllyng of loue / who so laboreth to dryue them out with a de uout dyligence. Fynally howe art thou euery where in our waye / to the entent we myght not forgette the / besyde this how fatherly doyst thou suffre vs when we synne? How mercyfully doyst thou receyue vs when we retourne? Nor thou doyste not impute thy good dedes for them that be kynde / nor our euyll dedes thou doyst not lay agaynste vs / [Page] whan we [...] / howe euer amonge wyst thou plucke vs and draw vs with secret [...] ? how doyste thou a­mende and chastyse vs by [...] ? howe entysest vs by prosperities? howe moueste thou euery stone sekeste euery way to the wode? thy most ardent cha­rite neuer nor no where [...] in cōfor tyng / reuengyng / defendyng & makyng vs blessed? But what a few thynges of so innumerable haue I [...] gen­tyl compaygnyons) and yet ye se what vnmesurable an hepe of [...] it is? Bo now / who [...] and let hym ma­gnyfie Pylades / Orestes / Pyrithoos / Theseus / Damon / and Pythias with paynted wordes / whiche be all but try­fuls to these. And all these benefytes hath he gyuen frely / of his owne mere motton / to vs / which haue nothyng de­serued them / nay whan we were rena­weys / traytours / and ennemyes / and whiche coulde do hym no pleasure a­gayne. If with meane kyndnesses men be kyndeled to loue a man / shall we not at leste waye reloue our creatour / rede­mer so louyng / so kynde? for he requy­reth none other amendes of vs / whiche [Page] he also powreth agayne to our lucre. The adamante melteth with gootes mylke / cgyls / lyons / leopardes / dol­phyns / dragons knowlege and requyte kyndnes / and oh the hardncs of mans herte harder than the adamant / if [...] melteth not by suche kyndnes whiche hath not be herde of. O ingratitude / more vnkynde than wylde beastes / if it can forgette so greate deseruynges.

O notorious vnsh amefastnes / nay mad nes rather / if so created so restored / so enryched / opprest with so great kynd­nes / called to so greate hopes can loue any thynge saue onely hym / in whome and from whome be all / and whiche gyueth vs parte with hym of all thyn­ges. And although euery mortall crea­ture taketh these commodities / yet we especially be bound vnto hym / because that by many probations he hath de­clared hymselfe to be of a syngular ten­dernes and fauour towarde our ordre / I meane towarde vs chyldren. Fyrste that (as he was promysed by the sayn­ges of prophetes) it pleased hym to be borne a yong chyld where as in dede he was without all measure & quantitie. [Page] Moreouer that yet closed in the deene of the virgynes wombe he reioysed to be saluted with the spryngynge and lepyng of an infaūt also not yet borne. Besyde this that forth with he wolde his [...] to be halowed with the bloud of [...] chyldrē / so that with these lyght harnysed souldyers (as I myght saye) the most [...] captayne myght begynne his batell. To this maye be added that / his tryumphale deathe approchynge / he commynge to Hierusalem wolde be gloriously recey­ued with the procession / metynge and louyng kyndnes of chyldrē rather then of men / and wolde haue his prayses to be songe and proclamed with the swete voyces of chyldren. Nowe syr / how lo­uyng and busye a defendour & [...] was he of chyldrē which whan the mo­thers offered theyr chyldren vnto hym that they myght be blessed by touching of hym / he beyng discontēted with his disciples that they wolde not suffre thē to come vnto hym / sayd. Let the babes come vnto me. Nor he dyd not onely blysse them / but also he sayd that [...] myght come to heuen that wolde not [Page] humble hymselfe according to ye yong babes. Agayne howe louyngly dyd he also when he so sore frayeth men from offendynge his lytle ones sayng / it were better for a man to haue a mil­stone henge aboute his necke & be caste into the see / than that he shulde greue one of these babes / and to these wordes marke what a gooly addicyon he made in cōmendacyon of chyldrē? ☞ True­ly I say vnto you theyr aungels do al­ways see the face of the father. O good mayster Iesus thy lytle flocke whiche is offered vnto the / gyue thankes vnto the / whome I beseche that thou wylt vouchsaue always to lay thy holy han­des