322. TREATISES OF DR. RIDLEY
Albeit I have deferred and put over many treatises, letters, and exhortations, belonging to the story of the martyrs, unto the latter Appendix in the end of these volumes; thinking also to have done the like with these farewells and exhortations following of Bishop Ridley, yet, for certain purposes moving me thereunto, and especially considering the fruitful admonitions, wholesome doctrine, and necessary exhortations contained in the same, I thought best here to bestow, and consequently to adjoin the said tractations of that learned pastor, with the life and story of the author; whereof the two first be in a manner his farewells, the one to his kinsfolk, and generally to all the faithful of the number of Christ's congregation: the other more special to the prisoners and banished Christians in the gospel's cause: the third containeth a fruitful and a general admonition to the city of London, and to all others, with necessary precepts of Christian office, as by the tenor of them here followeth in order to be seen.
A Treatise or Letter written by Dr. Ridley, instead of his last farewell, to all his true and faithful friends in God; with a sharp admonition withal unto the papists.
"At the name of Jesus let every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and let every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father, Amen.
"As a man minding to take a far journey, and to depart from his familiar friends, commonly and naturally hath a desire to bid his friends farewell before his departure, so likewise now I, looking daily when I should be called to depart hence from you -- O all ye, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters in our Saviour Christ, that dwell here in this world -- having like mind towards you all -- and blessed be God for such time and leisure, whereof I right heartily thank his heavenly goodness -- to bid you all, my dear brethren and sisters (I say) in Christ, that dwell upon the earth, after such manner as I can, farewell.
"Farewell, my dear brother George Shipside, whom I have ever found faithful, trusty, and loving in all states and conditions; and now, in the time of my cross, over all others to me most friendly and stedfast, and that which liked me best over all other things, in God's cause ever hearty.
"Farewell, my dear sister Alice his wife. I am glad to hear of thee, that thou dost take Christ's cross, which is laid now (blessed be God) both on thy back and mine, in good part. Thank thou God, that hath given thee a godly and loving husband: see thou honour him and obey him, according to God's law. Honour thy mother-in-law his mother, and love all those that pertain unto him, being ready to do them good, as it shall lie in thy power. As for thy children, I doubt not of thy husband, but that he which hath given him an heart to love and fear God, and in God them that, pertain unto him, shall also make him friendly and beneficial unto thy children, even as if they had been gotten of his own body.
"Farewell, my dearly beloved brother John Ridley of the Waltoune, and you my gentle and loving sister Elizabeth, whom, besides the natural league of amity, your tender love, which you were said ever to bear towards me above the rest of your brethren, doth bind me to love. My mind was to have acknowledged this your loving affection, and to have requited it with deeds, and not with words alone. Your daughter Elizabeth I bid farewell, whom I love for the meek and gentle spirit that God hath given her, which is a precious thing in the sight of God.
"Farewell, my beloved sister of Unthank, with all your children, my nephews and nieces. Since the departure of my brother Hugh, my mind was to have been unto them instead of their father, but the Lord God must and will be their Father, if they would love and fear him, and live in the trade of his law.
"Farewell, my well-beloved and worshipful cousins, Master Nicholas Ridley of Willymountswike, and your wife, and I thank you for all your kindness showed both to me, and also to all your own kinsfolk and mine. Good cousin, as God hath set you in our stock and kindred, (not for any respect of your person, but of his abundant grace and goodness,) to be as it were the bell-wether to order and conduct the rest, and hath also indued you with his manifold gifts of grace, both heavenly and worldly, above others: so I pray you, good cousin, (as my trust and hope is in you,) continue and increase in the maintenance of the truth, honesty, righteousness, and all true godliness; and to the uttermost of your power, to withstand falsehood,untruth, unrighteousness, and all ungodliness, which is forbidden and condemned by the word and laws of God.
"Farewell, my young cousin Ralph Whitfield. Oh! your time was very short with me. My mind was to have done you good, and yet you caught in that little time a loss: but I trust it shall be recompensed, as it shall please Almighty God.
"Farewell, all my whole kindred and countrymen; farewell in Christ altogether. The Lord, which is the searcher of secrets, knoweth that according to my heart's desire, my hope was of late that I should have come among you, and to have brought with me abundance of Christ's blessed gospel, according to the duty of that office and ministry, whereunto among you I was chosen, named, and appointed by the mouth of that our late peerless prince, King Edward, and so also announced openly in his court, by his privy council.
"I warn you all, my well-beloved kinsfolk and countrymen, that ye be not amazed nor astonied at the kind of my departure or dissolution: for I assure you, I think it the most honour that ever I was called unto in all my life: and therefore I thank my Lord God heartily for it, that it hath pleased him to call me of his great mercy unto this high honour, to suffer death willingly for his sake and his cause; unto the which honour he hath called the holy prophets, and dearly beloved apostles, and his blessed chosen martyrs. For know ye that I doubt no more, but that the causes wherefore I am put to death, are God's causes, and the causes of the truth, than I doubt that the Gospel which John wrote is the gospel of Christ, or that Paul's Epistles are the very word of God. And to have a heart willing to abide, and stand in God's cause, and in Christ's quarrel even unto death, I assure thee, O man, it is an inestimable and an honourable gift of God, given only to the true elect, and dearly beloved children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. For the holy apostle and also martyr in Christ's cause, St. Peter, saith, If ye suffer rebuke in the name of Christ, (that is, in Christ's cause, and for his truth's sake,) then are ye happy and blessed, for the glory of the Spirit of God resteth upon you. If for rebuke's sake, suffered in Christ's name, a man is pronounced by the mouth of that holy apostle blessed and happy; how much more happy and blessed is he that hath the grace to suffer death also! Wherefore, all ye that be my true lovers and friends, rejoice, and rejoice with me again, and render with me hearty thanks to God our heavenly Father, that for his Son's sake, my Saviour and Redeemer Christ, he hath vouchsafed to call me, being else without his gracious goodness, in myself but a sinful and vile wretch, to call me (I say) unto this high dignity of his true prophets, of his faithful apostles, and of his holy elect and chosen martyrs; that is, to die and to spend this temporal life in the defence and maintenance of his eternal and everlasting truth.
"Ye know, that be my countrymen dwelling upon the borders, (where, alas! the true man suffereth oftentimes much wrong at the thief's hand,) if it chance a man so to be slain of a thief, as it often chanceth there, which went out with his neighbour to help him to rescue his goods again, that the more cruelly he be slain, and the more stedfastly he stuck by his neighbour in the fight against the face of the thief, the more favour and friendship shall all his posterity have for the slain man's sake, of all them that be true, as long as the memory of his fact and his posterity doth endure: even so ye that be my kinsfolk and countrymen, know ye (howsoever the blind, ignorant, and wicked world hereafter shall rail upon my death, which thing they cannot do worse than their fathers did, of the death of Christ our Saviour, of his holy prophets, apostles, and martyrs): know ye, I say, that both before God, and all them that be godly, and that truly know, and follow the laws of God, ye have, and shall have, by God's grace, ever cause to rejoice, and to thank God highly, and to think good of it, and in God [to] rejoice of me, your flesh and blood, whom God of his goodness hath vouchsafed to associate unto the blessed company of his holy martyrs in heaven. And I doubt not in the infinite goodness of my Lord God, nor in the faithful fellowship of his elect and chosen people, but at both their hands in my cause, ye shall rather find the more favour and grace: for the Lord saith, that he will be both to them and theirs that love him, the more loving again in a thousand generations; the Lord is so full of mercy to them (I say) and theirs which do love him indeed. And Christ saith again, that no man can show more love, than to give his life for his friend.
"Now also know ye, all my true lovers in God, my kinsfolk and countrymen, that the cause wherefore I am put to death, is even after the same sort and condition, but touching more near God's cause, and in more weighty matters, but in the general kind all one: for both are God's cause, both are in the maintenance of' right, and both for the commonwealth, and both for the weal also of the Christian brother, although yet there is in these two no small difference, both concerning the enemies, the goods stolen, and the manner of the fight. For, know ye all, that like as there, when the poor true man is robbed by the thief of his own goods truly gotten, (whereupon he and his household shall live,) he I greatly wronged, and the thief in stealing and robbing with violence the poor man's goods, doth offend God, doth transgress his law, and is injurious both to the poor man, and to the commonwealth: so, I say, know ye all that even here in the cause of my death, it is with the Church of England, I mean the congregation of the true chosen children of God in this realm of England, which I acknowledge not only to be my neighbours, but rather the congregation of my spiritual brethren and sisters in Christ, yea, members of one body, wherein, by God's grace, I am and have been grafted in Christ. This Church of England hath of late, of the infinite goodness and abundant grace of Almighty God, great substance, great riches of heavenly treasure, great plenty of God's true sincere word, the true and wholesome administration of Christ's holy sacraments, the whole profession of Christ's religion truly and plainly set forth in baptism, the plain declaration and understanding of the same, taught in the holy catechism, to have been learned of all true Christians.
"This church had also a true and sincere form and manner of the Lord's supper, wherein, according to Jesus Christ's own ordinance and holy institution, Christ's commandments were executed and done. For upon the bread and wine set upon the Lord's table, thanks were given; the commemoration of the Lord's death was had; the bread, in the remembrance of Christ's body torn upon the cross, was broken, and the cup, in the remembrance of Christ's blood shed, was distributed, and both communicated unto all that were present and would receive them; and also they were exhorted of the minister so to do.
"All was done openly in the vulgar tongue, so that every thing might be most easily heard, and plainly understood of all the people, to God's high glory, and the edification of the whole church. This church had of late the whole divine service, all common and public prayers ordained to be said and heard in the common congregation, not only framed and fashioned to the true vein of Holy Scripture, but also set forth according to the commandment of the Lord, and St. Paul's doctrine, for the people's edification, in their vulgar tongue.
"It had also holy and wholesome homilies in commendation of the principal virtues which are commended in Scripture: and likewise other homilies against the most pernicious and capital vices that use, alas! to reign in this realm of England. This church had in matters of controversy, articles so penned and framed after the Holy Scriptures, and grounded upon the true understanding of God's word, that in short time if they had been universally received, they should have been able to have set in Christ's church, much concord and unity in Christ's true religion, and to have expelled many false errors and heresies, wherewith this church, alas! was almost overgone.
"But, alas! of late, into this spiritual possession of the heavenly treasure of these godly riches, are entered in thieves, that have robbed and spoiled all this treasure away. I may well complain on these things, and cry out upon them with the prophet, saying, O Lord God, the Gentiles, heathen nations, are come into thy heritage: they have defiled thy holy temple, and made Jerusalem a heap of stones; that is, they have broken and beaten down to the ground thy holy city. This heathenish generation, these thieves, be of Samaria; these Sabæi and Chaldæi, these robbers, have rushed out of their dens, and have robbed the Church of England of all the foresaid holy treasure of God; they have carried it away, and overthrown it, and, instead of God's holy word, the true and right administration of Christ's holy sacraments, (as of baptism and others,) they mixed their ministry with man's foolish fantasies, and many wicked and ungodly traditions withal.
"Instead of the Lord's holy table, they give the people, with much solemn disguising, a thing which they call their mass; but, in deed and in truth, it is a very masking and mockery of the true supper of the Lord, or rather I may call it a crafty juggling, whereby these false thieves and jugglers have bewitched the minds of the simple people, so that they have brought them from the true worship of God, unto pernicious idolatry, and made them to believe that to be Christ our Lord and Saviour, which indeed is neither God nor man, nor hath any life in itself, but, in substances, is the creature of bread and wine, and in use of the Lord's table, is the sacrament of Christ's body and blood. And for this holy use, for the which the Lord hath ordained them in his table, to represent unto us his blessed body torn upon the cross for us, and his blood there shed, it pleased him to call them his body and blood; which understanding Christ declareth to be his true meaning, when he saith, Do this in remembrance of me. And again, St. Paul likewise doth set out the same more plainly, speaking of the same sacrament, after the words of consecration, saying, As often as ye shall eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, ye shall set forth (he meaneth with the same) the Lord's death until his coming again. And here again these thieves have robbed also the people of the Lord's cup, contrary to the plain words of Christ, written in his gospel.
"Now for the common public prayers which were in the vulgar tongue, these thieves have brought in again a strange tongue, whereof the people understand not one word, wherein what do they else, but rob the people of their divine service, wherein they ought to pray together with the minister? And to pray in a strange tongue, what is it, but (as St. Paul calleth it) barbarousness, childishness, unprofitable folly, yea, and plain madness?
"For the godly articles of unity in religion, and for the wholesome homilies, what do these thieves place in the stead of them, but the pope's laws and decrees, lying legends, feigned fables, and miracles to delude and abuse the simplicity of the rude people? Thus this robbery and theft is not only committed, (nay, sacrilege and wicked spoil of heavenly things,) but also in the stead of the same, is brought in and placed the abominable desolation of the tyrant Antiochus, of proud Sennacherib, of the shameless-faced king, and of the Babylonical beast. Unto this robbery, this theft and sacrilege, for that I cannot consent, nor (God willing) ever shall, so long as the breath is in my body, because it is blasphemy against God; high treason unto Christ our heavenly King, Lord, Master, and our only Saviour and Redeemer; for it is plainly contrary to God's word, and to Christ's gospel; it is the subversion of all true godliness, and against the everlasting salvation of mine own soul, and of all my brethren and sisters, whom Christ my Saviour hath so dearly bought, with no less price than with the effusion and shedding forth of his most precious blood. Therefore, all ye my true lovers in God, my kinsfolk and countrymen, for this cause (I say) know ye that I am put to death, which by God's grace I shall willingly take, with hearty thanks to God there-for, in certain hope, without any doubting, to receive at God's hand again, of his free mercy and grace, everlasting life.
