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    IN AN EXPOSITION UPON THE SIXTH PSALM OF DAVID, Wherein Is Declared His Cross, Complaints, And Prayers. Most Necessary To Be Read Of All Them For Their Singular Comfort That, Under The Banner Of Christ, Are By Satan Assaulted, And Feel The Heavy Burden Of Sin With Which They Are Oppressed.

    The patient abiding of the sore afflicted was never yet confounded.

    PART 1.


    THE desire that I have to hear of your continuance with Christ Jesus in the day of this his battle, which shortly shall end to the confusion of his proud enemies, neither by tongue, neither yet by pen, can I express, beloved mother. Assuredly it is such, that it vanquisheth and overcometh all remembrance and solicitude which the flesh useth to take, for feeding and defense of herself. For in every realm and nation, God will stir up some one or other, to minister those things that appertain to this wretched life; and if men will cease to do their office, yet will he send his ravens. So that in every place, perchance, I may find some feathers to my body. But, alas! where I shall find children to be begotten unto God by the word of life, that can I not presently consider. And therefore, the spiritual life of such as sometimes boldly professed Christ, God knoweth is to my heart more dear, than all the glory, riches, and honor in earth; and the falling back of such men as I hear daily to turn back to that idol again, is to me more dolorous, than I trust the corporal death shall be, whenever it shall come at Godís appointment. Some will ask, then, why did I fly? Assuredly I cannot tell; but of one thing I am sure, the fear of death was not the chief cause of my flying. I trust that one cause hath been, to let me see with my corporal eyes, that all had not a true heart to Christ, that in the day of rest and peace bare a fair face. But my flying is no matter. By Godís grace I may come to battle, before that all the conflict be ended. And haste the time, O Lord, at thy good pleasure, that once again my tongue may yet praise thy holy name before the congregation, if it were but in the very hour of death!

    I have written a large treatise touching the plagues that assuredly shall apprehend obstinate idolaters, and those also that dissembling with them, deny Christ, in obeying to idolatry; which I would you should read diligently. If it come not to you from the South, I shall provide that it shall come to you by some other means. Touching your continual trouble, given unto you by God for better purpose than we can presently espy, I have begun unto you the exposition of the Sixth Psalm; and as God shall grant unto me opportunity, and health of body (which now is very weak,) I purpose to absolve the same.


    It appeareth that David after his offense, fell into some great and dangerous sickness, in which he was sore tormented, not so much by corporal infirmities, as by sustaining and drinking some large portion of the cup of Godís wrath. And albeit that he was delivered as then from the corporal death, yet it appeareth, that long after, (yea, and I verily believe, that all his life,) he had some sense and remembrance of the horrible fear which before he suffered in the time of his sickness. And therefore, the Holy Ghost speaking in him, showeth unto us what be the complaints of Godís elect under such cross; how diversely they are tormented; how that they appear to have no sure hold of God, but to be abject from him; and yet what are the signs that they are Godís elect. And so doth the Holy Ghost teach us to seek help of God, even when he is punishing, and appeareth to be angry with us. ďO Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, nor chasten me in thy hot displeasure.Ē ó David, sore troubled in body and spirit, lamentably prayeth unto God; which that you may more surely understand, I will attempt to express it in more words. David speaketh unto God, as he would speak unto a man, in this manner: O Lord, I feel what is the weight and strength of thy displeasure. I have experience how intolerable is the heaviness of thy hand, which I, most wretched man, have provoked against myself by my horrible sins. Thou whippest me, and scourgest me bitterly; yea, so thou vexest me, that unless thou withdraw thy hand, and remit thy displeasure, there resteth nothing unto me but utterly to be confounded. I beseech thee, O Lord, rage not, neither be commoved against me above measure: remit and take away thy heavy displeasure, which by my iniquity I have provoked against myself.

    This appeareth to have been the meaning of David in his first words, whereby he declareth himself to have felt the grievous wrath of God before he burst forth in these words. In which first is to be noted, that the prophet acknowledgeth all trouble that he sustained as well in body as in spirit, to be sent of God, and not to happen unto him by chance. For herein peculiarly differ the sons of God from the reprobate, that the sons of God know both prosperity and adversity to be the gifts of God only, as Job witnesseth; and therefore in prosperity commonly they are not insolent nor proud, but even in the day of joy and rest they look for trouble and sorrow: neither yet, in the time of adversity, are they altogether left without comfort; but by one mean or other, God showeth to them that trouble shall have end. While contrariwise the reprobate, either taking all things of chance, or else, making an idol of their own wisdom, in prosperity are so puffed up that they forget God, without any care that trouble should follow; and in adversity they are so dejected, that they look for nothing but hell.

    Here must I put you in mind, dearly beloved, how often you and I have talked together of these present days, till neither of us could refrain tears, when no such appearance there was seen by man. How oft have I said to you, that I looked daily for trouble, and that I wondered that so long I did escape it? What moved me to refuse, and that with displeasure of all men, (even of those that best loved me,) those high promotions that were offered, by him whom God hath taken from us for our offenses? f19 Assuredly, the foresight of trouble to come. How oft have I said unto you, that the time would not be long, that England would give me bread?

    Advise with the last letter I wrote unto your brother-in-law, and consider what is therein contained.

    While I had this trouble, you had the greater, sent, I doubt not, to both of us of God, that in that great rest, and, as we may call it, when the Gospel triumphed, we should not be so careless and so insolent as others were, who, although they professed Christ in mouth, yet sought they nothing but the world, with hand, with foot, with counsel, and wisdom. And albeit at this present, our comfort appear not, yet before all the plagues be poured forth, it shall be known, that there is a God who taketh care for his own.

    Secondly, it is to be noted, that the nature and ingine of the very sons of God, in the time of their trouble, is to impute unto God some other affection than there is, or can be in him, towards his children; and sometimes to complain upon God, as that he did those things that in very deed he cannot do to his elect. David and Job often complain, that God had left them, was become their enemy, regarded not their prayers, and took no heed to deliver them. And yet, impossible it is that God either shall leave his chosen, or that he shall despise the humble petitions of such as call upon his support. But such complaints are the voices of the flesh, wherewith God is not offended to the rejection of his elect; but pardoneth them amongst other innumerable infirmities and sins. And, therefore, dearly beloved, despair you not, albeit the flesh sometimes bursteth out in heavy complaints, as it were, accusing God. You are not more perfect than was David and Job; and you cannot be so perfect as Christ himself was, who upon the cross cried, ďMy God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Ē

    Consider, dear mother, how lamentable and horrible were these words in the only Son of God. And David, in Psalm 88, (which for better understanding I desire you to read,) complaineth upon God, that night and day he had cried and yet he was not delivered, ďBut (saith he) my soul is replenished with dolours; I am as a man without strength: I am like to those that are gone down into the pit, of whom thou hast no more mind; like unto those that are cut off by thy hand. Thou hast put me in a deep dungeon; all thy wrath lyeth upon me. Why leavest thou me, O Lord; why hidest thou thy face from me? Thou hast removed all my friends from me, thou hast made me odious unto them.Ē ó And thus he endeth his psalm and complaint, without mention of any comfort received. And Job, in divers places of his book, maketh even the like complaints, sometimes saying, that God was his enemy, and had set him, as it were, a mark to shoot at, and therefore that his soul desired the very destruction.

