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WHEREIN IS DESCRIBED THE GLORIOUS TRIUMPH AND CONQUEST OF CHRIST, OVER SIN, DEATH, THE LAW, THE STRENGTH AND PRIDE OF SATAN, WITH ALL OTHER ENEMIES AGAINST TILE POOR SOUL OF MAN.
BY JOHN FOX. The triumph of Christ notably appeareth in manís misery. ó So often as inwardly in spirit I behold the transitory and frail estate of our mortal nature, thoroughly vexed with infinite miseries, perils, injuries, and lamentations, so that we have nothing of sure account, nothing free, but all subject to the servitude, tyranny, and slavery of most raging enemies: it seemeth to me almost unspeakable, how deeply indebted we are to Christ Jesus, our Savior and Triumpher most victorious. Unto whom, of bounden duty, we have given all that is ours, and ourselves wholly, and more than wholly, yet in no respect are we answerable to his wonderful deserts; so far do those things, which this our heavenly Champion hath compassed and performed for our cause, surpass, not only our strength and nature, but also all conceit of heart and thought; the great riches whereof well near exceed all credit and belief.
If we commonly and very much esteem the worthy exploits achieved by renowned captains of this world; if with great joy and desire we hunger after them, being printed in books, graven in tables, painted on walls, or set forth and represented on a stage; if we greedily hearken after them and wonder at them; if we give all triumph, all pomp, honor, and praise unto them; how then ought we to be affected towards this our heavenly Conqueror, whose worthy acts and most wonderful stratagems do with such infinite brightness darken all glory, and so far exceed the nature of human things, that heaven is not farther distant from the earth, shadows do not more differ from the things themselves, nor the counterfeit from that which is true!
But so it falleth out, that as the commodity of the other, even so the majesty and incredible benefits of this our heavenly Prince are not so highly esteemed of us, unless we first perfectly know and feel the force of those our enemies whom he hath subdued, or the depth of those dangers from which we have been and are daily delivered.
Wherefore, I am to request all godly and true-hearted christians to give diligent heed and attentive ear, whilst I shall both plainly and truly set before their eyes the most lamentable estate of our wretched nature, and the exceeding might and malice of our most cruel enemies. So will it come to pass, that we shall more worthily account of, and more joyfully acknowledge, the victorious power of Christ in working our salvation. The consideration of manís misery. ó And that I may pass over with silence those lighter fleabiting, (in respect,) I mean the common kind of grievances, yet full of misery and sorrow, which sundry ways befall us in this life ó that also I may omit the inward groanings of the heart, and secret vexation of thoughts, and temptations, wherewith every one, for the most part, is inwardly tormented in himself, for who hath not some one or other familiar Satan attending at his heels? ó that I may let these things pass, the several discourse whereof would require whole volumes long and tedious, look upon those common and public evils equally and indifferently betiding to us all. How miserable do they make this life, or rather to be no life at all! To be touched therewith we count it much, yet they oppress us; but to be oppressed by them we make a wonder, yet most wonderfully and utterly we are thereby consumed. The invincible power of death. ó And first, to begin with the least and lightest of these evils, consider with me the invincible tyranny of death, daily ranging and raging in this world; the power and force whereof not all the monarchs of the earth could for a moment withstand. Not that great king of Macedon, whose aspiring heart the conquest of one whole world could not content, was at any time able to cope with her: not Herculesí strength, albeit the bane of most ugly monsters, was ever able so much as to wound this biting serpent: not that Persian Xerxes, even he that threatened floods and mountains, could once amaze her, with all his armed troops: not Marius the renowned, or the more renowned Pompey; not haughty Caesar; not the most hearty and valiant Roman soldiers, who limited their empire with the bounds and borders of the earth, bringing all nations into subjection, were at any time able to cast off the yoke of her subjection!
How many ages of this world hath this tyrannical fury rioted up and down, yet no mortal wight has been hitherto found, once able to delay, much less to delude, and so escape her deadly invasion! Not the dreadful majesty of king or emperor could at any time have her at beck or check. No conveyance or deceitful drift in law could circumvent her, no worldly wealth could bribe her, no reaching head or high look of philosophers could teach her a trick of new device in school, no painted speech of rhetoric could qualify her rage, no subtle sophister could give her the shift, no brag of stoical liberty could ever shake off her servile yoke, no pharisaical holiness, no religion of bishops, no monkish austerity; no prayers of priests could intreat her, no citizenís policy, no handicraftís labor, could banish her of house or town. Finally, no strength of nature, no reason of man, could at any time resist and give her the foil.
What man, saith the prophet, liveth and shall not taste of death? Psalm 84. For she, tyrannically sparing no one, invadeth all estates, all sexes, and ages of men. She assaulteth as well princeís towers as poor menís cottages She separateth wife and husband; dissolveth friendship; and, which is most lamentable, violently snatcheth the tender suckling from the motherís breast. Oh, most pitiful and plentiful are the tears, lamentations, and heartbreak- lugs, which hereof have, and daily do proceed! After this manner, that seely F50 mother in the gospel, Luke 7, following her only son to burial, how, think you, did she lament and wring her hands! but the Lord, most happily meeting her on the way, restored her son to life again. So Lazarus, of his two sisters, John 11, so Dorcas, Acts 9, is of many lamented. These only I touch by the way, for exampleís sake, well knowing that no house or family whatsoever but some time or other hath like chances and cause of woe.
Now, if we were so clear of eye that we might pierce the heart and bowels of the earth, therein taking view and tale of the infinite number of all those whom death, since the creation of the world, hath swallowed up; what a wonderful slaughter of dead men! what outrageous tyranny of devouring death should we not only comprehend with inward mind, but also behold with outward eye! For the infinite and inscrutable number of men living at this present hour, what are they in respect of those who, so many years since taken away by death, dwell, as the poet saith, and rot in the grave?
Howbeit, such eye-sight had that most wise prophet, who by commission did proclaim, that all flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the field, Isaiah 40. And what then shall it avail any one, in what delights, pleasures, power, glory, wisdom, learning, counsel, honor, and pomp he live and flourish, when he shall be perforce deprived, not only of those things, but of life itself as also of light, air, and body? For, as the wise preacher doth witness, The wise man as well as the fool, Ecclesiastes 2, the learned as the unlearned, the rich as well as the poor, the prince and peasant, all alike. There is no difference, no respect or regard of persons, one or other. Death meteth with all alike, equally striking all mortal creatures. For all men are born on this condition, to die, some sooner, some later; and though some one manís life last to extreme old age, which now is very seldom seen, yet that hindereth not a whit but that the old proverb may still be true as steel, A man, a bubble! Death overcome. The victory and triumph of Christ. ó And here, first, dothTHE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST OUR LORD open and show itself in our infirmity, by infinite degrees surpassing whatsoever triumphs or stratagems anywhere are, or at any time have been, under heaven. Not only in that he alone of all men, even in that respect that he is man, is now, contrary to manís nature and condition, become immortal; but in this also, that, by restoring us, miserable and mortal men, from the bondage of death to immortality, he translateth us from a wretched and frail estate of life to eternal bliss of salvation, there making us coheirs with him, and free citizens of his glorious kingdom. What thing in all the world was ever comparable to this victory? Take good and steadfast view of all, whatsoever is on earth: what can there be of more glory, sovereignty, and wonderful pomp, I will not say be found, but either desired, or once thought of and conceived, than this most famous and superexcellent triumph? Shall not here all the princes and potentates of the earth abate their courage and go back? nay, rather be as contemptible and silly creeping worms, in comparison of this most heavenly and triumphant Conqueror?