"Although the cause of the true man slain of the thief, while helping his neighbour to recover his goods again, and the cause wherefore I am to be put to death, in a generality are both one, (as I said before,) yet know ye that there is no small difference. These thieves against whom I do stand, are much worse than the robbers and thieves of the borders: the goods which they steal are much more precious, and their kinds of fight are far diverse. These thieves are worse, (I say,) for they are more cruel, more wicked, more false, more deceitful and crafty: for those will but kill the body, but these will not stick to kill both body and soul. Those, for the general theft and robbery, be called, and are indeed, thieves and robbers; but these, for their spiritual kind of robbery, are called sacrilegi, as ye would say, church-robbers. They are more wicked: for those go about to spoil men of worldly things, worldly riches, gold and silver, and worldly substance; these go about in the ways of the devil, their ghostly father, to steal from the universal church, and particularly from every man, all heavenly treasure, true faith, true charity, and hope of salvation in the blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, yea, to spoil us of our Saviour Jesus Christ, of his gospel, of his heavenly Spirit, and of the heavenly heritage of the kingdom of heaven, so dearly purchased unto us, with the death of our Master and Saviour Christ. These be the goods and godly substance whereupon the Christian before God must live, and without the which he cannot live. These goods, (I say,) these thieves, these church-robbers, go about to spoil us of: the which goods, as, to the man of God, they excel and far pass all worldly treasure; so, to withstand, even unto the death, such thieves as go about to spoil both us and the whole church of such goods, is most high and honourable service done unto God.
"These church-robbers be also much more false, crafty, and deceitful than the thieves upon the borders; for these have not the craft so to commend their theft, that they dare avouch it, and therefore, as acknowledging themselves to be evil, they steal commonly upon the night; they dare not appear at judgments and sessions, where justice is executed; and when they are taken and brought thither, they never hang any man, but they be oft-times hanged for their faults. But these church-robbers can so cloak and colour their spiritual robbery, that they can make people to believe falsehood to be truth, and truth falsehood, good to be evil, and evil good, light to be darkness, and darkness light, superstition to be true religion, and idolatry to be the true worship of God, and that which is in substance the creature of bread and wine, to be none other substance but only the substance of Christ the living Lord, both God and man. And with this their falsehood and craft, they can so juggle and bewitch the understanding of the simple, that they dare avouch it openly in court and in town, and fear neither hanging nor heading, as the poor thieves of the borders do; but, stout and strong like Nimrod, dare condemn to be burned in flaming fire, quick and alive, whosoever will go about to bewray their falsehood.
"The kind of fight against these church-robbers, is also of another sort and kind, than is that which is against the thieves of the borders. For there the true men go forth against them with spear and lance, with bow and bill, and all such kind of bodily weapons as the true men have: but here, as the enemies be of another nature, so the watchmen of Christ's flock, the warriors that fight in the Lord's war, must be armed and fight with another kind of weapons and armour. For here the enemies of God, the soldiers of antichrist, although the battle is set forth against the church by mortal men, being flesh and blood, and nevertheless members of their father the devil, yet for that their grand master is the power of darkness, their members are spiritual wickedness, wicked spirits, spirits of errors, of heresies, of all deceit and ungodliness, spirits of idolatry, superstition, and hypocrisy, which are called of St. Paul principalities and powers, lords of the world, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual subtleties concerning heavenly things, therefore our weapons must be fit and meet to fight against such, not carnal nor bodily weapons, as spear and lance, but spiritual and heavenly: we must fight against such with the armour of God, not intending to kill their bodies, but their errors, their false craft and heresies, their idolatry, superstition, and hypocrisy, and to save (as much as lieth in us) both their bodies and their souls.
"And therefore, as St. Paul teacheth us, we fight not against flesh and blood; that is, we fight not with bodily weapon to kill the man, but with the weapons of God to put to flight his wicked errors and vice, and to save both body and soul. Our weapons therefore are faith, hope, charity, righteousness, truth, patience, prayer unto God; and our sword, wherewith we smite our enemies, beat and batter and bear down all falsehood, is the word of God. With these weapons, under the banner of the cross of Christ, we do fight, ever having our eye upon our grand Master, Duke, and Captain, Christ; and then we reckon ourselves to triumph and to win the crown of everlasting bliss, when enduring in this battle without any shrinking or yielding to the enemies, after the example of our grand Captain Christ our Master, after the example of his holy prophets, apostles, and martyrs, when (I say) we are slain in our mortal bodies of our enemies, and are most cruelly, and without all mercy, murdered down like a many of sheep. And the more cruel, the more painful, the more vile and spiteful, is the kind of death whereunto we be put, the more glorious in God, the more blessed and happy we reckon, without all doubts, our martyrdom to be.
"And thus much, dear lovers and friends in God, my countrymen and kinsfolk, I have spoken for your comfort, lest of my death (of whose life you looked peradventure sometimes to have had honesty, pleasures, and commodities) ye might be abashed or think any evil: whereas ye have rather cause to rejoice, (if ye love me indeed,) for that it hath pleased God to call me to a greater honour and dignity than ever I did enjoy before, either in Rochester or in the see of London, or ever should have had in the see of Durham, whereunto I was last of all elected and named: yea, I count it greater honour before God indeed to die in his cause, (whereof I nothing doubt,) than is any earthly or temporal promotion or honour that can be given to a man in this world. And who is he that knoweth the cause to be God's, to be Christ's quarrel, and of his gospel, to be the common weal of all the elect and chosen children of God, of all the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; who is he, (I say,) that knoweth this assuredly by God's word, and the testimony of his own conscience (as I, through the infinite goodness of God, not of myself, but by his grace acknowledge myself to do): who is he (I say) that knoweth this, and both loveth and feareth God in deed and in truth, loveth and believeth his Master Christ and his blessed gospel, loveth his brotherhood, the chosen children of God, and also lusteth and longeth for everlasting life, who is he (I say again) that would not or cannot find in his heart in this cause to be content to die? The Lord forbid that any such should be that should forsake this grace of God. I trust in my Lord God, the God of mercies and the Father of all comfort, through Jesus Christ our Lord, that he which hath put this mind, will, and affection, by his Holy Spirit, in my heart, to stand against the face of the enemy in his cause, and to choose rather the loss of all my worldly substance, yea, and of my life too, than to deny his known truth; that he will comfort me, aid me, and strengthen me evermore, even unto the end, and to the yielding up of my spirit and soul into his holy hands, whereof I most heartily beseech his most holy sacred Majesty, of his infinite goodness and mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Now that I have taken my leave of my countrymen and kinsfolk, and the Lord doth lend me life, and giveth me leisure, I will bid my other good friends in God, of other places also, farewell. And whom first or before other, than the university of Cambridge, where I have dwelt longer, found more faithful and hearty friends, received more benefits, (the benefits of my natural parents only excepted,) than ever I did even in mine own native country wherein I was born?
"Farewell, therefore, Cambridge, my loving mother and tender nurse! If I should not acknowledge thy manifold benefits, yea, if I should not for thy benefits at the least love thee again, truly I were to be accounted too ungrate and unkind. What benefits hadst thou ever, that thou usest to give and bestow upon thy best-beloved children, that thou thoughtest too good for me? Thou didst bestow on me all thy school degrees; of thy common offices, the chaplainship of the university, the office of the proctorship, and of a common reader. And, of thy private commodities and emoluments in colleges, what was it that thou madest me not partner of? First to be scholar, then to be fellow; and, after my departure from thee, thou calledst me again to a mastership of a right worshipful college. I thank thee, my loving mother, for all this thy kindness, and I pray God that his laws, and the sincere gospel of Christ, may ever be truly taught and faithfully learned in thee.
"Farewell Pembroke hall, of late mine own college, my cure and my charge! What case thou art in now (God knoweth) I know not well. Thou wast ever named since I knew thee, which is not thirty years ago, to be studious, well-learned, and a great setter-forth of Christ's gospel, and of God's true word: so I found thee, and, blessed be God, so I left thee indeed. Woe is me for thee, mine own dear college, if ever thou suffer thyself by any means to be brought from that trade. In thy orchard (the walls, butts, and trees, if they could speak, would bear me witness) I learned without book almost all Paul's Epistles, yea, and I ween all the canonical epistles, save only the Apocalypse: of which study, although in time a great part did depart from me, yet the sweet smell thereof, I trust, I shall carry with me into heaven; for the profit thereof I think I have felt in all my life-time ever after; and I ween of late (whether they abide now or no, I cannot tell) there was that did the like. The Lord grant that this zeal and love toward that part of God's word, which is a key and true commentary to all the Holy Scripture, may ever abide in that college so long as the world shall endure.
"From Cambridge I was called into Kent by the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, that most reverend father and man of God, and of him by and by sent to the vicar of Herne in East Kent. Wherefore farewell Herne, thou worshipful and wealthy parish, the first cure whereunto I was called to preach God's word. Thou hast heard of my mouth oft-times the word of God preached, not after the popish trade, but after Christ's gospel: oh that the fruit had answered to the seed! And yet I must acknowledge me to be thy debtor for the doctrine of the Lord's supper, which at that time I acknowledge God had not revealed unto me: but, I bless God, in all that godly virtue and zeal of God's word which the Lord, by preaching of his word, did kindle manifestly both in the heart and in the life and works of that godly woman there, my Lady Fiennes: the Lord grant that his word took like effect there in many others more.
"Farewell thou cathedral church of Canterbury, the metropolitic see, whereof once I was a member! To speak things pleasant unto thee I dare not, for danger of conscience, and displeasure of my Lord God; and to say what lieth in my heart were now too much, and I fear were able to do thee now but little good. Nevertheless, for the friendship I have found in some there, and for charity' sake, I wish thee to be washed clean of all worldliness and ungodliness, that thou mayest be found of God after thy name Christ's-church, in deed and in truth.
"Farewell Rochester, sometime my cathedral see, in whom (to say the truth) I did find much gentleness and obedience, and I trust thou wilt not say the contrary, but I did use it to God's glory, and unto thine own profit in God! Oh that thou hadst and mightest have continued and gone forward in the trade of God's law, wherein I did leave thee; then thy charge and burden should not have been so terrible and dangerous, as I suppose verily it is like to be, alas! in the latter day.
"To Westminster other advertisement in God I have not now to say than I have said before to the cathedral church of Canterbury; and so God give thee of his grace, that thou mayest learn in deed and in truth to please him after his own laws: and thus fare you well!
"O London, London! to whom now may I speak in thee, or whom shall I bid farewell? Shall I speak to the prebendaries of Paul's? Alas! all that loved God's word, and were the true setters-forth thereof, are now (as I hear say) some burnt and slain, some exiled and banished, and some holden in hard prison, and appointed daily to be put to most cruel death for Christ's gospel's sake. As for the rest of them, I know they could never brook me well, nor could I ever in them delight.
"Shall I speak to the see thereof, wherein of late I was placed almost, and not fully, by the space of three years? But what may I say to it, being (as I hear say I am) deposed and expulsed by judgment as an unjust usurper of that room. O judgment, judgment! Can this be just judgment, to condemn the chief minister of God's word, the pastor and bishop of the diocese, and never bring him into judgment, that he might have heard what crimes were laid to his charge, nor ever suffer him to have any place or time to answer for himself? Thinkest thou that hereafter, when true justice shall have place, this judgment can ever be allowed either of God or man? Well! as for the cause or whole matter of my deposition, and the spoil of my goods which thou possessest yet, I refer it unto God which is a just judge; and I beseech God, if it behis pleasure, that that which is but my personal wrong, be not laid to thy charge in the latter day: this only I can pray for.
"O thou now wicked and bloody see! why dost thou set up again many altars of idolatry, which by the word of God were justly taken away? Why hast thou overthrown the Lord's table? Why dost thou daily delude thy people, masking in thy masses, instead of the Lord's holy supper, which ought to be common as well (saith Chrysostom, yea, the Lord himself) to the people as to the priest? How darest thou deny to the people of Christ, contrary to his express commandment in the gospel, his holy cup? Why babblest thou to the people the common prayer in a strange tongue, wherein St. Paul commandeth in the Lord's name, that no man should speak before the congregation, except it should be by and by declared in their common tongue, that all might be edified? Nay, hearken, thou whorish bawd of Babylon! thou wicked lamb of antichrist! thou bloody wolf! why slayest thou down, and makest havoc of the prophets of God? Why murderest thou so cruelly Christ's poor silly sheep, which will not hear thy voice, because thou art a stranger, and wilt follow none other but their own pastor Christ's voice? Thinkest thou to escape, or that the Lord will not require the blood of his saints at thy hands? Thy god, which is the work of thy hands, and whom thou sayest thou hast power to make, that thy deaf and dumb god (I say) will not indeed, nor can (although thou art not ashamed to call him thy maker) make thee to escape the revenging hand of the high and Almighty God. But be thou assured, that the living Lord our Saviour and Redeemer, which sitteth on the right hand of his Father in glory, he seeth all thy wicked ways and cruelty done to his dear members, and he will not forget his holy ones; and his hands, O thou whorish drab! shalt thou never escape. Instead of my farewell to thee, now I say Fie upon thee, fie upon thee, filthy drab! and all thy false prophets.
