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  • LETTER TO THE QUEEN REGENT.
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    To The Excellent Lady Mary, Dowager, Regent Scotland, Her Humble Subject John Knox Wisheth Grace, Mercy, And Peace, From God The Father Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, With The Spirit Of Perfect Judgment. THE eternal providence of the same God who hath appointed his chosen children to fight in this transitory, and wretched life a battle strong and difficult, hath also appointed their final victory by a marvellous fashion, and the manner of their preservation in their battle more marvellous. ( Genesis 3) Their victory standeth not in resisting, but in suffering, ( Matthew 5) as our sovereign Master pronounceth to his disciples, that in their patience they should possess their souls. ( John 14,16). And the same foresaw the prophet Isaiah, when that he painteth forth all other battle to be with violence, tumult, and blood-shedding, but the victory of Godís people to be in quietness, silence, and hope, ( Isaiah 9): meaning that all others that obtain victory do enforce themselves to resist their adversaries, to shed blood, and to murder But so do not the elect of God; but all things they sustain at the commandment of Him who hath appointed them to suffer, being most assuredly persuaded that then only they triumph, when all men judge them oppressed. For in the cross of Christ always is included a secret and hid victory, never well known, till the sufferer appear altogether to be as it were exterminate. For then only did the blood of Abel cry to God, when proud Cain judged all memory of his brother to be extinguished. And so, I say, their victory is marvellous. And how that they can be preserved and not brought to utter confusion, the eye of man perceiveth not. But He, whose power is infinite, by secret and hid motions toucheth the hearts of such as to manís judgment have power to destroy them, of very pity and compassion to save his people. ( Isaiah 40,41,51). As that he did the hearts of the Egyptian midwives to preserve the men-children of the Israelites, when precept was given by Pharaoh of their destruction. ( Exodus 2) The heart of Pharaohís daughter likewise to pity Moses, in his young infancy exposed to the dangers of the waters. The heart of Nebuchadnezzar to preserve the captives alive, and liberally to nourish the children that were found apt to letters, ( 2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 52): and, finally, the heart of Cyrus, to set at liberty the people of God, after long bondage and thraldom. (Ezra 1).

    And thus doth the invisible power and love of God manifest itself towards his elect from time to time, for two causes specially. First, to comfort his weak warriors in their manifold temptations, letting them understand, that he is able to compel such as sometimes were enemies to his people, to fight in their cause, and to promote their deliverance; and, secondly, to give a testimony of his favor to them that, by all appearance, did live before, as St. Paul speaketh, without God in the world; as strangers from the commonwealth of Israel, and without the league of his merciful promise, and free grace made to his church. ( Ephesians 2). For who could have affirmed, that any of these persons afore-named had been of that nature and clemency, before occasions were offered unto them? But the works of mercy showed to the afflicted, have left to us assurance, that God used them as vessels of his honor. For pity and mercy showed to Christís afflicted flock, as they never lacked reward temporal, so, if they be continued, and be not changed into cruelty, are assured signs and seals of everlasting mercy to be received from God, who by his Holy Spirit moveth their hearts to show mercy to the people of God oppressed and afflicted.

    Your Grace, perchance, doth wonder, to what purpose these things be recited; and I in very deed cannot wonder enough, that occasion is offered to me, a worm most wretched, to recite the same at this present. For I have looked rather for the sentence of death, than to have written to your Grace in these last and most wicked days, in which Satan so blindeth the hearts of many, that innocents are condemned, their cause never being tried. I doubt not but the rumors which have come to your Graceís ears of me, have been such, that if all reports were true, I were unworthy to live in the earth; and wonder it is, that the voices of the multitude should not have so inflamed your Graceís heart with just hatred of such a one as I am accused to be, that all access to pity should have been shut up. I am traduced as a heretic, accused as a false teacher and seducer of the people, besides other opprobries which (affirmed by men of worldly honor and estimation) may easily kindle the wrath of magistrates, where innocency is not known. But blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the dew of his heavenly grace, hath so quenched the fire of displeasure, as yet, in your Graceís heart, (which of late days I have understood,) that Satan is frustrated of his enterprise and purpose. Which is to my heart no small comfort, not so much (God is my witness) for any benefit that I can receive in this miserable life, by protection of any earthly creature ó for the cup which it behoveth me to drink, is appointed by the wisdom of Him whose counsels are not changeable ó as that I am for that benefit which I am assured your Grace shall receive, if that you continue in like moderation and clemency towards others that most unjustly are, and shall be accused, as that your Grace hath begun towards me, and my most desperate case.

    That is, if that by godly wisdom you shall study to bridle the fury and rage of them who, for the maintenance of their worldly pomp, regard nothing the murdering of simple innocents, then shall He who doth pronounce mercy to appertain to the merciful, ( Matthew 5) and promiseth, that a cup of cold water given for his nameís sake, shall not lack reward, ( Matthew 10) first cause your happy government to be praised in this present age and posterities to come; and last, recompense your godly pains and study, with that joy and glory which the eye hath not seen, nor yet can enter into the heart of mortal creature. ( 1 Corinthians 2).

    Superfluous and foolish it shall appear to many, that I, a man of base estate and condition, dare enterprise to admonish a Princess so honorable, endued with wisdom and graces singular. But when I consider the honor which God commandeth to be given to magistrates, ( Exodus 20; Romans 13; 1 Peter 2) which no doubt, if it be true honor, containeth in itself in lawful things obedience, and in all things love and reverence: ó when further, I consider the troublesome estate of Christís true religion, this day oppressed by blindness of men; and last, the great multitude of flatterers, and the rare number of them that boldly and plainly dare speak the naked verity in presence of their princes, and specially in the cause of Jesus Christ; ó these things, I say, considered, whatsoever any man shall judge of my enterprise, I am compelled to say that, 1. Unless in your regiment and using of power, your Grace be found different from the multitude of princes and head rulers, that this preeminence wherein you are placed, shall be your dejection to torment and pain everlasting. This proposition is sore; but, alas! it is so true, that if I should conceal and hide it from your Grace, I committed no less treason against you, than if I did see you by imprudency take a cup which I knew to be poisoned or envenomed, and yet, would not admonish you to abstain from drinking of the same. 2. The religion which this day men defend by fire and sword, is a cup envenomed, of which whosoever drinketh (except that by true repentance he after drink of the water of life,) drinketh therewith damnation and death. ( John 4; Revelation 14, Revelation 17). How and by whom it hath been envenomed, if it were not more tedious to your Grace to read or hear, than it is painful to me to write or rehearse, I would not spare the labor.

    But for this present, I have thought it some discharge of one part of my duty, if I of very love admonish your Grace of the danger: which I do, as God one day shall declare, preferring your Graceís salvation, and the salvation of the people now committed to your charge, to any corporal benefit that can redound to myself.

    But you think, peradventure, that the care of religion is not committed to magistrates, but to the bishops and Estate Ecclesiastical, as they term it.

    But deceive not yourself; for the negligence of bishops shall no less be required of the hands of magistrates, than shall the oppression of false judges. For they unjustly promote, foster, and maintain the one and the other: the false and corrupt judge, to spoil the goods and to oppress the bodies of the simple; but the proud prelates do kings maintain, to murder the souls for the which the blood of Christ Jesus was shed; and that they do, either by withholding from them the true word of life, or else, by causing teach unto them a pestilent doctrine, such as now is taught in the papistical churches.

    I know, that you wonder how that the religion which is universally received, can be so damnable and corrupted. But if your Grace shall consider, that ever from the beginning the multitude hath declined from God, ( Genesis 6) yea, even in the people to whom he spake by his Law and Prophets; ( Psalm 14) if you shall consider the complaint of the Holy Ghost, complaining that nations, people, princes, and kings of the earth, have raged, made conspiracies, and holden counsels against the Lord, and against his anointed, Christ Jesus, ( Psalm 2): further, if you shall consider the question which Jesus himself doth move, in these words, ďWhen the Son of Man shall come, shall he and faith in the earth?Ē ( <421801> Luke18) and last, if your Grace shall consider the manifest contempt of God, and of his holy precepts, which this day reigneth without punishment upon the face of the whole earth: for as Hosea complaineth, ďthere is no verity, there is no mercy, there is no truth this day among men; but lies, perjury, and oppression overflow all, and blood toucheth blood,Ē (Hosiah 4) that is, every iniquity is joined to another ó if deeply, I say, your Grace shall contemplate the universal corruption that this day reigneth in all estates, then shall your Grace cease to wonder that many are called, and few are chosen; ( Matthew 20) and you shall begin to tremble, and fear to follow the multitude to perdition. ( Matthew 7).