For, if we give such glory to earthly princes for their magnificence and bountiful hand open to all their subjects throughout their whole dominions, albeit large and wide, they themselves notwithstanding feeling no scant or want: what eternal praise ought we then, think ye, to give and yield to this our triumphant Monarch and Prince of all princes? whose kingdom first being so ample and large, as not to be limited with the ends of the whole world, nor coasts of the ocean sea, but reacheth into heaven itself, even to the very tribunal seat of God, according to that prophetical psalm of David, And he shall rule from sea to sea, from the floods to the outmost borders of the earth, Psalm 62, and in another place, Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the bounds of the earth for thy possession, Psalm 2. Also we hear it said of Christ himself, Matthew 28. All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Innumerable are the testimonies hereof, but these suffice to touch the matter. The benefits of Christ how great they be, and how common to all. ó Now, concerning his benefits, as they are of their own nature most excellent, so they are common to all, appertaining to all alike, and so appertaining, that no man can be destitute of them without great misery; no man again enjoys them without salvation and perfect felicity.
And whereas the riches and benefits of other kings are either consumed by too large giving, or not bestowed on every one, or if they are very free of gift, yet not to all, but to such as stand in need; the case falleth out far otherwise with this our prince, whose eternal gills and benefits, besides that they never decrease, but rather increase, are also of such kind and sort, that as well mighty monarchs as seely beggars, the wise man as the fool, the learned as the unlearned, the Jew as well as the Grecian, the man as well as the woman, the master as well as the servant, old men as well as children.
Finally, that I may not run through every several calling, all men, of all estates, stand in need of Him. With Him there is no difference of degree, no one better than another, and no respect of persons. All, whosoever, as many of us as are men, are, after one and like manner, beggars at this Princeís gate. But he, in the mean time, fully rich in his own abundance, needeth no manís help or aid at any time; neither could it avail him one hair to have all the princesí treasures of the world gathered on a heap, how huge soever it were. For what canst thou give unto Him, who only giveth all things, and hath under his power whatsoever is any where in heaven or earth? The preposterous study and vain carking care of men. ó These things being thus, what blind fury and mischievous plague possesseth christian hearts, that they should so greedily hunt after the favor of earthly princes, whereas, in the mean while, either few do think of, or not very many care for the sovereign favor of this eternal Monarch! The labor, disposition, and corrupted affections of christians, in these days, witness the same. I speak not of all christians, yet I wish that my complaint took not hold upon so many; neither do I herein touch all, jointly, one with another, no, not the wicked themselves, but only for admonitionís sake.
For, as the course of the world goeth now, what prince at this day, living so simple on the earth, whose authority is not more regarded of his subjects, whose displeasure is not more feared, whose benefits are not more earnestly desired and esteemed, whose will is not more speedily despatched, whom we do not more faithfully serve, than this our Lord, the only sovereign Prince of all power?
Go to, worldling: when the bountifulness of thy prince hath enriched thee, even as much as man may be of man, and thou hast gotten into thy hands that for which thou hast many years with great flattery hawked alter, yet what hast thou gotten? Perhaps a rich farm near the city, or thy barns are better stored with grain, or thy pouches close couched with golden angels: and perhaps too, if it take thee in the head, thou buildest stately and magnifical palaces, purchasest high style and title, authority, rule, and government, with all other things appertaining to the show of the world ó and dost thou make so much account of these trifles, that by and by thou weenest to have reached to perfect bliss, and so to shove nearer to heaven gates? The uncertain favor of princes. ó First, I omit here to dispute of the uncertain favor of princes, and interchangeable course of fortune, which ebbing and flowing in shorter time, and more speedy recourse than any sea, as she never continueth long with the same men after one sort, even so the sooner and the greater things she giveth, the sooner and greater things she taketh away again.
But, put the case that all is sure in good estate, and be that certainly thine, contrary to the saying of Mimus, which fortune hath made thine ó when thy reckoning is made, what great commodity, I pray thee, do thy great riches, so greatly desired, bring unto thee? The great felicity of this world is but vanity. ó I know what thy secret thought doth murmur hereat, forsooth, That by this means, which I seem so to mislike, thy body is well provided for and fareth well. Be it so, I confess to that. But, in the mean time, what, I pray thee, is become of thy miserable and wretched soul? Thy belly is glutted with delicates, thy ears full of music, thou flowest in wealth, thou excellest in authority, flourishest in honor and dignity, aboundest with friends; thy privy chamber is adorned with gold and precious stone, thou art guarded with routs of serving-men, honored of poor suitors and clients: finally, thou art had in admiration and reverence in the face of the world.
But in the mean time what is done within, in thine inward world? how dost thou there agree with thy king? Let us see. Forsooth, thou, beholding all things only with thy outward eyes, art so ravished therewith, that, to thy thinking, nothing is worthy admiration but this world, nothing else that doth greatly appertain unto man. Oh, how far wide art thou, and how greatly deceived! But open, I pray thee, the secret and inward eyes of the heart, then shalt thou well understand that there is a far other world than this, where far greater riches and richer treasures are found of them who seriously and heartily travail to seek them out. And think not here, that I send thee into some fiery and crystal heaven, whereby thou mightest allege against me that saying out of Moses, Who is he that shall ascend into heaven, or that shall descend into hell? Deuteronomy 30. No, I will bring thee into another place, even into thyself; thou shalt need no long voyage, or Ulyssesí travels: only consider with good advisement those things that are within thee, so shalt thou easily perceive that thou daily carriest a world about thee, in thy heart. Man a little world. Two sorts of worlds compared together. ó For, what is man else than a certain world? in respect of his bigness small, but if thou regard his marvelous workmanship, valor, personage, and the image of God according whereunto he was made, he is, in many respects, of greater estimation and excellency than this visible world; the most precious things whereof are but trifles to the surpassing dignity of the other, which is invisible. Wilt thou have a sight of the wonderful workmanship and riches of this thy invisible world? The beholding of this sun, this light, this life, doth, I know, greatly please thine eyes; but how much superexcellent is the sun within thy body, the sincere eye of the mind, illuminated with the light of Jesus Christ, the brightness whereof cleareth and cheereth the whole mind of man ! Glittering gold, plenty of silver, great lands, and rich possessions delight thee; but how more bright shineth the most precious pearl of a fervent faith, sought in the fruitful and most pleasant fields of the evangelists? which when thou hast found, thou sellest all other things, setting them at nought, for desire of this! Worldly wealth. True peace what it is. The peace of the world. True and false liberty. ó The visible world hath his peace, tranquillity, and liberty: neither doth this world also want his peace and liberty, yea and it so wanteth them not, that if we can distinguish truth from falsehood, they are nowhere else to be found but here. Thou callest that peace, when there is no privy grudge or malice between thee and thy neighbor; but how much more excellent a peace is a true heart, a clear conscience before God, and a quiet mind, being at unity with itself and with God! Moreover, thou makest much of liberty which is but freedom from the bondage of men; but rather esteem that liberty, when neither the violence of death, nor the power of sin, nor the tyranny of Satan; when neither the gates of Hell, nor the frowardness of fortune, nor the cruelty of enemies; finally, that I may yet speak more confidently in Christ, when neither the very wrath and curse of God, nor the obligatory sentence of the law, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor the whole host of heaven, have any law or power against thee. The delight of courtiers. ó But thou art a courtier perhaps, and thou canst not be without company, or resort of men. Thine old mates and fellows, are sport, play, riot, idleness, and, by your leave, chambering is thy repast!
