Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Good of Sound Teaching
By Thomas Cranmer (14891556)
From a Letter to King Edward VI.
SURELY there can be no greater hope of any kind of persons, either to be brought to all honest conversation of living, or to be more apt to set forth and maintain all godliness and true religion, than of such as have been from childhood nourished and fed with the sweet milk, and as it were the pap, of Gods holy word, and bridled and kept in awe with His holy commandments. For commonly, as we are in youth brought up, so we continue in age; and savour longest of that thing that we first receive and taste of. And as a fair table finely polished, though it be never so apt to receive either pictures or writings, yet it doth neither delight any mens eyes, neither yet profit any thing, except the painter take his pencil, set to his hand, and with labour and cunning replenish it with scriptures or figures as appertaineth to his science; even so the tender wits of young children, being yet naked and bare of all knowledge, through the grace of God, be apt to receive Gods gifts, if they be applied and instructed by such schoolmasters as have knowledge to bring them up and lead them forward therein. And what can be more apt to be grown or painted in the tender hearts of youth, than Gods holy word? What can lead them a righter way to God, to the obedience of their prince, and all virtue and honesty of life, than the sincere understanding of Gods word, which alone sheweth the way how to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him? What can better keep and stay them, that they do not suddenly and lightly fall again from their faith? What can cause them more constantly to withstand the assaults of the devil, the world, and the flesh, and manfully to bear the cross of Christ, than to learn in their youth to practise the same? And verily it seemeth no new thing, that the children of them that be godly should be thus instructed in the faith and commandments of God even from their infancy. For doth not God command His people to teach His law unto their children and childers children? Hath not this knowledge continued from time to time amongst them, to whom God promised to be their God, and they His people? Doth it not appear by plain expressed words of Paul, that Timothy was brought up even from a child in holy scriptures? Hath not the commandments of Almighty God, the articles of the christian faith, and the Lords prayer, been ever necessarily, since Christs time, required of all, both young and old, that professed Christs name, yea, though they were not learned to read? For doubtless in these three points is shortly and plainly included the necessary knowledge of the whole sum of Christs religion, and of all things appertaining unto everlasting life.