    The universal defection whereof St. Paul prophesied ( 2 Thessalonians 2) is easily to be espied, as well in religion, as in manners. The corruption of life is evident, and religion is not judged nor measured by the plain word of God, but by custom, consuetude, will, consent and determinations of men. But shall He who hath pronounced all cogitations of manís heart to be vain at all times, accept the counsels and consents of men, for a religion pleasing and acceptable before him? Let not your Grace be deceived. God cannot lie; God cannot deny himself. He hath witnessed from the beginning, that no religion pleaseth him, except that which He by his own word hath commanded and established. ( Deuteronomy 4:12).The Verity itself pronounceth this sentence, ďIn vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the precepts of men,Ē ( Matthew 15) and also, ďAll plantation which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted out.Ē Before the coming of his well-beloved Son, in the flesh, severely He punished all such as durst enterprise to alter or change his ceremonies and statutes, as in Saul, ( 1 Samuel 13,15) Uzziah, ( 2 Chronicles 26) Nadab and Abihu, is to be read. ( Leviticus 10). And will He now, after that he hath opened his counsel to the world by his only Son, whom he commandeth to be heard, ( Matthew 17) and after that by his Holy Spirit speaking in his apostles, he hath established the religion in which he will have his true worshippers to abide to the end, ( Acts 1,2,3; 1 Corinthians 11:26) ó will he now, I say, admit menís inventions in the matter of religion, which he reputed for damnable idolatry? ( Colossians 2). If man and angels would affirm that He will or may do it, his own Verity shall convict them of a lie. For this sentence He pronounceth, ďNot that which seemeth good in thy eyes shalt thou do to the Lord thy God; but that which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, that do thou: add nothing unto it, diminish nothing from it.Ē ( Deuteronomy 4:12).

    Which, sealing up his New Testament, He repeateth in these words, ďThat which ye have, hold till I come again,Ē etc. ( Revelation 2). And therefore, yet again it repenteth me not to say, that in this point, which is chief and principal, your Grace must dissent from the multitude of rulers, or else, you can possess no portion with Christ Jesus in his kingdom and glory.

    An orator, and Godís messenger also, justly might require of you now (by Godís hand promoted to high dignity,) a motherly pity upon your subjects; a justice inflexible to be used against murderers and common oppressors; a heart void of avarice and partiality; a mind studious and careful for maintenance of that realm and commonwealth above which God hath placed you, and by it hath made you honorable; with the rest of virtues, which not only Godís Scriptures, but also writers illuminated only with the light of nature, require in godly rulers. But vain it is to crave reformation of manners, where religion is corrupted; for like as a man cannot do the office of a man, till first he have a being and life, so, to work works pleasant in the sight of God the Father can no man do without the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, which doth not abide in the hearts of idolaters. And therefore the most godly princes, Josiah, Hezekiah, and Jehosaphat, seeking Godís favor to rest upon them and upon their people, before all things began to reform religion. ( 1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 17; 2 Kings 22; <143401> Chronicles 34; 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29, 30:31). For it is as the stomach within the body, which, if it be corrupted, of necessity it infecteth the whole mass. And therefore (often I repeat that which to be done is most necessary,) if your Grace pretend to reign with Christ Jesus, then it behoveth you to take care of his true religion, which this day within your realm is so deformed, that no part of Christís ordinances remains in their first strength and original purity: which, I praise God, to me is less difficult to prove, than dangerous to speak. And yet, neither the one nor the other I fear, partly, because the love of life eternal quencheth the terror of temporal death, and partly, because I would with St. Paul wish myself accursed from Christ (as touching earthly pleasure,) for the salvation of my brethren, and illumination of your Grace; which thing, work and very deed, and not bare word or writing shall witness and declare, if I may purchase the liberty of tongue but forty days only.

    I am not ignorant how dangerous a thing it appeareth to the natural man, to innovate any thing in matters of religion; and partly, I consider your Graceís power is not so free, as a public reformation perchance would require. But if your Grace shall consider the danger and damnation perpetual which inevitably hangeth upon all maintainers of a false religion, then shall the greatest danger easily devour and swallow up the smaller. If your Grace shall consider, that either you must serve God to life everlasting, or else serve the world to death and damnation, (Matthew 6; Romans 8; 1 Kings 18) then, albeit that man and angel should dissuade you, you will choose life, and refuse death. And if further, you shall consider, that the very life consisteth in the knowledge of the only true God, and of his Son, Christ Jesus, and that true knowledge hath annexed with it Godís true worship and honor, which requireth a testimony of his own will expressed by his word that such honor doth please him; if these things aforesaid your Grace do earnestly meditate, then, albeit you may not do suddenly what you would, yet shall you not cease to do what you may.

    Your Grace cannot suddenly abolish superstition, and remove from offices unprofitable pastors, of whom speaketh Ezekiel the prophet, ( Ezekiel 34) which to a public reformation is requisite and necessary. But if the zeal of Godís glory be fervent in your Graceís heart, you will not by wicked laws maintain idolatry; neither will you suffer the fury of bishops to murder and devour the poor members of Christís body, as in times bypast they have been accustomed: which thing, if either by blind ignorance you do, or yet for pleasure of others within this realm permit to be done, then, except you speedily repent, you and your posterity shall suddenly feel the depressing hand of Him that hath exalted you. You shall be compelled, will you or not, to know that He is eternal against whom you address the battle; and that it is He that moderateth the times and disposeth kingdoms, ejecting from authority such as be inobedient, and placing others according to his good pleasure ( Daniel 2): that it is He that glorifieth them that do glorify him, and poureth forth contempt upon princes that rebel against his graces offered. ( 2 Samuel 2; Job 12; <19A701> Psalm 107; Daniel 2).

    How dangerous that ever it shall appear to the flesh to obey God, and to make war against the devil, the prince of darkness, pride, and superstition; yet if your Grace look to have yourself and seed to continue in honor worldly and everlasting, subject yourself betimes under the hand of him that is omnipotent: embrace his will, despise not his testament, refuse not his graces offered. When he calleth upon you, withdraw not your ear. Be not led away with the vain opinion that your church cannot err. Be you most assuredly persuaded, that so far as in life you see them degenerate from Christís true apostles, so, in religion are they further corrupted. Lay the book of God before your eyes, ( Joshua 1) and let it be judge to that which I say; which if you with fear and reverence obey, as did Josiah the admonitions of the prophetess, ( 2 Chronicles 34) then shall He, by whom kings reign, crown your battle with double benediction, and reward you with wisdom, riches, glory, honor, and long life in this your regiment temporal, ( 2 Chronicles 1); and with life everlasting, when the King of all kings, (whose members do now cry for your help,) the Lord Jesus, shall appear to judgment, accompanied with his angels; before whom you shall make account of your present regiment, when the proud and disobedient shall cry, ďMountains, fall upon us, and hide us from the face of the Lamb.Ē ( Revelation 6:16). But then it shall be too late, because they contemned his voice when he lovingly called. ***God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of his Holy Spirit, move your heart so to consider and accept the things that be said, that they be not a testimony of your just condemnation in that great day of the Lord Jesus; to whose omnipotent Spirit I unfeignedly commit your Grace.

    A MOST WHOLESOME COUNSEL How To Behave Ourselves In The Midst Of This Wicked Generation, Touching The Daily Exercise Of Godís Most Holy And Sacred Word.

    TO HIS BRETHREN IN SCOTLAND, AFTER HE HAD BEEN QUIET AMONG THEM.

    THE comfort of the Holy Ghost for salutation. ó Not so much to instruct you, as to leave with you, dearly beloved brethren, some testimony of my love, I have thought good to communicate with you in these few lines my weak counsel, how I would ye should behave yourselves in the midst of this wicked generation touching the exercise of Godís most holy and sacred word, without the which, neither shall knowledge increase, godliness appear, nor fervency continue among you.

