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    A Declaration What True Prayer Is, How We Should Pray, And For What We Should Pray; Set Forth By John Knox, Preacher Of God’s Holy Word.


    PRAYER springeth out of true faith, Romans 10. — How necessary is the right invocation of God’s name, (otherwise called perfect prayer,) it becometh no Christian to misknow, seeing it is the very branch which springeth forth of true faith; whereof if any man be destitute, notwithstanding he be endowed with whatsoever virtues, yet in the presence of God is he reputed for no Christian at all. Therefore a manifest sign it is; that such as in prayer always are negligent, do understand nothing of perfect faith. For if the fire may be without heat, or the burning lamp without light, then true faith may be without fervent prayer. But because in times past was, (and yet, alas, with no small number is,) that reckoned to be prayer, which in the sight of God was, and is nothing less, I intend shortly to touch the circumstances thereof. What prayer is. — Prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God, to whom we declare our miseries, whose support and help we implore and desire in our adversities, and whom we laud and praise for our benefits received. So that prayer containeth the exposition of our dolors, the desire of God’s defense, and the praising of his magnificent name, as the Psalms of David clearly do teach. What is to be observed in prayer. — That this be most reverently done, the consideration should provoke us in whose presence we stand, to whom we speak, and what we desire; standing in the presence of the omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth, and of all the contents thereof, to whom assist and serve a thousand thousand of angels, giving obedience to his eternal majesty; ( Daniel, 3; Job, 16,) and speaking unto him who knoweth the secrets of our hearts, before whom, dissimulation and lies are always odious and hateful, and asking that thing which may be most to his glory, and to the comfort of our conscience. But diligently should we attend, that such things as may offend his godly presence, to the uttermost of our power may be removed. And first, that worldly cares and fleshly cogitations, such as draw us from contemplation of our God, be expelled from us, that we may freely without interruption call upon God. But how difficult and hard is this one thing in prayer to perform, none knoweth better, than such as in their prayers are not content to remain within the bands of their own vanity, but as it were, ravished, do intend to a purity allowed of God; asking not such things as the foolish reason of man desireth, but that which may be pleasant and acceptable in God’s presence.

    Our adversary, Satan, at all times compassing us about, ( 1 Peter 5,) is never more busy than when we address and bend ourselves to prayer. Oh, how secretly and subtilely creepeth he into our breasts; and calling us back from God, causeth us to forget what we have to do! So that frequently, when we with all reverence should speak to God, we find our hearts talking with the vanities of the world, or with the foolish imaginations of our own conceit. So that, without the Spirit of God supporting our infirmities, mightily making intercession for us with incessant groans which cannot be expressed with tongue, ( Romans 8) there is no hope that we can desire any thing according to God’s will. How the Spirit maketh intercession for us. — I mean not that the Holy Ghost doth mourn or pray, but that he stirreth up our minds, giving unto us a desire or boldness to pray, and causeth us to mourn, when we are extracted or pulled therefrom: which things to conceive. no strength of man sufficeth, neither is able of itself. But hereof it is plain, that such as understand not what they pray, or expound not, or declare not the desire of their hearts clearly in God’s presence; and in time of prayer, to their possibility, do not expel vain cogitations from their minds, profit nothing in prayer. Why we should pray, and also understand what we pray. — But some will object, and say, Albeit we understand not what we pray, yet God understandeth, who knoweth the secrets of our hearts; he knoweth also what we need, although we expone not or declare not our necessities unto him. Such men verily declare themselves never to have understanding what perfect prayer meant, nor to what end Jesus Christ commandeth us to pray; which is, first, that our hearts may be inflamed with continual fear, honor, and love of God, to whom we run for support and help, whensoever danger or necessity requireth; that we so learning to notify our desires in his presence he may teach us what is to be desired, and what not.

    Secondly, that we knowing our petitions to be granted by God alone, to him only we must render and give laud and praise; and that we ever having his infinite goodness fixed in our mind, may constantly abide to receive, that which with fervent prayer we desire. For sometimes God defereth or prolongeth to grant our petitions, for the exercise and trial of our faith, and not that he sleepeth: or is absent from us at any time; but that with mere gladness we might receive that which with long expectation we have abidden, that thereby we, assured of his eternal providence, so far as the infirmity of our corrupt and most weak nature will permit, may not doubt but his merciful hand shall relieve us in most urgent necessity and extreme tribulation. Therefore, such men as teach us that it is not necessary whether that we understand what we pray, because God knoweth what we need, would also teach us, that neither should we honor God, nor yet refer or give unto him thanks for benefits received. For how shall we honor and praise him whose goodness and liberality we know not? And how shall we know, unless we receive, and sometimes have experience? And how shall we know that we have received, unless we know verily what we have asked?

    The second thing to be observed in perfect prayer is, that standing in the presence of God, we be found such as bear reverence to his holy law, earnestly repenting our past iniquity, and intending to lead a new life; for otherwise, in vain are all our prayers, as it is written, “whoso withdraweth his ear, that he may not hear the Law, his prayer shall be abominable.” ( Proverbs 15) Likewise Isaiah and Jeremiah say thus: “Ye shall multiply your prayers, and I shall not hear, because your hands are full of blood;” that is, of all cruelty and mischievous works. Also the Spirit of God appeareth by the mouth of the blind whom Jesus Christ did illuminate, by these words, “we know that God heareth not sinners;” ( John 9) that is, such as glory and do continue in iniquity. When sinners are not heard of God. — So that of necessity true repentance must needs be had and go before perfect prayer, or sincere invocation of God’s name. And unto these two precedents must be annexed the third, which is the direction of ourselves in God’s presence, utterly refusing and casting off our own justice with all cogitations and opinion thereof. And let us not think that we shall be heard for anything proceeding of ourselves. For all such a advance, boast, or depend any thing upon their own righteousness, repel and hold from the presence of His mercy with the high proud Pharisee. And, therefore, the most holy men we find in prayers most dejected and humbled. David saith, “O Lord, our Savior, help us, be merciful unto our sins for thy own sake. Remember not our old iniquities, but haste thou, O Lord, and let thy mercy prevent us.” ( <19C901> Psalm 129).

    Jeremiah saith, “If our iniquities bear testimony against us, do thou according to thy own name.” And behold Isaiah, “Thou art angry, O Lord, because we have sinned, and are replenished with all wickedness, and our righteousness is like a defiled cloth. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father: we are clay; thou art the workman, and we the workmanship of thy hands. Be not angry, O Lord; remember not our iniquities for ever.” ( Isaiah 64) And Daniel, greatly commended of God, maketh in his prayer most humble confession, in these words, “We be sinners, and have offended; we have done ungodly, and fallen from thy commandment: therefore not in our own righteousness make we our prayers before thee, but thy most rich and great mercy bring we forth for us. O Lord, hear; O Lord, be merciful, and spare us, O Lord; attend, help, and cease not, my God, even for thy own name’s sake; do it, for thy city and thy people are called after thy own name.” ( Daniel 9) Behold, that in these prayers is no mention of their own righteousness, their own satisfaction, or their own merits; but most humble confession, proceeding from a sorrowful and penitent heart, having nothing whereupon it might depend, but the sure mercy of God alone, who had promised to be their God; that is, their help, comfort, defender, and deliverer (as he hath also done to us by Jesus Christ,) in time of tribulation. And therefore they despaired not; but after the acknowledging of their sins, called for mercy, and obtained the same. Wherefore it is plain, that such men as in their prayers have respect to any virtue proceeding of themselves, thinking thereby their prayers to be accepted, never prayed aright. What fasting and alms-deeds are with prayer. — And, albeit, to fervent prayer be joined fasting, watching, and alms-deeds, yet are none of these the cause that God doth accept our prayers. But they are spurs, which suffer us not to vary; but make us more able to continue in prayer, which the mercy of God doth accept.

    But here may it be objected that David prayeth, “Keep my life, O Lord, for I am holy: O Lord, save my soul, for I am innocent: and suffer me not to be confounded.” ( Psalm 38, <198601> 86) Also Hezekiah, “Remember, Lord, I beseech thee, that I have walked righteously before thee, and that I have wrought that which is good in thy sight.” ( 2 Kings 20.)

    These words are not spoken of men glorious, neither yet trusting in their own works. But herein they testify themselves to be the sons of God by regeneration; to whom he promiseth always to be merciful, and at all times to hear their prayers. The cause of their boldness was Jesus Christ. — And so, their words spring from a wonted, constant, and fervent faith; surely believing, that as God of his infinite mercy had called them to his knowledge, not suffering them to walk after their own natural wickedness, but partly had taught them to conform themselves to his holy law, and that, for the promised Seed’s sake, so might he not leave them destitute of comfort, consolation, and defense, in so great and extreme necessity. And so their righteousness allege they not to glory thereof, or to put trust therein, but to strengthen and confirm them in God’s promises. And this consolation I would wish to all Christians, in their prayers, a testimony of a good conscience to assure them of God’s promises; but to obtain what they ask, must only depend upon him, all opinion and thought of our own righteousness laid aside.

    And, moreover, David, in the words above, compareth himself with King Saul, and with the rest of his enemies, who wrongfully did persecute him, desiring of God that they prevail not against him — as he would say, Unjustly do they persecute me, and therefore, according to my innocency, defend me — for otherwise he confesseth himself most grievously to have offended God, as in the preceding places he clearly testifieth. Hypocrisy is but allotted with God. — Thirdly, In prayer is to be observed, that what we ask of God, we must earnestly desire the same, acknowledging ourselves to be indigent and void thereof, and that God alone may grant the petition of our hearts when his good will and pleasure is. For nothing is more odious before God than hypocrisy and dissimulation; that is when men do ask of God things whereof they have no need, or that they believe to obtain by others than by God alone. As any man ask of God remission of his sins. thinking, nevertheless, to obtain the same by his own works, or by other men’s merits, he doth mock with God and deceive himself. And, in such cases, do a great number offend, principally the mighty and rich of the earth, who, for a common custom, will pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” that is, a moderate and reasonable sustentation; and yet, their own hearts will testify, that they need not so to pray, seeing they abound in all worldly solace and felicity. I mean not, that rich men should not pray this part of prayer: but I would they understood what they ought to pray in it, (whereof I intend after to speak,) and that they ask nothing whereof they felt not themselves marvelously indigent and needful; for unless we call in verity, He will not grant; and except we speak with our whole heart, we shall not find him.

    The fourth rule necessary to be followed in prayer is, a sure hope to obtain what we ask: for nothing more offendeth God than when we ask doubting whether he will grant our petitions; for, in so doing, we doubt if God be true, if he be mighty and good. Such, saith James, obtain nothing of God, ( James 1); and therefore Jesus Christ commandeth, that we firmly believe to obtain whatsoever we ask, for all things are possible unto him that believeth. And therefore, in our prayers, desperation is always to be expelled. I mean not, that any man in extremity of trouble, can be without a present dolor, and without a greater fear of trouble to follow. Trouble and fear are the very spurs to prayer: for when man, compassed about with vehement calamities, and vexed with continual solicitude, having, by help of man, no hope of deliverance, with sore oppressed and punished heart, fearing also greater punishment to follow, from the deep pit of tribulation, doth call to God for comfort and support , such prayer ascendeth into God’s presence, and returneth not in vain.

    As David, in the vehement persecution of Saul, hunted and chased from every hole, fearing that one day or other he should fall into the hands of his persecutors, after that he had complained that no place of rest was left to him, vehemently prayed, saying, “O Lord, who art my God, in whom alone I trust, save me from them that persecute me, and deliver me from my enemies. Let not this man (meaning Saul) devour my life, as a lion doth his prey, for of none seek I comfort but of thee alone.” ( Psalm 7) In the midst of these anguishes, the goodness of God sustained him, so that the present tribulation was tolerable; and the infallible promises of God so assured him of deliverance, that fear was partly mitigated and gone, as plainly appeareth to such as diligently mark the process of his prayer. For, after long menacing and threatening made to him of his enemy, he concludeth with these words, “The dolor which he intended to me, shall fall upon his own pate; and the violence wherewith he would have oppressed me, shall cast down his own head: but I will magnify the Lord according to his righteousness, and shall praise the name of the Most High.” God delivereth his chosen from their enemies. — This is not written for David only, but for all such as shall suffer tribulation, to the end of the world. For I, the writer hereof, (let this be said to the laud and praise of God alone,) in anguish of mind, and vehement tribulation and affliction, called upon the Lord, when not only the ungodly, but even my faithful brethren, yea, and my own self, that is, all natural understanding, judged my case to be irremediable. And yet, in my greatest calamity, and when my pains were most cruel, his eternal wisdom willed that my hands should write, far contrary to the judgment of carnal reason; which his mercy hath proved true, blessed be his holy name. And therefore dare I be bold in the verity of God’s word to promise, that, notwithstanding the vehemency of trouble, the long continuance thereof, the despair of all men, the fearfulness, danger, dolor, and anguish of our own hearts, yet if we call constantly to God, that, beyond expectation of all men, he shall deliver.