"Yet thou, O London! I may not leave thee thus. Although thy episcopal see, now being joined in league with the seat of Satan, thus hath now both handled me and the saints of God, yet I do not doubt but in that great city there may be many privy mourners, which do daily mourn for that mischief, the which never did nor shall consent to that wickedness, but do detest and abhor it as the ways of Satan. But these privy mourners here I will pass by, and bid them farewell with their fellows hereafter, when the place and occasion shall more conveniently require. Among the worshipful of the city, and specially which were in the office of mayoralty, yea, and in other citizens also (whom to name now it shall not be necessary) in the time of my ministry, which was from the latter part of Sir Rowland Hills's year, unto Sir George Barnes's year, and a great part thereof, I do acknowledge that I found no small humanity and gentleness as methought: but (to say the truth) that I do esteem above all other, for true Christian kindness, which is showed in God's cause, and done for his sake. Wherefore, O Dobs, Dobs, alderman and knight! thou in thy year didst win my heart for evermore, for that honourable act, that most blessed work of God, of the erection and setting up of Christ's holy hospitals, and truly religious houses, which by thee and through thee were begun. For thou, like a man of God, when the matter was moved for the relief of Christ's poor silly members to be holpen from extreme misery, hunger, and famine, thy heart, I say, was moved with pity, and as Christ's high honourable officer in that cause, thou calledst together thy brethren the aldermen of the city, before whom thou brakedst the matter for the poor: thou didst plead their cause, yea, and not only in thine own person thou didst set forth Christ's cause, but, to further the matter, thou broughtest me into the council chamber of the city before the aldermen alone, whom thou hadst assembled there together to hear me speak what I could say as an advocate, by office and duty, in the poor men's cause. The Lord wrought with thee, and gave thee the consent of thy brethren; whereby the matter. was brought to the common council, and so to the whole body of the city; by whom, with a uniform consent, it was committed to be drawn, ordered, and devised by a certain number of the most witty citizens and politic, indued also with godliness, and with ready hearts to set forward such a noble act, as could be chosen in all the whole city; and they, like true and faithful ministers both to their city and their Master Christ, so ordered, devised, and brought forth the matter, that thousands of silly poor members of Christ, which else, for extreme hunger and misery, should have famished and perished, shall be relieved, holpen, and brought up, and shall have cause to bless the aldermen of that time, the common council, and the whole body of the city, but specially thee, O Dobs! and those chosen men, by whom this honourable work of God was begun and wrought, and that so long, throughout all ages, as that godly work shall endure; which I pray Almighty God may be ever, unto the world's end. Amen.
"And thou, O Sir George Barnes! the truth is to be confessed to God's glory, and to the good example of others, thou wast in thy year not only a furtherer and continuer of that which before thee by thy predecessor was well begun; but also didst labour so to have perfected the work, that it should have been an absolute thing and perfect spectacle of true charity and godliness unto all Christendom. Thine endeavour was to have set up a House of Occupations, both that all kind of poverty, being able to work, should not have lacked, whereupon profitably they might have been occupied to their own relief, and to the profit and commodity of the commonwealth of the city; and also to have retired thither the poor babes brought up in the hospitals, when they had come to a certain age and strength, and also all those which in the hospitals aforesaid had been cured of their diseases. And to have brought this to pass, thou obtainedst, not without great diligence and labour both of thee, and of thy brethren, and of that godly King Edward, that Christian and peerless prince's hand, his princely place of Bridewell; and what other things to the performance of the same, and under what condition, it is not unknown. That this thine endeavour hath not had like success, the fault is not in thee, but in the condition and state of the time, which the Lord of his infinite mercy vouchsafe to amend, when it shall be his gracious will and pleasure.
"Farewell now all ye citizens, that be of God, of what state and condition soever ye be! Undoubtedly in London ye have heard God's word truly preached. My heart's desire and daily prayer shall be for you, as for whom, for my time, I know to my Lord God I am accountable, that ye never swerve, neither for loss of life, nor worldly goods, from God's holy word, and yield unto antichrist: whereupon must needs follow the extreme displeasure of God, and the loss both of your bodies and souls into perpetual damnation for evermore.
"Now that I have gone through the places where I have dwelt any space in the time of my pilgrimage here upon earth, remembering that for the space of King Edward's reign, which was for the time of mine office in the sees of London and Rochester, I was a member of the higher house of the parliament; therefore (seeing my God hath given me leisure, and the remembrance thereof) I will bid my Lords of the temporalty farewell. They shall have no just cause (by God's grace) to take it that I intend to say, in ill part. As for the spiritual prelacy that now is, I have nothing to say to them, except I should repeat again a great part of that I have said before now already, to the see of London. To you therefore, my Lords of the temporalty, will I speak, and this would I have you first to understand, that when I wrote this, I looked daily when I should be called to the change of this life, and thought that this my writing should not come to your knowledge before the time of the dissolution of my body and soul should be expired; and therefore know ye, that I had before mine eyes only the fear of God, and Christian charity toward you, which moved me to write; for of you hereafter I look not in this world either for pleasure or displeasure. If my talk shall do you never so much pleasure or profit you cannot promote me, nor, if I displease you, can ye hurt me or harm me; for I shall be out of your reach. Now therefore, if you fear God, and can be content to hear the talk of him that seeketh nothing at your hands, but to serve God, and to do you good, hearken what I say. I say unto you, as St. Paul saith to the Galatians, I wonder, my Lords, what hath betwitched you, that ye so suddenly are fallen from Christ unto antichrist; from Christ's gospel unto man's traditions; from the Lord that bought you, unto the bishop now of Rome. I warn you of your peril: be not deceived, except you will be found willingly consenters unto your own death. For if you think thus: 'We are laymen; this is a matter of religion; we follow as we are taught and led; if our teachers and governors teach us and lead us amiss, the fault is in them, they shall bear the blame:' My Lords, this is true, I grant you, that both the false teachers, and the corrupt governor, shall be punished for the death of their subject, whom they have falsely taught and corruptly led, yea, and his blood shall be required at their hands: but yet, nevertheless, shall the subject die the death himself also, that is, he shall also be damned for his own sin; for if the blind lead the blind, Christ saith, not the leader only, but, he saith, both, shall fall into the ditch. Shall the synagogue and the senate of the Jews (trow ye) which forsook Christ, and consented to his death, therefore be excused, because Annas and Caiaphas, with the scribes and Pharisees and their clergy, did teach them amiss? (yea, and also Pilate their governor and the emperor's lieutenant by his tyranny did without cause put him to death;) forsooth no, my Lords, no. For notwithstanding that corrupt doctrine, or Pilate's washing of his hands, neither of both shall excuse either that synagogue and seigniory, or Pilate; but at the Lord's hand, for the effusion of that innocent blood, on the latter day all shall drink of the deadly whip. Ye are witty, and understand what I mean; therefore I will pass over this, and return to tell you how ye are fallen from Christ to his adversary the bishop of Rome.
"And lest, my Lords, ye may peradventure think, thus barely to call the bishop of Rome Christ's adversary, or (to speak in plain terms) to call him antichrist, that it is done in mine anguish; and that I do but rage, and, as a desperate man, do not care what I say, or upon whom I do rail; therefore that your Lordships may perceive my mind, and thereby understand that I speak the words of truth and sobriety, (as St. Paul said unto Festus,) be it known unto your Lordships all, that as concerning the bishop of Rome, I neither hate the person nor the place. For I assure your Lordships, (the living Lord beareth me witness before whom I speak,) I do think many a good holy man, many martyrs and saints of God, have sat and taught in that place Christ's gospel truly, which therefore justly may be called apostolici, that is, true disciples of the apostles; and also that church and congregation of Christians to be a right apostolic church; yea, and that, certain hundred years after the same was first erected and builded upon Christ by the true apostolic doctrine taught by the mouths of the apostles themselves. If ye will know how long that was, and how many hundred years, to be curious in pointing the precise number of the years, I will not be too bold, but thus I say; so long and so many hundred years as that see did truly teach and, preach that gospel, that religion, exercised that power, and ordered every thing by those laws and rules which that see received of the apostles, and (as Tertullian saith) the apostles of Christ, and Christ of God, so long, I say, that see might well have been called Peter and Paul's chair and see, or rather Christ's chair, and the bishop thereof apostolicus, or a true disciple and successor of the apostles, and a minister of Christ.
"But since the time that that see hath degenerated from the trade of truth and true religion, the which it received of the apostles at the beginning, and hath preached another gospel, hath set up another religion, hath exercised another power, and hath taken upon it to order and rule the church of Christ by other strange laws, canons, and rules than ever it received of the apostles, or the apostles of Christ, which things it doth at this day, and hath continued so doing (alas, alas) of too, too long a time: since the time (I say) that the state and condition of that see hath thus been changed, in truth it ought of duty and of right to have the names changed both of the see and of the sitter therein. For understand, my Lords, it was neither for the privilege of the place or person thereof, that that see and bishops thereof were called apostolic; but for the true trade of Christ's religion, which was taught and maintained in that see at the first, and of those godly men. And therefore, as truly and justly as that see then, for that true trade of religion, and consanguinity of doctrine with the religion and doctrine of Christ's apostles, was called apostolic; so, as truly and as justly, for the contrariety of religion, and diversity of doctrine from Christ and his apostles, that see and bishop thereof, at this day both ought to be called, and are indeed, antichristian.
"The see is the seat of Satan, and the bishop of the same, that maintaineth the abominations thereof, is antichrist himself indeed. And for the same causes this see at this day is the same which St. John calleth in his Revelation, Babylon, or the whore of Babylon, and spiritual Sodoma and Egypt, the mother of fornications, and of the abominations upon the earth. And with this whore do spiritually meddle, and lie with her, and commit most stinking and abominable adultery before God, all those kings and princes, yea, and all nations of the earth, which do consent to her abominations, and use or practise the same; that is, (of the innumerable multitude of them to rehearse some for examples' sake,) her dispensations, her pardons and pilgrimages, her invocation of saints, her worshipping of images, her false counterfeit religion in her monkery and friarage, and her traditions, whereby God's laws are defiled; as her massing and false ministering of God's word and the sacraments of Christ, clean contrary to Christ's word and the apostles' doctrine, whereof in particular I have touched something before in my talk had with the see of London, and in other treatises more at large: wherein (if it shall please God to bring the same to light) it shall appear, I trust, by God's grace, plainly to the man of God, and to him whose rule in judgment of religion is God's word, that that religion, that rule and order, that doctrine and faith, which this whore of Babylon, and the beast whereupon she doth sit, maintain at this day with all violence of fire and sword, with spoil and banishment, (according to Daniel's prophecy,) and finally with all falsehood, deceit, hypocrisy, and all kind of ungodliness, are as clean contrary to God's word, as darkness is unto light or light unto darkness, white to black or black to white, or as Belial unto Christ or Christ unto antichrist himself.
"I know, my Lords, and foresaw when I wrote this, that so many of you as should see this my writing, not being before endued with the spirit of grace and the light of God's word, so many (I say) would at these my words lord-like stamp and spurn, and spit thereat. But sober yourselves with patience, and be still, and know ye that in my writing of this, my mind was none other, but in God (as the living God doth bear me witness) both to do you profit and pleasure. And otherwise, as for your displeasure, by that time this shall come to your knowledge, I trust by God's grace to be in the hands and protection of the Almighty, my heavenly Father and the living Lord, which is (as St. John saith) the greatest of all; and then I shall not need(I trow) to fear what any lord, no, nor what king or prince, can do unto me.
"My Lords, if in times past ye have been contented to hear me sometimes in matters of religion before the prince in the pulpit, and in the parliament-house, and have not seemed to have despised what I have said, (when as else, if ye had perceived just occasion, ye might then have suspected me in my talk, though it had been reasonable, either desire of worldly gain, or fear of displeasure,) how hath then your Lordships more cause to hearken to my word, and to hear me patiently, seeing now ye cannot justly think of me (being in this case appointed to die, and looking daily when I shall be called to come before the eternal Judge) otherwise but that I only study to serve my Lord God, and to say that thing which, I am persuaded assuredly by God's word, shall and doth please him, and profit all them to whom God shall give grace to hear and believe what I do say? And I do say even that I have said heretofore both of the see of Rome and of the bishop thereof, I mean after this their present state at this day, wherein if ye will not believe the ministers of God, and true preachers of his word, verily I denounce unto you in verbo Domini, except ye do repent betimes, it shall turn to your confusion, and to your smart on the latter day. Forget not what I say, my Lords, for God's sake forget not, but remember it upon your bed. For I tell you moreover, as I know I must be countable of this my talk, and of my speaking thus, to the eternal Judge, (who will judge nothing amiss,) so shall you be countable of your duty in hearing, and you shall be charged, if ye will hearken to God's word, for not obeying to the truth. Alas, my Lords, how chanceth this, that this matter is now anew again to be persuaded unto you? Who would have thought of late, but your Lordships had been persuaded indeed sufficiently, or that ye could ever have agreed so uniformly, with one consent, to the abolishment of the usurpation of the bishop of Rome? If that matter were then but a matter of policy, wherein the prince must be obeyed, how is it now made a matter wherein (as your clergy say now, and so say the pope's laws indeed) standeth the unity of the catholic church, and a matter of necessity for our salvation? Hath the time, being so short since the death of the two last kings, Henry the Eighth and Edward his son, altered the nature of the matter? If it have not, but was of the same nature and danger before God then, as it is now, and be now (as it is said by the pope's laws, and ,the instructions set forth in English to the curates of the diocese of York) indeed a matter of necessity to salvation; how then chanced it that ye were all, O my Lords, so light and so little passed upon the catholic faith, and the unity thereof, (without the which no man can be saved,) as for your princes' pleasures, which were but mortal men, to forsake the unity of your catholic faith -- that is, to forsake Christ and his gospel? And furthermore, if it were both then, and now is, so necessary to salvation, how chanced it also that ye, all the whole body of the parliament agreeing with you, did not only abolish and expel the bishop of Rome, but also did abjure him in your own persons, and did decree in your acts great oaths to be taken of both the spiritualty and temporalty, whosoever should enter into any weighty and chargeable office in the commonwealth? But, on the other side, if the law and decree which maketh the supremacy of the see and bishop of Rome over the universal church of Christ, be a thing of necessity required unto salvation by an antichristian law, (as it is indeed,) and such instructions as are given to the diocese of York be indeed a setting-forth of the power of the beast of Babylon, by the craft and falsehood of his false prophets, (as of truth, compared to God's word, and truly judged by the same, it shall plainly appear that they be,) then, my Lords, never think other, but the day shall come when ye shall be charged with this your undoing of that, that once ye had well done, and with this your perjury and breach of your oath, which oath was done in judgment, justice, and truth, agreeable to God's law. The whore of Babylon may well for a time dally with you, and make you so drunken with the wine of her filthy stews and whoredom, (as with her dispensations and promises of pardon a pna et culpa,) that for drunkenness and blindness ye may think yourselves safe. But be ye assured, when the living Lord shall try this matter by the fire, and judge it according to his word, when all her abominations shall appear what they be, then ye, my Lords, (I give your Lordships warning in time,) repent, if ye will be happy, and love your own souls' health: repent, I say, or else, without all doubt, ye shall never escape the hands of the living Lord, for the guilt of your perjury, and breach of your oath. As ye have banqueted and lain by the whore in the fornication of her whorish dispensations, pardons, idolatry, and such-like abominations; so shall ye drink with her (except ye repent betimes) of the cup of the Lord's indignation and everlasting wrath, which is prepared for the beast, his false prophets, and all their partakers. For he that is partner with them in their whoredom and abominations, must also be partner with them of their plagues, and in the latter day shall be thrown with them into the Iake burning with brimstone and unquenchable fire. Thus fare ye well, my Lords all. I pray God give you understanding of his blessed will and pleasure, and make you to believe and embrace the truth, Amen."