    For as the word of God is the beginning of life spiritual, without which all flesh is dead in Godís presence; and the lanthorn to our feet, without the brightness whereof, all the posterity of Adam doth walk in darkness ó and as it is the foundation of faith, without the which, no man under-standeth the good will of God so is it also the only organ and instrument which God useth to strengthen the weak, to comfort the afflicted, to reduce to mercy by repentance such as have slidden; and finally, to preserve and keep the very life of the soul, in all assaults and temptations.

    And therefore, if that ye desire your knowledge to be increased, your faith to be confirmed, your consciences to be quieted and comforted, or finally, your souls to be preserved in life, let your exercise be frequent in the law of your Lord God. Despise not that precept which Moses (who by his own experience had learned what comfort lieth hid within the word of God,) gave to the Israelites, in these words, ďThese words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart; and thou shalt exercise thy children in them; thou shalt talk of them, when thou art at home in thy house, and as thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up; and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be papers of remembrance between thy eyes; and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.Ē ( Deuteronomy 6).

    And Moses in another place commands them, to remember the law of the Lord God to do it, that it may be well unto them, and with their children, in the land which the Lord shall give them: meaning, that like as frequent memory and repetition of Godís precepts is the means whereby the fear of God, which is the beginning of all wisdom and felicity, is kept recent in mind, so is negligence and oblivion of Godís benefits received, the first step of defection from God. Now, if the law, which by reason of our weakness can work nothing but wrath and anger, was so effectual, that remembered and rehearsed of purpose to do it, it brought to the people a corporal benediction, what shall we say that the glorious gospel of Christ Jesus doth work, so that it be with reverence entreated? St. Paul calleth it the sweet odour of life unto those that should receive life; borrowing his similitude from odoriferous herbs or precious unguents, whose nature is, the more they be touched or moved, to send forth their odour more pleasing and delectable. Even such, dear brethren, is the blessed evangel of our Lord Jesus; for the more that it be entreated, the more comfortable and more pleasant is it, to such as do hear, read, and exercise the same.

    I am not ignorant, that as the Israelites loathed manna, because that every day they saw and ate but one thing, so some there be now-a-days, (who will not be holden of the worst sort,) that after once reading some parcels of the Scriptures, do convert themselves altogether to profane authors and human learning, because that the variety of matters therein contained doth bring with it a daily delectation; where contrariwise, within the simple Scriptures of God, the perpetual repetition of a thing is harassing and wearisome. This temptation, I confess, may enter into Godís very elect, for a time: but impossible it is, that therein they continue to the end; for Godís election, besides other evident signs, hath this ever joined with it, that Godís elect are called from ignorance (I speak of those that are come to the years of knowledge,) to some taste and feeling of Godís mercy, of which, they are never satisfied in this life, but from time to time they hunger and they thirst to eat the bread that descended from heaven, and to drink the water that springeth unto life everlasting; which they cannot do, but by means of faith; and faith looketh ever to the will of God revealed by his word; so that Faith hath both her beginning and continuance by the word of God. And so, I say, that impossible it is that Godís chosen children can despise or reject the word of their salvation, by any long continuance, neither yet loathe it to the end. Often it is, that Godís elect are holden in such bondage and thraldom, that they cannot have the bread of life broken unto them, neither yet liberty to exercise themselves in Godís holy word; but then do not Godís dear children loathe, but most greedily do they covet the food of their souls. Then do they accuse their former negligence, then lament and bewail they the miserable affliction of their brethren; and then cry and call they in their hearts, (and openly where they dare,) for free passage to the gospel. This hunger and thirst doth argue and prove the life of their souls. But if such men as having liberty to read and exercise themselves on Godís holy Scripture, and yet do begin to weary, because from time to time they read but one thing; I ask, why weary they not also every day to drink wine, to eat bread every day, to behold the brightness of the sun, and so to use the rest of Godís creatures which every day do keep their own substance, course, and nature? They shall answer, I trust, Because such creatures have a strength, as oft as they are used, to expel hunger, to quench thirst, to restore strength, and to preserve the life.

    O miserable wretches! who dare attribute more power and strength to the corruptible creatures in nourishing and preserving the mortal carcase, than to the eternal word of God in nourishment of the soul, which is immortal.

    To reason with their abominable unthankfulness at this present, is not my purpose. But to you, dear brethren, I write my knowledge, and do speak my conscience, that so necessary as meat and drink are to the preservation of life corporal, and so necessary as the heat and brightness of the sun are to the quickening of the herbs and to expel darkness, so necessary is also to life everlasting, and to the illumination and light of the soul, the perpetual meditation, exercise, and use of Godís holy word.

    And therefore, dear brethren, if that ye look for a life to come, of necessity it is that ye exercise yourselves in the book of the Lord your God. Let no day slip over without some comfort received from the mouth of God. Open your ears, and He will speak, even pleasing things to your heart. Close not your eyes, but diligently let them behold what portion of substance is left to you within your Fatherís testament. Let your tongue learn to praise the gracious goodness of Him who of his mere mercy hath called you from darkness to light, and from death to life. Neither yet may you do this so quietly, that ye will admit no witnesses. Nay, brethren, ye are ordained of God to rule and govern your own houses in Godís true fear, and according to his holy word ó within your own houses, I say, in some cases ye are bishops and kings; your wives, children, and family are your bishopric and charge; of you it shall be required how carefully and diligently ye have instructed them in Godís true knowledge; how ye have studied, in them to plant virtue, and to repress vice. And therefore I say, ye must make them partakers in reading, exhortation, and in making common prayers; which I would, in every house were used once a day at least. But above all things, dear brethren, study to practice in life that which the Lord commands, and then be ye assured, that ye shall never hear nor read the same without fruit.

    And this much for the exercises within your houses.

    Considering that St. Paul calls the congregation, the body of Christ, whereof every one of us is a member; teaching us thereby, that no member is of sufficiency to sustain and feed itself, without the help and support of any other, I think it necessary, that for the conference of Scriptures, assemblies of brethren be had. The order therein to be observed, is expressed by St. Paul, and therefore I need not to use many words in that behalf: only willing, that when ye convene, (which I would were once a week,) that your beginning should be from confessing of your offenses, and invocation of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus to assist you in all your godly enterprises; and then, let some place of Scripture be plainly and distinctly read, so much as shall be thought sufficient for a day or time: ó which ended, if any brother have exhortation, interpretation, or doubt, let him not fear to speak and move the same, so that he do it with moderation, either to edify, or be edified. And hereof, I doubt not, but great profit shall shortly ensue: for first, by hearing, reading, and comparing the Scriptures, in the assembly, the whole body of the Scriptures of God shall become familiar; the judgments and spirits of men shall be tried, their patience and modesty shall be known, and finally their gifts and utterance shall appear.

    Multiplication of words, perplexed interpretation, and wilfulness in reasoning, is to be avoided at all times, and in all places, but chiefly in the congregation, where nothing ought to be respected, except the glory of God, and comfort and edification of our brethren. If any thing occur within the text, or yet arise in reasoning, which your judgments cannot resolve, or capacities apprehend, let the same be noted and put in writing, before ye depart the congregation, that when God shall offer unto you any interpreter, your doubts being noted and known, may have the more expeded resolution; or else, that when ye shall have occasion to write to such as with whom ye would communicate your judgments, your letters may signify and declare your unfeigned desire that ye have of God and of his true knowledge, and they, I doubt not, according to their talents, will endeavor, and bestow their faithful labors, to satisfy your godly petitions.

    Of myself, I will speak as I think; I will more gladly spend fifteen hours in communicating my judgment with you, in explaining, as God pleases to open to me, any place of Scripture, than half an hour in any other matter beside.