    Let no man think himself unworthy to call and pray to God, because he hath grievously offended his majesty in times past; but let him bring to God a sorrowful and repenting heart, saying with David, “Heal my soul, O Lord, for I have offended against thee. Before I was afflicted, I transgressed; but now let me observe thy commandments.” ( Psalm 6, <19B901> 119.)

    To mitigate or ease the sorrows of our wounded conscience, two plaisters hath our most prudent Physician provided, to give us encouragement to pray, notwithstanding the knowledge of offenses committed; that is, a Precept and a Promise. The precept or commandment to pray is universal, frequently inculcated and repeated in God’s Scriptures: “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.” ( Matthew 7.) “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” ( Psalm 1.) “Watch and pray, that ye fall not into temptation.” ( Matthew 26) “I command, that ye pray ever, without ceasing.” ( 1 Timothy 2.) “Make deprecations incessable, and give thanks in all things.” ( 1 Thessalonians 5) Which commandments whoso contemneth or despiseth, doth equally sin with him that doth steal. For as this commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” is a precept negative, so “Thou shalt pray,” is a commandment affirmative; and God requireth equal obedience of, and to all his commandments. Yet more boldly will I say, he who, when necessity constraineth, desireth not support and help of God, doth provoke his wrath no less than do such as make false gods, or openly deny God. He that prayeth not in trouble, denieth God. — For like as it is to know no physician or medicine, or, in knowing them, refuse to use and receive the same; so, not to call upon God in thy tribulation, is like as if thou didst not know God, or else utterly deny him. Not to pray is a sin most odious. — Oh, why cease we then to call instantly upon his mercy, having his commandment so to do! Above all our iniquities, we work manifest contempt and despising of Him, when by negligence we delay to call for his gracious support. Whoso calleth on God obeyeth his will, and findeth therein no small consolation, knowing nothing is more acceptable to his majesty than humble obedience.

    To this commandment he addeth his most undoubted promise in many places; “Ask, and ye shall receive seek, and ye shall find. ( Matthew 7.)

    And by the prophet Jeremiah God saith. “Ye shall call upon me. and I shall hear you; ye shall seek and shall find me.” ( Jeremiah 29.)

    And by Isaiah he saith, “May the father forget his natural son or the mother the child of her womb? And although they do, yet shall I not forget such as call upon me.” And hereto correspond, and agree the words of Jesus Christ, saving “If ye, being wicked, can give good gifts to your children, much more my heavenly Father shall give the Holy Ghost to them that ask him.” ( Matthew 7.)

    And that we should not think God to be absent, or not to hear us, Moses ocurreth, saying, “There is no nation that have their gods; so adherent or nigh unto them as our God, who is present at all our prayers.” ( Deuteronomy 4) Also the Psalmist, “Near is the Lord to all that call upon him in verity.”

    And Christ saith, “Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Readiness of God to hear sinners . — That we may not think that God will not hear us, Isaiah saith. “Before ye cry I shall hear, and while they yet speak I shall answer.” And also, “If at even come sorrow or calamity, before the morning spring, I shall reduce, and bring gladness.” And these most comfortable words doth the Lord not speak to carnal Israel only, but to all men sore oppressed, abiding God’s deliverance; “For a moment and a little season have I turned my face from thee, but. in everlasting mercy shall comfort thee.” The hope to obtain our petitions, should depend upon the promises of God . — Oh! hard are the hearts which so manifold most sweet and sure promises do not mollify, whereupon should depend the hope to obtain our petitions.

    The indignity or unworthiness of ourselves is not to be regarded; for albeit to the chosen who are departed, in holiness and purity of life we be far inferiors, yet in that part we are equal, in that we have the same commandment to pray, and the same promises to be heard. For his gracious majesty esteemeth not the prayer, neither granteth the petition, for any dignity or worthiness of the person that prayeth, but for his promise’ sake only. And therefore, saith David, “Then hast promised unto thy servant, O Lord, that thou wilt build a house for him; wherefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray in thy sight. Now, even so, O Lord, thou art God, and thy words are true, thou hast spoken these good things unto thy servant. Begin therefore to do according to thy promise: multiply, O Lord, the household of thy servant.” Behold, David altogether dependeth upon God’s promise; as also did Jacob, who, after he had confessed himself unworthy of all the benefits received, yet durst he ask greater benefits in time to come, and that, because God hath promised. In like manner, let us be encouraged to ask whatsoever the goodness of God hath freely promised. What we should ask principally, we shall hereafter declare. Of necessity we must have a mediator. — The fifth observation which godly prayer requireth is, the perfect knowledge of the advocate, intercessor, and mediator; for, seeing no man is of himself worthy to compear, or appear in God’s presence, by reason that in all men continually resteth sin, which, by itself, doth offend the majesty of God, raising also debate, strife, hatred, and division betwixt his inviolable justice and us, for the which, unless satisfaction be made by another than by ourselves, so little hope resteth that any thing from him we can attain, that no surety may we have with him at all. To exeme us from this horrible confusion, our most merciful Father, knowing that our frail minds should hereby have been continually dejected, hath given unto us his only beloved Son, to be unto us righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and holiness. If in him we faithfully believe, we are so clad that we may with boldness compear and appear before the throne of God’s mercy, doubting nothing, but that whatsoever we ask through our Mediator, that same we shall obtain most assuredly. Here, is most diligently to be observed, that without our Mediator, fore-speaker, and peace-maker, we enter not into prayer; for the incallings of such as pray without Jesus Christ are not only vain, but also, they are odious and abominable before God. Which thing to us in the Levitical priesthood most evidently was prefigured and declared: for as within the sanctum sanctorum, that is, the most holy place, entered no man but the High Priest alone, and as all sacrifices offered by any other than by priests only, provoked the wrath of God upon the sacrifice-maker; so, whoever doth intend to enter into God’s presence, or to make prayers without Jesus Christ, shall find nothing but fearful judgment and horrible damnation. Wherefore it is plain, that Turks and Jews, notwithstanding that they do apparently most fervently pray unto God who created heaven and earth, who guideth and ruleth the same, who defendeth the good and punisheth the evil, yet never are their prayers pleasant unto God; neither honor they his holy majesty in any filing, because they acknowledge not Jesus Christ. For he who honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.

    For as the law is a statute that we shall call upon God, and as the promise is made that he shall hear us, so are we commanded only to call through Jesus Christ, by whom alone our petitions we obtain; for in him alone are all the promises of God confirmed and complete. Whereof, without all controversy, it is plain, that such as have called, or call presently unto God by any other mean than by Jesus Christ alone, do nothing regard God’s will, but obstinately prevaricate, and do against his commandments; and therefore, obtain they not their petitions, neither yet have entrance to his mercy; “for no man cometh to the Father,” saith Jesus Christ, “but by me.”

    He is the right way: who declineth from him erreth, and goeth wrong. He is our leader, whom, unless we follow, we shall walk in darkness; and he alone is our captain, without whom, neither praise, nor victory ever shall we obtain.

    Against such as depend upon the intercession of saints, no otherwise will I contend, but shortly touch the properties of a perfect mediator. First, the words of Paul are most sure, that a mediator is not the mediator of one; that is, wheresoever is required a mediator, there are also two parties; to wit, one party offending, and the other party which is offended; which parties, by themselves may in no ways be reconciled. Secondly, the mediator who taketh upon him the reconciling of these two parties, must be such a one as having trust and favor of both parties, yet in some things must differ from both; and must be clean and innocent also of the crime committed against the party offended. Let this be more plain by this subsequent declaration: Angels may not be mediators. — The eternal God, standing upon the one part, and all natural men descending of Adam upon the other part; the infinite justice of God is so offended with the transgression of all men, that in no wise can amity be made, except such a one be found, as fully may make satisfaction for man’s offenses. Among the sons of men none was found able; for they were all found criminal in the fault of one; and God, infinite in justice, must abhor the society and sacrifice of sinners. And as to the angels, what might prevail their substitution for man? who, albeit they would have interposed themselves as mediators, yet dray had not the infinite righteousness. Jesus Christ, God and man , is Mediator. — Who, then, shall here be found the peace-maker? Surely the infinite goodness and mercy of God might not suffer the perpetual loss and repudiation of his creatures; and therefore his eternal wisdom provided such a mediator, having wherewith to satisfy the justice of God — differing also from the Godhead: — his only Son, clad in the nature of manhood, who interposed himself a mediator; not as man only; for the pure humanity of Christ of itself might neither make intercession nor satisfaction for us; but God and man. In that he is God he might complete the will of the Father; and in that he is man, pure and clean, without spot or sin, he might offer sacrifice for the purgation of our sins, and satisfaction of God’s justice. For unless saints have these two, Godhead equal with the Father, and humanity without sin, the office of mediators saints may not usurp.

    But here will be objected, who knoweth not Jesus Christ to be the only, mediator of our redemption? but that impedeth or hindereth nothing saints and holy men to be mediators and to make intercession for us.” As though that Jesus Christ had been but one hour our mediator, and after, had resigned the office to his servants! Who maketh other meidiators than Jesus Christ, taketh honor from him. — Do not such men gentilly entreat Jesus Christ, detracting from him such a portion of his honor? Otherwise speak the Scriptures of God, testifying him to hays been made man, and to have proved our infirmities; to have, suffered death willingly; to have overcome the same; and all to this end, that he might he our perpetual high sovereign Priest, into whose place or dignity none other might enter. ( Hebrews 6,7,9,10.) As John saith, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ, the righteous.” ( 1 John 2.)

    Mark well these words. John saith, “we have presently a sufficient advocate; whom Paul affirmeth to sit at the right hand of God the Father: ( Romans 8) and to be the only Mediator between God and man; for he alone, saith Ambrose, is our mouth, by whom we speak to God: he is our eyes, by whom we see God; and also our right hand by whom we offer any thing unto the Father; who, unless he make intercession, neither we, neither any of the saints, may have any society or fellowship with God. What creature may say to God the Father, “Let mankind be received into thy favor; for the pain of his transgression, that have I sustained in my own body; for iris cause was I encompassed with all infirmities, and so became the most contemned and despised of all men, and yet, in my mouth was found no guile nor deceit; but always obedient to thy will, suffering most grievous death for mankind. And therefore, behold not the sinner, but me, who by my infinite righteousness have perfectly satisfied for his offenses”? — May any other, Jesus Christ except, in these words make intercession for sinners? If they may not, then are they neither mediators nor yet intercessors. “For albeit,” saith Augustine, “Christians do commend one another unto God in their prayers, yet make they not intercession, neither dare they usurp the office of a mediator: no, not Paul, albeit under the Head he was a principal member, because he commendeth himself to the prayers of faithful men.” But if any do object, such is not the condition of the saints departed, who now have put off mortality, and bear no longer the fragility of the flesh; — although I grant this to be most true, yet are they all compelled to cast their crowns before Him who sitteth on the throne, acknowledging themselves to have been delivered from great affliction, to have been purged by the blood of the Lamb; and therefore none of them do attempt to be a mediator, seeing they neither have being nor righteousness of themselves. But in so great light of the Gospel which now is beginning, (praise be to the Omnipotent!) it is not necessary upon such matter long to remain.

    Some say, we will use but one mediator, Jesus Christ, to God the Father; but we must have saints, and chiefly the Virgin, the mother of Jesus Christ, to pray for us unto him. Against such as would have mediators to Jesus Christ. — Alas! whosoever is so minded, showeth himself plainly to know nothing of Jesus Christ rightly. Is He who descended from heaven, and vouchsafed to be conversant with sinners, commanding all sore vexed and sick to come unto him, ( Matthew 11) who, hanging upon the cross, prayed first for his enemies, become now so untractable, that he will not hear us, without a person to be a mean? O Lord, open the eyes of such, that they may clearly perceive thy infinite kindness, gentleness, and love towards mankind.

    Above all precedents, is to be observed, that what we ask of God, ought to be profitable to ourselves and to others, and hurtful or dangerous to no man. Secondly, we must consider whether our petitions extend to spiritual or corporal things.

