Sermons on the Card by Hugh Latimer


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Sermons on the Card and Other Discourses, by
Hugh Latimer, Edited by Henry Morley

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: Sermons on the Card and Other Discourses

Author: Hugh Latimer

Release Date: April 22, 2005 [eBook #2458]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1883 Cassell & Co. edition by David Price, email

by Hugh Latimer


Hugh Latimer, a farmer's son, was born about the year 1491, at
Thurcaston, in Leicestershire. He was an only son, with six sisters, who
were all well cared for at home. He was a boy of fourteen when sent to
Clare College, Cambridge. When about twenty-four years old, he had
obtained a college fellowship, had taken the degree of Master of Arts,
and was ordained Priest of the Roman Church at Lincoln. In 1524, at the
age of about thirty, he proceeded to the degree of B.D., and on the
occasion of his doing so he argued publicly for the Pope's authority
against opinions of Melancthon. Thomas Bilney went afterwards to
Latimer's rooms, gave him his own reasons for good-will to the teaching
of Melancthon, and explained to him his faith as a Reformer in a way that
secured Latimer's attention. Latimer's free, vigorous mind, admitted the
new reasonings, and in his after-life he looked always upon "little
Bilney" as the man who had first opened his eyes.

With homely earnestness Latimer began soon to express his new
convictions. His zeal and purity of life had caused him to be trusted by
the University as a maintainer of old ways; he had been appointed cross-
bearer to the University, and elected one of the twelve preachers
annually appointed in obedience to a bull of Pope Alexander VI. Now
Latimer walked and worked with Bilney, visiting the sick and the
prisoners, and reasoning together of the needs of Christendom. The
Bishop of the diocese presently forbade Latimer's preaching in any of the
pulpits of the University. Robert Barnes, prior of the Augustinian
Friars at Cambridge, a man stirred to the depths by the new movement of
thought, then invited Latimer to preach in the church of the
Augustinians. Latimer was next summoned before Wolsey, whom he satisfied
so well that Wolsey overruled the Bishop's inhibition, and Latimer again
became a free preacher in Cambridge.

The influence of Latimer's preaching became every year greater; and in
December, 1529, he gave occasion to new controversy in the University by
his two Sermons on the Card, delivered in St. Edward's Church, on the
Sunday before Christmas, 1529. Card-playing was in those days an
amusement especially favoured at Christmas time. Latimer does not
express disapproval, though the Reformers generally were opposed to it.
The early statutes of St. John's College, Cambridge, forbade playing with
dice or cards by members of the college at any time except Christmas, but
excluded undergraduates even from the Christmas privilege. In these
sermons Latimer used the card-playing of the season for illustrations of
spiritual truth drawn from the trump card in triumph, and the rules of
the game of primero. His homely parables enforced views of religious
duty more in accordance with the mind of the Reformers than of those who
held by the old ways. The Prior of the Dominicans at Cambridge tried to
answer Latimer's sermon on the cards with an antagonistic sermon on the
dice: the orthodox Christian was to win by a throw of cinque and
quatre--the cinque, five texts to be quoted against Luther; and the
quatre the four great doctors of the Church. Latimer replied with
vigour; others ranged themselves on one side or the other, and there was
general battle in the University; but the King's Almoner soon intervened
with a letter commanding silence on both sides till the King's pleasure
was further declared. The King's good-will to Latimer was due, as the
letter indicated, to the understanding that Latimer "favoured the King's
cause" in the question of divorce from Katherine of Arragon.

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