    Further, in reading the Scriptures, I would ye should join some books of the Old, and some of the New Testament together; as Genesis and one of the Evangelists, Exodus with another, and so forth, ever ending such books as ye begin (as the time will suffer:) for it shall greatly comfort you, to hear that harmony and well-tuned song of the Holy Spirit speaking in our fathers from the beginning. It shall confirm you in these dangerous and perilous days, to behold the face of Christ Jesusí loving Spouse and Kirk, from Abel to himself, and from himself to this day, in all ages to be one. Be frequent in the Prophets, and in the Epistles of St. Paul; for the multitude of matters most comfortable therein contained, requireth exercise and good memory. Like as your assembly ought to begin with confession and invocation of Godís Holy Spirit, so would I that they were never finished without thanksgiving, and common prayers for princes, rulers, and magistrates; for the liberty and free passage of Christís evangel; for the comfort and deliverance of our afflicted brethren in all places, now persecuted, but most cruelly now, within the realms of France and England; and for such other things, as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus shall teach unto you to be profitable either to yourselves, or yet to your brethren, wheresoever they be. If thus or better, dear brethren, I shall hear that you exercise yourselves, then will I praise God for your great obedience, as for them that not only have received the word of grace with gladness, but that also, with care do keep the same, as a treasure and jewel most precious. And because that I cannot suspect, that ye will do the contrary at this present, I will use no threatenings; for my good hope is, that ye shall walk as the sons of light, in the midst of this wicked generation; that ye shall be as stars in the night season, who yet are not changed into darkness: that ye shall be as wheat amongst the cockle, and yet, that ye shall not change your nature which ye have received by grace, through the fellowship and participation which we have with the Lord Jesus, in his body and blood. And finally, that ye shall be of the number of the prudent virgins, daily renewing your lamps with oil, as they that patiently abide the glorious appearance and coming of the Lord Jesus: whose omnipotent Spirit rule and instruct, illuminate and comfort your hearts and minds in all assaults, now and ever. Amen.

    The grace of the Lord Jesus rest with you. Remember my weakness in your daily prayers.

    Your brother unfeigned, John Knox.

    The 7th of July, 1556.

    EPISTLE TO HIS BRETHREN IN SCOTLAND.

    GRACE, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, with the perpetual increase of the Holy Spirit.

    Albeit of diverse letters written unto you, dearly beloved brethren, since the month of May last by-past, I have received no answer to this hour, which more I impute to the troubles of these wicked times, than to any negligence and oblivion in you; yet coming to Dieppe, for performance of my promise, and satisfaction of your request, (if God so permit,) I could not but renew somewhat of my former rude writing, the tenor whereof now in effect: That ye, considering, by the signs fore-spoken by our master Christ Jesus, which for the most part are now present, the days of this most corrupt world to be short, and therefore the joyful deliverance of that oppressed and afflicted flock to approach, may walk in Godís presence, as becometh his saints and chosen children, having your consciences assuredly grounded upon the free mercy promised to the faithful in Christ Jesus ĺ and also, that your conversation amongst men be such, as it becometh the children of light, having a testimony by your fruits, that your faith is not dead.

    And as this is a thing most acceptable before God, so is it not a little necessary in these most wretched and wicked days. For as some, never taking trial of the ground of their faith, have shamefully slidden back, to the great offense of many, openly denying the eternal verity of God, the sweetness and power whereof by all appearance they never tasted, (whatsoever some of them babbled with their tongues,) so hath the dissolute life of such as have professed Christís holy Evangel, been occasion of two extreme evils. The first is, thereby have the conjured enemies of Christís truth taken a boldness to blaspheme the same, as a doctrine diabolical, which looseth the bridle to all impiety. For the pestilent Papists perceiving the licentious and inordinate life of some professors, did not only judge the whole number to be likewise infected, but also, did neither fear nor shame to accuse the doctrine, as the principal cause of such enormities. And thus, alas! do we expone the sacred and blessed word of God to opprobrium and rebuke, by our inordinate lives. The second inconvenient which is ensued of our riotous and light behavior, is no less to be lamented. For thereby, some who began with us to follow God, to profess Christ Jesus, and to abhor superstition, are declined from the sincerity and simplicity which is in Christ Jesus, and have separated themselves from the society and communion of their brethren, into sects damnable and most pernicious; being bold to affirm, that amongst us there is no true kirk, by reason, that our lives do not agree with the word which we profess.

    Albeit I am not ignorant, that neither of these two sorts of men shall escape sharp judgments, (except by repentance God speedily call them to better mind and purpose,) yet ought we, dear brethren, take diligent heed, that we be not offensive, neither to Jew, neither to Gentile, as we shall hear, and I hope consider, after that I have touched wherein this last sort of men do err. God is witness, I am not their enemy, neither do I write of malice towards any person; but rather, lamenting their blindness, I desire to communicate with them the light which God hath offered and revealed unto me, in Christ Jesus his Son. Of some of them, I trust I may witness, as man may judge of man, that they have a zeal toward godliness; but alas! it is not according to knowledge; for they do stumble at the same stone, which offended the Jews.

    But to the purpose ĺ That this sort of men fall from the society of Christís little flock, with contempt of his sacraments, and holy ordinances by us truly ministered, because some men having knowledge of the truth, do abuse the sweet liberty of the same; they are abused and deceived in two points: First, they do judge and pronounce of the doctrine and religion, by the lives of the professors; Secondly, they require a greater purity and justice (denying any true kirk to be, where vices are known,) than ever was found in any congregation since the beginning. Of which two evils, must indeed follow most horrible absurdities. For first, if the life of man, be it good, or be it bad, were either assurance, either yet any just condemnation of any doctrine or religion, then was the ancient idolatry of the Gentiles, and the blasphemous law of Mahomet, to be approved for good religion; and by the contrary, the holy law and ordinances of God, are to be rejected as false and vain. For in the ancient idolatry, men of most singular virtues, temperance, and external justice, did live, as faithful histories do witness unto us. And this day, amongst the Turks, the common multitude do live a more straight life in many things, than Godís word does require; yea, and some of them, as concerning their external behavior, may be judged irreprehensible. But what folly were it to prove and allow therefore their damnable doctrine and false religion? And on the other part what age shall we find from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to David, and from David to Christ, in which iniquity did not abound, yea even in the household of God? Abraham himself, the Father of the Faithful, denied Sarah, his lawful wife, which no doubt was a horrible sin. But was therefore his religion vain? God forbid. The patriarchs moved by envy sold their brother: the Israelites, after deliverance from Egypt, and after they had received the law, fell to idolatry; grudged, murmured, and committed horrible fornication. David was found guilty in adultery and murder; and finally, the Holy Ghost doth witness by the mouth of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and of the rest, that the people, under the most godly kings, and when religion was in greatest purity ĺ then, I say, do the prophets witness, that the people were most infected with vices, and so continued till the time of captivity; yea, and after their reduction, their lives did nothing amend, till the days of our Savior, Christ Jesus. But did this common iniquity of the people prove or argue the religion which was established by God, and was taught amongst them, to be false and vain? Far be such cogitations from the hearts of Christians!

    Further, let men consider, if it was lawful for any man, to have despised Godís holy ordinances appointed to be used in his assembly, because that wicked men were participant thereof? ĺ yea, or yet, if such as separated themselves apart in sects (as did the Pharisees, Sadducees, and others,) did lack their just punishment. Plain it is, they did not; for they all in process of time declining from the simplicity which God had approved by his law and prophets, fell into damnable idolatry and errors: some arrogantly pretending to be saved not only by the works of the law, but also, by such constitutions as they themselves had invented; others, denying the immortality of the soul, the substance of angels or spirits, and the resurrection of the flesh; and others contemning and refusing holy matrimony. Thus, I say, did God revenge the contempt of his holy ordinances upon such as would not humble themselves under the same, but dividing themselves from the society of his congregation, pretended to a greater perfection than the law prescribed.

    I would that every man should diligently mark this argument of the apostle. ďIf he,Ē saith Paul, ďwho despised the law of Moses, by the testimony of two or three witnesses did suffer death without mercy, with how greater torments, trust you, shall he be punished, who treadeth under foot the Son of God, and esteemeth the blood of his testament as a profane thing?Ē The Son of God, who is the wisdom of his Father, hath commanded us to assemble together in his name; he hath appointed his holy word to be preached, and his sacraments to be ministered, and to be received of such as profess him to be their Sovereign Lord and Savior. Which sacraments he hath sanctified to us, not as was the book of the law, with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own precious blood once shed for our redemption, the memorial and remembrance whereof, he hath straitly commanded us (convened together in his name) to celebrate, to his againcoming.

