July 21, 2019

Excerpt from "Sermon of the Plough"

By Hugh Latimer

January 29, 1548

(Note: We are living in a day when the ecumenical unity of Protestants with Rome is the consuming passion of various denominational leaders. The desire to exhibit Christian unity before the world has led the multitudes to disregard the supremacy of truth for a supposed harmony based on the supremacy of love. But what kind of a love is it that willingly dispenses with truth for the sake of an organizational entity? Love must be based on the truths that are revealed in the Word of God. In former times, men like Latimer understood that truth was more important than ecclesiastical union, yea, more important than life itself. How we need men in our generation to stand up and declare their convictions which are based on the truth of God's Word, just as Latimer did in his generation, even if it is unpopular. The following excerpt is taken from a sermon preached by this ancient martyr on January 29, 1548 at Paul's Cross, as recorded in the out-of-print book, Hugh Latimer: A Biography by Robert Demaus. Oh, that both Protestants and Baptists of our day would imbibe the spirit of this heroic man of faith. Steve Youngblood)

And now I would ask a strange question: Who is the most diligentest bishop and prelate in all England, that passeth all the rest in doing his office? I can tell, for I know him who it is; I know him well. But now I think I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him. There is one that passeth all the other, and is the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. And will ye know who it is? I will tell you: it is the devil. He is the most diligent preacher of all other: he is never out of his diocese; he is never from his cure; ye shall never find him unoccupied; he is ever in his parish; he keepeth residence at all times; ye shall never find him out of the way; call for him when you will he is ever at home, the diligentest preacher in all the realm; he is ever at his plough; no lording or loitering can hinder him; he is every applying his business: ye shall never find him idle I warrant you. And his office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition, to set up idolatry, to teach all kind of Popery. He is ready as he can be wished for to set for his plough, to devise as many ways as can be to deface and obscure God's glory. When the devil is resident and hath his plough going, there away with books, and up with candles; away with Bibles, and up with beads; away with the light of the Gospel, and up with the light of the candles, yea, at noon-days. Where the devil is resident that he may prevail, up with all superstition and idolatry, censing, painting of images, candles, palms, ashes, holy water, and new service of men's inventing, as though man could invent a better way to honor God with than God Himself hath appointed: down with Christ's cross, up with purgatory-pick-purse, up with him, the Popish purgatory, I mean: away with clothing the naked, the poor and impotent; up with decking of images, and gay garnishing of stocks and stones: up with man's traditions and his laws; down with God's traditions and His most Holy Word. Down with the old honor due to God, and up with the new god's honor. Let all things be done in Latin: there must be nothing but Latin, not so much as memento homo quod cinis es, et in cinerem reverteris, "Remember, man, that thou art ashes, and into ashes thou shalt return," which be the words that the minister speaketh unto the ignorant people, when he giveth them ashes upon Ash-Wednesday; but it must be spoken in Latin, God's Word may in no wise be translated into English.

Oh that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine, as Satan is to sow cockle and darnel! And this is the devilish ploughing, the which worketh to have things in Latin, and hindereth the fruitful edification...There never was such a preacher in England as he is. Who is able to tell his diligent preaching, which every day and every hour, laboreth to sow cockle and darnel, that he may bring out of form and out of estimation and room, the institution of the Lord's Supper and Christ's cross?...This is the mark at the which the devil shooteth, to make void the cross of Christ, and to confuse the institution of the Lord's Supper: and these fifteen hundred years he hath been a doer, only purposing to evacuate Christ's death, and to make it of small efficacy and virtue. For whereas Christ, according as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so would He Himself be exalted, that thereby as many as trusted in Him should have salvation; but the devil would none of that: the Romanists would have us saved by a daily oblation propitiatory, by a sacrifice expiatory, or remissory.

But as for our redemption, it is done already, it cannot be better: Christ hath done that thing so well, that it cannot be amended. It cannot be devised how to make that any better than He hath done it. But the devil, by the help of that Italian bishop yonder, his chaplain, hath labored by all means that he might, to frustrate the death of Christ and the merits of His passion.

(The last words of Hugh Latimer to Nicholas Ridley, his fellow martyr, on October 16, 1555: "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.")