    Spiritual things, such as are deliverance from impiety, remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of life everlasting, we should desire absolutely, without any condition, by Jesus Christ, in whom alone all these are promised. And in asking hereof, we should not pray thus, “O Father, forgive our sins if thou wilt;” for his will He hath expressed, saying, “As I live, I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he convert, and live; “ which immutable and solemn oath, who calleth in doubt, maketh God a liar, and, as far as in him lieth, would spoil God of his godhead. For he cannot be God except he be eternal and infallible verity. And John saith, “This is the testimony which God hath testified of his Son, that who believeth in the Son, hath eternal life, ( 1 John, 5) to the verity whereof we should steadfastly cleave, although worldly dolor apprehend us — as David exiled from his kingdom, and deprived of all his glory, secluded not himself from God, but steadfastly believed reconciliation by the promise made, notwithstanding that all creatures on earth had refused, rejected, and rebelled against him, Happy is the man whom thou shalt inspire, O Lord!

    In asking corporal things, first, let us enquire, if we be at peace with God in our consciences, by Jesus Christ, firmly believing our sins to be remitted in his blood. Secondly, let us enquire of our own hearts, if we how temporal riches or substance not to come to man by accident, fortune, or chance, neither yet by the industry and diligence of man’s labor; but to be the liberal gift of God only, whereof we ought to laud and praise his goodness, wisdom, and providence alone. What should be prayed for. — And if this we do truly acknowledge and confess, let us boldly ask of Him whatsoever is necessary for us; as sustentation of the body, health thereof, defense from misery, deliverance from trouble, tranquillity and peace to our commonwealth, prosperous success in our vocations, labors, and affairs, whatsoever they be; which God willeth we ask all of Him, to certify us that all things stand in his government and disposal; and also, by asking and receiving these corporal commodities, we may have taste of his sweetness, and be inflamed with his love, that thereby our faith of reconciliation and remission of our sing may be exercised and take increase.

    But, in asking such temporal things, we must observe, first, that if God deferreth or prolongeth to grant our petitions, even so long that he doth apparently reject us, yet let us not cease to call, prescribing him neither time, neither manner of deliverance; as it is written, “If he prolong time, abide patiently upon him:” and also, “Let not the faithful be too hasty; for God sometimes deferreth, and will not hastily grant, for the probation of our continuance,” as the words of Jesus Christ testify: and also that we may receive with greater gladness that, which with ardent desire we long have looked for — as Hannah, Sarah, and Elizabeth, after great ignominy of their barrenness and sterility, received fruit of their bosoms with joy.

    Secondly, because we know the kirk at all times to be under the cross; in asking temporal commodities, and especially deliverance from trouble, let us offer to God obedience; if it shall please his goodness we be longer exercised, that we may patiently abide it. As David, desirous to be restored to his kingdom, what time he was exiled by his own son, offereth unto God obedience, saying, “If I have found favor in the presence of the Lord, he shall bring me home again. But if He shall say, Thou pleasest me no longer to bear authority, I am obedient; let him do what seemeth good to him.” ( 2 Samuel 15) And the three children unto Nebuchadnezzar did say, “We know that our God whom we worship may deliver us; but if it shall not please him so to do, let it be known to thee, O king, that thy gods we will not worship.” ( Daniel 3) Better it is to obey God than man. — Here the [children] gave a true confession of their perfect faith, knowing nothing to be impossible to the omnipotence of God; affirming also themselves to stand in his mercy; for otherwise, the nature of man could not willingly give itself to so horrible a torment. But they offer unto God most humble obedience, to be delivered at his good pleasure and will; as we should do in all afflictions; for we know not what to ask or desire as we ought, that is, the frail flesh oppressed with fear and pain, desireth deliverance, ever abhorring and drawing back from obedience-giving. (O Christian brother, I write by experience!) But the Spirit of God calleth back the mind to obedience, that albeit it desires and abides for deliverance, yet should it not repine against the good will of God, but incessantly to ask that it may abide with patience.

    How hard this battle is no man knoweth, but he who in himself hath suffered trial. The petition of like spirit. — It is to be noted, that God sometimes doth grant the petition of the spirit, while he yet deferreth the desire of the flesh.

    As who doubteth but God did mitigate the heaviness of Joseph, although he sent not hasty deliverance in his long imprisonment; and that, as he gave him favor in the sight of his jailor, so, inwardly also, he gave him consolation in spirit? ( Genesis 39.) And moreover, God sometimes granteth the petition of the spirit, while he utterly repelleth the desire of the flesh. For the petition of the spirit always is, that we may attain to the true felicity, whereunto we must needs enter by tribulation, and the final death, both of which the nature of man doth ever abhor. And therefore the flesh under the cross, and at the sight of death, calleth and thirsteth for hasty deliverance. The flesh striveth against the spirit. — But God who alone knoweth what is expedient for us, sometimes prolongeth the deliverance of his chosen, and sometimes permitteth them to drink, before the maturity of age, the bitter cup of corporal death, that thereby, they may receive medicine, and cure from all infirmity. For who doubteth, but that John the Baptist desired to have seen more the days of Jesus Christ, and to have been longer with him in conversation? Or that Stephen would not have labored more days in preaching Christ’s gospel, whom nevertheless he suffered hastily to taste of this general sentence? And albeit we see therefore no apparent help to ourselves, nor yet to others afflicted, let us not cease to call, thinking our prayers to be vain; for whatsoever come of our bodies, God shall give unspeakable comfort to the spirit, and turn all to our commodities, f8 beyond our own expectation. The cause I am so long tedious in this matter is, that I know how hard the battle is between the spirit and the flesh, under the heavy cross of affliction where no worldly defense but present death does appear. Impediments come of the weakness of the flesh. — I know the grudging and murmuring complaints of the flesh; I know the anger, wrath, and indignation which it conceiveth against God, calling all his promises in doubt, and being ready every hour utterly to fall from God. Against which, remains only faith, provoking us to call earnestly, and pray for assistance of God’s Spirit; wherein, if we continue, our most desperate calamities he shall turn to gladness and to a prosperous end.

    To thee, O Lord, alone be praise, for with experience I write this and speak.

    Where, and for Whom, and at what Time, we ought to pray, is not to be passed over with silence. Private prayer, such as men secretly offer unto God by themselves, requires no special place; although Jesus Christ commandeth, when we pray, to enter into our chamber, and to close the door, and so, to pray secretly unto our Father. (Matthew 6.) Whereby He wills, that we should choose for our prayers such places as might offer least occasion to call us back from prayer, and also, that we should expel forth of our minds in time of our prayer, all vain cogitations; for otherwise, Jesus Christ himself doth observe no special place of prayer; for we find him sometimes praying in Mount Olivet, sometimes in the desert, sometimes in the temple, and in the garden. Peter desireth to pray upon the top of the house. ( Acts, 10) Paul prayed in prison, and was heard of God; who also commandeth men to pray in all places, lifting up unto God pure and clean hands; as we find that the prophets and most holy men did, wheresoever danger or necessity required. Appointed places to pray in may not be neglected. — But public and common prayers should be used in the place appointed for the assembly of the congregation, whence whosoever negligently withdraweth himself is in nowise excusable. I mean not that to be absent from that place is sin, because that place is more holy than another; for the whole earth created by God is equally holy. But the promise made, that “wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there shall I be in the midst of them,” condemneth all such as despise the congregation gathered in his name. But mark well this word “gathered.” I mean not to hear piping, singing, or playing; nor to patter upon beads or books whereof they have no understanding; nor to commit idolatry, honoring that for God which indeed is no god; for with such, will I neither join myself in common prayer, nor in receiving external sacraments. For in so doing, I should affirm their superstition and abominable idolatry, which I, by God’s grace, never will do, neither counsel others to do, to the end. What it is to be gathered in the name of Christ. — This congregation which I mean, should be gathered in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, to laud and magnify God the Father, for the infinite benefits they have received by his only Son, our Lord. In this congregation should be distributed the mystical and Last Supper of Jesus Christ, without superstition or any more ceremonies than he himself used, and his apostles after him, in distribution thereof. In this congregation, should inquisition be made of the poor among them, and support provided till the time of their next convention; and it should be distributed amongst them. Also in this congregation should be made common prayers, such as all men hearing might understand, that the hearts of all subscribing to the voice of one, might with unfeigned and fervent mind say, Amen. Whosoever withdraw themselves from such a congregation, (but alas! where shrill it be found?) do declare themselves to be no members of Christ’s body. For whom, and at what time we should pray. — Now there remaineth for whom, and at what time we shall pray. For all men, and at all times, doth Paul command that we shall pray ( 1 Timothy 2), and principally, for such as are of the household of faith as suffer persecution; and for commonwealths tyrannously oppressed, incessantly should we call, that God of his mercy and power will withstand the violence of such tyrants. God’s sentence may be changed. — And when we see the plagues of God, as hunger, pestilence, or war coming or appearing to reign, then should we with lamentable voices, and repenting hearts call unto God, that it would please his infinite mercy to withdraw his hand. Which thing, if we do unfeignedly, he will without doubt, revoke his wrath, and, in the midst of his fury, think upon mercy, as we are taught in the Scripture, by his infallible and eternal verity. As in Exodus God saith, “I shall destroy this nation from the face of the earth.” And when Moses addresseth himself to pray for them the Lord proceedeth, saying, “Suffer me that I may utterly destroy them.” And then Moses falleth down upon his face, and forty days continueth in prayer for the safety of the people, for whom, at the last, he obtained forgiveness. David, in the vehement plague, lamentably called unto God ( 2 Samuel 24); and the king of Nineveh saith, “who can tell? God may turn and repent, and cease from his fierce wrath, that we perish not.” (Jonah 3.)

    Which examples and scriptures are not written in vain, but to certify us that God of his own native goodness will mitigate his plagues, by our prayers offered by Jesus Christ, although he hath threatened to punish, or is presently punishing: which he testifies by his own words, saying, “If I have prophesied against any nation or people, that they shall be destroyed, if they repent of their iniquity, it shall repent me of the evil which I have spoken against them.” ( Jeremiah 18.)

    This I write, lamenting the great coldness of men who under such long scourges of God, are nothing kindled to prayer by repentance, but carelessly sleep in a wicked life, even as though their continuing wars, urgent famine, daily plagues of pestilence, and other contagious, insolent, and strange maladies, were not the present signs of God’s wrath provoked by our iniquities. A plague threatened to England. — O England, let thy intestine battle and domestic murder provoke thee to purity of life, according to the word which openly hath been proclaimed in thee, otherwise, the cup of the Lord’s wrath thou shalt drink. The multitude shall not escape, but shall drink the dregs, and have the cup broken upon their heads; for judgment beginneth in the house of the Lord, and commonly the least offender is first punished, to provoke the more wicked to repentance. But, O Lord, infinite in mercy, if thou shalt punish, make not consummation; but cut away the proud and luxuriant branches which bear not fruit, and preserve the commonwealths of such as give succor and harbor to thy contemned messengers, who long have suffered exile in the desert. And let thy kingdom shortly come, that sin may be ended, death devoured, thy enemies confounded; that we thy people, by thy majesty delivered, may obtain everlasting joy and felicity through Jesus Christ our Savior, to whom be all honor and praise for ever. Amen. Hasten Lord, and tarry not. JOHN KNOX.

    Here after followeth a Confession by John Knox, Minister of Christ’s most sacred Evangel, upon the death of that most virtuous and most famous king, Edward VI, King of England, France, and Ireland; in which confession, the said John doth accuse no less his own offenses, than the offenses of others, to be the cause of the away-taking of that most godly prince, now reigning with Christ, while we abide plagues for our unthankfulness.

    Omnipotent and everlasting God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by thy eternal providence disposest kingdoms as seemeth best to thy wisdom: we acknowledge and confess thy judgments to be righteous, in that thou hast taken from us, for our ungratitude, and for abusing of thy most holy word, our native king and earthly comforter. Justly mayest thou pour forth upon us the uttermost of thy plagues, for that we have not known the day and time of our merciful visitation. We have contemned thy word, and despised thy mercies: we have transgressed thy laws, for deceitfully have we wrought every man with our neighbor; oppression and violence we have not abhorred, charity hath not appeared among us, as our profession requireth. We have little regarded the voices of thy prophets; thy threatenings we have esteemed vanity and wind. So that in us, as of ourselves, rests nothing worthy of thy mercies, for all are found fruitless, even the princes with the prophets as withered trees, apt and meet to be burned in the fire of thy eternal displeasure.

    But, O Lord, behold thy own mercy and goodness, that thou mayest purge and remove the most filthy burden of our most horrible offenses. Let thy love overcome the severity of thy judgments, even as it did in giving to the world thy only Son, Jesus, when all mankind was lost, and no obedience was left in Adam nor in his seed. Regenerate our hearts, O Lord, by the strength of the Holy Ghost: convert thou us, and we shall be converted: work thou in us unfeigned repentance, and move thou our hearts to obey thy holy laws.