    These things being weighed, do we think, that such as contemn this his precept, withdrawing themselves from the congregation, where they cannot deny, but Christ Jesus is preached without all mixture, and sacraments ministered according to his word, shall escape judgment? How the Papists are plagued for the like pride and inobedience, the most part of men do see. And evident it is, that the original of diversities of their religion amongst them invented, had the same end which men now seek, to wit, they would not stand content with the common righteousness promised to the members of Christís body, by faith in him, but they would aspire and contend for a greater perfection than the common believers could have; and therefore did they divide themselves apart, contemning Christís flock and ordinances. But to what holiness they are attained, let the world witness. I am sure, God is immutable, and doth no less abhor the sectaries of this age, than he hath done those of the former times. And would God that such as most brag of perfection in these our days, had not given so manifest declaration of their own blindness, as that they have done!

    If any think and object, the Kirk, after Christís death, resurrection, and ascension, is of greater purity and perfection, than was the Kirk under the Lord, for it is called the holy and undefiled Spouse of Christ without spot and blemish; and therefore, when vices do reign, and are openly known, that there cannot be the true kirk, let the same man consider, that the holy apostle (yea, the Holy Ghost speaking in him), did salute and acknowledge the congregations of Corinth, Galatia, and Thessalonica, for the true kirks of Christ Jesus, in the which not the less were crimes most grievous ĺ fornication, adultery, incest, strife, debate, contention, and envy ĺ yea, some had declined, and were bewitched by false apostles; some denied the resurrection, some were idle bellies, and some affirmed circumcision, after Christ, a thing necessary to salvation. True it is, that the apostle sharply reprehended, as well the wicked life, as the erroneous opinions, affirming, that such persons, without repentance, could not enter into the kingdom of God. But in the mean time, he did reverence and acknowledge (as I have said) the stone congregations to be the true kirks of Christ Jesus. And therefore I say, that neither the life, neither the opinion of particular persons, is, or can be either sufficient approbation, either yet just condemnation of any doctrine or religion.

    The iniquity of man declareth himself to be wicked; but it is not able to deface the religion which God hath approved by his expressed word. For if so were, as before I have touched, then hath no religion been sincere and pure from the beginning; for that age hath never been, in which wicked men did not abound, even in the bowels of the external kirk of Christ Jesus.

    And therefore I say, that the life and conversation of man is no assured note, sign, or token of Christís visible kirk. But the substance of that doctrine and religion which is publicly preached, and universally received in any congregation, assembly, or company, doth witness and declare, whether the spirit of the Lord Jesus doth there rule the kirk or not.

    Wheresoever Godís Word hath supreme authority, where Christ Jesus is affirmed, preached, and received to be the only Savior of the world, where his sacraments are truly ministered, and, finally, where his Word ruleth, and not the vain fantasy of man, there is the true kirk of Christ Jesus, from the society and ordinances whereof, (I mean such as Christ has commanded to be used,) ought no man to separate himself, notwithstanding that in the same, the darnel and the cockle appear to surmount the wheat and good seed.

    But here do such as will join themselves to no congregation, except with that which is perfect in all things, object to us, but ye have left the assembly of Papists, and have gathered yourselves in companies apart. I answer, Just cause have we, and all men, to fly from the synagogue of Satan, not only because of the wickedness of the lives of such as therein be assembled, but chiefly because that once sovereign captain, Christ Jesus, is therein blasphemed, his sacraments and holy ordinances being altogether polluted and profaned by the vain inventions of men. Let them convict us and our congregations, (as they never shall be able to do,) of these crimes, or else they shall not escape judgment and condemnation, because they do despise Christ Jesus and his holy ordinances.

    But now, dear brethren, let us return to ourselves; for albeit that neither Papist, neither the other sort shall escape Godís judgment and vengeance, yet it becometh us ever to bear in mind the sentence which our Master by himself, and his Holy Spirit by his apostles, hath pronounced in these words, ďLet so your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven. Be ye holy, as I am holy. For I appointed you to go forth, and to produce fruit. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, to whom I leave my own example, that ye love one another. For you I pray, (but for the world I pray not,) that ye may be sanctified in the verity; and the word and doctrine which ye have heard, is the Verity, by which ye have learned to put off the old man with his lusts and concupiscences, and to put on the new man which is according to the image of Him who hath created you, to walk in justice and cleanness of life. That ye, refusing yourselves, may unfeignedly study to obey the good will of God, which is your sanctification; abstaining from all filthiness and impiety, giving occasion of slander and offense to none, knowing that woe and malediction is provided against such as by whom slander cometh.Ē

    By these and the like sentences, dear brethren, it becometh us to consider the excellency of our vocation, and the due and voluntary obedience which we as children, ought to render to so loving and gracious a Father, who of his free grace hath called us from darkness of error, and from bondage of Satan, to the bright knowledge of his glory, and to the glorious liberty of his saints, whose kingdom, and glory, and joy, he hath appointed most assured and triumphant with Christ Jesus, his only beloved. In consideration, I say, of this our glory to come, and of that excellent present dignity which assuredly we possess in hope, (for even now, are we the sons of God, although our glory be hid,) ought we with all diligence watch, lest that oblivion and forgetfulness of our God and of his kingdom creep in our minds; being also careful and vigilant in all assaults, as well to try and examine the infallible signs of our election; which thing St. Peter calleth the making of our election sure; tempting if we stand in faith, and if our conscience do bear record that in vain we have not received the graces of God; as also, that we declare before this wicked generation, by the fruits which we produce, what trees we are; to wit, the fruitful branches of the very vine.

    And in these two points ought our principal and chief study be occupied, considering first, that without faith it is impossible to please God; and, on the other part, that the eyes of our enemies are ever bent upon us. The Papists are busy to espy our offenses, faults, and infirmities, to the end that, as said is, they may blaspheme the blessed Word of the eternal God, by which is uttered and revealed to us his fatherly mercies, godly counsels, and free graces towards us; which, as they never tasted, so may they not abide to be preached to the world. But as they shall bear their just condemnation, because they accuse us, not hating our sins, but hating our persons, and the Verity we profess, so are they not the enemies most to be feared. For that the venom and malice of Satan reigneth in all Papists for the most part, is now more evident even to infants, than that it can greatly hurt any, except such as willingly, and with appetite insatiable, do drink the poison of that harlotís cup, either for fear of corporal punishment, or else for hope of worldly promotion. But in the other sort, of whom before we have somewhat spoken, the craft and malice of the devil fighting against Christ, is yet more covert, and therefore it is more dangerous, and more to be feared. For under the color and cloak of mortification of the flesh, of godly life, and of Christian righteousness, they are become privy blasphemers of Christ Jesus, supplanters of his dignity, and manifest enemies to the free justification which cometh by faith in his blood. For some of them do not fear to deny Christ Jesus to be the eternal Son of the eternal God, and so, with Arius, blasphemously denying his Godhead; some do affirm, that it is possible that a man may obey, and perfectly fulfill the law of God in this life, in which he may attain to as great perfection of righteousness, as ever Christ had. Others do hold for a sure conclusion, that Christís righteousness availeth us nothing, except that we have a perpetual righteousness, as they term it, of our own. And, finally, the general consent of all that sect is, that God by his foreknowledge, counsel, and wisdom, hath no assured election, neither yet any certain reprobation; but that every man may elect or reprobate himself by his own free will, which he hath, say they, to do good or evil.

    The rest of their opinions, most horrible and absurd, I omit at this present, touching only for your advertisement this, which they think inexpugnable, and in which they glory, as of most precious pearls forged by their own brains, and polished by the fineness of their wits, when yet, in very deed, they are but the rotten heresies of Arius and Pelagius, long ago confuted by Augustine, and by ancient writers before him. And of such teachers or professors, I beseech you, dear brethren, to take heed; for by them is not only the glory of Christ Jesus and his dignity trodden under foot, but also, is God in effect denied to be God. For whosoever go about to remove from God, either yet to call in doubt his wisdom and foreknowledge, his justice, power, mercy, goodness, or free election, go about, so far as in them is, to destroy and call in doubt his holy Godhead. For if there be anything which he did not cause, the which he did not also predestinate and appoint, then lacked he wisdom, and free regiment. Or if anything was ever done, or yet after this shall be done in heaven or in earth, which he might not have impeded, if so had been his godly pleasure, then is he not omnipotent.