Another farewell of Bishop Ridley to the prisoners in Christ's gospel's cause, and to all them which for the same cause are exiled and banished out from their own country, choosing rather to leave all worldly commodity, than their Master Christ.
"Farewell, my dearly beloved brethren in Christ, both ye my fellow prisoners, and ye also that be exiled and banished out of your countries, because ye will rather forsake all worldly commodity than the gospel of Christ.
"Farewell, all ye together in Christ; farewell and be merry, for ye know that the trial of your faith bringeth forth patience, and patience shall make us perfect, whole and sound on every side; and such, after trial, (ye know,) shall receive the crown of life, according to the promise of the Lord made to his dearly beloved. Let us therefore be patient unto the coming of the Lord. As the husbandman abideth patiently the former and latter rain for the increase of his crop, so let us be patient, and pluck up our hearts, for the coming of the Lord approacheth apace. Let us, my dear brethren, take example, of patience in tribulation, of the prophets, which spake likewise God's word truly in his name. Let Job be to us an example of patience, and the end which the Lord suffered, which is full of mercy and pity. We know, my brethren, by God's word, that our faith is much more precious than any corruptible gold, and yet that is tried by the fire: even so our faith is therefore tried likewise in tribulations, that it may be found, when the Lord shall appear, laudable, glorious, and honourable. For if we for Christ's cause do suffer, that is grateful before God, for thereunto are we called; that is our state and vocation, wherewith let us be content. Christ, we know, suffered for us afflictions, leaving us an example that we should follow his footsteps; for he committed no sin, nor was there any guile found in his mouth. When he was railed upon, and all to be reviled, he railed not again; when he was evil entreated, he did not threaten, but committed the punishment thereof to Him that judgeth aright.
"Let us ever have in fresh remembrance those wonderful comfortable sentences spoken by the mouth of our Saviour Christ: Blessed are they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men revile you, persecute you, and speak all evil against you for my sake: rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets which were before you. Therefore let us alway bear this in our minds, that if any incommodity do chance unto us for righteousness' sake, happy are we, whatsoever the world doth think of us. Christ our Master hath told us beforehand, that the brother should put the brother to death, and the father the son, and the children should rise against their parents and kill them, and that Christ's true apostles should be hated of all men for his name's sake: but he that shall abide patiently unto the end, shall be saved.
"Let us then endure in all troubles patiently, after the example of our Master Christ, and be contented therewith, for he suffered being our Master and Lord: how doth it not then become us to suffer! for the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It may suffice the disciple to be as his master, and the servant to be as his lord. If they have called the father of the family, the master of the household, Beelzebub, how much more shall they so call them of his household! Fear them not then, saith our Saviour, for all privities shall be made plain; there is now nothing secret, but it shall be showed in light. Of Christ's words let us neither be ashamed, nor afraid to speak them; for so Christ our Master commandeth us, saying, That I tell you privily, speak openly abroad; and that I tell you in your ear, preach it upon the house-top. And fear not them which kill the body, for the soul they cannot kill; but fear him which can cast both body and soul into hell-fire.
"Know ye that the heavenly Father hath ever a gracious eye and respect toward you, and a fatherly providence for you; so that without his knowledge and permission nothing can do you harm. Let us therefore cast all our care upon him, and he shall provide that which shall be best for us. For if of two small sparrows, which both are sold for a mite, one of them lighteth not on the ground without your Father, and all the hairs of our head are numbered, fear not them, (saith our Master Christ,) for ye are more worth than many small sparrows. And let us not stick to confess our Master Christ for fear of danger, whatsoever it shall be, remembering the promise that Christ maketh, saying, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall I confess before my Father which is in heaven: but whosoever shall deny me, him shall I likewise deny before my Father which is in heaven. Christ came not to give unto us here a carnal amity, and a worldly peace, or to knit his unto the world in ease and peace, but rather to separate and divide from the world, and to join them unto himself: in whose cause we must, if we will be his, forsake father and mother, and stick unto him. If we forsake him or shrink from him for trouble or death's sake, which be calleth his cross, he will none of us; we cannot be his. If for his cause we shall lose our temporal lives here, we shall find them again, and enjoy them for evermore: but if, in his cause, we will not be contented to leave nor lose them here, then shall we lose them so, that we shall never find them again, but in everlasting death. What though our troubles here be painful for the time, and the sting of death bitter and unpleasant, yet we know that they shall not last, in comparison of eternity, no, not the twinkling of an eye; and that they, patiently taken in Christ's cause, shall procure and get us unmeasurable heaps of heavenly glory, unto the which these temporal pains of death and troubles compared, are not to be esteemed, but to be rejoiced upon. Wonder not, saith St. Peter, as though it were any strange matter that ye are tried by the fire, (he meaneth of tribulation,) which thing, saith he, is done to prove you; nay, rather, in that ye are partners of Christ's afflictions rejoice, that in his glorious revelation ye may rejoice with merry hearts. If ye suffer rebukes in Christ's name, happy are ye, for the glory and Spirit of God resteth upon you. Of them God is reviled and dishonoured, but of you he is glorified.
"Let no man be ashamed of that he suffereth as a Christian, and in Christ's cause; for now is the time that judgment and correction must begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of those, think ye, which believe not the gospel? And if the righteous shall be hardly saved, the wicked and the sinner, where shall they appear? Wherefore they which are afflicted according to the will of God, let them lay down and commit their souls to him by well doing, as to a trusty and faithful Maker. This, as I said, may not seem strange to us, for we know that all the whole fraternity of Christ's congregation in this world is served with the like, and by the same is made perfect. For the fervent love that the apostles had unto their Master Christ, and for the great commodities and increase of all godliness which they felt by their faith to ensue of afflictions in Christ's cause, and, thirdly, for the heaps of heavenly joys which the same do get unto the godly, which shall endure in heaven for evermore; for these causes (I say) the apostles of their afflictions did joy, and rejoiced in that they were had and accounted worthy to suffer contumelies and rebukes for Christ's name. And Paul, as he gloried in the grace and favour of God, whereunto he was brought and stood in by faith; so he rejoiced in his afflictions for the heavenly and spiritual profits which he numbered to rise upon them: yea, he was so far in love with that which the carnal man loatheth so much, that is, with Christ's cross, that he judged himself to know nothing else but Christ crucified; he will glory (he saith) in nothing else but in Christ's cross; yea, and he blesseth all those, as the only true Israelites and elect people of God, with peace and mercy, which walk after that rule and after none other.
"O Lord, what a wonderful spirit was that that made Paul,-- in setting forth of himself against the vanity of Satan's pseudo-apostles, and in his claim there, that he, in Christ's cause, did excel and pass them all,-- what wonderful spirit was that (I say) that made him to reckon up all his troubles, his labours, his beatings, his whippings and scourgings, his shipwrecks, his dangers and perils by water and by land, his famine, hunger, nakedness, and cold, with many more, and the daily care of all the congregations of Christ, among whom every man's pain did pierce his heart, and every man's grief was grievous unto him! O Lord, is this Paul's primacy, whereof he thought so much good that he did excel others? Is not this Paul's saying unto Timothy his own scholar? and doth it not pertain to whosoever will be Christ's true soldiers? Bear thou, saith he, affliction like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. This is true: If we die with him, [he meaneth Christ,] we shall live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him; if we deny him, he shall deny us; if we be faithless, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself. This, Paul would have known to every body; for there is none other way to heaven but Christ and his way: and all that will live godly in Christ, shall, saith St. Paul, suffer persecution. By this way went to heaven the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ our Master, his apostles, his martyrs, and all the godly since the beginning. And as it hath been of old, that he which was born after the flesh, persecuted him which was born after the Spirit (for so it was in Isaac's time); so, said St. Paul, it was in his time also. And whether it be so or no now, let the spiritual man, (the self-same man, I mean, that is indued with the Spirit of Almighty God,) let him be judge. Of the cross of the patriarchs, as ye may read in their stories; if ye read the book of Genesis, ye shall perceive. Of others, St. Paul in few words comprehendeth much matter, speaking in a generality of the wonderful afflictions, death, and torments, which the men of God, in God's cause, and for the truth's sake, willingly and gladly did suffer. After much particular rehearsal of many, lie saith, Others were racked and despised, and would not be delivered, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others, again, were tried with mockings and scourgings, and moreover with bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, hewn asunder, tempted, fell, and were slain upon the edge of the sword, some wandered to and fro in sheep's pilches, in goats' pilches, forsaken, oppressed, afflicted; such godly men as the world was unworthy of, wandering in wildernesses, in mountains, in caves, and in dens; and all these were commended for their faith. And yet they abide for us the servants of God, and for those their brethren which are to be slain, as they were, for the word of God's sake, that none be shut out, but that we may all go together to meet our Master, Christ, in the air at his coming, and so to be in bliss with him in body and soul for evermore.
"Therefore, seeing we have so much occasion to suffer and to take afflictions for Christ's name's sake patiently, so many commodities thereby, so weighty causes, so many good examples, so great necessity, so pure promises of eternal life and heavenly joys of him that cannot lie: Let us throw away whatsoever might let us -- all burden of sin, and all kind of carnality -- and patiently and constantly let us run for the best game in this race that is set before us, ever having our eyes upon Jesus Christ, the ringleader, captain, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, not passing upon the ignominy and shame thereof, and is set now at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider this, that he suffered such strife of sinners against himself, that ye should not give over, nor faint in your minds. As yet, brethren, we have not withstood unto death, fighting against sin. Let us never forget, dear brethren, for Christ's sake, that fatherly exhortation of the wise man that speaketh unto us, as unto his children, the godly wisdom of God, saying thus: My son, despise not the correction of the Lord, nor fall from him when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth, him doth he correct, and scourgeth every child whom he receiveth. What child is he whom the father doth not chasten? If ye be free from chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and no children. Seeing then, when as we have had carnal parents which chastened us, we reverenced them, shall not we much more be subject unto our spiritual Father, that we might live? And they for a little time have taught us after their own mind; but this Father teacheth us to our commodity, to give unto us his holiness. All chastisement for the present time appeareth not pleasant but painful; but afterward it rendereth the fruit of righteousness on them which are exercised in it. Wherefore let us be of good cheer, good brethren, and let us pluck up our feeble members that were fallen or began to faint, heart, hands, knees, and all the rest, and let us walk upright and straight, that no limping nor halting bring us out of the way. Let us look, not upon the things that be present, but with the eyes of our faith let us stedfastly behold the things that be everlasting in heaven; and so choose rather in respect of that which is to come, with the chosen members of Christ, to bear Christ's cross, than for this short life-time to enjoy all the riches, honours, and pleasures of the broad world. Why should we Christians fear death? Can death deprive us of Christ, who is all our comfort, our joy, and our life? Nay forsooth, but contrary, death shall deliver us from this mortal body, which loadeth and beareth down the spirit, that it cannot so well perceive heavenly things; in the which so long as we dwell, we are absent from God.
"Wherefore, understanding our state in that we be Christians, that if our mortal body, which is our earthly house, were destroyed, we have a building, a house not made with hands, but everlasting in heaven, &c., therefore we are of good cheer, and know that when we are in the body we are absent from God; for we walk by faith, and not by clear sight. Nevertheless we are bold, and had rather be absent from the body, and present with God. Wherefore we strive, whether we be present at home, and absent abroad, that we may always please him. And who that hath true faith in our Saviour Christ, whereby he knoweth somewhat truly what Christ our Saviour is, that he is the eternal Son of God, life, light, the wisdom of the Father, all goodness, all righteousness, and whatsoever is good that heart can desire, yea, infinite plenty of all these, above that which man's heart can either conceive or think, (for in him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead corporally,) and also that he is given us of the Father, and made of God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption; who (I say) is he that believeth this indeed, that would not gladly be with his Master Christ? Paul for this knowledge coveted to have been loosed from the body, and to have been with Christ, for that he counted it much better for himself, and had rather to be loosed than to live. Therefore these words of Christ to the thief on the cross, that asked of him mercy, were full of comfort and solace: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise. To die in the defence of Christ's gospel it is our bounden duty to Christ, and also to our neighbour. To Christ, for he died for us, and rose again, that he might be Lord over all. And seeing he died for us, we also (saith St. John) should jeopard, yea, give our life for our brethren. And this kind of giving and losing, is getting and winning indeed; for he that giveth or loseth his life thus getteth and winneth it forevermore. Blessed are they therefore that die in the Lord, and if they die in the Lord's cause, they are most happy of all. Let us not then fear death, which can do us no harm, otherwise than for a moment to make the flesh to smart; but that our faith, which is surely fastened and fixed unto the word of God, telleth us that we shall be anon after death in peace, in the hands of God, in joy, in solace, and that from death we shall go straight unto life. For St. John saith, He that liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. And, in another place, He shall depart from death unto life. And therefore this death of the Christian is not to be called death, but rather a gate or entrance into everlasting life. Therefore Paul called it but a dissolution and resolution; and both Peter and Paul, a putting off this tabernacle or dwelling-house, meaning thereby the mortal body, as wherein the soul or spirit doth dwell here in this world for a small time. Yea, this my death may be called to the Christian, an end of all miseries: for so long as we live here, we must pass through many tribulations before we can enter in the kingdom of heaven. And now, after that death hath shot his bolt, all the Christian man's enemies have done what they can; after that, they have no more to do. What could hurt or harm poor Lazarus that lay at the rich man's gate? His former penury and poverty? his misery, beggary, and horrible sores and sickness? For so soon as death had stricken him with his dart, so soon came the angels, and carried him straight up into Abraham's bosom. What lost he by death, who, from misery and pain, is set by the ministry of angels in a place both of joy and solace?