    Behold our troubles and apparent destruction, and stay the sword of thy vengeance before it devour us. Place above us, O Lord, for thy great mercies’ sake, such a head, with such rulers and magistrates, as fear thy name, and will the glory of Christ Jesus to spread. Take not from us the light of thy Evangel, and suffer no papistry to prevail in this realm.

    Illuminate the heart of our sovereign lady, Queen Mary, with pregnant gifts of thy Holy Ghost, and inflame the hearts of her council with thy true fear and love. Repress thou the pride of those that would rebel, and remove from all hearts the contempt of thy word. Let not our enemies rejoice at our destruction, but look thou to the honor of thy own name, O Lord, and let thy Gospel be preached with boldness in this realm. If thy justice must punish, then punish our bodies with the rod of thy mercy. But, O Lord, let us never revolt, nor turn back to idolatry again. Mitigate the hearts of those that persecute us, and let us not faint under the cross of our Savior; but assist us with the Holy Ghost, even to the end.

    LETTER TO THE FAITHFUL IN ENGLAND. John Knox To The Faithful In London, Newcastle, And Berwick, And To All Others Within The Realm Of England That Love The Coming Of Our Lord Jesus, Wisheth Continuance In Godliness To The End. WHEN I remember the fearful threatenings of God pronounced against realms and nations to whom the light of God’s word hath been offered, and contemptuously by them refused, as my heart unfeignedly mourneth for your present state, dearly beloved in our Savior, Jesus Christ, so the whole powers both of body and soul tremble and shake, for the plagues that are to come. But that God’s true word hath been offered to the realm of England, none can deny, except such as by the devil holden in bondage, ( 2 Timothy 2,) (God justly so punishing their proud disobedience,) have neither eyes to see, nor understanding to discern, good from bad, nor darkness from light. Against whom at this present no otherwise will I contend than did the prophet Jeremiah, against the stiff-necked and stubborn people of Judah, saying, “The wrath of the Lord shall not be turned away, till he have fulfilled the thoughts of his heart.” ( Jeremiah 23.)

    And thus I leave them, as those of whose repentance there is small hope, to the hands of Him who shall not forget their horrible blasphemies spoken in despite of Christ’s truth, and of his true ministers.

    And with you that unfeignedly mourn for the great shipwreck of God’s true religion, I purpose to communicate such counsel and admonition, now, by my rude pen, as sometimes it pleased God I did proclaim in your ears. The end of which my admonition is, that even as you purpose and contend to avoid God’s vengeance both in this life, and in the life to come, that so you avoid ‘and flee, as well in body as in spirit, all fellowship and society with idolaters in their idolatry. You shrink, I know, even at the first. But if an orator had the matter in handling, he would prove it honest, profitable, easy, and necessary to be done; and in every one point, there would be store enough for a long oration. But as I never labored to persuade any man in matters of religion, (God I take to record in my conscience,) except by the very simplicity and plain infallible truth of God’s word, so, no more intend I to do in this behalf. But this I affirm, that to flee from idolatry is so profitable and so necessary for a Christian, that unless he so do, all worldly profit turneth to his perpetual disprofit and condemnation. Profit appertaineth either to the bodies, or else to the souls of ourselves and our posterity: Corporal commodities consist in such things as man chiefly coveteth for the body, as riches, estimation, long life, health, and quietness on earth: the only comfort and joy of the soul, is God, by his word expelling ignorance, sin, and death, and in place of these, planting true knowledge of Himself, and with the same, justice and life, by Christ Jesus his Son. If any of these aforesaid move us, then of necessity it is, that we avoid idolatry; for plain it is, that the soul hath neither life nor comfort, but by God alone, ( 1 Corinthians 6) with whom idolaters have no other fellowship nor participation, than have the devils. And albeit that abominable idolaters for a moment triumph, yet the hour approacheth, when God’s vengeance shall strike not only their souls. but even their vile carcases shall be plagued, as God before hath threatened. Their cities shall be burned, their lands shall be laid waste, their enemies shall dwell in their strongholds, their wives and daughters shall be defiled, their children shall fall by the edge of the sword; mercy shall they find none, because they have refused the God of all mercy, when lovingly and long he called upon them. ( Leviticus 26.) You would know the time, and what certainty I have hereof. To God will I appoint no time; but that these, and more plagues, shall fall upon England, and that ere it be long, I am as sure as that my God liveth.

    This my affirmation shall displease many, and content few. God, who knoweth the secrets of all hearts, knoweth, that it also displeaseth myself.

    And yet, like as before, I have been compelled to speak in your audience, and in audience of others, such things as were not pleasant to the ears of men, whereof, alas! a great part this day are come to pass, so I am compelled now to write with the tears of my eyes, I know, to your displeasure. But, dear brethren, be subject to God, and give place to his wrath, that ye may escape his everlasting vengeance. My pen, I trust, shall now be no more vehement than my tongue hath been offener than once, not only before you, but also before the chief of the realm. What was said in Newcastle and Berwick before the Sweat, I trust yet some in those places bear in mind. What, upon the day of All-saints, the year that the Duke of Somerset was last apprehended, let Newcastle witness. What before him that titan was Duke of Northumberland, in the town of Newcastle, and other places more; what before the King’s majesty, at Windsor, Hampton Court, and Westminster; and finally, what was spoken in London, in more places than one, when fires of joy and riotous banqueting were made at the proclamation of Mary, your queen. If men will not speak, yet the stones and timber of those places shall cry in fire, and bear record, that the truth was spoken, and shall absolve me in that behalf in the day of the Lord.

    Suspect not, brethren, that I delight in your calamities, or in the plagues that shall fall upon the unthankful nation. No, God I take to record, that my heart mourneth within me, and that I am cruciated with remembrance of your troubles. But if I should cease, then should I do against my conscience, as also against my knowledge, and so, should I be guilty of the blood of those that perished for lack of admonition, ( Ezekiel 33,) and yet shall the plague not a moment the longer be delayed: for the Lord hath appointed the day of his vengeance, before the which, he sendeth his trumpets and his messengers, that his elect watching with prayers and sobriety, may by his mercy escape the vengeance that shall come.

    But now, you would know the grounds of my certitude. God grant, that hearing them, you may understand and steadfastly believe the same. My assurances are not the marvels of Merlin, neither yet the dark sentences of profane prophets; but 1. the plain truth of God’s holy word; 2. the immutable justice of the ever-living God; and 3. the ordinary course of his plagues from the beginning, are my assurances and grounds.

    God’s word threateneth destruction to the disobedient ( Deuteronomy 28): his immutable justice must require the same ( Jeremiah 5); the ordinary punishments and plagues show examples. ( Amos 3.) What man, then, having understanding, can cease to prophesy?

    The word of God plainly speaketh, that if a man shall hear the curses of God’s law, and yet in his heart shall promise to himself felicity and good luck, thinking he shall have peace, although he walk after the imaginations of his own will and heart, to such a man the Lord will not be merciful, but his wrath shall be kindled against him, and He shall destroy his name from under heaven. ( Jeremiah 29.) How the Lord threateneth plague after plague, and ever the last to be the sorest, till finally he will consume realms and nations if they repent not, read chapter 26 of Leviticus, which chapter oft I have willed you to mark, as yet I do unfeignedly. And think not that it appertaineth to the Jews only. No, brethren; the prophets are the interpreters of the law, and they make the plagues of God common to all offenders, the punishment ever beginning at the household of God. And here, I must touch a point of the devilish confession made, alas! by that miserable man, whose name, for sorrow, I cannot recite. This argument he useth, to prove the doctrine of late years taught among you to be wicked. “Troubles and plagues, (saith he,) have followed the same, not only here in England, but also in Germany” — as he willeth you to mark.

    This fragile and vain argument no otherwise will I labor to confute than by plain Scripture, declarings that plagues appertain to all inobedient, beginning first where God’s mercies have been offered and refused; and that may answer the blind rage of ignorants.

    The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, after they had proclaimed plagues to fall upon the people of Israel, and upon the house of Judah, prophesy particularly against certain nations and cities, not only adjacent in circuit about Jerusalem, but also against such as were far distant; as against Moab, Ammon, Palestine, Egypt, Tyre, Damascus, and Babylon. ( Isaiah 13,15,17,18,19,20,23; Jeremiah 1,51; Ezekiel 25,26,27.) And in conclusion, general prophecies are spoken against all inobedient and sinful nations, as in <232401> chapter 24 of Isaiah plainly appeareth; as also, the Lord commanding Jeremiah to give the cup of His wrath to all nations, one after another; who should drink of the same, although they refused it of his hand ( Jeremiah 25): that is, albeit they would not believe the voice of the prophet, yet should they not escape the plagues that he spake: “For every nation like unto this, shall I punish, saith the Lord of Hosts.” ( Jeremiah 5.)

    With the same agreeth Amos, saying, “The eyes of the Lord are upon every sinful nation, to root it out of the earth.” ( Amos 9) These, and many more places, evidently prove, that the plagues spoken of in the law of God, appertain to every rebellious people, be they Jew or be they Gentile, Christians in title, or Turks in profession. And the ground of the prophets was the same, which before I have rehearsed for my assurances that England shall be plagued; which is, God’s immutable and inviolable justice, that cannot spare in one realm and nation, those offenses that most severely he hath punished in another: for so were he unequal, and to make differences, as touching execution of his just judgments betwixt person and person; which is most contrarious to the integrity of his justice.

    Thus he speaketh by Jeremiah his prophet, “Behold I have begun to punish in the house where my name is in-called; and shall I spare the rest? ( Jeremiah 25.) As if the Lord would say, “How can my justice permit those crimes unpunished in proud contemners that neither regard me nor yet my law, seeing I have not spared my own people, that externally bear some reverence to my name?

    That God hath punished other realms and nations, men of small understanding will easily confess. But whether like crimes have been, and yet are committed within the realm of England, as were before the last plagues of God among those nations; that is to be enquired. In this case, nothing can better instruct us, than God’s plain word rebuking the vices that reigned in those days. And omitting all such as prophesied before, it shall suffice for this time to rehearse some places of Jeremiah, the time of whose prophecy well considered, shall make the matter more sensible. He beginneth in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah, and continueth till after the destruction of Jerusalem, which came in the 11th year of Zedekiah. Long preached this godly man, to wit, thirty-nine years and six month, before the uttermost of the plagues overtook lifts stubborn nation; and he preached with much trouble and injury sustained, as in his prophecies is to be seen. By all likelihood then, there were some careless ones that were not pleased with the prophet, neither yet with his preaching.

    And yet it is plain, that no king so truly turned to God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength, according to the law of Moses, as did Josiah. And yet, as we have said, the prophet of God was troubled, and that not by a mean number; for I find him complain universally and generally, upon the people’s iniquity. For thus he introduces God speaking: “My people have committed double iniquity; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns that can hold no water. Why wilt thou justify thyself?

    Under thy wings is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents, whom thou found not in corners; and yet thou sayest, I am innocent. Thou hast gotten an whore’s forehead, thou canst not think shame. My people are foolish, they know me not; they are foolish children, and have no wisdom; wise they are to commit mischief, but to do good they are altogether ignorant. Every man may beware of his neighbor, and no man assuredly may trust his brother; for every man is become deceitful; they have practiced their tongues to lies and guile. They have left my law (saith the Lord), and have followed the wicked imaginations of their own hearts; they have followed after Baalim, whom their fathers taught them.” ( Jeremiah 2,3,4,9.)

    Of these, and of many more like places, the general offenses of that people appear to have been, desertion from God, shedding of innocent blood, justification of themselves, and defense of their iniquity, while yet they abounded in rapine, murder, oppression, lies, crafty practice, deceit, and manifest idolatry; following the trade of their fathers, who under Manasseh and Ammon, (of whom the one in the beginning, the other all his life maintained idolatry,) had been the ringleaders of all abomination.

    The prophet of God wondering at so manifest iniquity, judged that such ignorance and disobedience was only among the rascal sort; and therefore he saith, “These be but poor ones: they are foolish; they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. I will go to the nobles, and I will talk with them, for they know the way of their Lord, and the judgments of their God.” ( Jeremiah 5.)

    But what he finds among them, he declareth in these words, “They have all broken the yoke; they have heaped sin upon sin, and one mischief upon another: from the least into the most, all are bent upon avarice. and gape for lucre; from the priest to the prophet, every man dealeth deceitfully. Behold their ears be uncircumcised, they, cannot advert. The word of God is a rebuke into them; they delight not in it. They have committed abominable mischief.” ( Jeremiah 6.)