vpon them / and defende them from all greuaunce. And is not this also a great token of loue when he dyd set a chylde in myddes of his disciples to be an example for them to folowe / saynge. Nisi conuersi fueritis & efficiamini sicut par­uulus iste, non intrabitis in regnū coelorum. Oneles ye be cōuerted and be made as this babe is / ye shall not entre into the kyngdom of heuen. Hytherto also be­longeth that whan Nicodemus demaūded of Christe by what waye he myght [Page] come to euerlastyng blysse / he demaun­ded hym to be borne agayne / that is to wyte / to come agayne into a chylde. Lo so greatly infauncy pleaseth Christ our captayne / yt he enforceth also the aged men to waxe chyldren agayne / if they wyll be receyued into his compaygnye besyde whome there is no hope of sal­uation. Nor S. Peter doth not disa­gree from his mayster Christe / where as he aduertiseth vs as newe borne chyldren to couet mylke. Nor holy Paule dysaccordeth not / saynge. Filioli mei quos iterum parturio donec for­metur Christus in vobis. O my lytle chyl­dren / q Paule / whome I agayne do beare and bryng forth / lyke the woman lyenge in chyldbed / whyle Christ be formed in you. The same Paule gyueth his lytle babes (for so he calleth them) mylke to fede on / in Christe. There be ryght many suche sorte of places in the mysticall and holy scriptures. Gene­rally and at one worde to speake the thynge / Christianitie is none other thynge in the worlde / but a certayne [Page] newe byrth whiche in the Byble is cal­led a regeneration / and [...] is none other thynge [...] a beynge a chylde agayn. [...] is than the mysterie of a chyld / great is the mysterie of chyld­hode / wherin Iesus so greately was delyted. Let not vs then [...] our age whiche that true [...] and es­temer of thynges hath made so muche of. Onely this one thynge / lette vs gyue our deuour that we may be suche chyldren as Iesus loueth / surely he lo­ueth innocent and harmelesse chyldren redy / & apte to [...] / and symple. And let vs also remembre this thynge / that this chyldhode so greatly and so derely beloued of Christe lyeth not in yeres / but in myndes / it consysteth not in ty­mes but in maners. For there is a cer­tayne kynde and sorte of chyldren / which is cleane ouert wart / and great­ly to be fledde of vs / whiche haue smothe chynnes and roughe myndes / chyldren and berdles in age / but olde in vityous sleyght / soteltie / and mys­cheyfe. [Page] wherfore there is also a certayne newe hynde of chyldehode whiche is alowed of Christ a chyldhode without chyldys­shenes / and generally to speake) a cer­tayne aged chyldehode / which standeth not in the noumbre of yeres but in in­nocentie and simplycitye of wytte / doth not Peter openly shewe the same when he sayth. Deponentes igitur omnem mali­ciam / & omnem dolum / & simulationes / & [...] / & detractiones / sicut modo geniti infantes / rationabile / & sine dolo lac con­supiscite / vt in eo crescatis in salutem. That is to say / wherfore layng a parte al malyce / & [...] wyle / & hypocrisies / and enuyes / and backebytynges / as newe gotten infasites / reasonable / & without gyle couct ye mylke / that by it ye maye increase into saluation. why added he reasonable? truely because he wolde ex­clude fowlyshnes which customably is wont cōmonly to be the compaygnyon of this age. why doth he contracte and take awaye enuyes / simulations / and the other vicyes / whiche cspecyally raygne in olde men? surely to the entēt we shulde vnderstand that the chyldren of Christ be estemed by theyr simplicite [Page] and purenesse / and not by theyr byrth. And in lyke wyse S. Paule also sayth. Malicia paruuli estote, sensibus aūt perfecti. In malice (q he) be babes / but in wytte be ye perfecte / howe be it there is vnt­uersally in the very age of chyldrē a cer­tayne natyue & naturall goodnes / and as it were a certayne shadowe & ymage of innocencye or a hope rather and dys­positton of a goodnes to come. A softe mynde and plyable to euery behauour / shamefastnes which is a good kepar of innocencit / a wytte voyde of vyces / bryghtnes of bodye / and as it were a flower of a floryshyng worlde / and (I can not tell how) a certayne thyng alye