Thou deemest it a gentlemanís life to spend whole days and years in dancing, drinking, dicing, hunting, in foolish pastimes, and more foolish talk; and for such a younker as thou art to betake himself to prayer, thou takest him for a doting and frenzy fool! Thou thinkest it an honorable thing to be conversant among great personages; thou feedest thy fancy with an Italian grace, with the Spanish fashion, and the French courtesy, very serviceable in speech, ďa votre commandement, Monsieur!Ē Then, if haply it chance that thou art in very good place about thy prince, or wear his coat, or often in his presence, or if by some means thou creepest into his favor, and art known of him, and spoken to with affability, and receivest some commodity at his hands, for this is the end of courtly philosophers, then thou persuadest thyself that thou art in most perfect and blessed joy!
To be short, discover this thy whole world unto us, cut out an anatomy thereof, open all the veins of all the vain pleasures and delights thereof, paint them out to the purpose, amplify them as much as thou list, and imagine that all the felicities of the world lighted together upon one Polycrates, namely, the favor of the prince, the pleasures of the court, degrees of honor, nobility of birth, variety of delights, sumptuous buildings, friends, gold, precious stones, farms, clients, the favor of the commonalty, the contemplation of this visible light, gaming, mirth, victories, triumphs, or whatsoever else of like kind of trash! Let us now lay together and compare the benefits of the invisible world, which make thy soul within thee most happy and blessed. A comparison of outward good things with inward. The vain felicity of this world. ó And that I may begin with that which is most worthily of greatest estimation, namely, the favor of God, the sovereign Prince of all princes, let us call to mind the singular graces springing and proceeding hereof; as a good conscience, peace, life, eternal salvation, joy in the Holy Ghost, patience of mind against all adversity, victory over death, remission of sin, faith the subverter of Satanís kingdom, a confident heart void of all fear, contempt of things present, certainty of things to come, the riches of virtue, and wisdom more precious than all treasure, the repressing of immoderate affections, divers signs and tokens of Godís Spirit, the light of reason like unto the sun, whose exceeding bright beams shine through the whole world. Add hereunto also the gifts of learning, and knowledge, and tongues, fixed in this world as certain stars; to conclude, you can see nothing almost in all this world outwardly, the like whereof is not done in that inward world spiritually, yet more effectually; so that this world may be well termed no other than a shadow or dead image of a man, as man is the lively image of God, Finally, since this outward world seemeth to be ordained of God only to the use of outward things, and the other to blessedness and felicity, truly they which gape after for greater abundance than is sufficient and necessary for sustenance of their life, beingí seduced and bewitched with a preposterous error and false opinion, do haunt after and find shadows for true things, transitory wealth for everlasting joy, and heap up coals instead of rich treasure. For true happiness is no where to be found but in that celestial world of the mind, which not Caesar, though he were thrice Augustus, or more than a potentate, nor all the kings and princes of the earth, are able to give thee, as they are not able to take it from thee. It proceedeth only from this one Prince and Lord of all, Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God. The glory of Christ doth not take from earthly princes their due honor. ó Go forward now, and embrace this present world which thou hast in such great admiration, and addict thyself as much as thou list to the service of temporal princes. I know that christian religion and true discipline gives unto princes their due honor and obedience: neither do I envy or grudge thereat; nay, rather I wish the greater increase thereof, so that it be just, lawful, and right. No man more truly honoreth superior powers than he which doth honor them in the Lord. But if the divine law of God, by authority, admit so much reverence and worship to be given to the potentates of this transitory world, what then is meet that we yield unto Him who so far surmounteth and obscureth the majesty and grace of most mighty monarchs, that they are no otherwise to be counted happy but so far as they truly fear and serve him? The law abrogated by Christ. ó We have now made manifest unto you, that all the tyranny of death is extinguished, and we delivered from the servile yoke thereof, by the means and conquest of this our triumphant Prince. When I say death, I understand also thereby the whole army or violence of mischiefs which any ways annoy our life; both those which were the cause of death, and those also that accompany and follow it. For death, of itself, is nothing else but the punishment and wages for sin, (according to Paulís saying, Romans 6) even as the strength of sin is the law. For where no law is, there is no transgression, there the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness of men which withhold the truth in righteousness, Romans 1. And to this wrath we were all sometime subject, being dead in sin, and serving Satan the prince of this world, Ephesians 2, under whose kingdom we are all wretched and miserable. For what greater thrall, or more extreme misery, could there happen, than that Satan, troubling and disturbing all things as he listed, should bear all the sway, and alone usurp the kingdom, being not conquerable by any force of nature, or power of prince? All things being thus in a desperate case, the more glorious did the power of this our grand Champion appear, who, with a marvellous victory, and singular overthrow, by suffering, subdued the enemy, and having vanquished the tyranny of death, by death, opened the everlasting gate of immortality to all that would come and enter therein. Wherefore he, willing to communicate the fruit of this his benefit with all, who draweth all unto himself, crieth in the gospel, saying, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you, Matthew 11. And as he doth accept all sorts of men, in that he inviteth and allureth all: so he excepteth no kind of burden, or grief, who promiseth that he will refresh us in all, and disburden us of them all. The wrath of God pacified. Satan spoiled. The works of Christ triumphant. ó Go to therefore, good brother in Christ, whosoever thou art, that groanest under any burden ó acknowledge the voice of Him that calleth thee: and how much the more thou art afflicted, so much the more boldly hasten unto him, who is ready to help all, but especially he came to visit and comfort the poor afflicted. If the wrath of God terrify thee, thou hast there an atonement and peacemaker, who having slain hatred by his cross and passion, offereth unto thee a sure sanctuary to flee unto. If his law touch or sting thee, or the feeling of thy sin disquiet thee, he hath taken away the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, and hath spoiled the principalities and powers, and hath made a show of them openly, and hath triumphed over them in himself, Colossians 2. Is the fear and horror of death dreadful unto thee? Death hath now lost her sting in him, and doth now fear thee more, than thou her. But, perhaps, Satan, the worker of all evil thoughts and cogitations, doth not a little assault thee ó tush, let him rage and range as long as he list, how can he greatly hurt thee, when his head being bruised and broken, he can but hiss at thy heel?
Peradventure also thy faith is shaken and tried, or some other storm of temptation coming from some other source beats violently upon thee, and doth disturb the tranquillity of thy mind. Fight, therefore, and put on the whole armor of christian warfare ó or, if the battle be over-hot, and exceed thy strength, yet fall to prayer; or, if thou canst not pray, at the least, sigh and groan unto the Lord. The inward sighing and groaning of the heart, shooting up before the Lord, is a strong and hearty prayer. Thou must strive and labor to do what thou canst and art able to do: but this which thou art able is not of such value of itself, as it is esteemed of God, who both accepteth and crowneth in us the affection of a willing heart and ready mind, as if it were an action or deed. Otherwise, that which the rigorous justice of God doth exact of us to our salvation, and to the vanquishing of these aforesaid enemies, were exceeding great, too far above thy strength or reach.