    These things I recite unto you, dearly beloved, understanding what have been your troubles heretofore, and knowing, that Satan will not cease now to persuade your tender conscience, that none of Godís elect have been in like case as you are. But by these precedents, and many other places which now to collect I have no opportunity, it plainly appeareth, that Godís chosen vessels have suffered the like temptations. I remember, that oft you have complained upon the grudging and murmuring that you found within yourself, fearing, that it provoked God to more displeasure. Behold and consider, dear mother, what God hath borne with in his saints before. Will he not bear the same with you, being most sorry for your imperfection? He cannot otherwise do; but as his wisdom hath made us all of one mass and nature, earth and earthly; and as he hath redeemed us with one price, the blood of his only Son, so must he, according to his promises, like mercifully pardon the offenses of all those that in call the name of the Lord Jesus ó of those, I mean, that refuse all other righteousness but his own.

    But to our matter of these precedents. ó Plain it is, that Godís elect before you, suffered the like cross, as presently you suffer; that they have complained as you complain; that they have thought themselves abject, as you have thought, and yet may think yourself; and yet, nevertheless, they were sure in Godís favor. Hope, dear mother, and look you for the same: hope, I say, against hope.

    How horrible the pain is to endure that cross, none can express, except such as have proved it. Fearful it is for the very pain itself; but most fearful it is, for that the godly so tormented, judge God to be angry and in fury against them, as it is before expressed. Seeing we have found this cross to pertain to Godís children, profitable it shall be and necessary to search out the causes of the same.

    Plain it is, that not only God worketh all to the profit of his elect, but also, that he worketh it from such love towards them, and with such wisdom, that otherwise things could not be. And this to under- stand is very profitable, partly to satisfy the grudging complaints of the flesh, which in trouble commonly questioneth, Why doth God this or that? And albeit in this earth the flesh can never be fully satisfied, but even as hunger and thirst from time to time assault it, so do other more gross imperfections; yet the inward man, with sobs to God, knowing the causes why the very just are sore troubled and tormented in body and spirit in this life, receiveth sure comfort, and getteth some stay of Godís mercy, by knowing the causes of the trouble. All causes I may not here recite, but two or three of the principal I will touch.

    The first is, to provoke in Godís elect a hatred of sin, and unfeigned repentance of the same. Which cause, if it were rightly considered, were sufficient to make all spiritual and corporal troubles tolerable unto us. For since it is, that without repentance no man obtains Godís mercy, (for it is now appointed by Him whose wisdom is infinite, I mean, of those that are converted to the conviction of sin,) and that without mercy no man can come to joy, is not that which letteth us understand what repentance is, gladly to be received and embraced?

    Repentance containeth within it a knowledge of sin, a dolor for it, and a hatred of it, together with hope of mercy. It is very evident, that Godís own children have not at all times the right knowledge of sin; that is to say, how odious it is before God; much less have they the dolor of it, and hatred of it. The which if they had, as they could not sin, so could they never be able, (having always the true sense of Godís wrath against sin,) to delight in any thing that appertaineth to the flesh, more than the woman whom God hath appointed by the help of man to produce mankind, could ever delight in man, if at all times she felt the same pangs of dolor and pain, that she doth in her child-birth. And therefore doth God, for such purposes as are known to himself sometimes suspend from his own children this sense and feeling of his wrath against sin, as, no doubt, he did here with David, not only before his sin, but also some time after. But lest the sons of God should become altogether insolent, like the children of the world, he sendeth to them some portion of this foresaid cup, in drinking whereof they come to such knowledge, as they never had before. For, first, they feel the wrath of God working against sin, whereby they learn the justice of God to be even such as he himself pronounceth, and that he may suffer no sin unpunished. And thus begin they as well to mourn for their offenses, as also, to hate the same, which otherwise they could never do; for nothing is so pleasing to the corrupt nature of man, as sin is; and things pleasing to nature, cannot nature of itself hate.

    But in this conflict as Godís children feel torments, and that most grievous; as they mourn, and by Godís Holy Spirit, begin to hate sin, so come they also to a more high knowledge, that is, that a man cannot be savior to himself. For Ďhow shall he save himself from hell, that cannot save himself from anguish and trouble here in the flesh, while yet he hath strength, wit, reason, and understanding? And therefore must he be compelled in his heart to acknowledge, that another Mediator there is betwixt Godís justice and mankind, than any that ever descended of the corrupted seed of Adam, yea, than any creature that only is a creature. And by the knowledge of this Mediator, at last the afflicted cometh to some sense and lively feeling of Godís great mercies declared unto mankind, albeit they be not so sensibly felt as is the pain; and albeit the torment by this knowledge is not hastily removed, yet hath the patient some hope, that all griefs shall have end.

    And that is the cause why he sobbeth and groaneth for an end of pain; why also he blasphemeth not God, but crieth for his help, even in the midst of his anguish.

    How profitable this is to the children of God, and what it worketh in them, as the plain Scripture teacheth, so experience lets us understand. Verily, even so profitable as it is to mourn for sin, to hate the same, to know the Mediator betwixt God and man, and finally, to know his love and mercy towards them, so necessary is it to drink this foresaid cup. What it worketh in them none know but such as taste it. In David, it is plain, it wrought humility and abjection of himself: it took from him the great trust that he had in himself: it made him daily to fear, and earnestly to pray, that afterwards he should not offend in like manner, or be left in his own hands.

    It made him lowly, although he was a king; it made him merciful, when he might have been rigorous; yea, it caused him to mourn for Absalom, his wicked son.

    But to the rest of the causes. ó The second cause why God permitteth his elect to taste of this bitter cup, is to raise up our hearts from these transitory vanities. For so foolish are we, and forgetful by nature, and so addicted are we to the things that are present, that unless we have another schoolmaster than manly reason, and some other spur and perpetual remembrance, than any that we can choose or devise ourselves, we neither can desire, neither yet rightly remember the departure from this vain and wicked world, to the kingdom that is prepared.

    We are commanded daily to pray, ďThy kingdom come.Ē Which petition asketh, that sin may cease, that death may be devoured, that transitory troubles may have an end, that Satan may be trodden under our feet, that the whole body of Christ may be restored to life, liberty, and joy; that the powers and kingdoms of this earth may be dissolved and destroyed, and that God the Father may be all in all things, after his Son Christ Jesus our Savior hath rendered up the kingdom for ever.

    For these things we are all commanded to pray ó but which of us, at the time when all aboundeth with us, when neither body nor spirit hath trouble ó from our hearts and without dissimulation can wish these things? Verily none. With our mouths we may speak the words, but the heart cannot thirst for the thing to come, except we be in such state, that worldly things are unsavoury unto us. And so can they never be, but under the cross.