    Which three properties, to wit, Wisdom, Free regiment, and Power, denied to be in God, I pray you, what rests in his Godhead?

    But far be such blasphemous and impious cogitations from the hearts of such as hope to reign in the kingdom with Christ Jesus. The wisdom of our God we acknowledge to be such, that it compelleth the very malice of Satan, and the horrible iniquity of such as be drowned in sin, to serve to his glory, and to the profit of his elect. His power we believe and confess to be infinite, and such, as no creature in heaven or earth is able to resist; and his regiment we acknowledge to be so free, that none of his creatures dare present them in judgment, to reason, or demand the question, Why hast thou done this or that? But the fountain of this their damnable error, which is, that in God they can acknowledge no justice, except that which their foolish brain be able to comprehend, at more opportunity, God willing, we shall entreat. At this present, I thought it my duty, and very love constrained me thereto, to advertise you, that Satan hath sent forth his messengers almost in all quarters, to disperse and sow abroad these his pestilent opinions. And therefore, in the bowels of Christ Jesus I exhort you, to try the spirits of such as shall come unto you. Suffer no man without trial and examination to take upon him the office of a preacher, neither to travel amongst the simple sheep of Christ Jesus, assembling them in private conventions; for if every man shall enter at his own appetite into the vineyard of the Lord, without just trial of his life, conversation, doctrine, and condition, as some, more to serve their own bellies, than the Lord Jesus, will offer their labors; so, no doubt, shall Satan have his other supporters, by whom he purposeth to destroy the very plantation of our heavenly Father. And therefore, my prayer is, and shall be unto our God, that in this behalf ye be circumspect, prudent, and wary; for as the matter and business ye have in hand is high, and to the advancement of Godís glory, and to no small comfort and consolation of your brethren, if in the same, constantly, with godly wisdom ye proceed, so shall Satan be most vigilant to trouble and impede the same, by all means possible. The powers of the earth shall no doubt withstand you, and the dissolute life and ungodly behavior, perchance even of some preachers, may slander and offend the weak ones in Christ. But neither of both, (except, as God forbid, you turn back from your godly enterprise,) do I so much fear, as the assault of Satan by false teachers, or dissembled brethren. For seldom it is that open tyranny doth utterly suppress in any realm or province the true religion earnestly received by a multitude. And albeit the ungodly life of preachers for a time trouble the quietness of some conscience, yet such is the mercy of our God towards his own elect, that by his Holy Spirit he comforteth the simple, and by the power of his blessed word, in the end, he confoundeth the dissembled preacher or professor, (I mean, him that is the mercenary, who seeketh the belly, and not the glory of Christ Jesus;) so that neither the open tyranny, neither yet the cloaked and disguised preacher, can much hurt. But deceivable and false doctrine is a poison and venom, which under the taste and name of verity, once drunken and received, with great difficulty can afterward be purged, as the Epistle of St. Paul, and the history of all ages entreating the estate and matters of religion, do teach us.

    If therefore the doctrine and persuasion of any man tend to the exaltation and advancement of any righteousness or perfection, except of Christ Jesus alone; if any affirm, that Christian righteousness which is available before God, be any other perfection, than remission of our sins, which we have by faith only in Christís blood; or if any promise such perfection in this life, that unfeignedly we need not to say, ďRemit to us our offenses, for we are unprofitable servantsĒ ĺ and finally, if any persuade, that our merits, good works, or obedience, be any cause either of our justification, or yet of our election, let him be accursed, suppose that he were an angel from heaven; for he preacheth to us another Evangel than the Son of God hath revealed to the world, and the Holy Ghost hath sent up to us by the mouths and writings of the apostles, which plainly affirmeth, that there is no other name given to men under the heaven, in which they may be saved, except in the name, that is, in the power and virtues of Jesus crucified, who is made to us from God, righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption: by whom alone we have access to the throne of Godís mercy, as by one only propitiator and obtainer of grace, to us that of nature be sinful; the flesh (even after our regeneration) ever rebelling against the spirit, during the travail of this life in such sort, that with the apostle Paul, the rest of Godís children are compelled to confess, that in them, that is, in their flesh, there remaineth no good. And therefore shame they not to confess, and that openly and from the heart, that not of the works of righteousness which they have done, but of His mere mercy and grace, who loving us when we were enemies, did give to the death of the cross his only Son for us, are we saved. And further, they acknowledge, that this salvation doth not proceed of our works, neither yet, that it was appointed to us in time; but that before the foundation of the world was laid, did God elect us in Christ Jesus, that we should be holy and blameless before him, by love, by the which he loved us, even when we were dead in sin; and did predestinate us, and freely choose us to be his inheritors with Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will. So that we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus to good works which God hath prepared, that we should walk in them; so that through grace, and that by free and undeserved favor, are we saved by faith; neither of ourselves, neither yet of our works, (lest that any should glory;) but all the children of God do acknowledge and confess, that salvation and the life everlasting, are the gift of God the Father, freely given with Christ his Son ĺ as the twenty-four elders casting their crowns before him that sitteth upon the throne, with one voice do cry, giving glory and praise to him in these words, ďWorthy art thou, O Lord, to receive glory, honor, and empire; for thou wast killed, and hast redeemed us, and hast made us to our God, priests and kings.Ē

    This doctrine, I say, hath the Holy Ghost sealed up unto us, which Satan from the beginning hath impugned. But now, in these last days, most cruelly doth he rage, omitting no occasion by the which he is able to deface the same, so that what he cannot do by open tyranny, that he availeth to bring to pass by false doctrine and errors damnable; that is, Satan continually laboreth to intermeddle, and mix somewhat proceeding from us, besides Christ Jesus and his righteousness, in the cause and matter of our redemption and salvation. For nothing to him is more despiteful, than Christ Jesus exalted, truly preached, and constantly affirmed to be the only Savior of the world. For that word of verity being the power of God, to the salvation of all those that believe, it is the plain subversion of his kingdom.

    And therefore he, our mortal enemy, the old Serpent, perceiving his head to be bruised by the power of Christ Jesus, so preached, that He alone may be known conqueror, doth now spit forth his deadly venom, and fiercely showeth his terrible tail, to the end, that he may trouble for a time the very elect, and utterly blind, envenom, and deceive those, whose names are not written in the book of life. But my hope is good of you, dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus, that even to the end, ye shall continue in that doctrine which once ye have professed, notwithstanding that the words of unstable and deceivable opinions be blown in your ears; and also, that ye shall proceed, and march forward in the battle begun. Remember, I beseech you, with what condition we did first break bread together in the name of the Lord Jesus, whatsoever impediments be prepared in your contrary; that so doing, at the last ye may attain to the participation of that kingdom, the possession whereof is not gotten, but by the suffering of many tribulations.

    The mighty power, illumination, and grace of the same Spirit who raised from death the Lord Jesus, the great Bishop of our souls, move, illuminate, and inspire your hearts, senses, and understandings, that clearly you may behold the length and breadth, the height and deepness of that love of God our Father, showed and affirmed to us in Jesus Christ; and so lighten the eyes of your inward man, that continually ye may contemplate the unspeakable riches of the glorious inheritance prepared for such as believe and profess him in the presence of men, and of this wicked generation; that ye, in deep consideration of the same, may contemn and despise the deceivable and transitory pleasures that be present, in a sure hope to possess, with the Lord Jesus Christ, those things that be permanent and eternal. Amen.

    This letter is more ample, than was that which I sent first; and therefore, notwithstanding the copies of the other, I pray you provide, that the double of this be sent to our brethren in Kyle, and to others that shall require it.

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ rest with you. From Dieppe, the first of December, 1557.

    Your brother to command in godliness, John Knox.

    EPISTLE TO THE LORDS PROFESSING THE TRUTH IN SCOTLAND. ďThe secrets of the Lord are revealed to those that fear him.Ē THE Holy Ghost by the mouth of David and Solomon (right honorable lords,) for two reasons, calleth the fear of the Lord the ďbeginning of all wisdom.Ē First, because without the same, all that appeareth to be wisdom, perisheth, and most commonly turneth to the perdition of those that are esteemed, and do esteem themselves most wise. For wisdom natural, not revealed, nor bridled by the fear of God, as it is but extreme foolishness, so is it a poison and venom most deadly, which in the end commonly bringeth the worldly wise to worldly confusion, as the experience of all ages hath taught us; where by the contrary, the fear of the Lord preserveth his servants in their greatest extremities, even before the world.