But that which thou, seely man, being born of man, wast not able to perform, that, a man born of God, the Son of God, Christ Jesus, hath fully accomplished. He hath fulfilled every jot of the law through wonderful humility and obedience. He hath abated the pride of the world; opened the gates of heaven, which our sinful life had shut up; dispossessed Satan of his kingdom, utterly weakened the power of death, and taken away the sting of sin and torments of hell. Finally, he, performing every point of perfect righteousness, and being but one, answered that for all, which was required of every one. The singular goodness of Christ triumphant. ó And besides that this heavenly Prince hath wrought these and so many wonderful works, with incredible triumph, which do amaze and astonish even Nature itself, it is also to be considered how much more famous and triumphant he is, not only in that he had no fellow or mate to assist him, but in that whatsoever he took upon him, he compassed it, and obtained the victory, not for himself, but for us only and our behalf. Wherein the triumph of this our Monarch seemeth far unlike the victories of other princes, not only in the excellency and value of the things done, but also in the very manner of the doing. For, the victories of earthly potentates, as they are always achieved with cruelty and violence, so are they oftentimes very injurious, but never without great danger and much manslaughter. Whereby it cometh to pass that their triumphs are nothing in the end but a public pillage and misery of the world, wherein, while some do laugh, many weep and howl, neither party deserving so to do, neither the vanquisher nor the vanquished. Now, albeit that upon just cause the war was taken in hand, it falleth out, notwithstanding, in such triumphs, I cannot tell how, that the victory for the most part betideth unto him who did least of all in battle.
For, albeit princes be sometime present in the conflict, yet surely they are farthest from peril, whose, notwithstanding, the victory is said to be.
Far otherwise standeth the case between us and our heavenly Conqueror: for they to whom the matter chiefly appertained, being free from all danger and at ease, sat as idle lookers on another manís labor and pain.
He alone, who deserved nothing, abode all the peril. Who, if he would have vouchsafed, they also venturing themselves to the battle, to have been but a partaker only of their labor, or a captain of their war, or any way but a furtherer of the victory, it might have seemed a rare example in a prince, and a singular affection which he bare unto them. Yet he is not so contented; he standeth not in another manís cause or quarrel only as an idle looker-on, taking heed to himself that he be there where least danger is; no, no, he himself alone ventureth on the pikes, he treadeth the wine-press alone; and, like a most vigilant captain, the rest sleeping soundly, putteth himself alone in danger, not for his friends only, but even for his bitter enemies. Neither doth he win by fighting, but by suffering: and so far he is from violence and bloodshed, that not so much as a voice was heard in the streets, showing thereby to the world a most strange and new kind of conquest.
Howsoever worldlings account of it, seem it ever so blockish or doltish, yet if one put up an injury received, and doth not forthwith render like for like, or one shrewd turn for another, but committeth the matter and the revenge thereof into the hands of God, he most truly may be termed a conqueror. There is no speedier or more glorious a victory than obedience wholly referring and framing itself to the will of the Lord. In the victory of Christ, what is to be considered. ó There is yet another property in this heavenly Champion, not so much glorious for himself, as commodious and profitable for us all: certain, far and wide differing from the example of our common warriors. For, albeit they are sometime conquerors, yet the victory tarrieth not with them long, but they are themselves also at other times put to the foil. Moreover, such is the nature of those things which are won, that they can be recovered again by the enemy, at one time or other.
Finally, if there be any danger in the battle, it is all laid upon the soldierís neck: if there come any profit by the victory, it is not common; but if perhaps any portion thereof be allotted to the many (which is very rare), though it come hardly and with grudging, yet it may be written and scored upon the walls for very good luck. All the benefits of Christ belong as well to us as to him. ó But the most happy and blessed Champion, himself encountering alone with them who were much stronger than we, so joined incredible mercy and love with his three and power in subduing our enemies, that of the victory he challenged nothing as due to himself, but his sweating, travail, and unspeakable torments ó the pillage, spoil, booty, and all the commodity F51 whatsoever, he would have wholly, and alone, and freely to redound to us.
Wherefore, when we have thoroughly pondered in mind and heart all those things which Christ hath brought to pass in this most happy battle, which truly are above all measure wonderful, let every one, forthwith, thus persuade himself, that the excellency of his prowess, and glory of this victory, is not so much proper to him, as common to us with him. Finally, let us all think thus, that whatsoever was privately compassed by him, is a public benefit for us all: and let us not so much look unto the glory and magnificence of his deeds, as learn the use of them; for, in the former consisteth the praise of Christ, in the other our salvation.
And yet to say the truth, Christ is in nothing more duly or rightly praised, than in the use of his benefits, when we apply them to ourselves for our special comfort, with thanksgiving. Neither am I able to say, whether he more desires to help thee and do thee good, than for his goodness to be praised: of this I am sure, that thou hast more need of his help, than he of thy praise. Meditation of the cross of Christ. ó You shall find many which count the highest and chief point in religion to be the often meditation and remembrance of Christ crucified for us, hanging on the cross; especially if therewithal they with tears lament his pains which he suffered, or with detestation curse the Jews that made him suffer. This their devout and religious affection is not to be misliked or disallowed, which without doubt is very godly. But, as I deny not that a great part of religion doth consist therein, so again, we christians must take carethl heed, that we rest not here only, as in the chief ground of religion: but rather take it as a step or degree to a farther matter more properly belonging to our salvation.
For, the cross of Christ was not therefore erected that thou shouldest be only a beholder thereof, but rather a follower: not to give thee a show, but a remedy, and a daily help for thy necessity. Thou beholdest Christ nailed to the cross: why dost thou not rather call to mind the cause why this most mild Lamb of God did give himself to such great torments? why he rose again? why he ascended up into heaven, there reigning triumphantly at the right hand of his Father? which when thou shalt find, and well understand that they have been all done for thy sake, it shall be thy duty on the other side, to accustom thyself to the wise usage thereof, applying the same to thine own private comfort and commodity. How we must take profit by the passion and victory of Christ. ó But thou wilt demand, how shall I do this? I will tell thee; and may our Lord Jesus Christ give thee his Spirit of all comfort and consolation! Amen. Thou hearest and rememberest, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified on the cross for thy sake. Herein, first, thou beholdest the exceeding love and mercy of God toward thee. Secondly, thou understandest what a horrible thing sin is in his sight, whereof there could be no satisfaction made but only by the wounds and blood of his only begotten Son. Of which two, the former ought to inflame thee with the love of God, the other to keep thee in his fear, and bridle thee from the custom of sin.
But if thou chance to fall into sin, as the infirmity of manís flesh is very slippery, wherein, either the law accuseth thee, or the horror of death casteth thee down, or the examples of scripture do make thee tremble, or thy senses and cogitations of thy mind disquiet and trouble thee ó or Satan stir all occasions of terrors against thee, as he is alway at hand to vex such as labor earnestly in holiness and christian religion ó here thou hast not only perpetual grace, and pardon purchased for thee, that thou mayest also boldly and gloriously triumph and exult over death, the law, Satan, and thine own guilty conscience; for, by what power and right these evils are overcome in Christ, by the same thou mayest think they are overcome in thee: ó but, when thou hast pondered all other things in thy mind, as deeply as may be, yet of all those uses and benefits which we gather and enjoy by the mystery of Christís passion and triumph of victory, this is the most ample and most excellent ó namely, if thou so apply to thyself all the deeds, virtue, and glory of Christ, as though thou, being wholly clothed with his righteousness, didst now, as Lord of heaven and earth, reign and triumph above with him, and in him for ever, ó and as he on the other side, having changed persons with thee (for he beareth the public person of us all) took upon himself the burden of thy sin, the wrath of God, and the whole heap of misery. Whereupon arises immediately great liberty of mind, freedom of conscience, courage, and boldness of heart, likewise a certain majesty of spirit, not only despising earthly things, and things under the earth, but also lifting itself higher than heaven.