    Neither yet under all kinds of crosses are worldly things unpleasant. For in poverty, riches do greatly delight many; for although they lack them, yet desire they to have them, and so are they neither unsavoury nor unpleasant: for things that we earnestly covet are not unpleasant unto us. But when things appertaining to the flesh are sufficiently ministered to us, and yet none of them can mollify our anguish or pain, then sobbeth the heart unto God, and unfeignedly wisheth an end of misery. And therefore our heavenly Father of his infinite wisdom, to hold us in continual remembrance, that in this wretched world there is no rest, permitteth and suffereth us to be tempted and tried with this cross, that with an unfeigned heart we may desire not only an end of our own troubles, (for that shall come to us by death,) but also, of all the troubles of the Church of God; which shall not be before the again-coming of the Lord Jesus.

    The third cause, I collect of Mosesí words to the Israelites, saying, ďThe Lord thy God shall cast out these nations by little and little before thee: he will not east them out all at once, lest perchance the wild beasts be multiplied against thee. And also when thou shalt enter into that good land, and shalt dwell in the houses that thou never buildedst, and that thou shalt eat and be filled, give thanks unto the Lord thy God, and beware that thou forget him not, and that thou say not in thy heart. The strength of mine own hand hath brought these great riches unto me.Ē (Deuteronomy 7,8).

    In these words are two things appertaining to our matter most worthy to be noted, First, that Moses saith, that the Lord will not at once, but by little and little destroy these nations; adding the cause, ďlest perchance,Ē saith he, ďthe wild beasts be multiplied, and make uproar against thee.Ē The Second, that when they had abundance, that then they should declare themselves mindful of Godís benefits; and that they should not think that their own power, wisdom, nor provision, was any cause that they had the fruition of these commodities.

    By these precedents, the Holy Ghost teacheth them, that like as they did not possess nor obtain the first interest of that land by their own strength, but that the Lord God did freely give it unto them, so likewise were they not able to brook nor enjoy the same by any power of themselves; for albeit that God should have in one moment destroyed all their enemies, yet, if he should not have been their perpetual safe-guard, the wild beasts should have troubled them. And if they had demanded the question, Why wilt thou not destroy the wild beasts also? ó he answereth, ďLest thou forget the Lord thy God, and say in thy heart, ďMy strength hath obtained this quietness unto myself.Ē

    Consider, dearly beloved, that such things as the Spirit of God foresaw as dangerous and damnable unto them, the same things are to be feared in us; for all things happened to them in figures. They were in Egypt corporally punished by a cruel tyrant; we were in spiritual bondage of the devil, by sin and incredulity. God gave to them a land that flowed with milk and honey, for which they never labored; God hath opened to us the knowledge of Christ Jesus, which we never deserved nor yet hoped for. They were not able to defend the land, after they were possessed in it; we are not able to retain ourselves in the true knowledge of Christ, but by his grace only.

    Some enemies were left to exercise them; sin is left in us, that we may learn to fight. If enemies had not been, wild beasts should have multiplied amongst them: if such things as we think do most trouble us, were not permitted so to do, worse beasts should have dominion over us; to wit, trust in ourselves, arrogancy, oblivion, and forgetfulness of that estate from which God hath delivered us, together with a light estimation of all Christís merits ó which sins are the beasts that, alas! devour no small number of men. Neither let any man think, that if all kinds of crosses, were taken from us, during the time that we bear the earthly image of Adam, that we should be more perfect in using the spiritual gifts of God, to wit, the remission of sins, his free grace, and Christís righteousness, for which we never labored, than that people should have been in using of those corporal gifts. And Moses saith to them, ďBeware that thou forget not the Lord thy God.Ē He who knoweth the secrets of all hearts, giveth not his precepts in vain. If manís heart had not been prone and ready to forget God, and to glory in his own strength, God had not given this precept, and repeated it so diligently; for he neither doeth nor speaketh in vain. But knowing what things are most able to blind and deceive man, the wisdom of God by his contrary precepts, giveth him warning of the same. Experience hath taught us, how such beasts have troubled the church of God. To speak nothing of the time of the prophets, of the apostles, or of the primitive church, what trouble made Pelagius by his heresy, affirming, that man by natural power and free will, might fulfill the law of God, and deserve for himself remission and grace. And to come a little nearer to our own age. hath it not been openly preached, and affirmed in schools, set out by writings, yea, and insisted by the world, that faith alone doth not justify, but that works do also justify? Hath it not been taught, that good works may go before faith, and provoke God to give his graces? What hath been taught of menís merits, and of the works of supererogation, some openly affirming, that some men have wrought more good works than were necessary to their own salvation? I pray you, consider if these men said not, Our hand and our strength have given these things unto us. What were these devilish heresies aforesaid, and others that have infected the whole Papistry?

    Assuredly, they were cruel and ravening beasts, able to devour the souls of all those upon whom they get the upper hand. But the merciful providence of our God, willing our salvation, will not suffer us to come to that unthankfulness and oblivion; and therefore, he permitteth us, with his apostle Paul, to be buffeted by our enemies, to the end that we may mourn for sin, and hate the same; that we may know the only Mediator, and the dignity of his office; that we may unfeignedly thirst for the coming of the Lord Jesus; and that we neither be presumptuous, lightly esteeming Christís death, neither yet unmindful of our former estate and miseries.

    And so, this cup is, as it were, a medicine prepared by the wisdom of our eternal Physician, who only knoweth the remedies for our corrupt nature.

    Advert and mark, dear mother, that all cometh to us for our own most singular profit. It is a medicine, and therefore presently it cannot be pleasing. But how gladly would we use and receive, when our bodies were sick, how unpleasant and bitter soever it were to drink, that medicine which would remove sickness and restore health! But, oh, how much more ought we with patience and thanksgiving to receive this medicine of our Fatherís hands, that from our souls removeth so many mortal diseases, (his Holy Ghost so working by the same); such as pride, presumption, contempt of grace, and unthankfulhess, which be the very mortal diseases that by unbelief do kill the soul; and doth restore unto us lowliness, fear, invocation of Godís name, remembrance of our own weakness, and of Godís infinite benefits by Christ received; which be the very evident signs, that Jesus Christ liveth in us! What signs and tokens of these have appeared in you, and in others that be of your company, since your first profession of Christ, it needeth me not to rehearse. God grant, that the eyes of men be not blinded to their own perdition! Amen.

    At present I may write no more unto you in this matter, beloved mother, but as God shall grant unto me more opportunity, by His grace who giveth all, you shall receive from my hands the rest of Davidís mind on this Psalm.

    Most earnestly beseeching you in the bowels of Christ Jesus patiently to bear your present cross and dolor, which shortly shall vanish, and after shall never appear, I cannot express the pain which I think! I might suffer to have the presence of you and of others that be like troubled, but a few days. But God shall gather us at his good pleasure, if not in this wretched and miserable life, yet in the estate where death may not dissever. My daily prayer is, for the sore afflicted in those quarters. Sometimes I have thought it impossible it bad been, so to have removed my affection from the realm of Scotland, that any realm or nation could have been equally dear unto me. But God I take to record in my conscience, that the troubles present, and appearing yet to be in the realm of England, are doubly more dolorous to my heart, than ever were the troubles of Scotland. But of this to speak I now desist, beseeching God of his infinite mercy so to strengthen you, that in the weakest vessels Christís power may appear.