and familiare to spirites. For it is not for naught that as ofte as the aungels appeare with thy shewe themselfes in chylderits lykenes / yea moreouer they that vse art magicke whan so euer they fetch vp spirites with theyr enchaunte mteēs (as men say) they be called vp in sykenesse of a bodely chylde / but howe muche more gladly wyll that heuenly spirite called vpon with deuout and ho ly vowes enter into suche mansions? wherfore to these gyftes of nature if [Page] imitation of that hyghe and absolute chylde be caste vnto / then fynally shall chyldrē seme louyng & kynde towardes hym & also worthy & fytte for hym / for the [...] that so prouoketh / who can not but loue? [...] suche is the vcrtue and [...] operation of true loue / that thou [...] to be so lyke (as may be possyble) vnto the thynge which thou louest / [...] thyng if hu­mayne loue worketh in vs / what zele of folowynge shall [...] loue kyndlc / to which the other compared / is vnneth a lytle shadowe of [...] if true­ly and with herte / not with onely wor­des we loue Iesus / let vs cudeuer for our power to expresse Iesus / or rather to be transformed into hym. And if we can not folowe the man / let vs chyldren folowe the chylde / howe be it this is no chyldes fete / yea it passeth the powers of aged ysons / but it is a thyng which in maner neuer chaūseth more happely than in chyldrē / for so oft as the matter depende on maas helpe / theyr strength / age / the distinction of male & female is [...] & cōsydered / but where ye mat ter [...] / [...] nature / there [...] his wonderfull worke / [Page] so much ye more that there is but lytle helpe & trust in the fleshe. Finally what doubt we or distruste / syth he hymselfe formeth / fathoneth / & transformeth vs / whō we cudeuout to expresse? who ad­ded so great prudēce to the chylde [...] who to the chyld Salomō gaue so great wysdō? who to tho. [...] . chyldren [...] so great pactēcer who made child Hely worthy to com to goddes speath? who to chylde Nicholas / to Bylys / to Beuet / to Agnes / to Lesyly / to so ma­ny so tender virgyns gaue so manly & inuincible vertue? Truely not nature but grace / & where nature lesse helpeth / there more wōdetfully worketh grace / wherfore bearing ourselfes bold of this grace / let vs with a great hert and sto­macke enterrpryse ye studie to folow ye chylde Iesus / & let vs neuer moue our eyes from hymbeynge (as who shulde saye) our marke. we haue a perfyte and an absolute exemplar / there is no­thyng els where / to be softe. All his lyf cōtinually cryeth what we ought to do. For what teacheth vs that moste pure chylde that he was borne of a moste pure virgyne? but to eschue all fylthe and defowlementes of this worlde / [...] [Page] [...] [Page] [Page] And to meditate a certayne angely call lyfe euen nowe in erthe that is / to me­ditate that here / which there we shalbe contynyully. Truely the spirite of Iesu generally abborteth and hateth all fyl­thynes but specyally that beastly luste and vtterly vnworthy for man. what taught he vs in that he was borne frōm home in another countre / delyuered of his mother in a vyle cotage / cast downe in a cribbe / wrapped aboute with vyle cloutes? but that we shulde always re­membre that we be here straungers for a fewe dayes / and that all ryches tro­den vnder fete and the false honours of the worlde despyfeth we shulde haste vs beynge as lyght and lose as maye be to our heuenly countre through vertuose labours / in which our heuenly and na­tyue countre we ought alredy to lyue in mynde although we touche as per the erthe with our corporall fete. Agayne what monyshed he vs in that he fledde into Egypt / but that by all meanes we shulde eschue to entermedle with con­tagious people whiche labour to put out Christ in vs (that is to wyte) inno­cencye / and the despysyng of the world? [Page] what taught he vs that he was [...] / but that we shulde cut of all car­nall atrections whiche disturbe vs hal­tyng vnto Christe / & that beynge dead as [...] were in our owne selues be led and nouryshed onely with the spirite of Ie­su? what taught he vs in that he was [...] vp in the temple / but that we shulde holly offer vp and dedicate our selues