Finally, there proceedeth from hence everlasting comfort and joy in Godís Holy Spirit, which the holy prophets prophesied, that he should light and come upon those who were redeemed and converted to Sion, Isaiah 35.
Which gifts, seeing they are proper and peculiar to christians, and of such value that nothing can happen to man more honorable, no not to the angels of God; I cannot but much marvel how it should come to pass that they are so seldom seen, nay almost not at all, in the life and manners of christians.
For, whereas you see some drowned in superstition, many as yet captive under the old servitude and bondage of the law: and an infinite number of others setting their whole hearts upon their abundance of worldly muck: what one almost canst thou give me, who either inwardly inspireth, or outwardly expresseth this excellency of a christian heart and spiritual strength in Christ, which before I spake of? Hereof, since there are many causes, the estate of these our evil days and course of this time give me perhaps fit occasion somewhat to touch them by the way. Why we are so strong in the world and faint in Christ. ó The cause therefore that we are so strong in the world and so faint-hearted in Christ lieth not in any defect of the things themselves, which as they are by nature most ample and abundant so are they most certain and permanent; but in the natural corruption and imbecility of our flesh: so that the weak eye of our faith, if it be not lightened from heaven with the sovereign light of Christ, is dazzled with the brightness of the very things themselves, no otherwise than as our bodily eyes are dimmed at the beholding of the shining sun. Besides this natural dulness and imbecility, there is another cause, proceeding from the force and power of Satan, who never ceaseth to assault us. And partly our own slothful idleness is also to blame, when we do not foster and nourish whatsoever sparkle of faith or good motion appeareth in us; but being tickled with the good success of things present, or having ourselves fastened upon other matters, or entangled with cares of this world, we withdraw ourselves from cherishing that good motion, and neglect the riches of the heavenly kingdom. And what marvel is it, then, if Christ do not open and show himself unto us, who so disdainfully neglect or reject his kingdom? or what cause have we to complain, if he impart not his blessings unto us, who make more account of this worldly mammon? or if he send not his Spirit of all comfort and consolation to cheer our hearts, who do more rejoice at this transitory world? or if he satisfy them not that do not hunger and thirst? or refresh not them that are not heavy laden or groan under any burden?
The kingdom of God 1oveth them who seek it, and those that are careful to obtain it. They who are free scholars and followers of this world, have at their pleasure their customs and commodities which they enjoy; but this our King giveth not his riches but to such as have need of them, and, utterly despising this wicked world, follow the Lamb, with a cheerful courage, whithersoever he goeth. How the gospel must be ministered. ó Neither can I well let pass to speak of those who have cure of souls, and charge to minister the word of God unto the people. For, it lieth on them especially, whether the people are duly and truly instructed in Christ or not. And albeit I can give here no general precept which the ministers of God might use continually in instructing such a multitude, especially of such divers minds, fashions, and opinions; for some live so that you shall not well know or perceive whether they more neglect the law or the gospel: whether they reverence and fear God less or man: whether they be atheists or infidels. Other some there are who, giving themselves to all licentious and dissolute living, savor as much of the sweet liberty of the gospel, as swine do of sweet odors. Again, some there are of such a conscience, that the preaching of the law, and the lamentable voice of John, is not only unseasonable unto them, but a sharp bitter bane, instead of healthsome medicine.
Yet, since that Christ Jesus our Lord is the gift of his most tender and loving Father, shining upon every one indifferently, good and bad, even as the sun is common to us all, I think it not meet or convenient that we should be more slow or sparing in dispensing or distributing this his benefit, than he was in bestowing. If it pleased the Lord God to show forth the exceeding riches of his grace, to ransom us miserable captives from the bondage of the law; to embrace us in his arms; to call us to the common possession of heaven, and all other his blessings ó if, being called, it pleased him to justify us; if being justified, to glorify us of his own free love and mercy; certes, for us not to acknowledge that which is offered, is a point of great ignorance; not to take it, it were misery; but to detain or grudge to others that which ought to be most public and common, is either malicious unkindness, or plain theft, especially in a shepherd. The Law. The Gospel. ó I deny not that the terrors and threatenings of the law have their place, especially in these corrupt and wicked days; but as they have their place, so also they have their bounds and limits how far they shall reach. For, great heed and care is to be taken of some (I touch not all) lest, whilst that the princely nation of Christ is kept under the continual discipline of the law, it come to pass in the mean time that it never learn to rise and aspire again to the end of the law, which is Christ, to the fullness of perfect liberty, and to the exceeding joy which the gospel bringeth. Although, perhaps, not their order, so much as the corruption of the people, is here to be reproved; whose life and manners daily waxing worse and worse, are cause why they follow not some other kind of method and order in instructing them. Notwithstanding, whether that ought to be cause sufficient to withdraw the food of the gospel, and continually to beat down the hearers with the threats and curse of the law, I leave it free for every man to judge.
But, in my opinion, they who are admitted to the ministry and function of the word of God ought to hold and follow that way of teaching, whereby Christ, rather than Moses, may be imprinted in the peopleís hearts. And whereby the riches of Godís mercy may be so laid open before their eyes, out of the wonderful treasures of Christ Jesus, that, like true christians, they may at the last begin to know and acknowledge their good gifts and blessings; and may rather of their own accord be allured to godliness, through the singular commodities which they have received of the Lord, than with austerity, will they nill they, to be terrified, and so compelled.
That which is well and orderly done, is then said so to be done, and so likely to remain, when it proceedeth of good-will rather than of constraint.
For, whatsoever is of compulsion, that cannot be of long continuance.
Neither surely can it be, but, where Christ is rightly received and printed in the minds of the hearers, there also should accompany him all kind of virtues, new affections, and a clean heart and renewed spirit; so that in my judgment there can be no way found more effectual to discipline and reformation of life, than for every man to acquaint his heart and mind with Jesus Christ, and rightly to receive him.
I know there are some which will abuse the sovereign grace of the gospel to the fulfilling of their fleshly and carnal lusts; even as the sun shineth upon many perhaps unworthy thereof; neither was God himself ignorant, long before he gave and bestowed the benefit, what would happen.