    What this abomination was, God showeth to Ezekiel. ( Ezekiel 8.) All had forsaken God in their hearts, in so much. that a great number openly had turned their backs unto God, and made sacrifice to the Sun, every man in his own secret closet; yea, women mourned, for that they were not permitted to commit open abomination. Is it not to be wondered at, that all estates were so corrupt under so godly a prince? But our prophet Jeremiah proceedeth in his complaint, saying, “They cannot repent, neither yet think shame. They have denied the Lord, and said, It is not he; we shall neither see sword nor hunger.” ( Jeremiah 5.)

    You hear the obedience that the prophet found among the princes of Judah. And yet, I say, is it not to be wondered at, that the vineyard which was so well manured, brought forth no better grapes? They had a king most godly-minded; they had prophets (for Jeremiah was not alone,) most faithful and fervent. They were admonished by diverse plagues, and always the prophets called for repentance. And yet followed nothing but open contempt of God and of his messengers. Their repentance was like the morning dew, it remained not. Although they could say with their mouths, “The Lord liveth,” yet were their oaths nothing but lies. “Find me one man that doth equity and justice, and to him will I be merciful, saith the Lord.” ( Jeremiah 5.)

    Here was narrow and sharp inquisition among so great a multitude: — belike there had not been very many, when He that knoweth the secret thoughts searcheth so diligently. But before we proceed further in this matter, it shall be profitable to see, how these precedents agree with our state and time.

    And First, that we had not God’s word offered to us, will none except an arrant papist allege. We had a king of so godly a disposition towards virtue, and chiefly towards God’s truth, that none from the beginning surpassed him, and to my knowledge, none of his years did ever match him in that behalf, if he might have been but master of his own will. During this time, if sins did abound, let every man accuse his own conscience; for here I am not minded to specify all that I know, neither yet is it necessary, seeing some crimes were so manifest and so heinous, that the earth could not hide the innocent blood, nor yet could the heavens without shame behold the craft, the deceit, the violence, and wrong, that were wrought openly. And in the meantime, the hand of God was busy over us, and his true messengers kept not silence. You know that the realm of England was visited with strange plagues; and whether it was not ever prophesied, that worse plagues were to follow, I appeal to the testimony of your own conscience. But what ensued upon this? Alas! I am ashamed to rehearse it — universal contempt of all godly admonitions, hatred of those who rebuked their vices, authorizing of such as could invent most villany against the preachers of God. In this matter I may be admitted for a sufficient witness; for I heard and saw, I understood and knew with sorrow of heart, the manifest contempt, and the crafty devices of the devil against those most godly and learned preachers, that this last Lent (A.D. 1553,) were appointed to preach before the king’s majesty; as also, against all others, whose tongues were not tempered by the holy water of the court: — to speak it plainly, who flattering against their own conscience, could not say that all was well, and that nothing needed reformation.

    What reverence and audience was given to preachers this last Lent, by such as then were in authority, their own countenances declared: assuredly even such, as was given to Jeremiah. They hated such as rebuked their vice, and stubbornly they said, “We will not amend.” And yet, how boldly their sins were rebuked, even in their faces, such as were present can witness with me. There were almost none who did not prophesy, and plainly speak the plagues that are begun, and assuredly shall end. Master Grindal plainly spake the death of the king’s majesty, complaining upon his household servants, who neither feared to rail against the word of God, nor against the true preachers of the same. That godly and fervent man, Master Lever, plainly spake the desolation of this commonwealth. And Master Bradford (whom God for Christ his Son’s sake comfort to the end,) spared not the proudest of them, but boldly declared, that God’s vengeance should shortly strike those that were in authority, because they loathed and abhorred the true word of the everlasting God; and willed them to take example by the late Duke of Somerset, who became so cold in heating God’s word, that the year before his death, he would go to visit his masons, and yet would not incommode himself to go from his gallery to his hall, for hearing of a sermon. “God punished him,” said that godly preacher, “and that suddenly; and shall he spare you, that are doubly more wicked? No, he shall not: will ye or will ye not, ye shall drink the cup of the Lord’s wrath The judgment of the Lord; the judgment of the Lord!” he cried with a lamentable voice, and weeping tears. Master Haddon most learnedly opened the causes of the bypast plagues, and assured them, that the worse was to come after, if repentance were not shortly found. Much more I heard of these four, and of others, which now I may not rehearse, and that, (which is to be noted,) after that the whole council had said, they would hear no more of their sermons; they were indiscreet fellows, yea, and prating knaves. But I will not speak all; for if God continue me in this trouble, I purpose to prepare a dish for such as then led the ring, yea, and who but they? but now they have been at the school of Placebo, and there they have learned amongst ladies, to dance as the devil lists to pipe. Against those whom God hath stricken, seeing now there remaineth to them no place of repentance, I do not intend to speak; but such as live to this day must be admonished, that He who hath punished the one will not spare the rest.

    But to our matter — these precedents I judge sufficient to prove this our age to have been, and yet to remain, like wicked (if it be not worse,) with the time of Jeremiah. Now, let us search what followed in Judah: — mischief upon mischief, notwithstanding the continual and long crying of the prophets; till finally, God in his anger took away good king Josiah, because He was determined to destroy Judah, as before he had destroyed Israel. ( 2 Kings 23.) After the death of this godly king, great was the trouble, diverse and sudden were the alterations in that commonwealth.

    Three kings taken prisoners one after another in short space, what were the other miseries of that stubborn nation, O God, for thy great mercy’s sake, let never thy small and troubled flock within the realm of England learn by experience! But in all those troubles, no repentance appeared, as by the prophet ye may learn: for thus he crieth, “Thou hast stricken them, O Lord, but they have not mourned; thou hast destroyed them, but they have not received discipline. ( Jeremiah 5, Isaiah 1) They have hardened their faces harder than stones; they will not convert. The whole land is wasted, but no man will ponder, nor consider the cause; this people will not hear my words. They walk in the wicked invention of their own hearts, they go after other gods to worship and serve them.” ( Jeremiah 12,13.)

    And of the prophet’s natural friends of the men of Anathoth, some plainly said, “Speak no more to us in the name of the Lord, lest thou die in our hands.” Belike these men had little inclination towards God’s prophet. But yet shall a sermon, (and that which followed,) made in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, make evident and better known, how much the people were bent to idolatry, and to hear false prophets, after the death of their good king. The prophet is commanded by God, to stand in the court or entrance of the Lord’s house, and to speak to all the cities of Judah that then came to worship in the house of the Lord; and is commanded to keep no word back; “if peradventure,” saith the Lord, “they will hearken, and turn every man from his wicked way.” The tenor of his sermon is this: “Thus saith the Lord, if ye will not obey me, to walk in my laws which I have given you, and to hear the words of my servants, the prophets, whom I sent unto you, rising up betimes, and still sending; if you will not hear them, I say, then will I do to this house, as I did unto Shiloh, and I will make this city to be abhorred of all the people in the earth.” ( Jeremiah 26) Hear not the words of the prophets, that say unto you, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon. I have not sent them, saith the Lord, howbeit they are bold to prophesy lies in my name. If you give ear unto them, both you and your false prophets shall perish.” ( Jeremiah 27.)

    Here is first to be noted, that the people were already entered into iniquity, and especially (straight after the death of their king,) into idolatry, from which the Lord by his prophet labored to call them back, threatening them with desolation, if they proceeded to rebel. Secondly, it is to be observed, that among them were false prophets. Not that they were so known and holden of the people: no, they were holden and esteemed (for so they boasted themselves to be) the true church of God, that could not err; for how should the law perish from the mouth of the priest? ( Jeremiah 18.)

    These false prophets were maintainers of idolatry, and boldly promised to the people prosperity and good luck, wherewith the people were so abused and blinded, that the words of Jeremiah did rather harden their hearts, than provoke any to repentance, as the consequences declared: for this sermon ended, the priests, prophets, and the whole people apprehended Jeremiah, and with one voice cried, “He is worthy of death!” Great was the uproar against the poor prophet, in which, apparently, he could not have escaped the death, if the princes of Judah had not hastily come from the king’s house into the temple, and had taken upon them the hearing of the cause.

    In which, after much debate, while some defended, and some accused the prophet most vehemently, the text saith, that the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that he should not be given into the hands of the people, to be killed. ( Jeremiah 26.)

    Hereof you may easily consider, beloved brethren, what were the manners of that wicked generation, immediately after the death of their good king, and how they were encouraged to idolatry by false prophets. But in all this time the prophet ceaseth not most faithfully to execute his office. For although after this, he might not enter into the temple, (for he was forbidden to preach,) yet at God’s commandment, he writeth his sermons, and causeth them to be openly real in the temple; (alas! I fear we lack Baruch:) and afterwards, they came to the ears of the council, and at last, to the king. And although in despite they were once burnt, yet is Jeremiah commanded to write again, and boldly to say, “Jehoiakim shall have no seed, that ever shall sit upon the seat of David: their carrion shall be cast to the heat of the day, and to the frost in the night: and I shall visit, saith the Lord, the iniquity of him, of his seed, and of his servants; and I shall bring upon them, upon the dwellers in Jerusalem, and upon all Judah, all the calamities that I have spoken against them.” ( Jeremiah 36.)

    Although, when these words were spoken and written, they were so contemned and despised, that they durst cry, “Let the counsel of the holy One of Israel come, we will follow the devices of our own hearts;” (Jeremiah 18) yet no words of his threatenings were spoken in vain: for after many plagues sustained by the mischievous father, the wicked and miserable son, in the third month of his reign, was led prisoner to Babylon.

    But now, when the time of their desolation approacheth, God stirreth above them such a king, such prophets and priests, as their own hearts wished; even such as should without repugnance lead them to their vomit again, that they who never delighted in the truth, might fill their bellies with horrible lies. Zedekiah was king; and such as had long resisted poor Jeremiah, had now got in their hand the fearful whip of correction. Pashur and his companions led the king as they listed. Up goeth Tophet, (a place of idolatry; ) the hill-altars smoke with incense; Baal and his belly-gods, before the vengeance of God was poured upon them, and upon then, whom they deceived, get the day they long looked for. In conclusion, so horrible were the abominations that were newly erected, that the Lord crieth to his sore troubled flock, “What hath my well-beloved to do in my house; (meaning, in the temple of Jerusalem,) seeing the multitude committeth such abomination? They have provoked my anger, burning incense unto Baal. ( Jeremiah 11.) Which great abominations, when God had showed not only to Jeremiah (who then was in Jerusalem,) but also, to Ezekiel, being prisoner in Babylon, ( Ezekiel 8) their bodies being separated, in prophecy they both agreed, that the whole of Israel and Judah should be destroyed. Thus writeth Ezekiel, “Ah, upon all the abominations of Israel! they shall fall by the sword, by pestilence, and hunger. He that is far off shall die of the plague; he that is nigh, shall fall by the sword; he that is left and is besieged, shall die by hunger, and I shall complete my wrath upon them.” And Jeremiah saith, “Behold, I will give this city into the hands of the Chaldees, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who shall take it. The Chaldees verily shall enter into it, and they shall burn it with fire, and the houses in which they burnt: incense to Baal. The children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing from their youth but wickedness, and that before mine eyes, to provoke me to anger: they have turned unto me their backs, and not their faces; they, their kings, their princes, their prophets, their priests, whole Judah, and all the city of Jerusalem; they would not hear nor be reformed.

    They have set up their dung (so termeth he their abominable idols,) in the place that is consecrated to nay name.” ( Jeremiah 32) And when the king of Babylon was lying about the city, he saith to the messengers of Zedekiah, who were sent to demand of the prophet, what should become of the city, “The Chaldees shall take this city, and shall burn it with fire; yea, if you had killed all the host of the Chaldees that besiegeth you, and if the killed men were left, every man should rise in his tent and should burn this city with fire. He that abideth in this city shall die, either by sword, by hunger, or by pestilence; but he that shall go forth to the Chaldees shall live, and shall win his soul for a prey.” ( Jeremiah 37.)

    And to the king in secret, asking his counsel, he boldly saith, “If suddenly thou shalt go forth to the princes of the Babylonians, thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burnt with fire; but and if thou go not forth to the captains of the Babylonians, this city shall be given over into the hands of the Chaldees, who shall burn it with fire, neither yet shalt thou escape their hands.” ( Jeremiah 38.)

    Thus did these two prophets, (as also did others before them,) plainly speak the desolation of that place, for such offenses as before have been rehearsed. But how pleaseth such message the city of Jerusalem? — the priests, princes, and people of Judah? And what reward did Jeremiah receive, for his long travail and painful preaching? Verily, even such as Pashur and his council judged meet. He spake against the temple — he prophesied mischief against the city he made the hearts of the soldiers and the people to faint; but, principally, he was unfriendly to the faith that Pashur taught the people, to wit, the faith of their forefathers, who always rebelled against God. ( Jeremiah 9,23; Ezekiel 20) And therefore he was reputed a heretic, accused of sedition, and condemned for treason.