    My hearty commendation to all whom it concerns, I mean, to such as now boldly abide with Christ. I bid you as heartily farewell as can any wicked and corrupt man do, to the most especial friend.

    In great haste and troubled heart, Yours. 6TH OF JANUARY.

    PART 2. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for all my bones are vexed. ó Now proceedeth David in his prayer, adding certain causes why he should be heard, and obtain his petitions. But first, we will speak of his prayers, as they be in order through this whole psalm.

    David in sum desireth four things in this his vehement trouble. In the first verse, he asketh, that God may not punish him in his heavy displeasure and wrath. In the second verse, he asketh, that God should have mercy upon him. In the third verse, he desireth, that He should heal him; and in the fourth verse, he asketh that God should return unto him, and that He should save his soul. Every one of these things was so necessary unto David, that lacking any one of them, he judgeth himself unfortunate. He felt the wrath of God, and. therefore desired the same to be removed; he had offended, and therefore desired mercy; he was fallen into most dangerous sickness, and therefore he cried for corporal health; God appeared to be departed from him, and therefore desired he, that the comfort of the Holy Ghost should return unto him. And thus was David, not as commonly are the most part of men in their prayers, who of a consuetude and custom oftentimes do ask with their mouths such things as their hearts do not greatly desire to obtain.

    But let us mark principally what things are to be noted in these his prayers, which he with earnest mind poured forth before God. Evident it is, that David in these his prayers sustained and felt the very sense of Godís wrath; and also, that he understood clearly, that it was God only that troubled him, and that had laid that sore scourge upon him. And yet, no where else but at God alone (who appeared to be angry with him), seeketh he support or aid.

    This is easy to be spoken; and the most part of men will judge it but a light matter, to fly to God in their troubles. I confess, indeed, that if our troubles come by manís tyranny, that then the most sure and most easy way is, to run to God for defense and aid. But let God appear to be our enemy, to be angry with us, and to have left us, how hard and difficult it is then to call for his grace, and for his assistance, none knoweth, except such as have learned it in experience; neither yet can any man so do, except the elect children of God. For so strong are the enemies that with great violence invade the troubled conscience in that troublesome battle, that unless the hidden seed of God should make them hope against hope, they could never look for any deliverance or comfort. The flesh lacks not reasons and persuasions to bring us from God. The devil, by himself, and by his messengers, dares boldly say and affirm, that we have nothing to do with God. And a weak faith is oft compelled to confess both the accusations and reasons to be most true. In time of trouble, the flesh doth reason, O wretched man! perceivest thou not that God is angry with thee? He plagueth thee in his hot displeasure, therefore, it is in vain for thee to call upon Him. The devil, by his suggestion, or by his ministers, doth amplify and aggravate these precedents, affirming, and beating into the conscience of the sore afflicted, in this manner: God plagueth thee for thine iniquity: thou hast offended his holy law; therefore it is labor lost to cry for mercy or relief, for his justice must needs take vengeance upon all disobedient offenders. In this mean season, a weak faith is compelled to confess and acknowledge the accusations to be most true; for who can deny that he hath deserved Godís punishments? The flesh feeleth the torments, and our own weakness crieth, All is true, and no point can be denied!

    The vehemeney of this battle, in the sickness of Hezekiah and in the history of Job, plainly may be espied. Hezekiah, after that with lamentable tears he had complained that his life was taken away, and cut off before his time; that violence was done unto him, and that God had bruised all his bones, like a lion; at last he saith, ďBe thou surety for me, O Lord:Ē ó but immediately upon these words, as it were correcting himself, he saith, ďWhat shall I say? it is He that hath done it.Ē ( Isaiah 38). As he would say, To what purpose complain I to him? If He had any pleasure in me, he would not have entreated me in this manner. It is He himself, whom I thought should have been my surety and defender, that hath wrapped me in all this wretched misery. He cannot be angry and merciful at once, (so judgeth the flesh,) for in Him there is no contrariety. I feel him to be angry with me, and therefore, it is in vain that I complain, or call upon him. This also may be espied in Job, who that after he was accused by his friends, as one that had deserved the plague of God; and after that his wife had willed him to refuse all justice, and to curse God, and so to die ó after his most grievous complaints, he saith, ďWhen I called upon Him, and he hath answered, yet believe I not that He hath heard my voice.Ē ( Job 9) As Job would say, So terrible are my torments, so vehement is my pain and anguish, that albeit, verily God had heard my humble petitions, yet feel I not that he will grant me my request. Here is a strong battle, when they perfectly understand, that remedy there is none but in God only; and yet, from Godís hand they look for no support, as might appear to menís judgments. For he that saith that God punisheth him, and therefore cannot be merciful, and doubteth whether God hear him or not, appeareth to have east away all hope of Godís deliverance.

    These things put I you in mind of, beloved mother, that albeit your pains be sometimes so horrible, that no release nor comfort, you find neither in spirit nor body, yet if the heart can only sob unto God, despair not; you shall obtain your heartís desire. And destitute you are not of faith: for at such time as the flesh, natural reason, the law of God, and present torment, and the devil at once do cry, God is angry, and therefore is there neither help nor remedy to be hoped for at his hands! ó at such time, I say, to sob unto God, is the demonstration of the secret seed of God, which is hid in Godís elect children; and that only sob, is unto God a more acceptable sacrifice, than without this cross, to give our bodies to be burned even for the truthís sake. For if God be present by assistance of his Holy Spirit, so that no doubt is in our conscience but that assuredly we stand in Godís favor, what can corporal trouble hurt the soul or mind, seeing the bitter frosty wind cannot hurt the body itself, which is most warmly covered, and clad from violence of the cold? But when the Spirit of God appeareth to be absent, yea, when God himself appeareth to be our enemy: then, to say, or to think, with Job in his trouble, ďAlbeit He should destroy or kill me, yet will I trust in him,Ē oh, what is the strength and vehemency of the faith which so looketh for mercy, when the whole man feeleth nothing but dolors on every side! Assuredly, that hope shall never be confounded, for so it is promised by Him who cannot repent of his mercy and goodness.

    Rejoice, mother, and fight to the end, for sure I am, that you are not utterly destitute of that Spirit who taught David and Job. What obedience I have heard you give to God in your most strong torment, it needeth me not to write; only I desire (which is a portion of my daily prayer,) God our Father, for Jesus Christ his Sonís sake, that in all your trouble, you may continue as I have left you, and that with David you may sob. Albeit the mouth may not speak, yet let the heart groan, and say, ďHave mercy upon me, O Lord, and heal me!Ē and then, I nothing doubt your grievous torment shall not molest you for ever; but shortly shall have an end, to your everlasting consolation and comfort. You think, peradventure, that you would gladly call and pray for mercy, but the knowledge of your sins doth hinder you.

