As I’m working pretty much all the time on my thesis at current, I can’t take much of a break for blogging. But I want to share, for your edification, a favourite passage from the sermons I’m working on. In my opinion, the thoughts expressed below are as relevant today as they were when the book was first printed in 1547. The first version has been slightly updated by myself (in case reading 16th century English is not your favourite pastime); the second is the selection as it was originally published.

A Modern Adaptation

If we profess Christ, why are we not ashamed to be ignorant of His doctrine? Any man is ashamed to be ignorant of the knowledge of his profession. A man is ashamed to be called a philosopher if he does not read books of philosophy. Likewise, men are ashamed to be called lawyers, astronomers, or physicians if they are ignorant of the books of law, astronomy, and medicine. How can any man then say that he professes Christ and His religion, but will not apply himself to read and hear and know the books of Christ’s Gospel and doctrine? Although other sciences are good, and no man can deny¬† that to be well-educated in them is also good, but this – our faith – is the chief thing and passes all others studies incomparably. What excuse shall we give at the last day before Christ if we delight to hear men’s fantasies and creations more than His most holy Gospel? What excuse can we give if we never make time to do the very thing we should do above all other things? What shall we say in our defense if we choose to read everything except Scripture, the very thing we ought to make time for before all other readings? Let us therefore apply ourselves, as much as we are able, to know God’s word by diligently hearing and reading it – as we must, if we truly profess to know God and have faith and trust in Him.

The Original

If we professe Christe why be we not ashamed to be ignoraunte in his doctrine? Seyng that euery man is ashamed to be ignoraunt in that learning, which he professeth. That man is ashamed, to be called a Philosophier, whiche readeth not the bookes of Philosophie, and to be called a lawyer and Astronomier, or a phisicion, that is ignoraunt in the bokes of law, Astronomie, and Phisicke. Howe can any man then saie, that he professeth Christ, and his religion, if he will not applye hymself, (as farfurther as he can or may conueniently) to reade and hear, & to knowe the bokes of Christes Gospel & doctrine. Although other sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man can deny, but this is the chiefe, and passeth al other incomparably. What excuse shal we therfore make (at the last daie before Christ) that delight to reade, or heare mennes phantasies and inuencions, more then his moste holy Gospell, and will fynd no tyme to doo that, whiche chiefly (aboue all thynges) wee should do and wil rather reade other thynges, then that, for the whiche, we oughte rather to leaue readyng of all other thyngs. Let us therefore apply our selfes, as farfuth as we can haue tyme and leasure, to knowe Gods worde, by diligent hearing and readyng therof, as many as professe God, and haue faithe and trust in him.

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Selected from Thomas Cranmer’s “A fruitfull exhortation, to the readyng and knowledge of holy scripture.” Certayne Sermons, or Homelies. 1547.