    Plain preachings were made against all that he had spoken, and such felicity was promised, that within two years should the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar be broken from the necks of the people, and the vessels of the Lord’s house, together with all pleasures, should be brought again to Jerusalem.

    Now did they abound with wine and oil. Oh, pleasing and blessed among the people were such prophets! Jeremiah had troubled them, and therefore he must die: to prison shall he go, for the king can deny nothing to his princes, of whom Pashur appeareth to have been chief chancellor, by whom was not only the king, but also the whole multitude so blinded, that they durst boldly cry, “No mischance shall come to us: we shall neither see pestilence nor hunger: the king of Babylon shall never come against this land.” ( Jeremiah 37,38.)

    In the midst of these stormy troubles, no other comfort had the prophet, than to complain to his God, at whose commandment he had spoken. And in this his complaint, he is so kindled against their idolatry and great unthankfulness, that he crieth as in a rage, “O thou Lord of Hosts, the trier of the just, thou that seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance taken upon them, for unto thee have I referred my cause.” ( Jeremiah 20.)

    As this prayer was most fearful to his enemies, if they had seen the efficacy thereof, so by the same was the prophet assured, that God’s wrath was kindled against that sinful nation, and that it should not turn back, till He had performed the purposes of his own heart.

    I appeal to the conscience of every indifferent man, in what one point differ the government, manners, and state of England this day, from the above rehearsed state of Judah in those days — except, that they had a king, a man, as appeareth, of nature more facile than cruel; who sometimes was entreated in the prophet’s favor, and also required of him counsel in some dangers; — and you have a queen, a woman of a stout stomach, more stiff in opinion than flexible to the truth, who nowise may abide the presence of God’s prophets. In this one thing you disagree; in all other things you are as like, as one nut is to another. Their king was led by pestilent priests: who guideth your queen, it is not unknown: under such came idolatry to the height again. Oh! would to God that the worse were not among you. In Jerusalem, was Jeremiah persecuted for speaking the truth, and for rebuking their idolatry: what prison within London tormenteth not some true prophet of God for the same causes? And O thou dungeon of darkness, where that idol of late days was first erected, — thou Tower of London, — in thee do more Jeremiahs than one suffer injury and trouble, whom God shall comfort according to his promise, and reward their persecutors even as they have deserved! And in that day shalt thou tremble, and such as shall purpose to defend thee shall perish with thee, because, thou was first defiled with the most abominable idol!

    Consider, dear brethren, if all things as pertaining to iniquity be alike betwixt England, and Judah before the destruction thereof. Yea, if England be worse than Judah was in those days, seeing God spared not them, shall we think that the Lord’s vengeance shall sleep, man’s iniquity being so ripe? No, dear brethren; he that hath understanding must know the contrary; and he to whom the Lord’s mouth has spoken, must show the causes why the land shall be waste. ( Jeremiah 9.) It may offend you, that I call England worse than was unthankful Judah; but if good and evident reasons adduced may take place, then I fear not judgment. From Jerusalem, many passed away at the admonition of the prophet, leaving all they had, rather than they would abide the dangers of God’s plagues that were threatened. God’s prophets have cried, but I hear not of many that prepare to flit: God grant they repent not! In Jerusalem were princes and nobles who defended Jeremiah, and also that did absolve him, when wrongfully he was accused by the priests: but how many now of the nobility within England, boldly speak in defense of God’s messengers, is easy to be told. Among them had God’s prophet liberty to speak in maintenance of his doctrine: how such as seek a trial of their doctrine have been, and are intreated among you, is heard of in strange countries. In Jerusalem was Ebedmelech, who, when the prophet was cast into prison, as worthy of death, boldly past to the king, and defending the innocency of the innocent, obtained his liberty. But in England, I hear of none (God stir up some!) that dare be so bold as to put their hands betwixt the lions and their prey; the poor saints, and those cruel murderers, in Jerusalem, Jeremiah being condemned to prison, was fed at the king’s charges, and that, when great hunger and scarcity of bread was in the whole city. In London, where all plenty aboundeth, are God’s messengers permitted to hunger, yea, too horribly to be heard; and ancient fathers are so cruelly intreated, that like extremity hath seldom been used upon thieves and murderers.

    In this behalf I do not blame you, beloved brethren; for I assuredly know your hearts to mourn for these troubles of your brethren and faithful preachers, and that you seek all means possible how they may be comforted or relieved. But these things I rehearse, to the end that you may see that more abomination, and less fear of God, more unjust dealing, and less shame, more cruel persecutions against God’s messengers, and less mercy and gentleness, is now among your chief rulers in England, than in those days was in Judah. And yet did not Jerusalem escape the punishment of God. Shall we then believe, that England may avoid the vengeance that is threatened? No, dear brethren. If idolatry continues as it is begun, no more can England escape God’s vengeance, than God himself may lose his justice. And therefore, dearly beloved in our Savior Jesus Christ, if profit to yourselves or your posterity can move you anything, then must ye avoid and flee idolatry; for if the Lord’s messengers that shall be sent to execute his wrath, find you among filthy idolaters, your bodies committing like abominations with them, ye have no warrant that ye shall escape the plagues prepared for the wicked; but rather, it is to be feared, that ye shall be plagued with them. The whole tribe of Benjamin perished with the adulterers, and yet were they not all adulterers in fact. ( Judges 20) All Amalek was commanded to be destroyed, and yet was not one of those living that troubled the Israelites in their passage from Egypt. ( 1 Samuel 15) Pharaoh was not drowned alone, as in another latter I have plainly written; neither yet found Jonathan mercy as touching life corporal, in the day when God’s vengeance punished Saul the reprobate. And why? The apostle answereth, “Because men knowing the justice of God, (saith he,) and doing the contrary, are worthy of death:” — not only those that do wickedly, but also such as consent to the same. And no man can be excused, but that he consenteth, who daily frequenting the company of wicked men, giveth sign neither in word nor in work, that iniquity displeaseth him. ( Romans 1.) And therefore yet I say, if profit may move us, most profitable shall it be, even for the body, in rids present life, to avoid idolatry; for so doing, as we shall escape the plagues which the ungodly shall suffer, so is God by his promise obligate and bound unto us, to be our father, our portion, our inheritance and defense. He promiseth (and will not deceive) to carry us upon his own wings from all danger, to plant us and our posterity in everlasting memorial, to feed us in the time of hunger, and finally, to fight for us, and to save us from all miseries and mischances. ( Isaiah 49,63; Zechariah 10, Psalm 52, <195701> 57, <19E901> 149, 146.)

    But now to the subsequent. — As it is most profitable for body and soul to avoid idolatry, so is it so necessary, that unless we so do, we refuse to be in league with God: we declare ourselves to have no faith, and we deny to be God’s witnesses. And so must He of his justice expressed in his word, deny us to appertain to him or to his kingdom. And then, alas! what resteth for us but perpetual death, ordained for those that will not continue in league with God?

    The league betwixt God and us containeth these conditions, — that, God shall be our God and we shall be his people; he shall communicated with us of his grace and goodness, we shall serve, him in body and soul. He shall be our safe-guard from death and damnation; we shall stick to him and flee from all strange gods. This is the league, in making whereof we swore solemnly, never to have fellowship with any religion, except that which God hath authorised by his manifest word.

    If by God’s Scriptures these precedents be so plain, that reasonably no man can deny any point thereof, then have I good hope, that ye will admit it to be necessary, that you avoid idolatry, if the league betwixt God and you shall be kept sure. And, first, it is to be observed, that God’s justice being infinite in matters of religion, requireth like obedience of all those that be within this league at all times, that he requireth of every one nation or particular man in any one age. For all that be within this league are one body, as Moses doth witness, reckoning men, women, children, servants, princes, priests, officers, and strangers, within the covenant of the Lord. ( Deuteronomy 29.) Then, what God requireth of one, (as touching this league,) he requireth of all, for his justice is immutable; and what he condemneth in any one, that he must condemn in others, for he is righteous without partiality. Then, let us consider what God hath required of such as have been in league with him, and what he pronounceth damnable. Moses, the mouth of God to his people of Israel, speaketh as follows, “If thy brother, the sun of thy mother, or the wife of thine own bosom, or thy neighbor whom thou lovest as thine own life, shall privily solicit thee, saying, Let us go and serve other gods whom thou hast not known, etc., obey him not, hear him not, neither yet let thine eye spare him: be not merciful unto him, nor hide him, but kill him. Let thy hand be the first upon him, that such a one may be killed, and then the hand of the whole people.

    Stone him with stones till he die.” And so likewise commandeth he to be done with a whole city, if the indwellers thereof turn back to idolatry; adding also, that the city and the whole spoil thereof shall be burnt; that no portion shall be saved, nor yet, that the city shall he builded for ever again, because it is accursed of God. Here is a plain declaration, what God requireth of them that will continue in league with him, and what he hath condemned by his express word. And do we esteem, beloved brethren, that the immutable God will wink at our idolatry, as that He saw it not, seeing he commandeth judgments to be executed so severely against idolaters, and against such as only provoked or solicited others to idolatry; that neither should blood nor affinity, neither multitude nor riches, save such as offend, neither yet, that we should conceal their offenses; but that we should be the first that should accuse brother, son, daughter, or wife? And why? Because he intendeth (saith Moses) to bring thee from the Lord thy God, who led thee forth from the land of Egypt; and therefore let him die, that all Israel hearing, may fear, and presume not after to commit the like abominations.

    Let nothing pertaining to such a man or city cleave unto thy hand, that the Lord may turn from the fury of his wrath, and be moved over thee with most tender mercy and affection; and that he may multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers.”

    In these words most evidently is expressed unto us, why God wills that we avoid all fellowship with idolatry, and with the maintainers of the same: in which are there things chiefly to be noted; Firstly, that the Holy ghost instructeth us, that maintainers of idolatry and provokers to the same, intend to draw us from God; and therefore, He commandeth us that we shall not conceal their impiety, but that we shall make it known, and that we shall punish it, if we will have the league betwixt us and God to stand sure. And here is the chief ground of my first cause, why it is necessary to avoid idolatry, because that otherwise we declare ourselves little to regard, yea, to have broken, and plainly denied that holy league which is betwixt us and God, through Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is to be noted, that idolatry so kindleth the wrath of God, that is never quenched, till the offenders, and all that they possess, be destroyed from the earth, and that by fire. It may appear that this is a severe and rigorous judgment. But let the cause be considered, and then we shall understand, that in the same, God showeth unto us his most singular love, declaring himself enemy to our enemies. For all those that would draw us from God, (be they kings or queens,) being of the devil’s nature, are enemies unto God; and therefore God wills, that in such cases, we declare ourselves enemies unto them. And, Last, it is to be noted, that obedience given unto God, in taking vengeance upon idolaters by such means as God hath appointed, is a cause wherefore God showeth his mercy, why he multiplieth us, and embraceth us with fatherly love; whereas contrariwise, by consenting with idolatry, the mercies of God are shut up from us, and we are cut off from the body of Christ, to wither and rot, as trees without moisture. But now shall some demand, what then?

    Shall we go to, and kill all idolaters? That were the office and duty of every civil magistrate within his realm and jurisdiction: but of you is required only to avoid participation and company of that abomination, as well in body as in soul, as David and Paul plainly teach. David, in his exile in the midst of idolaters, saith, “I will not offer their drink-offerings of blood, neither yet will I take their name in my month.” (Psalm 16.) And Paul saith, “You may not be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils: you may not drink the Lord’s cup, and the, cup of devils.” (Corinthians 10) As these two places of Scripture plainly resolve the former question, so do they confirm that which is before said, that the league betwixt us and God requireth avoiding of all idolatry. First, plain it is, that in Gath and in Corinth, was no small number of idolaters, when David was there in exile, and when Paul wrote his epistle; yet neither saith David, that he will kill any in that place, (because he was not their magistrate,) neither giveth Paul any such commandment. But in one thing they both agree, that such as have society and league with God, must so abhor idolatry, that no part of the body be defiled therewith. For David saith, I will not take their names in my mouth” — as he would say, So odious are the names of false and vain gods, that the mention of them is rightfully compared to stinking dung and vile carrion, which neither can be eaten, neither yet smelled, without displeasure of such as have not lost the judgment of their senses. And therefore saith David, “I will not defile my mouth with them:” that is, I will never speak one favorable word of them. I think, much less would he have crouched and kneeled before them, for any man’s pleasure.

    Advert, brethren, that David inspired with the Holy Ghost, knew no such shifts as worldly-wise men imagine now-a-days that they may keep their hearts pure and clean to God, though their bodies dance with the devil. Not so, dear brethren, not so. The temple of God hath nothing to do with idols.