    Consider, dearly beloved, that all physic or medicine serves only for the patient; so doth mercy only for the sinner, yea, for the most wretched and miserable sinner. Did not David understand himself to be a sinner, and adulterer, and a shedder of innocent blood? Yea, knew he not also that he was punished for his sins? Yes verily, he did, and therefore he called for mercy; which he that knoweth not the heaviness and multitude of sins can in nowise do, but most commonly doth despise mercy when it is offered; or at least, the man that feeleth not the burden of sin, lightly regardeth mercy, because he feeleth not how necessary it is unto him; as betwixt Christ and the proud Pharisees, in many places of the New Testament is to be seen.

    And therefore, dear mother, if your adversary trouble you either with your sins past or present, objecting, that mercy appertaineth not to you, by reason of your sins, answer unto him, as you are taught by Christ, that the whole need no physician, neither yet the just, mercy and pardon; but that Christ is come to give sight to the blind, and to call sinners to repentance, of whom you acknowledge yourself to be the greatest; and yet that you doubt not to obtain mercy, because it was never denied to any that asked the same, in faith. And thus, no doubt, you shall obtain victory by Christ Jesus, to whom be praise for ever and ever. Amen.

    In the rest of Davidís prayers we will now be shorter, that we may come to the grounds of the same.

    After the desiring of mercy, David now desireth a corporal benefit, saying, ďHeal me, Lord.Ē Hereof is to be noted, that bodily health being the gift of God, may be asked of him without sin, albeit that we understand ourselves to be punished for our offenses. Neither yet, in so praying, are we contrary to Godís will; for his providence hath planted in the nature of man a desire of health, and a desire that it may be preserved. And therefore, He is not offended, that we ask health of body when we lack it, neither yet, that we seek preservation of our health, by such ordinary means as he hath appointed, provided always, that God himself be first sought, and that we desire neither life, neither health, to the hinderance of Godís glory, nor to the hurt and destruction of others, our brethren; but rather, that by us Godís glory may be promoted, and that others, our brethren, by our strength, health, and life, may be comforted and defended. Now these precedents rightly observed, it is no sin earnestly to ask of God health of body, albeit we know our sickness to be the very hand of God punishing or correcting our former evil life.

    This I write, because some are so severe, that they would not that we should ask bodily health of God, because the sickness is sent to us by him.

    But such men do not rightly understand, neither yet consider, that sickness is a trouble to the body, and that God commandeth us to call forms help in all our troubles. Surely our submission and prayers in such extremity, are the greatest glory that we can give unto God; for so doing, we think that his mercy aboundeth above his judgment, and so, we are bold to pray for the withdrawing of his scourge; which petition, no doubt, he must grant, for so he promiseth by Jeremiah, his prophet, saying, ďIf I have spoken against any nation or city, saying, that I will destroy it; and if it turn from iniquity, and repent, it shall repent me also of the plagues that I have spoken against it.Ē ( Jeremiah 18).

    God promiseth to show mercy to a whole city or nation, if it repent; and will he not do the same to a particular person, if in his sickness he call for grace? He hath showed unto us, that he will, by diverse examples; and specially by the leprosy of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, which she received of the Lordís hand, punishing her high and haughty mind; and again, upon her submission, and at the prayer of Moses, she shortly was restored to health.

    But to proceed, David moreover prayeth, ďTurn again, O Lord.Ē It appeareth unto David, being in the extremity of his pain, that God was altogether departed from him; for so alway judgeth the flesh, yea, the whole man, when trouble worketh by any continuance of time. David had sustained trouble many days: he had prayed, and yet was not delivered: and therefore judgeth he, that God, being offended for his sins, had left him.

    And yet, plain it is, that God was with him, working in his heart by his Holy Spirit repentance: expressing forth those sobs and groans, as also, the desire he had to be restored to that comfort and consolation which sometimes he had felt, by the familiarity which he had with God. All these motions, I say, were the operations of Godís Holy Spirit; and yet David could perceive no comfort nor presence of God in that his trouble, but lamentably complaineth, as before you have heard. Hereof it is plain, that the very elect sometimes are without all feeling of consolation, and that they think themselves altogether destitute, as may be seen in David.

    But it is chiefly to be noted, that David in this his anguish remembereth, that God sometimes had been familiar with him; for he saith, ďTurn again, O Lord!Ē signifying thereby, that before, he had felt the sweetness of Godís presence, but now he was left to himself, without feeling of comfort or consolation. For thus appeareth David to complain: Hast thou not been familiar with me,O Lord, thy unprofitable servant? Didst thou not call me from keeping sheep, to be anointed king over thy people, Israel? Didst thou not so encourage my mind, that I feared not the fresh strength of the cruel lion, neither yet the devouring teeth of the hungry bear, from whose jaws I delivered my sheep? Didst not thou once inflame my heart with the zeal of thy holy name, that when all Israel were so afraid, that none durst encounter with that monster, Goliah, yet thy Spirit made me so bold and so valiant, that without harness or weapons, except my sling, staff, and stones, I durst enterprise singular battle against him? Was it not thy strength that gave me victory, not only at that time, but also of all my other enemies that have sought my life since? Hast not thou made me so glad by the multitude of thy mercies, and thy most gracious favor, which thou from time to tune most abundantly hast poured upon me, that both soul and body have rejoiced through the gladness of thy countenance? Hast thou not been so effectually present with me in troubles and dangers, that my very enemies have known and confessed, that thy power was always with me, and that thou didst take my defense upon thyself? And wilt thou now so leave the habitation which thou hast chosen? Shall it be left desolate for ever? Can thy mercies have an end; and shall thy fatherly pity never appear more unto me? Shalt thou leave me for ever thus to be tormented, whom thou hast before so abundantly comforted? O Lord, I am sure, thy mercies will not so entreat me; and therefore turn again, O Lord, and make me glad with thy countenance, whom a long time thou hast left void of consolation and joy.

    Advert and consider, dearly beloved, in what estate was David when he had no other comfort, except the remembrance only of Godís former benefits showed unto him. And, therefore, marvel you not, nor yet despair ye, albeit that you find yourself in the same case that David was. Sure I am, that your own heart must confess, that you have received like benefits at the hands of God as David did. He hath called you from a more vile office than from the keeping of sheep, to as great a dignity (touching the everlasting inheritance) as he did David. For, from the service of the devil and sin, he hath anointed us priests and kings, by the blood of his only Son Jesus. He hath given you courage and boldness to fight against more cruel, more subtle, more dangerous enemies, and against enemies that be more nigh unto you, than either was the lion, the bear, or Goliah, to David ó against the devil, I mean, and his assaults; against your own flesh, and most inward affections; against the multitude of them that were, and yet remain enemies to Christís religion; yea, against some of your most natural friends, who appear to profess Christ with you; and in that part, the battle is the more vehement. What boldness I have seen with you in all such conflicts, it needeth me not to rehearse. I write this to the praise of God, I have wondered at that bold constancy which I have found in you, at such time as mine own heart was faint. Sure I am, that flesh and blood could never have persuaded you to have contemned and set at nought those things that the world most esteemeth. You have tasted and felt of Godís goodness and mercies in such measure, that not only you are able to reason and speak, but also, by the Spirit of God working in you, to give comfort and consolation to such as were in trouble. And therefore, most dear mother, think not that God will leave his own mansion for ever. No, impossible it is that the devil shall occupy Godís inheritance; or yet, that God shall so leave and forsake his holy temple that he will not sanctify the same. Again, God sometimes suspendeth his own presence from his elected, as here by David may be espied; and very often he suffereth his elect to taste of bitterness and grief, for such causes as are before expressed. But to suffer them to be wrested out of his hands, that he neither will nor may permit; for so were he a mutable God, and have given his glory to another, if he permitted himself to be overcome of his adversary; which is as like impossible, as it is that God shall cease to be God.