Howbeit, as the infinite number of the wicked did not stay his great mercy and goodness; so now his singular benefit being already given and received, I think it not convenient, that, for the abuse of some, they for whom Christ Jesus shed his heart-blood should be defrauded of their due and only comfort. Martin Lutherís opinion concerning the distributing and preaching of the gospel. ó Nay, I will say this moreover, which also is the grave and excellent judgment of Martin Luther, that most singular and chosen instrument of setting forth the gospel of Jesus Christ; if there be but one hearer in the whole multitude, who hath need of cherishing, and the comfort of the gospel, even for that one manís sake, that mild trumpet of the gospel ought to be sounded by him that will wisely and skillfully discharge his function; after the example of the good shepherd, who, having lost one little seely sheep, left ninety and nine, casting all his labor and care how to bring that lost one home again. For the dispensation of those things is not to be measured by the multitude and number of men, but by the will of God, and by necessity. Affliction giveth understanding and remedieth many things. ó But when we have found out and reckoned up all the causes and occasions why the strength and force of the gospel is so fruitless in the hearts of christians, this is the most principal of all, whereunto as the chief all the other have their full recourse, for that commonly a certain preacher is absent, the most effectual schoolmasterr to frame the conscience aright, whom I prefer before all other teachers ó I mean trouble and affliction; which only, as it is in the prophet Isaiah, giveth understanding. For, if it be not enough for us that profess Christís philosophy and religion to have at our fingersí ends only, and in a quick readiness, the places and chief sentences of holy scripture concerning Godís justice, power, mightiness, goodness, and his kingdom; or to be able to reason and discourse of them, like rhetoricians, with a goodly grace and gravity, either extempore and without premeditation, or with art and study, unless we are touched and affected inwardly with a lively feeling, or unless we have God breathing in us, unless we inwardly fear him in his justice, quake at his power, and love him in his merciful goodness, then truly that all these things might be done, nothing almost doth help but affliction.
For, how shall he fear God aright who hath never tried the anger and wrath of God kindled against him? who never entering into the battle of christian warfare hath at no time proved either the strength of his adversary, or the greatness of Godís justice, or his own weakness and infirmity? Or what occasion shall we have to feel and taste Godís goodness, when no affliction doth vex us, when no peril hangeth over our heads, from which his merciful goodness may deliver us? Otherwise, we beingí in good and perfect health, what need we the physician? we being at heartís ease and in no danger, to what end should we crave and call for a helper? Why they who are best, are commonly afflicted in this world. ó Therefore, as far as I can see, this is the chief and special cause why God hath always trained up and sharply schooled those whom he loved most dearly, with many and troublesome dangers; for, otherwise, such is our nature, that, as it was said of the Phrygians in a Greek proverb, that stripes strike wisdom into them, even so the same may be verified upon us, who are never more holy than when we bear some grievous cross.
All places are so fraught and full of examples hereof, that we need not fitch experiments from far, or allege the commonwealth of the Israelites, whose stiffí and crooked neck would never yield to the Lordís yoke, but when some captivity or other did oppress them. Only the church of Rome shall serve us instead of many; which as long as she was under persecuting tyrants, and sharpened as it were upon a grinding whetstone, she was found, and truly called the only nurse or mistress of all godliness and continency, in whom all the gifts of christian religion, honest life, did most abundantly excel and most brightly shine. But afterward, the case being quite altered, when instead of danger, vexation, and persecution, riches, power, pride, sumptuousness, and all idleness their companion, came in place, and crept into the church. And when bishops, instead of martyrs, began to be persecutors of martyrs themselves; and the strength and three of the gospel decayed and weakened more and more; into what wickedness and abomination that church did run and fall, let every one consider, and judge within himself. I am not able sufficiently to express according to the indignity and heinousness thereof.
These two examples might seem sufficient for my purpose, especially the matter being so plain and manifest. Howbeit this place doth not permit me, although otherwise making haste in the handling of my argument, to let pass England, my dear country, so fitly offering itselfí unto me to make mention thereof. Of late days, under the blessed reign of prince Edward, of most happy memory, while for a time the church had but breathed a little after the storms orí persecution, to what wickedness it fell at the length I should be ashamed to utter, but the thing itself will speak.
Afterward, that which the continual and incessant sermons of the preachers could not amend, that, as it is well known, the persecution sharp and bitter, yet profitable for the church, hath brought to pass. For so we are either framed of nature, or formed and fashioned by education, that except we are wakened, or shook by the ears, and bitten with some adversity or other, we seldom or ever lift up our eyes to the Lord; so necessary a thing is affliction in the church of God, being a most precious and sovereign preservative against the infection of all evil whatsoever. As, on the other side, prosperous success, wealth, and security, do loosen the joints and break the sinews of all virtue, especially of true and pure religion. Prosperity without affliction how hurtfu1 to the church. ó Let us awhile thoroughly view, as it were out of the espial and watch-tower of Plato, the affairs, either public of all, or private of some; as in monarchs and princes an unappeasable heartburning and unquenchable thirst to war; in courtiers most dissembling flattery and glosing speech, like wind and smoke; in ecclesiastical prelates as great aspiring ambition to bear a princely port, as in any other; among divines and schoolmen obstinacy and frowardness, altogether bent and sworn to sects and fashions, schisms and contentions, and no less rash and hasty in judgment for very small and light suspicions; in the laity and common people all kind of corruption; in handicraftsmen all manner of deceit; both in high and low, rich and poor, an unsatiable desire of gains and excessive care of this world; that I may in the mean time conceal the grosset wickedness of the common sort, as whoredom, drunkenness, adultery, perjury, fraud, robbery, manslaughter, sedition, and such like. From whence, I pray you, cometh this sink of sin, but from our great ease and security, whereby no affliction toucheth us, which might bridle us a little, and keep us in the fear of God and our own bounds?
Hence it is that few of us are careful to reform our own manners; all of us are either curious in marking other menís faults, or sharp in rebuking and correcting them; one interpreteth that to be injuriously done, which perhaps is his neighborís right; nothing pleaseth this man, whatsoever another speaketh or doeth; that man maketh of a mote a beam, of a Gnat an elephant; if he see a thing ever so little awry in another, it is made an heinous matter by and by. Another man, he ceaseth not to carp and bark at the good name and fame of his brother in most reproachful and tragical wise, and perhaps of a party whom he never knew, sometimes undeserved, many times even of him that hath well deserved. Another pries and hearkens after what is done even at Cattaye, (China) or the furthermost parts of the world, and is open-eared to all rumors on every side, nothing caring in the mean season what is done inwardly in his own secret closet of his breast and heart.
But how much more meet and worthy of our christian profession had it been ó since every one hath his Judge before whom he shall either fall or stand ó if with fear and trembling, according to Paulís counsel, every one took care of his own salvation; so should he have no leisure either to mark other menís vices, or envy their virtues. Then, if any mote be in our brotherís eyes which needeth our help, we may so minister unto him and use the matter, that he may both see and say he is dealt with of a desire to amend him, and not to contend with him. For such mild, meek, and merciful dealing buildeth up and edifieth the church of God. But I have too much forgot myself, who, while I study to keep other men within the bounds of their duty, scarce keeping within mine own compass, have strayed, peradventure, farther from my matter than I should or would. The benefits of Christ towards us. ó That therefore I may return again to speak of that from which I have somewhat digressed, thou seest, christian brother, what Christ ,Jesus hath done and pertbrined for thy sake, who having vanquished the tyranny of death, Satan, and all malediction; who also having cancelled and discharged the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, hath spoiled the principalities and powers, openly triumphing over them by himself, but not for himself. For thy sake only he took upon him and fully accomplished these things; that thou mightest not only freely use them, but of right and ditty challenge all his benefits and victory; and hast now not only entrance to the Father, but free access, with confidence and boldness. If any man can purchase free licence to come into the presence of a mortal prince, how doth he rejoice at his felicity in that respect! But how far greater blessedness is it to be admitted into the sight of God, the fountain of all power, whom otherwise no mortal man shall see, and live; now then, since permission is granted us, not only with free liberty, but with boldness also, to come to that dreadful mount and invisible majesty of God, it surmounteth not only all felicity, but it is joined also with a certain rule and dominion. Which, seeing it is such that Christ himself cannot bring us higher, I see no cause, christian reader, why I should hold thee any longer with any larger discourse. Wherefore returning to ourselves, forasmuch as Christ Jesus our Lord hath achieved so many and such wonderful things for our sake, let us see on the other side what is our debt and duty toward him. Our duties in Christ. ó And what is that debt, or duty? Forsooth, if thou have respect to thy neighbor, many things; for love is full of duties. But if thou hast respect and relation to God, this one thing only is thy duty whereunto thou art bound, howbeit it is very great, only that thou believe in Christ Jesus the Son of God, who died for thy sins, and rose again for thy justification.