    David expresseth the cause in these words, “For the Lord himself is my portion and my inheritance.” Great is the cause, if it be deeply considered.

    David, illuminated by the Holy Ghost, saith even the self-same thing, which before we have alleged of the apostle’s works, that Cod will not divide spoil with the devil, permitting him to have the service of the body, and He to stand content with the soul, heart, or mind. No, brethren; David maketh this the foundation and reason, why he will neither offer sacrifice to idols. neither yet defile his month with their names, “because,” saith he, “the Lord is my portion;” as he would say, Such is the condition of the league between me and my God, that as he is my tower of defense against mine enemies, preserving and nourishing both the body and soul, so must I be wholly His in body and soul; for my God is of that nature, that he will suffer no portion of his glory to be given to another. In confirmation of this, Isaiah saith, after he had rebuked their idols and vain inventions.

    These are thy portion.” ( Isaiah 57.) And Jeremiah likewise, in mocking of them, saith, “Let thy bedfellows deliver thee: call upon them, and let them hear thee: thou hast committed fornication and whoredom with stock and with stone.” ( Jeremiah 3.) the prophets meaning thereby, that idolaters can have no league nor covenant with God, in so far as their hearts be alienated from him, which the service of their bodies doth testify.

    And, therefore, God renounceth such league and bond as was before offered; for Isaiah would say, Even such as thou hast chosen, such shall be thy portion: and Jeremiah would say, Thou hast put thy trust in them (which he meaneth, by the lying with them in bed,) and therefore let them show their power in thy deliverance. And thus he sendeth them, as it were, to suck water from hot burning coals.

    It shall nothing excuse us to say, “We trust not in idols;” for so will every idolater allege. But if either you or they in God’s honor do any thing contrary to God’s word, you show yourself to put your trust in somewhat else besides God, and so are you idolaters. Mark, brethren, that many make an idol of their own wisdom or fantasy, trusting more to that which they think good, than upon God, who plainly saith, “Not that thing which seemeth good in thine eyes, do unto thy God, but what the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” But of this, some other time, God willing, more shall be spoken. Hereof I suppose it is plain, that like as God is immutable, who by his law, hath not only forbidden all fellowship with idolaters in their idolatry, but also, hath commanded that vengeance and punishment be taken upon them; and as the saints of God were inspired with the Holy Ghost, who would not so much as once favorably speak of idols; and, lastly, as the Scriptures be infallible, which pronounce, that God may not abide that our bodies serve the devil, in uniting our bodies with idolatry, so is it of mere necessity, that both in body and soul we abstain from the same, if we will have the league betwixt God and us to stand sure.

    I will not trouble you at this time, with answering any such objections, as men seeking to live as they list, do now-a-days invent, seeing that partly in another letter I have answered the same; and if God shall grant me any rest in this wicked life, I purpose by the grace of God, as occasion shall be offered, fully to answer what call be said for their defense — which in very deed when all is said that they can, they have said nothing that God will admit.

    It now resteth to show, that in haunting idolatry, we declare ourselves to be without faith, and do deny to bear witness to God. That faith purgeth the heart, I trust none of you will deny. But whether that inward faith requireth an external confession, and if a man may not have faith, and yet do in ceremonies of the church as the world doth, here perchance ye doubt.

    As to the first, the apostle answereth in these words, “In the heart it is believed unto justice, but by the mouth is confession to salvation.” ( Romans 10) And David saith, “I have believed, and therefore have I spoken, but I was sore troubled.” ( <19B601> Psalm 116). As David would say, I would not conceal the confession of my faith, howbeit trouble did ensue the same. Thus the Holy Ghost joineth faith and confession, as things that be inseparable the one from the other; and therefore dare I not take upon me to dissever them, but must say, that where true faith is, there is also confession of the same, when time and necessity requireth; and that where confession is not found, there Faith is asleep, if she be not from home.

    Now is it to be considered, if this time requireth the confession of our faith.

    Christ and his gospel are opposed; his holy sacraments are profaned; Christ’s messengers are some of them exiled, some cruelly tormented in prison; our adversaries have gotten the upper hand, and an execrable idol is set up, in confirmation of all iniquity: — what now shall I do, that am assured that all this is abomination? Here, Christ is in battle. Shall I do as the multitude, or as Christ’s enemies do? What confession give I then?

    Assuredly, even such as the rest do; for neither doth foot, hand, eye, nor mouth, witness the contrary. The feet carry the body to serve an idol; the eye beholdeth it with a certain reverence; the mouth dares not whisper what the heart thinketh, yea, the hands are extended, and give signification of humble obedience: — have I not now justified the devil, and condemned Christ? — it cannot be denied! But let me have no credit, unless the same be yet proved by most plain demonstrations of God’s sacred Scriptures.

    The Lord, by his prophet Isaiah, saith to his people of Israel, (and this is answer also to the second question, If I may not do as the world doth, and yet have faith ?) “You are my witnesses, whether there be any God but I alone: is there any Creator that I should not know him?” ( Isaiah 44).

    These words were spoken, as it were, making an entrance to rebuke all idolatry, and the vain inventors of the same. As the Lord would say, Thou house of Jacob, and you natural children descending from Abraham, you are my people whom peculiarly I have chosen, to show in you the greatness of my name. For that end have I spoken unto you hid things from the beginning, that you may understand and know, that there is no knowledge but in me alone; that you, persuaded of my infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, may testify and bear witness of the same, to such as have not the like understanding with you. Hereof it is plain, that of such as to whom God giveth knowledge, he requireth a confession, to provoke the ignorant to embrace God and his word, or at the least, that by the understanding man, the vanity of the foolish should be rebuked. So jealous is God over his gifts, that if we labor not to employ them to the glory of God, and to profit others his creatures, he will according to the threatening of Christ, take the talent from us, and will give it to such as will labor thereupon.

    Some perchance would gladly labor, but they see not what fruit shall succeed; and therefore judge they it better to cease; as though God would bring forth no fruit, except he made us first of his counsel. God is to be obeyed in his commandments, and the success is to be committed unto him whose wisdom is unsearchable. He commandeth us to refrain from idolatry, to let other men see that they do wrong. This ought we to obey, albeit, instant death should follow; for we are called as witnesses between God and the blind world, as is before said, “Israel, thou art my witness.” The world asketh, Is the mass God’s service, or is it idolatry? God hath shown to us that it is abominable idolatry; but when we for fear of our vile carcases, do as the blind world doth, what witness bear we? assuredly false witness against God, and against our neighbor. Against God, for that we justify and maintain that with our presence, which God condemneth: against our neighbor, for that we confirm him in error, to both our condemnations. But when we abstain from all fellowship of idolatry, whatever ensue thereupon, we perform our duty to God’s glory.

    Let no man think that I am more severe than necessity requireth, No, brethren; I always contain my affirmations within the bounds of God’s Scriptures. And that shall Jeremiah the prophet witness, who writing to the Jews being prisoners in Babylon, after he had forbidden them to follow the vain religion of that people with whom they were then conversant, by many reasons proving, that their idols were no gods, at last he saith, “You shall say to them, The gods that made neither heaven nor earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under the heaven.” ( Jeremiah 10).

    Here is to be observed, as John Calvin, that singular instrument of God, most diligently noteth, that the rest of the prophet’s work was written in the Hebrew tongue, which then was peculiar to the Jews; but these verses and words above-rehearsed were written in the Chaldee tongue, in the tongue of that people where the Jews were then in thraldom; as that the prophet would constrain them to change their natural tongue, and in plain words declare the hatred and alienation which they had from all worshipping of idols. I beseech you, brethren, mark the words of the prophet. He saith not, you may think in your hearts, that they are vain, and that they shall perish. But you shall say, and that not privily, but to them who put their trust in such vanity, as the three children openly spoke, denying to give the reverence of their bodies before an idol; and Daniel, that would not keep secret the confession of his faith, only three days.

    Hereof it is plain, that requiring that ye profane not your bodies with idolatry, I require no more, than God’s Scriptures by plain precepts and examples teach. Neither yet require I of every man, and at all times, so much; for I constrain no man to go to idolaters in the time of their idolatry, and to say, that all which they do is abominable and nought; but only that we keep our own bodies, (called by the apostle, the temples of the Holy Ghost,) clean from all such diabolical conventions; which that we do, is most profitable, and also necessary to the preservation of ourselves and of our posterity: of whom now, at the end, we must somewhat speak.

    Every man who is not degenerated to the nature of a brute beast, will appear to bear such love to his children, that to leave them riches, in rest, and in good estate, he patiently will suffer troubles, and without grudge will do many things that otherwise axe contrary to his own pleasure. And with my heart I wish to God, that the perfection of this were deeply grounded in man’s heart; I mean, very love, and not fond foolishness, which under the name of love, pro-cureth destruction of body, where contrariwise, true love most carefully laboureth for the salvation of both ( 1 Corinthians 13). If this love, I say, towards our children, which every man pretendeth to have, be in us, then of necessity it is, that for these causes, we shall avoid all society of these filthy abominations. This my assertion may appear strange; but if it be with impartiality considered, it shall be very easy to be understood. The only way to leave our children blessed and happy, is to leave them righteously instructed in God’s true religion: for what availeth all that is on earth, if condemnation follow death, yea, and God’s vengeance go before the same, as of necessity they must, where the true knowledge of God is absent? Plain it is, that the true knowledge of God is not born with man, neither yet cometh it unto him by natural power; but he must have school-masters, to train him up in that which he lacketh. The chief school-master (the Holy Ghost excepted,) of the age following, is the works, practices, and lives of the forefathers, to which commonly we see the children so addicted and bound, (and especially if to be in idolatry,) that God crying by the mouths of his messengers, hath much to do to rend or pluck any man back from his forefathers’ footsteps. Now, if that you altogether refusing God, stoop under idolatry, what school-masters are you to your posterity? what image show you to your children? yea, in what estate leave you them, both touching body and soul? Assuredly you are even such school-masters, as were those fathers who consenting to Jeroboam’s idolatry, left unto their children a pattern of perdition. To speak it plainly, you leave them blinded in idolatry, and bond-slaves to the devil, without hope of redemption, or light to be received. “Tush” will some say, “the Lord knoweth his own.”

    True it is; but his ordinary means to come by his knowledge, are not to be contemned. He commandeth you to teach your children his laws, statutes, and ceremonies, that they likewise may teach the same to the generation following.

    But yet will some object, What did our fathers teach unto us? O, dear brethren, be not so ingrate and unthankful unto God; neither yet would I that you should flatter yourselves, thinking that such a trumpet shall be blown to your posterity, as hath been blown unto you! If all come to so close a silence as the Lord’s messengers found at the beginning of this our age, when this whole realm of England was drowned in so deadly a sleep, that the sound of the Lord’s trumpet was not understood, till first the most part of the blowers gave their blood, in testimony that their doctrine was the same which begat, with blood, was planted and kept in mind by the same, and by blood increased and did fructify, will the Lord have his messengers to fight alone? Will he bestow such abundance of blood upon your children, to encourage them, as he did upon you, for your instruction and encouragement? If that you also traitorously fly from him in the day of this his battle, the contrary is greatly to be feared.

    Oft revolving how God hath used my tongue (my tongue, I say, being the most wretched of all others,) plainly to speak the troubles that axe present, there occurreth to my mind a certain admonition that God willed I commonly should use in all congregations. The admonition was this, That the last trumpet was in blowing within the realm of England, and therefore ought every man to prepare him for battle; for if the trumpet should cease and be put to silence, then should it never blow again with like force in England, till the coming of the Lord Jesus. O, dear brethren, how sore these threatenings pierce my heart this day, God only knoweth; and in what anguish of heart I write the same, God shall declare, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed! I wish myself to be accursed of God, as touching all earthly pleasures or comfort for one year of that time which, alas! neither you nor I did righteously esteem, when all abounded with us. I sob and groan, I call and I pray, that in that point I may be deceived. But i am commanded to stand content, for it is God himself that fulfilleth the words of his true messengers: his justice and order cannot be perverted. The sun keepeth his ordinary course, and leapeth not back from the west to the south; but when it goeth down, we lack the light of it, till it rise the next day towards the east again. And so it is with the light of the Gospel, which hath his day appointed by God, as witnesseth Christ, saying, “While ye have the light, believe in the light, that darkness apprehend you not.” ( John 12) And Paul, “The night is past, and the day is come,” (meaning of the Gospel) ( Romans 13) — and also, “This day if you hear his voice? harden not your hearts.” ( Hebrews 3) And albeit that this day, be all time from Christ’s incarnation fill his last coming again, yet evident it is, that all nations have not had at one time the light of God’s word; but some were in darkness, when others had light.