"Farewell, dear brethren! farewell, and let us comfort our hearts in all troubles, and in death, with the word of God; for heaven and earth shall perish, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
"Farewell, Christ's dearly beloved spouse! here wandering in this world in a strange land, far from thine own country, and compassed about on every hand with deadly enemies, which cease not to assault thee, ever seeking thy destruction.
"Farewell, farewell, O ye the whole and universal congregation of the chosen of God here living upon earth, the true church militant of Christ, the true mystical body of Christ, the very household and family of God, and the sacred temple of the Holy Ghost. Farewell!
Farewell, O thou little flock of the high heavenly pastors of Christ; for to thee it hath pleased the heavenly Father to give an everlasting and eternal kingdom. Farewell!
"Farewell, thou spiritual house of God, thou holy and royal priesthood, thou chosen generation, thou holy nation, thou won spouse. Farewell! Farewell!"
Another treatise of Bishop Ridley, wherein is contained first a lamentation for the change of religion in England: then a comparison between the doctrine of the gospel and the Romish religion; with wholesome instructions in the end to all Christians, how to behave themselves in time of trial.
las! what misery is thy church brought unto, O Lord, at this day! When, as of late the word of the Lord was truly preached, was read and heard in every town, in every church, in every village, yea,and almost in every honest man's house, alas! now it is exiled and banished out of the whole realm, Of late who was not taken for a lover of God's word, for a reader, for a ready hearer, and for a learner of the same? And now, alas, who dare bear any open countenance toward it, but such as are content, in Christ's cause and for his word's sake, to stand to the danger and loss of all they have?
"Of late there was to be found, of every age, of every degree and kind of people, that gave their diligence to learn, as they could, out of God's word, the articles of the Christian faith, the commandments of God, and the Lord's prayer. The babes and young children were taught these things of their parents, of their masters, and weekly of their curates in every church: and the aged folk, which had been brought up in blindness, and in ignorance of those things which every Christian is bound to know, when otherwise they could not, yet they learned the same by often hearing their children and servants repeating the same: but now (alas, and alas again!) the false prophets of antichrist, which are past all shame, do openly preach in pulpits unto the people of God, that the catechism is to be counted heresy; whereby their old blindness is brought home again: for the aged are afraid of the higher powers, and the youth are abashed and ashamed, even of that which they have learned, though it be God's word, and dare no more meddle.
"Of late in every congregation throughout all England was made prayer and petition unto God, to be delivered from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities; from all false doctrine and heresy; and now, alas! Satan hath persuaded England, by his falsehood and craft, to revoke her old godly prayer, to recant the same, and provoke the fearful wrath and indignation of God upon her own pate.
"Of late by strait laws and ordinances, with the consent of the nobles and commonalty, and full agreement and counsel of the prelates and clergy, was banished hence the beast of Babylon, with laws (I say) and with oaths and all means that then could be devised for so godly a purpose: but now, alas! all these laws are trodden under foot; the nobles, the commonalty, the prelates and clergy, are quite changed, and all those oaths, though they were made in judgment, justice, and truth, and the matter never so good, do no more hold than a bond of rushes or of a barley straw, nor public perjury no more feareth them than a shadow upon the wall.
"Of late it was agreed in England of all hands, according to Paul's doctrine, and Christ's commandment, (as Paul saith plainly,) that nothing ought to be done in the church, in the public congregation, but in that tongue which the congregation could understand, that all might be edified thereby, whether it were common prayer, administration of the sacraments, or any other thing belonging to public ministry of God's holy and wholesome word. But, alas! all is turned upside down; Paul's doctrine is put apart; Christ's commandment is not regarded: for nothing is heard commonly in the church, but a strange tongue, that the people doth nothing understand.
"Of late all men and women were taught after Christ's doctrine, to pray in that tongue which they could understand, that they might pray with heart that which they should speak with their tongue: now, alas! the unlearned people are brought into that blindness again, to think that they pray, when they speak with their tongue they cannot tell what, nor whereof their heart is nothing mindful at all; for that it can understand never a whit thereof.
"Of late the Lord's supper was duly administered and taught to be made common to all that are true Christians, with thanksgiving and setting-forth of the Lord's death and passion, until his returning again to judge both quick and dead: but now, alas! the Lord's table is quite overthrown, and that which ought to be common to all godly, is made private to a few ungodly, without any kind of thanksgiving, or any setting-forth of the Lord's death at all, that the people are able to understand.
"Of late all that were indued with the light and grace of understanding of God's holy mysteries, did bless God which had brought them out of that horrible blindness and ignorance, whereby in times past, being seduced by Satan's subtleties, they believed that the sacrament was not the sacrament, but the thing itself whereof it is a sacrament, that the creature was the Creator, and that the thing which hath neither life nor sense (alas! such was the horrible blindness) was the Lord himself, which made the eye to see, and hath given all senses and understanding unto man. But now, alas! England is returned again like a dog to her own vomit and spewing, and is in worse case than ever she was: for it had been better never to have known the truth, than to forsake the truth once received and known. And now, not only that light is turned into darkness, and God's grace is received in vain, but also laws of death are made by high court of parliament, masterfully to maintain by sword, fire, and all kind of violence, that heinous idolatry wherein that adoration is given unto the lifeless and dumb creature, which is only due unto the ever-living God: yea, they say they can and do make of bread both man and God, by their transubstantiation. O wicked men, and Satan's own brood!
"Of late was the Lord's cup at his table distributed, according to his own commandment by his express words in the gospel, as well to the laity as to the clergy, which order Christ's church observed so many hundred years after, as all the ancient ecclesiastical writers do testify, without contradiction of any one of them, that can be showed unto this day: but now, alas! not only the Lord's commandment is broken, his cup is denied to his servants, to whom he commandeth it should be distributed, but also with the same is set up a new blasphemous kind of sacrifice to satisfy and pay the price of sins both of the dead and the quick, to the great and intolerable contumely of Christ our Saviour, his death and passion, which was and is the one only sufficient and everlasting available sacrifice satisfactory for all the elect of God, from Adam the first, to the last that shall be born in the end of the world.
"Of late the commandment of God, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor any similitude or likeness of any thing in heaven above, or in earth beneath, or in the water under the earth, thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: this commandment of God, I say, was graven almost every where in churches, was learned of every body, both young and old; whereupon images that provoked the simple and ignorant people unto idolatry (as the wise man saith) were taken out of the churches, and straitly forbidden that none should any where either bow down to them or worship them. But now, alas! God's holy word is blotted and rased out of churches, and stocks and stones are set up in the place thereof. God commanded his word so to be ordered, that it might be had in continual remembrance at all times, and in every place; and on the other side he forbade images and idols so to be either made or set in any place, where any should bow or worship them. But now, alas! that which God commanded is not passed upon: and that which be forbiddeth, is masterfully maintained by falsehood and craft, and wickedly upholden.
"Of late all ministers that were admitted to the public office and ministry of God's holy word, in their admission made a solemn profession before the congregation, that they should teach the people nothing, as doctrine necessary to attain eternal salvation, but that which is God's own holy word, or may be thereon grounded without any doubt; whereby vanished and melted away of themselves many vain, yea, wicked traditions of men, as wax before the fire: but now at one brunt they are revived, and are in full hope also to return again in as great strength as ever they have been. And how can any man look for any other thing, but when you have received the head, you must also receive the whole body withal, or else how can the head abide? The head, under Satan, of all mischief is antichrist and his brood; the same is he which is the Babylonical beast. The beast is he whereupon the whore sitteth. The whore is that city, saith John, in plain words, which hath empire over the kings of the earth. This whore hath a golden cup of abominations in her hand, whereof she maketh to drink the kings of the earth. And of the wine of this harlot have all nations drunk; yea, and kings of the earth have lien by this whore, and merchants of the earth by virtue of her pleasant merchandise have been made rich.
"Now what city is there in all the whole world, that, when John wrote, ruled over the kings of the earth; or what city can be read of in any time, that of the city itself challenged the empire over the kings of the earth, but only the city of Rome, and that since the usurpation of that see hath grown to her full strength? And is it not read, that the old and ancient writers understand Peter's former Epistle to be written at Rome, and it to be called of him in the same Epistle in plain terms Babylon? By the abominations thereof I understand all the whole trade of the Romish religion, under the name and title of Christ, which is contrary to the only rule of all true religion, that is, God's word. What word of God hath that devilish drab for the maintenance of her manifold abominations, and to set to sale such merchandise, wherewith (alas! the madness of man) the wicked harlot hath bewitched almost the whole world? Did not Peter, the very true apostle of Christ, (of whom this stinking strumpet beareth herself so high, but falsely and without all just cause,) did not he, I say, give all the world warning of her pelf and trash, of her false doctors and apostles, (for this whore and beast will be called dominus apostolicus, whosoever say nay,) after this manner in his latter Epistle? There were among the people in times past false prophets, as there shall be among you in time to come false teachers, which shall privily bring in pestilent sects, even denying the Lord which hath bought them and redeemed them, procuring to themselves swift damnation. And many shall follow their damnable ways, by whom the way of truth shall be railed upon, and through covetousness, by counterfeit tales or sermons, they shall, saith Peter, make merchandise upon you. And doth not John likewise, in his Revelation, after he hath reckoned up a great rabblement of this whore's mystical merchandise, at the last (as though he would knit up all in plain words, without any mist at all, setting out the whore's merchandise) reckon up amongst the rest, and concludeth, saying, and the souls of men too? Whereupon I pray you else rose this true proverb, 'All things for money are set to sale at Rome?' Was not that a worthy commendation of Christ's vicar in earth, that was written of our holy father, one of the Alexanders, a bishop of Rome, thus I ween?
Alexander, our holy father the pope of Rome,
Selleth for money both right and doom;
And all kind of holiness the holy father doth not stick
To set to sale, ready money for to get.
And eke Christ himself he dare be bold
To chop and change for silver and gold.
And why should any think this to be sore.
For what doth he sell but what he bought before?'
"I grant these verses to be light gear, and the verse is but rude; but, alas! such conditions were more wicked and lewd than any wit could express. If these had been but the faults of one or a few in number, they had been less pernicious, and might have been taken for personal crimes, and not to be imputed unto that see. But now, alas! the matter is more than evident to all that have godly understanding, that these crimes be grounded upon laws, be established by custom, and set forth by all kind of wicked doctrine, falsehood, and craft; and therefore now are not to be esteemed for any one man's or a few men's personal crimes, but are now, by laws, custom, and doctrine, incorporated into that wicked see, and make indeed the body of the beast, whereupon the abominable whore doth sit.
"But you would know which be those merchandises which I said this whore setteth for to sell, for the which all her false prophets, with all their jugglings and crafty glosses, cannot bring one jot of God's word. Surely, surely, they be not only all these abominations which are come into the Church of England already, (whereof I have spoken somewhat before,) but also an innumerable rabblement of abominations and wicked abuses, which now must needs follow; as popish pardons, pilgrimages, Romish purgatory, Romish masses, placebo and dirige, with trentals and scala cli, dispensations and immunities from all godly discipline, laws, and good order, pluralities, unions, and tot quots, with a thousand more. Now shall come in the flattering friars and the false pardoners, and play their old pranks and knavery as they were wont to do. Now shall you have (but of the see of Rome only, and that for money) canonizing of such saints as have stood stout in the pope's cause, shrining of relics, and from any kind of wickedness (if you will pay well for it) clear absolution from penalty and guilt, for thousands of years; yea, and at every poor bishop's hand and suffragan, ye shall have hallowing of churches, chapels, altars, super-altars, chalices, and of all the household stuff and adornment which shall be used in the church after the Romish guise: for all these things, they must be esteemed of such high price, that they may not be done but by a consecrated bishop only. O Lord, all these things are such as thy apostles never knew! As for conjuring (they call it hallowing, but it is conjuring indeed) of water and salt, of christening of bells, and suchlike things, what need I to speak? for every priest that can but read, hath power (they say) not only to do that, but also hath such power over Christ's body, as to make both God and man once, at the least, every day of a wafer-cake.