But here I know how some mutter sore against me, and in a manner charge me either with a new device, (or some escape in divinity, as seeming to them to comprehend within too strait a room and narrow bounds, so great and large a matter of our salvation.
My answer is, that, first we speak not here of those things which are referred to our neighbor, but of those which are referred to God. Secondly, I am not ignorant that there are many other things which God requireth at our hands, as love and fear The works of the law how they are necessary, and how not. ó But it is one thing to be required to obedience, another to be required to salvation. For, we must, since we are entered this disputation, proceed in it distinctly and orderly, because of these contentious and troublesome times. Parents require many things of their eldest son and heir, in performing whereof he is said to be an obedient son to his father, but not therefore his heir and eldest son because he doth obey; for that title of eldership and right of inheritance cometh of birth, not of works; of nature, not of manners and conditions. In like manner the obedience of the law in us findeth praise with the Lord, or rather avoid-eth and escapeth punishment which God else would have laid upon us; but it doth not purchase salvation and eternal life. What place, therefore, nature doth hold in the heir, that same holdeth faith in the case of justification by the gospel. True faith what it is, and what it doth. ó For in this one thing is offered unto us the whole gift of perfect salvation, grace, and blessedness, only that we apprehend Christ Jesus our Lord, the eternal Son of God. Neither let any man therefore think, that this matter, concerning our salvation, is too narrowly and straitly comprised of me, as though I should try to hold a dolphin in a bason, for that I require nothing else hereunto but faith only in Christ. I know that eternal life is a difficult thing, and not proper F52 to our nature; and therefore I say it consisteth only in apprehending Christ Jesus; for that nothing in this world is hard or difficult, but only faith in Christ. As no man hath ever pleased the Father besides Christ; so in him the Father is so well pleased, that for his sake he dearly loveth all those who are of Christ. Let no works therefore, although ever so godly, puff up a man as if he were pure, or rather not impure and unprofitable even in his most holy works. Christ only is great and mighty, in and through his works. Works therefore properly pertain to Christ; faith properly unto us, which surely is of force before God. An objection dissolved. ó But by this means a window is opened, thou sayest, of overmuch liberty to some who by nature are too much prone and given to all kind of licentious life. Nay, rather, whatsoever is opened here, it is God of his singular mercy that hath opened it; the gospel of Christ Jesus hath opened it; not we, who are but witnesses only and ministers of the doctrine. You must debate the matter with him, if any thing herein displeaseth your judgments. He openeth not the window of wicked-hess, but the gates of the kingdom of heaven. If any man be of such a froward and ill disposed nature, that of a joyful and blessed door he will make to himself a window, or a way of wickedness, the fault is not in him that doth rightly open, but in him that doth crookedly enter. It was never otherwise yet among men, but that the greater part always did most wickedly abuse the best things. Finally, if all other men whosoever, would abuse this doctrine, and I knew but ten only in the whole world whom this consolation would comfort, I would, to speak unfeignedly, for their sakes testify and profess confidently this I have said.
For it is necessary that this doctrine should be retained and preached in the church; which being of long time hidden from christians, and almost extinguished, the heroical and mighty spirit of Christ, by the ministry and preaching of Martin Luther, hath kindled and raised up again in the church.
Yet such is the mischief and misery of these wicked days, through the subtle practicing of Satan, that all Christendom is in an uproar by matters of contentions, sects, and schisms, and in the mean time, all regard of that which is the most principal point of our salvation, is set at nought, and, almost brought again to utter decay. F53 But Christ Jesus liveth, the stronger man and mightier, who will never forsake his dear and wellbeloved spouse; to whom be all honor, all glory, all triumph, all dominion, in heaven and earth, world without end. Amen.
Very godly and hearty Prayers, upon the mind of Christís bitter Passion.
OLORD Jesu Christ, the everlasting sweetness and triumph of them that love thee, exceeding all joy and longing, thou Savior and lover of repentant sinners, who avowest that thy delight is to be among the children of men; and therefore in the end of times becamest man for menís sakes; remember all the foretaste and grief of sorrow, which thou didst endure, even from the instant of thy conception in the human nature, faith on; but most of all when the time of thy most healthful passion was at hand, according to the eternal ordinance which God had purposed in his mind before all worlds.
Remember the grief and bitterness which thou didst feel in thy heart, even by thine own record, when thou saidst, ďMy soul is heavy even unto the death:Ē and at such time as thou gavest thy body and blood to thy disciples at thy last supper, didst wash their fret, and comforting them sweetly, didst tell them of thy passion that was at hand.
Remember the sorrow, anguish, and grief which thou didst suffer throughout thy whole tender body, before thy suffering upon the cross, at such time as after thrice praying, thou didst sweat water like to blood, wast betrayed by one of thine own disciples, apprehended by thine own chosen people, accused by false witnesses, condemned wrongfully by three judges in thy chosen city, at the time of the passover, in the flourishing youth of thy body; and being utterly guiltless, wast delivered to the Gentiles, spit upon, stript out of thy own garment, clothed with anotherís apparel, buffeted, blindfolded, beaten with fists, tied to a post, whipped, and crowned with thorns.
O, most sweet Jesus, I beseech thee, make me mindful of these thy pains and sufferings which thou didst abide for my sins, that I might be discharged and set free from them, and mine atonement be made with thy Father, through thy chastisement. Make me to abhor my so detestable cursedness, which could not be put away but by thy so grievous punishments. Make me to be heartily sorry for my sinfulness, and to eschew my offenses, which drew thee to the suffering of so great torments.
Make me mindful of thy great love to me, and to all mankind; and let the infiniteness thereof kindle an unfeigned love in me towards thee and my neighbor. Let this thy unmeasurable goodness breed in me a willing mind and desire to abide all things patiently for thy sake, and for the truth of thy gospel; and let it engender in me a despising of all worldly and earthly things, and an earnest longing and endeavor to attain to the heavenly heritage, for the purchasing whereof unto me, and for the bringing of me thereunto, thou hast endured these and all other thy most bitter and intolerable torments. Wherefore, I beseech thee, grant me true repentance, amendment of life, perseverance in all goodness, a steadfast faith, and a happy death, through the merits of thy sufferings, that I may also be made partaker of thy blessed resurrection. Amen. WHAT man is this whom I behold all bloody, with skin all torn, with knubs and wales of stripes, hanging down his head for weakness towards his shoulder, crowned with a garland of thorns pricking through his skull to the hard brain, and nailed to a cross? What so heinous fault could he do to deserve it? What judge could be so cruel as to put him to it? What hangmen could have such butcherly minds as to deal so outrageously with him? Now I bethink myself, I know him: it is Christ!