euen from our infauncie to god and to holy thinges / and forthwith the vessell of our mynde beynge yet newe and fresh drynke into vs Iesu / for no age is̄ [...] to learne holynes / naye rather none other age is more tymely and mere to learne Christe / than that whiche knoweth not yet the worlde. Nowe consyder ye with our selues (oh chyldren) with howe holy studyes and occupacyons that same chylde so borne so offered vp to god dyd passe our his chyldhode. Not with ydelnes / not with eatynge and drynkyng / not with slepe / not with vayne sportes and playes / not with fowlyshe fables / not with strayn­ges abrode / as the common sort of chyl dren are wont to do / but outher with minystryng and seruyug his parentes / [Page] or with holy prayers / or hearynge the preachers and teachers / or with de­uout meditations or with holy and ar­nest communications with other chyl­dren / hath not saynte Luke in his gos­pell comprysed brefly all these and ma­ny other lyke / when he wryteth in this maner. Puer crescebat & confortabatur plenus sapientia, & gratia dei erat millo. That is to say. The chylde grewe and wexed stronge / full of wysdom / and the grace of god was in hym. Do ye not manifestly see a newe kynde of chylde­hode. Of the chyldren in tymes paste it was sayd. Stulticia colligata est in corde pueri. That is to saye. Foly is teyed to gether in a chyldes herte. Of the newe chylde ye here. Plenus sapientia full of wysdom / why do we any longer excuse our rudenes vnder the clock of our ten­der age / when we heare a chyld not one ly wyse but full of wysdom? Se howe this chylde hathe inuerted all order of thinges which sayth in the Apocalyps Ecce ego noua facio omnia / that is to saye. [...] I make all newe. The wys­dom of the aged is destroyed / and the [Page] prudence of the prudent is dysalowed / and chyldren be replenyshed with wys­dom. And for this very cause he gyueth thankes to his father / saynge. Quoniam absondisti haec a sapientibus & renelasti [...] paruulis. because thou haste hydde these from wyse / and hast dysclosed them to infauntes. But leste we shulde here co­uette and studye for the fowly she and desceytfull wysdom of this worlde he addeth forthwith. Et gratia dei erat ī illo The grace of god was in hym. He whan all is done is the wyse man and hathe the ryghte knowledge / whiche to the worlde is but a fole / and whiche sauereth nothynge but Christe. He is knowen not by the bokes of the phylo­sophers / nor yet by subtyll and sophis­tycall argumentes / but by pure faythe he is knowen / by hope he is holden / by charitie he is wonne. Howe manye thynges hathe this chylde taught by his ensample? when he was but. xii. [...] of age he stale awaye preuely frō his parentes / whiche coulde not be founde neyther among his kynsfolke / [Page] nor among his acquayntaunce / at last was founde after the space of. iii. dayes. But wheare I beseche you was he founde? In fayres / in markettes / in ways / i tauerns daunsyng or synging? Harken ye chyldren where the chylde Iesus was founde / leuyng his frendes and in maner a fugityue & a renaway / and ye shall casyly vnderstande where ye ought to be consernaunt. In the tem ple (I saye) he was founde syttynge in the myddes of the doctours hearynge theyr reasons / and demaundynge ques­tiōs of them. What hath Iesus taught vs by these so wonderfull deades? No doubt but that he hath taught vs some great thynge / som earneste matter / and to be hyghly folowed / & what is that? Surely that whyle Christ ware bygge in vs (for he is also borne in vs / & hath his degrees of ages / vntyl he growe vp to a stronge and perfet man / and into the measure of his fulnes) wherfore whyle (I say) he ware bygge in vs / he teacheth vs to transferre and shyft our naturall affections whiche be towarde our parentes and other frendes vpon god / nothyng to loue here / nothyng to [Page] magnifie but in Christe & Christ in all / let vs remembre that we haue our true father / countre / kynsfolke and frendes in heuen. But left a man wold ymagyn with this neglectyng of parentes shuld sauer any pryde or disobediencie / it fo­loweth. Et erat subditus illis. And he was subiet vnto them / nay rather none more