    Now, lastly, David prayeth, ďDeliver my soul, and save me.Ē In this prayer, no doubt, David desired to be delivered from the very corporal death at that time, and his soul to be saved from those present plagues and grievous torments that he sustained. In which, it might appear to some, that he was more addicted to this present life, and that he loved more the quietness of the flesh, than it became a spiritual man to do. But as before is said, God hath naturally ingrafted and planted in man this love of life, tranquillity, and rest; and the most spiritual man often desireth them, because they are seals and witnesses of that league and fellowship which is between God and his elect. And albeit that trouble most commonly doth follow the friends of God, yet is He nothing offended, that earnestly we ask our quiet; neither is that our desire any declaration of carnality, or of inordinate love that we have to the world, considering that the final cause wherefore we desire to live is, not for enjoying of worldly pleasures ó for many times in the midst of these, we grant and confess, that better it is to be absent from the body ó but the chief cause why Godís elect do desire life, or to have rest on earth, is for the maintenance of Godís glory, and that others may see, that God taketh a care over his elected.

    But now, to the grounds and foundations of Davidís prayers, and whereupon his prayers do stand. The first is taken from the vehement trouble which he sustained, and from the long continuance of the same: the second is taken from the goodness of God; and the third from Godís glory, and from the insolent rage of his enemies.

    Here is to be observed and noted, that neither is trouble, neither long continuance of the same, neither yet the proud and haughty minds of wicked men, the chief moving cause why God heareth our prayers, and declareth himself merciful unto us; and therefore, they may not be the sure and sound foundations of our prayers: but only Godís infinite goodness is the fountain of all mercy and grace, which springeth and cometh to us by Christ Jesus, his Son. But they are causes, by operation of the Holy Ghost helping our weakness to believe and to trust, that God who is Father of mercies, will not be angry for ever at the sore afflicted, neither yet that he will punish without mercy such as call for his help and comfort; as also, that God, who hath always declared himself enemy to pride, will not suffer the proud and obstinate contemners of his poor saints long to blaspheme his lenity and gentleness; but that he will pour forth his plagues upon them, according to his threatenings. And so, our troubles, and the tyranny of our enemies, are in that behalf foundations whereupon our prayers may stand, as here appeareth.

    David describeth his dolour, and the continuance thereof, in these words, ďI am consumed away with sickness: all my bones are vexed, and my soul is in horrible fear; but, Lord, how long wilt thou thus entreat me? I am wearied for sobbing: I water my bed with my tears.Ē ó Let us imagine that David thus speaketh: O Lord, mayest thou, who ever hast taken care of me from my motherís womb, now forget me, the workmanship of thine own hands? Mayest thou, that hast declared thyself so merciful unto me in all my tribulations, now, in the end, take thy mercies clean from me? Hast thou no pity, O Lord? Dost thou not behold that I am pined and consumed by this grievous torment, wherein not only is my tender flesh, but also my very bones, (the strongest part of the body,) so vexed, that neither is there beauty nor strength left unto me? If these anguishes occupied the body only, yet were the pain almost insufferable; but, O Lord, so horribly is my soul tormented, that albeit it be immortal, yet it so quaketh and trembleth, as if very death should devour it. And thus I sustain most grievous torments both in body and soul of so long continuance, that it appeareth unto me, thou hast forgotten to be merciful. O Lord, how long wilt thou entreat me in this manner. Hast thou forgotten thy loving mercies; or hast thou lost thy fatherly pity? I have no longer strength to cry, yea, and for sobs and groans I am so weary, that my breath faileth me; the tears of mine eyes wherewith nightly I have wet my bed, have borne witness of my unfeigned dolor; but now, my eyes are waxen dim, and my whole strength is dried up.

    In all these lamentable complaints, David speaketh unto God, as he would speak to a man who was ignorant what another man suffered; whereof it may be understood how the most prudent and the most spiritual man judgeth of God in the time of trouble. Assuredly he thought that God taketh no care for him; and therefore doth he, as it were, accuse God of unmindfulness, and that he looketh not upon him with the eyes of his accustomed mercy, as clearly by these words may be espied. And yet are Davidís troubles the first ground and cause why he maketh his prayers, and claimeth to be heard: not that troubles, as before is noted, are sufficient by themselves for Godís deliverance; but in recounting his dolor, David hath a secret access to Godís mercy, which he challengeth and claimeth of duty to appertain to all His, who in the time of trouble call for his support, help, and aid. And it is the same ground that Job taketh, where he saith, ďIs it profitable unto thee, that thou violently oppress me? Wilt thou despise the work of thine own hands? Thou hast formed and made me altogether; and wilt thou now devour me? Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast fashioned me as a mould, and that thou shalt bring me to dust: thou hast covered me with skin and flesh; with sinews and bones hast thou joined me, with life and gentleness hast thou beautified me, and thy prudence hath kept my spirit.Ē ( Job 10).

    Here may be espied upon what ground these two stood in their most grievous pains. Their trouble moved them to complain, and to appeal to the great mercy of God, which, as they allege, even so is it most sure, he may deny to none that ask it: for as the trouble of his creatures is no advantage unto God, so, to deny mercy when it is asked, were to deny himself.

    And herein, dearly beloved, I heartily wish you to rejoice. For I can be witness, how constantly you have called for grace, in your anguishes; and your own conscience must testify, that oftentimes you have found release and comfort in such measure, that you have been bold to triumph against your adversaries, in Christ Jesus our Savior. Be nothing afraid, albeit presently you feel not your accustomed consolation. That shall hurt you no more, than the troubles of David and Job did hurt them, who in the time that they spake these former words, found no more consolation than you do now, in the most extremity of your trouble. Neither yet did they hastily obtain comfort: for David saith, ďO Lord, how long wilt thou so cruelly punish me?Ē And yet, we know most assuredly, that they were heard, and that they obtained their own heartís desire; as no doubt every man shall, who in time of trouble, be it spiritual or corporal, appealeth to Godís mercy alone.