    But this is not the chief cause why the fear of the Lord hath the fore-named title. For evident it is, that not only the worldly wise once suffer death and come to confusion, but also, as David does witness, even those that altogether be fools, and enraged with madness; yea, it is statute to all men once to die. But because that where the fear of the Lord is once deeply grafted in the heart, that there also are the graces of the Holy Spirit from time to time added, to the further instruction, comfort, and confirmation of Godís chosen children in all godliness. Therefore it is justly and chiefly called the beginning of wisdom, by which man attaineth to eternal felicity, and so doth escape death and confusion. For this is the conclusion of the Holy Ghost most certain and infallible, that where God of his great mercy and infinite goodness once begins to touch the heart with his true fear, and as it were, to change it from the natural rebellion, to give unfeigned reverence to his holy majesty, that there he will, yea, even against the puissance and rage of the ports of hell, perform the work of our redemption, to the manifestation of his own glory, and to the everlasting joy of those to whom he appointeth his Holy Spirit, schoolmaster and instructor.

    And albeit that this his favor and fatherly care be common to all His children, in things pertaining to life everlasting, everyone receiving such portion and measure of his grace, as his wisdom knoweth to be expedient for finishing and confirmation of that good work begun; yet, in distributing temporal benedictions, his majesty taketh most especial care upon those, whom he hath determined and appointed to be rulers, comforters, and maintainers of others. To Joseph, he gave not only favor in the eyes of strangers, in time of his bondage, but also, in his young age, he did show unto him most notable visions, to the perfect understanding and knowledge whereof did neither his father neither yet himself fully attain, many days after. To Solomon likewise were superabundantly given riches, honor, and worldly rest, besides the wisdom which he required; and to Daniel, above all mortal men of that age, was given the knowledge and revelation of secret and hid things to come. Which singular privileges (in which, they did far excel their brethren,) did not so much serve for themselves, as for the commodity and profit of others, to whom God made them instructors, rulers, defenders, and stewards. For the interpretation of dreams and visions given unto Joseph, did more profit the commonwealth of Egypt, than it did serve for his eternal salvation. And the same may be said of those notable prerogatives given to Solomon and Daniel: for by the felicity of the one, was the people of Israel, living in his age, reputed blessed; and by the revelation granted to the other, is the holy kirk of God this day assured of things by-past, and that are to come. And therefore, I say, that such singular and rare privileges and graces are given to a few, for the comfort, instruction, and defense of many.

    But one thing is to be here marked, and diligently to be observed, which is this: that before all these super-excellent graces, we plainly may perceive, that the fear of God was planted in their hearts. For in Joseph, we may espy a hatred of sin and iniquity, which his brethren committed, in so far, as he reveals the same to his and their father, whose authority he judged sufficient to have repressed the same. In Solomon, we see a desire of wisdom, whereby he might rule and govern with equity and justice the people committed to his charge; and in Daniel, doth evidently appear, the horror and fear that he had to pollute and defile himself with meats forbidden by the law of the Lord his God. And this I say, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning and continuance of wisdom ĺ of wisdom, I say, which is worthy the name of wisdom; and is the most singular gift of God, given to those by whom he purposeth to work any notable work to his glory.

    But further must I admonish, that I mean not, that those only who have these singular privileges or revelations of secret things given unto them, immediately given of God, have in their hearts his true fear; and that no other besides, hath any notion thereof. But I mean also, that they whose hearts God does so mollify and move, that with reverence they receive the counsel and admonitions given unto them by Godís messengers; and do determine with themselves to obey his holy will revealed unto them, albeit the same appear far to pass their power or ingine ĺ these men, I say, how ignorant that ever they appear to be of God, cannot be judged altogether empty, and void of his true fear; neither shall they be destitute of wisdom and power, to perform these things which God requireth of them. For in so far as Pharaoh did fear the things that were not seen, and at the counsel and commandment of Joseph, did make provision for the danger which the natural man could neither have believed nor feared; in so doing, I say, he did declare himself much to esteem the messenger of God, by whose spirit, power, and providence, were such things not only revealed, but also, should be performed and brought to pass. Which things indeed; to reverence Godís messengers, heartily to embrace, and study to obey the precepts and charges which they give; to study also to magnify God, and to make his providence and wondrous works known unto men, can no man do from an unfeigned heart, except that some spark of Godís true fear rest in the same.

    The like is to be noted in Nebuchadnezzar, who being the golden head, and only monarch in the earth in his days, ashamed not to stoop, and to fall down (hearing the interpretation of his own dreams,) before the feet of Daniel, and openly to confess, that there was no God who ruleth the heaven and the earth, except the God of Israel. And moreover, he did not only promote Daniel, being a stranger, captive, and prisoner, above all the princes of his realm, but also, at his request, the king promoted to honors and offices his fellows, and was beneficial to the rest of the Jews there afflicted in his dominions ĺ which confession, obedience, love, and liberality, did no doubt spring from the secret and hid fear of God which was planted in his heart, and no doubt had some root in the same, when he appeared ignorant of God, and greatest enemy to his people.

    What further graces and commodities (not only to themselves, but also to many others,) did ensue on this their obedience, the Holy Ghost doth not conceal. For by the one, to wit, by Pharaoh, was not only his own people fed, and preserved in the days of famine, but also, by that godly provision made in his realm, were the lives of many others preserved, yea, the lives of the whole kirk of God, which that day was known to be upon the earth; I mean, of Jacob and his household. And albeit that Nebuchadnezzar did fall, and in many things offend most horribly, yet still we find, that the mercy of God did so overcome his malice, that after long punishment, and dejection from all honors, he was restored again not only to the former reason and understanding of man, of the which he was deprived for a time, but also, to his former dignity, honors, and empire, to the great manifestation of Godís glory, and to the most singular erudition, admonition, and comfort to others. For what erudition and doctrine was preached to the world by the publication of his confession, and of the most wondrous work of God declared upon him, which he did notify to many realms and nations which were drowned in idolatry, and did live without any perfect knowledge of the living God! What admonition might, and this day may, and should earthly rulers and princes receive, by his punishment! And what singular comfort is left to penitent sinners, in his most notable restitution to honors again! The matter, I say, cannot be expressed by the wit or ingine of man.

    And therefore, yet again I say, that wheresoever the true fear of God is planted in the heart, that there shall also after be added wisdom, and other graces necessary and profitable not only to the receiver, but also to others.

    But this root of virtue and wisdom (the true fear of God, I mean,) being absent from the heart, as there can be no obedience which is acceptable unto God, neither yet any love to his messengers, of any long continuance, so can there be no wisdom to search and seek for things profitable, neither yet grace to follow Godís will, how manifestly that ever it be revealed. But either are the wholesome counsels and admonitions given for reformation of manifest iniquity, and also for temporal commodities, and conservation of realms and commonwealths, not marked, nor perfectly understood; or else, when Godís messengers do plainly speak to princes and rulers, their counsels and admonitions are disdainfully condemned. The counsel, no doubt, of Moses to proud Pharaoh, had been to the salvation of himself, and to the safeguard of his people, if after ninny plagues, he could have given obedience. But as the sun did long shine before the blind, so in the end, without all light and wisdom, was he and his army in their cruel rage drowned by the waters of the Red sea. The admonition and counsel of Jeremiah to King Zedekiah (although it appeared sharp; for he commanded him, to render and subject himself into the power of the king who besieged him;) yet had it not been a little profitable to him and to that commonwealth, if he had obeyed and followed the commandment of the prophet. But because the king and his counsel, in the end, agreed to follow their own imaginations, and so, to rebel against God, and his messenger Jeremiah; the one and the other, I mean, the king and his counselors, did taste the bitter cup of Godís vengeance which so oft was pronounced by the mouth of the same prophet. For the eyes of Zedekiah were compelled to behold his counselors, yea, and his own sons slain in his presence; and immediately were his own eyes put out, so that he never saw light nor comfort in earth: Jerusalem was burnt with fire, and the whole land was laid waste; and all this calamity came upon them, because the counsel of God proclaimed by his prophets, was mocked and contemned. And yet, in this most miserable and universal visitation, mercy was shown to such as feared God, and had been obedient, and shown mercy to his prophet. For besides the multitude which at the commandment of Jeremiah did subject themselves to the king of Babylon, and so were saved from that present vengeance, Abedmelech, the blackmoor or Ethiopian, by whose intercession and bold request unto the king, the prophet was delivered from death and prison; and Baruch the scribe, by whom were written and presented to the princes and counselors the sermons and preachings of Jeremiah ĺ these two, I say, in the midst of that same time with Godís vengeance which consumed many thousands, found favor and grace, and did obtain their lives for a prey.