truely loueth his parentes / none more naturally honoreth them / none obeyeth them more obsequiosly / than he which thus cōtemueth them. What is it to sytte in the temple / but to rest in holy thynges / and to brynge a mynde to learne / quyet from al worldly cares? Nothynge is more turbulent than vy­ces / and agayne wysdom loueth [...] and quyetnes. Now / of what any per­son shall we disdayne to lerne / howe at­tentyte cares ought we to gyue to our maysters / whan that heuenly chyld Ie sus the wysdom of god his father / syt­teth in myddes of the doctours / hea­ryng and agayne demaundyng of them and aunswerynge / but so aunswerynge that all wondered on his wysdom? Nor no wonder syth he was suche one / to whome all the wysdom of the world is [Page] folyshe. The knowledge of lawes is a goodly thyng / the setēce of philosophie is a noble thyng / the profession of divi­nitte is a thynge hyghly to be magni­fied. But who heareth Iesus / forth­with all thynge ware folyshe / but our aunswer though it can not styre a my­racle of wysdom at lest way let it sauer of sovernes and discretion / let it sauer innocencie. Agayn I beseche you how obeysaujit / how seruyable becommeth it vs to be to our parentes & maysters (whome we ought to preferre as they whiche be the parentes of the wytte) syth that lorde of all / at what tyme he was of that depe wysdom that his pa­rentes vnderstode hym not / yet he retur ned with them to Nazareth submyt­tyng hymselfe vnto them. we owe this to the naturall loue / we owe this to the reuerence towarde our parentes / that otherwhyles we gyue place to theyr wyl though we see better what is to be done than they. But now it is good to see with howe mete an ende Luke hath concluded the chyldehode of Iesus.

Et Iesus (q he) proficiebat sapientia, aeta­te, [Page] & gratia apud deum & apud homines. Iesus ( [...] sayncte Luke) dyd further in wysdom / age / and grace with god and with men. Howe many thynges in howe fewe wordes hath he taught vs? Fyrste of all that with the growe and the encreace of age / the encreace also of holynes ought to be copled / [...] that sayng be ryghtly spokē vpon vs which sayncte Augustyn spake vpon the com mon sort of men. Qui maior est aetate, ma­ior est iniquitate. 1. the [...] in age / the greater in lewdnes. Or lest in this most goodly and fayer baiell we shulde at any tyme reste vs and stande styll / or thynke that we haue wonne the fylde / but after the maner of them / whiche renne at a game neglectyng that whi­che we haue lefte behynde vs / contende always and labour fourther vp / and alwaye assaye to clyme from good to better / from better to the best / tyll as laste it be come to the marke (that is to saye) to the ende of this lyfe.

Socrates what tyme he was very aged euen as though he knewe nothynge / so always he thursted to learne / and that [Page] of any one. So lykewyse we the more we be in Christ / the lesse we shal please our selues if so be that we profyt in him truely / so that always the standyng in a maus owne conceyt is the very pesti­lence and veter destruction both of stu­dies and also of goodnes. And after [...] /the ouer rype kynde of wyt tes cōmeth not lyghtly to thryste ney­ther of leruyng nor goodnes / I thynke that the order also is not in vayne apud deum, & apud homines with god & with men. So that we ought to vnderstand that cheyfly & fyrst of all we muste ap­ply vs that our lyf may please god / and if we do so / the fauour of mā shall folow alone. For nothyng is more fayer than vertue / nothynge more amiable / after whome prayse is accustomed the more to folowe / the lesse that it be coueted. With as fewe wordes as we myght we haue expressed vnto you (chyldren) an exampler & president of a chylde / whom we ought both to loue most / and folow most effectually. And surely so muche shall we seme to loue / as we shall folow hym. Agayne howe much the more [...] we shall loue hym / so muche the [Page] fuller we shall folowe hym. Wherfore let vs require this one thynge of hym with dayly & pure prayers / that he wyl graūt vs to brenne in his loue / to proue lyke vnto hym / that is / chaste / pure / vn spotted / mylde / symple / easy to be en­treated / voyde of craft / ignorāt of gyle / knowynge not what enuye meaneth / obeysant to the parentes / obsequious to the comaundemēt of our maysters des­pysers of the world / auowed to holy thynges / attent and wedded to godly letters / passynge our selues dayly in goodnes / allowed of god / well accepted among men / and by the sauour & smelle of our good name alluryng very many to Christ. These thynges (I say) conti­nually let vs requyre / these let vs at­tempt both with handes & fete / whyle our age serue vs whiche wyll els flee shortly away / for if Duintilian monys­sheth a ryght saynge. Optima statim ac primo discenda. 1. The beste thynges are by and by and fyrste to be learned / I praye you / what ought to be learned soner than Christ / whiche is beste of all thynges / nay rather what other thyng ought a christian man to learne than [Page] hym / whome to knowe is [...] lyfe as hymselfe wytnesseth prayuge his father in the gospell / which thynge if we do / we shall as it were for our power yelde thankes and acquyte his kyndnes and singular goodnes toward vs / & in thus acquyryng hym / we shall wynne hym vnto vs. And the more fully we shall acquyte / howe much the more [...] we shall reloue hym. So much the more we shal reloue hym howe muche the more we expresse hym in lyfe and manners. And the more we expresse hym / so much the more we shal be enryched in hym.

¶ The thyrde parte.

But in the meane whyle some per chaunce wyll thynke that this is an hard warfare to cast vp all and take the crosse with Christ / but let vs remē ­bre (most dere brethern) that the nature of the worlde and of Christ is farre con trarye and dyuerse. The worlde as it were a paynted harlat at ye fyrst syght sheweth it selfe vnto vs amyable / and (as it were) golden. But after / the de­per [Page] ye entre in / and the more narre ye loke in / so muche the more and more / fowle stynkyng & bytter be all together Cōtrary wyse Christ / to thē yt behold hym a farre of / he semeth sō what hard whyle we see crosses and the despysyng of pleasurs and of lyfe. But who that with a trusty & bolde hert casteth hym­selfe holly vpon hym / he shal fynde no­thyng softer / nothynge more at large / nothynge sweter. Oneles perchaunce he hymselfe beyng the very trouth spe­keth not the trouth in the gospel where he sayth. Colligite iugum meum super vos, & inuenietis requiem animabus vestris. iugum enim meum suaue est, & onus meum leue. Take my yocke vpon you (sayth Christ) and ye shall fynde reste to your hertes / my yocke is swete / and my bur­den is lyte. This vndoubtedly is the very harde way of vertue which in olde tyme longe before Christes commyng Hesiodus in maner dremed on / at the fyrst enteryng in and cōmyng to / sum­what roughe and harde / but after one be a whyle entered / it is alwaye more and more easy and pleasaunt. But admitte it to be a very sharpe waye of [Page] it selfe / I praye you howe can it seme sharpe syth by it we go ye way to so cer tayne & so greate a rewarde. If accor­dynge to the saynge of the wyse man. Spes premii minuit vim flagelli. The hope of the reward doth minyshe the violēce of the skorge / who in this transitorie lyfe wolde not iudge it lyte and swett / wherby he getteth that heuenly lyfe / & which shal neuer for sake him to raygne eternally with Christ / to behold conti­nually that hygh ioy & goodnes / to be conuersaunt in the cōpanye of aungels to be farre from all feare of cuyls? who I praye you this so greate a rewarde wolde not gladly bye yea with a thou­sand deathes? and this so greate a sty­pend doth Iesus our captayne promise to his souldyers / whiche wyll not lye / nor can not deceyue. Now ponder with your selues the frutes / the eternite / and the magnitude and greatues therof / agaynste whiche set the shorte tyme of this warfare whiche is no longer than ye very [...] which lyf what is it els thā a vapor aperynge for a lytle tyme / or a slepe of one houre. But we go to / of this mestunable rewarde let vs a whyle be [Page] styll / & let vs now see with howe abun­dantly greate rewardes our guyde and captayne recompenseth the labours of his souldyers also in this lyfe / & howe an onlyke haruest they repe whiche