"After the rehearsal of the said abominations, and remembrance of a number of many more, which (the Lord knoweth) irketh me to think upon, and were too long to describe; when I consider on the other side the eternal word of God that abideth for ever, and the undefiled law of the Lord which turneth the soul from all wickedness, and giveth wisdom unto the innocent babes -- I mean that milk that is without all guile, as Peter doth call it, that good word of God, that word of truth, which must be graven within the heart, and then is able to save men's souls; that wholesome seed, not mortal, but immortal, of the eternal and everlasting God, whereby the man is born anew, and made the child of God; that seed of God, whereby the man of God so being born, cannot sin, as John saith, (he meaneth so long as that seed doth abide in him,)-- that Holy Scripture which hath not been devised by the wit of man, but taught from heaven by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; which is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct, and to give order in all righteousness, that the man of God may be whole and sound, ready to perform every good work -- when (I say) I consider this holy and wholesome true word, that teacheth us truly our bounden duty towards our Lord God in every point; what his blessed will and pleasure is; what his infinite great goodness and mercy is; what he hath done for us; how he hath given us his own dearly beloved Son to death for our salvation, and by him hath sent us the revelation of his blessed will and pleasure, what his eternal word willeth us both to believe, and also to do; and hath for the same purpose inspired the holy apostles with the Holy Ghost, and sent them abroad into all the world, and also made them and other disciples of Christ, inspired by the same Spirit, to write and leave behind them the same things that they are taught (which as they did proceed of the Spirit of truth, so by the confession of all them that ever were endued with the Spirit of God, were sufficient to the obtaining of eternal salvation): and likewise when I consider that all that man doth profess in his regeneration when he is received into the holy catholic church of Christ, and is now to be accounted for one of the lively members of Christ's own body, all that is grounded upon God's holy word, and standeth in the profession of that faith, and obedience of those commandments which are all contained and comprised in God's holy word: and furthermore, when I consider whom our Saviour Christ pronounceth in his gospel to be blessed, and to whom Moses giveth his benedictions in the law; what ways the law, the prophets, the psalms, and all Holy Scriptures, both New and Old, do declare to be the ways of the Lord; what is good for man to obtain and abide in God's favour; which is that faith that justifieth before God, and what is that charity that doth pass and excel all; which be the properties of heavenly wisdom, and which is that undefiled religion which is allowed of God; which things Christ himself calleth the weighty matters of the law; what thing is that which is only available in Christ, and what knowledge is that that Paul esteemed so much, that he counted himself only to know; what shall be the manner of the extreme judgment of the latter day, who shall judge, and by what he shall judge, and what shall be required at our hands at that fearful day; how all things must be tried by the fire, and that that only shall stand for ever which Christ's words shall allow; who shall be the judge of all flesh, to give sentence upon all flesh, and every living soul, either of eternal damnation, or of everlasting salvation, from which sentence there shall be no place to appeal, no wit shall serve to delude, nor any power to withstand or revoke -- when (I say) I consider all these things, and confer to the same again and again all those ways wherein standeth the substance of the Romish religion, (whereof I spake before,) it may be evident and easy to perceive, that these two ways, these two religions, the one of Christ, the other of the Romish see, in these latter days be as far distant the one from the other, as light and darkness, good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, Christ and Belial. He that is hard of belief, let him note and weigh well with himself the places of Holy Scriptures which be appointed in the margin, whereupon this talk is grounded, and, by God's grace, he may receive some light. And unto the contemner I have nothing now to say, but to rehearse the saying of the prophet Isaiah, which Paul spake to the Jews in the end of the Acts of the Apostles. After he had expounded to them the truth of God's word, and declared unto them Christ, out of the law of Moses and the prophets, from morning to night all the day long, he said unto them that would not believe: Well, said he, spake the Holy Ghost unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people and tell them, Ye shall hear with your ears, and not understand; and seeing you shall behold, and not see the thing: for the heart of this people is waxed gross and dull; and with their ears they are hard of hearing; and they have shut together their eyes, that they should not see, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts, that they might return, and I should heal them, saith the Lord God.
"Alas! England; alas! that this heavy plague of God should fall upon thee. Alas! my dearly beloved country, what thing is it now that may do thee good? Undoubtedly thy plague is so great, that it is utterly uncurable, but by the bottomless mercy and infinite power of Almighty God. Alas! my dear country, what hast thou done, that thou hast provoked the wrath of God, and caused him to pour out his vengeance upon thee for thine own deserts? Canst thou be content to hear thy faults told thee? Alas! thou hast heard oft, and wouldst never amend. England, thy faults of all degrees and sorts of men, of magistrates, of the ministers, and of the common people, were never more plainly told since thou bearedst that name, than thou didst hear them of late, even before the magistrates in King Edward's days, but thou heardest them only, and didst amend never a whit. For even of thy greatest magistrates, some (the king's Highness then, that innocent, that godly-hearted and peerless young Christian prince excepted) evermore unkindly and ungently, against those that went about most busily and most wholesomely to cure their sore backs, spurned privily, and would not spare to speak evil of them, even unto the prince himself; and yet would they towards the same preachers outwardly bear a jolly countenance and a fair face.
"I have heard that Cranmer, and another whom I will not name, were both in high displeasure, the one for showing his conscience secretly, but plainly and fully, in the duke of Somerset's cause; and both of late, but especially Cranmer, for repugning, as they might, against the late spoil of the church goods, taken away only by the commandment of the higher powers, without any law or order of justice, and without any request or consent of them to which they did belong. As for Latimer, Lever, Bradford, and Knox, their tongues were so sharp, they ripped in so deep in their galled backs, to have purged them, no doubt, of that filthy matter that was festered in their hearts, of insatiable covetousness, of filthy carnality and voluptuousness, of intolerable ambition and pride, of ungodly loathsomeness to hear poor men's causes, and to hear God's word, that these men, of all other, these magistrates then could never abide. Others there were, very godly men and well learned, that went about by the wholesome plasters of God's word, howbeit after a more soft manner of handling the matter: but, alas! all sped alike. For all that could be done of all hands, their disease did not minish, but daily did increase, which, no doubt, is no small occasion in that state of the heavy plague of God that is poured upon England at this day. As for the common sort of other inferior magistrates, as judges of the laws, justices of peace, serjeants, common lawyers, it may be truly said of them, as of the most part of the clergy, of curates, vicars, parsons, prebendaries, doctors of the law, archdeacons, deans, yea, and I may say, of bishops also, I fear me, for the most part (although I doubt not but God had, and hath ever, whom he in every state knew and knoweth to be his): but, for the most part, I say, they were never persuaded in their hearts, but from the teeth forward, and for the king's sake, in the truth of God's word; and yet all these did dissemble, and bear a copy of a countenance, as if they had been sound within.
"And this dissimulation Satan knew well enough, and therefore desired, and hath ever gone about, that the high magistrates by any manner of means might be deceived in matters of religion; for then he, being of counsel with the dissimulation in the worldly, knew well enough that he should bring to pass, and rule all even after his own will.
"Hypocrisy and dissimulation St. Jerome doth call well a double wickedness; for neither it loveth the truth, (which is one great evil,) and also falsely it pretendeth to deceive the simple for another thing. This hypocrisy and dissimulation with God, in matters of religion, no doubt, hath wholly also provoked the anger of God. And as for the common people, although there were many good, where they were well and diligently taught; yet (God knoweth) a great number received God's true word and high benefits with unthankful hearts. For it was great pity and a lamentable thing to have seen in many places the people so loathsomely and unreligiously to come to the holy communion and to receive it accordingly, and to the common prayers, and other divine service, which were according to the true vein of God's holy word, and in all points so godly and wholesomely set forth, in comparison of that blind zeal and undiscreet devotion which they had aforetimes to those things, whereof they understood never one whit, nor could be edified by them any thing at all.
"And again, as for our almsdeeds, which are taught in God's word, whereby we are certain that God is pleased with them, and doth and will require such at our hands, which are a part of true religion, as St. James saith, and such as, he saith himself, he setteth more by than by sacrifice, as to provide for the fatherless, infants and orphans, for the lame, aged, and impotent poor needy folk, and to make public provision that the poor that might labour, should have wherewith to labour upon, and so be kept from shameful beggary and stealing: in these works, I say, how wayward were many, in comparison, I mean, of that great prodigality whereby in times past they spared not to spend upon flattering friars, false pardoners, painting and gilding of stocks and stones, to be set up and honoured in churches, plainly against God's word? And yet because no place is to be defrauded of their just commendation, London, I must confess, for such godly works in Sir Richard Dobs, knight, then lord mayor, his year began marvellous well. The Lord grant the same may so likewise persevere, continue, yea, and increase, to the comfort and relief of the needy and helpless, that was so godly begun. Amen.
"All these things do minister more matter of mourning and bewailing the miserable state that now is; for by this it may be perceived, how England hath deserved this just plague of God. And also it is greatly to be feared that those good things, whatsoever they were, that had their beginning in the time when God's word was so freely preached, now, with the exile and banishment of the same, will depart again.
"But to return again to the consideration of this miserable state of Christ's church in England, and to leave further and more exquisite searching of the causes thereof unto God's secret and unsearchable judgments, let us see what is best now to be done for Christ's little flock. This is one maxim and principle in Christ's law; He that denieth Christ before men, him shall Christ deny afore his Father and all his angels in heaven. And therefore every one that looketh to have by Christ our Saviour everlasting life, let him prepare himself so that he deny not his Master Christ; or else he is but a castaway, and a wretch, howsoever he be counted or taken here in the world.
"Now then, seeing the doctrine of antichrist is returned again into this realm, and the higher powers, alas! are so deceived and bewitched, that they are persuaded it to be truth, and Christ's true doctrine to be error and heresy, and the old laws of antichrist are allowed to return with the power of their father again; what can be hereafter looked for, by reason, to the man of God and true Christian abiding in this realm, but extreme violence of death, or else to deny his Master? I grant the hearts of princes are in God's hands, and whithersoever he will he can make them bow: and also that Christian princes in old time use a more gentle kind of punishment, even to them which were heretics indeed, as degradation, and deposition out of their rooms and offices, exile and banishment out of their dominions and countries; and also (as it is read) the true bishops of Christ's church were sometime intercessors for the heretics unto princes, that they would not kill them, as is read of St. Augustine. But as yet antichrist's kingdom was not so erected at that time, nor is now accustomed so to order them that will not fall down and worship the beast and his image, but even (as all the world knoweth) after the same manner that both John and Daniel hath prophesied before, that is, by violence of death. And Daniel declareth further, that the kind of death accustomably should be by sword, fire, and imprisonment.
"Therefore if thou, O man of God, dost purpose to abide in this realm, prepare and arm thyself to die: for both by antichrist's accustomable laws, and these prophecies, there is no appearance or likelihood of any other thing, except thou wilt deny thy Master Christ, which is the loss, at the last, both of body and soul unto everlasting death. Therefore, my good brother or sister in Christ, whatsoever thou be, to thee that canst and mayest so do, that counsel that I think is the best safeguard for thee, both for thy body, and most surety for thy soul's health, is that which I shall show thee hereafter. But first I warn thee to understand me to speak to him or her which be not in captivity, orcalled already to confess Christ, but are at liberty abroad.
"My counsel, I say, therefore is this, to fly from the plague, and get thee hence. I consider not only the subtleties of Satan, and how he is able to deceive by his false persuasions (if it were possible) even the chosen of God, and also the great frailty, which is oftentimes more in a man than he doth know in himself, which in the time of temptation then will utter itself: I do not only consider these things, I say, but that our Master Christ, whose life was and is a perfect rule of the Christian man's life, that he himself avoided oftentimes the fury and madness of the Jews, by departing from the country or place.
"Paul likewise, when he was sought in Damascus, and the gates of the city were laid in wait for him, was conveyed by night, being let down in a basket out at a window over the wall: and Elias the prophet fled the persecution of wicked Jezebel. And Christ our Saviour saith in the gospel, When they persecute you in one city, fly unto another: and so did many good, great, learned, and virtuous men of God, which were great and stout champions nevertheless, and stout confessors and maintainers of Christ and his truth, in due time and place. Of such was the great clerk Athanasius. But this is so plain to be lawful by God's word, and examples of holy men, that I need not to stand in it.
"Having this for my ground, I say to thee, O man of God, this seemeth to me to be the most sure way for thy safeguard, to depart and fly far from the plague, and that swiftly also: for truly before God, I think, that the abomination that Daniel prophesied of so long before, is now set up in the holy place. For all the doctrine of antichrist, his laws, rites, and religion contrary to Christ, and so to the true serving and worshipping of God, I understand to be that abomination. Therefore now is the time in England for those words of Christ, Tunc inquit qui in Judæa sunt, fugiant ad montes. Then, saith he, mark this Christ's 'then,' for truly I am persuaded, and I trust by the Spirit of God, that this 'then' is commanded. Then, saith Christ, they that he in Jewry, let them fly into the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take away any thing out of his house; and he that is abroad in the field, let him not return to take his clothes. Woe be to the women with child, and to them that give suck! But pray, saith Christ, that your flight be not in winter, nor on the sabbath day.
"These words of Christ are mystical, and therefore had need of interpretation. I understand all those to be in Jewry' spiritually, which truly confess one true living God, and the whole truth of his word, after the doctrine of the gospel of Christ; such as they whom Christ here biddeth in the time of the reign of antichrist's abominations, to fly unto 'the mountains;' which signifieth places of safeguard, and all such things which are able to defend from the plague. That he biddeth him that is on the house-top 'not to come down,' and him that is in the field 'not to return to take with him his clothes;' he meaneth that they should speed them to get them away betimes, lest in their tarrying and trifling about working provision, they be trapped in the snare ere ever they be aware, and caught by the back; and, for gain of small worldly things, endanger and cast themselves into great perils of more weighty matters. And where he saith, 'Woe be to the women with child, and to them that give suck!' women great with child and nigh to their lying down, and to be brought to bed, and not able to travel; and also those women, which are brought to bed, and now give their babes suck. By these therefore Christ spiritually understandeth all such to be in extreme danger, which this word 'woe 'signifieth: all such, I say, as are so letted by any manner of means, that they no ways be able to fly from the plague. And whereas Christ saith, 'Pray you that your flight be not in the winter, nor on the sabbath day;' in winter, the common course of the year teacheth us, that the ways be foul; and therefore it is a hard thing then to take a far journey, for many incommodities, and dangers of the ways in that time of the year; and on the sabbath day it was not lawful to journey, but a little way. Now Christ therefore meaning that we should have need, both to speed our journey quickly, which cannot be done in winter, for the incommodities of the ways; and also to go far, which cannot be done on the sabbath day: he biddeth us therefore pray that our flight be not in the winter, nor on the sabbath day; that is, to pray that we may fly in time, and also far enough from the danger of the plague. Now, the causes why we should fly, follow in the same place of St. Matthew's Gospel, which I now pass over; thou mayest read them there.
"And in Revelation xviii. the angel is said to have cried mightily with a loud voice, Fly, my people, out of Babylon, lest you be infected with her faults, and so be made partners of her plagues: for her offences and sins are grown so great, that they swell and are come unto the heavens! Certainly the time doth approach, and the Lord's day is at hand. Hear, I beseech you, also holy Paul, that blessed apostle. He plainly forbiddeth us to join or couple ourselves with the unfaithful. For what fellowship can there be, saith he, of righteousness with unrighteousness? what company hath light with darkness, or what agreement hath Christ with Belial? or what part can the faithful have with the unfaithful? or how doth the temple of God agree with images or idols? for you are the temple of the living God. As God hath said, I will walk and dwell in them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore depart from amongst them, and get you from them, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and be to you in the stead of your father, and you shall be unto me as my sons and daughters, saith the Almighty God.