    These things I briefly touch, Right Honorable, not so much to instruct you, as to animate and to encourage you in that most godly work which once ye have purposed. Ye were of mind (and my good hope is, that so ye yet remain,) to jeopard and hazard in the cause of Christ Jesus, and for the deliverance of your brethren from this Babylonical and anti-christian bondage, your lives, your honors, and whatsoever ye have received in temporal things of Godís hands. This matter ye have communicated with me; and I, as I must answer in the presence of the Lord Jesus, have given unto you such counsel, as his Holy Spirit assured me, is for the manifestation of Godís glory, and also to your eternal comfort, whatsoever flesh and blood do judge in the matter; as in my former letters more fully is expressed.

    But this your former purpose, and my counsel also notwithstanding, if the true fear of God have not some root in your hearts, all is vain, and labor lost. For of this one thing I will that assuredly ye persuade yourselves, that the floods shall come, the winds shall blow, the storms and tempests shall arise, and with violent rage they altogether shall assault your fortress; and then, except ye be built upon the sure rock, Christ Jesus, who hath commanded you to forsake yourselves, and to follow him, impossible it is that ye can remain constant in your godly purpose, but in a moment shall your whole building and house be overthrown. For flesh and blood cannot deny itself, neither yet can it be made able to endure and abide the fire of afflictions, except that it be convicted of its own infirmity, and therefore, be strengthened and confirmed by the power of another. For this order does God most commonly keep, in appointing and sending to battle his best and most approved soldiers; first, to deject them from all confidence which they may have, either in themselves, either yet in the arm of any man; and thereafter, to erect and raise them up in boldness of his strength; and by the free promises of his mercy, somewhat does God remeed the trouble of their conscience.

    And this dejection, humiliation, and refusal of themselves, he worketh both in conscience, and confidence of worldly power. He abaseth and beateth down the conscience, opening the eyes of their minds, that they may behold the miseries of their own nature, and their just condemnation which their sins deserve; in deep contemplation whereof, God bringeth them, as it were, to the ports of hell, to an unfeigned hatred of themselves and of sin.

    And this is the first entrance to the true fear of God. But in this estate He leaveth them not; but manifesting to them his undeserved love and favor in Christ Jesus, his only Son, he retaineth, and somewhat raiseth up their conscience, so that in all assaults, they rest upon his free mercy. Thus did He beat down the pride of Peter, and the confidence which he had in his own strength; and the glory also which Paul had in the righteousness of the law. And yet was the one appointed preacher to the Jews, and the other, chief apostle to the Gentiles. And such as it pleaseth God to appoint to deliver his people oppressed by worldly calamities, he commonly doth so entreat for a long season, to the end, that they have no cause to glory in anything appertaining to the flesh. For albeit Moses in his youth was nourished in Pharaohís house, yet before he was known to be the appointed messenger of God, for the deliverance of Israel afflicted, he was forty years banished, yea, and ashamed not to keep the sheep of his fatherin- law. The low and simple estate of Gideon, the contemned youth and infancy of David, are not concealed by the Holy Ghost; to instruct us, first, that the eye of God in appointing of his messengers, looketh not to such things as the world most esteemeth; and secondly, to beat down the arrogancy and pride of all flesh, that no man glory of such works, as God does work by him whom he hath chosen from the dunghill (as David speaketh,) and placed him with the princes of his people, without all merit or deserving of themselves, either yet of any of their progenitors. The same I might prove by more examples; but these histories I may not apply, lest that I be compelled to exceed the measure of a missive. Those that thus be taught of God, and by plain and clear sight of their infirmity and wretched nature are unfeignedly moved to rest upon the power of God, and upon his free and undeserved mercy, have from time to time, augmentation and increase of his Holy Spirit and wisdom in abundance, joined with constancy ministered unto them in the midst of all afflictions, to perform the good work which in Godís name they begin. And so potently does he sometimes work, even by such as have sometimes appeared abject and of no estimation, that by one he comforteth, maintaineth, and delivereth many thousands.

    If ye have tasted of his Spirit, Right Honorable, and by the motion of the same put your hands to the Lordís work, then, whatsoever any creature imagine in your contrary, yet shall ye so prosper, that in the end, ye shall be called the blessed of the Lord. For as such as labor to suppress Godís glory, shall leave their names in execration to the posterity following, so shall those that unfeignedly seek to promote the same, have their names written not only in the book of life, but also, shall have them here kept, and registered in special recommendation. But in all things, I wish your eyes to be single, beholding only in your enterprise the glory of God, your duty, and the salvation of your brethren.

    But now, no further to trouble you at this present, I will only advertise you of such bruit, as I hear in your parts uncertainly noised; which is this, that contradiction and rebellion are made to the authority, by some in that realm. In which point, my conscience will not suffer me to keep back from you my counsel, yea, my judgment and commandment, which I communicate with you in Godís fear, and by the assurance of his truth; which is, that none of you that seek to promote the glory of Christ, do suddenly disobey, or displease the established authority in things lawful; neither yet, that ye assist or fortify such, as for their own particular cause and worldly promotion, would trouble the same. But in the bowels of Christ Jesus I exhort you, that with all simplicity and lawful obedience, joined with boldness in God, and with open confession of your faith, ye seek the favor of the authority, that by it (if possible be,) the cause in which ye labor may be promoted, or at the least, not persecuted. Which thing, after all humble request if ye cannot obtain, then, with open and solemn protestation of your obedience to be given to the authority in all things not plainly repugning to God, ye lawfully may attempt the extremity; which is, to provide, whether the authority will consent or not, that Christís Evangel may be truly preached, and his holy sacraments rightly ministered to you and to your brethren, the subjects of that realm. And further, ye lawfully may, yea, and thereto are bound, to defend your brethren from persecution and tyranny, be it against princes or emperors, to the uttermost of your power; providing always, as I have said, that neither yourselves deny lawful obedience, neither yet, that ye assist nor promote those that seek authority and pre-eminence of worldly glory, yea, of the oppression and destruction of others. I mean of him, who in the beginning of his authority and government, began to profess Christís truth; but suddenly sliding back, became a cruel persecutor of Christís members, a manifest and open oppressor of all true subjects, and a maintainer of all mischievous men; in which horrible vices he, and his faction and assisters, I mean, his nearest kinsmen and chiefest council, to this day do continue, and making according to their power; which God, of his just judgment, shall shortly suppress. For not only the blood of those constant martyrs of Christ Jesus, Mr. George Wishart, simple Adam Wallace, and of others who did suffer for Christís cause only, but also the blood of those, who under the title of civil crimes was most unjustly shed, shall cry in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, till a just and open vengeance be poured forth upon all those that sought the same; but chiefly upon him that then was in authority, except that unfeigned and speedy repentance prevent Godís judgements. I shall be judged sharp; but be ye admonished to flee all confederacy with that generation; for I speak and write in the presence of Him before whose eyes the blood of his saints is so precious, that no worldly power was ever found able to maintain long, or defend such, as delighted in the shedding of the same. And therefore, unto such time as ye see some signs of repentance in them, I say yet again, avoid over great familiarity with them.

    That now I persuade you to give lawful obedience to the authority, is nothing repugnant to that which I wrote before touching the war begun; for a great difference there is betwixt lawful obedience, and a fearful flattering of princes, or an unjust accomplishment of their desires in things which be required or devised for the destruction of a commonwealth. But this article I omit for this present. The mighty Spirit of the Lord Jesus rule your hearts in the true fear of God, open your eyes to consider your duties, and give you strength to execute the same. ĺ Amen.

    Yours to command in godliness, JOHN KNOX. FROM DIEPPE, THE 17TH DECEMBER, 1557.

    ADDRESS

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