    The second ground and foundation whereupon the prayers of David stand, is the infinite goodness of God. For thus he saith, ďSave me, O God, for thy goodness.Ē David before had asked mercy, and declared his complaints: but now, searching himself secretly in his conscience, he reasons with himself in this manner, Why should God show mercy unto him that so heinously had offended, and that justly was tormented by Godís hand, for his transgression and sin? No other ground that is always sure and permanent findeth he, except Godís infinite goodness, which he espieth to be the only stay which neither tempest of winds, neither floods of water, are able to overthrow nor undermine. And, oh! how piercing are the eyes of Faith, that in so deep a dungeon of desperation, can yet espy in the midst of that troublesome darkness, goodness to remain God; yea, and such goodness, as is sufficient and able to overcome, devour, and swallow up, all the iniquities of his elect, so that none of them are able to withstand or hinder Godís infinite goodness, to show his mercy to his troubled children. Hereby are we taught, beloved mother, in the extremity of our troubles to run to Godís only goodness, there to seek comfort by Jesus Christ, and no where else. I fear nothing the blasphemous voices of such, nor their ragings against God, and against his only eternal Verity, that are not ashamed to affirm, that this kind of doctrine maketh men negligent to do good works; against whom no otherwise will I contend, than doth the apostle, saying, ďTheir damnation is just.Ē For my purpose and mind is, to edify those whom God hath called from darkness to light; whose eyes it hath pleased his mercy so to open, that evidently they feel the flesh to rebel against the spirit, even in the hour of their greatest perfection, in such manner, that all power, all justice, all virtue proceeding from us, is so contaminated and defiled, that the very works which we do, must be purged by another; and that therefore, none of them can be an infallible ground of our prayer, neither yet a sufficient cause why we should be heard. But the goodness of God, as it is infinite, so can it not be defiled by our iniquity. But it pierceth through the same, and will show itself to our consolation, even as the beams of the bright sun pierce through the misty and thick cloud, and bring down his natural heat, to comfort and quicken such herbs and creatures, as through violence of cold were almost fallen into deadly decay.

    And thus, the only goodness of God remaineth, in all storms, the sure foundation to the afflicted, against which, the devil is never able to prevail.

    The knowledge of this is so necessary to the afflicted conscience, that without the same, it is very hard to withstand the assaults of the adversary.

    For as he is a spirit most subtle and vigilant to trouble the children of God, so is it easy for him to deface and undermine all the grounds and causes that are within man, and especially, when we are in trouble; yea, he can persuade us, that we lack those things which most assuredly we have by Godís free gift and grace. As for example, if we desire to be delivered from trouble and anguish of conscience, with David and Job, the devil can suddenly object, What appertaineth their example to thee? they had many notable and singular virtues which thou lackest. If we desire remission of sins, with Magdalene, with Peter, or with any other offenders, he hath these darts ready to shoot; They had faith, but thou hast none: they had true repentance, thou art but a hypocrite: they hated sin, and continued in good works; but thou rejoicest in sin, and doest no good at all. By these means can he, who is the accuser of us and of our brethren, ever find out some crafty accusation to trouble the weak conscience of the afflicted, so long as ever it resteth upon any thing within itself, and till by the operation of the Holy Ghost, we are ravished and reft up to the contemplation of our God, so that our minds are fixed only upon Godís infinite goodness; claiming by the same to receive mercy, as Job doth in his former words, of which the sense and meaning is this: O Lord, thou madest me, when yet I was not; thou gavest me soul and body, when I neither knew nor understood what thy power was: thou reddest and nourishedst me, when I could do nothing but weep and mourn. And thy merciful providence unto this day hath preserved my life; and yet neither I, nor my works could profit thee; for thou, whose habitation is in heaven, needest not the help of man. And as for my works, such as the fountain is, such must the waters be. My heart is corrupted; how then can any thing that is clean, proceed from the same? And so, whatever I have received, that either was, is, or hereafter shall be within my corrupt nature, all proceedeth from thine infinite goodness, who didst begin to show thy mercy, before I knew thee.

    Canst thou then leave me thus in my extremity? I grant and confess, that I have offended; but is there any creature clean and perfect in such perfection, that without mercy, he may abide the trial of thy justice? Or is there any iniquity now in me, which thy wisdom did not know before? And thus, appeal to thy mercy, which springeth from thy infinite goodness. Oh, dear mother! when thy afflicted soul can thus forsake and refuse whatever is in man, and can stay itself, how little soever it be, upon Godís infinite goodness, then are all the fiery darts of the devil quenched, and he is repulsed as a confounded spirit. It shall nothing hurt, albeit the stormy tempest cease not suddenly. That is sufficient, that this anchor be cast out, which assuredly shall preserve your ship, that she violently run not upon the foreland of desperation.

    This I write, beloved in the Lord, knowing what have been your complaints heretofore, in that you found your faith faint; that you could not repent your former evil life; that you found no disposition nor readiness to good works, but were rather carried away of sin and wickedness. If all this had been true, yet had you been in no worse case than was the apostle Paul, when he cried, ďOh, wretched and unhappy man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of sin?Ē But I assuredly know, that the chief part of your trouble proceedeth from malice and envy of the devil, who would persuade your heart, that you delighted in those things which to you were most displeasing. For how oft have you complained upon the weakness of your faith! How oft have you lamented the imperfection of your flesh! The tears of your eyes have witnessed before God, that you delighted not in such things as your adversary falsely layeth to your charge. For who useth continually to mourn in those things that are pleasing to his heart, if they be present with him at all times ? Or who will desire things pleasing to be removed from him? You have mourned for your weakness, and have desired your imperfection to be removed, and you have detested all sorts of idolatry. How then can you think, that you take any pleasure in the same ?

    Despair not, although that all remembrance of Godís goodness, or worthiness be removed from your mind. You have David, Job, Daniel, and all the other saints of God, in equal sort with you. Of David and Job you have heard. And Isaiah making his heavy complaint for the plagues of the people of Israel, openly confesseth, that all had sinned; that their righteousness was nothing but filthiness; that none sought God; that none called upon his name. And Daniel in his prayer likewise confesseth, that all had wrought wickedly; that all had declined from God; yeas and that none had submitted themselves to God, nor yet had made supplication unto him, albeit he had punished their former disobedience. And, therefore, he saith, that they did not allege their own righteousness in their prayers. Consider, dear mother, that no mention is made of any righteousness that was within themselves, neither yet do they glory of any works or virtues which they had wrought before; for they understood, that God was the author of all goodness, and therefore, to him only appertained the praise. But as for their sins, they understood them to be the infirmities of their own flesh; and therefore boldly called they for mercy, and that, by Godís infinite goodness, which is no less free unto you, than unto them, according to the riches of his liberal graces which he plentifully poureth forth upon all them that in call on the name of the Lord Jesus.

    The third and last ground of Davidís prayers was, the glory and praise of Godís name to be showed and uttered in his life, as in these words he declareth, ďFor there is no remembrance of thee in death: who laudeth thee in the pit?Ē As David would say, O Lord, how shall I pray and declare thy goodness, when I am dead, and gone down into the grave? It is not thy ordinary course, to have thy miracles and wondrous works preached unto men, by those that are buried, and gone down into the pit: those that are dead, make no mention of thee in the earth. And therefore, O Lord, spare thy servant, that yet, for a time, I may show and witness thy wondrous works unto mankind.

    These most godly affections in David, did engender in him a vehement horror and fear of death, besides that which is natural and common to all men, because he perfectly understood, that by death he should, be hindered any further to, advance the glory of God. Of this same he complaineth most vehemently in <19D801> Psalm 138, where apparently he taketh from the dead, sense, remembrance, feeling, and understanding, alleging, that God worketh no miracles by the dead; that the goodness of God cannot be preached in the grave, nor his faith by perdition; and that his marvellous works are not known in darkness. By which speeches we may not understand, that David taketh all sense and feeling from the dead; neither yet, that they which are dead in Christ, are in such estate, that by God they have not consolation and life. No, Christ himself doth witness the contrary.

