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Holbein's sketch of Thomas More


A Godly Instruction

[on How to Treat Those Who Wrong Us]

c.1534

Reflections written in the Tower.

Bear no malice nor ill-will to any man living; for, either the man is good, or naught: if he be good, and I hate him, then am I naught; if he be naught, either he shall amend, and die good, and go to God; or abide naught, and die naught, and so be lost.  If he be saved, he shall not fail, if I be saved too, as I trust to be, to love me very heartily, and I shall then love him likewise.  And why, then, should I now hate one, who shall hereafter love me for evermore? and why should I now be an enemy to him, with whom I shall, in time coming, be coupled in eternal frendship?—On the other side, if he shall continue naught and be lost, that is so terrible and eternal a sorrow to him, that I should think myself a cruel wretch, if I did not now rather pity his pain, than malign his person.  Should any one say, that we may, with a good conscience, wish an evil man harm, lest he should do harm to such as are innocent and good, I will not now dispute upon that point, for the matter requires to be more considered than I can now conveniently write, having no other pen than a coal.  But, verily, thus will I say—that I will give counsel to every good friend of mine, if he be put in such a room as to punish an evil man, who lieth in his charge by reason of his office, at all events, to leave the desire of punishing unto God, and unto such folk as are so grounded in charity and cleave so fast to God, that no secret shrewd cruel affection, under the cloak of just and virtuous zeal, can creep in, and undermine them. But let us that are no better than men of a mean sort ever pray for such merciful amendment in others, as our conscience sheweth us we have need of in ourselves.



Source:

Walter, W. Joseph. Sir Thomas More: His Life and Times. 2nd Ed.
       London: Charles Dolman, 1840.  314-5.





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