be souldyers of the world / and they which fyght vnder Christ Jesu. Let vs here what ye wycked men themselfes say in the boke of sapiētie. Lassati sumus in via iniquitatis & perditiōis, ambul auimus vias difficiles, viam autem domini ignorauimus. That is to say. we be wery in the way of [...] /and of perdition / we haue walked harde ways / but the way of the lorde we haue not knowen. The world entyseth vs with his cloked & coūterfet shadows of goodes / which be nothyng els but poysons couered with honye / and by & by when we be ones plucked out of them & as it were put out of ser­uyce & forsaken / lord god / into what ca­res / what thoughtes / what troubles / what losses / what disworshypes / into what vexation of the conscience of the mynde / into what wretched ende doth it bring the vnhappy persons? So that they myght seme to haue suffered pe­naunce ynough for theyr wyckednes / [Page] though no hell shulde cusewe. But he whiche all the deceytes of the worlde reiected / fireth his hole loue / care / and studie / vpon Iesus / that is / the hyghe good thynge / and hang holly on hym / he accordyng to the promise of the gos­pcll shal not oncly possesse eternal lyfe / but also shall receyuc in this worlde an hundreth tymes folde so muchc. And what is it to receyue an hūdreth tymes so muche? Ueryly for forged and coun­terfelled goodes / true / for vncertayne certayuc / for transitorie crernal / for [...] pure / for cares quyetnes / for vexation of mynde truste & confidence / for troublesomnes tranquillitte / for los­ses profyte / for lewdnes goodnes / for the torment of consciēce secrete and in­cffable ioy / for a fowle & miserable ende a glorious and triumphant deathe.

Thou haste dcspysed ryches for Chris­tcs louc / iii hym thou shalt fynde true tresures. Thou haste reiected false ho­nours / so muche in hym thou shalt be the more honorable. Thou hast neglec ted the affections of thy parentes / so muche the more tenderly wyll the true father cheryshe the / which is in heuēs. [Page] Thou haste set at nought the wysdom of the world / in Christ thou shalt much more truely be wyse / and more happy­ly. Thou hast despysed pestiferous plea surs / in hym shalt thou fynd facre other deynties. Brefly to speake when thou seyst ones tho secrete / and true ryches of Christ / the mysty clowde of the world dryuen in sonder / then all thyuges whiche here tofore semed pleasaunte / whiche [...] sollicite the / thou shalt not only not magnific & haue them in admi ratiō / but a certayn pestilēt destructiōs & poysons thou shalt [...] / [...] / cast of. For it chaunseth wonderfully that so sone as that heuenly lyghte toucheth throughly our myndes / sodenly a cer­tayne newe face of all thynges spryn­geth forthe / so that it whiche a lytle to fore semed dulcet / nowe waxeth tart / whiche sower / waxeth swete / whiche semed vnfarynge waxethe amyable / whiche semed amyable waxeth vnfa­rynge / whiche tofore gorgyous nowe fylthy / whiche myghty / weake / which beautyfull defourme / whiche noble vnnoble / whiche ryche nedy / whiche hygh lowe / whiche gaynes dammage / [Page] which wyse folyshe / whiche lyfe death / which to be desyred to be fledde / and cō ­trary wyse. So that sodenly the face of thynges chaunged thou wolt iuge it to be nothyng lesse than that which it se­med before / wherefore in Christ all good thynges be founde compendiously and truely of which the vayne and counter fet ymages and shadows / & as it were ioglynge castes / this worlde sheweth / whiche the wretched cōmon sort of peo ple pursueth and seketh with so greate trouble of mynde / with so great losses / with so great daungers / by ryght and wronge. I beseche you what blysse can ye compare with this mynde which is nowe free from errour / free from affec­tions / without care / always ioynge for the testimonie of conscience / vexed with nothynge / haut / hygh / and next to heuen and nowe aboue the lot of man / which in Christ the most hygh pyllar & rocke / beynge borne & steyed by / all the falsities of this worlde / the troubles / frayes / & stormes depely laugheth at / disuyseth / or rather reweth. For what shulde he feare which hath god his pro­tectour? shulde he