"This counsel to depart the realm, I do not marvel it doth seem to divers (even of them, I mean, that bear favour to God-ward) diversely. Many, I trust, that be learned shall think the counsel good. Others there be, peradventure, that will think it rather a thing to be more tolerable, and that it may be indeed by God's word lawfully done, rather than to be counselled to be done; for they will peradventure say, 'We should counsel a man always to do that which is best of all, and of most perfection: but boldly in Christ's cause to spend a man's life, is best of all, and of most perfection, and to fly it may seem to smell of cowardliness. In many things, that which is best for one at some times, is not best for all at all times, and it is not most perfection, nor meet for a child to covet to run, before he can go.' I will not make here a discourse in this matter, what might here be objected, and what might be answered again; I leave that to the witty and eloquent men of the world.
"This is my mind, which I would thou shouldst know, O man of God: as I would wish, and I do pray to Almighty God it may be, that every true Christian, either brother or sister, after they be called, and brought into the wrestling-place, to strive in Christ's cause for the best game, (that is, to confess the truth of the gospel, and of the Christian faith, in hope of everlasting life,) should not shrink, nor relent one inch, nor give back, whatsoever shall befall; but to stand to their tackle, and stick by it even' unto death, as they will Christ shall stick by them at the latter day -- so likewise I dare not wish nor counsel any, either brother or sister, of their own swinge, to start up into the stage, or to cast themselves either before or further in danger than time and need shall require: for undoubtedly when God seeth his time, and his pleasure is that his glory shall be set forth, and his church edified by thy death and confession, means shall be found by his fatherly universal providence, that thou, without thine own presumptuous provocation, shalt be lawfully called to do thy feat, and to play thy part. The miserable end that one Quintus came unto, may be a warning, and a fearful example for all men to beware of presumption and rashness in such things (as Eusebius writeth in his Ecclesiastical History) for evermore.
"But a third sort of men there be, which also will be counted favourers of God's word, and are (I fear) in number far more, and worse to be persuaded to that which is the godly mean. I mean of such as will peradventure say or think, that my former counsel, which was to fly the infection of the antichristian doctrine by departing out of the realm, is more than needeth, and other ways and means may be found, both to abide, and also to be clear out of danger of the foresaid plague. If that could be found, both to abide and also to be clear out of danger of the foresaid plague, truly, agreeable to God's word, I would be as glad to hear it, God is my witness, as they who think otherwise. 'Yes,' peradventure will some say, 'thus it may be: thou mayest keep thyself, thy faith, and thy religion close to thyself, and inwardly and privily worship God in spirit and truth, and outwardly see thou be no open meddler, nor talker, nor transgressor of common order: so mayest thou be suffered in the commonwealth, and yet use thy religion without offence of thy conscience.' In other countries, some where, this peradventure might be used, but in England what shall be, God wot; but it was never yet, so far as ever I have known or heard. And also how can it be, but either thou must transgress the common order, and the Romish laws and customs, which have heen used in England in the times past of popery, and now (it is certain) they return again: I say, thou must either be a breaker of these rites, laws, and customs, and so bewray thyself, or else, if thou be indeed a man of God, thou shalt offend thy conscience; for in observing of them, thou shalt he compelled to break God's law, which is the rule of conscience to the man of God. For how canst thou resort every holy-day to the church, and bear a face to worship the creature for the Creator, as thou must do, and peradventure confess it too with thy mouth, and to sprinkle thyself with the conjured water?
"Thou must be contributor also to the charges of all their popery, as of books of antichrist's service, of lights of the rood-loft, of the sepulchre for setting-up and painting of images -- nay, indeed of idols -- and thou must bear a face to worship them also, or else thou must be had by the back. Thou must serve the turn, to give the holy loaves as they call it, which is nothing else but a very mockery of the Lord's holy table. Thou must be a contributor to the charges of all the disguised apparel, that the popish sacrificing priest, like unto Aaron, must play his part in. Yea, when the pardoner goeth about, or the flattering friar, to beg for the maintenance of superstition, except thou do as thy neighbours do, look not long to live in rest. If any of thy household die, if thou wilt not pay money for ringing and singing, for requiem, masses, dirige, and commendations, and such-like trumpery of the antichristian religion, thinkest thou that thou shalt be reckoned for a catholic man, or for amicus Cæsaris? A hundred things more may be reckoned, and many of more weight, and of more evident superstition and idolatry, than some of these which I have now rehearsed, which God knoweth be ill enough: but these are enow to declare, and to set before thine eyes, the thing that I intend; that is, if thou abide and wilt dwell in England, thou must either do these, and many other more, contrary to God's word, which forbiddeth not only the thing which is evil, but also saith, Abstain from all things that have any appearance of evil; or else, if thou wilt not do them, how thou canst live in England in rest safe from the stake, truly I cannot tell.
"But peradventure (as a man is ready to find and invent some colour to cloak his conscience, to do that thing that his heart desireth) thou wilt say, Though at any time I shall be forced to do any of these things and such like, yet will I have no confidence in them, but outwardly with my body. I will keep mine heart unto God, and will not do that of mine own mind willingly neither, but to avoid another inconvenience: I trust therefore God will hold me excused, for he shall have my heart: what can I do more?'
"O my friend, beware, for God's sake; and know that the subtleties of Satan are deep. He that is not able by God's word to perceive them, is heavily laden. Pray therefore with David, Lord, let me not have a mind to invent excuses to cloak my sin. Examine, my dear friend, these thy wily ways with the word of God, and if they do agree, thou mayest use them: if not, know, though they may seem never so fine and goodly, yet indeed they be of Satan's brood. God's word is certain, that forbiddeth to worship the creature for the Creator, for that is heinous idolatry, and against the first commandment of God; and it is also against the second commandment of the first table to bow down or to do worship unto any images of God, or of any other thing. And God's word requireth not only the belief of the heart, but also the confession of the mouth: and to bear part of the charges, to the maintenance of things ungodly, what is that, but, in thy so doing, a consent to the thing done? Now consenters and the doers God's word accounteth to be guilty both: and it is not lawful, by St. Paul's doctrine, which was inspired him by the Spirit of God, to do ill, that thereof the thing which is good may come.
"Thy heart, thou sayest, God shall have, and yet wilt suffer thy body to do the thing that God doth abhor. Beware, O man! take heed what thou sayest; man may be deceived, but no man may deceive God, for he is called and is truly καρδιογνωστης [Greek: kardiognostes], that is to say, 'the searcher of the heart.' Now, to give God thy heart, is to give him thy whole heart, to love him, to dread him, and to trust in him above all other things. He that hath my commandments, saith Christ, and observeth and keepeth them, it is he that loveth me: and to dread God above all others, is rather willingly to incur the danger and peril of all fearful things, than wittingly to do that thing which is contrary to his blessed will and commandment; and to trust in him above all things, is assuredly to trust to his promise of his reward, and of his tuition, and of his goodness and mercy, and to prefer that above all things in the world, seem they never so strong, so wise, or so good. Now, how canst thou say truly, that God hath thy heart after this manner of sort, (which is to have thy heart indeed,) when thy deeds do declare far another thing? Thy body, O man, is God's, and all the parts thereof, even as thy soul is: he made them both, and Christ with his blood redeemed them both, and is Lord of both, for he hath bought them both dearly; and darest thou suffer any part of either of them to do service to Satan? Surely in so doing, thou committest sacrilege, and dost rob God; thou defilest the lively temple of the living God, if thou suffer thy body to do Satan service. Do you not know, saith St. Paul, that your body is a lively temple of God? And may a man then take and use any part thereof but in the service of God? No, surely; it is not lawful so to do for the man of God, neither with hand, tongue, nor feet, nor any part of the whole body.
"Doth not Paul command that to the Romans, which pertaineth to every Christian soul? As you have in times past, saith he, given your members to do service unto uncleanness and wickedness, from one wickedness to another; so now give your members to do service unto righteousness, that you may be sanctified. And I pray thee, good hrother, what dost thou think it is to bear the mark of the beast in the forehead, and in the hand, that St. John speaketh of? I know we ought warily to speak of God's mysteries, which he showed by the spirit of prophesying to his servant John, yet, to read them with reverence, and to pray for the same so much as God knoweth is necessary for our time to know.
I think it necessary and good. Wherefore what, I suppose, is to bear the beast's mark, I will tell thee, and commit the judgment of mine interpretation, as in all other things, to the spiritual man. I suppose he beareth the beast of Babylon's mark in his forehead which is not ashamed of the beast's ways, but will profess them openly to set forth his master, the beast of Abaddon. And likewise he beareth his mark in his head, that will and doth practise the works of the beast with his power and hand. And likewise I will not let to tell thee what, I think, to be signed in the forehead for the servant of God is, whereof John also speaketh, reckoning up many thousands so to have been signed of every tribe. I suppose he is signed in the forehead for the servant of God, whom God hath appointed of his infinite goodness, and hath given him grace and strength, stoutly to confess him and his truth before the world. And to have grace and strength to confess Christ, and the doctrine of the cross, and to lament and mourn for the abominations of antichrist, I suppose is to be signed with tau, whereof Ezekiel the prophet doth speak. Thus I suppose these prophecies are spiritually to be understood: and to look for other corporal marks; to be seen in men's foreheads, or in their hands, is nothing else but to look that there should come some brute beast out of Babylon, or some elephant, leopard, lion, or camel, or some other such monstrous beast with ten horns, that should do all the wonderful things spoken in John; and yet of a beast speaketh John, but I understand him so to be called, not for that he shall be any such brute beast, but for that he is and shall be the child of perdition, which, for his cruelty and beastly manners, is well called a beast.
"The carnal Jews knew there was a promise made, that Elias should come before Christ the Messias, the anointed of God, to prepare his ways; they knew also there was a promise of Messias, that he should come, and be a king, and reign in the house of David for evermore. But they understood all so grossly, and so carnally, that they neither knew Elias, nor Messias, when they came; for they looked for Elias to come down from heaven in his own person, and for Messias to come and reign in worldly pomp, power, riches, and glory; whereas the prophecies of both were spiritually to have been understood -- of Elias, that he should come not in person, but in spirit, that is, one that should be indued with the spirit and gifts of grace of Elias, which was indeed John Baptist, as Christ himself did declare to his apostles; and of Messias's reign, all the prophets were to be understood of the reign of his spiritual kingdom over the house of Jacob, and the true Israelites for evermore. And so by that their gross and carnal understanding, they mistook both Elias, and the true Messias; and when they came, knew neither of them both, So likewise, I fear me, nay, it is certain, the world that wanteth the light of the Spirit of God, (for the world is not able to receive him, saith John,) neither doth nor shall know the beast, nor his marks, though he rage cruelly, and live never so beastly, and though his marked men be in number like the sand of the sea. The Lord therefore vouchsafe to open the eyes of the blind with the light of grace, that they may see and perceive and understand the words of God, after the mind of his Spirit. Amen.
"Here remain two objections, which may seem weighty, and the which may peradventure move many not to follow the former counsel. The former reason is, a man will say, O sir, it is no small mat. ter ye speak of, to depart from a man's own native country into a strange realm. Many men have so great lets, as how is it possible that they can or may do so? Some have lands and possessions, which they cannot carry with them: some have father, mother, wife, children, and kinsfolk, from whom to depart is as hard a thing (and all one almost) as to suffer death, and to go to a strange country that thou knowest not, neither the manner of the people, nor how thou mayest away either with the people or with the country: or what a hard thing it is to live among a strange people, whose tongue thou dost not understand,' &c.
"I grant here thou mayest heap a number of worldly incommodities, which are surely very like to ensue the departure out of a man's own native country, I mean out of the whole realm into a strange land: but what of all these, and a thousand more of the like sort? I will set unto them one saying of our Saviour Christ, which unto the faithful child of God, and to the true Christian, is able to countervail all these, yea, and to weigh them down. Christ our Saviour saith in Luke, If any come to me, and do not hate his father and mother, (he meaneth, and will not in His cause forsake his father and mother,) his wife, children, and brethren, yea, and his life too, he cannot be my disciple: and whosoever doth not bear my cross and come after me, he cannot be my disciple. And in the same place he declareth by the two parables, one of a builder, and the other of a king that is a warrior, that every man that will not in Christ's cause forsake all that ever he hath, he cannot be his disciple. Look the places who will: the matter is so plainly set forth, that no glosses, nor cloaking of conscience, to the man of God, can serve to the contrary. Many places there be for the same purpose, for the embracing of Christ's cross, when Christ and his cause layeth itupon our back; but this is so plain, that I need here to rehearse no more.
"This latter reason and objection, whereof I spake before, is of more force, and includeth a necessity, which, after the common saying, hath no law, and therefore it is more hard to shape for it a good answer. This may be objected of some, 'Alas! sir, I grant all these things do grieve me, and, because I understand they do not agree with God's word, which is the rule of my conscience, I loathe either to look on them, or to hear them. But, sir, alas! I am an impotent man, an aged man, a sick man, a lame man, or I have so many small infants, and a lame wife, which all live by my labour, and by my provision: if I leave them they shall starve, and I am not able to carry them with me, such is my state. Alas! sir, what shall I do? And these causes may chance to some men of God, whereby either it shall be for them utterly impossible to depart the country, or else in departing they shall be enforced to forsake such in extreme necessities, of whom both God and nature hath committed unto them the care.