    But by the contrary, most evident it is, that where the light of the Gospel for man’s unthankfullness hath been taken away, there is it not to this day restored again. Witness whole Israel, and all the congregations of the Gentiles, where Christ was first preached by the apostles. What is in Asia? ignorance of God. What in Africa? abnegation of Christ. What in those most notable churches of the Greeks, where Christ was planted by Paul, and long after watered by others? Mahomet and his false sect. Yea, what is in Rome? — the greatest idol of all others, that adversary to Christ, that Man of Sin, extolled above all that is called God. Hath God punished these nations before us, not only the first offenders, but even their posterity unto this day, and shall he spare us, if we be like unthankful as they were; yea, if we be worse than they were? For of them, no small number suffered persecution, banishment, slander, poverty, and finally, death, for the professing of Christ, who having only this knowledge, that idols were odious before God, could neither for loss of temporal goods, for honors offered if they would obey, nor yet for most cruel torments suffered in resisting, once be persuaded to bow before idols. And, alas! shall we, after so many graces that God hath offered unto us, for pleasure, or for vain threatening of those whom your hearts know, and your mouths have confessed, to be odious idolaters, run back to idolatry, to the perdition of ourselves and of our posterity to come? Shall God’s holy prophets work no greater obedience in you? Shall nature no otherwise mollify your hearts?

    Shall not fatherly pity overcome that cruelty? Oh, behold your children, and consider the end of their creation! Great cruelty it were to save yourselves, and to damn them; but oh! more than cruelty, and madness that cannot be expressed, if for the pleasure of a moment, you deprive yourselves and your posterity of that eternal joy, that is ordained for those that continue in confession of Christ’s name and truth to the end; which assuredly you do, if without resistance altogether, ye return to idolatry again. Alas! then the trumpet hath lost its sound; the sun is gone down, and the light vanished away. But if that God shall strengthen you, boldly to withstand all such impiety, then is there but a dark misty cloud overspreading the sun for a moment, which shortly shall vanish, so that the beams of the sun shall afterward be seven-fold more bright and amiable than they were before; your patience and constancy shall be the louder trumpet to your posterity, than were all the voices of the prophets that cried to you. And therefore, for the tender mercies of God, arm yourselves to stand with Christ: fly from that abominable idol, the maintainers of which shall not escape the vengeance of God. Let it be known to your posterity, that ye were Christians, and not idolaters; and so is not the trumpet ceased, so long as any boldly resist idolatry.

    The precepts are sharp and hard to be observed, will some object; and yet again I affirm, that compared with the plagues which assuredly shall fall upon the contemners, they shall be found easy and light. For avoiding of idolatry, it may chance that ye be contemned in the world, and compelled to leave the realm. But obeyers of idolatry, as before God they are abominable, so shall they be compelled body and soul to burn in hell. For avoiding of idolatry, your worldly substance shall be lost and spoiled; but for obeying of idolatry, heavenly riches shall be lost. By avoiding idolatry, you may fall into the hands of earthly tyrants; but obeyers, consenters, and maintainers of idolatry, shall not escape the hands of the living God. For avoiding idolatry, your children shall be deprived of father, friends, riches, and earthly rest; but by obedience to idolatry, they shall be left without God, without the knowledge of his word, and without hope of his kingdom. Consider, dear brethren, that how much more dolorous it is to be tormented in hell, than to suffer trouble on earth; to be deprived of heavenly joy, than to be robbed of transitory riches; to fall into the hands of the living God, than to abide man’s vain and uncertain displeasure — so much more fearful and dangerous it is, to obey idolatry, or dissembling, to consent to that abomination, than avoiding the same, to suffer what inconveniences may follow thereupon by man’s tyranny. Oh, be not like Esau, that sold and lost his birth-right for a mess of pottage!

    I am not so prejudging God’s mercies, as that such as after shall repent, shall not find grace. God for bid! for herein am I most assuredly persuaded, that in whatsoever hour a sinner shall repent, God shall not remember one of his iniquities, ( Ezekiel 18:33); but albeit his offenses were as red as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow; and albeit in multitude they passed number, yet so shall they be blotted out, that none of them shall appear to damnation of the truly repentant. ( Isaiah 1). For His promises are infallible, that such as truly believe in Christ, shall never enter into judgment, for the blood of Jesus Christ purgeth them from all sin ( John 3:5; 1 John, 1); so that how far the heaven is distant from the earth, so far cloth He remove the sins from the penitent. ( <19A301> Psalm 103) But consider, dearly beloved brethren, that these and the like promises are made to penitent sinners, and do nothing pertain to profane persons, idolaters, nor timid shrinkers from the truth from fear of worldly troubles.

    And if any allege that God may call men to repentance, how wicked soever they be, I answer, that I acknowledge and do confess God’s omnipotence to be so free, that he may do what pleaseth his wisdom. But yet is He not bound to do all that our fantasy requireth. And likewise I know, that God is so loving and so kind to such as fear him, that he will perform their wills and pleasures, although kings and princes had sworn the contrary. But herein standeth the doubt; whether that such as for pleasure of men, or for avoiding temporal punishment, defile themselves with idolatry, fear God — and whether they who all their life deny Christ, by consenting to idolatry, shall at the last hour be called to repentance. No such promise have we within the Scriptures of God, but rather the express contrary and therefore, God is not to be tempted but is to be heard, feared, and obeyed, when thus earnestly he calleth, and threateneth not without cause, “Pass from the midst of her, O my people, saith the Lord, that you be not partakers of her plagues.” ( Revelation 18).

    And that is meant of that abominable whore, and of her abomination, “How long will you halt on both parts ?” ( 1 Kings 18) You may not both be partakers of the cup of the Lord and the cup of the devil.” ( 1 Corinthians 10) “He that denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father.

    He that refuseth not himself, and taketh up his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me.” ( Matthew 10) “No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking backward, is worthy of the kingdom of God.” ( Luke, 9) And Paul to the Hebrews only means of this sin, where he saith, “who willingly sins after the knowledge of the truth, cannot be renewed again by repentance. ( Hebrews 6:10).

    O, dear brethren, remember the dignity of our vocation. You have followed Christ, you have proclaimed war against idolatry, you have laid hand upon the truth, and have communicated with the Lord’s table. Will you now suddenly slide back? will you refuse Christ and his truth, and make paction with the devil, and with his deceivable doctrine? will you tread the precious blood of his testament under your feet, and set up an idol before the people? — which things assuredly you do as oft as ever you present your bodies among idolaters, before that blasphemous idol. God, the father of all mercies, for Christ his Son’s sake preserve you from that sore temptation, whose dolours and dangers very sorrow will not suffer me to express.

    Alas! brethren, it is to be feared, that if you once fall asleep, you lie too long before you be wakened!

    Yet some shall object, Peter the denier obtained mercy. To whom I answer, particular examples make no common law; neither yet is there any resemblance or likelihood betwixt the fall of Peter, and our daily idolatry.

    Peter, upon a sudden, without any previous purpose, thrice denied Christ within the space of an hour or two; we, upon determined purpose and advised mind, daily deny Christ. Peter had Christ’s assurance and promise that, after his denial, he should be converted; we have Christ’s threatenings that if we deny, we shall be denied. Peter in the bishop’s hall, and among wicked men of war, committed his offense for fear of his life; we, in our own city and household, only for loss of wicked mammon, do no less.

    Peter, at the warning of the cock, and at Christ’s look, left the company that provoked his sin; we, after Christ’s admonitions, yea, after gentle exhortations and fearful threatenings, will continue in the midst of idolaters, and for their pleasures will crouch and kneel as the devil commandeth. What likelihood is here, let every man judge. But much I wonder that men that can espy such narrow shifts, as to hide themselves from the presence of God behind a bush with Adam their father, cannot also espy, that Judas was an apostle in presence of men, of no less authority than Peter was; that Cain was the first-born in the world; that Saul was the first anointed king by God’s commandment, and by his prophet ( 1 Samuel 10); and that Ahithophel was a man of most singular wisdom. ( 2 Samuel 16) And yet none of these found place of repentance. Have we any other assurances and particular warrants within the Scriptures of God than they had, that all our life we may be in league with the devil, and then, at our pleasure, that we may lay hand upon Christ, and clothe us with his righteousness?

    Be not deceived, dear brethren, for although most true it is, that whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, ( Joel 2; Romans 10); yet like true it is, that whoever calleth upon the name of the Lord, shall avoid and eschew all iniquity, and that whosoever continueth in open iniquity, the same man not the name of the Lord, ( 2 Timothy 2) neither hath God any respect to his prayer. ( John 9, Job, 35) And greater iniquity was never from the beginning, than is contained in that abominable idol; for it is the seal of that league which the devil hath made with the pestilent sons of Antichrist, and is the very chief cause why the blood of the saints of God hath been shed nigh the space of a thousand years; for so long almost hath it been in devising and in decking with that whorish garment wherein it now triumphs against Christ, and against the only one sacrifice of his death, and merits of his passion. Which whole abomination you confirm, and show yourselves consenting to the murder of those that have suffered for speaking against it, as oft as ever you garnish that idol with your presence. And therefore avoid it, as that ye will be partakers with Christ, with whom ye have sworn to die and to live, in Baptism and in his Holy Supper. Shame it were to break promise unto man; but is it not more shame to break it unto God? Foolishness it were to leave that king whose victory you saw present, and to take part with him whom you understood and perceived to be so vanquished and overthrown, that he neither might resist, neither yet abide the coming of his adversary. O, brethren! is not the devil, the prince of this world, vanquished and cast out? (John 12,16) Hath not Christ made conquest of him? Hath he not carried our flesh up to glory, in despite of Satan’s malice ? Shall not our champion return? You understand that he shall, and that with expedition, when Satan and his adherents, idolaters, worshippers of that blasphemous beast, filthy persons, and timorous shrinkers from the truth of God, shall be cast into the lake burning with fire and brimstone which never shall be quenched. ( Revelation 20:22).

    But in the meantime, you fear corporal death? If nature admitted any man to live for ever, then had your fear some appearance of reason. But if corporal death be common to all, why will ye jeopard to lose the life everlasting, to decline and escape that which neither rich nor poor, neither wise nor foolish, proud of stomach nor feeble of courage, and, finally, no earthly creature, by no craft nor ingenuity of man did ever escape? If any have escaped the horrible fear of death, it was such as boldly did oppose men’s iniquity in the earth. But yet grudgeth the flesh, say you, for fear of the torment? Let it do its own nature and office, for so must it do till it be burdened with Christ’s cross, and then, no doubt, shall God send such comfort as now we look not for. Let us not turn back from Christ, albeit the flesh complain, and fear the torment. Wonder it is, that the way to life is fearful unto us, considering that so great a number of our brethren have passed before us in at the same gate that we so much abhor. Have not the most part of the saints of God entered into their rest by torments and troubles; of whom witnesseth Paul, “Some were racked, some hewn asunder, some slam with swords; some walked up and down in sheep’s skins, in need, in tribulation and vexation, in mountains, dens, and in caves of the earth.” ( Hebrews 11) And in all these extremities what complaints hear we of their mouths, except it be, that they lament the blindness of the world, and the perdition of their persecutors? Did God comfort them, and shall he despise us if, in obedience to him, we follow their footsteps? He shall not do it, for he hath promised to the contrary.

    And therefore, dearly beloved in the Lord, as ye purpose to avoid the vengeance of God that suddenly shall strike all obstinate idolaters; as ye would have the league betwixt God and you to stand sure; and as ye will declare yourselves to have true faith, without which no man shall ever enter into life — and finally, as ye will leave the true knowledge of God in possession to your children, avoid idolatry, and all participation thereof; for it is so odious before God’s presence, that not only doth he punish the inventors and first offenders, but often their posterity are stricken with blindness and dazedness of mind. ( Deuteronomy 28). The battle shall appear strong which you have to suffer; but the Lord himself shall be your comfort: he shall come in your defense with his mighty power; he shall give you victory when none is hoped for; he shall turn your tears into everlasting joy; he shall confound your enemies with the breath of his mouth; he shall let you see their destruction, that now are most proud. ( Zechariah 2, Psalm 4,6, 77, 61, Revelation 7,22, Psalm 55.)

    The God of all comfort and consolation, for Christ Jesus his Son’s sake, grant that this my simple and plain admonition (yea, rather, the warning of the Holy Ghost,) may be received and accepted of you with no less fear and obedience, than I have written it to you with unfeigned and sorrowful heart. And then, I doubt not but we shall be comforted, when all such as now molest us, shall tremble and shake at the coming of our Lord Jesus: whose omnipotent Spirit preserve and keep you undefiled, body and soul, to the end. Amen.



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