    But David so vehemently expresseth their estate and condition, because that after death, they are deprived of all ordinary ministration in the church of God. None of those that are departed, are appointed to be preachers of Godís glory to mankind; but after death they cease any more to advance Godís holy name here, amongst the living on earth; and so, shall even they in that behalf be unprofitable to the congregation, as touching any thing that they can do either in body or soul, after death. And therefore, most earnestly desired David to live in Israel, for the further manifestation of Godís glory.

    Here is to be observed a short, but yet a most necessary note, which is this:

    What be the things that we ought principally to seek in this transitory life?

    Not those for the which the blind world contendeth and striveth; but God, and his loving kindness towards mankind; his amiable promises, and true religion to be advanced and preached unto others, our brethren, that be ignorant: for if so we do not, we may rather be counted beasts than men; dead stocks, not living creatures; yea, rather things that be not at all, than substance having either being or life. Seeing that the heavens declare the glory of God; that the earth, with the whole contents thereof, whatever they be, give praise to his holy name; that the sea, floods, and fountains, with the wonders contained in the same, do not cease to make manifest the wisdom, the power, and the providence of their Creator, what then shall be said of man, who neither seeketh neither regardeth Godís glory? Yea, what shall be judged of those who not only hinder Godís glory, but also, declare themselves enemies to such as would promote it? I must speak my conscience with a sorrowful heart: they are not only dead, but they are also of the nature of him, by whose malice and envy, death entered into the world, that is, of the devil. But them I omit at this present, because their accusation doth not much appertain to this our matter, whereof now I must make an end, somewhat contrary to my mind; for so I am compelled by some present troubles, as well of body, as of spirit. The fourth part of this psalm I omit till more opportunity; for it doth not much appertain to the spiritual cross, but is, as it were, a prophecy spoken against all such, as rejoice at the troubles of Godís elect; who assuredly shall be confounded, and brought to shame, when the Lord shall hear the voices of the sorely afflicted.

    Now, dearly beloved in our Savior Jesus Christ, seeing that the spiritual cross is proper to the children of God; seeing that it is given to us, as a most effective medicine, as well to remove diseases, as to plant in our souls most notable virtues, such as humility, mercy, contempt of ourselves, and continual remembrance of our own weakness and imperfection; and seeing that you have had most evident signs, that this same medicine hath wrought in you a part of all the promises, receive it thankfully of your Fatherís hand, what trouble soever it bring with it; and albeit that the flesh grudge, yet let the spirit rejoice, steadfastly looking for deliverance, and assuredly you shall obtain, according to the good will and promise of Him who cannot deceive; to whom be glory for ever and ever, before his congregation. Amen.

    Now, seeing it is uncertain, beloved mother, if ever we shall meet in this corporal life ó which words I will not that you take in any displeasure; for if God continue you in life, and me in corporal health, I shall attempt to speak with you face to face, within less time than is passed since the one of us last saw the other ó and be you assured, beloved mother, that it shall neither be the fear of death, nor the rage of the devil that shall impede or hinder me: and therefore, I beseech you, take not my words in that part, as though I were not minded to visit you again. No, I assure you, that only Godís hand shall withhold me. But because our life doth vanish, as the smoke before the blast of wind, my conscience moveth me to write to you, as though I should take from you my last good night on earth. The sum whereof is this ó to exhort and admonish you, even as you will have part with Christ Jesus, to continue in the doctrine to the end, which before the world you have professed. For before God, before Christ Jesus his Son, and before his holy angels, neither shame I to confess, neither doubt I to affirm, that the doctrine which you and others have heard not only from my mouth, but also faithfully taught by the mouths of many others, of whom some are exiled, some cruelly cast into prison, and the rest commanded to silence, is the only word of life; and that all doctrine repugning to the same, is diabolical and erroneous, which assuredly shall bring death and perpetual condemnation to all those who thereto shall condescend and agree. And therefore, mother, be not moved with any wind, but stick to Christ in the day of this his battle. And also, I admonish you, to avoid that abomination which you have often heard affirmed by me to be damnable idolatry. And God I take to record in my conscience, that neither then, neither now, I spoke, nor do speak for pleasure or hatred of any living creature on earth whatsoever it be, but as my conscience was certified by the infallible and plain word of God, from which, I praise my most merciful Father, I am not this day one jot removed. Neither repent I of that my blessed and most happy society with the truth of Christís gospel, unto which it hath pleased God to call me, the most wretched of others. Neither forethink I, that God hath made me an open and manifest enemy to papistry, superstition, and to all that filthy idolatry which is newly erected in Godís hot displeasure; neither yet would I recant (as they term it) one sentence of my former doctrine, for all the glory, riches, and rest that is on earth. And in conclusion, I would not bow my knee before that most abominable idol, for all the torments that earthly tyrants can devise, God so assisting me, as his Holy Spirit presently moveth me to write unfeignedly. And albeit that I have in the beginning of this battle appeared to play the faint-hearted and feeble soldier, (the cause I remit to God,) yet my prayer is, that I may be restored to the battle again.

    And blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am not left so bare without comfort, but my hope is to obtain such mercy, that if a sudden end be not made of all my miseries by final death, which to me were no small advantage, that yet, by Him who never despised the sobs of the sore afflicted, I shall be so encouraged to fight, that England and Scotland shall both know, that I am ready to suffer more than either poverty or exile, for the profession of that doctrine, and that heavenly religion, whereof it hath pleased His merciful providence to make me, amount others, a simple soldier and witness-bearer to men. And therefore, mother, let no fear enter into your heart, as that I, escaping the furious rage of those ravening wolves that for our unthankfulness are lately loosed from their bonds, do repent any thing of my former fervency. No, mother: for a few sermons to be made by me within England, my heart at this hour could be content to suffer more, than nature were able to sustain; as by the grace of the most mighty and most merciful God, who only is the God of comfort and consolation, through Christ Jesus, one day shall be known.

    In the mean season, yet once again, as if it were my final good-night, and last testament on this earth, in the bowels of Christ Jesus I exhort and admonish you, constantly to continue with the Verity, which shall yet triumph, and obtain victory, in despite of Satan and his malice. And avoid idolatry, the maintainers and obeyers whereof shall not escape the sudden vengeance of God, which shall be poured forth upon them, according to the ripeness of their iniquity; and when they shall cry ďQuietness and peace!Ē (which never remained of any continuance with the ungodly,) then shall their sudden destruction come upon them without provision.

    The God of peace and consolation, who of his power infinite and invincible hath called from death the true and great Bishop of our souls, and in him hath placed our flesh above principalities and powers of what pre-eminence soever they be in heaven or in earth, assist you with his Holy Ghost in such constancy and strength, that Satan and his assaults may be confounded now and ever, in you, and in the congregation, by Christ Jesus our Lord: to whom with the Father and with the Holy Ghost be all praise and honor eternally. ó Amen.

    Yours with sorrowful heart, J.K.

    Watch and pray.


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