"Alas, what counsel is here to be given? O lamentable state! O sorrowful heart! that neither can depart, and without extreme danger and peril is not able to tarry still. And these are they whom our Saviour Christ saw before should be, and called them in his prophecy of the latter time, women with child, or travailing women, and women that give, after they be brought to bed, their small babes suck. Of the state of such as are not able to fly the infection of the pestiferous plague of antichrist's abominations, Christ lamenting, and not cursing, saith, Woe be to the women with child, and travailing women, and women that give suck, in those days. For these, alas! my heart mourneth the more, the less I am able to give any comfortable counsel, but this; that always, as they look for everlasting life, they abide still in the confession of his truth, whatsoever shall befall; and for the rest, to put their trust now wholly in God, which is able to save them against all appearance; and commonly in extremities, when all worldly comfort faileth, and the danger is at highest, then unto his he is wont, after his accustomed mercy, to be most ready to put his helping hand. Daniel, God suffered to be cast into the den of lions, and the three children into the hot burning furnace; and yet he saved them all. Paul was plucked out of the mouth of the lion, (as he saith of himself,) and in Asia he was brought into such trouble, that he looked for no other thing but for present death; and yet he that raiseth the dead to life again, did bring him out of all his troubles, and taught him and all others that be in troubles for Christ's cause, not to trust to themselves, but in Almighty God.
"Of God's gracious aid in extreme perils toward them that put their trust in him, all Scripture is full, both Old and New. What dangers were the patriarchs oftentimes brought into, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but, of all others, Joseph; and how mercifully were they delivered again! In what perils was Moses when he was fain to fly for the safeguard of his life! And when was he sent again to deliver the Israelites from the servile bondage? Not before they were brought into extreme misery. And when did the Lord mightily deliver his people from Pharaoh's sword? Not before they were brought into such straits, that they were so compassed on every side -- the main sea on the one side, and the main host on the other -- that they could look for none other, (yea, what did they indeed else look for?) but either to have been drowned in the sea, or else to have fallen on the edge of Pharaoh's sword. Those judges, which wrought most wonderful things in the delivery of the people, were ever given when the people was brought to most misery before, as Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Gideon, Jephtha, Samson. And so was Saul endued with strength and boldness from above, against the Ammonites, Philistines, and Amalekites, for the defence of the people of God. David likewise felt God's help most sensibly ever in his extreme persecutions. What shall I speak of the prophets of God, whom God suffered so oft to be brought into extreme perils, and so mightily delivered them again; as Elias, Jeremy, Daniel, Micaiah, and Jonas, and many others, whom it were but too long to rehearse and set out at large? And did the Lord use his servants otherwise in the new law after Christ's incarnation? Read the Acts of the Apostles, and you shall see no. Were not the apostles cast into prison, and brought out by the mighty hand of God? Did not the angel deliver Peter out of the strong prison, and bring him out by the iron gates of the city, and set him free? And when, I pray you? Even the same night before Herod appointed to have brought him to judgment to have slain him, as he had a little before killed James the brother of John. Paul and Silas, when after they had been sore scourged, and were put into the inner prison, and there were laid fast in the stocks; I pray you, what appearance was there that the magistrates should be glad to come the next day themselves to them, to desire them to be content, and to depart in peace? Who provided for Paul, that he should be safely conducted out of all danger, and brought to Felix the emperor's deputy, when both the high priest, the Pharisees, and rulers of the Jews, had conspired to require judgment of death against him, he being fast in prison; and also more than forty men had sworn each one to another, that they would neither eat nor drink, until they had slain Paul? A thing wonderful, that no reason could have invented, no man could have looked for: God provided Paul his own sister's son, a young man, that disappointed that conspiracy, and all their former conjuration. The manner how the thing came to pass, thou mayest read in Acts xxiii. I will not be tedious unto thee with the rehearsal thereof.
"Now to descend from the apostles to the martyrs that followed next in Christ's church, and in them likewise to declare how gracious our good God ever hath been to work wonderfully with them which in his cause have been in extreme perils, it were matter enough to write a long book. I will here name but one man and one woman, that is, Athanasius, the great clerk and godly man stoutly standing in Christ's cause against the Arians, and that holy woman Blandina, standing so constantly in all extreme pains, in the simple confession of Christ. If thou wilt have examples of more, look and thou shalt have both these, and a hundred more, in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, and in the Tripartite History.
"But for all these examples, both of Holy Scripture and of other histories, I fear me the weak man of God, encumbered with the frailty and infirmity of the flesh, will have now and then such thoughts and qualms (as they call them) to run over his heart, and to think thus: 'All these things which are rehearsed out of the Scripture I believe to be true, and of the rest truly I do think well, and can believe them also to be true; but all these, we must needs grant, were special miracles of God, which now in our days are ceased, we see; and to require them at God's hands, were it not to tempt God?
"Well-beloved brother, I grant such were great wonderful works of God, and we have not seen many of such miracles in our time, either for that our sight is not clear (for truly God worketh with his, his part in all times); or else because we have not the like faith of them for whose cause God wrought such things; or because, after that he had set forth the truth of his doctrine by such miracles then sufficiently, the time of so many miracles to be done was expired withal. Which of these is the most special cause of all others, or whether there be any other, God knoweth; I leave that to God. But know thou this, my well-beloved in God, that God's hand is as strong as ever it was; he may do what his gracious pleasure is, and he is as good and gracious as ever he was. Man changeth as the garment doth: but God our heavenly Father is even the same now that he was, and shall be for evermore.
"The world, without doubt, (this I do believe, and therefore I say,) draweth towards an end, and in all ages God hath had his own manner, after his secret and unsearchable wisdom, to use his elect, sometimes to deliver them, and to keep them safe, and sometimes to suffer them to drink of Christ's cup, that is, to feel the smart, and to feel of the whip. And though the flesh smarteth at the one, and feeleth ease in the other; is glad of the one, and sore vexed in the other: yet the Lord is all one towards them in both, and loveth them no less when he suffereth them to be beaten, yea, and to be put to bodily death, than when he worketh wonders for their marvellous delivery. Nay, rather he doth more for them, when in anguish of the torments he standeth by them, and strengtheneth them in their faith, to suffer in the confession of the truth and his faith the bitter pangs of death, than when he openeth the prison-door and letteth them go loose: for here he doth but respite them to another time, and leaveth them in danger to fall in like peril again; and there he maketh them perfect, to be without danger, pain, or peril, after that for evermore. But this his love towards them, howsoever the world doth judge it, is all one, both when he delivereth, and when he suffereth them to be put to death. He loved as well Peter and Paul, when (after they had, according to his blessed will, pleasure, and providence, finished their courses, and done their services appointed them by him here in preaching of his gospel) the one was beheaded, and the other was hanged or crucified of the cruel tyrant Nero, as the Ecclesiastical History saith; as when he sent the angel to bring Peter out of prison, and for Paul's delivery he made all the doors of the prison to fly wide open, and the foundation of the same, like an earthquake, to tremble and shake.
"Thinkest thou, O thou man of God! that Christ our Saviour had less affection to the first martyr Stephen, because he suffered his enemies even at the first conflict to stone him to death? No surely, nor James, John's brother, which was one of the three that Paul calleth primates or principals amongst the apostles of Christ. He loved him never a whit the worse than he did the other, although he suffered Herod the tyrant's sword to cut off his head. Nay, doth not Daniel say, speaking of the cruelty of antichrist's time. And the learned [he meaneth truly learned in God's law] shall teach many, and shall fall upon the sword, and in the flame, [that is, shall be burned in the flaming fire,] and in captivity, [that is, shall be in prison,] and be spoiled and robbed of their goods for a long season. And after a little in the same place of Daniel it followeth, And of the learned there he, which shall fall or be overthrown, that they may be known, tried, chosen, and made white [he meaneth, be burnished and scoured anew, picked and chosen, and made fresh and lusty]. If that then was foreseen to be done to the godly learned, and for so gracious causes, let every one to whom any such thing by the will of God doth chance, be merry in God and rejoice, for it is to God's glory, and to his own everlasting wealth. Wherefore well is he that ever he was born, for whom thus graciously God hath provided, having grace of God, and strength of the Holy Ghost, to stand stedfastly in the height of the storm. Happy is he that ever he was born, whom God his heavenly Father hath vouchsafed to appoint to glorify him, and to edify his church by the effusion of his blood.
"To die in Christ's cause, is a high honour, to the which no man certainly shall or can aspire, but to whom God vouchsafeth that dignity: for no man is allowed to presume to take unto himself any office of honour, but he which is thereunto called of God. Therefore John saith well, speaking of them which have obtained the victory by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony, that they loved not their lives, even unto death. And our Saviour Christ saith, He that shall lose his life for my cause, shall find it. And this manner of speech pertaineth not to one kind of Christians, (as the worldly do wickedly dream,) but to all that do truly pertain unto Christ. For when Christ had called unto him the multitude together with his disciples, he said unto them, (mark that he said not to the disciples and apostles only, but he said it to all,) Whosoever will follow me, let him forsake or deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me: for whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; [he meaneth whosoever will, to save his life, forsake or leave him and his truth;] and whosoever shall lose his life for my cause and the gospel's sake, shall save it. For what shall it profit a man if he shall win the whole world, and lose his own soul, his own life? or what shall a man give to recompense that loss of his own life, and of his own soul? Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words (that is, to confess me and my gospel) before this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. Know thou, O man of God, that all things are ordained for thy behoof, and to the furtherance of thee, towards thy salvation. All things, saith Paul, work with the good to goodness. Even the enemies of God, and such kind of punishments whereby they go about to destroy them, shall be forced by God's power, might, and fatherly providence, to do them service.
"It is not as the wicked thinketh, that poverty, adversity, sickness, tribulation, yea, painful death of the godly, be tokens that God doth not love them; but even clean the contrary, as all the whole course of Scripture doth evidently declare: for then he would never have suffered his most dearly beloved the patriarchs to have had such troubles, his prophets, his apostles, his martyrs, and chief champions and maintainers of his truth and gospel, so cruelly of the wicked to have been murdered and slain. Of the which some were racked (as the apostle saith) and would not be delivered, that they might receive a better resurrection; some were tried by mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover by bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were hewn and cut asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword; they wandered up and down in sheep's skins and goats' skins, being forsaken, afflicted, and tormented, such men as the world was not worthy to have, wandering in wildernesses, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. All these were approved by the testimony of faith, and received not the promise, because God did provide better for us, that without us they should not be consummated. They tarry for us now undoubtedly, longing for the day: but they are commanded to have patience yet (saith the Lord) a little while, until the number of their fellow servants be fulfilled, and of their brethren which are yet to be slain, as they were.
"Now, thou, O man of God, for our Lord's sake, let us not, for the love of this life, tarry then too long, and be occasion of delay of that glorious consummation in hope and expectation whereof they departed in the Lord, and the which also the living, indeed with God's Spirit, ought so earnestly to desire and to groan for with all the creatures of God. Let us all, with John the servant of God, cry in our hearts unto our Saviour Christ, Come, Lord Jesus, come. For then when Christ, which is our life, shall be made manifest, and appear in glory, then shall the children of God appear what they be, even like unto Christ: for this our weak body shall be transfigured and made like unto Christ's glorious hody, and that by the power whereby he is able to subdue unto himself all things. Then, that which is now corruptible shall be made incorruptible; that which now is vile shall be made glorious; that which is now weak shall rise then mighty and strong; that which is gross and carnal shall be made fine and spiritual: for then we shall see and have the unspeakable joy and fruition of the glorious majesty of our Lord, even as he is.
"Who or what then shall let us to jeopard, yea, to spend this life which we have here, in Christ's cause? in our Lord God's cause? O thou, therefore, man of God, thou that art loaden, and so letted like unto a woman great with child, that thou canst not fly the plague, yet, if thou lust after such things as I have spoken of, stand fast, whatsoever shall befall, in thy Master's cause; and take this thy letting to fly, for a calling of God to fight in thy Master Christ's cause. Of this be thou certain, they can do nothing unto thee, which thy Father is not aware of, or hath not foreseen before; they can do no more than it shall please him to suffer them to do for the furtherance of his glory, edifying of his church, and thine own salvation. Let them then do what they shall, seeing to thee, O man of God, all things shall be forced to serve and to work with thee unto the best, before God. O be not afraid, and remember the end!
"All this which I have spoken for the comfort of the lamentable case of the man whom Christ called a woman great with child, I mean to be spoken likewise to the captive and prisoner in God's cause; for such I count to he as it were already summoned and pressed to fight under the banner of the cross of Christ, and as it were soldiers allowed and taken up for the Lord's wars, to do their Lord and Master good and honourable service, and to stick to him, as men of trusty service in his cause, even unto death; and to think their life lost in his cause, is to win it in eternal glory for evermore.
"Therefore, now to conclude and make an end of this treatise, I say unto all that love God our heavenly Father, that love Christ Jesus our Redeemer and Saviour, that love to follow the ways of the Holy Ghost which is our comforter and sanctifier of all, unto all that love Christ's spouse and body, the true catholic church of Christ, yea, that love life and their own soul's health; I say unto all these, hearken, my dear brethren and sisters, all you that be of God, of all sorts, ages, dignities, or degrees; hearken to the word of our Saviour Jesus Christ spoken to his apostles, and meant to all his, in St. Matthew's Gospel: Fear not them which kill the body, for they cannot kill the soul; but fear him more which may destroy and cast both body and soul into hell-fire. Are not two small sparrows sold for a mite, and one of them shall not fall or light upon the ground without your Father? All the hairs of your head be numbered. Fear them not, you are much more worth than are the little sparrows. Every one that confesseth me before men, him shall I likewise confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, I shall deny him likewise before my Father which is in heaven.
"The Lord grant us therefore of his heavenly grace and strength, that here we may so confess him in this world amongst this adulterous and sinful generation, that he may confess us again at the latter day, before his Father which is in heaven, to our glory, and everlasting comfort, joy, and salvation.
"To our heavenly Father, to our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Ghost, be all glory and honour now and for ever. Amen."
Thus with the death and martyrdom of these two learned pastors and constant soldiers of Christ, Master Latimer and Bishop Ridley, you have divers of their letters and other writings of theirs expressed, with the farewells also of Bishop Ridley, wherein he took his leave of the world, taking his journey to the kingdom of heaven. Divers and sundry other treatises of his remain also in my hand both in Latin and English, to be remembered by the leave of the Lord in time and place convenient.
About this time suffered William Dighel, most constantly offering his body a burnt-sacrifice unto God, forsaking the world, life, and all, for the love of his holy truth. This holy martyr suffered at Banbury in the county of Oxford.