Art thou He that excellest all the children of men in beauty? in whose lips grace was shed most plentifully, yea, even with Godís own hand? Where then is that beauty of thine? where is that grace of thy lips? I find it not. I see it not; fleshly eyes conceive not so great a mystery. Open thou the eyes of my mind. Bring thy Divine light nearer to me, and give me power to look more upon thee.
I see it is Jesus the Son of God, the unspotted Lamb, without sin, without fault, without offense, which took my wickedness upon him, to the intent that I, being set free from sin, might be brought again into Godís favor; rise again from my fall; return home again from banishment; and attain to the end for which I was created. That which I deserved, he suffered; and that which I could never have attained unto, he giveth.
O my Redeemer, Deliverer, and Savior, draw me unto thee, that, being always mindful of thy death, trusting always in thy goodness, and being always thankful for thine unspeakable benefits, I may be made partaker of so great reward, and not be separated from thy body through mine own unthankfulness, so as thou shouldest have been born in vain in respect of me, and in vain have suffered so many torments, yea, and even most bitter death, of thine own accord for my sake. Amen.
My mind beholdeth thy body crucified for my soul. O that thou wouldst also crucify me with thee, so that I might live, or rather, not I, but thou, my Lord Christ, in me.
Who will give me to die with thee, that I might rise again with thee to life everlasting? Thou diedst for me, that I might live through thee. Thy flesh is crucified, O Christ; crucify thou the power of sin that reigneth in me; that, being stripped out of the old Adam, I may be transformed into the second Adam, to lead a new life, by shaking down and despatching away of all wickedness, unbelief, and tyranny of Satan.
Let thy yoke become sweet, and thy burden lightsome to me through thy cross; that I, following thee willingly and cheerfully, may come to the same place where thou art; that is, to thy most blessed and immortal Father, from whom nothing may ever separate us hereafter. Amen. OH most high and singular obedience, wherethrough thou didst submit thyself to innumerable torments, yea, and even to most bitter and reproachful death, because it liked thy Father to have it so!
Oh noontide of fervent love and sunshine never drawing towards eventide! show us where thou feedest in the midst of the day, and where thou shroudest thy sheep from cold? O would to God we might be transformed into that cross of thine, that thou mightest dwell in our hearts by faith, rooted and grounded in charity, so as we might, with all thy holy ones, comprehend the length, breadth, height, and depth of thy cross, which exceed all the strength and wisdom of the world. Amen. A godly and zealous Prayer, to be said by all poor and distressed Prisoners jar all their good Benefactors.
OMOST gracious God, and our loving Father, look down, for Jesus Christís sake, upon us thy poor children, with thine eyes of mercy, and let thine ears be opened unto our prayers. We confess, holy Father, that we are not worthy to open our sinful mouths to speak unto thy heavenly Majesty, nor to receive any good thing from thee, because we have, like prodigal children, mispent thy blessings, an,! in the whole course of our lives, have erred and strayed from thee and thy holy ways, and thereby have dishonored thee and given evil example unto others. We confess also, that thou hast justly shut us up in prison, as men unworthy of the liberty and communion of saints, so as we cannot visit thy holy temple, to see the beauty of thy face by hearing thy word, and praise thee in the congregation as they do. O that we had eyes to see, and hearts to lament our sins, that have brought this upon us! Satan hath blinded us so that we cannot see, and hardened our hearts so that we cannot lament. O thou most gracious God and loving Father, take pity on us thy poor children, for Christís sake, and show thy mercy in sending thy Holy Spirit into us. to destroy this power of Satan within us, and to sanctify us throughout, in bodies and in souls, that from henceforth we may glorify thee with our bodies and souls.
And whereas now, by reason of our imprisonment, we cannot go abroad to labor for our living, we might starve and perish, were it not but that thou, of thy mercy and goodness, hast stirred up many of thy children to relieve us, we do most humbly thank thee for them, and do heartily beseech thee, even for Jesus Christís sake, to reward them seven fold, and to let thy blessing ever remain upon them and theirs. We beseech thee also for our enemies, that it would please thee to forgive them, and to grant us also grace to forgive them. And whereinsoever we have given just cause of offense unto them, we beseech thee to forgive us, and to grant them grace also to forgive us. And in the good time give deliverance unto us from our imprisonment; in the mean while continue thy goodness towards us, and, above all, grant us patience, and the inward strength and comfort of thy Holy Spirit, and grace to profit daily more and more to amendment of life by thy correction, to thy glory and our everlasting comfort, through Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor, thanks, praise, and glory, both now and for evermore. Amen.
EXTRACT FROM THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY TO WILLIAM LORD HOWARD, OF EFFINGHAM.
THE author of this treatise did write the same in Latin, myself maketh it speak English unto you: a most excellent man he was, called Mr. John Fox: a man always devoted and obliged to your honorable name and family; exceeding laborious in his lien; for his learning inferior to none of his age and time; for his integrity of life a bright light to as many as knew him, beheld him, and lived with him; of whose most worthy praise this shall be the brief sum ó Few like hath he left behind him.
From Oxford he was sent for to Reigate in Surrey, in that troublesome and dangerous time of Six Articles, to be tutor and teacher of that high and mighty prince, Thomas duke of Norfolk: your right honorable father, likewise, was committed to his instructions.
When Satanís red horse and bloody sword marched forth against the gospel of Christís kingdom, newly planted in England, wily Winchester (bishop Gardiner) fastened his fiery eyes upon this good man. First, gladly would he have brought him to the field for the bloody and fiery battle; but the speedier favor of that most princely duke sent him away safely into Germany, where in the city of Basil he became a most painful traveler at his pen in the house of Oporinus, that learned and famous printer. Among many other works, this little treatise was there penned in Latin; likewise, there he compiled in Latin his first Martyrology, which he exhibited to the same his princely lord and duke.
When the great nurse of the gospel, the most virtuous queen Elizabeth, had stalled up and chained that Romish bloody Spanish proud genet, than liberty was given again to Christís white horse, mentioned in the <660601> 6th of the Revelation to conquer and overcome. His bow and arrows that sat thereon, are, and were, preaching and printing: when the preacher cannot be heard and dare not speak, the printerís shafts fly at length and amain. To this service of God and his country Fox returned, and found succor from his most bounteous, most charitable, and most princely lord, who gave him free and present entertainment, and dwelling for him and his, at his manorplace of Christís church by Aldgate. From that his house, he traveled weekly, every Monday, to the most worthy printing-house of Jetta Day. In that my fatherís house, many days and years, and infinite sums of money, were spent to accomplish and consummate his English monuments, and other many most excellent works in English and Latin: among the Latin this was one, which I have Englished, and now present to your honorable lordship.
Let it vouchsafe your honor to accept the same from us both: he was always obliged to your name, and so am I: he was sometime a Reigateman, as chosen into your honorable house, and so likewise I. He the first English preacher that ever came there, but not incumbent; myself the very next English preacher that ever came there, their unworthy incumbent.
Howsoever, in this treatise both of us offer divine service unto you, for your spiritual comfort in Jesus Christ. That supreme Lord of all wisdom and power, of all felicity and nobility, bless and enrich you and yours, all your progeny and allies, with his principal Spirit, to your and their great honorís increase in this life, and after this life with the endless triumph of his eternal kingdom!
Your honorís most obliged servant, RICHARD DAYE.