feare reproche? Nay [Page] it is an hyghe glorie to suffer reproche for Christ. [...] nay the burdayn of ryches he gladly casteth awaye who so hastcth hym to Christ. Death? nay / for that he most wysheth / wherby he is assured to be set ouer to immortall lyfe. For what thyng shuld he take thought whose father in heuē hath not so much but his heares numbred & told? & what shulde he couet which in Christ posses­seth al thynges? For what is not com­mon to the membres and to the hede? Now how great is mans not onely fe­licitie / but also dignitie to be a lyuyshe mēbre of the most holy body the church to be al one with Christ / the same fleshe the same spirite / to haue all one father with hym / in heuens / to haue Christe our brother / to be destinate with hym to the same enherytauncc. And (shortly to conclude) to be no longer a man but a god? Put hereunto / a certayne taste of the felicitie that is to com / which the good & vertuous mynd do perceyue and enioy euer among. This vndoubtedly saw / this felt ye prophete whā he saith. Nec auris audiuit, nec oculus vidit, nec in [...] ascendit, quae parasti. Deus di­ligentibus [Page] te. i. Neyther care hath held / nor cpe hath seue / nor it hath not ascen ded into mans herte / whiche thou ( [...] god) haste prepared to them that loue the. wherfore most derc companyons it we wyll do our [...] that we may be be truely the membres of Christ / accor­dynge to the saynge of the prophete. Iustus vt palma storebit / the ryghtwyse­man shal flower lyke the palme tre / yea also in this lyfe we shall spryng and flo­ry she with a certayne perpetual youth / not onely in mynde but also in bodye. For lyke as that flowryng spirite of Ie su shall redounde into our [...] / so a­gayne ours shall slowe into his bodye / and so much as may / it shalbe transfor med into it. Nor this so greate beauty both of body and mynde can not beare the fylthyncs of garmente. For our mynde is the habitation of god / the bo­dy is the [...] of the mynde / and the garment to as who shuld say in ma ner the bodye of the bodye. So shall it com to passe that all the hole man shal­be correspondaunt to the puritie & clea­nes of the hede vntyll at laste / this lyfe fynyshed we be ledde awaye to euer­lastynge

¶ The Epiloge.

GO ye to then / good felowes / to this so greate felicitie lette vs la­bour with our hole myght / let vs onely magnifie / and haue in admiration our captayne Iesu / then whom nothyng is greater / nay rather without whom no thyng is at al great. Hym onely let vs loue / then whō nothynge can be better / nay rather without whō nothyng at al is good. Hym let vs folowe which one­ly is the true and perfyte exemplay of goodnes / without whō who so semeth wyse is a fowle. To hym onely let vs cleaue / hym onely let vs embrace / in onely hym let vs take fruition / in whō is the true peac / ioy / tranquillitie / plea­sure / lyfe / immortalitie. what neadeth many wordes? he is the sum of al good thynges. Besyde hym let vs magnifie nothing / loue nothyng / desyre nothyng hym onely let vs studie to please. Lette vs remembre that vnder his eyes / & vnder the eyes of his angels which shalbe our wytnesses in tyme comynge / we do al thyng what so euer we do. He is ia­lous nor cā suffre any fylthynes of this world wherfor let vs lyve ī him a pure & [Page] angelycal lyfe / let hym be to vs in hert / in mouth / in al our lyfe. Hym through let vs sauer / hym let vs speake / hym in maners let vs expresse. In hym let vs set our busynes / our quyetnes / toy / so­late / hope / all our trust and confidence. Let hym neuer [...] from our myn­des when we be wake / and in our slepe let vs contynually dreme of hym. Hym let our [...] and studie / yea and our playe and bysportes also sauer & smell of / by hym and in hym let vs [...] / and ware tyll at laste we he growen up to a perfyte man / and our [...] va­liantly brought to ende / we may kepe a perpetual trumphe with hym in heuē.


¶ Thus endeth the swete sermon of the chylde Iesu made by the most famous clerke Doctour Erasmus of Roterdā.

Imprynted at London in Flete­strete at the sygne of ye George by me Robert Redman.

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